Level 77: Examining Roblox + App Store

Is Roblox really supposed to be on the App Store?

Welcome to The Pause Button — a weekly gaming newsletter that curates the best content in video games.

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📜 This Week’s Notable Idea

Check out our Mini Deep-Dive on Matthew Ball’s Roblox Tweet. All things considered, does it make sense that Roblox is on the App Store and Game Pass isn’t? We’re feeling misled. Link

💡 Industry Content

The Video Game Roll-Ups: Some of business’s most successful companies are built on the back of M&A. Gaming is no different. Companies like Zynga and other mobile giants understand just how tough it is to pump out unique, quality games (IP) on a regular basis, which is why they turn to acquisitions to expand their footprint. This piece explores the role acquisition-first gaming companies play, and how they’re taking inspiration from private equity to grow at an astonishing rate. Link

The Show No One is Watching: Platforms like Twitch and YouTube have lowered the barrier to finding and producing content about quality video games. It begs the question: is there still room for professionally produced premium content? In this breakdown, industry analyst Manny Anekel explores the struggles of VENN, a video game content start-up that we covered earlier this year, and why small YouTube channels are outperforming the company by hundreds of thousands of views. Link

The Evolution of Gaming: Protocol’s Seth Schiesel is hosting a panel next Wednesday all about the changing landscape of interactive entertainment. Panelists includes Facebook VP of Gaming Vivek Sharma, Activision COO Daniel Alegre, and EA’s SVP of Mobile Samantha Ryan Link

🎮 Fun & Games

New Consoles! Console launch week is finally upon us. Early reviews have been pouring in, with a particular emphasis on the new Playstation 5 DualSense controller, and Xbox’s lack of first party launch titles. Our breakdown on the strategy behind both consoles is a useful business primer, but there’s also been a massive amount of content written about Xbox and Sony these past few days. 

Playstation 5:

  • The Verge’s PS5 Console Review Link

  • The New York Times on the PS5 and the role it plays in Sony’s empire Link

Xbox Series X/S: 

  • Polygon’s Xbox Series X Console Review Link

  • A Look into The First Console Released in a Pandemic Link

Return of The Thieves: This week, 100 Thieves re-entered Call of Duty, officially announcing their purchase of the LA franchise from Immortals Gaming. Alongside the launch of the COD team, 100 Thieves is planning to launch a new line of CDL-specific merchandise, and has already dropped a few great videos outlining their reason for getting back into the FPS game. Link

😎 Other Cool Reads

Politics + Twitch: With the dust settling on the United States Elections, the cluttered mess that was election media coverage is a crazy experience to look at. While massive media conglomerates like Fox News and CNN had their magic board and analysts, some of the best election coverage could be found over on Twitch, where one streamer drew a surprisingly large following during his 80-hour coverage of the election. In this NYT feature, learn about how creator Hasan Piker found massive, election-driven success during a time of media frenzy. Link

Streaming After Death: What happens to a popular Twitch channel after its creator passes away? It’s a difficult question that one channel’s mods have been facing following the death of Twitch legend Byron ‘’Reckful” Bernstein in July. This article examines how those closest to Byron were using Twitch to share his story and message, and ensure that the impact Byron had on games isn’t forgotten. Link

The Problem with Music: Twitch is having a serious problem with copyright. Since our initial coverage of the issue back in June, the company has significantly ramped up the amount of copyright strikes its dolling out to its biggest creators. With essentially zero resources to work with, most streamers are simply opting to delete their entire content library — but isn’t there a better way? The Verge’s Bijan Stephen put together a great article outlining the situation, its impact on creators, and Twitch’s action plan (or lack thereof). Link

📊 By The Numbers

$11,200,000,000: The amount of money consumers spent on video games between July and September of this year, a nearly 24% increase from the same time period in 2019! Link

3195: The amount of hours it took a group of fish to beat Pokemon Sapphire. Link

😍 Our Current Favorites 

Fawzi (@fawzitani)

I wanted to call attention to the ESPN Esport layoffs that happened earlier this week. Firstly, Jacob Wolf, Emily Rand and Tyler Erzberger and beyond are phenomenal journalists. I’m so excited to see where they’ll go next. And perhaps this signals a more general shift to where games journalism is heading.

When Max and I first got together to write about the games industry, we had long discussions about whether we wanted to include the ‘breaking news’ type of stories that ESPN covered. Ultimately, that type of content can be disseminated on all kinds of platforms — people are especially keen on Youtube and Twitter, not necessarily publications like TPB. But on a broader level, esports has been such an interesting topic to cover from a technological development, venture capital and lifestyle POV. I hope we can continue to curate the type of content that gets people excited about esports.

Max (@MaxLowenthal)

One of the highlights of work-from-home has been the chance to explore tons of new gaming communities via platforms like Discord. Through one such community I met Bryant Jefferson, an up and coming gaming industry analyst. This week Bryant officially launched his own company Touchpoint, focused on delivering insights and tools to experts in the gaming industry. His first deep dive tackles Unity, Unreal and the world of game engines. Give it a look! Link

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