TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: SEPT. 7

This week, Tencent loses billions after China cracks down on online games, 21st Century Fox invests $100 million in streaming startup Caffeine, and 2K comments on the “unfortunate reality” of microtransactions.

 

Tencent’s Stock Value Suffers After Chinese Regulations Take Effect

Over the past year, the Chinese government has made sweeping changes to its regulatory systems, one of which includes limiting the number of online games approved for distribution and restricting playtime for underage players. These changes caused a 5.4 percent drop in stock value for Tencent, costing the corporation $20 billion and its status as the biggest company in Asia, which now belongs to rival Alibaba Group. The news made headlines in publications like Reuters, Financial Times, and Forbes. In their analysis Forbes mentioned that analysts and industry executives predict a much more stringent approval process in the future that will cause more delays and fewer game releases overall. With these changes the Chinese government hopes to reduce the recent uptick in rates of nearsightedness and allegedly unhealthy lifestyles of avid mobile game players. They also hope to guarantee that future game releases in the country reflect socialist values, one of the reasons Tencent property PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has still yet to be approved for release as some consider the game to have “an overly brutal message of survival of the fittest.”

21st Century Fox Backs Twitch Competitor Caffeine

Caffeine, a zero-latency streaming platform, just received $100 million in funding from 21st Century Fox. This round of funding followed an earlier one featuring backers like Andreessen Horowitz and Greylock Partners, not to mention a content agreement with Live Nation to bring live music to Caffeine later this year. Fox and Caffeine will also be partnering to create Caffeine Studios which “will leverage Fox Sports’ expertise in live events and programming to create exclusive esports, video game, sports, and live entertainment content for Caffeine’s next-generation social broadcasting platform.” Coverage from publications like Fortune and Axios now places Caffeine on more even ground with tech giants attempting to square off with Twitch and Amazon, be it Microsoft’s Mixer, YouTube Gaming, or Facebook doubling down on eSports.

NBA 2K19 Developer Weighs in On Microtransactions

In an interview with gaming outlet TrustedReviews, NBA 2K19 senior producer Rob Jones spoke on some of the changes coming to what many believe to be the premiere sports video game franchise today. Despite being consistently lauded by critics, much of the series’ fan base has soured on the games’ progression system for being too grind-y in an attempt to force players to buy VC, the game’s currency for cosmetics and leveling up your character. The quote  from Jones that is grabbing headlines in outlets like PCGamesN and Comicbook.com reads, “VC is an unfortunate reality of modern gaming…the question has to be when does it feel like it’s a straight money grab versus when does it feel like it’s value added, right?” He states that VC’s necessity will be less emphasized in the series’ next installment, and speaks on finding the balance between satisfying progression and accounting for players that would rather pay to bypass it altogether. A Reddit thread on the interview gained traction in the r/Games community, with readers expressing serious doubt around the claim that “most people don’t have the patience to work their way to the top,” with top commenters stating that the game clearly artificially stretches out progression to encourage the purchase of VC, significantly damaging the average gamer’s experience in the process.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: AUG. 31

This week, we do a deep-dive into the news and controversy surrounding the Jacksonville shooting. This past weekend’s violent events generated much discussion around eSports venue security, whether or not EA took the proper security measures, and whether or not the eSports community played any role in instigating such violence.

In other news, Riot Games finally announces sweeping changes to its company culture and Cyberpunk 2077 garners a massive audience on Twitch.

Fallout and Controversy Follows Shooting in Jacksonville

EA’s Response:

After the tragedy that took place at a Jacksonville Madden tournament over the weekend, EA announced that it would be donating $1 million to victims of the incident, in which two attendees were killed and ten others wounded. The company’s official Twitter posted plans for a tribute fund and livestream on September 6. More details on said charity event will be revealed closer to its occurrence. The announcement was picked up gaming and mainstream press alike, such as Business Insider, Polygon, and PEOPLE.

eSports Venue Security:

The incident has been generating much discussion around security at other eSports gatherings. The Washington Post reported that larger-scale events only sometimes have the “baseline security measures” one would expect from venues that host major league sports and concerts, and that smaller gatherings are another matter entirely. An EVO spokesperson was quoted, promising increased, proactive measures for future events, as their most recent tournament at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas did not provide metal detectors and bag checks for its first two days. Kotaku reported that a survivor is suing EA, the venue, and the mall that houses the venue for failing to provide adequate security in a space not permitted for large crowds.

