Sony Leisure to Acquire Jade Raymond’s Haven Gaming Studio

(Bloomberg) — Sony Group Corp. claimed it’s purchasing Montreal-dependent video game improvement studio Haven Leisure Studios Inc., led by industry veteran Jade Raymond. Conditions of the deal weren’t disclosed in a statement on Monday.

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Established a year back with an original financial commitment from Sony Interactive Leisure, Haven incorporates recreation creators with more than a decade of working experience operating on some of the industry’s most common games. Raymond, who earlier launched Ubisoft Leisure SA’s Toronto studio and led Google’s Stadia activity advancement endeavours, is one particular of the innovative forces guiding the Assassin’s Creed franchise. She begun her career in gaming with Sony back in 1998.

Sony shares have been up as substantially as 1.6% in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Haven Studios is already operating on its 1st venture for Sony’s PlayStation, a multiplayer sport that Sony described as a reside expertise “built upon a systemic and evolving entire world targeted on delivering flexibility, thrill, and playfulness.” Bringing the artistic team in-home extends Sony’s method of obtaining exceptional information for its system.

“With Haven, Sony is making nevertheless a further wager on are living-support game titles — one of PlayStation’s Achilles heels until just not too long ago,” explained Serkan Toto, an analyst in Tokyo. “With Raymond, Sony is also securing one particular of the, unfortunately, continue to comparatively rare feminine celebrity creators in the field.”

The video clip recreation sector has been going through a wave of consolidation this calendar year. In January, Sony acquired the developer Bungie Inc., the U.S. video game developer at the rear of the well known Destiny and Halo franchises, for $3.6 billion. Microsoft Corp. is scooping up Activision Blizzard Inc. for $69 billion in its greatest-ever acquisition, and Choose-Two Interactive Software package Inc. has agreed to obtain mobile match maker Zynga Inc. for $11 billion.

“Joining PlayStation Studios offers Haven with the artistic flexibility and unparalleled guidance to concentration on developing the greatest high-quality video games,” Raymond reported in the announcement. “We intend to absolutely embrace the remarkable abilities of the PS5 to make new worlds that encourage players and allow them to connect in new approaches.”

With a staff of far more than 60 personnel, Haven Studios will be the 18th studio to be a part of the PlayStation Studios household, in accordance to Sony. The studio operations will carry on to be operate by the management staff at Haven in close collaboration with PlayStation Studios’ leadership group.

(Updates with analyst comment and share rate reaction)

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Apple Mac Studio review: finally

The Mac Studio is the computer everyone wanted the Mac Pro to be.

Apple’s 2019 desktop release was supposed to be the computer that professional Mac users had been waiting for. It was endlessly configurable with powerful Intel processors and AMD graphics chips, and its top-end configuration hovered around $52,000. After the abject failure of the trashcan 2013 Mac Pro, it was poised to be the first Apple machine that could legitimately provide the power that professionals in creative fields — historically, the folks who turn out in droves to buy these Apple machines — really need.

But while it was a gorgeous and powerful computer, it also had some issues. We bought a $16,599 model, and while that wasn’t the most specced-out option, it was one that creative professionals around The Verge and Vox Media felt could handle their heavy editing workloads. We gave that computer to all kinds of artists, producers, and designers. And they didn’t love it. They didn’t feel it was any faster than their years-old setups, and they ran into all the same issues they always did. In particular, not enough software was optimized for that Mac Pro’s approach to high-performance desktop computing, especially when it came to GPUs.

Since then, Apple has committed to making its own Apple Silicon chips, moving away from Intel and AMD. The first line of those chips, the M1 series, has been a smashing success in Mac laptops, the iMac, and the Mac Mini. And now it’s in the new Mac Studio, which comes in configurations with the M1 Max and new M1 Ultra chips. The Studio is Apple’s first professional computer running Apple Silicon, and with it comes a new way of designing chips that makes it easier for apps to access all the performance available.

I’ve, once again, given this device to a host of professionals on The Verge’s team, and the reactions I saw couldn’t be more different from those we saw in 2020. They were impressed. For their workloads, it’s faster than anything they’ve ever used. It’s changed what they can do.

So I’m relieved that I can finally, finally write this in a review: the Mac Studio is the computer professional Mac users have been waiting for.

The Mac Studio is a nice-looking, compact computer. Someone mentioned to me that it looks like two Apple TVs stacked on top of each other, and now I can’t unsee it. You might also see it as a taller Mac Mini — either way, it’s a design Apple fans have seen before.

Like the Mac Mini, the Studio is designed to sit on your desk — it has the exact same footprint, just about twice as tall. It’s not like the Mac Pro that lives on

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Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga has led to extensive crunch at development studio TT Games

In late 2017, development studio TT Games began work on Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga at a time when dozens inside the company were at odds with management. Citing frustration over tight development schedules, the company’s crunch culture, and outdated development tools, more than 20 current and former TT Games employees tell Polygon that calls for change over the years had largely been ignored.

Multiple people who worked at the studio remember breaking down outside of work hours because of the workload and some of the stresses they were under.

“It was a very soft-spoken blackmail,” one former employee says. “‘If people don’t start doing overtime, there’s going to be problems,’” although the problems were never specified.

Some former staff even came up with a term to describe their experiences at the studio, referring to them as “PTTSD.”

With The Skywalker Saga — an adaptation of all nine main films in the Star Wars series — management promised employees a longer development timeline and a new engine. Unfortunately, this did little to improve the situation, according to employees. Multiple staffers say that management ignored warnings about switching to NTT, a new engine being developed internally, and say that the longer time frame was unsuccessful in alleviating crunch.

