Aug 7, 2020

Fortnite developer Epic Games’ “digital ecosystem”

Epic Games
Fortnite
Digital
William Smith
2 min
Epic Games is a Cary, North Carolina based video game developer and publisher, and the maker of hit video game Fortnite Battle Royale
Epic Games is a Cary, North Carolina based video game developer and publisher, and the maker of hit video game Fortnite Battle Royale...

Epic Games is a Cary, North Carolina based video game developer and publisher, and the maker of hit video game Fortnite Battle Royale.

Fortnite was originally released to little fanfare as a cooperative survival shooter in July 2017, the game was soon pivoted to the emerging battle royale genre, and has reaped handsome rewards, sending its developer to a recent valuation of $17.3bn.

One of the game’s biggest draws is its social features, with Epic Games keen to highlight the game as a kind of platform. That approach has resulted in live events that change the game world which are witnessable by players in game. 

Back in February, a virtual concert by American DJ Marshmello attracted millions to the game. A special mode was specifically created for the occasion wherein the usual objectives of the game were disabled and players were greeted by a stage and a digital representation of the musician. As the event progressed, players were invited to “dance” using emotes, special animations which can be unlocked for real money, and events mirrored the content of the songs.

Yesterday, the company announced a $1.78bn funding round from investors including Baillie Gifford, BlackRock, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and more.

In a press release, the company’s founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said: “Having the support of leaders in the financial community accelerates Epic’s efforts to build a new kind of digital ecosystem using real-time 3D technology, services that connect hundreds of millions of people, and a digital storefront that offers a fair business model. We are delighted to have them as part of the Epic family.”

The announcement comes less than a month after Sony invested $250mn in the company, acquiring a minority interest in return, a figure which is included in the quoted $1.78bn round.

(Image: Epic Games)

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Jun 18, 2021

Microsoft: Building a secure foundation to drive NASCAR

Microsoft
NASCAR
3 min
Racing fans can expect the ultimate virtual experience as a result of the partnership with Microsoft and NASCAR

Microsoft is a key partner of The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and together they are driving ahead to create an inclusive and immersive new fan experience (FX).

These long-term partners have not only navigated the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic with the use of Microsoft Teams and Microsoft 365, but are now looking to a future packed with virtual events to enhance the FX, well beyond NASCAR’S famous Daytona racetrack. 

“Together, we've created a secure environment that's allowed for collaboration, but the future is all about the fans”, said Melinda Cook, General Manager for Microsoft South USA Commercial Business, who cited a culture of transparency, passion, adaptiveness, and a growth mindset as to why this alignment is so successful.”

“We've partnered to create a fluid, immersive experience for the users that is supported by a secure foundation with Microsoft in the background. We are focused on empowering and enabling customers and businesses, like NASCAR, to reach their full potential. We do this with our cloud platform which provides data insights and security.”

“Our cloud environment allows NASCAR to move forward with their digital transformation journey while we are in the background,” said Cook who highlights that Microsoft is helping NASCAR

  • Empower employees productivity and collaboration
  • Improve fan engagement and experience
  • Improve environment security and IT productivity
  • Improve racing operations

 

Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 suite, enabled employees to work remotely, while staying productive, during the pandemic. “This allowed people to provide the same level of productivity with the use of video conference and instant messaging to collaborate on documents. Increased automation also allows the pit crews, IT, and the business to focus on safety, racing operations, and on the fan experience,” said Cook.

“We have started to innovate to create a more inclusive fanbase, this includes using Xbox to give people the experience of being a virtual racer or even leveraging some of the tools in Microsoft Teams to have a virtual ride along experience.”

“These environments are how we create a more inclusive and immersive experience for the fans. We're working on a virtual fan wall which allows people from new locations to participate in these events,” said Cook, who pointed out Microsoft was also helping bring legacy experiences alive from NASCAR’s archives. 

“At Microsoft we can take it one level further by letting fans know what it's like to see the pit crew experience, the data and all the behind-the-scenes action. We will continue to improve automation with machine learning and artificial intelligence, from marketing to IT operations to finance to racing operations,” said Cook.

Christine Stoffel-Moffett, Vice President of Enterprise Technology at NASCAR, said: “Microsoft is one of our key partners. They have been instrumental in helping the NASCAR enterprise technology team re-architect our Microsoft systems to ensure an advanced level of security across our environment, contribute to our business outcomes, and focus on fan experience.”

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