Free-to-play arena: How does Fortnite rack-up a $3-billion profit?

So how does a free-to-play game make money? Unlike other free-to-play games, where you can buy stuff that will give you an upper hand against …

Fortnite is a massively popular online video game available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android platforms. Since its release in 2017, Fortnite’s player-base has grown by the tens of millions. Fortnite creator Epic Games grossed a $3 billion profit in 2018, despite the game being created only a year ago. So how does a free-to-play game make money?

Unlike other free-to-play games, where you can buy stuff that will give you an upper hand against opponents, purchases that you make in Fortnite are purely cosmetic. The game racks in billions of dollars by selling players a $10 Battle Pass at the beginning of every season as well as digital clothes, weapons, dances and reactions.

A study conducted in November 2018, put iPhone users spending in Fortnite at approximately $1.23 million daily. Considering Android users are far higher in number than iOS users, you can only imagine the kind of spending that is involved. Also, one more thing to consider is that Fortnite is available on every gaming platform out there. Fortnite is by no means a game that demands graphics-heavy performance and is easily accessible to all platform users. With approximately 125 million people already playing the game, offering cosmetic changes to a character for a premium can be highly rewarding.

Also read: PUBG Mobile Season 5: New fire theme, weapons, outfits and everything that you should know

While in-game progression will help you unlock new digital items, genuinely standing out will require you to make in-game purchases. While some games offer loot boxes to manipulate you like a casino, drawing you in with the dopamine hit with the luck of the draw, Fortnite uses a straight-forward virtual currency method, known as V-Bucks.

Players can d seasonal sales to primarily reminding you how stupid you are for not taking advantage of these deals. Most popular free-to-play games with a massive player base rely on microtransactions to help them make money.

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How Digital Marketplaces Within The Retail Ecosystem Are Gig Economy Portals

Uber Eats, which currently covers more than half of the U.S. population, has reportedly been successful even in places where Uber does not operate …

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To take advantage of the freedom that the freelance lifestyle affords, workers with all sorts of talents and goals are tapping into the gig economy. These workers are completing tasks in order to fuel their passions or simply to provide supplementary income. Either way, many of these workers are tapping into digital marketplaces in order to come across their next gigs.

In fact, the share of gig workers finding work through digital marketplaces has been on the uptick. According to the PYMNTS Gig Economy Index, the share of workers using this channel in their search for gigs rose from 59 percent in the second quarter of 2018 to 62.2 percent in the third quarter. That was the highest level that the index has measured.

Beyond providing a source for jobs, digital marketplaces often have specialties — that is, they are typically focused on particular job types or industries such as food delivery or transportation (i.e. rideshares). These are some of the ways that gig workers are using these channels in order to tap into various verticals of that the gig economy offers:

Almost three in 10 gig workers — or 29.1 percent — use job marketplaces. The Fiverr marketplace, for instance, lists millions of gigs from more than 200 countries across the globe in more than 100 categories. Fiverr Global Head of Community Brent Messenger told PYMNTS.com in a previous interview that it is the largest marketplace on the planet for finding skilled freelance work. And, while Fiverr got its start with gigs for $5, the platform has since evolved. Messenger said, “Today, there are still $5.00 jobs on Fiverr, but that is far from the core of the business. We see people selling skills for $10,000 on the platform.” Sellers add their services to catalogue, scope out the job and indicate how much they wish to charge for it. A buyer, in turn, adds that service to their cart and checks out, just as if they were buying a product.

A little under 15 percent — or 14.6 percent — of gig workers use digital delivery service marketplaces.Postmates, as one example, links 150,000 couriers to 25,000 merchant partners to have goods delivered on demand, per a report last year. According to the survey released at the time, those couriers earned about $216.8 million last year and take in an average hourly rate of $18.32. And, while the company delivers food, it also offers customers electronics, office supplies, hardware and a variety of goods. In all, the firm reportedly pushes to get all deliveries into the hands of its customers within one hour of ordering. At the same time, it was reported earlier this month that Postmates notched $100 million in funding to bring the company’s valuation to $1.85 billion.

