Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet confirms layoffs and canceled projects

Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet confirms layoffs and canceled projects

2:48pm, 25th February, 2019
ArenaNet is best known for Guild Wars 2, an online role-playing video game. (ArenaNet Screenshot) ArenaNet, the video game maker behind Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2, confirmed Monday that it’s laying off employees and canceling projects. The confirmantion followed last week. The Bellevue, Wash.-based studio did not say how many employees were affected. The canceled projects had not yet been announced. ArenaNet, which employs more than 400 people , is owned by South Korean video game developer NCSoft. “This is part of a larger organizational restructuring within NCSoft in the west, but the Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 game services will not be affected, nor is any upcoming game content canceled,” the company said in a statement provided to GeekWire. Citing an internal email, Kotaku reported that NCSoft West’s CEO Songyee Yoon told employees: “Our live game business revenue is declining as our franchises age, delays in development on PC and mobile have created further drains against our revenue projects, while our operating costs in the west have increased … Where we are is not sustainable, and is not going to set us up for future success.” Fans took to Twitter to show support for the affected employees using the hashtag . Friends, today is going to be very very hard for all of us, whether people stay at the company or not. If you’d like to spread some love and appreciation for the devs, the stories we told and those we won’t get to tell, tweet some positive thoughts under today. ✨ — Jennifer Scheurle (@Gaohmee) Lead narrative designer Aaron Linde announced that he was leaving ArenaNet on Twitter. Welp, I spent the weekend thinking about it, and I've decided that I'm gonna be leaving ArenaNet. Really tough decision. I adore these people. I'll miss them so. — Aaron Linde (@aaronlinde) This was the third recent restructuring in the video game industry. Last week, EA’s Australian studio FireMonkeys also announced layoffs , according to the organization Game Workers Unite Australia. Activision Blizzard also said earlier this month that it would .
Bioware’s high-flying ‘Anthem’ falls flat

