Darcy Taylor on the plan to double Leaf Mobile’s robust portfolio of games

In a recent InvestorIntel Interview, Tracy Weslosky spoke with Darcy Taylor, CEO of Leaf Mobile Inc. (TSX: LEAF) about the Leaf’s busy start to 2021 with $159M acquisition of East Side Games, a leading Canadian publisher and developer of mobile games, and signing partnerships with 4 additional gaming studios.

In this InvestorIntel video, which may also be viewed on YouTube (click here to subscribe to the InvestorIntel Channel), Darcy went on to say that Leaf has a robust portfolio of games which the company expects to double in the next 12 months. Speaking on the “incredible upside market potential” of mobile games, Darcy provided an update on Leaf’s IdleKit platform that helps professional developers to develop games faster and with reduced costs. He explained how the platform de-risks the full lifecycle of a game.

To watch the full video, click here

About Leaf Mobile Inc.

LEAF Mobile Inc. is a leading free-to-play mobile game group, creating engaging games that produce enduring player loyalty. Their studio groups entrepreneurial culture is anchored in creativity, execution, and growth through a diverse portfolio of original and licensed IP mobile games that include: Archer: Danger Phone, Bud Farm Idle Tycoon, Cheech & Chong Bud Farm, The Goldbergs: Back to the 80s, It’s Always Sunny: The Gang Goes Mobile, Trailer Park Boys Grea$y Money and the soon to be released, RuPaul’s Drag Race Mobile Game.

To know more about Leaf Mobile Inc., click here

Disclaimer: Leaf Mobile Inc. is an advertorial member of InvestorIntel Corp.

This interview, which was produced by InvestorIntel Corp. (IIC) does not contain, nor does it purport to contain, a summary of all the material information concerning the Company” being interviewed. IIC offers no representations or warranties that any of the information contained in this interview is accurate or complete. 

This presentation may contain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of applicable Canadian securities legislation.  Forward-looking statements are based on the opinions and assumptions of management of the Company as of the date made. They are inherently susceptible to uncertainty and other factors that could cause actual events/results to differ materially from these forward-looking statements. Additional risks and uncertainties, including those that the Company does not know about now or that it currently deems immaterial, may also adversely affect the Company’s business or any investment therein.

Any projections given are principally intended for use as objectives and are not intended, and should not be taken,  as assurances that the projected results will be obtained by the Company. The assumptions used may not prove to be accurate and a potential decline in the Company’s financial condition or results of operations may negatively impact the value of its securities. Prospective investors are urged to review the Company’s profile on www.Sedar.com and to carry out independent investigations in order to determine their interest in investing in the Company.

If you have any questions surrounding the content of this interview, please email info@investorintel.com.




With an acquisition, a $23M raise and the signing of 4 gaming studios, Leaf Mobile prepares to unfold.

It’s been a busy start to 2021 for the team at Leaf Mobile Inc. (TSX: LEAF). In the first two weeks of February, the company closed a transformative $159M acquisition of East Side Games, a leading Canadian publisher and developer of mobile games, raised $23M to finance the acquisition and graduated from the Venture exchange to the TSX. Since then the company has signed partnerships with 4 additional gaming studios (Kano Applications, World of Wonder Productions, Night Garden Studio and Bigfoot Gaming) to develop and publish up to 6 new mobile games for global release on iOS and Android and a LOI for another acquisition – Truly Social Games, an innovative developer and publisher of mobile games.

I guess “busy” might be considered an understatement when you add that they also appointed a pedigreed CFO in Jim MacCallum who was most recently SVP, Finance and Treasurer at Westport Fuel Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: WPRT | TSX: WPRT) and prior to Westport, Vice President, Finance at Absolute Software Corporation (TSX: ABST). And if you didn’t think that was enough for the first four months of 2021, Leaf has also gotten into the non-fungible token (NFT) craze with the company planning to release the first offering of NFTs as prizes, within select games, this week.

