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Culture Games Highlights

Luxury Fashion Brands Get Into Gaming And Play It Right

At first thought, fashion and gaming may seem like an unlikely duo. But if the fashion industry were to ensure it continues to be accessible and relevant in every way possible, it would seem almost ignorant to cash in on the gaming trend as esports becomes more mainstream. 

The COVID-19 lockdown has led to an acceleration of various trends. And perhaps this is why the convergence of both industries may not come as a surprise, as more and more major fashion houses and fast-fashion giants want in on a piece of that gaming pie. Besides, with thousands of gamers in the virtual world, what better place than that to reach out to potential customers. If you can’t flaunt it in real life, you do so online by dressing your avatar in new skins, clothing, and accessories from various brands. What’s more, these fashion brands would also be able to reach out to a much younger audience, a group that is relatively harder to get to. 

But before we get into the subject itself, let’s have a look at the numbers. According to research firm Newzoo, the online gaming industry generated approximately US$138.7 billion in sales last year, and is most likely to rake in US$159.3 billion this year — that’s about a 10% growth! And by next year, this is likely to exceed US$180 billion. Now here’s something more interesting. If you were expecting teen boys to constitute the bulk of mobile game users, you’re sorely mistaken. Because 63 per cent of them are women. That’s right. And according to a marketing report by Liftoff, female gamers are 79 per cent more likely to make an in-app purchase than their male counterparts. A research from Mindshare has also shown that over half of esports fans are millennials, a generation that is reaching their prime spending years. So whether it’s a small in-game purchase or for the whole gaming experience, the esports industry has definitely proven to be a viable avenue for fashion brands to get to potential customers, and convert them into loyal clients.

In all honesty, you would probably have seen this coming. Some 20 years ago, fashion brands were already making their foray into the gaming industry, and exploring this territory by venturing into games like ‘The Sims’. Or just like how Moschino and Diesel opened virtual boutiques in ‘Second life’ in the early 2000s.

Louis Vuitton recently entered a partnership with US-based developer Riot Games, the business behind the famous ‘League of Legends’ online championship which saw 100 million global e-spectators watch its finale last November. All it took for the French fashion house to ensure maximum visibility was for its Creative Director, Nicolas Ghesquière, to design an outfit for one of the characters in the game during the finale.

And most recently, on March 20 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Japan’s Nintendo launched ‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’, a social simulation game that invites its players to control digital avatars live on paradise islands and indulge in various sorts of peaceful activities including gardening, DIY, fishing, and even having picnics with neighbours. In just a span of a few weeks, it sold over 10 million units and became the star game of the lockdown.

With increased possibilities for customisation and dressing up your avatar, it certainly didn’t take much to lure fashion brands to Animal Crossing. It’s in-game ‘Pro Designs’ function allows users to make their own outfits by reproducing the trendiest pieces from brands like Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Dior, and even streetwear labels like Stüssy and Supreme.

This surge in creativity spilled over to social media, with players creating dedicated profiles just to share their outfits. One such example that capitalised on this want for fashion-savvy avatars is Nook Street Market, recreating looks from luxury labels like Chanel, Off-White, Vivienne Westwood, and Fendi. This buzz prompted brands including Valentino, Marc Jacobs, and many others to offer their own designs to Animal Crossing players — offering them the ability to access virtual clothing and accessories for free via special codes which can be obtained from Instagram stories.

And it doesn’t really matter that the in-game outfits are simplified, and without details. Perhaps what’s fascinating is how these luxury labels are still able to command desirability even in the virtual world, making the gaming industry a viable way for brands to reach out to a new clientele, and even strengthen relationships with their pre-existing fans.

In recent years, designer labels like Burberry and Gucci have even created their own games. Similarly, Italy’s LUISAVIAROMA has also just launched the ‘Mod4’ application, which gamifies the shopping experience. ‘Client players’ are invited to create their own avatar, browse items offered by the store, and take part in contests with other players.

Perhaps this is part of the new normal, an increasingly virtual world that has forced fashion to switch from e-commerce, digital showrooms, and even online fashion weeks, to the gaming industry, a new territory with immense potential for its businesses to diversify.

