Smart-home startup raises $60M with multifamily play

first_imgSmartRent co-founder and CEO Lucas Haldeman (Credit: Facebook)SmartRent, a startup that develops “smart home” hardware and software for rental apartments, has raised $60 million to bulk up its offerings.Tapping into demand for contact-free services, the company will use the fresh round of capital to add new products and grow its engineering and sales teams, co-founder and CEO Lucas Haldeman said. The Series C was led by Spark Capital, with participation from Fifth Wall, Energy Impact Partners, the Amazon Alexa Fund, Bain Capital Ventures and RET Ventures.Founded in 2017, SmartRent has now raised more than $100 million to compete against companies like Latchable, the maker of Latch, and Google Nest. Haldeman, a former chief technology officer at Colony Starwood Homes, said SmartRent’s co-founders all came from real estate backgrounds and realized the proliferation of smart-home tools had been slow to reach the multifamily market.“I had a bunch in my house, but no one had said, ‘Well, how do I control 40,000 or 1 million smart thermostats,’” he said. “So that’s what we built.”Read moreSmartRent raises $32M, led by Bain Amazon wants to put Alexa in homes, hotels Drones are the latest in smart-home security Share via Shortlink SmartRent’s platform gives both landlords and renters access to digital locks, lights and thermostats. When units are occupied, tenants are fully in control. Landlords have digital control over vacant apartments. As such, SmartRent landlords can offer prospective tenants self-guided tours.The startup also recently launched a tool to allow building, garage and elevator access — something to help multi-family operators manage a high volume of package deliveries.According to Haldeman, SmartRent closed the round in mid-March. But he acknowledged the coronavirus pandemic has been a catalyst for increased demand. “We’ve seen this incredible groundswell,” he said.Investors are also heartened by a shifting mindset in real estate. “The tailwinds of e-commerce, food and grocery delivery, and the broader digital economy were already significant entering 2020,” Will Reed, general partner at Spark Capital, said in a statement. “That demand has only accelerated as property owners and operators look for ways to make property tours contactless and handle deliveries in a seamless manner.”Based in Scottsdale, Arizona, SmartRent currently employs 230 staffers, including 35 engineers. Haldeman said by the end of the year, he hopes to double the number of engineers and sales people. “We’ll be responsible in how we grow,” he said. SmartRent recently hired Darian Hong as chief financial officer and CJ Edmonds as chief revenue officer.Haldeman declined to disclose the company’s revenue but said it’s on track to double in 2020. SmartRent is in 95,000 units, with almost 500,000 units in the pipeline.“We’re getting to a pathway where we’re break-even,” said Haldeman, who attributed the massive backlog to two (unnamed) REITs that signed up to install SmartRent in buildings nationwide. To service those clients, SmartRent built out a national infrastructure that it has used to go after additional business nationwide.For some of the biggest landlords, smart-home tools like access to heating and cooling, and water detection, promise to help reduce operating costs. In addition to buy-in from institutional clients, Fifth Wall partner Vik Chawla said SmartRent’s standout feature is an ability to shift control from renters to landlords and back, depending on whether the unit is occupied. “People have a very digital life as it relates to consumer purchases. The idea that they come home and have an analog experience, I don’t think will persist,” he said. “The trend toward digital experiences has only been accelerated as people sit at home.” Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink TagsFifth WallProptechsmart homelast_img read more

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Brokers are back, but what about buyers?

