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The role of cybersecurity in eSports

George Miller

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The role of cybersecurity in eSports
Photo Source: bloomberg.com
Reading Time: 3 minutes

 

As the online gaming and esports industry has become valued at over $100 billion, it also has become a prime target for cyber threats. The majority of PC games are delivered through digital platforms, such as Steam, and users ultimately store their credentials in these platforms (including bank information). Thus, digital platforms like Steam, EA Origin, Blizzard’s Battle.net, and a handful of other digital game clients are ripe for malicious attacks. Steam alone has over 125 million users. Also at risk are game-specific clients, such as Garena’s League of Legends.

With so many gamers not thinking twice about storing payment account information in platforms like Steam, it’s absolutely certain that hackers will continue to target these digital gaming clients. And because e-sport conventions attract massive crowds, all connecting to public WiFi, these events are prime targets for malicious attacks.

To combat this threat, client developers should make security a top priority. Digital platforms need to undergo rigorous pen-testing, from the best IT security consultants available. Gamers also need to make sure their clients are always up to date, and to be extremely wary of what actions they perform while connected to public WiFi networks, such as at esport conventions. Connecting to a VPN would also add a layer of security – you can choose a good VPN from this list.

This isn’t a hypothetical scenario – hackers can and have breached these game platforms, stealing large amounts of customer data. In fact, the developers of Kaspersky Antivirus raised serious concerns over the discovery of malware known as the ‘Steam Stealer’ in 2016.

The ‘Steam Stealer’ reportedly steals the account credentials of 77,000 Steam members each month and, with 1,200 types of malware in activity, Kaspersky’s researchers, Santiago Pontiroli and Bart P, claim these data breaches have “turned the threat landscape for the entertainment ecosystem into a devil’s playground”.

Later in 2017, hackers managed to get into the database of ESEA (E-Sports Entertainment Association League), threatening to release the details of over 1.5 million user accounts, to the ransom of $100,000. ESEA is one of the leading matchmaking services in online gaming, and offers professional tournaments with cash-based prizes for popular games like CounterStrike: Global Offensive, and Team Fortress 2.

ESEA advised players to secure their accounts, while working to patch the vulnerability. The hackers later also breached the ESEA game server infrastructure, changing ever player’s karma rating to a score of “-1337”.

Then in late 2018, a critical bug was uncovered in EA’s Origin client, by an independent security researcher. The bug allows a malicious entity to scrape account data. The independent researcher, online handle Beard, explained the bug:

“The bug occurs when you use the EA Origin client but request to edit your account on EA.com […] The EA Origin client will spit out an auto-login URL, in which the token is basically the equivalent of your active username and password.”

Auto-login URLs are fairly common, and are typically based on a user’s cookie files stored on their device. However, this was not the case with the EA Origin auto-login URL, which allowed using the URL without any prior authentication. An attacker could then guess a user’s security question, hijack the account entirely, and use any kind of stored payment method associated with the account.

The scariest thing about the bug was how these auto-login URLs could easily be harvested from unsecured WiFi networks. If an attacker were to hit an esport convention where a large number of users were connecting to a public WiFi, and then logging into EA Origin accounts, the damage could have been massive.

Fortunately, the independent researcher quickly notified EA of the bug, and a patch was quickly released. It is, however, just one example alongside others we’ve shown, of how tiny security flaws can put millions at risk.

George Miller started his career in content marketing and has started working as an Editor/Content Manager for our company in 2016. George has acquired many experiences when it comes to interviews and newsworthy content becoming Head of Content in 2017. He is responsible for the news being shared on multiple websites that are part of the European Gaming Media Network.

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Asia

ePlay Partners with Major Sports, eSports and Egaming Leader in China

George Miller

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ePlay Partners with Major Sports, eSports and Egaming Leader in China
Photo Source: forbes.com
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

NextJoy Partnership brings ePlay technology and games to China’s massive esports and mobile gaming market

 

 ePlay Digital Inc.  announced a new Chinese distribution and marketing partnership with Next Joy. Next Joy is a major leader in esports, gaming, and augmented reality in China.

“ePlay and Next Joy have started working together to create a great platform for mobile gaming and esports,” says Andrew Wang, CEO of Next Joy. “We look forward to the first results of our teams’ collaboration with upcoming Big Shot launches in North American and China.”

Next Joy builds mobile games, is an esports broadcasting and news service reaching over 100 million viewers, and hosts some of the biggest esports events in the world. Next Joy and ePlay have begun working towards launching and marketing mobile games in China together.

“ePlay’s partnership with Next Joy is the first step of the company’s strategic execution in China”, says Philip Chen, Advisor for ePlay Digital. “China represents 38.7% global mobile esports game revenues on iOS and 30% for Android.”

