EWD: News for Week of 5/2/22-5/8/22
Topics: Partnerships, FaZe, Spotify, Sykkuno, Fortnite, Metaverse
FaZe Clan x GHOST
FaZe Clan announces a multi-year partnership with GHOST, a lifestyle brand that spans across sports nutrition products, energy drinks, dietary supplements, merch and apparel.
The partnership will be introduced by sharing a video featuring some of FaZe's marquee creators. The video, according to the press release, will highlight FaZe Clan and GHOST's joint vision that transcends gaming as both brands celebrate their roots in fitness, music and sports.
As part of the deal, GHOST will be featured as an official sponsor of FaZe1: The Warehouse. This first-of-its-kind live reality competition series started on May 5th and will be live 24 hours a day for 15 consecutive days on the FaZe Twitch channel. The Warehouse, which is taking place in the organizations new facility in Hollywood, is in the final stage of the FaZe1 global recruitment challenge that started back in January. The winner of FaZe1 will be given a brand deal from GHOST, the opportunity to become an official member of FaZe Clan, and receive other prizes and bonuses from other presenting sponsors.
Lastly, FaZe celebrated this partnership by giving away some GHOST products (either GHOST ENERGY or GHOST GAMER) on the GHOST app. Daniel Lourenco, Co-Founder and CEO of GHOST said this on the partnership:
GHOST has shown the world that sports nutrition interest and usage extends far beyond the gym, and FaZe has absolutely done the same for gaming. Our wide product range aligns perfectly with FaZe Clan’s diverse reach–from GHOST Gamer to GHOST Protein and GHOST Energy, we’re excited to partner with and power the future of FaZe.
Not even 24 hours after announcing the ending of their 10-year relationship with GFUEL, they bring on a replacement energy drink supplement company in GHOST. It said in FaZe's tweet announcement that they ended their relationship on "great terms." It makes sense that they partnered with a company like GHOST that has both powdered and ready-to-drink products in categories beyond just energy drinks. GHOST's sports nutrition product line extends in categories such as protein, pre-workout, gaming, energy and wellness. There's a clear goal in mind with this partnership: propel GHOST as a household name within gaming and youth culture
OG ESPORTS x LDN UTD
European esports organization's OG Esports and LDN UTD announced a strategic partnership that will rebrand LDN UTD’s VALORANT team to OG LDN UTD. The 2 organizations will operate as a joint-venture team going forward.
Under this partnership, the team that competes in the Valorant Champions Tour (VCT) will wear co-branded OG LDN UTD jerseys at the upcoming VCT EMEA Stage 2 Challengers on May 13th. According to Esports Insider, Both organizations will provide regular bootcamps and other performance services for the Valorant roster. The partnership will also bring a focus towards community growth and joint events, with some taking place at LDN UTD’s new Centre of Excellence venue in Camden, London.
JMR Luna, CEO of OG Esports, said this on the joint-venture and community initiatives:
We love their community driven initiatives and what they are building, so when we all sat down together and spoke, we became very excited about this adventure together. We think they have done a very good job building and nurturing this project and we hope we can contribute to its success this new season.”
This is a great move by both organizations to do a joint-venture with the past LDN UTD Valorant roster. Valorant is emerging as a top esport from both a viewership perspective and overall growth in the past couple years. With the news of an expanded league format and an international league coming to the foray, it puts even more attention on the VCT going forward. I am also a fan of the community-driven joint events that they have planned in London.
Spotify x Roblox
Spotify last week introduced Spotify Island, a place where fans can hang out, create new sounds together, and get exclusive content in the game of Roblox. To date, Spotify is the first music-streaming brand to have a presence on Roblox.
Per Spotify's article, this digital Island will give Roblox users a place to mingle with artists, complete interactive quests, and unlock exclusive content. Players can also have an immersive audio experience by creating music and exploring sounds at virtual beat-maker stations. The island will have musical Easter eggs and users can climb to the top of “The Charts” by collecting points. They even have a Spotify Island music playlist on the app!
On the island, Roblox users will have the chance to collect heart-shaped “Like” icons and other familiar shapes or colors that Spotify listeners are familiar with. These things allow fans to interact with the brand in a whole new way by collecting digital merchandise.
Lastly, users will be able to portal out of the main island to themed islands that will come to life throughout the year. These destinations will be filled with exclusive content, artist interactions, and themed mini-quests that are designed for both super fans and curious explorers. According to Spotify, this launch just scratches the surface when it comes to ways users can experience Spotify Island on Roblox. The first themed experience fans can expect on Spotify Island is K-Park, an homage to all things K-Pop. Coming later this spring, K-Park artist superstars Stray Kids and SUNMI will make an appearance.
As last week saw the 1st music awards show take place in Roblox, Spotify is the 1st music-streaming service to enter the metaverse. As I said in last week's metaverse entrance piece, it's paramount for brands and services to come into Roblox with a purpose in mind. For Spotify, the island will act as a hub that will have easter eggs, exclusive rewards, immersive audio experiences, and musical events for users to connect with artists. I think Spotify passed on my "two-way experience" point where both artists, fans, and the Roblox communities will merge and create amazing immersive opportunities.
Astralis x Roobet Terminated Deal
A day after announcing a two-year deal with online casino platform Roobet, Astralis terminated their partnership with them. The initial commercial collaboration with the online betting company had a focus on sports betting within esports and included the platform’s logo on the jersey of Astralis’ CS:GO roster.
On May 6th, Astralis announced that they did not perform their due diligence well enough "around local legal matters." Here's the full statement from Anders Hørsholt, CEO of Astralis:
We have today advised Roobet that with immediate effect, we wish to terminate the contract we presented on Thursday. In this incident, we did not perform our due diligence well enough around local legal matters, and when you make a mistake, you must correct it. This is what we do now.
