Connect with us

Business

Ubisoft delays Rainbow Six: Extraction and Riders Republic

Published

on

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

Ubisoft announced today in separate blog posts that Riders Republic is delayed from September 2 to October 28, and Rainbow Six: Extraction is moving from September 16 to January 2022.

The posts don’t give much detail into why the delays are happening, but these have never been rare in this industry. Then the pandemic disrupted development for many games, making release dates more fluid than ever.

Ubisoft’s (arguably) biggest game for the fall, Far Cry 6, is still on track for its October 7 launch.

Riders Republic is multiplayer extreme sports, while Extraction is a co-op take on the Rainbow Six series. Both games could be the kinds of hits that Ubisoft can monetize long after release, but that can be hard to do without a strong launch.

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

Read More

Article: feedproxy.google.com

Business

Pipeline raises $2M to teach gamers how to stream for a living

Published

on

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

Pipeline has raised a $2 million seed round for its business of training folks how to become professional streamers and content creators.

The Austin, Texas-based Pipeline was started in 2019 by Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis, a former Facebook product leader and ex-pro gamer who was a star at League of Legends. Joining him as a cofounder was fellow streamer David “StoneMountain64” Steinberg, whose videos have more than 700 million views. Pipeline serves more than 50,000 streamers today, including 3,000 paying subscribers.

They learned what it took to build audiences as pro livestreamers and video creators, and they want to pass those learnings on to others. They created an educational platform with expert advice videos that people can access if they subscribe to Pipeline. Ellis said in an interview with GamesBeat that Pipeline is where streamers start their journey and turn it into a full-time career. It’s part of what I call the Leisure Economy, where one day we’ll all get paid to play games.

“We’re building the platform that we wish we had when we started our own content creation journey,” Ellis said.

A journey

Above: Pipeline cofounder Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis

Image Credit: Pipeline

Ellis was a working-class teen on track to go through college as a computer scientist when he suffered a life-changing event. His father died of cancer. Realizing that life is short, Ellis decided to drop out of school and become a professional gamer.

He excelled at League of Legends, and it was his ticket to leave his native Scotland and see the world. Ellis became one of the best League of Legends players, competing for 4.5 years in over 40 countries. His team placed third in the LCS World Championships.

“I was fortunate to be there at the beginning of that,” Ellis said. “It was absolutely wild. I was a small-town kid from Scotland. I’d barely ever traveled. And suddenly, I became this pro player and one of the biggest games in the world. And my life changed. Like it was like night and day. I traveled over 40 countries.”

Ellis retired from competitive play and then went to work at Facebook, where he led the gaming video initiative to build a competitor to Twitch. At the time, Facebook had few fans because of the limitations of its streaming platform. (I interviewed him back in 2017 as Facebook was making its mark in gaming; he told me his aim in that interview was not to “f*** it up”).

At one point, Ellis pitched more than 300 content creators at a Facebook event. One person in the audience got excited. His name was David Steinberg, aka StoneMountain64. The pair hit it off. Ellis convinced Steinberg to take some time away from YouTube and create live content on Facebook. Over three years, they co-developed many of the programs and features you see at Facebook Gaming today. Ellis’ team ballooned from three people to more than 150.

“We had so much fun building and learning along the way together. The idea for Pipeline came about because we wanted a space for content creators to come together privately — not in front of their fans and get the opportunity to share learnings,” Ellis said. “It’s a roller coaster of ups-and-downs which fans just don’t get. We know how hard the road is and wanted to create a platform dedicated to supporting creators through that journey.”

Steinberg started as a content creator in college a decade ago but never thought it would be a way to make a real income. He graduated with honors with an economics degree and got a job in investment management. Through college and his job, he was working every weekend or night to learn editing content. Now he has more than six million followers.

And he still streams.

“One of the things that frustrated me was that we as an industry do a really good job of helping those at the very top,” Ellis said. “I experienced this firsthand. And so did David, my cofounder. We realized that when you’re at the top, you have a bunch of people around you that are dedicated to making you successful. But when you’re on the way up, you don’t get any of that support.”

Evolution

They started thinking about how to help.

