City planning through a pandemic

first_imgShare on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink TagsCoronavirusDevelopmentoffice market 270 Park Avenue (Google Maps; iStock)Floor by floor, construction workers are dismantling JPMorgan’s 52-story office tower at 270 Park Avenue. And while their work represents the largest intentional demolition in New York City’s history, it has come to signify much more than that.City officials have hailed the replacement of the more than 60-year-old tower with a new glass and steel headquarters for the banking giant as the culmination of years-long planning. And preservationists have condemned it as the wasteful destruction of a recently renovated building.Now, in the wake of a devastating pandemic, the former Union Carbide building is also a symbol of mounting uncertainty.“Way back when, I thought Midtown East was a great model. [Now] I think of 270 Park, and JPMorgan Chase tearing down that building for something even larger, when a lot of their people are going to be working from home.”Peg Breen, Landmarks ConservancyThe spread of coronavirus has pushed companies, including Twitter and Facebook, to rethink their physical office footprints and consider letting employees work remotely long-term. JPMorgan has even floated having employees rotate working from home after the pandemic subsides.At the same time, the bank is moving forward with its plans to build a new 2.5 million- square-foot headquarters on Park Avenue, which is more than 1 million square feet larger than its existing tower and is intended to accommodate up to 15,000 employees.And the massive project is part of an even larger goal: The surrounding neighborhood was rezoned in 2017 with the explicit aim to create 6.5 million square feet of new class A office space over the next two decades.“Way back when, I thought Midtown East was a great model,” said Peg Breen, president of the Landmarks Conservancy. “[Now] I think of 270 Park, and JPMorgan Chase tearing down that building for something even larger, when a lot of their people are going to be working from home.”Several monumental events of the past three months — from the global health crisis and strict shutdown orders to forecasts of a long-term economic fallout — have raised questions about the future of office markets across the country. Of course, landlords, developers and their brokers remain optimistic that tenants’ retreat from physical office space will be short-lived, that the lure of company culture and visible brand identity will ultimately win out.But the pandemic, which underscores the innate risk in relying on specific asset classes and tenant types to transform a neighborhood, could reshape how cities work to encourage new development in the future.“This is a situation where we can’t afford the regulations to lag behind the market,” said Mitch Korbey, who chairs the law firm Herrick Feinstein’s land use and zoning group.“We need to be sure that as we come out of this crisis, we’re aggressive and creative.”Density dilemmas?On paper, the rezoning of Midtown East could be seen as disastrous — if read solely in the context of the pandemic. The zoning change banked on demand for massive new office towers, with proximity to Grand Central Terminal serving as a main selling point.But some believe the ongoing spread of coronavirus, which has started to subside in recent weeks, will have few long-term impacts on development in the district.“The goals of the rezoning are still spot on,” said Dan Garodnick, the former New York City Council member who shepherded the district’s rezoning through the land use review process.“People are social animals, and I expect there will still be demand for commercial space. But perhaps with slightly different design parameters to accommodate the moment.”The rezoning incentivized tearing down the neighborhood’s aging office stock, while also requiring improvements to nearby infrastructure and the creation of more public space. The city projected that the creation of 6.5 million square feet of new office stock would take two decades to come to fruition.That timeline could play in the neighborhood’s favor.Former Department of City Planning chief Carl Weisbrod said New York’s office market may be in a fluid state for the next year to year-and-a-half. “In the short run, there’s going to be a hiccup for sure,” he said.But Weisbrod, who’s now a senior advisor at the real estate and economic development consulting firm HR&A, added that the city has historically recovered from crises “surprisingly well and in new directions that we haven’t anticipated.”He said he also thinks Midtown East is especially well positioned. Within less than a year of the rezoning, JPMorgan announced that it would tear down its headquarters. The bank received approval in late May to demolish down to the 41st floor of the building, according to the DOB.At least three other massive office projects, including developer Harry Macklowe’s planned 1,556-foot-tall skyscraper at 5 East 51st Street, have been announced since. Macklowe didn’t return requests for comment on the project.RXR Realty, which is planning a $3 billion office tower near Grand Central with TF Cornerstone and MSD Capital, has continued discussions that started before the pandemic with tenants in the technology and finance sectors who are interested in anchoring the property, CEO Scott Rechler said. The project isn’t expected to be delivered until 2026.Still, until there’s a vaccine for Covid-19, many employees will continue to avoid mass transit and employers may not be eager to upgrade to larger spaces when they can only operate at 50 percent capacity.In the short term, as construction sites begin to reopen, owners of projects that haven’t started or were early stages of development will have to carefully consider if and when they can restart work, said Linda Foggie, senior vice president and head of Turner & Townsends’ New York office.But longer-term, the crisis could change how developers and planners think about density. Tenants will likely need more office space per employee, reversing the trend of cramming workers per every 125 square foot, Rechler said. For larger, well-funded companies that could mean a bigger footprint, with some employees working remotely. For less-established businesses, it could translate to a smaller workforce.More than ever, planners should be thinking about how to build out other regions with access to mass transit, Rechler said.