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December 15, 2018
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fortnite

Can the startup building a Fortnite for VR become the Fortnite of VR?

in BigBox VR/Delhi/fortnite/India/Politics/Startups/TC/Virtual Reality by

Virtual reality hasn’t proven itself to be the lucrative escape of the every-man, but the medium has done a fairly good job enticing the gaming community and keeping that niche (mostly) happy. While a couple of big titles have gotten some halfway-decent ports to VR, for the most part VR users are confined to whatever indies can build or whatever Oculus can fund.

BigBox VR has been trying to capture attention in the space by not building solo adventures that lead users to find themselves, but instead by trying to match VR’s physicality and immersion with social gameplay that leads users to gain greater appreciation for the medium’s scale.

The company just closed a $5 million funding round led by Shasta Ventures with participation from GSR Ventures and Pioneer Square Labs Ventures. As part of the round, Shasta partner Jacob Mullins will be getting a seat on the board.

Venture cash for VR content hasn’t exactly been free-flowing in 2018, more so for startups that aren’t caught up in building out a “platform play.” Co-founders Chia Chin Lee and Gabe Brown are more interested in just building out titles and hopefully creating one so successful that they don’t have to stop evolving it. The team at BigBox VR got its start with a cartoonish shooter title called Smashbox Arena; the small team has been really interested in finding what VR enables when it comes to competitive online play.

The BigBox VR team

Funding rounds aren’t often about the achievements of the past; however, the company is currently going full-steam ahead with its next ambitious title, a battle royale title called “POPULATION: ONE.”

I had a chance to suit up in VR and dive-in with Jacob and the founding team. I got my ass kicked a couple times, but then they let me win at some point, which I admit I was pretty okay with.

To say the game shares some similarities with Fortnite is an understatement. Not only is it a battle royale title with a shrinking environment, but certain mechanics like gliding in at the beginning to scrounge for weapons and even Fortnite’s building feature are central to the gameplay. That being said, battle royale titles have exploded in the wake of PUBG and they seem to all share a lot among each other. For BigBox, VR is the distinguishing feature, with motion controls and the general feeling that everything is life-sized and in your control.

To be honest, a lot of it really does work. Every surface in the game is climbable (by physically grabbing surfaces with the controllers and then doing the arm-work to scale) but more central movements like turning and moving are left to buttons, a technique that ultimately isn’t for the faint of stomach but is a lot more fluid than teleporting around. There are certainly mechanics which could have felt smoother, but this is a private beta game with a lot of room to finesse.

One of the really powerful things about the game was what happened after I was repeatedly sniped and killed off early on in the first couple rounds. The spectator mode is great and it’s interesting how much the precise controls of VR lend to allowing you to get more actively enveloped in matches that you aren’t even competing in. There are companies in the VR space working exclusively on this, but for a gaming audience obsessed with streamers, adapting traditional games with a VR spectating workflow or doing so natively seems like a huge opportunity.

Battle royale games remain white-hot, and VR game studios have been trying to find the right way to get a slice of the pie. Perhaps the key is knowing where to innovate while also realizing that the multi-platform grandiose of Fortnite has yet to find its way to VR, so maybe finding a title that scratches that itch is the best place to start.

News Source = techcrunch.com

This is the Fortnite Nerf gun

in Delhi/fortnite/Gaming/India/nerf/Politics by

Short of an actual apocalypse (which should be coming any day now), this Nerf-branded gun from Hasbro is (thankfully) probably the closest you’re going to come to any real life Fortnite action in the near future.

The dart-firing gun was announced recently, alongside a Fortnite version of Monopoly (which launched earlier this month), and now we’ve got some pictures and a June 1 release date. The AR-L Blaster was inspired by the firearm in the wildly popular sandbox survival game and has the giant Fortnite branding across its body to provide it.

The gun has a 10-dart clip, flip-up sight and runs on 4 AA batteries. It’s priced at $50 USD — V-Bucks not accepted, apparently. It’s set to be the first of a series of Nerf blasters inspired by the game, according to Hasbro.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Fortnite’s Android installer shipped with an Epic security flaw

in Android/Apps/Delhi/epic games/fortnite/Gaming/Google/India/mobile/Politics/Security by

Google has clapped back in tremendous fashion at Epic Games, which earlier this month decided to make the phenomenally popular Fortnite available for Android via its own website instead of Google’s Play Store. Unfortunately, the installer had a phenomenally dangerous security flaw in it that would allow a malicious actor to essentially install any software they wanted. Google wasted exactly zero time pointing out this egregious mistake.

