tama 4 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Beep-Beep: Bandai Namco is launching a Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Bandai America unveiled its first collaboration with Lucasfilm:Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi virtual pet toy.

That means your favorite droid from Star Wars will be inside the latest Tamagotchi egg-like toy, where you nurture and grow your virtual character and raise it into an adult. Like other Tamagotchi products, the R2-D2 version has the simplest of electronic games on it.

The electronic toy debuts November 11, and preorders start on August 3, said Bandai America brand strategist Trish Garrett in an interview with GamesBeat.

“This is the most epic collaboration that Bandai has, and we have a holographic version with a translucent blue shell,” as well as a classic white version, Garrett said, holding an egg up to her camera. “I think people are going to be excited to collect both of these.”

Webinar

Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.

Watch On Demand

tama 4 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Above: The translucent blue version of the Star Wars R2-D2 tamagotchi.

Image Credit: Bandai Namco

Bandai Namco has done Tamagotchi brand collaborations before (like with Hello Kitty), but this is the first time the Star Wars brand is coming to it, Garrett said. The teams from Bandai Namco and Lucasfilm have worked on it for more than a year.

“It’s a big deal, and it’s set for a global release,” she said.

Garrett said you can train the R2-D2 Tamagotchi to master 19 different skills, such as piloting spacecraft or doing repairs. Instead of feeding R2-D2 like other pets, you have to charge the little droid. You also have to keep R2-D2 clean. You earn points from a firefighting minigame and a Dejarik holochess game (you play against Chewbacca, just like R2-D2 did on the Millennium Falcon in A New Hope). You can unlock seven more minigames as you progress.

You have to make sure you keep your R2-D2 Tamagotchi happy. If you neglect the droid for too long, the Jawas may take R2-D2 away.

tama 5 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Above: The classic white Star Wars R2-D2 Tamagotchi.

Image Credit: Bandai Namco

“We’re excited about that, but also a little sad, because maybe people will not take care of him on purpose so they can see the Jawas,” Garrett said.

The Tamagotchi includes animated pixel movie clips as well. It’s targeted for kids ages 8 and up. It doesn’t need Wi-Fi, and it uses two LR44 batteries. Bandai Namco hopes it will be a good stocking stuffer, Garrett said.

“Any Tamagotchi fan will know how  to play with this,” Garrett said. “It might be a small learning curve for the Star Wars fan.”

The Boba Fett television show is coming to Disney+ in December. Garrett said she didn’t know if R2-D2 will show up in the series. She noted that Boba Fett makes an appearance in the device. It will cost $20.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

AI e1621941163863 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Pinecone CEO on bringing vector similarity search to dev teams

AI e1621941163863 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


The traditional way for a database to answer a query is with a list of rows that fit the criteria. If there’s any sorting, it’s done by one field at a time. Vector similarity search looks for matches by comparing the likeness of objects, as captured by machine learning models. Pinecone.io brings “vector similarity” to the average developer by offering turnkey service.

Vector similarity search is particularly useful with real-world data because that data is often unstructured and contains similar yet not identical items. It doesn’t require an exact match because the so-called closest value is often good enough. Companies use it for things like semantic search, image search, and recommender systems.

Success often depends upon the quality of the algorithm used to turn the raw data into a succinct vector embedding that effectively captures the likeness of objects in a dataset. This process must be tuned to the problem at hand and the nature of the data. An image search application, for instance, could use a simple model that turns each image into a vector filled with numbers representing the average color in each part of the image. Deep learning models that do something much more elaborate than that are very easy to get nowadays, even from deep learning frameworks themselves.

We sat down with Edo Liberty, the CEO and one of the founders of Pinecone, and Greg Kogan, the VP of marketing, to talk about how they’re turning this mathematical approach into a Pinecone vector database that a development team can deploy with just a few clicks.

VentureBeat: Pinecone specializes in finding vector similarities. There have always been ways to chain together lots of WHERE clauses in SQL to search through multiple columns. Why isn’t that good enough? What motivated Pinecone to build out the vector distance functions and find the best? 

Edo Liberty: Vectors are by no means new things. They have been a staple of large-scale machine learning and a part of machine learning-driven services for at least a decade now in larger companies. It’s been kind of “table stakes” for the bigger companies for at least a decade now. My first startup was based on technologies like this. Then, we used it at Yahoo. Then, we built another database that deployed it.

It’s a big part of image recognition algorithms and recommendation engines, but it really didn’t hit the mainstream until machine learning. In pretrained models, AI scientists started generating these embeddings in vector representations of complex objects pretty much for everything. So it just became a lot lower and became a lot more common. People suddenly started having these vectors and suddenly, it’s like they are asking “OK, what now?”

