VALORANT Ranked with Patch 1.02!

With competitive matchmaking or ranked mode finally arriving for VALORANT and going live through patch 1.02, Riot Games found it ideal to share a few updates with the community on their own news site - the following is what you need to know! According to the announcement, (viewable here), Riot Games offers two changes for the launch of ranked together with a future promise to work on Rank Progression as outlined in the following list directly from Riot Games:  Updated rank iconography and top rank name  Easier to play with your friends  (After launch) Rank Progression As viewable in the image below, Riot Games has taken another pass over the rank icons, touching them up to ensure their own uniqueness and clear legibility during in-game matches. Besides this, the top rank has been renamed from the former confusing name of 'VALORANT' to 'Radiant'.  Bearing the ranking system, matchmaking is also being worked on - especially to allow friends with a major gap in skill to still perhaps play in the same lobby though this may not always be possible. Skill-based matchmaking continues to remain a priority for VALORANT, and Riot Games is concerned about how to match solos and teams together.  To reach the rank of 'Radiant' players can compete through 'Acts' which run for two months, where kills and overall achievement will help propel you through the rankings. Beyond the change to the icons, Riot Games has implemented an endless amount of alterations to the game with weapon, character and map changes to ensure that everything is improved upon since the closed beta. View the entire patch note here.  To end the announcement, the future of competition is addressed and so is the need for tournaments - but first things first, the game needs to walk before it can run.  So - ranked is finally here. Gear up and get some final practice in, as now, the boys will be separated from the men as everything will hopefully work smoothly. 

