fortnite

Gaming star Ninja sparks outrage by refusing to stream with women

Posted by | fortnite, Gaming, Ninja, streaming, TC, Twitch | No Comments

At a Samsung event last week, Tyler “Ninja” Blevins explained why he doesn’t stream with female gamers.

“If I have one conversation with one female streamer where we’re playing with one another, and even if there’s a hint of flirting, that is going to be taken and going to be put on every single video and be clickbait forever,” said Ninja, who is married, in an interview with Polygon.

As you might expect, this stance was met with plenty of backlash.

dont it get it why so many ppl defending ninja over not playing females? Imagine going to your work and saying i dont wanna work with females..

— Badman Hendrik (@Handigeharrie23) August 13, 2018

Ninja then doubled down on his stance, clarifying that it comes down to an issue of online harassment.

Please read. pic.twitter.com/egfplBQFYD

— Ninja (@Ninja) August 13, 2018

First and foremost, everyone has the prerogative to make decisions for their own personal life. If Ninja believes that the online harassment suffered (by just about any internet celebrity) is too much for him and his family to deal with, and that playing with women will exacerbate that harassment, then that is his choice.

The problem is that it goes against his usual stance of taking responsibility for his position as a role model.

As Kotaku aptly points out, Ninja has made real moves toward being a role model for his 10 million+ Twitch followers, from cutting down on cursing on stream to giving to charity and other important causes. In fact, Ninja sees his commitment to charities and his role as an activist as one of the most amazing things he’s done in his life.

And he’s well aware of his influence. He often “raids” less popular Twitch streamers’ channels, including some women, to give them exposure.

So why be a role model who doesn’t include women?

Yes, being a celebrity comes with an inordinate amount of online harassment. And that sucks. But it also comes with a level of responsibility. Not everyone has the platform to make an actual difference in this world. And when our Vice President, and other influencers, have decided that being alone in the same room (virtual or otherwise) with women opens them up to too much vulnerability, they make it that much harder for women to achieve the same influence.

Remember, gaming is about as extreme a culture as a woman can find herself in. Not only are women excluded in this male-dominated community, but they’re often sexually and verbally harassed, which isn’t helped much by the fact that games themselves portray women as props moreso than protagonists.

Ninja is the most influential gamer of our generation, the likes of which have never been seen before. The success of female streamers and gamers surely isn’t reliant on him. But he could very well change the hearts and minds of a generation of young men who may stop thinking of women as less, and might start thinking of them as equals.

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Here’s where to sign up to get Fortnite for Android

Posted by | Android, epic games, fortnite, Gaming | No Comments

Fortnite’s journey to Android has been a complicated one. A few months back, Epic Games promised to bring the wildly popular survival sandbox title to the mobile OS, but only after sidestepping the traditional process for doing so. Fittingly, while it now appears to be live for Android, the process of actually getting the game is, well, complicated.

If you want to get started, you’ll need to sign up for a beta of the game. That’s right, while the title has been up and running on any number of other platforms (including its three-day head start on Samsung devices), it’s still in beta on Android. Give Epic your email address, and they’ll send you an invite…”as soon as you can play.”

How soon is that? Well, there appears to be a waiting list at the moment. How long all of this will take is anyone’s guess, though the company says it can take “a few days” for all of it to go through. Since the whole thing is bypassing the Google Play store (much to Google’s chagrin), you’ll need to install the Fortnite Installer APK to install Fortnite the game.

I went through a similar process to get the game on the Note 9. It’s weird and kind of annoying, but when it’s done, it’s done.

Oh, and you’ll want to make sure your phone is compatible. Epic’s got the full list here, which seems to include a pretty broad range, including Pixel devices and handsets from Huawei, LG, Nokia, OnePlus, Xiaomi, ZTE and Razer.

