Did you watch Stranger Things 3 over Fourth of July weekend? If so, you’re not alone.
According to Netflix, the new season was such a popular viewing pick that it actually broke the service’s four-day record, with 40.7 million “household accounts” tuning in. And 18.2 million of those, or about 44 percent, have already completed all eight episodes.
40.7 million household accounts have been watching the show since its July 4 global launch — more than any other film or series in its first four days. And 18.2 million have already finished the entire season.
This post contains spoilers for Season 3 of Stranger Things
Our tears have not even dried yet after the devastating revelation that our beloved Sheriff Hopper died sacrificing himself in the Stranger Things Season 3 finale.
But fans are already on the case with convincing theories about why he’s actually, probably, definitely still alive. The writers themselves even appear to have purposefully left that door open, with a conspicuous mention of an “American” prisoner at the Russian facility in the end credits scene.
But there are more subtle hints, too. And redditors are desperately scrounging for all of them to help us all remain in the denial phase of this grieving process. Read more…
In January, there was much excitement around comic book writer Sina Grace, his Iceman series for Marvel Comics, and his latest creation: Shade, Marvel’s first drag queen superhero.
Much has changed since thenIceman is apparently done after five issues, Shade is now called Darkveil, and, with his Marvel work seemingly concluded, Grace has quite a bit to say about how the comics publisher operates behind the scenes, specifically with regard to a creative product that caters to audiences outside the heteronormative “standard” (if there really is such a thing, or ever was).
A little background may be in order: In 2015, an All New X-Men comic revealed that Bobby Drake, the human behind the mutant superhero Iceman, is gay. Then, two years later in 2017, Grace kicked off a solo Iceman series that further explored Bobby’s identity. Read more…
Despite disappointing many longtime fans of the show, the “Game of Thrones” series finale set a new record for HBO as the most viewed episode in the network’s history. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the episode reached 13.6 million viewers during its initial airing on Sunday night, which rose to 19.3 million once replays and early streaming was included. The record was previously held for a short time by the season’s penultimate episode, which drew in 12.48 million viewers when first aired and a total of 18.4 million during its first night.
The eighth and last season of “Game of Thrones,” which premiered in 2011, averaged 44.2 million viewers through Sunday after streaming, on-demand, DVRs and replays were added in, or 10 million more than the season 7 average, said HBO .
The previous HBO series finale with the most viewers was “The Sopranos” with 11.9 million viewers, though that was in 2007, before streaming and other digital services took off.
The 2011 game comes to Nintendo Switch on May 10, and it’s the same ridiculously over-the-top story of superstardom, gang warfare, and government malfeasance you remember.
Or not? Even if we accept that time has actually flowed normally since early 2017 — a tall order when every day ages us all another 10 years, I know — it’s been a long time since Saints Row: The Third showed up. If you’re not familiar with the series, or just want to catch up, let’s talk about why it matters.
Finding the right footing
It’s always funny to think back on how Saints Row, the series, started as an opportunistic knock-off. Read more…
If you can see through your tears, the scenes for next week on Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4 is here. And it is all about the bloody aftermath that will seemingly follow the Long Night we just survived.
“We Have won the Great War,” Daenerys says. “Now we will win the Last War.”
Surprisingly, this strongman tactic appears to work on the ice cold northerns, who seem to finally be warming up to their new dragon king. Read more…
The world premiere of Avengers: Endgame took place on Monday evening, with critics and industry peeps getting a look at the much-hyped film before it hits cinemas.
Based on the first reactions on social media, the epic, three-hour long Endgame is a satisfying conclusion to a series which began 21 films ago, with most reviewers leaving positive comments about the film.
As Mashable’s Angie Han and Ali Foreman noted, Endgame is quite the send off.
#AvengerEndgame is an immensely satisfying payoff, not just to Infinity War but to all the films that came before. This is why the MCU. (And I say this as someone who was not especially enamored of Infinity War, FWIW.) ♥️💙💜
Douyu, a Chinese live streaming service focused on video games, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as it prepares to raise up to $500 million on the NYSE less than a year after its archrival floated on the same stock market.
