Earnings & Evolution

Gm, welcome to the lobby.

OverActive Media reports record revenues, does esports need promotion & relegation, gaming media taking roots, and FGC scores big!

Grab your coffee, ready up, and let’s drop in 🪂
Here’s what we have for you today:

  • OverActive Media’s 2023 Q4 and Year-End Results 📈 

  • Wrexham AFC & does esports need promotion/relegation? 🔃

  • Gaming media on the rise: an interview with Climbing Vine Media 🌱

  • Zenni & Chipotle Redux Latest Partners for Evo 2024 🕹️

📈 OverActive Media’s 2023 Q4 and Year-End Results

source: OverActive Media

OverActive Media (OAM) recently released their 2023 fourth quarter and year-end financial results. The report highlights numerous achievements and updates on the company’s operations throughout 2023. Notably, the payment of $5.3M USD to the organization was their termination payment for exiting the Overwatch League. 2023 was a big year for OAM as they refined their operations and expanded by acquiring Spanish organizations KOI and Movistar Riders. OAM has officially established a “global esports powerhouse” that aligns with its strategy to have a strong presence in North America, Spain, EMEA, and Latin America. So, let’s briefly walk through the report and the main highlights!

Report Highlights:

OAM reported record revenues of $15.7 million for the full year 2023, an 11% increase from the previous year driven by strong growth in League Revenues. The company achieved this revenue growth despite the global economic slowdown. 

Key Financial Highlights:

  •  Full-year 2023 revenue increased by $1.5 million or 11% year-over-year to a record $15.7 million

  • Operating expenses decreased by $3.2 million or 13% to $22.4 million due to reduced corporate payroll and lower team operating costs. Adjusted EBITDA loss improved by 29% to $6.2 million compared to the prior year. 

  • As of December 31, 2023, the company had cash and cash equivalents of $13.9 million, compared to $13.5 million at the end of 2022. 

Other Notable Achievements: 

  • OverActive was awarded its second Gold Medal at the Sponsorship Marketing Awards for hosting the Toronto Ultra Call of Duty Major. 

  • The company was named to the Glory Power 50 list of Canada's most impactful companies. 

  • The Company’s MAD Lions League of Legends EMEA Championship team were the LEC Spring Split Champions, was one of only two LEC teams to qualify for the Mid-Season Invitational tournament, and one of only four LEC teams to qualify for the League of Legends World Championship.

  • OverActive’s Toronto Ultra won the Call of Duty Major III Championship in Arlington, TX, and was a finalist in the 2023 Call of Duty World Championship in Las Vegas, NV.

  • OverActive hosted the Overwatch Grand Finals in Toronto from September 28 to October 1, 2023.

Words from the Boss:

CEO Adam Adamou shared, “2023 was a transformative year for us, marked by resilience and growth as we continue to build a global esports powerhouse. Our success was driven by deep engagement with our passionate audience, excellent team performances and live events, and strong and enduring brand partnerships. We achieved record revenues despite a global economic slowdown while driving productivity by significantly reducing operating expenses. We also significantly deleveraged our balance sheet by restructuring our league partnerships and completed two major acquisitions in early 2024 that will be immediately accretive to revenue and adjusted EBITDA. We have an exceptionally strong financial foundation that ideally positions us as the world’s leading esports organization.”

👀 Our POV 

Reading this report gave me a glimmer of hope for our industry, which has been experiencing hard times recently. Esports has never been an easy place to achieve healthy revenue or profitability. However, somehow, OAM is leading the way and showing how to build a relatively solid multi-regional esports empire. While I question their involvement in the CDL, I applaud their efforts to reduce staff cuts and forge ahead with strategic moves. OAM may not be profitable but they cut their yearly comprehensive losses by over half (from $36,520,000 in 2022 to $12,239,000 in 2023) and it’s an impressive feat. It’s no secret that their OWL termination payout helped a lot there. Either way, I’m eager to cheer companies like OAM on as they work to model what sustainable esports could look like.