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Culture Games

For ****’s Sake, Call of Duty League, Stop Fining Players

Call of Duty League’s recent clampdowns on so-called profanities violate the very conventions of free speech.

Censorship within games is not unheard of. From time to time, both casual and professional gamers are banned from in-game chats for cursing excessively. But censorship that extends to and infringes on personal vocalisations are justifiably rare.

Therefore, it comes as a surprise to find out that Call of Duty League (CDL) has been imposing fines on players who spoke out harshly against Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.

As a former Modern Warfare player myself, I am not convinced by these accusations. I first started playing the game on my Mac desktop in late 2011 when my father bought it as my birthday present. The online multiplayer community was thoroughly wholesome and generally innocuous during typed or voice chats. Even when there were vulgarities, they were few and far between the usual banter. Compared to games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, and DotA 2, Call of Duty has a decently clean track record of swear words.

Maybe I’m just liberal. But terms like “trash” and “one of the worst CoDs ever made” barely constitute anything remotely vulgar. If Seth ‘Scump’ Abner, who has the second most major tournament wins in the history of Call of Duty and has competed professionally in other Call of Duty franchise installments (Ghosts, Advanced Warfare, etc.) wants to voice his opinions candidly in a livestream, it’s ultimately his right to do so. Why should CDL fine him for it? After all, it could have at least tried to be a little humbler by seriously considering his genuine (albeit extremely forthcoming) feedback.

Let’s backtrack to early October last year. Call of Duty: Mobile had just been released when Reddit users brought to light the game’s profanity filter. They reported “blocking of all words related to war”. Under this filter, words such as “boom”, “sniper”, “Jesus”, and “kill” were blocked from chat. Ironically, expletives were, at most, only partially censored.

Call of Duty’s mindset can be summed up in one word: hypocritical. Yes, the game’s developers are hypocrites who plan to water down a violent game into a Fortnite-esque one aimed at children aged around 12, while secretly using their conservative, kid-friendly stance to suppress dissent. Violence is violence and gore is gore. And where there is blood, there is bound to be blood-pumping rage and anger-fuelled vulgarities. This is the target audience of all Call of Duty games. Pretending that this hasn’t always been the case and penalising players for ‘profanities’ is akin to playing Silent Hill and bitterly suing its developers for its graphic scenes and immensely terrifying monsters: you should have known what you were getting into in the first place.

Besides, those accused of obscenities were actually giving relevant feedback on in-game issues like “confusing Modern Warfare spawns” and being “kicked out from the game” after changing class.

Call of Duty League’s inaugural season was only launched at the start of this year in late January and has, within the span of only five months, already gone on a fining spree of its top participants. But despite its widespread efforts to silence its dissenters, some of them have chosen to continue speaking out against it until the aforementioned issues are rectified. In a reply to Scump, Sam ‘Octane’ Larew, a fellow competitor from Seattle Surge, stubbornly affirmed that he would “pay to speak” his “mind” because CDL had robbed him of a year’s worth of money.

So far, neither the affected players nor CDL has disclosed the amounts of the imposed fines.

Free speech is an essential civil liberty that applies to the citizens of the esports world. As such, CDL was absolutely wrong to punish players for speaking out against it in secular settings (i.e., in non-competitive environments). The same couldn’t be said if such comments had been made during live matches, though. But whatever the case, I am strongly in favour of those who have been persecuted and silenced into oblivion (players like Octane and Skrapz have since deleted their offending tweets) and feel that CDL’s militant approach will only steer serious players away from participating in its future competitive seasons.

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Culture Games

Dethroning Twitch: How an Eminent Streamer Defied the Status Quo

Dr Disrespect has wooed many fans with his sleek moustache and over-the-top taunts.

“I’m the two-time, back-to-back — 1993, 1994 — Blockbuster Video Game champion.” were the words of a man who was once the Face of Twitch. However, ever since his June 26 ban, Herschel “Guy” Beahm, or more famously known through his online persona, Dr Disrespect, has been looking elsewhere to conduct his livestreams.

