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Gaming News

Two More Gaming Magazines Are Ending

October 19, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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UK gaming magazines GamesTM and GameMaster will publish their final issues next month, owner Future Publishing announced today. This news from across the pond hits close to home for me as someone who used to read GamesTM and has always loved the feel of a nicely weighted, glossy gaming mag.

“Despite the company’s strong performance overall, unfortunately games™ and GamesMaster are no longer profitable parts of the business, which means that their next issues, on sale November 1st, will be the final editions,” Future told GamesIndustry.biz in a statement. The staff will apparently be “redeployed” across other parts of its business. Over at GamesTM’s Twitter page, the magazine’s current staff wrote: “We’re proud to say that gamesTM leaves as it entered; fiercely independent unrepentant, forthright, unwavering, driven, curious, passionate and above all else made by a small team of gamers who love that they get to do this for a living.”

GamesMaster, with which I’m less familiar, began publishing 25 years ago, but GamesTM’s history began more recently in 2002—a bizarre and belated time period to start a brand new print publication, perhaps, but a welcome sight nonetheless. While the print gaming landscape was hollowed out many years ago in the US, the UK’s suite of gaming magazines, most of them owned by Future, continued on through the 2000s. As Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Game Pro, and Nintendo Power all started folding around that time, the likes of GamesTM and Edge provided welcome substitutes. (Game Pro and Nintendo Power made it the longest, ending in 2011 and 2012 respectively).

Issue 140 of GamesTM was published in October of 2013. Screenshot: GamesTM

For me, these magazines were more expensive and had to ship across thousands of miles, but they offered all of the idiosyncrasies of reading about games in print: beautiful layouts, interviews with big names, and more in-depth reports on larger trends that didn’t always fit in with what games writing on the internet was doing in the 2000s and early 2010s. I wasn’t and never did become a regular subscriber, but I remember occasionally walking into a Barnes and Noble or Borders, back when those still existed, and picking up one of the large, shiny booklets on impulse. For several years, my brother would buy me the latest GameTM issue for Christmas. I still have the 140th issue with Link from The Legend of Zelda: Windwaker plastered on top of a gold cover sitting on the shelf in my room.

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The physical medium has other advantages too. It bundles stuff behind a subscription in a seemingly more organic way than online media, for which paywalls have always felt like an awkward fit. On the internet, each piece of content lives and dies predominately on its own. In a magazine, stories are bound together and their value can be reflected in the quality and curatorial strength of the overall package. 

Edge continues to exist in print form, at least for the time being, as do other game-related magazines in Future’s portfolio, like PC Gamer and Retro Gamer. Given how fraught the media industry continues to be, though, their days seem numbered as well. In the U.S., we still have Game Informer, a magazine owned and published by Gamestop; the store includes a subscription to the print magazine as part of its loyalty program. Three years ago, the magazine was redesigned to be slightly smaller with lighter paper. At this point, it’s begun to feel like a relic from another era, along with Gamestop itself, as it continues down an uncertain path filled with the increase of digital game sales and hedge funds circling like vultures overhead.

Fortunately, print doesn’t just disappear when it gets closed down. Even if we won’t be getting any future issues of GamesTM and GameMaster, there will always been the physical remnants for people to read, exchange, and preserve. Guess I’ll have to buy a nice frame for my Windwaker issue.

Gaming News

Skybound Games 'In Discussions' With Former Telltale Staffers About Completing The Walking Dead

October 18, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Screenshot: Telltale (The Walking Dead)

Skybound Games, which is currently finalizing an agreement with Telltale Games to finish the final season of The Walking Dead, hopes to release episode 3 by the end of the year and have episodes 1 and 2 back up for sale later this month, according to comments by its CEO during an AMA on Reddit that took place yesterday evening.

