A New Status Quo in Gaming

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

  • What’s old is new again: emulation on iOS continues to thrive 🎮

  • Roblox video ads & a new study points to positive impact for brands 📈

  • The current job market in gaming & esports and how you can come out ahead 💼

  • Does Call of Duty have a challenger? XDefiant releases today 🔫 

  • Overwatch teams up with Porsche to promote all-electric vehicles 🚗

🎮 What’s Old Is New Again: Emulation on iOS Continues to Thrive

source: Gamma PS1 Emulator UX

This last month, Apple turned about face on something that no one ever could have predicted: emulation. For those unaware, emulation involves using a program or application on a device to run games from yesteryear. Android users have been able to enjoy emulators of all kinds for years but Apple, who is known to be more stout with what is allowed in their App Store and what isn’t, has never given their 1.46 billion iPhone owners the ability to do so. Plenty of folks used unofficial means to be able to play these console favorites like “jail breaking” or “side loading,” but Apple deciding to concede on this matter is both a legal head scratcher and a win for the fans.

The first emulator to land was called Delta. Previously known to the jailbreaker community as GBA4iOS, this app supports ROMs (read-only memory that stores the games themselves) for the following systems:

  • Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)

  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES)

  • Nintendo 64

  • Game Boy / Game Boy Color

  • Game Boy Advance

  • Nintendo DS

Known for being slick and easy to use, Delta has racked up 17K reviews on the App Store and a cumulative rating of 5 stars… basically unheard of. However, emulation has really ramped up over the last week as there are now three other emulators making waves: Gamma, RetroArch iOS and PPSSPP. Gamma is focused on PlayStation 1 games, RetroArch can play “literally every game on consoles until GameCube and PS2,” and PPSSPP is a faithful recreation of the PlayStation Portable experience.

Worth noting: these emulators receiving support from Apple means that some of them may be accessible across the entire Apple ecosystem. RetroArch is the first of its kind that can be played on Apple TV, meaning that you can play favorites from Atari 2600 to Commodore to Intellivision to Sega Genesis to the TI-83 (yes, the scientific calculator) on your living room set.

👀 Our POV 

Nostalgia is hot right now. Tapping into positive emotions from the past is a consistently well-received strategy in marketing and advertising for the last few years. Whether it be the absolute resurgence of LEGO (adult-skewed sets, collectors and Fortnite), elevating decades’ old IP in new media like Barbie, or emulators landing on Apple’s App Store setting the internet on fire… people love an escape and revisiting times when things were much simpler is a common way to do that.

When I posted to LinkedIn about the Delta emulator, it stirred up all kinds of commentary. While a handful were very confident that Apple would shut this down before it started to proliferate (though, they were the ones that put out an official supporting statement and opened the gates themselves), we all were left wondering how this is legal. The use of an emulator itself is not illegal- those programs are squeaky clean from a functional and technical standpoint. What isn’t nearly as cut and dry? The ROMs used to play games. I’d venture to say that 99.5% of ROMs downloaded and played are essentially pirated versions of commercial property. 

This will continue to be an interesting place to watch, but what I do know for sure is that the popularity of this type of program (now available across virtually all smartphones) will continue to fuel gaming aesthetics and themes across a wide swatch of creative in market as “gaming” becomes more and more of a cultural epicenter.

- Brandon Painter (Private Lobby)

📈 Roblox video ads & a new study points to positive impact for brands

source: Roblox

Roblox recently announced that Roblox video ads are now available to any eligible advertiser on the platform and along with the announcement, released an audience impact and brand lift study in conjunction with Latitude.

“By advertising on Roblox, brands can create deeper connections and engage tens of millions of Gen Z users who represent our top-spending demographic and spend millions of hours here daily connecting and exploring immersive experiences.” - Stephanie Latham, Roblox Vice President of Global Brand Partnerships

The findings from the audience study of 2,100 participants demonstrated that people have a positive reception to brands on Roblox. For example, 78 percent of respondents said they enjoy immersive experiences from brands on Roblox, while 82 percent said they appreciate brands that provide in-experience content, like avatar items and special mini-games. And 86 percent said Roblox was a “good or great” partner for helping to promote brands.

source: Roblox

The blog on Roblox’s website highlighting the audience study went on to say: “Since the end of 2023, we’ve also been testing video ads with a limited number of advertising partners and studying the impact of that initiative. And today, we’re excited to announce that we’re expanding our Immersive Ads offerings and bringing video ads to all eligible advertisers. This is an important step forward, as it enables more brands to directly share their messages with tens of millions of our community members without creating custom-built content. It’s also an extension of a growing opportunity for Roblox developers to monetize their experiences.”