His fan base has stayed on firmly by his side notwithstanding. In fact, his Youtube stream, which had gone live at around 4.30 am SGT on August 7, amassed an audience of over 340,000 active viewers within an hour of “going live”. To put this into perspective, within just 1 hour, the number of views his livestream garnered was approximately 16.6% of his Youtube channel’s total subscriber count.

His fans are surely excited about his long-awaited comeback after he finally broke his silence earlier last month. Times are definitely changing and even Twitch cannot deny this.

Rumour has it that Dr Disrespect will be making Youtube his mainstay for streaming. And there is some weight to this hefty claim. After all, he isn’t the first to depart from Twitch. According to Quartz, two of Twitch’s “top streamers”, “Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins” and “Michael ‘Shroud’ Grzesiek”, “left Twitch for Mixer” in 2019.

As of now, Dr Disrespect’s options are wide open and there is no telling where he might end up for good. For all we know, Youtube might very well be merely an interim solution to the sudden void caused by his loss of partnership with Twitch, especially since he has a huge following on the video-sharing platform.

Meanwhile, streamers such as Tyler “Tyler1” Steinkamp and Timothy “TimTheTatman” John Betar — the former being Dr Disrespect’s main rival while the latter being his former Twitch-streaming buddy — were among the top 10 streamers that captivated the masses in July.

The status quo for Twitch has always been ‘for the streamers, by the streamers’ — at least since late last year when it underwent a major reformation.

Rebranding

In September 2019, Twitch redrew and optimized its extruded logo at the pixel level and developed it into a “new, two-tone” one “designed for co-branding with their streamers”. The development of its new logo culminated in “a three-tone animated rainbow gradient” which symbolises “Twitch and everyone who is part of it”. As an added gesture, “each streamer” would be allowed to “choose their own color scheme” on the “landing page”.

If you were to visit its official brand website, you would notice something fascinating at once: you are guided along a scroll path that explains to you why it decided to undergo its rebranding process, eventually ending at a video which explains to you its mission.

Marketing and Outreach Campaigns

Apart from being the home of esports, Twitch has “recently hired former Spotify exec Sunita Kaur as its managing director for APAC” and improved “its sales teams” for both “South East Asia” as well as “the Oceanic region”.

Moreover, the company strives to become synonymous with a “live, interactive, personality and content-based, community-driven video platform where anyone can play a role in creating the moment”, by “working with brands” in “the APAC region” to ensure “the experience lands in an authentic and meaningful way to Twitch’s communities”.

Lastly, with the occurrence of the COVID-19 “pandemic”, Twitch has found relief in that “new artists are turning to” it “to find community now that touring has paused”.

What will Twitch’s Q3 2020 look like — will Facebook Gaming and Youtube Gaming Live steal the show?

Will Twitch’s aforementioned efforts prove sufficient to cement its edge over Facebook Gaming and Youtube Gaming Live in Q3 2020?

Highly likely — provided its shortcomings do not get the better of it.

Despite its total streaming hours rising sharply by “58.7%” from Q1 to Q2 (2020), it has also been set back by a slew of copyright infringement “takedown notices”, “allegations of gender-based discrimination, harassment and sexual assault”, and its poor “ad revenue” generation.

Simultaneously, Facebook Gaming has been given a fortuitous leg up by Microsoft Mixer’s planned transition of existing “partners and streamers” to the former streaming platform.

But this also implies a potential positive externality, albeit to a smaller extent, of both streamers and viewers migrating to Youtube and Twitch as well.

The fact remains that Twitch still dominates the leaderboard with a 67.6% market share and is therefore unlikely to be dethroned anytime soon. But then again, partnerships can crumble as easily as streamers migrating from one streaming platform to another. And history has taught us that crowds follow wherever their leaders go.

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Culture Games International

Chess as an Esport: Conservatism Versus Progression

Chess Grandmaster, Hikaru Nakamura, has finally opened the floodgates to the online streaming community.