“We’ll be back on sale as soon as possible, I’d hope we can do this by the end of October,” Ian Howe wrote in response to one commenter’s questions about when the final season’s completed episodes would be back up for purchase. They had been taken down at the end of September, less than two weeks after Telltale announced a majority studio closure. As for episode 3, which Kotaku previously reported was nearly complete, Howe said the team is aiming for a release sometime in 2018. “I fully expect Episode 3 to be this year and I’ll be very disappointed if we can’t make that happen,” he said.

Still, according to Howe’s responses, much of the series’ future remains up in the air. Howe confirmed that no one is currently working on any of the episodes and that the details of the deal between Skybound and Telltale, announced at New York Comic Con, are still being hammered out. While the company has reached out to many former Telltale developers who were working on the game’s final season, it’s still being decided as to who may get rehired and what the terms of the contacts will be.

“At this stage, we’re still in discussions with various members of the team and I met over 40 of them last week to discuss our plans moving forwards,” Howe said. “They know what we’re trying to do and as soon as the lawyers have done their thing, we’ll be able to speak more openly.”

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Howe said the people he’d been in contact with were “extremely enthusiastic” about possibly being able to come back and complete the game and that the only people who definitely wouldn’t be returning would be those who had already accepted offers to begin working elsewhere.

Howe did confirm previous reporting by Kotaku that the deal between Telltale and Skybound would involve former devs being hired by the latter, rather than them being rehired by the former. When Telltale laid off 275 people in September without notice or severance, a discussion broke out in the gaming community about whether people should still buy the games, since none of the sales would be going to help those who originally created them. Though the details of the current deal are not yet known, the involvement of Skybound Games, part of the company which created and licenses The Walking Dead series, does change the nature of these concerns. This still wouldn’t be the same as Telltale receiving new funding to plow back into making games, but some members of its former staff may now have the opportunity to finish the games they had started, and receive payment for doing so.

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“I can’t go into details but the team will be working directly for Skybound to complete [the] game.” Howe said. However, that arrangement comes with its own challenges, since Skybound is located in LA and many of the former Telltale developers were located in the San Francisco Bay area. “It’s not a commute that would be practical!” he said. “We’ll one way or another find a place for the team to work that’s practical for them.”

Kent Mudle, former Telltale employee and creative director on The Walking Dead: The Final Season, was also involved in the AMA. Along with Howe, he stressed to fans in the comments who were anxious about what the change in company ownership would mean that his intent was to stick as closely to the original plan as possible.

“We’re currently intending to make the game as it was planned to be made before Telltale shut down,” he said. “I am beyond pumped to get a chance to finish the season. I could not have hoped we’d be so lucky to have Ian and the rest of Skybound come in and give us this opportunity, for which I am extremely grateful.”

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Meanwhile, design lead on The Walking Dead: The Final Season’s second episode, Emily Grace Buck, gave a frank talk about her experience at Telltale during the Sweden Game Conference in Skövde this week. Her presentation focused on the former Telltale employees who won’t be going back to work on any remaining projects and are now desperately searching for work after their health benefits ran out at the end of September.

“So I’m not going to say this is the only answer, or even necessarily the best answer, but especially in the United States, where your work is tied to your healthcare, I think we need to have a really serious conversation about potentially starting a union,” she said in the talk, according to a report by GamesIndustry.biz.

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Conversations about how the video game industry can best ensure that those who work in it aren’t being taken advantage of have been ongoing for years, but recently bubbled up again due to the manner in which Telltale announced its mass layoffs. One former employee has filed a class action suit against the company for violating the federal and California WARN Acts, which require employers in most instances to provide their workers with 60 days notice before mass layoffs.

“We need to have a conversation,” Grace said later in her talk. “We need to talk about what our options are. We deserve a lot better than what happened at Telltale. Not just the Telltale devs, but everyone in the gaming community.”

Gaming News

More Telltale Employees Laid Off As Studio Continues Its Collapse

October 4, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Screenshot: Telltale (The Walking Dead)

After Telltale laid off roughly 90% of its staff on September 21, the studio said the remaining 25 employees would proceed with finishing work on Minecraft: Story Mode, an interactive show for Netflix. Today, a narrative designer who was one of those remaining employees stated on social media that she and other members of that “skeleton crew” have now been laid off as well.

