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Evoplay piles on the pressure in new instant game Penalty Series – European Gaming Industry News




1. MENA-3 games market revenue will surpass $2 billion in 2022

Niko Partners initiated coverage on Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt for the first time in 2022. We call this region MENA-3 in our reports and expect combined games revenue across all platforms to surpass $2 billion this year. Growth will be driven by higher spending per user, additional government support across games and esports, and more gamers entering the market.

2. India will have over 400 million gamers in 2022 

We predict India will surpass 400 million gamers this year, accounting for over ¼ of total gamers in Asia. We also believe that India, the fastest growing market in Asia, will be the next market to reach $1 billion. Niko Partners has often talked about how the ITV markets, referring to Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam, would be the next billion-dollar games markets. These three markets have surpassed $1 billion individually over the past two years.

3. Game approvals in China will restart in early 2022 

China’s video game regulator has not approved any new titles since July 22, 2021. There were only 755 titles approved in 2021, compared to 1,411 in 2020. With the roll out of the national anti-addiction and real name identification system now complete, we expect approvals to restart in early 2022.

4. China’s regulatory approach will shift from reform to enforcement

China’s video game regulator introduced new policies in 2021, primarily aimed at curbing gaming addiction among minors. We expect the regulator to shift away from policy reform in 2022, as it looks to ensure compliance with current regulations. We are already starting to see a crackdown on companies that are curbing regulations and we have upgraded the risk of a Steam International ban in China to high.

5. Game companies in China will increase focus on exports 

Chinese game companies have dominated their home market and found success overseas with mobile games. With increased investment in AAA game development, local indie studios and the ongoing regulatory risk at home, we expect Chinese game companies to start finding success on all platforms overseas in 2022 and beyond.

6. Esports will become more legitimate in 2022

In 2017 the International Olympic Committee recognized esports as a sport, in 2018 esports was a demonstration event at the Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia and in 2022 Esports will be a medal event at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. This will lead to more investment in esports player pipelines and player development. 2022 will enjoy an increase in esports training, education, subsidies aimed at esports management, player development.

7. Cross Platform and Cross Play will be a staple of new titles in 2022

The success of multi-platform titles such as Genshin Impact, the widespread adoption of scalable game engines such as Unreal Engine and Unity as well as the demand for interoperability between devices has led to players valuing cross platform experiences with cross play. We expect some of the largest game studios in China, South Korea, and Japan to introduce titles that run across PC, Console, Mobile and Cloud with cross play enabled.

8. 5G will be available across all 14 markets we cover in 2022 

5G has been rolling out across numerous markets in Asia since South Korea launched 5G services in April 2019. This has led to increased download speeds, lower latency and helped enable cloud gaming on the go. Malaysia, Vietnam, India and Egypt are the four markets we cover that have yet to roll out 5G. We expect them to start their roll out by the end of the year.

9. M&A / Investments / IPOs will continue to play an important role  

2021 was a record year for game related investments, especially in China where the number of transactions doubled compared to the prior year. Tencent alone invested in or acquired more than 100 game related companies last year. We expect M&A / Investments to continue playing a notable role in 2022 and beyond as the value of IP, development talent and new technologies become more important. While there may be a lower number of deals closed in 2022, we believe the overall value will continue to remain high.

10. Gaming companies will capitalize on the metaverse trend better than tech companies, but it’s still too early for the concept

Metaverse became a hot word in 2021 with numerous tech and gaming companies embracing the concept. Niko Partners believes that live service video games have been building towards the metaverse concept for several years and that companies with experience in both video game development and social media platform operation will have an advantage when entering this space. We expect game focused companies to see the initial benefits of the metaverse trend while tech first companies will struggle to offer value to users. However, we don’t expect to see a true metaverse experience in 2022 based on the currently accepted definitions.

11. The convergence of video games and the entertainment industry further engages gamers 

The video game industry is building on the concepts of metaverse, pan-entertainment and transmedia which is leading to a convergence between games and entertainment. We expect to see more traditional brands, entertainment properties and artists take advantage of live service games in 2022. On the flip side, we expect to see more collaboration between video game IP holders and traditional entertainment such as movies, TV, and comics. This bi-directional approach will further engage gamers in the future.

12. Blockchain game adoption increases, but the space remains experimental 

Blockchain based games made headlines in 2021 and VCs have invested billions in them. The past year has seen the rise of blockchain based non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in games and the exploration of the Play to Earn (P2E) model. We expect to see new innovative game projects in 2022 and increased adoption of blockchain games. However, the numerous barriers to entry, lack of regulation and questions around sustainability will keep the space experimental in 2022.

13. The local game development scene will grow in developing markets 

Of the 14 markets we cover, Japan, South Korea, and China are considered game development powerhouses due to the hit titles released by domestic developers. The success of Vietnamese studio Sky Mavis (publisher of Axie Infinity) and a 2x increase in local game development studios in India since 2019 shows there is growing talent in these emerging markets. We expect to see the release of a hit game ($100m+ revenue) released by a studio from Southeast Asia or India in 2022.

14. The conversation regarding app store take rates will extend into 2022

The Epic v Apple case made headlines in 2021 and it indirectly led to Apple and Google reducing take rates for developers that earn less than $1m per year. In South Korea, a new bill required Apple and Google to offer alternative in app payment options. In China, TapTap made headlines for offering a 0% take rate and numerous developers have invested in direct distribution to avoid app store fees. As pressure continues to build, we expect platform holders to make further concessions in 2022.

