Every company has a story. Learn the playbooks that built the world’s greatest companies — and how you can apply them as a founder, operator, or investor.
Tue, 25 Apr 2023 23:45
We sit down Benchmark’s legendary gaming investors Mitch Lasky and Blake Robbins (now also of the excellent Gamecraft podcast fame) to discuss the history and future of gaming business models. This episode is the perfect bookend to our Nintendo/Sega gaming series this season on Acquired — no one is more qualified than Mitch and Blake to breakdown how the business side of the industry has evolved so radically from the Periscope quarter-drop days to the forever games and platform based publishers of today.
Regardless if you’re a gamer, understanding the incredible innovation that’s taken place over the past two decades in gaming and what it portends for other industries is critical for any founder and investor to understand. Tune in!
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I will say, I want to give you guys a pre-recording compliment. I forget what it's called. There's a name for it, but basically it's where you're reading something in the newspaper about something that you were a part of, right? And you go, people don't know anything, right? This is so damn stupid. And then you turn the page and there's something about foreign affairs. And you're like, wow, super interesting. Like the thing you know about, you don't apply that same logic to the second thing. And I have to see, I have so much trust in your podcast because the stuff that you do that I was a part of. And there are many things you've done that you don't know that I was a part of, that I was a part of. You guys are so good. Like it's so accurate. It is really remarkable. Somehow you're able to tell a story that is actually as close to true as true exists. Well, the secret is we don't have people on the show. So this is not going to be that. But... Welcome to this special episode of Acquired, the podcast about great technology companies and the stories and playbooks behind them. I'm Ben Gilbert. I'm David Rosenthal. And we are your hosts. After our deep dives into Nintendo and Sega, we wanted to do something special to cap off our gaming extravaganza. And we wanted that something to be a special with guests who are actually in the belly of the beast of the gaming industry. Fortunately, we knew just the people. So today our conversation is with Mitch Lasky and Blake Robbins. Mitch is perhaps the best games investor of all time, generating literally billions of dollars of returns from early investments in Riot Games, Discord and that game company, not to mention Snapchat. Mitch was also an executive vice president at both EA and Activision and took his own gaming company Jamdat Public in 2004. Mitch of course was a partner at benchmark in the Fab Five era that we chronicled on our benchmark episode. Which actually we stole that line from Mitch when we were talking to him in the research and that's how he referred to it. So we are joined by Mitch and Blake Robbins, benchmarks current principle, who has also come up on previous episodes. Blake is one of the best thinkers in the world on the gaming landscape today. And Mitch and Blake just launched an incredible podcast called Gamecraft that chronicles the history of the gaming industry from the business perspective. And one other thing if you are listening to this on the audio feed, we did a full video on this. It's up on YouTube. You can find it on our website or there. We did it at Benchmark's Woodside office. At it turns out they have another triangle table. So we have now recorded acquired episodes at both of the famous Benchmark dinner tables. Well listeners, as you know, we have an interview show called ACQ2. We've had back-to-back killer discussions with the CEOs of retool and angelist. Angelist in particular was like very mind-expanding for me on how to leverage AI to get huge, huge leverage in your business, like specifically on the operations side of the house. And I think Avlok is one of the best thinkers about how to apply AI to kind of turn something that looked more like a services business historically into a true tech venture scale opportunity. So you can find ACQ2 in any podcasting app. Join this lack. There's an incredible discussion of gaming history going on right there right now, including a bunch of episode follow-ups where Dave and I are learning from you all in real time acquired.fm slash slack. And without further ado, this show is not investment advice. Dave and I may have positions in the companies we discuss. As may our guests and of course their firm Benchmark Capital today. Yes. And this show is for informational and entertainment purposes only. Well, I think an appropriate place to start might be one inspired the two of you to go talk about this and create gamecraft and create this by guest. Well, I think after I retired from Benchmark a couple of years ago, retired from active investing. Obviously the glide path out of venture is kind of a long glide path. So I'm still involved to this day. But after I retired from frontline investing, I really started to think about ways that I could be useful and helpful in the video game business and whether that was doing boards without compensation or whether it was helping young entrepreneurs or mentoring younger venture capitalists. And I thought, you know, maybe I should just write a book. So I was very much inspired by a book that I think you know as well, right? The Genius of the System by Thomas Schaff. And that book is a remarkable book in my opinion because it really takes the business side of the film business back from the 20s to say the 50s and really elevates the business side of the business and shows how a lot of what we understood to be the creative part of the business really was a collaboration between creative people and business people. And I've always had that same sense of the video game business. And so I thought it might be fun to do something in that vein where we showed what was happening on the business side and how it was informing what was happening on the creative side. And I think the common narrative is video games are something created by creative geniuses a memonotype person and then the business model sort of rearrange around the creative vision having consumers that flock to it. And I think already you're introducing this interesting wedge of actually there are very clear business models that guide where the water of creativity can flow. And that has been for the last 50 years what has defined the video game industry not the other way around. Yes, and not to take anything away from people like Mr. Miyamoto who I have infinite respect for. I mean, he is a legend. He's a God amongst the video game designers. And I have had the great pleasure in my career of working with some incredible designers. And they are the leaders of the industry in many ways. But they are constrained quite a bit by the business models in which they operate. So just to give you an example in the package goods era, your goal was to sell a disk and then get somebody to come back a year later and buy another disk. And that's a business model choice. And therefore what you're going to put on that disk is going to be informed by that business model. It's got to have a degree of planned obsolescence to it. Because if it doesn't, if you just bought one game and played it forever, that's the end of the video game business. And that's how you get Final Fantasy 714. 14. Yeah, I mean, think about how many FIFA's are called duties there's been at this point. And it's still firing and also there's despite sort of the business models which we'll talk about rotating right underneath them. And those still thrive even to this day. I think one of the super cool things for me and the reason why GameCraft, I think, has been listened to by far more people than just in the games industry is that this dynamic applies to a lot of industries. Like when we did our LVMH episode, the whole time I was thinking that like it's the same dynamic in any creative industry. Like if you want to achieve success either as a creator and have people use and appreciate your work or on the business side, like you have to work together. You can't be at odds. Yeah, it's interesting. I actually really admired that LVMH episode. And there was a part of it where in your Nintendo episode that kind of reminded me of the LVMH episode as well. Because those of us who had worked as competitors to Nintendo in the console business, and I did for a part of my career when I was running the studios at Activision, they had this. It's interesting you considered yourself a competitor to Nintendo. Well, we'll come back to that. You know, there's limited shelf space in Best Buy. And so they were very much a competitor for that shelf space. And so on the software side in particular, and they would, for example, if they had a new Metroid skewer, a new Zelda or whatever, they were very clever about only releasing a limited amount of inventory for Black Friday. And then the parents would go because that was on the kids Christmas list, and they would go to buy the disc, and they would be sold out. And panic would ensue. And then two weeks before Christmas or a week before Christmas, they would suddenly flood the shelves with all of the inventory that was available. And so everybody was back to the stores, and it was just, it was genius, but it's something that only they could do because they had that sort of luxury good kind of vibe. Yeah. So to bring it back, you didn't write a book. I wrote about a 200 page manuscript. And I, the idea, and those of you who haven't listened to Gamecraft who are listening to this podcast, it's basically eight episodes, but they're topical episodes. And so we basically retell the same story from 1990, roughly until the present, but we look at them through eight different lenses. And I thought that was kind of an interesting and unique approach because all the other histories of the video game business are very chronological and very like, and then this happened and then this happened. And Wallars does have a bit of that. And then this happened and then this happened. Hopefully it's a little bit more interesting than that. So I finished it. I sent it to some friends of mine. They read it. They said, this is great, but like nobody reads books. And so I was like, well, that's unfortunate, but I don't really know what to do with it. And I said, I could read it. I could do it as an audiobook. I could read it as a monologue. I don't know what to do with it. And then I had a fateful dinner in Boston with Malcolm Gladwell. And Malcolm, I've met an investor in Pushkin, which is his podcasting company with Michael Lewis and Michael and Malcolm are both acquaintances of mine. And Malcolm was like, dude, you really have to do this as a podcast. And he really did. Did he try to get you as do it as part of Pushkin? I did submit it to Pushkin. They rejected me. Whoa. Why? To niche it. To niche, yeah. And so he kind of got me to rewrite it essentially as a dialogue. And at the same time, I got to meet Blake on Twitter, oddly. That's kind of where we met. I was admiring his thinking. And he was tweeting about the games industry. And there's so precious little good public commentary on the games industry. I was kind of attracted to it. And so I kind of asked him, you want to do this with me? And you want to kind of be my interlocutor on this one. And he foolishly agreed. Yeah. It's funny because Mitch and I knew each other, like briefly before I joined here. And then I remember I was just down in the office here one day. And Mitch and I had asked Mitch if he was willing to meet because before he joined, you're like, okay, Mitch actually still active. What does it actually mean? It's like, Dinsa's partner. Like, what does that mean? Yeah, it's like, is he actually retired? What is it? Well, the term for that. Yeah, you're an uncle. Yeah, I mean, Mitch never retired. And so like, he still hangs out here all the time. And that convinced him to meet with me. And we were just chatting. And throughout the course of those conversations, it just became clear. Like, we were having so much fun just riffing on all this. And I was learning so much. Like, I thought I knew a lot about the games industry. And Mitch's vantage point is so unique and rare that the moment that he shared the manuscript with me, I was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. Like, I was like, the perfect target audience of that. And I think it became really clear over time. Like, oh, this would be a really fun podcast to do. And it was really useful as well because there is a kind of generational component to the dialogue, right? Because we really are starting when I started in the business in the 90s. And we're ending when he's running the business basically in the 2020s. And so I thought that there was some nice symmetry to that actually, to have it be multi-general generational. So, Mitch entered the industry right when I was born. And he's telling these stories of all the games that he's worked on. And those are literally the games that I played and the games that he published and all the stuff. And I'm like, this is insane. Mitch, when you were on the business executive side, did you have a sense of like how much you were impacting, like the work of the industry was impacting this whole generation? You know, it was kind of a boiled frog type situation for me because when I entered the industry, my first gig really was in the formation of Disney Interactive, which was in their very, very early 90s. And I mean, this was right around the time Bobby was taking over Activision when he and Steve Win basically financed by Steve Win. Bobby was buying Activision. I forgot Steve Win financed it. Yes, Steve Winfrey. The famous story. I don't know if you guys have done an Activision