Study says US Twitch streamers raked in roughly $87 million in 2017

Study says US Twitch streamers raked in roughly $87 million in 2017

12:51pm, 18th February, 2019
A new estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase). is one of the fastest-growing platforms for American content creators. In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators. (Fun Fact: Instagram’s creator-based revenue growth grew nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 to $460 million, according to the study.) Recreate Coalition says these numbers are very conservative based on the methodology of the study and the fact that it’s limited to the U.S. The growth of Twitch is predicated on a few obvious trends, as well as a very nuanced relationship between a streamer and his or her respective audience. In the case of the former, “live” digital experiences continue to be a fascination for startups and consumers alike. While Twitch and YouTube have offered live broadcasts for a while, social media companies have followed along with their own live-streaming products. In fact, Betaworks dedicated a season of its accelerator program to “live” startups, calling the program . With regards to the latter, things get more interesting. The relationship between a viewer and a streamer is similar to our relationships with other famous celebrities, artists and athletes, but puts the viewer far closer to the action. Streamers don’t just pop up briefly in articles, TV interviews or on Twitter or Instagram. They spend hours and hours each day just sitting there, doing whatever it is they do on stream and chatting with their viewers. You can get to know their personality, talk to them and they talk back to you! It’s a bizarre combination that has proven financially fruitful for these streamers, especially at a time when the gaming industry itself is growing by for the . A tier of elite, hyper-popular streamers such as Shroud, DrDisrespect, Dakotaz and of course Ninja are leading the way for others as they continue to gain followers. In fact, Ninja just with Wicked Cool Toys to introduce to the market a line of actual toys. Ninja himself in 2018. But as the gaming world explores new genres and esports grow, there seems to be plenty of room for streamers to make a name (and a pretty penny) for themselves. Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post included a few too many zeroes, stating that U.S. Twitch streamers made $87 billion instead of $87 million. It has been corrected for accuracy with my apologies.
Study says U.S. Twitch streamers raked in roughly $87 million in 2017

Study says U.S. Twitch streamers raked in roughly $87 million in 2017

10:42am, 18th February, 2019
A new study estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase). is one of the fastest growing platforms for American content creators. In terms of YOY growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and Youtube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators. (Fun Fact: Instagram’s creator-based revenue growth grew nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017 to $460 million, according to the study.) Recreate Coalition says that these numbers are very conservative based on the methodology of the study and the fact that it’s limited to the U.S. The growth of Twitch is predicated on a few obvious trends, as well as a very nuanced relationship between a streamer and his or her respective audience. In the case of the former, ‘live’ digital experiences continue to be a fascination for startups and consumers alike. While Twitch and YouTube have offered live broadcasts for a while, social media companies have followed along with their own live streaming products. In fact, Betaworks dedicated a season of its accelerator program to ‘live’ startups, calling the program . With regards to the latter, things get more interesting. The relationship between a viewer and a streamer is similar to our relationships with other famous celebrities, artists and athletes, but puts the viewer far closer to the action. Streamers don’t just pop up briefly in articles, TV interviews, or on Twitter or Instagram. They spend hours and hours each day just sitting there, doing whatever it is they do on stream and chatting with their viewers. You can get to know their personality, talk to them, and they talk back to you! It’s a bizarre combination that has proven financially fruitful for these streamers, especially at a time where the gaming industry itself is growing by for the . A tier of elite, hyper-popular streamers such as Shroud, DrDisrespect, Dakotaz and of course Ninja are leading the way for others as they continue to gain followers. In fact, Ninja just with Wicked Cool Toys to introduce a line of actual toys to the market. Ninja himself in 2018. But as the gaming world explores new genres and esports grow, there seems to be plenty of room for streamers to make a name (and a pretty penny) for themselves. Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this post included a few too many zeroes, stating that U.S. Twitch streamers made $87 billion instead of $87 million. It has been corrected for accuracy with my apologies.
Razer is closing its game store after less than a year

Razer is closing its game store after less than a year

2:06am, 18th February, 2019
Razer is one of the dominant brands in gaming when it comes to buying equipment to play, but one of its biggest efforts to own a larger slice of digital spending hasn’t gone according to plan. After less than a year, that it will close its digital game store at the end of this month “as part of realignment plans.” with the aim of taking a slice of a game sales business that is dominated by Steam. Razer’s offering tied into to incentivize its customers to buy hardware and digital content with the promise of discounts. The company didn’t comment on why the store is closing, but you’d imagine that it didn’t go as well as Razer had hoped. It sure takes a lot to bite into digital game sales, but the rewards are potentially lucrative. (we don’t yet know its total for 2018) and Epic Games, buoyed by the runaway success of Fortnite, , sources previously told TechCrunch. Amazon-owned Twitch — which dominates the live-streaming space — has its own store, while Epic . The Epic Games Store, though, is fairly sparsely populated at this point. It is a long-term project, but the fact that even a company of the size and influence of Epic needs time goes to show the struggle that any new entrant will face. The Razer Game Store will close down on February 28 The Razer Game Store will close its doors at 1am PST February 28. All purchased games will continue to work and pre-ordered titles will ship as planned, according to Razer. Discount vouchers must be used before that date, however. In a Q&A accompanying the announcement, Razer said it would “continue bringing games to gamers via other services.” “We will be investing in other ways to deliver great content and introduce game promotions through Razer Gold, our virtual credits system,” the company said, perhaps hinting at tie-ins with other game stores in the future. Razer went public with an IPO in Hong Kong in 2017.
Q&A: Non-profit Take This addresses mental health challenges among gaming community and creators

