Google to Shutter Stadia Game Streaming Service in January

Google is shutting down its Stadia video-game streaming service in what many say is a response to leaner times. The cloud-based subscription service is going dark January 18, three years after it launched. It delivers games directly to compatible smart TVs, computers and Android phones, and is accessible to incompatible devices, such as iOS, via web browsers. While Stadia “was built on a strong technology foundation, it hasn’t gained the traction with users that we expected so we’ve made the difficult decision to begin winding down,” Stadia VP and general manager Phil Harrison wrote in a blog post. Continue reading Google to Shutter Stadia Game Streaming Service in January

Conviva: Streaming Growth Surges in Asia and Latin America

Streaming analytics firm Conviva reports that the global streaming market grew 14 percent in Q2 2022 as compared to the same period last year. Asia and Latin America drove the growth, vaulting 90 percent and 70 percent, respectively. The quarterly Conviva State of Streaming Report noted that North America, the most mature streaming market in the world, grew a modest 5 percent year over year. “As the global streaming industry matures, streaming success is getting more complicated,” Conviva reports, citing as factors device fragmentation and heightened quality expectations in an increasingly ad-supported streaming world. Continue reading Conviva: Streaming Growth Surges in Asia and Latin America

Amazon Launches Updates to Its Prime Video User Interface

Amazon is rolling out a redesigned Prime Video app for Android and connected living room devices, including Fire TV for customers worldwide, with iOS and web to follow. The company says the new interface will make discovery and navigation much easier. Among the visual enhancements are a Top 10 Chart showcasing trending Prime Video content and “Super Carousel” displays with “poster-style artwork” for Amazon Originals. Also emphasized is graphical distinction between content included with Prime memberships versus that which is available for general purchase. Continue reading Amazon Launches Updates to Its Prime Video User Interface

Amazon Intros Invite-Based Ordering for High-Demand Items

Amazon is combatting inventory shortages with a new invite-based ordering protocol for high-demand products, starting with U.S. fulfillment of the Sony PlayStation 5 game console, followed by Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. The idea is to prevent hoarding by “scalpers” who program bots to buy in quantity then resell the items at significant markup. Participation does not require Prime membership, merely a request for the invitation. Amazon plans to roll the program out to more countries as it strives to ensure a positive shopping experience for individual customers and households. Continue reading Amazon Intros Invite-Based Ordering for High-Demand Items

New Plex Features Help Viewers Navigate Streaming Services

Further to its goal of becoming a sort of Google-with-benefits for viewers who stream TV shows and movies across multiple platforms, Plex is reformatting its welcome screen to include a discover feature, universal search and universal watchlists. Rolling out in beta, the new Plex interface offers what amounts to personalized search-and-save “across virtually any streaming service,” from Plex’s own free movies and television series to subscription services like Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max. “As of today, Plex searches, personalizes, and organizes all of your content, no matter where that content lives,” the company announced. Continue reading New Plex Features Help Viewers Navigate Streaming Services

Netflix to Introduce Daily ‘Trivia Quest’ Game Show on April 1

Netflix will premiere daily interactive quiz series “Trivia Quest” on April 1. Based on Etermax’s hit game “Trivia Crack” — which Netflix says is “the No. 1 multi-platform trivia franchise in the world” — the streaming animated show will feature 24 questions (12 standard, 12 difficult) across categories including science, history, entertainment, sports, art and geography. As with Netflix’s prior interactive specials, “Trivia Quest” has a “narrative twist,” taking players on a mission to help Willy “rescue the animated citizens of Trivia Land from the Evil Rocky, who’s bent on hoarding all the knowledge in the world.” Continue reading Netflix to Introduce Daily ‘Trivia Quest’ Game Show on April 1

CTA Forecast: Holiday Tech Spending to Reach $142.5 Billion

Tech sales during the 2021 October through December holiday season will reach $142.5 billion, according to the Consumer Technology Association, which says the projection represents “a very slight 0.5 percent increase from 2020.” A record 191.3 million U.S. adults plan to purchase technology as a holiday gift, the CTA says, adding that its 28th Annual Consumer Technology Holiday Purchase Patterns report “could have important implications” for fourth quarter TV advertising. The study found that 83 percent of U.S. adults “are unaffected by or more likely to purchase tech due to the pandemic.” Continue reading CTA Forecast: Holiday Tech Spending to Reach $142.5 Billion

