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Game Publishers and the Esports Startup Ecosystem Catch-22

**Originally posted on our CEO’s Medium page

When we see numbers about the growth of the Esports business, we normally see those numbers separated from the game industry overall. And all too often, we do not consider the underlying power dynamics of the games ecosystem, and how the Esports business is situated within it.

The plain truth of this ecosystem is the hegemonic power of the game content owners, be they publisher or developers.

Esports exists because communities of gamers came together to enjoy watching people play their favorite games. Now we find ourselves on the cusp of graduating from this “community-based activity” to a more formalized and potentially profitable ecosystem.

Esports as a business is about the broadcasting rights of game content, and therefore, the power reverts to the rights-holders, the game publishers.

When we at Genvid approached the esports opportunity, we came to the conclusion that if we built our startup around the publisher rather than withthe publisher — and building around includes the use of publicly available game APIs — we would be building our business on shaky ground. Instead, we build tools for developers, aligning incentives and making them our customers.

It continuously surprises me how many Esports opportunities are being built on top of publisher’s content assuming the publishers will ignore ancillary businesses.

This leads to a catch-22 situation: claims of amassing value in this ecosystem assuming that the parties with the most to gain and most control over the ecosystem will just ignore their activities.

To date, publishers have broadcasting ownership, but either treat esports as a marketing tool (Electronic Arts) or as an ancillary ecosystem (Valve). Only a few publishers have attempted the next stage: consolidation leading toward the transformation of marketing cost center to broadcasting revenue center (Riot, Activision).

But when the latter consolidation happens — publishers decide to take Esports seriously — you get vertical integration of the stack by the publisher (see Overwatch LeagueRiot’s franchise system), leading to the rusg being pulled under businesses which have sprouted on top of the content.

Hence the catch-22: When businesses in their ecosystem aren’t making money, the publisher will ignore them, but when the ecosystem is growing, the publisher can pull its weight to capture that value. (Or, if the publisher just doesn’t like what’s going on with these ancillary businesses, they can pull the plug with a cease and desist.)

Which is it — is there is a lot of value to be had or not? And if there is so much value, why would the publishers continue to allow others to operate so freely without their involvement?

Startups that treat the content owner as their source of business — companies who thread the needle between the needs of the publishers and their own independence — can survive this catch-22. Startups will need to prove that they provide value that the publishers could not, or would not, be in a position to provide themselves.

I urge investors and startup founders alike to think critically about how their opportunity takes into consideration the game content owners’ catch-22.

Interactive Streaming and the Future of Content

Mixer

Microsoft-owned Mixer’s interactive streaming

Interactive streaming is one of this year’s major trends.

This month we’ve seen Netflix announce “Choose Your Own Adventure”-style shows. Last month saw the rebranding of Microsoft’s Beam to Mixer and the introduction of co-streaming. And Twitch began testing interactive overlays on their website directly.

We’re seeing an expansion from the passive streaming that built the livestreaming industry. Passive streaming is where you have players, and you have viewers, and those two segments are bifurcated apart from chat.

Instead, interactive streaming breaks the bifurcation and turns this bifurcation into a spectrum. Everyone becomes a “participant.”

Do you want to actively participate? If you have a controller and gaming rig, you can control camera and play.

Do you want to participate through your iPhone? If you have the app you may be able to set traps like the Hunger Games.

Or are you just hanging out with an extra browser tab and just tap around the stream and get information? You can interact and engage — you can participate — to the level with which you want to.

We consider each granular “interaction” a “micro-engagement”. These micro-engagements are a new type of business model that monetizes participants. As opposed to paying for an item as a player, you are instead paying for a fleeting moment of fun that you experience alongside millions of others.

Developers create value by seeing non-player participants as their customers and by creating awesome experiences that can be the basis for all kinds of new monetization.

Developers will be able to make significant profits from these experiences, and advertising, which had been the primary revenue model of streaming platforms until now, will become a secondary source.

And this is not just about games. We will see this happen in all media. We will see real sports data turned into game data in real-time. You’ll be able to click and interact with a live baseball game through a game engine. Furthermore, traditional media companies used to creating passive content are already looking at interactive streaming (as the Netflix example above shows.) Twitch has called it “social television.

