Less than 1 percent of Netflix’s subscribers are playing its games

Netflix’s entry into the gaming market is off to a slow start. According to an analysis performed by Apptopia on behalf of CNBC, the streaming giant’s games have been downloaded a total of 23.3 million times and average about 1.7 million daily users. Put another way, less than one percent of Netflix’s 221 million customers are taking advantage of the games included in their subscriptions.

Netflix did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. In the past, the company indicated it did not expect its gaming division to be profitable immediately. “We’re going to be experimental and try a bunch of things,” Netflix COO Greg Peters told investors during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings calls last year.

Still, the question that’s probably on everyone’s mind is how long Netflix is willing to wait to see if it made the right bet, especially after it lost nearly one million subscribers during its most recent quarter. Other lofty bets — like the company's in-house fan blog, Tudum — were the subject of cutbacks after only a few months of spending.

The company has shared precious few details on how much it has spent expanding its portfolio beyond TV shows and movies, but most signs point to a significant investment. Earlier this year, the company paid $72 million to acquire Next Games, the studio behind Stranger Things: Puzzle Tales. More recently, it secured exclusive mobile rights to beloved indie titles like Spiritfarer and Into The Breach. The company is unlikely to make similar investments in the future if its current ones don’t pan out.

Amazon is buying iRobot, the creator of the Roomba robot vacuum

Amazon just took a big step toward cornering the market for household robots. The company has reached a deal to acquire iRobot, the creator of Roomba robot vacuums. The purchase is worth $1.7 billion in cash and will maintain Colin Angle as iRobot's CEO. The two firms didn't say when they expected the deal to close, but that will depend on the approval of both iRobot shareholders and regulators.

In announcing the deal, Amazon didn't outline its exact plans. Amazon Devices Senior VP Dave Limp focused on iRobot's ability to "reinvent how people clean," and said he looked forward to inventing products. Angle said Amazon shared iRobot's "passion" for innovative home products and felt the internet giant was a good fit.

A successful merger will end 32 years of independence for iRobot. The company was founded in 1990 by MIT researchers, and initially focused on military robots like PackBot. It marked a major turning point in 2002, when it unveiled the first Roomba — the robovac quickly became popular and racked up sales of
a million units by 2004. The company expanded its lineup to include products like robotic mops (Braava), and became so successful that it sold its military business in 2016.

iRobot has faced a rough few months. While it generally fared well in recent years, the company posted a loss in its latest quarter and saw both its revenue and cash reserves shrink. It also warned of weaker growth due to the potential impact of inflation and reduced customer demand in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The company was hopeful that it could get back to profitability and even outperform its past expectations, but it might not have to worry as much with Amazon's help.

The deal could up-end the household robotics market. iRobot has fierce competition these days, including Anker's Eufy brand, Neato, Roborock, Shark and Wyze. Amazon would not only give iRobot more resources to fend off rivals, but much stronger marketing — it's safe to presume Amazon would promote iRobot products over the alternatives. As it stands, Amazon could use the acquisition to fuel projects like its Astro companion or a growing legion of warehouse robots.

Amazon is buying iRobot, the creator of the Roomba robot vacuum

Amazon just took a big step toward cornering the market for household robots. The company has reached a deal to acquire iRobot, the creator of Roomba robot vacuums. The purchase is worth $1.7 billion in cash and will maintain Colin Angle as iRobot's CEO. The two firms didn't say when they expected the deal to close, but that will depend on the approval of both iRobot shareholders and regulators.

In announcing the deal, Amazon didn't outline its exact plans. Amazon Devices Senior VP Dave Limp focused on iRobot's ability to "reinvent how people clean," and said he looked forward to inventing products. Angle said Amazon shared iRobot's "passion" for innovative home products and felt the internet giant was a good fit.

