Tech

Comcast hooks you with internet and cable TV. Video games could be next

In a short time, when you are ready to play your next big game, it may be something other than the Microsoft Xbox, the Sony PlayStation or the Nintendo Switch.

You can play it by connecting to a device or service that comes from Apple, Google, Amazon or even Comcast.

That’s right, Comcast.

The cable and internet television giant has allegedly bid for or considered bidding for Korean gaming company Nexon, which makes the popular online role-playing game MapleStory, according to a Korean business newspaper. Comcast faces the producer of Amazon and Apex Legends, Electronic Arts, which is also said to be in the mix.

Representatives from Comcast, EA, Amazon and Nexon declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

The news of Nexon’s potential sale serves as a reminder that the entertainment landscape is changing rapidly. As companies seek the next big thing, beyond music subscriptions, Internet connections and the sale of the next iPhone, video games can have a key.

The already huge $ 138 billion video game industry has produced cultural phenomena such as the Royal Fortnite and Apex Legends battle games and competitive sports franchises such as Riot’s League of Legends. Each of those games can be downloaded for free, but they charge extra for their style as a dance move or a different look for your character. And people are buying. It is estimated that only the Epic Fortnite has raised $ 2.4 billion in revenue last year.

Analysts say that has caught the attention of conglomerates of media and technology giants with cash and looking for a new way to grow. At the same time, the devices you play on, such as the Xbox, PlayStation and Switch, are ready to disappear in the next decade, replaced by an ultra-fast connection that allows you to play games over the Internet in the same way you watch Netflix. today.

The technology, called game streaming, could trigger a reorganization between game developers such as Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and Bethesda Softworks, and is expected to be a major theme at the Game Developers Conference next week in San Francisco.

Google is expected to use its next GDC presentation to present a game service based on the Project Stream technology, which was first shown last year. Xbox and EA say they also want to offer streaming games. And as larger companies such as Comcast and its competitors seek to jump into the gaming world, they can use their major bank accounts to buy game makers like Nexon based on their experience.

“The games are very international these days,” said Mike Vorhaus, media analyst and CEO of Vorhaus Advisors. He added that any company that wants to join the fray needs to learn not only how to make a good title, but also things like give away free games like Fortnite and then earn money. And it’s an advantage if the games resonate outside the United States and Europe too. “With Nexon, you get a company and a brand that works very well in Asia and understands free games.”

Surprising fit

Nexon was founded in Korea 25 years ago and has specialized in online games for PC and mobile devices. Its CEO is Owen Mahoney, an EA veteran. And it’s best known for MapleStory, a free game in which players travel through a fantasy world defeating monsters, exploring dungeons and creating unique characters. The game, which you can play with friends, has “hundreds of hours of adventure”.

The company also manufactures Dungeon Fighter Online, a game in which you fight through dark worlds and dungeons. It was particularly popular in China and eventually attracted more than 600 million players worldwide.

That kind of success would be a catnip for a company like Comcast, according to analysts, bringing experience in large online games and expanding its business outside of the US. UU

Comcast has shown interest in video games before. The cable and internet television giant, which also owns NBC Universal, joined EA to bring the transmission of games to televisions in 2015. The experiment, called Xfinity Games, offered people the opportunity to broadcast games. like the strategy game without meaning Plants vs. Zombies

The project failed, but it explains why Comcast could have considered a more serious movement in the games. “Comcast would get a seat in the front row, apparently, and build its ‘player-level Internet’ under the Xfinity brand,” said Joost van Dreunen, director of SuperData Research at Nielsen.

Deep pockets

It may seem unlikely that a large company with little history making games wants to buy suddenly. But that’s what Microsoft did when it launched on the scene in 2001 with its Xbox video game console, instantly becoming Sony’s next big competitor. and Nintendo.

Now more technological giants are lining up to face the industry.

Beyond Google’s announcement, it is rumored that Apple, which is already a mass distributor of video games through the App Store, is using its pockets to finance a game subscription service. (The company is expected to announce a video transmission service similar to Netflix on March 25).

Facebook, which helped turn FarmVille de Zynga into a household name, has built several gaming services over the years. And in 2014, he bought Oculus VR for more than $ 3 billion, instantly making him one of the leaders in the great momentum of virtual reality in the video game industry.

Amazon, meanwhile, has already invested billions of dollars in video games, either by buying the popular Twitch games website for $ 1 billion in 2014 or several game studios such as Double Helix that same year.

If Nexon finally goes to Comcast or another giant it is still uncertain.

Either way, it is clear that the game is about to change.

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