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Ninja Becomes 1st Multi-Platform Streamer, FaZe Clan Owns a Virtual World in The Sandbox, and More!

EWD: News for Week of 9/5/22-9/18/22

Topics: Partnerships, FaZe Clan, Ninja, Gen.G, XSET, Mercedes

Partnerships


FaZe Clan x The Sandbox


FaZe Clan announced a strategic partnership with Sandbox and makes their first foray into the metaverse. As a major part of the partnership, the 2 parties will work in tandem to create "FaZe World," a virtual land that encompasses the FaZe brand. This virtual world will open the door for a gamified FaZe World that allows users to experience and engage with FaZe Clan and FaZe talent. And, of course, this will be an additional revenue stream for them.


The Sandbox LANDs surrounding FaZe World will be available for individual digital real estate purchases by the public. The Sandbox will hold a LAND sale to be announced later this year with the immersive experiences of FaZe World are slated for 2023.


Sebastien Borget, Co-Founder and COO of The Sandbox.

We're thrilled to collaborate in bringing FaZe World to The Sandbox as we prepare to launch many exciting activations that put players and creators in control of the next phase of Internet culture comprising user-generated content, Web 3, metaverse, and gaming.

For context, The Sandbox is a virtual gaming world where players can build, own, and monetize their gaming experiences. The game fully embraces the idea of the metaverse as a continuous shared digital space where worlds and heroes collide to make magic. The Sandbox has over 400 existing partnerships with a wide range of influencers, musicians, apparel brands, game publishers, tech companies, etc.


Kimball's Take:

  • Honestly surprised this is FaZe's first entrance into the metaverse to create experiences for their fans, and ultimately, an additional revenue stream for the company. One key mention within the press release is that the surrounding virtual real estate around FaZe World will be for sale, providing "a once in a lifetime opportunity to be neighbors with one of the world's largest gaming and media organizations." By promoting their virtual space to its fans to be a part of fun experiences, that creates more engagement onto the platform, their space, and potentially raise the value of the land surrounding them. That additionally land value surrounding them could theoretically bring in meaningful revenue for the now publicly traded company's own virtual land.


Gen.G x Crocs


Gen.G teams up with footwear brand Crocs to launch an experience inspired by the brand’s shoe design within the ZEPETO platform. As part of the collaboration, there will be a launch of an exclusive digital fashion range for users to obtain as well as virtual photo and video booths to showcase the new items.


Additionally, Gen.G content creators will be leveraged within the collaboration by styling their ZEPETO avatars with the collectables. Fans and users can participate in a giveaway competition where they can win the platform’s ZEM currency, Crocs shoes and an LG laptop.


Tim Malone, Vice President of Global Integrated Marketing at Crocs, spoke on the deal:

Our new partnership with ZEPETO and Gen. G is reflective of our commitment to digital innovation and consumer engagement through a digitally-led social-first lens. Gen.G shares our vision for delivering immersive experiences that reflect the unique DNA of our brand, which is rooted in authentic self-expression.

To date, this is the first metaverse-based platform collaboration for the organization. However, Gen.G has worked with Crocs over a year ago to create a Minecraft build competition to market Crocs new ‘All Family Tie-Dye’ collection to gamers. Crocs joins the likes of restaurant chain McDonald’s, electronics manufacturer LG, and gaming peripherals brand ROCCAT as a partner. In total, Gen.G has 13 within its portfolio.


Mercedes-Benz x Riot Games


Mercedes-Benz and publisher Riot Games to continue their League of Legends (LoL) Esports partnership for another three years. Since 2020, Mercedes has been the exclusive automotive partner of the global League of Legends Esports events. A key moment of this partnership surrounds the LoL World Championship, and the two parties will continue to work together to create a Championship Ring for the winning team as they did in 2021.


To further develop the Championship Ring, Mercedes-Benz is working with Aether Diamonds to use sustainable diamond in the center of the ring. The CO2 used to produce the diamond was taken directly from the atmosphere. Additionally, the game maker founded the "Riot Games Social Impact Fund,” a non-profit engine for Riot’s global social impact efforts that has distributed over $23M in grants to nonprofits worldwide and supports more than 400 organizations across 25 regions.


