Categories
Gaming

eSports Competitions are Becoming a Popular Phenomenon

NEW YORK, Aug. 28, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The winners from Dota 2’s The International and Epic Games’ Fortnite World Cup were paid more per-player than the winners of major sporting events such as the Wimbledon and The Masters, making eSports one of the most lucrative careers. The Fortnite Cup paid out USD 30 Million in prizes and 16-year old Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf took home the USD 3 Million solo grand prize. Meanwhile, Dota 2’s The International 2019 paid out over USD 33 Million in prize pool, in which professional organization OG, took home USD 15 Million. The attractive payouts have led many teenagers and young adults to consider developing a career within the eSports industry. For instance, following the conclusion of Dota 2’s The International 2019, Johan “N0tail” Sundstein has now collectively gained USD 6.88 Million in earnings, making him the highest earning player in eSports history. While Sundstein’s earnings is highly appealing, players cannot expect to become top tier athletes overnight. Initially, Sundstein earned about USD 2,000 in earnings from playing Heroes of Newerth. However, due to the declining player count, Sundstein decided to transition to Dota, where he began to make the majority of his earnings. The rate the eSports market has grown over the past several years positions the market to become a disruptive global force. According to data compiled by Infoholic Research, the global eSports market is expected to triple by 2025, reaching a value of USD 3 Billion. Additionally, the market is expected to exhibit a CAGR of 20% during the forecast period from 2019 to 2025. UMG Media Ltd. (TSX-V: ESPT), Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO), Activision Blizzard, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI), QUALCOMM Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), Oracle Corporation (NYSE: ORCL)

Each year, eSport tournament payouts drastically increase. For instance, Dota 2’s The International 2018 boasted a prize pool of USD 25.53 Million, but in just one year alone, the payout increased by another USD 8 Million. Typically, most companies generate the prize pool from in-game player purchases or also known as microtransactions. Generally, most microtransactions are purely cosmetic, however, in some instances microtransactions can give players a competitive advantage. Valve Corporation, the developers and publishers of Dota 2, released “battle passes” that player can purchase in-game for a price of USD 9.99. The battle pass is based on a tier system, which requires players to complete a series of challenges in order to advance. Each time players tier up they are rewarded with prizes such as cosmetics or emoticons. Valve said that 25% of the revenue from battle pass sales go directly back into The International’s prize pool. Moreover, players are much more inclined to purchase the battle pass because Dota 2 is a free-to-play game. Most of the top eSport games are free-to-play games like League of Legends and Fortnite. According to eSports earnings, Dota 2 has paid out USD 216.23 Million in prize pool since its inception in 2013. Meanwhile, Fortnite has delivered USD 73.08 Millionin just two years, while League of Legends has cashed out USD 68.79 Million since 2009. Statistically, free-to-play games are much more appealing to consumers even though the qualities may lack compared to pricier options. Since the game is free, more players are inclined to try the game, driving a large user base, and in return, there is a larger opportunity for players to purchase in-game products. While microtransactions can be controversial, it is a major driver of a Company’s revenue which allows it to boast lavish tournaments. As a result, the media around eSports is increasingly growing each year as players are captivated by the high level of skill and the exhilarating rush at tournaments. “Gaming, specifically competitive gaming (also called eSports) has started to grow at an astounding rate. Traditional sports franchises and even Netflix are worried about this new competitor, as live streaming and in-person events continue to encroach on their territory,” said Brett Schafer, Co-Founder of Market Brothers Media. “Whatever you think of eSports personally, you cannot deny how big it has gotten, and will become. We are still in the early stages of this new industry, one that should continue to grow over the next two decades. It could pay off handsomely for any investor that decides to get in early.”

UMG Media Ltd. (TSX-V: ESPT) announced yesterday that, “it has entered into an agreement to acquire Victor’s Gold. Victor’s Gold is a game mode development company, which provides operators with a platform to run unique events in managed esports titles.

