Game On: Microsoft eyes 'Netflix for video games'
Welcome to "Game On," The Fly's weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks. NEW RELEASES: Among the major releases this week is Microsoft Studios' (MSFT) "Sea of Thieves," an open-world pirate-themed action game that launches today on Xbox One and PC. Also out this week is Electronic Arts' (EA) action-adventure game "A Way Out," which rolls out on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 (SNE), and PC on March 23. In addition, Bandai Namco's role-playing game "Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom" launches on PS4 and PC on March 23. MICROSOFT'S 'NETFLIX FOR VIDEO GAMES': Last week, Microsoft gaming cloud division chief Kareem Choudhry told The Verge in an interview that the company is working on a service that would function in largely the same way as a Netflix (NFLX) for video games. Choudhry said that the service would offer users access to games from a litany of developers, including Microsoft, and stream those games to the player's device of choice. stream those titles to the player's device of choice, according to Choudhry. "We're looking at ways to make that content available to anyone no matter what device they're on," he said, adding that there will eventually be "2B gamers in the world" and Microsoft's goal "is to reach every one of them." 'BATTLEFRONT II' LOOT BOX UPDATE: In a blog post last Friday, EA announced a progression update for "Star Wars Battlefront II," which includes a "complete re-design" of the in-game progression system. As part of the update, which will begin rolling out on March 21, players will no longer be able to spend real money on items that affect how the game is played. Players will not be able to purchase loot crates or ability-boosting Star Cards anymore, and instead will have to earn experience points and skill points for heroes, classes, and ships. "With this update, progression is now linear," the company said. "Star Cards, or any other item impacting gameplay, will only be earned through gameplay and will not be available for purchase." GOOGLE MAPS FOR DESIGNERS: TechCrunch reported last week that Google (GOOG, GOOGL) is making its Maps API more accessible to video game designers, providing them with access to the real world's geography and geometry, inserting 100M 3D buildings, landmarks, and more into developer's design repertoires. Game makes such as EA, Activision Blizzard (ATVI), and Take-Two (TTWO) can use these maps to serve as the foundation of their digital environments with all of the models turned into GameObjects in the Unity game engine that are ready to be adjusted, according to TechCrunch. MSFT NFLX SNE EA GOOG GOOGL TTWO ATVI