But let’s take a step back and have a closer look at what Leaf Mobile is all about. Leaf Mobile is a leading free-to-play mobile game group, creating engaging games that produce enduring player loyalty. Their culture is anchored in creativity, execution, and growth through a diverse portfolio of original and licensed IP mobile games. In other words, they have an App for that. Initial success for Leaf came from a variety of cannabis based mobile games such as Bud Farm Idle Tycoon and Cheech & Chong Bud Farm, hence the name Leaf. However, the acquisition of East Side Games (ESG) was critical to the company’s development. The reason for that is ESG’s core software technology – IdleKit. This internally developed proprietary game framework for building narrative driven idle games allows for a material decrease in the typical build to launch timeline for mobile games developed on the platform. This platform is not only utilized by ESG/Leaf, but is also open to third party developers on a partnership basis.

The bulk of the above mentioned partnerships are a function of the IdleKit technology. This tool is bringing creative development teams from all over the world to Leaf’s doorstep for collaborations. In the case of World of Wonder, it provides Leaf exclusive mobile game rights to Emmy Award-winning competition series, RuPaul’s Drag Race, to develop and publish a new mobile game for global release. This reusable game engine results in reduced costs and faster payback, enhancing return for everyone involved.

As an investor, you may be asking yourself why this is a big deal. Mobile gaming is the largest and fastest growing segment in the global gaming market. Not surprisingly, the onset of the pandemic led to the number of gamers globally increasing by 46% from January to March of 2020. With mobile global game revenue estimated to be $85B in 2021 and global mobile ad spending in 2020 expected to be $240B, a company doesn’t need a large piece of the pie to generate material revenue. And don’t be confused by the “free-to-play” moniker, that simply means it’s free to start playing but there are plenty of opportunities to spend your hard earned dollars once you get hooked.

Unfortunately, investors will have to wait a little longer to see how things are evolving at Leaf Mobile. With all the big changes that have occurred over the last few months, there is very little relevant financial information to assess the current situation. Nevertheless, the catalysts are there with several new mobile games in the pipeline and a proven platform to monetize returns in a very large global gaming market. It will be interesting to see what the next quarterly results look like with full integration of the ESG acquisition.

Disclosure: The author is long Leaf Mobile (TSX: LEAF).




Who is Enthusiast Gaming and what is all the fuss about?

Enthusiast Gaming Holdings Inc. (TSX: EGLX | OTCQB: ENGMF | NASDAQ: Coming Soon) is building the largest media platform for video game and esports fans to connect and engage worldwide. And with the US as its most prominent source of audience and revenue it only makes sense to enlarge its shareholder base and accelerate the growth strategy with a listing on the Nasdaq exchange which it announced yesterday.

But who is Enthusiast Gaming and what is all the fuss about? Enthusiast was spawned from Menashe Kestenbaum’s lifelong love for video games, having first written for IGN, a large gaming media site at the tender age of 13. After studying and subsequently lecturing at the Institute of Advanced Talmudic Law in Jerusalem for eight years, Menashe returned to his passion for the video game industry and launched his first gaming blog, “Nintendo Enthusiast”, in 2011. In 2014, he returned to Toronto and incorporated Enthusiast. Then in 2019 Enthusiast amalgamated with GameCo, a publicly traded issuer that had also acquired Luminosity Gaming.

To say “the rest is history” would be an enormous understatement given how quickly both the industry and the company are still growing. Enthusiast is currently reaching over 300 million gamers every month, the Company is a member of the ‘Comscore 100’ ranking of the top Internet Properties in the US and the largest in the Gaming Information category on mobile devices. The company has 100 websites publishing unique content across the video game spectrum, 30 weekly shows and 24+ million subscribers on YouTube, 30 live and virtual gaming events globally, 500 influencers across Twitch, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok, and 7 professional esports teams.

Digging a little further into the numbers and we see its 100 gaming-related websites collectively generate approximately 1 billion page views monthly. Enthusiast’s gaming content division includes 2 of the top 20 gaming media and entertainment video brands with BCC Gaming and Arcade Cloud, reaching more than 50 million unique viewers a month across 9 YouTube pages, 8 Snapchat shows and related Facebook, Instagram and TikTok accounts. The company’s talent division works with nearly 1,000 YouTube creators generating nearly 3 billion views a month.

