Game On: How Jam City Wants to Transform Mobile Gaming into an eSports Phenomenon
It's all about the evil twins — brothers who look like index-fingers with mustaches, gold teeth, and lead maniacal armies battling for world domination.
That's the premise of World War Doh, Jam City's new real-time mobile strategy game that just rolled out to app stores. But, the Culver City-based company has its own strategy to hook in gamers by taking a page from the eSports phenomenon: Hosting a live champions tournament in the spring.
Think Candy Crush or Dragon Quest on steroids by folding in an event designed to hype the game and turn its top players into virtual-world athletes. Analysts call it a smart move considering eSports is expected to grow this year by about $200 million to an estimated $1.1 billion industry, according to research firm Newzoo.
"I think that's something we probably will see more of, and it's something you see a lot more outside of the U.S.," said Jeff Cohen, a video game analyst with Stephens.
He adds that mobile gaming already controls $70 billion — or more than half — of the wider video game industry. eSports is much smaller, with diversification and acquisitions serving as weathervanes for industry observers, pointing toward deeper market consolidation.
Indeed, Jam City's 2018 acquisition of Bogota, Colombia-based mobile game developer Brainz is what led to the creation of World War Doh. The company raised $145 million last year in a financing led by JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and a syndicate of lenders including Silicon Valley Bank, SunTrust Bank, and CIT Bank. The cash was designated to support acquisitions.
Meanwhile, rival Scopely — another game maker headquarterd in Culver City along with Activision Blizzard — has also been an active dealmaker. Scopely snapped up FoxNext (and hit title Marvel Strike Force) in January. The company hit a $1.7 billion valuation last year, cementing it as a unicorn in the video game space.
This is all part of a dive into mobile gaming, which Cohen says enjoys an older demographic with users verging into their late 20s and early 30s. "It's the biggest and fastest growing piece in gaming," he said. "Barriers to entry to the space are low, but barriers to scale are high."
Big hits are still hard to come by, with some companies struggling to reach users. Activision Blizzard reeled in King Digital, the maker of the famed Candy Crush series, for $5.9 billion. The company has struggled to come up with hits since. Cohen said companies with already mature distribution channels might look to suck up fledgling developers to plug into established networks.
Jam City is steadily growing.
In 2017, Chief Executive Chris DeWolfe told USA Today the company earned $330 million in sales the previous year. Jam City doesn't share sales figures anymore, but with its recent cash haul from a clutch of investment bankers, Cohen said it could be a buyer.
The company could look acquire new titles and plug new apps into its extensive influencer network. It's large portfolio of already-downloaded games offers an advertisement network able to immediately introduce new products to more thumbs and eyeballs.
Jam City has already shown it can reach users. Its Harry Potter game, licensed from Warner Bros., was the company's fastest title to hit $100 million in sales. Its most downloaded game, Cookie Jam, has $700 million in revenue. The company is hoping to get another hit with World War Doh, an original title the company expects to hit users in the 25 to 35 age-rage, with traction all the way down to junior high.
"Mobile gaming has become ubiquitous, everybody plays games whether it's a causal game or a hard core game," said Alejandro Gonzalez, Jam City's co-general manager.
He said the game is a quarter turn from the developer's other puzzle or storyline centric titles, but follows the same in app-purchase model: "The tone of the game and the irreverence of the commander and everything he does is appealing to a younger audience."
World War Doh borrows elements from vastly more complex real-time strategy games. Like eSports blockbuster Starcraft, users can control individual units, moving them in formations, each piece wielding different strengths and weaknesses like chess pieces on a board.
But it is simplified for mobile devices, allowing its player vs player action in the vacant moments of the day; at bus stops, coffee shop lines or subway rides. There are leader boards, leagues, and (perhaps) even cash prizes. Gonzalez said those details are still being worked out, but the money for winners could hit $25,000.
