Netflix Acquires Video Game Developer Boss Fight Entertainment

Netflix has expanded its foray into video games and mobile games with the acquisition of Boss Fight Entertainment, a game publisher based in Allen, Texas. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. The acquisition marks the third for Netflix as the SVOD behemoth seeks to diversify its content portfolio. Earlier this month, Netflix acquired Finland-based publisher Next Games in a cash offer worth about $72 million.

Boss Fight titles include the “Age of Empires,” “Star Wars: The Old Republic” and “Halo Wars” franchises, as well as the free-to-play mega-hits CastleVilleDungeon Boss, myVEGAS Bingo and Kingdom Boss!

“Since we launched mobile games to our members around the world just four months ago, we’ve been expanding our games catalog bit by bit as we build out our in-house creative development team,” Amir Rahimi, VP of Game Studios at Netflix, wrote in a post.

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Boss Fight Entertainment was founded in 2013 by David Rippy (CEO), Bill Jackson (CCO), and Scott Winsett (COO), who collectively said joining Netflix’s push for ad-free games will enable them to focus on content creation rather than the business side.

“Netflix’s commitment to offer ad-free games as part of members’ subscriptions enables game developers like us to focus on creating delightful game play without worrying about monetization,” Rippy, Jackson and Winsett wrote.

Boss Fight Entertainment will continue to operate out of its current studios in Allen (Dallas), Austin, and Seattle.

“Through partnerships with developers around the world, hiring top talent, and acquisitions like this, we hope to build a world-class games studio capable of bringing a wide variety of delightful and deeply engaging original games — with no ads and no in-app purchases — to our hundreds of millions of members around the world,” Rahimi wrote.

Netflix Launches Three More Mobile Games, Including First-Person Shooter

Netflix March 22 announced the availability of three more mobile video games, including the streamer’s inaugural first-person shooter title. The SVOD pioneer has quietly upped its gaming profile in an effort to attract new subscribers in the U.S. — it’s most-saturated market.

Netflix, which last November launched its first mobile games, including Stranger Things: 1984, Stranger Things 3: The Game, Shooting Hoops, Card Blast and Teeter Up, recently acquired Finland-based publisher Next Games, which accounts for several games based on “The Walking Dead” zombie series.

Netflix’s new games include sequel Into the Dead 2: Unleashed, which puts the gun in the player’s hand to combat zombies; This Is a True Story, a puzzle about an African woman’s challenge to find water for her family; and Shatter Remastered, a reboot of Shatter, the 2009 title released on the Sony PlayStation 3 platform.

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The titles can be download directly from the Netflix mobile app or directly from the Apple or Google app store. Android mobile users will see a dedicated games row and a games tab where they can select any game to download. Apple iOS mobile users will see a dedicated games row where you can select any game to download.

Tablet users will see a dedicated games link, or they can select games from the categories drop down menu to download and play.

Nielsen: Movie Discs, Video Games, Streaming Up February Market Share

Despite the Super Bowl, Winter Olympics and Russian invasion of Ukraine, broadcast TV consumption fell in February, with the gap filled in part by video games, movie discs and alternate (i.e., not Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+) streaming video, according to new data from Nielsen.

The media measurement company said TV consumption in February fell 0.8% from January, spearheaded by a 0.4% broadcast market share decline to 26%, cable market share dipped 0.2% to 35.4%, and streaming video share fell 0.2% to 28.7%.

Making up the void was a 1% increase in the “Other” non-TV, streaming market share to 10%, which included movies on packaged media, i.e., DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

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Of Streaming’s 28.7% share, the interesting tidbit is that leading streamers — Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ — shed some more share that was picked up by “Other streaming,” which includes niche services as well as linear streamers like Spectrum, DirecTV and Sling TV.

Netflix’s perennial leading streaming market share 0.2% fell to 6.4%, YouTube/YouTube TV and Hulu remained unchained at 5.7% and 3%, respectively. Prime Video dipped 0.1% to 2.3%, while Disney+ dipped 0.1% to 1.7%. The “Other” segment of streaming increased 0.1% to 9.5%.

NPD: Video Game Industry Marks Fourth Consecutive Monthly Revenue Decline

Sales of video games, consoles and accessories fell 6% in February to $4.38 billion, compared with revenue of $4.65 billion during February 2021, according to new data from The NPD Group. The decline marks the fourth consecutive monthly drop for the video game industry, which has seen the market cool slightly from record-setting revenue during the pandemic era (2020-21) when many consumers were forced to stay at home due to government mandates.

The February decline was the largest following a 2% dip in January and 1% slip in December 2021.

NPD said hardware sales, which include new-generation game consoles, dropped 27% to $295 million from $404 million as supplies issues continue to hamper in-store availability.