Wuhan-based Douyu, whose name translates as “fighting fish”, is the second Twitch -like service backed by Tencent to go public in the United States. Its direct competitor Huya, who has a similarly fierce name “tiger’s teeth” and also counts Tencent as a major investor, raised $180 million from its NYSE listing last May.
It’s not surprising for Tencent to hedge its bets in esports streaming, given the giant relies heavily on video games to make money. For example, Tencent can use some of its portfolio companies’ ad slots to get the word out about its new releases. Indeed, Douyu’s filing shows it received a hefty 27.48 million yuan ($4.09 million) in advertising fees from Tencent last year.
As Douyu warns in its prospectus, its alliance with Tencent can be tenuous.
“Tencent may devote resources or attention to the other companies it has an interest in, including our direct or indirect competitors. As a result, we may not fully realize the benefits we expect from the strategic cooperation with Tencent. Failure to realize the intended benefits from the strategic cooperation with Tencent, or potential restrictions on our collaboration with other parties, could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.”
But there are nuances in the giant’s ties to China’s top two live streaming services that could mean more affinity between Tencent and Douyu. The social media and gaming behemoth is currently Douyu’s largest shareholder with a 40.1 percent stake owned through its wholly-owned subsidiary Nectarine. Over at Huya, Tencent is the second-largest stakeholder behind YY, the pioneer in China’s live streaming sector that had spun off Huya.
When it comes to the financial terms, the rivaling pair is in a head-on race. In 2018, Douyu doubled its net revenues to $531.5 million. Huya held an edge as it earned $678.3 million in the same period, also doubling the amount from a year ago.
Huya may have learned a few things about monetizing live streaming from 14-year-old YY as it managed to pull in more revenues despite owning a smaller user base. While Douyu claimed 153.5 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter, Huya had 116.6 million.
How the two make money also diverge slightly. In the fourth quarter, 86 percent of Douyu’s revenues originated from virtual items that users tipped to their favorite streaming hosts, with the remaining earnings derived from advertising and more. By contrast, Huya relied almost exclusively on live streaming gifts, which made up 95.3 percent of total revenues.
Screenshot of a Douyu live streaming session
As Douyu grows its coffers to spend on content as well as technologies following the impending IPO, competition in China’s live streaming landscape is set to heat up. Just earlier this month, Huya raised $327 million in a secondary offering to invest in content and R&D. Like many other businesses anchored in content, Huya and Douyu depend tremendously on quality creators to keep users loyal. Both have offered sizable checks to live streaming hosts, promising to grow the internet celebrities into bigger stars.
And they’ve extended the battlefield outside China as emerging media forms, most exemplified by short video services Douyin (TikTok’s China version) and Kuaishou, threaten to steal people’s eyeball time away. Both bite-size video apps now enjoy a much bigger user base than their live streaming counterparts.
“We intend to further explore overseas markets to expand our user base through both organic expansion and selective investments,” noted Douyu in its IPO filing.
In a similar move, Huya’s overseas expansion is also well underway. “In addition to our vigorous domestic growth, we have successfully leveraged our unique business model to enter new overseas markets. We believe we are delivering long-term value through strategic investments in overseas markets in 2019 and beyond,” said Huya chief executive Rongjie Dong in the company’s Q4 earnings report.
Not since Mario’s nipples has the video game world been rocked this hard by a revelation about anatomy: Goombas have arms and hands!
The discovery of these appendages comes courtesy of photos of a Goomba keshi rubber figure (an eraser) shared to Twitter by user Joe Piconi, which shows the Goomba with his arms and hands folded behind his back, thus giving him the armless appearance.
Plunge your hands into a box and try to guess what’s inside it without looking. It’s a truly horrific concept for a game, one that’s generated plenty of fun times on The Tonight Show.
But Jimmy Fallon always gets pretty squeamish playing “Can You Feel It,” as do his guests. On Wednesday, the late night show host invited The Widow star Kate Beckinsale to play, and there was plenty of screaming (mainly on Fallon’s part).
