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    Consumers spent $861.12 billion online with U.S. merchants in 2020, up 44% year over year, according to Digital Commerce 360, nearly triple the 15.1% jump in 2019. Among the leaders? Amazon and Shopify.

    In 2019, Amazon generated over $280 billion in sales, with approximately 50% of those sales coming from third-party sellers. During the 2020 Black Friday weekend alone, Shopify merchants made over $5 billion in sales. If you’re an entrepreneur with a product to sell (or resell), why wouldn’t you want to get in on that action? Here’s a not-to-be-missed offering on how to launch and effectively manage your online store and become part of the phenomenon.

    If terms like FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon), drop-shipping, and arbitrage sound like foreign words to you, not to worry. Through this course, you will learn not just their basic meaning, but how to implement these marketing strategies to their fullest potential. Lessons are taught by an array of top-rated instructors, each having imparted their knowledge to thousands of students, including Bryan Guerra, an e-com guru and founder of Invert Media, and Benjamin Wilson, an entrepreneur and marketing innovator.

    You will quickly learn how to set up a custom online shop, develop, source and market with Shopify and Amazon (as well as other online retailers), how to create your own privately labeled product, and how to optimize your product listings. You will explore buying and reselling online, how to source merchandise to sell, and learn powerful strategies on how to gain thousands of customers, plus so much more. It features 249 lessons within 8 courses and offers lifetime access to all material.

    This Ultimate Amazon FBA & Dropship Master Class Bundle normally retails at $1,292 but is being offered now at $39.99, a 96% discount—a small price for a wealth of information.

    Prices subject to change.

    ‘Fall Guys’ to join ‘Fortnite’ family under Epic Games. What that could mean for players

    Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a humorous take on the battle royale genre with 100 cute "fall guys" competing in rounds of contest until one is left standing.

    Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is a humorous take on the battle royale genre with 100 cute “fall guys” competing in rounds of contest until one is left standing. (Photo: Devolver Digital/Mediatonic)

    The creators of the popular online game “Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout” have a new home.

    Epic Games, the company behind “Fortnite,” announced Tuesday it has acquired Tonic Games Group, part of a larger plan to create a metaverse where players congregate online to socialize, play games or attend events.

    The game, available on PC and PlayStation platforms and launching soon for Nintendo Switch and Xbox, features rotund characters wobbling around in a series of obstacle courses and challenges. Similar to the “Fortnite” battle royale,”Fall Guys” games typically start with 60 players and end with one final winner.

    Epic said it will continue investing in the game to make it “a great experience for players across platforms,” in a statement released Tuesday.

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    This purchase, says Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, is part of its larger plan to invest in building a metaverse where players get together virtually.

    “It’s no secret that Epic is invested in building the metaverse and Tonic Games shares this goal,” said Sweeney in a statement. “As Epic works to build this virtual future, we need great creative talent who know how to build powerful games, content and experiences.”

    “Fortnite” has demonstrated the possibilities of a metaverse in different forms, including a concert by Travis Scott hosted within the game and an appearance by JJ Abrams, director of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” who shared exclusive clips tied to the movie.

    One possibility for “Fall Guys” is that the game could be made available to players for free. It currently costs $14.99 on PlayStation and $19.99 on PC and Mac platform Steam. Similar to “Fortnite,” Fall Guys offers the option for players to acquire gear like outfits using in-game currency.

    In 2019, Psyonix Games, the makers of competitive sports game “Rocket League,” revealed they were being acquired by Epic Games. Last year, the game followed Fortnite in adopting a free-to-play model.

    Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

    Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/gaming/2021/03/02/fortnite-creator-epic-games-buys-fall-guys-studio/6888445002/

    Just because you can’t physically be with your friends while social distancing doesn’t mean that you can’t play with them. And having fun isn’t only for kids. Studies show that playing online games as an adult can do everything from help you to tackle your stress to boost your overall well-being—something that we all need during these heavy times.

    “The right games can bring families and friends together during this time in a really positive way,” says Arkadium CEO and co-founder, Jessica Rovello. She says that teenagers separated from friends are probably already connecting in games like Fortnite, younger kids can collaborate on Minecraft and Roblox, and adults can keep their brains sharp playing an online word game or relax by getting lost in a hidden object game. And if you’re looking for a little friendly competition, Rovello explains that you don’t even need to get into a complicated online multiplayer game: “Just play on your own, text your friends a screen grab of your score, and challenge them to do better!”