Q&A: Non-profit Take This addresses mental health challenges among gaming community and creators

12:20pm, 16th February, 2019
(BigStock Photo) The previous year in the video game industry was punctuated by multiple high-profile layoffs, studio shutdowns, and the occasional genuine scandal. One of the results has been a new public chapter in the ongoing conversation about on the people who create them. is a Seattle-based non-profit organization founded in 2013 by game journalists and , following the suicide of a colleague. The organization, which takes its name from at the beginning of The Legend of Zelda, works to “provide resources, guidelines, and training about mental health issues in the game community, thus reducing the stigma of mental illness.” Take This’s most visible service is the it’s been providing since 2014 at gaming conventions across North America, such as the Penny Arcade Expos. An AFK Room is a quiet place for con-goers to relax, away from the noise and hustle of the show floor, with a friendly staff of volunteers and clinicians to help visitors regain their calm. Raffael “” Boccamazzo, Take This’s clinical director, led several panels at last year’s PAX West about the potential use of games, particularly tabletop games, as therapeutic tools and vehicles, such as “.” Earlier this year. Dr. B opened Save Point Behavioral Health in Bellevue, Wash., in partnership with Seattle-area clinician . He’s also a regular player at , a regularly livestreamed tabletop game played and run by a group of mental health professionals. , Take This’s executive director, has been working with non-profit organizations for 15 years. In addition to Take This, she also serves as a managing director for the New York-based musical charity . GeekWire: I sat in on your panel at PAX West 2018 about games as an identity exploration tool. I was curious, walking out of it, why Take This is specifically focused on video game enthusiasts. What drew you to that cross-section of the population? One of the official logos for Take This. (TakeThis.org Image) Eve Crevoshay: We’re part of the community. The founding story was a story about a colleague of Russ and Susan’s who committed suicide, and it started a conversation inside the industry. Mental health challenges exist throughout the population. That’s not a surprise, but every community and every subculture needs a language in which to talk about that. It needs a friendly space and a friendly language. Every industry has specific challenges related to mental health, and the games industry is no different. So Take This is a game culture-specific, games industry-specific response to mental health challenges, and is very deliberately engaged in that community in order to support it. There are lots of mental health organizations out there that don’t speak game, and are skeptical or not supportive of people who are really into this culture, and the very different, very cool ways in which people love and are fans of games. Raffael “Dr. B” Boccamazzo: To jump onto that and add to it from a mental health perspective, there are a lot of mental health professionals who really view geek and gamer culture as an extremely monolithic construct. We exist to, in some respects, bridge that gap, between mental health professionals and geek and gamer culture, where we can explain that no, a video game is not just a video game. Game studio culture is a very different experience from triple-A to indie, and they have different stressors. We are able to offer and teach some of those things to clinicians so they can provide the appropriate support for the nuances of this culture. Crevoshay: We have a paper called “.” We have a very specific set of conversations and services that we provide inside the game industry that are designed to address the specific nature of creative work, of the developer cycle, the boom and bust cycle that exists within game companies … the specific challenges around the culture in games companies. … We consult on organizational culture and practices, community management, mental health safety, and online environments. GW: I didn’t know you did so much on the ground within the industry itself. Obviously, everybody knows you from the AFK Rooms. Dr. B: Even with the AFK Room, one of the things I like to tell people is that it takes a lot of work to look like nothing’s going on. Before we bring an AFK Room to a show, we end up doing a full consultation and evaluation of a show to make sure that their policies, practices, the way they work with their staff and attendees, and their infrastructure are conducive to an AFK Room without turning it into something it’s not. We do a lot of back-end work just with the AFK Room program, in addition to all this consultation stuff that we also do. GW: To help make conventions more accessible and welcoming to people who might be neurodivergent. Crevoshay: Not just neurodivergent. Dr. B: One doesn’t have to have a diagnosis to find conventions challenging and/or overwhelming. Crevoshay: Just to parse it a little bit, because this is often a confusion that comes up, is that neurodivergence isn’t technically a mental health diagnosis. It’s a separate category. People with it often need the AFK Room space, for example, but there are a lot of other situations and experiences that people have, or specific environments that are challenging for people whether or not they have a diagnosis, and whether or not that is a psychiatric diagnosis or something else. One of the things we really strive to do is normalize the experience of mental health challenges because it’s very, very common, and it’s not something to be embarrassed about. The more we talk about it, the more we can provide a space, to say, “This is OK. If you’re having challenges, don’t be embarrassed about it. Don’t try to hide it. Come to the AFK Room, come use our resources.” Say you feel like this is happening in your workplace. Seek out Take This as a resource in your workplace, in your community, knowing that what we provide first and foremost is just a place where we accept and respect that part of everybody’s divergence. GW: We’re talking a lot right now about crunch in games development, especially in the wake of events like or the . What are some of the challenges you’ve seen as a non-profit, dealing with the effects of crunch time in the video game industry? Dr. B: If you look at the []’s developers’ satisfaction surveys over the last 10 years or so, you see an emerging awareness of the fact that game developers work hard. In some cases, it’s self-imposed, because games are a passion, and it’s really easy to get locked into your passions. In some cases, it’s a culture at the studio, a sort of unspoken expectation that you will work hard, and you will finish all these projects and then some. Regardless of the reasons, overwork exists in the games industry, and again, looking at the surveys, it looks like it’s slowly getting better. But it’s still happening, and we know that there are negative effects to overwork, regardless of what industry you’re in. It just so happens that there’s this culture of overwork in the games industry, and we want to do our darnedest to make sure that people are aware that that’s a thing, but also have some appropriate practices on how to avoid that thing, and actually make their work more efficient and creative in the process. Crevoshay: I would add that not only is overwork still a thing, but consider the particular challenges of being an indie developer, outside of the large studios and outside of the protection of size and flexibility, where you’ve got to worry about funding, timing, and resources. That’s common across creative industries, and we see it as a place where self-imposed crunch really still exists. For example, , who’s on our board, is from and . He’s been in the