The eSports Community and Violence:

Other topics of discussion include whether there may be a link between eSports, gaming culture, and violence. Slate published an interview with Nick Taylor, an associate professor at North Carolina University, who has been studying digital gaming culture for the past decade. Taylor emphasized that the recent “rash of mental illness,” the relationship between masculinity and violence, and ease of access to firearms in the United States are among the factors to blame for the weekend’s awful events, not the culture of the esports community.

Riot Games Responds to Workplace Culture Scandal and Criticism

Hot off the heels of another damning blog post by a former employee, Riot Games has finally responded in full to allegations of sexism, misogyny, and other instances inappropriate workplace behavior. Their statement apologizes to victims, current employees, past and present fans, people considering a career at Riot, and their partners. It also outlines their approach to the revamping of company culture through such tactics as third-party evaluation, investigating and taking action on offensive cases, the establishment of anonymous hotline for reporting such incidents, employee training, and more. The statement was received tepidly by many fans, with a widespread sentiment that a shakeup in leadership is required for a real change in company culture. Polygon noted that, while the company’s first steps are promising, “the road to sustainable change and a healthy environment will be more of a marathon than sprint.” Mashable expressed a similar sentiment. In a statement to ESPN, Riot Games corporate communication lead Joe Hixon stated that, “All Rioters must be accountable for creating environment where everyone has an equal opportunity to be heard, grow their role, advance in the organization, and fulfill their potential.”

Cyberpunk 2077 Gameplay Reveal is Biggest of the Year for Twitch

Developer CD PROJEKT RED held their first, public gameplay reveal for their highly anticipated title Cyberpunk 2077 on Twitch this week. With no prior announcement, the stream managed to garner 459,293 concurrent streamers at its peak on Twitch, and nearly 290,000 on its official stream. Gamesindustry.biz reported that said statistics make Cyberpunk 2077 the seventh most-watched game on Twitch in 2018 (ahead of popular titles such as Overwatch and Warframe), based on concurrent viewership. Viewers and journalists from publications like Forbes and The Verge were wowed by an highly-detailed open world with seemingly thousands of unique character models and destructible environments. The demo also showed a highly detailed character creation system and deep gameplay customization. IGN reported that the developer was nervous about streaming the demo as “it’s basically like committing to what we’re showing, be it gameplay and mechanics, the art, the storytelling, [or] the quests,” but did so due to overwhelming demand. A 4K reposting of the demo on the game’s official YouTube channel received nearly 7,000,000 views.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: AUG. 24

This week, Steam launches Steam.tv, Nvidia announces its new generation of graphics cards, and Fortnite may have hit its peak in popularity.

Steam Launches Streaming Platform Steam.tv

After an internal test went awry last Friday, Valve has unveiled Stream.tv, their own attempt to compete with streaming platforms like Twitch, YouTube, and Mixer. PCGamesN, VentureBeat, and others report that the app works completely in-browser, with voice and chat functionality, and somewhat resembles Steam’s existing broadcasting platform, used to stream events like Dota 2’s The International. CNET posits that although the platform seems like a “neat place” to watch streams with your Steam friends list, it is not clear as to whether it will provide real competition to titans like Twitch and YouTube. The author also suggests that being able to participate in a stream chatroom populated by one’s friends list could provide a nice alternative to those tired of Twitch’s “lightning fast” and “potentially toxic” chat feed.

Nvidia Announces New Generation of GPUs

After months of speculation, Nvidia finally announced its new generation of RTX GPUs earlier this week. The company claims that this new generation is twice as fast as the previous, and takes advantage of ray tracing technology for ultra high-fidelity lighting. This new feature was demonstrated in demos of Battlefield V, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Metro Exodus. Engadget reported on performance tests of the new GPUs being capable of rendering the latest titles in 4K/HDR at 60 frames per second, a “holy grail” of performance that is highly difficult to achieve on current-generation hardware. CNET reported price points of $499, $799, and $999 for each respective tier of the new series.

Has Fortnite Hit Its Peak?

In their latest report on top grossing titles, video game market intelligence provider SuperData Research, reported that Fortnite’s revenue is up only 2% from May to June. Considering previous months saw comparatively massive increases in revenue (32% from March to April and 71% from February to March), the firm speculates that the game may have hit its peak in popularity and profitability. CNBC reported that this drop in revenue growth, combined with the fact that the game is no longer the most popular game on Twitch (DOTA took the top spot in August), could mean that SuperData’s assessment is correct. Though it may have hit its peak, the game will likely continue to be insanely profitable for the foreseeable future as PocketGamer.biz reported that the game grossed $200 million on iOS alone over the past five months.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: AUG 17

This week, Superdata releases some interesting research on the purchasing habits of digital gamers, IGN is rocked by a massive plagiarism scandal, and Bethesda Softworks doubles down on its crossplay beef with Sony.