    Here are some of the best online games to play with friends that are guaranteed to bring you and your clan together for some fun during this time of social distancing:

    1. Words with Friends 2: The name of the game says it all “words, with, friends.” Rally together your mother, father, aunt, distant cousin, coworker, boss or neighbor and challenge them into taking you on as you scramble to create words out of the letters that you are issued. Whoever gets the most points wins. And your brain will get a workout as well because let’s be honest—there are only so many words that you can fit the letter Z into. Don’t you hate when you draw that letter in Scrabble?

    Related: How to Play Houseparty Games

    2. Best Fiends Stars: Best Fiends Stars is a puzzle game that challenges you to “match and blast your way” through a series of “explosive” puzzles, collecting adorable characters and teaming up with your friends along the way. Challenge your friends to race to collect fallen treasures and stars before they get snagged by a team of slimy slugs.

    3. Fortnite: Epic’s family-friendly battle royale game continues to draw in millions of daily active users. While some gamers focus on winning their next Victory Royale, the game offers dozens of challenges for gamers to take on and overcome. “The game continues to evolve with frequent changes to the map, so the current game world won’t be the same by the end of an eight-week self-quarantine,” says Chris Erb, gaming expert and founder of Tripleclix. He adds that the cartoon graphics appeal to gamers of all ages, “but be aware you do use guns to shoot other players in the game.” Fortnite is free on Xbox One, PC, Switch, PS4 and mobile.

    Related: 125 Ideas to Keep Kids Entertained While Social Distancing

    4. Jackbox Games: This just might be the official game of the lockdown, as new account creations for the platform have been surging since more and more people have discovered that it’s popular trivia game You Don’t Know Jack can now be played with friends. The company posted a recent tutorial on how to do so here. The game will keep everyone on their toes as it tosses pop culture trivia questions as fast as you can answer them. Host Cookie Masterson walks you through the routine, while the occasional celebrity may pop up to lend a hand. 

    5. Minecraft: Erb deems this “the ultimate collaboration” and notes that the popular online game saw a resurgence last year and continues to grow with every new generation of gamer. Up to eight friends can join an online game on different computers and build whatever they can imagine in creative mode, or maybe they join up to see how long they can last in survival mode. “And if parents have a youngster in the house that’s never tried it, being stuck at home might be the perfect time to introduce them,” Erb adds. Minecraft’s building mechanics tend to turn children into budding construction engineers. All ages can play Minecraft on Xbox One, PC, Switch, PS4, and mobile for $20, and it’s available for free on Xbox Game Pass. 

    Related: Hobbies to Pick Up While Social Distancing

    6. NBA 2k20: This is a favorite among many fans who live for the NBA, as players can have the chance to portray their favorite team and players on screen. “Gamers can finish the season and even play through a run of the playoffs while waiting for the season to start again,” says Erb. All ages can bring a full squad to the courts and play as a single team in online matches. NBA 2k20 will set you back $60 on digital marketplaces and $30 for physical versions on Xbox One, PC, Switch, and PS4. The game is also available for free on Xbox Game Pass.

    7. Decurse: “Dedazzle, craft and farm your way through enchanted lands and see if you can reverse the curse!” This game allows you to connect with Facebook friends or make some new friends in-game. Players can join a clubhouse and collaborate on special challenges, earn club points, achieve a spot on the leaderboard and earn prizes! You can also exchange materials with your friends to help on your journey. It can be played on iOS, Google Play and Amazon. Ages Rating is 4+.

    Related: 75 Fun Websites for When You’re Bored

    8. Sea of Thieves: Looking for a game to take you away from current events to beautiful beaches, and maybe a grand line of pirate adventure? Sea of Thieves, says Erb, is just that game. It’s a massively multiplayer online experience where you play as a pirate in an open world of possibilities. Online gamers seek treasure, back down skeleton hoards and discover the tall tales the world holds. Gamers are also free to engage in battles for each other’s hard-earned pirate booty. All ages can take up to three friends with them on their voyage as you skirmish with other pirate crews on the high seas. Sea of Thieves costs $50 on Xbox One and PC, and is available for free on Xbox Game Pass.