industry for years. He’s noticed — — a number of the indie developers at Devolver and Good Shepherd showing up with major mental health crises during the process of development, because of the toll that can take on their lives and livelihoods. It hasn’t gone away, even though it first became a real hot topic about 15 years ago in the games industry, and it’s still a major thing. GW: Are you talking about the “” thing? Crevoshay: Yeah. Devolver has commissioned a great game, , and it’s about crunch. It’s a limited run, and the proceeds benefit Take This. It’s a generous thing that Mike and Devolver have done, and it’s a fantastic description of what crunch can do in a game form. The cover art for Mega Cat and Devolver’s Fork Parker’s Crunch Out. (Mega Cat Studios Image) GW: So it’s a Super Nintendo-styled game, or it’s an actual cartridge? Dr. B: It’s an actual cartridge. Crevoshay: In the presale, Mega Cat Studios received a number of messages from people in the games industry, some anonymous, some not, saying “Hey, this is the story about some crunch that I had 10 or 15 years ago. It’s still traumatic for me, I’m still afraid to talk about it, but thanks for making a game about it.” What that says to me is that these experiences and the culture that supported them are still around, and it’s still a big deal. We need to continue to validate that experience and the trauma it can cause, to say “Hey, that’s not OK.” Take This still needs to be the voice in the industry that says mental health matters, mental health challenges are normal, and these practices do not support mental health. GW: There’s definitely a feeling that you earn your bones in the games industry by putting in those 10 years of crunch, where you don’t really sleep and you live off Skittles. Dr. B: My first thought was, “Yeah, if you make it 10 years.” You’re absolutely right. I think that for a lot of people, it’s for the best of reasons. Games are their passion. It’s the same thing you’d see with a musician or an actor. It’s hard to set limits on your passion when you want it so badly, but it makes it easier to crash and burn. GW: Do you think that part of it is the culture, where the higher ups know that there are a lot of passionate young programmers who’ll put in that kind of work, and who can be replaced relatively easily? Dr. B: The majority of the people we encounter are incredibly well-meaning. They’re just passionate. You get a large enough sample, you’re going to get malevolent people anywhere, but really, the majority of the people we run into just want to make games. Crevoshay: The reason that Take This offers management training as part of our consulting services is because these things are hard. They take knowledge, and experience, and figuring out structure, and that’s not how a lot of these companies start, right? A lot of these companies start because somebody says, “I want to make a really cool game!” Then two and a half years later, they have seven employees, and everybody’s about to not be paid for the 15th month. It’s really about how does Take This provide resources to the community in a way that supports, recognizes, and honors the passion, but gives it some structure and some parameters. GW: I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately who tell a lot of stories about that passionate workforce being up against more mercenary sorts of management. It’s interesting to see a perspective from your side of things. You’re seeing a different side of the business just because of who comes forward to you, and your specific areas of expertise. Crevoshay: There’s a narrative that labor’s going to engage in that’s not our narrative. The truth is that we, Take This, have to provide and create as big a tent as possible, because everybody is affected by mental health challenges and everybody is going to need support. So we are as inclusionary and as welcoming as we possibly can be. That’s intentional, because we also recognize that there are a lot of nuances inside companies, communities, and fandoms, we need to try to honor them, as long as they’re safe in terms of mental health practices. We just developed and launched our Take This streaming ambassador program. It’s our entrée into this certification process, saying that we’re going to create parameters about what makes a safe mental health space, and we’re going to ask these streamers to adhere to a set of behavioral standards. We’ll provide them with some training and resources that they can bring to their communities. We’ll train them, we’ll train their moderators if they’d like it, and that creates expectations of what will happen when you show up in this streams, in these communities, and in these chats. That’s something we’re planning to bring across the industry. There’s a basic level of behavior and interaction that’s safe and appropriate for supporting mental health. That’s where we want to start. Dr. B: There’s an acronym that we’ve been using a lot lately. It’s a great mnemonic because all you have to remember is “extra virgin olive oil.” EVOO: Empathize, Validate, Offer Options. Crevoshay: In addition to creating safe spaces, we also want to provide these people, who are advocates for mental health, with parameters about what they should do, and what they do not need to do. A Take This ambassador would know what the parameters are, and doesn’t feel like they’re compelled to offer therapy because that’s not appropriate. Stuff like that. GW: It seems like there’s that middle range of streamer where they end up being a sort of advice columnist to their audience whether they like it or not. Crevoshay: That’s a level of emotional labor, and that’s come up in the streaming community. Dr. B: All the time. GW: I’m curious. It seems like relatively specialized psychological language, like “triggers,” has become more mainstream in the last few years. What’s your perspective on that? Dr. B: I hate to be a contrarian, but I still think it’s a relatively unknown concept. One of the struggles that I run into when educating people is that they know the words but don’t know the meaning. As part of our destigmatizing effort, I try and coach people to stop using psychological terms in common parlance, because they don’t necessarily understand what it means, and we end up conflating normal experiences with these psychological terms. Some of the kids I work with, who I’ve worked with long enough, if a new kid comes into my group and says, “Oh, my God, I’m so triggered,” the rest of them know what’s about to happen. They know the talk the kid is about to get on what that word actually means. One of the things we encounter all the time is, “Oh my God, I’m so ADD,” and we have to educate people on what that means. This is both personally and professionally meaningful for me, because one of the things I’m very open with is my autism. GW: Your Twitter bio used to say that you have Asperger’s? Dr. B: Technically, Asperger’s doesn’t exist anymore. It’s all been combined into autism spectrum disorder as of 2013. But one of the things that goes along with that, a lot of the time, is attentional challenges. For me, when someone’s like, “I’m so ADHD,” I think, “Do you really want to know what that experience is like? Do you understand what it’s like to be distracted by a piece of dust floating by and literally forget what you were just talking about?” That’s not a daily occurrence, that’s a minute-to-minute occurrence. That’s what it’s like. We exist to educate people on these psychological terms that I think most people are misusing. We're gearing up for and looking for volunteers for the and the ! If you'll be in Boston for the show and can spare some time, we'd love to have your help! You can sign up here: — Take This (@TakeThisOrg)
A ridiculously rare copy of Super Mario for NES just sold for over $100,000