Game developers and traditional media companies, today on opposite sides of the spectrum between interactive and passive media, are both positioning themselves toward this new future. Game companies are steadily branching into media through their livestreaming efforts, and media companies (through VR and other products) are increasing pushing into the space operated by game makers. Who will get there first?

Genvid Technologies Selected for Featured Pavilion at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

TechCrunch Disrupt 05152017 SignFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Genvid Technologies Selected for Featured Pavilion at TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017

Announces ten games in Genvid technology pipeline

NEW YORK (May 15, 2017) – Game technology solutions provider Genvid Technologies, Inc. (Headquarters: New York, henceforth “Genvid”) today announced it has been selected by TechCrunch as featured startup in the field of Media, Gaming & Entertainment. On May 15, Day 1 of Disrupt NY 2017, Genvid will be the highlighted gaming company of Startup Alley’s Featured Pavilion, and will demo on the Showcase Stage at 12pm on May 17.

“At this year’s TechCrunch, attendees will get a chance to see and touch our unrivaled streaming technology,” says Genvid CEO Jacob Navok. “We’ll be showing off esports, VR and other online titles using our technology to make fully interactive streaming experiences.”

Partnerships with Game Studios Worldwide

Genvid is also announcing today that ten titles, including major esports brands, are in Genvid’s pipeline. Specific title announcements are expected for later this year.

Visitors to Genvid’s booth at TechCrunch Disrupt NY will see streams from Genvid-enabled servers showcasing the cross-platform multiplayer VR title Super Kaiju running from multiple perspectives on YouTube.

Genvid will also showcase its new integration with UK-based Edge Case Games’ popular MOBA title Fractured Space, allowing viewers of streams to spectate live matches of the strategic space war game from their perspective of choice and interact with the stream as though they were in-engine of the game.

Both Unreal and Unity Support: Any Developer, Anywhere Can Make and Monetize an Interactive Stream

Genvid’s SDK, now in its v1.4 release, includes Unreal Engine 4 and Unity support via a simple plugin allows any game developer to quickly get started with interactive streams over YouTube.

The Genvid SDK maps viewer interactions from a game onto the video itself in real-time. As a result, livestreams can be monetized through transactions that are uniquely targeted to the person watching, leading to a huge revenue opportunity for game developers between sponsorships and in-stream purchases.

What is Genvid Technologies?

Founded in 2016 by game industry veterans Genvid is backed by March Capital Partners and OCA Ventures.

Genvid provides an SDK for game developers to integrate into their games and allows game developers to make revolutionary broadcasts. The Genvid SDK is a simple-to-use middleware, flexible enough to run on any streaming platform and infrastructure that developers want to support.

The company’s name is a fusion of two Latin root words, Gen meaning “birth” and Vid meaning “viewing”; reflecting the company’s mission to power a new era of interactive streaming experiences.

A media kit for this release, including screenshots and video, is available at http://www.genvidtech.com/Disrupt2017mediakit/

About TechCrunch Disrupt

TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2017 is TechCrunch’s 8th annual conference in New York. The format combines top thought-leader discussions with new product and company launches. Morning executive discussions debate technology-driven disruptions in many industries, while the afternoons are reserved for the Startup Battlefield, where 20+ new companies will launch for the first time onstage, selected to present from numerous applications received from around the world. The winning company will receive a $50,000 grand prize and the Disrupt Cup at the conclusion of the conference. The conference is May 15-17 at Pier 39 in New York.

Contact
Company name: Genvid Technologies, Inc.
Email Address: info@genvidtech.com

The Genvid SDK is Copyright 2016-2017 Genvid Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
YouTube is a registered trademark of Google Inc.
Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Engine, and Unreal Tournament, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. © 2004-2017, Epic Games, Inc. All rights reserved.
Unity and the Unity Engine are copyright © 2017 Unity Technologies.
Directive Games and Super Kaiju are copyright © Directive Games Limited.
Edge Case Games and Fractured Space are trademarks of Edge Case Games Ltd © 2017 All rights reserved.

