Hollywood’s Video Game Blind Spot

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With all the individual differences from player to player, the TV and film industry has had a consistent response to the challenges of digital era competition: blockbuster media M&A. America’s second largest wireless provider, AT&T, bought the country’s largest video service, DirecTV, for $67B (enterprise value). Two years later, it bought the country’s second largest big media company, Time Warner, for another $108B. This was only a few years after 20th Century Fox had tried to buy Time Warner for $94B. And having failed to do so, Fox ended up selling itself to Disney for $85B, which beat out Comcast and Verizon as counterbidders (Disney later divested nearly $30B of the acquisition). Comcast later went on to outbid Disney for Sky, spending $44B, and Verizon had already bought Yahoo and AOL for some $9B. Lionsgate spent $6.5B on Starz, while MGM bought out Lionsgate and Paramount’s stakes in Epix for $1B, and in August, Viacom and CBS announced plans to merge into a $30B combined entity. Somehow, even though this is an incomplete list, more media M&A is expected.

Such consolidation is commonplace as markets mature, margins compress, and transformation occurs. And in particular, everyone in media is convinced ever-greater scale will be essential to survive in the digital era. With each acquisition, a media company amasses more IP, more production capacity, more library content, more supplier and distributor power, and so on. Debt burdens aside, all of this “more” does indeed make a company stronger – even if it’s a little facile. “Scale” is akin to saying that with more chess pieces on the board, a given chess player will win. Having more pieces is often helpful, but what really matters is which pieces you hold, where they’re placed, and how they’re played. Or if you want a more modern metaphor, the “scale strategy” assumes that the problem with the first, second and third Death Stars was that they weren’t big enough. There’s a lot of value in being more nimble and focused (as the Rebellion showed).

Furthermore, the “scale advantages” Wall Street is screaming for aren’t really unique to any one company that absorbs another. At this point, it’s mostly just who is willing to pay the most for “more”. And these prices are the highest the industry has ever seen, which in turn produces a strange dynamic. Today’s media giants spend more money than ever before, at more historic prices than ever before, to get themselves deeper into an ecosystem most believe will see fewer winners, smaller margins and potentially less revenue… than they did when the category was ascendant and easy.

The media business is about minutes of attention – it’s what’s sold to consumers, what’s sold to advertisers, and the core of how media companies compete with one another. For decades now, human attention – indeed, human leisure at large – was dominated by television. A lot of this success stems from the unique features of TV as a medium, the manner in which it was distributed, and even its widely derided channel bundle model. TV offered (1) an abundance of content – both in terms of volume and variety; (2) ease of access – in that TV was everywhere, its content uniformly distributed, and it could be viewed immediately; (3) the ease of sampling new content – i.e. channel surfing; (4) the range of engagement that was possible – you could lean-in, lean-back, lean-out, watch complex shows or simple ones; (5) the range of function – news, entertainment, education, immersion; (6) the fact it reached a cultural tipping point – in that everyone participated; and (7) competition was abundant.

Without these benefits, it’s likely that TV would never have reached its present-day heights of 5.5 hours of viewing per day. But even without such features, TV’s baseline was high – maybe a guaranteed three to four hours per day. And behind this was a simple truth: for decades, TV didn’t have much competition. The best substitutes were books (visual only), radio (audio only) or socializing (which required planning, isn’t for everyone, and is location specific).

 

Ready (The New) Player One

Over this same time, the theatrical box office grew from $36.4B-$41.1B globally (+3% annual growth). True, this doesn’t capture home video. However, physical sales (which were mostly movies) have dropped globally from $25B to $13B over this period. Digital content has grown from $16B to $43B, but the vast majority of this is TV-like consumption/spend, not film. And even if all grouped together, gaming remains 43% larger and is growing 2.5-3.5x faster.

Today, there are more American homes with a video game console than a subscription to Netflix. And the modestly-sized market leaders in gaming back in 2014 have grown enormously. Activision Blizzard’s enterprise value has swelled nearly threefold to $45B, Electronic Arts has doubled to $26B, Take Two has grown sevenfold to $12B, and Square Enix has grown from $1.5B to $4.3B. Today, the enterprise value of the combined ViacomCBS is roughly $43B (down from $80B). Lionsgate is at $5B, Fox Corporation is $23B, and Hulu was valued at $15B earlier this year.

