Blackstone president Jonathan Gray (Getty; iStock)Blackstone’s bet on logistics facilities and life sciences continues to pay off despite the broader headwinds facing commercial real estate.The New York-based investment manager reported in its third-quarter earnings call that net income increased to $794.7 million in the third quarter, from $779.4 million the previous year. The company’s fee-related earnings from its real estate assets increased to $283 million, from $187 million during the same time period.Blackstone’s total assets under management increased to $584.4 billion in the third quarter, up 5 percent year-over-year, and its real estate assets increased 11 percent to $173.8 billion.In recent years, Blackstone — one of the largest commercial landlords in the country — has diversified its portfolio by investing in the industrial sector, including logistics and last-mile distribution centers, as well as life science buildings. Those have performed well this year, despite the broader economic downturn.“In real estate, we have been underscoring the importance of sector selection,” Blackstone president Jonathan Gray said on an earnings call with analysts.In the third quarter, Blackstone sold Cheniere Energy Partners to Brookfield Asset Management and Blackstone Infrastructure Partners for $7 billion. After the third quarter ended, the company recapitalized BioMed Realty Trust, life-sciences real estate investment trust, for $14.6 billion to another Blackstone-controlled fund. It also recently acquired Simply Self Storage’s 8 million-square-foot portfolio from Brookfield Asset Management for $1.2 billion.Blackstone deployed $2.1 billion in capital in real estate in the third quarter, which included acquiring a 49 percent stake in Hudson Pacific Properties’ Hollywood production studio and office portfolio in August.Top of mind for analysts during the earnings call was the forthcoming presidential election. Gray said if Democrats were to sweep, the company could see higher corporate taxes as well as more regulatory scrutiny. But he said there could also be some benefits to Blackstone’s infrastructure and renewable business. In addition, urban centers like New York and San Francisco, which are facing fiscal crises, could see more funding from the federal government, according to Gray.Blackstone’s stock price is down 2 percent to $50.84 since opening on Tuesday. Share via Shortlink TagsBlackstoneCommercial Real Estate Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink The loan’s term runs about two years, but Scale is willing to work with the borrower who, Nussbaum said, has the good product to “get through this difficult time.”Manhattan’s luxury condo market was soft even before the pandemic, and the health crisis further weakened the demand. In June, the Chamberlain developer reportedly marketed the unsold units as a potential bulk deal with no success.In the past 18 months, Slate Property Group and Scale Lending, a joint venture between Slate and the Carlyle Group, have originated nearly $700 million loans for developers in the Tri-State region and California, Nussbaum said.Contact Akiko Matsuda TagsCommercial Real Estatecondo marketMultifamily Marketupper west side Share via Shortlink Slate Property’s CEO Martin Nussbaum (West End 87)Scale Lending recently provided a $38 million inventory loan for more than two dozen unsold units at a luxury condominium on the Upper West Side.The borrower is Simon Baron Development Group, who, along with Quadrum Global, developed the Chamberlain, a 38-unit condo building at 269 West 87th Street.Simon Baron did not return a request for comment.The project is complete, but 25 units remain unsold, said Slate co-founder Martin Nussbaum, who explained that the loan provides financing for Simon Baron to complete the sell-out process for the remaining units.Read moreManhattan developers discreetly shopping bulk condo dealsSlate Property’s Scale Lending strikes first deal for a Brooklyn resi projectSlate, Carlyle launch new $750M lending firm Message* Email Address* Full Name*
Wizard World cancels debut gaming conNext month’s Atlanta show abandoned as organizer now plans first gaming show for Portland in FebruaryBrendan SinclairManaging EditorWednesday 23rd December 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareRelated 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 Wizard World today announced the cancellation of Wizard World Gaming Atlanta. The Atlanta show had been expected to launch the comic con organizer’s series of game-specific events held throughout the US over 2016. That series will still take place, but it will now begin with what had originally been planned as the second event, Wizard World Gaming Portland, set for February 19-21.”Wizard World is committed to producing the best possible shows for the gaming community, and ensuring that we achieve our goal of providing a true gaming experience for our fans,” said Wizard World CEO John Macaluso. “In planning the debut of Wizard World Gaming, it became evident that we would not have enough time to put on a high-quality show in Atlanta. We are confident and excited in making Portland the launch of our gaming series.”The series now consists of 10 shows to be held over the year, each one co-located with a Wizard World Comic Con. (The Atlanta show had been planned as a stand-alone gaming event.) While people can purchase admission for just the gaming portion of upcoming events, all Comic Con attendees will have full access to the gaming area as well.