Research Finds that Slow Checkout Processes Deeply Impact Digital Game Sales

Video game market research firm Superdata, published a report on the payment preferences of digital gamers. Key findings include Paypal being the preferred method of payment for gamers, and that game subscription services have high potential for success based on gamers’ purchasing habits. One of the main takeaways however, was how important a speedy checkout process is to digital game customers. 77 percent of digital gamers say that speed is the determining factor for which payment method they use, with 27 percent stating that they will abandon a purchase if it takes too long. The latter finding in particular generated coverage in industry publications like GamesIndustry.biz and PC Games Insider. It was also noted that 54 percent of European customers will abandon a seller completely if they don’t support the customer’s payment method of choice.

IGN Rocked by Plagiarism Scandal

Last week, former IGN editor Filip Miucin’s review of Dead Cells drew the ire and scrutiny of game enthusiasts everywhere after a YouTube creator pointed out the disturbing similarities between his own review and that of Miucin’s. At first, this was believed to be an isolated incident of theft that led to IGN’s firing of Miucin, but IGN staff and fans uncovered a slew of plagiarized reviews authored by Miucin that often stole opinions word-for-word from lesser known sites and forums. Faced with the knowledge of Miucin’s serial plagiarism, IGN has opted to completely remove the vast majority of Miucin’s work, for fear that there are even more cases of plagiarism yet to be uncovered. The breadth of Miucin’s journalistic offenses drew coverage from mainstream and gaming press like Variety, Forbes, and Comicbook.com. These discoveries also followed an apology video from Miucin, in which he declared the Dead Cells review plagiarism to be unintentional, daring members of IGN staff to look for other cases of plagiarism as he claimed there would be none. The video has since been taken down. While some might expect IGN as a whole to receive the brunt of the criticism on social media, the bizarrely blatant and widespread nature of Miucin’s plagiarism actually garnered the publication some sympathy from fans online, with sites like Forbes praising IGN for its swift investigation and action.

Bethesda Doubles Down on Issues of Crossplay

This past week proved to be high-profile and litigious for Bethesda Softworks. Earlier this Summer, Todd Howard, a director and executive producer at Bethesda, came out strongly in favor of cross-platform multiplayer and pointed to Sony as the primary roadblock in uniting game enthusiasts across all platforms. According to sites like Game Informer, Business Insider, and IGN, the publisher may opt to not release their upcoming console port of The Elder Scrolls: Legends on platforms that don’t allow crossplay. When asked if that meant the PS4 release was in jeopardy, senior VP of global marketing and communications Pete Hines stated that crossplay would be a “non-negotiable” essential, as they don’t want to fracture their player base by compromising the quality of experience on certain platforms. Bethesda’s initial complaints came hot on the heels of Xbox’s head executive Phil Spencer commenting on Sony denying Fortnite crossplay. Many speculate that Sony might soon change their position on the matter thanks to increasing pressure from AAA publishers like Bethesda and Epic Games, along with Nintendo and Xbox’s support of crossplay, and vocal fan outrage.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: AUG. 10

This week, Discord launches its own store to challenge Steam, Riot Games’ workplace culture is exposed, and Epic Games bypasses Google Play on Android.

Discord Launches Digital Storefront Beta

Discord launched a beta for their digital retail store this week in a competitive move that mirrors Steam’s decision to add Discord-like chat functionality to their service just a few weeks ago. It seems the two immensely popular services are squaring off to act as the all-in-one gaming hub for PC users everywhere. With a user base of over 150 million, Discord’s decision to launch a digital storefront represents a sizable threat to Steam’s stranglehold on the space. The news was originally reported by Variety in an exclusive, and was picked up by publications such as WIRED, Engadget, Business Insider, along with many top-tier gaming publications. For now, the beta has been rolled out to approximately 50,000 Discord users in Canada. Their premium service, Discord Nitro, will now come with a curated selection of free games as an added feature.

Riot Games Workplace Culture Exposed for Sexism, Harassment, Racism, Homophobia, and More

An in-depth report on the state of Riot Games’ workplace culture was published by Kotaku this week. The publication spoke to dozens of employees at the studio behind League of Legends and uncovered some grim details about the “bro culture” of sexism, structural inequality, and employee/fan harassment that permeates the company. Shocking details included email threads in which senior employees discussed which junior employees they would like to sleep with, blatant displays of sexism in management, and more. A blog post by former Riot employee Meagan Marie was published the next day, echoing the details in the Kotaku report with her firsthand experience. Some of the anecdotes she mentioned also included instances of racial and homophobic hate speech, as well as body-shaming female cosplayers to the point of tears. Riot Games responded by stating these offenses were an “affront” to their workplace ethos, and not indicative of the values they stand for. The story generated much discussion on social media and was picked up by outlets like IGN, Mashable, and ESPN.

