Code Coven Uses Unity Charitable Fund Grant to launch “Code Coven Create: The Solstice Program”
Code Coven, the first global award-winning game development accelerator for underrepresented talent, is using the grant provided by Unity’s Charitable Fund alongside support from two of the biggest names in gaming to launch its latest “Code Coven Create: The Solstice Program.” The program, which is being supported by Unity’s Charitable Fund, Riot Games and Xbox, aims to guide 10 teams through their development journey in creating social impact themed games with the goal of launching them commercially to prospective investors, publishers and studios.
Unity’s Charitable Fund earlier this year, generously provided a grant of $100,000, enabling the Introduction to Game Making by Code Coven course. This new program springs into action on the back of the original program’s success, which empowered novice game developers with structured guidance, mentorship and financial support.
“Code Coven Create: The Solstice Program” runs for 12 weeks from 8 August to 28 October.
The course is open to under-represented groups within the industry who want to learn prototyping. The course provides guidance from Code Coven, Unity’s Charitable Fund, Riot Games, and Xbox partners and mentors.
Selected participants will apply within teams of up to five members and will be building interactive experiences including games, education platforms, VR, and XR outlets which are centered around social-impact. Unity has made some great commitments to social impact and defines it as “focusing the power of our talent, technology, and grants to empower anyone to foster a more sustainable and inclusive world.”
With social impact being at the centre, the “Code Coven Create: The Solstice Program” also aims to:
Teach developers how to effectively run a Sprint Zero
Empower developers to design and build prototypes that focus on social impact
For each team to walk away with a prototype that will set them up for future funding opportunities.
Democratise access to lesser-known topics, such as financing
Reach developers of the global majority
Develop everyone’s networks, from participants, to mentors, to speakers, to Code Coven
Tara Mustapha, Founder and CEO at Code Coven says, “Continuing our work with Unity has been a real pleasure, and we can see tangible results that we are making a difference to the wider industry by providing such unique and catered courses for our cohorts. Being able to bring on and work with Riot Games, Xbox and Clever Endeavour is only further highlighting that the games industry is welcoming change and open to a diverse range of developers. Teams that sign up to this course are learning so much and the access that they’re being given is definitely a chance not to be missed!”
“We’re thrilled to support Code Coven’s work in increasing access and opportunities for underrepresented developers, furnishing them with the skills and knowledge to excel across both games and creative tech industries.” Said Kevin Truong, Education Grants Program Manager, Unity. “In addition to educational resources and courses, Code Coven’s new Solstice Accelerator Program will empower new diverse creators, enabling them to design and build meaningful social-impact experiences through high-quality workshops and personalized mentorship.”
Code Coven is excited to partner with such strong partners for this project. By having these key industry stakeholders to help power this project, it aids Code Coven in the organisation’s goal for global empowerment of marginalised developers. Riot Games believes that the Solstice Program is a great new opportunity for underrepresented developers to take that leap.
“We believe the path to a more inclusive industry is better achieved through collective action. This partnership with Code Coven will enable us to provide a unique opportunity for underrepresented creators and entrepreneurs who have been traditionally overlooked in gaming,” said Farah Sutton, Senior Manager of D&I Strategic Partnerships, Riot Games. ” Through tools and resources provided within the Solstice Program, accelerator participants will be prepared to take their projects to market.”
Since the inception of Code Coven, the team has supported over 450 marginalised game developers from 35 countries.
Bidstack Revs Up In-Game Advertising With Leading Mobile Racing Studios
Bidstack, the technology company pioneering Intrinsic In-Game advertising, today celebrates the one-year anniversary of its partnership with publisher Fingersoft and announces new partnerships with leading driving and racing mobile game studios The Tiny Digital Factory and Fat Cigar Productions Ltd.
Bidstack’s technology has become increasingly popular among mobile titles of all genres due to its ability to increase revenue through authentic and immersive in-game ads – without impacting gameplay or the player experience. Racing and sports games can be some of the most effective environments for in-game ads, enhancing realism and better mirroring real-world sporting environments.
