Massive Week for Gaming

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Here’s what we have for you today:

  • Gaming Partnership Announcements

  • Sour Patch Kids Comes to Roblox

  • More Mergers Coming to Esports

  • GameSquare Sells 25% of FaZe

🎮 Gaming Partnership Announcements

source: Riot Games

After what’s been a rollercoaster of a year for the gaming industry, a strong run of partnership announcements has everyone buzzing. Let’s dive in and see what it’s all about!

The LEC Partners with Marriott Bonvoy

The League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC) unveiled a partnership with international hotel chain Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott Bonvoy will become the Official Hotel Partner of the 2024 LEC Finals Roadshow in Munich, Germany. LEC fans who join Marriott Bonvoy’s loyalty program before August 30th, 2024, will receive an exclusive digital collectible chest and key, unlocking in-game items. Additionally, fans attending the LEC Finals in Munich can purchase a special hotel package that includes exclusive merchandise.

Marriott Bonvoy will also introduce LEC-focused rewards on its ‘Moments’ experiences platform, allowing members to use points or purchase access to unique experiences, such as playing matches on-stage before the finals. The hotel chain will feature prominently during the LEC Summer Finals broadcast, integrating into countdown and break segments.

Dragonsteel Teams Up with Maryville University

In a groundbreaking partnership, acclaimed author Brandon Sanderson and his company Dragonsteel are collaborating with Maryville University to field a team in the League of Legends North American Challengers League (NACL) 2024 Summer Season. The Maryville Esports team, which will compete under the name Dragonsteel (DSTL) for the summer split, has already proven its prowess by securing 2nd place in both the regular season and playoffs of the NACL Spring season.

The announcement, featured a student-produced video and Sanderson’s famous quote, "Life before death. Strength before weakness. Journey before destination," has generated over 300K views on social media.

Evil Geniuses and Allbirds & FlyQuest and Olipop

Evil Geniuses have announced a partnership with the shoe and apparel brand Allbirds. Announcing the collaboration, Evil Geniuses’ CEO highlighted the comfort of Allbirds’ products with a video of it’s players and coaches showing off Allbirds’ products. This partnership marks Allbirds' first entry into esports.

The beverage company Olipop announced its first official esports partnership with FlyQuest. The gaming & esports organization announced the partnership with a unique video featuring it’s star players.

NRG and Rockstar Energy Extend Partnership

North American esports organization NRG and its digital media brand Full Squad Gaming have extended their partnership with Rockstar Energy that started back in 2022. This renewal will see the continuation of exclusive content and immersive experiences for fans. Rockstar Energy will sponsor Full Squad Gaming’s "Who’s the Imposter: Celebrity Edition" content series, integrating its products into the content.

👀 Our POV

It’s always great to see partnership announcements, especially with brands new to the space but these recent announcements have the industry buzzing more than usual.

Marriott Bonvoy partnering with the LEC is huge. Like with traditional sports, esports and travel brands have a ton of synergy with some fans travelling to events several times a year.

I also want to highlight the Dragonsteel collaboration between Maryville University and Brandon Sanderson. This one is really cool to see. The NACL is not a big property and for Riot Games to be able to orchestrate this partnership shows an interest from a non-endemic personality with a large audience and hopefully shows the potential for more personalities like Brandon Sanderson to invest in the space.

- Zach Eller (Private Lobby)

🍬 Sour Patch Kids Comes To Roblox

source: Sour Patch Kids

1.4M+ plays, 3.3K+ concurrent players, 100K+ Daily Active Users, and 80K+ avatar items claimed all in one week, according to Turning Tables Games. Sour Patch Kids’ "Mischief Tycoon" game, debuted June 14th, 2024 and currently sits as the #3 highest-rated branded Roblox game of all time with a user favorability rating of 96.74%. (data from RoMonitor)

The game brings in the “sour-then-sweet” fun of the brand, encouraging fans to indulge in mischief to build four fruit-themed versions of Mischief Mountain, inspired by the brand's candy flavors. Top mischief-makers can earn exclusive Sour Patch Kids-themed digital items, alongside 'phygital' rewards like Sour Patch Kids merchandise and coupons.

Sour Patch Kids’ “Mischief Tycoon” contains engaging mini-games within the experience representing SOUR PATCH KIDS fruit flavors. Currently, players can enjoy three games: Watermelon Blast, Grape Gallery, and Peach Falls, with additional mini-games planned throughout the year. A special summer celebration introduces Lemonade Loot Boxes, dropping every ten minutes and containing various rewards, including ultra-rare crates.

