Fortnite goes big on esports for 2019 with $100 million prize pool


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Epic Games, maker of the ultra popular Battle Royale game Fortnite, is putting up another $100 million in prize cash for competitive tournaments in 2019.

The company made waves in the esports world last year, announcing a $100 million prize pool for the 2018 competitive year, dwarfing every other competitive title in one fell swoop.

This year, a significant portion of the $100 million will be awarded to participants of the first-ever Fortnite World Cup. Each of the 200 players who qualify and compete will walk away with at least $50,000, with the winner taking home $3 million.

The Fortnite World Cup will take place July 26 – 28 in New York City, offering $30 million total in prizes. One hundred of the top solo players will be invited, along with the top 50 duos teams.

So how do you get in on this?

Fortnite is holding weekly open online

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Medal.tv’s clipping service allows gamers to share the moments of their digital lives


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As online gaming becomes the new social forum for living out virtual lives, a new startup called Medal.tv has raised $3.5 million for its in-game clipping service to capture and share the Kodak moments and digital memories that are increasingly happening in places like Fortnite or Apex Legends.

Digital worlds like Fortnite are now far more than just a massively multiplayer gaming space. They’re places where communities form, where social conversations happen, and where, increasingly, people are spending the bulk of their time online. They even host concerts — like the one from EDM artist, Marshmello, which drew (according to the DJ himself) roughly 10 million players onto the platform.

While several services exist to provide clips of live streams from gamers who broadcast on platforms like Twitch, Medal.tv bills itself as the first to offer clipping services for the private games that more casual gamers play

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Study says U.S. Twitch streamers raked in roughly $87 billion in 2017


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A new study study estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 billion (representing a 30 percent YOY increase).

Twitch is one of the fastest growing platforms for American content creators. In terms of YOY growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and Youtube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators. (Fun Fact: Instagram’s creator-based revenue growth grew nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 to $460 billion, according to the study.)

Recreate Coalition says that these numbers are very conservative based on the methodology of the study and the fact that it’s limited to the U.S.

The growth of Twitch is predicated on a few obvious trends, as well as a very nuanced relationship between a streamer and his or her respective

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Razer is closing its game store after less than a year


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Razer is one of the dominant brands in gaming when it comes to picking equipment to play, but one of its biggest efforts to own a larger slice of digital spending hasn’t gone according to plan. After less than a year, the company announced that it will close its digital game store at the end of this month “as part of realignment plans.”

The Razer Game Store launched worldwide in April 2018 with the aim of taking a slice of a game sales business that is dominated by Steam. Razer’s offering tied into its gamer credit (virtual currency) strategy to incentivize its customers to buy hardware and digital content with the promise of discounts. The company didn’t comment on why the store is closing, but you’d imagine that it didn’t go as well as Razer had hoped.

It sure takes a lot to bite into digital game sales, but the

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A ridiculously rare copy of Super Mario for NES just sold for over $100,000


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An extra special copy of Super Mario for NES just sold for a mind-boggling $100,150.

Before you go digging through the attic to find your old copy to throw up for auction, you should know: the version in question here is super, super rare.

So what makes it special?

Super Mario has been released and re-released dozens of times in the past three decades. Even if we’re just talking about the original NES cartridge that came in a black box, there were eleven ever-so-slightly-different versions of the box shipped between 1985 and 1994. Some had tabs for hanging them from store shelves; some lacked a trademark symbol or two in the right spots; others had slightly tweaked graphics for the Nintendo “Seal of Quality” on the face.

The very first few runs, though, had a particularly obvious quirk: rather than being shrink-wrapped, they were sealed with just a little black

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Daily Crunch: Facebook (possibly) considered buying Unity


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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Facebook mulled multi-billion-dollar acquisition of gaming giant Unity, book claims

Less than a year after making a $3 billion investment into the future of virtual reality with the purchase of Oculus VR, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was considering another multi-billion-dollar bet by buying Unity, the popular game engine that’s used to build half of all gaming titles.

At least, that’s the claim made in a new book, “The History of the Future,” by Blake Harris, which digs deep into the founding story of Oculus and the drama surrounding the Facebook acquisition, subsequent lawsuits and personal politics of founder Palmer Luckey.

2. Alibaba’s Ant Financial buys UK currency exchange giant WorldFirst reportedly for around $700M

Although the

Tesla dog mode

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Apple fails to block porn & gambling “Enterprise” apps


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Facebook and Google were far from the only developers openly abusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program meant for companies offering employee-only apps. A TechCrunch investigation uncovered a dozen hardcore pornography apps and a dozen real-money gambling apps that escaped Apple’s oversight. The developers passed Apple’s weak Enterprise Certificate screening process or piggybacked on a legitimate approval, allowing them to sidestep the App Store and Cupertino’s traditional safeguards designed to keep iOS family friendly. Without proper oversight, they were able to operate these vice apps that blatantly flaunt Apple’s content policies.

