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.

Triplepoints of Interest: Feb. 26

In this week’s TPoI, H1Z1 exits Early Access and introduces Auto Royale, the ESRB creates a new label to indicate microtransactions, Bethesda ascends to Metacritic’s highest rated major publisher, and Superdata predicts that consumer augmented reality and mixed reality will eclipse virtual reality in the coming years.

H1Z1 Exits Early Access and Introduces New “Auto Royale” Mode

After two years in Early Access, Daybreak’s H1Z1, the game that is frequently credited as the first mover of the Battle Royale genre, finally “launched” this week. Included in this launch update is a new mode and genre entirely: Auto Royale. IGN reports that this mode pits 30 teams of four in vehicular combat. In the past, H1Z1 has acted defensively about competitors PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and Fortnite soaking up its playerbase, and the introduction of the Auto Royale genre is a way for the game to both reinvigorate lost players and re-establish itself as Battle Royale innovators.

ESRB To Add Indicator For Microtransactions on Physical Games

Loot boxes have a gained reputation of being morally–and most recently, legally–controversial among consumers. In an effort to inform consumers and parents, the ESRB has announced that they will be taking additional steps to ensure that game covers indicate the option of paid content in a game with a new “In-Game Purchases” label. Polygon, however, notes that the label will not specifically indicate if the purchases are randomized, which is where much of the controversy and legal ambiguity stems from.

Bethesda Is Metacritic’s Top-Rated Big Publisher of 2017

Bethesda is 2017’s highest rated major publisher with an overall Metacritic score of 79.9, beating out Nintendo, Sega and Activision-Blizzard. Metacritic reports that 91 percent of Bethesda’s 2017 products were positively reviewed. Titles that contributed to Bethesda’s success on Metacritic last year include Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, Prey, The Evil Within 2, and various releases for the Elder Scrolls series. Additionally, Bethesda has risen up from mid-size publisher to major publisher, a Metacritic ranking based on “distinct releases” that year.

Augmented and Mixed Reality Revenue to Overtake VR by 2021

Gamesindustry.biz recently recapped a Superdata report that predicts that augmented and mixed reality revenue is expected to double to $3.2 billion this year. Superdata also last week reported that AR and MR headsets continue to be price-inaccessible for the general population, making it hard to generate significant software revenue within the next few years.

Triplepoints of Interest: feb. 5

In this week’s TPoI, Google is working on a game streaming service, the ESL acquires a minority stake in Indian publisher Nazara Technologies, and Quantic Dreams faces allegations of promoting an unhealthy work environment.

Google to Build a Subscription-Based Game Streaming Service

An exclusive article on The Information Wednesday revealed that Google is planning to release a service, codenamed Yeti, that would stream games to the company’s chromecast devices or potentially to a Google-made console. PC World noted that Google jumping into the games market could cause a significant change to the industry and compared the event to Microsoft’s unveiling of the Xbox in 2001. Ars Technica speculated that Google’s decision to hire Phil Harrison, former executive of Sony’s Playstation division and Microsoft’s Xbox division, may have been inspired by the company’s plans to develop a gaming console.

ESL Acquires Minority Stake in Nazara Technologies

In a bid to expand the reach of their esports operation, the Electronic Sports League (ESL) has acquired a minority stake in the Indian gaming firm, Nazara Technologies. According to The Hindu Business Line, the agreement is worth an undisclosed amount and includes a license agreement with Nodwin Gaming, an Indian esports association which is part of the Nazara brand. Gamesindustry.biz featured a quote from Ralf Reichert, ESL’s CEO, which says, “We believe that Nazara, one of the leading mobile games companies will help us in expanding our ESL operations through strategic local partnerships.” Nazara has been working to expand esports events and coverage in India, and have developed a $20 million initiative to help grow the ecosystem.

Game Development Studio Quantic Dreams Faces Claims of Toxic Work Environment

The developers of the upcoming game Detroit: Become Human, Quantic Dream, have been facing claims of a toxic studio environment since the start of the year and have just recently been hit with another allegation that is damaging the studio’s reputation. Eurogamer featured a statement from the company which claims that these allegations are baseless, even though three separate accounts of homophobic and sexist behavior have come out since the start of 2018. TSA reports that the Paris Council has opened an investigation into the studio and issued a statement which confirms that the council may rescind any tax credits and funding if they claims are true.                