Victor’s Gold provides P2P tournaments and game modes to monetize in-game events that can occur on a consistent basis. Victor’s Gold introduced a distinct game mode, ‘Mercs’ for Counter-Strike which is compatible with most popular shooter games that allows for every in-game engagement to be a point of cash contest. Victor’s Gold’s established base in CS:GO, League of Legends, DOTA2 and PUBG, expands UMG’s influence in the online competitive gaming world and opens new doors for future sponsorship and broadcast activations. Victor’s Gold has operated its Merc Tournament Series at numerous LAN centers in the US and has plans to expand into the casino setting as well as additional LAN centers.

UMG CEO, Dave Antony, had this to say about the acquisition: “The introduction of Victor’s Gold to UMG will allow for many exciting new opportunities for our brand. We’re ecstatic to be able to expand our reach into CS:GO, League of Legends and more with Victor’s Gold and have plans to integrate it into UMG’s platform.”

Victor’s Gold CEO, Ben Abramowitz, commented: “Victor’s Gold is really excited at the prospect of taking our original game content to the next level. An acquisition by UMG would provide Victor’s Gold with a massive boost to capabilities and access to media distribution channels vital to exponential growth.”

In consideration for the acquisition of Victors Gold (the “Transaction”), UMG will issue 1,000,000 Common Shares at a price of $0.30 per share. The Transaction is subject to due diligence and regulatory approval, including the acceptance of the TSX Venture Exchange. The Transaction is an arm’s length transaction.

Closing is expected in the next 30 days.

As well, UMG is pleased to announce that it has retained the services of Independent Trading Group (“ITG”) to conduct market making services. ITG will trade shares of UMG on the TSX Venture Exchange (“Exchange”) with the objective of maintaining a reasonable market and improving the liquidity and stability of UMG common shares in compliance with the policies and guidelines of the Exchange. Under the terms of UMG’s agreement with ITG, ITG will receive $5,000 per month for their services. The agreement will continue in effect on a month to month basis and will automatically renew for subsequent monthly terms unless terminated by either party.  There are no performance factors contained in the agreement between ITG and UMG and ITG will not receive any shares or options from UMG as compensation for their services. The arrangement with ITG is subject to Exchange acceptance.

Categories
Computer Hardware Design

Dell Introduces World’s Most Flexible Modular Zero-Footprint PC

Dell Technologies today announced the new OptiPlex 7070 Ultra, an innovative desktop that stores its small and powerful technology vertically inside a thin and light display stand. The industry’s most flexible, zero-footprint desktop design, the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra is beautiful, space-saving, and clutter-free; as well as fully modular so customers can configure and upgrade as needed throughout the product lifecycle. This means the PC and display4 of this zero-footprint desktop can be upgraded and serviced independently of one another. 

“IT leaders are faced with pressure to keep costs down while giving employees flexibility and freedom to work in ways they’re most productive. As more organizations move to open floor plans, they’re looking for technology that maximizes desk space, employee productivity and IT investments,” said Dave Lincoln, vice president of Fixed Computing, Dell. “Thirty-five years ago, Dell disrupted the way PCs were made and delivered to the world. With the OptiPlex 7070 Ultra, we are changing the category again, with an innovative desktop solution that’s hidden in plain sight.”

Dell’s customer research shows companies like the ability to upgrade their systems. They also enjoy the aesthetics of the All-in-One. Because customers tend to upgrade their computers more frequently than their displays, the independent upgradability of the Ultra brings the best of the traditional desktop and the All-in-One together into a single, new, innovative platform.

