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A new free-to-play game from Tencent is poised to be the next billion-dollar franchise

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Promotional image of Valorant

Source: Riot Games

The excitement surrounding VALORANT, a new game by Tencent-owned Riot Games, could cement Tencent’s acquisition of the games developer as one of the best tech deals ever inked.

That’s according to Roundhill Investments CEO Will Hershey as VALORANT launched on Tuesday. It’s Riot Games’ attempt at entering the free-to-play online first-person shooter (FPS) games market, where two teams of five players face off against each other with characters known as “agents,” each with their own special abilities.

It’s also the developer’s first game with a whole new IP that deviates from the League of Legends universe, which Riot introduced to gamers over 10 years ago. Since then, League of Legends has grown into a worldwide sensation, and that has fueled the anticipation and curiosity around Riot’s new release.

The developer revealed last week that VALORANT’s closed beta pulled in an average of almost 3 million players daily. It also set record stream viewership numbers thanks to a beta key drop campaign on Twitch, driving players to watch hours upon hours of VALORANT gameplay in hopes of getting early access to the game.

This makes VALORANT not only a likely strong addition to the Riot Games portfolio, but it would also build on the immense success of the multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) League of Legends that initially prompted Tencent to take a stake in the developer.

Tencent originally paid $400 million for a 93% stake in Riot Games in 2011, a year after the games developer released League of Legends. The company bought the remainder of Riot Games four years later for an undisclosed amount.

Even 10 years after its launch, League of Legends is the most-played PC game in the world, drawing in about 8 million concurrent players daily while still hauling in over a $1 billion for Riot Games every year. The game has reportedly generated $20 billion in revenue over its lifetime.

A member of Gen.G’s “League of Legends” team practices ahead of a match.

Source: Gen. G

Hershey, whose firm runs the Roundhill BITKRAFT Esports & Digital Entertainment ETF (NERD), said that together, the sustained success of League of Legends, its extensions and now the addition of VALORANT have made Tencent’s investment in Riot Games more than worthwhile.

“[Tencent’s] investment in Riot Games might be its best investment yet,” he told CNBC. “In fact, one could make the case that Tencent’s acquisition of Riot is among the best tech acquisitions of all time.”

Aside from Riot Games, Tencent holds a 40% stake in Epic Games, creator of Fortnite. It has also invested in other notable publishers like Bluehole (creator of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds), Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and mobile games developer Supercell.

For comparison, Fortnite Battle Royale amassed over 10 million players in the first two weeks following its release in 2017. Last year, Fortnite was the highest-earning game, generating $1.8 billion in revenue, according to SuperData, Nielsen’s video game arm.

This means that Tencent has its hand in the world’s two highest-earning games.

Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says that together, VALORANT and League of Legends could generate “over $2 billion in a year or so” for Riot Games, although he cautions that “some cannibalization of the [League of Legends] core” may occur.

He also said that as much as VALORANT can give Tencent another foothold in the growing Western first-person shooter (FPS) games market, competition is steep.

“This is a growth industry, but a zero-sum business,” he said. “If overall free-to-play is growing 10% on a $40 billion base, there’s $4 billion available for VALORANT to capture. But it’s competing with [Call of Duty] Mobile, Warzone, Diablo Immortal, and anything else that’s going to launch this year, in addition to growth from the existing competitors.”

“It’s hard to cede $1.5 billion to VALORANT without someone else growing more slowly, and I don’t think we can assume that the shiny new object captures all of the industry growth,” added Pachter.

Riot Games co-founder Marc Merrill, however, told CNBC that VALORANT’s reception during the closed beta “exceeded expectations” and that the developer’s long-term dedication to the game will put VALORANT ahead of the competition.

He also emphasized that the studio’s history of working with a free-to-play monetization model – where players elect to pay for additional game content over time – has set Riot up to be more responsive to user feedback than many other publishers, which contributes to the longevity of a game as is the case with League of Legends.

“We want to make VALORANT the first truly global shooter,” said Merrill. “We created a global community with League of Legends, and we’re confident we can repeat [that worldwide success] with VALORANT.”

Source:-cnbc

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Apple seeks on having the iPhone replace your passport and driver's license – gizmochina

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Apple‘s latest goal is to make the iPhone your sole means of identification by replacing passports, driver’s licenses, and others. This is another step from the Cupertino based giant to make the iPhone the only thing anyone would require.

Apple

Recently, Apple had also announced a plan to get rid of car keys and, now, the company is planning on getting rid of the need for passports and other forms of physical identification. The iPhone has already replaced the needs for notepads, cameras, pens and a lot more. So it doesn’t come as a surprise when the company says it wants to take your IDs to the digital realms.

According to a series of patent applications that are titled “Providing Verified Claims of User Identity,” the user’s ID can be recorded or transmitted. In other words, the patent details a system that stores the identification on your device. The description reads that “A device implementing a system for using a verified claim of identity includes at least one processor configured to receive a verified claim including information to identify a user of a device. The verified claim being signed by a server based on verification of the information by an identity verification provider separate from the server, the verified claim is specific to the device.”

Apple

This patent also mentions the use of servers for verification of one’s identity. So, a device such as an iPhone could securely transmit ID. This ID can be verified through the server and the device’s biometric sensors as well. Meaning, the entire system can have multiple ways of verifying your identity as well. It seems like a promising feature on paper but it’s still too soon to tell.

