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Fortnite Maker Epic Games Settles Loot Box Lawsuit With In-Game Currency

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 23 February 2021

Epic Games put out word it is paying the equivalent of about $8 (roughly Rs. 580) worth of its virtual money to some players to settle a lawsuit over loot boxes.

The Fortnite maker said it would automatically drop 1,000 V-Bucks into accounts of players who bought Loot Llama pinata-style figures containing in-game items, without knowing what was inside until they had already purchased them.

“While some of you enjoyed purchasing random item Loot Llamas and being surprised by the content unlocked, others were disappointed,” Epic said in a blog post.

“So we decided a better experience for players was to be upfront and outline the details of in-game purchases.”

Mystery loot boxes requiring players to take chances on contents have been controversial, equated by some to gambling, and have prompted legal woes for video game makers.

“We’re dropping 1000 V-Bucks into the accounts of all players globally who bought a random item Loot Llama in STW before we stopped offering them,” Epic said in a tweet.

“If you purchased this item you should see the V-Bucks in your account over the next few days.”

The settlement came in a class action case representing people in the United States who has played with a Fortnite or Rocket League account since July of 2015.

Rocket League players who qualify will get 1,000 credits to accounts used to acquire random-item “crate” loot boxes, according to Epic.

“The proposed settlement is not an admission of wrongdoing by Epic Games, and it denies that it violated the law,” the website maintained.

The settlement also provides $26.5 million ((roughly Rs. 190 crores) to resolve claims by US players arising from in-game purchases.

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‘Super Mario’ Nintendo Video Game Cartridge Sold for Record $1.5 Million

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 12 July 2021

A cartridge of Nintendo’s classic video game “Super Mario 64” set a world record Sunday, selling at auction for $1.56 million (roughly Rs. 11.6 crores).

The sale, the first-ever of a game cartridge to surpass $1 million (roughly Rs. 7.4 crores), came just two days after a sealed copy of The Legend of Zelda – made for the old Nintendo NES console – sold for a then-record of $870,000 (roughly Rs. 6.4 crores). The cartridge, dated to 1987, was still in its original packaging.

Blending adventure, action, and exploration in a magical universe, Zelda is one of the most significant titles in the history of video games and one of Nintendo’s best-known series.

The game was the “masterpiece” in a sale of 443 lots that runs until Sunday, Eric Bradley, a spokesperson for the Dallas-based company, told AFP.

Dallas-based Heritage Auctions, which handled both sales, has not identified the buyers. Before Friday, the record for a video game auction was the sale in April of a 1986 Super Mario Bros. cartridge: it went for $660,000 (roughly Rs. 4.9 crores).

Retro video games have become increasingly popular among nostalgic collectors in recent years, driving up prices for old-school consoles and cartridges at auctions.

The past year has seen record prices not only for video games but also for Pokemon cards and for the digital collectibles known as NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens).

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Tencent’s $5.3-Billion Video Games Merger Blocked by Chinese Antitrust Regulator

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By Reuters | Updated: 10 July 2021

China’s market regulator on Saturday said it would block Tencent Holdings Ltd’s plan to merge the country’s top two videogame streaming sites, Huya and DouYu, on antitrust grounds.

Tencent first announced plans to merge Huya and DouYu last year in a tie-up designed to streamline its stakes in the firms, which were estimated by data firm MobTech to have an 80 percent slice of a market worth more than $3 billion and growing fast.

Tencent is Huya’s biggest shareholder with 36.9 percent and also owns over a third of DouYu, with both firms listed in the United States, and worth a combined $5.3 billion in market value.

Reuters first reported the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) plan to block the deal on Monday, which came after the regulator reviewed additional concessions proposed by Tencent for the merger.

SAMR said Huya and DouYu’s combined market share in the video game live streaming industry would be over 70 percent and their merger would strengthen Tencent’s dominance in this market, given Tencent already has over 40 percent market share in the online games operations segment.

