Last year, during Rooster Teeth’s 24-hour Extra Life livestream, host Caiti Ward was slimed with a mysterious green substance. A guy was tased. Hot peppers were eaten. This year, there will be a steamroller. It’s all for charity, though.
Extra Life, the Houston-based platform that rallies gamers to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, has partnered with Austin, Texas’ Rooster Teeth since 2010, and last year it raised $1.2 million for the charity. This year it’s trying to raise $1.25 million for Austin’s Dell Children’s Hospital; the entertainment company also recently opened the Rooster Teeth Healing Garden as part of the new Dell Children’s Mental Health Unit.
Twenty-four hours is a lot of time to fill, but Rooster Teeth’s robust production and entertainment teams do their best to keep people engaged. Ward (who’s appeared in Rooster Teeth series RWBY and Day 5) and husband Jack Pattillo of Achievement Hunter tell the Daily Dot that this year, some of the challenges will include a steamroller (to destroy “something of value”), Harry Potter trivia, a dunk tank (it took four years to get approval), a tattoo artist, moonball slingshots, and the return of the Wheel of Vengeance, which broke at one point last year.
While they have to keep in mind things that are doable from a production standpoint, this year they’re “trying to do as many extreme things as possible.” Last year they tased Achievement Hunter’s Michael Jones for donations (there was a medic on site), but there hasn’t been mention of that happening again.
“They like seeing us in pain,” says Pattillo.
While some gaming communities on YouTube have devolved into other activities, like spreading misinformation and pro-Trump political memes, Rooster Teeth’s community has always seemed more positive and well-rounded, despite any sadism that might happen during the Extra Life stream. Ward says they just have “really dedicated participants.”
Google has clapped back in tremendous fashion at Epic Games, which earlier this month decided to make the phenomenally popular Fortnite available for Android via its own website instead of Google’s Play Store. Unfortunately, the installer had a phenomenally dangerous security flaw in it that would allow a malicious actor to essentially install any software they wanted. Google wasted exactly zero time pointing out this egregious mistake.
By way of a short explanation why this was even happening, Epic explained when it announced its plan that it would be good to have “competition among software sources on Android,” and that the best would “succeed based on merit.” Everyone of course understood that what he meant was that Epic didn’t want to share the revenue from its cash cow with Google, which takes 30 percent of in-app purchases.
Many warned that this was a security risk for several reasons, for example that users would have to enable app installations from unknown sources — something most users have no reason to do. And the Play Store has other protections and features, visible and otherwise, that are useful for users.
Google, understandably, was not amused with Epic’s play, which no doubt played a part in the decision to scrutinize the download and installation process — though I’m sure the safety of its users was also a motivating factor. And wouldn’t you know it, they found a whopper right off the bat.
The Fortnite installer basically downloads an APK (the package for Android apps), stores it locally, then launches it. But because it was stored on shared external storage, a bad guy could swap in a new file for it to launch, in what’s called a “man in the disk” attack.
And because the installer only checked that the name of the APK is right, as long as the attacker’s file is called “com.epicgames.fortnite,” it would be installed! Silently, and with lots of extra permissions too, if they want, because of how the unknown sources installation policies work. Not good!
Edward pointed out this could be fixed easily and in a magnificently low-key bit of shade-throwing helpfully linked to a page on the Android developer site outlining the basic feature Epic should have used.
To Epic’s credit, its engineers jumped on the problem immediately and had a fix in the works by that very afternoon and deployed by the next one. Epic InfoSec then requested Google to wait 90 days before publishing the information.
As you can see, Google was not feeling generous. One week later (that’s today) and the flaw has been published on the Google Issue Tracker site in all its… well, not glory exactly. Really, the opposite of glory. This seems to have been Google’s way of warning any would-be Play Store mutineers that they would not be given gentle handling.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was likewise unamused. In a comment provided to Android Central — which, by the way, predicted that this exact thing would happen — he took the company to task for its “irresponsible” decision to “endanger users.”
Epic genuinely appreciated Google’s effort to perform an in-depth security audit of Fortnite immediately following our release on Android, and share the results with Epic so we could speedily issue an update to fix the flaw they discovered.
