U.S. Advances Cybersecurity Steps as Ransomware Doubles

Payments flagged by U.S. banks as suspected ransomware in 2021 are on pace to nearly double those of 2020, according to reports filed with the Treasury Department. Almost $600 million in potential ransomware payments have been filed with the federal government from January through June, which is more than 40 percent more than the tally for full-year 2020. Reflecting the fact that governments worldwide describe cybercrime as a critical national security threat, the first International Cybersecurity Challenge is scheduled for Greece in June 2022, where 25 Americans aged 18 to 26 are set to compete. Continue reading U.S. Advances Cybersecurity Steps as Ransomware Doubles

Gaming Industry Reacts to New Entertainment Rules in China

Chinese online game companies are falling in line with Xi Jinping’s government mandate to curb negative influences on the country’s youth, vowing to self-police the workarounds kids have found to circumvent regulatory limits on play-time. In August, China banned persons under 18 from playing video games more than three hours each week. More than 200 game firms including Tencent and NetEase say they will comply with regulations announced by China’s National Press and Publication Administration and take steps to ensure the rules are enforced. The NPPA suggested use of facial recognition to accomplish that goal. Continue reading Gaming Industry Reacts to New Entertainment Rules in China

YouTube Theater Will Debut This Summer in Hollywood Park

The three-story, 6,000-seat YouTube Theater will open mid-summer in Inglewood, California near SoFi Stadium and American Airlines Plaza, to host live entertainment and YouTube award shows, creator events, eSports competitions, concerts and more. The theater is the fruit of a 10-year naming rights agreement struck between Hollywood Park, a development backed by Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke, and Google’s YouTube. Financial terms were not disclosed. YouTube Theater will offer the company another way to build brand awareness. Continue reading YouTube Theater Will Debut This Summer in Hollywood Park

Esports and VR Games Expected to Benefit from 5G Speeds

Video game competitions played before live and online audiences, known as eSports, has become a booming market, and 5G is poised to ramp up its popularity. Among Big Tech companies, Intel and Ericsson stated that 5G will increase the realism of game imagery and action and potentially allow more players from different venues to compete in a single event. Virtual reality games will also benefit from 5G’s dramatically increased speeds and will permit lighter form-factors than today’s bulky backpacks stuffed with computers. Continue reading Esports and VR Games Expected to Benefit from 5G Speeds

EA and Learfield IMG College Launch a New eSports League

Electronic Arts and university licensing company Learfield IMG College teamed up to debut Level Next, an intercollegiate eSports league that will involve up to 2,500 colleges. The league aims to “unify competitive play at universities,” and will kick off on November 9 with “Madden NFL 21.” The first eight-week tournament will offer a $150,000 prize pool. At least one of EA’s eSports franchises will be featured each season. Level Next will host multiple seasons each year and feature games from different publishers. Continue reading EA and Learfield IMG College Launch a New eSports League

High Profile Team Joins Forest Road in Pursuit of M&E Deals

Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal, Martin Luther King III, and former Disney executives Tom Staggs, Kevin Mayer and Salil Mehta are among those who have formed a new special-purpose acquisition company. SPACs, often dubbed blank check companies, are a popular financial tool to raise money and list a company publicly without having to file for an initial public offering. According to a Security and Exchange Commission filing, the SPAC, Forest Road Acquisition, plans to raise $250 million for new media and entertainment deals. Continue reading High Profile Team Joins Forest Road in Pursuit of M&E Deals

Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

Facebook will release its free Facebook Gaming mobile app, moving up the original June launch as people are sheltering in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The app, tested in Southeast Asia and Latin America for 18 months, is designed for creating and watching live game play, a burgeoning sector of the $160 billion global games industry. Having invested in gaming to shed a once-drab reputation, Facebook stated that now 700+ million of its 2.5 billion monthly users engage in gaming. Its rivals in live gaming include Amazon’s Twitch, Google’s YouTube and Microsoft’s Mixer. Continue reading Facebook Bumps Up Release of Mobile App for Live Gaming

