Airbnb banked on short-term rentals. Can it continue without them?

first_imgFrom left: Zeus Living CEO Kulveer Taggar, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky, Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal and Lyric CEO Andrew Kitchell (Getty, iStock)This story was originally published in July 2020.Just over a year ago, Lyric was riding high.On the heels of a $160 million funding round led by Airbnb, the short-term rental startup was plotting a massive expansion in the spring of 2019. Employees mused about buyouts and stock options.“It was a big deal,” said a former Lyric executive who asked not to be named. “We were depending on a fundraise to grow the company, plus to have a big and well-known company like Airbnb back us was definite street cred.”Brian Chesky, CEO of AirbnbThe euphoria was short-lived. Lyric all but shut down in late June after coronavirus ravaged the travel and hospitality industries.Over the past decade, Airbnb created a booming industry for short-term rentals, investing in smaller players and seeding a sprawling network of startups. As of 2018, the global market value of the short-term rental industry was estimated at $169 billion, according to a Skift research report. With the market now reeling, the strength of that expansive network is being tested.Zeus Living, the corporate housing startup that Airbnb backed in December, laid off 30 percent of its staff this spring. Oyo Hotels & Homes, the fast-growing budget chain out of India backed by both Airbnb and SoftBank, is shuttering hotels after losing $335 million last year. A partnership with home-share startup Niido, led by Miami developer Harvey Hernandez, recently dissolved in litigation. And by July, Lyric had all but shut down after closing most locations and pivoting to software development.Other investors might have bailed out their struggling companies, and some did. In May, Zeus got a $15 million lifeline from backers including CEAS Investments I and Soros Fund Management — but not Airbnb.“At their core, they’re not an investment firm,” Seth Borko, a senior research analyst at Skift said of Airbnb, which saw its valuation fall to $18 billion from $26 billion in March.Seth Borko, analyst at Skift“You have to ask yourself, are [side investments] nice-to-have or need-to-have?” Borko noted. “If you’re Airbnb, any investment in a company other than your own is no longer necessary.”In a May 5 letter to Airbnb employees, CEO Brian Chesky put it this way: “This crisis has sharpened our focus to get back to our roots, back to the basics. This means that we will need to reduce our investment in activities that do not directly support the core of our host community.”The domino effectSince its 2008 launch, San Francisco–based Airbnb has spawned businesses ranging from property managers to rental empires. In recent years, to build a comprehensive travel platform, it began backing some of the very businesses it inspired.Doing so was a “win, win, win for those plugged into the ecosystem,” Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s global head of policy, told Bloomberg last year.Chris Lehane, global head of policy of AirbnbFor startups, the upside was obvious: associating with Airbnb boosted their profile and hiring power in a cutthroat industry. “Being able to say ‘We’re the horse Airbnb chose to bet on’ matters,” Borko noted.Smaller players could also expect Airbnb to drive traffic to their sites, even if the investment didn’t require firms to exclusively list properties on Airbnb, which most didn’t. “Their value proposition resonated with a lot of startups,” said Jordan Nof, co-founder and managing partner of Tusk Venture Partners, which also backed Lyric.For Oyo, the stakes were even higher. The budget hotel chain was already well-funded by SoftBank and other venture capital players when Airbnb invested a rumored $150 million to $200 million last year. That came as Oyo was looking to expand globally, and it validated the company’s narrative as a travel-industry disruptor.The connection to Airbnb also lent gravitas to Oyo’s 26-year-old founder, Ritesh Agarwal, as he led the company toward a presumptive IPO.“You’ve got the SoftBank capital, you’ve got the very aggressive expansion plans, you’ve got the astronomical valuation,” said Michael Norris, a researcher at AgencyChina, a marketing firm that tracks Oyo. “What you perhaps are missing is the star-studded board that makes the 20-something-year-old founder and CEO look like he’s surrounded by the smartest people in the room.”Ritesh Agarwal, founder of Oyo HotelsFor Airbnb, the investments were part of a growth strategy crucial to its own prospective IPO. Having evolved beyond its couch-surfing roots, Airbnb was hungry for professionally managed inventory, which it found in Niido, Zeus, Lyric and others. “They wanted to be a broader, travel umbrella brand,” Borko said. “Those investments had a lot to do with trying to ensure a flourishing ecosystem on its platform.”In particular, the deals boosted Airbnb’s access to inventory in big cities, where it previously tangled with local politicians anxious to curb the growth of short-term rentals. With $3 billion in backing, Airbnb had enough dry powder to not only fill gaps in its offerings, but also test different models. Zeus opened the door on corporate travel, Lyric targeted upscale urban travelers, Niido promised a pipeline of managed multifamily developments, and Oyo gave it a foothold in the fast-growing Indian travel market.“For Airbnb … the intel of what these companies are up to is probably worth the price of admission in and of itself,” said Bradley Tusk, CEO of Tusk Ventures.In 2017, Airbnb and Miami-based Newgard Development Group announced a deal to develop several Airbnb-branded buildings. The partnership was designed to streamline short-term rentals and overcome the regulations that threatened them, according to Hernandez, CEO of NDG and a co-founder of Niido.Harvey Hernandez, CEO of NDG and co-founder of Niido“[Airbnb] knew if they wanted to grow they needed to be multifamily and they wanted to be in an environment where their actual product and the owner of the real estate embraced that activity,” he said. “Why? Because you see how every city is fighting them.”But Niido’s partnership with Airbnb imploded even before Covid. Airbnb sued in January, claiming it invested $11 million in the partnership with NGD, which failed to deliver 12 of 14 planned buildings. Airbnb further alleged Hernandez siphoned $1 million of the investment into another one of his projects. The case has since been settled. Hernandez declined to comment on the matter, citing confidentiality.Airbnb’s bet on Oyo also lost its luster as reports of the Indian chain’s “toxic” culture and financial mismanagement surfaced. After a splashy launch in the U.S., Oyo faced regulatory scrutiny when it failed to secure franchise rights in several states.“There was a strategic rationale,” Simon Lehmann, co-founder of travel industry advisory firm AJL Consulting, said of Airbnb’s investments. “But to be perfectly honest, it felt more like trial and error.”With that in mind, observers speculated Airbnb wasn’t in it for a big payday.“Traditional lead investors will think about reputational risks” and invest as much as possible to make “venture math” work in their favor, Tusk Ventures’ Nof said. “For Airbnb, the relationship and partnership is what they’re after.”Plagued by the pandemicEven if Airbnb emphasized relationships over profits, no one saw Covid coming.  “There was a strategic rationale. But to be perfectly honest, it felt more like trial and error.” — Simon Lehmann, AJL Consulting  In Beijing, Airbnb bookings plunged 96 percent from January to March, according to analytics firm AirDNA. In the U.S., hosts saw $1.5 billion in bookings disappear almost overnight.