Over the past few months, Polygon has spoken to more than 30 current and former TT Games employees, all of whom spoke anonymously due to nondisclosure agreements and a desire to avoid negative repercussions. They opened up about the studio’s challenging work culture over the last decade and a half and The Skywalker Saga’s difficult development cycle. Two years have passed since TT Games and publisher Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment announced The Skywalker Saga, and the game has been through three delays. Meanwhile, TT Games, which employs hundreds, has seen high staff turnover and has undergone a change in management since development on The Skywalker Saga began.

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga screenshot
Image: TT Games/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

A Lego empire

The company’s challenges started well before The Skywalker Saga. According to staff, the culture of crunch at TT Games goes back to the company’s formation in 2005. That was when, following the success of Lego Star Wars: The Video Game, British game studio Traveller’s Tales acquired publisher Giant Interactive, forming what we know today as TT Games.

Over the years, TT Games has found tremendous success with its line of Lego games, producing well-reviewed titles that have sold millions of copies and won awards. These days, they are commonly referred to as some of the most family-friendly games available, due to their simple and approachable gameplay. But former employees say that the company’s decision to release new Lego games annually resulted in a culture of crunch.

Six former employees who worked under Jon Burton, co-founder and creative director at TT Games, say he would often yell at staff to return to their desks if they tried to leave work on time, and that he regularly

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Anchorage gets a new brewery and a simulated golf studio, and a longtime electronics store closes

Open & Shut is an ongoing series looking at the comings and goings of businesses in Southcentral Alaska. If you know of a business opening or closing in the area, send a note to reporter Alex DeMarban at [email protected] with “Open & Shut” in the subject line.

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Brewerks: Chad Ringler brewed beer out of his house for close to two decades, dreaming about one day opening his own brewery to bring people together over his craft beer.

But he stayed focused on his civil engineering career at a private company in Anchorage.

Until about a year ago.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, like a lot of people, he decided it was time to reset his priorities and pursue his life’s passion.

“It’s scary in the middle of a pandemic to say, ‘I’ll leave a wonderful job and strike out on my own,’ ” he said. “It definitely kept me up at night, but you never know until you try it.”

“I think just in the middle of everything going on around the world in general, I decided it was time to do something I always wanted to do,” he said.

Brewerks opened last month at 625 W. 59th Ave., units A and B, in a newly built collection of warehouse buildings.

The lone employee for now, Ringler is open Fridays and Saturdays from 4-8 p.m. He’ll slowly expand hours as he finds his operating rhythm, maybe adding a day in January, he said.

Brewerks sports an open-concept design with exposed rafters, round tabletops on beer barrels, and two seating areas including an upper loft.

“It’s my version of a hole in the wall,” he said. “I like the laid-back feel.”

Ringler said he sometimes gives customers tours of the sleek brewing and fermenting tanks in the back.

He’s already serving a variety of beers.

The Wicked Pissah! is a New England IPA. The Blacksmith’s Breakfast is made with coffee from Goldie’s Coffee Roasters in South Anchorage. The beer is named for his brother, who shoes horses for a living.

Other beers are aging in old wooden barrels along a wall. He’ll tap those next November, on his one-year anniversary.

[5 ways to face the anxiety and stress of the holidays]

Pho Lotus: During the pandemic, Brandon Sundara said he realized it was time to “step up” and seize more opportunity in life.

So he left his job as a chef at Benihana restaurant in downtown Anchorage and opened Pho Lotus — a Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian diner in Spenard — with his wife, Surangrak.

“No work, no

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Riot backs new studio founded by former World of Warcraft designer who was ‘unhappy with the state of the game’

Chris Kaleiki, a former game designer on World of Warcraft who said he was “unhappy with the state of the game” after quitting Blizzard entertainment last year, has announced the launch of a new venture called Notorious Studios, backed by a few investors, one of which is League of Legends and Valorant developer Riot Games.

Riot’s investment in Notorious Studios was part of a $5 million injection that also includes venture capital funds Galaxy Interactive and 1Up Ventures, according to VentureBeat. Kaleiki said Riot’s decision to back the studio reflects a shared commitment to their players and communities.

“I think they’re a developer who cares a lot about the player’s experience as well,” he told the site. “They have a franchise that’s beloved by players. We have so many friends and colleagues who work at Riot, who used to work at Blizzard. I’ve always had a good view of them.”

Notorious Studios’ founding team of eight is made up entirely of Blizzard veterans, all but one of whom worked on WoW, and Kaleiki said on Twitter that as he was planning his next move he wanted to ensure he joined a team with “cultural values” similar to those he experienced while at Blizzard. 

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“After evaluating my options, it became apparent that a few of my cherished colleagues at Blizzard who I worked together [with] for years were looking for a similar next step in their own careers,” he tweeted. “So we set out together to do something crazy: start our own studio together.”

Kaleiki specified that the cultural values he was referring to were things like prioritizing “the player experience,” a clarification that makes his statements a little less shocking given the present context, but still dramatically out of touch. As we’ve been learning since July, Blizzard’s “cultural values” allegedly fostered a work environment rife with discrimination and sexual misconduct. A California lawsuit and employee reports have resulted in the dismissal of multiple highly-placed employees including former president J. Allen Brack and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft. Blizzard has also changed multiple NPC and location names in its games to eliminate references to abusers.

Kaleiki said that the “challenges” facing Blizzard have “been really troubling [and] hard to hear about,” and said Notorious will have “no tolerance for harassment and things like that.” The studio aims to avoid similar situations by “aspiring to a flatter structure,” which Kaleiki believes will make it more “transparent and open.”

“None of us are leads or directors,” he said. “Previously in our careers we were all individual contributors. We were the ones who’d just build or code or make art or design things. We aspire to have that

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