Hello, internet friends. It is my pleasure to introduce the first installment of “Griffin Gaming Perspectives,” a series of biweekly installments from the team here at Griffin Gaming Partners. We are gamers and we are venture capitalists. These brief essays aim to afford our readers a little more clarity on what is happening in the ever-changing and deeply exciting world of video games.
The games industry is one that is profoundly susceptible, yet receptive, to massive changes. Everything changed when Ninja queued into Fortnite with Drake, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Travis Scott 2 years ago. We saw an increased focus on cross-platform play, the rise of influencers on communities and the relevance of games streaming in popular culture. These unique events drive the industry forward in fun and exciting ways and we will strive to elaborate on these unpredictable catalysts of change in the coming writings.
The predecessor of Unreal Engine 5, Unreal Engine 4 has been at the forefront of games development since its release in 2014. While tech has largely kept up with the creative demand of developers, a new Unreal Engine marks a significant leap forward in graphical capabilities for entertainment. Unreal Engine 4, owned by Epic Games, boasts more than 2 million developers using the platform. A new iteration of this technology is critical for empowering titles for the next generation of games when new consoles (Xbox Series X, PlayStation 5) and graphics cards launch later this year. At Griffin, we can’t wait to see what this next generation of games will show wielding this new technology. Given the gaming industry’s embrace of live events and never-ending quest to get content to the next level, Unreal Engine 5 will greatly enable developers’ ability to tell stories within the gaming medium.
Games now account for 87% of spend on mobile – a trend that we believe to be very indicative of the demand for premium content. Games have always represented a significant value proposition for the consumer when compared to traditional forms of media such as film. This has never been clearer than it is now given that people are starved for new content amidst lockdown and pervasive boredom.
Let’s look at two examples of long-form film and long video games to compare the amount of entertainment each provides. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt takes an experienced player 25 hours to get through the core story, and about 200 hours to complete 100% of the content. To get through the entire Lord of the Rings Extended Edition Trilogy, it would take a viewer 11 hours and 22 minutes – which is still less than half of the playtime of the Witcher 3’s main storyline. In times of entertainment need, video games hold a large advantage over film and TV. The replayability and durability of content, especially considering the robust social offerings in games, are becoming increasingly necessary during global stay-at-home orders.
What does this mean for live events? Concerts touring? Games-as-a-service? Fortnite has been a pioneer of digital live events that fuel the content desires of the community as well as the ever-expanding, multiverse narrative of Fortnite. Just this week, Fortnite ushered in the end of Chapter 2 Season 3 with a well-produced, experiential live event (The Device), which was viewed by 6.1M+ on YouTube and 2.3M+ on Twitch alone. In a post-COVID-19 world, when populations are still deprived of new traditional content, such as films and concerts, these digital live events will continue to grow in scope and scale. And the platform on which these events take place matters intensely. When Griffin looks at making an investment in content, our principal concern is: “Is it fun?” The Fortnite Marshmello concert or Travis Scott’s Astronomical have been enormously successful because they engage the audience in a familiar, fun and interactive environment. We believe that this trend is just getting started and we cannot wait to see where it goes.
We think there is no greater reinforcement of our stance than our recent investment in Wave – the next generation of concerts has already arrived, evidenced by Wave’s previous transformative digital concert experiences like the Church of Galantis concert earlier this year.