Antoine Jullemier, VP, Gaming at Bidstack, said:
“I’m so pleased to be working with these three incredible racing studios. Brands are a huge part of racing and mobile games; therefore, they tend to have a lot of spaces suitable for in-game ad content, which can enhance the realism of those spaces. Our lightweight SDK means that game performance is unaffected, which is a critical consideration when it comes to players’ on-track performance. We’re super excited to further develop our relationship with Fingersoft and to add The Tiny Digital Factory and Fat Cigar Productions Ltd to the Bidstack paddock. As in-game advertising continues to gain traction with brands, we expect to see the channel generate record revenues in the year ahead.”
Bidstack’s technology was first integrated into Fingersoft’s Boom Karts Multiplayer Racing in May 2022. Over the past year, the online go-kart racer, which has had more than 3.5 million downloads to date, has generated almost half a billion in-game ad requests. One of the largest game developers and publishers in Finland, Fingersoft is best known for Hill Climb Racing and Hill Climb Racing 2, which have more than 2 billion installs between them.
Otto Simola, Head of Game Economy from Fingersoft, said:
“We’re always interested in providing players with a seamless and enjoyable experience while driving incremental revenue for the business. In-game advertising is a natural fit for both of these priorities and our partnership with Bidstack over the past year has proved to us that ads can indeed increase authenticity and immersion in games. We’re eager to see how the obvious possibilities of in-game advertising can crystallise further for players and studios alike.”
The duo of newly-signed partnerships injects yet more high-octane racing content into Bidstack’s portfolio of racing games. The Tiny Digital Factory is a world-class publisher of racing and motorsport games based in Lyon and Montreal. Its popular racing simulation, GT Manager, harnesses Bidstack’s technology to authentically bring real-world brands into its immersive on and off-track environments. Independent British Studio Fat Cigar Productions is utilising Bidstack’s technology in Street Kart Racing, a competitive mobile racer which has been the number 1 paid game on iOS in over 100 countries, to increase realism for users while adding an additional revenue stream.
Stéphane Baudet, CEO & Founder of The Tiny Digital Factory, commented:
“GT Manager is a simulation game that aims to recreate the thrill of running a racing team. Brands are part of the lifeblood of racing and Bidstack’s brand partnerships are contributing to making GT Manager as authentic as possible and supporting our business goals.”
Ross Jones, Co-Founder at Fat Cigar Productions, said:
“As a competitive racing title with a fantastic motorsport-savvy community, we don’t want to integrate any content that impacts on the performance of our game or user immersion. In-game advertising with Bidstack felt like an obvious choice to drive revenue and introduce authentic branded content without harming the user experience.”
Bidstack’s existing cross-platform sports and racing portfolio features Football Manager, Mad Skills Motocross 3, SimWin, Top Eleven and many more, enabling brands to reach an ever-growing and diverse gaming audience.
PAGCOR CANCELS ACCREDITATION OF POGO HUB IN PAMPANGA
Following the recent cancellation of CGC Technologies’ (CGC’s) accreditation – an offshore gaming service provider based in Pampanga – the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) likewise cancelled the provisional accreditation of Sun Valley Clark as an offshore gaming hub.
PAGCOR Chairman and CEO Alejandro Tengco stated that the Sun Valley Clark Hub in Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga is “no longer suitable to maintain its provisional accreditation, nor be issued a full accreditation as an offshore gaming hub due to its failure to ensure a lawful and orderly conduct of offshore gaming by its occupants in its registered sites.”
It can be recalled that on May 4, 2023, an inter-agency search and rescue operation was conducted in Sun Valley after alleged criminal activities such as cryptocurrency investment scams, serious illegal detention and human trafficking activities were being linked to CGC, which occupies six buildings inside the offshore gaming hub. Of the six buildings, however, only two were accredited by PAGCOR.
A POGO hub is a complex which houses the operations, logistical, administrative and support services of PAGCOR-licensed offshore gaming operators and service providers. Among the facilities found in a POGO hub are office and residential spaces, food establishments, grocery stores or supermarkets, health and wellness facilities, recreational facilities, among others.
With the cancellation of Sun Valley Clark Hub, Tengco again reminded PAGCOR’s offshore gaming operators and service providers to avoid any involvement in criminal activities, should they wish to retain their accreditations and licenses.