(Via)

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Apple and ad industry clash over iOS 14 popup seeking permission for tracking – 9to5Mac

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Apple and the ad industry are once again in conflict, as ad associations object to the way iOS 14 seeks user permission for tracking.

It’s not the first time this has happened – Apple’s adoption of Intelligent Tracking Prevention led to criticism by the ad industry back in 2018

Background

Advertisers like to measure the effectiveness of their ads by working out how many people who purchase a product have seen an online ad for it. To do this, a cookie is dropped on the user’s device when they see an ad, and the website where the purchase is made can check for the presence of that cookie.

Conversely, if you visit a website about (eg) drones, the site can drop a cookie, and ad networks like those run by Google and Facebook can check for that cookie and then serve you ads for drones. This is why you often see ads relating to topics you’ve recently been researching.

This type of tailored advertising is more likely to be effective, so ad networks can charge more for displaying personalized ads.

Advertisers don’t know who you are – they don’t know the identity of the person who saw the ad or visited the website – they just know that the same person (actually, device) did both.

iOS 14 approach to seeking permission for tracking

In iOS 14, if an app wants to show tailored ads, it must display a popup asking permission from the user.

Reuters reports that the complaint stems from Apple not adopting a permission standard required by law in Europe. This means that apps with European users will need to seek the same permission twice, once with a GDPR-compliant request, and again with Apple’s request. Advertisers fear this will make it seem a bigger deal than it is, and lead to more users refusing permission.

Sixteen marketing associations, some of which are backed by Facebook Inc and Google, faulted Apple for not adhering to an ad-industry system for seeking user consent under European privacy rules. Apps will now need to ask for permission twice, increasing the risk users will refuse, the associations argued.

Facebook and Google are the largest among thousands of companies that track online consumers to pick up on their habits and interests and serve them relevant ads.

Apple rejects the criticism because it already offers a tool to help advertisers measure effectiveness.

Apple engineers also said last week the company will bolster a free Apple-made tool that uses anonymous, aggregated data to measure whether advertising campaigns are working and that will not trigger the pop-up.

“Because it’s engineered to not track users, there’s no need to request permission to track,” Brandon Van Ryswyk, an Apple privacy engineer, said in a video session explaining the measurement tool to developers.

Attitudes to personalized ads vary, some preferring relevant ads to generic ones, while others object to what they consider a privacy breach.

I’ve argued in the past that online advertising is a hot mess, and that we really need agreed standards laid down in law.

I’m personally of the view that I don’t mind anonymised tracking. I’m a decisive shopper, so generally it only results in me being shown ads for things I’ve recently bought, but I have nothing against the principle. Others disagree, and strongly object to the practice. But I don’t have strong views either way: let’s allow it or ban it – the important thing is to agree in law what is and isn’t allowed.

With ad standards legislation in place, we can finally get rid of the most obnoxious forms of advertising, and put an end to the war of escalation between ever-more aggressive brands and ever more fed-up consumers.

Part of this would involve giving websites greater control over the ads inserted by ad networks like Google. Currently, for example, you will occasionally see scam ads on sites like ours because they make it through Google’s checks. We can only block them reactively, when we spot them or a reader reports them. Legal controls would make them far less likely to make it into an ad network in the first place.

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After NBA 2K21, more publishers are considering raising game prices to $70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X – VG247

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NBA 2K21 may only be the first AAA game whose base price jumps to $70 on next-gen consoles.

This week, 2K Games revealed new details about the upcoming NBA 2K21. In the press release, the publisher confirmed that the game’s standard edition will be priced $70 on PS5 and Xbox Series X, making it the first AAA game to commit to higher pricing on next-gen consoles.

This doesn’t appear to be an isolated decision. According to research company IDG, other publishers are also considering raising the base price of their AAA games to $70, a $10 increase.

“The last time that next-gen launch software pricing went up was in 2005 and 2006, when it went from $49.99 to $59.99 at the start of the Xbox 360 and PS3 generation,” IDG CEO Yoshio Osaki told Gamesindustry. “During that time, the costs and prices in other affiliated verticals have gone up.”

Osaki explained that the price of admission across other competing industries has risen considerably over the years, but not in video games. The CEO cited cinema ticket prices, Netflix and cable subscriptions as examples, but neglected to mention that video games have a multitude of other ways to monetise users after the fact, such as DLC, microtransactions and several other forms of recurring revenue.

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“Even with the increase to $69.99 for next-gen, that price increase from 2005 to 2020 next-gen is only up 17%, far lower than the other comparisons,” Osaki went on.

“While the cost of development and publishing have gone up, and pricing in other entertainment verticals has also gone up substantially, next-gen software pricing has not reflected these increases. $59.99 to $69.99 does not even cover these other cost increases completely, but does move it more in the proper direction.”

Osaki, however, doesn’t think that $70 will become the new minimum price for every game, just the biggest and highest-profile. Indeed, the move is already being considered by other publishers, according to IDG’s research.

“IDG works with all major game publishers, and our channel checks indicate that other publishers are also exploring moving their next-gen pricing up on certain franchises, for the same reasons outlined above,” Osaki added.

“Not every game should garner the $69.99 price point on next-gen, but flagship AAAs such as NBA 2K merit this pricing more than others.”

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