Despite the growth of the video gaming industry, no Hollywood studio operates a large gaming division today – even those that also own publishing houses, record labels, theme parks, produce merchandises and podcasts, magazines, and SVOD services. In fact, most have worked to limit their ongoing exposure to the category. In September, NBCUniversal announced it would shutter its three-year-old gaming division. Three years earlier, Disney had also closed its own gaming group, Disney Interactive, which had previously bought and then overseen the decline of mobile gaming company Playdom and the kids MMO Club Penguin. Most notably, Disney Interactive had developed Disney Infinity, a sandbox-style video game that spanned Disney’s many franchises, received widespread acclaim, and generated a reported $200-300MM in revenue. Despite this topline, the game’s performance nevertheless fell short of Disney’s $1B internal target, and with that in mind, presumably its breakeven, too. 21st Century Fox’s gaming division, FoxNext, wasn’t started until 2017. And having been inherited by Disney in early 2019 as part of its acquisition of Fox, the division was promptly put up for sale. Similarly, Disney shuttered Lucasfilm’s own gaming group (which George Lucas had started in 1982) within a year of acquiring its parent company (a small skeleton crew was retained to manage EA’s Star Wars licensing agreement).

The argument could be made that Sony, which owns both a film studio and the world’s bestselling console, is an exception. However, the company cannot receive credit for being a conglomerate that operates separate, unintegrated business units that could collaborate. After all, there was a time in which Sony owned the world’s largest record label, the most popular music device (Walkman), and was a top five phone manufacturer – and the company still found itself unable to synchronize its efforts or avoid disruption. Similarly, Sony was perhaps better positioned than any traditional media company to build a leading OTT service (unlike each of its competitors, it didn’t have a core business to cannibalize) but never did (in 2019, Sony sold its entire stake in Crackle). To point, it wasn’t until 2019 that Sony even established a studio focused on adapting its first-party gaming IP into film and TV. And notably, this studio reports not to Sony’s TV/film division, but its gaming group, PlayStation. This is probably smart, but the timing and organization structure shows that PlayStation studios is about the gaming industry invading Hollywood, not Hollywood going after gaming.

This question of “objective” is critical to evaluating Hollywood’s efforts in gaming. In many ways, for example, Time Warner looks like it has been highly successful in the gaming industry, with WB Interactive Entertainment having released several commercially and critically successful games over the past decade. However, this success mostly stems from the company’s acquisition of mid-sized developer Rocksteady Studios after the release of Batman: Arkham Asylum in 2009. And since then, Rocksteady has released only three other games – each one a sequel to Arkham Asylum. And even though sales have grown title to title, none have cracked the top 10 best-sellers of the year, let alone matched the success of Batman’s film or TV adaptations. In addition, Rocksteady has yet to expand into any additional DC franchises, such as Wonder Woman or Superman, let alone generate new IP. As a result, Time Warner’s Rocksteady acquisition seems less like a bet on the gaming industry and more like an investment designed to ensure the quality of future Batman: Arkham games and improve economics. Notably, Rocksteady has 214k Twitter followers compared to 10MM at Rockstar Games and 6MM for the widely loathed EA.

What’s more, WarnerMedia’s ambitions in gaming appear to be waning. In 2016, the company announced it would transfer its production and distribution rights to Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online to Sony, even though Warner Bros would retain the film rights to the two franchises. Three years later, Amazon acquired separate gaming rights to Lord of the Rings, having acquired its TV rights in 2017. True, Time Warner did acquire Avalanche Software (makers of Disney Infinity) from The House of Mouse in January 2017, but after some 30+ months, no new titles have been announced, let alone released.

 

Print Me a Money Machine (Send the Bill Later)

Instead of developing and overseeing their own games, the major Hollywood studios have instead chosen to license their franchises, characters and stories to the major game publishers. This provides high-margin revenue, but it also means less control and upside. We can see the cost of this decision in several ways. None of the top 50 bestselling games of all time are based on film IP, for example. If we include film-centric IP, such as Spider-Man or Batman, we get two titles ranking in the top 50-100. This is clearly a missed opportunity. Almost all of the most popular IP/franchises globally are rooted in film and TV – and they routinely demonstrate their ability to dominate other adjacent media categories and experiences. There is no reason why the IP Harry Potter, Aladdin or Lord of the Rings can break records in comics, film, stage plays, books, podcasts, merchandise and theme parks… but peak at “pretty good” in video gaming.