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 Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 9 hours agoGenesis Noir nabs four nominations in 2021 IGF AwardsOther games in the running for Seumas McNally Grand Prize include Paradise Killer, Teardown, Chicory: A Colorful Tale, Umurani Generation, and SpiritfarerBy Brendan Sinclair 4 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Xbox will reportedly “go big” on streaming at E3 2019Internal email from Phil Spencer says Google Stadia is a “validation” and notes “no big surprises” in Google revealMatthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefThursday 21st March 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleMicrosoftXbox will “go big” on its plans for cloud gaming at E3 2019, according to an internal email from Microsoft’s executive vice president of gaming Phil Spencer.The email, which was acquired by the tech website Thurott, was a response to Google’s unveiling of its own cloud platform, Stadia. The announcement, Spencer commented, “is validation of the path we embarked on two years ago.””Today we saw a big tech competitor enter the gaming market, and frame the necessary ingredients for success as Content, Community and Cloud,” Spencer continued, which he later suggested is similar to Microsoft’s own approach. 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 Spencer admitted that he was “impressed” by features such as the use of Google Assistant and YouTube, but that the GDC presentation contained, “no big surprises.””Google went big today and we have a couple of months until E3, when we will go big,” he added, and noted that these are “energizing times” for the games industry.Microsoft announced Project xCloud in October 2018, which CEO Satya Nadella later clarified as a strategy to create a, “Netflix for games.” Public testing for the service will take place later this year.Celebrating 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 storiesApple questions credibility of Xbox testimonyiPhone maker asserts that Microsoft did not produce evidence to back Lori Wright’s claims of unprofitable consolesBy James Batchelor 2 days agoEpic pushed for subscription-free multiplayer on Xbox ahead of Apple battleCEO Tim Sweeney told Xbox boss Phil Spencer that “certain plans for August” would create an “extraordinary opportunity”By James Batchelor 7 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyKevin McIntosh Head of Production, Torus GamesA year ago My company worked with Disney Consumer Products during 2014-2015 and enjoyed the experience. We started with portions of the development, and as we proved ourselves we were given more titles and content to create. We had a growing influence on the product and creative control. There was certainly a focus on each element of the game, and we spoke frequently about details that some may see as minor to the experience, but it improved the overall quality of the product. Others had always warned with some horror stories about working directly with Disney, but the whole process was much smoother than I had been led to expect. We ended up winning Disney Developer of the Year for our work on a range of projects. The team at Disney knew games and product development well.My two cents is that Disney should be involved in their own products – licensing is a retreating business and devalues their brands when left in the hands of others. When I visited Disneyland a couple of years ago, I was amazed to see that the range of licenses that were represented, all the way back to brands which hadn’t been touched for 30+ years. They’ve done a great job of keeping some of their brands alive on low boil and cross-generational, as opposed to others who missed their opportunity. My kids understand if I make reference to Mickey Mouse or Mary Poppins (even before the reboot), but would look at me weird if I talked about Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny. There are some big name licensing opportunities like Star Wars / EA which make sense (sort of), but it would be great to see a Disney game strategy. I’d be happy to contribute to that. 🙂 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyJeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago I would of thought Disney would primarily be after Nintendo.Would be a terrible idea for Nintendo, but I’m surprised Disney haven’t been pushing that for years. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyChris Ochs Software Development 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyKlaus Preisinger Freelance Writing When will Disney get back into video games? | OpinionSuggesting Disney should buy Activision Blizzard is half correct; its gaming strategy needs re-evaluation, but that’s the wrong acquisitionRob FaheyContributing EditorFriday 5th July 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleActivision BlizzardThe Walt Disney CompanyWith the closing of Disney’s $71.3bn acquisition of most of Fox’ media properties, an updated image of the giant company’s holdings went viral online. Showing all of Disney’s interests and subsidiary companies on a single, appropriately Mickey-shaped diagram, it wasn’t entirely clear whether it was meant to shock or impress — but it certainly made clear the scale and reach of the company.From its immensely popular parks and resorts via movie studios and TV networks through to print publishing, merchandising and licensing, Disney has its fingers in almost every pie related to entertainment. Moreover, thanks to an incredible series of acquisitions over the past decade or so, Disney owns a fairly dramatic slice of the world’s most beloved entertainment franchises.Pixar (acquired in 2006), Marvel (2009), and Lucasfilm (2012) each brought with them incredibly valuable IP — Toy Story, The Avengers, Star Wars — and Fox is no different, not only reuniting a large part of Marvel’s film rights with the successful MCU franchise but also giving Disney ownership of everything from The Simpsons and National Geographic through to the Alien, Avatar and Independence Day franchises.”It’s weird that we’ve just capped off more than a decade of Marvel movies, and yet the closest thing to a game is a squad-based shooter that doesn’t use the MCU characters and isn’t out until next year” There is, however, one gaping hole in the Disney empire — and it’s no secret what it is. The company’s enormous ambitions in almost every other area of the media, including its aggressive attempt to corner a large part of the streaming video market with Disney+, simply don’t seem to extend to video