More than 12 percent — or 12.4 percent — of gig workers use digital food marketplaces. Uber Eats, which currently covers more than half of the U.S. population, has reportedly been successful even in places where Uber does not operate its ride-hailing business or has a small presence. Uber’s Head of U.S. Cities for Uber Eats Ana Mahony said, per reports, that the company was able to “successfully introduce the Uber brand to the marketplace through Eats,” as 40 percent of its new Eats customers are new to Uber. And, in April, it was reported that the offering was the fastest-growing meal delivery service in the U.S. and took in as much new customer revenue as mobile order rival Grubhub. “Uber is really evolving into a platform brand where we are moving very many different types of goods and services, and people, from point A to point B,” Mahony said.

And 6 percent of gig workers use digital social network marketplaces. And social media platforms have expanded their offering in recent times: Last year, Facebookmade thousands of home services professionals available through its platform. That is, the company launched a new feature designed to make it easier for users to find contractors, plumbers and house cleaners and carpenters that are rated and vetted. The effort came with the help of multiple different websites that specialize in home services. Facebook Marketplace Product Manager Bowen Pan said, “by partnering with Handy, HomeAdvisor and Porch, people will now have a place on Marketplace to find the right professional to help with their next home project.”

More than 5 percent — or 5.2 percent — of gig workers use digital transportation marketplaces. Drivers, too, can earn tips through these platforms: Uber, the ride-hailing company, was said in June to have facilitated more than $600 million of payments in the form of tips to its drivers since launching its in-app tipping service for drivers in 2017. And, in May, it rolled out mid-trip ratings and tips, and that has driven a 30 percent increase in tipping, according to Uber Product Manager Dhruv Tyagi. At the same time, it was reported that Lyft hit $500 million in tips facilitated in April. And it was said that its average tips increased by close to 8 percent last year, compared to the year earlier at the time. Lyft, noted the report, is operating in fewer markets than Uber: While Lyft is in the U.S. as well as Canada, Uber has operations around the globe.

From odd jobs to delivery and ridesharing services, workers are tapping into the gig economy in many different ways. And, with the help of digital platforms, these workers have the opportunity to pay bills between jobs, polish their résumés or just simply enjoy the freedom of working in the gig economy.

How children playing Fortnite are helping to fuel organised crime

Stolen credit card details are being used to purchase V-bucks – the virtual currency used to buy items in the game – from the official Fortnite store.

Criminals are using the hugely popular video game Fortnite to launder money through its in-game currency, The Independentcan reveal.

The online battle royale game has become popular with children and teenagers because it is free to play and available on every major gaming platform. But the money spent within the game to buy outfits, weapons and other items has also made it popular with cybercriminals.

Stolen credit card details are being used to purchase V-bucks – the virtual currency used to buy items in the game – from the official Fortnite store. By selling V-bucks at a discounted rate to players, the criminals are effectively able to “clean” the money.

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An investigation by The Independent into online black markets selling V-bucks, together with research by cyber security firm Sixgill, revealed the scale of the money laundering operations.

Discounted V-bucks are being sold in bulk on the dark web – a hidden section of the internet only accessible using specialist software – as well as in smaller quantities on the open web by advertising them on social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

By posing as potential customers, Sixgill agents uncovered operations being conducted around the globe in Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Arabic and English.

“Criminals are executing carding fraud and getting money in and out of the Fortnite system with relative impunity,” Benjamin Preminger, a senior intelligence analyst at Sixgill, told The Independent.

Threat actors [a malicious person or entity] are scoffing at Epic Games’ weak security measures, saying that the company doesn’t seem to care about players defrauding the system and purchasing discounted V-bucks… This directly touches on the ability of threat actors to launder money through the game.”

With more than 200 million players worldwide, the game generated $3bn (£2.3bn) profit in 2018 for Fortnite developer Epic Games.

It is unclear how much profit criminals were able to make through money laundering, though Sixgill found that Fortnite items grossed more than $250,000 on eBay in a 60 day period last year.

Figures from the firm also show that the number of mentions of Fortnite on the dark web have risen in direct correlation with the game’s monthly revenues.

One dark web seller seen by The Independent claims to be offering V-Bucks at a discounted rate as a form of charity. “I’m f**king rich as f**k,” they wrote in the product’s description. “Now it’s time to give back to the deep web at a massive discounted rate.”