The company will draw revenue through the classic free to download, in app purchase model. Users can purchase gems and coins to help their commander progress. Players who spend big — 14,000 gems go for $99 — are overwhelmingly likely to climb up the leader boards.
The game also features replays of the head-to-head matches, logging them all for players to revisit or post. Similar videos for games popular in eSports like Starcraft can easily rack up hundreds of thousands of views.
Activision Blizzard's contribution to the shift so far was Call of Duty Mobile, launched last fall. The franchise has a long history of success in console gaming, routinely earning critical and popular acclaim.
Newzoo's forecast anticipates major growth in mobile eSports to come from Southeast Asia, Japan and Latin America. Jam City has already developed routes there keeping a key part of its development team in Bogota.
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If you've ever watched Shark Tank and wished that you could hop in the waters and invest alongside Mark Cuban and Mr. Wonderful, Going Public may be just the show for you.
The new series will showcase five companies preparing to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Over the course of 10 episodes, viewers will follow the company founders as they promote their offering and receive feedback and advice from mentors, professional investors and other executives. Those watching at home who think they've spotted a winner will have a chance to get in on the action at the initial public offering (IPO) price for the companies that end up going public.
LA Tech Updates: Fisker to Go Public; LA Bars, Gyms and Salons Go Dark Again; Apple Gives $400M to Stem Housing Crisis
- LA Bars, Gyms and Salons Go Dark Again
- Fisker set to go public with $2.9b valuation, EV SUV to roll out by 2022
- Apple Allocates $400M to Affordable Housing in California
Southern California Bars, Restaurants, Salons, Gyms, Places of Worship Must Shut Down Indoor Operations Amid Surge in COVID-19 Cases<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQyMDM0Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTEyNzMzOX0.iAGyu93QLg4u7of6jR5kB1LcjJs1dH_dlc2ndkknWGs/img.jpg?width=980" id="a7312" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="deb62c3b61d59ad6fe2da2d592929dd4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Image courtesy of Musso & Frank's<p> Bars, gyms, places of worship, salons and offices for non-critical sectors will largely go dark again in Southern California. As coronavirus cases surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a list of new statewide restrictions and targeted closures in 30 counties including Los Angeles. </p><p> Statewide, all bars, dine-in restaurants, wineries, movie theaters, museums, card rooms and entertainment centers must close indoor operations, Newsom said on Monday. </p><p> "This is a new statewide action effective today," he said. </p><p> <span></span>In counties on the state's watch list, which include Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties, personal care services including salons and barbershops, along with indoor malls and fitness centers must close indoor operations. </p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet">Effective immediately, CA is closing some indoor business operations statewide and additional indoor business operations in counties on <a href="https://twitter.com/CAPublicHealth?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CAPublicHealth</a> Monitoring List for 3 consecutive days.<br><br>📍Find the updated list of counties here: <a href="https://t.co/snYe5v55Rw">https://t.co/snYe5v55Rw</a> <a href="https://t.co/W3wBJp2ap5">pic.twitter.com/W3wBJp2ap5</a><br>— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) <a href="https://twitter.com/CAgovernor/status/1282754914821656576?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">July 13, 2020</a></blockquote> <script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p> Those on the watchlist are among the most populous parts of the state, containing about 80% of Californians. </p><p> Restaurants are still allowed to stay open for outdoor dining and takeout. <br> </p><p> As of Monday, California had more than 329,000 cases and 7,040 deaths. </p>