Huya and DouYu are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, as China’s most popular video game streaming sites, where users flock to watch e-sports tournaments and follow professional gamers.

Tencent said in a statement it “will abide by the decision, comply with all regulatory requirements, operate in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, and fulfill our social responsibilities.”

The deal termination comes amid an ongoing crackdown on Chinese tech companies from the government. Earlier this year, the anti-monopoly regulator placed a record $2.75 billion fine on e-commerce giant Alibaba for engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

Huya and DouYu did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the SAMR decision.

In a memo from SAMR published concurrently with the announcement, Zhang Chenying, a member of the state council’s anti-trust committee, argued the deal would prevent fair competition.

“If Huya and DouYu are to merge, the original joint control of Douyu will become Tencent’s complete control of a merged entity,” Zhang wrote.

“Considering factors such as revenue, active users, livestreaming resources and other key indices, we can expect that a merger would eliminate or restrict fair competition.”

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Assassin’s Creed ‘Infinity’ Confirmed to Be in the Works by Ubisoft, Could Be a Live-Service Game

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By ANI | Updated: 8 July 2021

Ubisoft has officially confirmed the existence of a new Assassin’s Creed game codenamed Infinity, after a report detailed the new online service-based game.

According to The Verge, while Ubisoft’s announcement doesn’t shed much light on what form the new game will take, reports claim that it will be an evolving online game similar to the likes of Fortnite or GTA Online.

Infinity marks what is likely to be the biggest change in the franchise’s history since its debut in 2007. Until now, Ubisoft has tended to release a new standalone Assassin’s Creed game once every one or two years, each focused on a single location and time period.

But according to the new report, Infinity will feature multiple connected settings that may look and play differently, and this number may expand over time. The new game is reportedly years away from release.

The new title also marks a shift in how Ubisoft develops Assassin’s Creed games, the company said. While previous game titles have generally been led alternatively by its teams in Montreal and Quebec City, the new game is being developed under a “collaborative, cross-studio structure” between the two studios.

“Rather than continuing to pass the baton from game to game, we profoundly believe this is an opportunity for one of Ubisoft’s most beloved franchises to evolve in a more integrated and collaborative manner that”s less centered on studios and more focused on talent and leadership, no matter where they are within Ubisoft,” the company said.

The development of the title has reportedly been impacted by a recent wave of sexual misconduct allegations that emerged against senior Ubisoft employees last year. Employees are reportedly angry that managers accused of misconduct are still in senior positions within the company.

As per The Verge, a spokesperson for Ubisoft told, “Any employee that had allegations and remains at Ubisoft has had their case rigorously reviewed by a third party and were either exonerated or underwent appropriate disciplinary actions.”

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Fortnite Creator Epic Games Touts Over 500 Million Accounts as It Adds 150 Million in a Year

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By Reuters | Updated: 23 June 2021

Fortnite creator Epic Games, which is entrenched in a legal battle with Apple, said on Tuesday it now has more than 500 million accounts.

The videogame developer said it had 2.7 billion friend connections across Fortnite, Rocket League, and the Epic Games Store. The company had disclosed last year that Fortnite had 350 million registered users as of June 2020.

Epic Games said it was also launching free voice chat and anti-cheat tools that developers can add to their games.

The features will be bundled with Epic’s online services suite, originally built for Fortnite, and help developers launch, operate and scale their games using any engine and across platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux, PlayStation, and Xbox.

Epic said the voice technology, already integrated and battle-tested in Fortnite, will allow developers to implement one-on-one or group chat features in their games.

Audio chat has become increasingly popular with apps such as Discord, where users coordinate group activities such as games, discussions and even virtual parties.

The anti-cheat tool, which was earlier separately licensed will now be folded into Epic Online Services for free.

