Will Lemonade’s IPO be sweet or sour?

first_imgLemonade co-founders Daniel Schreiber and Shai WiningerTo investors, Lemonade bills itself as the evolutionary successor to the old insurance guard.Instead of luring established customers with the “I switched-and-saved” value proposition, Lemonade hooks them when they’re young. The armies of apartment renters will eventually become homeowners, the thinking goes, and they’ll turn to Lemonade for pricier insurance policies. The insure-tech startup says this strategy can achieve 10x and even 100x gains in revenue.And by issuing policies in mere seconds through the use of computer scripts and big data (instead of human salespeople), Lemonade says it is uniquely positioned to capitalize on a $5 trillion annual global insurance market currently dominated by All-State, State Farm, Progressive, Berkshire Hathaway and Liberty Mutual.ADVERTISEMENTThere’s a catch: While Lemonade has seen a substantial uptick in revenue and a growing suite of products, it does not make a profit. And, as it gears up for its public debut in early July, it has no timeline to do so, which could be deeply problematic for investors who have become increasingly wary of money-losing tech companies.Lemonade –  which is roughly 27 percent owned by SoftBank and heavily leans into its status as a public benefit corporation – hopes to sell 11 million shares, raising between $245 and $283 million, according to its amended S-1 filing. But even if reaches its target, Lemonade will achieve a valuation of about $1.3 billion, well below the reported $2 billion valuation it sported in 2019.An analysis of the company’s S-1 filing with the SEC shows that while financially healthy in some respects, such as a lack of debt on its balance sheet and over $300 million in cash-on-hand, Lemonade is turning to the public market to keep the doors open.Currently, Lemonade believes it can generate enough cash by selling insurance policies to cover its financial obligations — mainly paying customer claims — for the next 12 months. Beyond that, it will have to tap its cash reserves.Furthermore, Lemonade’s charitable giving falls well short of what one might infer from company statements, possibly jeopardizing the trust it claims to build with customers. The company also admits its own claims about behavioral economics are “untested.”“Insurance companies typically look 20 to 50 years down the road,” said Miles Thorson, president of Thorson Insurance, a third-generation family-owned insurance provider, who has followed Lemonade’s rapid rise through the insurance ranks. “You can’t say as an insurer that your ability to cover customer claims depends on your next funding round.”In Lemonade’s case, it might.Getting squeezed in a down marketBacked by $480 million dollars from VC’s including SoftBank, Lemonade has spent aggressively on acquiring new customers. In 2018, it spent twice as much on sales and marketing as it earned from its customers, ending the year with $52 million in losses. In 2019, the sales/earnings ratio improved, but money paid to insurance claims and doubling administrative costs increased its operating loss at $108 million, more than double the previous year.As a result of those losses, Lemonade says shares purchased at its target of $24.50 will have a book value of $15, which may signal to some investors the target price is overvalued. Following the IPO, SoftBank is forecasted to own 21.8 percent of all shares. Co-founders Daniel Schreiber and Shai Wininger will retain majority control with 60 percent of shares divided evenly between them.Disappointing valuation aside, Lemonade now finds itself selling into a property market shocked by furloughs and layoffs, with 61 percent of its business concentrated in three states: California, Texas and New York. While the company boasts in its S-1 of capturing seven percent of New York City’s rental market, the shockwaves of the coronavirus pandemic have sent vacancy rates to a 14-year high in the city.In Texas, a resurgent virus has caused a spike of Covid infections, reaching a peak of 5,589 new cases on June 24. Gov. Greg Abbott has postponed the state’s reopening plan, closing bars and reducing restaurant capacity. According to Texas A&M Real Estate Center chief economist Mark Dotzour, lucrative real estate markets in Dallas and Houston are likely to suffer as residents flee to the suburbs.Cases in California have also surged, peaking June 23 at 5,793 new cases. Los Angeles County now has the highest number of infections in the nation. Across the state, a mix of historically low mortgage rates and chronically short housing supply paint a complicated picture, according to the California Association of Realtors, which foresees savings on 30-year mortgages combined with higher purchase prices.In every location, the longer the pandemic drags on, the more long term effect on personal earnings will be seen. As 2020 graduates enter an economy in recession with unemployment at its highest since the Great Depression, the National Bureau of Economic Research estimates a nine percent loss in annual earnings, and that losses will persist for a decade. This will hurt Lemonade more than the entrenched powers of Big Insurance.How do you do, fellow kids?Lemonade says the average age of its customers is 30 years old, who pay about $60 annually for insurance, and that only a “handful of customers” currently pay premiums of $6,000 per year. In short, the pandemic has disproportionately struck Lemonade’s customer base, and its ability to “graduate” customers to more expensive plans may be blunted — perhaps for up to a decade.In order for Lemonade to achieve the 10x revenue gain it predicts in its S-1 filing –– nevermind its 100x predictions –– it will need to graduate its average 30-year-old customer paying $60 a year to one paying $600 a year, which the company predicts is possible over 10 years.While it has $311 million in cash and investment securities, and has yet to go to debt markets, even optimistic projections of company revenue strain to escape spiraling debt.Having lost $108 million in 2019, it is upside down for Lemonade to name companies like Allstate, which made $4.8 billion in profits last year, as a competitor it seeks to disrupt. And yet it does, alongside Farmers, Liberty Mutual, and other giants of the industry. The disruption narrative is financially attractive, but Lemonade’s characterization of older companies might border on corporate ageism.“It’s not that difficult to build an app to sell insurance,” says Thorson, who admits the industry could be more efficient, “especially in the back office.” He understands Lemonade’s goal is to disrupt, but at what cost? “Losing money for the sake of disruption? Is that worth it?”Betting on the algorithms, and trustLemonade may ultimately not be too eager to disrupt. It is an insurance company, after all. For anyone who can steal their eyes away from the piles of cash given it by SoftBank, Lemonade plays pretty conservatively. Its chief insurance officer, John Peters, hails from Liberty Mutual, and McKinsey before that. And instead of paying customer claims itself, it relies on reinsurers, giving them 75 percent of customer premiums right off the top.Sacrificing that much premium is more common for companies insuring Ferraris and almond-sized diamonds than a 30-year-old’s $60 renters insurance plan, especially for a company that claims it engenders customer trust through charitable giving.By using reinsurers, Lemonade has removed the volatility of the weather (say a hurricane destroys all of someone’s possessions) as well as the volatility of its own technology.Computer scripts pay one-third of claims made by Lemonade customers instantly, according to Schreiber, which raises a somewhat philosophical question. Can computers catch a lie? Any uncertainty about that question represents a risk to Lemonade.The FBI estimates that fraudulent insurance claims total $40 billion each year, and the Insurance Information Institute has said based on interviews with claims adjusters that 10 percent of property insurance claims may be fraudulent.Beyond hundreds of millions in SoftBank cash, Lemonade co-founder and CEO Schreiber says “artificial intelligence” and “behavioral economics” set it apart. To get insurance coverage from Lemonade, customers use its app to interact with computer scripts and avatars — Lemonade has given them human faces, and named them AI Maya and AI Jim — rather than people making a sales commission.Besides insuring itself against losses by passing customer premiums onto other insurers, what about Lemonade’s charitable giving meant to discourage bad behavior (such that filing a fraudulent claim would rob a charity chosen by the customer)?Lemonade declined comment on this story, but discloses in its S-1 filing that fighting fraud by donating to charity is “untested”; it would be something of a revelation if people otherwise inclined to commit insurance fraud restrained themselves for the sake of charitable giving. But perhaps Lemonade’s public commitment to give “up to 40 percent” of its unclaimed premiums to charity might really inspire honesty.It turns out “up to” does some heavy lifting, and that trust is still a two-way street.In 2018, Lemonade donated 2.7 percent of its leftover premiums to charity, totaling $162,000. In 2019, that increased to 3.5 percent when it donated $631,500. And given that the company has never not lost money, Lemonade’s investors seem the generous ones, standing by while their money is given out to charity.Meanwhile, Lemonade executive salaries totaled $1.5 million in 2019, and total executive compensation came to $6.3 million, a 10x amount compared to its charitable giving.There is no provision in the prospectus obligating executives to make charitable contributions, just investors’ money, and if the company ever makes a profit, just its customers’ money.Charity for thee, but not for me, may leave a sour taste behind. 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Tourist hot spot serves landlord a $72K bill

