Voodoo Games thrives by upending conventional product design – TechCrunch

Voodoo Games is one of the most interesting startups alive today. In mid-2018, it had 150 million MAUs and raised $200 million from Goldman Sachs, yet I’ve never heard anyone mention the company. That might be normal for an obscure enterprise SaaS play, but Voodoo is consumer-facing through and through.

Quantitative success aside, Voodoo upends much of the conventional thinking about product design and gaming. If it can do it, how can similar strategies apply to other products?

But first, some background: What is Voodoo Games?

Voodoo is best described as a product conglomerate. Take a look at its App Store page. It has dozens of generic-looking apps. The basic playbook is:

  • Quickly build a relatively low-quality, single-purpose game.
  • Make sure one mechanic is really fun. It doesn’t matter if users churn 20 minutes after downloading it.

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The drunken HQ Trivia finale before it shut down was insane – TechCrunch

“Not gonna lie. This f*cking sucks. This is the last HQ ever!” yelled host Matt Richards . And it just got crazier from there.The farewell game of HQ Trivia before it shut down last night was a beautiful disaster. The hosts cursed, sprayed champagne, threatened to defecate on the homes of trolls in the chat window, and begged for new jobs. Imagine Jeopardy but Trebek is hyped-up and blacked-out.

Yesterday HQ Trivia ran out of money, laid off its 25 employees, and shut down. It was in talks to be acquired, but the buyer pulled out last minute and investors weren’t willing to pour any money into the sagging game show. It had paid out $6 million in prizes from its $15 million-plus in venture capital since launching in late 2017.

But HQ was in steady decline since February 2018 when it peaked at over 2.3 million concurrent players to just tens of thousands recently. The games grew repetitive, prize money was split between too many winners, co-founder Colin Kroll passed away, original host and quiz daddy Scott Rogowsky was let go, the startup’s staff failed in an attempt to mutiny and oust the CEO, and layoffs ensued. You can read how it all went down here.

But rather than wither away, the momentary cultural phenemenon went out with a bang. “Should HQ trivia shut down? No? Yes? Or f*ck no!” Richards cackled.

You can watch the final show here, and we’ve laid out some of Richards’ and co-host Anna Roisman’s choicest quotes from HQ’s last game:

  • “If you just got here, this is HQ Trivia. It’s a live mobile gameshow. We’re gonna read about 34 questions and then you’re gonna win about 2 cents and you’re gonna fucking loooooove it” -Roisman
  • “This $5 prize is coming out of my own pocket. We ran out of money. We just kept giving it away. We gave it all to the players, to you, you loyal HQties” -Richards
  • “Take this time now to buy some extra lives. You never know when you’re going to need them. I wish we had an extra life for the company. I’m sorry. I f*cking can’t. I’m gonna cry. My dogs eat $200 worth of food a day. My dogs are gonna starve” -Richards
  • “Why are we shutting down? I don’t know. Ask our investors. What am I going to do with my fish tank? I think our investors ran out of money” -Richards
  • “Who likes healthy snacks! That’s why the investors stopped giving us money, because there wasn’t any f*cking snacks in this b*tch. We were snackless. Who the fuck can work in a place without snacks!” -Richards
  • “I met a couple who told me HQ is part of their foreplay” -Richards
  • “Who’s going to miss the HQ chat? I’m going to miss all those people telling me I don’t have eyebrows or to do the Carlton” -Richards
  • “Maybe we should close every night. These are the nicest f*cking comments I’ve ever seen. Wow, you’re finally telling me I look hot. I tried for a year and a half -Roisman
  • [Reading comments] “‘Won’t miss you at all, good riddance’” -Roisman. “Who said that? Let’s find that mothef*cker and sh*t on his porch” -Richards
  • “Hire everyone! All the people who don’t have jobs they f*cking rock!” -Richards
  • [While doing a headstand] “Someone hire me! I’m f*cking talented” -Roisman
  • “We should have unionized a long time ago” -Richards
  • [To his girlfriend] “Hello baby! I don’t got a job, you still love me?” -Richards
  • “We bought this giant bottle of champagne for when we hit 3 million players” -Richards (HQ never got there)
  • [Shakening up the champagne and opening it to a disappointing trickle] “It wasn’t as big as I thought it was gonna be” -Richards.That’s what she said. It was anti-climactic” -Roisman. “Much like this episode” -Richards. “Much like this app” -Roisman
  • “They gave me like two double shots of tequila” -Richards, on why he was drunk