Bioware’s high-flying ‘Anthem’ falls flat

2:36pm, 25th February, 2019
Anthem is the first attempt by Bioware (of Mass Effect and Dragon Age fame) to tap into the well of cash supposedly to be found in the “game as platform” trend that has grown over the last few years, with Destiny, Warframe and Fortnite as preeminent exemplars. After a botched demo weekend dampened fan expectations, the final game is here — and while it’s a lot better than the broken mess we saw a few weeks ago, it’s still very hard to recommend. I delayed my review to evaluate the game’s progress after an enormous day-one patch. While it is always premature to judge a game meant to grow and evolve by how it is immediately after launch, there are serious problems here that anyone thinking of dropping the $60 or more on it should be aware of. Perhaps they’ll all be fixed eventually, but you better believe it’s going to take a while. I’d estimate this is about half the game it’s clearly intended to be; it seems to me we must soon find out that most of Anthem, supposedly in development for five years or more, was scrapped not long ago and this shell substituted on short notice. The basic idea of Anthem is that you, a “freelancer” who pilots a mechanized suit called a “javelin,” fly around a big, beautiful world and blast the hell out of anything with a red hostility indicator over its head, which in practice is damn near everything. Once you’re done, you collect your new guns and gadgets and head back to base to improve your javelin, take on new missions, and so on. If it sounds familiar, it’s basically an extremely shiny version of Diablo, which established this gameplay loop more than 20 years ago; its sequels and the innumerable imitators it spawned have refined the concept, bolstering it with MMO-style online integration, “seasons” of gameplay, and of course the inevitable microtransactions. People play them simply because it’s fun to kill monsters and see your character grow more powerful. So Anthem is in good company, though of course for every success there are probably two or three failures and mediocre titles. Destiny has thrived in a way only because of its fluid and satisfying gunplay, while a game like Path of Exile leans on bulk, with skill trees and content one may never reach the ends of. Anthem, on the other hand, lacks the charms of either. It is wildly short on content and its moment-to-moment gameplay, while competent and in some ways unique, rarely has you on the edge of your seat. It’s a very mixed bag of interesting concepts and disappointing execution, coupled with some truly baffling user experience issues. I’ll cover the good parts first: the basics of flying around and shooting guys are for the most part solid. There’s a good variety of weapons, from hand cannons to shotguns and sniper rifles, with meaningful variations within those groups (though they usually boil down to rate of fire). You feel very cool during engagements, picking off enemies, dodging behind cover, flying to a new vantage point, and so on. Each of the four javelins has a good pile of themed special abilities that significantly affect how you play; for instance, the Storm starts out with (basically) non-damaging ice shards that freeze enemies, setting them up for a damaging combo from its lightning strike — but soon you can swap those out for fiery explosions and a charge-up blast of cold, and so on. The synergies are somewhat limited in that some abilities clearly only work with some others, but there’s fun to be had experimenting. I played with three of the four javelins available (more to come, apparently) and they were all very distinct styles. Damn. The graphics really are lovely, from the future-past desert chic of Fort Tarsis to the lush jungle cliffs of the world you’ll be exploring. The light and landscapes are beautiful, and the character models are, too. Firefights look chaotic and splashy, which they are. There are also lots of customization options, in terms of colors and materials anyway — there’s a puzzling lack of cosmetics to buy with in-game or real currency, only two or three available right now. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the extent of what Anthem gets right — and to be clear, it really can be fun when you’re actually in the middle of a firefight, blasting away, doing combos with friends, taking on hordes of bad guys. The rest is pretty much a mess. Here’s the greatest hits of how Anthem fails to operate, to respect the player’s time, and to generally speaking be a good game. First and perhaps most egregious, the load screens are frequent and long. I timed it at more than 5 minutes from launch, and at least 3 or 4 different load screens, before I could actually play the game. Get ready for a lot of this! And incidentally, many fire attacks don’t actually set up combos. A long load time to bring up a huge world like Anthem’s I can understand. But load times to enter the screen where you change your gear? Load screens when you enter a small cave from the map? A load screen when you stray too far from your teammates and have to be teleported to them? A load screen when you finish a mission, then another before you can return to base — and another before you can equip your new gun? Oh my god! This is compounded by a sluggish and over-complicated UI that somehow manages to show both too much and not enough, while inconsistent keys and interaction elements keep you guessing as to whether you need to press F or space or escape to go forward, hit or hold escape to go back, use Q or E to go through submenus or if you have to escape out to find what you’re looking for. Equipment and abilities are mystifyingly under-explained: no terms like “+15% gear speed” or “+/-10% shield time” are explained anywhere, in the tutorial, documentation, or character screen. Because there is no character screen! For a game that depends hugely on stats and getting an overall feel for your build and gear, you have to visit five or six screens to get a sense of what you have equipped, its bonuses (if comprehensible), and whether you have anything better to use. Even core game systems like the “primer” and “detonator” abilities are only cursorily referred to, by cryptic icons or throwaway text. The original Diablo did it better, to say nothing of Anthem’s competition at the AAA level. Navigating these menus and systems is doubly hard because you must do so not by just hitting a key, but by traveling at walking speed through the beautiful but impractical Fort Tarsis. It took a full 30 seconds for me to walk from my suit (the only place where you can launch missions) to a