“Remember how there was going to be a skeleton crew staying on for a while and I was part of it?” Rachel Noel wrote on Twitter. “Nah, jk, we all just got laid off, too.” Noel clarified her language in later tweets, writing that not everyone at Telltale had been laid off today, and noting that she had not been a part of the Walking Dead team. She also said that she did not receive any severance, as was the case for the over 200 people laid off last month.

Reached for comment, Telltale CEO Pete Hawley said via email that an official statement on the cuts would be coming on Friday or as late as Monday, and that Telltale was continuing to work to “do a deal on [The Walking Dead].” In a previous Kotaku report, two sources had said that Telltale is working to put together a deal that would see an outside company enlist laid-off Telltale developers to complete the last two episodes of the game.

In a Q&A panel at New York Comic-Con today, Robert Kirkman, the writer and co-creator of The Walking Dead comics on which Telltale’s adaptation is based, told fans of the games to “stay tuned.”

“Everyone involved is trying to make sure Clementine’s story is told,” he said. “I’m not concerned at the moment with telling that story in the comics.”

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When the first round of mass layoffs was announced in what the studio called a “majority studio closure,” it was unclear if Telltale would be completely shutting down and, if so, how long the remaining skeleton crew would be kept on at the company. At the time, Hawley wrote on Twitter that the studio wasn’t shutting down.

“As odd as that may sound, 25 of us will continue, foreseeable,” he wrote. “I’ll make further comment in the coming weeks.” After today’s events, it’s not clear how many of those 25 remain.

According to a report by Variety, the studio’s sudden collapse was the result of potential partners AMC and Smilegate pulling out of deals at the last minute. Early sales of the first episode of The Walking Dead: The Final Season, which released in August, were also apparently weak, leaving the studio in a precarious position. A class action lawsuit filed by one employee alleges that the company violated federal and California law when it terminated so many of its employees without notice.

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“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” Rachel Noel wrote, paraphrasing Blade Runner. “80-hour crunch weeks. Mismanagement of some of the industry’s top talent. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”

Gaming News

Toys 'R' Us Is Kinda Coming Back

October 2, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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The Toys ‘R’ Us bankruptcy auction has been cancelled, replaced with a plan to reboot the brand and open new stores.

Reuters reports that instead of just selling off the brand name and assets like their original plan, lenders now want to “open a new Toys ‘R’ Us and Babies ‘R’ Us branding company that maintains existing global license agreements and can invest and develop new retail shops.”

There’s no word yet on just how many stores that would be, or what form they’d take once open.

The decision to revive the brand came from the fact that bringing Toys ‘R’ Us back was seen as a better economic option to creditors than any bid for its assets.

Gaming News

Telltale Employees Left Stunned By Company Closure, No Severance

September 24, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Screenshot: Telltale (The Walking Dead: The Final Season)

Telltale Games employees were surprised when CEO Pete Hawley announced the closure of the company at a staff-wide meeting. One employee, a source told Kotaku, had been working until 3 AM the night before with no inkling that the studio was about to let them and over 200 other employees go, leaving behind a skeleton crew of 25 to finish off work on a final project (Minecraft: Story Mode according to Variety).

The suddenness of the meeting at the company’s San Rafael, California headquarters was described to Kotaku by a former employee who was there but wanted to remain anonymous as they pursue looking for work elsewhere in the video game industry. The timing was just one of the meeting’s unwelcome surprises. The head of human resources dropped another bombshell, to the audible shock of Telltale employees: there would be no severance.

Those laid off were encouraged to begin applying for unemployment as soon as possible and were told their health benefits would run out at the end of the month, just nine days later, according to a source and to social media postings by ex-developers. They had 30 minutes to leave the building.