The Controversy

Chess has always been a tabletop board game. From Bobby Fischer’s “The Game of the Century” to Garry Kasparov’s historic defeat by IBM supercomputer, Deep Blue, it has stood its ground against the digitalisation of board games competitions.

However, just three months ago, Hikaru Nakamura, currently in 18th place in the Fédération Internationale des Échecs (FIDE) August 2020 list of top 100 players, stirred up a controversy with a fellow chess streamer by the name of Ben Finegold.

Previously, Hikaru had decided to reach out to popular gaming streamers like BoxBox and xQc to teach them and, hopefully, rekindle an interest in chess among the younger generations. But Ben, who is also a chess Grandmaster, conducted a live stream, two weeks later, in which he openly criticised Hikaru’s decision to expose chess to “negative talent”.

And how did Hikaru respond to this?

Just three days later, he tweeted to publicly thank all the streamers who had been receptive to his attempt to teach them chess.

Then, moistcr1tikal, better known as penguinz0 on Youtube, issued a video on this whole saga in which he denounced Ben’s attitude as a form of “elitism” and “gatekeeping”. In fact, to show his support for Hikaru’s cause, he even decided to let Hikaru coach him in chess.

Chess.com soon jumped onto the bandwagon and organised PogChamps, a two-week chess competition from June 5 to June 19, which invited 16 top Twitch streamers to “compete for their share of a $50,000 prize fund”. Of course, Hikaru was chosen to be the commentator throughout the entire competition.

What are the Experts’ Take on Promoting Chess to Online Streamers?

FIDE Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, David Llada, echoed penguinz0’s sentiment by stating that the chess world lives in “perpetual endogamy” and that there has been very little effort to reach out to “new audiences”. Hence, he suggested that PogChamps would be a great “initiative” to send “a message to a huge audience, showing how easy it is to learn the game, but how difficult it is to master it”.

Furthermore, he added that there was a need for “more PogChamps” and “celebrity tournaments”.

However, Stefan Löffler, the features editor of ChessTech, strongly disagreed with David, firmly stating, “Letting beginners play for an audience is something one should never do.” He also likened PogChamps to a “trash” reality TV show and accused it of allowing its participants to join solely “for attention, publicity and a handful of cash”.

According to Stefan, “chess” is a game that “takes years of play and study” in order to “occasionally produce a game that is worth seeing”. In other words, he was suggesting that “Chess.com” should have reformatted PogChamps to develop its participants’ critical-thinking skills and problem-solving abilities through “mini games” and “Puzzle Rush exercises of the simpler variety”, before finally progressing to the final stage of a “normal chess game” to be played “in a cool, gamified display as gamers and their fan audience are used to”.

A Precedent Has Been Set and There is No Turning Back Now

In late July, Chess.com announced that it would be hosting yet another online chess tournament, PogChamps 2, from August 21 to September 6. The released lineup includes former PogChamps contestant, xQc, as well as famous Icelandic strongman and Game of Thrones actor, Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson.

Like the first PogChamps, its sequel will involve participants “competing” for a total of “$50,000 in prizes”.

Hikaru recently tweeted this in expectance of PogChamps 2:

From the looks of it, the digitalisation of chess tournaments is quickly gaining traction despite the lingering hate from chess gatekeepers and traditionalists alike — a new age of chess is in the making and we are all bearing witness to it right now.

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Culture Games Local

Singapore Esports and Gaming to be Supported by New Trade Body

Gamers and esports in Singapore can take heart in their sport making strong strides toward being professionally sustainable with the launch of Singapore’s primary trade association for the gaming and esports industry, Singapore Games Association (SGGA).

The venture is robustly supported by Enterprise Singapore (ESG), the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). The booming gaming industry has likely given SGGA a strong launchpad, with revenue in the Video Games segment projected to reach US$130m in 2020 and US$138mby 2024, according to Statista.

SGGA is set to build upon the foundations lain by the Singapore Games Guild (SGG), which was a non-profit organisation that was founded in 2017 as a sister organisation to the International Games Development Association Singapore.