Interview with Christian Spiteri - The BOV ePremier League Champion

With the end of the inaugural season of the BOV ePremier League, being Malta's first-ever official marriage between traditional sports and esports on a local scene, here at GMR Entertainment we're overjoyed with how successful the season was.  Apart from the general successes, the level of competition the league offered was simply insane - especially with our crowned champion of Christian Spiteri who played out of his mind to secure first place. Taking the season in dominant fashion, I decided to virtually sit down with the champion and conduct the following interview where I picked his brain a little in order to learn more about his personal and professional life.  1. Hi there Christian and congratulations on your win! Before diving into the competitive side of things, let’s first get to know you on a personal level. Tell us a bit about yourself – your age, your hobbies, what you do for a living and how gaming is a part of your life. Hi, thank you! Well, I’m 25 years old, I like to walk/jog, play and watch football and read a lot. At the moment my only focus is achieving my ambitions within FIFA. 2. Gaming is one thing, and esports is another. When exactly did you decide to take it all to the next level and start competing? What events, or even who, inspired you to do so? Was it always something you wanted to do? The moment my dad bought me the PS3 together with FIFA 09 and I connected it to the internet, and could play other people online. From that moment on I always took it seriously, but the first time I watched the FIWC tournament (World Cup) streamed, which is the best honour a player can win, this event really made me dream to one day compete in such competitions. I always had and continue to have a competitive nature. It wasn’t something I thought I would do or ever planned to do. I always planned to play the real sport, but unfortunately I was never good enough to reach the heights I would be satisfied with, and with this game I felt there was potential. Also, the fact that the scene kept growing and introducing more international events made it an easy substitute to the real thing, feeding my competitive hunger by competing in the sports I love which is football, just on the virtual pitch instead. 3. Let’s start diving into your recent performance at the inaugural BOV ePremier League: first of all, how did you come to represent Santa Lucia FC? What was your reaction to it all? What did your friends and family have to say?  Santa Lucia was the first from a few clubs that contacted me, they showed great belief and interest for me, and I knew straightaway it was the club for me and it was a very straightforward discussion. I was happy to reach an agreement with such a club that is so united together and ambitious, some of my friends were disappointed as I didn’t join the club they support, but they wished me luck nonetheless and my family was also very supportive. 4. You started the league with an absolutely phenomenal run of 22 consecutive wins! How did you manage, game after game, to keep besting every single opponent that came your way? Is there a particular way in which you prepare for each game? Do you prepare differently depending on the opponent? Obviously with this type of run, you need a little bit of luck to go your way sometimes, which it did for me in particular games, such as against Lawfu and Gianluca in the first legs. However, luck alone is not enough to pull you through such a run and obviously you need to play consistent, you will have many different scenarios to face and that’s when you need to show your character. One needs to stay concentrated and try and play to the best level despite the challenges and pressure you are facing and feeling. I prepare the same way for every opponent, I never take for granted any player that I’m facing as they will sit and play against you to beat you, and every single player has earned their spot. 5. Halfway through the league, with you performing dominantly, the pandemic broke out and the championship had to be suspended. How did this affect you as a competitor and what did you do to maintain your form at the top of the standings? When it was suspended there was a possibility that it would have been cancelled, and so here I want to thank the organizers for giving us the opportunity to finish the league. I kept practicing regularly and compete in online tournaments too, so I kept my usual routine despite the pandemic, but the difficulty in the last matchday was to play with the excitement and anxiety that was built due to the league being suspended. Having to wait since the beginning of March to continue the season was a challenge to handle the tension and emotions but I am pleased with the end result. 6. At the end of the season, after 26 games, you finished on top without a single loss. How does it feel to be the inaugural champion? How did you celebrate? I feel relieved in having my work and sacrifices result in me winning the league, and going undefeated is just a bonus. I’ve celebrated by allowing myself to take a break and not play FIFA for a while. 7. What do you think was the key to your success? What would you say was the most challenging part of competing in the BOV ePremier League together with any thoughts on the level of local competition? Definitely the key and the most challenging aspect for me was handling the pressure and expectations. I think. I felt before it even started that the level would be really good and it proved to be, and obviously during the season the competition was getting tougher and better, with the experience players were gaining within the league, in my opinion. 8. As champion of the BOV ePremier League – what are your goals for the future as an individual? Will you be competing in future seasons? As you’ve already participated in multiple international events in the past, do you have any future international plans that you’d like to share with us? My major goal and ambition is really to continuously aim high and challenging myself to achieve and direct my efforts appropriately towards – specifically, my goal is to win an international honor next season. 9. The BOV ePremier League was the first of its kind in Malta. What are your thoughts on how the season went know that it is finished in terms of professionalism and organization? Do you have any suggestions or ideas for future seasons? How much potential do you see in continual support of the local competitive FIFA scene? I was pleasantly surprised at how well organized it was and I want to congratulate the organizers for doing as good as a job ,in my opinion, as international events in their infrastructure and set up. I think the current format is the right one, maybe with time it can be improved by someone with a better idea, but I can’t see it getting better for now. Seeing this as the start of involving local Maltese clubs is highly encouraging and I think things will only improve from here on out. 10. Finally, this final question goes out to our readers. Christian, as a local champion, what words of advice do you have to offer to those individuals who think they have what it takes but are reluctant or even shy to compete? What tips do you have to offer to the rookies out there looking to make a name for themselves? My advice is to play the qualifiers and just try, this shyness or pressure of competition won’t affect you so much after some experience - this is the beauty of experience, the more you get use to something, the better you get at it. So don’t shy away is my advice and look at it as something that will make you an even better player by facing up to these challenging emotions. With regards to gameplay, my tips would be to watch high level players play, study them a bit, try and learn from them and after some time I would even recommend recording the games you play and analyze your games to see what you can improve upon. Obviously not everyone’s got the time for this but I think it’s better to play 50% less than what you normally play and use the time you use to spend playing to analyze your gameplay, I think this is way more efficient route to improving. Christian has definitely earned my respect with the humility present in his responses: having gone undefeated through 26 games, the amount of respect he still shows the competition is highly commendable and a reason as to why he is mutually praised for his performances. He has every right to be cocky, but still, he retains a cool and humble resolve. Apart from the responses to the questions, he also had the following to say:  I'm very happy to have taken part in the first official Maltese FIFA league, I would like to thank my family for their constant support, my friends, Santa Lucia for the honor they gave me in allowing me to represent them, and I would like to congratulate all the staff that made this happen from MFA and GMR Entertainment and well done to all the players that took part. Bearing this level-headed attitude in mind, Christian offered some incredible advice to rookies which is definitely worth noting as his emphasis on efficiency couldn't be highlighted further.  As an individual, GMR Entertainment would like to congratulate him one more time on his success at the BOV ePremier League and we wish him the absolute best for his future as an international competitor too. We also hope to perhaps see Christian back again next season to defend his title! Let us know what you thought of Christian's responses and his performance at the BOV ePremier League in the comments section below! 

