UNBOXING: Play & Profit for the Gaming Curious.
By Laine Nooney, Joost van Dreunen
UNBOXING: Play & Profit for the Gaming Curious.Nov 26, 2023
OpenAI's CEO musical chairs
Why Emmett Shear's stint was short-lived. PC Gamer's history issue causes Twitter fury over sexism, but did critics get it right? Plus: lighthouse tech, Dune fandom, and why historical narratives matter when it comes to diversity in tech.
The political economy of games journalism: Interview with David Nieborg
Amazon Games layoffs lead Laine and Joost to consider what it might signal about the economy at large. Roblox beats expectations and Take-Two drops the announcement of the trailer for GTA6 for a 6% share price bump. We also welcome to the show games researcher David Nieborg and talk about his newly released, co-authored book Mainstreaming and Games Journalism, written with Maxwell Foxman.
FaZe falls short, Bungie bungles layoffs, and Netflix can't convert
Laine and Joost give you the highlights on FaZe's Icarus-like fall from grace, as it recently got picked up by GameSquare for a fraction of its IPO price. Bungie is laying off workers and disappoints its player community. And lastly, what to make of Netflix converting less than 1% of its subscribers to play games on its platform.
Building the creator economy, part 1: Roblox
Another Unboxing exclusive. We interview Roblox's VP of Economy, Enrico D'Angelo, on where one of the most popular games for kids is headed next. Plus, our view on the Microsoft/Activision Blizzard saga coming to a close.
Riccitiello retires from Unity and Polish dev unite
What's next for engine maker Unity post-Riccitiello, Poland gets its first game union, and fossil fuels are fun in Fortnite says Big Oil. We discuss the tyranny of the pumpkin spice flavor palette, Laine shares a long-held secret, and Joost finally opens up about his fear of straws.
Epic layoffs, EA's FIFA fallout, and the future of gaming haptics
Joost phones it in from an investor summit in Las Vegas, while Laine regales with tales of a weekend spent at the New York Renaissance Festival. Tune in as they discuss Epic's extensive layoffs, EA's triumph over FIFA following their split, and the frontier of haptics tech with insights from expert David Parisi.
Video game actors vote to strike, Unity's walk-back, and the Xbox data leak
It's a week of gaming shakeups--SAG-AFTRA performers vote to authorize a strike, Unity rolls back its revenue plans, and there were some glaring discrepancies in last week's leaked Xbox documents.
Worst games industry decision of 2023
Unity has always been a cornerstone for game developers, but their recent price alteration has sent shockwaves throughout the industry. In this episode, Laine and Joost dive deep into the heart of the controversy and dissect the motivations, potential outcomes, and broader impact on the gaming ecosystem.
Roblox's child gambling lawsuit. Starfield lights Xbox's plans. And, boy, do our students love the Switch
Laine and Joost debate the relative responsibilities of corporate actors vs. distracted parents. Microsoft's new release Starfield may not be its Game Pass killer app, but it could still hold the key to Xbox's future.
Venture capital's role in gaming. Gamescom 2023 kick off. And Microsoft's second run at Activision Blizzard
In this solo episode, Joost talks to Shan Shan, a partner at Light Speed Venture Partners, to discuss the difference between being a strategic investor and "tourist capital." He also takes an early look at Gamescom 2023, and lays out the latest on Microsoft endgame to earn the UK's approval and finally buy Activision Blizzard.
Asia gaming declines. Embracer loses sugar daddy. Nicki Minaj dolls up for CoD.
Joost unravels the financial struggle of Southeast Asian tech giant, Sea Limited, and its ripple effects on the regional market. Laine unpacks what it means now that we know who walked away from Embracer to the tune of $2 billion. And does Nicki Minaj as a playable character in Call of Duty make tactical sense?
Why Wall Street doesn't love Roblox but is smitten with Take-Two. And an insider's look into the PS5 giveaway turned "riot"
This week, Laine and Joost disagree on Roblox’s strained financial situation and explore what makes Take-Two such a favorite among Wall Street investors instead. And who's at fault for the chaos that followed Twitch streamer Kai Cenat's botched PS5 giveaway?
