August 18, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we’re taking a closer look at Netflix’s cloud gaming plans and Trigger’s newest AR app. Plus: AI-generated grunge album covers.
Netflix has been keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to its nascent gaming initiative: The company has been quietly releasing a couple games a month, with plans to grow its catalog to around 50 titles by the end of the year.
Thus far, all releases have been mobile games, and many are older titles that Netflix is exclusively re-releasing without ads. There haven’t been any blockbusters yet, but Netflix’s “Stranger Things”-themed games in particular have done well. Netflix subscribers downloaded more of the company’s games in July than ever before, as new data Sensor Tower exclusively shared with Protocol shows.
But Netflix games have been little more than a practice run up until this point. The company is trying to figure out what games work best with its members, how to surface those titles in its catalog and how it can best spend its money on future projects developed in-house — a bit like it learned the fundamentals of streaming with licensed movies and shows before it began to massively grow that business with its own originals.
Cloud gaming could play a major role in that next phase, according to new Netflix job listings I recently stumbled upon.
Cloud gaming makes a lot of sense for Netflix. Not only would it allow the company to bring its games to the TV screen without having to rely on game consoles alone, the cloud is also an environment Netflix is very familiar with.
Could Netflix be building a similar edge-centric infrastructure for gaming? There are some early signs that the company has at least been exploring this approach.
Whether Netflix decides to take gaming to the edge or not, it’s becoming increasingly clear the company doesn’t want to just rely on shipping mobile games via third-party app stores. Instead, Netflix appears willing to build its own delivery technology, much like it has done for a video business that now streams countless hours of movies and TV shows to 220 million subscribers worldwide.
— Janko Roettgers
How cybercrime is going small time: Cybercrime is often thought of on a relatively large scale. Massive breaches lead to painful financial losses, bankrupting companies and causing untold embarrassment, splashed across the front pages of news websites worldwide.
Universal Pictures released the “Jurassic World Dominion” extended edition this week, and is promoting the home video release with a new AR app that lets you bring the film’s dinos into your home as well. I recently caught up with Trigger XR CEO Jason Yim to learn how his company built the app for Universal.
DinoTracker is just one example of massive advances in mobile AR, which allow people to experience things that wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago. That includes seeing a massive dinosaur swoop down from the sky to eat a snack you’ve thrown on your lawn. "It does feel a little bit like magic," Yim said.
— Janko Roettgers
Nintendo’s history of mistreatment. An in-depth report from Kotaku on Tuesday offers the clearest look yet at Nintendo of America’s horrid treatment of women in its video game testing divisions, many of which are employed by a third-party contracting firm with numerous labor violations.
Walmart adds Paramount+ to its membership benefits. Walmart Plus subscribers will get free access to Paramount+, which is a lot easier for Walmart than building its own streaming service.
EA sold the latest FIFA for 99.94% off. An Epic Games Store listing error for the PC version of EA’s FIFA 23 in India allowed some savvy buyers to scoop up the $100 ultimate edition of the game for about 6 cents. EA says it will honor the purchases.
Activist investor wants Disney to spin off ESPN. Third Point’s Daniel Loeb also wants the company to combine Hulu with Disney+.
Sony may expand even further into PC gaming. Following a hugely successful release of Marvel’s Spider-Man on Epic and Steam, files buried inside the PC version of the game hint at a potential PlayStation launcher coming to Windows, VGC reported this week.
Logitech keeps making accessories for Meta’s Quest, including some new headphones. Still no word from Meta on how many Quests it has sold, but Logitech’s continued commitment to third-party accessories seems to suggest there’s a real market here.
Fox is investing millions in NFTs. The media company launched a dedicated Web3 and NFT division last year, and now wants to build a blockchain-based business.One in 10 Spotify subscribers open its app every day. Spotify’s service is a lot stickier than those built by competitors like YouTube and Pandora, according to new Sensor Tower data.
Digital media pioneer David Cohn has been experimenting with AI-generated imagery this week, with surprising results. Cohn used Midjourney’s AI image generator to transform ‘90s grunge lyrics into original art, and guess what: The results are perfect album covers. Now someone just needs to combine an AI image generator with generative AI music, and rock stars will never have to trash their hotel rooms ever again.
— Janko Roettgers
How cybercrime is going small time: People have been swindled since before man created monetary systems. These aren’t new crimes; just new ways to commit them. But as cybercrime increasingly goes small-time, those on the front lines will need new and more effective ways to fight it.
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