first_imgShare via Shortlink Preparations kicked into high gear last week as the residential real estate industry waited with bated breath for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to confirm the city was moving into phase two of reopening, which allows for showings in the flesh.Agents, developers and brokerages blame the ban for a dramatic drop-off in sales and rentals. So hopes — and balance sheets — are depending on consumers to start showing up to see homes across the city again.But some things will be different. Masks, gloves, booties and hand sanitizer will be mainstays, as will health-screening questionnaires and even liability forms.But adrenaline is so high, said Bess Freedman, CEO of Brown Harris Stevens, that she has even had trouble sleeping. “The lead-up has been really intense,” she said.In addition to preparing for offices to reopen, Pam Liebman, CEO and president of the Corcoran Group, has been fielding client calls to refer to agents.“There is a lot of pent-up demand,” she said. “[Agents] are anxious to get back out there.”Jordan Sachs, CEO of Bold New York, said he anticipates a surge in listings and more activity on the streets as agents start pounding the pavement again.“Phase two is going to start bringing back the energy,” he said. “The brokerage community is going to come out swinging on Monday and they’re going to create that energy for consumers.”Not all agents are as gung ho, however.Trichter said she landed three new sellers as phase two approached but none wanted to list immediately, given lingering questions about so-called pandemic pricing.“We’re all raring to go,” she said. “But I think for the most part, most people are just going to wait and see what happens.”Matthew Lesser, Leslie J. GarfieldMatthew Lesser of Leslie J. Garfield agreed, pointing to the start of summer and end of the school year as a time when people check out. He said he has eight properties that he expects to list gradually over the next few weeks.“Things haven’t really changed for me,” he professed. “Buyers are out there, no question, and I think people are waiting to see what inventory hits the market and where they’re priced.”Deanna Kory, CorcoranCorcoran’s Deanna Kory is bringing six listings online Monday, but she echoed the sentiment, noting that with the July 4 holiday coming up, things will likely be slow. She also noted that there could be buildings that maintain their lockdowns and refuse to allow showings.“We don’t know what we’re walking into,” she said, pointing to one well-heeled building on the Upper West Side that’s only allowing showings between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays.Roughly 15 percent to 20 percent of the hundreds of luxury buildings that property manager Orsid Realty oversees in Manhattan have no plans to relax their lockdown rules, which often includes barring guests from entering the building, according to executive vice president Dennis DePaolo.Most agents say that inaccessibility to a property now will be a dealbreaker.Noel Roberts, Nest SeekersHamptons-based Noel Roberts of Nest Seekers International recalled buyers requesting to walk the perimeter of a 1.5-acre property and peer in the windows. “We immediately crossed it off the list,” he said, “because they’re not going to make a $3 million decision on a house that they can’t see.” Showings have since resumed on Long Island.Lesser also said most of his clients would not close a deal without touring it.But given uncertainty about the economy, showings might not be enough to unfreeze the residential market. Ken Horn of Alchemy Properties, the developer behind the Woolworth Buliding’s condos, is expecting to complete construction on the sales gallery for his 378 West End Avenue condo in July.But he said he was “undecided, frankly” about when it might actually open, citing the typically slow summer months.Despite questions over whether showings will translate into buying, many, like Compass’ Ryan, feel deals are inevitable. Pricing, though, is another matter.“Just by the sheer nature of increasing showings, there will be an increase in offers and contract signs,” said Ryan. “It will be extremely interesting to see what those offers look like.”Write to Erin Hudson at [email protected] Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink “Phase two is going to start bringing back the energy:” Residential brokers are coming back in full force, despite some reservations (iStock)For three months, McKenzie Ryan has had a war room to prepare for showings to restart in New York City.The Compass broker has written a Post-it Note with the name of every potential buyer who’s reached out to her.“That’s how I have to keep track of it,” she said. “I literally need a map.”Now, it’s go time.McKenzie Ryan, CompassAgents are excited, anxious or, in some cases, ambivalent as the ban on showing New York City properties lifts today.Some are binge-watching webinars on reopening protocols. Others are studying legislation, guidance and reems of documents prepared by their firms and the Real Estate Board of New York.“I’m reading, reading, reading,” said Sheila Trichter, a broker at Warburg Realty. “What are recommendations, what are rules, what are laws.”Read moreWhat phase 2 will look like for NYC real estateHealth screenings, liability forms: REBNY offers guidance for in-person showingsCuomo to NYC: “It’s on!” TagsCoronavirusResidential Real Estatelast_img read more

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Hudson Yards’ EB-5 investors demand arbitration with Related