“It’s sticky and wet. It’s a poo! It’s a huge poo!” Beckinsale said of some innocent cinnamon buns.
“I hate this game so much,” Fallon said, hesitantly putting his hands into earthworm-filled dirt. Read more…
But Jackman’s record isn’t the only title he’s tried for, as the star explained he and his brother clocked up many valiant attempts at Guinness glory — one of which is the most coins caught on one’s elbow. Read more…
It was a lengthy, almost two-year wait for the Mueller report to be delivered, and Stephen Colbert thought it was, well, anticlimactic.
In a monologue opening The Late Show on Monday, Colbert said the report’s findings, which found that there was no proof of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, was “worse than the finale of Lost.”
“What about the smoke monster, was it real or not? And if not, why have so many members of Trump’s campaign plead guilty to lying about meeting with the smoke monster?” Colbert quipped.
“Why couldn’t this have been like the ending of Seinfeld? Still disappointing, but at least they’re all in jail.” Read more…
Apple flexed its wallet today in a way Facebook has been scared to do. Tech giants make money by the billions, not the millions, which should give them an easy way to break into premium video distribution: buy some must-see content. That’s the strategy I’ve been advocating for Facebook but that Apple actually took to heart. Tim Cook wrote lines of zeros on some checks, and suddenly Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Oprah became the well-known faces of Apple TV+.
Facebook Watch has…MTV’s The Real World? The other Olsen sister? Re-runs of Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Actually, Facebook Watch is dominated by the kind of low-quality viral video memes the social network announced it would kick out of its News Feed for wasting people’s time.
And so while Apple TV+ at least has a solid base camp from which to make the uphill climb to compete with Netflix, Facebook Watch feels like it’s tripping over its own feet.
Spielberg is making short films out of the Amazing Stories anthology that inspired him as a child. Abrams is spinning a tale of a musician’s rise called Little Voice Witherspoon and Aniston star in The Morning Show about anchoring a news program. Oprah is bringing documentaries about workplace harassment and mental health. Apple even has the Seasame Street gang teaching kids how to code.
This tentpole tactic will see Apple try to draw users into a free trial of Apple TV+ with this must-see content and then convince them to stay. And a compelling, exclusive reason to watch is exactly what’s been missing from…Facebook Watch. Instead, it chose to fund a wide array of often unscripted reality and documentary shorts that never felt special or any better than what else was openly available on the Internet, let alone what you could get from a subscription. It now claims to have 75 million people Watching at least one minute per day, but it’s failed to spawn a zeitgeist moment. Even as Facebook has scrambled to add syndicated TV cult favorites like Firefly or soccer matches to free, ad-supported video service, it’s failed to sign on anything truly newsworthy.
That’s just not going to fly anymore. Tech has evolved past the days when media products could win just based on their design, theoretical virality, or the massive audiences they’re cross-promoted to. We’re anything but starved for things to watch or listen to. And if you want us to frequent one more app or sign up for one more subscription, you’ll need A-List talent that makes us take notice. Netflix has Stranger Things. HBO has Game Of Thrones. Amazon has the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Disney+ has…Marvel, Star Wars, and the princesses. And now Apple has the world’s top directors and actresses.
Video has become a battle of the rich. Apple didn’t pull any punches. Facebook will need to buy some new fighters if Watch is ever going to deserve a place in the ring.
It’s been a long time since superheroes could be dismissed as mere kid stuff, thanks to stories as intelligent as Black Panther or as disturbing as The Dark Knight or as gleefully inappropriate as Deadpool.
But lost in all the praise over how mature and thoughtful and boundary-pushing these films can be is the fact that, well, superheroes are kid stuff. Most of us first fell in love with these larger-than-life crusaders as children, over comic books or Saturday morning cartoons or family trips to the multiplex.
You know what, Julia Louis-Dreyfus could sell us anything.
But we’re not so sure how she is effective is at selling a lie, however, as exemplified when she stepped into a round of “Box of Lies” with The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon on Thursday.