The lack of severance, a detail that began circulating on Twitter shortly after the shutdown, was one of the bitterest details in a game studio collapse that has sparked outrage and sympathy among those who play and make games. Telltale had been around for more than a decade and was in the midst of rolling out a new episode of its signature series about the Walking Dead, episode two of a supposed four, planned for release tomorrow.

The rationale for failing to pay out severance provided by Hawley, according to Kotaku’s source, was that this was a business closure rather than partial layoffs, like the 25% downsizing that hit the studio last November. (A California law, the WARN Act, requires employees provide 60 day notice for mass layoffs but allows some exceptions that could have applied to Telltale.) That wasn’t much consolation, however, to the people who had been working long days leading up to Friday. While the source knew the company’s future was in question, they never suspected the end was so close at hand. By the time they got back to their desks, their work Google accounts had already been disabled.

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“None of my sleepless nights or long hours on weekends trying to ship a game on time got me severance today,” tweeted now-former Telltale character artist Brandon Cebenka in the hours following the meeting. “Don’t work overtime unless you’re paid for it, y’all. Protect your health. Companies don’t care about you.” Another ex-employee said that they’d wished they taken more vacation time while they still had a job. “All I want right now is to REST for a couple of days,” they tweeted. “But since we got no severance and our insurance expires at the end of the month, I don’t have that luxury.” Neither employee provided further comment.

Emily Grace Buck, a lead designer on several Telltale games, including its most recent one, The Walking Dead: The Final Season, spoke publicly about how long hours were customary at Telltale. “It’s true we usually worked 50 plus hour weeks. Sometimes 70-80. Weekends were often expected,” she wrote. “We were constantly ‘understaffed.’ Deadlines were ludicrously tight. Our schedules were so close we went from one crunch directly into another.”

Screenshot: Telltale (Minecraft: Story Mode)

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Episode two of The Final Season was originally slated to release this week on September 25, and Kotaku has already received a preview code for it. Telltale has not confirmed that the game will still come out on the same schedule, but it seems likely according to the sources reached by Kotaku. Melissa Hutchison, voice actor for Walking Dead heroine Clementine, wrote in a statement: “To my knowledge, they will release Episode 2 and then that will be it.” She also gave her condolences to everyone at Telltale, writing, “I have met and made some of the very best friends I will have in this life, and that is priceless.”

“I’m in a weird place as lead episode designer,” Buck wrote, “because I want you to play it!” At the same time, she pointed out that companies don’t make games, the people who work at them do, and now the team who made episode two won’t be around to benefit from any success it might find. “The team did awesome work, pushed boundaries, and I want you to see it! Send us off on a high note! But I’m not gonna tell you to buy it.”

This disconnect between the commitment of Telltale employees to the studio’s grueling project deadlines and the sudden way in which the studio severed that relationship has inspired a renewed debate within the video game industry and gaming community about crunch, workers’ rights, and unionization.

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Game Workers Unite, an activist organization that seeks to unionize the video game industry, put out a scathing letter on Saturday in response to the circumstances by which Telltale’s employees were let go. “The executives at Telltale are incompetent. They are exploitative. They knew that this was coming and failed to warn anybody,” the letter alleged. “Unionization can’t fix Telltale after the fact, but it could have prevented so much of the damage to countless workers’ lives by ensuring benefits like severance pay and healthcare that lasts from job to job.”

According to Buck, at least one employee had joined Telltale only one week before the closure and had relocated across the country to do so. Another was a foreign national in the country on a work visa who must now leave “within a few days.” While none of those laid off are being given severance, contract workers who weren’t full time won’t even be able to collect unemployment.

Telltale Games did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Screenshot: Telltale (The Wolf Among Us)

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During the Friday meeting at which the company’s closure was announced, Hawley blamed the studio’s fate in part on recent seasons of The Walking Dead not meeting sales expectations, according to the anonymous source present who spoke to Kotaku. Hawley echoed this sentiment in his public remarks later in the day, in which he said that though the studio had released some of its best games in 2018, that had not translated into adequate revenue.