The corporate mission is to build the world’s largest network of communities for gamers through multi-channel media, original content and events. They want to own the fan experience. By building the social network for gamers the company is looking to capitalize on the “social revolution” and changes in how Gen Zs and Millennials consume content. For context Gen Zs are generally between 6 and 24 years old (roughly 68 million in the U.S.) while Millennials are currently between 25 and 40 years old, give or take (approx. 72 million in the U.S.). Enthusiast has a global market, but focusing on the U.S. alone means their target is over 40% of the entire U.S. population.

The numbers above paint a pretty impressive picture but the question on investor’s minds is how does Enthusiast monetize this incredible reach. For Q4/20, the company posted its quarterly average revenue per user (ARPU) at $0.52. Through a phased approach the company plans to increase the ARPU to $3.00 by 2023 through strategies including advertising, direct selling, subscriptions, content licensing, an app store and ultimately a marketplace. The company has shown impressive sequential growth in revenue over the last four quarters from $9.2 million in Q4/19 to $42.5 million in Q4/20. They haven’t posted a quarterly profit yet but the bulk of the infrastructure is now in place to start extracting more revenue per user. And after raising $42 million in February of this year the company has plenty of liquidity to execute on their strategies.




Reveling in the demand for esports, Versus Systems in-game prizing is proving that loyalty wins

Advertising when done correctly and at large scale is a very profitable business, just look at Google and Facebook. The correct way to advertise these days is all about targeting and engagement. That is, targeting the customer based on their likes and interests and then engaging them to view your ad. One of the best ways to achieve this is via prizes or rewards for engagement.

One company is rapidly expanding by partnering with publishers, developers, and creators of games, apps, and other interactive media content to offer real world prizes inside their content. Players, viewers and users can choose from the offered prizes and then complete in-game or in-app challenges to win the prizes. Equally exciting is that the same company is now much more accessible to investors after recently gaining a prized NASDAQ listing. The Company is Versus Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: VS) (‘Versus’).

Versus has developed an in-game prizing and promotions engine. The Versus promotions engine can be integrated into mobile, console, and PC games, as well as streaming media and mobile apps. Versus’ promotions engine works with platform publishers and developers to enhance their platform and rewards users who view ads thereby achieving much greater interest from potential customers.

Versus Systems promotion engine advertising tool rewards consumers who view ads and results in a targeted advertising spend for the advertiser

Source

Announced in Feb. 2021, Versus has teamed up with Xcite Interactive (‘Xcite’) to bring its real-world prizing software (promotions engine) to live events. Xcite powers interactive experiences for over 50% of NFL, MLB, NHL, and NBA teams. The news release stated (in regards to Xcite):

“The interactive media platform has delivered experiential fan engagement for over 150 major sports teams and innovative entertainment partners, broadcasting on television, on OTT services, on custom websites, or on streaming platforms like YouTube and Twitch……Versus will provide its patented rewards technology for use in both at-home and in-venue projects with Xcite, allowing fans to earn real prizes through Xcite’s platform, which includes gamification through voting, polling, trivia, predictive gaming, and mini-games that fans can play alongside the live event experience.”

This is a significant leap forward for Versus and a way to accelerate exposure and advertising revenues for the companies that choose to use the Xcite platform with the Versus promotions engine, effectively a win-win for both parties.

Sean Hopkins, CEO and Founder of Xcite, stated: “We believe Versus is the ideal technology partner for Xcite……Our robust relationships with teams, venues, leagues, and event promoters gives us access to a huge and growing audience of fans, and the Versus Systems technology will enable our event partners to significantly enhance the level of fan engagement.”

Versus promotions engine is a win/win for the advertiser, the game/app partner, and the player/consumer

Source

Other new partnerships with Versus have been announced in March 2021 and include:

  • Frias Agency – Frias clients include iconic beverage brands from Constellation Brands, such as Corona, Cerveza Modelo, Cerveza Pacifico, Crush, Kim Crawford, Meiomi, Blue Chair Bay, and Casa Noble. Frias also works with major athletes like Canelo Alvarez and sports promoters like Matchroom Boxing and Premier Boxing Champions. The Versus-Frias Agency partnership expects to extend prizing into live sporting events starting Summer 2021 for soccer, boxing, wrestling and MMA, as well as live music festivals and tours.
  • Expanding with existing content partners in Mexico in Q2, 2021 – Versus will be partnering with some of its existing content partners to launch in Mexico in Q2 of this year.