first_imgTagsEB-5Hudson YardsOxford Properties GroupRelated Companies Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Jeff Blau and Hudson Yards (Getty, WIkipedia)A group of Chinese EB-5 investors is demanding arbitration proceedings with Related Companies to determine whether they can inspect the developer’s books.Douglas Litowitz, a lawyer representing the investors in the Hudson Yards megaproject, emailed a written notice this week to Related CEO Jeff Blau and counsel Andrew Harris of Levitt & Boccio. A messenger also served the documents to the developer’s West 55th Street office.The dispute dates back to June, when Related informed the EB-5 investors — foreign nationals who collectively poured some $1 billion into Hudson Yards — that it was going to stop paying distributions because of the pandemic.After hearing the news, a group of 30 investors wrote to Related demanding an on-site inspection of the developer’s financial records. They also sought assurances that they would get paid, claiming they had only just learned, on closer inspection of their contracts, that payments were considered discretionary. “The investors fear that you have tricked them into a perpetual state of nonpayment,” the letter said.In response, Harris said the investors did not have rights to inspection under their original agreement, according to copies of the correspondence viewed by The Real Deal.A spokesperson for Related said in an emailed statement Wednesday that returns on investment are a function of the market “and obviously this is a challenging time.”“We were off to a good start,” the spokesperson added, “but we now need to be patient.”Read moreEB-5 investors to Related Companies: Open your booksRelated halts payments to Hudson Yards EB-5 investorsLost Paradise at the Palm House Share via Shortlink The EB-5 visa program is a system where foreigners invest money into job-creating businesses in the U.S. in exchange for green cards. Beloved by developers looking for cheap capital, the program has over the years been marred by fraud, litigation and lengthy delays.The majority of EB-5 investments are structured similarly to loans — the investors put money into a fund that makes a loan to a developer, and that money is repaid after the loan matures. But Litowitz said his clients each invested $500,000 in Hudson Yards through a preferred-equity model, a somewhat less common structure.It’s not unusual that developers determine their own timelines for repaying EB-5 funds. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services prohibits agreements from outlining certain specifics about payments, including timelines. However Litowitz argues that without a loan-maturity date, and with distributions stopped, his clients are stuck in a state of limbo that could be never ending.Yet recourse for the investors might be an uphill battle. In his formal request for arbitration, Litowitz claims the original agreement waives or severely limits many of their rights, and could make dispute resolution “prohibitively expensive for each investor.” All disputes must be addressed in arbitration, with the loser paying the legal costs of the winner, Litowitz said in the document.The escalating back-and-forth comes as the developer contends with a series of setbacks at Hudson Yards, including the departure of bankrupt mall tenant Neiman Marcus, and the recent announcement that TAK Room and Bouchon Bakery will also close. The mall has been shut since March under state orders. It’s unclear when it will reopen.If the proceedings move forward, an arbitrator could determine whether investors can view the developer’s books and records, and whether Related has to give them a timeline for repayment.Write to Sylvia Varnham O’Regan at [email protected]last_img read more

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Meet TRD’s new newsletter, the Commercial Catch-Up

first_imgShare via Shortlink TagsCommercialNewsletters Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinkcenter_img We’re excited to announce that TRD’s brand new weekly newsletter on all things CRE has launched. The Commercial Catch-Up will get you up to speed on the most important commercial real estate news you need to know in less than 5 minutes.Delivered to your inbox on Mondays, each edition of the Commercial Catch-Up will include the biggest CRE news of the week. This week, we investigated ICSC’s “incredibly tragic day”; analyzed whether falling CMBS delinquencies really mean relief; and covered office move opportunities and clutch construction loans.Check out those stories, and make sure you don’t miss the news, data, and analysis you need to know by signing up for the Commercial Catch Up here.last_img read more

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Real estate execs to city, state: Let us help with recovery efforts

first_imgFull Name* Share via Shortlink The signatories include a who’s who of New York real estate executives: Among the dozens of industry bigwigs included are Vornado Realty Trust’s Steven Roth, HFZ Capital Group’s Ziel Feldman, Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau, Douglas Durst, Blackstone Group’s Steven Schwarzman and Tishman Speyer’s Rob Speyer.This is the second letter that the Partnership has sent to de Blasio, calling for the city’s revival. The first asked for actions to be taken regarding public safety and other quality of life issues facing the city.The pandemic has had significant impacts on the city’s economy. In less than five months, the New York metropolitan region lost 1 million jobs and up to a third of the city’s small businesses are projected to permanently close. Additionally, the region’s affordable housing deficit is projected to increase by at least 150,000 units, according to a July report by the Partnership for New York City, which was cited in the new letter.Following the original letter, de Blasio called for office workers to return to the office and began a new cleanliness initiative focused on streets and parks.“It’s time to start moving, more and more,” de Blasio said at a press briefing Tuesday.Contact Sasha Jones Email Address* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlinkcenter_img Message* TagsAndrew CuomoBill de Blasiopartnership for new york city Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo, with (from left) Steven Roth, Jeff Blau, Rob Speyer, Douglas Durst, Ziel Feldman and Steven Schwarzman (Getty)Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s mailboxes may be getting full.The Partnership for New York City sent another letter to the city and state’s top executives Friday, in which 177 business leaders offered to collaborate on a strategic plan for New York’s economic recovery.“As the first place in America to be struck hard by the coronavirus and the first to successfully manage its containment, New York should step up to chart the course for recovery of urban centers everywhere,” the letter reads.Read moreDe Blasio calls for return to the office, restores trash pickupsNYC real estate execs to de Blasio: Bring this city backFlip-flop on eviction ban extension highlights state’s chaotic responselast_img read more