A ridiculously rare copy of Super Mario for NES just sold for over $100,000

8:45pm, 14th February, 2019
An extra special copy of Super Mario for NES just sold for a mind-boggling $100,150. Before you go digging through the attic to find your old copy to throw up for auction, you should know: the version in question here is super, super rare. So what makes it special? Super Mario has been released and re-released dozens of times in the past three decades. Even if we’re just talking about the original NES cartridge that came in a black box, there were eleven ever-so-slightly-different versions of the box shipped between 1985 and 1994. Some had tabs for hanging them from store shelves; some lacked a trademark symbol or two in the right spots; others had slightly tweaked graphics for the “Seal of Quality” on the face. The very first few runs, though, had a particularly obvious quirk: rather than being shrink-wrapped, they were sealed with just a little black “Nintendo” sticker at the top of the box. These early versions hit just a handful of test markets. Remember, Mario wasn’t a thing at this point — no one really had any idea what this game was about, much less the worldwide icon that Mario would become. So even amongst the super small number of copies that were distributed prior to the game’s wider launch in 1986, most people who got their hands on it wouldn’t think to keep it in pristine condition. , which certified this copy, pins the condition at around 9.4 out of 10. It also says that this copy is the only known “sticker sealed” one still in existence, and that even the sticker itself is somehow in tip-top shape. Wata has a breakdown of the many variations of $100,000 is a hefty chunk of change to drop on a game, and a from Heritage Auction house says the purchase was actually a joint effort between multiple buyers, including a coin dealer, multiple video game collectors and the founder of the auction house itself.
Daily Crunch: Facebook (possibly) considered buying Unity

Daily Crunch: Facebook (possibly) considered buying Unity

2:19pm, 14th February, 2019
The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can . 1. Less than a year after making a $3 billion investment into the future of virtual reality with the purchase of VR, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was considering another multi-billion-dollar bet by buying Unity, the popular game engine that’s used to build half of all gaming titles. At least, that’s the claim made in a new book, “The History of the Future,” by Blake Harris, which digs deep into the founding story of Oculus and the drama surrounding the acquisition, subsequent lawsuits and personal politics of founder Palmer Luckey. 2. Although the companies were relatively quiet about the deal, it could end up being pretty significant, showing both the market connections between China and Europe and the margin pressures that many smaller remittance companies are under in the wake of larger companies like Amazon building their own money-moving services. 3. We round up everything Nintendo announced yesterday, from Super Mario Maker 2 to the unexpected remake of Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening. 4. Dog mode is meant to accomplish two things: to keep dogs (or perhaps a hamster or cat) in a climate-controlled environment if left unattended in a vehicle, and to let passersby know their status. 5. Users of the dating app Coffee Meets Bagel woke up this morning to find an email in their inboxes warning that their account information had been stolen by a third-party who gained unauthorized access to the company’s systems. 6. Apple was forced to pull the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models from shelves in the country last month, after chipmaker Qualcomm posted security bonds to enforce a December court injunction. 7. Malt has created a marketplace for companies and engineers working as freelancers. There are currently 100,000 freelancers on the platform and 15,000 companies using Malt regularly.
Nintendo makes the old new again with Mario, Zelda, Tetris titles for Switch

