A new ‘metaverse’ ETF wants to expose investors to the future of the internet

Fortnite 2
  • A new “metaverse” ETF is looking to court investors bullish on internet innovation.
  • The fund defines the metaverse broadly as the intersection of many virtual worlds and the physical world.
  • The fund’s biggest holdings include household names like Microsoft and Amazon as well as Nvidia and Roblox.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

A new ETF listed on Wednesday is looking to court investors bullish on internet innovation with exposure to the future of the internet.

The Roundhill Ball Metaverse ETF, debuting today on the New York Stock Exchange, focuses on seven categories – including virtual platforms, cloud computing, and hardware – which collectively comprise the so-called metaverse.

The fund will track the Ball Metaverse Index, developed by the venture capitalist Matthew Ball.

The fund sees the metaverse, defined broadly as the intersection of many virtual worlds with the physical one, as a “quasi-successor state of the internet,” akin to how smartphones reshaped earlier versions of the web. Growth in the metaverse will accelerate as new technologies like VR and blockchain gain mainstream adoption, according to an investor pitch deck.

The fund’s biggest equity holdings include household names like Microsoft and Amazon as well as companies well known to gamers, such as Nvidia, Roblox, and Tencent – which owns the world’s most-watched esport, League of Legends. The Chinese conglomerate also holds a 40% stake in Fortnite-maker Epic Games, which has invested heavily in the metaverse.

Ball has written extensively about the metaverse, arguing in one essay that it could “alter how we allocate and monetize modern resources.” The essay points to “gold farming,” referring to players performing in-game labor for real-world compensation, as an early example. Gold farming has already become commonplace in Venezuela, where some games’ virtual money is more stable than the official bolívar, according to The Economist.

The ETF launched at $15 and was trading up 0.73% at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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Microsoft just took a direct shot at Apple’s controversial App Store policy with Windows 11

Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple CEO Tim Cook.

  • Microsoft unveiled the next version of its major operating system, Windows 11, on Thursday morning.
  • Part of that event was a not-so-thinly veiled shot at Apple.
  • Going forward, app and game makers with their own payment systems can skip using Microsoft’s system.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Microsoft just took a shot at Apple with a feature in its next major operating system, Windows 11.

Going forward, the Microsoft Store will allow software makers to use their own payment systems – something Apple refuses to allow on its App Store. Rather than paying Microsoft a cut of each transaction, software makers can charge users directly with their own systems.

“If you do bring your own commerce engine, you keep 100% of your revenue,” Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay said during a Microsoft livestream featuring Windows 11. “We keep zero.”

It’s a major point of contention between Apple and a variety of software makers, and it’s at the heart of ongoing litigation between “Fortnite” maker Epic Games and Apple.

Epic Games filed suit against Apple last summer after its hit game was pulled from Apple’s App Store.

Apple says it pulled the game because Epic violated the terms of its developer agreement when Epic implemented a payment system in the game that enabled players to circumvent Apple’s App Store. Epic says the App Store is a monopoly, and argues that iPhones and iPads are no different from computers.

Microsoft previously issued a letter to the court on behalf of Epic Games, and a Microsoft employee appeared as an expert witness during the trial. Arguments have ended for both sides in the ongoing case, and it’s unknown when the judge will issue a ruling.

Windows 11 is a free upgrade for Windows users, and is scheduled to launch “this holiday,” according to Microsoft.

Got a tip? Contact Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@insider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Epic Games, the video game giant in a legal battle with Apple, is turning a defunct mall into a new headquarters – see inside

Fortnite
An attendee stops to text next to Epic Games’ Fortnite sign at E3, the annual video games expo in Los Angeles.

  • Epic Games spent $95 million on a North Carolina mall that will become its new headquarters.
  • Epic, the maker of “Fortnite,” is involved in a major lawsuit with Apple in California.
  • Epic plans to turn the mall into a multimillion-square-foot complex.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Epic Games, the creators of the popular game “Fortnite,” bought a failed mall in North Carolina for $95 million that will eventually become its new headquarters.

The gaming giant closed on the deal on December 31, Daniel Geiger at Insider first reported. Epic plans to create a multimillion-square-foot headquarters, with hopes to open it by 2024.

Read more: Kids are losing tens of thousands of their parents’ money betting on video games like ‘Fortnite.’ Here’s a look inside the secret underworld.