“We get asked hundreds of times a week about getting started as a content creator or for support at different stages of the journey,” Ellis said. “We couldn’t help everyone. We wanted to build something that could help not just those asking us but those who are asking other content creators too.”

Pipeline started with a focus on livestreaming support, but now it has broadened to video-on-demand content such as YouTube so that it can create the “middle class” of content creators. These are the people who are just starting out and have no idea what they’re doing. It’s a bottoms-up approach to the long tail of people who can learn to make a living playing games.

Pipeline’s videos are targeted at aspiring content creators, which includes an entire generation of kids that are getting into content creation will have the opportunity to learn from those who’ve been there and done it, Ellis said.

And today has revealed an easy-to-use tool, Verticlip, to convert 16:9 videos into 9:16 videos. It’s huge for small creators who can’t afford a video editor but need to post on platforms like TikTok, YouTube Shorts, Instagram Stories, and Facebook Stories, Ellis said.

“You need to start thinking about how do I leverage things like TikTok or Instagram Stories or Twitter or YouTube Shorts in the very beginning,” Ellis said. “And that can be really intimidating for someone who’s just starting out. So we want to try and break that down and help them.”

Heavyweight investors

Above: David “StoneMountain64” Steinberg.

Image Credit: Pipeline

The investors in the round include Scribble (Annelies) and Amasia (Ramanan). Also participating are creators with more than 30 million followers collectively: Vikkstar123, SypherPK, NoahJ456, MrRoflWaffles, Voyboy, and zLaner.

On top of that, participating angel investors include Marc Merrill (cofounder, Riot Games), The Mini Fund led by Discord cofounder Eros Resmini and Nick Dor, Julie Zhuo (CEO, Sundial), Ali Moiz (cofounder, Streamlabs & Stonks), Alex Bouaziz (CEO, Deel), Eric Feng (Head of Commerce Incubation at FB), Alan Rutledge, Late Checkout (Greg Isenberg), Donovan Duncan (CEO, Freedom Games), Intonation (Zibo Gao), Mike Bienstock (CEO, Semaphore), Nate Higgins (chief financial officer, Semaphore), Steve Arhancet (co-CEO, Team Liquid), Robert Wong (Product, Google), and MDM Syndicate (Eric Seufert).

Partners include gaming brand leaders such as Supercell, Corsair, Facebook, Razer, Elgato, Voicemod, and Intel.

Tacticalgramma

Pipeline charges $34 a month, or $340 a year for subscriptions. It also has a scholarship program for promising creators. Ellis said he was proud of one of Pipeline’s customers. She was in her 60s, and her grandkids jokingly told her to livestream. She joined Pipeline and became a sensation.

“The fact that someone like that could come to a place like Pipeline, learn the ropes, and then have the confidence to go do that, is just incredible,” Ellis said.

She goes by Tacticalgramma, a grandmother who is a great sniper in Call of Duty: Warzone. She had more than 800,000 subscribers on TikTok alone, thanks in part to the help she got from Pipeline.

Ellis said that one of the most common mistakes that streamers make is that they tie themselves to one platform like Twitch. Pipeline teaches them how to take their content to many more platforms simultaneously, so they can build their audiences much faster across platforms like YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and more.

“Our industry focuses on helping those at the very top because there’s a financial incentive to do so,” he said.

The agents and managers take a percentage of a content creator’s revenue or charging hundreds of dollars per hour for services (finance, legal, design, editing, health, etc). Pipeline pays attention to the creator, who may be suffering from exhaustion or mental health challenges.

The company has nine employees. Previously, the company was funded by both founders.

“We just really haven’t looked back since our motivation is we know that there’s an entire generation that is excited about becoming content creators,” Ellis said. “And we know that there’s a lack of support and infrastructure around that early journey as a content creator. And we want to be the best platform to help support those through that journey in the early days.”

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

Read More

Source Here: feedproxy.google.com

Continue Reading

Business

Facebook’s BlenderBot 2.0 bot surfs the web for knowledge

Published

on

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

Roughly a year ago, Facebook detailed its work on an AI chatbot called BlenderBot 1.0, which the company claims is the largest-ever project of its kind. In an extension of that work, Facebook today took the wraps off of BlenderBot 2.0, which it says is the first chatbot that can build long-term memory while searching the internet for up-to-date information.