Fisker Set to Go Public with $2.9b Valuation, EV SUV to Roll Out by 2022<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ1MzYxNS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MzAwMzU5MH0.KjTk7UCExD0E7jgdTCxdRO7pR0kI-TbtMYQgsD6_HJw/image.jpg?width=980" id="00531" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d9feb4bf17ba371882a99b14ebfa134a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /><p>Electric car startup Fisker is set to go public through a merger that values the company at $2.9 billion and allows it to begin producing its first vehicle by 2022. </p><p>Los Angeles-based Fisker <a href="https://www.fiskerinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Fisker-Press-Release-NYSE-Merger-Apollo-Spartan-Energy-FINAL-Sunday-1530PST-D360-FINAL.pdf" target="_blank">announced the deal </a>with Spartan Energy Acquisition Corp, a special purpose acquisition company backed by private equity firm Apollo Global Management on Monday. It comes as investors look for the next Tesla Inc, which has seen soaring valuation in recent weeks.</p><hr><p>The deal - expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter - will give Fisker more than $1 billion in gross proceeds to jumpstart production of Fisker Ocean, the vision of founder Henrik Fisker, CEO and chariman of the eponymous named startup. The arrangement spotlights the use of special purpose acquisition companies, known as a SPACs. Another SPAC enabled electric-vehicle startup Nikola Corp to go public last month. Nikola shares have soared since their debut. </p><p>The Fisker Ocean, which premiered at the Consumer Electronics Show earlier this year, starts at $37,499 and is being billed as the most sustainable vehicle, replete with a vegan interior and recycled carpet. Reservations for the either purchase or lease start at $250. </p><p>"This vote of confidence from investors, coupled with our exciting progress on the development of our first vehicle, lays out Fisker's path to 2022 and beyond," said Fisker, a one time Aston-Martin designer. <br></p><p>He <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/13/ev-startup-fisker-to-go-public-through-merger-with-apollo-backed-firm-at-combined-value-of-2point9-billion.html" target="_blank">told CNBC </a>that the agreement was the best way to get the line of vehicles produced, but said the company does not intend to build its own plant. While the EV market is expected to soar in coming years, startups struggle to find funding for the capital intensive demands of building a car. </p><p>"Our funding, product plans and brand development actions are on course," Fisker said in the announcement. "Prototype vehicles are expected to start durability testing by the end of this year, and we continue to make significant progress on the development of our sales and service proposition."</p><p>Fisker's previous venture, Fisker Automotive, fell into bankruptcy in 2013 and was bought by a Chinese group that rebranded it Karma. That company, which has been struggling after several layoff rounds and restructuring, <a href="https://dot.la/karma-car-2646367624.html" data-linked-post="2646367624" target="_blank">last week secured $100 million from investors</a>. It hopes to use that to raise a total of $300 million and roll out a line of electric vehicles.<br></p>
Apple Allocates $400M to Stem California's Housing Crisis<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://dot.la/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzQ1Mzk5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTU5NTcxMzA4NX0.K86VfE92hD0CjisMGk5r9Uc-uVxIrfDtuG4pHn1wbb0/image.jpg?width=980" id="9b774" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f9eea1ac10a1579d146be0552a48fec0" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />white and brown wooden house during night timePhoto by Carl Nenzen Loven on Unsplash<p>Apple announced today that it has allocated its first $400 million toward addressing California's housing crisis. The Silicon Valley giant had said last November it would commit $2.5 billion to the effort over multiple years. </p><p>Apple first partnered with Housing Trust Silicon Valley in hopes of bringing affordable housing and mortgage assistance to the Bay Area. Now, they're expanding their partnership to California House Finance Agency (CalHFA), a state agency that supports renters and homebuyers in two ways: Their single family division allows families to apply for loans and work with loan officers directly to tailor a plan to their income. Their multifamily division helps housing developers apply for loans to create more affordable housing.</p><p>The funding is heavily concentrated around the Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, but cities statewide will be able to apply for their housing assistance in areas throughout the state where the company is present, including Culver City.</p><p>"Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution," said Tim Cook, Apple's CEO, in a press release. </p><p>The company is dividing its financial assistance to have the broadest possible impact: $1 billion for an affordable housing investment fund, $1 billion for first-time homebuyer mortgage assistance fund, $300 million Apple-owned land for affordable housing, $150 million Bay Area housing and $50 million to support vulnerable populations.</p><p>The low-cost housing efforts will roll out over the next five years across the Bay Area, but two of the four programs are already underway.</p>
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