“We need to densify where density belongs,” he said. “Sprawling is not the outcome you want to have.”By design“I feel even more strongly that that is a flaw in the Midtown East rezoning, and it’s one we should revisit. Midtown East should adopt the goal of creating a truly mixed-use neighborhood.”Mary Ann Tighe, CBRELong Island City and Downtown Brooklyn were rezoned to spur commercial development, but instead resulted in condo towers that far outnumbered new office space. Midtown East already has the built-in infrastructure and surrounding residential communities to accommodate office growth, Weisbrod noted.“Could growth be delayed somewhat because of what has happened over the past three months? Yes, I think that’s a real possibility,” he said. “But I think the fundamentals are very strong.”Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of CBRE’s New York tri-state region, said she doesn’t believe there’s any danger of office development in Midtown East outpacing demand. She argued that tenants will likely favor new office buildings post-Covid due, in part, to large open floor-plates and better air quality.But the pandemic highlights the rezoning’s singular focus on office use. Tighe said air rights in the district should be made available for some residential space.“I feel even more strongly that that is a flaw in the Midtown East rezoning, and it’s one we should revisit,” she said. “Midtown East should adopt the goal of creating a truly mixed-use neighborhood.”Outside Manhattan, Korbey said, the pandemic has emphasized the need for more mixed-use development, specifically more flexibility in zoning regulations in residential districts in the outer boroughs to allow for other uses.Former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen argued a similar point and said the city needs to focus more on building out a five-borough economy, through actions like the rezoning of Gowanus in Brooklyn. “These are long-term plans that require consistent political leadership and being responsive to what’s happening on the ground,” Glen said during a recent video panel hosted by The Real Deal.“Stopping spending on housing or schools or not moving forward with things like Sunnyside Yards would be incredibly irresponsible in respect to a long-term plan for recovery,” she added.Breen said she’d like to see some of the existing, older office buildings in Midtown East repurposed for housing and other uses.“I know they wanted it to be a business district, but look at Lower Manhattan,” Breen said. “There’s plenty of business, but there’s also plenty of residential. Nobody could’ve seen that happening.”Forever bullishPlans to transform a neighborhood often hinge on the arrival of powerful brands.Amazon’s planned headquarters in Long Island City, though ultimately abandoned, set off a year’s worth of speculation over how a single company could dramatically alter housing, transportation and demand for commercial space.Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco attracted other tech companies and inspired residential development in an otherwise vacant and blighted area. Condé Nast’s move to One World Trade Center in 2011 is considered the catalyst for a wave of so-called TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) tenants migrating to Lower Manhattan — previously considered the exclusive domain of financial firms.So, when Big Tech companies announce dramatic changes in their office plans, it sends shockwaves through the commercial real estate industry. Though commercial landlords and brokers have dismissed the idea that such announcements pose an existential threat to physical office space, many acknowledge that more businesses are warming up to allowing their employees to work from home part-time.“I think people will work differently,” Rechler said. “This becomes more likely a scenario where people know that they can use technology.”Ultimately, though, he and others believe most professionals will still want some face time in the office, giving companies a reason to keep their space. Recent leasing activity also shows promise for the office market once the pandemic subsides.Late last month, TikTok committed to taking more than 230,000 square feet in the Durst Organization’s One Five One tower in Times Square. Facebook also still seems poised to lease 740,000 square feet at the renovated Farley Post Office. Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin said she was encouraged by the news that Uber affirmed last month that it still planned to move into 3 World Trade Center, despite company layoffs and office closures throughout the country.“I don’t think people will want to work permanently from home,” she said. “Setting aside productivity, it’s hard to build culture, it’s hard to build teams if no one meets in person.”Downtown Brooklyn could see an uptick in interest, as company’s look to shorten commutes for their employees, said Ted Koltis, president of Colliers International’s eastern region. But he views the push to work from home a temporary feature of the city’s office market.“Companies chose to be there because the brand of the company is tied so strongly to where they are,” he said. “If they don’t have a physical office footprint, there is something lost.”Ariel Property Advisors’ Howard Raber said an important thing to watch will be rent rates: If office rents drop in Manhattan, that could negatively impact demand in the outboroughs. Lower rents in Brooklyn and other areas outside have been a major draw for businesses opting out of Manhattan.Investment in housing and economic development over the next fews years will be crucial, Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, told TRD this month.“I’m pretty optimistic, assuming we don’t blow it over the next several years, and do not make these investments, watch people leave because the quality of life declines, and we don’t give people confidence in the future, and then we’re in bad shape,” he said.“The risk is over the next several years where we’ve got to inspire confidence in the future of this city, and we’ve got to retain people to the extent that we can,” Doctoroff added.Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected]center_img Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