The purchase comes after a wild year for Epic, which sparked a debate in the tech world around app-store policies when the company offered an in-game payment system for “Fortnite” that bypassed the usual app-store fees. Apple and Google both subsequently pulled the game from their stores, and now Epic and Apple are battling it out in a California courtroom.

Here’s the mall that Epic spent $95 million on.

Cary Towne Center encompasses 980,000 square feet of space on 87 acres.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Epic

The mall was a victim of the similar forces tanking malls across the country: anchor tenant JC Penney closed, and within months Sears and Macy’s followed.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Business Insider

Developers Turnbridge Equities and Denali Properties bought the property in January 2019 from mall chain CBL & Associates, which filed for bankruptcy in November 2020.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Business Insider

At the time developers bought the mall from CBL, it was at only 65% occupancy.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: WSJ

When they purchased it, developers told WSJ that they planned to turn the mall into a mixed-use space with offices and residential areas.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: WSJ

Developers paid about $40 million for the property in 2019, less than half of what Epic paid two years later.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

Source: Business Insider

“It’s minutes from downtown Raleigh, it’s close to the airport, and it’s one of the only critical masses of land ready to build on in one of the fastest-growing markets in the country,” Jason Davis, a managing director at Turnbridge, told Business Insider.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

The new headquarters will likely be much larger than Epic’s current 250,000 square foot office, also in Cary, North Carolina.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

The facilities will include both office buildings and recreational spaces. “We are committed to working with the Town of Cary to explore ways some of this property might be used by the community,” Epic spokeswoman Elka Looks told Insider while declining to share details about the plans and size of the future headquarters.

Cary Towne Center
Cary Towne Center.

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I’m a 17-year-old Fortnite gamer who’s won over $646,000 in two years since going pro. I average about 10 hours of gaming daily.

Diego in front of monitor.JPG Diego Palma
Palma became eligible to play professionally at age 14 and says he practices playing Fortnite for 10 hours a day.

I was 4 years old when my papá first introduced me to my two loves, soccer and gaming.

When I wasn’t running around on the soccer field, I’d sit on his lap for hours at a time, playing World of Warcraft and completing quests together.

By the time I turned five, at bedtime, he’d read me horror fiction stories by H.P. Lovecraft that took place in a fictional Massachusetts town known as Arkham, which became the inspiration behind my screen name.

Baby Diego Palma on his dad's computer.
Baby Diego Palma on his dad’s computer.

As I grew up, I kept playing soccer, eventually reaching the varsity level. During my sophomore year of high school in 2017, I tore my meniscus while playing and had to have surgery. The doctors said I couldn’t play for at least a year.

While recovering from my injury, I started getting into gaming.

I wanted a PC like the gamers so I wound up taking a part-time job as a soccer referee at little kids’ matches on weekends. When I saved up enough money, I bought computer parts and built my own PC with the help of my stepfather, Chris.

Diego Palma before his knee surgery
Palma heading into knee surgery after his injury.

That summer, Fortnite was released and I started playing it a lot. My goal initially was to just play better than all of my friends – until I heard about the 2018 Fortnite Royale tournament at the Oakland Esports Arena.

I told my parents I didn’t only want to compete, but I planned to win.

At first, my papá was hesitant, but eventually he agreed to take me. According to him, he figured he’d shell out the $10 entry fee and I’d get eliminated quickly and we could leave.

Instead, I ended up coming in second place for North America in the open competition. But since I was only 13 and at the time, you needed to be 14 years old to qualify, I couldn’t progress any further. I ended up taking home $500 worth of prizes – but more importantly, one of the organizers told my father I was playing at such a high level I could probably go pro.

That year I started playing in a league where thousands of other players all competed through playing scrims, where it took months trying my best to work my way up the ranks to eventually make it into the pro discord.

In 2019, at the age of 14 when I became eligible to play professionally, I signed with 100 Thieves, a California-based pro-gaming organization which is still kind of surreal to me. Being part of the 100 Thieves team means representing the organization in any branding events they have, like a photoshoot or promotional video. I also have to stream a certain number of hours every month.

Diego Palma and Dr. Disrespect (1).JPG
Palma meeting popular video game streamer Dr. Disrespect.

Shortly after going pro, I had my first big career win when I took home fifth place in the Fortnite World Cup, July 17, 2019. It was an amazing experience because we played inside a huge stadium with a massive crowd. My partner at the time, Brendan Falconer, and I won a combined $900,000.

Since going pro two years ago, I’ve won over $646,000 competing.

