May 27, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we’re exploring if any company has what it takes to take on Meta’s VR hardware, and share some suggestions for what to read, watch and play this weekend.
Can anyone compete with Meta in VR? Some pullbacks notwithstanding, the company is still on track to spend between $10 billion and $15 billion this year on its AR, VR and metaverse efforts, with Mark Zuckerberg telling me recently that he wants to “live in a world where big companies use their resources to take big shots.”
That’s a whole lot of money, and hardly any other company has the pocketbook to make bets on that scale. But that hasn’t stopped a bunch of them from trying.
Competitors have their work cut out for them. When Meta introduced the first version of the Quest in 2019, the VR hardware market still seemed up for grabs. A lot of things have changed in just three years.
Sony’s ability to play catch-up will be hampered by shortages of PS5 consoles, as my colleague Nick Statt pointed out last month. Supply chain issues are also affecting other would-be competitors.
All eyes are now on Apple, the only company building VR devices that’s able to outspend Meta. Apple is said to have shown off its own mixed-reality headset to its board of directors.
By then, Meta will have released its Project Cambria headset, which will offer a very similar set of features. Meta is also expected to release a budget-priced Quest 3 device in 2023, all but ensuring that it will own the consumer VR market for years to come.
— Janko Roettgers
The digital revolution is already here – transforming the way we live, work, and communicate. Smart infrastructure is a key part of this revolution. It brings the power of the digital world to physical components like energy, public transportation, and public safety by using sensors, cameras, and connected devices.
“The unstoppable machines behind the game console shortage” — The Verge. Much has been written about the rise of retail bots and the role they’ve played in online commerce, from the PS5 shortage to the sneakerhead boom. But journalist Luke Winkie’s new report for The Verge takes a fresh angle by diving into the developer-side market for the alarmingly sleek software that facilitates widespread automated ecommerce, with a focus on the polished buying bot Dakoza. “This software lets [users] change their lives,” the bot’s creator said of enabling scalpers.
“Love, Death & Robots” — Netflix. The third season of Netflix’ sci-fi anthology series “Love, Death & Robots” debuted last week with a new collection of “Black Mirror”-esque thought experiments and beautifully animated narrative shorts. Like “The Animatrix” and more recent anthology series like Disney’s “Star Wars: Visions,” almost every episode brings a fresh cast of talent, from the animation studio and source material to the director and voice actors. This season even features longtime executive producer David Fincher taking the director helm for the first time, as well as some heavyweight voice-acting talent from the likes of Mackenzie Davis, Rosario Dawson and Dan Stevens.
“Men.” The newest film from “Ex Machina” and “Annihilation” director Alex Garland is as provocative as its title suggests. I saw “Men” knowing little to nothing about the experience other than that it draws influence from the surreal horror movement popularized by the work of Jordan Peele and Ari Aster and also reunited Garland with boundary-pushing arthouse production company A24. It did not disappoint. There’s nothing I could tell you now about what to expect from “Men,” especially its jaw-dropping final act. Just go see it. And then, like me, devour every piece of writing about it on the internet you can find.
Moonlighter — Android / iOS. Netflix is getting more serious about gaming, and one of its more high-profile titles is Digital Sun’s Moonlighter, a unique, Zelda-inspired action RPG that has players playing shopkeeper during the day and looting intricate dungeons at night. The game was first released for Mac, PC and consoles in 2018, but as part of the exclusive partnership with Netflix, Moonlighter is now available for the first time on mobile and free for all subscribers of the streaming service. If you’ve toyed with Apple Arcade or enjoy more premium mobile gaming, Moonlighter is worth a shot.
— Nick Statt
The potential of the IIJA to shape our future is immense; if we don’t spend the funds wisely, the effects will be felt for generations. Physical infrastructure alone does not fully address the diverse needs of our modern, information-driven economy and set us up for future success.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to email@example.com. Enjoy your day, see you Tuesday.