MGA Acquires Pixel Zoo Animation for MGA Studios Initiative

Chatsworth, California-based toy company MGA Entertainment has launched MGA Studios to produce video games, online universes and other ancillary content. The privately held MGA is backing the new division with $500 million to drive production and acquisitions. MGA’s catalog of successful toys includes the L.O.L. Surprise!, Bratz, Little Tike and Rainbow High brands, some of which have spawned TV series and games. MGA Entertainment founder and CEO Isaac Larian’s son Jason Larian is president of the new unit, which has acquired Australia’s Pixel Zoo Animation and named Pixel Zoo founder and CEO Paul Gillett an MGA Studios partner. Continue reading MGA Acquires Pixel Zoo Animation for MGA Studios Initiative

TwitchCon: Streamers Object to Revenue-Sharing Reduction

Things were restive at TwitchCon, which wrapped Sunday in San Diego. Content creators were riled up over downsized revenue-sharing, first announced last month. The conference lets gamers and other enthusiasts who use Amazon’s live-streaming platform meet their favorite influencers while brands tout their wares. With over 2.5 million hours of live content streaming daily around the world, Twitch has become increasingly focused on financial sustainability and eventual profitability. But a less favorable revenue split and push toward advertising has proven unpopular with creators. Continue reading TwitchCon: Streamers Object to Revenue-Sharing Reduction

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

Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

Tencent’s nearly two-decade growth trajectory came to a halt Wednesday with a 3 percent revenue drop over the same period in 2021. The contraction marked the Chinese video game and social media giant’s first quarterly revenue decline since going public in 2004. Tencent’s April-June revenue fell by about $20 billion, the result of China’s slowing economy and sagging digital advertising revenue, as well as tighter government video game regulations and diminished consumer user spending. Prior to Q4 2021, Tencent had consistently posted double-digit — and sometimes triple-digit — growth since its IPO. Continue reading Tencent Revenue Drops 3 Percent in First Decline Since 2004

Businesses Experiment with DALL-E 2, Report Mixed Results

OpenAI’s powerful text-to-image generator DALL-E 2 is still in beta, but businesses are already testing it for commercial use. Apparel firm Stitch Fix has been using it to visualize fabric and color personalization, while Heinz tapped the AI system for a marketing campaign. Cosmopolitan used it to design a magazine cover. Others have leveraged the image engine to generate logos and thumbnails. These early adopters are identifying technical issues that OpenAI says it is addressing as it readies DALL-E 2 for enterprise. Foremost among the complaints is the lack of a dedicated API for public use. Continue reading Businesses Experiment with DALL-E 2, Report Mixed Results

Video-Game Advertising Projected to Top $14 Billion by 2028

Video games as an advertising medium is still relatively niche, but a migration to streaming has paved the way for what observers predict will be explosive growth. Ad Age recently identified gaming as “the next huge advertising channel.” Fast Company posits U.S. in-game advertising, or IGA, is currently between $6-$8 billion, which is less than 6 percent of U.S. digital advertising. Analytics firm Research Dive predicts in-game advertising will grow to $14 billion worldwide by 2028. Fast Company says here are nearly 3 billion global players — one in four people — and growing by 15 percent a year. Continue reading Video-Game Advertising Projected to Top $14 Billion by 2028

Google Stadia Adds Party Stream and Resume Live Features

Google is introducing Stadia improvements including Party Stream, which lets players invite up to nine others to participate in a game session directly through the Stadia app, eliminating the need for a third-party intermediary. Friends can be invited to play along or just watch in any combination, limited to a total of 10. Stadia’s Party Stream chat makes voice and emoji reactions available. Party Stream is available beginning this week to desktop users and through the mobile web on Android. Also new, ”resume live stream” lets players switch Stadia games without having to end a live stream. Continue reading Google Stadia Adds Party Stream and Resume Live Features

Soft PC Sales, Currency Exchange Cloud Microsoft Earnings

Microsoft reported revenue up 14 percent year-over-year to $51.9 billion in its fiscal fourth quarter, which ended June 30. Net income was up 2 percent, to $16.7 billion for the quarter but down almost 19 percent for the year, to $61.3 billion for the 12 month period. Although the results fell short of expectations, Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella identified the Microsoft Cloud sector as a bright spot, pointing out that it “surpassed $25 billion in quarterly revenue for the first time, up 28 percent and 33 percent in constant currency,” despite the tough macroeconomic environment. Continue reading Soft PC Sales, Currency Exchange Cloud Microsoft Earnings