Language systems like OpenAI’s GPT-3 and BlenderBot 1.0 can articulately express themselves — at least in the context of an ongoing conversation. But as Facebook notes, they suffer from very short short-term memory and long-term memory limited to what they’ve been previously taught. Moreover, if you told GPT-3 or BlenderBot 1.0 something today, they’ll forget it by tomorrow. And they’ll confidently state information that isn’t correct, owing to deficiencies in their algorithms. Because they can’t gain additional knowledge, GPT-3 and BlenderBot 1.0 believe that NFL superstar Tom Brady is still on the New England Patriots, for example, and don’t know that he won the 2021 Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

By contrast, BlenderBot 2.0 can query the internet using any search engine for movies, TV shows, and more and both read and write to its long-term local memory store. It also remembers the context of previous discussions — a form of continual learning. So, for example, if you talked about Tom Brady with it weeks ago, it could potentially bring up the NFL in future conversations, as it knows that’s a relevant topic to you.

“This work combines and refines a number of ideas around retrieval and memory in transformer models and puts them together in a clever way,” Connor Leahy, one of the founding members of EleutherAI, told VentureBeat via email. “The results look impressive, especially when one considers how small these models are compared to the likes of GPT-3. I especially applaud the team for addressing shortcomings and potential problems with their method, and for releasing their code and data publicly, which will help the wider research community to scrutinize and further improve these methods.”

Conversational ability

BlenderBot 2.0 uses an AI model based on retrieval augmented generation, an approach that enables generating responses and incorporating knowledge beyond that contained in a conversation. During a dialogue, the model, which combines an information retrieval component with a text generator, seeks germane data both in its long-term memory and from documents it finds by searching the internet.

A neural network module in BlenderBot 2.0 produces searches given a conversational context. The chatbot then prepends retrieved knowledge to the conversational history and takes the knowledge into account in deciding what to write. Effectively, BlenderBot 2.0 reads from its long-term memory store while writing, a process achieved by using a module that generates the memory to be stored based on conversational content.

In order to train BlenderBot 2.0’s neural networks, Facebook collected data in English using a crowdsourcing platform akin to Amazon Mechanical Turk. One of the resulting datasets, Wizard of the Internet, contains human conversations augmented with new information from internet searches, via the Microsoft Bing API. The other, called Multisession, has long-context chats with humans referencing information from past conversation sessions.

Wizard of the Internet provides guidance to BlenderBot 2.0 on how to generate relevant search engine queries, as well as create responses based on the search results. Meanwhile, Multisession helps the chatbot decide which fresh knowledge to store in long-term memory and what to write given those memories. In tandem with the Blended Skill Talk dataset, which Facebook created to give BlenderBot 1.0 knowledge and “personality,” Facebook says that Wizard of the Internet and Multisession enable BlenderBot 2.0 to chat simultaneously with a range of conversational skills.

Safety and future steps

Even the best language models today exhibit bias and toxicity — it’s well-established that they amplify the gender, race, and religious biases in data on which they were trained. OpenAI itself notes that biased datasets can lead to placing words like “naughty” or “sucked” near female pronouns and “Islam” near words like “terrorism.” A separate paper by Stanford University Ph.D. candidate and Gradio founder Abubakar Abid details the biased tendencies of text generated by GPT-3, like associating the word “Jews” with “money.” And in tests of a medical chatbot built using GPT-3, the model responded to a “suicidal” patient by encouraging them to kill themself.

In an effort to mitigate this, Facebook says that it implemented “safety recipes” in BlenderBot 2.0 to reduce offensive responses. As measured by an automated classifier, the chatbot was 90% less likely to respond harmfully and 74.5% more likely to give a “safe” response to questions from real people. Facebook also says that, beyond this, its methods alleviate the risk of BlenderBot 2.0 spouting harmful falsehoods “to some extent,” at least compared with previous methods.

“We know that safety issues are not yet solved, and BlenderBot 2.0’s approach of utilizing the internet and long-term memory to ground conversational responses brings new safety challenges,” Facebook research scientist Jason Weston and research engineer Kurt Shuster wrote in a blog post. “As a research community, we need to address them, and we believe reproducible research on safety, made possible by releases like this, will help the community make important new progress in this area together.”

