June 2, 2022
Photo: Mika Baumeister via Unsplash
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 Microsoft’s Xbox Everywhere strategy, as well as Netflix’s “Stranger Things.” Also: How to make Wi-Fi visible.
Microsoft has reportedly teamed up with Samsung to bring an Xbox game streaming app to Samsung smart TVs. The company has also been working on a dedicated streaming dongle, but it told Windows Central this week that it decided to “pivot away” from the current version of that device and “refocus ... on a new approach.”
On the surface, both the dongle and the smart TV app aren’t big news. Microsoft hinted at both a year ago when it laid out its vision for cloud gaming beyond the Xbox. However, the company’s decision to prioritize smart TV apps over dedicated streaming hardware isn’t just notable from a cloud gaming perspective — it also tells us a lot about Microsoft’s media ambitions beyond gaming.
Microsoft has reportedly been working on its own dongle for years. The device, which has been code-named Keystone and likened to a Fire TV stick or Roku puck, would allow the company to more tightly control the game streaming experience for its Xbox Game Pass platform without the pitfalls of third-party hardware.
There’s clearly a pull towards TV-based game streaming. Samsung launched game streaming on its TVs at CES, and already has partnerships with Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and Utomik in place.
Microsoft has been at this juncture before. When the company launched the original Xbox One in 2013, it positioned the device as a media center for your living room, capable of combining TV, streaming and gaming in one box.
Prioritizing smart TV apps over a dedicated dongle may be a necessity for Microsoft as the company aims to bring Xbox everywhere. But the move also puts the company on a path that’s all about gaming, and a lot less about everything else on TV.
— Janko Roettgers
“Stranger Things” season 4 is here, and it’s already breaking records: Netflix members spent a collective 287 million hours streaming the show over its debut weekend, which makes this the biggest debut of an English-language show on the service to date.
“Stranger Things” is a gift that keeps on giving. Netflix split the fourth season into two installments, with additional episodes premiering in July. The company has also already booked a fifth and final season, to premiere some time before 2025. Between now and then, maybe Netflix can even come up with a new blockbuster.
— Janko Roettgers
Disclosure: Protocol is owned by Axel Springer, whose chairman and chief executive officer Mathias Döpfner is on the board of Netflix.
At the same time that the pandemic demonstrated all that is possible in an interconnected world, we saw in new and increasingly stark ways how certain communities continue to be marginalized and harmed by a persistent digital divide and how effectively that divide exacerbates our society’s other inequities.
Sheryl Sandberg is leaving Meta. Sandberg will leave the company after 14 years this fall; Javier Olivan will become Meta’s new COO.
Regional sports network NESN launches a subscription service. The Boston Red Sox broadcaster will charge subscribers a whopping $30 a month. It’s the first time a regional sports network has gone direct-to-consumer.
Blizzard’s newest game skips Belgium and the Netherlands. Diablo Immortal, the first mobile entry in the long-running dungeon crawler series, is skipping the two countries due to rules around loot boxes.
Apple has filed for a RealityOS trademark. The filing was made through a shell company, and has led to speculation that the company could announce its AR/VR headset soon.
Activision Blizzard wrongful death suit dropped. The family of Kerri Moynihan have dropped their lawsuit against the game publisher, Axios reported. The Moynihans had alleged that workplace sexual harassment led to the death of their daughter by suicide.
The Weather Channel has launched a streaming service. For $2.99 a month, the service will offer viewers access to the network’s cable feed, as well as additional AR experiences.
Respawn co-founder speaks up. Vince Zampella tweeted support for trans rights on Tuesday. Zampella runs major game franchises like Apex Legends for Electronic Arts, which has come under fire for telling employees that it won’t be publicly supporting controversial political topics.
More than half of Netflix’s catalog is now originals. Originals and exclusives surpassed the 50% mark for the first time in Netflix’s history in March.
We’ve all seen our fair share of pointless AR demos, so it’s always refreshing if a company comes up with something useful. Verizon, for instance, has been looking to use AR to help people find the best placement for their router. Point your phone where your router currently is, and an AR animation of a Wi-Fi symbol will show you exactly how strong of a signal the device will provide from that current position. Move your phone around your house, and it will find spots where the signal may be better. Amazing idea, especially for people looking to optimize their mesh router setups. Sadly, it only exists as a patent application. But maybe Verizon will actually build it if we all tweet about it?
— Janko Roettgers
There is so much more we need to do to make sure our future is more equitable and inclusive and maximizes America’s potential. It is not enough just to ensure everyone is connected. We also need to extend the full scope of digital opportunity to the people, the communities, and the institutions.
Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.