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The Cost of VR: a Consumer Response

first_imgThe Cost of VR: a Consumer ResponseEedar’s Patrick Walker analyses the public’s reaction to VR hardwarePatrick WalkerFriday 22nd January 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articlehtcOculus VR Inc.SonyOn January 6th, Oculus launched its preorder campaign and started the “year of VR” in earnest with the first price announcement for a high-end VR headset. After months of consumer and analyst speculation and very little comment from the major hardware manufacturers on headset pricing, Oculus announced a launch price of $599.99, higher than what was expected by many consumers. The messaging strategy for Oculus quickly became clear, with founder Palmer Luckey emphasizing that Oculus had committed to the path of “prioritizing quality over cost, trying to deliver the best VR experience possible with current technology.” HTC is taking a similar quality-first messaging strategy, announcing in December that not releasing in 2015 was the result of “a very, very big technological breakthrough.” And while many assume that Sony will have the cheapest of the three headsets, Sony has not officially revealed many details on the price and hardware specs of the PlayStation VR.So where does this put consumers as they wait for the next major announcement? Here are four takeaways from an analysis of consumer awareness and sentiment conducted a week after the price announcement:1) Oculus has gained a significant lead in gamer awareness by consistently being a frontrunner in VR product announcements and news.Oculus has been in the forefront of VR news since it launched its August 2012 Kickstarter campaign and quickly reached its funding goal. It can be argued that VR finally reached a mainstream awareness when Facebook purchased Oculus for $2BN in March of 2014. These high publicity events helped make Oculus the VR headset gamers were most aware of when EEDAR first measured VR awareness in October 2014. Notably, Oculus Rift has also increased in gamer awareness the most since 2014, to the point where more than 8 out of 10 North American PC and Console gamers are aware of the product.PlayStation VR (formerly Project Morpheus) has also seen a significant increase in awareness since 2014, driven in part by the roaring success of the PlayStation 4 platform. Meanwhile, the HTC Vive has yet to gain gamer mindshare (only 14 per cent aware), despite generating significant industry buzz when initially showing the product in March 2015 at GDC. It is likely that PlayStation VR and Vive will see significant awareness increases as they release more launch details.2) The messaging strategy for the Oculus Rift price point has emphasized quality above all else – and it seems to be working.Palmer Luckey has positioned the Oculus as targeting a separate market from the PlayStation VR, not only because of the console vs. PC platform difference but also because of his belief in the higher quality of the Oculus unit. The data suggests this belief is currently shared by gamers. Among PC and console gamers that are aware of the Oculus Rift and PlayStation VR but not the Vive (suggesting moderate but not extensive knowledge of upcoming VR devices), 82 per cent believe the Oculus will provide the higher quality VR experience. Perhaps more interesting is the consumer expectation that Oculus will provide a higher quality VR experience at launch than the HTC Vive. The technical specifications of the two units are not expected to be radically different and HTC recently announced updated Vive launch features, some of which, such as the forward-facing AR camera, are not expected to be part of the Oculus Rift experience at launch. Another factor that may be influencing consumer quality perception is the high number of games Oculus has shown compared to HTC and Sony. HTC and Sony both have an opportunity to increase consumer quality expectations as they show more software. 3) Consumers expect that the PlayStation VR will be priced lower than the Oculus and Vive.Gamers are in line with industry expectations (and possible price leaks, although it is important to note there have been contradictory leaks suggesting higher pricing as well) that the PlayStation VR will be priced lower than the Oculus and the Vive. This belief in the industry is based in part on Sony’s deep experience in hardware manufacturing and the lower technical specifications of the PlayStation 4 compared to an Oculus-capable PC (although this was mitigated somewhat by the news that the PlayStation VR would have both the cost and the power of an external processing unit). In addition, the high-profile (and much lauded) PlayStation 4 launch price undercut of the Xbox One in 2013 is still fresh in the minds of consumers. Sony has said little on pricing other than CEO Andrew House stating in September that the PlayStation VR would be priced as a platform, suggesting pricing of at least $400.A significant percentage of consumers (31 per cent) aware of all three devices still think that the Vive will be lowest cost device on the market. This is in spite of the fact that many analysts and press outlets now expect the Vive to be the highest priced unit after seeing the recently announced specs and features of the Vive launch unit. However, launching at a price higher than or equal to the Oculus would likely be less of a messaging challenge for HTC than Sony. While low pricing expectations for the Vive are likely driven mostly by lack of product knowledge, a majority of VR-savvy console gamers are aware of the PlayStation VR and firmly expect lower pricing than Oculus. 4) Gamers have reset their VR pricing expectations as more information about VR has become available.Although it wasn’t until 2016 that the high-end VR race really kicked off with the first price announcement, the VR landscape has evolved dramatically since the end of 2014 when EEDAR first analyzed consumer VR awareness. Full product demonstrations, purchasable mobile VR units, and software previews have dramatically increased consumer knowledge. One byproduct of this is a consumer base that is far more accepting of VR units being priced as full platforms. In October 2014, only 14 per cent of gamers interested in VR believed they would be willing to spend more than $300 on a headset. Little more than a year later, this percentage has increased to almost half. Granted, initial launch units will cost significantly more than $300 and are targeting early adopters, but the data does show how quickly consumer pricing expectations can change. Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The VR & AR newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesReturnal | Critical ConsensusCritics praise Housemarque’s roguelike shooter for fast-paced combat and unforgiving, gorgeous world, but say it misses the mark on some key aspectsBy Marie Dealessandri 9 days agoSony testing PlayStation Plus film and TV offeringPlayStation Plus Video Pass will be available for a limited time in PolandBy Marie Dealessandri 20 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

