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GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 40


U.S. judge halts Trump administration’s order to remove WeChat from app stores (link)

  • A U.S. judge early Sunday blocked the Trump administration from requiring Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to remove Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for downloads by late Sunday
  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco said in an order that WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor.”
  • Based on news sources, Tencent separately submits settlement proposal to the US, including the following measures:
    • Create a US version of WeChat app for only US WeChat users
    • Set up relevant measures to ensure the security of the source code
    • Store US WeChat user’s data in the cloud provided by the US company
    • The US version of WeChat will be managed by a newly established US company with corporate management structure approved by the US government
    • The source code of the US version WeChat will be submitted to a third-party independent regulatory agency for review (to prevent possible “backdoors”)
    • Build a regular data audit and data transmission notification system for the US version of WeChat
    • Establish a strict data management system to restrict company personnel from accessing user information

Tencent’s Gaming Stakes Draw U.S. National Security Scrutiny (link)

  • According to Bloomberg, the Trump administration has asked gaming companies to provide information about their data-security protocols involving Chinese technology giant Tencent 
  • The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which is chaired by the Treasury Department, has sent letters to companies, including Epic Games Inc., Riot Games and others, to inquire about their security protocols in handling Americans’ personal data

Scopely’s Marvel Strike Force leads the way in US RPG boom (link)

  • Mobile RPGs have seen a surge in player spending in the US as the sector hit $2 billion in the first eight months of 2020, representing a 33% YoY increase according to Sensor Tower
  • The most lucrative title proved to be Scopely’s squad RPG Marvel Strike Force, generating around $144 million

Zynga launches Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells (link)

  • The game uses mechanics of titles like Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga, but the team spent a couple of years refining it and building the lore and magic of the world of Harry Potter into the game, said creative director Mark Turmell in an interview with GamesBeat
  • Rather than putting a brand name on a generic game, San Francisco-based Zynga set one of its biggest teams ever on making a game that incorporated a lot of the world created by author J.K. Rowling’s books and the Warner Bros. films

Blizzard cofounder Mike Morhaime launches new gaming endeavor Dreamhaven (link)

  • Mike Morhaime, the cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, has launched a new game company called Dreamhaven, and it has established two new game studios: Moonshot and Secret Door
  • So far, the company has 27 employees across all three entities, and it’s hiring more staff. The artwork on the company’s homepage combines aspects of both fantasy and science fiction, but the company isn’t yet saying what games it is working on, nor is it talking about genres. But it is working on a familiar model, as it closely resembles the way Morhaime ran things at Blizzard, with an emphasis on quality, iteration, and giving creative staff enough time

Amazon Luna cloud gaming service launches with support for iOS (link)

  • Amazon revealed the Amazon Luna streaming platform, which enables Amazon-device owners to play games on their connected TVs from a remote server. This includes Amazon’s Fire TV, but it also works with PC and Mac
  • Amazon also built a web app to ensure that Luna can work on iOS outside of the confines of the Apple App Store. This separates it from Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which are trying to launch apps on iPhone and iPad. Android support is coming later

Facebook takes a shot at Apple over stance on paid online events for game creators (link)

  • In August, Facebook introduced paid online events. Facebook said it would not collect any fees from these paid online events for at least a year. On Android and the web, it instituted that policy so small businesses could keep 100% of the revenue. But on iOS, Facebook asked Apple to eliminate its “30% App Store tax” or allow Facebook to offer Facebook Pay so Facebook could absorb all the costs. Apple declined to do so, and Facebook pointed this out
  • Upon deliberation, Apple changed its mind, saying that it would waive the 30% App Store fee for the remaining three months of 2020, allowing businesses to keep all of their paid online event earnings (minus taxes) until December 31. Facebook Pay will process all of the event purchases

ROBLOX stages a virtual concert with Ava Max (link)

  • The event is a new way of expanding the entertainment in ROBLOX, a virtual gaming world with more than 150 million players, who play do-it-yourself games and learn programming on the side
  • The “album release party” was held on Friday inside a concert venue inside ROBLOX. Ava’s Launch Party Place was created by Atlantic Records and Artist Partner Group, in partnership with a top ROBLOX developer

M&A and Capital Raising

Epic Games acquires kid tech platform SuperAwesome (link)

  • Epic Games has announced the acquisition of SuperAwesome, a pioneer in the “kid tech” market that provides children with what it says are safe digital experiences and age-appropriate advertising. Terms of the deal were not disclosed
  • SuperAwesome’s “kid tech” infrastructure sees use from more than 300 companies, including Mattel, Disney, Hasbro, and Lego. SuperAwesome says it has defined the digital standards that keep more than half a billion children anonymous when they’re engaging with online games and videos

Playco raises $100 million at $1 billion valuation for instant games across platforms (link)

  • Playco is targeting platforms such as cloud streaming, Google Play Instant, iOS App Clips, Facebook Instant Games, and Snapchat Minis. Playco will make games, provide the backend infrastructure and analytics, and distribute the games across a number of instant game platforms
  • Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Mino Games founder Josh Buckley led the round, with participation from Sozo Ventures, Raymond Tonsing’s Caffeinated Capital, Keisuke Honda’s KSK Angel Fund, Taizo Son’s Mistletoe Singapore, Digital Garage, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, and Makers Fund

Mobile Premier League raises $90 million in Series C funding (link)

  • Bangalore-based esports and mobile games platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) has Raised $90 million in a Series C funding round
  • As reported by TechCrunch, the investment was led by RTP Global – an early-stage investor – and MDI Ventures. Further participation came in the form of Sequoia India, Go-Ventures and Base Partners, all of which were current investors
  • Overall, the company has raised $130.5 million, $35.5 million of which was generated via Series A funding back in April 2019

Epic Games invests $15 million in DIY game startup Manticore Games (link)

  • Manticore Games has raised $15 million in a round of funding led by Epic Games as the two companies further pursue their mission of creating an endless gaming multiverse, or metaverse


Ryu Games is launching its own games tournament platform to compete with Skillz (link)

  • San Francisco-based startup Ryu Games is launching a gaming cash tournament SDK
  • At launch, Ryu’s SDK will feature 15 games from a variety of genres

Playdemic is bringing The Ryder Cup to Golf Clash (link)

  • Playdemic has teamed up with the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe to bring The Ryder Cup to Golf Clash players
  • As part of the partnership, the competition will be featured in-game via tournaments and exclusive items, such as a Ryder Cup ball

InnerSloth cancels Among Us sequel to focus on original (link)

  • InnerSloth has decided to cancel its plans for a sequel to its online multiplayer party game Among Us
  • As detailed in a blog post, the company has decided to put all of its focus into Among Us, which recently exceeded 86 million downloads following an impressive spike in installs last month

Fortnite to host hit boy band BTS (link)

  • Fortnite will host South Korean boy band BTS in its Party Royale mode
  • Earlier this year, Epic teamed up with US Rapper Travis Scott, as the artist performed an in-game concert in Fortnite

ROBLOX welcomes Andrea Wong to its board of directors (link)

  • Most recently, Wong served as the president of international at Sony, which involved her overseeing 18 production companies as part of Sony Pictures Television. Before her time with Sony, Wong was the president and CEO at Lifetime Networks

Gaming Public Multiples

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