◼ “A robot wrote this entire article. Are you scared yet, human?”. AI is everywhere.
◼ After TikTok, Tencent seems to be under scrutiny by the US government. Tecent is owning, holding stakes, or has publishing deals with Riot, Epic, ActivisionBlizzard, Roblox, Discord and other. This might get ugly.
◼ Epic vs Apple (and, let’s not forget, Google): Apple and Google removed Fortnite from the App Stores, but Apple was blocked by a judge from removing Epic’s full developer license, a move that would have affected the Unreal Engine severely and which felt retaliatory. Epic is forfeiting quite a bit of revenue to fight this. Legally, all this seems to boil down to how to define the relevant markets.
See also: Ben Evans' take on “App stores, trust and anti-trust”. Link
◼ TikTok, meanwhile, is now shy of a CEO and still up for a government-forced sale. Fitting these strange times.
◼ Epic released a feature that woud bypass in-app purchase in Fortnite on Apples and Googles app stores. Google and Apple pulled Fortnite from the app store within hours. This was Epic’s wanted and expected result: within even fewer hours, they sued Apple and Google for anti-competitive behavior. I have a LOT of thoughts on this. But for now: hand me the popcorn, this is getting interesting…
Link See also: “Epic Games, a plucky corporate underdog worth $17 billion.”
◼ Speaking of popcorn: Trump issued two executive orders to “ban” TikTok. Nomnomnom, delicious. Link See also: “Oval Office Brawl” – dibs on that name for a game! More popcorn, please.
Link And let’s not forget: “Key money”. Can’t make this stuff up.
Warner Brothers just premiered the latest trailer of the upcoming Christopher Nolan film Tenet – in Fortnite. Thisgotalotofattentionin the media. As a marketing coup, it’s safe to say that it has worked spectacularly well given all this additional buzz and exposure.
Here, I am more interested in another angle: how much of that is a gimmick? Would any media outlet still report excitedly about a movie trailer being shown exclusively in a video game in 2-3y? Will watching an entire movie from within a video game become the norm? And how much of that means that we are all about to dive into the “Metaverse”?
It’s is also interesting to ponder for whom this is ultimately most beneficial. So let’s take a brief look.
◼ Epic’s Unreal 5 engine demo on the PS5 sure looks yummy.
◼ Facebook would like to acquire Giphy, the Internet’s quintessential GIF search engine powering every animated joke in anything from iMessage to Twitter to Slack, for $400m. This might cause some anti-trust headaches.
◼ Apple now allows “premium subscription video providers” (Amazon) to charge consumers directly – no 30% cut to Apple. In turn, these apps play nicely with Siri, tvOS, Airplay etc. And it’ll look good to anti-trust regulators. Still, this and changing default apps in iOS? Hell must be an ice palace by now.
◼ Should you wear a face mask? “Face masks for COVID-19: A deep dive into the data”.
◼ Apple is considering letting users change the default email, browser, music apps in iOS. In other news: hell is freezing over.
◼ Luxury brands are preparing for spending collapse as most people plan to cut back on nonessential purchases. This might seem insignificant but it is just one tip of one large iceberg as these effects of Coronavirus ripple through the supply chain from Italy to Bangladesh, affecting tens of thousands of people. Link
◼ Instagram has made $20 billion (!) from ads. Insane. This is also considerably more than YouTube’s estimated $15b and with a higher profit margin, since YouTube shares revenue with content creators (Instagram doesn’t). Link
◼ “Supercell’s off year”. Well, $1.56 billion revenue and $577m profit is not bad for an off year. But it’s clear that they are looking for the next big thing. Link See also: Supercell’s CEO’s take in his blog post. Link
◼ “2019 Year In Review” from Superdata/Nielsen. Lots of stats and figures on games and interactive media overall. Key take-aways: mobile titles earn almost 3 out of every 5 dollars spent – and 4 out 5 dollars are spent in F2P. Link
◼ Liquid people, walking barcodes, and designing intelligence: Fjord’s 2020 Trends (Fjord is Accenture’s design and innovation unit). My favorite: digital doubles. Uncanny. Link
◼ “Harbinger customers” are people that consistently buy products that get discontinued, buy real-estate that underperforms, and donate to losing political candidates. Fascinating. Link
Here’s the PDF of the actual research paper: Link
◼ Yearly reviews are for losers. App Annie looks at the Top Apps & Games of the last decade. Candy is #2 in downloads. Can you guess #1? Link
◼ Christmas crazy-time is here – it’s also a good moment to think about giving back. If you are looking for great charities, look at Givewell.org. They provide independent, data-backed research and recommend few but highly effective charities. I’ve been donating to the Against Malaria Foundation for several years now, on their recommendation. Go do some good, people. Link
◼ “52 things I learned in 2019.” These yearly posts by Tom Whitwell are amazing to read and a pure treasure trove! Just take #8: “Drunk shopping could be a $45bn /year industry, and only 6% of people regret their drunk purchases.” Sit back, read, enjoy. Link
◼ If you just have time for one of the things of this list, take this one from games: “1,500 Slot Machines Walk into a Bar: Adventures in Quantity Over Quality.” Smart, funny, questionable. sad… this story got it all. Link
◼ Tencent will start selling Nintendo’s Switch console in China next week, the first time the Japanese company’s flagship product will be distributed officially in the world’s largest videogame markets. This could be big for Nintendo. Link ($)
◼ The persistent myth of “female office rivalries”: there’s no evidence that women are more hostile to other women than men are to other men. So let’s bury that myth, shall we? Link
◼ How does Zynga make the decision on whether to retire a live game, reinvest in it, or ramp up work on a sequel? Link
◼ Are game designers playing god? Richard Bartle, game designer lecturer at Uni Essex thinks we might. Completely irrelevant to your day-to-day work – but it’s the kind of fun stuff Elon Musk discusses in the hot tub. Link