Opening Remarks by Yoichi Wada on Genvid Technologies’ 2017 GDC Session

Yoichi WadaOn March 1, 2017, former Square Enix CEO Mr. Yoichi Wada gave the opening remarks at Genvid Technologies’ GDC session. We’d like to share those remarks with you here. Japanese follows. 日本語は以下へ続く。


Thank you very much for coming.
Today youre going to get a glimpse into the future.
Over the 40 year history of the game industry we have seen its market size grow consistently larger.

From arcade games to console games, and then to smartphones, as devices have become steadily more generalized, the number of people considered players of games has also grown exponentially.

Many may think that, with this, the game industry has finally matured.
However, that is not the case.

Today, the theme is the opening up a new frontier.Wada GDC badge
Until now, the game industry has focused exclusively on the game player.
But please think about this for a moment.

Music, sports, etc the majority of entertainment has built its market place not only on the player, but that of the listener, that of the viewer.
If the game industry pays attention to this opportunity, it can expect to grow many times more. 

Genvid Technologies is focused not on the game player, but on the game viewer, and is the leading company paving the technical foundation for monetizing viewers.
I would like to ask them to present to you what they are working on.

When I was managing Square Enix, I released many products, but game titles are not the only things I have put out in the world.
I take with pride the staff of Genvid as another work I gave birth to during my time at Square Enix.

Thank you again for coming today, and I am sure the Genvid team is looking forward to answering your questions at the conclusion of the session.


Yoichi Wada本日は来ていただいてありがとうございます。
皆様は非常に先見の明がある。
この会場がいっぱいになってから関心を持つのでは遅いですからね。

ゲーム産業は過去40年、一貫して成長してきて非常に大きな市場になりました。
アーケードゲームからゲームコンソール、さらにスマートフォンと、デバイスが一般的になっていく事で、ゲームのプレイヤーの層がどんどん拡大して成長してきたのです。

皆様も、もうこれで、いよいよゲーム産業も成熟期に入ったとお考えでしょう。
ところが、そうではありません。
本日は、新しいフロンティアの開拓がテーマになります。

これまでゲーム産業は、全てゲームプレイヤーのみを対象としてきました。
しかし、よく考えてみてください。
音楽、スポーツ等、ほとんどのエンタテインメントは、プレイヤーだけではなく、視聴者で市場が成立しています。

ゲーム産業もここに着目すれば、まだ数倍の成長が期待できます。

Wada GDC badgeGenvid Technologies は、ゲーム・プレイヤーではなく、ゲーム・ビューアーにフォーカスして、そのマネタイズのための技術的根拠を提案しているリーディングカンパニーです。

これから彼らにプレゼンをお願いしたいと思います。

私はスクウェア・エニックスを経営している間、いくつものproductを出してきましたが、世に出したのはゲームタイトルだけではありません。
Genvid のスタッフも、スクエニの生み出した自信作だと思っています。
それでは、最後までお聞きください。

Genvid Technologies Releases First Interactive Live Streams For VR and MOBA Games Over YouTube

Fractured Space

Fractured Space, by Edge Case Games

GDC marks the unveiling of showcase partnerships with Shanghai’s Directive Games, Guildford’s Edge Case Games, and Montreal’s iLLOGIKA Studios, as well as plugin support for Unity

NEW YORK (Feb 27, 2017) – Game technology solutions provider Genvid Technologies, Inc. (Headquarters: New York, henceforth “Genvid”) today announced a series of partnerships and game integrations at the 2017 Game Developers Conference (GDC) including the first interactive stream of a VR game on YouTube. Genvid will host a live technical session on March 1 at 11am in addition to live demos on the exhibition floor at booth #333 in Moscone’s South Hall.

“At this year’s GDC, game developers will get their first chance to touch our unrivaled streaming technology,” says Genvid CEO Jacob Navok. “We’ve enjoyed working with our developer partners to create VR and MOBA showcases that are going to blow people away. We’re also announcing our Unity plugin, which comes hot on the heels of our existing UE4 support.”

New Partnerships with Game Studios Worldwide

Visitors to Genvid’s live session will see the world debut of streams from Genvid-enabled servers showcasing the cross-platform multiplayer title Super Kaiju running from multiple perspectives on YouTube, and the ability for viewers in the stream to cheer back to the players wearing the HTC Vive headset.