“In this crisis, it felt like I was a captain of a ship and a torpedo hit,” Chesky told NPR in late April.Oyo, valued at $10 billion before the pandemic, slashed thousands of jobs as it bled cash.Smaller companies, buoyed by Airbnb’s deep pockets just months earlier, fared no better, nor did companies adjacent to the travel startup. Loftium, a Seattle firm that leased 700 units and rented them to Airbnb hosts, laid off half its staff in March after failing to pay rent. In an interview with the Seattle Times, CEO Yifan Zhang blamed the “sudden and significant” loss in Airbnb income.“The ones that were hinging on Airbnb to validate their business model, now they’re stuck,” Nof said. “The space got really crowded, really quickly. [And] all of a sudden it came to a grinding halt.”The slew of players with master lease agreements — including Lyric — were in a particularly tight spot, facing lost revenue and mounting bills. “That’s the fatal flaw,” said Jesse DePinto, co-founder of Frontdesk, another short-term rental player that has both master leases and revenue-sharing agreements with landlords. “They had guaranteed rent payments that they were more or less obligated to pay in good times and bad.”Jesse DePinto, co-founder of FrontdeskFor many, things came crashing down. Unable to sustain itself, Lyric laid off the majority of its employees and moved to close most of the 400 units in its portfolio.“Many people would probably have thought, ‘Oh shoot, Airbnb is investing in Lyric and Zeus. Clearly they will use their massive ability to put their thumb on the scale to help those companies succeed,’” said a source familiar with Airbnb’s investments. But Covid underscored that fallacy. “Where was the Airbnb firepower? Where was the strategic component of the investment? It’s hard to point to any obvious evidence of that happening in either case,” the source said.Zeus Living, which lost $2.5 million in bookings in March, asked many landlords to cancel leases or switch to a revenue-sharing model. But there were bigger financial problems looming. Bloomberg reported it lacked the cash to comply with a covenant tied to a loan from Soros Fund Management. Zeus, which raised $55 million last year, got a $15 million lifeline in May. The round valued it at $110 million — barely half of its $205 million valuation last year.Kulveer Taggar, Zeus’ CEO, did not respond to requests for comment.Airbnb itself found itself in a similar boat. With its IPO uncertain, it raised $2 billion in debt and equity in April but saw its valuation plunge.After the pandemic hit, some startups were comforted knowing Airbnb was facing a similar tsunami. “When you’re in the short-term rental industry, you cannot ignore Airbnb,” said Omer Rabin, managing director of the Americas for Guesty, an Israeli startup that helps hosts manage their properties.  “The ones that were hinging on Airbnb to validate their business model, now they’re stuck.” — Jordan Nof, Tusk Venture Partners  On average, 60 percent of the company’s bookings are Airbnb. In March, Guesty placed 10 percent of its employees on unpaid leave and cut executives’ salaries. Staff were later notified that the period of unpaid leave would be extended and salaries would be further reduced. The company was also looking to “reduce costs through other means unrelated to human resources,” a spokesperson told Calcalist.“We all shared the panic,” Rabin said. Since May, when travel restrictions eased, he added, “We’re all sharing the optimism of the industry bouncing back.”Rebound modeEarly June brought the first signs of that possible recovery.After an uptick in bookings, Chesky revisited the idea of an IPO this year, noting that Airbnb wasn’t ruling it out.That same month, the company agreed to hand over listing information about its hosts to the New York City government, settling a yearslong legal dispute in one of its biggest domestic markets — a significant stumbling block in its path to a public debut.Even before the pandemic, Airbnb was under pressure to go public, with two tranches of employee equity set to expire in November 2020 and in mid-2021, according to the New York Times. The company was reportedly leaning toward a direct listing rather than a traditional IPO.But Airbnb also looks very different from its pre-Covid self, after laying off nearly 2,000 employees and paring down its focus to its core business — stripping away novelty projects such as transportation, Airbnb Studios and luxury rentals.Against that backdrop, investments in outside firms seemed inconceivable. “I will go on the record to say that travel will never, ever go back to the way it was,” Chesky told Axios in late June.Nonetheless, Airbnb is banking on its hosts to ensure it can meet demand when travel resumes, in whatever form that may take. In particular, the home-share giant is betting that guests will prefer staying in homes over hotels to minimize their virus exposure. “Homes is still a critical driver of Airbnb revenues,” said Makarand Mody, an assistant professor of hospitality marketing at Boston University.  “If you’re Airbnb, any investment in a company other than your own is no longer necessary.” — Seth Borko, Skift Research  In the U.S., two-thirds of Airbnb’s supply comes from professional hosts or investors. For that reason, Mody said, the company is keeping a close eye on what percentage of supply makes it through the pandemic.The startup’s relationship with many of its hosts was tested after Airbnb changed its cancellation policy in response to the pandemic, triggering a backlash that prompted Chesky to apologize and launch a relief fund for hosts. Still, some opted to leave the platform in favor of long-term rentals, as they struggled to make ends meet without a steady flow of short-term guests.“Airbnb is in a damage limitation mode,” Mody said. “They don’t want to lose too many of the professional investors; that’s the model that’s been driving Airbnb’s growth over the last five years.”Branching outIn addition to retaining hosts, Airbnb’s strategy of offering more than just home-sharing — a move that predates the pandemic — remains in motion. In July, the company announced that its online “experiences” platform had become its fastest-growing product.“There’s certainly been a concerted effort to expand out of the short-term accommodation segment of travel and expand into increasing their wallet share of travel spending in general,” said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business.And as people look for rural escapes, there is far less demand for urban units operated by the likes of Lyric, Zeus and others. Airbnb data show that while overall host earnings have slowed during the pandemic, hosts in rural areas saw a 25 percent bump in June, with earnings over $200 million.Airbnb has also been promoting longer stays, appeasing nervous hosts and capitalizing on demand among city dwellers looking for a break from cramped apartments. Rabin, of Guesty, said short-term rental inventory is not lost; it’s simply changing hands. For example, after U.K.-based Hostmaker, an Airbnb management service, went out of business in March, rival Houst picked up some of its assets.In the U.S., Frontdesk has acquired abandoned units from failed competitors. “Coronavirus is clearing the deck of amateur hosts,” said DePinto, whose company raised a $6.7 million Series A funding round during the pandemic. He said there was a moment in early March when he thought of calling it quits. Since then, he has watched competitors drop. “All we have to do,” DePinto said, “is survive.”Similarly, hospitality startup Sonder raised $170 million in June from investors bullish on its outlook. “A crisis like this is really a crucible for business models and for individual companies,” said Frits van Paasschen, former CEO of Starwood Hotels and a Sonder board member. “The ones that survive a test like this … have very good long-term prospects.”Lyric co-founder Joe Fraiman, who quietly left the company in July, told Forbes he didn’t know if the startup would last another year.But like many in the business world, he sees promise through the wreckage.“Change in the industry is going to create new opportunity,” he said. “And I want to go after it.”Write to EB Solomont at [email protected] and Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected] Share via Shortlink Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