    9. Pokemon Go: Walk around your house, yard and neighborhood with the mission of collecting hidden Pokemon that could be lurking everywhere from your kitchen to back patio. The game enlists the use of your mobile GPS and clock, allows you to interact with your friends, and even lets you track their activity in the game. You can create a friends list and engage in some in-game trading and gift-giving. And since news of the COVID-19 outbreak, the game’s manufacturers have made some adjustments that allow you to find more monsters closer to home and features that make the game more consumable in “individual settings.”

    Related: 100 Best TV Series to Binge Watch on Netflix

    10. Mario Kart Tour: Grab Mario, the princess and all of your favorite childhood classic Nintendo pals, toss them in a go-kart, and you’re off! This fun version raises the stakes even higher, putting you face-to-face with courses that take you underwater and even hang gliding. And the mobile version allows you to bring your friends along for a little friendly competition. It’s the game that Justin Holmes, an emergency medical technician in Rochester Hills, Michigan, has been using to get him through his retreat. “It’s a blast!” he says.

    11. Exploding Kittens: This game gives you the ability to play online with friends or strangers. It’s a highly strategic, “kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette” where players draw “cards” up until the point where someone ends up with an exploding kitten. When this happens, they explode and are out of the game—unless that player has a “Defuse card,” to defuse the kitten with tricks such as a laser pointer, catnip sandwich or belly rub. Meanwhile the other cards in the deck can be used to, mitigate, or avoid the exploding kittens.

    Related: 125+ Free Streaming Workouts

    12. Fairway Solitaire: The original puzzle solitaire game is a good online game choice. “Hit the fairway” and complete daily challenges, earn rewards and find collectables! While playing, you can join a club, meet new friends, play together, get your club on the leaderboard and win incredible prizes! Clubs unlock at level 14 and anyone can join. Work together to earn club chips to unlock incredible prizes! The game can be played on iOS, Google Play and Amazon. Ages Rating is 4+ and the average player age range is 40-65. Complete clever solitaire puzzles, master the course and earn prizes!

    13. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn: World of Warcraft used to dominate the massively-multiplayer online role-playing game market, but Square Enix’s long-running Final Fantasy series currently wears the crown, say Erb. He notes that this most recent expansion, Shadowbringers, contains the MMO’s best story yet. “The game incentivizes group play through additional rewards and allows new players to level up for the newest content,” he explains. Up to eight players can team-up to take on dungeons and their massive boss battles. “There is a lot of reading so we wouldn’t recommend the game for your littles,” Erb explains. The complete Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn experience is available on PC and PS4 for $60.

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    14. DRL Simulator: This is an online drone racing video game where players can compete against their friends (available for download on Steam for $9.99). Players can set up a group and race against each other for an action-packed way to bond. To support students studying remotely, DRL recently announced complimentary access to the DRL SIM (which includes robotics training sessions on how to fly and build a drone) as part of their new STEM program, DRL Academy.

    15. Uno and Cards Against Humanity: During her lockdown, Tayla Burke, founder of Camp Conscious, says she has been keeping busy playing these party classics online with her friends. “I like these games because they are light hearted and sure to brighten your mood! You’re sure to have a few good laughs even on your own in self-quarantine! It makes me feel like I am not actually by myself every day,” she proclaims.

    16. Stardew Valley: “This little indie title won gamer hearts with its earnest world and gameplay,” says Erb. Players start as a young farmer seeding and taking care of your first ever crop on a farm, but they soon discover a town full of unique characters (who they can date and even marry), dungeons to explore, mysteries to uncover, and so much more. One in-game day takes fifteen minutes, with the game covering at least an in-game five years of story and adventures to discover, it will take gamers a long time to finish it. All ages can play the game on Xbox One, PC, Switch, PS4, and mobile for $15.

    17. Call of Duty Warzone: Activision’s first-person shooter series has been at the top of gaming for over a decade. And per Erb, Its tight controls and evolving online multiplayer gameplay continues to be considered some of the best in the industry. Call of Duty’s newest iteration just hit the market, called Warzone, and is a blast to play. It’s a new take on the popular battle royale genre featuring worlds with 150 players and different sized squads. There are even different variations of the Warzone gameplay already in online playlists. The game is free-to-download on Xbox One, PC, and PS4.

