Nintendo is offering an exclusive Fortnite bundle with the Switch

Fortnite has taken the world by storm. In fact, the game is so popular that Epic has released versions for PC, Xbox, PS4, iOS, Android and the Nintendo Switch, making the game about as accessible as possible. The popularity of the game stems from the general popularity of the Battle Royale genre and popular streamers like Ninja, who have made the game so much fun to watch. But it also comes from the fun, and often fleeting, skins, dances and pick axes the game offers in its Item Shop. On October 5th, folks interested in the Switch can pick up some extra Fortnite swag.

Nintendo is releasing a bundle that will include an exclusive

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Old media giants turn to VC for their next act

The Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 eras weren’t kind to the world’s largest media conglomerates, throwing their business models into question, creating whole new categories of content consumption, and bringing online competition to subscription and ad pricing. Many of the media giants from the 1990s and early 2000s remain market leaders with multi-billion dollar valuations, however, and have become active investors in startups as a tactic to help themselves evolve. Of the traditional media companies that have committed to corporate venturing, there are two distinct strategies: those whose investing seems to be about replacing the historic classifieds section of newspapers and diversifying into a range of consumer-facing marketplaces, and those whose investing is concentrated on capturing an early glimpse (and early equity stake) in startups reshaping media.

Replacing Classifieds, Investing in Marketplaces

Mathias Doepfner, CEO of Axel Springer. The company’s startup accelerator is one of the most active

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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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Behold Ubisoft’s gloriously ridiculous Assassin’s Creed Amazon Echo

The Assassin’s Creed Odyssey Echo Plus is a limited edition, which will no doubt make fans want the thing that much more. It’s a standard Amazon device that Ubisoft dressed up in a Spartan helmet, to be given away in small quantities through the company’s site.

The ridiculous thing is the game maker’s way of promoting a new Alexa skill, designed to provide useful tips for the upcoming action role-playing title. The download will be available for all Echo devices (Greek battle helmet or no) starting October 2 — three days before Assassin’s Creed Odyssey officially hits consoles.

There are 1,500 responses available through the skill, which describe points of interest, offer up contextual information and just generally help you through the game. There also are some fittingly goofy ones designed to echo common Alexa questions like,

“What’s the temperature today?”

“It’s colder than the heart of Hades after

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Loot boxes face scrutiny from an international coalition of gambling authorities

The world of online gaming is changing so quickly that players, developers, publishers and regulators are all scrambling to keep up with each other. Case in point: loot boxes, randomized in-game rewards that may or may not have monetary value or be purchasable with real money, are after years of deployment only now being scrutinized globally for being what amounts to thinly veiled gambling. A suggestive new study from British researchers and a just-announced coalition of governments are the latest indicators that the loot box phenomenon and its derivatives likely won’t continue to be the wild west they’ve been for the last few years. Many factors have led games to resemble services or channels more than pieces of entertainment with a start and end. And that in turn has changed how these games are monetized. As an alternative to a $60 up-front cost or a $10/month subscription, a game may
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Twitch updates security for its TwitchCon event following the Jacksonville esports shooting

Twitch is today announcing changes to its security procedures for its TwitchCon event taking place in San Jose, California on October 26-28. The update follows news of the tragic shooting at an esports event in Jacksonville, Florida last month where three people died, including the shooter, and 11 were injured. Twitch said it would review its procedures as a result, and would soon have more information about what it’s doing to keep attendees safe. Today, the company shared those plans.

According to Twitch, it’s working with San Jose’s local law enforcement, convention staff and additional security services on the event.

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Nintendo finally announces some new games for the Switch

Nintendo is at last (at last!) bringing some new content to the Switch! Yes! In a Nintendo Direct, the company let fly a number of games and a couple of original titles. The biggest Nintendo-produced titles we had glimpses of are a new Animal Crossing in development for the Switch and Luigi’s Mansion 3. We learned next to nothing about the new Animal Crossing, other than that it’s coming in 2019, but we did get to see some gameplay from the latest chapter of Luigi’s only titular adventure in the Nintendo world. Luigi’s Mansion 3 seems to follow in the ghost-vacuuming footsteps of its predecessors with the bizarre camera angles and all. It’s also heading to the Switch stage in 2019, setting up a couple of Nintendo titles for us to look forward to next year, possibly alongside Metroid Prime 4 (?). Other familiar additions to the Switch
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Nintendo’s NES Switch controllers activate the nostalgia centers (and wallets) of retro gamers