According to legal guide ICLG and Esports Insider, any company that is interested in setting up an online gambling platform in Denmark must be established within the EU/EEA or have an appointed representative within the country. Additionally, a gaming provider must obtain a license from the Danish Gaming Authority to be able to offer online casinos and/or betting in Denmark. Roobet is licensed and authorized through and by the Government of Curaçao and is not listed under 'License Holders' on the website.
Moreover, a gaming provider must obtain a license from the Danish Gaming Authority to be able to offer online casinos and/or betting in Denmark, as seen on its website. It is not yet clear whether Roobet obtained an online casino license, however the company is not listed under ‘License Holders’.
It's great to see Astralis take action quickly after making the mistake of bringing them on as a partner. However, Astralis should be aware of the potential legal issues when it comes to being a partner with an online gambling entity of that stature in their respective region. There's always a fine line with working with gambling platforms, so Astralis not doing their due diligence and understanding the legal ramifications prior to signing them on is, in my opinion, inexcusable.
Epic Games to Bring back mobile to Fortnite
Microsoft announced that Fortnite can be played again on iOS and Android devices. However, the game will still not be available on the App Store. Instead, it will be free to play on mobile browsers through Xbox’s cloud gaming service.
Fortnite was removed from the App Store in 2020 after Epic allowed players to pay them directly, circumventing Apple’s 30 percent commission on all in-app purchases. Epic ended up suing Apple over the tech giant’s business model and the suit became a landmark case. A federal judge ruled that Apple must allow app developers to “steer” customers to alternative payment processing services. However, it was decided that Epic failed to prove Apple is a monopolist.
The Xbox Cloud Gaming, in its beta form, will be available in 26 countries. There's no installation or memberships required, all you need to do is go to Xbox.com/play on your web browser and sign-in with your Microsoft Account.
This is huge news for Epic Games and the long-term success of Fortnite. It's also a great alternative way to allow players to play on mobile. It will be however, suboptimal to play on a cloud-based server when it comes to latency and overall connection. I will say that if people are worried about the performance of gaming on Fortnite mobile, then switching to the console or PC version would be your best bet. This is also an opportunity for Microsoft to build on their game portfolio on their cloud gaming service.
Sykkuno Joins YouTube Gaming
Content creator Sykkuno is the latest Twitch streamer to move to YouTube Gaming for an exclusive deal. He'll be joining a slew of big-name creators such as Valkyrae, Ludwig, DrLupo, TimTheTatMan, and Courage who switched from Twitch to YouTube. Sykkuno made an awesome announcement video on signing with YouTube.
In the video announcement, he goes through his gaming journey, starting off in a shed in his parents backyard. He then talks about the friends and fans he's garnered along the way playing games such as Minecraft, Valorant, Among Us, and GTA. The end of the video featured good friend and fellow YouTube Gaming exclusive streamer Rachell “Valkyrae” Hofstetter asking "are you ready to go?" He followed up by saying, "I'm going to do what I've always done, just in a new place."
Sykkuno blew up in fame during the height of the Among Us craze in 2020. Since then, he has been playing a lot of GTA Role-play on NoPixel. He was nominated for Best GTA Role-play Streamer and Streamer of the Year at the 2022 The Streamer Awards.
Sykkuno has one of the most avid and loyal fanbases out there, and his pivot to YouTube won't change that at all. As of recently we've seen so many top creators on Twitch switch over to YouTube Gaming, part of it is receiving a bigger contract than its competitors (presumably). I also think a big part of it is the similarity between platforms as well. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but YouTube keeps adding important features that mimic Twitch's interface.
From YouTube's perspective, they get a creator under their wing that is considered a variety streamer. He plays a plethora of games, but also collaborates with top creators doing IRL streams as well. Compared to other streamers, he very much carries himself in a positive manner that permeates towards his community of fans as well.
Rocket League Activated at F1 Grand Prix Miami
Psyonix' Rocket League dropped a 2022 Formula 1 Fan Pass and a free Formula 1 2022 Player Banner in the Item Shop for the F1 Grand Prix in Miami. The all-new 2022 Formula 1 Fan Pass will cost 1100 Credits and unlocks a newly designed F1® car, plus 2 more content updates later this year.
In regard to in-person activations, fans and newcomers alike could play Rocket League live on-site at the International Autodrome. Psyonix’s presence is also concentrated at the McLaren Miami Speed Shop, where fans can go to the Alienware Shadow gaming studio. McLaren showcased their 1st limited edition livery called the ‘Miami Palm’ in Rocket League for the Miami Grand Prix as well.
Here's the breakdown of the 2022 Formula 1 Fan Pass:
Formula 1 2022 Car (Dominus Hitbox)
Formula 1 2022 Engine Audio
Alfa Romeo, AlphaTauri, Ferrari, McLaren, and Red Bull 2022 Decals
McLaren Miami 2022 Decal
Along with receiving these in-store items with the fan pass, 2 additional updates will drop later in 2022 for more in-game items. According to their press release, if you purchase the 2022 Formula 1 Fan Pass now, the future updates will be unlocked upon release for free. The 1st update will come this Summer with 5 more Decals for the Formula 1 2022 constructors listed above. Another update will arrive in the Fall and unlock 3 color variants of Pirelli Wheels.
It's smart of Rocket League to continue partnering with F1 for exclusive in-game micro-transactions (AKA MTX). It's an obvious fit for both parties involved. It's clear that motorsport is on top of Psyonix's mind when it comes to marketing their game within traditional sports. They recently partnered with NASCAR as well for in-game items. Lastly, the sponsorship potential is endless when it comes to these collaborations.