Greg Kogan: The reason why clauses fall short is that they are only as useful as the number of facets that you have. You can string together WHERE clauses, but it won’t produce a ranked answer. Even for something as common as semantic search, once you can get a vector embedding of your text document, you can measure the similarity between documents much better than if you’re stringing together words and just looking for keywords within the document. Other things we’re hearing is search for other unstructured data types like images or audio files. Things like that where there was no semantic search before. But now, they can convert unstructured data into vector embeddings. Now you can do vector similarity search on those items and do things like find similar images or find similar products. If you do it on user behavior data or event logs, you can find similar events, similar shoppers, and so on.

‘Once it’s a vector, it’s all the same to us’

VentureBeat: What kind of preprocessing do you need to do to get to the point where you’ve got the vector? I can imagine what it might be for text, but what about other domains like images or audio? 

Kogan: Once it’s a vector, it’s all the same to us. We can perform the same mathematical operations on it. From the user’s point of view, they would need to find an embedding model that works with their type of data. So for images, there are many computer vision models available off the shelf. And if you’re a larger company with your own data science team, you’re most likely developing your own models that will transform images into vector embeddings. It’s the same thing for audio. There’s wav2vec for audio, for instance.

For text and images, you can find loads of off-the-shelf models. For audio and streaming data, they’re hard to find so it does take some data science work. So the companies that have the most pressing need for this are those more advanced companies that have their own data science teams. They’ve done all the data science work and they see that there’s a lot more they can do with those vectors.

VentureBeat: Are any of the models more attractive, or does it really involve a lot of domain-specific kind of work?

Kogan: The off-the-shelf models are good enough for a lot of use cases. If you’re using basic semantic search over documents, you can find some off-the-shelf models, like sentence embeddings and things like that. They are fine. If your whole business depends on some proprietary model, you may have to do it on your own. Like if you’re a real estate startup or financial services startup and your whole secret sauce is being able to model something like financial risk or the price of a house, you’re going to invest in developing your own models. You could take some off-the-shelf model and retrain it on your own data to eke out some better performance from it.

Large banks of questions generate better results

VentureBeat: Are there examples of companies that have done something that really surprised you, that built a model that turned out to be much better than you thought it would even end up?

Liberty: If you have a very large bank of questions and good answers to those questions, a common and reasonable approach is to look for what is the most similar question and just return the best answer that you have for this other question, right? It sounds very simplistic, but it actually does a really good job, especially if you have a large bank of questions and answers. The larger the collection, the better the results

Kogan: We didn’t even realize it could be applicable for bot detection and image duplication. So if you’re a consumer company that allows uploading of images, you may have a bot problem where a user uploads some bad images. But once that image is banned, they try to upload a slightly tweaked version of that image. Simply looking up a hash of that image is not going to find you a match. But if you look for similarity, like closely similar images, you suspend that account immediately or at least flag it for review.

We’ve also heard this for financial services organizations, where they get way more applications than they can manually review. So they want to flag applications that resemble previously flagged fraudulent applications.

VentureBeat: Is your technology proprietary? Did you build this on some kind of open source code? Or is it some mixture?

Kogan: At the core of Pinecone is a vector search library that is a proprietary index. A vector index. We find that people don’t care so much about exactly which index it is or whether it’s proprietary or open source. They just want to add this capability to their application. How can I do that quickly and how can I scale it up? Does it have all the features we need? Does it maintain its speed and accuracy at scale? And who manages the infrastructure?

Liberty: We do want to contribute to the open source community. And we’re thinking about our open core strategy. It’s not unlikely that we will support open source indexes publicly soon. What Greg said is accurate. I’m just saying that we are big fans of the open source community and we would love to be able to contribute to it as well.

VentureBeat: Now it seems that if you’re a developer that you don’t necessarily integrate it with any of the databases per se. You just kind of side-load the data into Pinecone. When you query, it returns some kind of key and you go back to the traditional database to figure out what that key means. 

Kogan: Exactly right. Yes, you’re running it alongside your warehouse or data lake. Or you might be storing the main data anywhere. Soon we’ll actually be able to store more than just the key in Pinecone. We’re not trying to be your source of truth for your user database or your warehouse. We just want to eliminate the round trips. Once you find your ranked results or similar items, then we’ll have a bit more there. If all you want is the S3 location of that item or the user ID, you’ve got it in your results.

More flexibility on pricing

VentureBeat: On pricing, it looks like you just load everything into RAM. Your prices are determined by how many vectors you have in the dataset. 

Kogan: We used to have it that way. We recently started letting some users have a little bit more control over things like the number of shards and replicas. Especially if they want to increase their throughput. Some companies come to us with insanely high throughput demands and latency demands. When they sign up and they create an index, they can choose to have more shards and more replicas for higher availability and throughput. In that case, you still have the same amount of data, but because it’s being replicated, you’re going to pay more because you’re looking for data on more machines.

