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Kliuless #44: The Dark Side of the Video Game Industry

Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I publish broadly. Opinions are mine.

Kliuless? Gaming Industry ICYMI #44

Hi, my name is Kenny Liu, and each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I publish broadly. Opinions are mine.

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The Dark Side of the Video Game Industry

  • Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act recently aired "The Dark Side of the Video Game Industry," in which crunch dominates much of the discussion 
  • While I agree that crunch is a prevalent issue in our industry, unfortunately I am less optimistic about unionization being the "silver bullet" solution to this hairy problem
  • Continuously improving hardware and software tools will make game development an increasingly accessible profession to anyone in the world no matter the discipline: art, design, engineering, etc.
  • Moreover, for years already game companies have contracted ever-increasing work abroad, and these outside developers have shown they are capable of evolving beyond just work-for-hire projects to innovate and self-develop their own successful titles as well
  • As distributed development becomes easier and international boundaries blur, unions will inherently wield less power as their influence likely will be confined by what they would only be able to enforce locally

Revenue Strategy & Growth


  • Twitch launches beta for all-in-one streaming app Twitch Studio
  • Discord is launching in-server streaming later this month with new 'Go Live' feature  
  • Ninja off to strong start on Mixer, racking up 1mm free subscriptions since last week's deal announcement


XR: AR / MR / VR

  • Apple lists AR/VR jobs, reportedly taps executive who finalizes products
  • Sony wins 30% of VR hardware revenues as demand fades for cheap headsets
    • Related: 29% of XRDC devs working on Oculus Rift projects, 24% on Quest, and 24% on HTC Vive


  • Tencent, Nintendo to localize Switch games for China
  • Tencent launches its cloud services on WeGame in China
    • Related: Tencent eyes Southeast Asia for cloud gaming platform, suggesting "that Southeast Asia is a better testing ground than China because of China’s strict regulations on media content"
  • NetEase targets Tencent with $725mm e-sports stadium in Shanghai
  • Huawei outsells smartphone rivals in China, tightens market grip amid U.S. spat

Tech / Entertainment

  • Benedict Evans: Netflix is not a tech company
  • Goldman Sachs et. al. invest $135mm in selfie app Facetune's parent company ($1bn valuation)
  • The Absurdities of 'Franchise Fatigue' & 'Sequelitis' (Or, What Is Happening to the Box Office?!)


  • Best of EVO 2019
  • BBC: What's in a Game?
  • Noclip docuseries on Hitman
  • Roblox Hits 100mm MAU Worldwide
  • AIAS interviews Kim Pallister, Intel's Chief Segment Architect for Gaming
  • Nexon to fully acquire stock in Embark Studios, whose founder will drive Western development
    • Related: Layoffs at Nexon America as two California-based offices are closed
  • Annapurna exploring bankruptcy protection
    • [KL: Really hoping Annapurna Interactive stays afloat as I've been a huge personal fan of their titles]
  • How Polio Inspired the Creation of Candy Land
  • Kind Words, "the most moving game of the year"
  • The great escape: In a chaotic world, escape rooms make sense
  • ESPN, ABC pull Apex Legends tournament show in wake of mass shootings
    • Related: Walmart Removes Violent Video Game Signage, Still Sells Guns
  • Animoca Brands buys Quidd for up to $8mm as it moves into blockchain collectibles
  • Halo’ Series at Showtime Casts Six, Including Natascha McElhone, Bokeem Woodbine
  • California Police Are Sharing Facial Recognition Databases to ID Suspects
  • Postmates expects to land first-ever permit to test sidewalk delivery robots in San Francisco

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LinkedIn: @kliuless

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