Leaving the neighborhood: Nextdoor founder lists Beaux Arts home in San Francisco for $25M

first_imgShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Nirav Tolia and his San Francisco home (Linkedin, Compass)Nextdoor founder Nirav Tolia is looking to part ways with his San Francisco home.Tolia listed the Pacific Heights home for $25 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. Tolia bought it in 2011 as a wedding present for his wife, Megha Tolia, three years after founding the neighborhood-centric social network. Malin Giddings with Compass has the listing.Tolia said that ultimately his family plans to find a house outside San Francisco proper, but plans to temporarily relocate to Florence, Italy.The coronavirus pandemic has rent falling in notoriously expensive San Francisco, although the top end of the housing market appears to be less affected. There were 31 sales above $3 million in June, 10 more than June 2019, according to Compass.The three-story home has six bedrooms and dates from the 1910s. It was designed by architect George Applegarth in the Beaux-Arts style that was popular at the time.The Tolias spent three years renovating the property. They rebuilt most of the interior in a subdued contemporary style but retained and restored some of its original features including the coffered ceiling.The top floor master suite has wraparound windows with views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge.The open kitchen and living room area leads to the backyard through sliding floor-to-ceiling doors. The backyard has a hillside garden and a lawn. There’s also a two-car garage.Tolia was CEO of Nextdoor until 2018 when he became chairman. He also runs an advisory company, Early Stage Internet Companies, that has advised companies including Zillow, Minted, and SurveyMonkey, according to LinkedIn. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch  Share via Shortlinkcenter_img TagsHousing MarketSan Franciscolast_img read more