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Kirby: Planet Robobot is Japanese #1

first_imgKirby: Planet Robobot is Japanese #1No new entries in top ten this week Rachel WeberSenior EditorWednesday 11th May 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareThere were no new entries in the Japanese top ten this week, which gave Kirby: Planet Robobot the chance to stay at the top spot with 80,000 copies sold. [3DS] Kirby: Planet Robobot – 79,807 (Lifetime sales – 224,653)[3DS] Yo-kai Sangokushi – 33,996 (498,883)[PSV] Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2016 – 24,827 (109,800)[PS4] Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2016 – 23,936 (125,917)[3DS] Dragon Quest Monsters: Joker 3 – 14,200 (586,555)PS3] Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball 2016 – 14,035 (70,512)[PSV] Minecraft: PlayStation Vita Edition – 10,289 (762,839)[Wii U] Splatoon – 9,478 (1,356,993)[Wii U] Super Mario Maker – 8,947 (870,375)[3DS] Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games – 7,040 (156,313)In hardware PlayStation 4 stayed top yet again, despite a drop in sales on last week. PlayStation 4 – 24,880 (Last week – 28,578)New 3DS XL – 19,675 (20,257)PlayStation Vita – 18,090 (20,168)Wii U – 7,224 (10,020)New 3DS – 5,187 (3,997)PlayStation 3 – 1,340 (1,560)3DS – 1,209 (1,091)3DS XL – 171 (233)Xbox One – 60 (100)Charts collated by Media Create and published by Gematsu.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 storiesResident Evil: Village is the third biggest PS5 launch so far | UK Boxed ChartsBut physical sales down over previous Resident Evil gamesBy Christopher Dring 2 days agoEpic reportedly offered $200m to Sony for PlayStation exclusivesThe firm also reportedly started discussions with Microsoft and noted that securing first-party Nintendo games would be a “moonshot”By Marie Dealessandri 2 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

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Pokemon Go legislation puts ESA in a tight spot

