Join the Elden Ring conversation, brush up on your five-card stud and more stuff to do

Don't know what to do this weekend? We've got you covered.

Join the Elden Ring conversation, brush up on your five-card stud and more stuff to do
Image: Crunchyroll; FromSoftware; Decentral Games

It’s not often that a game comes along where the collective online chatter actually makes the game better. But Elden Ring’s opaque storyline is giving people reasons to head to the internet to discuss. Also this week: poker players are finding luck in the metaverse, and get your anime fix with two movies that were just added to Crunchyroll’s huge library.

Elden Ring has everyone talking

It’s impossible to talk about Elden Ring without drawing on the mountain of commentary that’s flooded social media, gaming forums and news sites over the past week. That’s the beauty of FromSoftware’s newest and arguably greatest game yet: It's a modern single-player game that’s best experienced by discussing it with other people online.

More so than any of the studio’s past games, Elden Ring features an opaque storyline and an even more cryptic open world that’s jaw-droppingly massive and full of secrets. But discovering and talking about it together with the entire internet has become a core part of its appeal. Just get ready to die … a lot.

Who run the metaverse? Poker.

Last month, I wrote about the metaverse real estate boom, and how it often stands in opposition to the stated goals and ambitions of the Web3 and crypto evangelists building these platforms. Bloomberg reporter Cecilia D'Anastasio’s latest piece on one of those platforms, Decentraland, is a fascinating look at what’s actually going on in these otherwise largely empty social platforms, beyond all the real estate speculation. It turns out the answer is: a lot of poker.

At least half of Decentraland’s users at any given time are playing virtual casino games for items they can exchange for cryptocurrency, all run by a third-party company without a gambling license. Regulators might catch on, but only if they can figure out what the metaverse is first.

‘Yu Yu Hakusho’ stands the test of time

Sony’s acquisition of anime streaming service Crunchyroll means the popular platform has been expanded with a huge library of new shows, including many with English dubs, from sister service Funimation. One gem worth watching is the excellent 1992 paranormal action series “Yu Yu Hakusho,” which also happens to have a great English dub that has stood the test of time. The series has it all: iconic characters, great animation and a fantastic fantasy plot featuring the life of spirit detective Yusuke Urameshi. It’s been one of my favorites for the past 20 years.

‘Mob Psycho 100’ takes you on an emotional journey

For those looking for a more modern anime to get into, an absolute must-watch is One’s “Mob Psycho 100,” the story of a young and impressionable psychic named Shigeo Kageyama. Featuring truly mind-bending animation from studio Bones, of “Fullmetal Alchemist” and “My Hero Academia” fame, “Mob Psycho 100” is both a sensory experience and an emotionally melancholy one. It balances traditional action anime fireworks with an emotional narrative about discovering yourself through the bonds you form with others. “Mob Psycho 100,” with subs and dubs, is also available on Crunchyroll.

A version of this story also appeared in today’s Entertainment newsletter; subscribe here.


Inside Amazon’s free video strategy

Amazon has been doubling down on original content for Freevee, its ad-supported video service, which has seen a lot of growth thanks to a deep integration with other Amazon properties.

Freevee’s investment into original programming like 'Bosch: Legacy' has increased by 70%.

Photo: Tyler Golden/Amazon Freevee

Amazon’s streaming efforts have long been all about Prime Video. So the company caught pundits by surprise when, in early 2019, it launched a stand-alone ad-supported streaming service called IMDb Freedive, with Techcrunch calling the move “a bit odd.”

Nearly four years and two rebrandings later, Amazon’s ad-supported video efforts appear to be flourishing. Viewership of the service grew by 138% from 2020 to 2021, according to Amazon. The company declined to share any updated performance data on the service, which is now called Freevee, but a spokesperson told Protocol the performance of originals in particular “exceeded expectations,” leading Amazon to increase investments into original content by 70% year-over-year.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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