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CD Projekt moving to parallel development – GamesIndustry.biz

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In the wake of Cyberpunk 2077’s release, CD Projekt is overhauling its development strategy.

The company today announced an initiative dubbed “Red 2.0” intended to create “a transformation of the studio and a change in the way it develops videogames.”

Starting next year, CD Projekt plans to work on multiple AAA games and expansions simultaneously. Under its previous approach to development, the publicly traded company went more than six years between major releases The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Cyberpunk 2077.

“We want to be sure that we can work with two global brands at the same time while ensuring top quality of our products,” said CD Projekt Red chief technology officer and head of production Paweł Zawodny. “We emphasize technological advancements and we want to set up versatile teams which combine various specializations and competences. These teams will be further assisted by a cross-projects group of experts, who — owing to their expertise — can contribute to key aspects of development.”

Handling multiple projects at once will require a larger team, and the company said it is ramping up recruitment efforts and looking “to more actively pursue mergers and acquisition opportunities.”

To that end, CD Projekt today announced the acquisition of Vancouver-based Digital Scapes, a team of around a dozen developers that partnered with the company on the last couple years of Cyberpunk 2077 development. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Digital Scapes will become CD Projekt Red Vancouver, with Marcin Chudy serving as studio head.

Beyond the move to parallel development, CD Projekt Red plans to have shorter marketing campaigns that show their games running on every platform where they’ll be released.

Last year, CD Projekt Red publicly apologized for not showing Cyberpunk 2077 running on the PS4 and Xbox One before launch; performance on the console versions of the game was so heavily criticized that the developer offered refunds to any disappointed customers and Sony pulled the game from sale through its digital storefront. CD Projekt Red has released updates and patches for the game, but as of this writing it remains unavailable on the PlayStation Store.

CD Projekt’s new strategy also calls for the company to expand its audience beyond fans of single-player role-playing game. The company said it will move toward “genre-blending with [a] AAA RPG core,” and put a greater emphasis on online functionality in its projects.

Further audience expansion is expected to come from additional adaptations of these franchises to new media, including animated shows for both The Witcher and Cyberpunk. A live-action Cyberpunk project is also under consideration. (Some of this expansion is outside CD Projekt’s control; it does not hold the rights to the original The Witcher novels, which are the basis for the live-action Netflix series and upcoming animated project.)

Finally, CD Projekt’s new strategy called for the studio “redoubling its efforts to secure a sustainable and caring work environment.”

CD Projekt Red has been criticized for having a crunch-heavy approach to development for years. In May of 2019, studio co-founder Marcin Iwiński said the studio had adopted a “non-obligatory crunch policy.”

The policy wouldn’t last, as CD Projekt joint-CEO Adam Kiciński confirmed to investors the following January that staff had been required to crunch, explaining that the game was in the final stage of development. (It would be delayed a total of three times in 2020 and launched December 10.)

“For years we have been underscoring our belief that our greatest asset is our team,” CD Projekt Red studio head Adam Badowski said in today’s strategy update. “CD Projekt will remain an inclusive and diverse workplace; however, we also want to emphasize the well-being of our employees and provide them with professional and personal development opportunities.”

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Atos reports drop in revenue, to conduct U.S. accounting review

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By Bartosz Dabrowski and Juliette Portala

(Reuters) -French IT consulting group Atos reported a drop in first-quarter revenue on Tuesday, putting further pressure on its share price which has been hit by an accounting issue in the United States.

The company, which develops solutions in hybrid cloud, big data, business applications and digital workplace, disclosed earlier this month that auditors had found accounting errors at two U.S. units, sending its shares diving 18% at the time.

On Tuesday the company said it had decided to conduct a full accounting review of the two U.S. units and would give a status update when it releases first-half results on July 28.

Atos also has a big contract to provide solutions for the Olympic Games in Tokyo and said that it was prepared for all scenarios, including a further postponement or complete cancellation of the event.

“For us, there will be no cancellation of the contract even if the Olympics were to be postponed,” head of investor relations Gilles Arditti said in a conference call.

Atos shares were down by more than 5% after the company said its revenue for January-March dropped 3.9% organically from a year earlier to 2.69 billion euros ($3.24 billion).

The company, however, maintained its full-year guidance.

“The results today are a meaningful miss (on market expectations) and likely to weigh further on sentiment,” Barclays said in a note, adding that the U.S. accounting situation was a bigger concern.

Year to date, Atos’ shares have now declined by nearly a quarter.

The company also said on Tuesday that it had acquired Canada-based Processia, UK-based Ipsotek and German firm cryptovision, as it continues with bolt-on acquisitions in a bid to boost revenue from digital, cloud, security and decarbonisation business over the medium term. It gave no financial details of the transactions.

($1 = 0.8292 euros)

(Reporting by Bartosz Dabrowski and Juliette Portala in Gdansk ; Editing by Tomasz Janowski and Susan Fenton)

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Rogers wireless service back for majority of users following outage

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(Reuters) –Rogers Communications Inc said late on Monday its services had been restored for most of its users, following intermittent interruptions to wireless voice and data services for several hours.