first_img 4 years ago “Will the industry side with sex offenders….” Just about stopped reading there as the answer should be pretty obvious to everyone. Edited 1 times. Last edit by Aleksi Ranta on 9th August 2016 8:43am 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyShow all comments (7)Barry Meade , Fireproof Studios Ltd.4 years ago Even if it passes, which it won’t, this legislation is dumb as rocks. The potential crimes it may help avoid are so infinitesimally small in number, the law is clearly a strawman whipped up by politicians to make themselves look busy and relevant. 3Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyKlaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyAleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager Pokemon Go legislation puts ESA in a tight spotWill the industry side with sex offenders or risk legislators hobbling a new market just as it gets going?Brendan SinclairManaging EditorMonday 8th August 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleThe ESAWhen it comes to fighting attempts at video game legislation, the ESA has traditionally chosen pragmatism over principles.It went tooth-and-nail against California all the way to the Supreme Court to prevent the state from curtailing sales of violent games to children, because the industry makes violent games and people buy them. But when Louisiana passed a law in 2006 banning the sale or distribution of sexually explicit games to minors, the ESA let it pass uncontested; it’s not like any of its members were making sexually explicit games anyway.And in 2008, when the state of New York passed a law requiring consoles to support parental lockout features and establishing an advisory council to examine connections between games and real-life violence in minors, the ESA called it wasteful and unconstitutional, but didn’t challenge it in court. After all, the big hardware makers at the time already had parental controls in place, so it wasn’t going to ruin anyone’s bottom line. (To give an idea of how much of a non-issue it was, when someone finally broke the law, almost nobody noticed or cared. The Ouya originally launched in New York without parental controls.)In short, if a law doesn’t affect business, the ESA won’t raise much of a fuss. But once politicians start messing with its members’ bread and butter, the ESA will get as litigious as it needs to.”As is typical for legislation targeting games, these bills were clearly drafted by people who don’t quite get the nuances of the field.” That’s what makes this week’s news about a pair of Pokemon Go-inspired bills in the New York State Senate so interesting. One of them would ban registered sex offenders from playing augmented reality games. The other would require companies that operate AR games to ensure they aren’t placing in-game objectives around registered sex offenders’ residences.As is typical for legislation targeting games, these bills were clearly drafted by people who don’t quite get the nuances of the field. For one thing, they purport to limit AR games, but the legal definition they give for what constitutes an AR game actually describes location-based gaming: “a digital application or game, typically accessed on mobile devices, including but not limited to: smartphones; tablets; or augmented reality glasses; which causes users to physically move to and/or personally interact with locations outside the user’s place of residence for the purpose of achieving goals or moving from place to place within the game.”So the things we’ve generally thought of as AR–HoloLens, CastAR, that 3DS Face Invaders game that came with the system–don’t count. But depending on how liberally you parse that definition, using Google Maps to achieve the goal of getting to the grocery store could conceivably make it an AR application.But even if the ESA can poke holes in the legislators’ choice of terminology, fighting the bills would be a PR nightmare for the industry. Taking the side of child molesters and rapists against concerned parents is pretty much a non-starter. But letting the bills go through unchallenged could have more significant drawbacks because in both the games industry and politics, success breeds imitators. (Even when it shouldn’t.) Just as other developers will see the potential in augmented reality/geolocation games and ready their own knock-offs, so too will politicians in other states and countries see that protecting kids from sexual predators is a slam dunk issue and draft their own equivalent bills. The 2005 California law that went to the Supreme Court was part of one such wave of legislation, with Louisiana, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Illinois, Utah, Maryland, Indiana, Washington, and Missouri all attempting to pass their own restrictions on the sales of violent games to children.”It’s one thing to culturalize game content for an entire country/culture, but it’s another to manage expectations at a very local level.” Kate EdwardsIn the case of New York’s Pokemon Go bills, the developer of an augmented reality game would be required to make sure no in-game items or objectives are placed within 100 feet of a registered sex offender’s residence. They would also have to update their list of forbidden addresses every month to ensure it’s using the most current information, or face fines of $100 per day per sex offender residence with an in-game item. It may sound like a reasonable burden to place on Niantic, but that burden becomes significantly heavier when every locality with its own registry adopts its own laws that may require different sized safe zones around each address, different requirements on how frequently the list must be updated, and different methods for the developer to access the addresses in question, which could be stored in a variety of different formats. Back when she worked at Microsoft, Kate Edwards was the company’s senior geopolitical strategist, responsible for ensuring that the company’s products were altered on a region-by-region basis to ensure they wouldn’t inadvertently run afoul of local norms. Now executive director of the International Game Developers Association, Edwards compared her previous work to the challenge of complying with a multitude of laws like the one proposed in New York.”On a global scale, it’s potentially daunting for game developers to manage geopolitical and cultural restrictions and policies,” she told GamesIndustry.biz. “But in reality, we’ve already been doing that for decades via the culturalization process, ensuring that the content of games is culturally