quest giver. And when you start the game, you start in a basement from which you have to walk 20 seconds to get to your suit! Are you kidding me? A common sight. Even when you’re doing what the game does best, zooming around and getting in firefights, there’s a disturbing lack of mission variety. Almost without exception you’ll fly to a little arena — some ruins or a base of some kind — and are immediately alerted of enemies in the area. They warp in at a convenient distance, often while you watch, and attack while you stand near a gadget (to advance a progress bar) or collect pieces to bring back. Some more powerful guys warp in and you shoot them. Fly to next arena, rinse and repeat. Sure, you could say “well it’s a shooter, what do you expect?” I expect more than that! Where are the aerial chases the intro leads you to believe exist? Enemies all either stand on the ground or hover just above it. They don’t clamber on the walls, get to the top of towers, shoot down on you from cliffs, climb trees, build gun emplacements. You don’t defend a moving target like the “Striders” (obviously AT-ATs) you supposedly travel in; bridges and buildings don’t crumble or explode; you don’t chase a bad guy into a big cave (or if you do, there’s a loading screen); the “boss” type enemies are often just regular guys with more life or shields that recharge in the time it takes you to reload. Where are the enemy javelins? The enemy Striders? 90 percent of what you kill will be groundbound grunts taken down in a flash. For a game in which movement is emphasized and enjoyable, combat involves very little of it. The campaign, which is surprisingly well acted but forgettable, seems like it was tacked on in a hurry. Amazingly, a major cutscene details a much more interesting story, in which a major city is overrun and destroyed and only a few survive. It struck me at the time that this might have been the original campaign and starting mission, after which you are logically relegated to the nearby Fort Tarsis and forced to fight for scraps. Instead you have a series of samey missions with voice-overs telling you what’s happening while you stand there and watch progress bars fill up. At one point you are presented with four ancient tombs to track down, only to find that these amazing tombs aren’t missions but simply checklists of basic game activities like opening 15 treasure chests, killing 50 enemies with melee, and so on. At a point increasing these numbers was literally the only “mission” I had available in the game. And when I tried to join other people’s missions to accomplish these chores, half the time they were broken or already finished. Even trying to quit these missions rarely worked! (Some of these bugs and issues have been mitigated by patches, but not all.) Spoiler warning! What do you think is in the tombs? A taxing dungeon full of traps, monsters, and ancient treasure? Nope! Literally just a tiny, empty room. And yes, there’s a loading screen — both in and out. Oh, and because many of the missions are difficult or tedious to do solo, you’ll want to team up — except if you’re slow to load, the mission will commence without you and you’ll miss the VO. Whoops! And by the way, if you just want to test out a new gun or power, you’ll have to join a multiplayer “freeplay” session to do it, which is another handful of loading screens. I’m not even going to get into the failings of the multiplayer. Since you can’t communicate it’s basically like playing with bots. By the way, there’s no PvP so forget about skirmishing with your friends or randoms. Even the loot you get is frustratingly low quality and unimaginative. Every gun or component is a standard model almost always with just slightly better damage than the last one you found, and perhaps a stat bonus. But the stat bonuses are boring and often nonsensical: do I really want an assault rifle that gives me 10 percent better damage with heavy pistols? Where’s the fun? For comparison when I was playing Diablo III recently I found a pair of leg armor early on that produced a powerful poison cloud whenever I was touching 3 or more enemies. Suddenly I played differently, rushing into crowds of monsters and leaping out, then immobilizing them while their life ticked down. I changed out my weapons, focused on physical defense, poison buffs… all because of a pair of pants! I’ve encountered nothing like that in 25 hours of Anthem. Every new power and gun is the same as the old one but with a higher number. Where’s the lightning bolt that also sets people on fire, or the plasma blast that always knocks down flying guys? The pistol that does double damage against one class of enemy, the sniper rifle that automatically chambers a new round instantly in one out of five shots? You do eventually find some “Masterwork” items that have unique qualities, but even these are compromised by the fact that their stats are completely random (such as a bonus to the wrong damage type), necessitating a grind to make or find them over and over until you get one with bonuses that make sense. So much of Anthem seems like it’s just missing. The campaign is half there; the controls and UI are half there; the loot is half there. The multiplayer is half there. Everything lacks a critical piece that makes it more than basically functional, and considering the game’s highly polished competition, this is inexplicable and inexcusable. I find it hard to believe this was in the works for five years when such elementary aspects like a character screen and working item descriptions aren’t included at launch. It’s more than possible that with perhaps half a year of work the Bioware team — which seems to be painfully aware of the game’s shortcomings, if their responses to on the game’s subreddit are any indication — could make this game worth the price of entry. But right now I couldn’t recommend it to anybody in conscience, and I’m disappointed that a developer that’s created some of my favorite games dropped the ball so badly. It’s too bad, because I feel the pull of the game, the basic chaotic fun at the heart of any good looter-shooter, because I feel like this can’t really be it. This can’t really be all my abilities, right? This can’t be every weapon? I liked Anthem when it was at its best, but that was so very little of the time I spent in it, and it took so much effort and patience on my part to even make those moments a possibility. I’ll be checking back in with the game in the hopes that it makes a Destiny-esque turnaround, but for now I have to say Anthem suffers from a failure to launch.
Unreal Engine 4 support is coming to HoloLens 2