I don’t think OAM gets talked about enough or recognized enough for the strategy it’s adopted. Many organizations have been hampered by the OWL and CLD, but OAM used them as a launchpad for a plan that spans global markets. They’ve secured a foothold in Spanish esports that outpaces their presence in North America to an impressive degree with long-term partners and significant brand presence through the Movistar and KOI acquisitions. There’s always room for improvement and I could write a whole different article on it but for now, I wish to celebrate their continued growth. We could use some good news in esports and seeing OAM plot a course to profitability is fantastic.

- Brendan Valentine (Private Lobby)

🔃 Wrexham AFC and Does Esports Need a Promotion/Relegation System?

source: Wrexham AFC

While it’s not esports… Soccer club (or Football club…) Wrexham AFC has shown the positives and the negatives of the promotion/regulation system. When teams/organizations start to struggle, the system itself will kick out underperforming teams and bring in new talent looking to make a name for themselves. But with that comes the lack of security — all of your work could be taken away with just one poor year of performance.

Wrexham AFC is one of the oldest soccer clubs in the world. From being one of the best clubs in the 70s, to tumbling down into non-league football. Imagine if the Dallas Cowboys went from playing in the NFL to now playing in your local adult recreation flag football league… Might be a tad over the top — but it shows the scale that Wrexham fell due to the promotion system.

In 2020, the club was acquired by actors Ryan Reynolds & Rob McElhenney. The move instantly caught publicity as the two looked to bring the club back to its glory days. FX would produce a documentary around the club called “Welcome To Wrexham” following the club behind the scenes on its road to the top.

With the leadership of Reynolds & McElhenney, the team was promoted back-to-back years and will be playing in EFL League One (3rd highest league in England)...

Bringing it back to Esports

Esports is very much still trying to figure itself out… 

  • How will teams make money?

  • How will leagues pick what teams get in?

  • How do we incentivize teams to keep trying?

If you’ve noticed, nearly every league based in the United States follows a franchise model — pay an entry fee into the league and you hold a permanent spot in the league. Now most will have a list of requirements you have to fulfill but you never have to worry about losing the spot. 

Esports started to mirror this model in the last few years, but the downsides have started to become noticeable…

source: Activision

Franchise Model 


  • Permanent spot in the league

  • Easier to raise funding if you can guarantee a spot

  • Potentially brings more job security to players


  • Teams don’t have to “try” to maintain their spot 

  • Cost can be high, turning some teams away

  • Could be limited by the league on what you can do 

But before all of the big investments into esports, most leagues followed the European promotion/regulation model (LCS, CWL, CS:GO, etc)

source: Wrexham AFC

Promotion Model


  • Teams always have to be competitive to maintain spot

  • Opens the door to many organizations


  • Could lose a spot just off of performance

  • Investors might be turned away by not having a permanent spot

With the franchise model starting to fade away, what’s best for esports? Is it the traditional promotion model or is there a mix that keeps everyone happy?

👀 Our POV

I think what’s best for esports is the partnership model that Riot is promoting through League Of Legends & VALORANT.

With franchising, teams don’t have to try, which can create top-heavy leagues and just give a bad look to the league.

With the promotion, my concern would be with getting investors onboard to commit to the risky model — when every other traditional league in America follows the franchise model.

The partnership model by Riot is one of — if not the best, attempts at making everyone happy. 

  • “Partnered Teams” hold guaranteed slots with multiple revenue streams from the league, however they don’t take up all the spots

    • Riot can still kick a team out if they feel as if they aren’t competitive enough

  • There are slots available for teams to qualify in, that also grant revenue streams to the team

    • However, these slots can be lost if the team performs badly

What do you think esports should do? 🤔

- Justin Palacios (Private Lobby)


🌱 Gaming media on the rise: an interview with Climbing Vine Media

source: Climbing Vine Media

With billions of gamers worldwide and gaming surpassing the movie industry in revenue, brands have begun to truly understand that gaming has to be a part of the mix when looking to activate their marketing and media budgets.

