January 7, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol | Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Friday, we are exploring how companies will lay the groundwork for the metaverse in 2022, and what you should read, watch and play this weekend.
Late last year, hardly a day went by without someone sending me an email about a product or service that was haphazardly rebranded as being somehow related to the metaverse. Spoiler alert: 2022 will be meta-worse.
The industry’s buzzword obsession was on full display at CES this week, where VR veteran Nima Zeighami captured photos of all sorts of absurd metaverse products. My favorite: Metaverse City, which, from what I can tell, is just a single tent in a real parking lot.
Hype cycle froth aside, the metaverse will undoubtedly be a big deal for many companies this year.
This might just be Horizon’s year. After finally opening its doors to the Quest-touting public in late 2021, Meta will have to prove that its social VR world, Horizon, is worth a virtual visit. And to achieve that, Meta will do what it does best: throw tons of money at a problem.
Others will spend big, too. There’s a lot of money to go around in this space, thanks in part to the fact that some of the biggest players already have hugely profitable gaming businesses.
All eyes will be on hardware. One of the biggest enablers of the metaverse will be immersive hardware, with Metas’s Quest being the big breakout hit.
The big story no one is watching: infrastructure. With the metaverse still in its infancy, everyone is looking at games and social VR apps for clues where things are going. Just as important could be the pipes, chips and servers powering it all.
— Janko Roettgers
59 million Americans work outside the traditional employer benefit system - and more and more are moving away from that model as the gig economy grows. People, during the pandemic, are taking a step back and thinking about the traditional job setting and asking: ‘Is this what I want to do?’
“Money in the Metaverse”: The New Yorker staff writer and “Uncanny Valley” author Anna Wiener tackled the economics of the metaverse in this feature published on Tuesday, using video game business models as a starting point to discuss the financial perils of a fully embodied internet fusing the web as we know it with modern social networks and online games.
“Station Eleven”: Based on the award-winning novel from author Emily St. John Mandel, HBO’s “Station Eleven” miniseries has been quietly amassing critical acclaim since its Dec. 16 premiere. Now nine episodes in with a finale arriving next week, the series’ unique take on the postapocalypse, featuring an acting troupe called The Traveling Symphony, makes for an often haunting but also strangely hopeful pandemic-era meditation on human perseverance.
“Odd Taxi”: One part slice-of-life and one part crime drama, “Odd Taxi” lives up to its name. It features the sardonic cab driver Odokawa and a sprawling cast of characters, all of whom are of course talking animals who at one point or another rotate through his back seat in the streets of Tokyo. It’s funny, frequently bizarre and one of the best new anime I’ve watched in recent memory. You can check it out on Crunchyroll.
“The Lost Daughter”: Maggie Gyllenhaal’s feature directorial debut arrived on Netflix on New Year’s Eve, and it features an excellent Olivia Colman portraying a lone traveler on a remote Greek island traversing echoes of her life as a young mother. The performance is already attracting a fair amount of Oscar buzz, as is Colman’s younger self played by Jessie Buckley.
Deathloop: Arkane Studios’ long awaited Hitman-style stealth game came out back in September, but it’s 50% off on PlayStation 5 through Friday. I just began playing Deathloop this week, and it’s a fascinating and complex sandbox that lets players experiment with time, cause and effect in endlessly creative (and often violent) ways. Fans of Dishonored should waste no time picking it up.
Outer Wilds: Time loops and roguelikes are all the rage in gaming these days. And like Deathloop, Outer Wilds uses those elements to create a unique storytelling experience across many, many iterations of an imploding star system. The game, released in 2019, is now free on Xbox Game Pass starting this week, and its fantastic score, clever writing and tricky narrative make it a must-play.
— Nick Statt
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your weekend, see you Tuesday.