By way of a short explanation why this was even happening, Epic explained when it announced its plan that it would be good to have “competition among software sources on Android,” and that the best would “succeed based on merit.” Everyone of course understood that what he meant was that Epic didn’t want to share the revenue from its cash cow with Google, which takes 30 percent of in-app purchases.

Many warned that this was a security risk for several reasons, for example that users would have to enable app installations from unknown sources — something most users have no reason to do. And the Play Store has other protections and features, visible and otherwise, that are useful for users.

Google, understandably, was not amused with Epic’s play, which no doubt played a part in the decision to scrutinize the download and installation process — though I’m sure the safety of its users was also a motivating factor. And wouldn’t you know it, they found a whopper right off the bat.

In a thread posted a week after the Fortnite downloader went live, a Google engineer by the name of Edward explained that the installer basically would allow an attacker to install anything they want using it.

The Fortnite installer basically downloads an APK (the package for Android apps), stores it locally, then launches it. But because it was stored on shared external storage, a bad guy could swap in a new file for it to launch, in what’s called a “man in the disk” attack.

And because the installer only checked that the name of the APK is right, as long as the attacker’s file is called “com.epicgames.fortnite,” it would be installed! Silently, and with lots of extra permissions too, if they want, because of how the unknown sources installation policies work. Not good!

Edward pointed out this could be fixed easily and in a magnificently low-key bit of shade-throwing helpfully linked to a page on the Android developer site outlining the basic feature Epic should have used.

To Epic’s credit, its engineers jumped on the problem immediately and had a fix in the works by that very afternoon and deployed by the next one. Epic InfoSec then requested Google to wait 90 days before publishing the information.

As you can see, Google was not feeling generous. One week later (that’s today) and the flaw has been published on the Google Issue Tracker site in all its… well, not glory exactly. Really, the opposite of glory. This seems to have been Google’s way of warning any would-be Play Store mutineers that they would not be given gentle handling.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was likewise unamused. In a comment provided to Android Central — which, by the way, predicted that this exact thing would happen — he took the company to task for its “irresponsible” decision to “endanger users.”

Epic genuinely appreciated Google’s effort to perform an in-depth security audit of Fortnite immediately following our release on Android, and share the results with Epic so we could speedily issue an update to fix the flaw they discovered.

However, it was irresponsible of Google to publicly disclose the technical details of the flaw so quickly, while many installations had not yet been updated and were still vulnerable.

An Epic security engineer, at my urging, requested Google delay public disclosure for the typical 90 days to allow time for the update to be more widely installed. Google refused. You can read it all at https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/112630336

Google’s security analysis efforts are appreciated and benefit the Android platform, however a company as powerful as Google should practice more responsible disclosure timing than this, and not endanger users in the course of its counter-PR efforts against Epic’s distribution of Fortnite outside of Google Play.

Indeed, companies really should try not to endanger their users for selfish reasons.

News Source = techcrunch.com

Google will lose $50 million or more in 2018 from Fortnite bypassing the Play Store

in Android/android apps/Android games/Apps/Delhi/epic games/fortnite/games/Gaming/India/mobile/play store/Politics/sensor tower by

When Fortnite Battle Royale launched on Android, it made an unusual choice: it bypassed Google Play in favor of offering the game directly from Epic Games’ own website. Most apps and games don’t have the luxury of making this choice – the built-in distribution Google Play offers is critical to their business. But Epic Games believes its game is popular enough and has a strong enough draw to bring players to its website for the Android download instead. In the process, it’s costing Google around $50 million this year in platform fees, according to a new report.

As of its Android launch date, Fortnite had grossed over $180 million on iOS devices, where it had been exclusively available since launching as an invite-only beta on March 15th, before later expanding to all App Store customers.

According to data from app store intelligence firm Sensor Tower, the game has earned Apple more than $54 million thanks to its 30 percent cut of all the in-app spending that takes place on apps distributed in its store.

That’s money Epic Games isn’t apparently willing to give up to Google, when there’s another way.

