Google Set to Reveal Video Game Streaming Service

As online gaming grows (and disc-based video games decline), tech/media giants such as Google and Apple are eyeing the $100 billion industry for new cloud-based streaming platforms.

Google is reportedly set to disclose a streaming platform March 19 offering high-end games across all platforms, including Android, iPhone, Mac, Chrome, Windows 10 and TVs at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. The search behemoth teased a YouTube video about it.

The company, which would enable users to buy games directly from the TV screen or portable media device, will also unveil a gaming controller (and possibly a console) that could be used with a smart TV.

The move comes as the gaming industry – dominated by Sony (PlayStation), Microsoft (Xbox) and Nintendo – grapple with changing consumer habits and distribution revolving around their longstanding gaming consoles.

Google’s service could enable users to play top games without having to buy an expensive console.

“Cloud gaming will enable publishers to broaden their reach even further by potentially taping into new audiences on any device and any screen,” Thomas Husson, analyst with Forrester Research, told CNBC. “Beyond music or video, gaming represents another opportunity to offer recurring streaming revenue for companies in the gaming ecosystem. For cloud platforms like Amazon, Google or Microsoft, it will also become an opportunity to offer cloud storage and services to game publishers, who spend more and more in their IT infrastructure.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disney Outranks Netflix and Amazon Prime in Brand Study

Disney ranked No. 1 followed by Amazon Prime and Netflix in the media and entertainment industry portion of MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2019 Study.

The study is the largest study of brands based on emotions, according to the company.

Disney rose in the ranking from fifth overall in the 2018 study to first this year.

The remaining brands in the Top 10 for the media & entertainment industry were, in order, PlayStation, YouTube, Xbox, Nintendo, Hulu, HBO and WWE.

MBLM defines Brand Intimacy as “the emotional science that measures the bonds we form with the brands we use and love.” Top intimate brands in the U.S. continued to significantly outperform the top brands in the Fortune 500 and S&P indices in both revenue and profit over the past 10 years, according to the study.

“Media & entertainment continues to be our most intimate industry,” Mario Natarelli, managing partner of MBLM, said in a statement. “The need to escape reality, consume content on demand, and lose ourselves in stories is a powerful combination of factors. Disney is leveraging its nostalgic associations to cultivate stronger bonds with customers. It has also improved its performance with men, while continuing to innovate and expand its offerings.”

Additional findings in the media and entertainment industry were:

  • Disney was the No. 1 brand with both men and women as well respondents aged 45-64;
  • Disney was also the top brand for people making over $100,000;
  • YouTube ranked first for millennials;
  • YouTube also ranked first for those making $35,000-$50,000; and
  • Media and entertainment was also the No. 1 industry for millennials.

The Brand Intimacy 2019 Study is based on the responses of 6,200 consumers and 56,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the UAE. To view the media & entertainment industry findings, please click here. To download the full Brand Intimacy 2019 Study or explore the Data Dashboard click here.

Video Game Industry Eyes Direct-to-Consumer Rewards — and Risks

Taking a cue from the subscription streaming video-on-demand ecosystem, the video game industry has quietly begun offering content to consumers online rather than solely through packaged-media retailers such as GameStop, Best Buy and Target.

Last May game publisher Electronic Arts acquired the cloud gaming technology assets and personnel of a wholly owned subsidiary of GameFly — the online packaged-media rental service that also offers movies and TV shows.

Specifically, EA aims to distribute its games to consumers online without paying license fees to third-party game platforms such as Xbox, PlayStation and Nintendo. At last year’s at annual E3 gaming confab, EA bowed a prototype subscription online gaming platforms EA Access and Origin Access.

“Cloud gaming is an exciting frontier that will help us to give even more players the ability to experience games on any device from anywhere,” Ken Moss, chief technology officer at Electronic Arts, said at the time.

Sony, whose five-year-old subscription gaming service – PlayStation Now – features hundreds of catalog games for $99 annual fee, is reportedly considering direct-to-access for new releases following its purchases of online platforms Gaikai and OnLive.

“The greatest disruption of entertainment is the combination of streaming and subscription,” Andrew Wilson, CEO of Electronic Arts, told Fortune. “More people are engaging, with less friction, through cloud-driven services.”

At the same time, offering consumers online access to hundreds of games for annual or monthly fees (the latter without contract) threatens an established retail market where game publishers often charge and get more than $50 for a single game.