    Related: 101 Disney Trivia Questions and Answers!

    18. Gummy Drop!: Gummy Drop! is a relaxing and fun match 3 puzzle game with tons of new content with new cities added regularly. Connect with your Facebook friends as you play. This provides you a fun way to check up and see where your friends are in-game. Send and receive the gift of extra lives and share a love for global travel and exploration. You can play on iOS, Google Play and Amazon, Ages Rating is 4+.

    19. Monopoly: Rachel Sanders, co-founder of Rootine Vitamins has been having fun during this in person social hiatus by challenging her friends to some old-fashioned board games. “I’ve played Monopoly online with friends and it’s been really fun. It’s easy and just like the board game,” she says. “I can be competitive so I like that you have to stay on top of it when you play. And I can play with different family members like parents to nieces and nephews-all ages can play!”

    20. Rocket League: Rocket League keeps it simple with a two-word summary: “car soccer.” You control a car on an oversized soccer field with an oversized ball and try to take down opposing teams in five minute matches. According to Erb, all ages can team-up with up to three other friends for casual and ranked online play. You constantly earn cool cosmetic looks for your car of choice as you score plenty of goals. Rocket League is available for $20 on Xbox One, PC, Switch, and PS4.Parade Daily

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    21. Halo: This popular Sci-Fi military game has been popular since the days of its original installment of Halo: Combat Evolved. The first-person shooting game has since developed into a massive franchise, with additional versions, including Halo 2, Halo 3, Halo Wars, Halo: Spartan Assault, Halo: Fireteam Raven, and the highly anticipated Halo Infinite, which is set to release later this yera. “I’ve been playing Halo with friends throughout the panemic. It’s cool because you can talk over headsets and it’s a way to stay in touch. You play by controllers and it’s online now too,” says Alex Hoffman, a pilot for American Airlines. You can connect with friends in the game via XBox Live.

    22. Grand Theft Auto V Online: Grand Theft Auto V is one of the gaming industry’s highest ever-selling titles. The game features a story mode with 50 hours of adventure based around an in-game version of Los Angeles, but the story is just a warm-up for the best part of the game. “It’s online mode, which can be filled with up to thirty players on different computers, is filled with bigger missions, more over-the-top antics, and is updated regularly adding additional types of gameplay,” says Erb. He explains that Grand Theft Auto V “is for very mature audiences and should not be played by children.” The game costs $30 on Xbox One, PC, and PS4, and is also available for free on Xbox Game Pass.

    23. Cards Against Humanity/Remote Insensitivity: This politically incorrect party game in which players complete fill-in-the-blank statements using words or phrases typically deemed as offensive, risqué or politically incorrect has been around since 2011 as physical playing cards. Now you can play online for free! Up to six players can use PlayCards.io to play a version of Cards Against Humanity, together. Open the page, scroll down to “Remote Insensitivity,” then hit “Start.” (As you see, PlayCards.io is also enabled for other games as well—Go Fish, Checkers, Crazy Eights and Match Up.)

    24. Houseparty: Houseparty is a face-to-face networking app that allows you to go on video calls with up to seven friends in a room. Apart from just seeing and talking to each other, the app also has several games that everyone in the room can play together. Houseparty features games like Heads Up!, Trivia, Chips and Guac (comparable to Cards Against Humanity or the PG version, Apples to Apples), and Quick Draw!, which is a fast-paced version of Pictionary.

    25. Crucible: In this game, a team-based action shooter is driven by the choices you make. Each match in Crucible is a fight for survival and control. Not only will you be going toe-to-toe with your fellow competitors, but you’ll have to adapt and overcome all the challenges the planet itself throws your way. You and your teammates will need to work together to take down alien creatures, capture objectives, and pursue your opponents in search of victory. The newest addition to this list, dropped May 20. Amazon-owned Relentless Studios, developed the game which is available on Steam only. The jury’s still out on whether it will draw legions of fans like Fortnite, Apex Legends and other free-to-play games.