Unity Platform Offers Turnkey Solution for Multiplayer Games

San Francisco-based Unity Technologies, maker of the cross-platform Unity game engine has launched in beta Unity Gaming Services, a turnkey solution to make it easier to develop and maintain cross-platform multiplayer titles. New are tools for monetization, customer acquisition and player engagement. Statistics from a Unity study indicate 71 percent of multiplayer gamers do so from a mobile device, and 61 percent engage from consoles, while 40 percent say they play on both. The survey indicates 56 percent of Americans play multiplayer games, one in five having begun within the past year. Continue reading Unity Platform Offers Turnkey Solution for Multiplayer Games

Microsoft Brings Updated Edge Browser to Its Xbox Consoles

Microsoft continues to merge the desktop PC and game console experience by making its updated Chromium-based Edge browser available for Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S platforms. The update lets Xbox owners stream Google Stadia games and access Steam PC or web games like “Krunker” or “QuakeJS” from the comfort of a browser housed within your console dashboard — no third-party hardware or software hacks required. Users can also access subreddits, social media and Discord on the web to join voice calls and text channel chats with mouse and keyboard support on current and last-gen Xbox consoles. Continue reading Microsoft Brings Updated Edge Browser to Its Xbox Consoles

Gaming Industry Reacts to New Entertainment Rules in China

Chinese online game companies are falling in line with Xi Jinping’s government mandate to curb negative influences on the country’s youth, vowing to self-police the workarounds kids have found to circumvent regulatory limits on play-time. In August, China banned persons under 18 from playing video games more than three hours each week. More than 200 game firms including Tencent and NetEase say they will comply with regulations announced by China’s National Press and Publication Administration and take steps to ensure the rules are enforced. The NPPA suggested use of facial recognition to accomplish that goal. Continue reading Gaming Industry Reacts to New Entertainment Rules in China

ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

TikTok parent company ByteDance has acquired startup Pico, which, according to IDC, was the third largest virtual reality headset manufacturer worldwide in Q1 2021, with shipments growing 44.7. percent year-over-year. The purchase marks ByteDance’s first step into virtual reality and the company said that Pico’s “comprehensive suite of software and hardware technologies, as well as the talent and deep expertise of the team, will support both our entry to the VR space and long-term investment in this emerging field.” Continue reading ByteDance Buys Startup Pico, Virtual Reality Headset Maker

Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games

“Fortnite” creator Epic Games sued Apple over its 30 percent commission on all App Store transactions. That case is now in court, and Apple chief executive Tim Cook took the stand to defend his company against accusations of monopolistic behavior. On the sidelines are other companies with the same grievance and the European Union, which also charged Apple with violating antitrust rules with the App Store. In an hour of testimony, Cook stated that commissions from app developers help the company create better App Store security. Continue reading Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games

GameStop’s Changes Include Its Digital Transformation Push

GameStop shares dropped during the last quarter after skyrocketing during an earlier trading frenzy but its e-commerce sales rose 175 percent, representing more than a third of its sales in the period. The Texas-based company is pushing its transformation from brick-and-mortar to digital, naming a new operating chief, former Amazon exec Jenna Owens, and promising additional new hires. In addition to less foot traffic due to COVID-19, GameStop is also impacted by the trend towards game subscription services and free-to-play games. Continue reading GameStop’s Changes Include Its Digital Transformation Push

Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Google is shutting down the Stadia division that makes exclusive games in order to “focus on building on the proven technology of Stadia as well as deepening our business partnerships,” said Stadia vice president and general manager Phil Harrison. He added that the plan is to expand “efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players.” Alphabet debuted Stadia in November 2019 to compete with major video game console companies. Continue reading Google Shutters Stadia’s Video Game Development Division

Nintendo Raises Forecasts Following Strong Holiday Quarter

Buoyed by increased sales of its Switch console, Nintendo reported operating profit of $2.2 billion (229.7 billion yen), its best quarterly earnings since 2008. Analysts previously estimated the quarter’s earnings at 189.6 billion yen. Nintendo raised its annual forecast, again, to a sale of 26.5 million Switch units, up from 24 million. It also pegged its operating profit forecast 24 percent higher, due to increased sales during the COVID-19 pandemic and hit game “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” Continue reading Nintendo Raises Forecasts Following Strong Holiday Quarter