Governor Andrew Cuomo (Getty)New York City will enter phase two of reopening on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in his last daily briefing Friday.“All regions of the state have lower infection rates, and the state experts have gone over all the data, and they will allow New York City to begin phase two on Monday,” Cuomo said. “We reopened the economy and we saved lives, because it was never a choice between one or the other — it was always right to do both.”Phase one currently only allows curbside and in-store pickup for retailers, along with the construction, agriculture, manufacturing and wholesale trading industries being able to resume work. The second phase permits outdoor eating at restaurants and allows offices, hair salons and retail stores to reopen at 50 percent capacity. Many retailers are looking forward to phase two because it will allow in-store shopping to resume.Housing court will also reopen on Monday, widespread confusion remains over what that means for both tenants and landlords, due to conflicting guidance issued by the courts and Cuomo. The governor’s final daily coronavirus briefing did not include a question-and-answer portion. TagsCoronavirusHousing CourtRetail Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Macy’s Herald Square at 151 West 34th Street Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette (Getty)Macy’s eliminated thousands of jobs this week in another sign of the retail sector’s struggles, as companies work to emerge from the coronavirus lockdowns.The department store chain cut about 3,900 corporate and management jobs, which is expected to save $365 million this year and $630 million a year going forward, according to Bloomberg. The move came as it has also been reopening hundreds of locations across the country.“We know that we will be a smaller company for the foreseeable future, and our cost base will continue to reflect that moving forward,” CEO Jeff Gennette said, according to the report.Retail — particularly brick-and-mortar stores — has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Macy’s closed all of its locations on March 18 and furloughed most of its employees that month. But even before stay-at-home orders kept shoppers home, retail had been battered by changing consumer habits, namely the shift to online buying.As lockdown orders lifted, Macy’s announced plans for all of its 775 stores to reopen. It also reported stronger sales than expected — although its performance still lagged far behind last year. Macy’s reported a preliminary loss of $652 million for the three months ending on May 2, compared to a $136 million profit during the same period in 2019. Before making that announcement, the retailer said it had secured a new $4.5 billion financing package to help with debt obligations and operating costs. [Bloomberg] — Georgia Kromrei Share via Shortlink TagsCoronavirusretail sector
Valve wipes user reviews over free Steam keysRosePortal Games paid a high price for swapping game access for community reviewsMatthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefThursday 1st October 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleRosePortal GamesValve has wiped all Steam user reviews from RosePortal Games’ Epic Quest of the 4 Crystals, after it was discovered that the studio had offered free keys to incentivise its players.The “promotion” started on September 25, and an official response to the practice was posted yesterday. According to Valve, RosePortal’s actions represented a “manipulation” of the user review system, which plays a significant role in games being discovered on Steam’s increasingly crowded storefront.”Unfortunately, we cannot tell which reviews were manipulated in this way,” Valve continued. “To preserve the integrity of user reviews on the product, we’re deleting all user reviews to date. If you wish to repost your review, we welcome you to do so. We’ve emailed all affected customers and included a copy of their user review.”Advertising laws in many countries require you to disclose any compensation for your review. If you received anything from a publisher or developer in exchange for a user review please say so in your review.”Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Valve has modified its policies around user reviews over the last year, largely as a response to its own community-focused strategy. In October last year, for example, the introduction of the Steam Discovery Update prompted this clarification on the responsibility of Curators:”If you’ve accepted money or other compensation for making a product review or for posting a recommendation, you must disclose this fact in your recommendation.”Thanks Kotaku.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 8 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 10 hours agoLatest comments (3)Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend5 years ago Review/chart manipulation seems to be a staple marketing technique used in mobile these days, I would estimate there are way more cases of this on Steam than they are aware of.If I had a pound for every email I get offering 1000 5star reviews on ios, android, steam, I am sure I would be rich! 😀 Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 1st October 2015 10:15am 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyDragos-Florin Stanculescu CEO & Co Founder, Holotech Studios5 years ago I trust there is a fair amount of undisclosed advertising that is going on in the YouTube space (and similar) as well, not as much from top YouTubers (as one might think) but from some small or medium ones instead.We’ve been approached (as a company) by medium sized YouTubers that typically do Let’s Plays saying “hey if I’m using your program I’m advertising it to my audience, so you should be paying me – not to mention giving it to me for free” . At which point we said “Are you willing to disclose to your users that what you are doing is in fact an advertorial, for which you have received payment (and a free full license of the program)?”