That’s where the experienced veterans from Climbing Vine Media come in. I chatted with Erin Schendle and Rachel Alexander, two-thirds of the founding team behind Climbing Vine Media about how CVm views the space and brands’ opportunities within it.

But first, what is Climbing Vine Media?

“Climbing Vine Media (CVm) is a Dallas-based women-owned, women-led firm, committed to connecting brands to hard-to-reach audiences in targeted and measurable ways.

CVm leverages 50+ years of collective expertise in sales, marketing, and media management, and is uniquely equipped with experience across the gaming audiences ecosystem – an often overlooked “whitespace” in marketing plans. With roots in both traditional and digital media, along with an agile approach to growth in new and untapped channels, the CVm team guides partners through the complexities of the ever-evolving race for attention and connection.

We work both brand-direct as a full-service media and marketing firm, and also serve other agencies as a collaborative, white-label partner specializing in hard-to-reach audiences.

CVm is laser-focused on turning brand awareness into meaningful engagement and measurable impact.”

source: Climbing Vine Media

Q&A with CVm

  • Q1) With over 50 years of collective expertise in your team, how do you blend traditional and digital media strategies to engage gamers effectively?

  • A1) Gamers are multifaceted people, consuming a wide variety of media for content and entertainment. There’s no cookie cutter blend or strategy to reach “a gamer,” but rather we leverage our expertise across ALL platforms to reach a target audience and ensure there’s message match across the board. That said, when looking to tactics and platforms within the gaming ecosystem, we keep a close eye on messaging authenticity and intent, and are aware that we’re meeting an audience where they are choosing to spend time to compete, be entertained, or connect with a like-minded community.

  • Q2) How does CVm measure the impact of the campaigns it conducts for clients, particularly in gaming where it can be notoriously difficult?

  • A2) Gaming is a digital-first ecosystem, so it is surprisingly easy to measure results when there is ample media layered into a sponsorship or promotion.

  • Q3) What challenges do you face when working with brands that are new to engaging with gaming audiences, and how do you overcome them?

  • A3) Anything “new” can be challenging and scary, always, (we have seen it over and over again when "new" media emerges) and it's true that it is sometimes hard to teach a old dog new tricks. Having an internal gaming champion on the decision-making team is always priceless, but also being able to layer in multiple tactics – some of which are “old and tried and true” – to create a holistic, cohesive plan that’s not strictly “gaming” can help ease a transition into new marketing channels. We often promote gaming platforms and tactics as a way to amplify and extend existing marketing success.

  • Q4) You mention an "agile approach to growth in new and untapped channels." Could you talk about these new channels and how you’re leveraging them?

  • A4) We leave no stone unturned! As an extension to the answer above, we’re unafraid to blend “new” tactics into plans to maximize efficiency and reach. Within the gaming ecosystem, that could mean interstitial and intrinsic ads, playables, challenge plays, influencer and content integrations, desktop app integrations, event sponsorships, org and league sponsorships… we believe in a carefully curated mix of tactics that also always includes targeted and measurable media support into that target’s media diet at large – above and beyond the gaming space across social, digital, DOOH, OTT, linear, and audio channels.

  • Q5) As you also serve as a white-label partner for other agencies, how do you ensure that your services integrate seamlessly with their existing offerings?

  • A5) Collaboration is key! When working as a white-labeled partner with other agencies, we are happy to follow their lead if/when there are overlapping services and executions. Because we have an understanding of offerings across the board, we’re able to quickly slot in, understand, and appreciate plans already in place, and then offer expertise where there may be NO overlap, and work together to ensure seamless expansion into untapped or underserved spaces.

  • Q6) Looking forward, what emerging trends do you see in the intersection of gaming & marketing, and how is CVm preparing to meet these future demands?

  • A6) Gaming is the future of how brands will interact with audience. As we see more ecommerce moving into the gaming space, if brands don't quickly adjust marketing mixes to include this channel, they will miss the boat. Brands that move into the space first will have a large advantage over those who sit on the bench and watch. The biggest call out is said best in this quote from the IAB - it's all about gaming Audiences and not simply "gamers". “With 213 million digital gamers in the U.S. (ESA, 2023), advertisers no longer consider the games advertising opportunity as only reaching “gamers.” Instead, games advertising has matured and evolved to become a continuous part of the media mix, reaching diverse and unique consumers on a massive scale.”