games. The firm makes no bones about it; CEO Bob Iger told investors earlier this year that “the best place for us to be in that space is licensing and not publishing”, reiterating a party line that was set with the closure of Disney Interactive Studios back in 2016.The company’s ungracious exit from video games had been signalled for several years — it shut down several studios on its way out the door, including Black Rock (Split/Second) and Junction Point (Epic Mickey). Since then, it’s focused almost entirely on licensing out its properties, notably working with EA on Star Wars titles and with Square Enix on an upcoming Avengers game. At least one investor thinks Disney needs to suck up the taste of its former failures in this market and get back in the game; Nick Licouris at Gerber Kawasaki, which owns about $22 million worth of Disney shares, argued this week that the company should take advantage of the recently depressed share price of Activision Blizzard and make that into its next major acquisition target.Now, Gerber Kawasaki isn’t exactly a disinterested party here; the firm also owns about $4.3 million worth of Activision shares. That makes it easy to dismiss this story as “guy who would make a packet from Activision being bought by Disney thinks Disney should probably buy Activision, News at 11″ — but even if Gerber Kawasaki’s interest is obvious, the idea itself is worth thinking about a little.Since the struggles of Disney Infinity, the entertainment giant has had little direct involvement in video games, instead opting to license out if propertiesSure, Disney hasn’t had much success in running its own game studios — but it’s hard to see its current arms-length attitude to games as being in the company’s best interests. The firm’s prior failures in this market were largely attributable to a lack of experience and understanding of video games within Disney’s executive levels; the company had the know-how and background to successfully complete the integration of acquisitions like Lucasfilm and Marvel without damaging their creative cultures, but working with video games just proved a bridge too far.The result has been that despite licensing efforts, Disney’s IPs are dramatically underserved on the video games front. It’s not that anyone wants a return to the bad old days of undercooked tie-in titles being launched alongside every major movie release — ugh. But I think we sometimes don’t appreciate just how weird it is that we’ve just capped off more than a decade of Marvel movies with a $2.7bn grossing mega-hit like Avengers Endgame, and yet the closest thing there is to a game that will capitalise on that enthusiasm and love for the franchise is, um, a squad-based shooter that doesn’t use the MCU versions of the characters and isn’t out until next year. Let alone that we’re about to hit the third Star Wars film in a new trilogy — a new Star Wars trilogy! — and the fifth film made under the Disney banner, and so far all we’ve got to show for it is an online multiplayer FPS game from a couple of years back that people mostly remember for some very unpopular monetisation choices.”Disney is a little more active in mobile — but money spent on a license translates into a desperate need to monetise in incredibly aggressive ways” By comparison, Sony owns the tiniest sliver of the Marvel universe — Spider-Man and his associated characters — and it managed to spin that into one of the best PS4 games of the past year, linking it cleverly to the character’s history both in print and on screen, and even tying it to the brand new Spider-Man: Far From Home with both a free DLC for the game and a subtle nod in the movie itself.”Sony is pretty good at this video games lark” isn’t exactly a truth bomb, but the point stands that given only the tiniest fraction of the IP powerhouse Disney controls, the firm has managed to make video games and movies into a mutually beneficial circle (perfectly balanced, just as all things should be). Hell, for all that DC Comics has struggled terribly in Marvel’s shadow with its film adaptations, it’s knocking it into a cocked hat with games — the Arkham series of Batman games and the Injustice beat ’em ups are both solid franchises that both draw from and feed back into the IPs upon which they’re based. When Disney has found success with games in recent years, it’s largely only been in partnerships which mix its IPs into other companies’ formulae — revivals of Kingdom Hearts with Square Enix and of Marvel vs. Capcom with, well, Capcom being the key examples. By and large its licensing approach doesn’t seem to be working; it’s not just that it loses the company opportunities to tie together video games, TV shows and movies in interesting and compelling ways; that would be forgivable if licensing was resulting in world-class games that Disney didn’t feel it could create on its own, but that just doesn’t seem to be the case.If anything, the licensing approach seems to result in weaker games — perhaps because the inevitable bureaucratic overhead introduced by not one but two giant corporations leaning over the developers’ shoulders is a significant burden on creativity and speed. Or perhaps because the sheer amount of money involved in the license dampens the appetite for risk-taking in the creative process. Or perhaps simply because building games at arm’s length from the people who are creating everything else to do with the IP isn’t a great idea to begin with. This seems to be especially severe in the mobile space, where Disney is a little more active than in PC or console — but where the amount of money being spent on a license translates into a desperate need to monetise in incredibly aggressive, off-putting ways. Sony has demonstrated with Marvel’s Spider-Man how Disney-owned IP can be better adapted to the video games space, and even tie in with filmsIn short, whatever competence Disney thinks it lacks right now in games is a competence it should really be trying to acquire one way or the other, because “we’ll just license it out” isn’t an