Activision takes Diablo 4 to the bank. UNBOXING Goes Gang Gang for NPC Streaming. And an informed look into ESA's Essential Facts Report.
This week, Joost and Laine explore the second quarter earnings of gaming giants Activision and Ubisoft before diving head first into the viral sensation of NPC Streaming to discuss implications and provide context around this cultural phenomenon. Finally, Laine and Joost gawk at ESA's annual Essential Facts Report––no punches barred.
Overwatch League faces elimination. Microsoft starts overtime. And the plea for game preservation
Joost offers insight into Sony and Microsoft's cheeky 10-year deal over the Call of Duty franchise. We review the devaluation of the Overwatch League since 2018. And as a special treat, Laine and Phil Salvador of the Video Game History Foundation discuss the preservation of classic video games and the risk of extinction according to a recent report.
FTC licks its wounds. Google embraces blockchain gaming
We review the longer-term implications of Microsoft winning its case against the FTC and how will it impact the structural makeup of the games industry. And Google changes its policy and now allows for digital currencies on its mobile stores. Does that mean crypto is back?
The Sega data dump explained. Niantic layoffs are a mixed reality. And a preview of the coming summer semester
We're back with season 3. Laine puts the 272 pages of confidential Sega documents in their proper historical context. Joost explains what the layoffs at Pokémon Go maker Niantic mean for the next iteration of augmented reality. We also briefly discuss the ABK/MSFT courtroom drama and mourn the erosion of social media.
Apple's new headset, NVIDIA's trillion dollar kingdom, Zelda but while high, and Embracer got shoved but by whom
Laine and Joost stay on the hype train with Zelda's new drop even if it is taking over their lives. We discuss Wall Street's new favorite trillion dollar tech firm, NVIDIA, and how well it fares with tech cycles. And finally, we speculate on who ditched Embracer, costing it $2 billion, right before earnings.
Europe hearts the Activision deal, Tears of the Kingdom, and the worst list of the best video games ever
What happens now that the EU approved the Activision deal. The new Zelda game is out and woo boy. And Laine and Joost dissect GQ’s list of the greatest video games ever.
UK watchdog blocks Microsoft's plans, and SEGA finds out about unions
Joost and Laine discuss if Microsoft's takeover bid of Activision is dead after the CMA decided to block the deal. SEGA embraces a worker's union, but what is the impact on the industry?
Sega buys Rovio, Mario fetches $700M at box office, and demographic deep dive.
Sega offers to acquire Angry Birds maker Rovio for $776 million. Laine and Joost dissect demographic data on Hogwarts Legacy players. And, why does everyone seem surprised the Mario movie made $700 million at the box office?
Recap of SXSW and GDC 2023, the Saudis buy Scopely, and what's next for The Last of Us
Joost is back from the road and shares his impressions from SXSW and GDC. Our first audience call-in question has Laine filleting the nuances around the TLoU's adaptation. And we discuss the Saudi Arabian road to video game world domination.
Sony's new media empire, GamePass expansionism, and the true Hogwarts legacy
Laine is slowly emerging from old men media YouTube to secure themselves long-term academic stability. Joost explains how Sony is moving away from trying to invent another walkman and becoming a media firm. And we have our final say on the Hogwarts legacy. This week closes with a double load of pwns and owns.
Roblox's earnings, live service games versus the economy, and GDC's misstatement of the industry
We reach the end of this earnings season with Roblox, AppLovin, and NEXON. Laine and Joost take a closer look at how live services games are managing with a tougher economy. And they take a fine tooth comb to GDC's recently released report on the state of the gaming industry.
The issue with Harry, Take-Two's "big miss", and recent moves in anti-trust
Take-Two Interactive and Activision Blizzard reported earnings, but doing well and acting right aren't the same thing. Anti-trust regulators in Europe and the UK released their latest objections to Microsoft's acquisition plans. And Laine and Joost navigate the controversy around the latest Harry Potter video game release.