Flexible, Upgradable, Innovative Design
The OptiPlex 7070 Ultra features configurable elements for ultimate flexibility and performance. Key features include:

  • Independent upgrade of the PC and display5, so customers can swap out, upgrade or service any part at any time
  • A monitor stand that integrates the PC within and includes physical security options designed to protect against tampering
  • Flexible configurations ideal for multi-user, open-plan workspaces
  • Configurable to different use cases or work styles with compatible products like a height adjustable stand, fixed stand, VESA mount, Dell Single Monitor Arm | MSA20 for superior adjustability and Dell Dual Monitor Arm | MDA20 for added desk agility
  • Performance and scalability to match users’ needs, up to Intel® Core™ vPro™ i7 processors, 64GB6 of RAM, 1TB7NVMe SSD and 2TB HDD

Additionally, a recent Dell study shows that using two monitors can boost worker productivity by up to 21%8. The Ultra can support up to three displays9 – from 19 to 27 inches – for increased productivity. Power, data, video and audio are transmitted in one single cable when the Ultra is paired with Dell USB-C monitors.

New OptiPlex 7071 Tower Brings Immersive VR Consumption Capabilities to the Office

Dell also introduced the new OptiPlex 7071 Tower, ideal for businesses using VR content10 for activities such as training and sales environments. With premium performance, multiple expansion options and accessories tailored to the needs of today’s users, it’s the desktop that offers enhanced productivity options for everyday tasks. The most powerful OptiPlex yet, it can be configured with 9th Gen Intel® Core™ processors up to the new 95W, 8-core Core i9 processor with optional Intel vPro technology.

OptiPlex Optimized with Dell Technologies Unified Workspace

Earlier this year, Dell Technologies announced Unified Workspace, a visionary approach to end-user computing designed to give workers a frustration-free, ready-to-work experience while empowering IT with automated, open and intelligent management solutions. The new OptiPlex portfolio is optimized with Dell Technologies Unified Workspace so IT can easily deploy, secure, manage and support these devices, and users can be productive on day one.

Categories
Movies

“Spider-Man™: Far From Home” Breaks Sony Pictures Record

CULVER CITY, Calif., Aug. 19, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Columbia Pictures’ Spider-Man: Far From Home has officially become Sony Pictures’ highest-grossing film of all time, passing the global box office gross of Columbia Pictures/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/EON Production’s Skyfall. Through Sunday, August 18, Spider-Man: Far From Home made $376.7 milliondomestically and $732.9 million internationally for a worldwide cume of $1.109 billion.

Starting Thursday, August 29, ahead of the holiday weekend, an extended cut of the film featuring approximately four additional minutes of a never-before-seen action sequence will be released in theaters in the U.S. and Canada. The film will also be available in IMAX® and large formats in select locations.

On its path toward this record-breaking milestone, Spider-Man: Far From Home showed incredible power at the global box office.

The film’s North American opening at $185.06 million for the six-day holiday weekend was an all-time opening six-day record for Sony Pictures, the best-ever six-day opening for a Spider-Man film, and the best six-day opening for a film launching over the Fourth of July holiday. On opening day, July 2, the film opened to the biggest Tuesday numbers of all time with $39.3 million.

Spider-Man: Far From Home became the highest-grossing Spider-Man movie overseas and opened at #1 in 65 markets including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The film’s global rollout began on June 28 in China, Hong Kong, and Japan with a $111 million cumulative opening. China debuted to $97.7 million – the seventh-largest opening of all-time for a studio film in the market and Sony Pictures’ second-biggest opening there. Japan opened with $9.4 million – the second-biggest superhero movie launch in the last decade. Hong Kong opened with $3.7 million – the fifth-biggest Friday-to-Sunday opening of all-time, and Sony Pictures’ best-ever opening in the market.

About Spider-Man™: Far From Home
Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man must step up to take on new threats in a world that has changed forever.

Directed by Jon Watts. Written by Chris McKenna & Erik Sommers. Based on the MARVEL Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Produced by Kevin Feige and Amy Pascal. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Thomas M. Hammel, Eric Hauserman Carroll, Rachel O’Connor, Stan Lee, Avi Arad and Matt Tolmach serve as executive producers. The film stars Tom Holland, Samuel L. Jackson, Zendaya, Cobie Smulders, Jon Favreau, JB Smoove, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, with Marisa Tomei and Jake Gyllenhaal.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment
Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition, and distribution; television production, acquisition, and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. SPE’s Motion Picture Group production organizations include Columbia Pictures, Screen Gems, TriStar Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation, Stage 6 Films, AFFIRM Films, and Sony Pictures Classics. For additional information, visit http://www.sonypictures.com/corp/divisions.html.