However, it was irresponsible of Google to publicly disclose the technical details of the flaw so quickly, while many installations had not yet been updated and were still vulnerable.
An Epic security engineer, at my urging, requested Google delay public disclosure for the typical 90 days to allow time for the update to be more widely installed. Google refused. You can read it all at https://issuetracker.google.com/issues/112630336
Google’s security analysis efforts are appreciated and benefit the Android platform, however a company as powerful as Google should practice more responsible disclosure timing than this, and not endanger users in the course of its counter-PR efforts against Epic’s distribution of Fortnite outside of Google Play.
Indeed, companies really should try not to endanger their users for selfish reasons.
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Update 7/16/18 3:46 p.m. ET: We’re noticing some glitches on Amazon.com at the moment, so a few of these deals may not be showing up yet. We think things will sort themselves out soon — but in the meantime, happy shopping!
Update 7/16/18 9:35 p.m. ET: Most of the Amazon site appears to be working as normal.
Prime Day, now in its fourth year, is bigger and better than ever.
This year, the sales event is live for a full 36 hours and is promising more than one million deals worldwide.
Now through July 17, you can shop an unprecedented number of deals, but you probably can’t dedicate your entire day to looking through pages and pages of deals. That’s why we’re doing it for you and handpicking the best ones that you should focus on today to save you both money and time.
Below you’ll find a master list of the very best Prime Day 2018 deals across all categories, including tech, home and kitchen, travel, and back-to-school products. There are so many deals to look through, so we took the time to find only the best ones. We’ll be updating this page throughout the day, so check back here frequently for the best and most up-to-date flash deals.
Just remember that you have to be a Prime member to take advantage of the deals, so don’t forget to sign up for a free 30-day trial membership here if you haven’t already. There are more perks if you want to stay a Prime member after your trial.
This is our cheat sheet to the 24 best Prime Day deals of 2018. You can keep scrolling to check out our full list:
To get things started, and since this is Amazon Prime Day, here are the best Amazon devices and Prime services on sale. At $69.99, the Amazon Echo is available for its lowest price ever. At $79.99, the Kindle Paperwhite is also at its lowest price to date.
Fortnite Battle Royale has swept the gaming world. Alongside its 125 million users and record-breaking Twitch streams, the game has also drawn many competitive players away from their usual titles to try their hand at Battle Royale.
Today, that competitive play reaches at inflection point. At 4pm ET, Fortnite Battle Royale’s Summer Skirmish will kick off, with $8 million going to tournament winners over the course of the competition, with a whopping $250K going to the winners of today’s tournament.
This isn’t the first competitive Fortnite tournament we’ve seen. Celebrity Twitch streamer Ninja held a charity tournament in April, and Epic held a ProAm tournament combining competitive players and celebs who play Fortnite in June. Plus, sites like UMG and CMG have been holding smaller tournaments since Fortnite first rose to popularity. And then there are $20K Fortnite Friday tournaments for streamers held by UMG.
But today, the ante has most certainly been upped. This will be one of the highest paying Fortnite tournaments to date, and is yet just a small fraction of Epic Games’ promised $100 million prize pool for competitive play this year.
For some context, Dota 2 (previously the biggest competitive esports title out there) had a $25 million payout for the International Championship tournament in 2017, with the winners taking home $10.8 million. Call of Duty, one of the most popular titles over the last decade, is only paying out $1.5 million for its own Champs tournament this summer.
But with that growth comes increased scrutiny. Though the company is passing along its fortunes to developers on the Unreal Engine and competitive players, some have noticed situations in which Epic might have been a bit stingy.
Fortnite should put the actual rap songs behind the dances that make so much money as Emotes. Black creatives created and popularized these dances but never monetized them. Imagine the money people are spending on these Emotes being shared with the artists that made them
It can be hard sometimes to grok the scale of the gaming community, but the occasional charity event not only demonstrates the hugeness of the industry but also its diversity and willingness to shell out for a good cause. Today Blizzard announced that an Overwatch charity campaign raised an impressive $12.7 million for breast cancer research in just two weeks.
Overwatch is an extremely popular team-based shooter game that has made an impression not just with its solid gameplay, but its striking and inclusive character design. This sensitivity to the ever-widening demographics of gaming led them to conceive of this charity campaign back in May.