    26. Skribbl: Love Pictionary? Gather your friends in a private game room and get ready to show off your mad drawing skills with Skribbl! Just like traditional Pictionary, each player gets a word and then attempts to draw their chosen word on the digital canvas and friends try to guess what you’re drawing. This game works best with a tablet and stylus but you can definitely try drawing with your sketching with your finger.

    27. Psych!: If you like trying to fool your friends, then this is the game for you. Psych!, created by none other than Ellen DeGeneres, gives you the chance to try and outwit your friends. The talk show host describes it as: “A game where you make up fake answers to real trivia questions and then try to guess which one is right.” While playing, you’ll do things like create false plots for real movie titles and try to trick your friends into believing that it’s true. The game is affectionately described as “trivia meets Cards Against Humanity.” Available in the Apple Store and on Google Play.

    28. Werewolf: if you’ve ever played Mafia, this game is similar. Rally your friends to save your village by identifying and eliminating the werewolves—or maybe you’re a werewolf yourself trying to wreak havoc on that very same village. Werewolf allows for up to 16 players at a time. And if you don’t have enough of a crew to fill up the teams, the game will invite your group to join in with some other players from around the world. Available in the Apple Store and on Google Play.

    29. 8 Ball Pool: Remember going to a bar with your friends and challenging them to a game of pool? That doesn’t have to be such a distant memory. Enter 8 Ball Pool—the game where you can try to shoot your balls into a pocket before your friends do. And if your buddies chicken out, you can play a solo round as well. It’s available to play on the App Store and Google Play and features the ability to organize eight player tournaments.

    30. Ninjala: Want a taste of Nintendo Switch without the subscription? The platform is offering Ninjala as a free download in the Nintendo Switch eShop. The game is a fun way to engage the whole family as you command colorful ninjas who create weapons with “ninja-gum” bubblegum. They also have some funky costumes and accessories that you can play around with to personalize your avatar as well. You can play solo, navigate the Battle Royale mode with up to 8 players from around the world or challenge friends in a 4-on-4 team battle.

    31. Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale: Get your aprons ready! If you’re into VR, Cook-Out: A Sandwich Tale is a fun game to throw into your repertoire. You and up to three friends will have a blast assembling and distributing sandwiches to a group of hungry forest creatures including mice, werewolves and raccoons. In the game, “chefs” will have to work together in the kitchen to swap ingredients to “keep customers happy instead of hangry.” $19.99 — Oculus Quest 2 & Rift

    32. Online escape rooms: Miss the in person escape rooms? Don’t worry! You can absolutely experience these with friends online as well. Paruzal Games has an array of experiences to choose from, including navigating a ransacked coffee shop, accepting a pirate’s invitation to a rundown building (which you will inevitably have to escape from), and attempting to sneak backstage to meet Bruce Springsteen before you are caught. Games are $15 per person and you can play with up to 20 friends. 60Out has a variety to choose from as well, including a time machine, orphanage and revenge-themed room. Prices and guest size varies by room. You can also try the Alone Together two-player escape room experience from Enchambered, which is free.

    33. Among Us: “At the moment my children are playing a lot of Among Us,” says John Bedford, who says he lives with a “family of gamers” and that his crew is obsessed. The game, he says, came out in 2018 but became a bit of a sleeper hit in 2020. In Among Us, a group of players have to move around a spaceship completing various tasks, but one player is secretly an Impostor who eliminates the other players. Everyone has the option to call a vote declaring the identity of the Impostor. “Whether they’re wrong or right, that person is ejected from the airlock if the vote passes,” says Bedford. The game is available in the App Store or on Google Play.

    34. Clue: Who did it? Mr. Mustard? In the library? With the candlestick? Hasbro’s classic childhood board game is now available online and can be played solo or with pals. Available for $3.99 in the App Store or $1.49 on Google Play.

    35. QuizUp: Love trivia? This is for you. The multiplayer trivia game allows you to play against friends in real time and tackle questions in a huge array of topics. The manufacturers insist that the game has something for everything, deeming it “the biggest trivia game in the world.” And if your friends are busy for a night, the game boasts itself on its ability to “connect-like minded people.” Free to download in the App store or Google store.

    Next, 30 Games To Play Over Text!

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