Epic Games, currently valued at about $28.7 billion (roughly Rs. 2,13,080 crores) after a funding round in April, launched Fortnite in 2017 and has since then has amassed a huge following among young gamers.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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PUBG, Battlegrounds Mobile India Maker Krafton Aims for Up to $5 Billion in South Korea’s Biggest IPO

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By Reuters | Updated: 16 June 2021

Krafton, the South Korean company behind blockbuster video game “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds”, said on Wednesday its IPO would raise up to SKW 5.6 trillion (roughly Rs. 36,730 crores) at the top of an indicative range, which would be a record for the country.

Krafton said in a regulatory filing it expected to offer 10 million shares, including 7 million new shares and 3 million existing shares, at an indicative range of SKW 458,000 (roughly Rs. 30,000) – SKW 557,000 (roughly Rs. 36,500) per share.

At the top of the range, this would be South Korea’s largest listing, beating Samsung Life Insurance’s SKW 4.9 trillion (roughly Rs. 32,170 crores) IPO in 2010.

The pricing is expected to be decided in the coming weeks.

Krafton’s online multiplayer war-fighting game PUBG has sold 25 million copies on PC and game consoles, becoming one of the fastest-selling games since its launch in 2017.

Krafton is planning to release two new games this year based on the PUBG intellectual property (IP), including mobile game “PUBG: New State” and “Battlegrounds Mobile India” targeting the Indian market.

The company is also expanding to areas such as web-based cartoons, movies, and animation, and developing a deep learning, AI business model targeting consumers.

It reported SKW 1.67 trillion (roughly Rs. 10,970 crores) in revenue in 2020, and its operating profit more than doubled from the previous year to SKW 774 billion (roughly Rs. 5,080 crores).

Mirae Asset Securities is lead advisor for the IPO, while Credit Suisse, NH Investment & Securities, Citigroup and JP Morgan are also advisors.

South Korea is experiencing its hottest IPO market on record with analysts expecting at least SKW 20 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,31,340 crores) to be raised in 2021, or about four times above 2020 levels.

“This year is unprecedented in the concentration of huge new listings on the KOSPI with market capitalisations that range from trillions of won to tens of trillions of won,” said Choi Jong-kyung, analyst at Heungkuk Securities.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Cyberpunk 2077 Returning to PlayStation Store Six Months After Being Pulled for Bugs

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 16 June 2021

Troubled game Cyberpunk 2077 will return to PlayStation stores from next week, Sony confirmed Wednesday, six months after it was pulled over bugs and compatibility issues.

The dystopian-themed game was reportedly one of the most expensive ever made and its release was hotly anticipated, but the rollout was mired in problems.

In December 2020, Sony said it was pulling the game from PlayStation stores around the world citing “customer satisfaction” after multiple complaints about glitches and even health risks.

But a regulatory disclosure by the game’s maker, CD Projekt Red, on Tuesday said Sony Interactive Entertainment would “reinstate the availability of the digital edition of Cyberpunk 2077 on PlayStation store, effective on 21 June 2021.”

In a statement Wednesday, Sony confirmed the game would be relisted this month.

But it warned there could still be issues with the title if played on PlayStation 4 consoles.

“Users will continue to experience performance issues with the PS4 edition while CD Projekt Red continues to improve stability across all platforms,” Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) said.

“SIE recommends playing the title on PS4 Pro or PS5 for the best experience,” it added.

The game title, which was also released on Xbox One and PCs, has been CD Projekt Red’s biggest hit, and the group’s president has said its launch has been a “huge lesson”.

The company has released a series of patches to deal with a variety of issues and was forced to add health warnings after one reviewer complained the game caused an epileptic seizure.

“This was a huge lesson for us, one we will never forget – but I believe now is the time to look to the future,” CD Projekt Group president and joint CEO Adam Kicinski said in April as he reviewed the firm’s performance in 2020.

“We remain ambitious and we are giving it our all to bring Cyberpunk to a level where everyone can fully enjoy the game, regardless of platform,” he added, according to the firm’s website.

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