Following the financial and critical success of The Walking Dead: Season One in 2012, Telltale had grown and begun working on an increasing number of licensed games, including The Wolf Among Us based on the Fables comics, a Game of Thrones adaptation, and Batman: The Telltale Series. This increased workload, under the leadership of studio co-founder Kevin Bruner, led to increasingly difficult working conditions, which The Verge reported on at length earlier this year. According to The Verge, teams would work overtime to meet development milestones, something Buck also corroborated in her tweets, only for their work to be derided in review meetings with Bruner who would go on to require heavy re-works without adequately revising the development schedule to provide more time.

Hawley, formerly at Zynga, replaced Bruner in September of 2017. One of his first major acts was a restructuring period that month which resulted in 90 employees being let go that November. At the same time, morale among the development teams apparently improved. A source told Kotaku that following Bruner’s departure, projects stayed on track more frequently and shipped in a form that more closely resembled what had been decided and agreed upon during the initial planning stages.

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In a statement released last Friday, Bruner said he was saddened by the loss of people’s jobs and the studio he helped create. He also touted his own leadership. “Prior to my leaving, we were able to avoid sweeping layoffs and (somehow) managed to ensure that we always had work for everyone,” he wrote. “We worked hard and sometimes it seemed like we had more than we could handle but we stuck together and forged ahead.” Bruner is currently suing Telltale for what he claims was its interference in the sale of his holdings in the company after being forced out.

Screenshot: Telltale (Batman: The Enemy Within)

In addition to the feelings of frustration, regret, and in some cases, stories of exploitation that employees have posted online or shared in conversations with Kotaku, there has also been a tremendous outpouring of support on social media for the people affected. Two hashtags have circulated on on social media following the news: #TelltaleJobs and #TelltaleMemories. The first is filled with colleagues promoting one another’s work and sharing postings for new jobs in the games industry, and the other has given former Telltale employees and the fans of the games they created a chance to celebrate their past work.

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Some former employees have relayed interesting anecdotes about how certain parts of Telltale games came to be. “When we requested the animation for Rhys turning off Hyperion monitors in Tales from the Borderlands Episode 5, the requested animation was worded as ‘Rhys flips off the monitors as he runs by,’” wrote narrative designer Molly Maloney. What the team got back was literally Rhys flipping the monitors the bird as he runs by, one of the series’ funniest moments.

Other Telltale employees have shared unofficial in-game animations they made just for fun, such as this one of Walking Dead protagonist Lee Everett throwing a hilarious tantrum about an empty cupboard, or this video of Lee collecting bananas.

Others talked about how much they loved the teams they got to be a part of at the studio and small memories of their time there. “Did anyone post about the time the trophy case at Telltale shattered from the weight of all of the Walking Dead awards?” wrote one former employee. “I think only a small late-night cinematic team was there for it, closing up an episode of Wolf – we decided it was an omen and went home soon after.”

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Meanwhile, some players have used the #TelltaleMemories hashtag to talk about what the games meant to them. “I found Telltale Games during a low point in my life,” wrote one person. “S1 of The Walking Dead actually helped me through the death of someone close to me. It taught me so much about acceptance and compassion. I’ve been a fan of every TWD season and Batman since.”

PC News and Reviews

NEC Display Shows Two New Business Desktop Monitors, Prices Start At $620

September 17, 2018 — by Wccftech.com0

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NEC Display Solutions of America, Inc., a brand you probably know best for commercial displays in businesses for monitors, point of sale displays and projectors, today announced the availability of two new desktop monitors: the MultiSync EA271Q and MultiSync P243W.

NEC Shows Off New 1440P Business Monitors

The NEC MultiSync EA271Q features a USB Type-C connection, which provides a connection to the monitor and charges a connected laptop or device – with only a single USB cable. It’s ideal for mobile office users, eliminating the need for a power cord for a device connected to the monitor. The monitor also features DisplayPort in/out, which can be used to set up multi-monitor configurations with a single cable, and ControlSync, which will keep settings synchronized between multiple displays.