State says Barbara Corcoran is on board with broker-fee ban

first_imgState Sen. Julia Salazar, Barbara Corcoran and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Getty)The Cuomo administration says the real estate industry only has itself to blame for a pending ban on broker fees charged to tenants.The ban stems from a set of guidance, released by the state in February and currently in contest in court, that was solicited by the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors’ general counsel, according to an affidavit filed by a Department of State attorney David Mossberg, who provides legal advice related to state laws. And, the lawyer says the DOS’ interpretation of the law is shared by lawmakers and at least one prominent real estate figure: Barbara Corcoran.Mossberg’s affidavit and related exhibits appear to be at the center of the state’s defense against the real estate industry’s Article 78 petition seeking to overturn the ban.The industry argues that the state’s guidance — related to the Housing Stability & Tenant Protection Act of 2019 — came “out of the blue” and represents “an illegal exercise of legislative power” that would cost brokers their jobs and drive up rents.Read moreBroker-fee ban lawsuit postponed for the third timeStop the “havoc and confusion:” Industry petitions to overturn ban on broker feesRental commissions are back — for now Mossberg’s affidavit and his correspondence with HGAR’s John Dolgetta were filed last week in Albany County Supreme Court.“Commencing on October 11, 2019, John Dolgetta, Esq. and the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors requested an opinion from the Department,” wrote Mossberg. “In response to, inter alia, HGAR’s request, the Department issued an update.”Dolgetta and the HGAR declined to comment.Mossberg goes on to justify the state’s guidance by arguing that regulators’ interpretation is in line with the goals of the 2019 rent law. As evidence, he pointed to media interviews State Sen. Julia Salazar and Barbara Corcoran gave after the guidance was released.The senator told Gothamist and The Real Deal that the broker-fee ban was in line with the letter of the law.While Corcoran, who founded residential brokerage the Corcoran Group in 1973 , told Fox 5 that stopping tenants from having to pay a landlord’s agent’s broker fee was what lawmakers were after with the 2019 rent law.“They wanted to eliminate the entrance fee to get an apartment here in New York City,” she said during the interview. She did not respond to a request for comment for this story.A spokesperson for the Corcoran Group, which is one of the industry petitioners fighting the state’s interpretation, distanced the company from its founder, noting that she has not been affiliated with the firm since 2002.“We continue to believe that the guidance from the Department of State misconstrues the 2019 Tenant Protection Act,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “This misinterpretation would harm not only hardworking real estate agents, but also the very tenants the law is intended to protect.”Mossberg also noted in his affidavit that when the DOS first issued guidance in Sept. 2019 regarding changes to the rent laws, the Real Estate Board of New York — which is leading the industry’s lawsuit against the state — expressed gratitude to his team.Claude Szyfer, a partner at Stroock representing REBNY, said the exchange was taken out of context and will be addressed, “among other points,” in the petitioners’ reply due Oct. 30.The state’s response to the real estate industry’s petition has been a long-time coming. The case has been postponed four times so far, and the parties’ court date is now scheduled for Nov. 6.Until then, the industry’s temporary restraining order preventing the broker-fee ban remains in place, meaning tenants can still be on the hook to pay landlords’ broker fees.Contact Erin Hudson Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Full Name* Email Address*center_img Message* Share via Shortlink TagsReal Estate LawsuitsRent lawResidential Real Estatelast_img read more