I’ve also earned additional money through my corporate sponsorships. People often ask what I do with all my winnings but besides upgrading my PC from time to time, I don’t really spend any of it. I’m not flashy and I don’t need much. I want to ensure I plan for my future. My papá created a custodial brokerage account to invest my money in the market and I also have a financial planner for a retirement plan.

Diego and Falconer going to Sweden (1)
Fellow gamer Brendan Falconer and Palma traveling to a competition in 2019.

Before winning the World Cup my identity was largely hidden since school was already out for the summer when I signed with 100 Thieves. Things were different when I started a new school in the fall. Suddenly because of my World Cup win, everyone knew who I was and the attention was overwhelming. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom without a bunch of kids following me in to ask me questions. I was stressed and miserable.

I told my parents I wanted to transition to an online school, I even said I’d pay for it with my earnings. My papá and my stepmom along with my three siblings understood how badly I wanted to go remote because they saw firsthand how unhappy I was.

At first, my mamita resisted the idea because she was concerned about how it might affect my future chances in college and higher education. It was a difficult time for my family because I had to take a stand and advocate for myself. Finally, after many discussions, it all worked out, and together we decided online school would be the best alternative for me and it has been. I’m glad because my family is the most important thing in the world to me.

Attending online school has given me a lot more flexibility in terms of my assignments and my schedule so I can continue to pursue gaming and still graduate high school this year.

Being an esports gamer is like playing any other sport in that a lot of discipline is required.

I take practice very seriously and average about 10 hours playing Fortnite daily.

The game saves everything, so it’s similar to when pro athletes watch the tape to see their performance and review their mistakes. A lot of what we do doesn’t come naturally. We have to prepare, train, analyze, and develop strategies and when you play on a team like I do, you have to collaborate.

I play in a trio for 100 Thieves along with fellow players Rehx and Epik Whale. I’m the captain of the team. No one ever officially made me the captain, it just sort of happened because I’m a very strategic thinker and a planner so I often guide the team into the best spot. I’m pretty calm, which is important when you are directing people and strategizing together.

The pandemic has stopped all live events, which I do miss. I got to fly to places like New York City and Sweden to compete and that was a lot of fun.

Diego Palma, father, stepmom and siblings (1).JPG
A younger Palma pictured with his father, stepmom, and siblings.

When I’m not doing homework or practicing for a competition, I relax by watching horror movies, kicking around the soccer ball, and playing other video games like Escape from Tarkoff, because at the end of the day, I’m still a teenager.

My advice to anyone looking to get into pro-gaming is to start with the basics.

Practice aiming and perfecting mechanics. Also, take the time to watch videos of pros playing for strategies. My brother Pablo is 16 and wants to go pro like me. The biggest tip I give him is to always make sure to review his old games so he can learn from his mistakes. That’s the most important thing you can do if you want to improve.

As for future plans, my parents want me to continue my education at some point after I graduate high school but for right now, my focus is on being the best player I can be and winning more tournaments.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Apple CEO Tim Cook is among the high-profile executives that will testify in the upcoming ‘Fortnite’ court case

Tim Cook
Tim Cook.

  • Apple’s Tim Cook, and Epic Games’ Tim Sweeney, will testify in the Fortnite case.
  • It marks the latest in a series of lawsuits Epic Games has filed against Apple.
  • The court case is tentatively scheduled to start on May 3.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Apple Inc and Epic Games have called their chief executive officers to testify as part of the upcoming “Fortnite” App Store trial, court documents show.

Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, SVP Craig Federighi, and former marketing chief and present App Store vice-president, Matt Fischer are on the list of tentative witnesses to testify live and face-to-face in the courtroom, among others.

Epic Games submitted its founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, its store manager, Steve Allison, and Thomas Ko, chief of online business strategy, as its witnesses for the trial.

“The chorus of developers speaking out against Apple and their anticompetitive practices has become louder,” Epic Games said, according to Reuters.

Apple responded in a statement to Bloomberg, saying they feel “confident the case will prove that Epic purposefully breached its agreement solely to increase its revenues.”

The fight began after Epic Games circumvented rules Apple and Google have in place over in-app payments made through their App Stores. Developers are obliged to pay Apple and Google a 30% commission on any payments that are made inside their apps. Epic Games claimed this was anti-competitive.

Epic Games then implemented its own payment system inside “Fortnite,” which led to it being kicked off Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, as Insider previously reported.

The Apple court case is provisionally due to start on May 3, with Cook due to give a 7-hour deposition.