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“The 27″ MultiSync EA271Q significantly updates our popular E275WMi monitor, and the 24″ MultiSync P243W refreshes the P242W, these two new models provide users sleeker, more productive monitors and show our ongoing commitment to technological innovation and to helping our customers improve their workflows.”

Art Marshall – Senior Product Manager for Desktop Displays at NEC Display Solutions

The EA271Q offers a large desktop workspace with fewer distractions due to its 3-sided narrow bezel design. Its 27″ QHD (2560×1440) PLS panel provides high-quality image performance, enhanced by hardware calibration with the NEC-exclusive SpectraView II Engine.

It features low blue light mode and is flicker free to minimize eyestrain as well as a human sensor to lower energy costs as well as speakers, which depending on the application can be very necessary.

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The EA271Q is also available in a color calibration bundle, designed for those who need excellent color accuracy. The EA271Q-BK-SV bundle includes the display as well as the SpectraViewII color calibration software and a Spyder5 colorimeter.

The 24″ NEC MultiSync P243W provides business-class color accuracy, simplifying workflows for website design, web video editing and similar tasks. It offers Picture in Picture, Picture by Picture and support for REC-709, sRGB and custom color modes. The monitor fits any environment, with a fully functional stand (tilt, rotate, pivot, height adjustment) for great viewing angles.

Other key features include:

  • Best-in-class connectivity: DisplayPort, HDMI, DVI-D and VGA and USB hub with DisplaySync Pro (2 up/3 down) and a USB 3.1 hub
  • 24-inch WUXGA (1920×1200) IPS panel
  • Business-class speakers

The P243W also has a color calibration bundle, the P243W-BK-SV bundle, which includes the display as well as the SpectraViewII color calibration software and the NEC-custom MDSVSENSOR3 colorimeter.

Pricing And Availability

The EA271Q-BK and P243W-BK monitors are now available at a minimum advertised price of $619 and $699, respectively, and the bundles are available for $769 (EA271Q-BK-SV) and $949 (P243W-BK-SV).

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Gaming News

Epic Will Keep Fortnite Off Google’s Store To Make More Money

August 3, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Image: Epic Games (Fortnite)

Epic Games has confirmed that when Fortnite Battle Royale releases on Android phones it won’t be sold through the Google Play store. In an email to The Verge, CEO Tim Sweeney said this was in part to avoid the 30% cut Google takes on in-app purchases for games sold through its storefront.

“The 30 percent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 percent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games,” Sweeney told The Verge. The CEO went on to say that he thinks this amount is disproportionate to the services Google provides on open platforms like Android where the company that maintains the operating system is separate from the hardware manufacturer.

Sweeney said the other reason for distributing Fortnite on Android using its own installer program was to “maintain its direct relationship with consumers.” This is similar to PC, where players have to open Epic’s proprietary launcher to play the game.

The news confirms rumors that began circulating earlier in the week, but it remains to be seen how much of an encumbrance this direct distribution model will be for Android users. Running software on an Android device that bypasses the Google Play store also means forgoing certain security and privacy protections, through Sweeney downplayed these concerns in his statements to The Verge, comparing how its installer will work to services like Blizzard’s Battle.net. On smartphones, however, Blizzard distributes its card game Hearthstone through the Google Play and Apple stores just like any other app.

Fortnite is already available on the Apple store after launching in April. There’s still no set date for when the game will launch on Android. 

Gaming News

Possible Reasons Why A Hedge Fund Manager Is Betting $400 Million Against Nintendo

July 31, 2018 — by Kotaku.com0

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Screenshot: Nintendo (Super Mario Odyssey)

Earlier today, Nintendo’s quarterly earnings report showed mixed signals; operating profits were up, but Switch sales and software attach rates were down. That all must have meant something to the Wall Street investor who gambled hundreds of millions on the assumption that the video game giant is about to hit a major snag in the road.