VentureBeat: How do you handle the jobs where companies are willing to wait a little bit and don’t care about a cold start? 

Kogan: For some companies, the memory-based pricing doesn’t make sense. So we’re happy to work with companies to find another model.

Liberty: What you’re asking about is a lot more fine-grained control over costs and performance. We do work with larger customers and larger teams. We just sat down with a very large company today. The workload is 50 billion vectors. Usually, we have a very tight response time. Let’s say 20, 30, 40, 50 milliseconds is typical 99% of the time. But they say that this is an analytical workload and we are happy to have a full second latency or even two seconds. That means they can pay less. We are very happy to work with customers and find trade-offs, but it’s not something that’s open in the API today. If you sign in on the website and use the product, you won’t have those options available to you yet.

Kogan: We simplified the self-serve pricing on the website to make it easier for people to just jump in and play around with it. But once you have 50 billion vectors and crazy performance or scale requirements, come talk to us. We can make it work.

Our initial bet was that more and more companies would use vector data as machine learning models become more prevalent and the data scientists become more productive. They realize that you can do a lot more with your data, once it’s going to a vector format. You can collect less of it and still succeed. There are privacy and consumer protection implications as well.

It’s becoming less and less extreme of a bet. We are seeing the early adopters, the most advanced companies have already done this. They’re using vector similarity search and using recommendation systems for their search results. Facebook uses them for their feed ranking. The vision is that more companies will leverage vector data for recommendation and many use cases still to be discovered.

Liberty: The leaders already have it. It’s already happening. It’s more than just a trend.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

gta online captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Take-Two boss: ‘Development cycles are not getting shorter’

gta online captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Do not expect a return to the old releaser cadence for Take-Two Interactive’s publishing labels like Rockstar Games. While a decade ago, Rockstar used to release one game a year, it has only released Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption 2 since 2013. And Take-Two Interactive Entertainment chief executive officer Strauss Zelnick told a group of investors in a conference call today that is unlikely to change.

“The development cycles for our core, immersive releases are still significant,” said Zelnick. “It takes some time to make what we hope will be the best titles in the business. Development cycles are not getting shorter for core, immersive releases. I wouldn’t necessarily expect them to.”

Where games might’ve averaged a few years of development in the past, that duration is expanding to half a decade or more. But Rockstar points out that this goes hand-in-hand with its microtransaction strategy.

“What has changed is between big releases we continue to engage consumers with add-on content and opportunities to engage in online versions of the game and instances of online multiplayer,” said Zelnick. “That’s what created recurrent consumer spending. But much more importantly, recurrent spending reflects consumer spending and engagement.”

Webinar

Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.

Watch On Demand

To translate Zelnick, developers are generating revenue from the same aging games with in-game purchases. And the CEO believes this is partially driven by the desires of consumers to play the same games for longer.

Bigger games means more consolidation

Zelnick went on to note that bigger and more complicated games means they’re also riskier to produce. And that will have a knock-on effect that makes the market more difficult for smaller studios.

“Over time, will it be harder for smaller companies to compete in this space? I think the answer will be yes with regard to both mobile and console,” said Zelnick. “The resources required are significant. The risk profile is significant. And the history of the entertainment business is that over time, those that are very creative become very successful. Those that are very successful become bigger. And those that are bigger have the opportunity to acquire smaller enterprises.”

So Take-Two’s boss expects more acquisitions and consolidation. And that may also help the publisher fill out its release roster as its current teams take longer than ever to produce new games.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

Data Collaboration.png e1627932691203 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

What is Firebase?

Data Collaboration.png e1627932691203 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Firebase is a multi-node, key-value database optimized for synchronizing data, often between user machines or smartphones and centralized storage in the cloud. It’s designed to make life easier for developers by handling much of the pushing and pulling of data. That relieves app developers of the programming burdens associated with managing versions or locations. They can write the new bits to Firebase and the data will be consistent throughout the system.

Firebase is valued largely because it can constantly propagate and synchronize changes between local copies of information stored on users’ machines with versions kept in the cloud. Firebase eliminates many of the challenges of mixing authentication, synchronization, and segregation by juggling multiple versions and ensuring the right bits are the same throughout the system.

Today, Firebase is a central part of the Google cloud development tool kit. The product, a culmination of years of evolution, was positioned at the center of a mobile backend-as-a-service offering from the company known as Firebase, which Google acquired in 2014. Firebase is available through Google and through an open source version.

Firebase was early in taking the form of a database that is not limited to one physical computer. Its modern form allows it to split workloads between multiple machines by either splitting the data sets, creating copies of their bits, or both. Firebase extends the algorithms used for datacenter consistency to the entire network by treating the data stored on users’ phones or desktops as local versions of the big database. In essence, your phone or your laptop is now part of the cloud.