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Google will lose $50 million or more in 2018 from Fortnite bypassing the Play Store

Posted by | Android, android apps, Android games, Apps, epic games, fortnite, games, Gaming, Google, Mobile, play store, sensor tower | No Comments

When Fortnite Battle Royale launched on Android, it made an unusual choice: it bypassed Google Play in favor of offering the game directly from Epic Games’ own website. Most apps and games don’t have the luxury of making this choice – the built-in distribution Google Play offers is critical to their business. But Epic Games believes its game is popular enough and has a strong enough draw to bring players to its website for the Android download instead. In the process, it’s costing Google around $50 million this year in platform fees, according to a new report.

As of its Android launch date, Fortnite had grossed over $180 million on iOS devices, where it had been exclusively available since launching as an invite-only beta on March 15th, before later expanding to all App Store customers.

According to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the game has earned Apple more than $54 million thanks to its 30 percent cut of all the in-app spending that takes place on apps distributed in its store.

That’s money Epic Games isn’t apparently willing to give up to Google, when there’s another way.

Unlike Apple, which only allows apps to be downloaded from its own storefront, Google’s platform is more open. There’s a way to adjust an Android device’s settings to download apps and games from anywhere on the web. Of course, by doing so, users are exposed to more security risks, malware infections, and other malicious attacks.

For those reasons, security researchers are saying that Epic Games’ decision sets a dangerous precedent by encouraging people to remove the default security protections from their devices. They’re also concerned that users who look for the game on Google Play could be fooled into downloading suspicious copycat apps that may be trying to take advantage of Fortnite’s absence to scam mobile users.

Google seems to be worried about that, too.

For the first time ever, the company is informing Google Play users that a game is not available for download.

Now, when users search for things like “Fortnite” or “Fortnite Battle Royale,” Google Play will respond that the app is “not available on Google Play.” (One has to wonder if Google’s misspelling of “Royale” as “Royal” in its message was a little eff u to the gamemakers, or just a bit of incompetence.)

In any event, it’s an unusual response on Google’s part – and one it can believably claim was done to serve users as well as protect them from any potential scam apps.

However, the message could lead to some pressure on Epic Games, too. It could encourage consumer complaints from those who want to more easily (or more safely) download the game, as well as from those who don’t understand there’s an alternative method or are confused about how that method works.

In addition, Google is serving up the also hugely popular PUBG Mobile at the top of Fortnite search results followed by other games. In doing so, it’s sending users to another game that can easily eat up users’ time and attention.

For Google, the move by Epic Games is likely troubling, as it could prompt other large games to do the same. While one odd move by Epic Games won’t be a make or break situation for Google Play revenue (which always lags iOS), if it became the norm, Google’s losses could climb.

At present, Google is missing out on millions that will now go directly to the game publisher itself.

Over the rest of 2018, Sensor Tower believes Fortnite will have gained at least $50 million in revenues that would otherwise have been paid out to Google.

The firm expects that when Fortnite rolls out to all supported Android devices, its launch revenue on the platform will closely resemble the first several months of Apple App Store player spending.

It may even surpass it, given the game’s popularity continues growing and the standalone download allows it to reach players in countries where Google Play isn’t available.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns that the download makes it more difficult on users with older Android devices to access the game, because the process for sideloading apps isn’t as straightforward. But Sensor Tower says this will not have a large enough impact to affect Fortnite’s revenue potential in the long run.

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Google isn’t sure how to spell ‘Fortnite Battle Royale’

Posted by | Android, Apps, fortnite, Gaming, Google, Startups, TC | No Comments

The launch of Fortnite Battle Royale has left Google in a slight predicament. While Google is in no way hard up for cash, Fortnite Battle Royale for Android certainly represented the potential for a relatively big revenue stream for an app. That is, until Epic Games decided it would launch Fortnite for Android from its own website, circumventing the Play Store.

But revenue aside, there’s also the matter of Google probably not liking the idea of huge titles circumventing the Play Store as a precedent. Plus, the lack of Fortnite Battle Royale within the Play Store poses a slight security risk to users, as there are quite a few V-bucks scams and malicious clones looking to capitalize on the popularity of Fortnite.

That’s why the Google Play store now displays a message to users in response to searches for “Fortnite,” “Fortnite Battle Royale” and other similar search queries.