compatible with certain locales. But the extra burden imposed by AR is the severe locality of the experience and having to account for many specific potential issues. It’s one thing to culturalize game content for an entire country/culture, but it’s another to manage expectations at a very local level.””The legislation that is being proposed by New York has the potential to severely curtail or even kill off a vast, emerging industry…” Kate EdwardsAnd this is what could put the ESA in a pinch. As if making something like Pokemon Go weren’t expensive and logistically challenging enough already, if the New York bill spawns imitators–and again, there’s little reason to think it wouldn’t–the entire field could be hamstrung. Location-based AR games, particularly free-to-play ones like Pokemon Go, are almost inherently global propositions. New York is one state of 50 in one country. Pokemon Go is already available in more than 50 countries. And sex offenders are just one possible reason a government would want spawn-free zones in those games.”The legislation that is being proposed by New York has the potential to severely curtail or even kill off a vast, emerging industry, especially for smaller AR developers who may not have the legal and/or financial resources of Niantic,” Edwards said. “While the concerns of the state of New York are understandable and valid, the reality is that current legal regimes are not equipped to appropriately account for how virtual spaces interact with real spaces.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 don’t even have effective laws that manage the difference between online harassment and in-person harassment, and this is just one example of an issue that should take precedence over AR. Thus, before making a knee-jerk response to a single AR game experience, we’d strongly prefer that governments work together with the game industry and affected organizations to make a much broader examination of this issue and its long-term implications.”One idea Edwards wanted considered was a centralized data portal through which organizations–be they the New York Department of Corrections, churches, or caretakers for memorials–could submit locations for location-based AR games to avoid, and from which developers could pull the most up-to-date information for wherever they run their games.We reached out to the Entertainment Software Association to find out its position on the New York bills last week. They have yet to provide a comment. Niantic also has yet to respond to a request for comment.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The VR & AR newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesESA commits $1 million to support Black Girls CodeThe multi-year venture will support education and mentoring programs for girls and young womenBy Eric Van Allen 2 months agoReggie Fils-Aimé on E3: “If the ESA doesn’t figure out how to do this, someone else will”Playable content is “key to a successful E3,” the former Nintendo exec saidBy Marie Dealessandri 2 months agoLatest comments (7)Aleksi Ranta Category Management Project Manager 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyCamden Studying Computer Science, University of Phoenix4 years ago Klaus, the individual you state was “famously charged” was not in fact arrested nor charged at all. In no way has someone who has been breastfeeding been placed on a sex offender registry. That article (and others) clearly state that breastfeeding in public is protected almost universally in the USA.Brendan wrote this article clearly detailing the issue that the ESA faces in challenging the law: public perception of the defense of sexual predators. The ESA must balance defending developers from an unreasonable burden while avoiding the appearance of defending sexual predators (which, yes, also accompanies other offenders which are not violent).It’s a question of can this argument be made without muddying the waters regarding the registry effectiveness. 4 years ago I didnt know you can get registered as a sex offender for breastfeeding in the states. Care to back that up Klaus?http://www.sexcrimecriminaldefense.com/registered-sex-offender/Those Tiers seem pretty clear and not to be taken lightly. 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyKlaus Preisinger Freelance Writing 4 years ago If there were a way to specifically exclude sex offenders homes from applications like this, it would be equally possible to create an app that would TARGET sex offenders as well. There’s your scary invasion of privacy moment of the day. 4 years ago With the war on drugs and the war on terrorism not performing as strong, sex offenders are the last bogeymen that have not declared a war against them. We are off to a good start, this article did not bother with the nuance of sexual offenses that get you registered in the U.S., it skipped right to the worst imaginable sex offenses to make the proposed legislation seem more justified and the odds of fighting it hopeless.It is worth remembering, that for the most part we are not talking about raping people up the nose to death, but about unsolicited hugs between kindergartners, indecent exposure (e.g. breastfeeding), peeing in public, having consensual sex as a teenagers, and more. Never forget that in Britain, you can be sentenced to having to register all your sexual encounters including name, address and age with the police 24h in advance. A regulation restricted only to be used after having found NOT guilty in a sex offender trail.Pick a side now. Reasonable adult behavior, or childlike fear-mongering for personal gains? 4 years ago This woman was famously charged:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2074363/Breastfeeding-mom-accused-indecent-exposure-says-treated-like-criminal.htmlmost states have special exemptions, which says a lot in its own right. Definitely sends the message of not pushing your luck in some parts of the U.S. That and the judge’s quote.The three tiers consist almost exclusively of offenses which cannot be argued with. But take a close look at the first item of each tier. This is the part of the system you can basically weaponize to enforce much harder social norms due to the vagueness of terms and their local interpretation. Think of basically any spring break party ever. The setup is eerily similar to how non-violent marijuana offenders were bunched together with far worse things. It is all about the entry level. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyJordan Lund Columnist 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

