Valve Sued by Indie Game Developer Over Steam Store Rules

Independent developer Wolfire Games, a digital storefront for bundled games, has filed a lawsuit against Valve, claiming that the 30 percent commission it charges in its Steam Store is monopolistic and anticompetitive. According to Wolfire, Valve controls about 75 percent of the entire PC gaming market, earning an estimated $6 billion in annual revenue from its 30 percent commission. The lawsuit follows Epic Games’ suit against Apple, currently in court, and Microsoft’s decision to slash its own commission fee. Continue reading Valve Sued by Indie Game Developer Over Steam Store Rules

Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

The lawsuit between Apple and Epic Games has come to trial and is expected to last about three weeks. Epic sued the Big Tech company over its App Store rule that developers must use its payment system, for which it charges a 30 percent fee. Epic Games has also sued tech giant Google for the same issue on its Play Store. The European Union has similarly charged Apple with violating antitrust laws. At the trial, Epic’s lawyers will argue a legal theory that Apple is using its dominant position to stifle competition. Continue reading Apple, Epic Games Trial to Determine Anticompetition Charge

Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

Microsoft just slashed the revenue cut it takes from PC games on Windows from 30 percent to 12 percent, effective August 1, in a move to lure more game developers to its platform. Xbox Game Studios head Matt Booty said that, “a clear, no-strings-attached revenue share means developers can bring more games to more players and find greater commercial success from doing so.” The change will not affect Xbox console games. Microsoft’s new revenue split is the same that Epic Games offers to PC game developers. Continue reading Microsoft Lowers Share with Game Developers to 12 Percent

European Commission Targets Apple with Antitrust Charges

In the wake of an initial complaint from Spotify, the European Commission has levied antitrust charges against Apple for breaking EU competition rules regarding its App Store policies. More specifically, the EU focused on two rules, one requiring developers to use its in-app purchase system, for which it charges a 30 percent cut, and a second not allowing developers to let users know about other purchasing options. The Commission found that the rules “distort competition” and result in higher prices for consumers. Continue reading European Commission Targets Apple with Antitrust Charges

Hardware Demand Results in a Successful Quarter for Apple

Apple’s last fiscal quarter brought in a profit of $23.6 billion, with analysts predicting the year’s total profit will exceed $70 billion, almost one-third more than last year. Revenue also surpassed Wall Street estimates, up 54 percent to $89.6 billion. Apple announced a 7 percent increase to its cash dividend to 22 cents per share; the board authorized an increase of $90 billion to an existing share-repurchase program. Strong consumer demand for the iPhone 12, Mac computers and iPads is responsible for the results. Continue reading Hardware Demand Results in a Successful Quarter for Apple

Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

The pandemic-driven stay-at-home year supercharged Alphabet’s digital ad sales in Q1 to $55.31 billion, 34 percent up from a year earlier. Advertising sales via signature products such as Search, Google Maps and Gmail rose 30 percent to $31.88 billion as brands transitioned ad spending from print, TV and in-store promotions to Google services. Profit also more than doubled and per-share earnings were higher than expected. YouTube earned $6 billion, a 49 percent increase from last year, and total profit soared 162 percent from the previous year to almost $18 billion. Continue reading Google’s Ad Sales Shatter Records as Brands Shift to Digital

HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 2

In a conversation on cloud-enabled virtual production during the HPA Tech Retreat, Jack Wenzinger of Amazon Web Services’ Global M&E Partners vertical asked how those interested in virtual production can retool existing skills. ETC@USC senior consultant Erik Weaver stated that participating in Epic Games’ Unreal Fellowship program was “an eye-opening experience.” “Understanding what a blueprint is and how to put things in a timeline gave me a fundamental understanding,” he said. “I highly recommend watching all the videos you can on Unreal and start walking through the tutorials.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 2

HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 1

Jack Wenzinger of Amazon Web Services’ Global M&E Partners vertical moderated a discussion during the HPA Tech Retreat on what’s been learned about cloud-enabled virtual production during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also noted that Epic Games’ Unreal Engine has published a field guide to virtual production that focuses on the work being done in pre-production and post. Joining the conversation was ETC@USC senior consultant Erik Weaver, Solstice Studios chief technology officer Edward Churchward and Mo-Sys Engineering technical director James Uren. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Cloud-Enabled Virtual Production – Part 1

Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Google is following in Apple’s footsteps by lowering the commissions it charges app developers in its Google Play Store. Apple and Google, currently the primary marketplaces for apps, charge developers 30 percent for app sales and in-app purchases. Now, beginning in July, Google stated it will lower the traditional fee to 15 percent for the first $1 million developers earn. That is slightly different than Apple’s plan, which is to lower its rate to 15 percent for developers who generate less than $1 million in annual sales. Continue reading Google Joins Apple in Reducing App Store Commission Fees

Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Last week, the Arizona House of Representatives voted 31-29 to pass HB 2005, requiring app stores to allow app developers to use their own payment processing systems. Apple and Google, which have banned developers from doing so, have reaped 15-30 percent from every purchase made from an app in their stores. The bill’s House passage is considered a victory for the non-profit Coalition for App Fairness (CAF). To become law, the Arizona Senate has to approve the proposed legislation. Arizona governor Doug Ducey still has the option to veto it. Continue reading Arizona Bill Curbing Apple, Google App Stores Passes House

Sony Showcases Modular, Hi-Resolution Virtual Set Displays

Sony plans to sell modular “virtual set” displays similar to those used by Industrial Light & Magic and Epic Games to create the sets for “The Mandalorian.” The C-Series displays, which rely on MicroLEDs, will be part of its Crystal LED line aimed at the digital signage market. The modular panels can be connected to a controller. The B-Series displays will be marketed for use in movie production. According to Sony, they can operate at 1,800 nits. In comparison, Apple Pro Display XDR peaks at 1,600 nits. Continue reading Sony Showcases Modular, Hi-Resolution Virtual Set Displays

Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

Facebook took the offense against Apple for its new policies limiting personalized ads on its products, stating that this would disproportionately hurt small businesses that rely on such ads. It pointed to internal research that found small businesses earned 60 percent less without access to targeted advertising. Facebook vice president for ads and business products Dan Levy called Apple’s move anticompetitive, benefitting the company’s own profits at the expense of not just small businesses but also app developers. Continue reading Tension Erupts Between Apple, Facebook Over Targeted Ads

ETC Executive Coffee: Universal Execs on Consumer Behavior

During ETC@USC’s second Executive Coffee with… installment, executives from Universal Pictures discussed trends in consumer behavior. “What’s the future of entertainment; in your hands, on a wall, and in the world around you?” was the topic of Universal’s first of two sessions with USC students. The September 29 session was hosted by CTO Michael Wise, along with VP of technology partnerships & innovation Greg Reed and media technology manager Lindsey Townley. Twelve students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts plus four students from other USC schools took part. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: Universal Execs on Consumer Behavior

Varjo Debuts High Resolution XR/VR Headsets for Enterprise

Finland-based Varjo debuted its third generation XR/VR headsets, the XR-3 and VR-3, respectively, which still target enterprises rather than consumers. The  company’s chief marketing officer Jussi Mäkinen stated that this version doubles its so-called human-eye resolution from the previous model and cuts the price in half. The Varjo XR-3 is priced at $5,495, with the Varjo subscription starting at $1,495 for the year. The Varjo VR-3 costs $3,195 with a one-year subscription starting at $795. Continue reading Varjo Debuts High Resolution XR/VR Headsets for Enterprise

Game Consoles See Revenue Growth with Digital Distribution

With the coronavirus pandemic, more people are staying at home and, according to Newzoo, 700+ million of them are playing video games on consoles. The market research firm said the console industry is slated to rake in $45 billion in revenue this year. Microsoft and Sony have unveiled new consoles, and Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad stated that consoles are a “much more profitable business” than a decade or more ago, especially since digital distribution of games enables the game companies to enjoy bigger profit margins than before. Continue reading Game Consoles See Revenue Growth with Digital Distribution

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