Epic Games Bypasses Google Play on Android

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney spoke to PocketGamer.biz about why they chose not to launch Fortnite on Google Play, which takes a 30 percent revenue cut from apps on its marketplace, a policy that Sweeney called “disproportionate” as the remaining 70 percent of revenue must cover game development, operation, and support. Instead, Android users will have to download the game directly from the Fortnite website. Sweeney expressed that he hopes mobile app marketplaces follow the trajectory of PC game marketplaces and become a more competitive ecosystem. The breadth of coverage this announcement received is a testament to the game’s popularity, as it was picked up by a variety of top-tier outlets like Forbes, Mashable, Bloomberg, and more.

TRIPLEPOINTS OF INTEREST: AUG. 3

This week, Apple ends its App Store Affiliate program., EA makes a controversial change to Madden, and parents hire Fortnite “tutors” en masse.

Apple Ends its App Store Affiliate Program

As reported by major outlets like TechCrunch, Apple is shutting down its App Store affiliate program in preparation for the launch of the new App Store in early October, putting putting sites like TouchArcade, AppAdvice, and AppShopper in serious jeopardy. Originally, affiliated third-party websites were awarded a small percentage of revenue when they linked readers to an app in the App Store. TouchArcade and AppShopper relied on this program for a major portion of their respective revenues. TouchArcade editor Eli Hodapp is at a loss in regards to how the site is supposed to continue without the affiliate program, and indicated that the site could be shut down as a result of Apple’s decision. Ars Technica quoted AppShopper’s Editor-in-chief Marianne Schultz, in which she expressed her severe disappointment and skepticism as to whether Apple’s new recommendation system can be trusted by the consumer. Mashable also points out that the same-day news of Apple becoming the first trillion dollar company makes for particularly poor optics.

EA Edits Out Colin Kaepernick Lyric From Soundtrack

Sports media was set ablaze this week with EA’s controversial decision to edit out a Big Sean lyric from their Madden 19 soundtrack. The lyric in question was not a bad word or vulgarity, but instead a positive reference to NFL quarterback and controversial political figure Colin Kaepernick. In protest against police brutality and a government that treats people of color unfairly, Kaepernick started the much-publicized trend of professional athletes kneeling to the national anthem, jeopardizing his career in the process. Deadspin points out that Kaepernick is also in the midst of a collusion case against several NFL team owners allegedly conspiring to remove him from the league. Sports Illustrated quoted a tweet from Big Sean, calling EA’s decision “disappointing and appaling.” The high-profile nature of Kaepernick’s public conflict also led to coverage from mainstream outlets like HuffPost and major music outlet Pitchfork.

“Fortnite Tutor” Becomes a Legitimate Occupation

The Wall Street Journal published an in-depth report on the recent trend of parents hiring Fortnite tutors for their children. While some might assume these parents hired said tutors in hopes of their children becoming professional eSports athletes, that proved to not be the case, especially for younger children. The mammoth popularity of the game has led to children who are bad at the game facing ostracization at school. Other parents simply want their children to be competitive in the activities they love most. Tutors are paid in the range of $20 per hour, and were quoted on how they themselves find this trend to be “surreal.” The story received widespread mainstream traction, with articles published in The Guardian, USA Today, Mashable, and People Magazine.

TriplePoints of Interest: July 27

This week, Steam bans over 90,000 users, Valve revises its Dota 2 loot box system for Dutch players, and Nintendo sues major ROM sites over “mass” copyright infringement.

Valve Bans Nearly 100,000 Steam Users

Valve’s Anti-Cheat system (VAC) saw a massive spike in activity this past week, banning nearly 100,000 players from Steam. According to Steam database tracker SteamDB, approximately 30,000 of these bans happened over the course of a day alone, far exceeding VAC’s average daily ban rate. No concrete causes of these bans have come to light, with outlets like Comicbook.com, PCGamesN, and GamesIndustry.biz speculating that VAC is now aware of a previously unknown method of cheating in popular games.