The issue here, though, is often one of incentives. Independent studios rarely rally their best talent, biggest ideas, or resources towards licensed titles with shared economics. Their greatest return comes from generating, sustaining, or growing their owned IP – not someone else’s. And even if a third-party studio wanted to lean into their licensed IP, the most inspired creatives typically demand full jurisdiction over their projects. Accordingly, they refuse engagements that require working through “brand approvals” or managing conflicting corporate priorities (e.g. “you can’t use character x because next year’s sequel will focus on her”).

What’s weird is the major film studios get this – their creators are the same way! Kevin Feige, for example, not only does best when in full control of his creative vision, but demands it. And that’s what’s so odd. Hollywood is obsessed with getting the best possible actors, writers and directors – we need J.J. Abrams! We’ll pay Robert Downey Jr. whatever it takes! How do we get the Coens to do a pass on the script? Yet when it comes to gaming, even the most talent-obsessed studios are willing to accept secondary talent – or worse still, hand off its IP to whichever party offers the highest minimum guarantee.

The consequences of this model can be severe. In 2017, EA released Star Wars: Battlefront 2, the most high-profile Star Wars game adaptation in years. However, fans quickly recoiled against the game’s brutally expensive and extortive monetization model. The title cost $60, then had a $20 season pass, and further still asked players buy in-game currency to open gambling-style “loot boxes” that could contain these unlockable items, costumes, and characters. True, players could unlock these features through gameplay – but it took as many as 40 hours just to unlock franchise leads Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. One Redditor estimated that unlocking all items required 4,500 hours of gameplay or $2,100 (EA said its system was designed “to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes”). What’s more, many of these unlockables provided substantial gameplay advantages. As a result, players either had to spend more money to be competitive, or spend hours losing in order to collect items that might then allow them to win. After EA failed to quell the controversy, Disney reportedly felt forced to intervene. Soon after, EA announced microtransaction and loot boxes would be removed from the game for six months. When they returned, they could only be used to buy purely cosmetic items. Playtime-related rewards also saw their thresholds fall by as much as 75%.

Whether Star Wars: Battlefront harmed Star Wars’ brand is hard to answer. However, Battlefront’s poor consumer response likely meant it also fell short of its economic potential. More importantly, the game should have helped Disney grow total franchise affinity. It assuredly did not.

And even when licensing produces a global hit, as was the case with the 2018 PS4 title Marvel’s Spider-Man, the economics to the IP owner end up marginal. While the game sold 13MM copies, it was developed by Insomniac Games, published by Sony Interactive, and paid a per copy software fee to Sony PlayStation. That’s a lot of parties. The celebrated Kingdom Hearts III (2019), which mashes up Disney and Final Fantasy IP, sold five million copies in a week and still failed to deliver meaningful profits to its publisher, Square Enix. Disney’s take would have been even less consequential.

Other challenges with the licensing model exist. Media companies and are now obsessed with telling stories that span multiple entries. A Marvel Studios movie, for example, is about far more than a single character arc or story. Instead, it’s about laying long-term groundwork, expanding existing narratives, or playing off prior foreshadowing. When executed successfully, the results of this strategy can be tremendous (which means audiences like it too). However, this multi-entry approach doesn’t port well to gaming licensing. Licensors, for example, typically only guarantee licenses for a single title; while licensees in turn typically guarantee the creative team for only a single title. What’s more, the ultimate agreement often comes down to who offers the largest minimum guarantee.

Without multi-year, multi-title and talent-guaranteed deals, the Marvel Cinematic Universe doesn’t happen – at least not well. In addition, even successful single-title licenses face recurring risks. For example, Marvel has no guarantee that Insomniac Games will continue to prioritize and invest its best talent in its Spider-Man license – even though its 2018 entry was successful. Instead, it might decide to coast and cash in on the property’s goodwill while focusing efforts elsewhere. And even if Insomniac planned to prioritize Spider-Man 2, these plans may have been affected by the decision to sell to Sony. Odds are that Insomniac’s priorities won’t change – but this reflects Disney’s good luck rather than savvy planning. After all, Sony owns Spider-Man’s film and TV rights, operates the only platform where the character’s games can be found, PlayStation, and therefore has all the incentives to keep a hit gaming franchise going. If any of these three levers weren’t in place, Disney’s fruitful licensing agreement would likely have turned rotten.