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New York & Company parent files for bankruptcy

first_imgTagsbankruptcyRetail RTW Retailwinds CEO and CFO Sheamus Toal and a New York & Company store (Getty, LinkedIn)New York & Company’s parent company is the latest chain to file for bankruptcy as the coronavirus has piled additional pressure on an already challenging retail landscape.RTW Retailwinds, whose other brands include Fashion to Figure and Happy x Nature, filed for Chapter 11 protection Monday, and has already kicked off liquidation sales, CNBC reported.“The combined effects of a challenging retail environment coupled with the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic have caused significant financial distress on our business, and we expect it to continue to do so in the future,” RTW Retailwinds CEO and CFO Sheamus Toal said in a statement.“As a result, we believe that a restructuring of our liabilities and a potential sale of the business or portions of the business is the best path forward to unlock value.”The retailer expects to close most, if not all, of its 378 stores, which are located in 32 states. RTW Retailwinds’ e-commerce operations and related intellectual property may also be sold as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.The company had warned of a likely bankruptcy filing in early June, and says that it now expects to fully repay the $12.7 million outstanding balance on a loan agreement with Wells Fargo.About 92 percent of the retailer’s bricks-and-mortar locations have reopened following coronavirus-related shutdowns. [CNBC] — Kevin Sun Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinkcenter_img Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

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Lights out: Regal Cinemas to suspend operations

first_imgTagsCommercial Real EstateRetail The Regal Cinemas chain will suspend operations at all of its US movie theaters (Getty)Cineworld, the owner of the Regal Cinemas movie theater chain, will suspend operations at its locations across the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported.The announcement to temporarily close 500 theaters came after a wave of postponements of big-budget Hollywood movies, including the new James Bond film “No Time to Die.”“We are like a grocery shop that doesn’t have vegetables, fruit, meat,” Cineworld CEO Mooky Greidinger told the Journal. “We cannot operate for a long time without a product.”Read moreAMC theaters to reopen next week, but not in New YorkWhy vacant movie theaters are increasingly becoming development battlegroundsIs it The End for AMC Theaters? Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Major movie theater chains, such as Regal, AMC and Cinemark, reopened some of their facilities in August ahead of the release of Christopher Nolan’s spy film “Tenet.”But theaters in major U.S. markets, including Los Angeles and New York City, remain closed due to the pandemic. Cineworld’s decision to cease operations is partly because it can’t open its theaters in those cities, the Journal reported.Movie theater owners who are worried about the survival of their businesses have called on the federal government for funding, the L.A. Times reported.Others have complained to government officials in California and New York, since some indoor facilities, such as restaurants, bowling alleys and churches are allowed to open with capacity restrictions while theaters must stay closed.“In the cinema, everyone is seated and looks in the same direction… in the restaurant you take off your mask and you sit one in front of the other,” Greidinger told the Journal. “It simply doesn’t make sense.” [WSJ] — Akiko Matsuda Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