In experiments, Facebook says that BlenderBot 2.0 outperformed BlenderBot 1.0 when it came to picking up where previous conversation sessions left off, with a 17% improvement in “engagingness” (as scored by human evaluators) and a 55% improvement in the use of previous conversation sessions. Furthermore, BlenderBot 2.0 reduced hallucinations from 9.1% to 3.0% and was factually consistent across a conversation 12% more often.

To spur further research in these directions, Facebook has open-sourced BlenderBot 2.0 and the datasets used to train it, Wizard of the Internet and Multisession. “We think that these improvements in chatbots can advance the state of the art in applications such as virtual assistants and digital friends,” Weston and Shuster wrote. “Until models have deeper understanding, they will sometimes contradict themselves. Similarly, our models cannot yet fully understand what is safe or not. And while they build long-term memory, they don’t truly learn from it, meaning they don’t improve on their mistakes … We look forward to a day soon when agents built to communicate and understand as humans do can see as well as talk.”

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

Read More

Source: feedproxy.google.com

Continue Reading

Business

The DeanBeat: The State Department’s gaming man wants more citizen diplomats

Published

on

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

Josh Shen is one of the only people in the federal government whose job has a lot to do with video games. He’s a foreign service officer in the State Department, and he surfaced this week as a speaker at the Games for Change online event about games that make a social impact in our lives.

You can think of him as a friend of the gaming industry in Washington, D.C.

Previously, our man in D.C. was Mark Loura, who worked in the White House during the Obama administration in 2013 and 2014. This week, Shen gave a talk about how governments can help grow the game industry, and he wasn’t talking about tax breaks or recruiting overseas game companies to create jobs in the U.S.

He is the strategic designer for interactive media and video games in the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA), a branch of the U.S. Department of State that promotes education, understanding, and public diplomacy programs to the 2.7 billion gamers worldwide. That’s a big job for just one guy.

“It’s a process, and everything is a series of opportunities where you fill in the gaps,” Shen said in an interview with GamesBeat. “My job started in 2019. It was a brand-new assignment, but they were able to identify the need. How often as a bureaucrat can you be the owner and only guru on subject matter like this? A lot of people recognized we need to be in this space, but they didn’t have any idea where to get started.”

Games for Change

Above: Mark Barlet, center, has received the Vanguard Award from Games for Change.

Image Credit: AbleGamers

Games for Change is the epicenter for talking about games that have a social impact, and it took place this week, with tons of great speakers who are at the intersection of government, industry, and nonprofits in gaming.

Susanna Pollack, the organizer of Games for Change, said in an interview she admires the work the State Department has begun to do to foster cross-cultural understanding through games in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Pollack invited Shen to talk at Games for Change, and he moderated a panel on disinformation and games that attempt to teach people about it, such as Harmony Square.

Before we get derailed with an argument about why the government is spending our tax dollars to promote video games, I should say that we need more people like him in government. Not because of his politics or anything like that, but because he can be an ambassador for gaming as it navigates cultural divides and struggles to be understood around the world. And he can help create opportunities for game companies outside of the United States as they try to change the world through games.

While DeLoura, who won the Ambassador Award at the Game Developers Conference in 2017, focused on domestic policy on games and holding games and education events, Shen also took on the international aspect of the job of understanding games from a policy point of view. One thing that persisted after DeLoura left was the “federal games guild,” a collection of people in the government who care about game matters. Shen participates in that and wants it to work with private industry.

“What I understood very quickly was that you can’t have any credibility or leadership without recruiting the U.S. private sector,” Shen said. “That includes universities, nongovernmental organizations like Games for Change, Global Game Jam, and North American Scholastic Esports Federation. We should not pretend to be the experts. The most effective diplomat in my career is the citizen diplomat if you’re looking at the the long game.”

Citizen diplomats

Above: Josh Shen talks about the State Department’s goals for games.

Image Credit: Games for Change

When it comes to recruiting foreigners and countries to support our interests and align with their interests, you can’t do better than American citizens, Shen said.