“Fortnite Battle Royal by Epic Games, Inc is not available on Google Play,” reads the message.

That’s right. Google misspelled the “Royale” in Battle Royale. It was likely an honest mistake, but given the fact that Epic Games is making upwards of $300 million in revenue a month, which Google is not getting a cut of, it makes for some fun back-and-forth for us spectators.

Google lists PUBG Mobile, Fortnite’s biggest competitor, at the top of all Fortnite Battle Royale queries, but doesn’t include anything in its message around how to actually find the real Fortnite Battle Royale for Android .

While Google Play’s app review process should catch the vast majority of malicious clones, the message is at least moderately helpful for folks hearing about the Android version of Battle Royale without knowing the details around Epic’s launcher.

For what it’s worth, Fortnite for Android isn’t yet available to everyone. The game launched yesterday as a Samsung exclusive for folks with a Galaxy S 7 or higher, and will become available to all Android phone owners on August 12.

[via 9to5Google]

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Fortnite for Android launches as a Samsung Galaxy exclusive today

Posted by | epic games, fortnite, Gaming, Samsung, samsung unpacked, Samsung Unpacked 2018, TC | No Comments

It’s true, Fortnite is coming to Android this summer. We’ve known that for sure since May. There is, however, one key caveat (aside from that whole no Google Play bit): The obscenely popular sandbox survival game will launch on Google’s mobile OS as a Samsung exclusive.

The Epic title will be available for Galaxy users with an S7 or higher (Note 9,  S9, Note 8, S8, S7,S7 Edge). Those with a Galaxy Tab S4 and S3 will get a crack it it, as well).  That, naturally, includes the new Note 9, which the company is positioning as something of a mobile gaming powerhouse.

The specs are certainly impressive, and the 6.4-inch screen should lend itself well to portable gaming. There’s also a new Water Carbon Cooling system on board, to help keep the handset from overheating from more resource-intensive tasks. The new tech improves the liquid cooling system the company has had on-board its Galaxy devices since the S7.

Starting today, the title will appear on Galaxy devices’ game launcher, remaining an Android exclusive until the 12th — at which point, one imagines, it will become more widely available for the rest of Android users. As with the rest of the versions of the title (the PS4’s issues aside), the game will support multi-platform crossplay. 

To celebrate the deal, those who pre-order the Note 9 will be able to choose between free AKG noise cancelling headphones or a device with a 15,000 V-bucks — the in-game equivalent to to $150 of our regular people dollars. All Note 9 and Tab S4 users will also get access to a Fortnite Galaxy skin (see: above), which is unique to those devices. 

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H1Z1 officially comes to the PS4

Posted by | fortnite, Gaming, Startups, TC | No Comments

H1Z1 has spent a couple months on PS4 in an open beta. But today, the Battle Royale game is officially making its debut on the PlayStation platform.

Much like Fortnite Battle Royale, which has swept the gaming world unlike almost any title before it, H1Z1 drops 100 players into a map where they must loot up and survive. Unlike Battle Royale, H1Z1 is relatively more realistic, with a much larger map, more drab colors, and a handful of drivable vehicles.

Interestingly, H1Z1 was one of the earlier Battle Royale games during the game type’s wave of popularity, catching the attention of pro gamers back in 2015. Back then, the game was only available via Steam.

Since, games like PUBG and Fortnite have grown wildly, forcing H1Z1 makers Daybreak to play a bit of catch up.

But today, H1Z1 goes officially live on the PS4, giving gamers who are sick of Fortnite’s bubbly world a chance to get into the Battle Royale world in a different way.

Plus, Daybreak has added in a Fortnite-style Battle Pass for the season, letting PS4 players unlock reward levels for $5.49. H1Z1 is also getting a couple new weapons, including a Sniper Rifle and an RPG, as well as an ARV that can fit a full team of five.

You can check out the launch trailer below:

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Epic Games sidesteps the Play Store with Fortnite for Android launch

Posted by | epic games, fortnite, fortnite battle royale, Gaming, Startups, TC | No Comments

Epic Games continues to spread the love… to consumers, at least.