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Blackstone buys Roku’s Silicon Valley office buildings

first_imgTagsBlackstone GroupCommercial Real EstateSan Francisco Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Blackstone’s Stephen Schwarzman, Roku CEO Anthony Wood and Coleman Highline in San Jose (Blackstone; Wikipedia Commons; Coleman Highline)A few months after making a blockbuster deal in Hollywood, Blackstone Group is making another big bet on streaming video with the purchase of a San Jose office property leased to Roku.Blackstone’s non-traded real estate investment trust, BREIT, will pay $275 million, or around $770 per square foot, for two buildings in the Coleman Highline development, Bloomberg News reports.Roku moved its headquarters to the property last year and has nine more years on its lease. The digital media company rents 730,000 square feet of office space at the complex, which was developed by Hunter Properties.In August, Blackstone bought a 49 percent stake in Hudson Pacific Properties’ $1.65 billion Hollywood production studio and office portfolio.Netflix leases 31 percent of the space, and ABC, Disney and CBS/Viacom lease are among the other main tenants.San Jose has attracted attention from major Bay Area companies in recent years, according to the Mercury News. Adobe is expanding its office complex in downtown San Jose. Not far away, Google has proposed a 79-acre office-heavy mixed-use development near San Jose’s Diridon Station. Apple has been buying properties for an 85-acre campus in north San Jose.[Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch center_img Share via Shortlinklast_img read more

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Artillery closes Tencent-led funding round

first_imgArtillery closes Tencent-led funding roundCalifornian startup will expand past 20 people as it continues work on a free-to-play RTSMatthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefThursday 22nd October 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareArtillery, a California-based free-to-play developer, has closed an investment round from the leading Chinese online company, Tencent.CEO Ankur Pansari did not disclose the exact amount of money Artillery has received, but it will be used to fund the ongoing development of a real-time strategy game with the codename “Atlas.” The Palo Alto studio will have more than 20 employees as a result of the new funding.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 first met with Tencent in early 2014 and were immediately impressed by their passion and understanding of games,” Pansari said in a blog post. “We continued to seek their feedback and as we learned more about each other, we decided that it made sense to work together more formally. It has become clear to us why they are the world leader in online free to play games and we feel very fortunate to be working together.Of course, the fact that Tencent clears $1 billion in pure profit in a single quarter probably wasn’t lost on Pansari, either. And having Tencent on board gives Artillery direct connections to the enormous Chinese market.According to Venturebeat, other investors in the round were First Round Capital, Lowercase Capital, Signia Ventures, General Catalyst, Charlie Cheever, and Crunchfund.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 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

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Harmonix fesses up to reviewing Rock Band 4 on Amazon