first_imgEllen’s Stardust Diner at 1650 Broadway (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)In late July, Sterling Landlord Corp posted a notice on the front door of Ellen’s Stardust Diner, a Times Square tourist destination known for its singing waiters.The message was bleak: Ellen’s owed $618,000 in rent and if it did not pay by Aug. 7, the location at 1650 Broadway would be shut down.But Ellen’s had no plans to pay. Instead, it sued its landlord in New York’s Supreme Court Thursday, disputing the debt and claiming Sterling Landlord Corp owes it $72,000 for the portion of March that the eatery was closed.According to the lawsuit, the diner has leased the premises since 1992 and signed a new, 10-year lease with Sterling in 2017.In that lease, both parties agreed that rent payments would cease if the property was damaged in such a way that it was impossible to operate a business there, the lawsuit said.ADVERTISEMENTThe pandemic forced many restaurants to close, the suit said; Ellen’s shut its doors March 16, when the statewide ban on indoor dining took effect. Only takeout and delivery were allowed, but many restaurants did not stay open for those services.“Since the purpose of the lease has been temporarily frustrated due to events beyond the control of the parties, [Ellen’s] does not owe rent,” the suit said.It questioned the validity of Sterling’s July 16 default notice and asked for a judge to rule that the lease had not been breached and that the landlord had no grounds to terminate it.What’s more, it said: “Given the casualty event of March 16, 2020, [Ellen’s] is entitled to a rent credit in the amount of $72,580.65 for the overpayment of rent in the month of March 2020.”Some attorneys consider the “frustration of purpose” argument that many commercial tenants are citing to be a legal long shot.Terry Havel, vice president of Sterling Landlord and a signatory on the deed of 1650 Broadway, did not respond to requests for comment.Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected] Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinkcenter_img TagsEllen’s Stardust DinerhospitalityLeasesTimes Squarelast_img read more