The vendor accepts bitcoin and bitcoin cash, two semi-anonymous cryptocurrencies that are difficult for law enforcement agencies to track.

Fortnite’ V-bucks listed on a popular dark web market this month (Screengrab/The Independent)

Separate research by IT security firm Zerofox found 53,000 different instances of online scams relating to Fortnite between early September and early October. An estimated 86 per cent of the scam incidents were shared via social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Fortnite developer Epic Games did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent, and security experts say the firm is not doing enough to prevent illegal activity on its platform.

“Epic Games doesn’t seem to clamp down in any serious way on criminal activity surrounding Fortnite, money laundering or otherwise,” Mr Preminger said.

“While completely stopping such criminal activity is extremely difficult, several steps could be taken to mitigate the phenomenon, including monitoring the transfer of high-value goods in the game, identifying players with large stockpiles of V-bucks, and sharing data with relevant law enforcement agencies.”

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Significance of AI to Businesses in Today’s Economy

Jean-Francois Gagné, CEO at the AI-based software company Element AI, told Via News that in what AI is concerned, “the job displacement topic is a …

Emerging technology is a word very much thrown around these days. It is especially as most of the business sector look to not only cut their expenditure but also to improve the quality of their offering. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a leading emerging technology whose significance is growing by the day. A lot of companies are evaluating ways of leveraging the technology if not just thinking about it.

Integrating algorithms into the business model

Interestingly, there is nowhere AI seems crucial as in the entrepreneurial sector. Unlike established businesses, small businesses, which entrepreneurs run, lack stable economies of scale. It is to say that businesses are not established to deal with certain shocks, especially from the external environment. Further, they do not have the financial muscle to sufficiently deal with certain aspects of business like hiring the best talent available.

In this light, it is imperative that the entrepreneurs learn to improvise and also to make technology work for them. AI is doing just that! A lot of entrepreneurs are trying to figure out ways of integrating algorithms into their business model. Notably, this not only helps the small business maintain a lean staff but also to maximize output.

AI, alongside other emerging technological concepts like Machine Learning and Deep Learning, is defining most of the world’s business environment. However, it is clear that the new concepts are still a little bit technical for business owners who would like a go at it. In spite of that, there is an evident thirst for know-how and how to make the technology work for businesses.

“Entrepreneurs should have clear priorities and a clear framework on how the technology will be helpful.”

Vinita Bansal, social entrepreneur at Speaker City,

Clarity of purpose will unlock the true potential of AI

Vinita Bansal is a social entrepreneur who runs Speaker City, a Public Speaking startup in India. Bansal is among the new age entrepreneurs that are transforming the business environment, not just in India but globally. She finds it a blessing that AI came up at a time when she could make it work for her. Nonetheless, Bansal cautions that AI is beneficial if it aligns with your business model.

Regarding entrepreneurs who would like to integrate the new technology into their businesses, Bansal says, “Entrepreneurs should have clear priorities and a clear framework on how the technology will be helpful.” In this sense, business owners must be clear about the outcomes they desire from their business as a result of integrating AI.

“AI has great potential in terms of increasing the productivity of businesses, especially in the entrepreneurial sense,” she says. “However, knowing how best to deploy the technology will determine if it delivers the potential optimally. Basically, entrepreneurs should first figure out how the technology will grasp the concepts they want to implement.”

Mitigating job displacement

Interestingly, the intrigue does not end there. Evaluating the potential of the emerging technology points us in a direction that is coming up as a vital basis for debate. It is apparent that AI boosts efficiency, productivity and hence, it helps businesses substantially cut operational costs. However, it is also true that AI takes up more and more jobs that would otherwise keep the world’s workforce employed.

The manufacturing industry is at the center of this debate, given the number of people that depend on the jobs for livelihood. Tripti Gupta owns AADYA Fashions, a fashion house that sources materials and manufactures clothes in a variety of designs. Gupta unequivocally says that AI will revolutionize the labor market. For manufacturers like herself, it will be untenable to settle for human plant operators that are expensive to maintain and are prone to errors. Instead, she is more likely to go for intelligent machines that can accomplish her objectives fast, cheaply and with perfection.