Super Kaiju

Super Kaiju, by Directive Games

“We have had a strong need for the right way to showcase live matches of our VR title to large audiences,” says Atli Sveinsson, CEO of Directive Games in Shanghai. “Genvid’s ability to power viewer interactivity on livestreaming platforms like YouTube is unlike anything else out there and it has the potential to change eSports forever by allowing the kind of real live engagement and impact that today is only possibly when supporters go to the stadium to cheer their teams.”

Genvid will also discuss its new integration with UK-based Edge Case Games’ popular MOBA title Fractured Space, allowing viewers of streams to spectate live matches of the strategic space war game from their perspective of choice and interact with the stream as though they were in-engine of the game.

“We want viewers of Fractured Space to have the best experience possible and Genvid’s technology allows us to provide a richer experience than has ever been possible before,” says Edge Case CEO James Brooksby. “Both our existing community and newcomers alike will be able to have deeper, more connected experiences with our game as a result.”

Genvid will also showcase new updates to its streaming capabilities for Epic Games’ Unreal Tournament through a partnership with Montreal’s game development studio iLLOGIKA, who has handled the Genvid integration to include new camera angles, real-time player information and advertising capabilities into the popular FPS.

“The Genvid SDK was easy for our team to get up and running,” says iLLOGIKA CEO David Fugère-Lamarre. “Within hours we were able to create interactive streams, and implement different features and functionalities that have never been done before.”

Strong Interest From Top Brands

In addition to game developers, media agencies have also been enthusiastic about the opportunities available through content powered by Genvid. The Genvid SDK enables brands to deploy interactive advertisements to viewers that look native to the game, but targeted to the individual.

“Genvid’s technology opens new doors for brands to reach the hundreds of millions of addressable eSports audience,” says Angel Mendoza of IPG Media Lab, which oversees new, cutting-edge tech opportunities for brands as part of the Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc.

Genvid is actively working with top brands and representatives to generate new sponsorship opportunities for developers using its technology.

First Unreal Engine, Now Unity Support: Any Developer, Anywhere Can Make and Monetize an Interactive Stream

Finally, hot on the heels of its release last month of the Genvid Technologies SDK that included a plugin for Unreal Engine 4, Genvid is announcing its latest release of the SDK that includes a plugin for popular game engine Unity. This plugin allows any Unity game developer to quickly get started with interactive streams over YouTube.

The Genvid SDK maps viewer interactions from a game onto the video itself in real-time. As a result, livestreams can be monetized through transactions that are uniquely targeted to the person watching, leading to a huge revenue opportunity for game developers between sponsorships and in-stream purchases.

What is Genvid Technologies?

Founded in 2016 by game industry veterans Genvid is backed by March Capital Partners and OCA Ventures.

Genvid provides an SDK for game developers to integrate into their games and allows game developers to make revolutionary broadcasts. The Genvid SDK is a simple-to-use middleware, flexible enough to run on any streaming platform and infrastructure that developers want to support.

The company’s name is a fusion of two Latin root words, Gen meaning “birth” and Vid meaning “viewing”; reflecting the company’s mission to power a new era of interactive streaming experiences.

A media kit for this release, including screenshots and video, is available at http://www.genvidtech.com/GDC2017mediakit/

Contact:

Company name: Genvid Technologies, Inc.
Email Address: info@genvidtech.com
Company Name: Directive Games Limited
Email Address: info@directivegames.com
Company Name: Edge Case Games
Email Address: stefano@renaissancepr.biz
Company Name: Illogika Studios inc.
Email Address: info@illogika.com

The Genvid SDK is Copyright 2016-2017 Genvid Technologies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
YouTube is a registered trademark of Google Inc.
Epic, Epic Games, Unreal, Unreal Engine, and Unreal Tournament, are trademarks or registered trademarks of Epic Games, Inc. in the United States of America and elsewhere. © 2004-2017, Epic Games, Inc. All rights reserved.
Unity and the Unity Engine are copyright © 2017 Unity Technologies.
Directive Games and Super Kaiju are copyright © Directive Games Limited.
Edge Case Games and Fractured Space are trademarks of Edge Case Games Ltd © 2017 All rights reserved.
iLLOGIKA is a trademark of Illogika Studios inc. © 2009-2017 All rights reserved.

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