Valve Overhauls Loot Boxes for Dutch Players

After a ruling by the Netherlands’ Gaming Authority in which loot boxes were deemed to violate their Betting and Gaming Act, Valve has made the contents of Dota 2 loot boxes visible to Dutch players prior to purchase. Said ruling was reached due to the addictive nature of loot box opening, with players tantalized by the prospect of better in-game items and visually-stimulating opening animations. Now Dutch players can only buy one loot box at a time with known contents, and the opening animation has been removed. With similar, recent legislation announced in Belgium, outlets like Gamasutra, USGamer, and Kotaku speculate that a similar system may soon be implemented there as well.

Nintendo Sues ROM sites for “Mass” Copyright Infringement

Nintendo filed a lawsuit against two major ROM distribution sites: LoveROMs and LoveRetro. In its filing, Nintendo acknowledges that many ROM sites are simply hobby projects. Their legal gripe with LoveROMs and LoveRetro is that they seem to be professional projects that profit from Nintendo’s past work. As reported by TorrentFreak, the filing states “Defendants are not casual gamers but are instead sophisticated parties with extensive knowledge of Nintendo’s intellectual property and the video game industry more generally.” Nintendo is looking to be compensated for damages at a rate of $150,000 per copyright work, and up to $2,000,000 for each Nintendo trademark infringement, according to Ars Technica. Comicbook.com reports that all Nintendo titles have been removed from LoveROMs and that the LoveRetro site has been completely taken down. This has sparked some fan outrage, as many of these titles are not available through legitimate means of purchase. Fans took to Reddit and Twitter to state that many of these ROM sites act as historical archives and should be preserved.

TriplePoints of Interest: July 20

This week, Germany bans pre-orders without release dates, Rainbow Six Siege players get instantly banned for using slurs, and Ubisoft has its best fiscal quarter yet.

Germany Court Bans “Coming Soon” Pre-Orders in Marketing and Sales

Known for having some of the strictest consumer rights laws in the world, a German court ruled that products available for pre-order with vague dates like “coming soon” or “shipping soon” must now specify the exact date that they will be delivered. VGR notes that this ruling was not reached because of any video game pre-order grievance, but after electronics retail company Media Markt was sued for excessive delivery delays for a smartphone. Shack News also notes that a wide number of games will be affected by this ruling, as opening pre-orders up to the public prior to announcing a release date is now a common practice among developers.

Rainbow Six Siege Players Get Auto-Banned For Offensive Language

Using racist or homophobic slurs in Rainbow Six Siege will now earn players an instant ban from the game. The first offense results in a half-hour ban, followed by a second and third for 2 hours each, with any further offenses resulting in account investigation for a possible permanent ban. Fans banned for such offenses took to Twitter to voice their outrage as reported by PC Gamer, but the game’s official Twitter account responded taking these complaints as affirmation that they are doing the right thing. Kotaku drew a favorable comparison to Overwatch’s reporting system, happy that developers are taking more initiative to make their communities less toxic.

Ubisoft Reports Best Quarter Ever as PC Sales Surpass Xbox One’s

2018’s first quarter proved to be the most lucrative in Ubisoft’s history with reported sales of $466 million, as reported by Forbes, with the publisher’s stock up 104.8 percent since last year. Ubisoft cited “player recurring investment” in DLC, in-game items, season passes, subscriptions, and advertisements as the primary drivers behind their recent spike in growth. It was also noted that, for the first time ever, their PC game sales exceeded that of the Xbox One’s. Outlets like PC Gamer noted that Ubisoft has the potential to keep this momentum with big-ticket titles like Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and The Division 2 coming later this year.

TriplePoints of Interest: July 13

This week, Overwatch raises more than $12.7 million for breast cancer research, Steam game player counts are leaked, and Nintendo begins its roll out of hack-resistant Switch hardware.

Overwatch Raises Millions in Donations for Breast Cancer Research Through Pink Mercy Skin

Blizzard recently released a pink costume for the Overwatch healer character, Mercy. They charged $15 for the skin and ended up raising 12.7 million dollars to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The skin was available for only two weeks in early May, a testament to how massive and engaged the Overwatch player base is. CNET and ShackNews mention that physical sales of a $30 pink Mercy t-shirt likely helped boost the end total raised.

Steam Game Player Counts Get Leaked

ArsTechnica reported that “a hole in Valve’s API” allowed people to generate “extremely precise and publicly accessible data” for the player base numbers of thousands of Steam games. This exploit however, could only account for games with Steam achievements that have actually been played by their users (so games that are bought and never played aren’t included). Many of the heavy-hitters are unsurprising with games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds, Left 4 Dead 2 and Roblox making appearances at the top, but some might be surprised that Team Fortress 2 still has the biggest player base more than a decade after its release. It’s also worth noting that some of the industry’s most popular games are not hosted on the Steam platform, such as Fortnite, Overwatch, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and more. Polygon provided a complete timeline about users’ various efforts to obtain sales data, and links to the original Medium post of the individual who was responsible for exploiting this loophole in Steam’s API, breaking down his methodology.