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Gabriel Plotkin, the head of a New York hedge fund called Melvin Capital Management, had made a $400 million bet that Nintendo’s future doesn’t look too bright. This technique is called “shorting,” and it refers to someone borrowing stock and selling it at the existing market price under the assumption that, weeks or months down the road, the stock will have fallen and then can be bought back at a much lower cost.

Nintendo’s stock has been in a rough place ever since E3, dropping 16% between the start of June and the end of the show two weeks later. Traders apparently weren’t impressed by the the fact that Fortnite had arrived on Switch and the new Super Smash Bros. would include every character in the series’ history. But a slump in share prices is far from the $400 million gamble Plotkin’s made. What does he know that we don’t, huh?

Plotkin declined to explain his theory on why he expects Nintendo to stumble in the near future, but we at Kotaku are longtime observers of the company through all its wondrous and head-scratching phases, so we have some ideas of our own:

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  1. Plotkin is dismayed by the news that Nintendo won’t be trying to rehash its back catalog via the virtual console on yet another of its devices, and he sees softer digital sales on the horizon if fans can’t buy Super Mario Bros. 3 for $5 one more time.
  2. He’s pissed that Mario Tennis Acesstory mode was so half-assed and sees it as a sign Nintendo is already taking its fans for granted again.
  3. Despite the company adding loot boxes to Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, Plotkin doesn’t think Nintendo’s been aggressive enough with its monetization efforts on mobile after Super Mario Run’s lackluster performance.
  4. Yoshi was MIA at E3, and we didn’t hear a peep about Metroid Prime 4 either. An overall lackluster line-up going into the end of the year means the average sale of .9 games per Switch owner for this past quarter (compared to 1.7 a year ago) could drop even further.
  5. Having watched his niece struggle to put together Nintendo Labo cardboard in any configuration even vaguely resembling a house, Plotkin had a premonition that sales of the kits would drop off fast, stagnating at around 1.39 million three months after release.
  6. Plotkin is incredibly skeptical that the company that brought us friend codes won’t somehow fuck up the new online subscription service launching in Q3.
  7. Summer’s half way over and Nintendo still hasn’t announced an N64 Classic.
  8. Plotkin heard that this year’s Pokemon games, Let’s Go Eevee and Pikachu, were spin-offs and not “core” games in the series, and he doesn’t think giving Pikachu a bowl cut will be enough to make up the difference in sales potential.
  9. The hedge fund manager thinks Nintendo is overhyped right now and that double digit stock growth quarter after quarter (from $15 to $50 in just two years) has left the company overvalued and ripe for a bubble-bursting reality check. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey only get to come out once, after all.
  10. Yes, Ridley’s in Smash now. But no Waluigi? Huge mistake. You get what you get for that one, Nintendo.

Tech News

YouTube may produce more original programming outside the US

July 30, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

YouTube is working on original programming for international markets in an effort to boost paid subscriber numbers, Reuters reports. The company plans to develop shows for customers in France, Germany, Japan and Mexico, adding to series that have already been released in South Korea and India. Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original programming, told Reuters that new productions will include music documentaries, reality series, talk shows and scripted series.

“We are targeting markets where we believe we have a tremendous upside in potential subscribers,” said Daniels. Already, the company has seen success with a Hindi talk show about cricket, which was released in India, and a reality show about South Korean pop band Big Bang. YouTube is planning to add more original programming to its India market as well.

YouTube’s expansion into international markets with local language programming follows similar moves from Netflix and Amazon. Earlier this year, Netflix said it was aiming to have around 700 original shows and movies on its streaming service this year with about 80 originals being produced outside of the US. So far, it has announced a slew of local language shows including new series produced in Mexico, Sweden and Brazil. Amazon has been pushing into other markets as well, inking a licensing deal earlier this year with Televisa for several Spanish-language series.

More information about YouTube’s international efforts will be released in the coming weeks. Some of the new content will be included in the company’s subscription service YouTube Premium, and some will be available to stream for free.