15. Increasing government support towards local game development across SEA

In 2021, governments became increasingly supportive of the video game sector. Vietnam’s government took an active role in the creation of Vietnam Online Game Developers and Publishers Alliance (which will be formally established in 2022), Indonesia’s government showed support towards local game developers through fundings and infrastructure support, and Malaysia’s government continue to allocate specific national budget for gaming and esports. We anticipate more of this in 2022.

16. Korea and Japan to continue deregulation of the gaming and esports industry

Following Korea’s abolishment of the 10-year-old Shutdown Law and looking at Japan’s increasing interest in esports, we expect that both countries will continue to ease regulations or even move towards deregulation of certain laws or ordinances that hamper the growth of the gaming and esports industry. While an overhaul of the regulatory environment might not be feasible, small changes will be possible to occur in 2022.

Check our 2021 predictions accuracy here. All our predictions came true, except for #7 as a freeze on game approvals in China led to a lower number of import games being approved in 2021 vs 2020.

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First ESL Impact CS:GO tournament of 2023 to kick off in Katowice



ESL Impact, the CS:GO circuit for marginalized genders, will return next year and the first stop will be in Katowice, Poland from Feb. 10 to 12, ESL announced today.

ESL has invited Nigma Galaxy, FURIA, CLG RED, and HSG to the tournament and four more squads will finalize the team list after qualifiers in Europe, North America, and South America are done. Nigma Galaxy were the best all-women CS:GO team of 2022, having won ESL Impact season one, ESL Impact season two, and ESL Impact Valencia throughout the year. FURIA were also consistent, having reached the grand finals of all three events.

The opening event of ESL Impact 2023 will run at the IEM Expo in Katowice and will be open to all fans, with no tickets required. This will be the first time a tournament for marginalized genders will take place in Katowice, one of the most iconic cities for CS:GO esports, since Intel Challenge Katowice in 2019, which was one of the best tournaments for all-women teams back in the day.

The open qualifiers for ESL Impact Katowice will take place from Dec. 14 to 18 in all three regions (Europe, North America, and South America). The best two teams hailing from Europe will qualify for the main event, while North America and South America will have one more team each.

ESL hasn’t revealed the prize pool for ESL Impact Katowice 2023 yet, but the tournament organizer put $100,000 on the line for ESL Impact Valencia in 2022 and offered $123,000 for ESL Impact seasons one and two.

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Team Spirit confirms rumors with new Dota 2 signing



The International 10 champions, Team Spirit, are tinkering with their formula after TORONTOTOKYO decided to follow a different path for the 2023 DPC season. As its former midlaner embarks on a new journey, Spirit will fill the gap in its roster with Denis “Larl” Sigitov, the Dota 2 team announced today.

While the move is now official, it was leaked via an Instagram story from Spirit’s boot camp in November. Larl was spotted among the other Spirit members while TORONTOTOKYO was missing, hinting at a roster change. 

Spirit announced the move in a fun video featuring the team’s manager, Dmitry “Korb3n” Belov. As he thinks hard about who should take TORONTOTOKYO’s place in the team, all signs lead Korb3n to Larl, and he finally decides to invite him to the squad.

Larl moves to Spirit after an impressive stint with BetBoom Team (BB). Larl’s former home stormed through the Eastern European TI qualifiers and snatched a direct seat in the event while the favorites, Virtus Pro and NAVI, ate their dust.

BB’s run through the qualifiers was an amazing display of strength in which the team was initially knocked down to the lower bracket by NAVI. After finding themselves one step away from elimination, BB channeled their inner beast and demolished NAVI and VP in back-to-back series.

Larl played an important role in BB’s recent performance and he’s only been playing at the highest level since the beginning of 2021. Having been scouted by VP’s Prodigy roster, Larl has been one of the most promising up-and-coming talents in the EEU region. Now, he’ll have the opportunity to show whether he has grown enough to take the ropes of the mid-lane on a TI-winning squad.

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Team Liquid’s Russian VALORANT duo are out of $100,000 event due to visa issues



Ayaz “nAts” Akhmetshin and Igor “Redgar” Vlasov, two Russian VALORANT stars Team Liquid signed for 2023 after restructuring the roster in November, won’t debut at Red Bull Home Ground three as the organization had planned because of visa issues.

The $100,000 VALORANT tournament in Europe also features Vitality, Fokus, 100 Thieves, KRÜ Esports, Cloud9, Team Heretics, and FUT Esports and was supposed to be Liquid’s first tournament with its fresh lineup. With nAts and Redgar having to sit out from the action, the organization will field the former Fnatic player Enzo Mestari and former G2 player Johan “Meddo” Lundborg as stand-ins for the Russian duo.

“The requested visas for our players nAts and Redgar weren’t ready in time,” Liquid said in a statement. “We are truly disappointed we won’t be there as the team you expected, but nevertheless we will participate in the tourney. Meddo and Enzo will be joining as stand-ins. We look forward to play some insane games with them!”

Instead of playing the tourney, nAts will run Liquid’s watch party to interact with the team’s fans during Red Bull Home Ground three, Liquid said.

These are disappointing news for the Liquid camp, who were hoping to test the former Gambit and M3C stars nAts and Redgar in official matches before 2023. Liquid’s roster for the tournament feature Enzo, Meddo, soulcas, Jamppi, Saif “Sayf” Jibraeel, and Dmitriy “dimasick” Matvienko as the sixth-player.

Although this is not the best situation for Liquid, they still get to test Sayf, who was signed alongside nAts and Redgar. This will be a good opportunity for Meddo and Enzo to show their worth as they haven’t been picked up by a franchised team yet.

Red Bull Home Ground three will run in Manchester, England from Dec. 9 to 11. The $100,000 tournament will use patch 5.10.

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