Players could for a limited time purchase a special “skin,” or 3D model, for the character Mercy — she’s the most powerful healer in the lineup, so the choice makes sense, even though the statuesque blonde isn’t exactly their most interesting character work. (A Pink Genji would probably look cool, but it would probably just make more people play him — a regrettable outcome.)
Special skins are highly sought-after, and while many can be obtained through in-game loot boxes, they can also be purchased. In this case, the price was set at $15, rather high for a skin but clearly that didn’t deter players, who shelled out by the thousands for both it and related t-shirts.
I asked for a breakdown, but a little napkin math gives a basic idea of the volume. The press release announcing the $12.7 million number says “thousands” of t-shirts were sold at $30 apiece; usually if it’s 10,000 or more they say so, so we’ll just use 10K as our estimate. That makes $300K from shirts, so the remaining $12.4 million means somewhere north of 820,000 people paid for the Pink Mercy skin.
Think about that! In two weeks more than three quarters of a million people paid $15 each for a virtual item. Pretty great. It’s all going to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, by the way. They got a big novelty check:
And this is by no means the only big gaming charity event. Games Done Quick regularly raises millions, and Penny Arcade’s Child’s Play got so big that it had to be spun off as its own thing. It just recently announced a round of grants funding pediatric hospital equipment and staff, by the way.
This event went well enough that we can probably expect more in the future for other causes — I’ve asked Blizzard for any details on that front and will update if I hear back.
Games Done Quick, the video game speedrunning charity event, has raised more than $2 million for Doctors Without Borders through their yearly summer event.
Overall, 153 games were speedrun, including a mix of old-school titles like Ghost N’ Goblins or Super Mario Bros. and newer games like Rise of the Tomb Raider and Mario Kart 8. Speedrunners attempt to finish a game as fast as possible, either through incredible levels of gameplay expertise or knowledge of in-game shortcuts and bugs. Viewers donate as much money as they like to reward players for their antics. The livestream started on June 24 at 4pm and ended around July 1 at 2:30am. Most of the speedruns were performed by their individual record holders.
Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian aid organization that provides aid to more than 70 countries impacted by poverty, armed conflict, epidemics, and more. In 1999, the organization was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Here’s a sampling of everything that was accomplished by the speedrunners. (And you don’t need much time out of your day to watch them all.)
And for the masochists out there, here’s Getting Over It with Bennet Foddy being speedrun by MONTYvstheWORLD. Getting Over It, if you don’t recall, is the game that drove streamers like Markiplier absolutely bonkers thanks to its absurd controls and difficult climbing challenges. Monty manages to finish Getting Over It in just 2 minutes, 43 seconds, which is no small feat. Then, the crowd challenges him to do it again.
You can find every other SGDQ speedrun on its index page. The next Games Done Quick event will be Games Done Quick Express at TwitchCon on October 26-28 in San Jose, California supporting TwitchCon Charity Plaza.
Speedrunning can also be useful for movies. If you’re really hankering to rewatch Star Wars but don’t have the two hours necessary, you can now watch a condensed version of the film in one minute.
Following the success of the live mobile game show HQ Trivia, a team of serial entrepreneurs have begun testing the market to see if another game show concept can work, too. Their new game show-inspired app, Gravy, is meant to be a riff on the “Price is Right” combined with a QVC-style shopping experience. That is, the “contestants” compete for discounts of 30 to 70 percent off the products advertised, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. In addition, through a side game, users can guess when the product – whose quantities are unknown – will sell out and at what price. Those who guess closest win a cash prize.
The startup was created by Mark McGuire, Brian Wiegand, and Craig Andler – the founding team behind Jellyfish.com, an older social shopping network that was acquired by Microsoft back in 2007, to help create Bing Shopping. They’ve also paired up on other projects, including NameProtect (before Jellyfish), printable coupons resource Hopster, social network Nextt, and e-commerce subscription retail site, Alice.com. These have either exited or shut down or both.
The team’s efforts imply a clear passion for working with brands, but getting consumers to connect with brands in new ways is far more difficult, as their track record shows.
That’s why they’re now trying Gravy.
