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Hold and Win – European Gaming Industry News

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The global betting and predictions market is expected to grow to over $92 billion by 2023 as new players, nations, and states embrace the industry. Huge economies such as the U.S. have long prohibited gambling but in 2018, some states legalized the practice, adding $1.5 billion to the global recorded figure of online betting revenue by the end of 2020.

Image source: Azuro

With many other states expected to follow the path, the gambling industry may surpass the predicted figure – $100 billion in annual revenue being the target by the end of 2023.

In light of the explosive rise in sports betting during the pandemic, many decentralized betting protocols have come up trying to sway users and players towards blockchain-based prediction markets. On Wednesday, Azuro, a decentralized DAO of betting and prediction markets, announced a successful $3.5 million seed funding round led by top VCs and angel investors ranging from DeFi, GameFi, traditional betting markets, and other blockchain-related areas.

The seed investment round was led by three companies namely Gnosis, Polymorphic Capital, and Flow Ventures. Other investors in the round included Ethereal Ventures, Arrington XRP Capital, AllianceDAO (a.k.a. DeFi Alliance), Delphi Digital, Meta Cartel Ventures, Merit Circle, and Clever Advertising.

Since the launch of decentralized prediction platforms in 2017, the space has rather stagnated despite the demand from players and the crypto ecosystem skyrocketing to a $3 trillion market capitalization. While many attempts have been made to make them work, most of these platforms have failed terribly in delivering on the fundamentals that Web2 betting companies capitalized on including an array of events, deep liquid markets, competitive odds, and multiple betting options. Additionally, current blockchain-based betting solutions suffer from single liquidity providers, product depth, and a bad UX for their players.

The latest capital injection into Azuro aims to solve these problems by launching a transparent, trustless, and decentralized platform. Currently, liquidity providers (LPs) on prediction markets have to start markets manually, set the odds and seed liquidity to each market they create. This means the LPs hold all the betting risks while having little incentive to do so. This has caused massive capital and liquidity exiting the decentralized prediction markets – as it happened with Gnosis, a partner of Azuro.

Furthermore, prediction markets are inefficient for bets with 3 or more outcomes. Most are bound to stick with YES/NO markets, which is dramatically insufficient especially for sports and related bets with more than two outcomes. Lastly, most of these platforms face regulatory pressure and geographical constraints, which could impact the growth of betting markets or even see them shut down.

Unlike its competition, Azuro is building a new protocol to enhance liquidity provision and minimize the betting risks for LPs on the platform. The platform employs a “pooled liquidity structure”, similar to DeFi protocols, which means LPs will not have to manually create markets and are not exposed to the betting market’s systematic risks. Instead, the risk is spread across all betting markets on the protocol, and therefore dramatically reduced for the LPs.

Additionally, the funds will be used to build a friendly UX architecture that allows for the full depth of the betting product available at centralized sportsbooks and a classic frontend, similar to traditional betting markets. Unlike most of the decentralized prediction markets today, Azuro will also allow users to easily set up multiple betting options, moving from the binary “Yes/No”, currently widely spread across decentralized prediction markets.

The decentralized betting governance protocol

Over the past year, DAOs have become the norm in the crypto industry, allowing participants on the platform to vote on proposals made to improve or upgrade the protocol. Similarly, Azuro plans to launch its DAO to reduce the external influence from regulators and authorities.

According to a statement, the platform holds liquidity as the base infrastructure layer with players and customer interactions built on top of it. This approach “outsources much of the direct-to-consumer efforts and relieves Azuro from most of the regulatory, KYC, legal and operational lift”, the statement further reads. Azuro breaks the role of traditional bookmakers into smaller roles, much more attainable for smaller participants. Azuro connects these participants in an elaborate dance thus providing players with a better experience in a decentralized way.

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Got rhythm? Fortnite will test players’ musical skills with a new—and unusual—weapon, leaks claim

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Fortnite has maintained its player base for a successful five years through the introduction of surprising and interesting new mechanics. Chapter Four has already brought improved graphics and movement abilities, and it looks like a new musical weapon might be changing the battle royale for good.

A new guitar-based weapon will be added to the game that will work based on a rhythm game, according to reputable data miner HYPEX. The tweet states players will need to strum the guitar to deal 75 damage per second to all the builds, amounting to 300 damage if they hit all the beats each time. It doesn’t do damage to enemy players, however, and it’s unclear if it affects non-player buildings as well.

This rhythm-based weapon, if real, will be an interesting new mechanic for the game. There’s nothing like it in the game currently, so it clearly shows Epic has no problems experimenting with unique new ideas.