 

Das IP

But beyond the growth of video gaming revenues and the potential to adapt a hit film into a hit game, Hollywood is also missing out on the one thing it holds most dear: the opportunity to create new IP. 

It’s not a coincidence that comic books have proven to be the most fertile sources of IP today. For decades, the category produced enormous volumes of content and characters (writers such as Stan Lee were frequently ordered to create a new hero or villain each week). This dynamic meant that only the most resonant characters and characterizations survived, and even then, they were constantly remixed, iterated upon or imitated. Marvel, for example, is estimated to own the rights to some 6,000+ characters – almost none of which have any value, but some of which are worth billions. Similarly, producers such as Kevin Feige have the ability to look across scores of audience-tested stories, some of which are simply retellings of the same plotlines, and then “cherry pick” only the best ideas and learn from mistakes. Marvel Comics’ Civil War comic book run, for example, was popular, but not well received. And so when Marvel Studios adapted it for film, the central premise was retained, but it was plotted quite differently. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is essentially “the best of” eight decades of Marvel comics. And all of this potential was backed by an important truth: comic books spent decades at the forefront of kids’ imaginations, some of which were spent imaging how they would adapt a given character or storyline to the big screen.

The gaming industry today is the closest analogue to the Golden (1938-56) and Silver (1956-1970) Ages of Comics that created the characters, worlds and storylines that now dominate the box office. Like comics, the medium is now creating a tremendous amount of content – almost all of which is terrible and repetitive, but through which the best content rises to the top. Fast, cheap, pulpy and out of control has always produced era-defining content. And thanks to the shift to online play, DLC, and live services, today’s games are evaluated, iterated on and improved based on audience response faster than ever. It’s true that to date, gaming IP has not delivered strong results at the box office. But this was true about comic books until 2000’s X-Men and 2002’s Spider-Man (the biggest film of the year). And today, of course, the only films that deliver strong results are comic books (or inspired by them)

The degree of audience attachment and time spent with video games is also without parallel. Successful as The Incredibles is, and obsessed upon as the original Star Wars was, kids can’t spend 1,000 hours with the IP; its content doesn’t scale – even with physical toys. Video games regularly achieve this level of engagement. To point, we don’t hear of regulators and royals warning of “Pixar addiction” or “Star Wars obsession”. Tencent and the Chinese government now limit minors to two hours of gameplay per day. Games are also the most effective medium when it comes to the most important storytelling objective: the suspension of disbelief. If you stack up a viewer of John Wick or The Fast & The Furious to someone playing Uncharted or Gears of War, it’s clear which medium achieves greater immersion.

On top of this, many games leverage audience obsessiveness to generate more content. Sometimes this is little more than UGC “maps” or “mods” (such as placing Iron Man in Grand Theft Auto), but it has come to mean much more. A whole sub-economy on Fortnite has emerged where “players” can build (and monetize) their own games and worlds. This includes everything from simple treasure hunts, to puzzles that mashup the Brothers Grimm and parkour culture. This not only grows the amount of time audiences can spend with a game, it furthers the IP owner’s ability to understand what’s working and why, and build atop it.

 

A Whole New World

By missing out on gaming, Hollywood is allowing itself to be replaced as the dominant story platform in audiences’ lives. Making matters worse, Hollywood is even financing its emergent competitors by either adapting gaming IP into film/TV (thus raising its profile), or by handing over its own for adaptation in gaming (thus contributing profits).

And while the trade press continues to obsess upon Disney’s acquisition of Pixar ($7.4B), Marvel ($4B) and Lucasfilm ($4B) – and the supposed impossibility of any other studio amassing comparable IP as a result – little is still said about Microsoft’s $2.5B acquisition of Minecraft (now the bestselling game of all time). With this acquisition, the company bought substantial mindshare among today’s kids – whether they’re at home, at school, on their phones, or in their dreams. That’s ground Hollywood can’t afford to give up.