Mixer's Death - Ninja and Shroud Free to Go

A while ago, roughly this time last year, the streaming platform of Mixer owned by Microsoft began to gain traction in terms of viewership. Later on in the year, the platform signed exclusive contracts with multiple top streamers including the likes of 'Shroud' and 'Ninja' - this all spelled discussion within the community as to whether Twitch would remain on top within the market. With the announced death of Mixer, this is all null and void. Indeed, just recently, Microsoft officially announced the shutting down of Mixer as they've chosen to move forward instead with Facebook Gaming. Dedicated viewers of Mixer have until July 22nd to enjoy the platform, though one may expect streamers to begin making their own transitions immediately such as 'Ninja' who's already updated the description of his untouched Twitch channel.  Does the death of Mixer come as a surprise?  In short, no. It never really served itself up as a contender to Twitch. Yes, exclusive signings of the aforementioned personalities was a great move, but not enough to support an entire platform. Twitch never really broke a sweat, and neither did YouTube for that matter. Multiple Twitch personalities who didn't make the move, such as DrDisrespect predicted its downfall multiple times due to the lack of content available.  Officially, the names of 'Ninja' and 'Shroud' are free to go wherever they please - it's likely that both will go back to their roots and return to the land of Twitch.  Microsoft is looking for greener pastures, and this seems to be in the form of Facebook Gaming. Many have speculated as to why, but an interview with The Verge has shed some light on the situation:  “We started pretty far behind, in terms of where Mixer’s monthly active viewers were compared to some of the big players out there. I think the Mixer community is really going to benefit from the broad audience that Facebook has through their properties, and the abilities to reach gamers in a very seamless way through the social platform Facebook has.” With the intention to push out their 'xCloud' service with the Xbox Series X and Facebook Gaming seems to be the right place for content to them.  In conclusion, Mixer tried and tried, but it couldn't topple the giant that is Twitch.  Let us know your thoughts in the comments section - where you a fan of Mixer? Did you see this coming? 

All The Next-Gen Consoles Exclusives So Far

With both developers expected to release their respective consoles later on this year, it's safe to say that the war between Microsoft and Playstation is back on and maybe this time it won't be a slaughter. Below we've gathered a list of all of the exclusives confirmed for the Xbox Series X and the PS5 - you get to decide who sits on top.  A quick disclaimer before we get started, the following are exclusives which have been confirmed as of the June 20th, as perhaps some surprises still await and the developers could be leaving the best for last as a marketing scheme or something of that sort.  Playstation 5 Horizon: Forbidden West Gran Turismo 7  Demon's Souls  Returnal  Destruction All Stars  Astro's Playroom Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart Sackboy: A Big Adventure  Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales  Bugsnax  Deathloop Ghostwire: Tokyo  Godfall Goodbye Volcano High  JETT: The Far Shore Kena: Bridge of the Spirits Little Devil Inside Oddworld Soulstorm  Project Athia  Solar Ash Stray  Tribes of Midgard  The Pathless Xbox Series X  Everwild  Forza Motorsport 8  Gears 5 Halo Infinite  Orphan of the Machine  Senua's Sage: Hellblade II Scorn It's not looking too balanced - I know, though I searched as thoroughly as I could to equalize the list though Sony simply won't allow it.  Console gaming has never been about graphics or pure performance, as many have fussed over the new technology both next-gen consoles are packing. Simply none of that is important or relevant without the games - consoles are purely tools to be used to power experiences. It's all about, and always has been about, the games which are available to play.  Personally, as a fan of the Dark Souls/Bloodborne series, playing Demon's Souls is a must for me on the Playstation 5. I will have to reiterate here that perhaps your own favourite publisher is yet to announce any exclusive titles and could be worth waiting for.  Let us know your thoughts on who you think is winning the console war so far in terms of exclusives in the comments section below! 