Unreal Engine 4 support is coming to HoloLens 2

2:59pm, 24th February, 2019
Microsoft closed out today’s big HoloLens 2 debut with a surprise appearance by Epic Games CEO, Tim Sweeney. The gaming exec was clearly impressed by the technology’s future for both developement and consumer augmented reality. “I believe that AR is going to be the primary platform of the future for both work and entertainment,” he told the crowd at the event. The Fortnite creator is kicking things off on the development side, announcing that Unreal Engine 4 support will be coming to the headset. The move is part of a larger strategy for Microsoft to open the system up, as it looks to grow its key foray into the world of mixed reality. For Epic, meanwhile, it’s part of a larger embrace of both Microsoft’s solution and all things AR. Sweeney noted that the company is not ready to announce any kind of consumer-facing AR offering, that they’re certainly on the way, and the company “will support HoloLens in all of our endeavors.”
Fortnite goes big on esports for 2019 with $100 million prize pool

Fortnite goes big on esports for 2019 with $100 million prize pool

3:44pm, 22nd February, 2019
Epic Games, maker of the ultra popular Battle Royale game Fortnite, is in prize cash for competitive tournaments in 2019. The company made waves in the esports world last year, announcing for the 2018 competitive year, dwarfing every other competitive title in one fell swoop. This year, a significant portion of the $100 million will be awarded to participants of the first-ever Fortnite World Cup. Each of the 200 players who qualify and compete will walk away with at least $50,000, with the winner taking home $3 million. The Fortnite World Cup will take place July 26 – 28 in New York City, offering $30 million total in prizes. One-hundred of the top solo players will be invited, along with the top 50 duos teams. So how do you get in on this? Fortnite is holding weekly open online qualifiers, each worth $1 million, from April 13th to June 16th. Eligible players who consistently place well will have a shot at being one of those top 200 players. This announcement comes at an interesting time for Fortnite. While the game still reigns supreme in terms of popularity, other Battle Royale games are picking up traction. Apex Legends (an EA and Respawn title), in particular, is growing in popularity. Several of the top streamers, including Ninja, Shroud, Timthetatman, High Distortion and Annemunition have started playing more Apex and participated in the first . Keeping the attention of these streamers is surely a priority for Fortnite, and for a game that pulls in some in in-game purchases, spending $100 million a year is a small price to pay.
Pokémon GO will soon let you change teams for about $8

Pokémon GO will soon let you change teams for about $8

6:14pm, 21st February, 2019
Early on in Pokémon GO, you’re asked to make a decision: Which team do you want to be on? Instinct (Yellow)? Valor (Red)? Mystic (Blue)? The question comes a bit out of the blue. Especially amongst those who started early and have stuck with the game, it’s not uncommon to hear people grumble about how they wish they’d chosen differently. But once you choose, it’s final; changing teams means making a whole new account and starting the grind from Level 1. Well, until now. Pokémon GO will soon let you change your team by way of an in-game “Team Medallion” item. Realizing that there are too many Mystic in your area and want to mix it up a bit? You can switch to Valor. Are most of your friends Instinct and you want to help them hold gyms? You can. But there are catches: It’ll cost money, and you can only do it once a year. It’ll cost you 1,000 Pokécoins — that’s the in-game currency, (slowly) obtainable by holding in-game locations or in exchange for real money via in-app purchase. A pack of 1,200 coins currently goes for $10, so 1,000 coins works out to a little over $8. As for why there’s a once-per-year cap? It helps make sure people have some degree of loyalty to their chosen teams… but it also helps maintain the game’s mechanics. There are some advantages to playing alongside members of your team — stat boosts in the big group boss battles (or “Raids”), a few extra Pokéballs when your team does the most damage in said raids, etc. — and letting people change too much might screw that up a bit. This is the latest in a streak of recent additions meant to fulfill longstanding requests from the playerbase, and perhaps respark the interest of some players who moved on. They added trading (a staple of the main series) in June of last year, and player-vs-player battles (another staple) in December. the game is currently the 67th most popular title in the iOS app store. says the team medallion should roll out on February 26th.
Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime retires (and Bowser claims the castle)

Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime retires (and Bowser claims the castle)

4:05pm, 21st February, 2019
is retiring after more than a decade spent as president of of America. His career spanned many console generations, starting with the troubled Gamecube and ending with the fabulously successful Switch. Reggie will be succeeded by Doug Bowser, who has worked under him for the last four years. In a statement provided by Nintendo, Reggie (who frequently went by his first name in familiar fashion) offered the following farewell: Nintendo owns a part of my heart forever. It’s a part that is filled with gratitude – for the incredibly talented people I’ve worked with, for the opportunity to represent such a wonderful brand, and most of all, to feel like a member of the world’s most positive and enduring gamer community. As I look forward to departing in both good health and good humor, this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends. In addition, he posted a video farewell on Twitter: Nintendo fans, Reggie has a message for all of you. Please take a look. — Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) Reggie has been one of Nintendo’s most public and recognizable faces ever since the early days of his ascendancy, which coincidentally was when I began covering E3 regularly for work. I had the privilege of meeting him numerous times for interviews and Q&As, as well as just bumping into him at this or that event. His indefatigably on-message manner, as if he had a prepared remark for every possible question, was impossible to be frustrated with because of his undeniable charisma and passion for the games and devices he was promoting. It may have been hard to tell where Reggie ended and Nintendo PR began (perhaps now we’ll never know), but he was never anything less than helpful and engaging in my experience. When he took over Nintendo of America, the company as a whole was recovering from a down period marked by a console (the GameCube) that had not kept pace with the competition and a handheld that, while popular, was flagging and clearly old-fashioned. As most will remember, however, the company soon turned all that around with the DS and Wii, two of the best-selling consoles of all time and ones that returned Nintendo to its household name status as well as vastly expanding the “gamer” demographic. Of course the Wii U was a disappointment (though home to many great games) but since then the Switch has restored confidence in the company’s ability to innovate and deliver. With some 20 million sold since launch, Reggie is leaving on a high note. Reggie’s involvement from the outside seemed to be to pretend these things didn’t exist until 30 seconds before going on stage to announce them, after which he would tirelessly promote them to every outlet and fan that managed to make eye contact with him. He was accessible, friendly, and if not candid he was certainly honest and earnest at all times. He’ll certainly be missed by many, myself included. Doug Bowser will take over as president on April 15, Reggie’s official last day. Bowser joined in 2015 and led the sales and marketing for the Switch, so you know he’s got momentum — plus, you know, the name. I’ve asked Nintendo for any further information on Reggie’s departure, such as whether he’ll still be involved with the company at all, and will update this post if I hear back. So long, Reggie, and best of luck on the next level!
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé to retire, hand leadership reins to Doug Bowser

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aimé to retire, hand leadership reins to Doug Bowser

3:03pm, 21st February, 2019
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé speaking on stage at the 2018 GeekWire Summit. Fils-Aimé will step down as Nintendo of America’s president in April. (Photo by Dan DeLong for GeekWire) Nintendo of America’s longtime president and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé is retiring and will be replaced by Doug Bowser. Fils-Aimé, who has spent 15 years with the company, will step down in April. Bowser is the division’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. Doug Bowser. (Nintendo Photo) Fils-Aimé said that “this is not ‘game over’ for me, but instead ‘leveling up’ to more time with my wife, family and friends.” Fils-Aimé took over his current role in 2006 and oversaw the expansion of Nintendo DS, Wii, Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo Switch systems. “Inside and outside our company, Reggie is known as an exceptional leader. We are grateful that he is leaving the business in good shape with strong momentum,” Nintendo President Shuntaro Furukawa said in a statement. “Doug Bowser and the rest of the team will ensure a seamless transition and continued momentum for Nintendo.” Nintendo fans, Reggie has a message for all of you. Please take a look. — Nintendo of America (@NintendoAmerica) “It has been my great fortune to work with and be mentored by Reggie for four years at Nintendo of America,” Bowser said. “And rest assured, we will continue to build on his work to evolve and expand our brand, furthering Nintendo’s global mission of creating smiles. There are millions more of those to come.”
Selfie app maker Meitu eyes overseas gaming market with $340 million deal