The hope is that the excitement around seeing the product unveiled nightly – and knowing you’ll get a big discount if you buy – will become an entirely new ad unit of sorts, while keeping players engaged in a game-show like experience.
“One of the challenges with millennials is their short attention spans, and they don’t respond well to interruptive advertising,” explains Wiegand, of why the team wanted to build this startup. “I don’t think anyone’s really mastered how to monetize live video. So we came up with this opportunity to create this new ad unit where brands could tell their story, and – for seven or eight or nine minutes – create a live shopping event where millennials can tune in and hear that story but in a fun, gamified kind of manner,” he says.
Here’s how Gravy works. Every night, at 8:30 PM ET in the Gravy iOS app, a live host will unveil the product users can buy. Currently, there’s a rotating selection of hosts who work on a per-show contract basis, usually local comedians – not brand reps.
Players are not told how many items are available, but it’s typically anywhere from two to twenty.
Then the price starts to drop. If you buy early, you’ll have a chance to snag it at a slight discount. But the longer you wait, the higher the percentage off will become. However, you don’t know who else could snatch it up first and when. If you wait too long, the product will sell out.
Meanwhile, if you’re not interested in the product itself, you can guess when you expect it to sell out (meaning, at which price.) Those ten or so closest will receive a small cash prize – a split of maybe $200 or $300, with first place receiving the largest chunk.
At least 20 percent of sales are given away to charity – a nod, I suppose, to millennials’ interest in do-gooder style companies. But ultimately, that decision that has more to do with the fact that Gravy doesn’t aim to be a retailer – it’s not another deal-of-the-day destination like Woot!, despite the similarities around generating product excitement.
Instead, it expects brands to donate products and pay a fee for the “advertising opportunity” Gravy offers.
Brands will like Gravy because they get millennials’ attention for seven minutes or more, Wiegand says. “They love the engagement. It’s a highly engaged audience…I have a chance to buy the products, so I’m heavily engaged in thinking about that product. The recall, memorability, and all of the subsequent buzz – tweeting and all the social media that gets created because of that – is great,” he adds.
However, none of this is proven out yet – Gravy is just a couple of weeks old.
So far, around 50 percent of the products it has featured have actually been donated by brands, including 23andMe, 3D Doodler, Tapplock, and others. The rest have been subsidized by Gravy, including the bigger draws – like a DJI drone, for example.
It’s not yet charging for the ad opportunity, either, as it’s hoping to grow the audience first.
The company says that’s already underway. After alerting friends and family to the app’s launch, the games are seeing 600+ players nightly, Wiegand claims, and is growing its audience 15 percent week-over-week. Around half of those who signed up to play are returning to watch around three shows per week, he says.
While the early numbers are promising if true, and it’s clear the team likes to work in the general space of connecting brands with consumers, Gravy still feels – like much of what the founders have created before – designed primarily with the needs of brands in mind, before that of consumers.
A “Price is Right”-style app would be a lot of fun, but this isn’t it – it’s, at the end of the day, an invitation to watch an ad and shop at a discount. That’s not something consumers may want to do every day, long-term – even if you try to woo them with a small cash prize won through a guessing game.
And like Trivia HQ , which has dropped from a top 20 app to the 140’s (by App Store overall rank, the shine may eventually wear off for Gravy, too. Especially because it’s not primarily a game – and millennials, as fickle and short attention-spanned as they may be (really? the generation that binges entire TV seasons in a few days?), will know it.
Wiegand isn’t concerned, though.
He says he gets bored with trivia apps in a few weeks, but Gravy is different.
“I always shop and I always like a deal. The deal industry and the shopping industry are so much larger than the trivia space,” Wiegand insists. “And the thrill of seeing a product that you like going down into the sixties and seventies percent off is unbelievably thrilling,” he enthuses. “We are able to feature things that have the best price on the planet of first-run products…it creates this heart-pounding, exhilarating and experience like, ‘Should I buy? Oh my God, look at this price. I can’t turn it down,’” he says.
The company raised $2.1 million in seed funding from a range of investors, including the founders at the turn of the year. Around eighty percent was outside capital, led by New Capital. The under-20 person team is based in both Madison and Minneapolis.