Triplepoints of Interest: Jan.29

In this week’s TPoI, GDC withdraws award for Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell, Ubisoft cancels Rainbow Six Siege price hike, and EA CEO Andrew Wilson defends the company’s current games lineup.   

GDC Rescinds Pioneer Award for Nolan Bushnell Due to Past Sexual Misconduct  

The Game Developers Conference announced in a blog post on Tuesday the recipients for the special awards at the event, Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail, Double Fine Founder Tim Schafer, and Atari Founder Nolan Bushnell. Bushnell’s nomination for the award drew a huge amount of criticism from members of the industry, which The Verge collected and featured in an article which detailed reports of Nolan harassing and sexually exploiting women. Glixel reports that GDC acknowledged the feedback and has decided to rescind his Pioneer Award nomination. Nolan Bushnell also came out with a message on his Twitter account praising the conference’s decision to rescind the award and has apologized for his past transgressions.  

Ubisoft Withdraws Rainbow Six Siege Price Hike In Response to Community Backlash

Ubisoft’s tactical first person shooter Rainbow Six Siege has built up a large community over the last 3 years, with the game receiving regular updates and re releases throughout the game’s lifespan. While fans have generally enjoyed the updates that Ubisoft have brought to the game, a recent price increase announcement drew criticism from the community. Gamesindustry.biz explained that the price increase would affect all retail copies and would raise the price of the base game from $40 to $60. Paste Magazine reports that the developers have retracted their decision and are now offering rewards for player who play before the next content expansion as a way to give back to the community.

EA CEO Defends Company Line Up

During the company’s quarterly earnings call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson reportedly defended the studio’s recent releases, praising his employees for their hard work and the diversity of content they have put out. Kotaku reports that while critical reviews of Electronic Arts recent releases haven’t been overwhelmingly positive and some titles have underperformed, EA’s stock as continued to rise and the company plans to continue developing new titles while employing the same design strategies. Variety recently covered the company’s decision to reintroduce microtransactions into the controversial title Star Wars: Battlefront II so that it aligns with their current design strategy. While the company has prospered and generated lots of revenue due to big budget launches and microtransaction sales, this has come at the cost of their image, with Comicbook.com reporting that EA was named one of the worst companies in the world in Wall Street’s newest ranked lists, which cross references customer satisfaction surveys, employee reviews, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index to find out which companies are disliked the most.  

Triplepoints of Interest: Jan.22

In this week’s TPoI, Tencent takes $100 million minority stake in Skydance Media, Twitch wins $1.3m lawsuit against a view bot maker, and GPU prices skyrocket due to a swell in cryptocurrency popularity.

Tencent Acquires Minority Stake in Skydance Media

Shenzhen-based social media giant Tencent Holdings announced on Thursday morning that the company has acquired a minority stake in Skydance Media, a Los Angeles-based production company best known for their work on Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. The Los Angeles Times speculates that this move will help Tencent break into the Chinese movie industry, which is the second largest cinema market in the world. The Hollywood Reporter notes that the stake, while just under a 10% share of the company, is still a huge transaction worth over $100 million. Gamesindustry.biz featured a statement from Tencent chief strategy officer James Mitchell noting that the partnership should help both companies expand in their respective markets.

Twitch Wins Lawsuit Against View Bot Makers

Since early 2016, the livestreaming platform Twitch has been fighting legal battles against seven of the most popular distributors of view bots, software that artificially inflate the view counts of Twitch channels, which has finally led a California judge to rule in their favor. According to Kotaku, a California judge has ordered bot makers Michael and Katherine Anjomi to shutter their view bot service and pay Twitch a total of $1,371,139 in damages. Gamesindustry.biz notes that this case will give the company legal precedence to fight off competing services in upcoming legal battles. PC Gamer speculates that this legal win will help the company legitimize the industry of professional livestreaming.

Graphics Card Prices Skyrocket due to Cryptocurrency

While cryptocurrencies have been steadily gaining popularity in recent years, a swell in value has caused consumers to start buying up high end gaming equipment in hopes to generate more of the virtual money, making it harder for gamers to buy the video cards they need to run games at high refresh rates. GameSpot reports that this surge in interest has led high end GPUs to either go out of stock or rise in prices With the surge, cards that typically cost $200 now cost over $500 at respected retail stores. Forbes notes that many online retailers are trying to offer deals or added value bundles to offset the inflated prices, but that these do not fully make up for the price increase . Gamesindustry.biz speculates that this increased market for video cards may not last, with more companies like Steam cutting support for cryptocurrencies due to their unstable value.