The Veep star is good fun, but boy, not so convincing when it comes to trying to dupe Fallon into thinking that she’s got a horse with a huge collection of sandals and high heels in front of her. Read more…
If you’re like me, who isn’t big on social media, you’d think that the image filters that come inside most apps will do the job. But for many others, especially the younger crowd, making their photos stand out is a huge deal.
The demand is big enough that PicsArt, a rival to filtering companies VSCO and Snapseed, recently hit 130 million monthly active users worldwide, roughly a year after it amassed 100 million MAUs. Like VSCO, PicsArt now offers video overlays though images are still its focus.
Nearly 80 percent of PicsArt’s users are under the age of 35 and those under 18 are driving most of its growth. The “Gen Z” (the generation after millennials) users aren’t obsessed with the next big, big thing. Rather, they pride themselves on having niche interests, be it K-pop, celebrities, anime, sci-fi or space science, topics that come in the form of filters, effects, stickers and GIFs in PicsArt’s content library.
“PicsArt is helping to drive a trend I call visual storytelling. There’s a generation of young people who communicate through memes, short-form videos, images and stickers, and they rarely use words,” Tammy Nam, who joined PicsArt as its chief operating officer in July, told TechCrunch in an interview.
PicsArt has so far raised $45 million, according to data collected by Crunchbase. It picked up $20 million from a Series B round in 2016 to grow its Asia focus and told TechCrunch that it’s “actively considering fundraising to fuel [its] rapid growth even more.”
PicsArt wants to help users stand out on social media, for instance, by virtually applying this rainbow makeup look on them. / Image: PicsArt via Weibo
The app doubles as a social platform, although the use case is much smaller compared to the size of Instagram, Facebook and other mainstream social media products. About 40 percent of PicsArt’s users post on the app, putting it in a unique position where it competes with the social media juggernauts on one hand, and serving as a platform-agnostic app to facilitate content creation for its rivals on the other.
What separates PicsArt from the giants, according to Nam, is that people who do share there tend to be content creators rather than passive consumers.
“On TikTok and Instagram, the majority of the people there are consumers. Almost 100 percent of the people on PicsArt are creating or editing something. For many users, coming on PicsArt is a built-in habit. They come in every week, and find the editing process Zen-like and peaceful.”
Trending in China
Most of PicsArt’s users live in the United States, but the app owes much of its recent success to China, its fastest growing market with more than 15 million MAUs. The regional growth, which has been 10-30 percent month-over-month recently, appears more remarkable when factoring in PicsArt’s zero user acquisition expense in a crowded market where pay-to-play is a norm for emerging startups.
“Many larger companies [in China] are spending a lot of money on advertising to gain market share. PicsArt has done zero paid marketing in China,” noted Nam.
Screenshot: TikTok-related stickers from PicsArt’s library
When people catch sight of an impressive image filtering effect online, many will inquire about the toolset behind it. Chinese users find out about the Armenian startup from photos and videos hashtagged #PicsArt, not different from how VSCO gets discovered from #vscocam on Instagram. It’s through such word of mouth that PicsArt broke into China, where users flocked to its Avengers-inspired disappearing superhero effect last May when the film was screening. China is now the company’s second largest market by revenue after the U.S.
Screenshot: PicsArts lets users easily apply the Avengers dispersion effect to their own photos
A hurdle that all media apps see in China is the country’s opaque guidelines on digital content. Companies in the business of disseminating information, from WeChat to TikTok, hire armies of content moderators to root out what the government deems inappropriate or illegal. PicsArt says it uses artificial intelligence to sterilize content and keeps a global moderator team that also keeps an eye on its China content.
Despite being headquartered in Silicon Valley, PicsArt has placed its research and development center in Armenia, home to founder Hovhannes Avoyan. This gives the startup access to much cheaper engineering talents in the country and neighboring Russia compared to what it can hire in the U.S. To date, 70 percent of the company’s 360 employees are working in engineering and product development (50 percent of whom are female), an investment it believes helps keep its creative tools up to date.