Google Play to introduce mandatory “ad funded” label – report

first_img 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyCurt Sampson Sofware Developer 5 years ago I really wonder what Google are up to. Almost every man and his dog know that if an app is ‘free’ it will either have IAPs and/or Adverts.There’s already displays stating IAPs present and now they want to take the extra step for adverts. If Google did more to promote paid apps on their store and did more to drive Indie content maybe things would be different.With my first ‘major’ app not too far away, I will seriously have second thoughts putting it on GP and will probably make is iOS and Amazon App Store only. 5 years ago @George got plenty of free games down the years with neither IAP or adverts. I also have a disturbing number of paid for apps with IAP, ads or both, often bolted on after purchase. It’s so common I no longer buy apps from the store. With my user hat on I’m 100% for these warnings.With my dev hat on, my reading of the conditions means even putting a search link for your other apps on the store might require the ad label. Using an image for the link definitely would, using a button – who knows. While abusive uses like ‘Where’s My Water’ splattering huge self promotional links everywhere need to be caught, Google need to properly clarify what minimum threshold applies. Google are very bad at looking after their devs though so that probably won’t happen. 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyPaul Shirley Programmers 5 years ago @Darren I haven’t had time to look my self but the email I got suggests that you can do it all from the developer console. 5 years ago George, when I encounter a business that doesn’t even want to give me their street address, my first thought is, “what sort of nefarious things are these folks up to that they can’t even give out such basic business information?” Trying to hide like that is behaviour quite typical of scammers, but not, in my experience, of legitimate businesses.And I totally refuse that anyone downloading a FREE GAME – not software does not expect to see some adverts.You can do that, but ignoring evidence placed right in front of you that shows that your beliefs are wrong is not a good way to do well in business.You’re well within your rights to dismiss the large fraction of the community that spends significant time in free games that do not have advertisements (such as the 1.1 million who have downloaded World of Tanks Blitz on Android alone). But I suggest you might do better in business in the long run if you try to understand the potential customers out there that disagree with you, rather than simply deciding to completely ignore them because you think that they’re wrong to feel the way they do. 5 years agoAlmost every man and his dog know that if an app is ‘free’ it will either have IAPs and/or Adverts.If they know that, they’re wrong. The majority of the free apps I use regularly don’t have adverts. Some are open source, others not, but the developer’s doing it for a reason other than income, and some are part of a larger service that bills in other ways (such as Slack or any of the Google apps).With my first ‘major’ app not too far away, I will seriously have second thoughts putting it on GP and will probably make is iOS and Amazon App Store only.My suspicion is that this will cut deeply in to your market penetration; I suspect that most users on Android+Google phones (as opposed to Android but not other Google software, e.g. Kindle Fire) are like me: they can’t be arsed to install Amazon App Store even when Amazon offers them a $25 free credit, and simply search Google Play for apps when they’re looking for something. It’s your business of course, but my advice would be to prioritize putting it on Google Play if you’re going to make an Android version.But I’m not sure I see what your issue is here, anyway. What’s wrong with making it clear to the customer that they’re going to see advertisements? It seems to me merely a matter of enforcing basic honesty.By the way, paid advertisements aren’t always completely obvious these days. Sure, the ones in standard format at the bottom of the screen are easily identifiable, but vendors are also displaying advertisements in other, somewhat more subtle ways as well now, integrated in to the main flow of the app itself.Knowing when I’m seeing adverts paid for by a third party, rather than inserted by the developer because they believe it’s a good app, helps me better judge my level of trust. For example, when Clean Master suggests an an anti-virus tool after I’ve finished cleaning junk files, I do like to know that this is likely to be a random ad for some other company’s AV tool, rather than an AV product from the same company that produced Clean Master, and so I’m initially not going to treat it with the same level of trust as I’d treat another product from the same developer (though admittedly for Clean Master that level of trust is not very high). 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.center_img 5 years ago From my albeit limited experience, I’ve made more money on Amazons platform than Google Play as I test the waters. And the problem I have, is where and when will it end? We already have to disclose business addresses, that IAPs are included and now adverts.And I totally refuse that anyone downloading a FREE GAME – not software does not expect to see some adverts. As I said in my main post, if Google Play did more to support Indie developers, I guess I wouldn’t be so picky – but they don’t. Dealing with them is like facing a brick wall and looking for some movement on it. 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyPaul Tricklebank Programmer Google Play to introduce mandatory “ad funded” label – reportApp developers must register relevant content by January 2016 or risk suspensionMatthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefThursday 19th November 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleGoogleGoogle is introducing a mandatory label for all apps that are funded through advertising, with developers required to register appropriate content by January 2016.An email sent to all Google Play developers – obtained by Droid Life – announced the company’s plans to expand an initiative introduced at Google I/O in May. At that time, the “ad-supported” label was only intended for apps grouped under the Designed For Families program, but Google now wants every app to state that information.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games “By January 11, 2016, you must sign in to the Play Developer Console and declare whether your apps contain ads (such as ads delivered through third party ad networks, display ads, native ads, and/or banner ads). After this date, the ads declaration will be required to make any updates to your apps.”Google has also warned that misrepresentation of ad content could result in suspension from the Google Play store. It also reserves the right to apply the label to any app at its own discretion.This is the latest example of Google’s push for transparency in how app content is monetised. The company abandoned the use of the word “free” in descriptions of content with in-app purchases over a year ago, with Apple following suit shortly after.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Mobile newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesSix additional staff leave Stadia to join Haven StudiosFormer Stadia Games and Entertainment GM Sebastien Puel is a co-founder of Jade Raymond’s new ventureBy Danielle Partis 7 days agoStadia head of product has departed GoogleJohn Justice had joined the company in 2019 By Marie Dealessandri 8 days agoLatest comments (7)Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend5 years ago I have no problem with this, just as long as you don’t need to do anything to the app itself. 3Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyGeorge Williams Owner 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyGeorge Williams Owner 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyShow all comments (7)Curt Sampson Sofware Developerlast_img read more

