Streaming content is the natural endpoint for entertainment content. The many conveniences that come from streaming outweigh the concerns about a lack of ‘ownership’ for the consumer of the media they consume, data throttling once net neutrality is a distant memory, and the quite justified concerns over subscription fatigue due to the sheer amount of streaming services on offer.
The reality is that ease of use trumps all of those, particularly for casual consumers, and as infrastructure and internet penetration improves further the proportion of people using streaming services will only grow. Last year Ofcom reported that nearly half of UK households now have access to at least one television streaming service, as the number subscribing to the most popular services “increased from 11.2m (39%) in 2018 to 13.3m (47%) in 2019”. That doesn’t take into account the number of households that also subscribe to a music streaming service like Spotify, either.
However, that isn’t to say that streaming is necessarily a good fit for every medium. It works well for low-data, passive mediums like audio and television. Even Netflix’s ambition Black Mirror special, Bandersnatch, which was effectively an experiment in interactive television content in the vein of an adventure game, was possible through Netflix’s infrastructure. But the reality is that the technology and infrastructure to stream many video games isn’t there yet – despite some serious investment from big players.
In 2019, experience trumps product. Retail outlets are retooling their spaces to make the experience of shopping, the so-called ‘retail journey’, as attractive to the consumer as the items they hold in their arms as they leave the shop. Many media companies are attempting to emulate Time Out’s food market success and transition into events and experience businesses, the better to appeal to the Millennials and cash-rich Boomers who prioritise making memories.
A lot of that is driven by the rise of consumer technology that enables brand new experiences, from portable 3D printers that let you take away a physical model of your own face at the end, to venues dedicated entirely to esports, to the ever more interactive experiences offered by theme parks. Many savvy media companies and retailers
Global esports revenues are expected to hit $1.1bn this year. Over $155 million in prize money was awarded in nearly 3,500 esports tournaments last year, playing games like Dota 2, League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offense. $11.47m of this prize money went to just one team: OG, a European professional team which is famed for playing Valve’s Dota 2. With teams like Team Liquid racking up overall earnings of over $26m, and global esports viewers projected to total 453.8m this year (representing a year on year growth of +15%), competitive gaming is becoming a money-making phenomenon for both players and investors. So where is the money coming from, who is investing and what’s in it for them?
Esports is still in its infancy, comparatively, so the medium represents a new, current and exciting opportunity for traditional investors, looking for growing areas, to maximise return on
China’s games industry is experiencing its slowest growth in at least a decade and a half, despite evidence that the country’s gamers are spending more of their time playing games (see graph below). The world’s largest games market, worth some $32.5bn a year, is in the midst of a huge shake-up. Beijing has sought to limit the industry, alluding to growing concerns
On Sunday 18th March 2018 a 49 year old woman in Arizona was killed by an autonomous Uber car, which struck her as she pushed her bicycle along the roadside. The death was blamed on defective software. Two years prior to this, the first of multiple Tesla driver deaths occurred. There is significant evidence
Every year, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) churns out enough news, analysis and memes to keep the content-hungry gaming press happy for at least the next quarter. 2018’s conference was no different, with strong showings for games like Cyberpunk 2077, Devil May Cry V, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and tons more.
But underpinning all those flashy reveal trailers and lengthy gameplay demos are some trends that demonstrate where game devs and publishers believe the future of the industry lies. Not just in the genres they think are going to be popular, but in where the money to support multi-million dollar game development is likely to come. Here are a few of those trends:
With PlayStation and Nintendo holding most of the cards when it comes to popular video game exclusives, people have not only been questioning the worth of owning an Xbox, but whether there was any point in Microsoft making another one. So, all eyes were on Microsoft’s E3 conference last night. Some considered it a do or die
We have long argued that the games industry should be treated as seriously as those other pillars of the entertainment business, film and music. Government seems to be getting the message, and – as we reported last month – the figures certainly stack up.
But perhaps the BBC is still struggling with the idea of games as a grown-up industry in its own right. When the industry does get coverage (on the Today show, for example), the presenters are typically as well informed as, say, a US senator facing a Facebook Chief Executive.