Most of PicsArt’s features are free to use, but the firm has also looked into getting paid. It rolled out a premium program last March that gives users more sophisticated functions and exclusive content. This segment has already leapfrogged advertising to be PicsArt’s largest revenue source, although in China, its budding market, paid subscriptions have been slow to come.
PicsArt lets users do all sorts of creative work, including virtually posing with their idol. / Image: PicsArt via Weibo
“In China, people don’t want to pay because they don’t believe in the products. But if they understand your value, they are willing to pay, for example, they pay a lot for mobile games,” said Jennifer Liu, PicsArt China’s country manager.
And Nam is positive that Chinese users will come to appreciate the app’s value. “In order for this new generation to create really differentiated content, become influencers, or be more relevant on social media, they have to do edit their content. It’s just a natural way for them to do that.”
Get ready for head-to-head battles during your commute, as Activision and Tencent delivered details and a trailer for Call of Duty: Mobile on Monday.
Call of Duty: Mobile will take the form of a standalone, free-to-play, first-person game brimming with maps like Nuketown and Crash, along with characters and weapons from the COD series, including Black Ops and Modern Warfare.
There’s no exact date for the game’s launch, but Activision and Tencent have announced that they’ll be releasing pre-launch beta versions of the game for folks who pre-register on the website and via Google Play. Once officially launched, the game will also be available on the iOS App Store too. Read more…
That’s right folks. The actor at the centre of Final Destination, a film released on March 16, 2000 and whose entire premise of cheating death hinges on a premonition about a plane, said he boarded a flight on the film’s anniversary which matched the flight number to the date. Read more…
The Luke Skywalker actor had a good laugh at everyone’s expense on Saturday when he tweeted a look at his very own trailer for Star Wars Episode IX. His very literal trailer that he hung out in when he wasn’t on set.
But there was one moment that the late show host had to talk about again: Trump’s admonishing of the people investigating him during his speech on Saturday.
And by talk, we mean totally mock the president with a new, weird impression that’s better if you just watch it (at 2:40). Colbert also tore into Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, where he answered questions about the investigations.
“It’s just so sad when his heart’s not in it, you know,” Colbert quipped. “He’s like an aging singer doing his 16th show of the week in Branson to a half-empty room.” Read more…
There’s a new Tyrant in town and his name is Thomas the Tank Engine.
The latest and greatest in the seemingly inevitable line of Thomas the Tank Engine mods for the Resident Evil 2 remake has arrived — and while its existence isn’t surprising, its application couldn’t be more perfect.
The collaborative mod, created by developers ZombieAli and DJ Pop, replaces the wildly terrifying Mr. X — an unkillable creature that chases you for portions of the game — with an equally horrifying and tyrant-sized Thomas the Tank Engine.
Complete with the Thomas & Friends theme song and some exceptionally menacing choo-choos, Mr. Thomas can bust through walls, catch fire, and stalk Claire and Leon to his heart’s content, just like his bumpy, hat-wearing predecessor. Read more…
Well, looks like some kind of apocalypse is here in the latest look at the forthcoming Hellboy film starring Stranger Things’ David Harbour.
Set to a cover of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” the trailer offers up a pretty hectic look at the Dark Horse Comics-based film, with more than a few monsters for our pal to take care of.
Plus, there’s some kind of sexy blood shower, who knows?
Directed by Neil Marshall and starring Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Penelope Mitchell, and Daniel Dae Kim, the film sees our main dude Hellboy attempting to thwart a powerful fifth century sorceress (Jovovich) with plans to y’know, destroy humankind. Classic. Read more…
“Quite frankly, social media is the toilet of the internet. What it has done to pop culture is abysmal,” Gaga told the show (from 3:15).
“People saw love, and guess what, that’s what we wanted you to see. This is a love song, ‘Shallow.’ The movie, A Star Is Born, is a love story.”
Gaga added they both had worked on the performance all week, and Cooper as director made decisions like making sure the audience was lit throughout the song, among other details that helped with the illusion of love. Read more…
Spike Lee is also angry about Green Book winning Best Picture.