Nintendo Begins to Roll Out Hack-Resistant Switch Hardware

Notorious Nintendo Switch hacker SciresM tweeted that some new Switches on retail shelves may be invulnerable to the “Fusée Gelée” exploit. This patch-resistant, permanent boot exploit made headlines earlier this year for granting users the ability to run homebrew code, pirated software, and custom firmware. ArsTechnica breaks down the new Switches’ firmware update and the new hardware security measures taken by Nintendo. These new hardware measures obviously can’t be taken with the Switches already out in circulation, so older models will still be vulnerable to the exploit. Tech Times reported on some of the features hackers have been adding to the Switch that Nintendo has yet to provide, such as cloud saving, custom profile pictures, and more.

TriplePoints of Interest: July 6

This week, Sony continues to receive flak for not enabling cross-play, Nintendo has more up its sleeve for 2018, and new rumors about a video game console from Google.

Sony’s Stance on Cross-Play Continues to be Contentious Issue for Fans and Developers Alike

Initially brought to prominence after Fortnite players found out they couldn’t link their original accounts to the new Switch port of the game, Sony continues to take flak from fans and major pillars of the video game industry for their refusal to incorporate cross-platform play into PSN. Outlets like Variety, Game Informer, and Polygon reported earlier this week that, after being asked whether or not Fallout 76 would support cross-play, Bethesda’s Todd Howard stated that the Playstation group hasn’t been “as helpful as everyone would like it [to be.]” During the week of E3, Microsoft’s Major Nelson also made sure to emphasize Xbox’s pro-cross-play stance, with multiple games boasting PC/Xbox multiplayer capabilities. He also tweeted proudly about Minecraft’s cross-play functionality on Microsoft and Nintendo platforms, reinforcing the point that Sony seems to be the odd man out on the issue. Polygon’s sentiment on the situation is that Sony has valid business reasons to forgo cross-play as the established, leading console, but also recognizes how damaging the issue has been from a PR perspective. Their take seems to mirror many other outlets on the matter.

Nintendo Hints at Unannounced 2018 Titles in Response to Shareholder Unease

Despite featuring heavy-hitters like Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu, Nintendo’s E3 press conference left many confused and disappointed at the seeming lack of major Switch titles in 2018. VG 24/7 reported that after a dip in stock price, Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima made sure to clarify that the company still has products unannounced for 2018 due before the end of the holiday season, and should have no problem meeting its goal of shipping 20 million Switch units within the same time frame. Forbes also reported that publisher Devolver Digital alone has 12 titles coming out on Switch before end of year.

Rumors of a New Console from Google Begin to Resurface

Kotaku’s Jason Schreier reported on rumors that Google is planning a “three-pronged approach” to tackling the video game industry. This includes: a streaming platform for games, hardware of some sort, and a game developer acquisition/recruitment initiative. The coverage references past video game initiatives from Google like their interest in acquiring Twitch before Amazon did, as well as older rumors of launching an Android-based console. Google representatives met with major video game companies at both the Game Developers Conference and E3 to determine interest in their streaming platform, currently codenamed “Yeti.” Outlets like Hypebeast and Den of Geek also reference Google’s hiring spree of top-tier former employees of brands like Playstation, Xbox, Electronic Arts and more. There are obviously still major logistical obstacles around launching a proper video game-streaming service such as bandwidth availability, data caps, slow connections and more. These rumors have been greeted with the same skepticism that game-streaming has faced since the days of the failed service, OnLive, a comparison many journalists have made.

TriplePoints of Interest: June 29

This week, PUBG Corp. drops its lawsuit against Epic Games, Uncharted’s Amy Hennig announces her departure from EA, and Valve announces their intentions to replace Steam Spy with “something better.”

PUBG Drops Lawsuit Against Fortnite Creator Epic Games

Mainstream and gaming publications such as Bloomberg, Polygon and Variety reported that PUBG Corp withdrew its copyright lawsuit against Epic Games earlier this week. The litigation was especially contentious considering that Fortnite was built with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, as well as the fact that gaming titan Tencent owns stakes in both parties. PUBG Corp. would not confirm as to whether a settlement had been reached, or expand on why they decided to end their litigation. While their lawsuit against Epic Games has been their most high-profile of the sort, they have also filed suit against Netease, citing similarities between PUBG and Netease’s battle royale titles: Rules of Survival and Knives Out.