Despite this, Hollywood has missed out on them all. Games such as Minecraft, Roblox and Fortnite are digital theme parks that never close, available in every city, state and town, and always full of your friends. The results of this potential have been stunning. This month, Roblox will likely deliver 1.25B hours of playtime, with Minecraft and Fortnite each reaching roughly 1.5B. And this is before adding in hundreds of additional hours from livestreaming (Twitch delivers roughly 0.75B hours per month) and VOD (YouTube delivers around 6.0B of non-live game viewing per month). There is no IP, not even Marvel, that gets close to this engagement – not even when it comes to mindshare. What’s more, these digital theme parks are so popular that the major IP owners will even pay their operators to include their properties in their games and allow their IP to be intermingled. Today, you can build a Fortnite team that consists of players costumed as Marvel’s Star Lord and DC’s Batman. In August, your Marvel team could fight in a virtual Gotham (Batman’s hometown).

One can debate the longevity of these titles, but the same argument can be made for any film franchise. Minecraft has grown steadily since its release in 2011, as has Roblox since 2006. Warcraft is 25 years old and now spans a half dozen plus genres and a dozen plus hit games. Pokémon is now the highest-grossing media franchise of all time, beating Star Wars, Barbie and Harry Potter.

 

Particularly Good

Hollywood’s reluctance is, in one sense, understandable. The medium is new, almost no top executives game themselves (and they certainly don’t play the hundreds of hours needed to “get it”), and there’s a lengthy history of failures in adapting to games and in adapting games to film or TV. Bob Iger has more experience expanding into new IP and storytelling models than anyone in Hollywood – and here’s what he said earlier this year:

We’re obviously mindful of the size of the business. But over the years, as you know, we’ve tried our hand at self-publishing. We’ve bought companies. We’ve sold companies. We’ve bought developers. We’ve closed developers.

 We’ve found over the years that we haven’t been particularly good at the self-publishing side, but we’ve been great at the licensing side, which obviously doesn’t require that much allocation of capital. Since we’re allocating capital in other directions, even though we have the ability to allocate the capital, we’ve just decided that the best place for us to be in that space is licensing and not publishing.

 We’ve had good relationships with some of those we’re licensing to, notably EA and the relationship on the “Star Wars” properties. We’re going to continue to stay on that side of the business and put our capital elsewhere. We’re good at making movies and television shows and theme park attractions and cruise ships and the like. We’ve just never managed to demonstrate much skill on the publishing side of games.

At the same time, the importance of video gaming will only continue to grow in the decades to come. Every day, more consumers game and those that already did, spend more time gaming. And the sector will continue to produce new IP and grow the IP it already did create.

And while Disney already has an abundance of IP, audience attention, and love, the company is focused on ecosystem-based storytelling and multi-category content experiences. If video games existed when Walt Disney drew the corporate model inserted below (which is from 1957), it would be hard to believe the category wouldn’t be one of the most important elements; that he would allow the company to not be “particularly good” at gaming, or want a rotating roster of third parties to oversee creative and distribution of Disney’s gaming content. Especially when this means handing over a medium that has not just perpetual access to the customer, but lengthier ones. And while it’s true Disney’s internal efforts have produced few successes to date, the licensing model hasn’t created many great or successful games either, and certainly none of the mega-hits that can compare to the success of The Avengers or Star Wars film franchises.

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Control, Control

In the digital era, IP-based companies need to be strong in video gaming. Just as Hollywood learned it can’t indefinitely license its TV/film to third-party platforms to deliver, it will come to learn that it can’t indefinitely license IP to third-party gaming studios and publishers. But unlike SVOD, there will be no quick catching up. Gaming requires a far broader skillset, far more complicated technology than video and far more experience understanding consumer data/behavior. Just taking your rights back is far from sufficient.

What’s more, gaming’s strength in the attention economy is going to grow rapidly in the years to come. Cloud streaming, for example, will bring many of the aforementioned advantages of television (e.g. frictionless access, ease of sampling, portability) to the category. The rise of Netflix-styled gaming subscriptions (e.g. Microsoft’s Game Pass, Apple’s Arcade), meanwhile, will siphon ever-more playtime away from television. If you thought free-to-play games like Candy Crush and Fortnite were a problem, just imagine when much of the best content the industry has to offer is packaged together at a fixed price and distributed across all devices. And not for nothing, VOD gaming content is already the most watched category on the most watched streaming platform globally (YouTube). 