. And a surprising number of them said something like :“Not exactly, I’m just making my usual videos but also use your program.” And when we replied: “We’d love to collaborate on advertising (i.e: pay you, or offer other advantages), but if we do that you must clearly disclose that fact to your viewers. Otherwise you are taking advantage of their trust.” Quite a few of them were surprised by this stance, as they were accustomed to receive advantages for the promise of some form of undisclosed advertising on their part, and they didn’t see it as being morally/ethically wrong; ( some of them even got angry and called us stupid and greedy ).An interesting aspect is that the large and the top YouTubers that have actually covered our software have made their videos without contacting us or without requesting anything from us (in fact we only found out about those videos after they were already posted- they didn’t even ask us for a review copy, which we would have been happy to provide upon request) . In our experience, all large/top tier YouTubers that we’ve come in contact with were quite professional/ethical in this regard, while at the other end of the spectrum, among the medium/small ones, there were quite a few of those who would ignore the ethics/morals for a small financial advantage. Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dragos-Florin Stanculescu on 1st October 2015 2:54pm 5Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyGreg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. 5 years ago @Barrie: We’re supposed to note in reviews if a game code or retail copy was received from a developer or publisher. Most sites should note this at the bottom of the review (or even in the review proper). But as I note in my stock answer to the occasional query I get from a reader or three about the practice, a free game isn’t a “good” game because it wasn’t paid for.
Oculus and Jason Rubin: We’re re-learning the language of game makingFrom Crash Bandicoot to the cutting edge of virtual realityRachel WeberSenior EditorWednesday 14th October 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleOculus VROculus VR Inc.Jason Rubin was a star hire for Oculus VR last June, bringing a wealth of top-level games experience to Facebook’s acquisition. He founded Naughty Dog, created and sold Flektor and even managed to give a dying THQ dignity in its final months and now, he told GamesIndustry.biz, working in virtual reality is making him feel 20 years old again.As head of worldwide studios, Rubin oversees first and second party studios as they create the games and applications that will define the launch of the Rift headset. No pressure then. Rubin, however, is clearly thriving on the challenge. Here, he shares his insights into the challenges developers face, the potential for the system and why you should get on board now.Q:You have a long history in development. I wondered if you had any misconceptions when you first tried VR or first looked at VR development?Jason Rubin:”I had two thoughts which were exactly opposite of each other. I thought one or the other would pan out. The first was that the scientists kept saying you couldn’t do any camera movement whatsoever. You had to stick to very strict rules otherwise people wouldn’t be comfortable. That was going to be a challenge. “The other side of the coin was my game development background which said ‘We’ll figure out a way to get around all this. There’s got to be some trick.’ What it’s turned out to be is a mixture of both of them. You really do have to respect the science, but around the science you can bend the edges a lot. I gave the example of the sniper rifle. Scientists told me you can’t zoom in, well you can. They say that you can’t move a camera quickly. We do it in hockey, no one notices because your feeling of impact. If we do that over a longer period of time, people won’t like it. It really accentuates what we’re doing.”You really do have to respect the science, but around the science you can bend the edges a lot” “We’re kind of re-learning the language of game making. Just like when you’re given a video camera the first time, or a movie camera. Then the assistant disappears and they stop the camera and everyone went ‘whoop.’ We’re at that moment with VR right now. Everything’s incredibly cool and interesting, but we’re going to have to get to the point where we actually can make real movies. We actually can make real stories, and we can actually make real games that are compelling. Getting there is going to be re-learning that language. It’s going to be a balance of respecting the science and testing.”Q:And how are you finding the development process differs for VR games? Are elements like QA more time consuming?Jason Rubin:”The QA process and the testing process for the most part are very similar if you’re making games. Because games are games, you can break them in the same way as you used to. The comfort testing process is new and different. That requires a certain rigour and a certain acceptance of the data above instinct. That’s been a little hard for some of our developers to come to grips with. “For example, as a game maker, you get told ‘that won’t be fun’. There were times where I was told that making the games I was making where I said ‘To hell with your data, I’m an artist. People will love it.’ More often than not I was right. Sometimes I was wrong, but more often than not I was right. Going against the data in comfort is not the same. The data rules. So getting our developers to respect the data in that sense has been slightly different. Once they get past that, it’s just another process of testing. Is this comfortable? No. Don’t do it, come up with a different solution.”Q:In terms of acclimatization for the audience, do the launch apps need to be gentler compared to what’s going to come out a year later? Because the audience needs to understand and acclimatize to VR?Jason Rubin:”I think we as a company believe in comfort. That comes from our CEO, that comes from Facebook as well. We want to create a comfortable experience. So we are focusing on comfort. Where we go in the long run, is going to be an interesting question. Out of the gate, we’re going to focus on comfort. I also think that technology will improve. That helps a lot. We’re at ninety frames a second right now. It’s better if we’re at one hundred and twenty, it’s