Streaming’s dark underbelly couldn’t stall its meteoric rise in 2015

first_img 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyLewis Brown Snr Sourcer/Recruiter, Electronic Arts5 years ago I have to say I never saw the point when I first heard about twitch. However these days if I want to find out about a game or just want some light hearted entertainment I have a few streamers I follow. Its strangely endearing, its the personality of the streamers that really makes it interesting though. TwoAngryGamers is a good example. They did a serious on Horror games with Alien Isolation and Friday Night at Freddies which was brilliant to watch. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. 5 years ago And judging from the spike in audience every newly released games has in its first five days, Twitch might gain more track as the format used to get a somewhat credible impression of a game. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyKlaus Preisinger Freelance Writingcenter_img Streaming’s dark underbelly couldn’t stall its meteoric rise in 2015Gamers tuned in in unprecedented numbers to watch each other play games this yearRob FaheyFriday 11th December 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareEditor’s Note: This is one in a series of year-end content to be published daily leading up to Christmas that includes analysis, opinion and insights into the biggest news and trends of 2015.In January of this year, the world’s biggest videogame streaming network, Twitch, announced a remarkable milestone – it had exceeded 100 million viewers per month, more than double its viewership of twelve months previously. Over 1.5 million people were choosing to live-stream their gameplay each month. It was an announcement that made Amazon’s $970 million acquisition of Twitch in mid-2014 look like a fantastic bargain – and undoubtedly inspired loud sighs from the Google executives who reportedly walked away from the deal over antitrust concerns. For a little short of a billion dollars, Amazon has bought itself a ride on a wave that almost nobody saw coming; it turns out that despite years of fervent belief that the whole appeal of videogames rests upon their interactivity, a great many of us really do prefer to watch.Twitch hitting the 100 million figure in January set the tone for a year in which videogame streaming has, to the bafflement of many, been an extraordinarily important part of the market. The success of streaming is down, in part, to its diversity; you can trace an evolutionary line from the live online broadcasts of top eSports tournaments to today’s Twitch streaming, but they owe as much if not more to the sophisticated Let’s Play formats that have become a mainstay of YouTube and which introduce audiences to an extraordinary variety of games and genres. Indeed, the borderline between streaming and more straightforward video content is a hazy one; popular YouTubers do live streaming events, which are then archived as YouTube videos; popular streamers put their best bits up for posterity. Streaming is a culture unto itself in some regards, but it exists in symbiosis with the broader world of online video.”It’s a testament to the rapid growth and enormous importance ascribed to videogame streaming throughout 2015 that it is now a key battleground between two of the biggest internet companies in the world” What’s the draw of streaming? What leads it to pull in such enormous audiences? For eSports streaming, it’s understandable; there’s a level of skill on display which most fans will never achieve, and the people and teams playing are stars within the context of the game’s fandom. The drive to watch is exactly the same as with any professional sporting event, and it’s no coincidence that companies who are involving themselves deeply with eSports streaming are head-hunting sports executives to head up their efforts – including former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein, who’ll head up Activision Blizzard’s recently announced eSports network. eSports is a big deal in the world of streaming; competitive titles like League of Legends, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and DOTA 2 top the Twitch charts for the most-streamed games, though many of those streams are broadcast by ordinary players rather than professionals or eSports stars.Beyond eSports, though, the broader appeal of streaming seems to come down to something else that’s no less familiar to executives from the world of traditional TV; personality. Ultimately, the majority of people seem to choose to watch specific streamers or YouTubers, not specific games – they tune in to watch personalities they enjoy playing, reacting to and commenting upon whatever game they happen to be playing right now. The successful streamers and YouTubers are effusive, interesting and likeable – terms you’d have to be no less than churlish to deny to the undisputed king of the bunch, PewDiePie, at least if you can get past the deliberately exaggerated and shrill reactions he puts on, with something of a knowing nod and a wink, in his videos. PewDiePie has 40 million subscribers and made over €11 million last year. It’s all about personality; many of the games he plays are little-known titles, although an appearance on his channel (or on that of other major YouTubers and streamers such as the Yogscast) can seriously boost the fortunes of any game.Denied the chance to acquire Twitch, Google didn’t give up on the gaming market; in August, YouTube launched its own streaming service for games, and PewDiePie is the face of its new YouTube Red initiative, which seeks to create an ad-free subscription service for the best and most-watched video content. Twitch, in response, has created a feature which allows its streamers to put pre-recorded content on their Twitch pages, a direct thrust at YouTube’s key functionality. It’s a testament to the rapid growth and enormous importance ascribed to videogame streaming throughout 2015 that it is now a key battleground between two of the biggest internet companies in the world, with Amazon and Google each determined to carve out a stake in the future of this sector.It’s not all corporate clashing, though; game streaming has also delivered plenty of culturally interesting moments throughout the year, from the laudable efforts of many popular streamers to raise money for charity through streaming “marathons” (Forbes reckons that PewDiePie alone raised over $1 million for charitable causes this year) through to fascinating efforts to crowd-source the completion of games in the “Twitch Plays” series that started last year with Twitch Plays Pokemon, which allowed every viewer (121,000 people