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

Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has launched PlayStation Productions to transform the company’s 100+ video games into film and television projects. The production company, headed by Asad Qizilbash, is at work on its first projects on Sony Pictures’ Culver City lot. SIE Worldwide Studios chair Shawn Layden, who also oversees the new production company, noted that, with 25 years developing games, the company believes “now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television.” Continue reading Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Publishers Hire Top Gamers to Live-Stream New Releases

To draw attention to their new video game releases, major publishers such as Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft Entertainment and Take-Two Interactive are paying top-tier gamers to play their new releases live online. Talent and marketing agencies report that these companies can pay the most popular gamers as much as $50,000 per hour to do so. On September 13, Take-Two will pay gamers to live-stream its new release “Borderlands 3,” and again for its October 4 release of “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint.” Continue reading Publishers Hire Top Gamers to Live-Stream New Releases

New Netflix CFO Is Expected to Face Cash Flow Challenges

Netflix recently named Spencer Neumann as its new chief financial officer. He faces the unenviable task of convincing investors that the path of investing immense sums of money into original content to grow subscriptions and profits will eventually pay off. Co-founder/chief executive Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos have driven the current strategy relying on original content, which is aimed at battling rivals such as Amazon, Hulu and HBO. They will continue to lead business and content strategy. Continue reading New Netflix CFO Is Expected to Face Cash Flow Challenges

Google, Microsoft Target Triple-A Games via Cloud Streaming

Microsoft and Google are engaged in efforts to enable people to play triple-A games — the most visually complex, big budget games — on devices that are not connected to the Internet, without expensive specialized hardware. The two tech behemoths join game developer Electronic Arts in this 10+year push to allow gamers to stream from the cloud, anytime and anywhere, attracting those who don’t want to buy game consoles or high-end PCs. The move might also tempt existing gamers to play more and spend more time and money. Continue reading Google, Microsoft Target Triple-A Games via Cloud Streaming

Blizzard Entertainment Reveals eSports Expansion Franchises

Blizzard Entertainment, which pioneered competitive eSports 20 years ago in South Korea, is busily turning eSports from a game into a genuine sport. This year, the company, which employs former NBA, NFL, ESPN and Fox Sports executives, launched the Overwatch League’s inaugural season with 12 teams. More than 20,000 spectators attended finals, held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with the matches broadcast on ESPN. Blizzard also plans expansion franchises in cities in the U.S., Canada and China. Continue reading Blizzard Entertainment Reveals eSports Expansion Franchises

Tencent Plans to Dominate eSports by Owning the Ecosystem

Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings is focused on eSports, hosting arena competitions that could boost revenue from its games such as “League of Legends,” importing game titles from abroad, and purchasing the services that stream the games. The company, well known for its WeChat messaging app, is already the world’s largest videogame company by revenue. According to analysts, Tencent dominates China’s $38 billion game market, and recorded an estimated $18 billion in global sales in 2017, about half its total revenue. Continue reading Tencent Plans to Dominate eSports by Owning the Ecosystem

Electronic Arts to Launch Subscription Service for PC Games

Electronic Arts has embraced a subscription model for its latest PC games, following similar moves by Sony and Microsoft to offer older games via subscription. EA’s Origin Access Premier, to debut this summer, will give full access to more than 100 of its games and some other publishers’ titles, for $15 per month or $100 annually. Ordinarily, games such as “Battlefield V” and “FIFA 19” cost $60 each. Electronic Arts comes in second after Activision Blizzard, the biggest U.S. video game publisher. Continue reading Electronic Arts to Launch Subscription Service for PC Games

ESports Popularity Leads to Skyrocketing Revenue, Fanbase

ESports is booming, having earned $756 million in 2017 and anticipated to reach $1 billion in 2018. Traditional sports leagues are launching eSports leagues and buying eSports franchises, and more than 60 colleges and universities offer eSports programs recognized by the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), while many more have unofficial programs. Colleges are doing everything from supporting student eSport athletes with scholarships and building eSports arenas. UC Irvine actively recruits talented players. Continue reading ESports Popularity Leads to Skyrocketing Revenue, Fanbase

Epic Games’ Debut of ‘Fortnite’ Free Mode Results in a Big Hit

When Epic Games debuted “Fortnite” in July for $40, it wasn’t a big hit, so the company debuted a free version to create buzz. Since then, Epic Games’ servers have been nearly overwhelmed by an estimated 40 million gamers playing the free and paid versions of the game, putting it in the same category as Activision Blizzard’s big hit “Overwatch.” Epic Games, which would not disclose sales numbers, plans to make the main version free later this year. “Fortnite” is available on PCs and consoles such as PlayStation 4. Continue reading Epic Games’ Debut of ‘Fortnite’ Free Mode Results in a Big Hit

Two Groups Vie to Form NCAA-Like Organization for eSports

ESports is booming on college campuses; 40 colleges created “varsity” eSports programs, with full-time coaches and staff members, official arenas, player recruitment and eSports scholarships. The NCAA, the main organizing body for collegiate sports, is still mulling over whether eSports is a fit for its qualifications as a sport, even as the Big Ten, the Pacific-12 and colleges begin to look more favorably on accepting it as an athletic endeavor. Meanwhile, grassroots groups are working to create an NCAA-like organization. Continue reading Two Groups Vie to Form NCAA-Like Organization for eSports

EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

Electronic Arts, with the debut of “Star Wars Battlefront II” at E3 in Los Angeles this week, plans to abandon the sales of “expansion packs,” which are the maps, quests and other content sold separately for videogames. Instead, it will send customers smaller packs for free, as a way to keep them playing the game, and use microtransactions to sell less expensive virtual goods. The company is basing this switch of sales pipelines on the fact that microtransactions, even in free-to-play mobile games, have garnered billions of dollars. Continue reading EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

Unity CEO Reframes XR Discussion, Re-Energizes the Flock

Unity Technologies CEO John Riccitiello drew a fresh picture of the XR industry in his keynote address at the Vision VR/AR Summit 2017 in Hollywood this week (extended reality — or XR — is an umbrella term that includes VR, AR and MR). Riccitiello admonished analysts for their overly exuberant prognostications and reactionary pessimism about the VR market. He projected that XR adoption and value calculations will exceed expectations in 2023 if three conditions are met: a price point below $1,000 for all the necessary hardware; truly mobile technology; and content that can be monetized across 100,000,000 devices, at minimum. Continue reading Unity CEO Reframes XR Discussion, Re-Energizes the Flock

Twitter Live-Streaming eSports Competitions, Related Content

Twitter has added eSports to its growing list of live-streaming pursuits. The social-networking company plans to broadcast more than 1,500 hours of gaming competitions this year. Twitter is working with eSports organizer ESL (originally Electronic Sports League) and game festival organizer DreamHack, both owned by Sweden-based Modern Times Group. The live streams include coverage of globally popular games such as “StarCraft” and “League of Legends,” in addition to sponsored highlight packages and traditional advertising. Twitter is also broadcasting an exclusive weekly highlight program. Continue reading Twitter Live-Streaming eSports Competitions, Related Content

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