Hi Everyone. It’s officially our last Naavik Digest issue of the year. As always, we’re extremely grateful to all of our amazing readers and writers who make the newsletter possible each week. Before we wrap up the year (and return on January 4th!), we have a few final announcements:
- First, our essay contest has come to a close, and we are excited to announce the winners and showcase their work. Today’s issue showcases essays on 1) cross-platform IP, 2) an intro to blockchain games, and 3) Netflix’s entry into gaming. Congrats Oindrila, Ahmetcan, and Nathan — and a big thanks to everyone who participated. It was a competitive process with lots of entries!
- Second, Naavik is looking to hire a Managing Editor — someone who can increasingly run and level up Naavik’s written content operations. This job is full-time, remote, and plays an important role as we scale our business. If you’re interested, please visit our job board to read the full job description and apply. We’re, of course, happy to chat if you have any questions.
- We also are looking to onboard new newsletter writers and roundtable participants for our podcast. If you have a passion for the games industry, love digging into companies, and want to share your thoughts with the world, please let us know! If interested in contributing to the newsletter or roundtables, please also visit and apply via the job board. Even if you’re on the fence, we’d love to hear from you.
Lastly, we also wanted to use this final issue as an opportunity to hear from you — our Naavik Digest readers! We put together a super quick survey for you to fill-out, which will help us learn how to improve our content going into 2023. As an added bonus, we’ll be giving away a free month of Naavik Pro to three lucky survey participants! So be sure to click the link below and let us know your thoughts.
There is a ton of hype around the notion of the metaverse, with no shortage of companies trying to build it. We have legacy operations that have been around for years like Second Life. We have huge tech giants like Meta trying to brute force their way to the metaverse by spending billions on it. We have medium sized players that target a particular consumer like Roblox does for kids. We have newer start ups like Decentraland and The Sandbox that are building on blockchain and embracing web3. But what, really, is the promise of the metaverse? What does that term even mean?
In this episode, your host Niko Vuori talks to one of the best thinkers, writers, podcasters and operators on the subject of the metaverse, Yonatan Raz-Fridman. He is the founder & CEO of Supersocial, which develops content and games for the metaverse, and is also the creator of Into the Metaverse, a Substack newsletter and a podcast that - surprise surprise - covers the metaverse in depth.
#1: Bringing PC & Console Games to Mobile – 7 Reasons Why AAA Brand Extensions are so Popular
Editor’s Note: This essay by Oindrila Mandal was a great breakdown of the growing popularity of cross-platform IP, particularly on mobile. Oindrila won first place for her essay’s structured thinking, detailed approach to a subject many analyst’s have commented on, and for depth of analysis.
2022 marks an interesting year for gaming as it is expected to be a corrective year following the market growth during pandemic lockdowns that brought many new players as well as churned players into gaming. The previous two years saw incredible growth primarily driven by mobile revenue. Interestingly the decline in gaming revenue across the world this year is also driven by mobile, which will generate revenues of $92.2 billion in 2022 (50% of the market), but also decline by 6.4%.
However, we don’t see any decline in game developers’ interests in making more mobile games. In fact, more and more developers are investing in making high-fidelity AAA mobile games. Many of these are beloved PC and Console franchises now brought to mobile. Some of these titles achieved phenomenal success from winning Game of the Year to making hundreds of millions of dollars. For instance, this year we saw Electronic Arts launch Apex Legends Mobile and Activision Blizzard came out with Diablo Immortal, both of which broke into the top 100 grossing titles. Other leading publishers have also announced similar projects in the works such as Valorant Mobile, Warcraft Arclight Rumble, Battlefield Mobile, Hyperfront, Call of Duty Warzone, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six & The Division Resurgence, Warframe, and Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis, to name just a few. These are not anecdotal investment decisions. In a recent report by Data.ai, IP is cited as one of three main strategies of winning in the mobile gaming market. This essay will examine the key reasons why game developers and publishers are rushing to bring their popular gaming franchises to the mobile format.
There are a couple of ways in which game developers can launch their popular IPs on mobile.
- Enabling cross play of an existing HD title on mobile (for example, Genshin Impact)
- Building a brand new game for the mobile platform (for example, Call of Duty Mobile, Wild Rift).
In this article I present seven reasons why game developers and publishers are leaning into popular game IPs when developing for mobile, and why this trend will continue.
#2: The Hitchhiker’s Guide To the Blockchain
Editor’s Note: Ahmetcan Demirel is clearly an expert in blockchain games but has a unique ability to distill down the complex topic into an engaging introductory sequence. It’s good to take a step back for people newly entering into the space, and Ahmetcan’s piece was a refreshing read deserving of second place (he’s also a great writer!).
The gold rush for blockchain games seems to have slowed down due to a crashing market. The first wave of blockchain games showed everyone that the blockchain technology could play a significant role in empowering players, but collapsed due to turning into ponzi schemes. They needed new players to invest money in order to satisfy the ones that invested money before, which caused a race to the bottom. Investors who entered the space to get quick returns left it even more quickly after losing much more than they earned. “Players” who were there only to make a living out of their grind were left with a non-stopping inflationary economy.
As this is a brand new business model and we have no best practice out there in the market to follow, it is not an easy task to determine your roadmap while developing a blockchain game. There are technical challenges that come with the blockchain technology as well as design challenges of using relatively younger products like crypto currencies and crypto wallets. The actual value proposition a game can bring to the table and the initial marketing partners to work with, on the other hand, are constantly being discussed and shaped with every game that is published. Still, there are lots of people out there searching for answers to many questions they have for developing a successful blockchain game.