👀 Our POV

First off — this game is absolutely adorable. The graphics, colors, and gameplay are all super engaging. There’s clearly a lot of work and care that’s been put into making this experience immersive and fun.

As a teenager myself, I can see myself getting sucked into the Sour Patch Kids world of mischief. I’m surprised at the depth of the game’s activities. Seeing how much work they put into this branded experience really shows how much Sour Patch Kids and everyone that worked on this activation care, which in turn, makes the game seem more genuine and creates a stronger audience connection with the brand.

The advertising in the game doesn’t feel too blatant or forced, despite the very obvious Sour Patch Kids implementation; the experiences really seem to work in a natural way that doesn’t just scream, “this is an ad! Buy our product!”. In fact, I’m itching to play it right now just writing about it.

- Trinity Nguyen (Private Lobby)

🤝 More Mergers Coming To Esports

source: Sheep Esports

As reported by Sheep Esports this past week, esports giant Cloud9 is set to partner with the Call of Duty franchise, the New York Subliners, ahead of the Esports World Cup. A full merger/acquisition of NYXL (NYSL’s parent brand) is expected to follow the Esports World Cup.

The move comes after Cloud9’s aggressive approach in picking up multiple teams ahead of the Esports World Cup, presumably to strengthen their chances of winning a piece of the $60,000,000 prize pool — with $20,000,000 of it being set side of organizations who perform well across multiple games.

If the move does get approved it will be Cloud9’s 9th team acquired in the last month, adding teams/players in games such as TEKKEN, Rainbow Six Siege, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (Two separate teams), Rocket League, Apex Legends, Street Fighter 6, and EA Sports FC. 

👀 Our POV 

I’m not surprised to see this move, it’s been rumored for a couple of months that Cloud9 wants to get back into Call of Duty; however, with it being a franchised league, the opportunities are slim. From the Subliners side, fans started to worry about the org following their withdrawal from hosting a Major event noting that funding was an issue. The obvious catalyst for this deal, seems to be the EWC that’s around the corner, bringing $1.8M in prize money just for Call of Duty.

What does surprise me is how aggressive Cloud9 has been in picking up teams. They have entered into 8 separate esports within the past month, which is insane to me, but the Club Championship prize pool might be something they don’t want to miss out on. The Esports World Cup has specifically set aside $20,000,000 in prizing just for organizations to earn based on their overall performance across all games at the Esports World Cup.

source: EWC

I’ll be interested in seeing how long these teams stick with the brand past the Esports World Cup or if they’ll be let go after.

- Justin Palacios (Private Lobby)

💸 GameSquare Sells 25% of FaZe

source: GameSquare

Another move from GameSquare in what has been a busy year so far for the publicly traded company — the gaming & esports focused organization has sold a 25.5% stake in FaZe Media to an entity controlled by FaZe’s CEO, FaZe Banks for $9.5 million; valuing FaZe Media at around $40 million. This transaction follows an $11 million investment by Matt Kalish, who now holds 49% of FaZe Media, leaving GameSquare with presumably, the remaining 25.5% of FaZe Media.

Justin Kenna, CEO of GameSquare, emphasized the strategic alignment achieved through these transactions, aimed at revitalizing the FaZe brand under creator-led leadership. FaZe Media plans to leverage its IP to expand licensing, sponsorships, and product offerings within gaming, esports, and youth markets. 

The sale to FaZe Banks's entity involved a cash consideration of $9.5 million, with potential for further equity acquisition. GameSquare intends to use proceeds to fuel growth and support operational needs, while maintaining voting control over the transferred shares for two years.

GameSquare's recent money moves also include divesting in non-core assets to streamline operations and enhance profitability. These efforts have garnered over $36 million in non-dilutive capital, positioning GameSquare favorably for future growth in media, technology, and esports sectors.

GameSquare retains 100% ownership of FaZe Esports.

👀 Our POV 

I think that this move makes sense given the increasingly uncertain landscape that is esports. By divesting non-core assets and focusing on core competencies, GameSquare is aiming for profitability. GameSquare appears to be focused on leveraging its assets in content and esports to strengthen its position in the industry. Separating FaZe Media from FaZe Esports is likely a move to appease potential brand partners and reduce some of the risk for GameSquare and it’s shareholders.

Selling a minority stake in FaZe Media while retaining control allows GameSquare to realize capital for further investment and growth initiatives. This approach aligns with their strategy of focusing on high-growth, high-margin segments within esports and gaming. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. It can’t be overstated how important GameSquare and FaZe’s success are within the larger ecosystem of gaming & esports.

- Trinity Nguyen (Private Lobby)

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