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The Nintendo Switch continues to be the best-selling platform in terms of unit sales and revenue, followed by Microsoft Xbox Series S/X consoles and Sony’s PlayStation 5 — the latter the top-selling console in 2022 based on revenue.

Accessory sales fell 7% to $180 million from $193.5 million last year, driven by sales of the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller. Games sales, which include packaged media and digital, fell 4% to $3.91 billion from $4.07 billion last year.

Top-selling game in February was Elden Ring from Bandai Namco Entertainment, followed by Sony’s Horizon II: Forbidden West and Nintendo’s Pokemon Legends: Arceus.

Netflix Acquiring Finnish Mobile Game Developer for $72 Million

Netflix continues to ratchet up its video game presence, announcing March 2 that it entered into a combination agreement to acquire Finland-based publisher Next Games in a cash offer worth about $72 million. The company is no stranger to Netflix having partnered for the streamer’s Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales mobile game based on the platform’s popular original series.

“Next Games has a seasoned management team, strong track record with mobile games based on entertainment franchises, and solid operational capabilities,” Michael Verdu, VP of games at Netflix, said in a statement.

Verdu next the publisher would join Netflix as a “core studio” in a strategic region and key talent market to help expand the streamer’s internal game studio capabilities.

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“While we’re just getting started in games, I am confident that together with Next Games we will be able to build a portfolio of world class games that will delight our members around the world,” he said.

Founded in 2013 and led by CEO Teemu Huuhtanen, Next Games had approximately 120 employees at the end of 2021 and reported sales of approximately €27.2 million ($30 million) in 2020, with 95% of revenue generated from in-game purchases.

“Joining forces with the world’s largest streaming service, Netflix, presents an opportunity for a logical and exciting continuation of our strategy to craft interactive experiences for the world to enjoy,” Huuhtanen said. “This is a unique opportunity to level-up the studio on all fronts and continue on our mission together.”

Amazon Launches ‘Luna’ Cloud Gaming Platform

Amazon March 1 announced that its much-hyped Luna cloud gaming service is finally available in the United States with an expanded library of games and features. The subscription-based platform lets users across all skill levels play games on their own devices, including Fire TV, Fire tablets, Windows PCs, Chromebook, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android phones.

The new Prime Gaming Channel also affords Prime members a rotating selection of free games on Luna. Players can access additional games by subscribing to the Retro Channel and Jackbox Games Channel at $4.99 each monthly. Features include “live broadcasting” to Twitch and the Luna phone controller, which is available in the Luna Controller app for iPhone and Android phones.

“Luna [enables] customers to instantly play high-quality, immersive games on the devices they already own,” Daniel Rausch, VP of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services, said in a statement.

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Luna offers six gaming channels with an expansive catalog of titles that can be streamed in high-definition. Titles this month include Devil May Cry 5; Observer: System Redux; PHOGS!; Flashback; and, from March 8-14, Immortals Fenyx Rising.

The Retro Channel features classic games from publishers such as Capcom and SNK, so subscribers have access to titles such as Street Fighter II: Hyper FightingMetal Slug 3 and Castlevania Anniversary Collection, among others

The Jackbox Games Channel features eight family-themed game party packs available with one subscription. Games include Quiplash, You Don’t Know Jack, Drawful and Trivia Murder Party. These titles support Luna Couch, a cloud-first feature that lets you invite others to join a multiplayer gameplay session instantly, even if they don’t have a Luna subscription.

On April 1, a new subscription for Luna+ will cost $9.99 per month and the Family Channel will cost $5.99 per month. Existing early access customers, and customers who sign up for Luna+ or Family Channel by March 31, can lock in founder’s pricing and keep Luna+ at $5.99 per month, and the Family Channel at $2.99 per month.

Luna+ offers more than 100 titles, including Devil May Cry 5GhostrunnerTeam Sonic Racing and Yakuza: Like a Dragon; while the Ubisoft+ Channel ($17.99) provides access to publisher’s releases, such as Assassin’s Creed: ValhallaFar Cry 6 and Immortals Fenyx Rising. The Family Channel comes with a curated selection of titles for all ages, including Monster Truck Championship, Heave Ho and Sponge Bob Squarepants: Battle for Bikini Bottom.

Separately, with an update on PC, Mac and Fire TV, a new “live broadcast” button lets users stream gameplay live with a camera feed overlaid on-screen, providing a simple way to broadcast to friends or the Twitch community.

Gamers can also try Luna on Fire TV using just an iPhone or Android phone as the controller through the Luna Controller app, available as a free download in the iOS and Android app stores. The on-screen controller is an option for new or casual gamers without a controller who want to check out side-scrollers, turn-based RPGs, and trivia titles.