first_imgHarmonix fesses up to reviewing Rock Band 4 on Amazon”Harmonix has clarified its internal policy about posting reviews of our own products on retail sites”James BrightmanThursday 22nd October 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleHarmonixIn a move that showed less than stellar judgment from developer Harmonix, several of the company’s staff were found by a Reddit user to be posting positive reviews of the recently released Rock Band 4 among the customer reviews on the product page on Amazon. While it’s certainly not the first time a company (not just in games) has posted positive reviews for its own product on a retail or reviews website, doing so can betray the trust of the very consumers a company is aiming to sell its goods to. For its part, Harmonix said its employees were not attempting to be deceptive.”Harmonix has clarified its internal policy about posting reviews of our own products on retail sites, and we’ve asked that existing reviews be edited to identify Harmonix employees or be removed entirely. While we believe the reviews posted by a few employees were sincere and without ill intentions, as a studio we don’t believe these are appropriate actions. We appreciate the feedback from the community, and take our relationship with our fans seriously,” a Harmonix representative told Destructoid.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 Matthew Nordhaus, project manager at Harmonix, altered his Amazon post to clarify his intentions with the fans: “I added this review half in jest (as you might be able to tell from the tone of the original). In hindsight, it’s probably important that I note that I worked on the game and work for Harmonix. That being said, I’m confident that if I didn’t I would still give the game five stars. It’s a beautiful, peaceful, cooperative game, rare enough already in today’s landscape, that I can play with my wife and kids. Music discovery, playing with your family and friends, and cooperation make Rock Band my favorite.”Some other Harmonix employee posts were deleted entirely; meanwhile, some of the customer reviews on Amazon have jumped all over Harmonix, making fun of the developer for its mistake and adding “not a Harmonix employee” to their reviews.Sales figures for Rock Band 4 are not yet known, but the game has been received positively for the most part, earning a 79 rating on Metacritic. Harmonix likely does not need to sell tons of copies like older versions of Rock Band in years past, as the game was created on a much leaner development budget.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 storiesHarmonix and NCSoft partner to develop multiplatform titleRock Band and Lineage developers working on PC, console game still in early stagesBy Rebekah Valentine 2 years agoHarmonix denies association with Columbus NovaRock Band studio follows Daybreak, saying previous announcements of acquisition by Russia-connected firm were mistakenBy Brendan Sinclair 3 years agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

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The Catalis Group buys Curve Digital

first_img 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. The Catalis Group buys Curve DigitalIndie publisher now allied with Kuju Entertainment and TestronicMatthew HandrahanEditor-in-ChiefThursday 7th January 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareThe Catalis Group has acquired Curve Digital, bringing the British indie publisher into the same organisation as Kuju Entertainment and Testronic.According to Dominic Wheatley, CEO of Catalis and a co-founder of Eidos Interactive, the acquisition of Curve has completed the groundwork for Catalis to become a, “major new British games publisher, the first of its kind for many years.”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 “It’s also good news for the UK indie games community to have a professional publishing partner who can take their titles to the international market,” Wheatley said in a statement.Curve Digital has said that the acquisition follows its most successful year to date. Stuart Dinsey, an early investor and now chairman of the Curve Digital Entertainment Group, indicated that business development from here would target opportunities for both Curve and Kuju Entertainment.Kuju Entertainment also encompasses Zoe Mode and Headstrong Games.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 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 7 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 11 hours agoLatest comments (1)Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop5 years ago We’re seeing smaller & less successful indie publishers are getting out of that game, while the ones that are doing well are merging to consolidate their positions, I think there’ll be much more of this in 2016. Coining the term “IndieaPublishypse” now 😉last_img read more

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Professionalism and toxicity threaten eSports’ breakthrough