💥 Impact from Video Ads & User Reactions

In the audience study, we found that Roblox users responded positively to video ads from multiple brands and consumer categories. In fact, 75 percent of respondents said they’re more likely to notice brands that advertise on Roblox versus elsewhere. In part, that’s because the attention-grabbing video ads that were part of the study were designed to be immersive and to not disrupt the user experience. When averaged across the brands** in our test, Roblox video ads generated statistically significant increases in all key metrics — brand awareness, ad awareness, opinion, consideration, and recommendation.

source: Roblox

Users exposed to a Roblox video ad were significantly more likely than non-viewers to take the following actions:

  • Visit the brand’s Roblox experience (+10pp)

  • Post about the brand on social media (+5pp)

  • Watch brand advertisements online (+4pp)

  • Check out the brand’s website (+4pp)

  • Follow the brand on social media (+4pp)

  • Search for more info about the brand (+3pp)

👀 Our POV

Roblox Video Ads are now available to all eligible advertisers. This is huge. Roblox is easily one of the most popular online platforms of young gamers, a demographic that is increasingly difficult to reach & engage.

This new feature allows brands to target these players, raise awareness, and drive traffic to a a customized landing page/promotion or a branded Roblox experience, presenting a massive opportunity for marketers.

Roblox’s strategy of releasing their audience impact study while rolling out Roblox Video Ads was clever. A few months ago I did some research on Roblox In-Game “Portal Ads”, which are essentially portals (ads) to other Roblox worlds, and became confused as to why the CPM for these ads was as low as it was, especially given the effectiveness & CPC of the Portal Ads. It’s great to see this study support that effectiveness to some degree, though video ads are slightly different assets than Roblox’s Portal Ads.

Whether Roblox and Roblox Video Ads should be a part of your marketing campaign depends on your brand, your campaign, and your goals but you’re going to want this tool in your toolbelt.

- Zach Eller (Private Lobby)


💼 The Current Job Market in Gaming & Esports and How You Can Come Out Ahead

source: OpTic Gaming

The news in the gaming and esports job markets has been bleak, to say the least. And I can see the hopelessness arise in my fellow industry comrades as one announcement of layoffs follows another; sometimes twice in one day. In fact, in the last week, Square Enix, CI Games and Mighty Kingdom have all announced a reduction in workforces.

I’m a part of a large Discord server of professionals that have either been impacted by the layoffs or there to support (I fall in both categories) and every time the mods post another link to bad news, it’s inevitably followed by a barrage of sadness-themed emojis. This one is very popular → 😭 

And that is the beauty and the curse of social media and digital community platforms. News travels fast. And when it’s bad, it can be compounded by the reactions, comments, most of which have been negative. And that’s OK. People are stressed and worried and they need to vent. Each post acts like a mini therapy session for the impacted and FOIs (“Friends of Impacted”).

There may be another way to look at this: back in April, I did a gaming and esports jobs report and I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. Of the top 15 companies in the space I surveyed, there were 587 active jobs available. I was expecting maybe a fifth of that. In the report, I identified some trends that I think we can expect to continue as the year rolls on, but the big takeaway for me was this: there are jobs, the talent pool is just getting deeper.

After I was laid off from my own gaming job back in January 2023, I launched http://gamingcareers.gg, a career coaching service for our industry. I did this because I knew there was a lack of professional support available when it came to career strategy in gaming and esports; in fact there was really none at all. I was aware that colleges and universities were offering courses to train for the industries, but nothing on how to turn those skills into work. Or how to build an effective resume after a layoff. Or how to learn new habits and break old ones to get ahead in a gaming career. And after some learnings and a couple brand refreshes 🙃 I have a pretty steady stream of clients that are doing great things. The outcomes have all been very positive: from finding jobs to breaking into the industries to starting new businesses.

The patterns were very apparent with the people I was working with. The combination of consistent bad news with a deepening talent pool was making it overwhelming and stressful for them. And for most of us, that’s not very motivating. For some of us, it can be paralyzing or lead to increased feelings of doubt, low self-esteem and the dreaded impostor syndrome.

And then, we give up. It’s too much. It’s hopeless. I can’t watch.

Well, I’m a coach by trade. And let’s pretend you’re my team. And we just had a bad season. So what are we going to do? Hang out in the scrim room and sulk? Of course not. We are going to do some exercises and get better. It’s the off-season and it’s time to grind. But for your career.

Here are three things that you can do to improve on yourself when you think the career game has got you beat:

  1. Do a career inventory: And not just a skills assessment. Write down what you do well, what marketable skills you have and what opportunities are out there for you. AND write down the things that you don’t do well, that don’t serve you, that are holding you back. If you want to have a better season, you’re going to have to improve or discard.

