TNL eSports Podcast 028: Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Director eSports Business

TNL ESPORTS PODCAST 028: MONUMENTAL SPORTS AND ENTERTAINMENT - GRANT PARANJAPE, DIRECTOR ESPORTS BUSINESS

TNL eSports Podcast 028: Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Director eSports Business (Photo: The Next Level)

TNL eSports Podcast 028: Monumental Sports and Entertainment, Director eSports Business (Photo: The Next Level)

TNL Take: In this edition of The Next Level eSports Podcast 028, we speak with Grant Paranjape, Director eSports Business for Monumental Sports and Entertainment.

We chat about:

-His history in Gaming and eSports
-NBA 2K League
-Washington Wizards Involvement
-Real and eSports Games
-MSE OTT Platform
-Scouting and Teams
-Athlete Brand Building

Enjoy the conversation!

 THE NEXT LEVEL ESPORTS PODCAST

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Exclusive: eSports Travel Summit To Hold Its First NBA 2K League Panel

EXCLUSIVE: ESPORTS TRAVEL SUMMIT TO HOLD ITS FIRST NBA 2K LEAGUE PANEL

NBA 2K League Panel at 2017 TEAMS Conference (Photo: The Next Level)

NBA 2K League Panel at 2017 TEAMS Conference (Photo: The Next Level)

Exclusive:  The Next Level is proud to announce the first panel held by the eSports Travel Summit dedicated to the launch of the new NBA 2K League on November 1.

This educational session will examine the launch of the NBA 2K League, which the NBA and 2K see as a platform for the engagement of the next generation of sports fans. 

Confirmed presenters for the session include Aaron Ryan, senior vice-president of business operations for the NBA 2K League; Ted Dalton, senior vice-president of corporate partnerships and business development for the Boston Celtics; Alex Martins, chief executive officer for the Orlando Magic; Josh Barney, director of eSports and technology for the Utah Jazz; and veteran broad- caster Bonnie Bernstein, founder of Walk Swiftly Productions. 

The session will be presented by The Next Level and will be moderated by Manny Anekal.

Visit TEAMSconference.com for further info

Disruptive Technologies for eSports: ICO's

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR ESPORTS: ICO'S

Disruptive Technologies for eSports: ICO's (Photo: United Artists)

Disruptive Technologies for eSports: ICO's (Photo: United Artists)

TNL Industry Guest Post 008: Over the past 13 years, Anton Ferraro has helped develop numerous esports focused properties including tournament broadcasts, television programs, streaming platforms, branded campaigns, digital products & live event activations.

Anton began his career in 2004 by organizing and playing at local Halo events and shortly thereafter joined Major League Gaming to assist their media efforts. After 8 years with the company Anton transitioned to the West Coast and helped build the Azubu streaming platform as Director of Content.

Anton currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and pug and too much of his time is spent playing Overwatch. You can view his work at www.AntonFerraro.com

TNL Take:  In the first post, we looked at the potential disruption that blockchain technologies like Ethereum could have on eSports

Now that it's already been a month, we've moved onto the next hot buzzword of the moment: ICO's or Initial Coin Offerings.

As with anything hot and new comes the inherent risk - hence why we will look at the good, the bad and the ugly that comes with each.

Two of the main tools we will use to examine ICO's are White Papers & CoinMarketCap.com.


White Papers are technical papers provided by the team who are selling the coins. These papers aren’t audited by any government entity so their accuracy should be taken with a grain of salt. They’re not ideal but it’s usually better to have some insight as opposed to having none.


CoinMarketCap hooks into the API’s of various cryptocurrency exchanges and calculates a volume weighted average for different coins. Again, unregulated but having some info is better than none.

 

SKINCOIN

Skincoin (Photo: Skincoin)

Skincoin (Photo: Skincoin)

GOAL

“Our main product under this ICO is creating an exchange service with a convenient API for connecting to the third party websites, so that they can accept payments in SKINCOIN without having to open and maintain their own stores.”

 

THE GOOD

Gambling is a lucrative space within eSports with skin betting estimated to be a $5B market. The developers also operate several skin related websites that they hope to plug SkinCoin into. (Steamtrade.net, Skinwin.com, Case.club and Dotashop.net). Outside of those little things like ethics and morality, it seems that the team knows the market they are planning to operate in.

 

THE BAD

It remains to be seen whether SkinCoin will offer enough functionality to be adopted by sites other than the ones owned by its operators.

At the conclusion of the ICO, the market cap spiked and then promptly plummeted to $3.4M. By cocktail napkin math, the creators control somewhere in the neighborhood of 82% of the the tokens.

 

THE UGLY

Valve (and various government entities) have previously attempted to shut down skin trading websites. While these sites are no doubt profitable, SkinCoin is choosing to operate in a very legal grey area. 

Horror stories abound of minors circumventing age gates, getting addicted to gambling and racking up thousands of dollars of debt on their parent’s credit cards before they are even of a legal age to wager.