approach that’s going to wash forever for a company of this size and stature. Sure, Disney can’t do everything at once and right now it’s still focused on integrating the Fox acquisition and gearing up for an epic streaming showdown with Netflix — but this is a company that’s always in search of the next growth opportunity, so constantly overlooking a market the size of video games just isn’t an option. “Should Disney be buying Activision Blizzard? Oh, hell no” So, should Disney be buying Activision Blizzard? Oh, hell no. An acquisition of some kind might make sense for the firm — after all, if the issue is a lack of knowledge and experience of games in the C-suite, then a well-managed acquisition of a successful game publisher ought to come with that in droves.Good acquisitions, however, are additive; they bring growth to a company by allowing it to expand into new markets and find synergies with the existing business to the benefit of both sides. Activision may be cheap right now, at least by the standards of large game publishers — it would probably cost about $40 billion to acquire — but it’s cheap for a reason. It’s had a rough few years and hasn’t convincingly shown how it’s going to break out of that cycle; its knack for creating valuable new franchises seems to have faded and several of its biggest existing franchises seem to be slowly winding down. If Disney doesn’t have the know-how to handle game publishing on its own, it certainly doesn’t have the know-how to turn around an expensive acquisition that’s struggling somewhat.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 Of course, Activision may well turn things around for itself — I have no doubt that it’s working hard on products designed to do just that, but until it proves itself, it’s hard to see how Disney would justify opening its war-chest for this acquisition.If Disney is shopping around, Activision isn’t the only company on the shelf. Indeed, for the kind of money Disney has paid for some acquisitions, it could go straight to the top — Sony’s market cap is only around $70 billion, which is an absolute steal for a firm that would bring with it another prestige film studio, a major music label and a huge consumer hardware empire, plus assorted billion-dollar odds and ends.That’s a pipe dream, of course, not least because Sony has absolutely no desire to be acquired right now — but if you flick through company valuations and daydream a little, you can find any number of better ways for Disney to get into this market — if and when it gets over its C-suite level reticence and realises that this is a sector it can’t afford to sit outside forever.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 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 (11)Grant Stanton President, TSC Management Services GroupA year ago This will never change. There have been attempts since the 90’s and all have failed for the same reason….The Disney Way. Every knowledgeable game talent who has ever worked for them has experienced the unwanted and unneeded direction from Disney film and animation. Interference in all aspects of the development process by inexperienced Disney staffers is inevitable. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyAbdulBasit Saliu Mechanic, Flowmotion Entertainment IncA year ago I will like to see AT&T Games (formerly WB Games) and a new Disney Interactive (from small studio acquisitions). Great article BTW. A year ago @Shane Sweeney: Disney is one of the very few companies that could merge with Nintendo. There are extremely few foreign companies that have the clout with the Japanese public to where it would be seen as good or a loss of face. Of course, Nintendo isn’t motivated in that sector right now due to their relationships with Geneon Universal and WB.It isn’t the production space, it’s that Disney is absolutely clueless when it comes to consumer goods. Everything they do and make is licensed and outsourced. They know how to make movies and experiences, but every single time they try to do anything in merch it bombs hard.Disney Infinity wasn’t a release quantity issue, it’s a pacing issue. They’re used to the box office where you make all your money in the first 30 days. it was that the guys in charge quintupled production runs in expensive to make toys after the initial sellout. I believe the line was “we sold a million Hulk toys, unfortunately we made two million” 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyRichard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital ExtremesA year ago Don’t know how to do merch? What the Company with 400 stores worldwide and billions in revenue from it? Disney’s pretty good at everything bar interactive ; their hiring in the space has always been poor and acquisitions curious at best. the fact their mobile success was down more to original brands by inspired internal creatives (Where’s My Water) shows how inept the management was there. But Disney’s bigger problem in Interactive is brand based and their protection of that. Activision is a non-starter ; Call of Duty shooting women and children terrorists under the Disney umbrella? Yeah that’s hard to see. Now they have Fox one could argue they have an out but that really depends how they handle that brand. We shall see. A year ago Disney has an assembly line of content that is unimaginable in video game terms. For starters, they have at least 10 major movies each year which they expect to gross extremely well. Star Wars Solo at $400 million isn’t defended much if people call it a flop and the makers of it have a social media breakdown. I want to see any video game studio head accuse their audience of not getting it after making $400 million in the first four weeks on this site.Disney could buy EA, Activision, Ubisoft and Take 2 and their combined output would still not satisfy Disney’s idea of production pace. In my opinion, Disney would not enter the video game space as one publisher of many. It would enter on the level of Sony and Microsoft, be their own platform, with an all year round schedule of $60 Disney games. In essence, buy Sony. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyJeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago Microsoft’s Disneyland game is pretty enjoyable for the most part. Some mini games were clunky, but I had a lot of fun 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyAdam Campbell Product Manager, AzoomeeA year ago @Jeff Kleist: Doesn’t the Japanese government get involved when it comes to potentially huge foreign acquisitions? 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyJeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing A year ago @Richard Browne:They don’t do it, they approve it. There is no Disney clothing factory or division.They outsource basically everything you see at Disney parks. They don’t produce their own toys, they don’t produce their own shirts. The most iconic Disney merch, the watch and the phone both were made by third parties. Here’s a fan site complaining about this very thinghttp://studioscentral.com/studiosweekly/the-big-problems-with-walt-disney-world/Disney Infinity was the first time they tried to make their own toys. We’ve seen what happens when they try to make their own games. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyShow all comments (11)Shane Sweeney Academic A year ago I was at studio acquired by Disney and experienced first hand what happens. The Disney Way indeed. These people are just entirely unsuited for the game industry. It’s not just operations, they don’t understand the industry well enough to even make smart acquisitions.The acquisition I was a part of Disney got everything wrong you could get wrong from the start. Their valuation was completely off, they overpaid. They then did everything they could to kill it off, which is exactly what happened.So it’s to their credit I think that they stay out of making games. But invariably they will try again once the sting and lessons learned from the last failure start to fade. Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 8th July 2019 2:40pm 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Surrogate raises $2m in seed roundFunding will go toward development of “Surrogate Reality” portfolio of gamesRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterMonday 15th July 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareHelsinki-based game development studio and video streaming company Surrogate has secured $2 million in seed funding toward its Surrogate Reality portfolio and other development endeavors.The investment was led by Initial Capital, with PROfounders Capital, Brighteye Ventures, and Business Finland also participating.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 Surrogate will use the money to continue development on its Surrogate Reality project, which aims to create games that “blur the lines” between reality and gaming. Currently, it plans to launch its first minigame series in August of this year.”To date, video games continue to be developed with the same limitations that existed at the time of Pong – creating fake physics and fake graphics in an attempt to mimic real-life,” said CEO Shane Allen. “At Surrogate, we want to rethink this process by bringing in unique benefits that the real world has to offer and using them as major elements in the video gaming experience.”Backed by some of the most well-recognized venture funds in the world, we’re building a new category of online entertainment – completely blurring the lines between what real and virtual worlds should and can be. We look forward to releasing the first stages of Surrogate gaming in the coming months.”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 storiesAdopt Me developers unveil new studio, Uplift GamesTeam behind hit Roblox game has grown to over 40 employeesBy Danielle Partis 10 hours agoDeveloper wins against Grand Theft Auto DMCA takedownTake-Two loses claim to reversed-engineered source made by fansBy Danielle Partis 13 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Epic Games commits to loot box transparency across portfolioTHQ Nordic also weighs in on ESA pledges: “We do not plan to implement casino-styled mechanics in our games”Rebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterFriday 9th August 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleEpic GamesTHQ NordicEpic Games and THQ Nordic are joining the growing list of major companies weighing in on the issues surrounding loot boxes this week, with the former pledging continued transparency and the latter saying it has no plans to implement the mechanic at all.Earlier this week, the ESA announced that the three major platform holders — Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony — would commit to policies requiring new games released on their platforms to disclose odds on any loot boxes they contained, beginning in 2020. Other ESA members also pledging the same include Activision Blizzard, Bandai Namco Entertainment, Bethesda, Bungie, Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and Wizards of the Coast.That did still leave a number of ESA members outside of that commitment, notably including Epic Games. Epic has worked toward improved transparency on loot boxes lately, including disclosing the content of loot boxes before purchase in Fortnite: Save the World as of January this year, and doing the same for Psyonix’s Rocket League just this week.In a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, Epic said it would implement the same policy on all its future titles as well.”Earlier this year, the Fortnite Save the World team made a change that showed players every item that they would get in a paid llama before opening it,” the statement reads. “Earlier this week, the team at Psyonix announced a similar change coming later this year to paid crates in Rocket League. Going forward, we’re committed to the same transparency for player purchases in all Epic Games titles.”GamesIndustry.biz reached out to Epic Games to ask whether this policy will also extend to games published on the Epic Games store, and not just titles specifically published by Epic. Epic Games declined to comment or clarify.