Netflix cloud gaming plans detailed in multiple job listings

Hello and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, Your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we’ll take a closer look at Netflix’s cloud gaming plans and Trigger’s newest AR app. Plus: AI-generated grunge album covers.

Netflix cloud gaming plans

Netflix has been keeping its cards close to its chest when it comes to its fledgling gaming initiative: The company has been quietly releasing a couple of games a month, with plans to grow its catalog to around 50 titles by the end of the year.

So far, all the releases have been mobile games, and many are older titles that Netflix is ​​exclusively re-releasing without ads. There haven’t been any blockbusters yet, but Netflix’s “Stranger Things”-themed games in particular have done well. Netflix subscribers downloaded more games from the company in July than ever before, as new Sensor Tower data shared exclusively with Protocol shows.

But Netflix gaming has been little more than a practice run. So far. The company is trying to figure out which games work best with its members, how to showcase those titles in its catalog, and how it can best spend its money on future in-house developed projects, a bit like learning the basics of licensed streaming. movies and shows before he started massively growing that business with his own originals.

Cloud gaming could play an important role in the next phase, according to the new Netflix job offers I came across recently.

  • A recent listing for a security product manager mentions “experience with cloud gaming challenges, threat vectors, infrastructure, and customer requirements” as a preferred qualification.
  • A couple of recent job postings from the company ask for “experience creating early or unfinished platform games.”
  • And if that’s too opaque, a listing for a rendering engineer explains the company’s cloud plans in much more detail, explicitly stating that this person will “support our cloud gaming service.”
  • “In this feature, you will help optimize game rendering so we can render multiple games on our cloud gaming devices,” the listing says. “It will also help with SDK development to enable game developers to succeed in writing high-quality games for the Netflix cloud gaming ecosystem.”

Cloud gaming makes a lot of sense for Netflix. Not only would it allow the company to bring its games to the TV screen without having to rely solely on game consoles, but the cloud is also an environment Netflix is ​​very familiar with.

  • Netflix was one of the first companies to outsource its entire infrastructure to the cloud, closing its last data center in 2016.
  • In addition to being a major customer of Amazon’s AWS cloud platform, Netflix has also spent years developing its own Open Connect CDN, which is based on custom devices that the company has been giving away to ISPs and strategically placing on internet exchanges. all over the world.
  • Since the launch of Open Connect in 2011, Netflix has deployed more than 14,000 of its devices in more than 1,000 ISP data centers and more than 80 Internet exchange locations around the world, according to a report the company released today. last year.

Could Netflix be building a similar edge-focused infrastructure for gaming? There are some early signs that the company has at least been exploring this approach.

  • Netflix has also been looking to hire people to take Open Connect to the next level. “We are working on new ways to deliver entertainment that requires real-time, ultra-low-latency network transport technologies,” a recent job listing reads.
  • The listing doesn’t mention the games themselves, but it does focus on “RTP-based, ultra-low latency, interactive streaming” and tells potential applicants that they will have “the opportunity to directly impact an emerging area of ​​business.”
  • Netflix’s current Open Connect devices aren’t powerful enough to support Stadia-like game streaming experiences, and there’s some disagreement among experts about whether it makes sense to push GPU-powered cloud gaming so close to the edge.
  • DE-CIX CTO Thomas King seems to believe that edge-powered cloud gaming is inevitable, while telecoms consultant Rudolf van der Berg believes that cloud gaming works just as well with a more focused approach. centralized.

If Netflix decides to push gaming to the limit Whether or not it’s becoming clear that the company doesn’t want to rely solely on shipping mobile games through third-party app stores. Instead, Netflix appears poised to build its own delivery technology, just as it has with a video business that now streams countless hours of movies and TV shows to 220 million subscribers worldwide.

— Janko Roettgers

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How Trigger created his DinoTracker AR app

Universal Pictures released the extended edition of “Jurassic World Dominion” this week and is promoting the home video release with a new AR app that lets you bring the movie’s dinosaurs into your home, too. I recently sat down with Trigger XR CEO Jason Yim to find out how his company built the app for Universal.

  • One of the first things I wanted to know: Why even create a standalone app, instead of a mobile AR experience, or maybe an AR integration into an existing app? Yim acknowledged that people are wary of downloading promotional apps, but said it’s different for franchises with a massive fan base. “We’ve reserved standalone apps for AAA titles,” he told me.
  • Furthermore, this app offers a lot that the company would not have been able to offer on less capable platforms. Trigger partnered with Niantic to make use of the company’s Lightship SDK, which allows players to interact with dinosaurs.
  • The DinoTracker app also uses some of Lightship’s more advanced scene segmentation features and, for example, differentiates between sky, grass, and hard concrete ground. “We can detect all of these things,” Yim said.
  • Other advanced AR features include occlusion, hand tracking, and positional awareness. “The dino tracks your position,” Yim said.
  • Trigger sourced the dino assets directly from ILM, meaning they look just like their movie counterparts.
  • However, that led to another challenge: Most dinosaurs are quite large, too large for the average living room. As a result, DinoTracker encourages people to get outside, but Trigger also included some smaller dinosaurs that work in smaller spaces.

DinoTracker is just one example of the massive advancements in mobile AR, allowing people to experience things that wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago. That includes watching a huge dinosaur swoop down from the sky to eat a snack you’ve dropped on your lawn. “It feels a bit like magic,” Yim said.

— Janko Roettgers

In other news

Nintendo’s history of mistreatment. An in-depth report from Kotaku on Tuesday offers the clearest insight yet into Nintendo of America’s horrific treatment of women in its video game testing divisions, many of whom are employed by a third-party recruiting company with numerous violations. labor.

Walmart adds Paramount+ to its membership benefits. Walmart Plus subscribers will get free access to Paramount+, which is much easier for Walmart than creating its own streaming service.

EA sold the latest FIFA at a 99.94% discount. A bug in the Epic Games Store listing for EA’s FIFA 23 PC version in India allowed some savvy shoppers to grab the latest $100 edition of the game for roughly 6 cents. EA says it will honor purchases.

The activist investor wants Disney to spin off ESPN. Third Point’s Daniel Loeb also wants the company to combine Hulu with Disney+.

Sony may expand further into PC gaming. After a hugely successful launch of Marvel’s Spider-Man on Epic and Steam, files buried within the PC version of the game hint at a potential PlayStation launcher coming to Windows, VGC reported this week.

Logitech continues to make accessories for Meta’s Quest, including some new headphones. No word yet from Meta on how many Quests have sold, but Logitech’s continued commitment to third-party accessories seems to suggest there’s a real market here.

Fox is pouring millions into NFTs. The media company launched a division dedicated to Web3 and NFT last year, and now wants to build a blockchain-based business.

One in 10 Spotify subscribers open their app every day. Spotify’s service is much more complicated than those created by competitors like YouTube and Pandora, according to new data from Sensor Tower.

IA album covers

Digital media pioneer David Cohn has been experimenting with AI-generated images this week, with surprising results. Cohn used Midjourney’s AI image generator to transform ’90s grunge lettering into original art, and guess what: the results are perfect album covers. Now someone just needs to combine an AI image generator with generative AI music, and rock stars will never have to trash their hotel rooms again.

— Janko Roettgers

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