Unlike Apple, which only allows apps to be downloaded from its own storefront, Google’s platform is more open. There’s a way to adjust an Android device’s settings to download apps and games from anywhere on the web. Of course, by doing so, users are exposed to more security risks, malware infections, and other malicious attacks.

For those reasons, security researchers are saying that Epic Games’ decision sets a dangerous precedent by encouraging people to remove the default security protections from their devices. They’re also concerned that users who look for the game on Google Play could be fooled into downloading suspicious copycat apps that may be trying to take advantage of Fortnite’s absence to scam mobile users.

Google seems to be worried about that, too.

For the first time ever, the company is informing Google Play users that a game is not available for download.

Now, when users search for things like “Fortnite” or “Fortnite Battle Royale,” Google Play will respond that the app is “not available on Google Play.” (One has to wonder if Google’s misspelling of “Royale” as “Royal” in its message was a little eff u to the gamemakers, or just a bit of incompetence.)

In any event, it’s an unusual response on Google’s part – and one it can believably claim was done to serve users as well as protect them from any potential scam apps.

However, the message could lead to some pressure on Epic Games, too. It could encourage consumer complaints from those who want to more easily (or more safely) download the game, as well as from those who don’t understand there’s an alternative method or are confused about how that method works.

In addition, Google is serving up the also hugely popular PUBG Mobile at the top of Fortnite search results followed by other games. In doing so, it’s sending users to another game that can easily eat up users’ time and attention.

For Google, the move by Epic Games is likely troubling, as it could prompt other large games to do the same. While one odd move by Epic Games won’t be a make or break situation for Google Play revenue (which always lags iOS), if it became the norm, Google’s losses could climb.

At present, Google is missing out on millions that will now go directly to the game publisher itself.

Over the rest of 2018, Sensor Tower believes Fortnite will have gained at least $50 million in revenues that would otherwise have been paid out to Google.

The firm expects that when Fortnite rolls out to all supported Android devices, its launch revenue on the platform will closely resemble the first several months of Apple App Store player spending.

It may even surpass it, given the game’s popularity continues growing and the standalone download allows it to reach players in countries where Google Play isn’t available.

Meanwhile, there have been concerns that the download makes it more difficult on users with older Android devices to access the game, because the process for sideloading apps isn’t as straightforward. But Sensor Tower says this will not have a large enough impact to affect Fortnite’s revenue potential in the long run.

 

News Source = techcrunch.com

Google isn’t sure how to spell “Fortnite Battle Royale”

in Android/Apps/Delhi/fortnite/Gaming/Google/India/Politics/Startups/TC by

The launch of Fortnite Battle Royale has left Google in a slight predicament. While Google is in no way hard up for cash, Fortnite Battle Royale for Android certainly represented the potential for a relatively big revenue stream for an app. That is, until Epic Games decided it would launch Fortnite for Android from its own website, circumventing the Play Store.

But revenue aside, there’s also the matter of Google probably not liking the idea of huge titles circumventing the Play Store as a precedent. Plus, the lack of Fortnite Battle Royale within the Play Store poses a slight security risk to users, as there are quite a few V-bucks scams and malicious clones looking to capitalize on the popularity of Fortnite.

That’s why the Google Play store now displays a message to users in response to searches for “Fortnite,” “Fortnite Battle Royale,” and other similar search queries.

“Fortnite Battle Royal by Epic Games, Inc is not available on Google Play,” reads the message.

That’s right. Google mispelled the “Royale” in Battle Royale. It was likely an honest mistake, but given the fact that Epic Games is making upwards of $300 million in revenue a month, which Google is not getting a cut of, it makes for some fun back-and-forth for us spectators.

Google lists PUBG Mobile, Fortnite’s biggest competitor, at the top of all Fortnite Battle Royale queries, but doesn’t include anything in its message around how to actually find the real Fortnite Battle Royale for Android .

While Google Play’s app review process should catch the vast majority of malicious clones, the message is at least moderately helpful for folks hearing about the Android version of Battle Royale without knowing the details around Epic’s launcher.

For what it’s worth, Fortnite for Android isn’t yet available to everyone. The game launched yesterday as a Samsung exclusive for folks with a Galaxy S 7 or higher, and will become available to all Android phone owners on August 12.

[via 9to5Google]

News Source = techcrunch.com

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