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Blizzard, EA among Glassdoor’s best places to work

first_imgBlizzard, EA among Glassdoor’s best places to workEmployees have given both game companies high marksJames BrightmanWednesday 6th December 2017Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompany reviews website Glassdoor has published its 2018 Best Places to Work awards and a few games (or games-related) companies have made the cut. Importantly, the awards are entirely driven by employees’ choice, based on numerous reviews submitted anonymously by the employees during the course of the year. Coming in at the very top of the large companies list is Facebook, which of course isn’t strictly a games company but uses its social platform for them and owns VR firm Oculus. Google isn’t far behind, placing fifth. Graphics powerhouse Nvidia is also highly ranked at number 24. The highest ranked pure gaming company, however, is Blizzard Entertainment, which secured the 28th spot on the list. Blizzard was praised by its employees for a great work-life balance and a relaxed, friendly work environment. The cost of living in Irvine, California was cited as a big drawback and one employee noted, “You have to work really hard to exceed expectations which can erode some of the exalted ‘work-life balance’.” That said, most employees had glowing remarks for the Hearthstone and Overwatch studio.”Most companies have ‘pillars’ and then ignore them. Blizzard has cast them in bronze, made them the center of their campus, and focuses on them every day,” remarked another employee. “It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, but when one of your pillars is ‘Play Nice, Play Fair’ it’s a refreshing change of pace. At Blizzard, a common phrase that is spoken is ‘Set them up for success.’ The idea that in everything we do, we should be setting our co-workers as well as our games up for success. In these ideals, Blizzard works at making them a reality, not just saying them.”Microsoft and Apple make the list as well, at 39th and 84th, respectively, but the other major games publisher to be honored is Electronic Arts, which of course has come a long way from the controversial days of “EA Spouse.” In 56th place, EA is praised by staff for its high salaries and nice perks, such as “Free games, ice cream, masseur on site, work events, raffles, meditation rooms to chill, etc.” and for supporting and fostering growth in its employees. 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 One member of EA suggested that management: “Keep your employees in the loop more, offer game time to employees to gain hands-on product knowledge [and] acknowledge that stats are highly biased and often out of the advisor’s control due to issues only Studio can fix.” Another said EA is great “except during layoff season,” as those at Visceral can attest to.The top small and medium category did not list any games companies.If you have jobs news to share or a new hire you want to shout about, please contact us on [email protected] 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 5 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 8 hours agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

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TIGA publishes guide to forthcoming changes in data protection law

first_imgTIGA publishes guide to forthcoming changes in data protection lawThe General Data Protection Regulation to replace the Data Protection Act on May 25Haydn TaylorSenior Staff WriterThursday 11th January 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleTIGAVideo game trade association TIGA has published a guide ahead of forthcoming changes UK data protection laws. Due to be implemented on May 25 this year, the General Data Protection Regulation will replace the Data Protection Act 1998.The GDPR aims to unify data regulation within the European Union, simplifying the environment for international businesses and giving back control to citizens and residents over their personal data.It also will introduce tough fines for non-compliance and give individuals more of a say over what organisations can do with their data.One of the most notable changes included in the GDPR is the right to be forgotten which allows individuals to request that their personal data is erased “without undue delay.”Produced in partnership with law firms Stevens and Bolton, and Kilpatrick Townsend and Stockton, TIGA’s guide explores the main issues behind GDPR from changes to data processing and breach notifications, through to the new legal requirements surrounding data protection officers. 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 “The gaming industry is very diverse, which inevitably means that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to GDPR compliance,” said TIGA CEO Dr Richard Wilson.”We trust that games businesses will find our guide a useful introduction to the GDPR and then take professional advice to ensure that they are compliant with the GDPR.”For more information, or to get a copy of the document, click here.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 storiesConsole remains largest employer of development staff in the UKOnly 13% of UK studios have console development as their primary focus, but it still represents 46% of the workforce in the country, TIGA saysBy Marie Dealessandri 5 months agoGrowth in UK games industry fastest ever recordedGames development headcount is at an all-time high of 18,279 in the UKBy Marie Dealessandri 6 months agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.last_img read more

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