In other recent news Versus announced both a voluntary delisting from the CSE and a new listing on the highly prized NASDAQ exchange starting mid-January 2021, under the new ticker ‘VS’. The NASDAQ listing will help investors to be able to purchase the stock and help Versus to raise further capital to accelerate their expansion. An example of this was Versus’ recent US$11M equity raise.

Closing remarks

Versus continues to make great progress with new developer partners choosing to use their patented in-game prizing and promotions engine. Just in the recent past, Versus has partnered with HP, Xcite, Frias, and their Mexico partners. Should these partnerships prove to be successful then clearly many others will follow.

For investors, it is still a good time to consider Versus Systems as they are just beginning their global commercialization, have only recently gained a NASDAQ listing, and trade on a market cap of just US$85M. One to follow closely during 2021.




Here comes the 2nd wave of Esports IPOs

While most of the country braces for what could perhaps be an even stronger 2nd wave of COVID-19 cases in Canada, the esports industry in Canada has seen a second wave of new companies this year and a growing pipeline of companies poised to list in 2021.

The overall gaming industry has seen a huge spike in revenues with the industry expected to grow 20% in 2020 to reach $175 billion and soar to $218 billion by 2023. Game console sales and media rights are both soaring as more and more people are staying home to game.

Esports and the broader video game industry have been very well represented in 2019 and 2020 saw a new class of entrants vying for market share from the high growth industry. Let’s take a look at 3 new esports companies that came to the markets and several more that are planning their public listing.

1: TGS Esports Inc. (TSXV: TGS) – Market Cap $10.85M

Based in Vancouver, formerly known as The Gaming Stadium, TGS has been one of the most active esports companies so far this year. With a flagship esports arena in Vancouver, they have built a steady community of casual and competitive fans who compete in person or online. The recent acquisition of Pepper Esports, a tournament management platform, helps them bridge the gap between in-person (LAN events) and online. Another acquisition of Volcanic Media sets them up to make major in-roads in the high school gaming scene.

2: YDX Innovation Corp. (TSXV: YDX) – Market Cap $3.039M

Another Vancouver based company with offices in Brazil and the UK, YDX Innovation is not new to the public markets, but turned the page in 2020 with a sprint into the esports industry. Their core business is creating immersive digital experiences for global brands and has rolled-out a very successful free-roam VR entertainment product which has been sold all over the world. Recent acquisitions include Render.GG, Purple Mage Advisors, Amuka Esports and Shattered Dreams. This will give YDX the ability to monetize on content creation, data/analytics, venues/tournaments and competitive esports teams.

3: ESE Entertainment Inc. (TSXV: ESE) – Market Cap $0.92M

ESE Entertainment, is also based in Vancouver but it’s best assets are in Europe, a much more mature esports industry. It fields teams in popular games like League of Legends, APEX Legends, FIFA and Rocket League. It also runs the Rocketmania tournament series across several European countries and is starting to build up its influencer roster.

Coming soon…

The pipeline for new listings is also really strong with companies such as Luckbox, Tiidal Gaming, Monkey Knife Fight and Reciprocity potentially joining the markets in 2021.

Themes to watch for 2021 are going to be VR gaming, mobile gaming, and online tournaments which are verticals that should see TGS, YDX and ESE thrive and succeed. As more and more regions get shut down or face increased restrictions, gaming is going to get it’s time to shine, again.




Console Wars: Holiday Season 2020

Special  InvestorIntel feature, written by contributing editors Ben Feferman and Nate Trewin

PlayStation 5 vs. Xbox Series X/S vs Oculus Quest 2

Who doesn’t love a good old fashion console war. Every time there’s a new console, the war picks up against and this holiday season we have two stalwarts in the industry going head-to-head with a third party candidate, picking up momentum.