And then there was last week’s broadcast of the BAFTA Games Awards ceremony. If there is one thing
Modern media, to some extent, is just a series of stunts and marketing materials.
News publishers have to compete with digital outlets who, by nature of the race to scale, sell their content with hyperbole and screaming rhetoric of the sort we used to call ‘clickbait’. Even BuzzFeed, whose news wing is consistently breaking some of the biggest stories of any given week, used to indulge in this.
Consequently even the legacy publishers find themselves dragged further towards that hysterical drive to be noticed. Take The Atlantic, the US-based publication whose work and business model other publishers look upon with envy. Last month, it appointed the arch-conservative columnist Kevin Williamson, as a stunt intended to broaden its appeal, though it was dressed up as an attempt to provide balanced coverage. Unsurprisingly,
The US linear television industry has hit ‘permanent recession‘ in terms of the proportion of the total ad spend it commands, according to Magna. The rapid rise of digital ad spend has necessarily come at the expense of other areas and television, despite its reputation for delivering the best ROI of any medium, is no longer looking quite so unassailable. Mediapost’s Joe Mandele writes:
“‘National television ad sales will decline between -2% to -3% going forward,’ Magna concludes.
The picture is not any prettier for the local TV ad marketplace, and with the exception of election years, Magna does not expect any growth for local TV at all.”
The same is true to a lesser degree in the UK, where AA/Warc predictions in January put the % YOY change in television ad-spent at -2, even including the 11.4% increase in ad spend against VOD. That’s despite
In a recent blog, we looked at the threat Brexit represents to the future of the UK creative industries, focusing mainly on the games industry – and for a very good reason: the UK games retail market is now a £3.35bn industry, its sales now almost equal to that of home sales for music and video combined.
But this blog perhaps missed the wider, refreshingly positive story about the state of the entertainment market as a whole. For many years, reports have suggested
Last week, it was reported that there are more unfilled job vacancies than ever before in the British economy. As of November 2017, there were 810,000 unfilled vacancies in the UK – an increase of 60,000 on the previous year.
For all employers, that deserves a moment of reflection. But for employers of highly skilled workers, such as programmers, the current situation threatens to become a crisis as uncertainty over the direction of Brexit creeps in.
The challenge of attracting talent to the UK is underlined by the latest Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which shows the UK has dropped from 3rd place in 2017, to 8th place this year. The rumours and uncertainty surrounding our future relationship with the European union are evidently making the UK a less attractive place to work.
By now, you have probably heard about Improbable, the virtual simulation start-up that raised $502m from Japan’s SoftBank – but what you might not have considered is how its technology could be of interest to your business.
Founded in 2012 by a pair of Cambridge University computer science graduates, Improbable is now valued at more than $1bn thanks to the investment by SoftBank, which represents the largest-ever venture financing round for a private British company.
The business employs 170 computer scientists, engineers and designers who are all attempting to recreate the most detailed version possible of the real world in digital form.
In my last blog on gaming consoles, I asked whether anyone would be brave enough to launch a new Nintendo magazine in light of the projected success of the Nintendo Switch console. Well, it turns out they have been…
Just days after I wrote that piece, SwitchPlayer magazine received a limited release after funds were raise for its launch through crowdsourcing platform Patreon.
Since the release of its Game and Watch in 1980, Nintendo has dominated the handheld console market. The Game Boy and Nintendo DS are remembered fondly by people who played them in their youth while latest Nintendo 3DS had sold around 60m units by June 2016.
What’s more, a national survey in the 1990s found that Nintendo’s character, Mario, was ‘more recognizable to American children than Mickey Mouse’.
When it comes to home consoles, however, it’s a different story.
Earlier this year, the overall value of the UK games market ‘soared’ past £4.1bn for the first time – so we are overdue a look at how publishers and developers achieve growth in the face of a prosperous secondary games market.
For the uninitiated, the secondary market covers the resale of second-hand games and trade-in (often for store credit). Retailers including Amazon, GAME, and HMV re-sell and, historically, this has been considered to the detriment of developers and publishers.
