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Kliuless? Gaming Industry ICYMI #7

Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.

Hi, my name is Kenny Liu, and I work in Revenue Strategy at Riot Games. Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.

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Kliu's Corner: Fort(nite)ifications vs. the Black(out) Swan

  • Epic Games made two interesting announcements this week; though seemingly unrelated, they both aim to help protect Fortnite from their most formidable competition to date
    • The first is their decision to bring a physical Fortnite bundle to store shelves for the holidays, in partnership with Warner Bros.
    • The second is their announcement of a new limited time Support-A-Creator Event, which effectively gives away up to 5% of their profit margin to influencers (assuming 100% participation of players as supporting fans)
  • In the short-term both of these initiatives will be margin-destructive for this quarter, but these plays have been made by Epic with the long game in mind
  • With a Nielsen awareness score of 99/100, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 is the most anticipated game this holiday, and Activision's big bet represents the greatest existential threat to date for existing battle royale leaders, Fortnite and PUBG
  • Though Blackout will likely cannibalize PUBG much more than Fortnite (due to greater similarities across art, design, pricing, etc.), I think it is still smart for Epic to strategize mitigating any potential player flight risk
  • Yes, Epic could have made some more revenue-maximizing optimizations on their specific tactical executions, but giving up ~5% of revenue for a quarter may not seem too steep a price to pay for an additional layer of protection from unlucky possibilities
    • Under a milder scenario, Fortnite might lose a subset of their players, which would have effectively cut off the otherwise very lucrative (years-)long tail of these players' total lifetime value
    • Much worse would be an unlikely but catastrophic black swan event where Blackout seizes Fortnite's throne


  • Blog: The iOS Design Guidelines
  • Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 devs on balancing Blackout battle royale mode
  • Balancing restriction and reward when designing Path of Exile’s Delve
  • Ben Brode's PAX Dev 2018 keynote on "little things that make all the difference"


  • Microsoft announces Project xCloud: Xbox game streaming to PCs, consoles, and mobile devices
    • [KL: Public trials to begin in 2019, so official announcement likely accelerated in response to Google's Project Stream
    • Interesting that Microsoft says their test experience runs at 10 Mbps vs. Google's 25 Mbps
    • Both Microsoft & Google likely have better network engineering expertise over Nintendo & Sony, but comparatively they still lack compelling content portfolios
    • However, on the developer side of the equation, Microsoft has already been very busy with its M&A activities, adding 5 studios and now potentially one more this year]
  • Sony confirms next-gen hardware with similar "fundamental architecture" to PS4


  • Zynga Is Drawing [Deal] Interest From Gaming Rivals
  • Fortnite's Android version is no longer invite-only
  • Mobile gamers referred through organic social channels have up to 67% higher retention
  • Google lets developers sell in-app purchases through Assistant
  • Nintendo has patented a Game Boy case for smartphones with "capacitive D-pad and A-B buttons, meaning they could be used to control and interact with the touchscreen beneath"
  • Stardew Valley coming to mobile
  • Blog: What is performance marketing?


  • Tencent-backed live-streaming platform Douyu pulled from app stores in China amid ongoing content crackdown
    • Related: Weibo will stop letting kids under 14 register new accounts
  • Google had hoped to launch its censored Chinese search product Dragonfly in ‘six to nine months’, according to leaked transcript of internal meeting
  • "China's new game approval process could hurt indies most"


  • Netflix is the world's most data-hungry application, consuming 15% of global net traffic
    • "Video accounts for 58% of the total volume of downstream traffic on the internet, followed by web browsing (17%), gaming (7.8%) and social media (5.1%)"
  • European Union approves 30% content quota for streaming services
  • Production has begun on a live-action Monster Hunter movie


  • New Yorker: The relative plausibility of impossible beings tells you a lot about how the mind works
    • "Patterns of evidence, a grasp of biology, theories of physics: as it turns out, we need all of these to account for our intuitions about supernatural beings, just as we need all of them to explain any other complex cultural phenomenon, from a tennis match to a bar fight to a bluegrass band"
  • Magic Leap announces grant program for indie developers
  • Ubisoft’s ‘Starlink’ Designed For ‘Gamer Kids’ and Their Parents
  • Smash Bros. director: Play what you hate to make games great
  • A Brief History of Speedrunning
  • The tragic end of Telltale Games, as told by the people who were there
  • Young Latinos use virtual reality to reunite immigrant families separated by borders
  • Chinese Parents, a Chinese-only indie game that simulates what it’s like to be a parent, tops Steam charts

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Twitter: @kliuless
LinkedIn: @kliuless

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