Uncharted Creator Announces Departure from EA and New Indie Studio

In the wake of last year’s news of Amy Hennig’s single player Star Wars game being shelved and the shuttering of Visceral Games, many have been wondering what one of the main creative minds behind the Uncharted series might be working on next for Electronic Arts. According to Eurogamer and ShackNews, Hennig announced her departure from EA at Barcelona’s Gamelab conference earlier this week, stating that she had long since left the company in January. The Verge reported on EA’s statement on the matter, in which the company lauded Hennig’s storytelling capabilities despite deciding to part ways with her. She also announced the creation of her own independent studio, the name of which has yet to be revealed. At the moment she is offering consulting services and is interested in exploring virtual reality for her next project.

Valve Spokesperson Mentions Plans to Replace Steam Spy with “Something Better”

Valve’s head of business development, Jan-Peter Ewert, made headlines in publications like PCGamesN, engadget and VG 24/7 after declaring Valve’s intentions to replace third-party Steam sales tracking site Steam Spy with “something better.” In an effort to meet GDPR compliance requirements last month, Valve privatized the API that Steam Spy relied on for sales metrics, effectively ruining the service. Ewert mentioned that Valve has always prioritized being open with its community, and that Steam Spy actually “had a broad variance in how accurate it was.” Valve is now working on new, supposedly more accurate tools for obtaining data from Steam. Despite Steam Spy’s inaccuracies, the service’s blockage by Valve was met with both developer and fan outcry, as the Steam platform is notorious for obfuscating sales data critical to the business decisions of PC game developers everywhere.

TriplePoints of Interest: June 22

YouTube looks to expand their service, EA wants to be the Netflix of gaming, and gaming disorder is deemed an official addiction by the World Health Organization in this weeks TPOI.

YouTube Announces New Ways for Creators to Make Money

During VidCon, the multi-genre online video conference held annually in Southern California, YouTube announced new tools that will help creators generate revenue from their videos outside of traditional advertising, as well as serve to better engage their fans, as reported by Deadline. The rollout includes channel memberships, merchandising, marketing partnerships via FameBit and the launch of “Premieres,” which offers a middle ground between pre-recorded, edited video and live streaming. While the new YouTube offerings don’t differ much from what other streaming services offer their creators, i.e. Twitch, The Next Web noted that the additions could still help alleviate problems the platform has been facing. TechCrunch commented that the announcements have come at a critical time for YouTube, as Facebook is fiercely competition for creator attention.

EA Bets Big on Creating Netflix of Video Games

Following EA’s announcements at E3 last week, a number of journalists including CNET’s Ian Sherr and Variety’s Brian Crecente received hands-on demos of the publisher’s cloud gaming service, which the company says allows gamers to play high-end games on low-end laptops, and in some cases even phones. Neither Sherr or Crecente commented on their personal experiences with the service, but both noted that this isn’t the first time a games company has tried their hand at game streaming. VentureBeat added that the move to “cloud gaming” is the beginning of the company removing itself from third-party platforms like Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and that Ubisoft is making moves to create a similar service.

WHO Labels Compulsive Game Playing an Addiction

On Monday, the World Health Organization released its International Classification of Diseases in which the United Nations agency concluded that “gaming disorder” is officially a new addiction. The LA Times published a Q+A which outlines the effects of the new designation, which includes notes that in the United States it now means health insurance can be billed against “gaming disorder”. To this end The New York Times reported that the designation may help affected players seek treatment, as therapists may be encouraged to provide specialized treatment. However, Polygon’s article on the news included contrary positioning from mental health professionals who fear that the likely downsides of codifying gaming addiction in this way would far outweigh any potential benefits.

TriplePoints of Interest: May 25

TPoI this week features esports coming to the Special Olympics, Texas Lt. Governor blaming shootings on video games, and a new golf franchise from the PGA Tour and HB Studios.

Video Games At The Special Olympics

This year the U.S. Special Olympics will host their first-ever video game tournament in conjunction with the standard Special Olympic games. In a partnership with Microsoft’s Xbox division the games will feature a Forza Motorsport 7 tournament that will pit eight teams of Olympiads in head to head races. Adding this esports element to the Special Olympics will be interesting step forward for validity of gaming competitions and points to similar trends in other major events that are now beginning to introduce gaming elements according to Engadget, Bleacher Report, CNET and more who reported on the news.