The Last of Us Part II - Critics vs Community

Finally, after so many years of waiting, the sequel to the legendary story of The Last of Us arrived this Friday 19th June on PS4. With expectations high, the entire world dived into the experience resulting in highly polarizing feedback - with the community on one side and the critics on the other side - is The Last of Us Part II a masterpiece or an absolute disaster?    Above is the situation as displayed on the Metacritic page - high praise averaging 95 from 94critics while the user score submitted by over 20,000 community members sits at a dismal 3.3.  Let's start with the positive: what do the critics have to say about The Last of Us Part II? The following quote from Gaming Age is probably the most suitable, as a standard for what most critics had to say.  With an enthralling story, complex characters, interesting gameplay and gorgeous visuals and audio, The Last of Us Part II is probably one of the most polished videogame experiences out there and it’s pretty easy to give it a great score and call it a day. But honestly, thanks to the intense pace, mature subject matter and stressful situations, it may not be for everyone. That last part is cause for worry - 'may not be for everyone'. The community definitely agrees, as represented by the following selected review:  Graphics... That's the only good thing about this. Everything else is either mediocre or down right awful. The game play did not evolve one bit since 2013. It's still a walking simulator that's more a movie than a game, which would be enjoyable if it had a good story but God damn is it bad. The story simply broke my heart and not in the good way. It's like a spit in the face of the entire fan base. It's like the worst fan fiction you could possibly find. Seriously? This is what you came up after 7 years? Did Twitter write this game? It's full of plot holes and the characters you fell in love with in the first game are completely ruined and you are forced to play with the character that ruined them. - Lex1993 Most reviews offered the same criticisms - high levels of disappointment after the incredible wait, a dissatisfactory story mode, identical gameplay to the prequel and above all, a narrative driving certain ideas very aggressively in the players' face and abandoning beloved characters.  Multiple news sites have reported this as 'review bombing', however, I wouldn't be so quick to disregard the community's negativity as mindless 'bombing'.  Naughty Dog didn't make it easy on themselves either. When you forge such a masterpiece such as The Last of Us and continuously promise a sequel for so many years, people's expectation will rise. Yes, maybe some reviews are out of frustration due to this and perhaps not completely factual, but does that discredit the community's feedback?  Has Naughty Dog responded in any way? Neil Druckmann, Vice President at Naughty Dog, had the following to say on Twitter earlier today:  Oh man... in just a few hours we have almost DOUBLE the number of user reviews for #TheLastofUsPartII than the first game received in seven years. Love that passion! That is not a response that respects the community's feedback. They're supposing that all the reviews are mindless review bombs which aren't legitimate.  It's definitely discomforting to witness this level of disrespect to the community which has been patiently and loyally awaiting a sequel and have the right to give feedback. Are the critics offering valid reviews or are they afraid to negatively review the heavily awaited Playstation exclusive?  That's all for this discussion - let us know if you've played The Last of Us II and share your experience in the comments section below - who's right, the critics or the community? 

Have you registered for the Red Bull Strijders // Online Series - Pro Clubs Qualifiers?

The first Red Bull Strijders // Online Series - Pro Clubs Qualifier starts Tuesday 9th June at 8.30 pm with the chance for the first 3 teams to make to the League Phase. Being from your tablet, mobile, PC, or laptop one only needs to press the JOIN TOURNAMENT button to start your team's registration. STEP 1 - Login or Create an Account Login with your account or for those without an account all you need to do is create an account. STEP 2 - Create or Join a Team Once you login and click again on the join tournament button you will be asked to create a team where you will be asked to follow 4 simple steps to get started. After you create the team you will be given a join team link which you must send to your teammates to join the team (make sure they follow Step 1 first) If a friend has already created the team all you need to is follow Step 1 and click the link to join the team and you will automatically join the team. STEP 3 - What's Next? At this point, you will need to chase your team members to join the team. To check who has joined the team, you can either go on your team's profile and see who registered or else click again on the join tournament button and under the tab tell your friends to join, you will see your team's name and the number of players out of a minimum of 6. It is important to check that you are logged in at all times cause otherwise, you won't be able to see your profile's information. STEP 4 - Joining the Tournament Once you and 5 other friends have joined a particular team you will be able to join the tournament. A team can consist of more than 6 players but not less since in the rules section it is stated that all teams are required to have a minimum of 6 players registered on the website, comprised of 5 Outfield Players and a Goalkeeper. It is also important to note that if you have 6 registered players and you are still illegible to join it could be because a team player is already registered with another team competing in the tournament and the rules state that a player cannot play with multiple teams. STEP 5 - Did my team registers for the Tournament? To check if your team has registered for the tournament all you need to do is go on the tournament, Red Bull Strijders // Online Series - Pro Clubs Qualifier 1, and check the participants that have registered for the tournament. If your team isn't visible on the page re-check again all steps and if you still can't figure out what happened it is best to contact us on our Facebook page or else on the official discord channel the one we will be using when the tournament starts. It is important to read all rules before the tournament starts and good luck to all participating teams.

