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Online Gaming Platforms Involving Game of Chance Treated as Illegal, MoS IT Says

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By Agencies | Updated: 3 August 2022

Betting and gambling are unlawful in most parts of the country and online gaming platforms are treated as illegal when game of chance is involved in those platforms, Parliament was informed on Wednesday. Minister of State for Electronics and IT Rajeev Chandrasekhar, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, said all forms of gambling and betting come under the purview of state governments and they have enacted laws to deal with the same within their jurisdiction under List-II of the Seventh Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

“Betting and gambling is illegal in most parts of the country. Online gaming platforms are intermediaries and they have to follow the due diligence as prescribed in the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and the Rules thereunder.

“MeitY regulates all the intermediaries as per the IT Act and the Rules therein. Online gaming platforms are treated as illegal when game of chance is involved in those platforms,” the minister said.

In response to a question on steps being taken by the government to prevent crimes occurring due to spread of online gambling and betting, Chandrasekhar said ‘police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects and states and union territories are primarily responsible for the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes through their Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).

“The Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) at Centre and States take appropriate legal action as per provisions of law and when appropriate,” the minister said.

Last month, the Battlegrounds Mobile India, or BGMI, was reportedly removed from the Google Play store and Apple’s App Store following a government order. Google confirmed that it received a government order directing it to delist the popular online game, which is yet to be reinstated on both platforms.

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Take-Two’s Grand Theft Auto VI gameplay leaked online – Bloomberg News

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By: Reuters, Updated September 19, 2022

Sept 18 (Reuters) – A hacker released gameplay from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc’s (TTWO.O) Grand Theft Auto VI in one of the biggest leaks in gaming history, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday.

Dozens of authentic, pre-release videos from GTA VI – of robberies, gunplay and open-world driving – were posted on an online message board over the weekend, media reports said.

The hacker also posted a message seeking to “negotiate a deal” and asked Rockstar Games or parent company Take-Two to contact them, according to the Bloomberg report

Rockstar Games, a video game studio owned by Take-Two, is the developer of Grand Theft Auto, one of the best-selling videogame franchises of all time.

Take-Two Interactive did not respond to a Reuters request for comment outside regular business hours.

The hotly anticipated GTA VI is estimated to generate $3.5 billion of bookings at launch and an average of $2 billion annually thereafter, according to Bank of America.

The release could offer a much-needed boost to the U.S. gaming company, which forecast weak annual sales in August in a sign that a thin slate of major releases and easing COVID-19 curbs have reined in the industry’s pandemic-era boom.

The gaming industry, considered by some analysts as “recession proof”, has started to see some weakness as inflation-hit consumers rein in spending on entertainment.

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Microsoft’s $69 billion Activision deal in UK’s crosshairs

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By: Bloomberg, September 15, 2022

Microsoft Corp.’s planned $69 billion purchase of computer games developer Activision Blizzard Inc. faces an in-depth probe in the UK after regulators said the deal could hamper competition.

The Competition and Markets Authority said it decided to kickstart a longer review after Microsoft turned down the chance to offer remedies to address its concerns.

“Microsoft informed the CMA that it would not offer such undertakings,” the regulator said in its decision.

The move was expected after the CMA previously flagged concerns the deal could lead to a substantial lessening of competition in the gaming console, subscription and cloud markets. The regulator now has until March 1 to come to a final decision.

The combination with Activision — which owns some of the most popular franchises including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Guitar Hero — will make Microsoft the world’s third-largest gaming company and boost the Xbox maker’s roster of titles for its Game Pass subscribers.

“We’re ready to work with the CMA on next steps and address any of its concerns,” Brad Smith, Microsoft president and vice chair, said in a Sept. 1 statement.

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Video game maker CD Projekt to launch Cyberpunk expansion with Keanu Reeves

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By: Reuters, September 6, 2022

GDANSK, Sept 6 (Reuters) – Poland’s biggest video game maker CD Projekt (CDR.WA) brought in Hollywood star Keanu Reeves as it announced the title of its first expansion to a flagship game Cyberpunk 2077 on Tuesday.

The expansion titled “Phantom Liberty” is set to premiere next year on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PC and Stadia, the company said during a stream on videogame live-streaming platform Twitch.

Reeves, who plays a rebel rockerboy Johnny Silverhand in the game, appeared during the stream and will be returning in the expansion, along with new characters, CD Projekt said.

CD Projekt releases major high-budget games every four to five years and in between those titles it often publishes expansions to the games. The company did not mention a specific release date.

The company also said it had launched patch 1.6 to Cyberpunk, which will be the last major update available for older generation consoles.

Delayed three times, Cyberpunk, was one of the most anticipated games in 2020, but after a bug-ridden premiere it was kept off of Sony’s (6758.T) PlayStation Store for six months.

In April, the company said it sold over 18 million copies of the game.

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Sony to buy mobile game developer in push beyond consoles

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By Reuters | Updated: 30 August 2022

Sony Group Corp on Monday said it will acquire Helsinki and Berlin-based mobile games business Savage Game Studios for an undisclosed amount as part of a major push by the Japanese conglomerate beyond console gaming.

Sony’s gaming chief Jim Ryan in May outlined plans to radically broaden the games portfolio beyond the PlayStation 5 console and the group’s focus on single player games with more releases on PC and mobile.