While Firebase began as a separate company, Google has tightly integrated the software with its other cloud software products. Firebase ML, for instance, is a collection of libraries that leverage the power of Google’s other tools, like AutoML or TensorFlow. Adding features like those used to find text in an image or find appropriate labels is relatively easy.

Developers don’t need to worry about the dangers of inconsistencies between the data on, say, a user’s phone and the central database. Once the data is stored locally, Firebase ships copies to cloud servers so both versions are consistent. The transfer also works in the other direction because changes made on the cloud are replicated locally. Server-side developers can communicate with client software running by simply writing data to the Firebase cloud.

Google’s Cloud Functions, a serverless option, can also be integrated with Firebase so new data can trigger functions. When a user first logs in, or each time the database changes, a function will be invoked that can then trigger other events or functions in the Google cloud or elsewhere. These functions can be used to post-process images, clean up text, or ensure data consistency.

Firebase Cloud Messaging adds an additional layer of organization to the process of sending messages by grouping users together by either name or topic. Once initialized, Firebase can ship event notifications as messages to predefined groups or users who have subscribed to certain topics.

Google has also built out a number of standard Firebase use cases, like resizing images or triggering email messages, that simplify some common tasks.

Flutter is another higher-level tool, also built by Google, that integrates sophisticated user interface widgets with the database underneath. It works with a number of databases that range from the simple, like SQLite, to the full-featured, like PostgreSQL. It can also rely upon Firebase itself.

How are established database companies approaching the problem?

When it comes to web development, most older databases placed too many programmatic chores on the backs of developers. These databases began life by storing data on just one machine. While the major databases have long expanded to replicate and share data across multiple databases and machines, they have generally avoided integration with the small, local copies of data cached on users’ machines. The cloud vendors are extending their own databases, often with extra layers.

AWS created Amplify by linking together several of its lower-level tools to handle authentication and data storage. The DataStore layer will store information locally and push it to the AWS cloud when a connection is available. The tool also bundles a number of other services, including hosting and a set of server apps for editing data structures and content.

What about the upstarts?

The problems Firebase addresses are common in modern development. So it is not surprising that upstart players are working to build on, or even outright replace, Firebase.

Supabase and NHost are building backend alternatives to Firebase by adding layers for authentication and replication to PostgreSQL. They’ve married more modern standards like GraphQL with a server-side core built on a trusted SQL-based engine.

Much of the competition is coming from full development platforms that are also adding layers to simplify interacting with the database. Parse, for instance, is a full platform for building client-server apps that integrate with a central database. It adds features like a GraphQL interface, a file system, and a notifications framework to a core that rests upon either PostgreSQL or MongoDB. Back4App is another layer built on top of Parse that simplifies the coding even further.

Some other competition comes from non-database companies that offer many of the features as part of mobile app development frameworks. Products like Xamarin are now more tightly integrated with clouds like Azure. GameSparks is designed to simplify building backends for networked games, a job that requires doing much of the same synchronization as Firebase.

Other tools, like Pubnub, have approached the problem of streaming messages for tracking virtual groups and spaces, another challenge that requires much of the same support Firebase provides. In some cases, such focused products may deliver exactly what is needed without building on top of Firebase.

Is there anything Firebase can’t do?

Firebase is an ideal tool for helping developers get started quickly because it handles much of the work of replicating data and pushing event notifications. It abstracts away the challenges of storing data simultaneously in a user’s phone and a central database.

The main data model is limited to NoSQL, although some developers have created FireSQL, a tool that adds SQL-like syntax. Firebase pricing is set according to each read or write, a feature that appeals to earlier developers but can sometimes surprise developers if the price jumps rapidly with a product’s growing popularity.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

strauss zelnick a captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Take-Two beats guidance with $711.4M in bookings, down 29%

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Take-Two Interactive reported revenue for its first fiscal quarter (second calendar quarter ended June 30) today that beat its own and Wall Street’s expectations, with net bookings of $711.4 million. This is down 29% from a year ago, when pandemic lockdowns resulted in a spike in gaming.

Grand Theft Auto V sold more than 5 million copies in the quarter, and its total sales have now surpassed 150 million copies. Since its 2013 release, GTA V has generated more than $6 billion in revenue.

Revenue for the New York video game publisher came in at $680.4 million on a GAAP basis, down 26% from a year ago. Overall, Take-Two said that all evidence suggests that media consumption patterns are beginning to stabilize to a new normal, and while down from the highs of the previous pandemic year, recurrent consumer spending in products has leveled off and remains significantly higher than the first quarter of fiscal 2020 (the calendar quarter ended March 31, 2020). That was the final quarter reported before the pandemic.

Take-Two’s stock price is trading at $165 a share, down 4.75% in after-hours trading.

Webinar

Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.

