Apple Faces European Antitrust Investigation; FirstMark Raises USD$650m Fund Duo

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TheGamingEconomy’s Daily Digest brings you the prevalent business stories in gaming. In today’s news: Apple faces European antitrust investigation; FirstMark raises USD$650m (£515m) fund duo; and Eidos-Montréal to open Eidos-Sherbrooke.

Apple faces European antitrust investigation

Apple is facing a formal antitrust investigation by the European Commission over claims the California-based tech giant is stifling competition by taking a high rate of commission on payments to third-party developers through the mandatory use of its App Store in-app payment system, whilst simultaneously promoting its own products. According to anonymous sources speaking to the Financial Times, the European Commission is looking directly at whether Apple's practices restrict competition within the video games and cloud services verticals, alongside music streaming and e-books. Last year, Apple's services revenue, including commissions on App Store payments, climbed by 16% to reach USD$46.3bn (£36.7bn).

Upon opening the investigation into Apple's App Store practices, the European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said, "Mobile applications have fundamentally changed the way we access content. Apple sets the rules for the distribution of apps to users of iPhones and iPads. It appears that Apple obtained a 'gatekeeper' role when it comes to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple's popular devices. We need to ensure that Apple's rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers."

FirstMark raises USD$650m (£515m) fund duo


New York-based venture capital firm FirstMark Capital has announced two new investment funds worth a combined USD$650m (£515m), with USD$380m (£301m) available through its early-stage-focused FirstMark V vehicle and the USD$270m (£214m) FirstMark Opportunity III pot, to be used for follow-up and growth-stage investments. FirstMark is a previous backer to video games organisations such as Discord, Riot Games, and Proletariat, with partners at the firm focusing new investments in the industry, along with the health tech sector.

Speaking to TechCrunch on the diverse range of opportunities within the nebulous video games ecosystem, FirstMark Capital Partner Amish Jani commented, "Think about the world prior to Unreal or Unity, where you had to build the whole thing including the game engine. Eventually that pulled out. Think about gaming infrastructure servers for streaming. That’s gotten pulled out. When we think about communications, Discord has become a huge part of an overlay messaging framework in gaming. That’s kind of gotten pulled out into its own layer. So I think what you’re seeing is a lot of the pieces of gaming are getting pulled apart as the market has swelled and become so large, and we’re certainly huge believers in the picks and shovels."

Eidos-Montréal to open Eidos-Sherbrooke


Square Enix subsidiary Eidos-Montréal has announced the opening of a new regional division, dubbed Eidos-Sherbrooke, which will operate in the city of Sherbrooke in southern Quebec, Canada. The studio is set to open in Autumn this year with an initial 20 employees, which will be expanded to approximately 100 full-time staff within the next five years. Eidos-Sherbrooke will primarily focus on research and development in nascent video game technologies, with cloud gaming, real-time geo-morphing, and voxel-based raytracing cited as early processes for exploration.

David Anfossi, Head of Studio at Eidos-Montreal, commented, "More than two years ago, real reflection began on the new vision for Eidos-Montreal, and the creation of this new regional chapter is closely linked to it. We wanted to continue our controlled growth and keep people and technology at the heart of this vision. The opening of this new expert studio will provide tools for content developers to enrich the experience and immersion of players. The proximity to Montreal, renowned universities and the quality of life found in Sherbrooke are criteria that contributed to the final choice. "