The news that Nintendo would be adding NES games to the Switch as part of its paid online service had a mixed reception, but the company has made up for this controversial decision by releasing wireless NES controllers to play those games with. At $60 they’re a bit steep, but come on. You know you’re going to buy them eventually. Probably next week. The controllers were revealed during the latest Nintendo Direct video news dump, alongside a host of other nostalgia bombs, like a new Animal Crossing and about a million Final Fantasy ports. But first the details of those sweet, sweet controllers. They’re definitely NES-style down to the buttons, meaning they aren’t going to replace your existing Switch Joy-Cons. There’s no force feedback, no shoulder buttons, no gyros. So why do they cost so much? Because Nintendo. At least they’re wireless and they charge up by slotting onto the
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PlayVS taps League of Legends in launch of high school esports platform

PlayVS, the startup bringing an e-sports infrastructure to the high school level, has today announced that it will partner with Riot’s League of Legends for its beta season. High school students across five states, including Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, will be able to sign up to play for their school in Season Zero, which begins in October 2018. Around 200 colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada are offering esports scholarships, but without any infrastructure around high school esports, those recruiters are left at the mercy of the publishers and a grueling tournament schedule. Meanwhile, young gamers who want to go pro are forced to gain a following via Twitch, or hit up all those tournaments and find a way to shine. PlayVS offers access to recruiters while giving high school students the chance to play competitive esports at the high school level. The
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Kano’s latest computer kit for kids doubles down on touch

Learn-to-code startup Kano, whose products aim to turn kids into digital makers, has taken the wraps off the latest incarnation of its build-it-yourself computer kit. With the new flagship Kano is doubling down on touch interactions — urging kids to “make your own tablet”. The Computer Kit Touch packs a 10.1″ HD touchscreen, along with Kano’s now familiar bright orange wireless keyboard which comes with a built in trackpad. While touch is becoming increasingly central to its products, Kano says the keyboard remains an important component of the product — supporting text-based coding apps which its platform also provides access to, as well as the more approachable drag-and-drop block-based coding systems that do really benefit from having a touchscreen to hand. The kit, which Kano says is generally (but not exclusively) aimed at the 6-13 age range, is on sale from today, priced at $279.99 — via its website
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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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Nintendo Switch online service will launch on September 18th

Nintendo has communicated quite a lot on its new online service. And the company just shared the last missing piece of information — the service will launch on September 18th. For the first time, Nintendo will launch a subscription service to access online services. It’ll cost $20 per year, $3.99 per month or $7.99 for three months.

Subscribers will be able to play multiplayer online games, such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2 and Arms. If you were already playing those games over the internet, you’ll have to start paying. In order to sweeten the deal, the company is adding new services for subscribers.

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Fortnite Monopoly and Nerf Blasters are coming soon

You can’t really blame Epic for captilizing on Fortnite’s massive and largely unexpected success. And really, you’ve got to strike while the iron’s still hot on this one. The gaming company announced a partnership with toy giant Hasbro this week that while give the world a Fortnite-branded Monopoly game and Nerf Blasters.

Monopoly: Fortnite Edition launches October 1 — just in time to be a little too early for the holiday season. That one is arriving in both the U.S. and U.K. this fall, with more markets coming in 2019. It promises to “bring a a battle building twist to the iconic Fast Dealing Property Trading game,” because nothing says real estate mogul like a survival game.

The Nerf partnership is a bit more of a natural from a licensed content perspective. No specifics to speak of at the moment, but given that there are, you know, guns

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Fortnite hits 15 million installs on Android

Circumventing the Google Play store wasn’t exactly a gamble for Epic, given the fact that Fortnite is essentially a license to print money. But even by its own standards, the game is posting some impressive numbers three weeks after hitting Android.

In a blog post this week, Epic noted that the wildly popular sandbox survival game hit 23 million players on Google’s mobile operating system, spread out across 15 million APK installs. Those numbers are arriving 21 days after the title launched on the OS.

This, like every other piece of Fortnite news, means big bucks for Epic. That’s especially the case here, however, given that the launch means the gaming company is cutting Google’s 30 percent take out of the equation.