Playtika's bid for Rovio, The Last of Us breaks HBO, and the impact of generative AI
Our second season starts with a review of earnings for Electronic Arts, Sony, and Hasbro. Laine and Joost delve into Playtika's $800 million offer to acquire Rovio, the maker of Angry Birds, and question whether artificial intelligence threatens their careers or if it's just a mediocre assistant. The episode concludes with an impression of HBO's The Last of Us and a reaction to the news of games journalists getting laid off.
Unboxing Wrapped. Highlights and predictions for 2023.
Laine and Joost close their inaugural season with tall tales from the first podcast semester and share expectations for the year ahead. Unionization, acquisition, virtual reality, crypto, esports, and other key topics pass in revue.
FTC vs Microsoft explained, top picks at the VGAs, and the role of game engines
Laine and Joost discuss the FTC suing to block Microsoft from buying Activision Blizzard, and why the deal will go through as planned. They question why the games industry needs an awards show, explore how Niantic is looking to reinvent itself post-Pokémon GO, and discuss the broader role of game engines in the industry.
The FTX effect on gaming, Sony's plans in China, and the latest on the Activision Blizzard deal
Joost picks through the wreckage of the FTX collapse and discusses its impact on gaming. Laine explains what Sony is up to in China. And how much insider dirt does Joost really have on the Microsoft-Activision merger? UNBOXING IS BACK with this Thanksgiving episode.
China's games market decline, Sony's earnings, and what's on students' minds
A Covid scarce forces Laine and Joost to record remotely for the first time, but the party doesn't stop. Mixed earnings from Sony, Microsoft, and Electronic Arts suggest worse is yet to come. China suffers the first decline of its video games market in 20 years. And our two favorite games professors discuss what tech is hot or not according to their students.
The Big Games Journalism Debate Gone Wild episode
Netflix's cloud plans, the Sony hypocrisy, Amouranth, and virtual idols
Netflix aims for the sky and opens yet another studio. Laine questions if the video streamer is up to the task. Sony talks out of both sides of its mouth, hoping to hide its exclusives and undermine Microsoft's acquisition review. Twitch streamer Amouranth opens up about domestic abuse in plain view, leaving the platform speechless. And several large Chinese firms are investing in virtual influencers. Plus Laine and Joost also share their latest classroom insights.
Meta's Alternate Reality, Twitch's Bigger Cut, and Lizzo Plays the Ocarina of Time
Meta announces its new, much more expensive VR headset. Is Marc out of touch with reality? Also, Laine and Joost run the numbers on Twitch going dutch with live-streamers. And worlds collide when Megan Thee Stallion backs it up on Master Chief.
Crypto gaming creeps back, Take-Two vs tattoos, and how to measure Covid's impact
Apple and Epic Games both allow the sale of NFTs on their platform. Does that mean crypto gaming is on its way back to haunt developers? Guest star legal expert Tim Hwang explains why Take-Two lost a lawsuit around tattoos. And we answer a listener's question on the balance between inflation, Covid, and a new hardware cycle.
Google retires Stadia, Razer and Logitech launch handhelds, and Netflix heads to Finland
Google discontinuing its cloud gaming service Stadia is disappointing but was entirely predictable. Laine and Joost discuss what it means for the future of the celestial arcade. Razer and Logitech decide the world needs more handhelds but do we though. And Netflix Games is starting a studio in Helsinki.
Twitch gambles, loses. Rockstar leaks. And video game extremism.
Video game price hikes, inflation, and farming
Nintendo and Sony announce their big deal title line-up, we explore the justification of a $70 price tag for premium games, and why the world needs more farm simulators. Wonky editing courtesy of Joost traveling.
Industry origins, Tencent buys more Ubi, and the cycle of life
Tencent's purchase of yet another piece of Ubisoft opens a deep dive into the origins of the games industry. Laine shares data on the devices that students own, and we discuss the changing demographic makeup of people interested in the field.