 

FIRSTBLOOD.IO

Firstblood.io (Photo: Firstblood)

Firstblood.io (Photo: Firstblood)

GOAL

“FirstBlood will be the first decentralized app, built on top of Ethereum, that allows eSports enthusiasts to compete in their favorite games through a decentralized, automated platform.”

 

THE GOOD

FirstBlood completed it’s ICO in October of 2016 when Ethereum was trading at ~$10, raising $5M. In Spring of 2017 Ether spiked to a peak of $391 and has recently been hovering around $300. If they kept their funding round in Ethereum to this point — Firstblood would sitting on a $150M warchest.

Since their raise FirstBlood has built a team, launched a platform, and seen the value of their token spike to $2.05 and then settle at $0.66. The platform currently supports only DoTA 2 but they are teasing the addition of other games in the near future.

Nothing I’ve seen yet is revolutionary but the potential size of their warchest will allow them to experiment and pivot the product if need be. They’re also riding the momentum of the Ethereum developer community which could provide breakthroughs FirstBlood could capitalize on.

 

THE BAD

FirstBlood is following in the footsteps of ESEA, Gamebattles and a slew of other competition platforms in attempting to package a competitive skill based system. Before assessing the benefits of using a crypto currency for this service, it’s important to understand the intrinsic difficulties that come with operating such a service:

/01 Publishers & Developers have greatly improved their in game matchmaking and competition features [Edit: As well as the platforms themselves] .

Many other tournament platforms have been launched and shuttered (Virgin Gaming, XFire, Avyd, etc and from a user perspective the value provided by these services is not worth the difficulty of using an outside service. Yes you can get introduced to other serious competitors - but managing accounts, reporting matches and  managing disputes is tedious - which in large part has prevented these services from scaling.

/02 Skill based platforms tend have sharks who prey on newer entrants. A few of the top players will take money from newbies, drive away the newbies, and ultimately stifle growth.

 

THE UGLY

When I reached to reference the accuracy of the archived FirstBlood White Paper linked above a representative for the company said that there is no current White Paper for First Blood. This leads me to think that the product has pivoted beyond the vision that was shared prior to the ICO.

 

NEVERDIE

Neverdie (Photo: Neverdie)

Neverdie (Photo: Neverdie)

GOAL

“The purpose of the NEVERDIE Coin and Teleport Token is to turn the mechanics of buying a new life in a game or traveling within a game or between games into a utility that requires universal tokens. With a limit to the number of tokens in circulation, these utility tokens gain an intrinsic value as the demand to utilize them grows.“

 

THE GOOD

MMORPG’s have millions of people playing them with the digital goods found in these games having real life dollar value with NEVERDIE hoping to become the currency that is used to trade these goods. They have two products on the market — the NEVERDIE Coin & the Teleport Token.

The market cap for virtual goods is increasing, so this is a good place to be. To aid with strategy Neverdie has secured the services of Richard Garriot — a pioneer in MMORPG development.

 

THE BAD

What value these two tokens can provide remains to be seen. Exchanges for MMORPG digital goods exist, however publishers are incredibly wary of secondary markets and Neverdie is going to need their support to improve their product.

 

THE UGLY

Neverdie has the lofty goal of creating 1 billion jobs in virtual reality worlds. In practice, the wages for these type of jobs are incredibly low and in the past has resulted in unscrupulous digital slave shops to be built.

 

HUNGRY PANDA

Hungry Panda Games (Photo: Hungry Panda Games)

Hungry Panda Games (Photo: Hungry Panda Games)

 

GOAL

“The HPGC token can be used to pay for premium in-game content, compete in eSports competitions, share in yearly game revenue payouts, or sell on an open exchange.”

 

THE GOOD

HPG hopes to finance their video game studio and projects via Ethereum and the blockchain. Looking back to 2009, Riot benefitted greatly by being a first mover in the freemium space. If the Ethereum model succeeds, Hungry Panda Games could find themselves owning a financing pipeline that could grant them a lot of freedom to experiment and innovate.

Profits from the studio will be split among token holders and a percentage of studio revenues will be used to buy tokens back. This “stock buyback” program may serve to drive token prices up, which is lucrative for token holders.

Finally the studio says it will focus on traditional forms of distribution as well thereby diversifying risk by also incorporating traditional monetary systems.

 

THE BAD

Hungry Panda’s website states that they have a 15 member team that has worked for various studios - which would be more compelling if more information was provided.

 

THE UGLY

Their team identity hasn’t really been revealed, the website is amateur looking and everything found online is from their press release. For all their AAA experience it’s surprising the limited amount of credibility Hungry Panda Games has managed to establish.

 

 

Conclusion: The ICO space is incredibly active. There will be a few huge winners and many losers. Unikrn with Mark Cuban and Na’Vi’s past owner are also offering huge ICO’s in the eSports space and there will be more after them. Cryptocurrencies have spiked and it remains to be seen to what degree this will be a sustainable market. 