at the peak of the first play-through) to input commands to the game, essentially turning it into a huge social experiment in co-operation.Somewhat extraordinarily, the community-driven play-through of the notoriously hard Dark Souls actually succeeded in 2015, downing the game’s final boss in 43 days after a staggering 904 deaths (“staggering” in that I’m pretty sure that’s better than the number of times I died in the game, and I didn’t have a hundred thousand people pressing random buttons on my controller all the way through). An effort by Twitch to expand into different kinds of content by streaming the classic US painting shows The Joy Of Painting, hosted by Bob Ross, on the service was also a remarkable success – attracting 5.6 million viewers who tuned in to watch together and turning the genial Ross into an unlikely icon of game streaming culture.Unfortunately, not all of the cultural milestones in game streaming in 2015 were quite so positive. It won’t surprise anyone, I’d imagine, to find that women who get involved in game streaming report being on the receiving end of some pretty vile abuse, and streaming has on occasion been on the front line of the grotesque culture war that’s sputtered on throughout the year between those who ardently defend their right to send death threats or graphic descriptions of rape to women whenever they damned well please, and the rest of the human race. Where things take an even darker turn is when game streamers – men and women alike – accidentally let enough hints about their real-life identity or location slip out. At the start of February, Twitch made national headlines for all the wrong reasons when armed police raided the family home of Joshua “Koopatroopa787″ Peters, who had been playing Runescape on Twitch. Over 60,000 viewers watched as Peters’ house, where his mother and younger brother were at the time, was raided by police who had received a hoax call warning them of a violent situation at the address.”Like every other threat to the good old-fashioned written word, streaming isn’t the doomsday some wordsmiths fear; but in 2016 it’ll be harder than ever to ignore the influence and importance of this side of the gaming media” This kind of hoax, known as “swatting” after the SWAT armed teams often deployed to potential hostage or similar situations in the USA, became an epidemic in 2015 – with Peters’ traumatic experience being only the first of many incidents that made headlines throughout the year. Swatting is deployed by online trolls against everything from opponents in online debates (the “doxxing” techniques used by GamerGate against their critics were often aimed, ultimately, at trying to “swat” an individual’s address) to people who beat them in online games. For the most viciously sociopathic trolls on the spectrum, Twitch streamers are a target of choice – a successful swatting of a Twitch streamer allows their tormentor to watch their reaction to their home being stormed by armed police in real-time. The most unfortunate targets of this kind of action have been swatted multiple times; the police are almost powerless to prevent themselves being used as a weapon by trolls, as they have a legal responsibility to take such calls seriously, even after being hoaxed in the past.It’s almost inevitable that this kind of incident will end, eventually, in someone getting killed – sending heavily-armed police into people’s homes under the belief that there’s a bomb, a hostage situation or a deranged killer inside isn’t a low-risk activity – and precisely that risk, the thrill of skating so close to the edge, is probably a big motivation for the twisted little psychopaths who do this sort of thing in the first place. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games It’s not entirely clear what, if anything, Twitch can do to protect the people streaming on its service. Swatting is a potentially deadly escalation of ages-old tactics of annoyance and harassment like ordering unwanted delivery food to someone’s address; as long as you have access to their address and the ability to fake a call, swatting is remarkably, terrifyingly easy to pull off. This behaviour isn’t limited to Twitch and the company would no doubt point out that it’s a broader malaise that’s found in toxic corners of online communities across the Internet – but it’s undoubtedly something that’s become increasingly closely associated with game streaming throughout 2015, and how Twitch, the police and streamers themselves deal with this threat is going to be a huge question through 2016.Swatting and harassment in general is the dark underbelly of game streaming; but it appears not to be slowing the meteoric rise of the cultural phenomenon. The ability to stream gameplay footage live is a key feature of new consoles; new games often include features deliberately designed to encourage people to stream them, showing that publishers and developers are very clear on the new importance of this medium as well. The rapid rise of streaming is viewed with suspicion by some quarters of the more traditional games media, who perhaps see it as a threat to their livelihoods – but others have recognised that what streaming really tells the media is that there’s a huge audience for diverse kinds of gaming content. In some cases (former Destructoid and Escapist writer Jim Sterling, and UK-based games website VideoGamer being good examples) traditional writers and media outlets have responded to the rise of streaming with creative, entertaining approaches to video content that embrace the personality-led nature of the medium.Like every other threat to the good old-fashioned written word, streaming isn’t the doomsday some wordsmiths fear; but in 2016 it’ll be harder than ever to ignore the influence and importance of this side of the gaming media. The unexpected thrill of passively watching other people play games isn’t just fuelling a fad; it may actually be fuelling a vital pillar of the games business of the future.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 7 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 9 hours agoLatest comments (3)Alan Blighe Research Associate 5 years ago I think what’s interesting here is how the major players in the market are going to respond to this. You can see software developers slowly “getting it”, to a certain extent, but the hardware developers still feel a little behind. I have no doubt that they’ll come up with some interesting way of taking advantage of this culture sooner or later though.Its great to be around at a time of such radical change, all of this was completely inconceivable when I started playing games in the early 80s.last_img read more

