Industry News [Month of April 2021]

This is the regular post where I share updates about things happening in gaming, machine learning, audio, or frankly anything that catches my eye and seems relevant to share or discuss here. Let’s hop right in!

While Microsoft’s talks to acquire Discord appear to have fallen through, they did acquire Nuance, a Boston-based speech analysis company with a special focus on healthcare. Given the unique privacy and vocabulary needs for speech understanding in that domain, this feels like a natural pickup for Microsoft – they have enough similar technology in-house that Nuance’s expertise will fit in fairly seamlessly, while in the meantime this gives them quick access to highly regulated space.

Epic raised another billion dollars to push forward its vision for the ‘metaverse.’ One developer to watch in that space is definitely Manticore, which launched Core on the Epic Games Store earlier this month (Core isn’t a part of Epic but has taken investment from them.) Core demonstrates one vision for how to tie together disparate elements of the multiverse using portals, and has a heavy focus on user-generated content to ensure the world is always growing. Even the art style looks very reminiscent of Fortnite, suggesting it could be easy to fuse these worlds together in the future.

Speaking of Epic, Microsoft has followed in their footsteps by announcing they’ll decrease their cut of game revenue from 30% to 12% for games sold on their store. Great to see more platforms continuing to follow the trend of putting creators first!

Finally, just yesterday, Riot Games updated its privacy policy to indicate the possibility of recording voice chats to monitor for toxicity. While this kind of move will always unsettle some players, the reception has so far been generally positive (though wary), as most players appreciate how bad these online spaces can get and how important good moderation has become. (Of course, I’m a bit biased in saying so, I suppose.) Hopefully this relatively small backlash will help other developers feel more comfortable taking steps to improve safety on their own platforms moving forward.

That’s all for this week! As always, any thoughts or feedback are welcome. Stay safe, healthy, and sane, all!

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