“Working with Next Joy gives ePlay access to the Chinese gaming market,” says Trevor Doerksen, CEO of ePlay Digital. “Next Joy is a great partner to help ePlay introduce and grow massive audiences for our products and joint initiatives.”

 

About ePlay:
ePlay Digital Inc. is a mobile game creator and publisher specializing in sports, esports and entertainment augmented reality titles, including their new flagship title Big Shot Basketball. ePlay is operated by an award-winning team of sports, gaming and esports leaders as well as broadcast and digital technology industry experts, software engineers and athletes who have brought dozens of game titles to market for companies including Time Warner Cable, ESPN, Sony Pictures, AXS TV, Intel, AXN, Fiat, CBS, and others.

ePlay’s wholly owned subsidiary, Mobovivo esports specializes in augmented reality, mobile game development and mobile esports streaming.

About Next Joy:
NextJoy is a leading esports platform endeavors to develop internet based ecosystem providing all-round service including game, content creation and distribution.

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eSports

What to expect from esport in 2019

George Miller

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Reading Time: 5 minutes

 

Esports have grown to a massive industry in just the past few years, and 2019 is predicted to be even bigger. Many industry analysts predict global esport revenue to surpass $1.1 billion USD in 2019. Expected revenue breaks down as follows:

esports revenue 18

 

Obviously, this means huge tournament prizes and team earnings for competitors this year.

2019 Esport Games

We’re going to see game genres mixed up a bit more in 2019 esports. While RTS and MOBA games have traditionally been the most popular esport games, a handful of fighting and shooter titles are slated to be rising stars in 2019. Of particular interest are the rise of battle royale games, which we’ll touch on briefly.

The games anticipated to do most hotly in 2019 global esports are as follows:

Overwatch
Fortnite
Dota 2
League of Legends
CS: GO
Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
PubG
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Clash Royale
Magic: The Gathering Arena

A dark horse also arose early in February, Apex Legends. Many of the 2019 esport predictions were made at the end of December 2018, or early January 2019. Apex Legends was released early February, with zero marketing behind it – Apex Legends literally came out of left field (American slang meaning “totally unexpected”, for you global readers).

The reason Apex Legends is worth mentioning is that the game hit 25 million players only a week after being released. It also became the #1 live-streamed game on Twitch, ending February with an average 217,997 viewers, or around 11% of Twitch’s total audience. This is no small feat for a game that was released completely unannounced into the wild west of the battle royale genre.

twitch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If Apex Legends continues the popularity trend, it could also become a hot item in 2019 esports.

Of course you see some old staples on the list of games. Dota 2 and League of Legends are certainly not going anywhere, being the most popular MOBAs on a global scale.

Also of growing interest are racing and sport games (oh, the irony of playing sports games in esports). There are a number of smaller esport leagues dedicated exclusively to racing games, such as the F1 eSports Series, and the GT Championships.

There is also potential for more indie and browser-based titles in smaller esport leagues. Mobile Esports, for example, partnered up with Blayze Games, the developers of the popular browser-based first-person shooter Bullet Force and offers tournament grand prizes of $500. Other popular browser games have good Twitch and Youtube stream followings – Slither.io for example has 17,307 followers on Twitch.

Indeed, this game could be a cool niche for the browser based esport racing scene. As for sports, games like NBA 2K and FIFA have serious dedicated leagues as well. Especially the latter, as many enjoy playing soccer games particularly in Europe.

2019 Esport Sponsors

A lot of global brands are getting into esport endorsement – in fact, just a few days ago Nike inked its first esport sponsorship deal, following the heels of Adidas and Puma (pun intended). This adds to the growing list of high-profile brands that are sponsoring esports. Esport sponsors fall into the categories ‘endemic’ and ‘non-endemic’. Endemic sponsors are companies that are related to esports in some way, such as selling PC hardware and other technology manufacturers. Non-endemic sponsors are companies that have pretty much nothing to do with esports, like Nike.

Many articles that list esport sponsors put food and drink companies in the “non-endemic” category, but I disagree. Brands like Chipotle, Mountain Dew, and Snickers are every bit as endemic to esports as Corsair, Intel, and MSI. Gamers gotta eat, and we’ve got a reputation for unhealthy diets, right? Other ‘non-endemic’ brands like Gillette, well… you know, some esports players really do badly need a shave. So it fits.