“The business sector should begin looking for ways to mitigate job displacement as a result of the adoption of AI before it becomes a menace and disrupts the business environment,” Gupta concludes.

Jean-Francois Gagné, CEO at the AI-based software company Element AI, told Via News that in what AI is concerned, “the job displacement topic is a fair one.” In a five to ten-year time span, we can expect “AI taking on more the responsibility on regular mundane tasks and even some cognitive tasks,” Gagné concludes.

Jean-Francois Gagné, CEO at Element AI, an artificial intelligence software company. Photo by: Via News.
Jean-Francois Gagné, CEO at Element AI, an artificial intelligence software company. Photo by: Via News.

As for businesses wanting to implement AI capabilities, Jean-Francois Gagné, explains that “the first thing to do is have a clear idea of the objective. The second step is understanding how to get an AI system to learn about the context and the signal leading to the desired outcome.”

Via News TV

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Tidelift: We Support the Long Tail of Open Source Projects

Also leading the funding round are General Catalyst and Foundry Group. (See Tidelift Raises $25M for Open Source, Led By Former Red Hat Boss …

The open source community has mature business models to support big projects like Linux, but what about everything else? Businesses depend on a plethora of open source projects supported by ad hoc teams of volunteer labor. These projects lack underlying business models to ensure ongoing support — and get developers paid for their work.

Tidelift is looking to solve that problem by contracting with private developers to maintain and secure open source projects, as well as sort through the confusing tangle of licensing to ensure that businesses are using open source correctly.

Businesses, meanwhile, subscribe to open source packages supported by Tidelift.

Tidelift got a $25 million lift for its business model with a Series B funding round announced Monday, led by Matthew Szulik, former Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT) chairman and CEO. “Tidelift gives organizations the security, licensing and maintenance guarantees they need for the open source software components their applications depend on,” Tidelift said in a statement announcing the funding. Also leading the funding round are General Catalyst and Foundry Group. (See Tidelift Raises $25M for Open Source, Led By Former Red Hat Boss Matthew Szulik.)

Tidelift's Donald Fischer

Tidelift’s Donald Fischer

Tidelift is concentrating for now on open source code libraries used by software developers, with subscriptions for hundreds of packages available for JavaScript, Java, Python, PHP, .NET and Ruby.

Companies — such as Red Hat MongoDB and Cloudera Inc. — have mature business models to provide support for a variety of open source projects. These vendors aren’t offering access to code — that code is freely available. The vendors are offering security, maintenance, licensing support and professional services to make the software “professional grade,” Donald Fischer, TideLift co-founder and CEO, tells Light Reading.

But most open source projects lack that kind of business foundation, Fischer says. These packages include many development tools core to commercial and open source projects, maintained by volunteer labor without direct compensation.

In Tidelift’s business model, organizations consuming open source software pay Tidelift for maintenance, and Tidelift contracts with individual software developers to provide that maintenance.

This is a business model that could get ugly, turning software development into an overworked, underpaid grind, without health insurance or other employee benefits, like working for Amazon’s Mechanical Turk or driving for Uber or another rideshare company.

But Fischer says that’s not the company’s goal; it wants to generate “meaningful” income for developers, even letting some get wealthy for working on the most popular projects.

Tidelift’s subscription business model is part of that proposition: Unlike traditional contractor relationships, Tidelift and its developers can solve a problem once, and then charge user organizations individually to apply that solution over and over, Fischer says. “We want to make it possible for open source creators to scale their income proportional to the value and usefulness of the package, and not just for the hours per day they put into their services,” he says.

Fischer adds, “Our status quo is that stuff is getting done and the creators are getting nothing. These folks are already creating open source software, and maintaining it to the best of their ability. We’re trying to add a new option for them, making it possible for them to get paid for work they’re already doing.

Fischer continues, “Our goal is for people to be able to be full-time Tidelift maintainers. As we scale our subscriber base, if you’re the maintainer of a single high-profile package, or mid-popularity, you’ll get more and more of the income that comes from Tidelift to your package,” Fischer says. Alternately, developers can work on multiple packages to generate income.

For open source users, Tidelift provides indemnification and service level agreements to guarantee the work it does, Fischer says.

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— Mitch Wagner Visit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on TwitterFollow me on Facebook Executive Editor, Light Reading