AMD Puts Best Foot Forward With RDNA 3 | Antitrust Could Upend Business for Esports Franchises

the gaming tap
AnchorWhat's on Tap This Week?
  • AMD's upcoming Radeon RX 7000 video cards and RDNA 3 will be tough to beat on price to performance
  • Activision-Blizzard's antitrust headache highlight a a weakness of the esports' business model
  • Most Anticipated Game: Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0
  • Other News: Nintendo, Take-Two, Activision, & Nvidia


Radeon RX 7000
Source: AMD

AMD Puts Best Foot Forward With Radeon RX 7000 AMD takes aim at those left behind by Nvidia

AMD unveiled its upcoming Radeon RX 7000 graphics cards and RDNA 3 architecture last week. While still a step behind Nvidia’s flagship RTX 4090, AMD’s launch cards are well positioned to take high-end market share.

Pricing & Size Over Power
RDNA 3 launches Dec 13 with the $999 RX 7900XTX and $899 RX 7900XT. By staying under important pricing, power, and size cutoffs, AMD is making a compelling offer to gamers upgrading from something like an older Nvidia RTX 2080 or system integrators wanting to maintain the same assembly lines.

  • AMD is promising a vague 1.7X performance uplift & 1.8X raytracing boost compared to RX 6000 cards
  • Raytracing continues to be a weakness for AMD cards
  • Total Board Power: 355W for RX 7900XTX & 300W for RX 7900XT
  • AMD FSR 3 in 2023: AMD’s next iteration of open-source upscaling technology will be similar to Nvidia’s DLSS 3.0 and rely on frame generation
  • AV1 encoding support brings AMD in line with Intel & Nvidia’s GPUs
AMD’s two launch cards are aimed directly at Nvidia’s $1,199 RTX 4080, not the $1,599 RTX 4090. If RDNA 3 can deliver comparable performance, they’ll enter the market with a significant pricing advantage in not only sticker price, but upgrade costs.
  • AMD highlighted the smaller physical dimensions of its cards compared to Nvidia's RTX 4000s
  • For builders and system integrators, it could be the difference between using existing components or having to source entirely new ones to accommodate a bigger card
Frugal Foundations
The most exciting aspect of AMD’s new graphics cards is their paradigm shift to a chiplet design. By ditching the industry-standard monolithic design, AMD can price more aggressively due to reduced manufacturing costs. 
  • A chiplet design allows the use of older and less expensive production lines for certain components
  • RDNA 3 also opted for more affordable GDDR6 memory instead of the newer GDDR6X Nvidia is using 
The Best Shot AMD’s Got
Intel’s recent crack at GPU’s was a bust performance-wise, and Nvidia isn’t even pretending to compete on price anymore. While still partly reflecting Covid GPU price increases, AMD has handily beat Nvidia on price for performance. This, along with power efficiency, was repeatedly hammered home during the announcement. If AMD is ever going to cut into Nvidia’s 80% market share in the discrete GPU market, RDNA 3 is that opportunity. 

-Avery Bissett, Head Writer



Esports Franchises
Source: Overwatch League

Antitrust Probe Could Upend Business for Esports Franchises Activision-Blizzard case highlights challenge of esport finances

Settlement talks between the Department of Justice and Activision-Blizzard over its competitive gaming luxury tax have broken down, as reported by Jacob Wolf. The outcome of this settlement could have significant implications for the underlying business model of esports.

The Facts 
The fundamental issue here stems from Activision’s now-withdrawn “competitive balance tax.” It was eliminated in October 2021 after the Justice Department began investigating.

  • For every dollar an esports team spent over a certain limit, it had to pay a dollar into a pool of league funds
    • Funds would be redistributed to teams below the spending limit
  • $1.6 million was the limit in 2021
  • Applied to Overwatch League (OWL) and Call of Duty League (CDL)
When Having a Union Comes in Handy
In an ironic change here, Activision has to be kicking itself that it isn’t dealing with a union. If it were dealing with a union of esports players, Activision could negotiate what clearly is a salary cap – similar to many professional sports. But with no union, Activision appears to have engaged in something more akin to price fixing (wages, in this case).
  • Unions are a non-starter in esports given many players are contractors
  • Extremely short esport careers also limit the potential for unions 
The Larger Problem
The larger issue here is many esports franchises are in the red after COVID, even owing Activision money. Many franchises attribute this partly to high player salaries. Microsoft's pending acquisition of Activision further complicates any negotiations.
  • OWL: $6-$7.5 million owed on average per franchise
  • CDL: $22.5 million owed on average per franchise
  • Even Riot’s League of Legends World Championship has yet to turn a profit
How to Turn a Profit?
That’s the question many esports franchises have yet to answer. They pay companies like Activision or Riot for the privilege of competing, hoping to make up the fees in prize money and sponsorship. A few have succeeded, but by and large most franchises have struggled without the lucrative broadcast deals and in-person revenue (tickets, concessions, etc.) teams rely on. With even a soft salary cap out of the question, sooner or later, something may have to give if esports is to keep growing.