Nintendo makes the old new again with Mario, Zelda, Tetris titles for Switch

6:58pm, 13th February, 2019
The afternoon brought an eventful series of announcements from in one of its Direct video promos, and 2019 is looking to be a banner year for the Switch. Here’s everything the company announced, from Super Mario Maker 2 to the unexpected remake of Game Boy classic Link’s Awakening. The stream cold opened with a look at , which would honestly be enough announcement for one day. But boy did they have more up their sleeves. First the actually new stuff: Shown last but likely to garner the bulk of the internet’s response is the remake of Link’s Awakening, which came out more than a quarter of a century ago on Game Boy. I admit to never finishing this but I loved the feel of it, so I’m dying to play this new tilt-shifted, perspective-switching 3D version. Platinum has an intriguing new game called Astral Chain, in which you appear to control two fighters at the same time in some crazy-looking robot(?)-on-robot action. Talent from The Wonderful 101, Bayonetta, and Nier: Automata ensure this will be worth keeping an eye on. The recent trend of battle royale and perhaps the best game ever made, Tetris, combine in Tetris 99, where 100 people simultaneously and competitively drop blocks. , and it’s free on Switch starting right now. And on the JRPG tip: Fire Emblem: Three Houses got a long spot that introduced the main characters, whom you’ll no doubt ally with and/or be betrayed by. Romance is in the air! And arrows. From the back-to-basics studio that put out I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear comes Oninaki, an action RPG that looks like a good well-crafted bit of fun, if not particularly original. Dragon Quest 11 S — an enhanced version of the original hit — and DQ Builders 2 are on their way to Switch later this year, in Fall and July respectively. Rune Factory 4 Special is another enhanced, remastered classic in a series that I adore (though I wish they’d remaster Frontier). It was also announced that RF5 is in development, so thank god for that. Final Fantasy VII is coming at the end of March, and Final Fantasy IX is available now. I’m ashamed to say I never played the latter but this is a great opportunity to. Sidescrollers new and old: BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! is a new entry in a well-like puzzle platformer series that introduces some new characters and multiplayer. Coming in April. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night got a teaser, but we’ve heard a lot about this Castlevania spiritual sequel already. Just come out! Yoshi’s Crafted World comes out March 29, but there’s a demo available today. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker gets an update adding multiplayer to its intricate levels and soon, a paid pack for new ones. I might wait for a combined version but this should be fun. Miscellaneous but still interesting: The new Marvel Ultimate Alliance is coming this summer and I can’t wait. The second one was a blast but it came out way too long ago. A good co-op brawler is a natural fit for the Switch, plus being a superhero is fun. Daemon X Machina, the striking-looking mech combat game, is getting a demo ahead of the summer release. They’re going to incorporate changes and advice from players so if you want to help shape the game, get to it. Disney Tsum Tsum Festival… I don’t know what this is. But it looks wild. Deltarune! It’s the sequel-ish to the beloved Undertale, and you can get the first chapter on Switch now. Play Undertale first, or you won’t get the dog jokes. There were a few more little items here and there but that’s the gist. Boy am I glad I have a Switch!
Apple fails to block porn & gambling ‘Enterprise’ apps