The situation shows further evidence that Apple has been neglecting its responsibility to police the Enterprise Certificate program, leading to its exploitation to circumvent App Store rules and forbidden categories. For a company whose CEO Tim Cook frequently criticizes its competitors for data misuse and policy fiascos like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica, Apple’s failure to catch and block these porn and gambling

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Dominate the Competition With This Discounted FreeSync ROG Monitor


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One of the best gaming monitors, the ASUS ROG Strix 27” Curved Gaming Monitor, is on sale right now. ROG’s line of gaming monitors are the favorite among pros and this $320 FreeSync could help you achieve gaming greatness.

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Feel the beep: This album is played entirely on a PC motherboard speaker


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If you’re craving a truly different sound with which to slay the crew this weekend, look no further than System Beeps, a new album by shiru8bit — though you may have to drag your old 486 out of storage to play it. Yes, this album runs in MS-DOS and its music is produced entirely through the PC speaker — you know, the one that can only beep.

Now, chiptunes aren’t anything new. But the more popular ones tend to imitate the sounds found in classic computers and consoles like the Amiga and SNES. It’s just limiting enough to make it fun, and of course many of us have a lot of nostalgia for the music from that period. (The Final Fantasy VI opening theme still gives me chills.)

But fewer among us look back fondly on the days before sample-based digital music, before even decent sound cards let

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Athenascope nabs $2.5M seed led by First Round to bring gamers AI-edited highlight reels


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As massive cross-platform gaming titles become even larger time-sucks for a lot of people, it’s probably worth reflecting on how to savor your in-game accomplishments.

Streaming of eSports celebrities on sites like Twitch has taken off like no one imagined, but for the most part the toil-heavy editing processes has left this attention largely focused on those with the ambitions of making gaming their full-time gig.

Athenascope is a small startup aiming to tap computer vision intelligence to record, review and recap what more novice gamers were able to pull off in their latest battle royale with a short, shareable highlight reel. The team is led by Chris Kirmse, who previously founded Xfire, a game messaging client that Viacom bought in 2006 for north of $100 million.

The company announced this week that they’ve closed a $2.5 million seed round led by First Round Capital to grow its tools

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If You’re Going to Play Fortnite on Your Phone, Use a Controller


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As of last week, Fortnite, the biggest game in the world and the bane of high school teachers everywhere, finally allows you to use Bluetooth controllers on mobile devices.

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Hatch, Rovio’s ‘Netflix for gaming’, picks up NTT Docomo as a strategic investor


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Rovio’s efforts to diversify beyond its Angry Birds franchise is getting a little investment boost today. The company announced that Japan’s NTT Docomo is taking a stake in Hatch, a Rovio subsidiary that describes itself as the “Netflix of gaming”, providing subscribers with a rotating mix of freemium games from a mix of publishers, with the option of paying a single monthly fee for a wider mix.

Docomo and Rovio are not discussing the size or value of the stake, but a spokesperson for Rovio told TechCrunch that prior to this deal, Hatch was 80 percent owned by Rovio and 20 percent by Hatch personnel. He didn’t specify who had sold shares to Docomo in this latest transaction.

The deal will cover not just investment to expand the Hatch platform and number of games on offer — currently the selection numbers over 100 — but to bring Hatch specifically

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Two more bangers for the Switch’s NES selection: Kirby and Super Mario Bros 2


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Nostalgia for the NES is high following the success of Nintendo’s classic mini consoles and the launch of its Switch Online service, which just got a couple more great additions to its selection of 8-bit games: Kirby’s Adventure and the immortally weird Super Mario Bros 2.

Kirby had just made his debut on the Game Boy, but the NES follow-up really improved things. Better controls, better graphics, still hard as hell.

Super Mario Bros 2 is remembered as a curiosity, but it deserves more than that. Sure, it’s just an asset swap for Doki Doki Panic, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a fantastic game and you should take this opportunity to play it all the way through.

As long as you’re here, I feel I should also plug the games added a couple weeks back that probably didn’t

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Nintendo to open its first official store located in Japan


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Fourteen years after unveiling its first location in New York, Nintendo is finally opening an official store in Japan, too. Nintendo Tokyo will be located in Shibuya Parco, the new flagship of the Parco department store chain. Nintendo Tokyo is scheduled to open at the same time as the shopping center in fall.

In an announcement, Nintendo said “we are preparing to make this store, which will be a new base for communicating Nintendo information in Japan, an enjoyable place for a wide range of consumers.” In addition to games, consoles, accessories like amiibo, and branded merchandise, Nintendo Tokyo will also host gaming kiosks and events (if the New York store, in Rockefeller Center, is anything to go by, these might include tournaments, demos, and launches).