Solfar’s principles of virtual reality design

first_imgSolfar’s principles of virtual reality designDevelopment wisdom from the CCP veterans turned god makersRachel WeberSenior EditorThursday 22nd October 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareSolfar, the new virtual reality development studio from Thor Gunnarsson, Reynir Harðarson and Kjartan Emilsson, combines a background in AAA development at CCP with a hunger for VR innovation. Its first game, Godling, is in development for PlayStation VR and let’s you play the role of a tiny toddler god, bringing chaos or joy to the world around you.We spoke to Gunnarsson recently about the design principles that Solfar is applying to the brave new world of VR development. The first he mentions, as he fires up the headset for a demonstration, is immersion.”You ideally want to have teams that have some background from console or high end PC development to actually create the richness of the environment” “Immersion is this ability to create AAA quality graphics and production so you get that sort of physicality of the world around you. Whether it’s hyper-real, like Godling, or something more photo-real, just getting that visual quality is so key to the overall experience. “What we often find is less experienced teams that we’re seeing demos from, they don’t have enough experience with graphics optimisation. Things like shader development, lighting, and so on. Consequently they often end up with these quite basic, solid-shaded or cartoony style experiences. We think that’s a bit of a challenge. You ideally want to have teams that have some background from console or high-end PC development to actually create the richness of the environment.”My experience with Godling certainly backed this up, setting off Honey I Shrunk The Kids flashbacks as I faced up to a snail the size of a cow and wandered beneath a canopy of wildflowers. The immersive quality of VR means anything that looks shoddy or basic – and nothing here does – would be far more noticeable.Control freakExpand ▼”Controls are still a work in progress. Frankly, I think you speak to any developer right now and they’re all still figuring out what works – what’s the combination that makes sense?””We felt really strongly that we wanted to try and have an element of first-person interaction and ideally navigation within our games, and what we found is there are a number of ways of getting around motion sickness but they break immersion a little bit.””The other element is exploration. We don’t believe in static worlds,” he says. “They need to be worlds you can actually move through, progress through and so on. This all sounds super obvious when you’re thinking about video games, but it’s still a trend in the VR content space at the moment where people are shying away from it because they’re afraid of motion sickness. They’re afraid of shocking people. “So we’re trying to come up with this combo of first-person and third-person that we think makes a lot of sense.”The demo I tried offered two perspectives: a view from down on the ground, face to mandibles with ants and butterflies, and an overview of the world below. Swapping between the two was simple – a small fairy-type creature marked my location in the world in the overhead view – and it was easy to see how the method could help players navigate open play areas more effectively. “The other key pillar really is agency. You have to be able to interact in the world around you, do things to the world and have it react back with you. This is of course from our experience at CCP with sandbox game design. We think this is going to be key to these sorts of worlds. Slower paced, more abstract types of player agency are pretty interesting, and that’s definitely what we’re trying with Godling. Just this basic idea that all of your actions should have consequences. If I want to open the door and see what’s on the other side I should be able to in VR.”At this point Gunnarsson and I reminisce about adventure games set in houses where only one or two doors will open, and how this sort of development trickery works less well in virtual reality. If the world feels more real it needs to behave in a more real way too – there aren’t any shortcuts. Perhaps surprisingly, Solfar’s last principle of design is one that concerns the social future of VR. The team, he says, “got religion” after seeing the Toy Box demo that Oculus created with its Touch controller. “We’ve been attuned to think of virtual reality as Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash, Ready Player One, and people make this visual jump to something like Second Life, but cooler” “It proves that human interaction, human connection within VR doesn’t rely upon fully articulated, 3D avatars. It’s enough to just have that abstract presence and there’s something about the realtime, motion tracking kind of performance capture that you get just from the head, hands,” he explains.”We’ve been attuned to think of virtual reality as Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash, Ready Player One, and people make this visual jump to something like Second Life, but cooler. Then you realise there’s this massive uncanny valley in between that idea and then actually executing on it. What’s so cool about the Toy Box demo is that it proves that you don’t need all of that.”As a result the team is already looking at ways to add “that very visceral social element” to Godling and other Solfar projects once VR has built up an install base. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games “The thing with VR is, it’s sort of an odd circumstance. We have this amazing platform and technology for the most immersive, distributed simulations ever, but then with one hand we give presence and immersion and with the other the platform takes away player agency. “It takes away interaction, it reduces the interaction that we’re used to having in video games for the past 20 years. So it’s a real design challenge for how you actually create content that keeps that level of player agency, exploration and so on within the game.”For more on the creation of the studio check out our interview earlier this year with Emilsson and Gunnarsson. Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The VR & AR newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 8 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 9 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

Halo 5 generates $400 million in software and hardware sales

first_img 5 years ago @paul You are able to customize the controls if you own the Elite Controller? And MS is supposed to make that possible for the non-elite controls aswell. 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyAleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager Halo 5 generates $400 million in software and hardware salesFastest selling Xbox One title pushes Halo franchise past $5 billion in lifetime salesJames BrightmanWednesday 4th November 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this article343 IndustriesMicrosoftMicrosoft happily announced today that Halo 5: Guardians has set the record for the biggest Halo launch to date and the fastest-selling Xbox One title. The title also saw the highest week-one attach rate for a first-party title on the platform. The company said the game generated $400 million in sales but that includes both software and hardware figures; an exact breakdown of what portion of that stems from bundles was not provided. On the whole, the Halo franchise now stands at $5 billion in lifetime sales worldwide.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games While a good chunk of revenue likely stemmed from hardware, Microsoft did note that digital was a big factor in Halo 5 sales as well. It was the best-selling digital game ever in the Xbox Store for an opening week. Microsoft attributed this in part to last week’s Halo 5: Live, which earned a Guinness World Record for the most watched video game launch broadcast with more than 330,000 unique streams on the evening of the broadcast. The broadcast generated 5.5 million total views throughout the week, which Microsoft believes led to a spike in digital sales.Microsoft also provided some engagement metrics, noting that Halo 5 was the most played of any game on Xbox One, as well as the most played on Xbox Live, during its first week. So far, Halo fans have logged over 21 million hours of gameplay, including 12 million hours in campaign mode. The multiplayer modes have also led to nine million hours played with nearly seven million multiplayer matches played across Arena and the all-new Warzone mode. Additionally, players seem to be enjoying the new Requisition System, with over 45 million REQ Packs acquired, which resulted in more than 568 million REQ Cards. “The success of Halo 5: Guardians is a testament to the innovative work from the entire team at 343 Industries to bring this installment to Xbox One and the incredible community of fans who have come to love the story, characters and gameplay central to the franchise,” said Phil Spencer, head of Xbox. “The game represents all the possibilities of Xbox One and has earned its place as the anchor title in the greatest holiday games lineup in Xbox history.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesApple questions credibility of Xbox testimonyiPhone maker asserts that Microsoft did not produce evidence to back Lori Wright’s claims of unprofitable consolesBy James Batchelor 2 days agoEpic pushed for subscription-free multiplayer on Xbox ahead of Apple battleCEO Tim Sweeney told Xbox boss Phil Spencer that “certain plans for August” would create an “extraordinary opportunity”By James Batchelor 7 days agoLatest comments (3)Paul Jace Merchandiser 5 years ago I’ve enjoyed the first few levels and multiplayer that I’ve been able to fit in so far with my work schedule. But the one thing that has disappointed me is the lack of custom controls. Sure they have various pre-set controller options just like all Halo games but by now I was hoping they would finally start adding fully customizable controls, especially since they changed so much between Halo 4 and Halo 5. 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. 5 years ago I believe I did hear something about that being in the works but I wasn’t sure if it was definitely going to happen or if it was just an idea they were tossing around like streaming Window’s 10 games to Xbox One. Hopefully it does happen with a future update. 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyPaul Jace Merchandiserlast_img read more