The BlacKkKlansman director was reported to have stood up and waved his hands in disgust during Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, when Julia Roberts announced Green Book as the winner of the night’s top prize.
Lee reportedly tried to leave, but was stopped, and eventually returned to his seat.
Spike Lee was visibly angry when “Green Book” was announced as the winner of best picture at the Oscars, waving his arms in disgust and appearing to try to storm out of the Dolby Theatre before he was stopped at the doors. He returned to his seat when the speeches were over.
“Roma” took home three Academy Awards tonight — though not Best Picture, which went to “Green Book.”
Alfonso Cuarón did win an Oscar for directing the film. It was his second victory in the category, following his previous award for “Gravity.” And it marks the fifth time in six years that Best Director has gone to one of the “Three Amigos,” a trio of acclaimed Mexican directors that also includes Guillermo del Toro and Alejandro Iñárritu.
“Roma” is based on Cuarón’s childhood in Mexico City, as told through the eyes of the family’s maid Cleo. It went into the night with 10 nominations, tying “The Favourite” for the most nods, so it seemed well-positioned to bring home the first Best Picture award for a streaming film (it would also have been the first for a foreign language film).
Despite losing out on the biggest prize, it won the awards for Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Film and Best Director.
“Being up here doesn’t get old,” Cuarón said as he took the stage for the third time. He went on to thank the Academy for recognizing “a film centered around an indigenous woman — one of the 70 million domestic workers in the world without work rights, a character that had been historically relegated to the background in cinema.”
While “Roma” was the big streaming success story for the night, Netflix’s “Period. End of Sentence.” won for Best Documentary (Short Subject). The streamer’s “Ballad of Buster Scruggs” also received three nominations, and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings took the stage to perform the movie’s Best Song contender “When The Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings,” though it didn’t win in any category.
Meanwhile, Hulu’s “Minding the Gap” was nominated for Best Documentary Feature, but lost to “Free Solo.”
Beyond the streaming news, “Black Panther” was the first superhero movie to be nominated for Best Picture. Ultimately, it took home the awards for Best Costume Design, Best Production Design and Best Original Score. Also on the superhero front: “Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse” won for Best Animated Feature.
The awards were given out at a ceremony without a host, for only the second time in Oscar history. Instead of a monologue, there was a performance by Queen, then a montage highlighting all kinds of movies from the past year, then Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Maya Rudolph came out to make a few host-style jokes before presenting the first award.
And how did I feel about the results? Well …
If Green Book wins Best Picture I’m going to set this television on fire
Did Steph Curry’s interviews over the 2019 NBA All-Star weekend seem full of weird turns of phrase to you? It’s all Jimmy Fallon’s fault.
For a segment subbed “Drop It In,” The Tonight Show host had the basketball star slip strange words into his post-game chats, and Curry managed to weave them all in multiple times without breaking a sweat.
The phrases you’re looking for are “Energizer bunny,” “flipping pancakes” and “wham, bam, can of ham,” the latter of which we intend to weave into all conversations from now on. Read more…
As Democrats begin to nominate for the 2020 presidential election, it’s beginning to get the attention of Donald Trump.
The president fired off a tweet in response to Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s announcement in Minnesota on Sunday, making fun of her bid to fight global warming, as snow piled on her.
That got the attention of Seth Meyers on his segment “A Closer Look” on Monday, who broke down Trump’s attacks on Dems who are running for president. In Klobuchar’s case, Meyers pointed out the president’s misguided global warming comment.
“Why do we have to keep explaining to the president of the United States that weather and climate are two different things?” Meyers asked. Read more…
After a racist photo on his 1984 yearbook page surfaced on Friday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam was called on to resign. So, he held a press conference to prove he’s not a racistIt didn’t go well.
It was almost too easy for Seth Meyers, who took “A Closer Look” at the controversy on Monday, and in particular, the governor’s backtracking on whether the image of a man wearing blackface, and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood, actually featured him.