episode. Way back before we were good. I mean, we had a research because there was a, because he basically Bobby crashed the Catalympic Ball and without an invite and basically did it so that he could buttonhole Steve Win and get him to put the money up for the act to buy Activision out of bankruptcy. Wow. And it was a genius deal because they renegotiated all the debt as into equity in the new entity. It was Bobby was a brilliant, brilliant executive even back then. So when I was working at Disney and then subsequently in my startup and at Activision, this was still kind of the geeky era of the serious video game business. Obviously, Nintendo had brought the console business back in 85. But we were really only five, seven years into that, right? It was still a fairly recent phenomenon. Anyway, it was a corner of the toys industry as we've talked about. And dominated by the Japanese too in general, right? I mean, there were a few, obviously, electronic arts that got started and interplay existed. And there were a couple of others, but it was very peaceful. They were PC publishers. Yeah, right. Primarily PC publishers. So that said, no, I had no real idea of what the impact was because I thought I was making games for myself, right? And other nerds like me. And the notion of casual gaming hadn't really hit it stride yet. So I mean, I think one of my big takeaways from Gamecraft is, gaming is not for teenage boys. Gaming is a innately human activity that now we see in full bore. I mean, I flew down here this morning from Seattle and like the amount of candy crush going on around me on the plane, like gaming is a human activity. And during the area you're describing, it really hadn't fully permeated yet. Absent maybe snake on some early mobile phones. Not even. I mean, you think about it. It was like probably 96 was Barbie's fashion designer and some Hasbro games like Yatsi and the Game of Life and other things like that that they basically did very lame digital versions of. And that was kind of the beginning of the casual gamer evolution really. And it happened very quickly and those titles did incredibly well. But the mainstream video game industry always viewed them as kind of, and frankly to this day still views a lot of the cat what's happening in the casual game industry is like not the real games business. Right. And yet, you know, as we know, because we now know what the numbers look like, it's like it's most of the video game business, right? It's probably more than 50 percent of the video game business these days would be considered casual gaming by 1990 standards. It's interesting because those people who are playing candy crush still might not even identify as gamers. I'm sure they don't. Absolutely, don't. And what it means, like when we talk about the games industry, it is so like all encompassing at this point that it does include the candy crush, but it also includes the consoles and the hardcore PC games. There's a little bit of like how do we even frame what is gaming? And I think for us, you know, a lot of the podcast was walking through how that has a lot of that happened. Yeah. I mean, when I did my second startup, Jamdat, which ultimately was the successful one, the one that went public, we would be on the road, me and Michael Marquetti, my chief financial officer. And we'd check into a hotel and, you know, we did that after a business card, we'd hand them the business card and they'd go, oh, I'm playing your bowling game and it was literally like, you know, late night people on the desk at a hotel or, you know, train operators or people. And, you know, we would just meet these randos all over the place. A little girl will set down on a barge in Hawaii next to me and whipped out a phone and started playing one of my games. And it was like that was when I really understood kind of the ubiquity of gaming in that human sense that you described. So we were going back and forth before recording here on sort of big takeaways from GameCraft. And this is one of them. This feels like a huge beat to me. What are some of the other big beats for those who haven't listened yet? So the, I mean, just a very quickly review what the eight episodes are. So they're free to play, which was one of the real revolutionary business model changes in the industry. I mean, it's the equivalent of them film business, having television introduced, right? Where you went from, you know, a very formal go by a ticket and sit in the theater to come into your home. Or even probably more apt. But professional sports when television was introduced and like, you know, it was only the upstart NFL that embraced it instead of fighting it. So I think that it was a revolution of that import. And I think we're still feeling the reverberations of it to this day, the impact of free to play and how it's changed, you know, how people consume games, how they play games and how games are made because it requires a very different kind of game in order to be susceptible to a free to play mechanic. Then the old school stuff, everything onto a disc and hope that it's worth 60 hours for 60 dollars. That's one of the episodes. We do an episode on the change in publishing from package goods at retail business to an online distribution business. Really, the rise of steam would be kind of indicative of that particular part of it. We do an episode on game economies and how they've evolved from their very, very early stages to these incredibly sophisticated and now even Web 3 enabled economies of our era. One of my favorite episodes is the Forever Games, which is really around this idea of, you know, with the shift to free to play, can a game actually enter forever and what does those play patterns look like and Mitch has these amazing sort of guidelines or just rules of the heating about it. Going into listening to GameCraft, I sort of had this high level idea that there's more durability in the video game industry now than there used to be. It used to be very hits driven. I think a lot of people still believe or a lot of investors look at the category as very hits driven, but there's two different and very distinct reasons why there's more durability now. One is this concept of Forever Games. The other is the concept of, Mitch, I think you coined this term of platform-based publishers. Can you talk a little bit about each of those and how they sort of fuel each other and how they're different but how they both provide durability in the industry? Sure, I think the Forever Games are part of a continuum. I mean, there was durability in the early video game business. It was just not the games themselves that were durable, right? Either the franchises were durable. I mean, you look at FIFA. And I mean, I started playing FIFA on Trip Hawkins' 3DO back in 1993 and I've been playing every year continuously for the last 30 years. And so if you really, if you think about it, that's a 30-year persistent play pattern, very much kind of congruent with what we've described in the Forever Games episode with some of these long-duration play patterns. It's just that they packaged it very differently. Like you were playing the same game, but you just had to go buy it again and again and again and again and again. And you look at the Nintendo portfolio, which you guys have done a really good job of exploring. And you look at the continuity of their brands where they've been able to bring the same characters and the same kinds of play patterns back again and again as they shift from NES to cube to Dreamcast to whatever. And that is a sense, that is an a sense durability. To my mind, one of the most genius things about Miyamoto is that he came up with like two to three really good stories and they tell that story over and over and over. Every Mario game is the same story. Every Zelda game is the same story. Absolutely. And they're fine because as the graphics get better, as their ability to tell that story improves and is richer and deeper, then you can go back and explore that story again and it has a kind of hero's journey quality to it where you don't feel like you're seeing the same story again. It feels new and old at the same time. Yeah, I think Grand The Tottos is probably one of the best examples of it. I think Grand The Tottos V was probably released eight or nine years ago and it still is a top game on Steam and everyone still plays it, which is amazing. But when they do an update, it's to the new generations and it really blows your mind. But very similar play pattern, very similar story overall. And then to your point about the platform based publishing, I think that's really been more of the way that the online distributors have created competitive advantage against their package goods rivals and how they built very similar businesses to a lot of the kinds of businesses that we've seen emerge and disrupt incumbent industries across the internet space. Uber and the tax industry or Airbnb and the hotel industry where you aggregate demand on an online platform and then you utilize that demand to leverage the supply side of whatever industry that you're entering. And I think you look at Steam and Steam shares many of those attributes and I think that move which was essentially perfected by Tencent with QQ and the things that they did sort of leveraging their messaging platform in the games business. That's been sort of the kill shot for platform based publishing in the industry. But that is essentially, it's more about how you use the internet in a jujitsu like way to massively disrupt the package goods industry, which was up until that point, up until maybe 2003 or 2004, absolutely dominant. And in fact, I think to your surprise, Blake, when we were discussing some of the games in the early 2000s, you were like, oh my God, that game was actually on a disc. Like it was surprising to him to remember that some of these games that he grew up with as downloads were originated as package goods. The craziest thing is Steam was on a disc. Our first sponsor this episode is a brand new one for us. It's Statsig and a ton of you reached out after hearing their CEO Vijay on ACQ2. So we're going to partner with them in an even deeper way as a sponsor. Yeah, Vijay's story is amazing. Before founding Statsig, he spent 10 years at Facebook where he led the development of their mobile app ad product, which went on to become a huge part of the Facebook business. He also had a first row C to all of Facebook's incredible product engineering tools that let them continuously experiment and roll out features to billions of users around the world. Yep. So Statsig now is the modern version of that promise and available to all companies. So Statsig is a feature management and experimentation platform that helps product teams ship faster, automate A, B testing, and see the impact every feature is having on the core business metrics. The tool provides visualizations that unlock real-time product observability. So what does that actually mean? It means that you can tie a new feature you just shipped to a core metric of your business and then instantly know if it made a difference or not statistically in how your customers use the product. Yeah, Statsig lets you test them with different user groups and gets statistically accurate reporting. So customers include Notion, Brex, OpenAI, FlipCart, Figma, Microsoft, Cruise Automation, there's like way too many to name here. I do want to share friends of the show at RecRume and Vanta are both customers. There are literally hundreds now. It is something that companies of all sizes can use. So awesome. Statsig is also, it turns out, a great platform for rolling out and testing AI product features. So anyone who's used Notion's awesome integrated generative AI features and watched how fast Notion has evolved that feature over the past couple of months. All of that was managed on Statsig. And late breaking news from Statsig, they just launched a feature to let them ingest data from data warehouses. So it works with your company's data wherever it's stored, no matter what current feature flagging you have set up today, you don't even need to migrate away from any solution you may have. You can click the link in the show notes or go over to Statsig.com to get started. And when you do, just tell them you heard about them from Ben and David on Acquired. Can you share how Steam got started? Sure. So, the Valve team gave Newell in particular and his partner Mike Harrinton. They envisioned that they needed an updater essentially for their software because they were releasing these games like Half Life 2 and CSGO. And they wanted to be able to sort of affect the competitive balance after they released them to fix bugs, to validate licenses because piracy in this era was still a real thing. And anytime you're selling back software, it's going to be a big thing. It's absolutely the case. And so they thought, hey, we could build this thing basically that would function as a software updater for our products. We'll put it on the disk and you'll be go up, log in and it'll download patches and whatever rebalancing for your game, et cetera, et cetera. And so they went around to the rest of the industry. They went to even their old employers at Microsoft where they were early Microsoft employees. I think among the first 25 or so employees at Microsoft. So they had good connections there and they asked if Microsoft would be willing to build this tool for them and they said no, so they built themselves. And then very incrementally after they released it originally with Half Life in the box, as you say, and it just auto-installed when you installed the game. And then very incrementally over the next decade, they just kept adding features, community, an app store, mods, all of these various features and just ate the game's industry. I mean, now it's an $8 billion in your business, right? I mean, it's just a remarkable, remarkable company. Completely privately held. Yep. And is that steam itself is an $8 billion or a valve all up? I think it's valve overall. When you think about actually the strategy that happened there, which is really the essence and we talk about this in episode two of GameCraft where it's actually releasing the game, like we're talking about with Half Life. And it's like this sneaky route of, oh wait, like I don't know how intentional it actually was in hindsight, but they've ended up building this platform and they're like, oh wait, now all these other developers want to use this. And now it's very clearly become, like it is the go-to place, even a lot of people have followed, right? You have Activision having their own launcher. You have all these EA or Azure. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, as their launchers, they all have launchers and they all are still forced, well, not forced, but really pushed by the market to launch on Steam. We had breakfast with Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft Games yesterday. And we were talking about Steam and Phil was like, I put my games on Steam. And this is Microsoft, which was the most market power of any company, maybe apart from Nintendo and Sony, to roll their own, that he's putting games on Steam. So you fish where the fish are. Yeah, I think there's a new iteration of that or what the latest attempt of being a platform based publisher would actually probably be Epic, which Epic has Fortnite. It does incredibly well. They've launched it on their own launcher. And now they've been spending the past couple of years really trying to build up that the game store. And from my vantage point, it hasn't made nearly enough a dense relative to Steam because Steam's still in the power. That's one of the things I wanted to ask you guys about, which is, where are we in the business model journey of the platform based publisher? It almost feels like kind of like the rest of the internet, the platforms are starting to ossify. Is that fair or are there still opportunities? You're saying gaming is not. No, the gaming is. Like, you've got Steam, you've got obviously the consoles, you've got Microsoft. And Epic is trying, but who else could really conceivable and Tencent has done the best but could conceivably break in? Or do we need a new paradigm? Well, I think the next one to go is going to be Nintendo. I think that's, if you're looking for a reason to invest in Nintendo as a company, I think they're about to crack that nut, right? And enter the App Store business in a meaningful way. I mean, they have the lowest third-party revenue per active user by an incredible amount, right? I mean, hundreds of dollars to 25 dollars, right? Like, versus the rest of their console competitors. So they're waiting for that lid to boil off there, I think. So that's on the conventional platform based publishing site. But I want to return to the question, your original question, which I think is very interesting. I agree with you. And I think that Game Pass from Microsoft is an interesting harbinger of maybe the end of the road for the platform based publisher, or at least the end of this road for the platform based publisher, because where they had historically aggregated users in an attempt to collapse the supply side. So aggregate demand to collapse supply. He's now filled with Game Pass aggregating supply again. When you look at the Activision deal, $69 billion acquisition of Activision, it's basically like Netflix or Apple or one of these other companies buying exclusive content. And now I use the term exclusive somewhat guardedly because this is currently in the European Commission as a hot button issue. Clearly, this is Microsoft strategy. Absolutely. So they're now back to aggregating supply in order to have enough viable IP on the platform such that you will continue to subscribe. Which is really interesting. I mean, just speaking for me personally, as a gamer, that is an incredibly compelling value prop of like, I could, I don't have a gaming PC. I don't really want to go make a gaming PC. I don't really want to go deep in the Valbiko system. I don't want to go deep in the Epic Games ecosystem. Microsoft is offering this really easy. All you can eat option to me. And streamable in a lot of ways, right? So with the new X Cloud platform and I was a pioneering investor in this with Guy Kai back in the day. And it wasn't really economically viable. But now with scale and Moore's Law and all these other things we've been with improvements, we can now really do it well. And so, you know, with a device like a Steam Deck or something like that, you know, you're able to really avoid going down that path of building your own gaming PC. It is interesting that we're finally in the Cloud Gaming era. Like this has been the dream for so long. And of course, there's this TikTok and computing to thin clients, thick clients, thin clients, thick clients. But like the whole thin client thing never really made its way to gaming. I remember I worked at Microsoft in 2012. And I was at our annual meeting in the old Kierina. And I watched a demo of Cloud Gaming on a Windows phone with an Xbox controller. And I remember Steve Balmer coming out and being like, next year is the year where ship in this. It's finally happening. And here we are a decade later. And now it's, it is finally happening. Tesla full self driving this year. This happened again. My question to both of you on this is business models are inherently intertwined with new technology waves and how does Cloud Gaming change the business model of the games industry? I think there's one thing that's interesting about the Cloud model. And one of my feces on why it didn't work back when I first tried it with GuyKind, when on live was out as a competitor and some of these others. And that was early 2010s. Early 2010s. It was a mismatch between the user and the technological opportunity. So you could stream these games without owning a gaming PC, but all the games that were really viable to stream were the kinds of games that gamers who already owned a damn PC were wanted to play. So you look at Stadia from, you know, from Google. Like what were they, if you walked the floor of GDC and the launch year of Stadia, they were showing Assassin's Creed and like these other really high fidelity. Everybody had this. Well, or if you were going to play that game, you had a PlayStation or an Xbox or you had a gaming PC that was capable of playing it. And so I think with the real expansion of the audience and those in that intervening decade, you now have actually the question that David brought up, which is he doesn't want to own one of these devices. And yet he wants to play those games. And I think that didn't really exist so much as a market back in the early days of streaming. Huh. Seating is demand driven. I do. However, the audience has expanded really in the last 12 to 15 years and that this next generation of kids who've grown up on Fortnite, who've grown up on harder core games, but are still casual in their self identification who don't think of themselves as being core gamers. I think that's the real opportunity for the cloud gaming. Yeah, I think it's also a part of, you know, you think about all these people that are playing or used to play Fortnite on mobile. And it's like, oh, that's just what I expect at this point. And there is a natural evolution that maybe will happen with just the number of people that have grown up playing games on mobile and just be like, of course, I want to play Assassin's Creed on mobile, whatever that might be. But I still think it's one of those things again that for multiplayer, for those pieces, it might take a little bit more time. But surely for the single player stuff, it's quite magic right now. I want to bring it back a little bit to your question, David, around like the platform based publisher stuff and where those might fall. Because like Mitch was involved with Riot and Riot is another spin of what that looks like today. If in theory, they could become an actual publisher of third party games at some point. But they instead they've decided to all aggregate all the demands and really keep it's sort of a social network and that there's friends and all that within their own universe. And they're continue to publish their own games incredibly well. You have team fight tactics through their launcher and you have Valorant through their launcher. And those have worked exceptionally well. And it really begs the question if you're a game today that is just launching on Steam and your venture bets company, what does that mean? Is that enough to really endure and build a real business? But it's really interesting because yeah, that's a different approach to the platform based publisher because you're really aggregating that demand for yourself. Right. It's like an Nintendo version of the platform based publisher. So you've got this audience there that's pre-qualified where you've got their credit cards, hundreds and millions of users. And so you just use it as a way to lower your customer acquisition cost effectively to zero for the next products that you launch in the pipeline. And it just gives you tremendous competitive advantage. This is the bulk case on the switch that we've been talking about, which is like at some point Nintendo has to wake up and I assume it will be with the switch line and say, wait a minute. We shouldn't come out with a completely new console and have to re-aggregate our whole fan base again. We should iterate the switch and make it super backwards compatible and bring that 100 million plus person install base with us across all the hardware we release in the future so that we can make this incredibly compelling thing to third party developers, as you're talking about, their sort of app store opportunity, but also preserve this ridiculously durable first party revenue thing that we've had. Especially for the last six years with the switch, but basically through Nintendo's whole life, once their consoles get to scale. Absolutely. I think we will learn a lot about what their strategy is going to look like for the next decade in the next like 90 days. Yeah. Because I think if they do come to market with a non backwards compatible device, it's back to the Iwata era. It's back to, we're a hardware company and we have proprietary software which helps the sell hardware and it's back to the toys, right? If they come out with a fully backward compatible switch and an open app store and they really try and improve that position of third party revenue on an active user basis, that's the new Nintendo, right? That's the Nintendo that's going to play some modern Nintendo. That is so compelling. At least for me as a consumer if they do that. I mean like a game like Hades, an incredible game, indie game. The switch is by far the best platform to play that on. Like I just sat there for years like staring at my switch being like Nintendo, why do you not embrace this dynamic? I think it's, you can see publicly in the way that they're going with Microsoft against Sony that who knows what this actually looks like in the next 90 days. Both everything we can tell of how they're starting with Microsoft and the open, embracing openness gives a clue of maybe how this works. Yeah. You mentioned that a little bit on the series on the GameCraft series of Nintendo's exciting with Microsoft. Let's talk a little more about that. Sure. We don't talk about it that much on the series just because I'm avoident of talking about the console business and whatever. And let me just try and explain why, right? Like the console business has been essentially the same business since 1985, really since 1975, right? I mean, it's cell-a-box and cell-some physical hardware for that box and grudgingly allow it to be played online and grudgingly allow communication between users, right? And I don't find that that interesting from a business model perspective. I'm interested in revolutionary business models and GameCraft is really about that, right? It's about how these revolutionary business models like upended the industry. And frankly, there haven't been a lot of those in the console business. Now, there've been a lot of interesting developments and you guys explore the story of Nintendo. It's a fascinating story. But it's kind of a human story and it's a, you know, it's a, particularly your first episode where you go way back, right? And you just talk about everybody who's everybody else's son-in-law. I mean, it's an intensely human story in that regard. Well, I feel like Nintendo had the, in my mind, they did have one revolutionary idea that they have just run with for the past 40 years, which was make incredible games and get people who are capable of making incredible games either in-house or make sure they publish on the platform. I don't think anybody else realized that at the time. No, I think that's right. And I think Blake put it really well when he was convincing me to do the episode, which was he said, look, the console, when it entered the market, was a revolutionary business model. Because at the time, the arcade was the dominant way and it was a quarter drop. And so in some sense, it was almost like the equivalent of free to play. Because instead of having to sort of pay every time you wanted to touch the controls, now you had the thing in your living room and you could play whenever you want. Yeah, it was, you talk about the $60 for 60 hours of gameplay. That's literally the equation you were doing at the arcade, right? You're like, I'm putting 25 cents in for a minute. Well, it was in the arcades. It was $6 for six minutes of game play, exactly. So I accept that and that's why we're playing. And I think the, we really end that episode to bring this full circle around cross-platform, which is sort of the latest evolution of where the console business has