Chess has been a surprise pandemic hit on Amazon’s online broadcasting service Twitch, where the most popular spectator sports are more often video games like Call of Duty or Fortnite.
Between March and August, 41.2m hours of chess were watched on Twitch, four times as many hours as in the previous six months, according to this New York Times report on the craze, making a star of grandmaster Hikaru Nakamura.
Tabletop games — defined as board, card and parlour games — are also the subject of a report by Valley VC firm Andreessen Horowitz. Games like chess, Dungeons & Dragons, Warhammer and Magic: The Gathering are being dramatically improved by digital tools such as livestreaming, remote collaboration and Alexa-type services
Our new liking for simpler pursuits does not augur well for the next generation of consoles coming this autumn, which rely on gamers wanting the latest technology to experience ultra-realistic, action-packed titles.
Microsoft and Sony have been playing a game of chicken over who comes out first with pricing and release dates for the new Xbox and PlayStation, but fresh leaks appear to have revealed Microsoft’s hand.
Windows Central reported that Microsoft was aiming at both ends of the market with the release on November 10 of a $299 (£249) Xbox Series S and $499 Xbox Series X. Microsoft followed up with confirmation on Twitter of the S, as “the smallest Xbox ever”.
It lacks a disc drive and is reported to have less memory, processing power and poorer graphics than the X, but it should be fine for downloading and playing games, and even streaming chess. Over to you Sony.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. Tesla falls further as Nikola soars
Tesla shares are down 18 per cent so far today, as the electric car company falls alongside tech stocks for a third day. One reason for its outsized drop could be a General Motors deal to take a $2bn equity stake in Nikola, the electric and hydrogen vehicle developer. Nikola shares are up more than 40 per cent today.
2. Uber sets all-electric target
Uber has pledged to make all of its rides in North America and Europe fully electric by 2030, after a new report found the ride-hailing company’s operations to be more damaging to the environment than private transportation.
3. ByteDance bonus bonanza
TikTok owner ByteDance is handing out cash bonuses to all of its 60,000-plus global workforce despite the uncertainty over the future of its business. Facing a sale of TikTok in the US and the video app being banned in India, ByteDance told employees on Tuesday the bonuses were for “jointly facing the Covid-19 pandemic, the changing macro environment and other challenges”.
4. Beyond Meat is not beyond China investment
Beyond Meat is increasing its presence in China, becoming the first foreign company specialising in plant-based meat to build production facilities in the country. The US group will build a factory near Shanghai to manufacture plant-based chicken, beef and pork under its brand.
5. VC cats no longer get The Creamery
The Creamery coffee shop in San Francisco was a place for caffeine-stoked VC dealmaking until it closed last month. Its loss and the decline of other meeting places risks undermining what has made Silicon Valley so special for the past 50 years, says Tim Bradshaw. Elsewhere, Emma Jacobs has been trying out the “work from hotel” lifestyle.
Tech tools — Apple’s non-iPhone event
A September Apple event usually means the unveiling of a new iPhone, but the pandemic has put paid to that. So the September 15 online presentation from Apple Park, just announced, will feature new versions of the Apple Watch and iPad instead, according to reports. Bloomberg says there will be new high-end and low-end watches as well as a redesigned iPad Air with an edge-to-edge screen. The iPhones, probably coming in October, will have redesigned cases, updated cameras, and 5G capabilities, it said.
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