In less than a month since launch, Pokémon Go, the location-based, augmented reality game for mobiles, has become a phenomenon and a record breaker.
It’s the fastest game to ever top the App Store and GooglePlay. In its first week became the most downloaded app of all time, and it’s also become the most actively played mobile game in the US ever.
In under four weeks, the game has been made available in 35 countries and has more than doubled the share value of Nintendo, which made the original Pokémon game in the 1990s, to $42bn.
That’s incredible, not only for the sheer escalation, but because Nintendo doesn’t even produce the new game. It’s made by Niantic, of which Nintendo owns a share and from which it receives a licensing fee.
Thanks to staggered release schedules, we’ve been robbed of a good old-fashioned console war for several years now. But, with Microsoft and Sony launching the Xbox One and Playstation 4 within a few weeks of each other in November, the tail end of 2013 once again presented the opportunity to put the devices back to back. So, which of these two consoles won Christmas?
One of 2013’s most eagerly awaited gaming releases, Grand Theft Auto V, has proved to be the most successful launch in the industry’s history – but what does that mean when compared with other media earnings of recent times?
The game – developed by Rockstar Games – had reported sales topped $1bn (£626m) within three days of its release.
To put that success in some kind of context it’s useful to compare the figure with earnings in media verticals that sit away from the world of computer gaming.
It is too easy to say that a lack of a coherent digital startegy is what killed HMV, Comet and Jessops. Too easy, but at least partly true. As this article by Philip Beeching on Guardian.co.uk shows, the senior management at HMV refused to understand the inevitable, even when it was presented to them in 2002. He claims that, at an advertising pitch he made:
The relevant chart went up and I said: “The three greatest threats to HMV are, online retailers, downloadable music and supermarkets discounting loss leader product.”
Suddenly I realised the MD had stopped the meeting and was visibly angry. “I have never heard such rubbish”, he said, “I accept that supermarkets are a thorn in our side but not for the serious music, games or film buyer and as for the other two, I don’t ever see them being a real threat, downloadable music is just a fad and people will always want the atmosphere and experience of a music store rather than online shopping.”
An unnamed Kotaku source caused a flutter of excitement yesterday by claiming that the PS4 is expected to launch around Christmas 2013, and is codenamed Orbis. While doubts persist as to the veracity of these claims, it’s believed that “select developers” have already received development kits for the new console. It can only be good news for developer and media jobs in the long run.
Apparently, the Orbis won’t be backwards compatible with PS3 games, potentially disappointing millions of gamers. But most intriguing is the news that the PS4 will have some kind of functionality built in that will prevent the use of pre-used disc games – locking a particular disc to a single PSN account.
At the very least it will severely limit the functionality of second-hand games. As an anti-piracy measure you can see their thinking, particularly as full retail games will be available in download-only format. But as someone who grew up eagerly borrowing and lending cartridges in the playground, it’s hard not to feel like something’s being lost here. Regardless of the truth or otherwise of yesterday’s rumours, expect something spectacular.
A day before the RTS awards, it’s good to see the government heavily trailing tax breaks for British TV productions in this week’s budget. Obviously, this is not yet policy; we wait to see how this will pan out on Wednesday. Nonetheless, an article in the Guardian today illustrated the huge impact these – relatively inexpensive – tax breaks can have on the industry. They can, for example, be great for media jobs creation.
Downton Abbey was, of course, a huge success. While it did not
The other day I wrote that “’does this have a robust text inputting interface and lengthy battery life?” is increasingly less of a concern for many consumers than “can I play Angry Birds on this?” Clearly Samsung feel the same way, having twigged that “can I get loads of extra levels of Angry Birds for free on this?” is an even bigger draw.
Not long after I posted yesterday’s entry on the importance of content to mobile OS’s, my attention was drawn to this post from Zombieville developer Mika Mobile. Essentially, the company has decided that it isn’t making enough from Android downloads to merit the time it takes to keep them updated, and is pulling out of Android development altogether:
“We spent about 20% of our total man-hours last year dealing with Android