Texas Lt. Governor Blames Shootings on Video Games

Dan Patrick, the Lieutenant Governor of Texas argued this week that violent video games, abortions, and other issues have desensitized young people and are to blame for the increase in school shootings over the last few years. CNN, ABC, Slate, Gizmodo, and a multitude of other major outlets reported on the news of his comments in the wake of the Santa Fe shooting that claimed 10 lives on May 18th. A few of the outlets brought up that fact that this sort of argument has been made before and that evidence shows that there is little to no evidence of correlation between access to violent video games and mass violence.

Golf Club 2019

The PGA Tour and Canadian games developer HB Studios have partnered to create a new brand of golf video games. Typically, EA Sports has held big sway in golf games and had a hugely successful run in the form of their partnership with Tiger Woods until his career took a turn and the IP was dropped. This new franchise will be a departure from the EA dominated sports scene and may signal innovation in other sports titles. The Golf Club 2019 will release on PS4, Xbox One and PC in August according to Forbes, GameSpot, Hardcore Gamer and more.

TriplePoints of Interest: May 18

TPoI this week features Rage 2 from Bethesda which suffered from the Walmart Canada E3 leak, the new Tomb Raider reportedly cost between $75-100 million, and Microsoft rolls out a new controller made for disabled gamers.

Rage 2 Announced Plus Gameplay Trailer

Bethesda announced Rage 2, a sequel to their 2010 post apocalyptic shooter, with a teaser followed by a gameplay trailer this week. Set to release in 2019, the game is developed in partnership with id software, known for the DOOM and Quake franchises. The game was previously mentioned in the Walmart Canada E3 leak and gamers should expect to see more on the title at E3 next month, according to Variety, GameSpot, Digital Trends, Mashable, and more.

Cost of Shadow of the Tomb Raider

A large number of gaming enthusiast outlets including Kotaku, IGN, Destructoid, and GameRevolution reported on an interview between GamesIndustry.biz and David Anfossi of Eidos Montreal who commented in his interview that the game Shadow of the Tomb Raider, the newest title in the rebooted Tomb Raider franchise set to release on September 14, 2018, reportedly cost between $75 million to $100 million. This budget points to a growing trend among AAA games to have high production and development costs, which has spurred trends like microtransactions, season passes, and more to help cover costs.

Microsoft Unveils New Controller for Disabled Gamers

The MIT Technology Review, CNET, The Hollywood Reporter, Tom’s Hardware and more covered a new Xbox controller made by Microsoft that aims to help gamers with limited mobility to play video games more accurately. The “Xbox Adaptive Controller” features two large touch-sensitive circular buttons that make it easy for players to match standard controls and has ports at the top to represent other buttons on the controller, which can be controlled in a variety of ways to create an experience that works best for the user. Currently, the controller will be priced at $100 dollars and will release later this year.

TriplePoints of Interest: May 11

This week’s TPoI saw an E3 leak from Walmart Canada, Fortnite teams up with Marvel to the delight of just about everyone…. and Variety wrote a feature on the future of FMV games.

Walmart Canada E3 Leak
A number of outlets including GamesRadar+, Game Informer, Vice and more, reported on a possible leak by Walmart Canada that may have revealed titles in the E3 2018 lineup. Some of the titles named in the leak were Gears of War 5, Forza Horizons 5, Rage 2, Lego DC Villains, Borderlands 3, Just Cause 4, a Destiny 2 expansion, a new Dragon Quest, a Splinter Cell title, and an Assassin’s Creed title. Some of these titles were expected to be announced at the show but the inclusion of expected and confirmed games for E3 only added to the feeling of the leaks validity. Regardless of speculation from outlets though nothing has or will be confirmed until E3.

Marvel’s Thanos Joins Fortnite
Marvel and Epic Games recently collaborated to unleash Thanos, the villain of the recent film Avengers: Infinity War, into Fortnite for a mashup mode that will be available for a limited time only. The mode drops Thanos’ signature Infinity Gauntlet onto the map, which when picked up by players turns them into Thanos. Players then band together to fight the purple titan and for a chance to become him themselves according to writers at Entertainment Weekly, Business Insider, VentureBeat, and more who all reported very positively on the crossover.

Full Motion Video Returns to Gaming
Variety reported this week on the return of full motion video, a form of video capture used for games in the ‘80s and ‘90s that merged real world video with ingame art. Back in the day this method could create higher quality graphics than was possible but it was eventually phased out for new methods. The story cited the designer of the hit game Her Story and #WarGames, which have championed the resurgence in this type of game and the fusion of film and game.