Apple fails to block porn & gambling ‘Enterprise’ apps

5:12pm, 12th February, 2019
Facebook and Google were far from the only developers meant for companies offering employee-only apps. A TechCrunch investigation uncovered a dozen hardcore pornography apps and a dozen real-money gambling apps that escaped Apple’s oversight. The developers passed Apple’s weak Enterprise Certificate screening process or piggybacked on a legitimate approval, allowing them to sidestep the App Store and Cupertino’s traditional safeguards designed to keep iOS family-friendly. Without proper oversight, they were able to operate these vice apps that blatantly flaunt Apple’s content policies. The situation shows further evidence that Apple has been neglecting its responsibility to police the Enterprise Certificate program, leading to its exploitation to circumvent App Store rules and forbidden categories. For a company whose CEO Tim Cook frequently criticizes its competitors for data misuse and policy fiascos like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica, Apple’s failure to catch and block these porn and gambling demonstrates it has work to do itself. Porn apps PPAV and iPorn (iP) continue to abuse Enterprise Certificate program to sidestep the App Store’s ban on pornography. Nudity censored by TechCrunch to distribute apps that installed VPNs or demanded root network access to collect all of a user’s traffic and phone activity for competitive intelligence. That led Apple to briefly revoke Facebook and Google’s Certificates, thereby disabling the companies’ legitimate employee-only apps, which caused office chaos. Apple issued a fiery statement that “Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.” Meanwhile, dozens of prohibited apps were available for download from shady developers’ websites. Apple offers a lookup tool for finding any business’ D-U-N-S number, allowing shady developers to forge their Enterprise Certificate application The problem starts with Apple’s lax standards for accepting businesses to the enterprise program. The program is for companies to distribute apps only to their employees, and its policy explicitly states “You may not use, distribute or otherwise make Your Internal Use Applications available to Your Customers.” Yet Apple doesn’t adequately enforce these policies. Developers simply have to fill out an online form and pay $299 to Apple, as detailed in this guide from . The form merely asks developers to pledge they’re building an Enterprise Certificate app for internal employee-only use, that they have the legal authority to register the business, provide a D-U-N-S business ID number and have an up to date Mac. You can easily Google a business’ address details and look up their D-U-N-S ID number with a tool Apple provides. After setting up an Apple ID and agreeing to its terms of service, businesses wait one to four weeks for a phone call from Apple asking them to reconfirm they’ll only distribute apps internally and are authorized to represent their business. With just a few lies on the phone and web plus some Googleable public information, sketchy developers can get approved for an Apple Enterprise Certificate. Real-money gambling apps openly advertise that they have iOS versions available that abuse the Enterprise Certificate program Given the number of policy-violating apps that are being distributed to non-employees using registrations for businesses unrelated to their apps, it’s clear that Apple needs to tighten the oversight on the Enterprise Certificate program. TechCrunch found thousands of sites offering downloads of “sideloaded” Enterprise apps, and investigating just a sample uncovered numerous abuses. Using a standard un-jailbroken iPhone. TechCrunch was able to download and verify 12 pornography and 12 real-money gambling apps over the past week that were abusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate system to offer apps prohibited from the App Store. These apps either offered streaming or pay-per-view hardcore pornography, or allowed users to deposit, win and withdraw real money — all of which would be prohibited if the apps were distributed through the App Store. A whole screen of prohibited sideloaded porn and gambling apps TechCrunch was able to download through the Enterprise Certificate system In an apparent effort to step up policy enforcement in the wake of TechCrunch’s investigation into Facebook and Google’s Enterprise Certificate violations, Apple appears to have disabled some of these apps in the past few days, but many remain operational. The porn apps that we discovered which are currently functional include Swag, PPAV, Banana Video, iPorn (iP), Pear, Poshow and AVBobo, while the currently functional gambling apps include RD Poker and RiverPoker. The Enterprise Certificates for these apps were rarely registered to company names related to their true purpose. The only example was Lucky8 for gambling. Many of the apps used innocuous names like Interprener, Mohajer International Communications, Sungate and AsianLiveTech. Yet others seemed to have forged or stolen credentials to sign up under the names of completely unrelated but legitimate businesses. Dragon Gaming was registered to U.S. gravel supplier CSL-LOMA. As for porn apps, PPAV’s certificate is assigned to the Nanjing Jianye District Information Center, Douyin Didi was licensed under Moscow motorcycle company Akura OOO, Chinese app Pear is registered to Grupo Arcavi Sociedad Anonima in Costa Rica and AVBobo covers its tracks with the name of a Fresno-based company called Chaney Cabinet & Furniture Co. You can see a full list of the policy-violating apps we found: Apple refused to explain how these apps slipped into the Enterprise Certificate app program. It declined to say if it does any follow-up compliance audits on developers in the program or if it plans to change admission process. An Apple spokesperson did provide this statement, though, indicating it will work to shut down these apps and potentially ban the developers from building iOS products entirely: “Developers that abuse our enterprise certificates are in violation of the Apple Developer Enterprise Program Agreement and will have their certificates terminated, and if appropriate, they will be removed from our Developer Program completely. We are continuously evaluating the cases of misuse and are prepared to take immediate action.” TechCrunch asked Guardian Mobile Firewall’s security expert Will Strafach to look at the apps we found and their Certificates. Strafach’s initial analysis of the apps didn’t find any glaring evidence that the apps misappropriate data, but they all do violate Apple’s Certificate policies and provide content banned from the App Store. “At the moment, I have noticed that action is slower regarding apps available from an independent website and not these easy-to-scrape app directories” that occasionally crop up offering centralized access to a plethora of sideloaded apps. Porn app AVBobo uses an Enterprise Certificate registered to Fresno’s Chaney Cabinet & Furniture Co Strafach explained how “A significant number of the Enterprise Certificates used to sign publicly available apps are referred to informally as ‘rogue certificates’ as they are often not associated with the named company. There are no hard facts to confirm the manner in which these certificates originate, but the result of the initial step is that individuals will gain control of an Enterprise Certificate attributable to a corporation, usually China/HK-based. Code services are then sold quietly on Chinese language marketplaces, resulting in sometimes 5 to 10 (or more) distinct apps being signed with the same Enterprise Certificate.” We found Sungate and Mohajer Certificates were farmed out for use by multiple apps in this way. “In my experience, Enterprise Certificate signed apps available on independent websites have not been harmful to users in a malicious sense, only in the sense that they have broken the rules,” Strafach notes. “Enterprise Certificate signed apps from these Chinese ‘helper’ tools, however, have been a mixed bag. Zoe example, in multiple cases, we have noticed such apps with additional tracking and adware code injected into the original now-repackaged app being offered.” Porn apps like Swag openly advertise their availability on iOS Interestingly, none of the off-limits apps we discovered asked users to install a, let alone . TechCrunch reported this month that both apps had been paying users to snoop on their private data. But the iOS versions after we exposed their policy violations, and Apple also caused chaos at Facebook and Google’s offices by . The fact that these two U.S. tech giants were more aggressive about collecting user data than shady Chinese porn and gambling apps is telling. “This is a cat-and-mouse game,” Strafach concluded regarding Apple’s struggle to keep out these apps. But given the rampant abuse, it seems Apple could easily add stronger verification processes and more check-ups to the Enterprise Certificate program. Developers should have to do more to prove their apps’ connection with the Certificate holder, and Apple should regularly audit certificates to see what kind of apps they’re powering. Back when Facebook missed Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of its app platform, Cook was asked what he’d do in Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes. “I wouldn’t be in this situation” . But if Apple can’t keep porn and casinos off iOS, perhaps Cook shouldn’t be lecturing anyone else.
Apple fails to block porn & gambling “Enterprise” apps

