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Gaming gets an ecosystem

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Razer, in partnership with Las Vegas-based Gaming-Grids, has announced the first phase launch of Razer Arena, a new gaming ecosystem powered by the voice chat gaming messenger, Razer Comms.

Razer Arena is a single platform that brings together competitive gaming tools typically reserved for professional-level gamers. With automatic match creation and reporting, tournament and match lobbies, match notifications, and more, Razer Arena provides a seamless experience without the hassle of uploading screenshots or replays. Razer Arena also allows match teammates and opponents to easily communicate.

In the first phase, users will be able to participate in daily challenge cups to get familiar with the tournament platform, as well as participate in tournaments produced by selected partners.

In the second phase, slated for March 2015, users will be able to host their own private tournaments. Successful Razer Arena tournaments may be featured alongside professionally organized events.

Razer Arena will feature:

·         Automatic match creation and reporting

·         Match-reminder notifications

·         In-game voice chat powered by Razer Comms

·         Chat lobbies for the most social and interactive gaming experience powered by Razer Comms

·         Anti-cheat engine to ensure fair play

·         Single elimination format

·         Custom competition creation and management with friends, schoolmates and colleagues – Coming March 2015

“Tournament platforms focus heavily on the professional gaming scene, leaving out the majority of gamers,” says Min-Liang Tan, Razer co-founder and CEO. “That ends today with Razer Arena. Finally it’s easy to find the best gamers in your school or your office. There are competitions for every skill level, from casual to pro. You decide how and with whom you compete.”

Gaming Grids President and CEO Dana Garvey says: “We are very excited to partner with Razer on the Razer Arena platform. Razer’s devotion to the gaming industry and e-Sports is once again demonstrated with this latest product.”

Collegiate Star League Founder Duran Parsi says: “We’re pretty excited to be able to give each of our universities the ability to run their own training competitions and qualifiers leading up to the season. Razer Arena provides both users and organizers an amazing platform to run competitions in the smoothest way possible.”

At launch, Razer Arena will support the following titles:

·         Battlefield 4

·         Dota 2

·         Counterstrike: Global Offensive

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Gaming rages on in SA

The rAge gaming expo this past weekend pointed the way to a booming computer games industry in South Africa, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the first of a two-part series. (All pics by Arthur Goldstuck)

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Predator. Omen. Alienware. They all sounds dangerous. The names suggest threat and even fear. And so they should. 

They are the high-end gaming brands of computer manufacturers Acer, HP and Dell, respectively. Acer adds an explosive edge with its Nitro range.

The names tell you that the user is not going into computer-based combat casually. This gamer wants to win, and will pay the price of premium hardware to do so.

This impulse lies at the heart of the exploding computer games industry globally. Valued at $157-billion, the sector dwarfs the music industry. In South Africa, according to Make Games South Africa chairperson Nick Hall, it is a R225-million business, growing at an average of 75% a year since 2013.

“The game development sector in South Africa has really gone from strength to strength, across all key segments in the sector,” he says. “Our indies are regularly releasing titles to global success, our services sector has made massive inroads into doing work for some of the largest  publishers in the world and our serious games sector is producing world leading products.”

Many of these independent games creators were manning stands at the rAge expo at the Dome north of Johannesburg this past weekend. Celestial Games, which produced South Africa’s first commercial computer game, Toxic Bunny, in 1996,  unveiled its latest innovation: a mobile gaming platform called Table Realms, which turns any handset into a gaming console or screen. 

The buzz around its stand was palpable, and a far cry from previous years when Celestial and other games developers battled for attention. At rAge, names like Curve, Codex Knights, Loot Defence, Nektaar, Akromah’s Tale, and Echoplex all had clusters of prospective players around their booths.

The Xbox stand was a major attraction at rAge.

Continue reading to find out how locally developed games target international markets.

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