Impact of Multiplayer Games on Entertainment and Cinema

At a panel during this year’s NAB Show, Unity Technologies head of cinematics Adam Myhill reported that video game revenue has topped movie revenue for the last two years. “The top 25 IPs in the world are games now, and some of them are worth $10 billion, which is staggering,” he said. “On a quarterly basis, more people play Unity games than watch TV. Games reach three billion people, and the world’s population is a little more than twice that.” The point was, with such massive scale, games are bound to influence movies and other entertainment.

30 Ninjas president Lewis Smithingham described his company’s work with Old Spice: creating a reality show that live-streamed on Twitch to advertise a new body wash. An 18-hour show over two days, “Old Spice Foam Zone” featured 24 players whose actions were often controlled by Twitch viewers. “The Internet chose the villain,” he said. “From 15,000 to 30,000 people would vote to drop contestants in the foam, for example.”

Next, 30 Ninjas produced a horror movie — “Xfinity Project Dead Zone” — at the Winchester house in San Jose, which they outfitted with Xfinity xFi Pods; the video received five million views on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Myhill’s goal is to “make eSports look better.” “It’s pretty hard to watch through the player’s camera,” he said. “It’s jerky. We are working to increase the broadcast quality.” Corto chief executive Yves Bergquist, who leads AI and neuroscience research at USC’s Entertainment Technology Center, said he focuses on “technology within business models.”

“There’s an extraordinary amount of novelty in what you’re doing,” he said to the other panelists. “It’s incredibly creative so I’m not surprised people are tuning in. Kudos to your clients! It’s exciting that actual, accountable brands are doing these productions.”

Bergquist noted that a space of “experimenting and prototyping” allows people to “fail and iterate.” “Content on Twitch and YouTube are all data-driven experimentation and it’s an exciting track for the industry,” he added. Myhill pointed out that, “the younger generation wants to participate when they see variability in performance.”

“The core idea is that they are watching something where nobody knows what’s going to happen next,” he said. “It’s like watching sports.” Myhill and Smithingham noted the “bi-directional communication” between fans and celebrities or influencers who appear in the interactive content.

The entertainment industry will be the driving force in our society,” reported Bergquist. “The narrative story is very data-driven space,” he said. “The ability for companies to optimize cognitive impact is something we’re going to see, with hardware you can wear to measure more than brainwaves. Hardware companies are working on cognitive feedback hardware that can input even your subconscious emotions will drive content.”

He added, “if I were a studio, I would look at that as an opportunity to prototype the next ‘Star Wars.’ You can get a lot of feedback from stories that are very immersive. Then you can take what you’ve learned and created more high-risk content.”