“This serves as a warning to all our offshore gaming licensees and accredited service providers that PAGCOR is serious in its mission to uphold responsible and regulated gaming in the country. While we see the potential of offshore gaming in terms of our revenue-generation efforts, we do not condone their involvement in any criminal activity that violates the rights – not only of Filipinos but of other nationalities as well,” Tengco furthered.
The PAGCOR chief likewise warned foreign nationals to be more cautious in accepting attractive online job offers in the Philippines, which fraudsters use as a strategy to engage in human trafficking.
“PAGCOR would like to remind foreign nationals who are being offered attractive employment opportunities in the Philippines to check the credibility of the companies that they are applying in. By going the extra mile, they can protect themselves from possible scams and human trafficking activities,” he said.
Tengco added that PAGCOR is continuously coordinating with its partner government agencies including the Office of the President, Department of Justice, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Philippine National Police, National Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Immigration to combat illegal activities linked to offshore gaming operations.
DMCC Publishes Latest “Future of Trade” Report on Gaming and Esports
Gaming revenues are expected to almost double by 2027 from 2021 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, reaching USD 6 billion, according to DMCC’s latest Future of Trade 2023 report titled “Gaming in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Geared for growth”. A young and digital-savvy population, high levels of digital connectivity, and government support are driving the region’s emergence as a consumer and creator hub.
Gaming and esports are both fast growing consumer segments, benefiting from rapid advancements in technology as well as broader and more inclusive audiences. The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead the region, supported by high income levels, strong digital engagement, and public investment initiatives. Globally, Asia Pacific constitutes the largest market share and China, the US and Japan are the largest individual markets.
The report gathers contributions from key industry leaders to establish the critical drivers of the industry’s accelerated growth in the MENA region and beyond. It also examines the impact on gaming and esports from a technology, culture and business perspective, covering global consumer trends, the emergence of MENA as a gaming and esports hub, and the key challenges that the industry needs to address to increase revenues further.
Guiding the global industry’s accelerated growth from nearly USD 200 billion in revenues in 2021 to USD 340 billion in 2027, the report outlines a set of key recommendations for governments and businesses, namely:
- Diversify esports revenue streams from sponsorship to new direct-to-fan monetisation models – including digital merchandising, loyalty programmes and training platforms for amateur gamers – to boost revenues.
- Develop appropriate regulatory safeguards to ensure privacy, security and safety online in the digital gaming ecosystem and provide a business-friendly environment – including smoother visa systems to allow esports professionals and audiences to attend live events – to attract talent into the region and elevate it into a global industry leader.
Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, DMCC, said: “Gaming has come to the fore of entertainment globally, driving rapid growth especially in the MENA region, which now constitutes 15% of the global player base. The rise of gamification in areas such as education, healthcare, and other sectors has demonstrated gaming’s role in facilitating economic activity more broadly. Ensuring the accelerated growth of the gaming sector will have a measurable impact on the future of markets around the world, as well as the future of trade. As DMCC seeks to solidify Dubai’s reputation as a global trade and economic hub, efficiently activating opportunities within the gaming sector will prove essential.”
Among the most closely watched segments is esports, which is expected to post revenue growth of 23.3% between 2019 and 2024 in MENA. Fuelling this is the region’s young demographic, engagement from international broadcasters and sponsors, and government support. Tapping into this economic potential, DMCC partnered with YaLLa Esports, the Dubai-based professional esports organisation, to launch the DMCC Gaming Centre in December 2022. The Centre supports the growth of the industry in Dubai by providing gaming businesses with access to global capital, leading industry talent, and an ecosystem that allows them to operate efficiently and with confidence.
Due to the UAE’s strong business environment and infrastructure, as well as its status as a gateway to the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions, various international gaming developers have set up their regional headquarters in the country. Ubisoft is based in Abu Dhabi, while the gaming giant Tencent set up its MENA HQ in Dubai along with Riot Games. In Saudi Arabia, the kingdom has included gaming as a core element of its Neom project and has already made investments worth over $1.7 billion on the gaming industry.
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