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“I do believe that some subscribers might cancel after finishing the newest game they wanted to play, but the vast majority will keep their subscription because of the online multiplayer component of those same games,” said Greg Potter, an analyst with Kagan, a media research group within S&P Global Market Intelligence. “Publishers are okay with this model because hit games often have multiple revenue streams other than the purchase at the point-of-sale.”

Indeed, the gaming industry saw revenue reach record $43.8 billion in 2018, up 18% from 2017. That figure dwarfed the global box and SVOD markets.

The latter has Netflix CEO Reed Hastings worried.

In the SVOD pioneer’s recent shareholder letter, Hastings said Netflix controlled about 10% of domestic TV screen time – a tally he said is under threat more from online gaming than other SVOD competitors.

“We compete with and lose to [online gaming service] ​Fortnite ​more than HBO Now,” Hastings wrote. “When YouTube went down globally for a few minutes in October, our viewing and signups spiked for that time. Hulu is small compared to YouTube for viewing time. Our focus is not on Disney+, Amazon [Prime Video] or others, but on how we can improve our experience for our members.”

 

 

Nintendo Switch Fastest-Selling Game System of Its Generation

Nintendo announced that the Nintendo Switch has become the fastest-selling video game system of this hardware generation in its first 21 months of release, citing data from The NPD Group.

NPD tracks video game sales in the United States.

From its launch in March 2017 through November 2018, Nintendo Switch has sold more than 8.7 million units, outpacing U.S. sales of all other current-generation systems at the same point in their life cycles, according to Nintendo, citing NPD data.

Nintendo is also the overall top-selling U.S. software publisher so far for 2018, according to NPD data through November, the company stated.

The December release of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game has become not only the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game of all time, but also the fastest-selling game in the “Super Smash Bros.” series, with U.S. sales of more than 3 million units in just 11 days, according to Nintendo’s internal sales data.

“We are thrilled to see such a strong reaction from consumers in the second holiday season for Nintendo Switch,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s SVP of sales and marketing, in a statement. “We’re looking forward to delivering more excitement and smiles to our fans in the coming year and beyond.”

U.S. hardware unit and dollar sales for 2018 are at their highest annual totals since 2011, according to Nintendo, with Nintendo eShop sales growing 105% from 2017.

‘Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3’ Game Coming Exclusively to Nintendo Switch

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order is heading exclusively to the Nintendo Switch video game system, Nintendo announced.

Nintendo made the announcement with a trailer shown during The Game Awards in Los Angeles.

The game brings together superheroes and villains from across the Marvel Universe to battle for the limitless power of the Infinity Gauntlet, one Stone at a time. The team of characters must use their superpowers to defeat the mad cosmic tyrant Thanos and his ruthless warmasters, The Black Order. The game will feature an original story and a playable cast of dozens of Marvel superheroes, including the Avengers, the X-Men, and — for the first time in series history — the Guardians of the Galaxy, according to the Nintendo release.

Up to four players can drop in for co-op battles in a variety of ways: They can play online (through a Nintendo account), link up offline via local wireless or pass a Joy-Con controller to a friend to join the team, according to Nintendo. With another pair of Joy-Con (sold separately), four players can team up on one system. In addition to the series’ traditional perspective, the new entry will let players select a dynamic, zoomed-in heroic view, allowing for a more immersive play style for single-player or multiplayer when using multiple systems.

“As longtime fans of the franchise, we could not be prouder and more excited to bring back Ultimate Alliance with its biggest game yet,” said Mike Jones, VP and executive producer, Marvel Games, in a statement. “Marvel Ultimate Alliance is all about teaming up with your friends and creating your own ‘dream team’ of superheroes to go on adventures across the Marvel Universe, and Nintendo Switch is perfect for delivering on that promise of cooperative gameplay and shared experiences.”

“The Marvel Ultimate Alliance games have been beloved by fans for more than a decade, and this new installment on Nintendo Switch will deliver even more of the thrills and heroics that the franchise is known for,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s SVP of sales and marketing, in a statement. “Thanks to our partnership with Marvel, the fate of the Marvel Universe will literally be in the hands of Nintendo Switch players, whether they’re at home or on the go.”

Additional details about the game will be announced in the future, according to Nintendo.

Report: Nintendo to Bow New Version of Switch

Nintendo is working on a new version of the Switch console, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal citing anonymous sources.