first_imgProfessionalism and toxicity threaten eSports’ breakthroughWe’re on the cusp of a revolution in eSports dreamed of for almost 20 years, but a toxic culture and lack of professionalism must be tackled firstRob FaheyFriday 20th May 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareeSports is either breaking through right now or on the verge of a breakthrough, depending on to whom you choose to speak. Competitive gaming as a spectator sport has been a pipe dream for many years – the first sponsored “eSports” events I attended ran on 1996’s QuakeWorld – and on many occasions its proponents have claimed that a mainstream breakthrough was imminent. The popularity and the prize pools have ebbed and flowed but the dream has remained; eSports broadcast, attended and compensated like regular sports, the eye-opening South Korean model of televised games played by sponsored, slickly presented teams replicated around the world. Each time a breakthrough has been forecast, it’s been a disappointment – but this time is different. It’s not just that the pressure behind the dam has built to breaking point, with more people than ever before interested in eSports; rather, it’s that the mountain has finally come to Moses. Nobody in eSports is talking about televised matches any more; why bother, when your global audience can stream matches over online video services that are making TV executives lose both sleep and hair? Pushing to get eSports on TV at this stage would be like hitching a rising star to a weighted corpse. The barrier to entry to television is no longer of relevance; nobody needs a TV station’s permission to reach an audience any more.That’s why this time, eSports is breaking through, or on the verge of doing so, for real. The amount of money involved has grown hugely – though as Take-Two boss Strauss Zelnick hinted at this week when he described eSports as “more a promotional tool than anything else”, it’s still a sideshow compared to the scale of the overall games business, which leads me to think that this is the brink of a breakthrough, not yet a breakthrough in its own right. What’s more important than the money is the potential; the growth of the audience, the interest of mainstream sponsors and even traditional sports teams, and the expanding slate of eSports-focused games that work well in this competitive, spectator context.”You cannot build a mass market business, let alone a mass market sport, a mass market culture, off the back of something that involves constant rape jokes, homophobic slurs and racist abuse” What does eSports need to take the next step? Some of the challenges are technical – streaming video from games is easy, but streaming really interesting, easy to follow video of competitive matches, dynamically edited in real-time, is hard and will require new tools and approaches to get right. Other challenges are just to do with presentation; commentators are an enormously important part of any sport, and eSports’ roster of commentators right now is hugely varied in quality, with many commentators being far too focused on community in-jokes and jargon, and lacking the skill or patience to effectively explain the sport to new viewers. (One model eSports may want to look to is the one followed by highly technical sports like Formula 1 racing, where a common commentary pairing consists of a former pro driver with a lot of in-depth technical knowledge, sitting alongside a more generalist sports broadcaster who can “interpret” the pro-level insights of the former driver for a broader audience.)Those are tough challenges. Unfortunately, they’re the easy ones, because the really thorny issues facing eSports as it prepares to attempt to leap the fence are rather more intractable; they’re issues of professionalism and of culture. Birthed from a loosely organised system of gaming “clans” and a handful of entrepreneurial types (whose attitude to the eSports opportunity, bluntly, has often been rather exploitative and questionable), the eSports business establishment – its teams and leagues alike – has a problem with professionalism that it’s slowly coming to grips with, but only with serious teething troubles along the way. Meanwhile, the culture around eSports – players, commentators and spectators alike – suffers from a toxicity that threatens to chase away sponsors, investors and teams alike. Barely a week or two passes without some fresh hell being raised over a player or a commentator using a racial, gendered or sexual slur during a high-profile competition, and while the vast majority of toxic behaviour is undoubtedly down to a minority with the community, there are plenty of others who provide cover – arguing blithely that describing someone badly defeated in a game as “getting raped” or calling an opponent a “faggot” are just part of the culture of eSports, as though “hey, anonymous people on the Internet say this a lot” constitutes an argument for the validity of anything under the sun.The argument over what constitutes “eSports culture” and whether it remotely excuses being grossly offensive (it doesn’t) is a moot point in many ways – for those who have decided that their right to shout “faggot” at people on the internet is the hill they choose to die upon, victory would end up being utterly pyrrhic, because without an improvement in professionalism and a shift in culture, eSports will be denied the success it has come so close to attaining. You cannot build a mass market business, let alone a mass market sport, a mass market culture, off the back of something that involves constant rape jokes, homophobic slurs and racist abuse. There’s just far, far too much of the world that doesn’t want anything to do with that culture; not just people directly impacted or targeted by those slurs, but decent people of all stripes who just find the whole thing childish, off-putting and grotesque. They won’t get mad, or offended, or wage campaigns and start petitions against eSports; they just won’t watch, won’t participate, won’t bother – and from the point of view of the leagues, the teams and the sponsors, that’s absolutely the worst thing that could happen.The companies with the most vested interests in the success of eSports know this. Riot Games, creators of League of Legends – arguably the most popular eSports title in the world right now – has gone to great lengths to fix the toxicity of its online community, and has also taken major steps to improve the professionalism of teams involved in League of Legends, recently courting controversy by suspending two professional teams from LoL tournaments for rules violations and poor treatment of players. Those suspensions were a wake-up call, and seem to have made investors in eSports cautious – though whether that’s because they fear that Riot is too trigger-happy, or because Riot’s actions exposed the depth of the problems at some eSports teams and forced them to do more due diligence on their investments, is a matter of perspective. “There’s a minority who failed Civics 101 and think their right to hurl racial, homophobic or sexist abuse at people over privately-operated Internet services is a free speech issue” Blizzard, meanwhile, is rapidly becoming “the eSports company”; along with Starcraft, which was the backbone of the South Korean eSports scene for years, the company also operates Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone, and now Overwatch, meaning that it has strongly eSports-focused entries in the RTS, MOBA, CCG and FPS categories – covering more bases than any other firm out there. Blizzard wields a lot of clout in eSports as a result, and it’s signalled that it’s willing to use that clout to fix the cultural problems that threaten to limit the growth of the field. This week, it teamed up with leading game streaming service Twitch to announce an initiative to clean up racism and other abuse from live-streamed events, following a torrent of racial abuse aimed at a top Hearthstone player earlier this month. How the companies will proceed is not yet clear, but if they’re serious about this – and they should be, given that both their destinies are now closely tied to eSports’ ability to grow its audience into the mainstream – then they’ll be willing to consider not just enhanced moderation (which is good, and worthwhile, but easily overwhelmed by the volume of content seen in massively popular match broadcasts) but also some fairly radical changes to how they think about live chat and audience response in broadcasts. There is going to be friction along the way. There is an entrenched culture that thinks – rightly, perhaps – that eSports has grown on its back, and believes – wrongly, definitely – that this entitles them to some ownership of where it now goes and what it becomes, or that their “culture”, however toxic and abusive, deserves to be prioritised over what’s good for eSports and desired by other audiences. There’s a minority who failed Civics 101 and think their right to hurl racial, homophobic or sexist abuse at people over privately-operated Internet services is a free speech issue, and who will devote an unbelievable amount of time and effort to finding every loophole and every workaround that exists to permit themselves to continue exercising that “right”. Eventually, if Blizzard, Riot and the rest of the people who want to make eSports truly huge are serious about their goal, they’re just going to have to part company from those people and make clear that they’re not welcome. It’s not going to be pretty, at least for a while; but at the end of it, that eSports dream that made people’s eyes gleam at QuakeWorld tournaments all the way back in the late nineties will be one major step closer to being a reality.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 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 7 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 8 hours agoLatest comments (3)Bostjan Troha CEO, Zootfly4 years ago FWIW, it was Muhammad, not Moses who had the issue with the proverbial mountain. 4 years ago Disagree. The best players will play because they have fun and enjoy the competition, not because they’re worried about getting their feelings hurt. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyMorville O’Driscoll Blogger & Critic 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyAndrew Watson Tools Programmercenter_img 4 years ago I think the games industry needs to start hiring sociologists and psychologists on a large(ish) scale. Why? Because anyone who’s even vaguely knowledgeable about gaming-with-others will be aware of how offensive people (and the perception of potentially offensive people) affects play and the culture of play.They won’t get mad, or offended, or wage campaigns and start petitions against eSports; they just won’t watch, won’t participate, won’t bother – and from the point of view of the leagues, the teams and the sponsors, that’s absolutely the worst thing that could happen.Most of the instances of this behaviour occurring in the “real world” are no doubt in school/university, which is an area where professionals and academics have spent a good long-time studying. I think their insight could do a lot of good in gaming and eSports culture.The best players will play because they have fun and enjoy the competition, not because they’re worried about getting their feelings hurt.Except for the players who could be the best, but are turned off before even entering a competition by the wankers and dicks (pardon my language. 🙂 ).Edit: For all that I said above about most situations like this being at school/uni, I think the most relevant analogy is “How do little leagues/local amateur soccer groups/pickup basketball games deal with this?” They have an easier time because it’s all face-to-face, but the basic issue is the same: If we come across like racist, sexist children, the only people wanting to play with us will be racist, sexist children, and everyone else will leave. Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O’Driscoll on 24th May 2016 6:54am 3Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? 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Jobs roundup: Hearthstone game director Ben Brode parts ways with Blizzard

