COD: Mobile Success
The Call of Duty: Mobile game reached 100M downloads during its first week of sales this month (they didn't even launch in China). For context, Mario Kart had 90M downloads in its first week and Fortnite had 26M. I've played the game and it's fantastic.
Mixer Signs Shroud
This week, Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek signed an exclusive streaming deal with Mixer. The terms of the deal are not public. This is the second major deal that Mixer has landed, as Shroud follows Ninja’s lead in streaming exclusively on Mixer. Shroud was the 12th most watched streamer on Twitch over the last 30 days (averaging 23k viewers across 4M hours watched).
Ninja’s departure from Twitch has not resulted in a meaningful uptick for Mixer, yet now they also have Shroud. Over the coming months, I expected that Mixer will sign more exclusive streaming contracts in an effort to pull viewership away from Twitch (average concurrent viewer base is 30x larger than Mixer).
I believe that Mixer is playing the long game here, with the backing of Microsoft, ahead of the release of the next-gen Xbox in Q4 of 2020. Also, both Ninja and Shroud are represented by Loaded (a subsidiary of Popdog). Expect to see more streamers represented by Popdog moving to Mixer over the next few quarters.
Just as there is a “content war” amongst platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and HBO, the same thing is just starting to begin amongst Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer. Also, the evolution that happened from linear TV to OTT is now repeating itself as we transition from OTT to streaming platforms.
Call of Duty: New Games + Franchising
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare has been officially released today. While the Call of Duty brand is alive and well (Call of Duty Mobile surpassed 100M downloads, without being launched in China), this brings about one of the biggest questions about their upcoming franchise league: how will a new game release every year affect the professional league going forward?
Activision Blizzard has produced several poor versions throughout their management of the Call of Duty franchise and more are expected going forward. This will almost certainly have an impact on the professional league that they are about to launch (CDL).
It’s going to be tough for investors to weather this storm in Call of Duty, especially since the CEO of Activision Blizzard, Bobby Kotick, is stating that he’s considering esports profits “on a 10-year time horizon.” I’m not sure investors will share such a long-term view when they continue to burn cash into a game that is inevitably finite.
a16z Predicts The Future of Gaming
In their recent piece on gaming, a16z produced the above chart alongside their 6 predictions on the future of gaming. While we do agree that the next iteration of social interactions will be through games, Fortnite was definitely not the first to have “millions of players socialize in squads and custom games, often with no goal to win.” This type of social interaction has been prevalent ever since the advent of multiplayer games, of which many have had millions of players. Fortnite is only the latest iteration of this. Remember: video gaming is well over 50 years old.
Technology has definitely taken the next step to support the growth of games and to allow for more social interaction (Twitch, Discord, Skillz, etc). With video games, you don’t need to be with your friends in-person and can still have a very high level of interaction. This is about take an extra step forward with things like VR hangouts, Twitch’s upcoming “watch parties”, and games that focus more heavily on being the next evolution of social media.