We will look at the upcoming batch of ICO's in the next part of the blockchain series.

 


Disruptive Technologies For eSports: 3D Printing

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGIES FOR ESPORTS:  3D PRINTING

3D Printer (Photo: KaboomPics)

3D Printer (Photo: KaboomPics)

TNL Industry Guest Post 007: Over the past 13 years, Anton Ferraro has helped develop numerous esports focused properties including tournament broadcasts, television programs, streaming platforms, branded campaigns, digital products & live event activations.

Anton began his career in 2004 by organizing and playing at local Halo events and shortly thereafter joined Major League Gaming to assist their media efforts. After 8 years with the company Anton transitioned to the West Coast and helped build the Azubu streaming platform as Director of Content.

Anton currently resides in Brooklyn, New York with his wife and pug. Too much of his time is spent playing Overwatch. You can view his work at www.AntonFerraro.com


TNL Take:  In the last post I explored the potential impact of the Ethereum Blockchain across a few different verticals and will have a follow up post shortly.  Today we’ll examine opportunities 3D printing can provide within eSports.

 

A CASE STUDY IN STREAMING

In the late 00’s a group of entrepreneurs saw that the cost of delivering a video stream over a network was falling exponentially. At the same time, the proliferation of high speed internet and Moore's Law were allowing an increasing number of hobbyists to engage in the activity.

After a few years of hard work, a few pivots and the ever-needed bit of luck, Twitch sold to Amazon for ~$1B and currently sits as one of the top websites in the world.

3D printing is an industry which mirrors that of streaming.

The technology for printing is becoming exponentially better while the cost to participate is falling. This is allowing an increasing amount of hobbyists to create increasingly more impressive offerings. Digital hubs like MyMiniFactory and support networks like Patreon are allowing some of these hobbyists to generate revenue.

The decentralized nature of the activity will provide opportunities for content creators while challenging IP owners.

The situation parallels the early days of YouTube when video creators utilized IP’s belonging to publishers to create their own content. Heavy handed reproaches by the IP owners were not effective for a multitude of reasons and it took years for the platforms, creators, and IP owners to find a balance all three parties could accept.

Ultimately the IP owners aka Game Publishers realized that free content was an ongoing advertising campaign they could use to greatly increase revenue [Edit: Read this line again and again]

Publishers shifted their product development cycles and created DLC (Downloadable Content) and the GAAS (Games As A Service) business model started padding their bottom lines.

Early movers like TSM and OpTic Gaming built highly engaged followings off the video niche and are still reaping the rewards of that effort. While I expect it will take a few years for the 3D printing vertical to mature, as always early movers may score similar gains.

 

THE IMPLICATIONS OF 3D PRINTING

3D printing will impact eSports by improving the product design and distribution aspects of merchandising. The current merchandising model imposes limits on experimentation and requires long turn around periods for heavily customized gear.

eSports owners are frequently limited by the options offered by their suppliers which has caused a glut of similar items such as the same t-shirts, hats, keychains, hats, and posters.

 

PRODUCT DESIGN

Adding a 3D printing capabilities will allow eSports teams to capitalize on time sensitive tentpole events. Having a subject matter expert designing the gear in house will both shorten the design cycle and increase the authenticity of the item:

  • Custom bobble heads for new roster additions
  • Commemorative medals based on tournament victories
  • Supporting merchandise for viral content

The latest generation of 3D printers are also capable of printing complex electronic components. Once this tech hits the prosumer level it will be possible to create merchandise that can interface with digital libraries to provide additional value to the customer. [Edit: Hi Amazon and the NFL]

http://tnl.media/esportsnews/2017/8/22/ea-madden-nfl-amazon-mobile

http://tnl.media/esportsnews/2017/8/22/ea-madden-nfl-amazon-mobile

DISTRIBUTION

The current model is a pipeline of injection mold design, mass production, and distribution via international shipping.

Injection molds are expensive to produce.

Only after selling a specified amount of merchandise does the designer hit a break even point that pays for the injection mold.

The 3D printing model does not require injection molds and eliminates the risks associated with minimum product and the need to accurately forecast demand. This makes it economically viable to profit from small batches of items and scale up if and when a greater demand materializes.

3D printing is already seeing factories and prosumer level printers offering their services in many areas around the globe. This moves the responsibility of distribution costs and logistics away from designers and allows them to focus on the product.

 

CHALLENGES

Would You? (Photo: Someone On The Internet)

Would You? (Photo: Someone On The Internet)

As with any disruptive technology there are legal and hardware hurdles that need need to be overcome:

  • 3D printing is the perfect storm of patent, IP and privacy law
  • Printers need to get faster & cheaper
  • The technology needs to be more consumer friendly

 

Despite these challenges I believe the momentum of the 3D printing industry will force the existing status-quo to be transformed as it was with eSports video and live streaming.