Selfie app maker Meitu eyes overseas gaming market with $340 million deal

7:50am, 20th February, 2019
China’s largest selfie app maker has been busy working to diversify itself beyond the beauty arena in China. On Wednesday, the Hong Kong-listed company announced in a that it has agreed to pay about HK$2.7 billion ($340 million) for a 31 percent stake in game publishing company Dreamscape Horizon. Dreamscape Horizon, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed games group Leyou, specializes in making video games for personal computers and consoles and owns 97 percent of Canada-based studio This global connection will potentially hasten Meitu’s overseas expansion and the foray into games, on the other hand, will help the Xiamen-based firm capture more male users. (Operating out of Xiamen might have also been convenient for Meitu to meet the coastal city’s booming hub of game developers.) Out of Meitu’s 110 million monthly active users overseas, only 30 million are male. “The collaboration with Leyou is not only focused on mainland China but also the global market,” says a Meitu spokesperson in a statement. “Mainland China currently accounts for the majority of Meitu’s earnings. The acquisition will broaden our business scope and diversify the geographic streams of our income.” The overseas move appears to be a tactful one as the domestic gaming market is crowded with established players like Tencent, and hundreds of smaller contenders. The local environment has also turned hostile to gaming companies as Beijing steps up scrutiny amid concerns of titles being violent and harmful to young players. The result was a months-long halt in game approvals that dragged down Tencent’s stock prices and in the giant. And before long Tencent announced it would to distribute games in Southeast Asia. The hiatus in December, but companies are still feeling the chill as China is reportedly mulling a this week. Meitu is most famous for its suite of photo-editing and beautifying apps, but hardware has been its major income source for years. For the first half of 2018, the company generated 72 percent of its revenues from selling smartphones optimized for taking selfies, a category proven popular in a country where touched-up photos have become the norm. But Meitu’s hardware business is shrinking as smartphone shipment slows in China and phones from mainstream brands like and Huawei now come equipped with filters. It has, however, found a new home for its barely mainstream smartphone brand after Xiaomi in November to lure more female users.
Indie developer Red Hook Studios working on ‘Darkest Dungeon 2,’ a sequel to 2016 hit

Indie developer Red Hook Studios working on ‘Darkest Dungeon 2,’ a sequel to 2016 hit

5:34pm, 19th February, 2019
Vancouver, B.C.-based indie game developer Red Hook Studios announced on Tuesday that it has begun work on Darkest Dungeon 2, a sequel to the hit 2016 dungeon crawler. The announcement comes on the third anniversary of the original DD‘s exit from Steam Early Access. Most of what’s known right now about DD2 comes from with two of Red Hook’s developers. The new game is being made by a significantly larger team, up to 14 from the five core creators who worked on the original DD, and will feature an updated version of the original’s gameplay. Are you courageous enough tot carry the Flame? We're working on a sequel to Darkest Dungeon! — Darkest Dungeon (@DarkestDungeon) Darkest Dungeon was initially funded via Kickstarter in 2014, and entered Steam’s Early Access program in 2015. The player takes the role of an adventurer who discovers that she has inherited an estate from a dead relative. Upon arrival, she finds that the extensive tunnels below the manor building contain portals that have released an untold number of evil creatures into the world, and she must recruit a party to clean the place out. Unlike a lot of games with a similar premise, Darkest Dungeon draws heavily upon themes and mechanics from horror, particularly H.P. Lovecraft’s . The player has to watch out for character stress levels and mental health, in addition to terrible monsters. You don’t just have to keep your adventurers alive, but also just sane and human enough to function, and you’re almost guaranteed to lose a few of them to injury, trauma, or worse. Darkest Dungeon quickly became a bestseller on Steam, and “graduated” from Early Access 11 months later, with subsequent ports to the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita. It received two DLC expansions, The Crimson Court and The Colour of Madness, in 2017 and 2018.
Medal.tv’s clipping service allows gamers to share the moments of their digital lives

Medal.tv’s clipping service allows gamers to share the moments of their digital lives