Apple fails to block porn & gambling “Enterprise” apps

Facebook and Google were far from the only developers meant for companies offering employee-only apps. A TechCrunch investigation uncovered a dozen hardcore pornography apps and a dozen real-money gambling apps that escaped Apple’s oversight. The developers passed Apple’s weak Enterprise Certificate screening process or piggybacked on a legitimate approval, allowing them to sidestep the App Store and Cupertino’s traditional safeguards designed to keep iOS family friendly. Without proper oversight, they were able to operate these vice apps that blatantly flaunt Apple’s content policies. The situation shows further evidence that Apple has been neglecting its responsibility to police the Enterprise Certificate program, leading to its exploitation to circumvent App Store rules and forbidden categories. For a company whose CEO Tim Cook frequently criticizes its competitors for data misuse and policy fiascos like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica, Apple’s failure to catch and block these porn and gambling demonstrates it has work to do itself. Porn apps PPAV and iPorn (iP) continue to abuse Enterprise Certificate program to sidestep the App Store’s ban on pornography. Nudity censored by TechCrunch to distribute apps that installed VPNs or demanded root network access to collect all of a user’s traffic and phone activity for competitive intelligence. That led Apple to briefly revoke Facebook and Google’s Certificates, thereby disabling the companies’ legitimate employee-only apps which caused office chaos. Apple issued a fiery statement that “Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple. Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.” Meanwhile, dozens of prohibited apps were available for download from shady developers’ websites. Apple offers a lookup tool for finding any business’ D-U-N-S number, allowing shady developers to forge their Enterprise Certificate application The problem starts with Apple’s lax standards for accepting businesses to the enterprise program. The program is for companies to distribute apps only to their employees, and its policy explicitly states “You may not use, distribute or otherwise make Your Internal Use Applications available to Your Customers”. Yet Apple doesn’t adequately enforce these policies. Developers simply have to fill out an online form and pay $299 to Apple, as detailed in this guide from . The form merely asks developers to pledge they’re building an Enterprise Certificate app for internal employee-only use, that they have the legal authority to register the business, provide a D-U-N-S business ID number, and have an up to date Mac. You can easily Google a business’ address details and look up their D-U-N-S ID number with a tool Apple provides. After setting up an Apple ID and agreeing to its terms of service, businesses wait one to four weeks for a phone call from Apple asking them to reconfirm they’ll only distribute apps internally and are authorized to represent their business. With just a few lies on the phone and web plus some Googleable public information, sketchy developers can get approved for an Apple Enterprise Certificate. Real-money gambling apps openly advertise that they have iOS versions available that abuse the Enterprise Certificate program Given the number of policy-violating apps that are being distributed to non-employees using registrations for businesses unrelated to their apps, it’s clear that Apple needs to tighten the oversight on the Enterprise Certificate program. TechCrunch found thousands of sites offering downloads of “sideloaded” Enterprise apps, and investigating just a sample uncovered numerous abuses. Using a standard un-jailbroken iPhone. TechCrunch was able to download and verify 12 pornography and 12 real-money gambling apps over the past week that were abusing Apple’s Enterprise Certificate system to offer apps prohibited from the App Store. These apps either offered streaming or pay-per-view hardcore pornography, or allowed users to deposit, win, and withdraw real money — all of which would be prohibited if the apps were distributed through the App Store. A whole screen of prohibited sideloaded porn and gambling apps TechCrunch was able to download through the Enterprise Certificate system In an apparent effort to step up policy enforcement in the wake of TechCrunch’s investigation into Facebook and Google’s Enterprise Certificate violations, Apple appears to have disabled some of these apps in the past few days, but many remain operational. The porn apps that we discovered which are currently functional include Swag, PPAV, Banana Video, iPorn (iP), Pear, Poshow, and AVBobo, while the currently functional gambling apps include RD Poker and RiverPoker. The Enterprise Certificates for these apps were rarely registered to company names related to their true purpose. The only example was Lucky8 for gambling. Many of the apps used innocuous names like Interprener, Mohajer International Communications, Sungate, and AsianLiveTech. Yet others seemed to have forged or stolen credentials to sign up under the names of completely unrelated but legitimate businesses. Dragon Gaming was registered to US gravel supplier CSL-LOMA. As for porn apps, PPAV’s certificate is assigned to the Nanjing Jianye District Information Center, Douyin Didi was licensed under Moscow motorcycle company Akura OOO, Chinese app Pear is registered to Grupo Arcavi Sociedad Anonima in Costa Rica, and AVBobo covers its tracks with the name of a Fresno-based company called Chaney Cabinet & Furniture Co. You can see a full list of the policy violating apps we found below: Apple refused to explain how these apps slipped into the Enterprise Certificate app program. It declined say if it does any follow-up compliance audits on developers in the program or if it plans to change admission process. An Apple spokesperson did provide this statement, though, indicating it will work to shut these apps down and potentially ban the developers from building iOS products entirely: “Developers that abuse our enterprise certificates are in violation of the Apple Developer Enterprise Program Agreement and will have their certificates terminated, and if appropriate, they will be removed from our Developer Program completely. We are continuously evaluating the cases of misuse and are prepared to take immediate action.” TechCrunch asked Guardian Mobile Firewall’s security expert Will Strafach to look at the apps we found and their Certificates. Strafach’s initial analysis of the apps didn’t find any glaring evidence that the apps misappropriate data, but they all do violate Apple’s Certificate policies and provide content banned from the App Store. “At the moment, I have noticed that action is slower regarding apps available from an independent website and not these easy-to-scrape app directories” that occasionally crop up offering centralized access to a plethora of sideloaded apps. Porn app AVBobo uses an Enterprise Certificate registered to Fresno’s Chaney Cabinet & Furniture Co Strafach explained how “A significant number of the Enterprise Certificates used to sign publicly available apps are referred to informally as ‘rogue certificates’ as they are often not associated with the named company. There are no hard facts to confirm the manner in which these certificates originate, but the result of the initial step is that individuals will gain control of an Enterprise Certificate attributable to a corporation, usually China/HK-based. Code services are then sold quietly on Chinese language marketplaces, resulting in sometimes 5 to 10 (or more) distinct apps being signed with the same Enterprise Certificate.” We found Sungate and Mohajer Certificates were farmed out for use by multiple apps in this way. “In my experience, Enterprise Certificate signed apps available on independent websites have not been harmful to users in a malicious sense, only in the sense that they have broken the rules” Strafach notes. “Enterprise Certificate signed apps from these Chinese ‘helper’ tools, however, have been a mixed bag. Zoe example, in multiple cases, we have noticed such apps with additional tracking and adware code injected into the original now-repackaged app being offered.” Porn apps like Swag openly advertise their availability on iOS Interestingly, none of the off-limits apps we discovered asked users to install a, let alone . TechCrunch reported this month that both apps had been paying users to snoop on their private data. But the iOS versions after we exposed their policy violations, and Apple also caused chaos at Facebook and Google’s offices by . The fact that these two US tech giants were more aggressive about collecting user data than shady Chinese porn and gambling apps is telling.“This is a cat-and-mouse game” Strafach concluded regarding Apple’s struggle to keep out these apps. But given the rampant abuse, it seems Apple could easily add stronger verification processes and more check-ups to the Enterprise Certificate program. Developers should have to do more to prove their apps’ connection with the Certificate holder, and Apple should regularly audit certificates to see what kind of apps they’re powering. Back when Facebook missed Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of its app platform, Cook was asked what he’d do in Mark Zuckerberg’s shoes. “I wouldn’t be in this situation” . But if Apple can’t keep porn and casinos off iOS, perhaps Cook shouldn’t be lecturing anyone else.
Feel the beep: This album is played entirely on a PC motherboard speaker