After apologising for being in the photo, Northam later changed his story, claiming he knew he wasn’t in it. Why? He pointed to another time he wore blackface, when he performed a Michael Jackson routine in a dance contest. Really. Read more…
What was your first concert? Did one of your parents take you or did you go it alone?
Chris Pine’s a keen Metallica fan, but it wasn’t his first concertHollywood Chris and star of both Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman and I Am the Night, Pine had a delightful nerd-out with Jimmy Kimmel on Friday over music, from their first concerts to Pine’s teenage band in which he rapped Vanilla Ice (and still can).
While Kimmel’s first concert was Sammy Davis Jr. in Vegas, Pine’s first concert was Faith No More, with Kyuss and Babes in Toyland. And although it wasn’t his first concert, Kimmel went to Lionel Richie with his mother. Read more…
Chinese internet giant Tencent has been excluded from the first batch of video game license approvals issued by the state-run government since March.
China regulators approved Saturday the released of 80 online video games after a months-long freeze, Reuters first reported. None of the approved titles listed on the approval list were from Tencent Holdings, the world’s largest gaming company.
Licenses are usually granted on a first come, first serve basis in order of when studios file their applications, several game developers told TechCrunch. There are at least 7,000 titles in the waiting list, among which only 3,000 may receive the official licenses in 2019, China’s 21st Century Business Herald reported citing experts. Given the small chance of making it to the first batch, it’s unsurprising the country’s two largest game publishers Tencent and NetEase were absent.
The controlled and gradual unfreezing process is in line with a senior official’s announcement on December 21. While the Chinese gaming regulator is trying its best to greenlight titles as soon as possible, there is a huge number of applications in the pipeline, the official said. Without licenses, studios cannot legally monetize their titles in China. The hiatus in approval has slashed earnings in the world’s largest gaming market, which posted a 5.4 percent year-over-year growth in the first half of 2018, the slowest rate in the last ten years according to a report by Beijing-based research firm GPC and China’s official gaming association CNG.
Tencent is best known as the company behind WeChat, a popular messaging platform in China. But much of its revenue comes from gaming. Even with a recent decline in gaming revenue, the company has a thriving business that is majority owner of several companies including Activision, Grinding Gears Games, Riot and Supercell. In 2012, the company took a 40 percent stake in Epic Games, maker of Fortnite. Tencent also has alliances or publishing deals with other video gaming companies such as Square Enix, makers of Tomb Raider.
The ban on new video game titles in China has affected Tencent’s bottom line. The company reported revenue from gaming fell 4 percent in the third quarter due to the prolonged freeze on licenses. At the time, Tencent claimed it had 15 games with monetization approval in its pipeline. To combat pressure in its consumer-facing gaming business, the Chinese giant launched a major reorganization in October to focus more on enterprise-related initiatives such as cloud services and maps. Founder and CEO Pony Ma said at the time the strategic repositioning would prepare Tencent for the next 20 years of operation.
“In the second stage, we aspire to enable our partners in different industries to better connect with consumers via an expanding, open and connected ecosystem,” stated Ma.
China tightened restrictions in 2018 to combat games that are deemed illegal, immoral, low-quality or have a negative social impact such as those that make children addicted or near-sighted. This means studios, regardless of size, need to weigh new guidelines in their production and user interaction. Tencent placed its own restrictions on gaming in what appeared to be an attempt to assuage regulators. The company has expanded its age verification system, an effort aimed at curbing use of young players, and placed limits on daily play.
Update (December 30, 10:00 am, GMT+8): Adds context on China’s gaming industry and Tencent.
“And as much as the first time shooting Wonder Woman was amazing, this time was even more unique and special.. We shot in 4 very different locations in 3 countries, and I’m so soooo proud of the almost 1000 crew members who came to set every day, giving everything they have into our movie.” Read more…
A few weeks ago, people caught wind of the fact that Ice-T had never eaten a bagel until Law and Order: SVU, when he was required to eat one. Right? Huge.
Ice-T and co-star Mariska Hargitay appeared on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon on Wednesday, where they were quizzed about the kerfuffle. For Ice-T, he just had to cop the bagel, although he didn’t actually swallow.
