August 30, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Tuesday, we’re taking a look at Sony’s acquisition of Savage Game Studios and its mobile gaming ambitions, the departure of Meta’s Horizon Worlds VP and the Electronic Arts acquisition that never was.
Sony has finally decided to get serious about gaming on smartphones. Like so many of its publishing peers in the game industry over the last few years, the company signaled its intentions with an acquisition. On Monday, Savage Game Studios became the first member of the new PlayStation Studios Mobile Division, an entity Sony created to expand its console games to smaller screens — and hopefully grow its audience as a result.
Sony was in desperate need of a mobile play. Many of Sony’s biggest competitors have been investing in mobile for years, while others have purchased their way to a stronger position through major acquisitions.
PlayStation’s brand is nonexistent on mobile. But that means Sony is working with a blank slate and has wide latitude to decide how it wants to pursue smartphone audiences.
Mobile is far too big to ignore. Much of Sony’s recent investments in live service and multiplatform gaming, including its acquisition of Destiny developer Bungie for $3.6 billion, are about pursuing the gaming business models mobile helped establish.
Just as Sony recognizes the need for its products to jump from PlayStation to theater screens and television sets, it now needs to tap into the mobile market if it wants to expand its audience beyond the core group of console gamers. “PlayStation Studios must continue to expand and diversify our offering beyond console, bringing incredible new games to more people than ever before,” PlayStation Studios head Hermen Hulst said in yesterday’s announcement.
— Nick Statt
Why on-demand talent could be exactly what companies need right now: If you thought the rise of remote work, independent contractors and contingent workers rose sharply during the pandemic, just wait until the next few months when you see a higher uptick in the on-demand talent economy.
Horizon Worlds chief is leaving Meta. Vivek Sharma, a Meta executive who ran the company's Facebook Gaming division and last year took charge of its social VR platform Horizon Worlds, is leaving the company, Reuters reported on Friday. It’s not clear where Sharma is headed next, but Reuters says he told the publication it was an “new opportunity.” The exec’s team will now report to Meta’s metaverse VP Vishal Shah.
Nintendo joins Microsoft in keeping its console prices. Nintendo on Friday released a statement saying it would not be raising the price of the Switch in response to Sony’s PS5 price hike. Microsoft said earlier in the week it would be keeping Xbox prices the same, too.
Resident Evil’s TV adaptation is short lived. Netflix has canceled its live-action Resident Evil show after one season, Deadline reported last week. The series didn’t garner strong reviews, and viewership on the platform was lackluster, the report said.
Embracer completes its Square Enix deal. The Swedish gaming giant’s acquisition of Square Enix’s Western studios, including Tomb Raider maker Crystal Dynamics and Deus Ex developer Eidos-Montréal, closed on Friday.
Netflix wants to charge $7 to $9 for its ad-supported plan, according to Bloomberg. That’s very similar to Disney+, which will charge subscribers $7.99 when its ad-supported plan goes live later this year.
Apple’s headset may be called “Reality One.” New trademark filings from a likely Apple-affiliated shell company suggest Apple is all in on “reality” as the brand for its upcoming AR/VR products.
China’s gaming crackdown is working. A new report from Niko Partners said 77% of Chinese youth spent fewer hours gaming after the government instituted time restrictions last year mandating that minors can only play video games one hour per day from Friday to Sunday.
Microsoft may expand its Game Pass family plan to friends, too. Microsoft began testing a new family plan for Xbox Game Pass earlier this year. Now, new branding for the service that leaked over the weekend suggests there may be a “Friends & Family” option as well.NBC could be giving up on late-night television. With eyeballs moving to streaming, NBC is considering a shorter prime time window.
Last Friday was a busier gaming news day than most this summer after USA Today broke the story that Amazon would be putting in an offer to acquire FIFA developer Electronic Arts. Within hours, the news had fallen to pieces; EA’s stock (up more than 6% on the news) began to fall; and many were left scratching their heads. So what happened?
Even stranger: USA Today began stealth editing the piece, without the writer’s apparent preapproval or input.
It’s a good reminder for journalists and readers alike to double-check sources and to vet bombshell news as thoroughly as possible, especially when a company’s stock price is on the line.
— Nick Statt
Why on-demand talent could be exactly what companies need right now: The biggest benefit of leveraging on-demand talent is often tapping into the talent and skills that businesses can’t find elsewhere. Upwork’s recent report highlights that 53% of on-demand talent provide skills that are in short supply for many companies, including IT, marketing, computer programming and business consulting.
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