been, where you had Microsoft and actually Nintendo embracing, and Fortnite was really the catalyst of this to let them be able to play across these different platforms. So up until this point, up to Fortnite, if you had an Xbox, you couldn't play with your friend who had a PlayStation or a Switch and really Nintendo and Microsoft went to war against Sony. Yeah, I mean, as Phil said in our conversation yesterday, he said, you know, Sony's perspective was, if you want to play with your friends, get them to buy a PlayStation. Yep. Right. All these different business strategies are about figuring out in what way can you leverage an asset to get people to do something that eventually generates profit for you? And the way Sony was looking at it was, well, you want to play with your friends. So we're going to use that as the carrot stick, whatever you want to call it, to get you to buy our console, which we actually don't make money on, to get you to buy our games, which we do make money on. And God, it's like, hop, hop, hop, hop. And Nintendo and Microsoft ended up being quite odd bedfellows having completely the opposite strategy. Now, you could be cynical about it. And you could say that that is the result of the fact that Sony has dominant market share. And that if you were the dominant market share player, you might not be so embracing of openness either, right? Because you had a competitive advantage. But I think it's going to come back to bite him in the ass over time. It's interesting, right? At one point, I think, on the series, you guys say that with your investor hats on, it would be really weird if a entrepreneur approached you today and said, I'm going to build a game for a console. But everything we're talking about, if the era of crossplay really comes to bear, that might change things. Like, would you agree? Like, if it truly is that you could build a forever game with crossplay, across console, PC, mobile, I mean, as part of our Nintendo research, we talked to the CEO of a very large venture backed gaming company that is not on the switch right now. That is working very hard to come on the switch for this very reason. So I will say, yes, it is now viable. I would not cancel any of my portfolio companies to launch on the console because the hoops that you have to jump through for approvals, for manufacturing, et cetera, et cetera, for just in general, are dire. And they are not the kind of thing that I would sort of put in front of a company that was struggling to find product market fit. That said, I have greenlit a switch skew at that game company for Sky. And that has now come to market and it is really meaningful. And we have a PlayStation 5 skew as well. And so for an established product where it is already found product market fit on another platform on a more open platform, sure, finding that adjunct, it is like as Fortnite disclosed in the Apple lawsuit, the crossplay players monetized like the new whales. I mean, they were monetizing it at multiples of what the non-crossplay players were playing. And why not take advantage of that as a startup? Yeah, it turns out that actually the crossplay, there is different moments in console where console really was the package good. And then at some point, the package good business for the games. And at some points, free to play games were able to thrive. And you have the Fortnite actually do really well. And if free to play games are really driven by social or playing with your friends, which Fortnite was, it's sort of you need to have it on console. Yeah, and think about it demographically. If you've got a game on the console, for example, we were talking about this with one of our co-workers about FIFA Ultimate Team, which you may be familiar with, which is kind of a playing card add on to the underlying FIFA skewer you can buy card packs and open them, and then you can play with those players that you get in the card pack in the SIM. And that is a massive business. Like it is a greater than a billion dollar a year business selling the card packs. That's selling literally bits. I mean, it is like a 99% gross margin. I mean, it's the most astonishing business, right? And this person was saying, well, look at the attachments for FIFA Ultimate Team, right? And can't we accomplish those with a free to play game? And we were like, whoa, slow down. You understand that you're selling a $20 add on to somebody who's already paid $60 for the game and $500 for the console, right? The willingness to pay of that user, it cannot be compared to getting somebody from zero to one on a free to play game to put their credit card in for the first time to buy a virtual good on a free to play game. And I think that nuance is lost on a lot of people when they look at the industry. Well, that's the great pot of gold with the consoles, right? It's like, you've got these highly committed user bases with all their credit card information stored. You've got easy payment rails, easy distribution. It's like the dynamic of iPhone versus Android, but like a whole nother level. It's, I mean, literally you can look at it in the data with Fortnite. It's like even better than iPhone monetization. It's also exactly what we talked about on the Peloton episode where Peloton, despite all the problems, has possibly the most incredible consumer subscription business, at least from their first five, eight years of customers, because they selected and abiding a $2,000 exercise bike. Of course, they're not going to cancel a monthly subscription. I think this is part of why Epic actually felt comfortable going to war with Apple is if you look during those filings, so much of their revenues actually coming from PlayStation and console. And that, to me, is just like, okay, the mobile gamers were not the same value as the console and PC players. One question before we leave platform-based publishers that I've been sort of thinking about, but I don't have a clear answer is when does a company have the right to leverage their relationship with customers into becoming a publisher? And like QQ, it was very, I mean, it's a chat app. How the heck did they become successful in being the 10 cent we know today, the most powerful video game distribution on the planet, whereas you look at Facebook has made 11 different runs at gaming and is not steam, is not 10 cent. Why does sometimes a company have the right to leverage that relationship to be a publisher on other times not? I would rephrase it, right, which is, my opinion is, is that why QQ was successful was that they didn't just decide that they're going to be a platform-based publisher. They embraced being a platform-based publisher. They went out and did deals. They owned 49% of Epic. They owned 51% of Riot, now 100% of Riot. They were one of the financiers of Resort in the games business for AAA titles. They aggregated third-party products as a pathway into China because you needed a local partner because of government regulation in order to publish in China. They just ran with that, right? They just embraced that. Instead of Facebook or some of these other American platforms that have treated games as kind of a bad smell over in the corner that they weren't too crazy about, like, okay, yeah, the Zingathing they flirted with briefly, but ultimately that didn't go that well and they decided now we're just going to become a customer acquisition vehicle for the games industry. Maybe it's been a very lucrative piece of their business, but they really embraced it, Tencent, and invested deeply in it. I think that's the difference, right? It's like they were credible as a platform-based publisher where Facebook never was. Tencent in QQ is they had the games. They were committed and they were so intentional. When I've mentioned about when we look at investing in a studio, for example, it's actually how intentional are they at the beginning and setting out that you are going to try and become a platform-based publisher. Even just saying, I'm going to launch my game on Steam as a new company, maybe is just showing your ambition of what you want to build. I think that when you're talking about Facebook, it's mentioned I talk about this part a lot of the executives in the Valley. They're just not gamers. They're like, oh, we can maybe launch a game thing, but they're sort of dipping their foot in the water versus actually like, we're like, Google and Stadia. You're saying just because David and I have a bunch of people listen to the podcast, we can't just decide like, all right, you guys, we're now acquired games now. You're going to start playing games and we're turning on the network. We'd have to be gamecraft to do that. Although even then, it's difficult. It's like we tried this at Discord. Right? We tried to start a game store. This was obviously my failure because I pushed them very hard toward becoming a platform-based publisher because I thought, hey, man, this is a great way to leverage this audience. Look, they already self-identify primarily as gamers. This was earlier on before the Discord audience brought into becoming the Bloomberg of crypto and now basically the launch area for pretty much every AI chatbot. But in those days, it was very gamer-centric and it seemed very logical to me that you could try and leverage that intentionally into the games business and it didn't work. It doesn't always work. Jason is as deep a gamer as you can get, right? Discord was a failed game company, right? I invested in that failed game company. I invested in it as a game company. It's trying to blame them, not you. No, no, it was a game. So it doesn't, even with the best of intentions, it can be a difficult proposition. This goes full circle to your earlier question, though, David, of just like, are the giants already just set on the platform-based publisher side? It's really to be determined because you have your Discord attempt at it. You have Epic really trying to do it and they're sort of, I mean, everything brute-forcing that they possibly can to make it happen and it doesn't seem like it's sticking at all. So there is a little bit of a question of what does it mean to actually try and build one today and is it even possible? For our second sponsor, we have another one of our favorite companies, Pitchbook, the data you need to dive deeper. And I've been diving into Pitchbook's platform on the companies we are covering, but I want to talk today about a new feature of Pitchbook's data platform that they call the exit predictor. So if you log into Pitchbook and you do a query for companies tagged as gaming, you will see 7,000 privately held companies. I can then sort by fields like success probability and exit probability. Literally gives you a percentage for every single company. This is cool. The new feature is based on a machine learning model trained on 46,000 data points from Pitchbook's proprietary data set. It's pretty wild. So at the top of this list are companies you'd expect like Epic Games, Niantic, and one of Mitch's investments, that game company, high probability of success. 97 to 99% likely to produce what Pitchbook defines as a successful exit for investors. The more interesting data, as you can imagine, is the meat of that distribution. If you're an investor looking to invest in a growth stage company, for example, it can be quite interesting to see what Pitchbook has in that field, whether it's 30% or 70%. Interesting and useful data point, especially as you're looking to narrow down your set as you're prospecting for companies to invest in. So get access to all the best company data at pitchbook.com slash acquired. Basically every VC and PE firm I know has a Pitchbook account. And if you aren't using it, you really are at a competitive disadvantage these days. So if you do sign up for Pitchbook, go to pitchbook.com slash acquired. You will see on that landing page, they are currently offering a free week trial that is coming up soon. You'll get that free trial just by going through the link in the show notes. When you sign up, just tell them you heard about them from Ben and David at acquired. Thank you, Pitchbook. How do you think about one of your other investments, that game company? Is that game company a platform based publisher, or is it just like a really, really great modern studio, or is it something else? It's a great question. I think that the intention is for it to be a platform based publisher. Game 2 was already in development as is the beginnings of thinking about not only game 3, but a sort of way to stitch the games together in a more persistent and coherent way and with more continuity. So I think Genova, he wouldn't phrase it in that way. He wouldn't call it a platform based publisher. He'd call it a digital theme park, right? But the idea would be- Which is sort of an Nintendo-like. Which is sort of an Nintendo-like in a way, right? And now Nintendo has a legit physical theme park to go along with their virtual theme park. But I think he, but I do think it is in that same vein, a platform based publisher. And similarly, I think the greatest disagreement I had with the founders at Riot was when they- We sat down and I was like, okay, great, we got a hit. Now we're going to leverage this audience into another hit or into a third party game or into a licensed intellectual property. And they were like, not chill, man, we want to be Blizzard. We want to make a game every five years. And I'm like, I don't want to fund a studio. I want to fund- Now, little did I know- Also Blizzard, as you pointed out on GameCraft, only an independent company that had to figure out its funding for three years. The rest of its history, it's had Daddy Warbuck somewhere figuring out how to- Absolutely. And I was wrong because they just took their time to become a platform based publisher. But they waited- For the 10 years, but they did it. I'm not that patient. But there was an opportunity to start doing it