January 18, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Tuesday, we’re exploring how Nvidia’s GeForce Now has become a proving ground for the future of mobile game distribution, starting with Fortnite’s return to iOS. Oh yeah, and Microsoft bought Activision Blizzard for nearly $70 billion. More to come on that soon.
Fortnite’s fate on iOS seemed all but sealed in September, when Epic Games was handed a resounding defeat in court in its antitrust lawsuit against Apple. And, a few months later, Apple successfully delayed the one minor victory Epic had secured until the appeals process wraps.
But Nvidia has been quietly waiting in the wings, ready to help Epic bring its battle royale hit back onto the iPhone. Last week, the two companies said they were at long last ready to give it a go with a beta launch of Fortnite on the chipmaker’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service.
The Fortnite cloud launch is an official partnership. Nvidia announced more than a year ago that it was bringing Fortnite to mobile users on GeForce Now, but it ultimately delayed the iOS version to team up with Epic for native touch controls and other improvements.
GeForce Now has become cloud gaming’s shining star. Nvidia’s service, due to its smart business model, has emerged as the one cloud service that seems to have a bright future. Showing that it's willing to work closely with game makers to optimize titles for the cloud could pay off for Nvidia in the long run, when cloud gaming is more mainstream.
Nvidia offers game makers a way around Apple’s restrictions. Through its fights with Epic and other tech rivals, Apple has shown its complete and total unwillingness to compromise with regards to cloud gaming and App Store payment restrictions.
There are quite a few hurdles standing in both Epic and Nvidia’s path to success with Fortnite on iOS. Cloud gaming still requires a fast, preferably tethered internet connection, both of which don’t mix well with mobile when you want to game on the go. There’s also likely a limited pool of players who will want to access Fortnite on mobile by paying a monthly $10 subscription to access GeForce Now. (There is a free tier, but with heavy restrictions.)
But the promise of bringing Fortnite back to the iPhone is tantalizing enough to pay attention to how well this works and how much traction it gains, if only as a form of validation for the cloud and its role in loosening the grip Apple and Google have on mobile gaming.
Make 2022 the year you speak a new language. The #1 language learning app, Babbel gives you bite-sized lessons in a variety of languages. It'll have you speaking the basics in just 3 weeks. Plus, it has podcasts, games, videos and more to switch things up! Get 60% off today.
The biggest acquisition ever. Just a week after Take-Two Interactive made the biggest-ever video game acquisition with its purchase of Zynga, Microsoft has gone quite a few steps further and agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard in a $68.7 billion deal with earth-shattering implications for the industry.
Ubisoft jumps into the cloud. The French publisher doesn’t yet operate its own cloud gaming service, but it’s now partnering with white-label service provider Gamestream, VentureBeat reported.
The battle royale clone wars. PUBG parent company Krafton has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. against Apple, Google and rival battle royale developer Garena over the distribution of PUBG competitor Garena Free Fire, which Krafton says constitutes copyright infringement.
The great NFT divide. The backlash against crypto technologies in the gaming space has created a severe rift between players and the most well-financed new sector of the industry. But it’s not clear whether the torrent of criticism is enough to stop NFT gaming from going mainstream.
Activision Blizzard’s firing spree. The publisher has fired more than 36 people and disciplined dozens more since bombshell revelations about its sexist and discriminatory workplace culture surfaced last summer, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. The report said CEO Bobby Kotick held this information back out of fear it would further harm the company’s reputation.
Ubisoft’s NFT flop. The company’s controversial first round of NFTs in Ghost Recon Breakpoint have barely garnered sales interest on token marketplaces, selling for paltry sums in a tiny handful of transactions. In interviews with Waypoint, buyers said their interest stemmed from curiosity.
Microsoft bids farewell to the Xbox One. The Xbox One has been discontinued since the end of 2020, Microsoft confirmed to The Verge, as the company focuses entirely on its new Xbox Series X and Series S consoles. Sony, meanwhile, will continue producing PS4s through 2022.The FTC is investigating Meta’s Oculus VR acquisition. It’s part of the federal government’s broader antitrust probe.
A controversy around the viral daily guessing game Worlde erupted last week after clone apps flooded the App Store, only for Apple to remove them. Yet it looks like this particular internet dust-up might result in some actual good in the world. That’s thanks to Steven Cravotta, a mobile app developer and the creator of Wordle! before Wordle.
Cravotta’s app, which remains active on the App Store, was not in fact a Wordle copycat, but its own unique game Cravotta launched five years ago. It shares a name with the browser game created by Josh Wardle, but they differ in design. In a nice twist, however, Cravotta discovered his dormant app had exploded in popularity due to the association, and he and Wardle have now teamed up to donate proceeds to the Boost West Oakland youth charity.
The #1 language learning app, Babbel gives you bite-sized lessons in a variety of languages. It'll have you speaking the basics in just 3 weeks. Plus, it has podcasts, games, videos and more to switch things up! Get 60% off today.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your day, see you Thursday.