Along with the numbers, Epic also highlighted some of its efforts to tackle potential malware threats — an added issue given that the game isn’t distributed through Google’s

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Fast-growing game engine startup Unity loses its CFO

Unity Technologies, the highly valued startup behind one of the most popular game development tools, lost its CFO Mike Foley earlier this summer, Business Insider (paywalled) first reported. A company spokesperson confirmed the CFO’s departure, saying it was a “friendly and mutual decision between both parties,” while also noting that the company was searching for a replacement and had some candidates and hoped to announce more details soon. Unity has raised north of $600 million at a valuation over $3 billion, CEO John Riccitiello confirmed to us earlier this week. In an interview at our Disrupt SF 2018 conference, Riccitiello told TechCrunch that the company’s game engine platform now powers about half of all new games. In April, Riccitiello told the publication Cheddar that the company was on the “general path” toward an IPO. “We’re not putting out dates but I do believe the company is strong enough financially to
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You can now use Alexa and Cortana to control your Xbox

You can now control the Xbox from Alexa and Cortana. Microsoft announced his morning it’s introducing a new way to interact with Xbox One using voice commands, by way of an Xbox Skill that works with both Alexa and Cortana, across platforms. The skill will allow users to launch games, adjust the volume, start and stop their broadcasts to Mixer, capture screenshots and more. For example, players will be able to say to their Echo speaker, “Alexa, start Rocket League,” and the console would power on, sign them in, and launch the game. To use the new feature with Alexa, players will first have to sign in with their Amazon account then link their Microsoft account to the skill. With Cortana, users will instead have to first sign into the Xbox they want to control, then sign in with their Microsoft account to link the skill on their Windows 10
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Tencent to tighten age verification checks for gamers amid government crackdown

Chinese Internet giant Tencent has announced it’s bringing in a new system of age checks to its video games which will be linked to a national public security database — in an effort to reliably identify minors so it can limit how long children can play its games. The new real name-based registration system will initially be mandated for new players of its popular Honour of Kings fantasy multiplayer role-playing battle game. It will be introduced around September 15, according to Reuters. Tencent said the planned ID verification system — which Bloomberg couches as equivalent to a police ID check — is the first of its kind in the Chinese gaming industry, and claimed it will enable it to accurately identify underaged players and impose existing play time restrictions. Last July Tencent said it would impose a playtime maximum of one hour per day for children up to aged 12,
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Unity CEO says half of all games are built on Unity

Unity CEO John Riccitiello came to TechCrunch Disrupt SF to give everyone an update on the world’s most popular game engine. You might not be aware that most of the games you’re playing, especially mobile games, are built using Unity. For those not familiar with game engines, Riccitiello started by describing game engines very clearly. Back in the days, “[game developers] would write out a game program that had lots of art assets, lots of animation, lots of sounds. But they also had to write a rendering engine, to write a system for animations, to write a system for sound, to write a system for physics,” he said.
It’s pretty much half of all games period. John Riccitiello
And when you wanted to port your game to another platform, you basically had to start over. Unity works on 30 platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Oculus Rift,
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Kids’ gaming platform Roblox raises $150M

Roblox, which allows kids to create 3D worlds and games, has raised an additional $150 million in funding. The company didn’t disclose its valuation in the announcement, but a source with knowledge of the deal told us that it valued Roblox at more than $2.5 billion — the price that Microsoft paid to acquire Minecraft four years ago. “This is a big year for us that fortifies the dream,” said co-founder and CEO David Baszucki . Earlier this year, Roblox announced that it had become cash-flow positive, and Baszucki told me the company remains “extremely profitable.” So why raise more money? “First and foremost, the reason to fundraise is to have a war chest, to have a buffer, to have the opportunity to do acquisitions, to have a strong balance sheet as we grow internationally,” he said. In order to support that growth, Baszucki said Roblox will
Roblox Developers Conferen
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The Xbox Adaptive Controller goes on sale today and is also now part of the V&A museum’s collection

In an important move for inclusion in the gaming community, the Xbox Adaptive Controller, created for gamers with mobility issues, is now on sale. The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) also announced today that it has acquired the Xbox Adaptive Controller for display in its Rapid Response gallery dedicated to current events and pop culture. First introduced in May, the Xbox Adaptive Controller can now be purchased online for $99.99. To create the controller, Microsoft collaborated with gamers with disabilities and limited mobility, as well as partners from several organizations, including the AbleGamers Charity, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation, Special Effect and Warfighter Engaged. According to Microsoft, the Xbox Adaptive Controller project first took root in 2014 when one of its engineers spotted a custom gaming controller made by Warfighter Engaged, a non-profit that provides gaming devices for wounded and disabled veterans. During several of Microsoft’s hackathons, teams
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