-Avery Bissett, Head Writer


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Supply Drop: Games & Players

Upcoming Games (November 11 - 17)

Bound by Blades - PC
Bravery and Greed - PC, PlayStationXboxSwitch
Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 - PC, PlayStationXbox
Edengate: The Edge of Life - PC, PlayStationXbox
Espire 2 - VR
Floodland - PC
Frozen Flame - PC
Goat Simulator 3 - PC, PlayStationXbox
Hidden Through Time: Definitive Edition - PlayStationSwitch
Oakenfold - PC
My Fantastic Ranch - PC, PlayStationXboxSwitch
Pentiment - PC, Xbox
Save Room - PlayStationXboxSwitch
Smurfs Kart - Switch
Somerville - PCXbox
Starsand - PC, PlayStationXbox
Syberia: The World Before - PlayStationXbox
Tactics Ogre: Reborn - PC, PlayStationSwitch
Valkyrie Elysium - PC

Editor's Most Anticipated: For the second time in a month, the Call of Duty franchise makes the most anticipated list with Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0, the sequel (or rather, upgrade) to the battle royale title launched in March 2020.

While arguably late to the battle royale scene, Call of Duty: Warzone became an overnight smash hit for Activision, debuting right at the start of the pandemic. But it wasn't just timing – Warzone brought tight gameplay, engaging mechanics, and a more "grown-up" alternative to the reigning BR champ Fortnite. It also did not hurt that it was part of the growing Call of Duty ecosystem.

Warzone 2, which launches November 16, will bring many new elements to the game, including:

  • New map: Al Mazrah: Said to be the biggest Warzone map yet
  • Aquatic Combat: New map includes rivers, lakes, & parts of the ocean
  • New Vehicles: Plus new gas station & car damage mechanics
  • The Shop: Enhanced buy stations with new purchase options
  • Circle Collapse: Safe zones that now split into multiple circles that eventually re-converge
  • New Gulag Mechanics: More options of how to return to the fight, including 2v2 battles
  • AI Combatants & Strongholds: NPCs now defend certain parts of the map containing valuable loot
  • Extraction Mode: Known as DMZ, very little has been officially announced about this future mode

After a failed attempt to put Warzone in a WWII era this past year (though I loved the Godzilla vs Kong crossover) – fans will be happy to see a return to modern settings with this latest title. Why it likely won't capture lightning in a bottle a second time, Warzone 2 is uniquely positioned to capitalize on the resounding success of Modern Warfare II, balancing what worked in the original games with enough updates to capture new and returning players.

-Dustin Downs, Editor


Comms: Social Campaigns

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

The Tap: News to Go

  • Console: Nintendo released its financial results for the first half of its fiscal year, showing a 5.2% increase in net sales to $4.4 billion but a 19.2% decline in hardware shipments. The company revised down its forecast for Switch sales by 9.5% for the entire fiscal year while raising its overall revenue forecast based off of several major game releases.
  • Software: Take-Two Interactive posted disappointing results stemming from its acquisition of Zynga for Q2 FY 2023, according to its financials. Revenue was up 62% YoY to $1.4 billion with a net loss of $257 million. The publisher downgraded its forecast for its full fiscal year 2023.
  • Software: Activision confirmed a premium release for Call of Duty in 2023 (courtesy of IGN). It remains unclear whether or not it will be a full game, with rumors pointing toward paid DLC for the recently released Modern Warfare II.
  • GPU: Nvidia's canceled RTX 4080 12GB is reported to be returning as the RTX 3070 Ti on January 5 (courtesy of WCCFTech). It will likely require a $100 to $200 price cut compared to its original $899 price.