better if we’re at two hundred and forty. We have certain types of screens, it’s better if we have different types of screens. The technology is know, we know how to take the next comfort step in terms of the tech. It just takes a while to get there price point wise. So technology will get better. “Development technology will get better. Developers will understand what they can do and what they can’t do. They’ll just get that. Then acclimatization will also be in existence. Exactly the same function happened in first person shooters. John Carmack works at Oculus. When he started working on his first first-person shooter, it wasn’t 3D. That was Wolfenstein. His second one Doom we can argue about whether it’s 3D, but it made a lot of people uncomfortable. There were articles written at the time how first-person shooters would never work. Now if you play a Call of Duty game, they’re shaking you, you see your hands, you jump across the hood of a car, your feet come up on screen, and they’re doing all these absolutely insane things. It totally works for the vast majority of people. That’s development technology. “So we have tech for the hardware. We have software tech, and then there’s acclimatization. Between those three things I’m pretty confident that VR is going to be very broad.””It is the biggest challenge VR has. Putting one on everyone’s head” Q:There’s a widely held belief that VR is a short session experience, where has that idea come from? Is it just that the demos on offer so far have been quite brief?Jason Rubin:”Part of it is that. It takes a long time to create something compelling. We haven’t had a long time to do develop. Oculus went on a journey from barely acceptable technology, to what I now think is very comfortable acceptable technology to launch. In that time frame we went across, for example, DK1 our first development kit. It was great for development, but was not a consumer product. We did not launch it to the public. You know after a little while you’re like ‘I’m done with it.’ Is not ever launch-able. But if you extrapolate from that experience and don’t know where the future is going, you might say something along the lines of ‘I can only be in VR for so long.’ I think that became a meme out of that period. “People who are now trying VR in the day and age of Rift are having no problem and aren’t saying that. Again, it depends on the experience. I can only take a roller coaster for so long. I’m not going to be on a half hour roller coaster ride. You’re good for three to five minutes, right? So it depends on the experience you’re doing. Again, when it comes to things like Toy Box, I believe people will be in there for longer sessions. I think the long term VR potential, once you get past the current technology to what we know is coming, is going to be much longer sessions.””It doesn’t matter what it will cost. If it costs too much this week it will cost the right amount a year from now” Q:People just need to actually try the experience…Jason Rubin:”It is the biggest challenge VR has. Putting one on everyone’s head. Because as soon as you do that it sells itself. You can’t easily put it on everyone’s head. Showing somebody VR through a trailer is the worst way of explaining the difference between the games that they’re already used to and the future. So it is absolutely a challenge. What we’ve found is everybody that uses it. Or everyone that has one shows their friends. As we finally release a large number of units into the wild we think that it will expand on out. It really does sell itself.”Q:And to developers too, so many are dropping everything to work on to run to a new device where no price has been announced for the unit, no one has any idea what the games are going to cost, no one has any idea of what the install base is going to be at first.Jason Rubin:”Because this is one of those technologies where you put it on and you go ‘This is just going to work.’ It doesn’t matter what it will cost. If it costs too much this week it will cost the right amount a year from now. It will get to the price where it works because that’s the way tech works. We’ve seen that. Who cares how much the games are when they launch. It’s going to work itself out. People will pay for content what they feel is a fair amount to pay for content. So based on how good the content is, we’ll set prices, it all works out. “It’s one of those things that its just kind of a foregone conclusion. I don’t know how we’re going to get there but I do know we’re going to get there.”Q:And as you mentioned in your talk it’s better to be in early and have the time to try and fail a few times…Jason Rubin:”It took Naughty Dog ten years to get to Crash Bandicoot. First, I was in high school, I was in college so I wasn’t exactly doing it as a full time job but I was learning. Crash made my career. I don’t have to work, I work because I love what I’m doing. We’re in that moment where somebody who cares about long term doing well, this is the education. If you care about next week striking it rich, maybe VR isn’t the place for you. You may regret that, because it’s hard to catch up.”” If you care about next week striking it rich, maybe VR isn’t the place for you” Q:So when it comes to your role have you been approaching developers about working on Rift or are they all coming to you?Jason Rubin:”In some cases we’ve gone to developers and said, ‘You’re really good at this, please try to make it.’ In other cases, games that developers are good at making don’t translate well. As good as they are at what they do, it’s hard to walk in and ask them to change everything when they have established brands, successful franchises, and a rabid fan base that’s asking them when the next one is coming out. That’s an opportunity. For example, we know that first-person shooters are popular things to do. People love them. The first person shooter as popularized by Battlefield, Call of Duty, does not work in VR. It does not make you feel comfortable.”So there’s a huge opportunity for studios that are good at making first person shooters, but aren’t married to some sort of cycle of repeating their property to jump in to VR and create something new. We’re seeing a lot of studios that are interested in doing that. We’re working with, we’ve announced we’re working with 4A, that’s a first person shooter company. There are other first-person shooter companies that we’re working with, and they’re all excited to try to figure it out before the big guys do. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Q:Do you think we’ll start to see whole new genres?Jason Rubin:”Absolutely. That’s the hardest part of my Job. You walk in and they say, ‘You’ve got a year to get the games out. We are going to launch this thing on time, we’ve got to get things going. By the way, VR is totally different and we’d like to see something we’ve never seen before.’ It’s easy to port, it’s easy to try to take established genres and try to make them work. The hardest thing is saying, what have we never seen before. If we don’t know it will work, figure out if we can get this to happen. So I think that will be second generation. “Imagine when Apple launched the app store. Do you think anyone said, this is going to kill taxi cabs. It took years for Uber to come out. I think VR is going to be the same way. Right now, Yay, we’re playing games and they’re amazing games and it’s awesome. Five years from now someone’s going to go who knew that this was going to totally revolutionize, fill in the blank. We have no idea what that’s going to be.” Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The VR & AR newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesOculus halts headset sales in GermanyFacebook says it’s a temporary move and will continue supporting existing owners in the countryBy Brendan Sinclair 8 months agoSony reportedly increasing PS5 production to 10m units by 2021Meanwhile, Facebook said to be ramping up manufacturing for Oculus devicesBy James Batchelor 9 months agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Tesco games exec joins ActivisionJon Hayes new channel controller at COD publisher Rachel WeberSenior EditorThursday 28th January 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleActivision BlizzardActivision PublishingJon Hayes is swapping supermarkets for shooters, leaving his role as category buying manager and head of games at Tesco and joining publisher Activision as channel controller.”I’d like to thank Jon for his years of dedication in developing the games proposition at Tesco,” Tesco’s Mark Green told MCV.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games “He consistently grew our share. His passion for games and the games market is clear, and he has not just delivered for Tesco but has focused on growing and developing the gaming market for the benefit of our industry.Hayes joined Tesco in July 2011 and prior to that spent seven years as games campaign and hardware manager and then commercial manager at HMV. If you have jobs news to share or a new hire you want to shout about, please contact us on [email protected] employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesActivision Blizzard wins patent lawsuit after nine yearsThe judge ruled that the patents were “not inventions” of Worlds Incorporated, which was suing for infringementBy Marie Dealessandri 6 days agoCall of Duty, King push Activision Blizzard to record Q1 revenuesPublisher’s revenues jump 27% to $2.28 billion as Call of Duty Mobile’s Chinese debut helps drive Activision division sales up 72% year-over-yearBy Brendan Sinclair 7 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Destiny creative lead resigns from BungieStory specialist CJ Cowan started at the company with Halo 2, has worked on Destiny since 2009Matthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefFriday 8th April 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleBungieRelated JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games CJ Cowan, the story lead on the multiplayer shooter Destiny, has left Bungie after 13 years at the company.Cowan’s first job in the games industry was at Interplay, which he joined in 1999 as lead animator. From there he joined Bungie in 2003, where his first role was cinematic designer on Halo 2. He then ascended to director of cinematics for Halo 3, Halo: ODST and Halo: Reach, before moving on to Destiny back in 2009.When Cowan resigned last week, his title was “creative lead, story,” a position he had held since November 2015.After 13 years, I decided to part ways with Bungie yesterday. How am I just now realizing â€¦ https://t.co/lLIkKJVDImpic.twitter.com/IKlhMpJd9H— CJ Cowan (@stormincow) April 2, 2016
Which game companies could be using slave labor?Conflict mineral disclosures show Sony is lax about where/how it gets its materials, while Apple sets the standard for maintaining an ethical supply chainRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterWednesday 27th June 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareEarlier this month, publicly traded companies in the United States filed reports on their use of conflict minerals with the Securities and Exchange Commission. This included companies that manufacture electronics and gaming hardware, products that use certain minerals found abundantly in conflict zones in Africa that may have been mined and sold to fund said conflict.We’ve covered conflict minerals in past years and found that generally, since reporting laws were put in place, major companies such as Microsoft, Apple, Activision, Facebook, and Sony have done their part to reduce or eliminate the chances that your Oculus Rift or Skylanders figurine was partially the product of and/or financed a human rights violation. The 2017 reports show a mostly steady continuation of conflict-free sourcing, though with a bit of backsliding on the reporting aspects from a few companies.What are conflict minerals?Conflict minerals is a blanket term for minerals mined in conflict zones around the world that are then sold to fund continued fighting. These minerals are a source of concern not only due to the potential to fund armed conflict, but also due to frequent human rights abuses perpetuated as a part of the mining process (slave labor among them) and as a result of the conflict itself. The four most common of these–tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold–are collectively