Amazon Changing Twitch Name to Prime Gaming

Amazon Aug. 10 has quietly rebranded its Twitch Prime online gaming platform to Prime Gaming, in line with the e-commerce behemoth’s Prime membership platform, which includes Prime Video, Prime Reading and Prime Music.

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Amazon reportedly plans a formal announcement on the Twitch name change Aug. 11. It has owned the platform for the past four years, affording Prime members free access to video games and related content with a separate Twitch account. Now that separate authentication step will be removed.

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‘Resident Evil’ Collection Coming to 4K

The live-action video game film franchise “Resident Evil” will come out in a 4K Ultra HD collection Nov. 3 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The limited-edition gift set marks the first time all six films are on 4K Ultra HD disc with HDR and Dolby Atmos audio. The films will also be available digitally in 4K with HDR.

The “Resident Evil 4K Ultra HD Collection” includes Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse (both the original theatrical version and an extended cut), Resident Evil: ExtinctionResident Evil: AfterlifeResident Evil: Retribution and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter as well as hours of bonus content across all six films, including archival featurettes that have been previously unavailable on disc.

Based on the popular video game series by Capcom, the “Resident Evil” franchise stars Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) as Alice, a superhuman security expert pitted against the sinister Umbrella Corporation as the world’s population is transformed into flesh-eating creatures by one of its most dangerous biological weapons.

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Parks: U.S. Online Video Game Market to Generate Nearly $3 Billion in Annual Subscription Revenue

Online video games are growing in popularity, especially among multi-player formats. New research from Parks Associates finds the U.S. cloud gaming market could generate nearly $3 billion in annual subscription revenue, as 30% of domestic broadband households currently express interest in this service.

Dallas-based Parks reports 74% of U.S. broadband households play video games for at least one hour per week. Gamers play for an average of 22 hours per week, a number skewed towards heavy gamers, and PC gaming shows the biggest gains as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is a renewed interest in offering cloud gaming services that replicate Netflix’s value proposition by allowing consumers to stream games over the internet, across multiple platforms, and without having to download files or use local processing power,” senior analyst Kristen Hanich said in a statement.

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Hanich estimate the cloud-based gaming market could generate more revenue via service stacking and add-on sales as multiplatform gamers are the key consumer segment to target for initial rollouts.

The research also notes the average number of hours played per week has increased since the COVID-19 outbreak. PC gaming in particular saw a large increase in the number of hours played weekly, while gaming consoles were the only platform to show a decline in usage among heads of household from Q3 2019 to Q1 2020.

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“Cloud gaming services enable providers to leverage this increased gaming on connected devices, including smart TVs and streaming media players, where gaming is often secondary to their main value proposition, Hanich said. “The continued improvement of Internet networks and the cloud, as well as the rollout of 5G with its promises of improved latency, enables companies to offer high-performance cloud gaming solutions across multiple platforms without taxing their limited processing power.”

NPD: June Video Game Sales Jumped 26%

The video game industry’s torrid sales streaks in April and May slowed a bit in June, reaching $1.2 billion, which was still up 26% from $952 million in sales in June 2019, according to new data from The NPD Group. Through the mid-year point, game sales top $6.6 billion — the highest tally since the same time period in 2010 — and up 19% from $5.54 billion in 2019.

After a three month surge, console sales dropped 17% to $191 million from $230 million last year as gamers await next edition units from Sony and Microsoft this winter. Through the half-year, hardware revenue is up 25% to $1.6 billion from $1.28 billion last year. Nintendo Switch again led all platforms in unit and dollar sales.

Sales of game accessories and game cards jumped 29% to $417 million from  $323 million last year. The top-selling accessory was the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller. Year-to-date accessory sales are up 15% to $2 billion from $1.74 billion.

Finally, software sales skyrocketed 49% to $570 million from $382.5 million — driven in part by the launch of Sony’s The Last of Us: Part II. NPD game analyst Mat Piscatella, in a post on Twitter, said Sony’s release topped Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.

Netflix Mounts Game Competition for ‘Immortal’ Account to Promote ‘The Old Guard’

To celebrate the release of the Netflix action film The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron, Netflix has announced a nationwide U.S. competition for an “Immortal” Netflix account (1,000 months of subscription, or 83 years).

Consumers can win the account by obtaining the highest score in an original The Old Guard video game (, where they play as a Labrys-wielding immortal and defeat hordes of enemies.

The competition will be held for three days, July 17, 18 and 19. Whoever reigns as No. 1 once at the end of the three days get the “Immortal” account.

