Because of the increasing number oflockdownsacross the globe to prevent the spread of coronavirus, several businesses worldwide have been impacted. The companies engaged in the travel and tourism, consumer discretionary, and hospitality sectors are the worst hit led by travel bans and declining demand of non-essential items.
In Australia, on 03 April 2020 (at 06:00 AM AEDT), the country has 5,224 positive coronavirus cases while 23 people have been declared dead. Over270,000 tests have taken place so far. To control the spread of infectious disease, the government has providedspecific hygiene guidelines and urgedits citizens to follow social distancing.
With the implementation of lockdowns in several countries, citizens, on a global scale, have been confined to their respective homes. They are performing most of their activities, like shopping, playing games, and connecting with people using the internet. This situation, where individuals are spending the entire day at home, is likely to act as a booster for the online gaming industry as people have more time to engage in different activities.
In this article, we would be looking at some ASX-listed companies operating in the electronic sports space.
iCandy Interactive Limited (ASX:ICI)
iCandy Interactive Limited is an ASX-listed firm whoseunderlying business includes the creation as well as publishing of mobile games & digital entertainment for people across the globe. The Company has a broad user base with over 350 mobile users and more than half a billion downloads.
iCandy’s entire product suite, as well as the production process, is entirely digital. Due to the increasing cases of coronavirus, the Company has successfully migrated to work from home from 20 March 2020.
Due to the restrictions on global movement, the Company believes COVID-19 is likely to have a positive impact on online gaming and the electronic sports sector.
On 5 March 2020, iCandy released an announcement where it highlighted that the 42% investee esports organisation, Esports Players League ensuredan investment from 500 Startups, an early-stage VC firm.The investment from this venture capital firm is the starting point for Esports Players League (ESPL) to execute its initial business goal of rolling out ESPL-branded tournaments as well as platforms to 10 nations in its first year of business.
The global roll-out of Phase 1 of ESPL has resulted in franchise partnership deals in Southeast Asia as well as Latin America. Further, ESPL has signed its first media partnership with a prominent esports TV network, eGG Network. The Network has a TV audience reach of ~100 million. The first ESPL season would start from April 2020 and would continue till November 2020.
On 27 February 2020, iCandy’s new game Rocky Rampage, a casual action game, received 450,000 pre-registrations in expectation of its official launch on 9 April 2020.
Aristocrat Leisure Limited (ASX:ALL)
Aristocrat Leisure Limited is aprominent gaming provider and a publisher of games that has over 6,400 employees working across the globe. The Company provides various products & services such as casino management systems, electronic gaming machines, as well as digital social games.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding the extent and duration of coronavirus, the Company decided to withdraw its outlook statement provided by the Company in its Annual General Meeting held during February 2020.
The health and well-being of the staff, their families and the community in which they operate, is ALL’spriority. On this front, Aristocrat, apart from implementing broad travel bans & social distancing measures across its businesses on a global scale, allowed 80% of its staff to work from home.
On 6 February 2020, Aristocrat Technologies Europe Ltd signed a licensing deal with NASDAQ listed Inspired Entertainment, Inc. Under the terms of the agreement, Aristocrat would be supplying game kits for implementation on the terminal of Inspired Entertainment, Inc in the video lottery market in Greece, the B3 market in the UK along with the comma 6B market in Italy. In all these market, Inspired Entertainment has a growing presence, while Aristocrat Leisure does not.
With this agreement, the Company would be able to grow its presence as well as its growth opportunities in specific EMEA market segments. It would also provide another network for the monetisation of its strong gaming content.
Esports Mogul Limited (ASX:ESH)
Esports Mogul Limited is the owner of the most advanced pure-play online esports tournament platform in the world. Its tournament platform, mogul.gg, is the most advanced pure-play online esports tournament and matchmaking platform in the world that allow creation as well as hosting of customised esports tournaments.
Due to the travel bans along with the restrictions on social gathering, online esports tournament hosting is in strong demand. Esports Mogul has a world-class online esports tournament platform which is a source of attraction to esports event organisers, teams, influencers and game publishers.
Since the commercial launch of Mogul Branded Hubs in August 2019, the Company has attracted companies like Razer, Microsoft, Team Secret, Mineski, Hasbro and many others.
At the same time, the team associated with the Company is working with the present as well as new possible partners on introducing new Branded Hubs as well as establishing new tournaments & events on Mogul.
The Company has not experienced any impact of coronavirus on its business and is hopeful that it would not have material disruption to its partnership pipeline through 2020. Still, the Board had decided to take cost reduction measures to ensure that the Company will not need to raise equity within the next 12 months. The Board expects an increase in revenue during the period of the pandemic.
On this front, the Board decided to reduce the cash remuneration of non-executive and executive director by 20%. It also includes the reduction in the headcount in non-core operations as well as the agreement with most of its staff to implement deduction in their salary.
Further, the Company is reducing its expenses on discretionary marketing along with highly adjustable operating outflows.
Mogul partnership with Microsoft
On 3 March 2020, Esports Mogul signed a partnership agreement with Microsoft on tournament assistance for Age of Empires II Definitive Edition. As per the partnership between both the parties, the two companies would be launching a new AoE II DE Branded Hub and a 12-month tournament series, the AoE II Asia Cup that will commence in Q1 2020. This series would be running across eight APAC markets. As a part of the agreement, to launch Branded Hub as well as related series, Mogul would be receiving US$70,000 in the form of project fees.
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