Most pollsters, (and we know they are never accurate) will tell you, PlayStation 5 is the runaway favorite, even with a higher price point and supply shortages. But the Xbox Series X and the Oculus Quest 2, should give our frontrunner a good fight. Here’s the breakdown on the current candidates:

PlayStation 5 – Sony Corporation (NYSE: SNE) 

Sony’s PlayStation 5 was officially released on November 12. There are two versions that are able to be purchased. There the standard PS5 at $500 USD ($629 CAD) or there is the new digital edition at USD$400 (CAD$499). The main difference between these two systems is that the standard version includes a disk drive and supports physical copies of games. Whereas, the digital version does not have a disk drives and is only compatible with games purchased through the PlayStation store. Looking at the specs of the PS5, it possesses as 8-core 3.5 Ghz AMD Zen2 CPU, a 10.3 teraflop AMD RDNA 2 GPU, has 16 GB GDDR6 RAM, has 825 GB of custom SSD. It can support up to 8k in resolution, a blue ray drive (on the standard version only) and up to 120 FPS on certain games. Regarding the looks of the PS5, its main colour has switched from the tradition all black to white with black accents. Each system comes with the one DualSense wireless controller. If you are looking to buy an extra controller that will be an additional USD$69 or (CAD$89).

Now that we have looked at the specs, let’s look at the reasons to buy a PS5. If you have been a PlayStation fan, from previous generations you expect much of the same. Another reason besides the consistency on the PlayStation is the great exclusive games that are available. Some of these key exclusive games include Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Horizon II: Forbidden West, Gran Turismo 7. Another reason to purchase the PS5 is the backwards compatibility. For the first time, almost all PS4 games, as well as optimized PS4 Pro games are able to be played on the PS5. This means that you don’t have to sell all of those old PS4 games as they can be enjoyed for years to come.

 

Xbox Series X/S – Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) 

Looking at the new Xbox, there again is two new models, as with the PS5. There is the Xbox series X which is their flagship, and there is the series S. Similar to the PS5, both the Series X and S consoles have backwards compatibility.  This means that you can play you all of your past favourite games on the present generation. Xbox also has their own line of exciting exclusive games. Such games include Halo Infinite, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade 2, Forza Motorsport 8, State of Decay 3. As well there is the new Xbox controller which comes in three different colourways (Robot white, Shock Blue and Carbon Black). Both the series X and the S come with one controller and additional controllers are USD$60 (CAD$74.99).

The new Series X is priced at USD$499 (CAD$599). Aesthetically, the Series X comes in one colour (black), and it is a rectangular box that won’t take up too much room. The specs for the series X are 8-core, 3.8 GHz AMD Zen 2 CPU, 12.0 teraflop AMD RDNA 2. GPU, 16 GB GDDR6 of RAM, 1 TB custom NVMe SSD. Similar to the PlayStation, it can support up to 8k in resolution, and up to 120 FPS on certain games. This system serves as direct competition to both PS5 systems.

There is also the new Series S which is priced at a surprisingly at USD$299 (CAD$379). Aesthetically, the Series S comes in a smaller form factor but remains the box shape, but this time is white. This console is the less powerful little brother of the Series X. The Series S has the same processor as its big brother, but it will have slower loading times, a less powerful GPU and has only 10GB of Ram compared to 16GB. The Series S targets 1440p gamers rather than the Series X which is at 4k gamer. It will run some games at 120 FPS, but it does not possess as much storage. This console has a 512GB SSD and is digital storage only. However, it does support the ability to add extra Seagate SSD (but this comes at an expensive additional cost). 

Oculus Quest 2 – Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) 

The last item to look at is Facebook’s Oculus Quest 2. This is the newest Virtual Reality (VR) system. Starting at USD$299 (CAD$399) for the 65 GB and USD$399 (CAD$549) for the 256GB, these systems allow you to experience VR in the comfort of your own home. Although these devices require a Facebook account to log in (hello big brother), they have a ton of options for use. You can get the best seat in the house to live concerts, ground-breaking films, exclusive events, and more from the comfort of your own home. The Quest 2 is also backwards compatible, so you explore all past titles from previous models. Now is probably one of the best times to explore the world of VR. With the coronavirus pandemic and looming global lockdowns incoming this means not leaving your house. So instead of watching more regular YouTube, fire up the Quest and check out YouTube’s their vast 3D and 360 video catalogue.