referred to as 3TG and are present in many items we purchase regularly, including electronics such as gaming hardware.High demand for these minerals necessitates mining operations all over the world, but a large quantity of these minerals (especially gold) can be found in and around the Democratic Republic of Congo. There, many mining operations are run by armed factions using slave labor to produce the minerals, which are then sold to fund continued conflict in the region.Given that it would be virtually impossible for your average person buying an Xbox One to determine if some part of it had funded armed conflict in Africa, the responsibility to ensure ethical sourcing falls on the companies manufacturing these products. This can be a tricky business, as supply chains have multiple layers: companies get these products from suppliers, who in turn acquire them from smelters or refiners (SORs). Those SORs historically haven’t always responded to their clients’ inquiries (usually via surveys) asking them where the minerals came from, and will sometimes ignore or refuse third-party audits that would certify them (or not) to be conflict-free.Whether or not to work with suppliers using SORs that are not certified or unresponsive is entirely at the discretion of the companies, but legally they must make good-faith efforts to determine the sourcing and report on their findings. In the United States, this information is required to be reported annually under regulations imposed by the Dodd-Frank Act. Similar regulations will take effect in the EU in 2021.What’s going on with Dodd-Frank?The Dodd-Frank Act is a many-faceted thing, but one of its components requires publicly traded US companies to file a report each year detailing, to the best of their knowledge, the status of their supply chains and the sourcing of those minerals.If the name “Dodd-Frank” is setting off alarm bells, you don’t have anything to worry about (at least as far as conflict minerals are concerned) just yet. Earlier this year, the US Senate passed the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, which negated some portions of Dodd-Frank and exempted certain US banks from its regulations. Though a total repeal of Dodd-Frank was discussed at the time, the conflict minerals reporting requirements remain in place for now.So, how is the gaming industry doing on conflict minerals?Our investigation of past conflict minerals reports encompassed Microsoft, Activision-Blizzard, Apple, Facebook (Oculus products), and Sony. We also have covered Nintendo’s public disclosures on conflict minerals, though since it is not publicly traded in the US, it isn’t required to file the report. Checking back in with these companies for 2017, it seems as though most are holding steady on their past improvements ensuring that all or almost all of their suppliers are verifiably sourcing minerals from ethical SORs.AppleApple is easily the best of the lot, and worthy of commendation for an abrupt initial turnaround and consistency ever since. In 2014, only 135 of its 225 SORs were certified as conflict-free. The following year, of 242 SORs, every single one participated in the survey and was certified as conflict-free. The company’s 100% survey completion continued into 2017 for a third year running, with 250 suppliers responding. In fact, last year Apple simply removed 10 suppliers who refused to participate in a third-party audit by a given deadline.The results of those audits were equally positive. Of the 40 SORs sourcing 3TGs in or near the Democratic Republic of Congo, audits did not find any to have directly or indirectly benefited armed groups.Apple’s stellar record for three years running caused it to be named the world’s top company for responsible sourcing of conflict minerals by the Enough Project, a non-profit that works to put a stop to conflict and human rights violations in Africa’s conflict zones. Apple scored an impressive 102% on Enough’s assessment, garnering bonus points for donations made to the Conflict Free Smelter Program Initial Audit Fund, and for going above and beyond following up on reports of possible human rights violations within its own supply chain.Image Credit: Enough ProjectAccording to the survey, Apple ensured such reports were investigated, monitored, and addressed through measures such as arresting and prosecuting violators, repaying miners or their families for damages, closing mines, and making changes to ensure miner health and safety. As we’ll see, some other gaming companies did not do quite so well in the rankings.FacebookFacebook follows Apple in the realm of pleasant news. Last year was the first year the company filed a report with the launch of Oculus products, and in that first year, a near-perfect 134 of its 135 SORs were certified to be conflict-free. Its one remaining operation was in the process of being certified.One year later and with an increased 192 SORs to keep track of, all reported back and were certified conflict-free. Though Facebook has an excellent track record so far, it was not included in Enough’s rankings, which only span the 20 companies from consumer electronics and jewelry that are the largest end-users of 3TGs.Activision BlizzardActivision Blizzard’s electronics production operations have shrunk considerably lately, which makes it all the more frustrating to see it stumble ever since it managed to fully identify its entire chain of 16 suppliers in 2014. In 2017, the company sent out a survey to 10 suppliers it identified as possibly using 3TGs in its products. Nine were returned; Activision Blizzard was unable to confirm whether or not the 10th uses 3TGs at all, much less the origins if it does.Of the nine suppliers who replied, two were identified as using 3TGs for products such as Skylanders, certain Destiny electronic products, and BlizzCon pins in 2017. The two suppliers combined to identify three SORs providing the 3TGs for the company. At the time of the filing, all three were certified compliant. However, Activision Blizzard’s report notes that in March of 2018, one of the refiners had its certification lapse and its renewal status is now unknown. How that particular wrinkle will shake out likely won’t be apparent until