- Special Feature by Zach Eller (Private Lobby)

🕹️ Zenni & Chipotle Redux Latest Partners for Evo 2024

source: Chipotle/BANDAI

Chipotle is back for its second year as an Evo presenting partner. The energy that the sponsorship brought to the event in Vegas last August was something the FGC rallied behind, with Chris Brandt, Chief Brand Officer at Chipotle, saying: “The amazing reception we received from the Fighting Game Community in 2023, notably Evo attendees cheering for our ads when they aired during the competition, has inspired us to double down on our investment in FGC.” They’ll be operating a Community Lounge and producing a “Chipotle Extra Match” (heh, get it? Like guac?) segment providing coverage opportunities for those players who may not have originally gotten a share of the spotlight.

Additionally, as TEKKEN 8’s “official partner,” Chipotle launched a new digital menu item that gives TEKKEN 8 players an opportunity to earn in-game currency through purchase of the co-branded item on their website or through the Chipotle app (but also allowed any order access to the same incentive via promo code). Auxiliary elements included the 2024 Chipotle Challenger Series (CCS), the first ever branded execution across the PlayStation Tournaments platform on PS5.

As for Zenni Optical? The brand is no stranger to the gaming space as they have a list of partnerships both historically and active across groups like Gamer’s Outreach, TSM, Ghost Gaming, and the Call of Duty League. Like eyedrop brands, eyewear makes total and complete sense to continue spending in the category. This particular relationship will involve custom merch available at the Vegas event and on Zenni’s website. The goal? Simple: “to educate the FGC about the importance of eye health.”

👀 Our POV

It’s crazy how fast this space moves, isn’t it? I was looking at pulling together an Evo sponsorship article after the Zenni news, and the Chipotle announcement was a month ago? 😮‍💨 I digress.

REV/XP and the work they’ve done with Chipotle is always a fun one to analyze. From rolling burritos in Roblox, to the talent-heavy 100T activation, to their integration into the FGC… Chris Mann, Tony & team have a hell of a client partner on their hands that makes for some magic. 

I’ve been preaching FGC for a few years now, but brands are still slow to lean in. The indie nature is something like the Wild West (ex. competitors being heralded by their names vs. org-first), but if you can truly rally these folks? You’ll be elevated in a big way from a brand perspective. We may not have bit on the RTS/Sony/Evo combo as I originally pitched, but I loved seeing my Dew folks taste some of it with their MK1 Real Change efforts last year.

A few quick thoughts around why this campaign (Year 2) is so good:

  • Fully integrated: from on-site presence (Community Lounge), to sponsored content (Evo segments), to brand-backed integration into the ecosystem (campaign-specific meal and incentive), to community tournaments (Chipotle Challenger Series), to a commercial sponsorship of a lesser known esports circuit (TEKKEN World Tour) … this is not a “one-off” by any means. There was a legitimate investment made into this community to further establish authenticity. 

  • Kept it fresh: the switch from Street Fighter 6 to T8 is smart. While the shelf life of SF6 is certainly longer than just a year, the FGC itself is having a moment where franchises are all releasing new iterations of their games. Even if it's a similar page out of the playbook, shifting from one title to the next keeps it exciting and provides the opportunity for incremental fandoms to be activated which only extends the program.

  • First-to-market hook: while arguably a smaller supporting element, the Chipotle Challenger Series appearing for a second year and serving as the first branded activation on the PS5 Tournaments platform was a nice touch. The rewards being tiered to a degree where not just winners, but everyone who participated, could come away with something? Yet another tally in the “win” column.

- Brandon Painter (Private Lobby)

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Celebrating May the 4th, Team Liquid teamed up with LucasArts for a Star Wars collaboration once again, go check it out!

source: Team Liquid

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Disclaimer: our views are ours and in no way represent those of our employers.