Tonight Twitch streamer Tyler "Ninja" Blevins smashed the record for concurrent viewers, crossing the 500,000 mark around 1 AM, mostly due to who he's playing Fortnite with: Drake. It's not all Drake or the popular battle royale game though, as Ninja is the most popular streamer on the platform -- he has over 3 million followers and with over 160,000 paid subscribers, an estimated monthly income of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Back in February Twitch confirmed that the record number of concurrents had been set at over 388,000, but now there's a new champ.
Facebook's Instant Games technology hasn't exactly taken off (there are less than 200 games to date), but that's because it's been in closed testing. Now, it might have a chance to grow: Facebook has opened the Instant Games platform to all developers. Anyone can build HTML5-based web games designed to run in Messenger or your News Feed, whether you're on desktop or mobile. They'll have ways of making money from and promoting games, too, including ads (sorry, folks) and cross-promotional links.
Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time was pretty highly anticipated when it came out in 2013. The title got a couple expansions early on, but we really haven't heard much about the lane-based castle defense game since then. Now, however, it looks like publisher EA and developer PopCap have a completely new high-score comparing player-vs-player system called Battlez mode. If nothing else, this might give us all a reason to hop back into the four-year-old title and try something a little new.
Microsoft announced last year that it was overhauling its avatar system and while the more diverse and customizable Xbox Live avatars were initially due out last fall, the company has kept us waiting. But a source familiar with Microsoft's Xbox plans has told The Verge that the new system will be available to Xbox Insiders for preview this month and is set for a wider rollout in April.
Pokémon Go and other games that use real-world maps are all the rage, but there's a catch: they typically depend on semi-closed map frameworks that weren't intended for gaming, forcing developers to jump through hoops to use that mapping info. Google doesn't want that to be an issue going forward. The search firm is both opening its Maps platform's real-time data and offering new software toolkits that will help developers build games based on that data.
Whether they're taking over a section of your local Target or dominating the list of Kickstarter's highest grossing projects, board games are booming right now. And, while traditional board games still have their place, plenty of companies are trying their hands at augmenting tabletop play with websites and apps, or building products that incorporate physical pieces into video games. Blok.Party's PlayTable takes all of that a step further by building a giant tablet to serve as the game board and letting users create their own RFID-enabled pieces that incorporate blockchain tech for a truly personalized gaming experience.
Dota 2 is a completely free-to-play game, with all the MOBA's heroes available to new players from day one. Valve makes money by selling different in-game cosmetics, announcers, HUDs, etc. When major tournaments roll around, the house that GabeN built also puts out time-limited "Battle Passes" that add challenges, co-operative game types, fantasy leagues and other things that encourage your participation in exchange for special effects and the latest hero skins. That's how it's worked in the past, but this year Valve is trying a more consistent approach to monetization with the new Dota Plus subscription.
We're reached a point where cloud gaming finally makes sense. The technology that exists now is beyond what was available to famous failures like OnLive and many others you could say were ahead of their time. Servers, the consoles and computers we have in our homes, and the speedy internet connections that feed them are now capable of mimicking the experience of playing a game stored on your local machine. Big companies like Sony and NVIDIA have gotten involved over the past few years for just this reason, and one upstart believes it's spotted an unfilled niche in the market. What Spotify has done for music and Netflix for TV, Hatch wants to do for mobile gaming.