Related: New Fortnite leaks hint at potential arrival of Titanfall-inspired movement mechanics

Epic might have actually already given players a hint about this coming at the start of the season in the cinematic launch trailer. In it, players can see a guitar floating by the screen as Paradigm is being pulled into the island. While this could just as easily be nothing, Epic likely knows fans will pour through every second of any material to look for new items and cosmetics.

Look in the bottom right corner of the video as it pans across the forming island. You’ll have to watch carefully, since it’s only revealed on-screen for a second at most.

This item seems like it will work similarly to a previous item, the Boombox, which was an explosive item that players could throw, only damaging builds and not players.



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Leaked Apex Legends Hardcore mode could break recycled LTM trend—but players already doubt it

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While the Wintertide event succeeded in bringing in a season 15 high player peak on Steam for Apex Legends, it didn’t do much to address players’ criticisms of the game using recycled and reused limited-time modes. This go-round for the Winter Express is the fourth year in a row that some version of the LTM has appeared in Apex, and the general sentiment on its return has been middling.

So it’s not exactly a surprise that a recent leak from ThordanSmash caught the attention of the community. The popular content creator and insider teased a new mode that might be coming to Apex: Hardcore battle royale.

According to Thordan, the new mode will be one where players will be eliminated much more quickly and will put significant value on game knowledge. There won’t be any HUD, the highest armor available will be the base white body shields, and bullets will do more damage than they do in the base game. There also won’t be any Gold rarity items except for weapon hop-ups. That means items like Gold helmets that make abilities recharge faster and Gold backpacks that allow players to carry more health items won’t be used in the mode.

In addition to these changes, there will be fewer health items, according to Thordan. This will make for an extremely fast time to kill (TTK) that should have players thinking and rethinking every single rotation and move they make on the battlefield.

Whether this is another LTM on the way or the new mode inhabits a more Control-esque role, a popular mode that commonly returns and feels more akin to Arenas than most LTMs, players are already split on whether a Hardcore mode in Apex is a good idea at all.

There are players who seem excited about the prospect of a Hardcore mode, but several others have brought up how the idea feels like an accelerated version of the standard non-ranked battle royale mode, with no incentive for players to take the mode seriously. That would most likely result in incredibly short games or long stretches where teams that decide not to hot drop don’t see any fights. 

There’s also some precedent in Apex for players not loving a significantly shorter TTK: the much-maligned nerf to all body shields in season six, where all body shields got 25 less health. The player outcry on the change was strong enough that Respawn reverted the change a few weeks into the season since players didn’t enjoy the shorter TTK that the shield change enabled.

The new Hardcore mode sounds like Apex with a more Call of Duty-style TTK, and it’s debatable whether any Apex players actually want that. A new LTM is certainly welcome, but if an Apex mode feels more like a different game, what’s stopping players from just going and playing Modern Warfare 2 instead?

Thordan also mentioned that other LTMs like Team Deathmatch and some other previously-leaked game modes are still in the works. This year has been a fairly successful one for breaking up the LTM cycle compared to 2021, with both Control and Gun Run being popular LTMs in the community. But the response to the newest leaked LTM has been decidedly lukewarm and it remains to be seen if a Hardcore mode will inspire much new interest in Apex.



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First ESL Impact CS:GO tournament of 2023 to kick off in Katowice

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ESL Impact, the CS:GO circuit for marginalized genders, will return next year and the first stop will be in Katowice, Poland from Feb. 10 to 12, ESL announced today.

ESL has invited Nigma Galaxy, FURIA, CLG RED, and HSG to the tournament and four more squads will finalize the team list after qualifiers in Europe, North America, and South America are done. Nigma Galaxy were the best all-women CS:GO team of 2022, having won ESL Impact season one, ESL Impact season two, and ESL Impact Valencia throughout the year. FURIA were also consistent, having reached the grand finals of all three events.

The opening event of ESL Impact 2023 will run at the IEM Expo in Katowice and will be open to all fans, with no tickets required. This will be the first time a tournament for marginalized genders will take place in Katowice, one of the most iconic cities for CS:GO esports, since Intel Challenge Katowice in 2019, which was one of the best tournaments for all-women teams back in the day.

The open qualifiers for ESL Impact Katowice will take place from Dec. 14 to 18 in all three regions (Europe, North America, and South America). The best two teams hailing from Europe will qualify for the main event, while North America and South America will have one more team each.

ESL hasn’t revealed the prize pool for ESL Impact Katowice 2023 yet, but the tournament organizer put $100,000 on the line for ESL Impact Valencia in 2022 and offered $123,000 for ESL Impact seasons one and two.

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