Where SGG advocated for the creation of made-in-Singapore games by supporting locally developed games, SGGA will serve as an enabler to the entirety of the gaming and esports industry in Singapore.

While its undertakings are seemingly more commercial, SGGA remains a non-profit membership-based Association. Members will have access to local and international gaming networks and will be able to explore global opportunities with the trade body.

Singapore Games Association – SGGA/Facebook

“SGGA will retain a core element of SGG — uniting the local community through events, celebrating local games and offering our talent a friendly, nurturing home to explore, grow and connect with potential collaborators — and offer more,” said Gwen Guo, who will chair SGGA, in a press release.

SGGA’s steps toward sustainability include the administration of Singapore’s first-ever accreditation scheme for the gaming and esports industry. The trade body will also facilitate and initiate programmes to foster community engagement and to raise the professional standards of gamers in Singapore.

One of their initiatives is the simply termed “Singapore Esports”, which will provide holistic development in our industries and posit Singapore as a choice destination for international esports tournaments and events.

Although seemingly ambitious, SGGA’s targets will be held by sizeable industry experience and veterans who have paved the way for its establishment. SGGA is chaired by Gwen Guo, Creative Director of game audio services studio Imba Interactive. Elicia Lee, managing director of Eliphant, will work alongside Guo as the vice-chairperson. Eliphant is a well-known player in the industry, specialising in game marketing, events such as GameStart Asia, live stream production, and esports in Asia.

The two will also be supported by an Executive Committee and an Advisory Board comprised of industry professionals.

“It is an exciting time to rally the gaming and esports industry and work together to uplift our expertise and break new ground, as we fly the Singapore flag high on the world stage. We look forward to nurturing a more resilient and innovative industry with sustained growth and opportunities through infrastructure and capabilities building,” said Guo.

SGGA will ground its presence in the local gaming industry as soon as this August, with upcoming plans to work with the organisers of Gamescom Asia to showcase digital versions of made-in-Singapore games.

Companies registered in Singapore and Singapore-based individual — including freelancers — can look forward to SGG launching its paid membership programme in the third quarter of 2020. Members will enjoy privileges on rates and access to initiatives led by SGGA, as well as access to local and overseas event participation, resources, networking opportunities, focus groups, and training courses through SGGA’s partner networks.

With the objective of being a platform for thought leadership in the industry, SGGA will also collaborate with educational institutions, SMEs and corporations to propel the training and hiring of talent in the field. The trade body will work to address misconceptions about gaming and esports while highlighting the flourishing presence of career opportunities in the games industry.

“The SGGA’s goal is to engage with and represent the full spectrum of Singapore’s gaming and esports ecosystem, which although small, is diverse,” said Lee.

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Culture Games

Facebook Gaming Now on iOS After Seceding to Disagreements with Apple

Six months of unwavering resolve by Facebook have come to a halt, with the company making unwanted changes to have its Facebook Gaming application permitted on Apple’s App Store.

Facebook Gaming is a new standalone app that removes all of Facebook’s functionality, placing its focus instead on gamers who are live-streaming their gameplay. Now available for download, the application asks users to log in with their Facebook account.

As opposed to a regular Facebook feed, users will log in to see a list of selected games, followed games, and followed streamers. The application is much like other live streaming platforms populated by gamers, such as Twitch.

For gaming content creators, Facebook Gaming serves as an opportunity to watch gaming content as they usually would from their phones but with the added integration of the world’s most populous social media platform.

However, the rectification doesn’t come without compromises for Facebook. Facebook had initially wanted to feature mini-games within the application. Apple then rejected its requests to be on the app store, citing the App Store guideline 4.7 as sufficient reason for rejection.

Guideline 4.7 of Apple’s application submission rules states, “HTML5 games distributed in apps may not provide access to real money gaming, lotteries, or charitable donations, and may not support digital commerce.”

In the context of Facebook Gaming, Apple’s rules prohibited companies whose applications’ “main purpose” was to distribute games. Facebook shared usage data from Facebook Gaming on Android to assert that Apple’s stance was unfair, revealing that 95% of user activity was spent watching streams.