A successful merger will end 32 years of independence for iRobot. The company was founded in 1990 by MIT researchers, and initially focused on military robots like PackBot. It marked a major turning point in 2002, when it unveiled the first Roomba — the robovac quickly became popular and racked up sales of
a million units by 2004. The company expanded its lineup to include products like robotic mops (Braava), and became so successful that it sold its military business in 2016.

iRobot has faced a rough few months. While it generally fared well in recent years, the company posted a loss in its latest quarter and saw both its revenue and cash reserves shrink. It also warned of weaker growth due to the potential impact of inflation and reduced customer demand in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The company was hopeful that it could get back to profitability and even outperform its past expectations, but it might not have to worry as much with Amazon's help.

The deal could up-end the household robotics market. iRobot has fierce competition these days, including Anker's Eufy brand, Neato, Roborock, Shark and Wyze. Amazon would not only give iRobot more resources to fend off rivals, but much stronger marketing — it's safe to presume Amazon would promote iRobot products over the alternatives. As it stands, Amazon could use the acquisition to fuel projects like its Astro companion or a growing legion of warehouse robots.

Lucid Motors has drastically reduced its production target, again

Luxury EV startup Lucid Motors changed its yearly production target again, lowering it to an expected output of between 6,000 and 7,000 vehicles, the company announced today. That’s only a fraction of the 20,000 cars that Lucid initially promised to deliver in 2022. The Tesla competitor has only produced 1,405 vehicles so far this year, giving it a mere four months to build thousands of new cars.

Supply chain woes and a shortage of parts and raw materials are to blame for the slow output, the company claims. In a call with investors, the California-based company’s CEO Peter Rawlinson said it is planning a number of structural changes to amp up production. "Our revised production guidance reflects the extraordinary supply chain and logistics challenges we encountered," said Rawlinson. "We've identified the primary bottlenecks, and we are taking appropriate measures – bringing our logistics operations in-house, adding key hires to the executive team, and restructuring our logistics and manufacturing organization."

On top of ongoing production struggles, this May the company was forced to recall all of its 2022 Air EVs due to wiring issues — a total of over 1,000 cars. Such challenges haven't appeared to impact demand for the luxury vehicles. So far, there have been 37,000 reservations for Lucid Motor’s all-electric sedan, the Lucid Air, the company disclosed in the call. On top of that, Lucid plans to sell over 100,000 cars to the government of Saudi Arabia — which poured over $1 billion into the company and owns a 62 percent stake.

Nintendo’s Switch sales drop as it contends with chip shortage

Nintendo's Switch sales fell significantly last quarter, dropping to 3.43 million units compared to 4.45 million during the same period last year, according to its earnings report. Software sales also fell to 41.4 million units compared to 45.3 million year over year. All that that resulted in an operating profit of 101.6 billion yen ($763 million), down from last year and short of what was expected. 

The company chalked up the Switch sales issue to a parts shortage, the same thing that bedeviled Sony during the same quarter. "Hardware production was impacted by factors such as the global shortage of semiconductor components, resulting in a decrease of hardware shipments," the company said. It noted that the OLED model made up a large chunk of Switch sales with 1.52 million units sold, and the lower margins on that model dragged profit down a bit.

While game sales also dropped, Nintendo managed to boost the overall percentage of first-party games sold. In fact, it was the second best first quarter for first-party game sell-through since the Switch launched — second only to Q1 2021, which was fueled by Animal Crossing: New Horizons. All told, however, Nintendo would have to call the quarter a success considering that game buyers spent 13 percent less this year compared to 2021, according to Bloomberg

Some of that was aided by the launch of three key games, the company pointed out, particularly Nintendo Switch Sports which arrived on April 29th. Mario Strikers: Battles League launched on June 10th, while Fire Emblem Warriors arrived on June 24th. "More than 100 million users played Nintendo Switch in the latest 12-month period," the company added. 

Nintendo is hoping that upcoming games will help out next quarter. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 just launched, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass: Wave 2 arrives on August 4th, Splatoon 3 will be released on September 9th and you'll see Kirby's Dream Buffet sometime this summer. The company is also launching an OLED Switch Splatoon 3 Edition on August 26th. 

Nintendo’s Switch sales drop as it contends with chip shortage

Nintendo's Switch sales fell significantly last quarter, dropping to 3.43 million units compared to 4.45 million during the same period last year, according to its earnings report. Software sales also fell to 41.4 million units compared to 45.3 million year over year. All that that resulted in an operating profit of 101.6 billion yen ($763 million), down from last year and short of what was expected. 