Watch On Demand

“They beat by a reasonable amount, but didn’t pass any of the upside through in guidance [for the full year],” said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. “The stock is down because beating and not passing through says that things are going to be worse the next three quarters than we thought, and that reinforces the unwind of the shelter-in-place trade.”

The company credited ongoing sales of Grand Theft Auto V, Grand Theft Auto Online, Red Dead Redemption 2, Red Dead Online, Borderlands 3, and other existing titles for the results.

Analysts expected the company to report non-GAAP results of 89 cents a share on revenues of $689.2 million. GAAP net income was $1.30 per share, or $152.3 million. The company had guided to $1 to $1.10 a share in GAAP net income.

In an interview today, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick explained why established game companies are seeing more predictable results.

Strauss Zelnick is CEO of Take-Two Interactive.

Above: Strauss Zelnick is the CEO of Take-Two Interactive.

Image Credit: Take-Two Interactive

“It’s still a hit-driven business, like all entertainment businesses. Hits drive results. And that’s true,” Zelnick said. “Now, it has been true in the past. I think maybe it’s more investable because of the scale of the business. Interactive entertainment is now the largest entertainment vertical, with something like $180 billion in annual revenue. And it’s also possible it seems more investable because it’s no longer cyclical.”

He added, “Fifteen years ago it was still a cyclical business where you have a hardware cycle driving a software cycle. And that’s not the case anymore. Now it’s a 12 month-a-year entertainment business, and hardware comes and goes. But the business is stable or growing. I also think it’s a more diverse business. That it speaks to broad audiences, the average age of a gamer is now 37. And with the introduction of mobile games, you know, 45% of the overall market is females, and mobile games specifically skew female and something older. So I suspect those are some of the reasons.”

Live operations, such as tournaments in online games, also get players to come back and spend money in the games, and that helps smooth out the results over time, Zelnick said.

Zelnick said the new acquisitions would affect the pipeline. He said the company has 6,800 employees now, an all-time high, and it hired 700 game developers in the last 12 months.

Game performance

GTA Online has a combat-free social space with Los Santos Tuners.

Above: GTA Online has a combat-free social space with Los Santos Tuners.

Image Credit: Rockstar Games

In comparison to the first quarter of fiscal 2020, Grand Theft Auto Online achieved a 72% increase in its audience size, a 77% increase in new players, and significant growth in recurrent consumer spending. Last week, GTA Online unveiled its Los Santos Tuners update, which enables players to engage in a non-combat social scene around modding cars. That was akin to a metaverse style update, where the aim is to get people to spend more time in the online world.

“I think Grand Theft Auto Online is a metaverse by any definition I come up with,” Zelnick said. “In the first place, the notion of the metaverse is a digital landscape that one can inhabit and in which one can act through a character, perhaps a character that reflects oneself. And that’s exactly what what you can do inside Grand Theft Auto Online, where you can do and read that online in ways you can do in the city. Is there is there more to be done? Absolutely. But there have been plenty of things that you could already do in Grand Theft Auto Online that that don’t involve combat, for example. And that’s been true for a very long time.”

Red Dead Redemption 2 sales edged up 1 million copies to 38 million copies sold to date since 2018. The game saw 18% growth in its audience size, 26% growth in new players, and outstanding growth in recurrent consumer spending.

Red Dead Online gets a major overhaul.

Above: Red Dead Online is still growing.

Image Credit: Rockstar Games

NBA 2K21 has sold more than 11 million copies to date, and more than 2.7 million users are playing daily. The game saw 13% growth in first-time spenders and 30% growth in returning players. NBA 2K Online in China has nearly 54 million registered users.

Take-Two also said that PGA Tour 2K21 continued to exceed its expectations and expand its audience. In June, it had a community-driven program from both 2K and HB Studios that allowed the top golf course designers from around the world to create and submit ideas for inclusion in the game’s online playlist. This is helping the golf title’s replayability.

Borderlands 3 had a strong quarter during which 2K and Gearbox Software released the Director’s Cut add-on, providing new missions, characters, daily and weekly challenges, and unique rewards.  The game was also supported with an array of new free content offerings that gave players more ways to perfect and expand their arsenals.

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI has sold more than 11 million copies to date, outperforming Civ V at the same point in its lifecycle. The game launched its anthology version, which includes all previously released downloadable content, on Windows.

As for the Private Division indie label, Kerbal Space Program has now sold more than 5 million copies.

Recurrent consumer spending declined 25%, which the company said was better than its expectations of a 30% drop, and it accounted for 69% of net bookings.

WWE Supercard has now been downloaded over 24 million times and it is 2K’s highest-grossing mobile title.

civ 6 2 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Above: Civilization VI is outperforming Civ V at the same point in its lifecycle.

Image Credit: 2K/Firaxis Games

The company updated its pipeline of games as well. Take-Two said 19 “immersive core” titles — including seven sports simulation games — are coming in the next three years. Fifteen will be available for premium prices, while four will be free-to-play games.