  2. Work on your vision: What do you see for yourself in your gaming or esports career? Visualize this. Go exploring your insides and write it down or make a vision board. What comes up for you will probably excite you and give you a new playbook to follow.

  3. Remain teachable: Whether you’re in between jobs or even in one, take a little time every day to improve or learn a new skill. Or at a minimum, seek answers from those around you.

And lastly, if you’re stuck, don’t do this alone. Team up with people who can keep you accountable. I offer free resources for career help and I would love to hear from you too.

🤜 Stay strong, my friends. 🤛

- Special Guest Feature by Adam Hobbs (gamingcareers.gg)

🔫 Does Call Of Duty Have A Challenger?

source: XDefiant

Following months of beta testing, XDefiant releases today — May 21st. After nearly a year of delays, the arcade FPS game is set to drop with 14 maps, 5 factions, 5 game modes, and 24 weapons in their “Preseason”. After the 6 week preseason XDefiant will have 3 month seasons, with the first full year planned out already.

In Year 1, players will see —

  • 4 New Factions

  • 12 New Weapons

  • 12 New Maps

source: XDefiant

The game looks to challenge Call Of Duty, eliminating skill-based matchmaking, pumping out new content, and introducing movement & gunplay with a high skill ceiling.

With the game set to launch near the Call Of Duty “off-season” before the new yearly Call Of Duty game, it’ll be interesting to see how the game can take advantage of the timing and if it can take away any market share from the AAA giant.

👀 Our POV

I’m glad to see a major player come forward and challenge Call Of Duty, who has been left alone for multiple years. And with no challenger, there’s no need for them to improve if people keep buying the game…

There are two things I’m worried about when it comes to XDefiant though:

  • Skill Based Match Making": The conversation around SBMM comes around every year near the launch of the yearly Call Of Duty. You see a large majority of people speak out about it on social media, but is it the true majority? I’d bet there are thousands, maybe even millions of players who aren’t deep into gaming social media, who just want to get on the game and have a slight challenge but still have fun. Not having to worry about playing a YouTube going for nukes with a pistol against players below their skill level. SBMM gives these casual players a chance to hop on and hop off to enjoy the game without having to put in major hours to enjoy the game. The downside to this though, is that those players WHO ARE skilled will have to go up against similar skilled players 24/7, meaning that they always have to try and never get a chance to relax.

    Will the lack of SBMM turn the casual player away? Or will the increase in “skilled players” enjoying pubs outweigh the “casual players” fun?

  • Cheating: Cheating has been rampant in nearly every PC game, especially FPS games. If you’ve ever gotta near the higher half of Ranked Play in Call Of Duty, you’ll play with/against a cheater in nearly every lobby. And with how poor the anti-cheat has been, players can’t have confidence that they’re playing legitimate players.

I’m interested in seeing how XDefiant handles cheaters, because if they can get ahead of it and place harsh bans to deter cheating — it could help them cut into Call of Duty’s market share.

- Justin Palacios (Private Lobby)

🚗 Overwatch Teams Up with Porsche

source: Overwatch

Overwatch has teamed up with Porsche to create a specialty skin line based around the new all-electric 2025 Porsche Macan Turbo for D.Va & All-Electric Porsche Taycan for Pharah.

The skins were both co-designed alongside Porsche, featuring Porsche emblems & text faces across the skins. Custom Car SFX mimicking each respective car will be added to the skins, giving more of a Porsche touch to the skin. D.Va’s skin will feature Porsche headlights & tail lights, as well as leather seats similar to the Porsche Macan Turbo.

source: Overwatch

The skins can only be unlocked by purchasing them from the shop, individually for about $25 dollars, or in the Porsche Mega bundle combining the skins for about $35.

👀 Our POV

First off, similar to the team’s skin article a few weeks back, these skins don’t only give players a chance to support the brands they love — but they also operate as a walking billboard for your brand. Especially with the Porsche logos on the skins, it’s a subtle way to promote the brand within the game.

I’m honestly surprised more car brands aren’t involved with esports. It has slowly been on the rise with Liquid & Honda, NRG & Kia, FaZe & Nissan, 100 Thieves & Lexus. But when it comes to the major luxury & supercar makers, Mercedes has been the only major player with their yearly involvement with League Of Legends Worlds. Let me know if I’m missing one but Mercedes is the only brand that stuck with me as one that has consistently been supporting esports.

I think there’s space for luxury brands, not just cars, within the gaming & esports realm. Not all of the gaming demographic will fit their needs — but there is definitely a percentage. Combined with these big flashy streamers wearing designer clothes & owning insane cars — I wouldn’t be surprised to see people like KaiCenat, Sketch, or xQc receive “gifts” from these top-tier luxury brands to promote to their audience.

- Justin Palacios (Private Lobby)

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