GMR and For A Cause Events partner up to organise the IFR: Esports Edition

For A Cause Events is a company set up by four close friends whose vision is to organise a variety of premium events in which a portion of the proceeds will always be donated to charity. The company is mainly known for organising the yearly IFR Champions Cup, which is a physical football tournament hosting a number of teams mostly from the three fastest-growing industries in Malta: iGaming, Fintech and Real Estate. "Our partnership with For A Cause Events gives us great satisfaction to be able to help those in need through esports. They have proven that they have a working formula with the IFR: Champions Cup raising over €22,000 in their first two editions and now we will be teaming up to organise the first IFR: Esports Edition while helping those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic." - Kersten James Chircop, Founder GMR Entertainment "After closely monitoring the events landscape and COVID-19 situation, the For A Cause Events team are exciting to be venturing into the esports world with collaborating partners GMR Entertainment for the very first IFR: Esports Edition! Giving back to the local community is part of who we are and we will this time be helping those who have been affected by the pandemic." - Andrew Micallef Trigona, Co-Founder For A Cause Events Together with For A Cause Events, we will be organising the first edition of the IFR Champions Cup: Esports Edition where players get the chance to virtually represent their employers (companies) by taking part in this tournament while a portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charitable organisation.

How will Valorant attract esports fans?

Valorant has conquered the attention of millions of players in just a couple of days. Riot Games is now looking for a new challenge to propel a second game to the front of the esports scene. Riot Games launched the beta of Valorant with limited access earlier last month and it will be available to everyone in a few weeks. This new project is the creation of a competitive first-person shooter inspired by games such as Counter-Strike and Overwatch. Within this article, we will try and decipher what strategies will Riot Games be using to seduce esports fans. The approach can be the collaboration with large tournament organisers such as ESL, ELEAGUE and FACEIT. Such organisers currently take care of the majority of esports tournaments around the world, in particular, international tournaments on games such as Counter-Strike. Furthermore, they might be surrounding themselves with smaller providers who will be responsible for organizing tournaments hosted by the players themselves. These tournaments will allow players who possess outstanding skills to put themselves forward and gain notoriety. In addition to partnerships, the gaming community will have a great role to play. Without this community, it is impossible for the game to exist in an esports setting. The community can be a force to put proposals forward while actively participating in the competitive development of the game. Key stakeholders such as streamers who offer tons of content on different streaming platforms (for example, Twitch and YouTube) can have a huge effect on the general community and they are a big factor in making or breaking a game in today's esports industry. Esports organisations will also have a determining role in catapulting Valorant on the esports scene. Organisations such as Team Solomid, Cloud 9, Fnatic, SKT and G2 among others will probably occupy a place at the forefront. These teams are already posses a huge deal of experience on today’s popular games such as League of Legends and Counter-Strike and can be easily applied to a new game like Valorant. These are the organisations that will form teams made up of different professional players. Something that has already begun, with a clear example being the recruitment of “Brax” a Counter-Strike player by SKT (South Korea Telecom) one of the biggest esports teams in the world. With esports being very present in our daily life, there is no doubt that the creators will quickly set up an economic model which will conquer a large audience. They’ve already seduced the world with League of Legends, can they do the same with Valorant? We will have an answer in the coming months!

Malta tops the group in FIFA eNations StayAndPlay Friendlies winning Spain and Portugal

FIFA and EA Sports hosted for the very first FIFA eNations Stay and Play Cup on FIFA20. As reported in our previous article Malta is being represented by Christian Spiteri and National Team Player Dunstan Vella who are both playing in the Malta BOV ePremier League. Malta was drawn in one of the toughest groups that of Group A together with Spain, Italy, and Portugal.  Malta vs Portugal In the first match Christian Spiteri had to face Diogo Mendes were he won comfortably with a score of 5-1. Dunstan Vella faced national team player Diogo Jota which after an intense match Dunstan managed to win 5-3 giving Malta a 10-4 win against Portugal.  Christian Spiteri vs Diogo Mendes - Match Dunstan Vella vs Diogo Jota - Match Malta vs Spain In their second match, the Maltese duo had to face Spain which was sitting at 2nd place with 6 points (Win against Portugal and Italy). A win was a must in order to proceed to the next phase. Christian Spiteri went first against Jaime Álvarez known as Gravesen_1 but after a really intense match, everything ended in a tie 2-2. Dunstan Vella was up next against the legend DjMariio with over 6 million subscribers on Youtube and more than 1 million followers on both Twitter and Instagram. Dunstan played a really good match and defended quite well and managed to win with a 1-0 score in order to give Malta a well earned 3 points for a total score of 3-2 against Spain. Christian Spiteri vs Gravesen_1 - Match Dunstan Vella vs DjMariio_90 - Match With 9 points from 3 matches, Malta managed to qualify for the next stage and will be playing against Wales the winners of Group C. Malta vs Wales can be viewed online on FIFA's website.