UK Budget 2017: games fund extended, R&D credits boosted and better maths education

first_imgUK Budget 2017: games fund extended, R&D credits boosted and better maths educationThe Chancellor of the Exchequer also confirmed plans to invest £500m in the Tech sectorJames BatchelorEditor-in-ChiefWednesday 22nd November 2017Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareThe UK government has announced its budget for the next year, including some good news for the video games industry.Perhaps the most obvious announcement to benefit games firs is a further £1 million to extend the UK Games Fund until 2020, aiding access to finance and business support for early stage video game developers. It’s not quite the £23.7 million that was proposed by the Bazalgette Review back in September, but it does at least extend the scheme beyond the four years originally planned when the fund launched in 2015, suggesting further support is not impossible.Developers should also be able to benefit from the promise of £2.3bn in extra expenditure for R&D. Tax credits in this area will rise from 11% to 12% starting from January 1st, 2018.Further details about support for the UK’s creative and digital industries will be announced in the forthcoming Industrial Strategy White Paper, which will hopefully include more games-specific allocations of public funds.There were a few announcements in the Education sector that should benefit the games industry, including plans to spend £84m upskilling 8,000 computer science teachers to ensure every secondary school has a fully qualified teacher at GCSE level. In addition to this, the Government will work with industries to set up a National Centre for Computing, which produce training materials and more.This follows news that the majority of English schools did not offer GSCE computer science during the 2015-16 academic year.Further incentives for maths education, a key skill when it comes to games programming and development, were also welcomed by the industry. Promises include £27m to expand the Teaching for Mastery maths programme, which will bring it into 3,000 additional schools, and an extra £600 per pupil for schools and colleges based on the number of kids studying Maths or Further Maths at A Level. The Chancellor claimed that a new high-tech business is founded within the UK every hour, and wants to increase this to every half-hour. To accomplish this, he has pledged investment of £500m into the tech sector, which will be partly used to develop artificial intelligence, 5G and full-fibre broadband. While this may not seem like it benefits games directly, developers’ growing skill with AI should help see some of that money coming towards our industry, while 5G and faster broadband will enable better online gaming experiences.He also reiterated plans to invest £21 million over the next four years to expand Tech City UK to become Tech Nation. The scheme will grow regional technology hubs, many of which are home to various games studios and start-ups. Prioritised cities include Cambridge, Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Bath, Manchester, Newcastle, Reading, Birmingham, Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff.All of the above news was welcomed by both UK trade bodies, UKIE and TIGA.”We are pleased to see that the government has announced a further £1 million to extend the UK Games Fund until 2020, alongside improvements to existing important schemes, such as R&D tax credits, and raising the investment limit of the EIS scheme,” said UKIE CEO Jo Twist. “We also welcome the focus on more investment in local clusters and economies, something we have called for consistently given the strength of the games sector across the UK. These measures show that the government is committed to small businesses around the UK that are innovation driven, such as the games sector.”Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games TIGA CEO Richard Wilson added: “TIGA strongly supports the Government’s plans to incentivise the study of maths – which is already the most popular A level subject – more computer science teachers and support for FE colleges to prepare for the introduction of T-Levels. The games industry, the creative sectors and the wider UK economy need a highly skilled, trained and educated workforce to compete successfully.”The provision of a further £1 million to extend the UK Games Fund until 2020 is fantastic news and will help more start-ups and small studios access to finance and business. The expansion of  Tech City UK’s reach and further investment in R&D and AI is also good news for the video games industry and other high technology sectors.”You can find more highlights from the budget here or, if you’re so inclined, read the entire thing online.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesGearbox, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple oppose Texas anti-trans lawBorderlands developer even suggests it would expand out of the state if law is passedBy James Batchelor 20 days agoGerman legal reform to set new standards for loot boxesBundestag passes youth protection law that would require clear descriptors for games featuring loot boxesBy Matthew Handrahan 2 months agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

Super Mario Run, CATS get Google Play 2017 nods

first_imgSuper Mario Run, CATS get Google Play 2017 nodsNintendo claims most downloaded new title while ZeptoLab’s battle bot fighter awarded Game of the Year Brendan SinclairManaging EditorFriday 1st December 2017Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareIt’s year-end awards season, and Google Play kicked off the month-long gauntlet of honors by naming its Best Games of 2017.Super Mario Run was the most downloaded new game of the year on Google Play, as reflected by its position atop the “Most Popular” category. (While the game debuted on iOS in 2016, the Android version wasn’t out until March of this year.) Super Mario Run was followed on the chart by Snake VS Block, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Pokemon Duel, and Ballz.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games However, popularity doesn’t always equal quality, so Google Play also had a Game of the Year award that was given to ZeptoLabs’ CATS: Crash Arena Turbo Stars. The fighting game has players designing robots to fight one another in backyard battles, and the storefront said it “blew us away with its spellbinding gameplay, glossy graphics, and an impressively intuitive interface.”Google Play also doled out awards in a number of other categories, including Best Indie (Miracle Merchant), Most Innovative (After the End: Forsaken Destiny), and Best to Pick Up & Play (Cooking Craze – A Fast & Fun Restaurant Chef Game).Gaming was also represented on Google Play’s list of top books, as Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One was the fifth best-selling book on the service in the US this year. Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Mobile newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEpic vs Apple – Week One Review: Epic still faces an “uphill battle”Legal experts share their thoughts on the proceedings so far, and what to expect from the coming weekBy James Batchelor 13 hours agoEpic Games claims Fortnite is at “full penetration” on consoleAsserts that mobile with the biggest growth potential as it fights for restoration to iOS App StoreBy James Batchelor 16 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