Then things really went off the rails at 41 minutes in, cued up here:

  • [Upon a bunch of people getting a question wrong] “Y’all fucking fucked up!  You are dumb! I’m kidding, you’re not dumb. You fucked up. It happens” -Richards
  • [Reading the final question together] “What does Subway call it’s employees? Ham hands, sandwich artists, or beef sculptors?”
  • “520 people are splitting $5. Send me your Venmo requests and I’ll send you your fraction of a penny” -Richards

Farewell, HQ Trivia, you glorious beast.

 

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HQ Trivia shuts down after acquisition falls through – TechCrunch

HQ Trivia is dead. Today the company laid off its full staff of 25 and will cease operation of its trivia, sports and word guessing games, a source close to the company confirmed.

HQ Trivia had a deal in the works to be acquired, but the buyer pulled out yesterday and investors aren’t willing to fund it any longer, CEO and co-founder Rus Yusupov said in a statement attained by CNN Business’ Kerry Flynn:

“We received an offer from an established business to acquire HQ and continue building our vision, had definitive agreements and legal docs, and a projected closing date of tomorrow, and for reasons we are still investigating, they suddenly changed their position and despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach an agreement,” Yusupov writes. “Unfortunately, our lead investors are no longer willing to fund the company, and so effective today, HQ will cease operations and move to dissolution. All employees and contractors will be terminated as of today.”

Launched in October 2017, TechCrunch wrote the first coverage of the 12-question live video trivia game started by two of the former Vine founders. Users could win real money by answering all the questions and not being eliminated in multiple daily games. HQ Trivia had raised more than $15 million, including a Series A led by Founders Fund. At one point it had more than 2.3 million concurrent players.

hq trivia app 1

But eventually the novelty began to wear off. Cheaters came in, splitting the prize money down to just a few dollars or cents per winner. Copycats emerged internationally. Engineering issues led users to get kicked out of the game.

Then tragedy struck. Co-founder Colin Kroll passed away. That exacerbated internal problems at HQ Trivia. Product development was slow, leading users to grow tired of the game. New game types and viral features materialized too late.

A failed internal mutiny saw staffers prepare to petition the board to remove Yusupov from the CEO position. When he caught wind of the plot, organizers of the revolt were fired. Morale sunk. By July 2019, downloads were just 8% of their previous year’s, and 20% of the staff was laid off. HQ managed about 15 million all-time installs, peaking at 2 million in February 2018, while last month it had just 67,000, according to Sensor Tower.

The demise of HQ Trivia demonstrates the fickle nature of the gaming industry, and the startup scene as a whole. Momentary traction is no guarantee of future success. Products must continually evolve and adapt to their audience to stay relevant. And executives must forge ahead while communicating clearly with their teams, even amongst uncertainty, or find their companies withered by the rapid passing of time.



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GameSnacks, from Google’s Area 120, brings fast, casual online games to developing markets – TechCrunch

A new project called GameSnacks is launching today from Google’s in-house incubator, Area 120, with the goal of bringing fast-loading, casual online games to users in developing markets. Billions of people are coming online through mobile devices. But they’re often on low memory devices with expensive data plans and struggle with unreliable network connections. That makes web gaming inaccessible to millions, as the games aren’t optimized for these sorts of constraints.

Today, over half of mobile website visitors leave a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, but on low memory devices and 2G or 3G networks, a typical web game will load much more slowly — even triple or quadruple that load time, or worse.

