Netflix Expands Games Initiative with a New Studio in Finland

Netflix has made some budgetary cuts recently, but not in gaming. After three acquisitions, the company is building its first game studio from scratch. The new unit will be Netflix’s second gaming outfit in Finland, and the company has hired Zynga’s Marko Lastikka to run it. Earlier this year, the streamer acquired the Helsinki-based Next Games. The company’s mobile games portfolio also includes developers Boss Fight Entertainment in Allen, Texas and Glendale, California’s Night School Studio. Helsinki “is home to some of the best game talent in the world,” according to Netflix VP of game studios Amir Rahimi. Continue reading Netflix Expands Games Initiative with a New Studio in Finland

Tencent Holdings Sinks $297M into Ubisoft Owner Guillemot

Tencent has invested $297 million in Guillemot Brothers Limited, the company that owns Ubisoft, maker of “Assassin’s Creed.” The Chinese game giant already had a 4.5 percent stake in Ubisoft that it can now increase to 9.99 percent. Tencent gains a 49.9 percent stake with 5 percent voting rights in the parent company. Shares of Ubisoft fell 17 percent last week when it became apparent there was no takeover in the offing. The deal is part of a strategy “to develop immersive game experiences, and to bring some of Ubisoft’s most well-known AAA franchises to mobile,” said Tencent president and CEO Martin Lau. Continue reading Tencent Holdings Sinks $297M into Ubisoft Owner Guillemot

‘Minecraft’ Developer Mojang Rejects Blockchain, NFT Tech

Mojang Studios, creator of the wildly popular “Minecraft” game, has taken a public stance banning NFT integrations and blockchain functionality. The Stockholm-based company, owned since 2014 by Microsoft, stated this week that “integrations of NFTs with ‘Minecraft’ are generally not something we will support or allow.” Mojang says it is updating terms of use with further details explaining its position, but a blog post emphases ensuring “Minecraft” players have “access to the same content.” In a blog post, Mojang concludes NFTs “can create models of scarcity and exclusion that conflict with our guidelines.” Continue reading ‘Minecraft’ Developer Mojang Rejects Blockchain, NFT Tech

New Blockchain Divide Between Consumers and Tech Titans

Cryptocurrency and NFTs seem to be getting a much different reception from the average consumer than the tech titans that helped launch the crazes. While entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Chris Dixon have dropped millions-to-billions into various blockchain piggy banks, Ubisoft gamers, startups on Kickstarter and artists like Brian Eno are speaking out against everything from NFTs to digital coins. Gamers, in particular, have made their disapproval known, somewhat surprising given they’re typically first-movers, eager to try new technologies and push boundaries. Now, reports are emerging of a schism in the game world. Continue reading New Blockchain Divide Between Consumers and Tech Titans

Ubisoft Quartz Jump-Starts In-Game NFTs with ‘Ghost Recon’

Ubisoft becomes the first major game company to dive into NFTs with Ubisoft Quartz, a platform that lets players acquire non-fungible tokens on the Tezos blockchain. Quartz goes live this week in beta with “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint” for PC. Players will be able to purchase or earn in-game “Digits” — Quartz’s term for NFTs — which will be collectible in-game vehicles, weapons, and pieces of equipment. Ubisoft is touting Tezos as the technology behind “the first energy-efficient NFTs playable in a AAA game,” comparing it to processor-hogs like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Continue reading Ubisoft Quartz Jump-Starts In-Game NFTs with ‘Ghost Recon’

Akamai Reports a Rise in Game Hacking During the Pandemic

Cyberattacks against gamers have increased during the coronavirus pandemic, according a report from cloud services company Akamai, which detailed that hackers attempted almost 10 billion credential-stuffing attacks to take over accounts. Akamai security researcher Steve Ragan, who wrote the report, noted that, “as games move online and leverage cloud infrastructure and cross-platform and cross-generation play, that’s an attack surface.” “The bigger the attack surface, the more room [hackers] have to play,” he added. Continue reading Akamai Reports a Rise in Game Hacking During the Pandemic

Video Game Publishers Post Record Profits During Pandemic

Video game publishers Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software are all on track to post strong earnings this week, the beneficiaries of increased game playing during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to analysts, these publicly traded game publishers have reaped rewards from players spending on virtual goods such as costumes for characters. FactSet predicts the companies will “more than double” their adjusted earnings from the same quarter from the previous year. The global games industry is valued at $149 billion. Continue reading Video Game Publishers Post Record Profits During Pandemic

Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Google is offering free gaming on Stadia, which ordinarily costs $130 for a game controller, Chromecast streaming device and game access, opening access to millions of people in 14 countries. With most people now confined to their homes, gaming has shot up, and even the World Health Organization has gotten into it, supporting a game industry initiative dubbed #PlayApartTogether. By making Stadia free, Google may also gain ground in cloud gaming against its competitors Amazon, Microsoft and Nvidia. Continue reading Google Offers Free Access to Stadia, Limited Pro Tier Games

Google Unveils Details on Google Play, Stadia, Google Cloud

After the cancellation of the Game Developers Conference, Google went online to release information about its cloud infrastructure, Google Play and Stadia cloud gaming services. Stadia head of product John Justice reported that Google Ads campaigns have thus far resulted in 27 billion game installs, that mobile gaming is “on track” to reach $100 billion in 2021, and that Southeast Asia, India, the Middle East and North Africa will drive mobile game growth going forward. There are 2 billion daily active users on Android. Continue reading Google Unveils Details on Google Play, Stadia, Google Cloud

Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

Amazon has inked an exclusive license for “Tala’s World,” a seven-episode young adult adventure series produced by audio startup Xandra, which has produced Alexa skills for HBO, Sesame Workshop and Ubisoft. In the new adventure series, listeners help elf-like character Blobby find his missing best friend Tala by making decisions, collecting clues, and interrogating suspects. Available exclusively on Alexa, Amazon recently released the first episode and plans to release the second episode on December 13. Continue reading Amazon Licenses Original Interactive Audio Series for Alexa

Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

At the E3 conference in Los Angeles this week, Ubisoft announced its entrance into subscription PC gaming with Uplay Plus, which will offer 100 titles published by Ubisoft. The service is slated to launch on September 3 and is designed as a monthly fee in exchange for unlimited access to the games. Although that model is similar to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and EA’s Origin Access, Uplay Plus is more expensive, at $14.99 per month. Among the games available on Uplay are “Assassin’s Creed” and “Rainbow Six” titles, which will also be on Google’s Stadia service next year. Continue reading Ubisoft to Launch Its Uplay Plus Game Subscription Service

Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

According to Deloitte’s 13th annual digital media trends survey, more millennials in the U.S. currently subscribe to a game service than to a traditional pay TV service. Approximately 53 percent of those born 1983-1996 pay for gaming services, while 51 percent from the same age group pay for television. Last year, Deloitte found that 44 percent of U.S. millennials had paid subscriptions for video games and 52 percent for television. Results of the latest survey were revealed as new game services from the likes of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Ubisoft and others have recently debuted or are planned to launch soon. Continue reading Deloitte: More Millennials Subscribe to Games Than Pay TV

Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

Google and Microsoft are about to go mano-a-mano with new cloud-based gaming services. Google plans a limited launch in November of its Stadia service, which the company says will stream any title to any device. Microsoft, meanwhile, is building its Project xCloud on Azure, its own cloud network. Because every game on Xbox One, including Xbox 360 backward-compatible titles will be able to run on xCloud, the new service will debut with 3,500+ game titles. Microsoft said a beta version of its xCloud service will debut in October of this year. Continue reading Google and Microsoft to Intro Cloud-Based Gaming Services

Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) has launched PlayStation Productions to transform the company’s 100+ video games into film and television projects. The production company, headed by Asad Qizilbash, is at work on its first projects on Sony Pictures’ Culver City lot. SIE Worldwide Studios chair Shawn Layden, who also oversees the new production company, noted that, with 25 years developing games, the company believes “now is a good time to look at other media opportunities across streaming or film or television.” Continue reading Sony Unit to Produce Movies, TV Shows Based on Games

Epic’s New Game Store Poses Threat to Steam’s Dominance

During The Game Awards last week, Epic Games debuted a new digital marketplace that offers a favorable 88/12 percent revenue split to game creators. By opening a new marketplace, the company may be establishing a game store competitor to Valve’s Steam, which has dominated PC game distribution for over ten years. Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney has also pledged to better support creators. Although the store’s first list of games is small, it will be part of Epic Launcher, the software required to update and play “Fortnite.” Continue reading Epic’s New Game Store Poses Threat to Steam’s Dominance