after three years. And I think their strategy was like, triple down on League of Legends. And let's make sure that we can get it to all corners of the globe and that we can really build a billion dollar plus annual revenue base and the esports component in the worlds and all these other things. And then we'll go and release Valorant and tactics and some of these other things. Okay, fine. But ultimately, they got to the place I wanted them to go. It just took them seven years longer. I think it'd be interesting if you're willing to share a match of just like what Genoa actually pitched for that game company back in the day. Because, you know, I've talked to Peter, I've talked to other people and they still remember that pitch being just so like just an amazing, amazing pitch because at the time, it still was like for you to invest in a studio, right? Like that would have been a big ask or a big leap of faith. And my understanding is you just crush it on the Internet. But now though- This is great too because I bet a lot of people listening will be like, what are you guys talking about? What is that game company? I'm sure referring to a specific thing or a- Yeah, yeah. No, it's a little confusing as it- Not my favorite name for a game company, although it's indicative. I want to actually though take a pause just because I don't like funding studios, right? And I wrote about this. I think you reminded me of this because you found it in some Internet archives somewhere. Like I blogged about this like 15 years ago. Yeah, I think it was like 2011 or something like that and it's amazing. It's like the title, I mean, Mitch has probably removed all of his blog posts at this plan. I think it was like investing in content. Right. And it's like, I don't invest in content. Even though I've done more content deals than anyone else in the valley, right? And what I meant by that is that I invest in businesses not in studios, right? And those businesses have to have a strategy that transcends, I want to make a game and put it on steam or I want to make a mobile game and put it in the app store, right? And I'm really interested in that strategy more than I'm interested necessarily. The content is a means to an end, but the end can't be, oh, then we're going to go make another game and put it on steam or put it in the app store. The end has to be something better. It has to be something more durable. It has to be something more value aggregating. And so I've had this philosophy since the very beginning and I've tried to you to be very disciplined about it. So Genova approached us, Genova Chen. I had met him in the early 2000s when he was a graduate student at USC. And he was working in, he was making games there. And I was working at Electronic Arts and I had the license for Spore, which was Will writes kind of creature evolution. After Sim City, after Sim City. And I was doing the mobile version of that, right? And so Genova had made this game called Flow. That was basically this game where little creatures, eight bigger creatures, and evolved based on what they ate. And it was just this unbelievably cool thing, right? And so I wanted to kind of bring him in and build like this mobile version of Spore with me. And of course, he was way too clever for that and said, no. But I kept up with him and we hung out. And then he went off into the Sony ecosystem and built Journey. Journey is this amazing kind of meditation on death where you're playing a single player adventure game and you're climbing a mountain and enduring all this hardship. And it's got all this crazy multiplayer play where you don't know who you're playing with, but you have these deep emotional relationships with the people. He's just an unbelievable game maker. And they art for that game. It's just a beautiful screen shot, any frame, and you can put it up above your fire zone. So he came to me and said, hey, I want to, like, I'm leaving the Sony thing. I want to start over. I want to make a game for the masses. Can you help me? And I was like, yeah, I can, but like, let's pitch the partnership. So he came in and he did this pitch to the partnership where he basically talked the whole time. And he didn't talk about the game he wanted to make at all. He just talked about emotions and how the video game business was so stunted because it was only serving this incredibly narrow band of the human emotional spectrum of anger, of violence, of envy, of accumulation. And what he would, and there were all these other emotions that were being explored in music and in art and in poetry and in the movie business. And we should do that in the video game business. He finished this thing and he walked out and I literally ducked because I thought that the blast radius from my partners, like, seeing what are you doing, bringing this into the partnership was going to go show and tell them a little firm and we're funding happy like, yeah. Kevin Harvey turned to me and said, chase that guy out in the parking lot and give him a term sheet. He was like, we are in business to fund people like that. And it was, and I still get goosebumps saying it now because it was, because that's how I felt, but I was too afraid to say it in the partnership meeting because I was, I, I, I didn't have enough juice to really, to do it, but that's still must, there must have been relatively early in your career. It was. I mean, because I'd been working on that thing forever. But yeah, it was probably, you know, within, within the first couple of years that I had been, that I was at benchmarked before, snap before discord before riot, right around the same time as snap. Okay. Right after riot. But snap, you know, you didn't know it was going to be snap. Yeah, but still pretty small. Yeah. And I remember tells exactly the same story, by the way, on our, on our team. And he's like, when he talks about the range of emotions that he was going to cover and how underserved it was, it was just magical like this, this moment of, oh my gosh, this, this person to genius. And so in a lot of ways, Genoa is just like an exception to the rule. And even still he, he is on the path to build this, you know, something much bigger than just a content. And look, I'm very, I'm a very small contributor to the success of it. But what I did help him understand was that he can't make journey again, right, that if he's going to make, if he makes journey again, he's going to get the same result that he got from journey, which is he's going to get a console like indie developer result. And so I really helped him understand how to build a forever game. And he rose to the occasion and just built an amazing forever game. And that thing is now, I mean, it was, you know, in the fall, the number four grossing game in China by revenue, what's the game called? It's called sky. Sky. And we're, so we're talking about hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. And he, he does it with a tiny team. So it's ludicrously profitable. I mean, I think it's got greater than 30% net income margins. And would you fund at this point the concept of sky, even if there wasn't a broader platform based publisher strategy around it? Is that a good enough investment or let me make it even sharper? As a forever game without it. Yeah, let me make it an even sharper example. If you got the pitch for riot games and it was literally just League of Legends and it was going to be a League of Legends sized impact on the world, is that interesting as a venture fundable opportunity? So I have the great benefit at the moment of not being of venture capitalist in a firm, but having a lot of dough. So I am in a position where I can make these investments personally. And so the answer is yes. And in fact, Blake and I have made some of these investments in things that maybe would have shaded into the studio realm in my previous life. However, I would not have done the mid benchmark. If I'm hearing you right, it's because it's just difficult to accrue enough power over the ecosystem to have flexibility in your business, to have pricing power, to be able to negotiate effectively with everyone else you need to to reach your customers. Yeah, distribution is king, right? And if you can't- Which is so funny, right? Like everybody says content is king. And like now, distribution barriers have been removed and anybody, anybody can make a game. But like today's, in 2023, distribution is king. And if you don't have distribution leverage of some sort, I'll invest against any credible distribution leverage. But if you don't have that distribution leverage, it's very difficult. It's very difficult to aggregate enough value to justify adventure investment. Yeah, I would say the bar, you should just assume every venture backed studio is an amazing game. It just should be one of the best games ever. It's never been a better time to be a gamer. Yeah, like it should be an amazing, amazing game. But like we know with apps and software, like having a great app, unless it is truly like top one app in that category, people will never even know it exists. And I think that's a lot of people that are building studios today are much more in the camp of I'm going to build the best game ever and people will come. And I think if we've learned anything over the years, it's- unless it is truly the exception, they won't come. I think part of the pitch that Riot made to me that made me convince that it had a distribution advantage that it made me willing to invest in it was the way they understood the existing audience for defense of the ancients, which was the game that they were essentially modifying and making into a- it was a game that was a mod of Warcraft 3 and they were going to turn it into a standalone product with it and relaunch it online with its own characters and own IP. And you could see that as a studio bet on a certain level, but they had identified this enormous pool of users who were playing defense of the ancients and there was this crazy pent up demand for exactly what they were going to do because modding defense of the ancients and running it as an user. I mean, you had to find an out-of-print copy of Warcraft 3 and go through all these national issues to like- The Riot team did some pretty awesome growth hacks in the early days right now. We bought the websites that- we bought the defense of the ancients websites and just turned there editorial to it. All the- all the fans. Uh, content on the internet, it still sits on- on Reddit by the way. If you like search, I forget what the name would be. I love this. This is like even better than the Airbnb Craigslist growth hack. Yeah, yeah. If you search this company- No, you could call it a growth hack. I call it a customer acquisition advantage. And the- and it gets you out of the- the kind of, you know, junk pile of throw a game up on steam and prey, right? And that was enough because I knew if I could get- if I could leverage that, right? It would give me enough of a profit advantage that I could reinvest, maintain that customer acquisition advantage and build a platform based publisher out of it. And that's how I roll. Blake, what were you saying about the Reddit thread? Uh, I was just saying- on the Reddit thread, if you search it, I forget what the name of the website is that they bought. It's all these people who were playing defense of the ancients and like- What- what the hell happened? What- what the fuck? What's going on? And it was like the top- I will link to it in the show. Yeah, it was the top post of the- the Dota subreddit at the time. And it's like, what happened? Who are these people? What are they buying? What happened? They killed this, like- and they all just move over. It's like, I don't know, Dota's still over there, but, you know, the- the- the- the forums are all pointing to the very similar game with different IP. If you want to discuss something, you've got to discuss this. I will say it's- it's incredible how there was a thing with clear product market fit that was kind of unloved and unmaintained and hard to discover. In our world of podcasting, that was Apple Podcasts. And- Yeah, Spotify. And small team at Apple that was sort of looking after it. They didn't turn it into a real business. There wasn't like prioritization at the company. And as a podcaster, it was always hard to like get in touch with someone or be like, can I get editorial on this thing? I don't even know. It's this weird black box. It's basically just like a directory where like- it's a key value store on the left side. They have, you know, a- a- a- a URL on the right side, it just points to my RSS feed. And then Spotify comes along and is like, oh, well, we have tons of users. We're just going to expose this right on the main feed. Yeah. Almost. We're going to redirect. So much of our growth in the last year, two years has come from Spotify specifically because more people are listening to podcast on Spotify. There's some cannibalization, but there's an enormous amount of brand new market. Because it's easy to find. The total neophyte to this world, right? Like we have both been just gobsmacked by how- what percentage of our users are coming from Spotify would never have predicted how big of an audience was on Spotify because it just didn't occur to me, right? That Spotify had done that well in podcasting until we started releasing these episodes and we were like, wow, like more than 50% of our audience is coming from Spotify. If you had made GameCraft two years ago, that would not be the case. It's actually really weird. Like it's wild. Yeah, it's wild. But there's this really interesting opportunity in capitalism where sometimes there's clear product market fit. There's clear heat around a use case and yet there's still massive economic opportunity for some new company to come in and say, oh, that thing we're going to be the best thing. By the way, it happens again and again in the video