‘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

Sony Completes Its $3.7B Purchase of Bungie Game Studio

Sony Interactive Entertainment has completed its acquisition of the Bellevue, Washington-based Bungie game studio. In an effort to allay antitrust concerns, the developer of the “Destiny” game series will operate as an independent subsidiary of Sony, its mandate to “continue to independently publish and creatively develop our games,” Bungie CEO Pete Parsons wrote in a blog post. Both firms have offered assurances that future game development will not be limited to PlayStation exclusives. Sony valued the developer of “Destiny” and “Destiny 2” at approximately $3.7 billion in a Friday SEC filing. Continue reading Sony Completes Its $3.7B Purchase of Bungie Game Studio

UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority opened an antitrust investigation last week into Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard takeover, analyzing whether the deal could harm competition “for example, through higher prices, lower quality, or reduced choice.” The inquiry was announced the same day the CMA said it is looking into Amazon’s use of data from third-party sellers. In January, Microsoft shared plans to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion — a record-setting price for a tech acquisition — with a planned fiscal 2023 close. The CMA has set September 1 as the deadline for its initial decision. Continue reading UK Competition Authority Analyzes Microsoft-Activision Deal

Decline in Global PC Sales Expected to Impact Chip Demand

A slump in PC sales and crashing cryptocurrency markets appear to be tempering a demand for semiconductors spurred by COVID-19 era supply chain shortages. Inflation is another mitigating factor, as sales of laptops and high-end GPUs for gaming and cryptocurrency mining slacken. Research firm Gartner predicts global PC shipments will contract by 9.5 percent in 2022, with consumer demand projected to decline by 13.5 percent. Enterprise sales are also expected to drop, by 7.2 percent, according to Gartner. Those numbers align with the 10 percent PC sales decline Micron Technology has forecast. Continue reading Decline in Global PC Sales Expected to Impact Chip Demand

Meta Teases Headset Prototypes from VR Development Lab

With Apple expected to announce an AR/VR headset by year’s end, Meta Platforms CEO Mark Zuckerberg is wasting no time trying to saturate the market with Meta Quest 2 games and gear, while priming the pump for the Meta Quest Pro, which some say may debut as early as this fall. June has seen a summer sale of up to 40 percent off on 60 Quest 2 games. And last week, Zuckerberg mounted a shock and awe offensive, previewing several early prototypes, including the Holocake 2 — Meta’s lightest, thinnest VR headset, which plays PC virtual reality games. Continue reading Meta Teases Headset Prototypes from VR Development Lab

Major Brands Are Starting to Experiment with the Metaverse

Madison Avenue continues to scale in the metaverse, which is experiencing a land-grab for the best storefronts as brands like Gap and Nike unveil digital-only versions of their goods competing against — and sometimes collaborating with — digital-first brands like sneaker maker RTFKT and fashion house Fabrikant. Mobile game destination The Sandbox has already sold more than 70 percent of its “land” to businesses including cryptocurrency exchange Binance and video-game maker Atari. Even traditionalists like NASCAR and JPMorgan Chase are pitching virtual tents. The bank has signed a lease in Decentraland, a 3D online world. Continue reading Major Brands Are Starting to Experiment with the Metaverse

Sony Interactive Bundles Cloud Gaming with PlayStation Plus

Sony Interactive Entertainment is launching an upgraded version of its PlayStation Plus subscription service that includes access to the separate PlayStation Now cloud gaming platform for one monthly fee. This week’s launch in North and South America will be followed by Europe and Australia in late June, completing the global rollout that Sony began in Asia in late May. “Fans worldwide can now enjoy hundreds of fantastic games available in the PlayStation Plus catalog,” SIE president and CEO Jim Ryan said, emphasizing that “the service will continue to grow with new monthly game offerings” that include PlayStation’s most popular titles. Continue reading Sony Interactive Bundles Cloud Gaming with PlayStation Plus