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Kliuless #16: 2018 Year in Review

Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.

Kliuless? Gaming Industry ICYMI #16

Hi, my name is Kenny Liu, and I work in Revenue Strategy at Riot Games. Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.

See more or subscribe at:

2018 Year in Review

  • Annual tech/marketing trends by Fjord, Accenture Interactive's design and innovation consultancy
    • "Every year in Trends we look for a meta-theme that spans all of them[.] There is a really clear one this year, and it has two angles to it. I would say that the big thing we're seeing is people searching for value
      • And we're seeing this with organizations who are looking at the innovation they've been doing over the last 2-5 years in response to the digitization of the world, and they're saying: 'What are things which are providing us with value and what aren't?' 'Where exactly is the value in what we're doing?' And 'how can we zone in on the value?' by, for example, combining strategic thinking with human insights
      • And then on the other side we're seeing customers, citizens, users looking for [...] 'Where is the value for the environment and the products and services that I'm using?' People, globally, are trying to understand why they are relevant, and to find those anchors which make them feel relevant in the world. And the winners, from the organizational point of view, are going to be those that provide to their customers, their citizens, a sense of relevance. And if we can tie those together that's where I think value can be created over the next 1-5 years
    • What I find really exciting is when you put together a lot of the Trends and look at them in overview this year, the opportunities for design to really revolutionize a number of areas are probably greater now than I think I've seen them for many years. And I think we're on the cusp of almost a creativity revolution, and I think we're going to see that play out over the next 2-3 years. And that's super exciting"
  • The Year In Numbers 2018
    • Related: Industry movers and shakers share 2018 highlights
  • Stratechery: 2018 Year in Review

Revenue Strategy, Publishing & Esports

  • a16z: Outgrowing Advertising: Multimodal Business Models as a Product Strategy
    • "Product success is not just about having a good product, but also having the right business model(s). Expanding sources of revenue pushes us to think beyond what we know, and creates the infrastructure that opens up new opportunities. In this post, I will use consumer entertainment apps (books, podcasts, videos, and music) as a lens into the different business models and product strategies of Chinese companies. Thinking about content consumption in a mobile-first way in China has enabled these new business models, which not only provide diversified revenue streams for businesses, but also allow users to make better, more flexible purchasing decisions"
    • Related: HBR: Digital Growth Depends More on Business Models than Technology
  • a16z: 16 Ways to Measure Network Effects
  • Inside the Pricey War to Influence Your Instagram Feed
  • Reactance: Why controlling peoples' sense of freedom can trigger an angry motivation to regain it
  • Why go for a surprise launch?
  • Market correction in esports? Enthusiasm for gaming grows, but experts worry that the dollars aren’t keeping up with the hype
    • Related: Intel and ESL announce $100m esports investment


  • Sony accidentally disclosed player counts for nearly every PS4 game
  • First-party Switch games are setting new attach rate records for Nintendo
  • Discord aims to disrupt by opening storefront to devs, offering 90% revenue share 
  • RobotCache signs 22 publishers with 700 games for blockchain app store
  • Minecraft modders form Hypixel Studios, with Riot Games and Bonfire co-founders among initial investors
  • Star Citizen creator Cloud Imperium Games raised $46 million to launch big game in 2020


  • App Annie: Game and app downloads grow 10% in 2018 to 113 billion
  • Apple changes App Store rules to allow users to gift IAP to friends & family
  • PUBG mobile has as many players as Fortnite
  • Zynga buys Empires & Puzzles dev Small Giant in deal worth >$700mm
  • New ‘Call of Duty: Legends of War’ Mobile Game launches on Android in select regions


  • WSJ: Niantic Refuels With $3.9 Billion Valuation
    • Related: Pokémon Go PvP Trainer Battles are now available
  • Free Capture app turns some iPhones and iPads into 3D scanners for AR
  • Zspace unveils laptop that enables easy AR/VR interaction


  • Niko Partners: Chinese regulators have restarted game licensing
  • China court grants Qualcomm injunction against Apple, banning sale of some iPhones
  • Chinese tech start-ups are tapping into Southeast Asia amid tough relations with US in trade war


  • UK video games workers unionize over ‘wide-scale exploitation’ and diversity issues
  • Will Wright brings his game design expertise to MasterClass
  • Riot's 'So You Wanna Make Games??' video series attempts to demystify the art pipeline for game development
  • The Guardian: The 20 best video games of 2018
    • Related: 2018 ultimate board game gift guide
    • Related: The most anticipated games of 2019
  • Blog: 'Fortnite Is So Much More Than a Game'
  • How Doom changed PC gaming forever
  • KeyForge: The red-hot card game where every deck is unique—and unchangeable
  • The Board Game of the Alpha Nerds: Before Risk, before Dungeons & Dragons, before Magic: The Gathering, there was Diplomacy
  • HTC thinks Christians are VR's next big audience
  • 343 Industries is teaming up with Limbitless to provide Halo-themed prosthetics
  • Dune's rise and fall from the best-selling science-fiction novel in history to epic failure on the screen
  • Blog: '52 things I learned in 2018' [KL: Found particularly interesting #2, #5, #17, #21, #31-33, #39]
  • VICE News visits one of the first pilot cities to adopt China's 'social credit system'
  • Toilets across China are now requiring face scans or WeChat to dispense toilet paper
  • China knocks off Iron Man with its own superhero version 'Armored Monkey King'

See more or subscribe at:

Twitter: @kliuless
LinkedIn: @kliuless

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