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 THQ Nordic is another company on the list of ESA members that did not commit to the pledge. However, on Twitter, the company officially weighed in and said that it was not even asked by the ESA for such a commitment, given that it has not published a single game containing a loot box.”We do not plan to implement casino-styled mechanics in our games,” the company added.It was a busy week for loot box discussions in general as the US Federal Trade Commission held a day-long event called “Inside the Game: Unlocking the Consumer Issues Surrounding Loot Boxes” to inform its regulatory decisions going forward. At the series of talks, the FTC learned about the industry’s goals for self-regulation, heard academics share studies and concerns surrounding monetization, and listened to consumer advocates claim that odds disclosure is just the start of what needs to be done.Celebrating 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 storiesTHQ Nordic acquires Kaiko, Appeal, and Massive Miniteam Publisher’s latest acquisitions include its frequent partner for modern remasters, the developer of Outcast, and the studio behind SpitlingsBy Brendan Sinclair 6 hours agoEpic vs Apple – Week One Review: Epic still faces an “uphill battle”Legal experts share their thoughts on the proceedings so far, and what to expect from the coming weekBy James Batchelor 10 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
House committee poised to advance SECURE 2.0 retirement savings bill Newsletters For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here,MOST READ The Gates divorce: Lessons for financial advisers House panel unanimously passes SECURE 2.0 Why Tony Robbins, tax shelters and financial advisers don’t mix The state is the latest among many that have taken steps to institute such systems, which are intended to dramatically expand access to retirement savings at work for small business employees.Earlier this year, legislators in the state’s house and senate introduced bills, both dubbed the Oklahoma Prosperity Act, that would mandate auto-IRA participation for all employers in Oklahoma that have 10 or more workers, have been in business for at least two years and do not already offer a retirement plan.The law would go into effect Nov. 1, and the auto-IRA program would launch within two years after that, though it would likely use a staggered rollout process similar to programs in other states, according to text of the measures. Initially, larger employers would be required to sign up, and smaller businesses would face a later deadline to comply.Employees would be enrolled automatically at a 3% contribution rate, though they could change that or opt out of the program altogether. Employers would not be considered fiduciaries.The fact that Oklahoma is considering such a law says much about the progress of state-sponsored retirement programs for private workers. Other programs are already up and running in more Democratic-leaning states like Oregon, Illinois and California. But the fact that Oklahoma is moving toward an auto-IRA is a very positive sign for the programs overall, said Angela Antonelli, executive director of Georgetown University’s Center for Retirement Initiatives. 3 Subscribe for original insights, commentary and analysis of the issues facing the financial advice community, from the InvestmentNews team. 2 1 4 InvestCloud to acquire Advicent and NaviPlan planning software 5 Oklahoma’s legislature is considering two bills that would establish an auto-IRA program for private-sector workers. In Oklahoma, less than half of the state’s 1.27 million private-sector workers have access to retirement savings plans through their employers, according to a recent report from Georgetown CRI. An auto-IRA program that would require all businesses to participate would cover an additional 438,000 people, though that total would be lower, at 327,000, if employers with fewer than 10 workers are exempt, the report found.States that have established auto-IRA systems have been confident that they are on strong legal ground and that the programs are not covered by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, Antonelli said. That view has been challenged, however, and California is still fighting a lawsuit brought by a conservative tax group that has maintained that the state’s CalSavers program is preempted by ERISA.The Trump administration backed the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in that case, writing an amicus brief supporting its claims to an appellate court. This year, the Biden administration withdrew its support for that court filing, though the Trump administration’s brief could still be considered by the court.“Clearly, with the CalSavers case and the incoming Biden administration moving quickly to take a neutral position and communicate that … [there] has been a signal to the states, of encouragement to go ahead and feel comfortable moving forward with these programs,” Antonelli said. Last month, Virginia also moved forward with auto-IRA legislation, sending bills to the governor. “There has always generally been bipartisan support for these programs,” Antonelli said. “Out of the trajectory of the Covid pandemic … there has been a greater appreciation for the value of saving.”