“On the show they wanted me to eat a bagel. I said I don’t eat bagels,” Ice-T replied. “But it was in the script, so you know I just did it. But I acted like I ate it, I didn’t eat it.”
The actor eventually did eat a bagel, explaining he recently filmed an ad for dating app Coffee Meets Bagel, where he well, didn’t enjoy it. “I ate one, I had one bite, and it felt like I ate a loaf of bread. Why would I eat an unsweetened donut?” he said. Read more…
In 2010, Strongheart was reportedly charged with two counts of assault causing bodily harm, according to CBC News, something which resurfaced when he appeared in the Canadian film Indian Horse earlier this year.
Following the airing of the season’s fourth episode, “Common Ground,” fans asked the series’ author Diana Galbaldon about her feelings toward the casting on Facebook. Galbaldon said she had nothing to do with the casting process. Read more…
The doctored video of the interaction between CNN’s Jim Acosta and a White House intern, which was posted by the Trump administration and originated from Infowars, hardly pleased many of us, including Jimmy Kimmel.
“She should be forced to resign for that,” Kimmel said on Thursday. “She intentionally disseminated doctored video footage to discredit a reputable journalist … Sarah Huckabee Sanders should be fired and sent to live in a JOANN’s Fabrics store.”
Also in the line of fire was Kellyanne Conway, who also took the side of the intern. It’s “so ridiculous,” in fact, that Kimmel decided to take his qualms straight to Conway herself. Read more…
A very sombre Stephen Colbert responded to Pittsburgh’s synagogue shooting on The Late Show Monday.
After declaring that “hate is not what America stands for,” and praising the Muslim group which raised more than $140,000 for the shooting’s victims, Colbert turned his attention to Trump’s indefensible response to the tragic event.
“Naturally, in times like these our nation looks to its president for comfort and guidance. That’s our first mistake,” he said.
Of particular annoyance to the late show host was Trump continuing with a rally hours after the attack, where he claimed that he did so because the New York Stock Exchange opened the day after 9/11That claim was in fact, false.Read more…
For the latest instalment of his wildly popular “Lip Sync Battle” segment, Fallon invited Saturday Night Live favourite Tiffany Haddish into the arena.
Both kicked off with some solid ’90s nostalgia. Fallon shimmied through Deee-Lite’s 1990 banger “Groove Is in the Heart,” but Haddish absolutely nailed the Lady of Rage’s 1994 track “Afro Puffs.”
The late show host picked Post Malone’s “Psycho,” which seemed to slow the pace, but Fallon picked it up with a few of the rapper’s signature face tattoos. But Haddish went old school for James Brown’s “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” with some highly fancy footwork. Read more…
Yes, there are talented actors and fancy costumes on-screen, and yes, there’s an acclaimed writer at the helm who specializes in dramatizing real history. But did we really need to watch another 20 hours of serious, scripted drama about England’s royal family?
Well, we were convinced to give the show a shot after it took home multiple awards at this year’s Emmys, and we were absolutely won over. It turns out that some of the questions that made us uncertain about the concept (such as: What’s the point of a monarchy in modern society?) are exactly what the show is trying to explore.
And it would be hard to overpraise those actors — not just Claire Foy as Queen Elizabeth II, but also Matt Smith as her husband Prince Philip, Vanessa Kirby as Pricness Margaret, John Lithgow as Winston Churchill and Jared Harris as Elizabeth’s father, King George VI.
Fortunately he’s in the safe hands of Post Malone, who is a big time fan of the Italian-American chain. The “Rockstar” rapper showed the late show host all the delights of Post Malone-style free breadsticks, which involves taking a bite and putting hunks of butter on it.
In a segment that’s apparently totally not an ad for Olive Garden, Fallon spent most of his time being shocked at how things like breadsticks and salad were free. “How do you guys make money?” he asked.
As per the Hollywood Reporter, when the pair finished filming, they headed over to an Irish pub where Post Malone got involved in a jam night. Sounds like quite the night out. Read more…