In addition to the Championship Ring, there are other joint experiences planned by Mercedes-Benz and Riot Games around Worlds this year for fans. There's no details as to what activations will be created at this time. Britta Seeger, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for Marketing and Sales said this on the renewal:

Winning the hearts of gaming fans is an exciting challenge. Together with Riot Games we are in the best condition to inspire the community and to successfully shape the future of esports. We are therefore looking forward to continuing our cooperation – and to remaining an integral part of the global League of Legends family.

Kimball's Take:

  • The partnership hits on a lot of key areas that brands within esports, especially one that is synonymous with excellence should achieve. They're able to be a part of the the ring ceremony for LoL Worlds, one of the top moments/highest achievements in all of esports. Additionally they found a partner to create a sustainable ring and work with Riot on their social impact fund. Environmental sustainability, social impact, exclusivity, and celebrating esports excellence are all relavnet objectives that Mercedes is hitting on here. I will note that the press release stated that their over-arching goal of this partnership is "to create added value for the further development of the global esports culture and thus strengthen the worldwide LoL community."


Campbell's Soup x EA Sports' MCS


Campbell’s expands beyond being the official soup brand of the NFL to become the title sponsor of EA Sports’ Madden Championship Series (MCS). As part of the deal, competitive matches will be played in a purpose-built Campbell’s Chunky Stadium, courtesy of the EA Tiburon team. Campbell’s marks/logos will be seen throughout the digital venue, which will also be part of Madden NFL 23 for fans/casual gamers.


Andrew Echanique told SBJ this about the partnership:

We worked closely with Campbell’s to create a custom, interactive experience that allows players to essentially play in the home of the MCS. Campbell’s is interested in using esports as a platform to broaden reach and engagement, and Madden has the ability to do that, in broadcasts and inside the game.

Kimball's Take:

  • One takeaway you should get from this is that we'll continue to see sponsors of traditional sport leagues to begin expanding into the esports vertical of such leagues. NBA 2K League, eMLS, Madden, NHLGWC, and I'm sure more that work in tandem with the nascent leagues have had sponsors from the traditional sport leagues as well. Brands are realizing that reaching the 21-35 demo, along with having an ownable position across multiple touchpoints, will create further brand awareness for the respective league & esports league that they work with.

Partnerships


Ninja to Become A Multi-Platform Streamer


Tyler "Ninja" Blevins is now streaming across platforms including Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok as he decided to not sign an exclusive streaming deal. This news came after Ninja garnered lots of attention on September 1st when he suddenly rage-quit his game of Fortnite and stream altogether claiming that he intended on taking an impromptu hiatus from streaming. He then changed his social media profiles and left only an ominous tweet implying that he may switch platforms. In the end, he decided to not partner with any platform and take an unconventional route to be live simultaneously on every streaming platform.


With no other exclusive contracts with YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, or any other platform, Ninja is now free to co-stream across every available platform. In his 1st stream back on September 9th, he stated that he had over 60,000 combined viewers across all of the platforms. He also averaged 13,333 live viewers on TikTok. From a reach perspective, he's certainly made the right decision to go this route.


There's a couple drawbacks, however to this move from him. For one, trying to keep up with every chat feed simultaneously is nearly impossible. Having to do that, be entertaining, and showcasing high-tier gameplay is a LOT to juggle. Additionally, there's a lot of money left on the table that Tyler isn't getting by not choosing a platform to stream exclusively on. However, I'm sure this wasn't a priority for him since he already earned a lucrative amount of money in that Mixer deal a couple years ago.


Kimball's Take:

  • TikTok is emerging as not only a necessary platform for creators to create content and branch into, but also a platform to simulcast on. With Twitch now letting partnered creators to stream on IG Live and TikTok simultaneously, it's really a no brainer to do that at the bare minimum.

  • Overall, Tyler's long-awaited grind to fame and success back in the golden age of Fortnite (2018-19) has given him the flexibility to experiment with this strategy, and I'm sure more will follow his footsteps.