The new console could be released as soon as next summer, according to the report.

In a statement provided to USA Today Nintendo said it had “nothing to announce on this topic.”

The Switch debuted in March of last year.

Competitors Sony and Microsoft have each released multiple versions of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Nintendo Reveals Details About Pending Switch Online Subscription Service

Nintendo late May 7 revealed details about its pending Switch Online subscription service enabling users to play games online compatible with Switch handheld device games.

The information follows news incoming CEO Shuntaro Furukawa wants to recapture the Pokémon Go smartphone game craze of 2016 with a new platform of smartphone apps.

The platform will also offer classic Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) games with added online functionality, back up save data for most games and use additional features for the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app that will enhance the online experience for compatible games.

Individual monthly memberships will range from $3.99; three months for $7.99 and 12 months for $19.99. Family membership (12 months) costs $34.99, enabling up to eight account holders to use the Nintendo Switch Online service, even on different systems.

Classic NES games will initially include 20 games, with more added on a regular basis. At launch, previously announced games Balloon FightDr. Mario and Super Mario Bros. 3 will be joined by Donkey KongIce ClimberThe Legend of ZeldaMario Bros.SoccerSuper Mario Bros. and Tennis. An additional 10 launch games will be announced in the future.

Players for the first time will be able to access classic NES games online. Depending on the game, players can engage in online competitive or co-op multiplayer, or take turns controlling the action.

Multiple users even watch each other play single-player games online, and “pass the controller” at any time. Every classic NES game will support voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app. It will also be possible to play the games offline.

 

Redbox Expanding Nintendo Switch Game Rentals

Redbox March 21 announced the expansion of Nintendo Switch game rentals to kiosks in Denver; Salt Lake City; and Nashville, Tenn.

Combined with an initial rollout in October 2017 in Portland, Ore.; Seattle and San Antonio, more than 2,000 Redbox kiosks across six markets feature Nintendo Switch games for rent.

“Nintendo launched the Switch console about a year ago, and now it’s the fastest-selling console of all time,” said Aaron McDowell, head of games at Redbox, in a company blog. “People love it. And they love it because you can use it whenever you want and however you want.”

He praised the game system’s flexibility.

“The Switch has a screen and two removable controllers called Joy-Cons,” he said. “You can put in a game cartridge and just play it alone wherever you want with the controllers attached. Or if you want to play with a friend, the controllers come off and you can challenge each other. You can also plug, or ‘dock,’ the Switch into your TV or any screen that has a USB port if you want the big-screen experience.”

He added Redbox is more than doubling the number of kiosks with Switch rentals. The initial rollout included 600 kiosks.

Nintendo Switch games available or coming soon in March, include:

  • Dragonball Xenoverse 2
  • Just Dance 2018
  • LA Noir
  • LEGO Ninjago
  • Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
  • Monster Energy Super Cross
  • NBA 2K18
  • Pokken Tournament DX
  • Sonic Forces
  • Splatoon 2

Game rentals are $3 a night. Some previously-rented games are also available to purchase. The full lineup of games available to rent at Redbox is listed here.

Apple, Disney and YouTube Top Millennial Brands in New Report

Apple, Disney and YouTube, respectively, ranked as the top three most “intimate” brands among millennials, according to MBLM’s Brand Intimacy 2018 Report, which is the largest study of brands based on emotions. Brand intimacy leverages and strengthens the emotional bonds between a person and a brand.

“We were surprised and pleased to see YouTube as an addition to the top three most intimate brands for millennials this year,” stated Mario Natarelli, managing partner, MBLM. “We believe its rise is due to our culture’s continued need for escape and the brand’s immediate, diverse content, personalities and growing offerings in movies and live TV. YouTube is clearly an established ritual in the lives of many millennials today.”

By comparison, in MBLM’s 2017 report, Disney placed first, followed by Amazon and Netflix.

The other brands that rounded out the top 10 were Target, Amazon, Nintendo, Google, Xbox, Netflix and Whole Foods.

The age group of 18-24-year-olds had a slightly different mix of top companies. The top 10 for that group were Apple, Amazon, YouTube, PlayStation, Starbucks, Nintendo, Google, Netflix, Coca Cola and Walmart.

The report analyzed the responses of 6,000 consumers and 54,000 brand evaluations across 15 industries in the United States, Mexico and the United Arab Emirates. The full report will be released on March 13, 2018.