US Senate forces vote to restore net neutrality

first_imgUS Senate forces vote to restore net neutralityIf it passes, the vote goes to the House of Representatives, followed by the President’s deskRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterWednesday 9th May 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareMembers of the United States Senate submitted a petition today under the Congressional Review Act that will force a vote on the FCC’s revocation of net neutrality. The petition is being led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and a vote is expected sometime next week.Net neutrality protections previously existed under the 2015 Open Internet Order. Per the order, broadband internet was reclassified from a Title I service to Title II, requiring it to be regulated as a utility and preventing service providers from throttling or speeding up certain websites based on paid partnerships.This protection was removed in late 2017 by a 3-2 vote from the FCC led by Chairman Ajit Pai, with the new rules allowing such throttling as long as it is disclosed. The reversal was officially published in the Federal Register on February 22. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can reverse such a federal regulation by a simple majority in both the Senate and House, so long as their joint resolution is passed within 60 legislative days of the regulation’s publication.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Currently, the reversal is supported by 50 US senators (48 Democratic senators with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) and Senator Angus King (I-ME)), but they need one more vote for it to pass. More moderate senators with a history of voting across party lines such as Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) have been floated as possible 51st votes. If passed, the House would prove a greater challenge. 160 representatives have confirmed their support out of the 218 total needed thus far, per Senator Markey. Even then, a veto from President Donald Trump would end the entire endeavor.Still, such a vote is not outside of the realm of possibility and, if passed, would prevent Pai’s new rules from being considered again by the FCC. Even if the measure fails, strong bipartisan support in Congress could pair with even stronger public support for net neutrality (83% opposed the repeal according to a December poll) to bolster coming legal challenges to the change.Support for the restoration of net neutrality is especially vocal from the gaming community, which stands to pay a hefty toll if the Title I classification is upheld. In addition, many online companies and communities such as Reddit, Tumblr, Tinder, Etsy, Pornhub, and Wikimedia have spoken out in support of the Senate vote today under a “Red Alert” banner.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEpic vs Apple – Week One Review: Epic still faces an “uphill battle”Legal experts share their thoughts on the proceedings so far, and what to expect from the coming weekBy James Batchelor 12 hours agoEpic Games claims Fortnite is at “full penetration” on consoleAsserts that mobile with the biggest growth potential as it fights for restoration to iOS App StoreBy James Batchelor 15 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

