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Protocol Gaming
Your essential guide to the business of gaming with Seth Schiesel and Shakeel Hashim.

This week in Protocol Gaming, your weekly guide to the business of video games: Genvid's strategic positioning with Rival Peak, the PS5 was Sony's biggest launch ever and get hyped for Super Nintendo World!

We forgot to include in last week's newsletter a link to our first Protocol Gaming online panel, including Activision Blizzard's Daniel Alegre, AMD's Frank Azor, EA's Samantha Ryan, Facebook's Vivek Sharma and Manticore's Frederic Descamps. Here it is!

(Was this email forwarded to you? Subscribe here.)

The Big Story

Cloud gaming's Rival Peak

In October, we asked, "at the center"? Microsoft, Phil Spencer and the Xbox leadership team.

  • That exact phrase is the strategic touchstone of Microsoft's entire gaming strategy: to make Xbox an ecosystem that allows people to experience entertainment across devices and modalities but with common social and reward layers. (That is very different from Sony's approach, which is about making the PlayStation device itself the focus.)
  • And wouldn't you know? Microsoft and Facebook are already emerging as allies of a sort in mass gaming and entertainment.

    • Microsoft folded its Mixer streaming service into Facebook Gaming over the summer in a friendly deal.
    • And the two companies are cooperating to deliver Microsoft xCloud gaming on the Facebook platform.

    When Spencer called out Amazon and Google as Xbox's main competitors going forward, he omitted Facebook. It seems clear that Facebook also sees Amazon and Google as major competitors. And naturally, neither Facebook nor Microsoft have any love lost for Apple.

    Microsoft and Xbox have the hardcore gaming chops. Facebook has all the eyeballs. As both the Big Tech giants and startups like Genvid scale their own cloud gaming Rival Peak, it will be fascinating to watch which alliances emerge.

    — Seth Schiesel

    Overheard

    • "Stadia actually brings something to the table in terms of development that's great and unique. It's actually kind of perfect for remote development because you can share builds seamlessly." — Stadia's Jack Buser said the cloud-based platform had helped developers work remotely through the pandemic. Microsoft said last month that its xCloud tech also helped in a similar way.
    • "We can change 'should I start playing' to 'which part should I start playing?'" — In documents shared with developers, Sony said its new Activities feature could help single-player games retain players.

    READ NOW

    Zendesk

    Customer experience (CX) is having a moment. The pandemic has forced and accelerated the adoption of digital channels for many. This is great news. But customer expectations of the digital experience is high, and companies who are thoughtful about the customer experience and differentiate themselves will be winners.

    Read more

    Lootbox

    • The PS5 was Sony's biggest launch ever, it said, though it didn't disclose actual sales numbers (they're likely to have topped the PS4's 2.1 million, however). Microsoft has said the same thing about the Series X/S launch.
    • Square Enix made work from 凯发k8官网下载手机版home permanent. As of today, most employees are allowed to work from 凯发k8官网下载手机版home the majority of the time, though some are still designated as "office based."
    • 45- to 54-year-olds increased their game spending by 76% in the last six months, compared to a year earlier. Overall, game spending is up 33%.
    • EG7 bought Piranha Games for $24.2 million. In other deals, Keywords Studios bought G-Net Media for $32 million; TinyBuild bought a majority stake in Hologryph for $3 million; and Supercell invested $2.8 million in 2Up.
    • Mediatonic opened a U.K. studio, led by Phil Warner. In other moves, Fumiko Okura became Keywords Tokyo's general manager; Peter Levin will be Bublar Group's new CEO and Anders Lundström its CFO; and Jeremy Dela Rosa launched a new nonprofit, Leyline.

    Five Questions for …

    Matthew Ball, media investor, writer and Genvid adviser

    What was your first gaming system?

    If you can believe it, Nintendo 64 was the first I personally owned. Parents didn't support video gaming. Of course, had been playing constantly for a decade prior.

    What is the most important trend in the game business in 2020?

    Games with non-gamelike goals and the destigmatization of game-based socializing.

    What has been the most overlooked aspect or development in the game business over the last year?

    The general topic is widely covered, but the implications of app store fees/policies on the development of in-game marketplaces and virtual economies (e.g. those of Roblox).

    What new technology or technical development are you most looking forward to?

    AR glasses and the mass market rollout of real-time motion capture that's integrated into virtual experiences. The latter won't just mean your Fortnite avatar mimics you, but that "games" like GTA Online's casino will actually have virtual laborers rather than just AI dealers and program-based "entertainment."

    What games are you playing recently that don't come from your company?

    Replaying the BioShock series, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, Betrayal.io, Roblox, and, of course, a ton of Fortnite as always.

    Look out for

    Your 2021 vacation

    For many, myself included, video games have provided a welcome alternative to international travel this year. But even when travel does get back up and running, games aren't going anywhere. That's because Super Nintendo World opens at Universal Studios Japan on Feb. 4, making it the obvious first post-COVID vacation for absolutely every gamer in the world. See you in Osaka.

    — Shakeel Hashim

    Thanks for reading. Tell your friends and colleagues to subscribe here, and send tips, feedback and ideas to sschiesel@szjqgzf.com and shakeel@szjqgzf.com. See you next week.

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