game business. You look at, so for example, the survival genre, right, which started with armor mods like DayZ and H1N1 and evolved into PUBG and then into Fortnite, right? But these were dead genres, right? These were super geeky hardcore weirdnesses, tar cough, right? Which now is a dominant play pattern in the MOBA shooter industry. Yeah, it's basically these genres emerge, right? And it gives product market fit. And then they realize, oh, wait, if we just make this maybe more casual or we change to business model, whatever it might be, they expand the overall audience. And one of the most famous examples right now is Fortnite comes from PUBG and sort of stole that whole reign is actually Fall Guys, which Fortnite or Epic bought. And Fall Guys was this amazing party game that they couldn't publish on iOS because of the Apple lawsuits. And so they never built a mobile game for it. And then there's these three guys in Finland made a, basically the same exact game, pushed it on mobile. It's called Stumble Guys. And then it gets acquired by, I mean, it's like one of the number one apps for the entire year, number one games for the entire year, and gets acquired by Scope Lee. And then Mitch was showing me the other day, the biggest game in China is this game called Aggie Party on mobile. And that is actually literally just a Fall Guys clone. It really is. It is kind of remarkable. I mean, look, you could argue World of Warcraft was this, right? That like there were, you know, you started with, you know, Ultima Online and Everquest and these things, but they were all, that we made a joke in the video. They weren't ambitious enough. Well, and they never, yeah, they weren't ambitious enough. They didn't reach out enough. Like they were very content to serve that core 500,000 users. And the joke at Activision back in the late 90s, early 2000s, when I was working there was, there was a herd of 500,000 users who just migrated from one MMO to another. But the audience never grew and then boom, World of Warcraft basically does this, right? They find the product market fit and just like, and just embrace it and blow it out. And it's 17 years later, it's still a number one product. I want to pick up on something Mitch said a minute ago about how you roll. I think it also might be relevant far beyond games. And this is some of your investing beyond games too. You said you'd look for something that can have a distribution advantage up front, game differential profits versus your competitors and then reinvest. Yeah, how do you, once something starts, let's take a game, once a game starts to work, how do you think about the reinvesting piece? Like that's the customer acquisition piece, right? What's that calculus for you? I resist as long as possible going paid, although sometimes you're so profitable that you can, and not really mess your margins up too much, right? But I think once you start down the paid path for customer acquisition, it's kind of a slippery slope and it's a very difficult thing to come back from because you become almost like an addict to it. And you're so reliant on it and you start to twist your mental model to believe that like you're in this lifetime value return on investment kind of thing that is unhealthy, I think. But what I do love is doubling down on the organic stuff, right? So like in that game company case, it's like, okay, we got this thing crushing on mobile. Let's look at some other platforms where a similar kind of user could be aggregated, whether it's Switch, whether it's like casual PlayStation, et cetera. And let's go after those and then Apple wanted us in the arcade. We couldn't do it because we wanted to be cross platform, right? And they wanted exclusives. So it's also what you say no to during that because it would have been easy to say, okay, hey, there's a couple million dollars of minimum gear. But you're not going to expand your audience by doing that. Not going to expand the audience. So it's like it's making those kinds of key choices that like continue to reinforce the competitive advantage. Yeah, I think there's another piece of this, especially for free to play games where live operations, keeping the events fresh, adding new cosmetics in a game like League of Legends is actually where most of the reinvestment probably goes versus any of the marketing. Let's keep this game fresh because in a lot of ways, when you want to game like League of Legends, that's just a starting line. And there's still on a 10 year journey of keeping this game alive and fresh. And that's where a lot of the reinvestment goes in these studios. How does the level of and capital intensity of reinvestment in fresh content for forever games compared to the old world of building new package games for a studio or a publisher? Oh, man. It is fast becoming like an annual amount equivalent to what an annual amount during production was. So I don't know if that makes any sense. But let's say that you were spending a hundred million dollars, God forbid. Let's say you're spending fifty million dollars like I'm breaking out and hiding. You're saying that number. To build a game. To build a game. Yeah, and let's say it took you three years, right? So you're spending roughly fifteen million dollars a year, right? Like, I think you can expect to spend as much or more on an annual basis than you were spending in development in live ops. And live ops. Wow. Yeah. And that can cover anything from the support side of this of one people report toxic users. But really, you see a lot in the events of, oh, I need to make new skin. Constant reference. Yeah. Or I need a new champion in League of Legends. And when you think about League of Legends, so much of that game is actually around balancing. So then you have all your, you're investing all this time in QA testing and balancing and making sure things don't break. And that it's, it's, and, and riot updates League of Legends every two weeks. Yeah. And every two weeks, they're putting out new content. They're balancing everything. And so that's pretty much the entire PNL of that game. At this point is just keeping it fresh. Plus story content too, right? Yes. People have realized the IPs for this has become incredibly valuable. Absolutely. Where are we in the esports journey in terms of that being a sort of reinforcing marketing strategy? And I asked Blake, because you, you, you, uh, though you asked Blake for good reason. Yeah. You're going to get a very different answer if he asked me. Well, I want both your perspectives. I actually, I think, well, I think we'll be closer than you think. Right? And then I think it's, I, I believe you helped start. Yes. Famous esports team. Yes. Yes. So you thought it was a good idea at some point. Yeah. Well, I would say like the, not to lead the witness. No, I think I actually think if you like for a hundred thieves, you know, which is an esports organization that has three pillars of it, which is, you know, content and a media side, it has an apparel side, which is also a driving business. And then the esports side and the view is always, which is probably somewhere to mitch is, is that esports is marketing, right? And the view was, how do you start a brand in gaming was, let's try and we'll go and get a spot in League of Legends, which was franchising at the time that will legitimize the brand. And then we will be able to, well, hopefully that eventually figures itself out and becomes sustainable. It will be great marketing and distribution for legitimizing a new brand in the gaming space. And I think there's all sorts of nuances around, like around League of Legends esports and Counter-Strike esports. And really, when, when you say the word esports, and this is probably like the real struggle of it, it's quite literally just saying, like, what do you think of sports and owning a sports team? And it's like every single sport actually has its own, you know, present const to it. And there's certain, certain leagues that maybe accrue more values and not. But for the most part, they really are like a marketing engine. And they can be a marketing engine for your organization if you have set it up that way. But for the most part, it's a marketing engine for the game itself and keeping it fresh. That's actually what I'm more curious about. David took it to like enterprise value of esports organizations, which I'm less like that's less interesting because it's an obvious failure. Right? No, it is. But is it good? I think the game, you know, with all due respect, there are some, you know, yours team liquid. There's a few of them that have kind of transcended and that are now brands in and of themselves of a certain sort and, you know, can sell merch and other stuff like that. And they compete in the League of Legends worlds and get a lot of exposure and sell skins and all that other stuff. There are a million viewers on that. Yeah. But even those are struggling financially. Those are not still not great businesses, but they're kind of viable businesses, right? But ultimately, like all of this is accruing benefit to the League of Legends, right? To the Overwatches, to the CS goes of the world because that's really what it's functioning as. It's basically like you're getting 30 million people to watch League of Legends, you know, streams during the worlds. And those people are going to go play more League of Legends and buy skins and whatever. And it's like, I mean, when the Chinese team won worlds, the riot guys were like throwing confetti because like when the Chinese win, it's like a $150 million revenue opportunity in terms of increased, like, you know, unexpected sales of skins. When I think about why I was excited or why I actually still am excited about esports, is video games, especially if you play game likely, go legends? It feels different than, let's say soccer or basketball where in basketball, I know at a very young age, I'm not going to go pro. And I also like, I don't have any real way to even play with people with similar skill level of me like in my neighborhood. And I think when I play League of Legends, there's clear signs of progression and actually just think the average person probably feels like it's more achievable. Like the, it's more if I just play, if I had infinite hours, I could go pro in League of Legends, right? That's the average person might actually say that. So more like golf or tennis maybe. Yeah, like a team sport. Yeah, I would just say like you think it's so much of the scale just feels more obtainable. And because you're seeing another kid in a town over who's like making money, you're like, that could be me if my parents just let me play. And you know, it's even better. It's way better than golf and tennis because the barriers to entry are so slow. You don't need the money. You can have a lot of money if you're going to play. And you're you are immediately queuing up against the best in the world. But I'm just thinking about it in terms of like participatory with a smooth continuity to pro. One of my favorite examples is you think about there's like a streamer named T-Foo in in Fortnite. He got famous because he ended up in the same lobby as Ninja. And he just absolutely styled on Ninja on a stream. And his and his name was twitch.tv slash T-Foo. Truly any given Sunday for everybody. Yeah, it would be like imagine just being able to go and play pickup basketball with LeBron and LeBron wouldn't do that because he risked it. He heard all this stuff. Whereas Ninja is playing all day. And if you style on them, there's a real chance for you to get famous. And that part there is just a difference of like the dream is obtainable. And that is just so compelling to me. And in that way, I think it's very similar to what we saw during the poker boom, right? Where people were playing online. And you could play on into the World Series of Poker, right? Like from those online games. And so there was like, I think that's kind of an interesting analog. Yeah, yeah. And actually, Valorant for example just recently released this sort of semi-prone mode where it's you have a team and actually let you run tournaments. And eventually if your team gets high enough up to ladder, they will play in essentially the World Cup. And I think that is just so amazing of selling that dream. Because it's not even just selling it. It's sort of real. And there is going to be someone's life who's changed if they get discovered. And that's just... And so back to the earlier conversation about reinvesting in the game over time. What an incredibly leveraged way for successful forever games to... And like the ROI on investing lots of capital in your esports ecosystem is going to be very high. Very high if it works. Yeah. And there's a lot of different approaches for what it's worth. You look at Counter-Strike and Valve and they've taken a very... They just don't really care. Yeah, it's more like off in the same... It's more like the PGA where they sanctioned events as opposed to basically owning the league. They'll co-sign for tournaments a year. They'll call them majors. But there's hundreds of tournaments that happen outside of that. As a team, you choose which ones you go to. And actually the real reason why the esports boom happened from an investment standpoint is you finally had the publishers like League of Legends stepping in and saying, no, we're going to try and run this like a sports league where teams are able to buy a franchise spot. They should be like the equivalent of a token somewhere to an MLS team. There's a lot of things. But really it goes into... Can this accrued value? And I think that's really a different dynamic. And I spent five years talking those owners, like the existing sports owners who had terrible FOMO from dumping money into these things. And some of them took my advice and some of them didn't and ended up in some really dead assets. But that was Bobby's strategy. That was the League of Legends strategy. Bobby got some people so whipped up. Whipped up because he was basically like, look, this is the next NFL. Get in now where it's still where you can buy in for tens of millions of dollars as opposed to tens of billions. And this is the Overwatch League. Yes, yes. And by the way, that's, I think even me at that time was telling people that's probably not the wisest thing, especially when you think about it's not even a forever game. You were working for us. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And that's a, that was a game that's a $60 package good that's trying to be an esport. My brain just sort of broke at that moment of like, okay, at least let's think about the incentives here. Like, we're going to line this. It's completely different business model and game overall. At least in League of Legends incentive is still to keep this game alive for hopefully forever. And that could occur differently than something like an Overwatch League. And now it is time to tell you about another one of our favorite acquired companies, Vouch, the insurance of tech. Vouch is the fastest way to get business insurance for your startup when you're getting started and the right way to ensure your company has you scale. This season we're doing something really fun with Vouch. We're doing actual client case studies with them. Today, we're going to talk about Seek, which is a generative AI company founded by Sarah Nagy, an astrophysicist turned data scientist. One thing that always annoyed her when she was leading data teams was non-data scientist colleagues would reach out to her team for a whole bunch of simple one-off reports that they needed, but would take focus away. Then, ChatGPT came out and Sarah realized that it could write SQL and Python scripts on its own. And Aha, who's like generative AI, can be my team member that answers all the one-off requests. So she left and started Seek. After she raised an angel round, her first priority was enabling revenue. So of course, she called other great friend of the show Vanta to get sock-to compliance certified. This acquired cinematic universe is blowing my mind. I know. It's amazing. This is so great. Through working with Vanta, she realized she also needed business insurance. So Vanta, of course, sent her over to Vouch. Vanta evaluated everyone in the insurance space and only Vouch really can do the best job for startups and tech companies. Sarah clicked over from Vanta to Vouch and had her basic business insurance done in minutes. Fast forward, Seek is now scaling rapidly and have multiple Fortune 100 clients. Vouch is scaling right there with them. They added directors and officers insurance to protect her execs and board. Then they added errors and omissions insurance coverage to protect Seek from mistakes and customer disputes, which, hey, guess what? In generative AI, that's a real risk and it's different from other companies. Vouch, being the insurance of tech, is the only business insurance provider that can really understand all of these new frontiers like generative AI that are happening real time in our industry and put the right coverages in place. They anticipate risks and can underrate effectively when nobody else can or will. So companies like Seek can get the insurance they need and just like with Vanta, enable revenue with Vouch. You can learn more about Seek at Seek.ai and when it's time for your startup to get the best insurance that you need, you can save 10% on your first policy with Vouch just by going to Vouch.us slash acquired or telling them that Ben and David sent you. Thanks, Vouch. So we were talking a minute ago about in gaming as in many corners of the internet and investing, there are things that have lots of usage but don't have, have not attracted a lot of capital or attention or care. Perhaps we could talk about the opposite of that with Web 3 and crypto over the past few years and specifically Web 3 and crypto gaming. You end game craft to my mind kind of on a hopeful note about that. Would you agree how are you feeling about it? I do and I have been incredibly skeptical. And I'm primarily skeptical because it's a character flaw of mine that I am part of the original tribe. I'm part of that OG gaming tribe. Maybe slightly younger than the real OGs like Bing and Trip but kind of still part of that generation. So I still am very protective of the video game business because it was this kind of nerds paradise like back in that day and I'm always resistant to tourism. I'm always resistant to people kind of coming in from outside and kind of claiming it as their own and it's a character flaw because I should be big tent and I'm just not. And at the same time, right, was that right? They've never made a game before. They never made a game before but man, those kids were so down. Like they, they, no, they were, they were super hardcore. I would have adopted them, right? They were, they, they deserve to be in the tribe. They were, they embraced the tribe. But a lot of the early Web 3 gaming content came from crypto people slumming in games, right? Who had no idea what they were doing, who made really crappy games that were really just an opportunity to, to mint and launch NFTs and participate in an NFT marketplace that had some lightweight, you know, game mode that was associated with it. And there's a bunch of those out there and I don't want to go through them chapter and verse, but they're hideous. This new crop that we're starting to see now and I just actually invested in one oddly enough, just recently, Supercell, the Finn, Finn, Finnish game company and, and I made a angel, a joint angel investment in, in, in a deal that has a component of this. You saw Ev online, just raised 40 million lead by Andreessen Horowitz to make a crypto enabled diversion of Eve. Oh, I didn't realize that. And Eve is like a long running. I mean, that's a 20 year, 20 year, 18 years, I think. Icelandic gaming company. Yes, yes. So now you're seeing game people who've had a chance to kind of digest the technology and see if they can find an organic use for it, start to bring product to market. And that gives me a bit of hope, right? Because maybe because it aligns with my narrow view of the game's business, but maybe also because we're going to get good games out of it that don't seem like scams. And so for our audience who's not been paying attention to Web 3 gaming, how is it mechanically different than traditional game business models? Or even let's just say that the current most popular free-to-play business model of gaming, what new things does blockchain unlock? The good news is not that much, right? No, I honestly believe this, right? I think the best of them adhere very closely to the conventional models. And they use the crypto component really almost to maybe improve or enhance an elder game. So for example, if you've been playing for a while and you're kind of bored with just grinding on the underlying free-to-play progression mechanic, there's another sphere where you could play, right? Where you could take your character and mint it as an NFT. It gives you certain benefits in the underlying game, but it kind of gives you status, in the status competition that you and the other very advanced players are engaged in because at some point, if you've been playing World of Warcraft for 15 years, you're not running around killing chickens for gold, right? You're playing a very different kind of game and you're playing kind of a social game, right? Right. And so I think there's aspects of that that can be enhanced and enabled with the Web 3 technologies that actually are additive to the gameplay. And I think that's exciting to me. What's an example? I'm not going to tell you. All right. You could imagine Eve with this. Oh, Eve is a good example. So they're going to have a token and that token is going to be useful in the game in a way that's not paid to win, right? Which is the death of a free-to-play game, right? And Blake is almost a religious fanatic around paying to win. Why do people do pay to win then? It will kill your game. Because it works. It works in the short term. I was talking about this with someone that's super so recently. I think like, Clash Royale, if you play that game, has some real paid-of-win mechanics. It's like softer where you can go from, you could probably spend a hundred hours playing that game completely free-to-play and it's balanced and great. But once you hit a certain point, it's like, oh, you hit a wall. It's going to take a while to grind out here. And so either like spend or you're going to be playing this game eight times longer than the person you're playing against. I think that's one way that you typically see that more on mobile. But if competitive integrity isn't the goal of your game like from a multiplayer standpoint, then it's way easier to do more paid-of-win stuff. Fair enough. So when social status is a key component of the game, that's when paid-of-win is the worst thing you can do. Yeah, I would say leaderboards. Yeah, progressive status. Yes. Like if your rank meant something in League of Legends, which it does, if there was a way for you to buy the highest rank, that game would break. Like it would just simply would break. So wait, let's go back to the token notion. So what is the token in EVONLINE? Okay, great. Now there's this like crypto element. What can I do with it? So Hilmar hasn't released the design yet and because he pitched Blake and I, I'm a little uncomfortable discussing it. Oh, yeah. Of course. Unfortunately, it functions in a way like a store of value, almost like a super currency, where you will have the token as well as an in-game currency. And the token isn't necessary and the token can be acquired through play, but it has some interesting properties that you are acquired through ownership. And you're incentivized to buy it because it provides you with certain benefits in the game that aren't, that don't necessarily make it competitively unbalanced, but that open up areas of gameplay that might be close to you if you didn't own it. Interesting. Very clever, by the way. Like, I mean, Blake and I have looked at a bunch of these things. Most of them are absolute crap. This one is really well thought out. He has one of the best framings that I've ever heard around. This which is EVONLINE, the original, he's like, this is Rome. And you have broken sewage and just like, it's no paved roads, all this stuff. And he's like, Web's three. And building it with crypto rails actually makes it look closer to New York City. And so he's like, we'll still keep Rome. And that version of the game will still be here. But now we can build it with the right pipes and do this sort of the right way. And he had this great line of, and he still have Italians that moved to New York. And he's like, it might take a bit, but they still move over to New York. And I just think that's the right way to think about it is there's very different cities and people like them for their own reasons. But in a New York example, he just thinks there's a lot more you can do with the game. And EV is fundamentally an economic simulation, right? Even though it has a veneer of being a kind of space combat kind of thing, fundamentally 80% of the gameplay is economic. Right. And it's a very, very interesting manufacturing. It is the perfect vehicle. Yeah. Like, if this game doesn't work, it'll be actually very telling of the current. Because if it works anywhere, it should work here. Exactly. Yeah, like it is a perfect application. There's a real question of, is this game still a viable game that people want to play in 2023? That's maybe a different question. But it is the perfect vehicle for Web 3. I ask these questions because my skepticism has sort of come from, there's all these egalitarian notions of in the Web 2 world, it's awful because you have to pay the gaming company for the items. But in Web 3, you can actually own your own loot. And then you can all trade that around and you don't have to go. Not everyone has to go back to the store to buy the thing. You can buy it peer to peer. And I might have them always like, well, that sounds nice, but why would a gaming company ever enable peer to peer sales when their whole business model is having them buy the goods from you? Because they can hopefully increase the size of the pie, incentivize you to trade at a much greater volume and harvest transaction costs. Right? I mean, look at Roblox. Roblox doesn't have a Web 3 component or at least not yet. But man, it's got a very viable peer to peer economy in it. And Roblox is the most highly taxed app store on earth. Right? I mean, because you get paid as a developer in Roblox, right? So when you're extracting those, they're taxed. Right. Roblox is Web 3, but it might as well be the most successful Web 3, quote unquote, Web 3 application out there. Absolutely. And so I mean, I think the last time I calculated the total tax, the gross tax was somewhere close to 60%. It was like 57%. Yeah. I was going to say, the last time I heard is like 55 to 60%. Yeah. So because it just keeps compounding every time that Roblox moves between parties, it just keeps getting. And like Twitch and like YouTube gaming and other things where there was this incredible feedback loop and we talk about this a bit in our user generated content episode and GameCraft, you know, Minecraft, for example, where they're they just crossed the one trillion view mark on YouTube, right? Of Minecraft related videos. You know what? The company that made that mow young didn't make any of those videos. They were 100% made by the community, right? And yet that community was highly incentivized because they had an economic incentive because they became famous. They became rich by becoming Minecraft streamers, by becoming Minecraft YouTubers. And the same thing is happening inside of Roblox in a certain