Following the launches of Fortnite Battle Royale on iOS earlier this year and Fortnite for the Nintendo Switch earlier this summer, Epic Games is now confirming that the Android version of the game will be available exclusively through the Fortnite website.

Users can visit Fortnite.com and download the Fortnite Launcher, which will then allow them to load Fortnite Battle Royale onto their devices.

When asked why Epic would choose to distribute the game via their own website instead the more official channel of the Google Play Store, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney told TechCrunch in an email:

On open platforms like PC, Mac, and Android, Epic’s goal is to bring its games directly to customers. We believe gamers will benefit from competition among software sources on Android. Competition among services gives consumers lots of great choices and enables the best to succeed based on merit.

Of course, Sweeney didn’t mention the 30 percent fee that goes to Google each time a user makes an in-app purchase, but it’s hard to imagine that’s not a factor in the decision.

In-game purchases are a huge source of revenue for Epic. After all, Fortnite Battle Royale is still a free download across all platforms. That said, Epic Games has already made more than $1 billion on the game through in-game purchases alone. For context on that 30 percent fee, Epic Games is making approximately $2 million per day as of July, according to Sensor Tower.

Using a virtual currency called V-Bucks, players can buy skins, pick axes, gliders and emotes, none of which offer a competitive advantage. Epic declined to clarify if mobile users have the same purchasing behavior as PC and console players. But if they do on Android, Epic will make 100 percent of the revenue.

Epic Games also declined to give an exact date for the launch, still simply saying that the game will launch this “summer.”

That said, you can expect to see the same game, and the same cross-play compatibility, on the Android version of Fortnite Battle Royale when it launches.

One potential drawback to the launch will be security. As Android Police points out, loads of people will enable unknown sources in settings, forgetting to turn it off after, which could end up being a problem down the line.

We’ll be sure to let you know more specific information around the launch date and supported devices as soon as we hear more from Epic Games.

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Epic hid an Easter egg in Fortnite to acknowledge the game’s greatest failed rescue

Posted by | epic, fortnite, Gaming, TC | No Comments

For being in charge of what is probably the biggest game in the world right now and all the responsibilities that come with that, Epic is proving itself quite capable of changing things up on the fly.

Case in point: Last week, a video went viral showing one player making a valiant effort to save another player — a competitor, no less! — who had found themselves in a more or less inescapable section of the map… only to have things go wonderfully, hilariously wrong at the last second. Today, a tombstone marking the mishap appeared in-game.

Here’s the video of the original rescue mission, as streamed by would-be hero Muselk (wait for the end):

Watch as @MrMuselk attempts to rescue a fellow player.

(Engineering x Good Intentions) + Miscalculations = 🤣pic.twitter.com/Q3KbaJjxoc

— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) July 17, 2018

The whole thing is like an unintentional lesson in comedic timing.

Today, this tombstone showed up in the same location for anyone who dare wander down there themselves:

(Photo via redditor StoreBrandEnigma)

For those unfamiliar with the game’s mechanics: Fortnite lets you build structures to defend your position or reach new heights… assuming you’ve scrounged up enough materials (wood, brick or metal.) Muselk had enough materials to reach the stranded player… only to hit the build limit (the outer-most regions of the map where building is disabled) with the rescue target just out of reach. That’s where things go extra wrong.

It’s just a cute little nod, sure — but it shows just how damned agile Epic has gotten at making changes to this game. They add a new gun and it seems to be throwing off the game’s balance? It’s gone. Glitches discovered in a new map element? They’re patched. A video blows up demonstrating a hilarious outcome all set in motion by seemingly inconsequential design decisions? Bam, it’s memorialized in-game within days.

The best part: If you go down there to check out the tombstone… you might not make it out alive yourself.

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What should competitive Fortnite look like?

Posted by | epic games, esports, fortnite, fortnite battle royale, Gaming, Sports, Startups, TC | No Comments

Last weekend, Epic Games put forth its first true effort at official competitive Fortnite Battle Royale. It was a disaster.

