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Fortnite to Be Brought Back to Apple Devices by Nvidia, Epic Games in ‘Near Future’

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By Reuters | Updated: 20 November 2020

Nvidia and Epic Games on Thursday said they are working together to put video game Fortnite back on Apple’s iPhone handsets in the “near future” as part of Nvidia’s streaming game service.

The popular game has been blocked on Apple’s devices since August, when Epic introduced its own billing system. Apple said that Epic violated its App Store rules and removed Fortnite from the store, igniting a legal and public relations battle in which Epic has sued Apple and alleged its App Store rules and fees amount to anticompetitive conduct.

But Nvidia and Epic said Fortnite will return to iPhone models through the device’s Safari web browser, which is not subject to Apple’s billing requirements or rules. Nvidia, the biggest supplier of chips that speed up video games, is expanding GeForce NOW, a cloud-based gaming service where PC games run inside its data centers and are streamed to devices.

The chip firm said Thursday that it is rolling out a test version of GeForce NOW to Apple’s iPhone devices and iPad models. The initial version of the service will require an accessory called a game pad that attaches to an iPhone to give it buttons and directional pad similar to a console or PC game controller.

Nvidia said in a blog post that the game pad will allow the service’s 5 million members to play titles such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Shadow of the Tomb Raider on iPhone devices.

Nvidia said it was working with Epic to bring a version of Fortnite to the Safari browser on iPhones that would not require a controller.

“We’re working to enable a touch-friendly version of Fortnite, which will delay availability of the game,” Phil Eisler, head of Nvidia’s cloud gaming service, wrote in a blog post.

Nvidia said its cloud gaming service costs $4.99 (roughly Rs. 400) per month or $24.95 (roughly Rs. 1,800) for a six-month membership.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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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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Microsoft Taking Xbox Games Directly to TVs, Game Pass Ultimate Subscriptions to Be Possible via Web Browsers

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By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 11 June 2021

Microsoft on Thursday said it is working on software to let people play Xbox video games on internet-linked televisions without need of consoles.

The news came as Microsoft and other video game industry heavyweights prepare to show off coming titles at an annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) being held virtually beginning Saturday due to the pandemic.

“As a company, Microsoft is all-in on gaming,” chief executive Satya Nadella said in introducing the plan.

“Three billion consumers look to gaming for entertainment, community, creation, as well as a real sense of achievement, and our ambition is to empower each of them, wherever they play.”

Microsoft has been playing on the strength of its Xbox unit as it vies with Luna and Stadia cloud gaming services run, respectively, by Amazon and Google.

The Xbox team is working with TV makers to embed software that will let video games typically enjoyed on its consoles be played directly from the cloud, requiring only hand-held controllers, according to Microsoft.

The US-based technology giant also announced it is building devices that will plug into any television screen or computer monitor to stream Xbox game play without any consoles.

In coming weeks, cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriptions will be possible through internet browsers Chrome, Edge and Safari, according to Microsoft.

“There’s still a place for consoles and PCs and frankly, there always will be, but through the cloud, we will be able to deliver a robust gaming experience to anyone connected to the Internet,” said Xbox unit head Phil Spencer.

“And with the cloud, gaming players can participate fully in the same Xbox experience as people on local hardware.

Xbox Game Pass had some 18 million subscribers worldwide at the end of last year, according to figures released by Nadella.

Video game play has surged during the pandemic, as people turned more than ever to the Internet for entertainment.

Overall consumer spending on video gaming in the United States totaled just shy of $15 billion (roughly Rs. 110 crores) in the first quarter of this year, up 30 percent from the same period in 2020, according to industry tracker NPD Group.

Microsoft will stream an Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase on Sunday, featuring games from its studios around the world.

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Battlefield Publisher EA Says Investigating Recent Data Breach, Says Some Game Source Code Stolen

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By Reuters | Updated: 11 June 2021

Electronic Arts is investigating a recent data breach, where some of its game source code and related tools were stolen, the videogame publisher said on Thursday, becoming the latest victim of a spate of cyberattacks on US companies.

The publisher of titles such as Battlefield, Apex Legends, and Madden NFL 21 said it does not expect the breach to have an impact on its games or business and that it was working with law enforcement officials and other experts as part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

Vice’s Motherboard earlier reported that hackers had stolen a wealth of data, including source codes for popular title FIFA 21 and source code and tools for Frostbite engine, a software development toolset for game creators.

Overall, hackers stole about 780GB of data and also advertised it for sale on several underground hacking forum posts, according to the report.

“No player data was accessed, and we have no reason to believe there is any risk to player privacy,” EA said in a statement.

Hacking activity against corporations in the United States and other countries has increased as digital thieves have been able to take advantage of security weakened by work-from-home policies due the COVID-19 pandemic.

The breach comes on the heels of high-profile cyberattacks on Meatpacker JBS USA and Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the United States.

Shares of EA fell as much as 2.4 percent to a session low of $142.31 (roughly Rs. 10,400).

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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Tencent Sued Over ‘Inappropriate’ Content in Honor of Kings Game

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By Reuters | Updated: 1 June 2021

A Chinese public-interest group said on Tuesday it is suing Tencent over what it alleges is inappropriate content for minors in the top global game developer’s flagship video game, Honor of Kings.

Beijing Teenagers Law Aid And Research Center said it filed the lawsuit in a Beijing court on Tuesday, to mark the implementation of an amended protection of minors law.

The suit, whose content Reuters could not independently confirm, also coincides with an unprecedented antitrust crackdown by Beijing on some of China’s biggest tech companies that sources told Reuters includes Tencent.

The company, which declined to comment when contacted by Reuters, has progressively lowered the recommended age limit for the game from 18 in 2017 to 12 this year, the public-interest group said.

In a posting on its social media account, it said some of the game’s characters wore low-cut clothes and that its storyline tampered with historical figures and showed a lack of respect for traditional culture – all of which made the game inappropriate for young users.

“Game characters’ clothing is too revealing, while there is a lot of … low-taste content that is inappropriate for teenagers on its website and forums,” the group said in the posting.

An in-game raffle also made young players more likely to play the game for longer, it said.

Citing concerns about eye damage, Chinese authorities have sought to limit hours that teenagers can spend playing video games, and companies including Tencent have put in place anti-addiction systems that they say cap young users’ game time.

Tencent said last November that Honor of Kings, which is free to download but has paid-for in-play content, had a record 100 million daily active users worldwide.

Sources told Reuters in April that China is preparing to fine Tencent, probably in excess of $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,290 crores), for anticompetitive practices in some businesses and for not properly reporting past acquisitions for antitrust reviews.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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