Nintendo rescues quiet February for UK games retail

first_imgNintendo rescues quiet February for UK games retailBut the platform holder is unlikely to do it againChristopher DringHead of Games B2BThursday 8th March 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleGfKFor UK boxed games retail, 2018 has trundled off to a very slow start.Monster Hunter World was the big new game of January (reaching No.3), and it actually rose a place to No.2 in February – if that offers any indication of just how devoid of competition the marketplace is. There were some new games out in February. At No.3 there is EA’s UFC 3 and No.4 sees the debut of Sony’s Shadow of Colossus. A little further down at No.7 we have Kingdom Come: Deliverance from Deep Silver. Then, all the way down at No.43 sits Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, and Metal Gear Survive just about limps in at No.50. Bayonetta 2 returns at No.20, after the game received its Switch edition.These are all relatively niche game launches, and none of them came close to matching last year’s big February release – Ubisoft’s For Honor. Despite this, though, February 2018 was a more successful month for boxed games retailers compared with 2017. Software sales are up 5% to 1.2 million games sold and revenue generated from these games is up 6% to £36.5 million.The reason for this is almost entirely down to Nintendo Switch. The machine was not on shelves during February 2017, and the console has been performing well in the UK. Switch accounted for 14.5% of all the games sold last month, while Nintendo was the No.2 publisher of the month with a 13.3% share of the market (EA was No.1 due to the strong performance of FIFA 18 and UFC 3). This time last year, Wii U had a 1.8% share of the market, and Nintendo was the No.4 publisher of the month.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games That means that, despite a stronger January and February, we can expect to see a hefty decline in March. Last year benefited from the launch of Nintendo Switch at the start of the month, alongside Horizon: Zero Dawn. These were big releases that lifted the market considerably last year.This year, the start of the month is extremely quiet. The big games are expected to arrive at the end of the month, with Sea of Thieves on Xbox One (March 20th) and Far Cry 5 (March 27th)Here is the UKIE/GfK Top 20 for February 2018:January December12FIFA 1823Monster Hunter World3New EntryEA Sports UFC 34New EntryShadow of Colossus54Grand Theft Auto V61Call of Duty: WWII7New EntryKingdom Come: Deliverance87Mario Kart 8: Deluxe910Super Mario Odyssey105Assassin’s Creed Origins1115Crash Bandicoot: N-Sane Trilogy129The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild138PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds1413Rocket League: Collectors Edition1523Fallout 41619Forza Horizon 3176Star Wars Battlefront II1811Dragon Ball Fighters1927Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6: Siege20Re-EntryBayonetta 2Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesResident Evil: Village is the third biggest PS5 launch so far | UK Boxed ChartsBut physical sales down over previous Resident Evil gamesBy Christopher Dring 2 days agoNier Replicant ver.1.22474487139 is No.1 in the UK | UK Boxed ChartsIt’s very quiet out thereBy Christopher Dring 16 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