The Verdict:

If you’re a hard-core gamer you’re likely not even in this discussion because you have or are buying a PC. But for everyone else, there may be enough to convince some Xbox loyalists to make the move to PS5 but likely it’s a case preference with the entire ecosystem. Neither are so revolutionary that they could steal the others fan base to make the move. If this is your first console, well, my vote would be for the PS5.

Oculus is ‘wear’ it gets interesting. It really doesn’t compete with a traditional console and provides a completely different experience. Given that we maybe at home for longer than expected and a long winter ahead, might be worth it to splurge and pick one up as well.




Versus System launches in-game rewards platform in China and enters the health sector with ePlay and PredictMedix

Versus Systems Inc. (CSE: VS | OTCQB: VRSSF) has made its name in the gaming world with their proprietary patented in-game prizing and promotions engine. In 2020, the Company has made great progress expanding within streaming, within gaming and also within the wellness sector. A key to the Company’s success to date has been to reward users who view ads, thereby achieving much greater interest from potential customers.

Versus Systems platform allows game publishers and developers to offer in-game and in-app prizing across mobile, console, PC games, and streaming media. Brands pay to place products in-game and gamers compete for those prizes.

Versus Systems enters the wellness market

In August of this year Versus Systems announced their first move into the health and wellness sector with ePlay Digital Inc. ePlay Digital is a mobile game creator and publisher specializing in sports, esports and entertainment augmented reality titles; but they also operate health and wellness applications and platforms. The announcement states that “ePlay’s catalog of health, wellness and personal improvement applications further diversifies Versus’ content offerings for reward partners in video content platforms and lifestyle mobile applications.” The global wellness market is valued at over $4 trillion which certainly gives both ePlay Digital and Versus Systems plenty of revenue potential.

Craig Finster, President and CFO of Versus Systems, commented: “When considering health and wellness platforms, with fitness apps in particular, we are looking at a market size that’s expected to reach approximately $15 billion in the next five years. We examined that growth potential and the opportunities that would bring and realized that scaling our platform into the wellness category is a no-brainer.”

In a further health theme, PredictMedix (CSE: PMED | OTCQB: PMEDF) has agreed to use Versus Systems technology to help reward, motivate, and retain patients in clinical trials. This may include rewarding patients for joining certain trials, as well as to promote compliance in testing medical therapies. A win-win for both companies. These products, for use primarily by Contract Research Organizations (CROs), academic medical centers and those in the clinical trials markets, will enter a market that Fortune Business Insights estimates at US$40 billion annually.

Source

Versus Systems launches OMEN Rewards with HP into the $78 billion revenue Asia Pacific gaming market

In September of this year Versus Systems announced the launch of its patented in-game rewards platform, OMEN Rewards, in China. The platform is pre-installed inside HP’s OMEN Command Center and Pavilion laptops and desktops and is also available in the Windows App Store. This is a massive step for Versus Systems in terms of gaining enormous exposure in a rapid period of time. Looking at the stock price it appears the commercialization is yet to be factored in. Should the OMEN Rewards platform prove popular then the potential revenues for Versus Systems would be very significant. The Asia-Pacific’s gaming market has approximately 1.4 billion gamers that are forecast to generate $78.4 billion in gaming revenues in 2020.

Versus Systems is expanding rapidly as they partner to commercialize their technology globally

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Closing remarks

Versus Systems is having a very strong 2020 as they move rapidly to commercialize their technology. Their base business of providing fun rewards for players looks set to take off following 2020 deals with Kast streaming and HP (OMEN Rewards). Added to this, Versus Systems is now moving into the very lucrative wellness sector. One example being fitness apps with ePlay Digital where Versus can offer users rewards/prizes for viewing ads as they already do in other segments.

Versus Systems core concept remains that a viewer is far more likely to view an ad if there is a chance at a prize or reward. Their research shows that 97% of Versus users agree that adding rewards and prizes makes games more fun. Their expansion from the gaming and streaming worlds and into the wellness sector just further expands the potential revenue opportunity.

Versus Systems currently has a market cap of C$40.5M.