Facebook Launches it's new Gaming app

Given the current situation, Facebook is looking to strengthen its popularity in the gaming industry during the COVID-19 pandemic with the launch of a new, dedicated Gaming app, months before its planned June release.  The social media giant pushed the app's release on Android two months prior to its scheduled unveiling with a pending iOS version at some point in the near future. The app's slogan is "Watch, Play, Connect", and it's what the whole app is all about. The app’s arrival comes after a year and a half of testing in various markets such as Southeast Asia, and Latin America.  The Facebook Gaming App The app lets users watch live streams, chat, follow updates, play mobile games together and much more in order to compete against its biggest competitors Twitch and YouTube although it still lacks behind when it comes to hours of gameplay watched even though more than 2.5 billion people use Facebook every month. New tools might help Facebook reach new heights since it is trying to make it easier for users to start streaming by adding a “Go Live” button to start the magic. Once people are live, streams will appear on their personal pages, making it easier for friends and followers to watch. Vivek Sharma, Facebook’s vice president said “People are watching streams and they’re like, ‘I want to be a streamer,’ and with Go Live it’s literally just a few clicks and then live, you’re a streamer.” Facebook also offers monetization to a limited number of streamers and it is also planning to monetize this by taking a commission of “stars” which are donations that viewers send to streamers. Facebook Gaming Stand It remains to be seen whether the app will be a successful one, but the rushed timing could give the service a cutting edge, as people are trying to find new forms of content to socialize during this global pandemic.

Cloud9 wins the 2020 LCS Spring Split!

Tremendous, sensational, I can’t find the words to describe the breathtaking performance accomplished by Cloud 9 throughout this spring split. After 2 years of domination by Team Liquid, a new star is born named “Cloud 9”. After a regular season where they crushed all the North American teams, they ended the regular season with seventeen victories and only one defeat against “Team SoloMid”, a record in the American League. They dominated the playoff by successively eliminating “100 Thieves” with a 3-0. Then they triumphed over “Evil geniuses” in the semi-final with a 3-1. The final of this spring split was only the continuity of what the team accomplished during the season. They literally destroyed their opponents with a 3-0 in a quick best of 5 crushing “Wildturtle” and his team “Fly quest”. “Cloud 9” has been defeated only twice during this segment, another record. The five players of C9 took all the seats of the regular season's AllStar team! One of them, Blaber (Jungler of C9), was also elected Most Valuable Player (MVP) of this spring split. Note that Zven (ADC of the team) who was announced on a downward slope after several medium seasons, performed a sensational comeback. He managed to be the first player to win both an LEC split in Europe and an LCS split in North America. The recruitments of Vulcan (Support position) and Zven enabled “Cloud 9” to climb to the top of the ladder after several years of title droughts. With the cancellation of “Mid Season Invitational,” we are all looking forward to the summer split. Will the undivided domination of “Cloud 9” remain? Rendez-Vous in a few months!

The Impact Of COVID-19 On Video Gaming

Video games consumption rises amid COVID-19 outbreak As the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak continues to spread and to influence almost every aspect of our everyday lives, many are turning to video games to pass time during self-isolation.  Many countries have introduced martial law and as people are practically stuck at home, millions are looking for social distancing-friendly activities to keep them entertained during the quarantine.  According to Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Report, retail and recreation mobility trends (restaurants, cafes, museums) have seen a 76% decline compared to the median value. Grocery & pharmacy, parks, transit stations, workplaces have also seen a substantial decline whereas residential mobility trends have seen a 20% rise.  What Google's data reveals about Malta's coronavirus response The (self)imposed quarantine measures have undoubtedly caused an increase in consumer playtime and money spent on video games. In other words, people are spending more time playing video games during quarantine and isolation. According to Verizon, the network has seen a 75% increase in gaming traffic over the last week.  The increase in gaming can also be seen on Steam, since the popular digital PC gaming marketplace has reached 20,313,451 users, drawing a new record. Coronavirus impact on esports As far as esports go, several large-scale esports events have been cancelled, some are postponed and some are held without audiences. A negative impact on revenue from sponsorship and media rights is not expected since most of the deals were finalized before the outbreak.  The cancelled CS:GO tournament, Intel Extreme Masters in Katowice peaked in viewership, reaching over one million viewers, making it one of the most watched tournaments in esports history.  IEM Katowice 2020 with no Audience at the Venue The virus outbreak has seen 18 video game companies, including the streaming platform Twitch and Activision Blizzard encouraging players to resort to video games as a means of maintaining a physical distance. The #PlayApartTogether initiative is also supported by the World Health Organization.  Commenting on the campaign, Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard, said: “It’s never been more critical to ensure people stay safely connected to one another. Games are the perfect platform because they connect people through the lens of joy, purpose and meaning. We are proud to participate in such a worthwhile and necessary initiative.” However, as there is an increase in gaming, it is expected that the launch of Sony and Microsoft next-gen consoles will be delayed, due to supply chain disruptions, as the manufacturing of game, hardware has already been impacted.  Events such as GDC and E3 have already been cancelled, but the cancellations are not expected to leave a mark on the bottom-line revenues of developers and publishers. 

