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Business of Esports Minute #048: Riot Games Spying, Sony x Discord, Stadia Lead Quits

A week of news covering the intersection of business and gaming / esports, all in about one minute – everything you need to know from the “profit of esports” himself.

048 – May 9, 2021

In this week’s Business of Esports Minute: Riot Games Spying, Sony x Discord, and Stadia Lead Quits.

From the keyboard to the boardroom, this is the Business of Esports Minute! Every single week, I, Paul Dawalibi, the prophet of esports, will be bringing you my hottest takes from the week, basically, everything you need to know about the business of esports all in about one minute. Let’s go.

This week, Riot Games told users they were updating their privacy policy giving the company permission to record VALORANT voice communications. This comes as part of an effort to moderate toxic behavior in the gaming community. This is a headline that should scare gamers. While Riot claims they are recording voice communications to weed out toxic players, it’s far more likely they are doing this to collect data that they can later use or sell. Given Riot’s Chinese ownership, this is doubly worrisome, as policing what can be done with the data is that much more difficult. I hope that other games do not follow suit, as tempting as it may be, but Riot is, unfortunately, setting a bad precedent here.

In other news, Sony recently invested in Discord and now holds a minority stake in the company. The online communications platform is now expected to be integrated into Sony’s Playstation Network by 2022. Very interesting that Sony would swoop in with a partnership so soon after acquisition talks with Microsoft broke down. Any follower of the Profit knew that Discord would never sell for $10B. I’m curious if Discord pursues a path that prioritizes building out integrations like this or focuses primarily on their own platform. Either way, this is a win for both Sony and Discord. Sony gets best-in-class communication and community functionality, and Discord gets millions of new users ahead of a likely IPO.

Finally, it was recently revealed that John Justice, the Vice President and Head of Product at Google Stadia, has left the company. The organization later released a statement that said “We can confirm John is no longer with Google and we wish him well on his next step.” Hopefully, John is headed for greener pastures here, maybe to avoid shouldering some of the blame for Stadia’s failure. The product just didn’t make sense. Either way, it’s yet another sign of Google’s monumental gaming failure and how right I was about Stadia years ago.

You can get esports news anywhere. This is the only place you can get real insight. For more of this, as well as the most exceptional line-up of guests, please tune in every week to the Business of Esports podcast and every Wednesday evening into the Business of Esports after-show Livestream. Also make sure to follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok @bizesports and on YouTube at The Business of Esports.

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