E3 2018: When and where to watch all the press conferences

first_img 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. E3 2018: When and where to watch all the press conferencesFull details of all the major showcases from Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo and more ahead of next week’s expoGamesIndustry StaffWednesday 6th June 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareLurking in the near distance like a hungry bear with a sales pitch, E3 is almost upon us. While it’s unlikely we’ll see any major hardware announcements, there’s a lot on the table and it’s already lining up to be a big year for games.Microsoft needs to prove the Xbox is still relevant, while Sony is poised to drive the knife in even further. Nintendo meanwhile has a lot of momentum and goodwill from 2017, but now is the time to show it’s still on a roll. We discussed all this and more on our recent E3 Expectations episode of The GamesIndustry.biz Podcast.With nine conferences/video streams this year, it’s a lot to keep up with. We’ll be posting individual stories where you can stream each conference, but in the meantime here’s our handy guide on when and where to watch everything. Electronic ArtsSaturday, June 9 11:00 PST / 14:00 EST / 19:00 BST / 04:00 AEST (Sunday)Kicking off the press conference marathon is EA Play. Perhaps the most predictable of the lot, we can expect to see plenty of sports, some Battlefield V gameplay, and what BioWare has been up to with Anthem. There’s not much room for surprises in there, but the publisher will likely be ready to show off a little of its next EA Original offering. You can watch it via EA | Twitch | YouTubeMicrosoftSunday, June 10 13:00 PST / 14:00 EST / 21:00 BST / 06:00 AEST (Monday)Xbox has confirmed it will taking a deeper diver on previously announced games, such as the long-awaited Crackdown 3, but also “trailers for our unannounced titles coming in 2018 and beyond”. Relying primarily on its back catalogue of blockbusters like Halo and Gears of War, the first-party offering from Xbox has been fairly lacklustre recently, but with the success of the Xbox One X, perhaps the platform holder is ready to show off something new. You can watch it via Microsoft | Twitch | YouTubeBethesdaSunday, June 10 18:30 PST / 21:30 EST / 02:30 BST (Monday) / 11:30 AEST (Monday)Bethesda has already given us a glimpse of its hand with the announcement of Fallout 76 and Rage 2, so we can expect to see both of those games in more detail. With Skyrim now seven years behind us, a new Elder Scrolls installment seems as likely as anything from Bethesda’s fresher but less successful IPs like Wolfenstein, Prey, and Doom. You can watch it via Bethesda | Twitch | YouTubeDevolver DigitalSunday, June 1020:00 PST / 23:00 EST / 04:00 BST (Monday) / 13:00 AEST (Monday)More of an unsubtle jab at the pomp of typical press conferences than an actual conference itself, Devolver’s offering last year set the bar very high for surreal meta humor. Presumably we can expect something similar this year, only bigger and weirder. You can watch it via Devolver | Twitch | YouTubeSquare EnixMonday, June 1110:00 PST / 13:00 EST / 18:00 BST / 03:00 AEST (Tuesday)Returning after a few years without an E3 conference, Square Enix is offering up a “special video presentation” that will, most likely, taunt fans with more promises of Final Fantasy VII remake, and Kingdom Hearts III; if they’re feeling generous, some release dates may even materialise – or maybe a glimpse of their Avengers project? Either way, definitely except to see a lot from Shadow of the Tomb Raider and perhaps even a thick layer of new Final Fantasy XIV content. You can watch it via Square Enix | Twitch | YouTube UbisoftMonday, June 1113:00 PST / 16:00 EST / 21:00 BST / 06:00 AEST (Tuesday)It’s set to be a big one for Ubisoft this year. Along with more on Beyond Good & Evil 2, the publisher is doubling down on its games-as-a-service content, showing off new stuff from Rainbow Six: Siege, For Honor, Skull and Bones, and The Division 2. Additionally — apparently having learnt nothing from the decision to take a year-long break between Assassin’s Creed releases — Ubisoft will almost certainly be showing off Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in extensive detail. You can watch it via Ubisoft | Twitch | YouTubePC Gaming ShowMonday, June 1115:00 PST / 18:00 EST / 23:00 BST / 08:00 AEST (Tuesday)PC Gamer returns to E3 this year with another PC Gaming Show promising content from publishers, indie developers, and hardware manufacturers. You can watch it via PC Gaming Show | Twitch | YouTubeSonyMonday, June 1118:00 PST / 21:00 EST / 02:00 BST (Tuesday) / 11:00 AEST (Tuesday)With an extensive catalogue of exclusive IPs — both old and new — Sony is in a strong position to steal the show. Along with a more in-depth look at The Last of Us II, we can likely expect some more concrete information on whatever mysterious project From Software has been working on now Dark Souls and Bloodborne have been neatly squared away. Chances are Call of Duty will also make its appearance on the PlayStation stage, and it could even be where we get our first real look at Red Dead Redemption II. You can watch it via PlayStation| Twitch | YouTubeNintendoTuesday, June 12 09:00 PST / 12:00 EST / 17:00 BST / 02:00 AEST (Wednesday)As ever, Nintendo is happily doing its own thing quietly in the corner. With the Switch release more than a year behind us, and Nintendo having offered up a steady stream of strong, first-party releases, things have started to peter out for the wonderchild of 2017. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games While it’s hard to know where exactly Nintendo is going with the Switch next, the publisher rarely fails to make a splash at E3. Even so, expect to see a lot more on Pokémon Let’s Go and Super Smash Bros.You can watch it via Nintendo | Twitch | YouTubeGamesIndustry.biz will be reporting on E3 2018 all week, both from the show itself and via our worldwide team. Follow all the latest news, interviews and analysis via our dedicated feed.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesActivision no longer working with Call of Duty actor after hateful sexist commentsA video resurfaced on social media showing Jeff Leach making offensive, sexual and threatening remarks targeting women By Marie Dealessandri 2 days agoHow Women in Gaming survived its publisher’s demiseMeagan Marie explains how Crystal Dynamics stepped in after Prima Games, the original publisher of her book, shut down right after launchBy Brendan Sinclair 4 days agoLatest comments (1)Michael Burnham2 years ago Worth noting that the Microsoft show time for BST is likely meant to be 21:00 (9pm) not 09:00 (9am) as listed above. Thanks for listing them out.last_img read more