In June at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple had also shared an appeal process, which Facebook had tried to use, only to get rejected yet again.

A Facebook spokesperson said, “We even appealed the guideline under the new app review process announced at WWDC… We did not receive a response.”

Facebook also claimed that Apple had taken advantage of its hold over the iOS app store, consequently giving Apple users a Facebook Gaming experience that was inferior to what Android app users could enjoy.

Facebook Gaming on both the iOS App Store and the Android Play Store allows users to create and watch live gameplay streams and interact with gaming communities, Facebook Gaming on Android also allows users to engage with playable mini-games from Facebook’s Instant Games platform.

Facebook Gaming

Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg expressed in a statement that the move was unfortunate. “We had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the stand-alone Facebook Gaming app,” she said.

However, she said that the company would continue to build platforms for its gaming community, “whether Apple allows it in a stand-alone app or not”.

The is not the first time that Facebook has had to compromise on its gaming content to be available on the iOS app store.

Facebook Gaming chief Vivek Sharma explained in a statement to The Verge that “even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we’ve been forced to bury Instant Games for years on iOS”.

With iPhone users accounting for close to 45% of mobile phone users in the United States according to Statista, Apple’s regulations undoubtedly hinder the progress of global gaming communities.

“This is shared pain across the games industry, which ultimately hurts players and devs and severely hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats, like cloud gaming,” said Sharma.

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Culture Games International

Esports Doesn’t Falter: $25.3M in Disclosed Investments in July 2020

On 6th August, esports publication Esports Insider made a list of some of the major investments, mergers, and acquisitions of the esports world in July 2020.  And if anything is a reflection of how the industry is growing at full tilt, it’s the $25.3 million in disclosed investments that were raised in just one month.

Just about everyone with investment power has shown interest in the industry, from venture capitalists readily devoting millions of dollars to celebrities like Jay Chou setting up their very own esports teams even in smaller countries like Singapore.

Let’s get into it.

Pexels

In its Series A investment round, the French organisation MCES raised €2.5 million (approximately SGD$4 million). The round was funded by Lab Five, Région Sud Investissement, and over 20 other angel investors. The team has its players spread over the hot favourite games of Fortnite, League of Legends, FIFA, Clash of Clans, and Virtual Regatta.

It hasn’t been just esports teams that have raked in the investments. In an investment led by Dundee Venture Capital, Mission Control, a company that builds rec league esports programs, raised USD$1.75 million (SGD$2.4 million). Some of the contributors in the raised round include M25, Cultivation Capital, and MATH Venture Partners. Mission Control’s work involves building and integrating esports programmes into schools, community centres, and companies.

Mobalytics, a California based e-sports analytics startup, also raised a whopping USD$11.25 million (SGD$15.4 million) for its operations advising players on Riot Games’ League of Legends and VALORANT. Close to seven million players reportedly use the platform for guidance and information on real-time gameplay for the aforementioned games.

Luckbox, an esports betting platform also found investors willing to place sizeable gambles. The company’s round of financing closed at CAD$5 million (SGD$5.1 million), ahead of its listing on TSX Venture Exchange under a ticker that was anticipated to be approved.

Coming back to esports teams, Veloce Esports reportedly raised £4 million (SGD$7.1 million), according to The Financial Times. The round includes the current co-chairman of Veloce Racing, which will merge with Veloce Esports in time to come.

Resolve Esports from the United Kingdom secured a strong investment from Esports Global, which is a subsidiary investment group owned by International Group Management (IGM). Fronted by Chester King and David Martin, the investment will help Resolve recruit new esports teams while offering online coaching. It will also contribute to the creation of a physical esports centre in London, for the training and development of new players.

A three-year-old national competition, Polish Esports League garnered an investment with undisclosed financial terms from former NBA basketball player Marcin Gortat.

Kpop stud Sehun (real name Oh Se-hun) from the boy group EXO also wanted a piece of the pie. He became a shareholder in SeolHaeOne Price, a Korean organisation to which APE Sports is a parent company. APE Sports also announced that half of EXO would join the organisation.