Quarantine blues? Here are 6 free game apps to fight it off

Stay home and stay safe. But what to do? As real-life is engulfed by a deadly pandemic that looks like a sci-fi game, we propose to you something to kill time on your phone. Because let’s face it - baking looks good on Instagram (for some), but it gets boring very quickly. We have listed for you 6 mobile games you can play for FREE which support multiplayer mode, which means you can add your friends and play together whilst staying at home and still getting in touch with them.  Clash Royale Developed by Supercell, Clash Royale is a massively popular multiplayer online battle arena. Collect cards, create your deck and upgrade it and get ready to knock the opponent’s tower before he crashes yours. Earn trophies, climb the ladder and get ready for weekly challenges. If you're new to the world of Clash Royale, it can be a little intimidating at the start but it is pretty easy once you get used to it. With its features 1 vs 1 or 2 vs 2 you can play simultaneously with or against a friend or you could team up with one and play against another two.  Number of players: 2-4 Total size: 1.2 GB storage Playtime: 3 minutes average Clash Royale Gameplay Mario Kart Tour Mario Kart needs no introduction. All your favorite childhood classic Nintendo pals are back in action. Crossing over to mobile, the game lets you unite with friends and race through the mountains or underwater making it a fun activity to enjoy with some swipe and taps on the screen. A free Nintendo account is all that is needed and competing in 1 cup will unlock multiplayer mode.  Number of players: 2-8 Total size: 370 MB storage Playtime: 5 minutes average Mario Kart Tour Gameplay PUBG:Mobile PUBG or PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds mobile version of the game is called PUBG Mobile, which gained popularity as soon as it was launched. The battle royale game consists of 100 people on a map and the last man or team standing wins. The game has a number of modes and maps to keep the users engaged. Adding a battle pass adds more challenges for the player.  PUBG Mobile Lite is also available for those whose mobile does not meet the minimum requirements of the game. Number of players: 1-100 Total size: 2.3 GB storage Playtime: 15 minutes average PUBG:Mobile Gameplay Call of Duty Mobile Call of Duty: Mobile is another popular game for those Call of Duty fans but also a challenge to PUBG Mobile when it comes to the battle royale genre. COD: Mobile has different modes like Battle Royale, Team Deathmatch and many more.  COD:Mobile lets you play with up to 6 friends at once with the classic team deathmatch you can do a 3 vs 3 or else play as a team in the 100-player battle royale mode. Number of players: 1-6 Total size: 2 GB storage Playtime: 15 minutes average Call of Duty Mobile Gameplay Quiz Up QuizUp, a social trivia game by Plain Vanilla Games with over 100 million users that ventures as deep into more than 1,200 topics such as films, music, games containing more than 600,000 questions.  The game offers the chance to play head-to-head battles against friends or start tournaments against people and challenge them on everything from general knowledge to basic maths problems. Number of players: 2 Total size: 120 MB storage Playtime: 1-minute average Quiz Up Gameplay Hearthstone From its release on mobile Hearthstone has been one of those card games to play on mobile. The game is easy to learn and tough to master. Weekly Tavern Brawls and solo game modes are what keeps the game exciting which for sure Blizzard know how to spice up things. After a day or two of playing the game and mastering that faction or two, you can easily battle a friend who just started the game for some and well spent time. Number of players: 1-2 Total size: 1.5 GB storage Playtime: 5 minutes average Hearthstone Gameplay

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