“It sounds a little idealistic and, trust me, I’m not an idealistic fresh-faced State Department officer,” Shen said. “I’m plenty cynical in my own right. What I’m optimistic is about American citizens and how they can impact others.”

Shen’s job, then, is to enable American game developers to get involved in programs where others can become aware of their work, whether inside the country or outside of it.

People understand that government institutions and NGOs should have social media accounts. But Shen believes the same should be true for participating in the game ecosystem. Part of getting games is understanding the world has around 2.7 billion gamers, and the industry is a [$175 billion] business, Shen said. Shouldn’t those institutions have Discord or Twitch accounts, Shen asked.

“We haven’t gotten there yet, but we will probably get there at some point,” Shen said. “If we’re not there, building those relationships, then when do we start doing this ecosystem? This is like where social media was 12 years ago. Gaming is where people are. If you’re not going to engage with them, you’re going to miss a sizable chunk of the audience.”

Not about tax breaks

Shen doesn’t focus on U.S. domestic business matters, like states giving tax breaks to attract game companies. He’s not part of the Commerce Department. And he notes that the U.S. game companies have not been looking for “carve outs” for the game industry, like other industries have done. Nor is his focus on assisting American companies to move overseas.

Shen has observed how other countries have big ambitions to invest in games. Dubai wants to create the world’s largest esports arena. Bahrain wants to develop an ecosystem of game studios, and so do many other countries where video games are an emerging market. Shen can connect paid or volunteer consultants to make introductions to share knowledge so that everyone can “get” video games.

The 21st century skill

Above: Josh Shen is part of the Bureau of Educational & Cultural Affairs (ECA), a branch of the U.S. Department of State.

Image Credit: Games for Change

“I think it’s been popular to teach every kid how to code for quite a number of years now,” Shen said. “This is a 21st century core skill. You all you need to know how to code. I would say some level of game design is the type of skill everybody needs. One of the things we do in the State Department is to foster next-level skills, whether it’s English, or some type of maker space activity, or some type of coding.”

The State Department has some programs to support this. And Shen believes that learning game design is one of the skills that can contribute to economically stable, sustainable, and peaceful countries. People need to develop skills and Shen said, “We give them a playbook for that so they can do it themselves.”

If that’s not your usual idea of what the State Department does, Shen is in the Bureau of Educational Cultural Affairs, which has the soft programs that supports things like Fulbright researchers, athletes, musicians, hip hop artists, journalists, and entrepreneurs. This bureau brings people to the U.S. to educate Americans and it sends Americans out to teach others. Shen said his role isn’t partisan.

He was at Games for Change, the event for games with social impact, because that’s where he finds a lot of the people with interesting ideas that go beyond the purely commercial and entertainment interests.

“We love triple-A publishers, but we really do a lot more with independent developers who think that games have a social impact,” Shen said. “And that’s what we’re really excited to to support.”

Letting others speak

Above: Never Alone drew attention to stories of indigenous people.

Image Credit: E-Line Media

The government isn’t going to create educational games because it doesn’t have the talent, and the process of government funding is prone to delays. But it can facilitate the connections that can help introduce video games in places that sorely need them. He recently had Alan Gershenfeld, whose company E-Line has made games like Never Alone, talk with Canadian developers about indigenous communities in games. And he arranged a visitation related to esports entrepreneurship.

“I’m getting the word out that the State Department is interested in this space, and can support in any number of different ways of programs in the space of getting the word out to our embassies,” Shen said. “Our embassies and consulates take the lead on our approach to engage foreign audiences.”

Not all of the topics will be pleasant for the commercial interests, but they are necessary for the world we live in. One of the concerns is to teach others how to use content moderation and promotion of positive behaviors to deal with the presence of online extremism in video game communities.

One of the things that the new administration cares about is climate change, and the United Nations has a game-related program, Playing for the Planet, to raise awareness about it.

“This has a lot of eyeballs on it,” Shen said.

And so he’s trying to raise awareness of how games can be used to educate people about climate matters. You can think of him as gaming’s point man in the government, and his understanding of games is crucial at a time when gaming saved our sanity and our friendships and our connections during the pandemic.

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

Read More

Original Article: feedproxy.google.com

Continue Reading

Trending

EmergeWire.com