For the record: Report on Saudi Arabia ban of 47 games inaccurate

first_imgFor the record: Report on Saudi Arabia ban of 47 games inaccurateGamesIndustry.biz issues correction over erroneous news story GamesIndustry StaffFriday 20th July 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareEarlier this week, an Associated Press report claimed that the Saudi Arabian government banned 47 video games following allegations that two children were driven to kill themselves after playing an online game. It has since come to light that the news story was almost entirely false, and multiple people working in the region’s games industry and with the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media (GCAM) told GamesIndustry.biz that the group took no such action. Although the games in question are indeed restricted from sale in the region, they were not banned collectively at the same time, and not in response to the alleged suicides. “Currently, the ‘ban’ of games has been quite rare, because GCAM — and other Middle East rating boards like National Media Council in the United Arab Emirates — actually work hand in hand with the game publishers either directly or via their official distributors,” said Nazih Fares, a localisation expert for Saudi Arabia, and one of the first to begin working in the region. “For example, in the case of The Witcher 3 — which I started working on its localisation — the game was localised in Arabic with subtitles and language, but also reducing the nudity and removing other cultural topics from the game that could be problematic (it was similar to the Japanese SKU of the game for example).”Malek Teffaha, the head of localisation at Ubisoft for the Middle East and North Africa, added that GCAM was actually expressing more leniency in recent years, even unbanning previously censored games. “Ubisoft has not had any banned game in the past 5 years outside of Watch Dogs 2 and South Park, which is a testament to GCAM’s improving nature,” he told GamesIndustry.biz”Far Cry 3 and Far Cry 4 were previously banned, but we got them reversed, and after Watch Dogs 2 we have actively worked to make sure our releases are per the guidelines, which is reflected in the fact that we have had no banning ever since Watch Dogs 2. (South Park we elected not to release it for various known reasons).” GamesIndustry.biz reported on this story as it first appeared and would like to make a formal correction. We accept that the information provided through the Associated Press was false, and the article we published was inaccurate. The Associated Press has failed to respond to our inquiries.Original Story (18/07/18): The Saudi Arabian government has announced it will ban a list of nearly 50 video games following allegations that two children were driven to kill themselves after playing an online game. As reported by the Associated Press, the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media said on Monday it was banning 47 games for “unspecified violations of rules and regulations”. Included in the list of banned games is Grand Theft Auto V, Assassin’s Creed 2, and The Witcher. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games The ban materialised following the death of a 13-year-old girl and 12-year-old boy who reportedly killed themselves after playing the enigmatic social media game Blue Whale, although the agency did not confirm it as the inciting incident. Also known as the Blue Whale Challenge, it’s more a form of cyberbullying than it is a video game, where players are given a series of tasks to complete, with suicide as the gruesome denouement. GamesIndustry.biz has reached out to the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media for comment and is awaiting response. Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesGearbox, Microsoft, Amazon and Apple oppose Texas anti-trans lawBorderlands developer even suggests it would expand out of the state if law is passedBy James Batchelor 20 days agoGerman legal reform to set new standards for loot boxesBundestag passes youth protection law that would require clear descriptors for games featuring loot boxesBy Matthew Handrahan 2 months agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

More powerful Nintendo Switch reportedly still in experimental stages

first_imgMore powerful Nintendo Switch reportedly still in experimental stagesOther, smaller Switch version also rumored may be dockable after all, could launch this fall Rebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterThursday 18th April 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleNintendoUpdate: A more precise translation has given a clearer idea of exactly where the “more powerful” version of the Nintendo Switch is at in development. Here’s a segment, shared by USGamer:”Beyond the smaller, budget-focused model lies the development of the overhauled next-generation model intended to replace the one currently available. Nintendo is believed to be experimenting on a number of different things for the device, including usability, improved image rendering, and changes to the operating system, among other things. One development source contends, however, that it still remains unclear at this stage who at the company will end up taking the lead on conceptual development for the new console.”The original story, with a correction due to the clarity brought by the above statement, is below:A rumored upgraded version of the Nintendo Switch may still be in the experimental phases of development, and may not be ready to be unveiled as soon as has been previously predicted.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games A report from Japanese business journal Nikkei translated by GamesIndustry.biz sister site USGamer says that this “next-generation” Switch model, more powerful than the current version on the market, is hitting stumbling blocks. Apparently the Nintendo Switch operating system may be proving tricky to operate on the upgraded hardware.Nikkei also reaffirms other rumors of a smaller, cheaper version of the Nintendo Switch that has had no such struggles. The bargain Switch is reportedly slimmer, more portable, and also (contrary to other reports) dockable and playable on the TV.The smaller Switch model is rumored to launch this fall.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesNintendo appointing Despicable Me studio head to board of directorsAnimation studio behind Mario movie gains influence as Illumination Entertainment CEO Chris Meledandri expected to join board next monthBy Brendan Sinclair 5 days agoNintendo reports record full-year profits as Switch nears 85m units soldAnd, despite forecasting decline, the platform holder expects console to beat Wii’s 101 million lifetime sales this yearBy James Batchelor 6 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

Global console content, services spend reaches record high in 2018

first_imgGlobal console content, services spend reaches record high in 2018IHS Markit: 2019 expected to see continued market growth largely thanks to the Nintendo SwitchRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterTuesday 7th May 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareThe global console market saw continued growth in 2018, with total spend across hardware, content, and services reaching $47 billion – up from $42 billion in 2017.That’s the highest that spend has been since 2011 according to IHS Markit’s analysis, but the real growth has been specifically in the content and services sectors taken separately. These two, sans hardware, reached nearly $32 billion last year, a record high beating out the previous best year in 2008. In fact, the only area in which content or services declined was in packaged game sales, which saw a 3% sales decrease year-over-year.IHS Markit predicts that this growth will continue in 2019 due to a number of factors. One of those is the rumored new Nintendo Switch SKU for a smaller, more portable Nintendo Switch. That version of the console is still, per all reports, still coming in 2019 though Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa did specify the company would not be unveiling new hardware at E3 next month.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Another factor is the strength of certain content models that led the console market to its 2018 success. That includes a continued, steadfast interest in traditional first-party releases such as God of War and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as well as the growth of games as a service, digital full game downloads, and paid DLC.While Nintendo is showing up with hardware and content numbers, its service offerings still pale in comparison to its competition. Nintendo Switch Online only represented 1% of the total market share for the service sector last year.With all of this, IHS Markit anticipates the 2019 console spend for content and services (hardware excluded) will reach nearly $34 billion in a sign of continued growth.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 2 hours agoUbisoft posts record sales yet again, delays Skull & Bones yet againPublisher moves away from target of 3-4 premium AAA titles a year, wants to build free-to-play “to be trending toward AAA ambitions over the long term”By Brendan Sinclair 6 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more