Apple says its top executives “look forward to sharing with the court the very positive impact “the App Store has had on innovation, economies across the world and the customer experience over the last 12 years,” as reported by The Verge.

Read the original article on Business Insider

A new invite-only iPhone app lets people gamble real money on matches of ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Fortnite’

IMG_4983
Courtesy 1v1Me

  • New app 1v1Me will allow video gamers to place bets on “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite” in one-on-ones.
  • The players must link to their bank accounts and agree on a wager before starting the game.
  • The founders said the COVID-19 pandemic pushed them to create their idea for a betting app.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Players can now place wagers on one-on-one video games using a new app called 1v1Me that was inspired by at-home betting during the pandemic.

The app, first reported on by TechCrunch, will allow gamers to place wagers in one-on-one matches on “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite” while at home.

1v1Me launched with well-known content creators, such as NoisyButters, joining in. It is starting off small and supporting just two video games, so that it’s a “much more controlled environment,” said founder Anthony Geranio in an interview with Insider.

To participate, you have to get an invite to play from a content creator on the app. Geranio said the app now has nearly 12,000 people waiting to play.

IMG_4904
Inside the 1v1Me app. Courtesy of 1v1Me

Once invited, 1v1Me confirms a player’s identity. Then, players must add a bank account to the app and agree with an opponent on how much to wager. 1v1Me then places the money from their bets into escrow. The gamers use livestreaming service Twitch when they play the game. This allows others to watch the match and 1v1Me to monitor it to ensure it’s fair and determine who wins. Once concluded, 1v1Me transfers the money to the winner’s bank account.

To place a bet on a game, a player must be 18. Minors can still play with the app, but they can’t wager on the match, the founder said. He added that the app only operates in the 48 states where it’s legal to wager on skill-based games.

Read more: A video game tutor who makes up to $5,000 a month shares how he built a career teaching people how to win at ‘League of Legends’

Before launching, Geranio and co-founder Alex Emmanuel raised $2 million in financing. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed them to create the app, Geranio said, as they saw friends spending their time at home placing bets on online poker and playing video games.

Geranio said his mission for the company is “to help more gamers make a living from esports.” Geranio said he wants to generate the next wave of gaming content creators on popular platforms like YouTube and Twitch.

“Kids today are waking up and want to become YouTube stars, versus doctors and astronauts,” he said. “The No. 1 place to make YouTube content is in gaming.”

Gamer NoisyButters, who also invested in the app, tweeted a photo with the new app Monday, saying she used to put her one-on-one record in “Call of Duty” on her XBox biography, but “now there’s an app for it.”

Live esports tournaments faced struggles amid the pandemic, and the industry, which was set to hit $1 billion in 2020, missed the mark as leagues forfeited their arena events but kept the seasons alive. Since the US Supreme Court lifted the federal ban on sports betting in 2018, consulting agency Activate predicted people could bet as much as $150 billion per year by 2023.

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Valve is fighting to stop Apple from demanding troves of information as part of its fight with ‘Fortnite’ maker Epic Games

Tim Cook Tim Sweeney
Apple CEO Tim Cook (left) and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney.

  • Court documents show Apple is trying to subpoena Valve in its fight with Epic Games.
  • Valve has refused to hand over certain information about its revenues and the games it hosts.
  • Valve claims Apple is asking for too much information, given it is not a mobile platform.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Apple’s fight with Epic Games is apparently dragging other video game companies into its net.

A joint court letter filed on Thursday and spotted by Ars Technica reveals Apple has been trying to subpoena Valve, the company behind the hugely popular online game store Steam, for information.

Apple has been engaged in a legal battle with Epic Games, the studio behind the wildly popular “Fortnite,” since August. The fight centers around Epic Games’ refusal to comply with Apple’s App Store rules on in-app payments in its iOS version of “Fortnite.” 

Apple requires app developers to use its own payment system, which levies an automatic 30% tax on in-app purchases. Epic Games claims this is anti-competitive, and in August decided to implement its own payment system, after which Apple kicked “Fortnite” off the App Store.

Epic Games subsequently sued Apple, and the two companies have been battling it out ever since – with Apple CEO Tim Cook scheduled to give a seven-hour deposition ahead of the case going to court in May. Epic Games has kept up the pressure, this week filing an antitrust complaint with the EU.

Valve is not directly involved in the legal fight between the two companies. Apple said it is asking for documents showing Valve’s yearly sales and revenues as well as information about each app on Steam, including its pricing, as a way of gaining an understanding of the market Epic Games operates in.

