YouTube to shut down standalone Gaming app, as gaming gets a new home on YouTube

YouTube will no longer maintain a separate app targeting gaming and live game streaming, the company announced today. The YouTube Gaming app, which first arrived in 2015, will be sunset sometime next spring as its host of features make their way over to YouTube’s main site. Over the years, the YouTube Gaming app has been a place where YouTube experimented with features catering to game creators and viewers who like to watch live and recorded esports. Here, it tested things like Game Pages to make games more discoverable, Super Chat, and Channel Memberships – features which the Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch had also popularized among the game community. Some of YouTube Gaming’s features became so well-received that the company brought them to YouTube. For example, this June YouTube introduced channel memberships to its main site. And before that, it had brought Super Chat – a way for creators
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HQ Trivia nabs Target to sponsor game with biggest ever single winner prize of $100K

HQ Trivia is aiming to attract more players following a slight decline in downloads with a new, large prize. The company announced today it has bagged Target to sponsor to sponsor a special Emmy-themed game featuring its biggest-ever single winner prize of $100,000. The game will air on Monday, September 17 at 9 PM ET, but will be played in a different fashion than usual. Typically, HQ Trivia players compete to win or split a cash prize, which often doesn’t amount to much more than enough for a cup of coffee. But this time around, HQ Trivia will run in a “one winner takes all” format, meaning only one individual will earn the winnings from the game. Instead of a normal 12-question round with 10 second to answer, the game will continue until only one winner remains. Players can still use their extra lives, but only until question number 15.
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Monument Valley is becoming a movie

Monument Valley, the award-winning and beautifully designed mobile puzzler from ustwo Games, is being turned into a movie, according to a report from Deadline. While the game involves a manipulating Escher-like architecture in order to guide a princess through her quest, the movie version will feature live-action characters being thrown into the game’s “mind-bending world,” the report says. Paramount Pictures and Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road Pictures have selected Patrick Osborne to direct the movie, which the studios hope to turn into a franchise. There’s already more material for them to use, if that’s the case – Monument Valley’s sequel continued the story, this time guiding a mother and a child through the magical architecture. Osborne won an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film for “Feast,” and is now directing “Nimona” for Fox and Blue Sky, based on the popular graphic novel. That experience could serve him well for this
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Twitch is closing its Communities

Say goodbye to Twitch’s Communities. The game streaming service says it’s soon killing off this still relatively new addition to its site in favor of implementing a tagging system instead. With the changes, users will be able to filter streams by tags within a directory or across different games on the Browse page, in order to better find the sort of streams they want to watch. The closure of Communities and addition of tags is being planned for mid-September, says Twitch. Twitch launched Communities just last year, with the goal of better catering to users’ unique interests. For example, different types of gaming, like retro, or different activities, like speedrunning, could then have their own community. There are also communities centered around titles like Fortnite Battle Royale, PUBG, League of Legends, and others, as well as those focused on creative endeavours like music, drawing, cooking, cosplay, and more. But
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Google will lose $50 million or more in 2018 from Fortnite bypassing the Play Store

When Fortnite Battle Royale launched on Android, it made an unusual choice: it bypassed Google Play in favor of offering the game directly from Epic Games’ own website. Most apps and games don’t have the luxury of making this choice – the built-in distribution Google Play offers is critical to their business. But Epic Games believes its game is popular enough and has a strong enough draw to bring players to its website for the Android download instead. In the process, it’s costing Google around $50 million this year in platform fees, according to a new report. As of its Android launch date, Fortnite had grossed over $180 million on iOS devices, where it had been exclusively available since launching as an invite-only beta on March 15th, before later expanding to all App Store customers. According to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the game has earned Apple
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Twitch launches a ‘how-to’ site for streamers, Twitch Creator Camp

Twitch wants more people to stream, so it’s going to begin teaching them how. The video game streaming site today announced the launch of Twitch Creator Camp, a new educational resource that helps newcomers learn the basics of streaming, as well as how to build up a channel, connect with fans, and earn rewards. The launch of the how-to site comes about a week after an article by The Verge detailed the long tail of Twitch streamers, with a focus on those who spend years broadcasting to no one in the hopes of one day gaining a following. The article raised the question that, in the age of live streaming, where every major social company – including Facebook, Instagram and YouTube – today offers easy streaming tools, there many not be enough of an audience for all the content creators are producing. Twitch, apparently, believes the issue is one
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Roblox responds to the hack that allowed a child’s avatar to be raped in its game

There’s a special place in hell for people who think it’s funny to rape a 7-year-old girl’s avatar in an online virtual world designed for children. Yes, that happened. Roblox, a hugely popular online game for kids, was hacked by an individual who subverted the game’s protection systems in order to have customized animations appear. This allowed two male avatars to gang rape a young girl’s avatar on a playground in one of the Roblox games. The company has now issued an apology to the victim and its community, and says it has determined how the hacker was able to infiltrate its system so it can prevent future incidents. The mother of the child, whose avatar was the victim of the in-game sexual assault, was nearby when the incident took place. She says her child showed her what was happening on the screen and she took the device away, fortunately
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Pokémon Quest hits app store with a jolt

Coming just shy of a month after its original release on the Nintendo Switch, Pokémon Quest has hit the the App Store and Google Play Store today with an impressive response. According to analytics by Sensor Tower, the app on iPhone is already at No. 2 in Japan and No. 3 in Korea. While hovering at No. 5 in the U.S., the momentum looks like it could carry it to No. 1 by the end of the day. The game itself is designed to be an easily accessible, free-to-play RPG that features your favorite pokémon from Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue — with a geometric twist. Taking a left-turn from their typical animation style, the pokémon in Quest have been transformed into cube versions of themselves and inhabit a brightly colored — also 90-degree angled — terrain called Tumblecube Island. After choosing a pokémon companion to begin your
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Razer leads $3.3M investment in Australia’s Esports Mogul