“Wireless calls, SMS and data services are now restored for the vast majority of our customers”, the company said on Twitter. (https://bit.ly/32rx8HL)

The company said earlier on Monday that its residential and business wireline internet services were not impacted. (https://bit.ly/3sAqs4B)

About 11,000 users in Canada reported issues with the wireless service provider, as of 1900 GMT on Monday, according to outage monitoring website Downdetector.ca.

Downdetector tracks outages by collating status reports from a series of sources, including user-submitted errors on its platform. The outage could have affected a larger number of users.

(Reporting by Nivedita Balu, Rithika Krishna and Nandakumar D in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Shounak Dasgupta)

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Canada’s Telesat takes on Musk and Bezos in space race to provide fast broadband

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By Steve Scherer

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Telesat is racing to launch a low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellite constellation to provide high-speed global broadband from space, pitting the satellite communications firm founded in 1969 against two trailblazing billionaires, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Musk, the Tesla Inc CEO who was only a year old when Telesat launched its first satellite, is putting the so-called Starlink LEO into orbit with his company SpaceX, and Amazon.com Inc, which Bezos founded, is planning a LEO called Project Kuiper. Bezos also owns Blue Origin, which builds rockets.

Despite the competition, Dan Goldberg, Telesat’s chief executive officer, voices confidence when he calls Telesat’s LEO constellation “the Holy Grail” for his shareholders – “a sustainable competitive advantage in global broadband delivery.”

Telesat’s LEO has a much lighter price tag than SpaceX and Amazon’s, and the company has been in satellite services decades longer. In addition, instead of focusing on the consumer market like SpaceX and Amazon, Telesat seeks deep-pocketed business clients.

Goldberg said he was literally losing sleep six years ago when he realized the company’s business model was in peril as Netflix and video streaming took off and fiber optics guaranteed lightning-fast internet connectivity.

Telesat’s 15 geostationary (GEO) satellites provide services mainly to TV broadcasters, internet service providers and government networks, all of whom were growing increasingly worried about the latency, or time delay, of bouncing signals off orbiters more than 35,000 km (22,200 miles) above earth.

Then in 2015 on a flight home from a Paris industry conference where latency was a constant theme, Goldberg wrote down his initial ideas for a LEO constellation on an Air Canada napkin.

Those ideas eventually led to Telesat’s LEO constellation, dubbed Lightspeed, which will orbit about 35 times closer to earth than GEO satellites, and will provide internet connectivity at a speed akin to fiber optics.

Telesat’s first launch is planned in early 2023, while there are already some 1,200 of Musk’s Starlink satellites in orbit.

“Starlink is going to be in service much sooner … and that gives SpaceX the opportunity to win customers,” said Caleb Henry, a senior analyst at Quilty Analytics.

Starlink’s “first mover” advantage is at most 24 months and “no one’s going to lock this whole market up in that amount of time,” Goldberg said.

Telesat in 2019 signed a launch deal with Bezos’ aerospace company Blue Origin. Discussions are ongoing with three others, said David Wendling, Telesat’s chief technical officer.

They are Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd, Europe’s ArianeGroup , and Musk’s SpaceX, which launches the Starlink satellites. Wendling said a decision would be taken in a matter of months.

Telesat aims to launch its first batch of 298 satellites being built by Thales Alenia Space in early 2023, with partial service in higher latitudes later that same year, and full global service in 2024.

‘SWEET SPOT’

The Lightspeed constellation is estimated to cost half as much as the $10 billion SpaceX and Amazon projects.

“We think we’re in the sweet spot,” Goldberg said. “When we look at some of these other constellations, we don’t get it.”

Analyst Henry said Telesat’s focus on business clients is the right one.

“You have two heavyweight players, SpaceX and Amazon, that are already pledging to spend $10 billion on satellite constellations optimized for the consumer market,” he said. “If Telesat can spend half that amount creating a high-performance system for businesses, then yeah, they stand to be very competitive.”

Telesat’s industry experience may also provide an edge.

“We’ve worked with many of these customers for decades … That’s going to give us a real advantage,” Goldberg said.

Telesat “is a satellite operator, has been a satellite operator, and has both the advantage of expertise and experience in that business,” said Carissa Christensen, chief executive officer of the research firm BryceTech, adding, however, that she sees only two to three LEO constellations surviving.

Telesat is nailing down financing – one-third equity and two-thirds debt – and will become publicly traded on the Nasdaq sometime this summer, and it could also list on the Toronto exchange after that. Currently, Canada’s Public Sector Pension Investment Board and Loral Space & Communications Inc are the company’s main shareholders.

France and Canada’s export credit agencies, BPI and EDC respectively, are expected to be the main lenders, Goldberg said. Quebec’s provincial government is lending C$400 million ($317 million), and Canada’s federal government has promised C$600 million to be a preferred customer. The company also posted C$246 million in net income in 2020.

Executing the LEO plan is what keeps Goldberg up at night now, he said.

“When we decided to go down this path, the two richest people in the universe weren’t focused on their own LEO constellations.”

($1 = 1.2622 Canadian dollars)

(Reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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