first_imgJobs roundup: Hearthstone game director Ben Brode parts ways with BlizzardMeanwhile, Universal names new senior vice president of games and former Tomb Raider boss joins Xbox leadership teamHaydn TaylorSenior Staff WriterTuesday 24th April 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareIt can be difficult keeping track of the various comings and goings in the games industry, which is why we compile them in semi-regular round-ups.If you have new appointments or transitions in your company that belong here, please email [email protected] BrodeHearthstone game director Ben Brode parts ways with BlizzardAfter 15 years with Blizzard, Hearthstone game director Ben Brode has announced his departure from the developer, in what he described as an “incredibly difficult decision.” Brode revealed that he will be starting a new company which will “probably make games, but we haven’t figured anything else out, yet.” “I am very fortunate to be able to take a crazy risk right now in my life,” Brode explained, “and I’m excited to be scrappy and a little scared.”Brode began his career with Blizzard as a night crew game tester when he was 20 years old, before joining the Hearthstone team in 2008 where he stayed for the next 10 years. “I am confident the game is in the best possible hands, and I’m excited to see where a new generation of leaders takes Hearthstone from here,” said Brode.You can read the full story hereDavid EvansFormer Sony business and development manager takes over blockbuster licensing at Bethesda After more than five years as a business development manager with Sony, David Evans has taken up a new role with Bethesda. Joining the publisher’s European team in the London office, Evans will oversee licensing for Bethesda’s blockbuster portfolio of games such as Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, and Wolfenstein in Europe, Russia, Australasia and the Middle East.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 “It’s a great opportunity to join the Bethesda team and I’m very excited to work with some of the world’s best known gaming properties,” said Evans. “Videogame IP is a thriving area of the licensing industry and I look forward to working with our partners to help grow the licensing business at Bethesda.”Tomb Raider boss joins Xbox leadership teamJoining Xbox after two years as senior vice president and head of development at Activision, Darrell Gallagher has accepted a position on the platform holder’s leadership team. Prior to Activision, Gallagher worked at Square Enix, Rockstar, and Sony, but is perhaps best known for more than 10 years at Crystal Dynamics, starting as art director in 2005 and rising to head of studio by 2009. Excited to be part of the team! Good things to come #E32018https://t.co/XgE9XcnNBa— Darrell Gallagher (@DGallagher_LA) April 16, 2018last_img read more