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The Old Guard video game

The Old Guard, based on a graphic novel by Greg Rucka, is a Netflix original film that follows a covert team of noble mercenaries. When their mysterious inability to die is suddenly exposed, they must fight to keep their identity a secret just as an unexpected new member is discovered. The film stars Charlize Theron who plays Andy (or Andromache of Scythia), one of the oldest and most seasoned immortals on a mission to save her crew. The film also stars Kiki Layne and is directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.

The Old Guard debuted on Netflix July 10.

ESA Report: More Than 200 Million Americans Play Video Games

Three-quarters of Americans have at least one gamer in their household and 214 million Americans play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association’s (ESA) “2020 Essential Facts About the Video Game Industry” report.

Almost two-thirds of U.S. adults (64%) and 70% of those under 18 regularly play video games.

Almost three-quarters (73%) in the survey own a game console, 43% own a hand-held system, 29% own a virtual reality device and 25% own a mobile VR device.

About two-thirds (65%) of video gamers play with others, according to the report, and the average age of a gamer is 35 to 44 years old. Still, many players over 65 years old (46% of men and 63% of women over 65) have been playing video games for 10 years or less.

More than half of parents (55%) say they play games with their children at least once a week, and 92% pay attention to the games their child plays.

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Game playing is good for health, according to the report, with 79% of gamers saying games provide relaxation and stress relief, and 87% of male gamers ages 55 to 64 and 82% of women gamers ages 55 to 64 believing games provide mental stimulation.

NPD: May Video Game Sales Skyrocket 52% as Pandemic Spurs Consumption

Pandemic-driven housebound consumers love to play video games. New data from The NPD Group found that total sales of hardware, software and accessories increased 52% to $997 million, compared with $643 million in the previous-year period. It was the third-consecutive month of growth following nearly two years of steady declines.

Year-to-date sales are up 18% to $5.5 billion from 2019, and the best five-month period since 2011. Hardware sales shot up 56% to $235 million, while accessories and game cards revenue increased 32% to $304 million. Software sales burgeoned 67% to $438 million.

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“This is the highest tracked spend for a May month since the $1.2 billion achieved in May 2008,” analyst Mat Piscatella wrote in a Tweet.

Nintendo Switch again led all hardware manufacturer with unit sales the best for an individual platform in May since sales of the Nintendo DS in 2009, according to NPD. Accessories/game cards sales increased 32% and are up 12% for the year. The best-selling accessory was the Xbox Elite Series 2 Wireless Controller.

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Sony Unveils Two PS5 Console Options, Games, No Pricing

Sony Interactive Entertainment’s much-hyped June 11 presentation offered a virtual open house for the pending PlayStation 5 video game console, including two console options for the new-generation system launching in time for the winter holidays.

Versions of the PS5 will include a model featuring a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc drive, and a digital edition without a disc drive. While there are some slight differences in the look of each model, for the overall design, Sony said it is delivering a console it says is “unlike” any previous generation of PlayStation. The new consoles include a wireless headset, a camera (with dual 1080p lenses), a media remote, and a charging dock for the DualSense controller. Sony did not reveal pricing or technical details for the new models.

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On the software side, Grand Theft Auto V will be rolling out an expanded and enhanced edition due in 2021. The title will feature a range of technical improvements, visual upgrades and performance enhancements to take advantage of the console’s new hardware, making the game more beautiful and more responsive than ever.

Plus, a new standalone version of Grand Theft Auto Online will be also available, free for three months on PS5. PlayStation Studios unveiled nine titles, including Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales — the next chapter in the partnership between PS Studios and Marvel Games. Insomniac disclosed Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, a galaxy-hopping new PS5 adventure in the fan-favorite Insomniac series.

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Guerilla is launching Horizon Forbidden West for PS5, a new adventure set in a distant land ravaged by massive storms. And Polyphony Digital unveiled Gran Turismo 7 featuring a “real driving” simulator. There’s also Demon’s Souls, a PS5 remake from Bluepoint Games and Japan Studio.

“When creating a new console, it’s essential to invite bright, talented independent [game] developers into the process early,” Sid Shuman, senior director, SIE content communications, said in a statement.

Indie PS5 titles include Bugsnax from Young Horses, a whimsical, narrative-driven adventure from the creators of Octodad.

Goodbye Volcano High from Ko_op is a cinematic narrative game taking place in the final days of civilization. Jett: The Far Shore from Superbrothers + Pine Scented is an interstellar trip to an oceanic planet in a narrative-driven action adventure, featuring a mix of storytelling and world exploration.

