Good morning! I’m back from some Greek Island adventures, including learning that Fiat Pandas really will go up any hill and fit through almost any gap! Big thanks to Nick for capably looking after the day’s tech news for us all over the past week. Now, where were we...
The Netflix of games is Netflix
Back in late May, it looked clear that Netflix was gearing up to join the gaming industry, proper. With Netflix making small forays already, it wasn’t clear if it might be in an interactive content way, or real, studio-sized games, possibly even venturing into AAA gaming, or something else.
- At that time, Reuters reported: “Netflix … is looking to hire an executive to oversee its expansion into video games, a person familiar with the matter said.”
Now, Netflix has that executive and its direction, with Bloomberg ($) scooping the next development:
- “Mike Verdu will join Netflix as vice president of game development, reporting to Chief Operating Officer Greg Peters, the company said on Wednesday. Verdu was previously Facebook’s vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets.”
- “In Verdu, the company has an executive who worked on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies, and Star Wars franchises. He also served as chief creative officer for Zynga Inc. between 2009 and 2012.”
- The question of what Netflix will offer is now clearer: video games within its streaming platform.
- The company, according to a Bloomberg report ($), will reportedly start testing games in the next 12 months, with a new genre of content alongside its existing categories like documentaries and comedy specials.
- We don’t know much about exact styles of games, what will be done in-house vs bringing in a studio, or much more.
- Mike Verdu, though, is a hire with background and history and his leadership tells us something: his work across major franchises, mobile gaming, and VR, is a pretty diverse set of experiences.
- The work at Facebook has some hints of someone preparing to work on an Xbox Game Pass-style approach for Netflix, but a background of being involved in all kinds means we can’t really say for sure what’s coming.
- We’ve talked before about billions being spent by big tech on games before the plug was pulled, especially recently both at Google and Amazon. Games are hard! Money isn’t the cure.
- Maybe Netflix and its creator-friendly approach will mean we see actual games, not just millions spent without anything to show for it.
Bonus: On that note, demand for AR and VR headsets nearly tripled in one year, dominated by the Oculus Quest 2.
Android 12 beta 3 has now landed: Native scrollable screenshots (finally!), on-device search, face-based auto-rotation, and better privacy indicators (Android Authority).
Sony Xperia 1 III review: Elegant, exhilarating, expensive — It’s Sony’s highest-ever price tag, and Sony’s best handset to date. So, does it make sense? (Android Authority).
Google Camera update suggests Pixel 6 XL could have a 5X 'ultra-tele' camera, meaning a periscope zoom (Android Authority).
The Snapdragon 780G chipset should be on more phones, but it seems like Qualcomm can’t get enough of them made to provide a decent supply (Android Authority).
Microsoft drops Windows 365, a cloud-based OS you can run on basically anything, meaning streaming Windows is almost here, though limited info at this stage on final details (Android Authority).
Twitter is shutting down Fleets, its expiring tweets feature, that served no purpose and was hidden away on the app only (The Verge).
Apple’s iOS 14 ad war: Facebook users said no to tracking, and now advertisers are struggling to track things like if people are buying from their ads, and can’t figure out what target consumer buyer behaviors look like. (Bloomberg, $).
Right to repair: What Biden's order means for your broken tech — we need to wait for the FTC to introduce formal rules, but this looks good (CNET).
You could soon be playing PC games from this egg pod — similar to Razer's popular Project Brooklyn chair at CES 2021 (TechRadar).
Amazon bought Facebook’s satellite team to help build its Starlink competitor. Competition is good, but cluttering the night sky is less good (Ars Technica).
Chipmaker TSMC reported its bullish results in the midst of the global chip shortage (which continues) and signaled global expansion, but it’s not all rosy (Bloomberg, $)
I really like the co-creator of Dogecoin, Jackson Palmer, who’s been quiet on the crypto cycle for a long time. Now, he has a Twitter thread explaining that he believes much of it to be basic capitalistic exploitation without safeguards: “New technology can make the world a better place, but not when decoupled from its inherent politics or societal consequences.” (Twitter).
“If we were able to walk in a straight line ignoring the curvature of the Earth, how far would we have to walk before our feet were not touching the ground?” (r/askscience).
This week back in 1960, the Etch A Sketch was released in the US for $2.99, on July 12.
- The Ohio Arts Company licensed the toy from André Cassagnes, a French electrician who invented it in Paris, and gave it that name (Wikipedia).
- Here’s one of the original patents, filed under the name Arthur Grandjean, an accountant.
- Per ToyTales: “The underside of the Etch A Sketch screen is coated with a ‘pulverulent material such as aluminum powder’. The powder is mixed with tiny plastic beads to prevent it from clumping together. The two knobs control a ‘movable tracing stylus’ hidden beneath the screen. The left control knob moves the stylus horizontally while the right one moves it vertically. The act of turning the knobs moves the stylus through the powder, scraping off powder to reveal vertical or horizontal lines on the screen. Erasing the image is done by simply flipping the Etch A Sketch and shaking it, thereby recoating the screen with the aluminum powder.”
- And just in case you'd like more explanation (because I did!): The Etch-a-Sketch doesn’t work like you think it does (Vice).
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.