The idea with GameSnacks is to speed up load time and performance of web games by reducing the size of the initially-loaded HTML page, compressing additional assets like scripts, images, and sounds, then waiting to load them until necessary.

GameSnacks says this allows its games to load in a few seconds even on network connections as slow as 500 Kbps.

For instance, A GameSnacks title called Tower is ready to play on a 1 GB RAM device over 3G within just a few seconds. A typical web game on that same device took as long as 12 seconds, the company claims.

In addition, GameSnacks’ games are simple, casual games that only last a few minutes. They’re meant to fill those idle moments you have when waiting line, waiting at the bus stop, or waiting for a doctor’s appointment to start, for example. The games are also designed to have straightforward rules so they can be learned without instructions.

While mobile may be a primary platform, GameSnacks’ games are also accessible on any web-capable device, including desktop computers with a keyboard and mouse. On mobile, both iOS and Android are supported.

At launch, GameSnacks is partnering with a leading technology platform in Southeast Asia, Gojek, which is bringing the new games to their ecosystem through the GoGames service. Initially, this partnership is focused on delivering games to users in Indonesia before expanding elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Currently, GameSnacks is working with developers including Famobi, Inlogic Games, Black Moon Design, Geek Games, and Enclave Games. Other HTML5 game developers who think their title may make sense in the GameSnacks catalog are encouraged to reach out.

GameSnacks’ business model will ultimately involve other partnerships that allow other developers to embed GameSnacks games into their own apps, even customized to feel native to that app’s experience.

Founded by Ani Mohan and Neel Rao, GameSnacks is a team of six working within Area 120 at Google, which is home to a variety of experimental ideas, including those in social networking, video, advertising, education, transit, business and more.

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Microsoft’s game streaming service Project xCloud launches in preview on iOS – TechCrunch

Last year, Microsoft launched a preview of Project xCloud, its ambitious game streaming service that aims to deliver games to any screen — console, PC or mobile. However, the service until now has only been available to mobile users on Android. Today, that changes as Microsoft is bringing the Project xCloud preview to iOS devices by way of Apple’s TestFlight program.

Microsoft had been testing xCloud on iOS internally, but had yet to open it up to the public.

Unfortunately, the iOS test will be limited. As is standard with Apple’s TestFlight platform, the new build will be limited to only 10,000 testers.

That won’t likely be enough spots to meet demand, Microsoft admits, and says invitations will be distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. To work around the limitation, Microsoft plans to boot out some early testers to make room for new testers during the course of the public beta.

“Those who are accepted into the iOS TestFlight preview may not necessarily participate for the full duration of the preview,” the company explains via blog post. “As noted earlier, there are limited spaces available, so for testing purposes we may need to cycle through registrants in order to best utilize the available testing audience. This also means that even if you miss out on the initial allocation, you might receive an invitation to participate later in the preview,” it says.

The iOS preview will also be limited to only one game: “Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” In addition, this particular test won’t include the preview of Xbox Console Streaming as the Android test currently does.

To qualify, testers will need a Microsoft account associated with their Xbox gamertag; an iPhone or iPad running iOS 13.0 or higher and Bluetooth v. 4.0; a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox Once Wireless Controller; access to Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection that supports 10 Mbps-down bandwidth; and, optionally, a third-party controller mount for phone-based games (like this one).

The move to bring console-quality games to smartphones represents a shift in Microsoft’s gaming strategy. The company understands that it can only sell so many consoles, for starters, but mobile phones are everywhere. In addition, people today want to play games on any available screen — not just the big TV screen at home. And for some users, mobile is their only screen.

Meanwhile, cross-platform gaming is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to titles like Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, PUBG and others, which proved that mobile experiences can match consoles.

Project xCloud aims to make it easier for developers to build games that work everywhere. This is no small task, as it required Microsoft to architect a new customizable blade that hosts the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure needed to support it. It also needs to ensure the technology can deliver games at console speeds with low latency, so mobile users don’t feel like they’re getting a second-rate experience.

