Discord Stands Out Among Chat Apps for Lack of Advertising

Facebook, Twitter and Snap have built successful online hangouts and monetized them via targeted ads. Discord, a chat app that got its start in 2015 as a way for videogamers to talk, however, doesn’t carry ads but has tripled its revenue by selling subscription access to exclusive content. Discord co-founder and chief executive Jason Citron said the company avoided advertising because it would be “too intrusive” and consumers don’t like it. He also stressed that people use Discord to hold real-time conversations, which has numerous personal and business applications. Continue reading Discord Stands Out Among Chat Apps for Lack of Advertising

Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

Roblox, valued last month at $29.5 billion, told prospective investors it is trying to lure older users onto its gaming, concerts and educational platform. Chief executive David Baszucki said the company is counting on older adults not just to join the platform but to buy its stock when it goes public next month. The Apple and Google application has been a top earner during the pandemic, with 2020 revenue jumping 82 percent to $923.9 million and number of hours spent on the platform more than doubling to 30.6 billion. Continue reading Roblox Counting on Older Consumers to Join App, Buy Stock

DJs Facing DMCA Takedowns on Twitch Look for Alternatives

Twitch evolved from a video-game streaming site to include creative content and, in 2018, music. During COVID-19, many DJs have been using Twitch as a way to keep their local music scene alive. In Minneapolis, for example, Dave Eckblad produces the Twitch stream for music collective Intellephunk, including live events that engage fans and draw in tips. StreamElements reports that, over the course of one year, the number of hours users spend streaming music and performing arts skyrocketed from 3.6 million to 17.6 million. However, complying with copyright regulation may have an impact on this trend. Continue reading DJs Facing DMCA Takedowns on Twitch Look for Alternatives

Movie Chains Rent Screens to Video Gamers in South Korea

At South Korea’s largest cinema chain, CGV Cinemas, gamers are able to rent otherwise-empty auditoriums for a few hours to play games on movie screens. In that country, many movie theaters are still closed and those that are open can only accommodate 50 percent capacity, which is what gave CGV employee Seung Woo Han the idea of renting to gamers as a new revenue stream. Now, before 6:00 PM, up to four people can rent a big screen for two hours for about $90, a figure that rises to $135 in the evening. Continue reading Movie Chains Rent Screens to Video Gamers in South Korea

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

Microsoft Introduces Its Viva Suite of Remote Working Tools

Microsoft debuted Viva, a package of tools to enable better employee management including a range of human resources-related software for payroll, tracking employee performance and resources for staff on benefits, career development and other life and work aspects. Chief executive Satya Nadella called the toolset “essential,” adding that “the very best tools and systems” for remote working are crucial in difficult times. During the coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft has seen an earnings boom in cloud-computing, laptops and video games.

Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Its Viva Suite of Remote Working Tools

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos is stepping down from the role he has held since he started the Big Tech company 26 years ago and will assume the role of executive chairman. Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy will replace Bezos as Amazon’s new chief executive. Bezos hands over the reins during a time in which COVID-19 has helped the company achieve record-breaking sales, while it also faces regulatory and legal investigations. Personally, he vies with Tesla chief executive Elon Musk as the world’s wealthiest person. Continue reading Amazon’s Jeff Bezos Steps Down After 26 Years at the Helm

Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

Amazon’s robust holiday shopping quarter garnered $125.5 billion in sales and net income of $7.2 billion, the first time the company reached $100+ billion in quarterly revenue, and only days after Apple achieved the same milestone. Amazon amped up sales when it moved its two-day Prime Day shopping event from summer to October. The company’s overall 2020 sales hit $386.1 billion, a 38-percent year-over-year jump. According to analysts, e-commerce grew about 50 percent during the last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Continue reading Amazon Exceeds $100 Billion in Quarterly Sales for First Time

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

Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

Microsoft reported its fiscal Q2 net income rose 30+ percent to $15.5 billion, the result of COVID-19-driven remote working, increased video game playing and cloud computing. The company has also seen increased sales of its Surface laptops, which facilitate remote working and learning. Chief executive Satya Nadella has prioritized Microsoft Teams workplace-collaboration software, dubbing this last year as “the dawn of a second wave of digital transformation sweeping every company and every industry.” Continue reading Cloud Computing, Gaming and Laptops Drive Microsoft Sales

CES: LG Presents 48-Inch ‘Bendable’ OLED Gaming Monitor

LG Display demonstrated “the world’s first” 48-inch, bendable, 4K gaming monitor during CES 2021. According to LG, the monitor’s thin OLED screen features a curvature radius that allows it to bend up to 1,000 mm without impacting the display’s functionality. The company’s Bendable CSO (Cinematic Sound OLED) display is designed to serve as a traditional flat screen for watching television and easily convert to a curved screen for a more immersive gaming experience. The display also includes tech that enables it to vibrate and create sound without speakers. Continue reading CES: LG Presents 48-Inch ‘Bendable’ OLED Gaming Monitor

Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

Amazon-owned Twitch debuted tougher guidelines on sexual harassment and hateful conduct, broadening its definitions of both offenses and separating them into a new category that will be subject to more aggressive action. Under the new rules — its biggest update in almost three years — the live-streaming platform frequented by video-game players will ban unsolicited links to nudity, lewd or repeated comments about anyone’s physical appearance, comments about immigration status and displaying the Confederate flag. Continue reading Twitch Announces New Policies on Harassment, Hate Speech

ETC Executive Coffee: A Discussion with Verizon’s Albert Lao

To kick off ETC@USC’s eight-part Executive Coffee with… series, Verizon’s Albert Lao led a Zoom discussion on September 23. “How will advances in network technology over the next 36 months impact the way we watch movies, play video games, and create and produce immersive and engaging experiences?” was the framing question for a wide-ranging discussion. Three students each from the cinema school and the engineering school, plus two students from the business school participated. Lao set up the discussion by showing a brief video explaining 5G and edge computing, and describing how they would impact entertainment creation, distribution and analytics. Continue reading ETC Executive Coffee: A Discussion with Verizon’s Albert Lao

ESA Report Details Ongoing Growth of Video Game Industry

A comprehensive report from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reveals that the game industry created direct economic output of $409.9 billion in 2019 as well as direct employment of 143,045 people. Further, gaming generated total income of $35.28 billion including $17.37 billion in direct compensation to workers in the video game industry. In indirect support, the game industry contributed $90.3 billion. All these figures are predicted to grow in 2020, due to the rise of gaming during the COVID-19 shutdowns. Continue reading ESA Report Details Ongoing Growth of Video Game Industry

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