The private hosts used for the tournament were about as laggy as could be, with pro players getting eliminated simply because they couldn’t move. This tournament was for a total prize of $250K. That’s big money, and big frustration for pro players who were essentially eliminated by the whims of the server gods. But on top of the lag, the whole thing was, well, boring. A cardinal sin in any sport.

The fact is that when you put 100 pro players in a lobby together and tell them that the last man standing wins, most of them will simply sit in a fort and stay safe as long as possible. This does not generate a whole lot of action.

And when there is action on the map, there was no way for a spectator to know about it. There are, after all, a hundred people to watch out for, and jumping from one engagement to another is not only difficult but lacks a certain narrative quality, making the whole thing feel scattered.

It seems clear that a guided mode or hotspot indicator would go a long way to improving the viewing experience. Being told where the fighting was or could be happening or having a guide that flagged these opportunities could work. There could also be a documentary-style concept that followed a few top players on their entire run, with the hope that they’ll find action and maybe even be pushed into conflict to impress viewers.

Epic recently published a post-mortem on the event, outlining ways that the publisher can improve on the tournament. They’ve also set forth the rules for this weekend’s event, proposing a score-based tournament where both eliminations and Victory Royales count toward players’ overall score. Whether or not this will incentivize more action will be determined following the event.

It’s also worth noting that Epic scheduled today’s event during the Fortnite Friday tournament. Fortnite Friday, hosted by popular YouTuber Keemstar and facilitated by UMG, was a $20,000 elimination-based tournament with top players. In this week of the Summer Skirmish Series, which is worth a total of $8 million, Epic is choosing to host a two-day tournament, effectively rendering Fortnite Friday playerless.

It doesn’t have to be this way, Epic. I know that the concept of 100 of the best players in the world dropping into one map sounds incredible. It does. It sounds great, in theory. But in practice, it’s just a disorderly live stream of a bunch of highly talented players sitting around in bases, or, worse, lagging to the point of being frozen.

And, an invitational tournament (that goes terribly wrong) doesn’t scream “inclusive,” which is what Epic repeatedly says competitive Fortnite should be.

There is another way, and it’s the same way that Fortnite players have been competing for months now. A kill race.

But let’s back up a bit.

What should competitive Fortnite be?

Right now, Fortnite is played by 100 people in a single lobby, and “winning” the game is defined by being the last survivor(s). This can be played in solo mode, with 100 individuals facing off against the storm and each other, or in 50 teams of two (Duos), or 25 teams of four (Squads).

Video games often get tweaks for the competitive scene, whether it’s limiting the resources/gear that players can use or reducing the number of maps that can be played. When skill level is that high, most games must make changes to allow for true competition.

Given it’s still early days, Fortnite Battle Royale featuring purely pro players simply hasn’t worked.

But as it stands now, there are roughly two schools of thought.

Whoever gets the most eliminations wins.

Pros:

  • Super fun to watch
  • Requires skill
  • Inclusive to non-pro players

Cons:

  • A lot of RNG
  • More time-consuming

Gamebattle sites like CMG and UMG have been running minor tournaments for quite a while now using this format. Fortnite Friday, arguably one of the biggest weekly tournaments, also follows this format.

Here’s how it works: Individual players load up in a Duo match on the same team, or teams of two load up into a Squad match, also on the same team, and race for who can get the most kills in a public match.

This means that these opposing players can’t kill each other, but can keep track of each other’s kills and placement on the map. When you’re racing for kills, understanding where the other duo is fighting and how many kills they have is important information.

Given only four players are competing at a time, that means the rest of the 92 people on the map are regular Fortnite players.

This is where RNG comes into play. RNG is a term used in gaming that means Random Number Generator. It is the gaming equivalent of Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” It essentially means there is some level of random luck involved in the game. For example, you might land in a place where there is usually a weapon or chest, but that weapon or chest isn’t there, leaving you vulnerable to other players who land around you.

Great players can work around or overcome a certain level of RNG, but if the opposing team comes up on a squad of noobs and your team rolls up on a squad of great players, the tide of the match will inevitably shift against you, and may even result in a loss.