“Good guys and women on Wall Street but Wall Street didn’t build this country,” he said. “The middle class built the country. And unions built the middle class.”The two proposals follow the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus that Biden called “one of the most consequential rescue packages in American history.” Biden’s address also celebrated a coronavirus vaccine rollout that’s delivered more than 315 million shots and a stimulus program that provided more than 160 million checks to taxpayers.“Our progress these past 100 days against one of the worst pandemics in history is one of the greatest logistical achievements our country has ever seen,” he said.U.S. equity futures extended their gains as Biden spoke, building on an advance propelled by strong tech earnings. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index extended its post-Fed decline, dropping 0.1% as of 10:10 p.m. in New York. Treasury 10-year futures were little changed.TRUMP REBUTTALOn foreign policy, Biden vowed to stand against Russia and China where he sees America’s interests at risk — such as in the South China Sea — but he also reiterated his willingness to work with rival nations on areas such as climate change.“In my discussion with President Xi, I told him that we welcome the competition — and that we are not looking for conflict,” Biden said of Chinese leader Xi Jinping. “But I made absolutely clear that I will defend American interests across the board.”Biden looked to frame both his accomplishments and aspirations as an implicit rebuttal of the disarray that defined the federal government during the Trump administration, eroding confidence in the nation’s ability to meet big challenges.[More: Biden tax proposal draws ire from financial advisers] Subscribe for original insights, commentary and analysis of the issues facing the financial advice community, from the InvestmentNews team. For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here,MOST READ [More: Ultra-rich fear Biden will close their favorite tax loopholes]AMERICAN FAMILIES PLANBiden’s 65-minute speech laid out a broad vision for the country’s recovery from the pandemic, centered around a vastly expanded role for the federal government. His aides say he regards the nation’s emergence from a year of lockdowns, death and economic collapse as a unique opportunity to persuade voters that the country is more united — and poised for massive taxpayer investments. In the speech, the president unveiled his American Families Plan, a $1.8 trillion package of tax credits and domestic priorities including child care, paid family leave and tuition-free community college that would be funded in part by the largest tax increases on wealthy Americans in decades.He also touted his previously proposed $2 trillion infrastructure bill, casting it as a jobs-maker especially for people without college degrees — Americans who largely supported his predecessor, former President Donald Trump.“Nearly 90% of the infrastructure jobs created in the American Jobs Plan don’t require a college degree,” he said. “Seventy-five percent do not require an associate’s degree.”The plan, he said, is “a blue-collar blueprint to build America.” “America is on the move again,” Biden said in his first address to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday. “Turning peril into possibility. Crisis into opportunity. Setback into strength.”But he warned corporations and wealthy Americans that he expects them to carry more of the burden of financing the nation’s advancements.“It’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1% of Americans to pay their fair share,” he said, promising to “reward work, not wealth” by raising taxes for the richest 1% and ordering an Internal Revenue Service “crackdown on millionaires and billionaires who cheat on their taxes.”He would restore the top personal income tax rate to 39.6% for people earning more than $400,000 a year, tax capital gains at the same rate for people earning $1 million or more, and end a capital gains tax break on inheritances as well as the “carried interest” tax break utilized by fund managers.“What I’ve proposed is fair. It’s fiscally responsible,” Biden said, promising programs financed in part by the tax increases would “create millions of jobs and grow the economy.” 3 The Gates divorce: Lessons for financial advisers 1 5 InvestCloud to acquire Advicent and NaviPlan planning software Newsletters House panel unanimously passes SECURE 2.0 4 2 House committee poised to advance SECURE 2.0 retirement savings bill Why Tony Robbins, tax shelters and financial advisers don’t mix President Joe Biden declared that the U.S. has turned the corner on a pandemic that’s killed more than half a million Americans and crippled the economy, and he promised tax increases on the wealthy to pay for ambitious plans to spend trillions on infrastructure, education and other Democratic priorities.
Sharkmob’s new opportunity for UK AAA developersThe Tencent-owned Swedish developer discusses opening a new London studio and retaining its creative independenceJames BatchelorEditor-in-ChiefWednesday 14th October 2020Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareSwedish games studio Sharkmob is forming a new team in London that the company says will offer AAA developers in the UK an opportunity unlike any other project out there.The new studio will be led by managing director James Dobrowski, formerly vice president of product development at EVE Online developer CCP. At first, the UK team will assist the Malmö studio with its current projects, but eventually the London branch will lead development on a third Sharkmob title.Sharkmob is the Swedish studio formed by five former Hitman and The Division developers back in 2016. Since then it has grown to around 180 people, and will grow even further with the establishment of the London team.James Dobrowski, SharkmobThe Malmö studio is currently working on two AAA online multiplayer titles — one based on an established IP, the other an original property — and Dobrowski says the London team will be working on something that will appeal to developers seeking a top tier challenge.”We’re looking to create a studio that can create AAA projects for PC and console at the highest end of the industry when it comes to production values,” he tells GamesIndustry.biz. “We’re deeply interested in innovating or interesting things in the online space, and we are looking to build new IP from the ground up. “We can’t share too much about the project, but I think it’s likely to be very interesting to people in the UK games scene, particularly in the AAA space. It’s the kind of