next year’s report.MicrosoftMicrosoft’s supply chain is one of the largest and most complex of any that we report on, which complicates their task while simultaneously making it far more crucial for them to get it right. Last year, Microsoft had a 99% survey return from its 252 suppliers, with 249 of its 303 SORs certified conflict free. Not bad; better than previous years, but there was still room for improvement. So how did it do in 2017?Survey return was down, for one, but only to 98% so it’s not a heinous falloff even if not ideal. That said, Microsoft didn’t move much in terms of conflict-free sourcing. Of 306 SORs (three more than last year), only 252 were certified conflict-free (also three more than last year). Essentially, nothing has changed.Earlier, we mentioned Enough’s company rankings for ethical sourcing of conflict minerals. It’s a testament to the status of current conflict mineral sourcing that Microsoft’s lack of movement in 2017 still netted it a spot in the “best” column, albeit near the bottom with a score of 61% on Enough’s survey.SonySony continued a frustrating trend from previous years of providing very vague information on all counts, including a refusal to say how many of its surveys were actually completed and returned. This trend that is even more exasperating when you look at its due diligence report. The company mentions that its survey response was improved from previous years, though we have no idea by how much or what that actually means. However, Sony did tell Enough that it had a survey return rate this year between 80% and 89%.Though every company has such a report as part of their filing in which it lists the known risks involved with the survey, Sony’s was by far the busiest list, including acknowledgments of its suppliers’ “failure to adopt a conflict-free sourcing policy” and its own “failure to encourage SORs to participate” in the certification process. Sony does list a plan for remediation in its report that includes measures such as cancelling contracts of non-compliant suppliers or gradually ending business relationships, but based on the wording of the report, it has only gone so far as to contemplate these measures in the last few years.The only direct action the report reveals Sony has taken is to send a letter to the suppliers to ask them to become compliant and complete the survey. Sony says that this has improved the return rate of surveys (by how much is unknown) and since that was deemed “effective,” Sony will continue that approach.With Sony’s non-committal data, it’s tough to say exactly how conflict-free Sony products actually are. Of 311 identified SORs, 261 were reported as either certified conflict-free…or undergoing the audit process. The breakdown of this is unknown, and the remaining 50 SORs were neither validated nor undergoing an audit to become validated.With this little information and a dismissive due diligence policy, it’s no wonder that Enough’s conflict minerals company rankings have Sony in the “worst” category. Sony only earned about 28% of the possible points in Enough’s survey, and were among the worst tech companies assessed, beating only Samsung (15%) and Toshiba (8%)NintendoSince Nintendo is not publicly traded in the United States, it is not required to report on its conflict minerals sourcing. However, in 2016, the company was refreshingly transparent on the issue via its Corporate Social Responsibility Report, with all of Nintendo’s suppliers for the previous year (2015) responding to the survey. 72% of its 309 SOR supply chain was certified conflict-free at the time, and a further 7% were in the midst of the audit process. That was a drastic improvement from its depressing 47% conflict-free certification percentage in 2014.Despite a positive continuation of a 100% survey response, Nintendo unfortunately budged very little on conflict-free sourcing the following year. 242 of its 329 identified SORs were certified conflict-free, only a 2% increase from the previous year. 10 more were on the “Active” list, indicating they were currently undergoing an audit or were participating in another certification program. Nintendo has not yet published its 2017 report yet, so it is uncertain at the moment if the company was able to improve its certification numbers further. Its Japanese report is expected to be published tomorrow, with an English version following at the end of July.In the meantime, Nintendo provided GamesIndustry.biz with an official statement on its progress toward conflict-free sourcing:Nintendo takes its social responsibility as a global company very seriously. We have an unequivocal policy banning the use of conflict minerals in any of our products, and expect our production partners to do the same. Because Nintendo outsources the manufacture and assembly of all Nintendo products to its production partners, we established the Nintendo CSR Procurement Guidelines based on relevant laws, international standards and guidelines that focus on protecting human rights, ensuring workplace safety, promoting corporate ethics and safeguarding the environment. We share these guidelines with all of our production partners.These guidelines require our production partners to establish a policy banning the use of conflict minerals and investigate the source of materials in our products by using the internationally recognized RMI conflict minerals reporting tool.We continue to actively work with our production partners in our supply chain to refrain from using conflict minerals in our products.UbisoftRelated JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games It’s worth noting that next year, there will be a new company of interest when it comes to conflict minerals: Ubisoft. Ubisoft recently announced a 2018 release date for Starlink: Battle for Atlas, which includes plastic figurines that unlock characters, items, and ships within the game.It’s admittedly a bit early to expect any specific information on its conflict minerals sourcing anyway, since the products haven’t been released yet.GamesIndustry.biz reached out to an Ubisoft representative for comment on how the company plans to reassure consumers that their Starlink purchases are not funding armed conflict, but did not receive a response.