This is the cost of the 2v2 format that has become popularized with the vast majority of Fortnite competitive players.

While it takes more time to have 100 players compete four at a time, this format allows the viewer to watch no more than four players as they traverse the map and seek eliminations. At most, the audience has to follow along with four separate stories on the map. In most cases, duos play together, which brings that number down to two. In either case, it’s much easier than following along with the stories of 50 separate teams.

Traditional Battle Royale

Pros:

  • Less RNG
  • Amazing build fights
  • Fair, in the sense that players are fighting players of equal skill level

Cons:

  • It’s boring
  • Not inclusive
  • Confusing and scattered for viewers

This format was used during the Ninja Live tournament, the Fortnite ProAm tournament and, most recently, during the $8 million Summer Skirmish series, hosted by Epic Games.

Here’s how it works: 100 pro players/streamers pair off into teams of two and all load into the same lobby, with the goal of lasting the longest.

As I said, Fortnite Battle Royale is built around the idea that there would be a sole survivor, but doesn’t predicate that survival on a certain level of skill. In other words, it’s relatively easy to hide, avoid fights and survive to the near end of a game, or potentially even win. It doesn’t take much skill to squat in a bush or set traps in a house and sit in the bathroom.

Obviously, with pro players, there will be gunfights, and those gunfights should be pretty interesting. But they are few and far between, and are difficult to predict and capture for the live stream.

This also excludes regular players from being a part of the action. Yes, it’s a risk to construct a competitive scene on the backs of public gameplay. But it’s also never been done before in the pro gaming world. And it is the best way to include public players into the competitive scene. A regular player is far more likely to get interested in the competitive scene knowing that, on Friday or Saturday, they have the chance to play against the world’s greatest competitors.

The best way to build on the momentum of Fortnite’s popularity, as well as support the community as a whole, is to build out tournaments focused on eliminations within public lobbies.

It makes sense for Epic to want to control that experience, and it certainly makes sense for Epic to want the competitive scene to fit within the game they built, which is a Battle Royale. But thus far, competitive Battle Royale featuring purely pro players simply hasn’t worked. And it feels slightly underhanded for Epic to barrel over Fortnite Friday, given that the more competitive tournaments around Fortnite, the better for the game.

The community is here, telling you what it wants, Epic. And in true Fortnite fashion, if you build it, they will come.

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Funko is getting into Fortnite toys because it’d be dumb not to

Posted by | fortnite, Funko, Gaming, TC | No Comments

Funko . Even if you don’t know the name, you’ve probably seen their toys. They’re the ones that make those figurines with the big ol’ heads that line the walls of half the stores at the mall — the ones that seem to exist for just about every pop culture-related license on the planet, from random 80’s horror movies to mega properties like Star Wars or Marvel.

So of course they’re getting into Fortnite toys.

The company announced today that it’ll ship Fortnite-themed toys across 10 different product lines, from clothing, to keychains, to the aforementioned big-headed Pop! figurines. While there don’t seem to be any images of the toys in progress out there just yet, the company says the new stuff should start hitting the shelves by the holidays of this year.

Funko Pop! figures from the company’s Gears of War line — photo by Marco Verch

Fortnite is a pretty obvious fit — and as long as the game’s absolutely ridiculous popularity doesn’t dive off a cliff before Christmas for some reason, it’s a pretty big win.

It’s easy to imagine Funko-fied versions of the game’s most recognizable bits, like a vinyl keychain Battle Bus or a Pop! version of the supply llama. But even beyond that, it could be a pretty consistent source of new, limited run releases — something that Funko loves to do. Fortnite shifts to a new “season” every few months, with each iteration introducing dramatically new character skins and retiring those that came before it. Fortnite’s creators at Epic undoubtedly have the data to prove exactly which skins are most popular, which should help them figure out which ones to turn into merch.

As of April, Fortnite was reportedly already pulling in around $10 million per day on in-game items alone, and adding a bunch of real-world merch to the mix is probably just going to make that money machine crank even harder.

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