The company chalked up the Switch sales issue to a parts shortage, the same thing that bedeviled Sony during the same quarter. "Hardware production was impacted by factors such as the global shortage of semiconductor components, resulting in a decrease of hardware shipments," the company said. It noted that the OLED model made up a large chunk of Switch sales with 1.52 million units sold, and the lower margins on that model dragged profit down a bit.

While game sales also dropped, Nintendo managed to boost the overall percentage of first-party games sold. In fact, it was the second best first quarter for first-party game sell-through since the Switch launched — second only to Q1 2021, which was fueled by Animal Crossing: New Horizons. All told, however, Nintendo would have to call the quarter a success considering that game buyers spent 13 percent less this year compared to 2021, according to Bloomberg

Some of that was aided by the launch of three key games, the company pointed out, particularly Nintendo Switch Sports which arrived on April 29th. Mario Strikers: Battles League launched on June 10th, while Fire Emblem Warriors arrived on June 24th. "More than 100 million users played Nintendo Switch in the latest 12-month period," the company added. 

Nintendo is hoping that upcoming games will help out next quarter. Xenoblade Chronicles 3 just launched, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe - Booster Course Pass: Wave 2 arrives on August 4th, Splatoon 3 will be released on September 9th and you'll see Kirby's Dream Buffet sometime this summer. The company is also launching an OLED Switch Splatoon 3 Edition on August 26th. 

Robinhood lays off almost a quarter of its staff

For the second time this year, Robinhood is cutting its headcount. On Tuesday, the company announced it would lay off 23 percent of its workforce. According to CEO Vlad Tenev, the cuts will affect every part of Robinhood’s business but will primarily target the company’s “operations, marketing and program management functions.”

Tenev blamed a deteriorating macro environment for the decision, pointing to record inflation and the cryptocurrency crash as the primary drivers of the company’s recent woes. Additionally, he acknowledged the company overhired last year on the assumption retail investors would continue trading stocks and crypto assets at the rate they had during the early stages of the pandemic. Prior to April when Robinhood laid off nine percent of its workforce, the company had a headcount of approximately 3,800. “As CEO, I approved and took responsibility for our ambitious staffing trajectory – this is on me,” he said.

On Tuesday, Robinhood also announced its Q2 results one day ahead of schedule. The company reported a net loss of $295 million after revenue fell by 44 percent year-on-year to $318 million. 

In his letter to employees, Tenev said Robinhood would transition to an organizational model where general managers would oversee broad parts of the company’s business. “This change will flatten hierarchies, reduce cross-functional dependencies, and remove redundant roles and positions,” he claimed. Tenev added that Robinhood would notify affected employees via Slack and email. They can stay with the company until October 1st, 2022.

Sheryl Sandberg officially steps down as COO of Meta

It's the end of an era at the company formerly known as Facebook. Sheryl Sandberg has officially stepped down as Chief Operating Officer on August 1st, as revealed by a SEC filing noticed by TechCrunch. In the filing, Meta said Javier Olivan is now the company's COO and that Sandberg will only remain an employe until September 30th. After that and going forward, Sandberg will serve as a member of Meta's Board and will receive compensation as a non-employee director. 

Sandberg first announced that she was leaving her role as COO of Meta after 14 years in early June. Mark Zuckerberg revealed at the time that Olivan will take on the COO role, but that his responsibilities will be different from Sandberg's. Olivan will have a "more traditional COO role where [he] will be focused internally and operationally, building on his strong track record of making our execution more efficient and rigorous," the company CEO said. 