SOURCE Sony Pictures Entertainment

Categories
Fantasy Gaming Movies

The Magic of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite coming to Real-World Retail Locations

Niantic has announced collaborations with AT&T and Simon to integrate special real-world activations in the augmented reality mobile game, Harry Potter: Wizards Unite™, across retail locations around the United States. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is an augmented reality (AR) real-world mobile game co-developed by Niantic, Inc. and WB Games under the Portkey Games label. The game is now available on the App StoreGoogle Play, and Samsung Galaxy Store in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand as well as many other countries. The game will be launching in additional countries soon.

“We’re excited to team up with AT&T and Simon to create a variety of custom Harry Potter: Wizards Unite gameplay experiences for players visiting the thousands of retail stores and large-scale shopping destinations around the United States,” said Omar Tellez, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Niantic. “Real world games like Harry Potter: Wizards Unite are all about engaging with the world around you, creating new and unique opportunities for players to interact within their neighborhoods, towns and cities like never-before.”

Wizards and Witches playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be able to earn additional rewards and encounter more virtual enemies at Inns and Fortresses placed at more than 10,000 AT&T and Cricket Wireless retail stores beginning June 21 and July 15 respectively. All AT&T sponsored locations will give players more XP at Fortresses and more spell energy at Inns, than any other non-sponsored location in the US. Plus, players will be able to take part in exclusive, limited time quests only available at AT&T and Cricket locations to help them level up faster. AT&T stores now also feature more than 25 exclusive Harry Potter: Wizards Unite consumer products like battery packs, fast chargers and more, as well as Wizarding World imagery for the perfect AR photo backdrop. Flagship AT&T stores in Chicago and San Francisco will host expanded Harry Potter: Wizards Unite build-outs where players can immerse themselves in the augmented reality experience. In addition, AT&T will also be a key sponsor at Harry Potter: Wizards Unite real-world events in the future. For a limited time, beginning July 15, new customers purchasing at Cricketwireless.com will have the opportunity to receive up to $50 worth of in-game Galleons as a gift with purchase.

“AT&T is proud to collaborate with Niantic and WB Games, true leaders in augmented reality and real-world mobile gaming, to continue to bring consumers closer to the content they love,” said Valerie Vargas, SVP, Advertising and Creative Services, AT&T. “AT&T’s network helps us give Wizards across the country new ways to interact with their most beloved Harry Potter characters.”

Beginning today, Simon Malls®, Mills®, and Premium Outlets® will feature an amplified Harry Potter: Wizards Unite game play experience in the United States with increased rewards and elusive enemies. Simon’s 200+ US shopping destinations will each have multiple sponsored Inns and Fortresses, giving players more XP and more spell energy than any other non-sponsored location in the US. This, coupled with both indoor and outdoor locations and plenty of shopping and dining options to enjoy while playing, makes Simon shopping destinations one of the best places to spend a day playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. In the future, select Simon properties will host real-world events and QR assignments for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite.

“Simon is committed to creating fun, innovative, real-life experiences for our shoppers, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is exactly the type of cutting-edge activation our customers get excited about playing. We believe the elevated gameplay we’re offering as a part of the program will drive traffic and excitement for our properties as well as the brands and retailers at Simon,” said Lee Sterling, Senior Vice President Brand Management, Simon.

Harry Potter: Wizards Unite is built on the Niantic Real World Platform, and created using the game design and content creation expertise of WB Games San Francisco. As new recruits of the Statute of Secrecy Task Force, players will investigate the chaotic magical activity that is leaking into the Muggle world and work together to solve the mystery of this Calamity. Players will be able to explore their real-world neighborhoods and cities to discover mysterious artifacts, cast spells, and encounter fantastic beasts and iconic characters along the way.