Razer, the gaming hardware company that went public in Hong Kong last year, is resuming its investment strategy after it led a $3.3 million deal for Australia-based Esports Mogul. Esports Mogul is, as the name suggests, focused on e-sports. The company operates a platform for organizing e-sports competitions — called Mogul Arena — and a gaming news website. The firm is focused on Asia and Latin America and it went public in Australia via a reverse listing that raised it $7 million. The new money will go towards developing Mogul Arena for mobile, and funding user acquisition and monetization pushes, Esports Mogul said. Razer already works with Esports Mogul, and now this deal will increase the collaboration which will focus on integrating Razer’s payment system, which itself was created by the recent acquisition of MOL, according to both companies. Others in the round include Singapore’s Cloud Alliance, which develops
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In-app purchases are coming to Facebook’s Instant Games on Android and the web

Facebook is adding support for in-app purchases to its Instant Games platform, the company announced during a session on gaming at its F8 developer conference this afternoon. The feature will allow game developers to add another form of monetization beyond advertising to their games on select platforms, but not on iOS. Instead, support for in-app purchases will be available to Instant Games on Android and on Facebook.com on the web. First launched in 2016, Facebook opened up Instant Games to all developers last month. The platform allows developers to build mobile-friendly games using HTML5 that work across both Facebook and Messenger. The idea is to give game developers access to another sizable platform for their work, in addition to the existing app stores run by Apple and Google. Facebook has had in-app purchases on its roadmap for Instant Games for some time, and began testing the feature with select
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Google Play Instant lets you try games without having to install them

Last year, Google launched Instant Apps, a way for developers to give users a native app experience that didn’t involve having to install anything. Users would simply click on a link on the search results page and the instant app would load. Today, the company is extending this program to games. Thanks to this, you can now see what playing a level or two of Clash Royale, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire or Panda Pop is like without having to go through the usual install procedure. Instead, you simply head for the Google Play store, find a game that supports this feature, and hit the “Try now” button. Google Play product managers Jonathan Karmel and Benjamin Frenkel told me that the team learned a lot from the experience with building Instant Apps. For games, though, the team decided to increase the maximum file size from 2 MB
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Volley’s voice games for smart speakers have amassed over half a million monthly users

The rapid consumer adoption of smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home has opened opportunities for developers creating voice apps, too. At least that’s true in the case of Volley, a young company building voice-controlled entertainment experiences for Amazon Alexa and Google Home. In less than a year, Volley has amassed an audience north of 500,000 monthly active users across its suite voice apps, and has been growing that active base of users at 50 to 70 percent month-over-month. The company was co-founded by former Harvard roommates and longtime friends, Max Child and James Wilsterman, and had originally operated as an iOS consultancy. But around a year and a half ago, Volley shifted its focus to voice instead. “When we were running the iOS business, we were always sort of hacking around on games and some stuff on the side for fun,” explains Child. “We made a
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Facebook opens Instant Games to all developers

Facebook’s Instant Games are now open to all developers, Facebook announced this week in advance of the Game Developers Conference. First launched in 2016, the platform lets developers build mobile-friendly games using HTML5 that work on both Facebook and Messenger, instead of requiring users to download native apps from Apple or Google’s app stores. The Instant Games platform kicked off its launch a couple of years ago with 17 games from developers like Bandai Namco, Konami, Taito, Zynga and King, who offered popular titles like Pac-Man, Space Invaders, and Words with Friends. The following year, the platform had grown to 50 titles and became globally available. But it wasn’t open to all – only select partners. In addition to getting users to spend more time on Facebook’s platform, Instant Games provides Facebook with the potential for new revenue streams now that Facebook is moving into game monetization. In October, Facebook said
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Microsoft’s Mixer follows Twitch with addition of direct tipping and game sales

 Mixer, Microsoft’s answer to Twitch, will soon allow its streamers to start selling games and other downloadable content via its service, and will introduce tipping, the company announced this week in its year-end wrap-up. The game sales will be made possible through the new Mixer Direct Purchase program, which is now in testing ahead of a broad, public launch, Microsoft says. Initially,… Read More

Alexa now suggests more games to try at the end of the one you’re playing

 Consumers are starting to give Alexa’s voice apps, called skills, more of their attention. During CES this week – where Amazon is battling for attention with Google Assistant across the consumer technology spectrum on display here – the company detailed a few new numbers related to skill adoption and new ways they’re helping consumers find skills they’d like.… Read More

Consumers dropped $200 million on apps on Christmas, up 12 percent from last year

 Consumers spent $196 million on apps, in-app purchases and subscriptions on Christmas Day 2017 across the App Store and Google Play, according to new data from Sensor Tower. The report, while excluding Android revenue in China, represents a 12.3 percent increase over last year’s spending of approximately $174 million. That speaks to a still-growing market for apps and games as well as… Read More

Pixel art coloring book apps are the newest App Store craze

 Has your kid bugged you to let them download Sandbox Coloring? You’re probably not alone. The latest trend blowing up on the App Store is a new twist on the coloring book apps that have been popular for a couple of years. Now, instead of having users pick and choose their colors as before, this new group of coloring book apps – four of which recently snagged spots in the App… Read More