Instructions on how to join the TestFlight are available here.

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The team behind Apple’s ‘Mythic Quest’ says video games aren’t the punch line – TechCrunch

When Ubisoft first approached “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” stars Rob McElhenney and Charlie Day about creating a new show set in the video game industry, McElhenney said they weren’t interested — at least, not initially.

“Anything that we had ever seen in the past, from a movie or television show perspective, the industry was always presented in such a negative light,” he told me. “It was the butt of the joke. The characters themselves were derided, and it was very specific to geek culture … We just had no interest in that.”

And yet McElhenney, Day and “It’s Always Sunny” writer Megan Ganz ended up creating “Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet,” which premieres on Apple TV+ this weekend. McElhenney explained that a visit to the Montreal offices of Ubisoft — publisher of “Assassin’s Creed”, “Prince of Persia” and other major game franchises — changed his mind.

“Once we went to Montreal and met all of the devs that worked at Ubisoft, that all work in communion to make these games, [we realized] how many different, disparate personalities there really were and how much they were all all united by their love of games,” he said.

So McElhenney decided that “this just seemed like a really interesting and new place to set those kinds of stories.”  And just as he assumes most “Sunny” viewers aren’t tuning in to learn the fate of Paddy’s Pub (the Philadelphia bar run by the show’s main characters), “The approach we took was, the general audience is not going to care about the success or failure of a video game, they’re going to care about the interpersonal dynamics of the characters themselves.”

Ganz also said she didn’t know much about video game development when McElhenney first approached her about collaborating on the show, but she started to see parallels between that world and a TV writers’ room.

“Except that instead of everyone being a writer, they all have very specialized jobs that they care about, like just the writing or just the design or just the money that’s being made,” she said. “And I thought, well, that’s really fun because that presents something that’s even more complex than your typical writers’ room — you have all these sort of Greek gods that all control their very specific part of the world.”

Mythic Quest

Of course, “Mythic Quest” had a writers’ room of its own, which Ganz said was divided evenly between people with deep knowledge of the industry (like Ashly Burch, who’s done extensive voiceover work on games like “Team Fortress 2” and “Fortnite,” and who also plays a game tester on the show), and those like Ganz herself, “who maybe played casually when they were younger” but ultimately didn’t know much about that world.

“We did that because ultimately, if you come up with a script or a joke that satisfies both of those people, then you’re going to satisfy as much of the audience as you possibly can,” she said.

The goal, she added, was not “pandering to the video game community,” but rather “to be authentic and not make fun of them, but also be authentic in terms of talking about some of the toxicity that happens in the video game space, the gender dynamics that are at play.”

It wasn’t just a learning process for the writers. F. Murray Abraham (who won an Oscar for playing Salieri in “Amadeus”) plays an eccentric science fiction writer who works on the game, and he told me that when it came to video games, “I had no idea. I knew something, I was aware of it, but not the size of it, the success of it, the reach of it, my God.”

All the “Mythic Quest” writers and actors I spoke to said that their approach has evolved significantly from the original pilot script. For example, there’s McElhenney’s character Ian Grimm, the creative director of the massively multiplayer online roleplaying game that gives the show its name.

“In the first draft of the script, we made Ian a little bit more of just a straight buffoon,” McElhenney said. “We read through it and we realized it just felt false. It was missing something, that if we didn’t want this to feel like a live action cartoon — like ‘Sunny’ often does, which is by design — and we wanted these people to feel real and authentic, that we needed to believe that he really should have that position.”

The question, then was how to make him competent, but in a funny way. They went with a pilot episode where Ian and lead engineer Poppy (played by Charlotte Nicdao) end up in a passionate debate about the properties of the game’s brand new shovel. While that debate will probably seem silly to most viewers, McElhenney said it also conveys “that thing that so many people in the creative arts have, or don’t have — the ability to see the most minor detail, the reason why something is going to work, or why it might not work.”