Nintendo recently posted strong third-quarter revenue growth, but also cut its Switch forecast for the year. Sales may pick up again, however,

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Nintendo is making Dr. Mario for iOS and Android


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Nintendo held off on building smartphone games for years, but now they just can’t stop. They started with a little stumble with the short-lived Miitomo, but then found an audience with Super Mario Run. Then came Fire Emblem Heroes. Then Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Dragalia Lost.

Next up? Dr. Mario.

Nintendo announced this afternoon that it’s working on a title called Dr. Mario World, built in collaboration with Line (as in the company that makes the Line chat app; they also make Disney’s mobile Tsum Tsum games) and NHN.

For anyone out there who might be too young to remember Super Mario’s stint as an M.D., Dr.

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Nintendo rumored to be working on a smaller, cheaper Switch


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Remember when the rumor mill suggested that Nintendo was already working on a sequel to the Switch? Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa shut that down pretty quickly, saying that no successor was in the works.

Now the rumor mill has shifted gears: Rather than a whole new generation, the whispers suggest Nintendo is tinkering with a cheaper, more portable variation of the original.

The rumor stems from a report by Nikkei (Japan’s predominant financial newspaper), later translated by NintendoEverything. According to their translation, Nintendo “has informed multiple suppliers and game development companies that they intend to release them as early as 2019.”

While the Switch is already kinda-sorta portable, it’s also kinda-sorta not. In its handheld mode, it comes in at around 9.4 x 4 inches — the majority of which is made up of a big, oh-so-scratchable and fully exposed screen. Taking it on the road without some

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Nintendo’s Mario Kart mobile game won’t launch until the summer


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It’s been a long year for Nintendo fans waiting on Mario Kart to come to mobile and, unfortunately, more patience is required after the game’s launch was moved back to this summer.

Nintendo announced plans to bring the much-loved franchise to smartphones one year ago. It was originally slated to launch by the end of March 2019, but the Japanese games giant said today it is pushing that date back to summer 2019.

The key passage sits within Nintendo’s latest earnings report, released today, which explains that additional time is needed “to improve [the] quality of the application and expand the content offerings after launch.”

It’s frustrating but,

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Foxconn pulls back on its $10 billion factory commitment


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Well that didn’t last long.

In 2017, Foxconn announced the largest investment of a foreign company in the United States when it selected Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin for a new manufacturing facility. Buttressed by huge economic development grants from Wisconsin, an endorsement from President Trump, and Foxconn CEO Terry Gou’s vision of a maker America, the plant was designed to turn a small town and its environs into the futuristic “Wisconn Valley.”

Now, those dreams are coming apart faster than you can say “Made in America.”

In an interview with Reuters, a special assistant to Gou says that those plans are being remarkably scaled back. Originally designed to be an advanced LCD factory, the new Foxconn facility will instead be a much more modest (but still needed!) research center for engineers.

It’s a huge loss for Wisconsin, but the greater shock may be just how

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State Farm sponsors popular Fortnite streamer DrLupo


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DrLupo, one of the biggest names and most recognizable voices in Fortnite streaming, has closed a sponsorship deal with State Farm.

Bejanmin “DrLupo” Lupo has nearly 3 million Twitch followers and often plays with the world’s most popular streamer, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins. Beloved for his talent and his personality alike, Lupo has also worked as a caster for various Fortnite tournaments and events. Last year, DrLupo held a charity stream for St. Jude’s Research Hospital and raised $1.3 million.

State Farm Marketing Director Ed Gold had this to say:

DrLupo is one of the world’s most followed Fortnite streamers. His philanthropic efforts and massive fanbase make him an ideal partner as we continue to amplify our esports programming and efforts with the gaming community.

This marks State Farm’s first sponsorship of an esports athlete. The sponsorship will include support of the stream through branded replays, live in-stream

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Unity acquires Vivox, which powers voice chat in Fortnite and League of Legends


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Game engine maker Unity believes voice communications are going to grow to become a critical part of gaming across platforms and it’s buying one of the top companies in the space to bolster what its customers can build on the Unity platform.

Unity has acquired Vivox, a company that powers voice and text chat for the world’s most massive gaming titles from Fortnite to PUBG to League of Legends. The company’s positional voice chat enable gamers to hear other players chatting around them directionally in 3D space. The company also provides text-based chat. No details on deal terms.

“We thought, I thought, that voice is just one of those things that we should offer our customers,” Unity CEO John Riccitiello tells TechCrunch. “There are just a lot of places to innovate there and I was excited by the roadmap of Vivox.”

Unity plans to use its cross-platform support expertise

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