The Founder and CEO of iSportconnect Sree Varma became a minority investor to the British grassroots esports organisation LDN UTD. The financial terms of the investment are undisclosed.

Joining the ranks of sportsmen investing in esports is Mitch Marner, a professional Ice Hockey player who joined the ownership group of OverActive Media, a Canadian organisation. OverActive Media announced that Marner would become an ambassador and an integral part of brand building.

GAME’s Belong gaming arena division was procured by Vindex, an esports infrastructure company. Vindex launched in October 2019, following a Series S raise of USD$60 million (SGD$82.3 million).

The holding company of online sportsbook and casino operator Argyll Entertainment was acquired by Esports Entertainment Group (EEG), a betting enterprise. Argyll Entertainment carries a UK Gambling Commission and Irish Revenue Commissioners license, as it operates in both the United Kingdom and Ireland. Part of the investment also includes Argyll’s three-year-old flagship gambling brand SportNation.bet.

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Culture Games International

Fortnite’s Coral Castle Rumoured to be Atlantis Area

Fortnite’s latest Point Of Interest (POI) Coral Castle has left fans of the battle royale game thirsting for more information. This comes shortly after trailers revealing that two prominent characters from comic books and a recent movie would be in the game — Aquaman and Black Manta.

Fans have since been left reeling about whether Aquaman and Black Manta may be what’s coming in the way of big boss fights during Chapter 2 Season 3 of the game. The season was first released in the middle of July, at around the same time as when a Black Manta skin was made available in the game’s item shop. An Aquaman outfit was also released, to be acquired through means of weekly challenges.

Two weeks after, this was followed by the official reveal of Coral Castle as the new underwater POI in the game, leading to a palpable correlation between the watery area and the game’s newly playable characters.

Much like the well-known animosity between Batman and the Joker, Aquaman and Black Manta, share a classic hero and villain relationship in DC Comics’ comic books. The characters have also appeared in the Aquaman film which released in December 2018, raking in a whopping USD$1.148 billion at the box office.

In most origin stories, Aquaman is the king of an underwater city called Atlantis. Aquaman’s archenemy, Black Mantis is a technology-wielding villain whose motives are often hidden behind his menacing large helmet with gleaming red eyes.

Black Manta Has Arrived | Fortnite

The appearance of both characters in Fortnite timed with the unveiling of an underwater POI is what has led fans to wonder whether Coral City is, in fact, meant to be an Atlantis-like area.

Coral Castle was revealed across two weeks with water levels that consistently lowered on the Fortnite map. And as fans pondered what was happening, data miners began to uncover the hints of a new underwater area in the game.

During the two-week period, data miners and game geeks continuously lowered their graphic settings until the underwater point was found to be at the northwest corner of the map, with its entrance located where there was once a whirlpool near Sweaty Sands.

Coral Castle is reportedly loaded with varying chests, seaweed, and ruins for players to collect. Dot Esports advised that it may be best for players to err on the side of caution when exploring Fortnite POIs in-game. The gaming publication also pointed out that the POI’s new establishment would mean more other players exploring the area, leaving players at higher risk of being attacked by opponents.

The site, which also publishes gaming guides, warned, “you too can log-in and explore the Coral Castle, but be aware that you won’t be the only one. Everyone wants a piece of the Ancient Kingdom.”

With the little information that has been revealed by Fortnite thus far, it is unknown whether there is an Aquaman or a Black Manta boss in the new zone, Coral Castle.

However, fans can still immerse themselves in Coral Castle’s potential to be Atlantis by unlocking and donning the Aquaman skin by completing missions in Season 3 of the game. They can also purchase the Black Manta skin in the Fortnite item shop for 1,500 V-Bucks.

Players can even unlock an Arthur Curry variant of the Aquaman skin — it looks just like Jason Momoa as Aquaman — by diving over the waterfall at Gorgeous Gorge while wearing the Aquaman outfit. It remains to be seen if a skin of David Hyde, the alter ego of Black Manta, based on the likeness of actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, will join Arthur in the world of Fortnite.