Of the games in the pipeline, Take-Two said four immersive core titles — NBA 2K22, WWE 2K22, Tiny Tina’s Wonderlands, and one unannounced game — are coming for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.

Also coming is one indie release, OlliOlli World, 10 mobile games, six new iterations of prior releases such as GTA V Expanded and Enhanced Edition; GTA Online — Standalone; Kerbal Space Program Enhanced; and three unannounced titles.

By the end of fiscal year 2024 (March 2024), Take-Two expects to also launch five independent games, which will all be available for purchase; 10 free-to-play mobile games; four midcore games, which will all be available for purchase and three of which will be sports-oriented; and three new iterations of previously released titles, which will all be available for purchase.

During the quarter, Take-Two acquired mobile game creator Nordeus to expand its mobile game-making capability, and it bought Dynamixyz to boost its graphics technology.

Outlook

Analysts were previously expecting second fiscal quarter earnings for the period ending September 30 of $1.36 a share on revenues of $878.2 million.

For the full year, Take-Two anticipates bookings of $3.2 billion to $3.3 billion — the same guidance as before. For the full year, analysts previously expected earnings of $4.72 a share on revenues of $3.45 billion for the full year. The company said that two of the planned releases for the year among the “immersive core” titles are shifting to later in the year than previously expected.

As COVID-19 moderates and the world returns to a new normal, Take-Two also expects a moderation of the trends that benefited the industry over the past year. But the company still believes the pandemic initiated a transformational shift in entertainment consumption.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

8bitdo xbox remote captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

8BitDo launches new Xbox media remotes

8bitdo xbox remote captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


The new generation of gaming consoles are great at playing games, but they are also excellent media devices. And peripheral manufacturer 8BitDo is launching two new Xbox media remotes to help unlock some of that potential. The company announced the 8BitDo Media Remote for Xbox in two flavors and with controls designed to specifically navigate Microsoft’s console interface.

You can preorder the 8BitDo Xbox Series X/S remotes starting today for $20 for the slimmer model and $25 for the larger option. Both controllers work with the Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S. They also both have a dedicated Home button that can wake an Xbox from sleep as well as the A, B, X, and Y buttons. That is important because you may occasionally run into an app that expects you to use a controller to navigate, and some older Xbox media remotes lack those standard inputs. Finally, 8BitDo’s controllers have back-lit buttons.

The company begins shipping the 8BitDo Media Remote for Xbox on September 15.

I’m gonna grab one because I want to know if I can recommend this. I do think you should have a traditional TV-style remote if you consume most of your media through a console, and I still really like the official Xbox One media remote that continues to work well with Xbox Series X/S. But Microsoft doesn’t sell that anymore. You can still get it used — but it does not have those aforementioned A, B, X, and Y buttons.

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

AI security e1602003587272 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

US Cyber Games and TikTok turn cybersecurity into an esport

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Cybersecurity is a big international priority, and to get more people into it, the U.S. government and industry are turning it into an esport.

TikTok and the federal Commerce Department’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education have teamed up to create an esports-style competition for aspiring cyberprofessionals to show off their talent.

The partnership will enable the US Cyber Team to field a team in both domestic and international competitions. The events started in May with the US Cyber Open, where 18-to-26-year-olds of all levels joined a free, two-week competition to earn an invitation to the US Cyber Combine Invitational, which is like a physical sports combine where scouts find candidates.

US Cyber Games Commissioner and Katzcy CEO Jessica Gulick said in an interview with VentureBeat that many of the competitions are styled after the Capture the Flag tournaments that take place at the Defcon security event, which is being held this week in Las Vegas. In those competitions, teams race against time and each other to find security flaws. TikTok as a founding sponsor of the first US Cyber Games and team.

Webinar

Three top investment pros open up about what it takes to get your video game funded.

Watch On Demand

Cyberathletes had to complete an aptitude evaluation, interviewed with multiple cultures, and they’re training weekly in advanced competitions. More than 688 people participated in the May event, Gulick said. The official Draft Day for the US Cyber Team is October 5, where the top 20 cyberathletes will be picked for the first US Cyber Team from a field of about 75 people.

After that, the team will train together as they prepare to represent the U.S. at the inaugural International Cybersecurity Challenge (ICC) in December. At least nine nations will compete in Athens, Greece in challenges spanning web application and system exploitation, cryptography, reverse engineering, hardware challenges, forensics, and escape rooms. They will work on cybersecurity with coaches on things like network security or internet of things security.

AI security e1602003587272 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Above: Cybersecurity skills are in high demand.