Mythic Quest

Throughout that process, the writers also tapped Ubisoft for advice. Jason Altman, Ubisoft’s head of film and television, is an executive producer on the show, and he recalled bringing in different team members to help the writers understand everything that goes into the development process.

In addition, Ubisoft Red Storm (the studio behind the Tom Clancy game franchise) pitched in by building the game segments that we actually see on the show.

“What they created were actually small gameplay sandboxes that we could bring to set, and the actors could sit and play with them and it would actually inform their performances,” Altman said.

He acknowledged that there were challenges, like helping the “Mythic Quest” writers realize that the developers needed time to do their work — but ultimately, he said the Red Storm team had “a great time” creating something that gave the show “a real sense of authenticity.”

Ganz and McElhenney also had plenty of praise for the developers, particularly for their openness to adding silly comedic elements like ridiculous gouts of blood. McElhenney pointed to one episode that required them to create “a really believable Sieg Heil Nazi salute.”

“There’s no way they’re going to go for that, it’s going to take a follow-up phone call,” he recalled thinking. “And they were like, ‘Okay great.’ And I was like, ‘Wait, what do you mean, okay great?’ They said, ‘No, we do Nazis all the time’ — and we put this in the show — ‘because Nazis make the best villains, everybody hates Nazis.”

I was also curious about why the show focuses on the development of an ongoing MMORPG, rather than launching a new game. Altman had an answer for me: “I think it represents what’s happening within the game industry. You don’t just launch a game and forget it, the development team lives with it, you’ve got live services and live events. It’s the way games are operated right now.”

Plus, he said it reflects another aspect of development, the fact that teams “don’t just spend six months together, they spend years together, and the success that they create together binds them together.”

David Hornsby — who, like McElhenney, is both a writer, executive producer and actor on the show — told me that the writers’ understanding of show’s distribution also evolved, since Apple TV+ hadn’t launched (or even been officially announced) when “Mythic Quest” first got picked up.

“We weren’t sure if it wasn’t going to be binge-able from the start, we heard incrementally,” Hornsby said. “Apple is good at keeping secrets.”

Ultimately, they did find out that all nine episodes would drop at once, which Hornsby said led them to structure the season “like a movie — we know where we are going to be in the middle of the season, the story arcs for each of our characters.”

I also brought up Apple TV+ with McElhenney, who said the team had offers from a number of studios.

“It was scary,” he said. “And I remember we were discussing it, we were like, do we go with a known quantity? Or do we jump into the waters of mystery, because even though it’s the biggest company in the world, you don’t know if it’s going to work.”

So why choose Apple? “We just felt like, if you’re gonna bet on somebody, why not bet on a trillion dollars? They seem to have the resources and something figured out.”

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Twitter-backed ShareChat eyes fantasy sports in India – TechCrunch

The growing market of fantasy sports in India may soon have a new and odd entrant: ShareChat .

The local social networking app, which in August last year raised $100 million in a financing round led by Twitter, has developed a fantasy sports app and has been quietly testing it for six months, two sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

ShareChat’s fantasy sports app, called Jeet11, allows betting on cricket and football matches and has already amassed more than 120,000 registered users, the sources said. The app, or its website, does not disclose its association with ShareChat.

A ShareChat spokesperson confirmed the existence of the app and said the startup was testing the product. “This is presently at an experimentation stage. Based on the outcome of the experiment, we will decide on the future of the product,” the spokesperson said.

Jeet11 is not available for download on the Google Play Store due to the Android maker’s guidelines on sports fantasy apps, so ShareChat has been distributing it through Xiaomi’s GetApps app store and the Jeet11 website (which offers the app installation file), and has been promoting it on Instagram. It is also available as a web app.

Fantasy sports, a quite popular business in many markets, has gained some traction in India in recent years. Dream11, backed by gaming giant Tencent, claimed to have more than 65 million users early last year. It has raised about $100 million to date and is already valued north of $1 billion.