project that a lot of people in the UK would love to work on, but there hasn’t been a great deal of opportunity.” Dobrowski is currently searching for premises in and around Central London — ideally near one of the major train stations in order to tap into the talent pools in nearby UK hubs like Guildford and Leamington Spa.So far, Sharkmob London has recruited design director Martin Connor, live games director Sam Barton and art director Benjamin Penrose. Between Dobrowski and his three colleagues, the team already boasts experience from studios such as Rockstar North, Playground Games, Wargaming and Mediatonic.”It was key for us to maintain a high level of creative independence and ownership of our projects, which Tencent has been very accommodating with” Martin Hultberg, SharkmobLike the original Sharkmob team, the four London developers have all previously worked together, and Dobrowski is confident the variety of projects they have developed together puts them in good stead to create something unique. Connor, for example, brings AAA experience to the table having worked on Grand Theft Auto and Killzone, as does Dobrowski with his contributions to Forza Horizon. But the studio boss says it’s the experience he and Barton gained on EVE Online, as well as the latter’s time on Mediatonic’s Star Trek Fleet Commander, that will shake things up.”Historically, you’ve seen a bit of siloing between the way the AAA space runs and the way that the games-as-a-service and mobile industries have operated, and they’re slowly coming together,” Dobrowski explains. “One thing I was really keen to do with the startup group was start off from day one with all of these diverse thinkers in one room, because I strongly believe that if you are going to do something really meaningful, impactful and innovative in the online space, it requires thinking from kind of both those ends of the spectrum. So I hope we’re going to do something relatively new and exciting in the AAA space.”Pictured left to right: Sharkmob CEO Fredrik Rundqvist with London team members Sam Barton, Martin Connor and James DobrowskiIt’s a story echoing that of the original Sharkmob founding team. The five of them were also ex-AAA — yet unlike other developers from that space escaping the pressure of high-budget production in favour of something with a smaller scope, the team still aimed big. The difference, co-founder Martin Hultberg tells us, is how Sharkmob is structured.”It’s the kind of AAA project a lot of people in the UK would love to work on, but there hasn’t been a great deal of opportunity” James Dobrowski, Sharkmob”We had ideas of how you could do [AAA] in a way that allowed you to create efficient development and good quality,” he says. “Our focus was not to set up a small operation necessarily — that’s where you start usually, and then you see how the project dictates your needs.”We’ve managed to sustain a type of culture and ‘small team feeling’ through different processes and ways of working, so we have lots of distributed ownership. We work in small task forces or groups that resolve different features, so we’re a group of small teams that work together.”Sharkmob’s life as an independent AAA developer was surprisingly short-lived; within less than a year of the studio’s announcement last year, it was acquired by Chinese giant Tencent Holdings. Hultberg says the team was “shopping for some type of strong partnership” and was courted by several major companies.”We ended up with Tencent because there was a strong alignment on where we saw the future of gaming going on,” he says. “Also, it was key for us to maintain a high level of creative independence and ownership of our projects, which they have been very, very accommodating with… What they wanted to acquire was the team primarily, and then they saw what we were working on, which was also of interest to them. And what we wanted was the secure funding part, and not having to worry about ‘do we have jobs two months from now’ just based on cash flow.Related JobsSenior VFX Artist Remote Spain UK & Europe Big PlanetBuild Engineer – Games – Cheshire, England UK & Europe Big PlanetSenior Unity Programmers F2P Mobile Games Turkey Turkey Big PlanetDiscover more jobs in games “[After the acquisition], we’ve been able to raise the level of ambition, to grow fast, and we’ve secured permanent funding, which is a major thing when you’re trying to recruit people. Trying to recruit as an indie compared to trying to recruit when you have solid backing, there’s a big difference because now people know there’s money there. That helps a lot in finding and attracting the right people — it’s less of a risk for them to join.”It’s unusual for a new studio to be acquired before their first game is even announced, let alone released, with first details not expected until early next year at best. But the value Tencent sees in Sharkmob is going to aid efforts to recruit for the new London studio; joining a devleoper owned by the biggest games company in the world must be a reassuringly stable prospect. And Dobrowski assures the UK arm of Sharkmob will still enjoy the same level of autonomy.”What’s really kind of been a breath of fresh air for myself is we have the ownership,” he says. “The level of creative freedom Sharkmob enjoys is probably unparalleled within the industry — especially within the AAA space. And so that was something that was hugely appealing to myself and the other group starting the studio in London. That amount of freedom to go out and create something that we truly care about and we truly believe in, and that is 100% owned within the Sharkmob family.”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 storiesDeveloper wins against Grand Theft Auto DMCA takedownTake-Two loses claim to reversed-engineered source made by fansBy Danielle Partis 3 hours agoFirst-party Ubisoft titles will now be branded as ”Ubisoft Originals”Change was made alongside the announcement of new Tom Clancy titleBy Danielle Partis YesterdayLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.