Image Credit: peshkov/Getty Images

To help the US Cyber Team develop critical teamwork and technical skills, TikTok chief security officer Roland Cloutier is joining the US Cyber Games board, alongside other cybersecurity leaders including Gulick, NICE lead for international engagement Danielle Santos and lead for academic engagement Davina Pruitt-Mentle; Women’s Society of Cyberjutsu CEO Mari Galloway; competitions section chief at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Michael Harpin; and many others.

Cybersecurity, as a (science, technology, engineering, and math) STEM discipline, has been identified as one of the most serious challenges facing countries around the world. The nonprofit Center for Cyber Safety and Education predicts the gap between qualified cybersecurity professionals and unfilled positions will reach 1.8 million by 2022.

By 2029, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for information security jobs to grow by 31%, including rising demands across both the public and private sectors. Women and other minorities are under-represented globally in the fast-growing discipline, underscoring a growing need for cybersecurity education and career development programs.

Cloutier said in a statement that addressing under participation in STEM fields is critical to enhancing opportunity for individuals, developing a stronger global workforce, and inspiring creativity to shape the future.

The inaugural US Cyber Games coaching team is led by head coach T.J. O’Connor, who serves as the cybersecurity program chair at Florida Tech. Jasmine Jackson is the jeopardy-style capture the flag coach. She is a senior applications security engineer for a Fortune 500 company and an adjunct professor at Drexel University.

Rob Fuller is the red versus blue coach. He has helped lead Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Cyber Defense Competition (MACCDC) as a Red Team Captain and now their chief technology officer.

The US Cyber Games are led by PlayCyber (by Katzcy) in collaboration with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE).

GamesBeat

GamesBeat’s creed when covering the game industry is “where passion meets business.” What does this mean? We want to tell you how the news matters to you — not just as a decision-maker at a game studio, but also as a fan of games. Whether you read our articles, listen to our podcasts, or watch our videos, GamesBeat will help you learn about the industry and enjoy engaging with it.

How will you do that? Membership includes access to:

  • Newsletters, such as DeanBeat
  • The wonderful, educational, and fun speakers at our events
  • Networking opportunities
  • Special members-only interviews, chats, and “open office” events with GamesBeat staff
  • Chatting with community members, GamesBeat staff, and other guests in our Discord
  • And maybe even a fun prize or two
  • Introductions to like-minded parties

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

GettyImages 1171132289 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

AI-driven HR seeks to balance ‘human’ and ‘resources’

GettyImages 1171132289 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Human resources (HR) is an area that is ripe for automation, and in particular, the kind of automation made possible by artificial intelligence (AI). HR, after all, is a cost center at most organizations, which means organizations are always looking for ways to keep costs as low as possible.

And yet, HR is rife with complex, time-consuming processes that, so far, have required the unique logic and intuitive thinking that only humans can provide.

A New World

But all that is changing with the newest generations of AI-driven HR platforms. Globality’s Sonia Mathai notes that everything from hiring and onboarding to scheduling and benefits management, and all the way to termination and access control, AI is creating a new brand of HR that is leaner, more accurate, and less costly than traditional HR.

For one thing, she says, AI-driven HR is available 24/7, delivering user-friendly services via fully conversational chatbots that provide immediate responses to most questions with no wait-listing. At the same time, AI can provide a more personalized experience due to its access to real-time data. And as seen with AI in other business units, all of this allows human reps to shed the rote, repetitive aspects of the job to focus on more creative, strategic solutions to endemic issues.

HR is such an important function at most companies that it should not be deployed lightly or haphazardly, according to Thirdera CIO Jeff Gregory. In a recent interview with Venture Beat, he pointed out that HR acts as the “steward of a company” and maintains the pulse of the health and development of employees. So it must consistently present the right information even when employees do not ask the right questions. For this reason, AI must learn the ins and outs of HR processes and resource utilization just like any employee, which is why it is best for it to start small and then work its way up to more complicated and consequential functions.

Be careful that AI doesn’t get you into legal trouble as well, says Eric Dunleavy, director of litigation and employment services at DCI Consulting Group, and Michelle Duncan, an attorney with Jackson Lewis. It’s one thing to use AI to prescreen applications, evaluate interviews, and mine social media. It’s quite another to have it decide who gets hired or promoted, particularly with the numerous examples of AI showing bias in regards to race, gender, age, and other factors. In the end, it is up to the company to ensure that all employees, whether human or digital, abide by established laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Crunching Numbers

Perhaps the most profound impact AI will have on HR is in analytics, rather than hiring or employee self-service tools. At its heart, HR is a numbers game, according to Erik van Vulpen, founder of the AIHR Academy, and AI is a whiz with numbers. For instance, AI can delve deep into turnover data to divine why employees are leaving and what can be done to correct it. As well, AI can assess the impact of learning and development programs, or determine which new hires will become top performers.  Ultimately, this will replace the “gut feeling” approach to decision-making in traditional HR shops to one that is more data-driven and quantifiable.

