Netflix Continues Games Push with Purchase of Night School

Netflix continues its push into video games with the acquisition of Night School Studio, best known for developing narrative titles like “Oxenfree.” The move is part of a plan to expand the Netflix membership library to include “exclusive games designed for every kind of gamer and any level of play,” said vice president of game development Mike Verdu in a statement announcing the purchase. Within the past month the streaming service released two “Stranger Things” games globally and issued three Android mobile games in Poland, Italy and Spain. Netflix games have no ads or in-app purchases. Continue reading Netflix Continues Games Push with Purchase of Night School

Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

Apple’s notoriously strict terms of doing business in its App Store appear to be loosening. A federal judge has ordered the company to allow developers to offer customers alternative payment methods after ruling that all payments go through Apple violate California’s unfair competition laws. Apple is ordered to within 90 days begin allowing developers to include in their apps payment links to processors other than the App Store. Developers now see a path to avoid handing Apple commissions of up to 30 percent for handling sales through the $100 billion online market.  Continue reading Judge Loosens Apple Stranglehold on App Developer Profits

HiDef and Unity Pursue Social Impact and Diversity in Games

Game studio HiDef has teamed up with San Francisco-based software developer Unity Technologies to work on a games-as-a-service project that focuses on games that “connect and entertain people through creative expression, competition, shared experiences, and cultural discovery.” The San Diego-based HiDef, founded by Anthony Castoro, Jace Hall, Rick Fox and David Washington in 2019, recently raised $9 million. HiDef said the first title is a metaverse mobile game using the Unity game engine, created in concert with Unity’s gaming services team. Continue reading HiDef and Unity Pursue Social Impact and Diversity in 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

EA Acquires Game Developer Glu Mobile in $2.4 Billion Deal

Electronic Arts plans to boost its mobile game business by purchasing game developer Glu Mobile in a deal valued at $2.4 billion, one of the highest prices ever paid for a video game studio. Glu Mobile’s creations include, among others, “Diner DASH,” “Disney Sorcerer’s Arena,” “WWE Universe,” “MLB Tap Sports Baseball 2020” and “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.” According to Glu Mobile, the company’s games earned $1.32+ billion in bookings last year. EA is particularly interested in Glu Mobile’s experience in sports and casual games. Continue reading EA Acquires Game Developer Glu Mobile in $2.4 Billion Deal

App Annie Reports Growth in Mobile Game and App Spending

App Annie predicted that mobile game and app spending will have grown 25 percent to $112 billion in 2020. Director of market insights Amir Ghodrati added that the company will likely revise these numbers upwards at the end of December. Both iOS and Android showed record-breaking growth, with 65 percent of spending going to the former and almost 30 percent to the latter. Apple iOS and Google mobile app and game downloads are expected to reach 130 billion in 2020, up 10 percent from 2019. Continue reading App Annie Reports Growth in Mobile Game and App Spending

Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

Punchdrunk, the British theater company that produced “Sleep No More,” and Niantic, developer of popular mobile games “Pokémon Go” and “Harry Potter: Wizards Unite,” are teaming up to collaborate on several projects. In “Sleep No More” — an immersive but not interactive show — audience members walked through rooms at their own pace, with actors performing hour-long loops. Punchdrunk already produced a virtual reality project for Samsung Gear VR and a mobile game with Silverpoint. The two companies haven’t released details on their first project. Continue reading Niantic and Punchdrunk Partner to Develop New AR Projects

Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

Less than a year ago, Microsoft’s Xbox unit signed two very popular streamers to its Mixer video game streaming platform: Ninja (Tyler Blevins) and Michael “Shroud” Grzesiek. But their presence didn’t build the huge global fan base for Mixer that Microsoft hoped for. It’s therefore no surprise that Microsoft is shuttering Mixer, but more surprising, perhaps, that it will partner with Facebook on its xCloud mobile game service. From July 22, visitors to Mixer will be diverted to Facebook Gaming. Continue reading Microsoft Closes Mixer and Partners With Facebook Gaming

Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

According to Newzoo, in 2020 the globe’s 2.7 billion gamers will spend $159.3 billion on mobile, PC and console games, representing 9.3 percent growth from 2019. The game market is on track to exceed $200.8 billion in revenue by 2023, with growth of 8.3 percent per year. The COVID-19 shutdown and the release of new consoles by the end of the year are the biggest contributing factors to growth. Some game developers also note that, during the pandemic, older players of casual games are reactivating accounts. Continue reading Mobile, PC and Console Gaming Skyrocket During Pandemic

ByteDance Building a Gaming Division to Take On Tencent

ByteDance has quickly built up a gaming division to enter a mobile arena currently dominated by Tencent Holdings. The company purchased gaming studios and exclusive rights to title distribution as well as building a team of 1,000 people by hiring and poaching talent. Its first two games will be released this spring to a global market. ByteDance first debuted Toutiao, a Chinese news aggregation app and launched TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin. Via the latter app, ByteDance has access to 400 million daily active users. Continue reading ByteDance Building a Gaming Division to Take On Tencent

Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Mobile games and home entertainment were big in 2019. Sensor Tower reported that Android and iOS mobile game players spent about $61.7 billion in 2019, up 12.8 percent from 2018’s $54.7 billion total. Mobile gaming also represented 74 percent of mobile spending for 2019. That year, home entertainment grew 8.4 percent to $25.2 billion, a record-breaking number. According to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, the greatest areas of growth were digital, subscription streaming, and digital movie sales and rentals. Continue reading Mobile Games, Home Entertainment Strong Earners in 2019

Deloitte Predicts 5G Will Spark Boom of Smart Home Devices

A new Deloitte study, “Connectivity and Mobile Trends Survey,” found that current U.S. households own “an average of 11 connected devices, including seven with screens to view content.” Deloitte vice-chair/U.S. telecom and media and entertainment leader Kevin Westcott declared that, after AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon roll out 5G, we’ll see “a significant increase in connected devices.” The study further found that 67 percent of consumers plan to upgrade to 5G-compatible smartphones when they become available. Continue reading Deloitte Predicts 5G Will Spark Boom of Smart Home Devices

Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud Advance Game Streaming

Gaming is available across multiple devices (such as consoles, phones, tablets, PCs) and numerous services, including Google Stadia and Microsoft Project xCloud, and subscription mobile gaming from Apple and Google. Most of the latest offerings have involved software and services, with new hardware releases expected for next year. For the holidays, a Microsoft Xbox One or Sony PlayStation 4 are good choices; the latest models, with better graphics and more storage than the 2013 versions, will go as low as $150 and $200, respectively, on Black Friday. Meanwhile, streaming services are improving and may replace the need for consoles among some gamers. Continue reading Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud Advance Game Streaming

Google Debuts Game Sub Service Similar to Apple Arcade

This week, Google began rolling out a video game and app subscription service, Play Pass, with 350 games and apps, priced at $4.99 per month. The service first debuted on Android devices in the U.S. and will be unveiled in additional countries over the next few months. Google is also readying Stadia, a streaming video game service for big-budget titles. Play Pass arrives just a few days after Apple unveiled Apple Arcade, with over 100 games — most of them exclusives — at the same monthly price. Continue reading Google Debuts Game Sub Service Similar to Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games

Apple’s video game subscription service Arcade, due to unveil September 19, is based on an established model for casual mobile games — with a twist. Ordinarily, the games are free to download and play, but the companies make money with ads and sales of in-game purchases. Apple is charging $5 per month for those free games, but shedding the ads and digital add-ons. The question is if Apple can change an industry’s typical business model. Microsoft and Google have tried the subscription model, but for higher end games. Continue reading Apple Arcade Introduces New Model for Subscription Games