Tomb Raider overshadows EMEAA game charts

first_img 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. Tomb Raider overshadows EMEAA game chartsUpcoming release bolsters Rise of the Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider into top tenRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterMonday 27th August 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareBoth Tomb Raider and Rise of the Tomb Raider have seen a dramatic resurgence in the EMEAA combined charts ahead of the release of Shadow of the Tomb Raider.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Rise of the Tomb Raider rose over 300 places to No.5 on the combined platform-aggregated charts last week, while Tomb Raider took the No.10 spot after spending last week all the way down at No.307.The remainder of the top 10 should be fairly unsurprising, with Grand Theft Auto V, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, and Monster Hunter: World occupying spots 1, 2, and 3. Star Wars: Battlefront II came in at No. 4, surging from its spot at No.30 the previous week ahead of its upcoming Clone Wars DLC, Elite Corps.The GSD EMEAA charts are a fairly recent initiative from ISFE and B2boost. The charts are not a complete picture: the UK won’t contribute data until early next year, and a few major companies such as Bethesda and Nintendo are conspicuously absent from those contributing data. However, the advantage to the charts is that they include digital data as well as physical sales, as reflected in the combined chart below:Last WeekThis WeekTitle21Grand Theft Auto V42Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege13Monster Hunter: World304Star Wars: Battlefront II3315Rise of the Tomb Raider86Call of Duty: WWII57Mario Kart 8 Deluxe188FIFA 1869God of War30710Tomb RaiderCelebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 3 hours agoUbisoft posts record sales yet again, delays Skull & Bones yet againPublisher moves away from target of 3-4 premium AAA titles a year, wants to build free-to-play “to be trending toward AAA ambitions over the long term”By Brendan Sinclair 7 hours agoLatest comments (1)AbdulBasit Saliu Mechanic, Flowmotion Entertainment Inc2 years ago Grand Theft Auto is King!last_img read more

Superdata: No Man’s Sky flies once more as Fortnite begins to flag

first_imgSuperdata: No Man’s Sky flies once more as Fortnite begins to flagJuly digital games market report shows Epic’s battle royale nonetheless continues to drive growthRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterThursday 23rd August 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleSuperData Research, Inc.Fortnite’s success may continue for some time to come, but in July the first evidence manifested of its unchecked growth flagging at last. Nonetheless, it continued to drive console digital game spending throughout the month according to SuperData’s monthly report.The report on the worldwide digital games market for July showed that overall, digital game spending was up 3% year-over-year at $8.2 billion, with Fornite driving the heaviest increases in console downloads. Premium PC once again looked lackluster comparatively, down 14% year-over-year.Despite its continued steady success, Fortnite did settle somewhat after months in a row of exponential growth. Fortnite revenue increased a mere 2% from last month in spite of the season 5 battle pass release during the reporting period.Overwatch, now solidly into its third year, is still growing its community with an increase in monthly active users thanks to a free-to-play weekend and continued updates, but its additional content sales are still on the decline both year-over-year and since last month.Most surprising was the return of No Man’s Sky, which had its best month since its launch in August of 2016. Superdata estimates the game brought in $24 million across PC, PS4, and its new launch on Xbox One, with over two million active players–ten times as many as it had last month.Overall mobile rankings barely moved from June to July, with the only change being Fate/Grand Order’s edge up over Monster Strike into 7th place.PC:Dungeon Fighter OnlineLeague of LegendsCrossfireFantasy Westward Journey Online IIFortnite: Battle RoyalePlayerUnknown’s BattlegroundsWorld of WarcraftWorld of TanksCounter-Strike: Global OffensiveDOTA 2Console:Fortnite: Battle RoyaleFIFA 18Grand Theft Auto VCall of Duty: WWIITom Clancy’s Rainbow Six: SiegeNo Man’s SkyThe Crew 2Far Cry 5Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: WildlandsNBA 2K18Mobile:Honour of KingsQQ SpeedPokemon GoKnives OutFantasy Westward JourneyClash RoyaleFate/Grand OrderMonster StrikeCandy Crush SagaClash of ClansCelebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesNielsen to close down SuperDataGames insights will be rolled into Nielsen Sports’ products and servicesBy Marie Dealessandri A month agoJanuary digital games spending reaches $11.6bnSuperdata reports a 15% rise in revenue year-on-year worldwide, with the PC space particularly growingBy Marie Dealessandri 2 months agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

The GamesIndustry.biz Podcast: What we expect from 2019

first_imgThe GamesIndustry.biz Podcast: What we expect from 2019Latest episode available to download now, in which we speculate on the year aheadJames BatchelorEditor-in-ChiefFriday 4th January 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleGI PodcastStart your 2019 off with a fresh audial does of GamesIndustry.biz with the newest episode of the podcast.This week, Brendan, Chris, James and Rebekah share their predictions for the year ahead.We’ve already covered analysts’ predictions and industry leaders’ most anticipated games, but now it’s time for us to offer our own take on what 2019 has in store for the games market.Topics we explore include: the increased competition among PC stores, thanks to the rise of Epic and Discord’s offerings; the growing speculation as to whether we’ll see next generation consoles unveiled; and what challenges Nintendo faces in the Switch’s third year.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games We also share our most anticipated 2019 games and why we’re looking forward to them.You can listen to our latest episode below, subscribe to our RSS feed, or download the file directly here. It is also available via iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, Player FM, TuneIn and other widely-used podcast platforms.All our previous episodes can be found here.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesPodcast: IO’s independence, with Hakan Abrak | GI Live OnlineHitman studio’s CEO on the journey to self-publishing and achieving the vision for the World of Assassination trilogyBy GamesIndustry Staff 5 days agoCan Returnal pave the way for $70 AAA roguelikes? | PodcastLatest episode also discusses the demand for socially responsible developers, and Toys For Bob’s shift to Call of Duty supportBy GamesIndustry Staff 6 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more