And while the major gaming platforms, such as Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation, have tried and failed to invade video/TV over the past decade, they’re now building gaming-centric entertainment ecosystems that include sports-like highlights, commentary, and Twitch-like viewing. And Amazon and Google are both preparing to use their existing entertainment ecosystems (inclusive of video services like Twitch and YouTube, plus their hardware) to expand into gaming. Further integrations are likely. Amazon is already teasing interplay between its game rights, TV rights and Alexa hardware when it comes to The Lord of the Rings. PlayStation is building out its own version of Marvel Studios. The Tencent-owned Riot Games, makers of League of Legends, is now self-producing anime that will likely be integrated into Tencent’s various digital platforms.

This is why I wrote in December that Fortnite was Netflix’s most threatening competitor (which Netflix itself said a month and a half later). This is most plainly understood as the idea that everyone is competing for finite consumer attention. But the real challenge for Hollywood is that the consumer decision has changed, or “moved up”. It used to be “what to watch” and now it’s “whether to watch” – and the answer is increasingly “no, I’m going to play a game”. Neither Netflix nor Hollywood has a good solution for this problem. And no one chooses not to game because there’s a branching narrative available instead.

 

Rex Quondam (Sed Non) Rexque Futurus

Ultimately, one of the most pressing issues here is that while gaming narratives, functionality, and visuals have each expanded tremendously over the past twenty years, the most important games today aren't just “non” linear, they're “no” linear. The only real objective in Fortnite is to have fun; rinse, repeat. The closest thing the game has to a character is the island your character plays on top of, and it's not at all clear why things happen on or to this island. What’s more, many of the most notable events in Fortnite, such as its live Marshmello concert, don’t have anything to do with the game or its loosely-defined narrative. It’s just about the experience. Minecraft, the bestselling game of all time, has even less structure. And many of the most creatively celebrated linear games are essentially devoid of a story (“Thank You Mario, But Our Princess is in Another Castle”). What makes titles like Mario and Zelda work is the gameplay – it’s the fun of jumping down a Green Warp Pipe or swinging the Master Sword.

This is a very different skillset from narrative storytelling. And this is also where the throughline that starts with books and flows through to comics, TV and film simply disconnects. Each of these mediums relies heavily upon storylines, characterizations and editorial… because they have to. Their narratives are static and impersonal. As a result, every experience needs to be definitive and one size fits all. Gaming doesn’t face these constants. Accordingly, the role of narrative is typically diminished, if not irrelevant. You play Star Wars: Battlefront to beat other players and spend time in the IP, not to solve a mystery or quash The Rebels. This dynamic may explain why games are so much more successful than video when it comes to monetization and engagement, even though they’re considered a creatively “worse” medium. Games are trained around fun, not art; it’s about the player, not the storyteller.

And to this end, Hollywood’s biggest challenge is that what’s “funnest” is constantly evolving. While there’s a clear stylistic difference between the movies of the 1980s and 2010s, they adhere to the same storytelling principles, require the same production flows, and reward the same sort of training/experience. However, no one has a clue what the Fortnite of 2030 will look like. And I’m sure the Fortnite team barely knows what the Fortnite of 2021 will look like. Or if audiences will even care!

Hollywood is used to consistent core products that change slowly and incrementally. Gaming moves quickly, unpredictably and in massive swings. This will always be tough, but that’s why conviction is critical. In most instances, a Big Media “experiment” in gaming ends up in No Man’s Land – enough money and time is spent to feel the burden, but not enough to produce a meaningful result. To point, Fortnite started as a punt reinvention of Fortnite: Save the World, a game that spent six years in development, only to receive little fanfare (and is barely played even today). Many other examples of this trajectory exist. No Man’s Sky has succeeded by transforming from its original 2016 solo game into a live multiplayer game. The MOBA genre itself is based on a user-created “mod” of the RTS Warcraft III. Hollywood is based on an opening weekend or premiere model. Games are about constant iteration and growth.

None of this means there isn’t a path for Hollywood, that IP can’t flow in both directions, and that the future isn’t even more transmedia than it is today. There is, it can, and it will be. But this means gaming can’t be an adjacency for Hollywood, it needs to be at the core. It means treating the category as more than an additional channel to express extant IP. Gaming has, and always will, reward native experiences – which is why the hit console games didn’t come from the arcade era, why the big console games don’t lead in the online era, why the winners in online don’t thrive in mobile, and so on. But to do this, Hollywood needs a clearer vision, commitment, and to invest in gaming-first talent and gaming-first content. In every other category, it already does.

Matthew Ball

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