SEC Is Investigating Workplace Conduct at Activision Blizzard

The Securities and Exchange Commission has launched an investigation into Activision Blizzard examining how the gaming company handled information related to workplace discrimination and sexual misconduct. Senior executives including CEO Bobby Kotick have been subpoenaed along with former and current employees. The SEC asked for Kotick’s internal communications and minutes from Activision board meetings dating from 2019. The publisher of “Call of Duty,” “World of Warcraft” and “Candy Crush” must also provide the agency with personnel files and 2021 separation agreements. Continue reading SEC Is Investigating Workplace Conduct at Activision Blizzard

China Says No Video Games for Kids During the School Week

China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP) announced a regulation that bans young people under the age of 18 from playing online video games between Monday and Thursday and, on the other days of the week and holidays, limits game play between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM. Authorities blame “video game addiction” for distracting younger people from school and family responsibilities. The rule states that all video games must connect to an anti-addiction system operated by the GAPP. Continue reading China Says No Video Games for Kids During the School Week

Adobe Is Buying Collaborative Video Software Firm Frame.io

Adobe is purchasing cloud-based video collaboration platform Frame.io for $1.275 billion in a deal expected to close in Q4 2021, which ends in late November. Frame.io co-founder and chief executive Emery Wells and co-founder John Traver will join Adobe, with Wells leading the Frame.io team and reporting to Adobe chief product officer Scott Belsky, who is also executive vice president of Adobe Creative Cloud. Adobe will integrate the company’s review-and-approval functionality with Premiere Pro, After Effects, Photoshop, Illustrator and “other Adobe Creative Cloud applications.” Continue reading Adobe Is Buying Collaborative Video Software Firm Frame.io

Univision Selects Google for Bundled Cloud Computing Deal

Google has inked an eight-year deal with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision Communications that could exceed $1 billion. Univision chief executive Wade Davis said Google’s offer of benefits on its YouTube video platform and advertising and search services helped close the deal. Microsoft and Amazon have also bundled products in cloud computing deals and lawmakers have expressed concern over the tactic. Google currently faces antitrust suits filed by the Justice Department and several states. Continue reading Univision Selects Google for Bundled Cloud Computing Deal

Pandemic Could Have Long-Term Impact on Gaming Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic is boosting the multi-billion-dollar video-game industry into the stratosphere, and Big Tech companies predict the trend will endure past the pandemic. Microsoft, for example, plans to acquire the company behind the “Doom” game franchise for $7.5 billion. NPD Group reported that about 244 million people in the U.S. play video games, up 15 percent from a 2018 study. The report added that, “Americans spend an average of 14 hours a week playing video games … compared with 12 hours weekly in 2018.” Continue reading Pandemic Could Have Long-Term Impact on Gaming Industry

Video Game Publishers Post Record Profits During Pandemic

Video game publishers Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software are all on track to post strong earnings this week, the beneficiaries of increased game playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to analysts, these publicly traded game publishers have reaped rewards from players spending on virtual goods such as costumes for characters. FactSet predicts the companies will “more than double” their adjusted earnings from the same quarter from the previous year. The global games industry is valued at $149 billion. Continue reading Video Game Publishers Post Record Profits During Pandemic

Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

According to Newzoo, in 2020 the globe’s 2.7 billion gamers will spend $159.3 billion on mobile, PC and console games, representing 9.3 percent growth from 2019. The game market is on track to exceed $200.8 billion in revenue by 2023, with growth of 8.3 percent per year. The COVID-19 shutdown and the release of new consoles by the end of the year are the biggest contributing factors to growth. Some game developers also note that, during the pandemic, older players of casual games are reactivating accounts. Continue reading Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

Google Unveils Details on Google Play, Stadia, Google Cloud

After the cancellation of the Game Developers Conference, Google went online to release information about its cloud infrastructure, Google Play and Stadia cloud gaming services. Stadia head of product John Justice reported that Google Ads campaigns have thus far resulted in 27 billion game installs, that mobile gaming is “on track” to reach $100 billion in 2021, and that Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and North Africa will drive mobile game growth going forward. There are 2 billion daily active users on Android. Continue reading Google Unveils Details on Google Play, Stadia, Google Cloud

