Xbox and Netflix Eye New Gaming Platforms | PlayStation Considers Cross-Platform NFTs
- Xbox and Netflix eye new gaming platforms.
- PlayStation considers cross-platform NFTs.
- Game of the Week: Resident Evil 4
- Other News: GDC 2023, Intel, Twitch & more
Xbox and Netflix Eye New Gaming Platforms Netflix has either a flop or gamechanger in its future
Catching a Break from Regulators
“We want to be in a position to offer Xbox and content from both us and our third-party partners across any screen where somebody would want to play,” Xbox head Phil Spencer told the Financial Times. He confirmed that Xbox intends to launch a mobile game store app as soon as possible. This long pending development ironically hinges on the same regulators who’ve given Microsoft so much grief over its pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard.
The European Union’s Digital Markets Act, which forces the likes of Google and Apple to open up Android and iOS to third-party apps, is key. The law is expected to go into effect in March 2024, barring the admittedly all but expected appeals from major tech companies. As Epic Games found out, Apple is likely to bitterly fight for as long as possible against third party storefronts – like an Xbox mobile gaming store – which would prevent it from “taxing” in-app revenue.
- Xbox has claimed Apple’s App Store policies forced it to offer an inferior web browser experience for Xbox Cloud Gaming.
While an Xbox mobile game app is inevitable, the ultimate fate of its purchase of Activision Blizzard looms large over its designs for mobile gaming. One of Microsoft's motivations for the $69 billion deal is Activision Blizzard’s lucrative mobile portfolio. If it wants to be more than just a console gaming company, this infusion of talent and IP is critical to beefing up its mobile plans.
- Activision Blizzard includes mobile publisher King (Candy Crush), which it acquired in 2016.
- The deal would also grant access to a vast back catalog of IP that could be repurposed or simply remastered for mobile games.
Video streaming giant Netflix continues to inch toward challenging Xbox for pole position in the developing cloud gaming market. Since debuting its first downloadable games in 2021, the company has steadily grown its portfolio to 55 primarily mobile titles. Some of these games are well known titles – such as the first two Monument Valley games, which are expected in 2024, while others are tie-ins to streaming hits like Stranger Things.
- Netflix claims over 40 games will be released in 2023, with another 70 in development.
Taking a Gamble
For Netflix, it’s easy to see the strategy: It's already in the content streaming business, so capitalize on its massive subscriber base and expand into a related market, synergies and all. If it can tap into even a fraction of those 231 million subscribers worldwide, that's potentially a larger audience than all other cloud gaming services combined. At the same time, Netflix has to play its cards right to avoid a Google Stadia-esque flop.
- Pick a Viable Model: Stadia flopped in part because of its buy-to-play model. Netflix seems likely to avoid this, if for any reason its existing a la carte streaming model.
- Quality Over Quantity: This will be the biggest challenge: Game platforms need a game that pulls in players. Netflix has curated a respectable mobile catalog, but it’s frankly going to take more than Stranger Things 3: The Game to take on established gaming franchises.
- Hardware Headaches: It's not an immediate concern, but if Netflix wants to expand into AAA titles, it may need to consider a proprietary controller or third-party peripherals.
-Avery Bissett, Head Writer
PlayStation Considers Cross-Platform NFTs In-game checkpoints and cosmetics – but with NFTs now
Cosmetics by Any Other Name
The patent covers the transfer of NFTs between game platforms. Players would be able to obtain or purchase a unique cosmetic in one game or on one platform and use them in other games or on another platform. Given Sony’s legal squabbles with Microsoft, this almost certainly would mean only PlayStation consoles and PC.
- The patent also proposes using an NFT effectively as a transferable save point.
If industry trends are any indication, Sony is a bit late to the NFT party. Since their pandemic peak, the value of Web 3 transactions have plummeted. Investors are starting to figure out that there are far better uses of capital than Web 3 gaming; Q4 2022 saw less than a third of the Web 3 spending that we saw at the height of the pandemic bubble. Despite billions of investment, gamers by and large aren't interested in NFTs, with only 3% owning them as of June 2022.
Reinventing the Wheel
When PlayStation revamped its subscription services last year to include PlayStation Stars, an awards system for loyal gamers, it swore up and down that these awards weren’t NFTs. It was a clear indication of how radioactive the reputation of NFTs was among its customers. Almost a year later, and the question still remains: What novel functionality do NFTs add? Based on the patent, PlayStation still has yet to answer this question convincingly. Until it does, the risk of damaging the PlayStation brand would likely would outweigh any short-term revenue or buzz from NFTs.
-Avery Bissett, Head Writer
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Upcoming Games (March 24 - 30)
Anyaroth: The Queen’s Tyranny – PC, Switch
Crime Boss: Rockay City – PC
The Crown of Wu – PC, PlayStation, Xbox
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EA Sports PGA Tour – PC, PlayStation, Xbox
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Resident Evil 4 Remake – PC, PlayStation, Xbox
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Simon the Sorcerer - Origins – PC
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Most Anticipated: Resident Evil 4. There are only a handful of franchises in gaming that carry the same high caliber legacy as Resident Evil. Debuting in 1996 on the original Sony PlayStation, the first Resident Evil re-introduced zombies into mainstream culture, offering a unique mix of combat, puzzle solving, inventory management, and survival horror (I still remember being too scared to walk home from my neighbor's house after playing it for the first time). Following record-breaking sales, the franchise went on to produce eight mainline entries, dozens of spin-off titles, and an anthology of Hollywood movies.
Starting in 2019, Capcom begin the process of remaking its original RE entries (skipping the first game as it was technically remade in 2002). The Resident Evil 2 remake brought the 1998 classic into modern times, swapping the "fish tank" view for a more modern third-person angle, and updating all gaming aspects that one would expect 20+ years later. Capcom did this again for Resident Evil 3 in 2020, remaking the 1999 entry Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
Now, in 2023, we will be getting the remake of Resident Evil 4, originally released in 2005 on the Nintendo GameCube. With less to update, given the more modern format of the original, Capcom aims to please fans with a remake that "preserves the essence of the original game, while introducing modernized gameplay, a reimagined storyline, and vividly detailed graphics..."
Capcom has so far managed to produce remakes that stay true to the originals while providing novel and rewarding survival horror experiences at the same time. Striking that perfect balance is not easy, but then again, survival never is.
-Dustin Downs, Editor
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The Tap: News to Go
- Software: Ubisoft announced at GDC 2023 that it is developing an AI ghostwriting tool meant to create first drafts of some NPC dialogue and theoretically free up time for more important development work.
- Industry: PC and console revenues fell 2.2% YoY to $92.3 billion in 2022, primarily due to a 4.2% decline in console gaming, according to Newzoo. Its report also found average playtime dropped 23% on Steam, Xbox, and PlayStation.
- PC/Mobile: Valve's Steam Deck received a 10% discount to celebrate its one-year anniversary, its first discount since launch. The company also revealed the Steam Deck's most popular titles, with Hogwarts Legacy, Vampire Survivors, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Elden Ring, and Hades taking the top five slots.
- GPU: Intel's head of graphics, Raja Koduri, is leaving the company after five years. He was previously head of graphics for AMD before being hired away by Intel to spearhead their return to discrete GPUs. He will be joining an AI startup.
- Streaming: Twitch will be laying off 400 employees as part of Amazon's cost-cutting efforts. The announcement came the week after Twitch CEO Emmett Shear said he will step down to spend more time with his family. (Courtesy of Tech Crunch)