What is your value proposition? Are you going to have a token or not? How much should your players pay to play your game? Are you going to work with any marketplace? Which chain should you work on? Wen Moon? There is still a lot of ground to cover and there are no easy answers to any questions one might have.
The goal of this article is to present a list of topics that act like a questionnaire for anyone who wants to come up with their own game in this tumultuous space. It applies to both newcomers of the space who want to have their own take and the teams that want to have another go after failing the first time mostly due to the crypto crash. Of course, this checklist is not exhaustive. Everyone will find additional topics they have to consider for their games. Still, having a starting point is better than none…
#3: Netflix Games Platform Review
Editor’s Note: I really enjoyed going through the editing process with Nathan Pratt on this piece. His superpower is connecting disparate parts of the gaming and consumer ecosystems into a compelling argument that is data-backed. This essay won third place for its data-filled (and passionate) look into an emerging and interesting player in the space, Netflix.
Netflix, founded in 1997 by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings, originated as a mail-to-order DVD rental business, delivering DVDs straight to your door. Netflix disrupted an industry and contributed to the fall of physical DVD rental companies like Blockbuster, but it wasn’t until Netflix pivoted into streaming in 2007 that it permanently changed how we consume content forever.
Fast forward 15 years later, and the subscription model streaming market (Streaming Video on Demand, “SVOD”) is a heavily saturated one; with the likes of HBO Max, Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Paramount+, Peacock, Apple TV and more. Across these platforms, there are over 800mm monthly subscribers (as of Q2/Q3 2022), and these services are all nested within large companies with significant amounts of financial support.
In response to market competition and saturation, what does any good business do? Diversify. In November 2021, Netflix announced the launch of Netflix Games: “We’re excited to take our first step in launching Netflix Games on mobile to the world…we’re in the early days of creating a great gaming experience, and we’re excited to take you on this journey with us.”
In an interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin of the NYT on November 30th, 2022, CEO Reed Hastings often described Netflix’s mission as bringing its consumers the best film, television and gaming content the world has to offer. That’s right: “gaming.” While expanding on gaming, Hastings said “We want to have incredibly compelling mobile games. Most mobile games have a lot of upsell. The monetization strategy is to get you to spend money to get clothing or weapons…and that distracts from the engagement. Our theory is we can build games around engagement that are really awesome.” After Sorkin asked “Do you anticipate being in the gaming business on TV, eventually?” Hastings responded “Sure - on TV, that’s just a screen, and we’ll have lots of games that are mobile based, some that are TV based, and in the modern world - Fortnite - it’s on all platforms, so think of [the] screen size [as] important, but it’s a smaller distinction…I berate our M&A team that we didn’t buy Wordle; that you guys bought it and we would’ve loved to have it. It would be a perfect mobile game for us”.
Hasting’s comments about gaming are very encouraging for those who are bullish about the Netflix Games platform. It’s clearly a big initiative for Netflix and with its well known library of IP and large subscriber base, the potential is sky high.
This essay will cover an overview of the existing Netflix Games platform, its strategy, games offering, success in attracting existing users to its games, acquisitions made to date, and a proposed acquisition that would make Netflix one of the biggest players to be reckoned with in television and gaming.
Content Worth Consuming
The Top Ad Platforms for PC and Console Games (Gamesight): “This report offers an in-depth look at the most popular advertising platforms for PC and console gaming using data gathered from Gamesight during 2022.” Link
How Geoff Keighley Became Gaming’s Master of Ceremonies (The Ringer): "Now, the spotlight is set to shine on the Canadian Keighley once again as he raises the curtain on the ninth edition of what many consider the video game industry’s Oscars. The Game Awards, which will take place Thursday in Los Angeles, are but one component of Keighley’s ever-expanding media empire, which also includes E3 rival Summer Game Fest and Gamescom Opening Night Live. If you follow games, Keighley’s ageless face and unchanging haircut have never been more ubiquitous. His current role, best described as the games industry’s grand master of ceremonies, is but the latest evolution in a career that has seen him segue from highly respected games journalist to prominent television personality. Along the way, he has become a meme, both lionized for defending the medium against the American right and chastised for cozying up to big brands, emblematic at each stage of gaming’s biggest cultural concerns. Throughout it all, Keighley has doggedly focused on the beauty of games rather than any ugliness.” Link
Social Media Deep Dive: Among Us TikTok Strategy (GDC): “In this 2022 GDC session, Innersloth’s community director Victoria Tran gives a talk on good practices on TikTok, using Among Us as the prime example. See the statistics, reasoning, and strategy behind making content for over 2 million followers, 15 million likes, and what worked (or didn't!).” Link
Weekly Reports Recap in December (GameDev Reports): A roundup of various games data across the industry: “Sensor Tower shared mobile games results in Southeast Asia. The US market is back to growth in November. The European market continued to decline.” Link
Analysis of 419,000 FlapMMO Attempts (t3hz0r): “FlapMMO is a new and popular browser game inspired by Flappy Bird. Unlike Flappy Bird, though, each server has hundreds of other players and you can all see each other. It's lots of fun and I previously posted about hacking FlapMMO for mouse control.” Link
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- Carry1st: Lead Game Designer — Cooperative Social Slots (Remote)
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