It’s been said that employees are the enterprise’s most valuable resource. In this case, organizations should proceed with caution when deciding how quickly and how thoroughly they want to integrate AI into their HR processes. People who take their jobs seriously might not maintain that attitude if they feel they cannot get a fair shake from an algorithm.

The best way to avoid this is to ensure that AI is trained to deliver positive outcomes, preferably ones that benefit the individual and the organization alike. If this is not possible, then there should be mechanisms in place, either human-driven or artificial, explaining why a given result has emerged and what the employee may do to alter it.

In the end, we all want to be treated fairly no matter who, or what, is making the decisions.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

b7ca66 2b4a3a3b2713416c9b98c3c2ed24325e mv2 e1586462319284 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Bridgestone acquires fleet tracking platform Azuga for $391M

b7ca66 2b4a3a3b2713416c9b98c3c2ed24325e mv2 e1586462319284 captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


Bridgestone Americas today announced that it has acquired Azuga, a connected vehicle platform for fleet operators, for $391 million in cash and stock. As a part of the deal, Bridgestone says it’ll take ownership of all of Azuga’s assets and integrate the team, including CEO Ananth Rani, into the parent company’s mobility solutions division.

The move comes as Bridgestone pivots to technology and logistics services, which the company aims to grow to 25% of its global revenues by 2025. While mobility and transportation firms — which are involved with the movement, storage, and flow of goods — have been impacted by the pandemic, Bridgestone is betting on a rosy future in the fleet management and telematics space, which is forecasted to grow to more than $10 billion in the U.S. over the next 3 to 5 years.

San Jose, California-based Azuga, which Rani founded in 2013, leverages GPS, vehicle diagnostics, and driver rewards to help survey and manage vehicle fleets. Its platform records miles, stops, and vehicle and driver alerts, using analytics to track metrics like driving behavior, fuel consumption, accident risk, and more. Azuga says that insurance companies use its data to measure and price risk into their commercial vehicle portfolios. The company also claims to be working with government agencies to improve how transportation taxes, emissions data, and tolls are collected, as well as with states and municipalities to uncover traffic patterns and road surface conditions in support of infrastructure planning and upkeep.

“In addition to supporting tens of thousands of commercial and consumer vehicles, the Azuga … data platform is an ever-growing database with billions of data points,” the company explains on its website. “Through our distributed cloud computing environment, we are bringing advanced statistical modeling and predictive analytics to enterprise, industrial, insurance, and government customers that aids product design, infrastructure management, risk assessment, and operations management.”

Growing fleet industry

The increasing adoption of technology in telematics to improve efficiency is driving the fleet management industry’s growth, according to Global Market Insights. One analysis found that even during the the height of the pandemic, the demand for fleet management and telematics software has continued to grow at a rate of 10.6% and 9.9%, respectively.

As Sudip Saha noted in Automotive World, the current health crisis has proven to be an opportunity to showcase the benefits of effective fleet management systems — especially in the context of the ecommerce boom. Businesses that delivered better when contactless and remote tracking of consignments was the need of the hour have largely fared better than their competitors.

“Tracking vehicles and driver behaviour allows businesses in the transport and logistics sectors to reduce waste and effectively mitigate risks through actionable intelligence,” Saha, managing director for consulting firm Future Market Insights, wrote. “The market growth for fleet management systems is underpinned by the ability of technological innovations to optimise operational and maintenance costs for consumers.”

Bridgestone, cognizant of this, is investing in technologies that both complement and stand to gain from robust fleet tracking solutions. In June, the company took an equity stake in Kodiak, an autonomous trucking startup based in Mountain View, California. And in 2019, Bridgestone paid roughly $1.1 billion for the telematics unit of Dutch navigation company TomTom.

The tiremaker previously said that it plans to invest $6.5 billion from early 2021 to 2023, with half being used for its growth strategy and restructuring and the other half for partnerships, venture investing, and mergers and acquisitions.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member

.article-content .boilerplate-after {
background-color: #F5F8FF;
padding: 30px;
border-left: 4px solid #000E31;
line-height: 2em;
margin-top: 20px;
margin-bottom: 20px;
}

.article-content .membership-link {
background-color: #000E31;
color: white;
padding: 10px 30px;
font-family: Roboto, sans-serif;
text-decoration: none;
font-weight: 700;
font-size: 18px;
display: inline-block;
}

.article-content .membership-link:hover {
color: white;
background-color: #0B1A42;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after h3 {
margin-top: 0;
font-weight: 700;
}

.article-content .boilerplate-after ul li {
margin-bottom: 10px;
}

@media (max-width: 500px) {
.article-content .boilerplate-after {
padding: 20px;
}
}

niantic dan morris captis executive search management consulting leadership board services

Niantic recruits Oculus’ Dan Morris to run developer relations as it ramps third-party content