Bangalore-based MPL, which counts Sequoia Capital India as an investor and has raised more than $40 million, appointed Virat Kohli, the captain of the Indian cricket team, as its brand ambassador last year.

In the last two years, scores of startups have emerged to grab a slice of the market, and the vast majority of them are focused on cricket. Cricket is the most popular sport in India, just ask Disney’s Hotstar, which claimed to have more than 100 million daily active users during the cricket season last year.

Or ask Facebook, which unsuccessfully bid $600 million to secure streaming rights of the IPL cricket tournament. It has since grabbed rights to some cricket content and appointed the Hotstar chief as its India head.

So it comes as no surprise that many sports betting apps have signed cricketers as their brand ambassador. Hala-Play has roped in Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya, while Chennai-based Fantain Sports has appointed Suresh Raina.

But despite the growing popularity of fantasy sports apps, where users pick players and bet real money on their performances, the niche is still sketchy in many markets that consider it betting. In fact, Twitter itself restricts promotion of fantasy sports services in many markets across the world.

In India, too, several states, including Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim and Telangana, have banned fantasy sports betting. Jeet11 currently requires users to confirm that they don’t live in any of the restricted states before signing up for the service.

“It doesn’t help matters either that the fantasy sports business’ attempts at legitimacy involve trying to be seen as video games — a cursory glance at a speakers panel for any Indian video game developer event is evidence of this — rather than riding on its own merits,” said Rishi Alwani, a long-time analyst of Indian gaming market and publisher of news outlet the Mako Reactor.

An executive who works at one of the top fantasy sports startups in India, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that despite handing out cash rewards to thousands of users each day, it is still challenging to retain customers after the conclusion of any popular cricket tournament. “And that’s after you have somehow convinced them to visit your website or download the app,” he said.

For ShareChat, which has been exploring ways to monetize its 60 million-plus users and posted a loss of about $58 million on no revenue in the financial year ending March 31, that’s anything but music to the ears. In recent months, the startup, which serves users in more than a dozen local languages, has been experimenting with ads. ShareChat has raised about $223 million to date.



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The Meta, a training platform for gamers, builds on Kovaak’s FPS Aim Trainer – TechCrunch

As esports grows and creates opportunities for gamers to level up to the pro or streamer level, there is still a huge barrier in the way. There is not a wealth of training options for gamers. If you can’t get better within the environment of the game itself, then you’ve peaked. Practice makes perfect, but what if there’s no such thing as practice?

The Meta is looking to change that with the launch of a new training platform that builds off the success of Kovaak’s FPS Aim Trainer. Kovaak is a former Quake pro, known for his hyper-accurate aim, who built Kovaak’s FPS Aim Trainer out of personal need. He wanted a way to grind out his mechanical aiming skills, and built out various scenarios across 10+ major titles to practice.

The Meta co-founders Duncan Haberly, Jay Brown, and Chris Olson had been working on their own training platform that focuses on guided trainings around specific skills, with physics and gun mechanics identical to popular titles, to let gamers learn from their mistakes and train better habits.

After the two esports entrepreneurial teams met, they decided to join forces and offer what they believe to be the ultimate training tool.

It’s comprised of two parts. The first is The Meta’s self-guided training platform, with various branches that focus on a different skill set in FPS gaming. The second is Kovaak’s Sandbox, the aim trainer that lets users test the skills they’ve learned by playing through more than 2,600 user-generated scenarios.

For now, The Meta-guided training focuses on flicking (otherwise known as click timing), with plans to introduce tracking and scoping skill branches soon. The self-guided training side of the platform feeds users insights about their deficiencies — maybe they tend to miss their shots when enemies are in the upper-left quadrant of the screen — so they can dedicate time and energy to improving that part of their game in the aim trainer.

The Meta is available on Steam for PC players, with plans to launch for consoles in the future.