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesMicrosoft game revenues up 50% in Q3Continued Xbox Series X|S demand pushes hardware sales up 232% as Xbox content and services jump 34%By Brendan Sinclair 14 days agoBlaze Entertainment announces home gaming consoleThe Evercade VS, focused on retro gaming, will be available to pre-order in May before a launch in NovemberBy Marie Dealessandri 19 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Romanian government boosts games industry with €94 million tech fundA huge new fund was revealed at Dev.Play 2018 today, pointing to a bright future for the country’s game developersMatthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefThursday 4th October 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareRomanian game developers were given a major boost at the Dev.Play conference in Bucharest today, when the national communications minister announced a €94 million investment fund for tech companies.While that money will be available to all companies in the country’s tech sector, the games industry is especially well placed to benefit from the fund; international publishers such as EA, Ubisoft, Bandai Namco and King all have offices in Romania, which often serve as co-development studios on major franchises. That environment has spawned a thriving indie scene, composed of dozens of smaller studios for which funding is a major problem.”A very important support scheme for the Romanian games industry is being worked on as we speak” Catalin Butnariu”If we look at countries with a very developed games industry, such as the US, or Canada, or the UK, there are always several key elements there,” said Catalin Butnariu, founder of Dev.Play, in his opening address at the conference today.”You have a healthy startup and investment scene, you have government backing and support from local authorities, you have networking opportunities through conferences and other events, and you have an educational system that brings new qualified staff to fuel the sector.”Butnariu, who is also president of the Romanian Game Developers Association, started Dev.Play to address one aspect of creating a healthy ecosystem in the country, in the belief that the others would eventually follow. It was not, he said, about creating “just another games conference.””There are already so many of them in Europe,” he added. “For us, it was a necessary step toward building such an ecosystem in Romania, and more generally speaking Eastern Europe.”Eastern Europe has “many thousands” of people working in game development, and Romania has emerged – alongside Poland – as the region’s most important single country. According to Butnariu, his work has involved, “a significant effort to make sure that the potential of our industry is acknowledged by key Romanian authorities, and an effort to focus on finding the best approaches and solutions, which will enable us to further develop as an industry.”And that labour has borne fruit, with Butnariu telling the audience that “a very important support scheme is being worked on as we speak,” and welcoming Petru Bogdan Cojocaru, the Romanian Minister for Communications and Information Society, onto the stage to explain more.Cojocaru, whose comments were translated into English by Butnariu, described the growth of the games industry as a “positive trend” for the country as a whole, and reflected on his experiences of the Dev.Play expo floor.”If this scheme proves successful, it will open the way for other support mechanisms and additional funding” Petru Bogdan Cojocaru”There are some games developed by small teams – teams as small as one person sometimes – and there are also medium companies and large companies with teams of tens or hundreds of people,” he said. “It’s important to keep that in mind, because a successful support scheme for such an industry needs to take into account all possible actors in the sector.”The “support scheme,” which will officially launch in the coming weeks, will make investments of between €500,000 and €3 million into individual projects over the next three years, from a fund of €94 million. Only companies with “100 per cent Romanian capital” will be eligible, and Cojocaru suggested that this could be the first example of an ongoing commitment from government.”This should provide very good support for all types of projects, and all sizes of projects,” he said. “If this scheme proves successful, it will open the way for other support mechanisms and additional funding. For now, we are starting with this amount, which we’re sure can be implemented.”Cojocaru closed with a sobering reminder that, “whether [the attendees] like it or not,” the Romanian games industry isn’t a point of discussion within, “the government or other official circles.” However, Cojocaru put himself forward to be “an ambassador” for the national industry, which he believes can drive the growth of the tech sector as a whole.The potential importance of the money available through the €94 million investment fund was reinforced by the next talk at Dev.Play, given by Vlambeer co-founder Rami Ismail. When Ismail walked on the stage, he first celebrated the Romanian government’s decision to show support with “a good amount of money” for the country’s developers.Indeed, he stated that Romania’s “rapidly growing” development scene is in a “really interesting spot,” based on his experiences travelling the world and visiting a wide variety of industry communities – for which he received the Ambassador award at GDC this year. According to Ismail, each of those communities can be placed in one of six different stages of evolution.”You’re making games that are specifically Romanian, that can only be made by somebody in Romania. I find that very exciting” Rami Ismail”The first one is where nobody knows each other, and everybody is making games on their own,” he said. “The second stage is where they’ve just started to meet each other and they throw little events; usually 20 or 30 people all from one city or one place, because people won’t travel for events like that.”In the third stage those events starts to grow, just as Dev.Play has grown in the three years since Ismail was first invited. People from all over the country will travel to be there, and certain people and companies from the international industry will start to visit.”That’s a big difference,” Ismail continued. “It means that the industry grows, it means that international companies are starting to put studios here and invest money here.”What happens next [in stage four] is a hero emerges. And I hate the word hero, but the idea is that somebody will do something very successful; whether that’s starting a studio that’s very successful, or making a game that’s very successful, or they’ll make an investment deal that makes a lot of money – it doesn’t really matter. Somebody will be the first to do something really big.”Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games That success can become a focal point for the community, Ismail explained, inspiring a new wave of developers to match or eclipse it, and leading to a host of strong products as a result. “At that point you are your own industry,” Ismail said. “At that point you create your own opportunities and your own problems.”Romania’s “hero” still hasn’t emerged yet, but the investments made from the new fund could be the catalyst that allows it to happen – that takes the country’s industry from the third of Ismail’s stages to the fourth.”I believe that you all are somewhere between three and four,” he told the crowd. “You have this rapidly growing, rapidly expanding industry, you have international players here. You’re finding your own identity, and you’re making games that are specifically Romanian, that can only be made by somebody in Romania. I find that very exciting.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 3 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 5 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Jam City opens new Toronto studio for Bingo Pop acquisitionHarry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery developer acquires Bingo Pop IP and team from Uken GamesRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterWednesday 28th November 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleJam CityJam City has announced today that it will open a new studio in Toronto to support the acquisition of the Bingo Pop IP and development team from Uken Games.”We are so proud to be continuing Jam City’s rapid global expansion with the acquisition of one of the most popular bingo titles, and its highly talented team,” said Jam City CEO Chris DeWolfe.”This acquisition provides Jam City with access to leading creative talent in one of the fastest growing and most exciting tech markets in the world. We look forward to working with the talented Jam City team in Toronto as we supercharge the live operations of Bingo Pop and develop innovative new titles and mobile entertainment experiences.”Uken Games will continue without Bingo Pop by reinvesting the proceeds from the sale into the company, putting them toward further development on existing trivia games Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Jeopardy! World Tour.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games In addition, Uken will continue to develop new titles, and has one planned for 2019 release. The studio intends to hire up to 20 new people next year and move into a larger location within Toronto.”We are incredibly proud of what the Bingo Pop team has accomplished in creating a leader in the mobile bingo game category,” said Uken Games CEO Chris Ye. “We’re confident that Jam City will be a great home for Bingo Pop and the talented team behind the game in its next phase of growth.”Following this deal, we are excited to focus on the continued success of our iconic trivia titles and introduce brand new game franchises to players around the world. We are fully committed to continue hiring and investing in Toronto as a global hub for gaming.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesHarry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery reaches $300m in revenueJam City’s title has been downloaded 82 million times since launch in 2018By Marie Dealessandri 12 days agoHarry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery reaches $150m in revenueJam City’s title has been downloaded 54.6 million times across iOS and AndroidBy Marie Dealessandri A year agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Modern Times Group invests in new VC fund Play VenturesThis is the Swedish company’s 11th investment since November 2017Matthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefTuesday 4th December 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareModern Times Group has invested in the Play Ventures VC fund, its 11th investment in the space of just over a year.Play Ventures, one of a handful of funds in which Modern Times Group has invested, was started by Rocket Pack co-founder Harri Manninen and Nonstop Games co-founder Henric Suuronen. MTG will be a limited partner in Play Ventures.MTG announced its own fund in November 2017, with a view to taking minority investments in between five and ten companies each year. Including Play Ventures, it has now made 11 investments since then.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games “This fund makes MTG one the most active investors in the gaming sector, with one of the broadest portfolios of content, tools and live experiences,” said MTG’s managing director for the US, Scott Rupp. “Through our rich history in multi-platform storytelling and our unique family of games and esports companies, we can offer entrepreneurs much more than just capital to help them thrive.”The MTG portfolio also includes the esports startup fund Bitkraft, the location-based VR firm Nomadic, and Dauntless developer Phoenix Labs. The company will be seeking another ten startups in which to invest in 2019.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesCEO says Paradox “can do better” as Q1 profits plummet”We are not satisfied with the quarter,” CEO Ebba Ljungerud saidBy Marie Dealessandri 13 hours agoStarbreeze’s Q1 losses shrink 95% to $505,000New CEO Tobias Sjögren says “the road ahead is clear” as Payday 3 is fully funded By James Batchelor 13 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.