2:39pm, 19th February, 2019
As online gaming becomes the new social forum for living out virtual lives, a new startup called has raised $3.5 million for its in-game clipping service to capture and that are increasingly happening in places like or . Digital worlds like are now far more than just a massively multiplayer gaming space. They’re places where communities form, where social conversations happen and where, increasingly, people are spending the bulk of their time online. They even host concerts — like the one from EDM artist Marshmello, which drew (according to the DJ himself) onto the platform. While several services exist to provide clips of live streams from gamers who broadcast on platforms like Medal.tv bills itself as the first to offer clipping services for the private games that more casual gamers play among friends and far-flung strangers around the world. “Essentially the next generation is spending the same time inside games that we used to playing sports outside and things like that,” says Medal.tv’s co-founder and chief executive, Pim DeWitte. “It’s not possible to tell how far it will go. People will capture as many if not more moments for the reason that it’s simpler.” The company marks a return to the world of gaming for DeWitte, a serial entrepreneur who first started coding when he was 13 years old. Hailing from a small town in the Netherlands called Nijmegen, DeWitte first reaped the rewards of startup success with a gaming company called SoulSplit. Built on the back of his popular YouTube channel, the SoulSplit game was launched with DeWitte’s childhood friend, , and a fellow online gamer, , who came on board as SoulSplit’s chief technology officer. At its height, SoulSplit was bringing in $1 million in revenue and employed roughly 30 people, according to interviews with DeWitte. The company shut down in 2015 and the co-founders split up to pursue other projects. For DeWitte that meant a stint that would use satellite imagery to better locate people in the event of a humanitarian crisis. He also helped the nonprofit that could be used by doctors deployed to treat Ebola outbreaks. Then in 2017, as social gaming was becoming more popular on games like Fortnite, DeWitte and his co-founders returned to the industry to launch Medal.tv. It initially started as a marketing tool to get people interested in playing the games that DeWitte and his co-founders were hoping to develop. But as the clipping service took off, DeWitte and co. realized they potentially had a more interesting social service on their hands. “We were going to build a mobile app and were going to load a bunch of videos of people playing games and then we we’re going to load videos of our games,” DeWitte says. The service allows users to capture the last 15 seconds of gameplay using different recording mechanisms based on game type. Medal.tv captures gameplay on a device and users can opt-in to record sound as well. “It is programmed so that it only records the game,” DeWitte says. “There is no inbound connection. It only calls for the API [and] all of the things that would be somewhat dangerous from a privacy perspective are all opt-in.” There are roughly 30,000 users on the platform every week and around 15,000 daily active users, according to DeWitte. Launched last May, the company has been growing between 5 percent and 10 percent weekly, according to DeWitte. Typically, users are sharing clips through Discord, WhatsApp and direct messages, DeWitte said. In addition to the consumer-facing clipping service, Medal also offers a data collection service that aggregates information about the clips that are shared by Medal’s users so game developers and streamers can get a sense of how clips are being shared across which platform. “We look at clips as a form of communication and in most activity that we see, that’s how it’s being used,” says DeWitte. But that information is also valuable to esports organizations to determine where they need to allocate new resources. “Medal.tv Metrics is spectacular,” said Peter Levin, chairman of the Immortals esports organization, in a statement. “With it, any gaming organization gains clear, actionable insights into the organic reach of their content, and can build a roadmap to increase it in a measurable way.” The activity that Medal was seeing was impressive enough to attract the attention of investors led by Backed VC and Initial Capital. Ridge Ventures, Makers Fund and Social Starts participated in the company’s $3.5 million round as well, with Alex Brunicki, a founding partner at Backed, and Matteo Vallone, principal at Initial, joining the company’s board. “Emerging generations are experiencing moments inside games the same way we used to with sports and festivals growing up. Digital and physical identity are merging and the technology for gamers hasn’t evolved to support that,” said Brunicki in a statement. Medal’s platform works with games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, Roblox, Minecraft and Oldschool Runescape (where DeWitte first cut his teeth in gaming). “Friends are the main driver of game discovery, and game developers benefit from shareable games as a result. Medal.tv is trying to enable that without the complexity of streaming,” said Vallone, who previously headed up games for Google Play Europe, and now sits on the Medal board.