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Rebellion’s Chris Kingsley receives OBE

first_imgRebellion’s Chris Kingsley receives OBEDeveloper CTO joins brother Jason on the Honours ListChristopher DringHead of Games B2BWednesday 2nd January 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareRebellion CTO and co-founder Chris Kingsley has been made an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list.Rebellion is best known for Aliens vs Predator, Sniper Elite and last year released the new IP Strange Brigade. It was formed in 1992 and has 300 employees split across three offices in the UK. Rebellion also owns 2000 AD, which operates comic books including Judge Dredd. The company also works in books, TV and film.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 Chris Kingsley is also chairman of TIGA’s Education Committee and Chair of the Games Council at ScreenSkills. He joins his brother Jason, the other co-founder and CEO of Rebellion, who already has an OBE. “I am greatly honoured and very grateful to have been made an OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List,” said Chris Kingsley. “This honour represents a recognition of the achievements of Rebellion and perhaps more importantly, the entire UK video games development industry.”I look forward to driving forward Rebellion, TIGA and the wider UK video games industry in the months and years to come.”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 storiesAdopt Me developers unveil new studio, Uplift GamesTeam behind hit Roblox game has grown to over 40 employeesBy Danielle Partis 11 hours agoDeveloper wins against Grand Theft Auto DMCA takedownTake-Two loses claim to reversed-engineered source made by fansBy Danielle Partis 14 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

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