Apple complains in its letter that Valve has resisted complying with some of its requests for information, and that when it has handed over information it’s been heavily redacted.

Valve claims Apple is asking for too much information, given Valve is not a concerned party in its fight with Epic Games and it is not a mobile platform. More broadly, Valve is also claiming that because it’s a distributor of PC games, the information it can provide is largely irrelevant to the fight between Apple and Epic Games.

“Valve does not make or sell phones, tablets, or video games for mobile devices, or otherwise compete in the mobile market,” it says in the letter. It added that Apple’s requests would impose an “extraordinary burden” on Valve to collect all the data Apple wants.

“The extensive and highly confidential information Apple demands about a subset of the PC games available on Steam does not show the size or parameters of the relevant market and would be massively burdensome to pull together,” Valve said in its letter.

Apple argues that Valve should be compelled to offer the information because Samsung complied with similar requests. Valve’s counter-argument is that Samsung is a public company so it is used to keeping records of that kind of information, which could be produced much more quickly and easily.

“Somehow, in a dispute over mobile apps, a maker of PC games that does not compete in the mobile market or sell ‘apps’ is being portrayed as a key figure. It’s not,” Valve says.

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How to download ‘Fortnite’ onto your Android using a workaround from Epic Games

epic games logo phone
You can still get “Fortnite” on your Android despite the game’s absence from the Google Play Store.

  • Though you can’t directly download “Fortnite” on an Android through the Google Play Store, there is a workaround. 
  • If you have an Android phone, you can download “Fortnite” through the Epic Games app, which you can get directly from their website.
  • Due to a feud between Epic Games and Apple and Google, “Fortnite” is not available for download on any mobile app stores.
  • Visit Business Insider’s Tech Reference library for more stories.

We’re well past the original craze that surrounded “Fortnite” when it first came out in 2017, but the reason for that craze hasn’t gone away – it’s a fun and addicting game.

It’s a good thing then that there are tons of different ways to play “Fortnite” from Epic Games – it’s not only available on your desktop computer. Aside from being available on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch consoles, you can also download “Fortnite” to play on your Android phone.

You used to be able to play “Fortnite” on your phone easily, no matter which model or operating system you used. In the summer of 2020, however, Epic Games got into a feud with Apple and Google, and as a result, the “Fortnite” app was removed from mobile app stores. 

If you have an iPhone, this is where the story ends – you either had the app before they took it off the app store, and you’re safe, or you didn’t. On Androids, however, you have more options. If you have a Samsung Galaxy, you can just download the game from the Galaxy Store. If you have another Android phone, it’s not as simple, but there’s a relatively easy workaround.

How to get ‘Fortnite’ on your Android

1. In your mobile browser, go to the Epic Games website and tap the “Download” button to install their app.

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _1
Go to epicgames.com and tap the “Download” button.

2. Per the on-screen instructions, wait for the download pop-up to appear. When it does, tap “Open” to begin installing the app.

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _2
Tap open on the pop-up to begin the installation process.

Note: A warning may appear saying the file could harm your device. This is safe to ignore, in this case – tap “OK.”

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _3
Tap “OK” on the warning if it appears.

3. You may get another warning that says your phone is not allowed to install apps from this source. If this happens, tap “Settings” on the notification.

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _4
If you get a warning that you can’t download the app, tap “Settings.”

You’ll be taken directly to the correct Settings page in your phone – just toggle the switch next to “Allow from this source” to the “on” position.

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _5
Toggle on the “Allow from this source” switch.

4. Return to your browser and tap “Install” on the Epic Games pop-up to begin the download. When it’s finished, tap “Open.” 

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _6
Tap “Install” on the pop-up, then “Open” when it’s done.

5. When you open the app, “Fortnite” will likely be the first game to appear. If it isn’t, swipe left until you see it. Tap it, then tap “Install.”

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _7
Tap “Install” when you find the “Fortnite” application.

6. You will likely see the same pop-up as in step three. Do the same thing outlined there, then return to the Epic Games app. Tap “Install” on the prompt from “Fortnite” to begin downloading the game.

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _8
Repeat step three if necessary, then tap “Install” on the prompt.

7. When the download is finished, another pop-up will inform you that the app was installed successfully. Tap “Open” to go to the app and begin playing.

How_to_get_Fortnite_on_Android_ _9
Tap “Open” when installation finishes.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

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