Here are the top non-endemic global sponsors for esports in 2018 / 2019:

  • Adidas
  • Gillette
  • Geico
  • Tinder
  • Mercedes Benz
  • Airbus
  • Nike

The top endemic global sponsors for esports in 2018 / 2019:

  • HyperX
  • Intel
  • Red Bull
  • Monster Energy
  • Mountain Dew
  • Alienware
  • Logitech
  • Corsair
  • Razer
  • iBuyPower
  • Twitch

Honestly I could continue, but it’s a pretty huge list and my editor will think I’m just filling word count. Check out Esports marketing blog, they cover this stuff more in-depth.

p and p

 

 

China Banhammers Like, Everybody
One thing of note is how China plays into the market – or doesn’t play in the market, to be more technical. While many analysts include China in their “global esport revenue” reports, China lately has been taking its ball and playing at home. The country has a massive esport scene that caters to native games, which are not seen on the international level.

China’s biggest esport game is Honor of Kings, also known as Arena of Valor on the international market. It’s pretty much been China’s biggest MOBA for awhile, and has expanded to the Asia-Pacific region. Honor of Kings was released internationally as Arena of Valor, but hasn’t seen the same success its enjoyed in China.

To add to this, mainland China also recently banned a number of highly popular esport games, while putting others on a “watch list”. It’s an effort from their Online Ethics Committee to crack down on ‘vulgarity’ and explicit violence in video games. The most popular esport games banned games in mainland China are:

  • PubG
  • Fortnite
  • H1Z1
  • Alliance of Valiant Arms

Here’s a full list of games that were either banned or put on a watch / review list in mainland China – you’ll notice a few Chinese games are also on the list, including Arena of Valor, the game I just said was China’s biggest esport draw. Tencent, the developers of Arena of Valor, actually skipped off to Hong Kong for laxer laws, tweeting “after everything we did for you 🙁 @XiJingpingreal”. Actually I’m making that up, they didn’t tweet anything. But they did skip off to Hong Kong.

game-reason-action

 

In any case, when you take into considering mainland China’s clamping down on mobile games for their “corruption of youth” potential, then it’s not hard to believe North America will once again be the largest esports market in 2019. America boasted esport revenues of $409.1 million in 2018, and I’m pretty sure we won the most esport trophies. What’s that? South Korea, you say? They don’t count. Their public education was replaced with MOBA training campuses years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m 99% positive these photos are from South Korean elementary schools. Prove me wrong.

 

Author: Katie Green

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Central Europe

KFC to hold its first esports championship in Central and Eastern Europe as part of KFC BATTLE

George Miller

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KFC to hold its first esports championship in Central and Eastern Europe as part of KFC BATTLE
Reading Time: 2 minutes

 

This year an international youth project KFC BATTLE will include a tournament for amateur teams from Central and Eastern Europe. This will be the second consecutive esports tournament as part of the large-scale youth project, now in two different esports disciplines – Dota 2 championship for teams from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belorussia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia and a tournament in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive for teams from Central and Eastern European countries.

Six winning teams of KFC BATTLE: Esports will be determined at the project’s Grand Finale to be held in Moscow on July 13-14. Two CS: GO teams and four Dota 2 teams will compete for the prize of a completely covered trip to a major esports championship in their favorite discipline where they can see the world’s leading professional teams play live: the winning Dota 2 team will visit The International 2019, and the winner of the CS: GO championship will go to The StarLadder Berlin Major 2019.

KFC BATTLE is a large-scale international project of the restaurant brand for young talents in different spheres from street basketball and singing to rap and esports. Last year was the seventh time KFC organized KFC BATTLE and the first time the project was accompanied by an esports tournament, signifying the brand’s interest towards young people engaged in a dynamic world of esports. The tournament attracted 4,415 esports enthusiasts from Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus etc. The winning team of the KFC Esports Championship, Whites, scored a quota in the Dota 2 finals of the 2018 Russian Esports Cup, held by the Russian Esports Federation, as well as a trip to Europe. The team’s captain Alexander “Ceyler” Popov was also honored as the Cup’s MVP and later received an invitation to play on a professional level by a CIS team The Pango.

This year, for the first time in the history of KFC BATTLE, Central and Eastern European teams will also be able to compete in the esports tournament. To engage as many CEE esports fans as possible, it was decided to hold an esports championship in one of the most popular esports disciplines in the region, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. In order to compete in the final stage of the tournament CEE teams will go through a qualifying stage consisting of open and closed online qualifiers on FACEIT to determine two leading teams. These teams will then compete in the concluding Grand Finale in Moscow. Open qualifiers for KFC BATTLE will take place every weekend day from May 11 to June 2. Closed qualifiers both for Central and Eastern European teams and for teams from Russia, Kazakhstan, Belorussia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Georgia will take place on June 7-9. Registration in the tournament for CEE teams is available at this link. The championship is open to any amateur team consisting of players aged 14 to 30, and participation in the championship is free.

Follow the news of this season of KFC BATTLE on the official website.

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