Video Game Usage Soaring as People Are Confined to Home

In the wake of the coronavirus and subsequent school closures and remote working policies, more Americans are gaming than ever before. According to third-party database SteamDB, Steam — the most popular PC gaming marketplace — drew a record-breaking 20,313,451 concurrent users. The top game was “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive,” released by Valve in 2012, which broke its own peak numbers on Sunday with 1,023,2290 concurrent players. Verizon also reported that game traffic soared 75 percent from the previous week. Continue reading Video Game Usage Soaring as People Are Confined to Home

Nvidia GeForce Now Raises Issues Inherent in Cloud Gaming

Over last weekend, Raphael van Lierop, director and writer of Hinterland Studio’s “The Long Dark,” pulled the game from Nvidia GeForce Now, stating his displeasure with the fact that Nvidia’s service lets anyone who purchases a digital game on Valve’s Steam reinstall it on a virtual machine and play from its cloud platform. “Sorry to those who are disappointed you can no longer play #thelongdark on GeForce Now,” he tweeted. “Nvidia didn’t ask for our permission to put the game on the platform so we asked them to remove it.” Continue reading Nvidia GeForce Now Raises Issues Inherent in Cloud Gaming

Nintendo Shares Fall, Game Publishers Stall on New Titles

After missing estimates for quarterly profit and full-year earnings predicted to be short of expectations, Nintendo shares fell as much as 4.7 percent, the biggest intraday drop since April 26. Nintendo reported disappointing operating income for the quarter ending in December: 168.7 billion yen ($1.5 billion) versus the 175.4 billion yen average projection. Wall Street has also projected slowed growth for major video game publishers that are holding back on new releases until new consoles have debuted. Continue reading Nintendo Shares Fall, Game Publishers Stall on New Titles

YouTube Signs Activision Blizzard’s Major eSports Leagues

Google’s YouTube will exclusively stream Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty League, Overwatch League, and Hearthstone Esports, which had previously been on the Twitch streaming platform. The news came just before the Call of Duty League’s inaugural match. In 2018, Twitch inked exclusive Overwatch League streaming rights for a reported $90 million. Additionally, Google Cloud will host Activision Blizzard’s library of games. YouTube Gaming head Ryan Wyatt reported that talks over the rights had been ongoing since last year. Continue reading YouTube Signs Activision Blizzard’s Major eSports Leagues

Mythical Games Blockchain Strategy Gets $19 Million Boost

Los Angeles-based Mythical Games raised $19 million to pursue its mission of creating games with blockchain and allowing players to benefit via ownership. The company, which has dubbed this strategy “player-owned economies,” is at work on its first game. Javelin Venture Partners was the lead investor, joined by new investors Avon Ventures, Alumni Ventures and Hashed. Galaxy Digital, via its Digital EOS VC Fund and Struck Capital, are other current investors. Mythical Games raised $16 million last year in two rounds. Continue reading Mythical Games Blockchain Strategy Gets $19 Million Boost

Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Gaming company Activision Blizzard suspended an eSports player who, during a live broadcast, expressed his support for the pro-democracy protest movement in Hong Kong. Professional “Hearthstone” player Chung Ng Wai has been suspended for a year and forced to give up $10,000 in prize money. The move led to a significant backlash from gamers and politicians via social media and online forums. The public relations dilemma is similar to what played out this week following NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s support of free speech, which led to the decision by China’s state-run television not to broadcast two NBA games. Continue reading Blizzard Suspends Pro eSports Player for His Political Stance

Game Industry Takes Steps to Address Loot Box Concerns

In a Federal Trade Commission workshop, Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony, the biggest game console manufacturers, have vowed to self-impose regulations requiring video game developers to disclose the odds for loot boxes. The FTC is looking at loot boxes, a system in which players buy “random” packages of in-game items without knowing the odds of getting items they actually want. The trade group Entertainment Software Association (ESA) plans to add warning labels and other policies related to loot boxes. Continue reading Game Industry Takes Steps to Address Loot Box Concerns