The flicking trainer has more than 40 sub-levels, with support for Overwatch and Fortnite. Kovaak’s Sandbox, as the FPS Aim Trainer is now known, has more than 2,600 user-created scenarios, and supports titles like Overwatch, Fortnite, Quake, Call of Duty, Apex Legends, Paladins, CS:GO, Battlefield and Rainbow 6.

The Meta is $9.99 as a single-time payment, and the company says it’s currently averaging 20,000 units sold per month. The gaming startup has raised $2.5 million in funding from investors like Village Global, Canaan Beta Fund, Courtside VC, AET Fund (Akatsuki Entertainment Technology), betaworks and GFR Fund (GREE).

There is movement in the esports space around training and improvement. In 2018, Epic Games introduced Playground Mode to allow players a chance to experience the Fortnite environment without dropping in alongside 99 other gamers. PlayVS, the startup looking to take the esports infrastructure to the high school and college level, is investing heavily in data, reporting stats and analysis to players, coaches, fans and recruiters. StateSpace, a direct competitor to The Meta with $4 million in funding, uses neuroscience to help gamers train, hoping to create a standardized metric by which gamers’ skills can be measured.

Esports is growing across almost every metric, from viewership to awareness to revenue, and with that, we can only expect to see more startups dive into the space and stake their claim.

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Nvidia officially launches cloud gaming service GeForce Now for $5 per month – TechCrunch

After a lengthy beta phase, Nvidia is launching its cloud gaming service GeForce Now. Unlike Google’s Stadia, GeForce Now isn’t trying to build a console-like experience with its own lineup of games. Nvidia connects with your Steam, Epic or Battle.net account so you can play games you purchased on those third-party platforms. It works a bit more like Shadow, for instance.

But GeForce Now isn’t a free service. Customers basically rent a gaming PC in a data center near them. Right now, it costs $5 per month to access the Founders edition, which lets you play whenever you want and for as long as you want. But the company says that it plans to raise the subscription fee at some point.

You can try the service by creating a free account, as well. If there are too many people connected to the service, you may have to wait to launch a game. You’re also limited to one-hour sessions and less powerful hardware.

You’ll have to download an app that works on macOS, Windows and Android devices, including the Nvidia Shield TV. GeForce Now isn’t available from anywhere in the world, as you have to be near a data center to reduce latency. The company currently has nine data centers in the U.S., five in Europe, one in Korea and two in Japan.

Nvidia is optimizing games for the platform one at a time. So it’s possible that you own a game but that it doesn’t appear in the list of compatible games. Yes, that’s a long list of restrictions. But it could be the future of gaming, maybe.

Behind the scene, the company uses Nvidia graphics cards (duh) that support ray tracing. Nvidia doesn’t share more details beyond that. I’d recommend testing the service with a free account first to see if your connection is stable enough to support game streaming.

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VCs hunt for platform opportunities in ‘hyper-casual’ gaming – TechCrunch

There are billions of gamers on the planet, and even as gaming consoles and devices grow more powerful, there’s a good deal of investor attention being paid to so-called “hyper-casual” games that likely could have shipped on decades-old hardware.

Simplicity has never been something to take for granted in game design, but as design tools have gotten easier to use, a larger group of game creators has entered the fray. Many popular games have introduced “creator modes” to whet user appetites, but this has emerged alongside the introduction of dedicated tool that enable amateur developers to become miniature studios.

This past week, I chatted with David Lau-Kee, general partner at London Venture Partners, about opportunities in the game development industry for less-experienced game creators to build titles that find an audience. His firm closed an $80 million fund last September to invest in early-stage gaming startups.

“[Hyper-casual] is a very elegant trend in the demographics of getting games into the hands of people who weren’t traditional gamers who want very low on-boarding so they can get straight into the game,” Lau-Kee says. “The challenge with that for us is that, you know, as a developer in hyper-casual games, you can have a great business, but it might not be a VC-investable opportunity.”

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