Feel the beep: This album is played entirely on a PC motherboard speaker

8:46pm, 8th February, 2019
If you’re craving a truly different sound with which to slay the crew this weekend, look no further than — though you may have to drag your old 486 out of storage to play it. Yes, this album runs in MS-DOS and its music is produced entirely through the PC speaker — you know, the one that can only beep. Now, chiptunes aren’t anything new. But the more popular ones tend to imitate the sounds found in classic computers and consoles like the Amiga and SNES. It’s just limiting enough to make it fun, and of course many of us have a lot of nostalgia for the music from that period. ( still gives me chills.) But fewer among us look back fondly on the days before sample-based digital music, before even decent sound cards let games have meaningful polyphony and such. The days when the only thing your computer could do was beep, and when it did, you were scared. , a programmer and musician who’s been doing “retro” sound since before it was retro, took it upon himself to make some music for this extremely limited audio platform. Originally he was just planning on making a couple of tunes for a game project, but , he explains that it ended up ballooning as he got into the tech. “A few songs became a few dozens, collection of random songs evolved into conceptualized album, plans has been changing, deadlines postponing. It ended up to be almost 1.5 years to finish the project,” he writes (I’ve left his English as I found it, because I like it). Obviously the speaker can do more than just “beep,” though indeed it was originally meant as the most elementary auditory feedback for early PCs. In fact, the tiny loudspeaker is capable of a range of sounds and can be updated 120 times per second, but in true monophonic style can only produce a single tone at a time between 100 and 2,000 Hz, and that in a square wave. Inspired by games of the era that employed a variety of tricks to create the illusion of multiple instruments and drums that in fact never actually overlap one another, he produced a whole album of tracks; I think “Pixel Rain” is my favorite, but “Head Step” is pretty dope too. You can of course listen to it online or as MP3s or whatever, but the entire thing fits into a 42 kilobyte MS-DOS program you can download . You’ll need an actual DOS machine or emulator to run it, naturally. How was he able to do this with such limited tools? Again I direct you to his , where he describes, for instance, how to create the impression of different kinds of drums when the hardware is incapable of the white noise usually used to create them (and if it could, it would be unable to layer it over a tone). It’s a fun read and the music is… well, it’s an acquired taste, but it’s original and weird. And it’s Friday.