January Video Game Sales Fall for Third-Straight Month

Sales of new video game titles dipped in January — the third-consecutive monthly decline compared with the previous-year period.

Total sales last month fell 2% to $4.68 billion, from $4.77 billion a year earlier, according to data from The NPD Group. Software sales dropped 4% to $4.1 billion, from $4.27 billion. Accessories declined 15% to $185 million, from $217.6 million a year ago. Hardware sales climbed 22% to $390 million, from $319.6 million a year ago — driven by ongoing sales of the Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series consoles.

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The top-selling game in January included new Pokémon release Pokémon Legends: Arceus, which supplanted Call of Duty: Vanguard as the month’s best seller. Other top sellers included Monster Hunter: Rise, God of War, and Madden NFL 22.

Hub: Social Media, Gaming, Online Videos Downsize TV Viewing Time

Social media activities, including online video and separately, video games, continue to eat away at the time consumers spend watching television. New data from Hub Research found that TV and movies account for 48% of all the time consumers say they spend with screen-based entertainment. That’s down 5% from a year ago, and down 11% from 2019.

The stats come from a December 2021 survey of 2,179 U.S. consumers aged 13-74, who watch at least one hour of TV per week and have broadband service. 

Notably, the older the survey respondent, the more time s/he spends in front of the TV. At just 35 years old, Hub saw a significant shift toward the consumption of TV and movies as the primary source of entertainment time. Among respondents over the age of 35, about 60% of their time was spent watching TV and movies.

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“When it comes to sources of screen-based entertainment, younger and older consumers could not be more different,” Peter Fondulas, Hub principal and co-author of the study, said in a statement.

The analyst wonders whether today’s young consumers will always prioritize non-traditional content — or whether they’ll start to resemble older consumers as they grow older.

“Our prediction is that their behaviors are so ingrained that non-traditional content will always be a significant part of their entertainment consumption,” Fondulas said.

Sony Acquiring ‘Halo’ Video Game Developer Bungie for $3.6 Billion

Sony Interactive Entertainment Jan. 31 announced it has entered into definitive agreements to acquire independent video game developer Bungie, whose properties include the “Halo” and “Destiny” franchises, for $3.6 billion.

The deal aims to give Sony access to Bungie’s approach to live game services and technology expertise. Bungie will continue to operate independently.

Based in Bellevue, Wash., with more than 900 employees, Bungie is currently focused on the long-term development of Destiny 2, expanding the Destiny universe, and creating entirely new worlds in future IP.

“We’ve had a strong partnership with Bungie since the inception of the ‘Destiny’ franchise, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to officially welcome the studio to the PlayStation family,” Jim Ryan, president and CEO of SIE, said in a statement.

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Ryan said the transaction is an important step in Sony’s strategy to expand the reach of PlayStation system to wider audiences.

“Like Bungie, our community is core to PlayStation’s DNA, and our shared passion for the gamer and building the best place to play will now evolve even further,” he said.

Post-acquisition, Bungie will be an independent subsidiary of Sony Interactive Entertainment and run by its Board of Directors chaired by Pete Parsons and Bungie’s current management team. The transaction is subject to certain closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

“In SIE, we have found a partner that fully supports us and wants to accelerate our vision of creating meaningful entertainment experiences that span generations, all while valuing the creative independence that is the heartbeat of Bungie,” said CEO Pete Parsons.

The executive believes the deal will unlock more than just new gaming properties.

“Our original universes have immense potential, and, with Sony’s support, we will propel Bungie into becoming a global multi-media entertainment company dedicated to delivering on our creative vision” Parsons said.

LG Offering New LG 4K Smart-TV Owners Free Priority Membership to Nvidia Cloud Gaming Service

LG Electronics is offering new LG 2021 4K Smart TV owners in select markets free priority membership to cloud gaming service Nvidia GeForce Now for six months.

The promotion kicks off as GeForce Now moves out of beta on LG TVs in 80 markets, providing users worldwide with Nvidia’s cloud gaming service.

GeForce Now allows users to stream free-to-play games purchased from online stores such as Steam, Epic Games Store, Ubisoft Connect and Origin. Priority membership provides faster access to Nvidia’s servers, extended session times, ray-traced graphics with RTX On and high-res gameplay at up to 60 frames per second.

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GeForce Now priority membership is open to all customers who purchase an applicable LG 2021 4K Smart TV model during the promotion period in participating markets. The limited-time offer will run in the United States from Feb. 1 to March 20 and will require LG TV customers to download and install GeForce Now on their new LG TVs.

With no additional hardware requirement outside of a compatible controller, LG TV users can play supported games they already own or free-to-play titles available on GeForce Now, including Rocket League and Destiny 2, as well as titles such as Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Crysis Remastered Trilogy