As The Wall Street Journal noted in a piece about Sandberg back in June, she joined Facebook in 2008 and led the business side of the company, allowing Zuckerberg to focus on engineering work. In more recent years, she became the face of the social network when it comes to leading public response to controversies, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Before Sandberg announced her departure, The Journal reported that the Meta COO used company resources to help kill negative reporting about Activision CEO Bobby Kotick, who she was dating at the time. In mid-June, the publication also reported that Meta’s lawyers are investigating Sandberg's use of the company's resources and employees for her foundation and to promote her book Option B

Sandberg is leaving the company just as it has started preparing for "serious times." In a meeting with employees, Zuckerberg revealed that Meta is experiencing "one of the worst downturns [it has seen] in recent history." As a result, Meta had to slash its target number for new engineers this year. In addition, company leadership reportedly told managers to identify poor performers and to "move to exit" them if they can't get back on track. 

Microsoft negs Activision Blizzard to push through $68.7 billion acquisition

Microsoft is taking an interesting approach to secure regulatory approval for its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. In a recent filing spotted by Rock Paper Shotgun, the company told New Zealand’s Commerce Commission the troubled publisher produces no “must have” games. Yes, you read that right.

“There is nothing unique about the video games developed and published by Activision Blizzard that is a ‘must have’ for rival PC and console video game distributors that give rise to a foreclosure concern,” the company says in the document. Put another way, Microsoft believes owning the rights to best-selling Activision Blizzard franchises like Call of Duty won’t prevent rivals like Sony from competing against it.

At first glance, that would seem to be a nonsensical argument to make about a company Microsoft plans to spend $68.7 billion to acquire. All the same, it’s a claim the tech giant is making in response to its rivals. In a filing with Brazilian regulators, Sony called Call of Duty “an essential game” and an AAA title “that has no rival.” It argues the franchise is so popular that it influences the consoles people buy. Sony is likely speaking from experience. In 2015, the company announced an agreement with Activision that saw some Call of Duty content arrive on PlayStation consoles first.

Downplaying the importance of Call of Duty is just one of the ways Microsoft has tried to placate regulators. In February, the company pledged it would continue to make the franchise available on PlayStation consoles beyond the end of any agreements Sony and Activision had in place before the acquisition was announced. More recently, the company announced a labor neutrality agreement with the Communications Workers of America, which has been organizing video game workers across the industry.

Sony lowers forecast for PS5 gaming sales in 2022

At the end of its fiscal year in May, Sony was fairly bullish on gaming sales, predicting sales of 18 million PlayStation 5s for 2022 after selling 11.5 million in 2021. The company also expected a "significant" revenue increase in its gaming division over 2021 due to a boost across "all categories."

In its latest earnings drop, however, the company has revised its profit forecast down by 16 percent from 305 billion yen ($2.3 billion) in May to 255 billion yen ($1.9 billion), "due to an expected decrease in sales of first party titles," it wrote. The company also chalked up the drop in revenue to higher expenses due to its acquisition of Bungie Studios closing earlier than expected. 

Sony didn't say anything about its PS5 console forecast, but it sold 2.4 million units this quarter compared to 2.3 million in the same quarter last year (21.7 million units to date). That means it must sell over 5 million units on average for the next three quarters to meet its May forecast — something it has never done before. In May, however, Sony said that it will finally be able to ramp up production to meet PS5 demand as supply chain issues ease — though as it stands now, the consoles are still in short supply. 

On the software side, things also went south as Sony sold just 47.1 million titles, including 6.4 million first party games, compared to 63.6 million titles and 10.5 million first-party games in the same quarter of 2021. On top of that, PlayStation Plus users dropped slightly from Q4 (47.3 million instead of 47.4 million), and monthly active users also dropped from 106 to 102 million. Sony introduced the new higher-priced PS Plus Extra and Premium tiers in June, but it has yet to reveal the impact of those — hopefully, we'll learn more next quarter.

Looking ahead, Sony has a few major titles on the horizon that could perk up software sales, including God of War Ragnarokcoming November 9th, and The Last of Us Part I remake arriving on September 2nd. On the hardware side, the PSVR 2 has been revealed but isn't expected to arrive until next year.  

The next quarter will be a lot more interesting for Sony's gaming division, as PS5 sales will show if it's been able to ramp up production. Game sales will also be notable, as the steep drop this quarter bodes ominously for the industry as a whole. 

Update 7/29/2022 10:34 AM ET: The post has been updated with information that Sony has sold 21.7 million PS5s to date, not 21.4 million.