Savage Game Studios, which was established two years ago and is working on a live service action title for mobile, will become part of a new mobile division of PlayStation Studios, Sony said in a statement.

The entertainment conglomerate hopes to tap into more consumer spending on gaming by expanding on other platforms while also defending against technological shifts that are loosening ties to bulky hardware.

“PlayStation Studios must continue to expand and diversify our offering beyond console, bringing incredible new games to more people than ever before,” said Hermen Hulst, head of PlayStation Studios.

Sony is struggling to produce enough PS5 consoles to meet demand amid supply chain snarls and last week announced a price hike in many markets due to pressure from a strengthening dollar.

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Nintendo Faces Dip in Quarterly Sales Amid Chip Shortages, Sold 3.43 Million Switch Units

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By Reuters | Updated: 3 August 2022

Japan’s Nintendo sold 23 percent fewer Switch consoles in the April-June quarter than a year earlier following chip shortages, it said on Wednesday.

The Kyoto-based gaming company said it expected procurement to improve “from late summer towards autumn” and maintained its forecast to sell 21 million units in the year through end-March 2023.

“Demand remains stable in all regions,” Nintendo said in a presentation.

Nintendo, the company behind Super Mario sold 3.43 million units of its Switch console in the quarter, down from from 4.45 million a year earlier. It sold 23.06 million units last year.

It forecasts the second annual sales decline for its hybrid home/portable Switch device, which is in its sixth year on the market.

The company last October launched an upgraded Switch model with an OLED screen to drive interest in the system.

First-quarter software sales declined by 8.6 percent to 41.4 million units, while operating profit fell 15 percent to JPY 101.6 billion (roughly Rs. 6,020 crore), below analyst estimates.

Nintendo booked a JPY 51.7 billion (roughly Rs. 3,060 crore) foreign exchange gain from the weaker yen.

Investors are gauging the unwinding of a gaming boom among consumers who had been stuck at home during pandemic lockdowns.

Sony last week reported a 15 percent drop in PlayStation user engagement compared to a year earlier.

“Gaming is now bigger than ever, and a certain part of users stay on, but the party is certainly now over,” said Serkan Toto, founder of game industry consultancy Kantan Games.

Upcoming Nintendo games to support demand into the year-end shopping season include Splatoon 3, which will be released in September, and Pokemon Scarlet and Violet in November.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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FIFA World Cup 2022 to Use Semi-Automated Offside Technology for Accurate Decisions

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By ANI | Updated: 2 July 2022

FIFA has announced that semi-automated offside technology will be used at the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar starting on November 21, offering a support tool for the video match officials and the on-field officials to help them make faster, more accurate and more reproducible offside decisions on the biggest stage of all.

Following the successful use of VAR technology at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, FIFA President Gianni Infantino declared in The Vision 2020-23 that FIFA would strive to harness the full potential of technology in football and further enhance VAR.

In the ensuing three years, FIFA has indeed continued to be at the cutting edge of technology in the game. By working with Adidas and various partners, and especially with the Working Group for Innovation Excellence and technology providers, FIFA has spent the last few years further improving the VAR system, including the use of semi-automated offside technology.

The new technology uses 12 dedicated tracking cameras mounted underneath the roof of the stadium to track the ball and up to 29 data points of each individual player, 50 times per second, calculating their exact position on the pitch.

The 29 collected data points include all limbs and extremities that are relevant for making offside calls. Al Rihla, Adidas official match ball for Qatar 2022, will provide a further vital element for the detection of tight offside incidents as an inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor will be placed inside the ball.

This sensor, positioned in the centre of the ball, sends ball data to the video operation room 500 times per second, allowing a very precise detection of the kick point.

By combining the limb- and ball-tracking data and applying artificial intelligence, the new technology provides an automated offside alert to the video match officials inside the video operation room whenever the ball is received by an attacker who was in an offside position at the moment the ball was played by a team-mate.

Before informing the on-field referee, the video match officials validate the proposed decision by manually checking the automatically selected kick point and the automatically created offside line, which is based on the calculated positions of the players’ limbs. This process happens within a few seconds and means that offside decisions can be made faster and more accurately.

After the decision has been confirmed by the video match officials and the referee on the pitch, the exact same positional data points that were used to make the decision are then generated into a 3D animation that perfectly details the position of the players’ limbs at the moment the ball was played.

This 3D animation, which will always show the best possible perspectives for an offside situation, will then be shown on the giant screens in the stadium and will also be made available to FIFA’s broadcast partners to inform all spectators in the clearest possible way.

The workflow of semi-automated offside technology and the connected ball technology have been successfully trialled at numerous test events and live at FIFA tournaments, including the FIFA Arab Cup 2021 and the FIFA Club World Cup 2021.

During these matches, the new technology was able to support the video match officials by helping them to make more accurate and more reproducible offside decisions in a shorter period of time.

The data collected during online and offline tests has been analysed and validated by the MIT Sports Lab, with TRACK at Victoria University scientifically validating the limb-tracking technology. Further insights into the technological capabilities of such multi-camera tracking systems are being provided by a research team at ETH Zurich.

More tests will be conducted in the coming months to fine-tune the system before a global standard is implemented to ensure that the new technology can be used in the world of football. All details on the semi-automated offside technology set-up and the connected ball technology will be presented to the teams that have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 2022 at the Team Workshop in Doha on 4 and 5 July and then shared with the public.

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