|1. Announcing the Epic Games Store
Buoyed by Fortnite’s phenomenal success over the last year or so, Epic Games is launching its own digital store to take on the likes of Steam, EA’s Origin and Blizzard’s Battle.net. However, Epic is giving developers a higher revenue share than most of its competitors. Much like creators who sell items through the Unreal Engine Marketplace, developers will keep 88 percent of revenue and Epic will take a 12 percent cut.
Most digital game stores typically keep 30 percent of revenue, though Steam just updated its policy — it takes 30 percent of the first $10 million in sales, 25 percent of the next $40 million and 20 percent of anything over $50 million. Those changes won’t affect the vast majority of developers, of course. Itch.io, meanwhile, doesn’t take a set revenue cut, and developers decide what the split should be (that platform being mostly for indie and small-scale developers).
Epic’s store is opening soon on PC and Mac with a curated selection of games. It will add more titles and arrive on additional platforms over the next year. While developers can use any engine for their games, those who opt for Epic’s Unreal won’t pay engine royalties on the revenue they make through the store. Epic will also connect developers with 10,000 Twitch streamers, YouTubers and other creators through the Support-a-Creator program. The creators can earn rewards for bringing exposure to games.
2. Google workers demand end to censored Chinese search project
More than 200 engineers, designers and managers at Google demanded in an open letter on Tuesday that the company end development of a censored search engine for Chinese users, escalating earlier protests against the secretive project.
Google has described the search app, known as Project Dragonfly, as an experiment not close to launching. But as details of it have leaked since August, current and former employees, human rights activists and U.S. lawmakers have criticized Google for not taking a harder line against the Chinese government’s policy that politically sensitive results be blocked.
About 1,400 of Google’s tens of thousands of workers urged the company in August to improve oversight of ethically questionable ventures, including Dragonfly. The nine employees who first signed their names on Tuesday’s letter said they had seen little progress.
The letter expresses concern about the Chinese government tracking dissidents through search data and suppressing truth through content restrictions. “We object to technologies that aid the powerful in oppressing the vulnerable, wherever they may be,” the employees said in the letter published on the blogging service Medium.
The employees said they no longer believed Google was “a company willing to place its values over profits,” and cited a string of “disappointments” this year, including acknowledgement of a big payout to an executive who had been accused of sexual harassment.
3. A glimpse to the future – Volvo aims to sell electric trucks in North America by 2020
Volvo, the world’s second-biggest truck maker, plans to begin selling electric trucks in North America by 2020, it said, as it signed a partnership with California that will allow it to show-off the vehicles.
Under the deal, Sweden’s Volvo will deploy eight multi-configuration battery Class 8 electric demonstration units and 15 pre-commercial and commercial units throughout California’s South Coast Air Basin next year, it said.
Truck-makers are driving full speed to secure a corner of the electric and autonomous drive markets, with other contenders in North America including Tesla’s electric semi truck, Ford and Daimler.
This year, Volvo began producing its first fully-electric truck for commercial use – the Volvo FL Electric – which is expected to be sold next year for urban distribution operations in Europe.
The company said on Thursday the North American truck would be based on the same drivetrain technology, but a spokesman said it was too early to say how similar the two trucks would be in the end.
The Volvo LIGHTS project, anchored by Volvo and California’s South Coast Air Quality Management District, will involve 16 partners and electrify freight operations at the facilities of U.S. trucking fleets DHE and NFI.