Nick Brien's Next New Game (Turns Out, It's Gaming)

Former long-time agency media boss Nick Brien continues his path down the supply-side, this time joining a leading player in the burgeoning gaming marketplace, with an eye on accelerating new Web3, metaverse, NFT, subscription and advertising models.

Brien -- a former top media exec at Dentsu, Interpublic and Publicis -- joins Enthusiast Gaming Holdings, a Los Angeles-based publisher of publications and other content and a developer of events serving gaming enthusiasts.

Brien joins from CEO of ad tech firm Amobee, which was sold to Tremor International for $239 million late last year. He succeeds Adrian Montgomery, moved to chairman of Enthusiast, as part of a previously announced transition plan.

Enthusiast (EGLX) is publicly traded on the Nasdaq and Toronto Stock Exchange exchange and currently has a market capitalization of $94.7 million, according to Marketwatch.

While it primarily is focused on publishing, the company owns and operates several esports gaming teams, and Brien says one of the things that attracted him to the company is the rapid growth and scale of the digital gaming industry, and the potential for developing new revenue models from “creator” content, subscription revenues, new forms of sponsorship, and emerging Web3 business models.

“This is about creating solutions for everyone,” Brien tells MediaPost, adding: “We often talk about the creative process being one of co-creation and collaboration, but boy are we able to do this now, because of the huge audience we have, which has enabled us to become Comscore’s No. 1 gaming platform in the U.S.”

Brien describes Enthusiast as more of a “portfolio” company now, but says it is moving toward being a “portfolio and platform” company, which will require more innovation and development, as well as experimentation with new media business models to get there.

“This is massive,” he says. “There are 3 billion people on the planet playing games.”

And while he plans to initially work with brands and agencies in a conventional way to deliver effective and efficient media buys, as well as enhanced branding experiences, he describes the potential of Enthusiast’s platform as “the tip of the spear” to the metaverse for many of them.

“The center of gravity for us at the moment is very much around publishing and event experiences,” he says, adding: “We have an opportunity in the gaming sector to fundamentally put right what didn’t happen in Web2 with big internet giants like Facebook and Google, which didn’t really bring reciprocity and mutual collaboration. They just shoved out ads. And it was the same ad model that was taken off of TV and applied to the internet.”

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