Founders of eSports and Gaming Network Speed Up Launch

Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin, co-founders of VENN (Video Game Entertainment & News Network), plan to launch their eSports, gaming and pop culture network in July, three months ahead of schedule. To do so, they are raising $40 million, building a Los Angeles studio, hiring, and setting up creators to program from home. The 24/7 linear network is aimed at the streaming generation, including hardcore eSports fans and casual gamers. VENN already raised $17 million from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Riot Games co-chair Marc Merrill and Blizzard Entertainment co-founder Mike Morhaime. Continue reading Founders of eSports and Gaming Network Speed Up Launch

Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Google is offering free gaming on Stadia, which ordinarily costs $130 for a game controller, Chromecast streaming device and game access, opening access to millions of people in 14 countries. With most people now confined to their homes, gaming has shot up, and even the World Health Organization has gotten into it, supporting a game industry initiative dubbed #PlayApartTogether. By making Stadia free, Google may also gain ground in cloud gaming against its competitors Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia. Continue reading Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Facebook Provides Early Global Access to eSports Feature

Facebook Gaming is introducing worldwide early access to tournaments for eSports amateurs. Though the feature had been in development for some time, said Facebook Gaming head engineer Mina Abouseif, the company released it early to help people shut-in due to the coronavirus pandemic cope better with the isolation. The tournaments feature was originally designed for live gaming events, but Facebook shifted it to one that will help people stay connected to friends, family and communities via “friendly competition.” Continue reading Facebook Provides Early Global Access to eSports Feature

Even eSports Leagues Adapt to Online During the Pandemic

Video-game competitions are filling the void for many viewers who would ordinarily watch major professional sports. But even as traditional sports have had to go on hiatus, eSports leagues have also had to adapt and emphasize their “digital-first” nature. Every major eSports league, including the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS), Call of Duty League (CDL), Overwatch League and ESL Pro League among others, have moved their competitions entirely online. Meanwhile, FOX Sports recently teamed with NASCAR for virtual racing and aired the celebrity Madden NFL Invitational tournament on Sunday. Continue reading Even eSports Leagues Adapt to Online During the Pandemic

With NASCAR, Formula One, Racing Becomes Virtual eSport

With the absence of live sports on TV during restrictions due to the coronavirus, FOX Sports and NASCAR together came up with the idea of virtual races. On March 22, the first ever eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series race was a huge hit, drawing 903,000 viewers on FS1, making it the highest-rated eSports TV program to date as well as the most-watched broadcast on FS1 since the cancelation of live sports events and broadcasting. As a result, FOX Sports plans to simulcast the remainder of the NASCAR iRacing series on FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports app. Continue reading With NASCAR, Formula One, Racing Becomes Virtual eSport

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

Newzoo Predicts Global eSports Revenue to Top $1B in 2020

Newzoo reports that, for the first time, eSports revenue will surpass $1 billion this year, even without including broadcasting platform revenues. By revenue, China is the largest market ($385.1 million), with North America coming in second, with $252.8 million. Although Newzoo has been criticized for hyping eSports, the research company said it has re-evaluated the size of the market with better methodologies. It stated that the total global eSports audience will grow to 495 million in 2020. Continue reading Newzoo Predicts Global eSports Revenue to Top $1B in 2020

HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Immersive Media Challenge Explained

ETC’s immersive media head Phil Lelyveld presented a session describing the organization’s third Immersive Media Challenge — this one with a 5G twist. “The challenge is to ask students and recent graduates to come up with an idea for an engaging experience that is impossible to build now that should be possible to build in three to five years,” he said. “It’s not a hackathon. If you can build it in three to five years, you should probably start building it now. If it’s longer than five years, it’s Fantasyland.” Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: ETC Immersive Media Challenge Explained