Kena: Bridge of the Spirits from Ember Lab is a story-driven action adventure game combining exploration and discovery with fast-paced combat.

Little Devil Inside from Neostream Interactive is set in a Victorian-like era offering missions to gain evidence and findings for a mysterious professor.

Oddworld: Soulstorm from Oddworld Inhabitants is a visual and cinematic lead for the celebrated series, featuring new gameplay mechanics and devices.

Other titles include: The Pathless from Giant Squid (Annapurna), Stray from BlueTwelve Studio/Annapurna, Solar Ash from Heart Machine/Annapurna.

Third-party developers offered new PS5 titles, include Ghostwire: Tokyo from Tango Gameworks/Bethesda Softworks; Godfall from Counterplay Games; Project Athia from Luminous Productions/Square Enix; Hitman 3 from IO Interactive; NBA 2K21 from 2K Sports; Deathloop from Arkane Studios/Bethesda Softworks; Resident Evil Village and Pragmata — both from Capcom.

“We’re incredibly excited about the next chapter, and we’ll have more details to share about PS5 and the broader PlayStation ecosystem as we close in on launch this holiday,” Shuman said.

Study: 1.56 Billion Video Game Consoles Sold All-Time Globally

With video games experiencing a renaissance due in part to homebound gamers in the COVID-19 era, new data from finds that more than 1.56 billion game consoles have been sold worldwide through March since the beginning of Sony PlayStation, Atari, Sega, Nintendo and Microsoft Xbox, among other brands.

The gaming resurgence comes following a months-long lull as sales of consoles plummeted as consumers await new-generation PS5 and Xbox Series X systems this fall and winter.

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The NPD Group found PC sales in the first quarter increased 16% to $2.4 billion. Further reinforcing the need for additional hardware as more people telecommuted, landline headset sales grew 50.9% and stereo headphones sales skyrocketed 65.4% compared with the prior year.

Learnbonds said PlayStation 2 remains the top-selling console of all time with 157.68 million units sold since its debut in 2000, followed by Nintendo DS with 154.9 million units and Game Boy (118.69 units). The original PlayStation (102.5 million) and Nintendo Wii (101.64 million) round out the Top 5 consoles.

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Notably, Europe, not North America, is the largest market for PlayStation, with the PS2 selling more units (55.28 million) across the pond than stateside (53.65 million). In Japan, 23.18 million have been sold compared with 25.57 million globally.

The report suggests the enduring popularity of PS2 (which discontinued production after 12 years) was due to the unit’s DVD playing functionality — a strong selling point at the height of the home video market.

“Even with the release of its successor, the PlayStation 3, the PS2 remained popular with Sony continuing with production until 2013,” analyst Justinas Baltrusaitis wrote in the report.

NPD: April Video Game Disc Sales Up 8%

Sales of packaged-media video games for consoles and hand-held devices reportedly topped $251 million in the four-week April retail period, ended May 2, an increase of 8% from $232.4 million during the previous-year period.

The uptick in software sales was largely driven by stay-at-home gamers buying content on the Internet due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic shuttering most retailers, including GameStop.

The two top sellers in April were Nintendo’s March release Animal Crossing: New Horizons for the Switch and Square Enix’s new release Final Fantasy VII Remake, exclusively for PlayStation 4. Another popular title, NBA 2K20 from Take-Two Entertainment has reportedly sold more than 12 million units since launching on Sept. 6, 2019 — up 33% from the previous title, NBA 2K19.

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“We believe that robust Internet spending was largely offset by store closures and curbside service across much of the country, with room left over for year-over-year retail growth in April following a breakout March performance,” Michael Pachter, media analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles, wrote in a May 22 note.

Pachter, who disclosed the NPD data, revealed that about 411,000 PS4 consoles were sold in April, exceeding his estimate of 235,000 units. Consumers bought 329,000 Xbox One units, topping the analyst’s 175,000 unit estimate.

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The popular Nintendo Switch device continues to lead the market with 808,000 units sold — double Pachter’s 400,000 unit estimate.

“The Switch’s status as a must-have item among many stay-at-home consumers drove a terrific April figure that would have been meaningfully higher if not for widespread sellouts throughout the month,” Pachter wrote. “The Switch led industry unit sales for the 17th consecutive month.”

Sony and Microsoft plan to launch new-generation PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles, respectively, this fall/winter.