November 1, 2022
Photo: Bertha Wang/AFP via Getty Images
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Tuesday, we’re discussing how vital the mobile market has become to traditional gaming companies like Microsoft, Sony, and Take-Two Interactive. Also: another Call of Duty commitment from Xbox boss Phil Spencer and the sudden departure of gaming Twitter personality Nibel.
Speaking last week at the WSJ Tech Live conference, Xbox chief Phil Spencer made a proclamation that has over the last couple of years become a common belief among the biggest names in the game industry.
“There’s no way that you succeed as a gaming company without access to mobile players,” Spencer said in defending the company’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In its last fiscal quarter, Activision Blizzard made more revenue from its mobile games than it did on console and PC gaming combined.
Now, as the biggest names in gaming seek new revenue streams and consumers, they’re quickly realizing the largest and most lucrative untapped market is the smartphone.
The console gaming audience has hit a ceiling. This is not a new development, though it is rarely so bluntly said aloud. The combined install bases of Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony amount to roughly 330 million.
Microsoft is far from alone here. Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive, Sony, and others have all laid out ambitious plans on mobile over the past two years, often through strategic acquisitions and investments in mobile-first business models.
Microsoft’s competition has already made inroads on mobile. Electronic Arts spent close to $4 billion last year acquiring mobile studios. Take-Two spent close to $13 billion to buy FarmVille developer Zynga.
Mobile isn’t just a money-printing machine. Companies need expertise and teams willing to move fast, update at breakneck speeds, and also maneuver the increasingly byzantine platform structures of Apple and Google, which make a bulk of their app store revenues by collecting fees from mobile games.
But the opportunities, and the existential necessity of diversifying how games make money and survive in an ever-changing industry, have made mobile key to survival.
“If you take a long-term bet, which we’re doing, that we will be able to get access to players on the largest platforms that people play on … we want to be in a position with content and players and storefront capability to take advantage of it. Gaming is the largest form of monetization on mobile, and we’re a gaming company.”
— Nick StattRead more: For gaming’s old guard, mobile is necessary for survival
In 2021, there were 236 million cyberattacks worldwide. If there’s an opportunity to enter a business’s premises undetected, cybercriminals will find it. In the digital age, no organization is safe from cyberthreats. Size doesn’t matter.
“We’re not taking Call of Duty from PlayStation. I know that’s not exactly what you asked, but just to punch that one in the nose — that’s not our intent. Our intent is not to do that … as long as there’s a PlayStation out there to ship to, our intent is that we continue to ship Call of Duty on PlayStation. Similar to what we’ve done with Minecraft since we’ve owned that.” — Xbox chief Phil Spencer reiterates the company’s position on Call of Duty in an interview on the Same Brain podcast as Microsoft’s regulatory feud with Sony in the U.K. rages on.
“There is that misperception or the thought, maybe, that certain IP would be off limits … We don’t view it that way at all. Dlala is a great example, because there’s no more precious IP at this company than Mickey. That’s a great illustration that we really aren’t married to a certain size of companies to warrant certain IP. We think that the right creator is worthy regardless of the size of their studio.” — Sean Shoptaw, senior vice president of global games at Walt Disney Company, talked to Gamesindustry.biz about its growing ambitions to license Disney characters and stories to indie game developers.
Electronic Arts partners with Marvel for three new games. The FIFA publisher will develop three new Marvel titles starting with its already-announced Iron Man game from Squadrons developer Motive Studio.
In more Marvel news: Marvel Snap explodes on the mobile scene. Marvel’s new digital card game, published by ByteDance-owned Nuverse, earned more than $2 million in its first week, according to AppMagic data.
Meta sold an estimated 470,000 Quest headsets in Q3. Based on Meta’s Q3 earnings report, AR Insider did some napkin math to arrive at likely sales numbers for the VR headset.
Netflix buys its sixth game studio. The company bought Spry Fox, a mobile studio known for games like Triple Town and Alphabear.
Target breaks a very important Sony street date. The retailer began selling Santa Monica Studio’s God of War: Ragnarök two weeks early, leading to spoilers pouring out on social media. Studio creative director Cory Barlog admonished Target in a series of exasperated tweets.
Comcast lost 561,000 TV subscribers in Q3.That’s up from 408,000 cord cutters during the same quarter last year.
Ralph Lauren joins the metaverse. The clothing brand will launch its Fortnite collaboration tomorrow with a fully redesigned logo, in-game virtual clothes and items, and a real-life merchandise drop.
China’s gaming market will decline this year. The predominantly mobile Chinese gaming market will shrink by 2.5%, according to Niko Partners, the first-ever contraction in the 20 years the firm has tracked the market.
A new chapter for PlayStation London Studio. The U.K. game studio known for projects using cameras, microphones, and VR is shifting focus to a PS5 title that will be its “most ambitious game to date,” the studio told GamesIndustry.biz.
On Monday, the Twitter account @Nibellion became inactive. The account owner, a high-profile yet anonymous video game news aggregator who goes by Nibel for short, said they were done with the platform.
Nibel cited a failure to monetize the account’s nearly half a million followers and a lack of faith in Twitter leadership under new owner Elon Musk.
Nibel also said the tumultuous first days of Musk’s tenure as Twitter owner contributed to their decision.
— Nick Statt
With the amount of our economy now dependent on technology, the lack of government regulation is resulting in major risk to companies, and in the end, our own citizens. In the absence of government action, insurance steps in.
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