Categories
Science

Cyanide In Meteorites May Hold Clues To The Origin Of Life

Cyanide and carbon monoxide are both deadly poisons to humans, but compounds containing iron, cyanide, and carbon monoxide discovered in carbon-rich meteorites by a team of scientists at Boise State University and NASA may have helped power life on early Earth. The extraterrestrial compounds found in meteorites resemble the active site of hydrogenases, which are enzymes that provide energy to bacteria and archaea by breaking down hydrogen gas (H2). Their results suggest that these compounds were also present on early Earth, before life began, during a period of time when Earth was constantly bombarded by meteorites and the atmosphere was likely more hydrogen-rich. 

“When most people think of cyanide, they think of spy movies – a guy swallowing a pill, foaming at the mouth and dying, but cyanide was probably an essential compound for building molecules necessary for life,” explained Dr. Karen Smith, senior research scientist at Boise State University, Boise, Idaho. Cyanide, a carbon atom bound to a nitrogen atom, is thought to be crucial for the origin of life, as it is involved in the non-biological synthesis of organic compounds like amino acids and nucleobases, which are the building blocks of proteins and nucleic acids used by all known forms of life.

Smith is lead author of a paper on this research published June 25 in Nature Communications. Smith, along with Boise State assistant professor Mike Callahan, a co-author on the paper, developed new analytical methods to extract and measure ancient traces of cyanide in meteorites. They found that the meteorites containing cyanide belong to a group of carbon-rich meteorites called CM chondrites. Other types of meteorites tested, including a Martian meteorite, contained no cyanide.

“Data collected by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft of asteroid Bennu indicate that it is related to CM chondrites,” said co-author Jason Dworkin of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “OSIRIS-REx will deliver a sample from Bennu to study on Earth in 2023. We will search for these very compounds to try to connect Bennu to known meteorites and to understand the potential delivery of prebiotic compounds such as cyanide, which may have helped start life on the early Earth or other bodies in the solar system.”

Cyanide has been found in meteorites before. However, in the new work, Smith and Callahan were surprised to discover that cyanide, along with carbon monoxide (CO), were binding with iron to form stable compounds in the meteorites. They identified two different iron cyano-carbonyl complexes in the meteorites using high-resolution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. “One of the most interesting observations from our study is that these iron cyano-carbonyl complexes resemble portions of the active sites of hydrogenases, which have a very distinct structure,” Callahan said.

Hydrogenases are present in almost all modern bacteria and archaea and are widely believed to be ancient in origin. Hydrogenases are large proteins, but the active site – the region where chemical reactions take place – happens to be a much smaller metal-organic compound contained within the protein, according to Callahan. It is this compound that resembles the cyanide-bearing compounds the team discovered in meteorites.

An enduring mystery regarding the origin of life is how biology could have arisen from non-biological chemical processes. The similarities between the active sites in hydrogenase enzymes and the cyanide compounds the team found in meteorites suggests that non-biological processes in the parent asteroids of meteorites and on ancient Earth could have made molecules useful to emerging life.

“Cyanide and carbon monoxide attached to a metal are unusual and rare in enzymes. Hydrogenases are the exception. When you compare the structure of these iron cyano-carbonyl complexes in meteorites to these active sites in hydrogenases, it makes you wonder if there was a link between the two,” Smith added. “It’s possible that iron cyano-carbonyl complexes may have been a precursor to these active sites and later incorporated into proteins billions of years ago. These complexes probably acted as sources of cyanide on early Earth as well.”

The research was funded by the NASA Emerging Worlds Program, NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship. The team included Smith, Callahan, and colleagues at Penn State University, University of Maryland and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA Goddard provides overall mission management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer). Dante Lauretta is the mission’s principal investigator at the University of Arizona. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver is building the spacecraft. OSIRIS-REx is the third mission in NASA’s New Frontiers Program. NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, manages New Frontiers for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. NASA is exploring our Solar System and beyond, uncovering worlds, stars, and cosmic mysteries near and far with our powerful fleet of space and ground-based missions.