Cxmmunity Launches Season 3 of HBCU Esports League


Aimed to increase participation of minorities within esports/gaming, Cxmmunity Media kicked off season three of the HBCU Esports League on Sep. 13th. The league invites students from 16 Historically Black Colleges and Universities to go head-to-head in a series of NBA 2K games. The top two teams will advance to the "Discover Bowl'' finals presented by Discover, for an opportunity to win a cash prize of $20,000.


Verizon, HBCU Esports League's first foundational brand partner, will be returning this year as a title sponsor of the upcoming season along with Nestlé HOT POCKETS®, an essential snack for all gamers, who is making its inaugural debut.


Cxmmunity Media CEO Ryan Johnson said this about their efforts and returning for another season:

We are honored to continue our service to the Black community by creating pathways for gamers of color to reach new heights of unprecedented access within the gaming industry. As we look ahead to the new season of the HBCU Esports League, we hope to continue building the table for the next generation of diverse gamers to take a seat.

This season's HBCU participation includes: Florida Memorial University, Howard University, North Carolina Central University, Claflin University, Oakwood University, Morris Brown College, Johnson C. Smith University, Wilberforce University, Tennessee State University, Southern University, Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T State University, Fayetteville State University, Benedict College, Albany State University and Bowie State University.


The HBCU Esports League will air on Twitch.tv/cxmmunity starting Sept. 13, 2022, at 6:00PM EST and run for 22 weeks.


Kimball's Take:

  • The HBCU Esports League is sadly one of the few Black-owned sports leagues that is actually providing a platform to allow Black colleges and students to gain exposure and resources to monetize in esports, an industry that is vastly underrepresented of black professionals (only 4%). However, according to Cxmmunity, 83% of Black teens identify as gamers.

  • There's been significant momentum going into this year as last year they garnered celebrity attention and participation from rapper T-Pain, actor Brett Gray, NFL Champion Mike Evans, and more. On top of that, marquee brands listed above are realizing the impact this league can have when given its shine and investment.


Roblox to launch "immersive" in-game ads


Roblox's new ad platform will allow brands to advertise in spaces made by developers. Previewed at its Roblox Developers Conference (RDC), Roblox previewed a new in-game advertising format that's expected to go live next year. include the ability to build 3D portals that transport players of the online game to custom virtual worlds. Roblox positioned the offering as a way to help advertisers foster deeper connections with its community of 58.5 million daily active users.


In Roblox RDC 2022 blog, they explained that "innovative 3D advertising experience" will be clearly labeled (per recent FTC complaint about deceptive marketing practices) and be native to the platform. Brands and developers will be able to build ad experiences that can seamlessly transport users back and forth between these in-game activations through a portal. This will create new opportunities for developers to generate revenue and enable brands to reach their communities more effectively than before.


Immersive Ads allow brands to promote their bespoke Roblox venues to an audience made up of hard-to-reach younger consumers in the Gen Z and Gen Alpha set. For creators, it’s a potential money-making opportunity, as advertisers can shell out to appear in popular worlds where people are already spending their time.


Via the Developer Exchange, developers have earned over $580 million in developer payouts. Additionally, 2.7 million people have earned Robux, Roblox's version of in-game currency from their own creations. Combining these 2 avenues of revenue for creators and developers, along with their new 'Immersive Ads and Marketplace', the game is fostering a wealth of economic opportunities. Roblox aims to better support individual business endeavors by letting creators on Marketplace control the scarcity of their online items and by allowing users to resell or trade items.


Kimball's Take:

  • Roblox has become the leader for brands that are eager to experiment in the metaverse and this larger business push for more media dollars shows that they're here to stay. I will note that Fortnite has this identical kind of portal capability already established in their creative mode. However, brands can still create experiences that are already established within the Roblox game itself. For example, in a spring campaign surrounding inclusivity, American Eagle integrated a club into Livetopia, an existing role-playing game on Roblox that’s drawn over 1.5 billion visits.


XSET Organizational Leadership Changes


XSET recently named its co-owner Erin Ashley Simon as Chief Culture Officer while Chief Merchandising Officer, Steve Birkhold, will now be the COO.

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