way. And I think the dream of the Web 3 spaces that this can be more broad than even that. I would say even you look at a game I kind of strike and a lot of people don't look at Steam and view it like an open sea or one of these marketplaces. But in Team Fortress 2 and in Counter Strike, they introduce these virtual goods and they're literally just cosmetic. But you open a loopbox, you get the skin and those skins have real value because it costs $2 open up that crate. And you might have just got something that's super rare. And in the public market that is hosted on Steam where they take, I think it's 10%. They are double dipping and triple dipping on the content that they primary issued and they're getting all the secondary sale just recycling through. Oh, you got a knife, I want a knife skin, that's like $400. That is what does go for on that market. So Valve is actually like the closest to probably like Web 3 being just open where they actually let you take these things off and you can transact for US dollars if you want to. They'll eventually shut down that site maybe. But it's there. Like people use these accounts, people spin up Steam accounts as escrow services. Like their bots and their sites that just literally will transact for US dollars. So I think there's a lot to study there. And one thing the Mitch and I always talk about is there is the speculator problem in a Web 3 example where if you truly were looking at Counter-Strike and you wanted to buy and theory one's speculator is Counter-Strike going to be bigger over time. I should just buy all these skins in the open market and that just raises the price. And it's what we saw in crypto where the people who are owning these NFTs were never even playing the game and you just priced out your average user. That's one sort of unsolved sort of to be determined. Yeah, Blake and I talk about this. We call it the Bitcoin pizza problem, right? Which is you have the person who spent three Bitcoin back in the early days on a pizza and those three bitcoins are in today's dollars worth $75 grand. And so you feel like a fool because you spent that currency. And so when we're looking at Web 3 related deals like solving that problem like incentivizing you so that you don't feel like an idiot for utilizing the token is a key factor in these games. And I think it was one of the things that got me over the hump on Hillmars, you know, new Eve game, right, Awakening because he actually had a really interesting solution to that problem. And we've seen so precious few good solutions to that problem, right? And it's a double solve because when something goes up a lot in value, there's a problem because you don't want to spend it. And the goal of creating any economy is dynamism to create a lot of transactions and turnover. Then there's the second problem of speculation. When things go up a lot in value, it encourages a lot of people to speculate, brings in the wrong sort of people, makes the game not fun, messes up the incentives for everyone. So if it doesn't have that problem, then you solve two issues. Yes. Yeah, it's really tricky. And I don't think anyone has solved it yet, but we're certainly finally starting to see some people have theories around how to solve that. And it will be really interesting to see a play out because if you can't solve it, then there's no reason why these things shouldn't exist in games moving forward. So when we were going back and forth on what's talk about on this episode, Mitch, I think it was you and our shared doc here had quite a few thoughts that you wanted to add on to our Nintendo episode. Specifically, I thought the most interesting was around our assertion that the NES was the first consumer device with a GPU architecture. Right, your PPU discussion. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, tell us what we got wrong. I don't think you got it wrong necessarily, but I just wanted to, I'm fascinated by the history of this company, this Utah based company called Evans and Southernland. And I was really just teasing you guys because this felt like such an acquired like mini episode, right? Because these guys were like the Fairchild Semi Conductor of computer graphics. So these two professors, they were, you guys talked a little bit about this in the Atari context, right? At the view of you, mafia of computer graphics, Alan Kay and at Catmull and Nolan. So what you get wrong about that is that Nolan was like 10 years senior to the rest of those guys, right? So Nolan went through as an electrical engineering student and then Evans and Southernland came in and formed the computer graphics practice at the University of Utah. And so Nolan was had already graduated, but Alan, but they got Catmull, Alan Kay. So Catmull, who goes to Pixar, Alan Kay, who basically goes everywhere. I mean, he's part of the Apple user interface thing. He starts the Atari research groups that basically invent virtual reality. I mean, he is pollinating flowers all over the computer, the computer business. He's credited with the best way to predict the future is to invent it. Yes. So incredibly important figure. You have John Warnoch, who goes on to found Adobe. Right. One of the most important companies in the computer graphics business. He was the other guy on the Nintendo episode that we were trying to think of. Yeah. Jim Clark, right? Yes. And so all of these incredible people came through that University of Utah computer graphics program. So the professors then spun out with a absolute bucket of DARPA money and started this company that basically started to build in the late 1970s, early 1980s, the first commercial flight simulators. And so with very high fidelity basic flights and there's, and of course, flight simulators required the kinds of advanced graphics that just weren't available on desktops, even in the workstations of those days. This is pre-silicon graphics. This is pretty any of that stuff. So they had developed a bunch of this proprietary silicon during those days and ultimately ended up in the supercomputer business later on in the 1980s. And then ultimately in the 1990s were in the console business. They helped develop Ridge Racer for Namco, the very advanced racing sim. You put this in the notes and I was like, what? So it comes back full circle to the video game business. But I just find that whole episode incredibly fascinating and it's so interesting to think about all of those people kind of coming through that same program and what it must have been like. And Evans and Sutherland had a big impact in the games community because former employees of theirs started up a bunch of games companies. And again, like just one of those incredibly seminal and really the true sense of that word, technology companies. There was another thing we brought up on the Nintendo episode where I'm curious for both of your fact check on, which I was shocked to learn that the gaming industry has always been larger than TV and Hollywood if you include the total coin drop in arcades. I just thought this was this new phenomenon of like, wow, video games have become so much a part of their fabric of our society. But our research was basically like, I think it's always been true. Could be, I don't know much as much about what they count when they count the Hollywood revenues or the music industry revenues, right? Whether it's sort of ticket prices or what. But I think regardless, the really interesting fact is how big the arcade business was. And if you go back and look, some people do these really clever little graphical drawings where they show sort of how we got from early games business to the 180 billion of today. And they show like sectors by market share as they ebbed and flowed. And the thing that always stands out when you look at it is just not only how big the arcade business was, but how long it persisted. Yeah, you think about like Sega and when we were researching for the council castles episode, it was so clear that these council manufacturers really were wrestling with, do we risk it? Do we risk our coin out business? In a lot of ways, it's probably why Sega isn't what it was or isn't Nintendo is they were trying to protect what they had. They're literally making billions of dollars in the 70s. Yes. Like billions of dollars in revenue in the 70s. Of course, you're not going to stop doing that. Yeah. I mean, I grew up in that era. So I was one of those, you know, Rugrats who was like, you know, camped out with handful of quarters in a video game arcade. And so I remember that. We're important social low-key, right, for kids in those days. Yeah, let's talk about it. I'm curious for both of you. Maybe let's start with Mitch because you're talking about it. What was your entrance into video games before you got into the business side of things? Yeah, like space wars at a world war. You made space wars? At a world war in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I was miserably consigned to grow up. Did you have a PDP1 or how did you get access to space wars? No, it was the console successor to it. Right. They made that idea and they made a box out of it, basically. Only a few of them, but somehow one of them ended up in, it was not the PDP version that you guys talk about in your episode, but it was a cabinet version of it that was propagated and somehow this will worth in Walgreens. I can't remember what. In Fort Lauderdale and Amal had one of them outside of it. That was literally the first video game I ever played. Then it was Robatron and those kinds of games were my GM growing up. Would you have been in the Atari 2600 era? Yeah, except that we were Apple II family. My dad was one of these guys who loved technology but couldn't understand how any of it worked. He would buy this stuff and then my brother and I would inherit it. My brother ends up at the MIT Media Lab and then goes to Hollywood and invents video assists essentially in Hollywood. Both of us ended up kind of techno geeks. What a video assist. In the old days with film cameras, the only person who could see what was being shot was the cinematographer who literally looked through the IPs. Now if you go on a film set, there's a video village where the producers, God forbid, can come and watch what's being shot in real time. That technology transition basically involved this intermediate step called video assist, which was my brother's thesis at the MIT Media Lab in the late 80s. You always see those George Lucas in Tunisia shooting in the desert in what was at 76 when they were shooting a new hope. They've got video monitors, everyone's pointing their watch and daily's. It's a camp out. Again, we would inherit these technologies whether they were early video cameras or whether they were computers in the case of the Apple IIs. Then we would screw around with them and try and figure out how to make them work. Again, of course, because we were children most of the time we'd turn them into games. What was your first dedicated gaming machine? The first dedicated gaming machine that I owned because I wasn't an early console adopter. The first dedicated gaming machine I owned wasn't until I was in law school. In 1987, my wife, who is a game designer and worked at Activision for 15 years, but was a lawyer also, and we were in law school together. We just basically played video games all the time, so we bought an Amiga, a Commodore Amiga, which was a very famous device inside the video game business, but largely unknown by most people. It was an incredible device. This is after the Commodore 64. That was my first, I would call that my first dedicated gaming device. Blake, what was your first gaming experience? My brother is three years old in a man. He was always in the games, and he loved Nintendo more than anyone. I was always the meme of just being player too. It was so bad growing up. We would play N64. We had NNES, and I think that's the first console that we had. I remember just being stuck playing the crappy other character. It was bad. We would play Sonic, and I'd be like Tails. I just remember hating that experience. It became really clear that my brother just loved single player narrative type creative games. When the Xbox came out, I was like, I can finally get something that my brother is not going to take all the time with. I got an Xbox, and really Halo was the thing that changed my life. I was like, what is this? This is amazing. Then really, the Xbox 360 came out, and Xbox Live just really took off. Xbox Live was such a... You talked about it a little bit in the console castles that will sit. Yeah, only just because of what an incredible business proposition it was, because you had a captive audience who really wanted a community who really wanted multiplayer play. Basically, they said, yeah, there's one way to do it. You can pay us $5 a month. Yeah, talk about the number of people that actually upgrade. The number of people that wanted to get online services for their game that had to pay Xbox. In addition to their console that they're buying, it's just insane. The numbers, I forget what it actually ends up being, but it's certainly billions of dollars in revenue even today. It's not like your ISP. They weren't giving you the internet. It was just the right to get online with the Xbox. Yeah, yeah. It was just they controlled that hardware. I just remember playing Call of Duty Online for the first time and being like, oh my gosh, my life has changed. My parents wouldn't buy me a gaming PC because I just knew I'd be a total degenerate. They were probably right. To the... I'd now have a gaming PC and I'm a total degenerate, so I get it. I loved just Call of Duty and all of the competitive games, really. But we missed my wife and I. The console era really in a lot of ways because we went from PC during that entire era, basically. I mean, the first console really that would have been viable, the 2600 and stuff, we kind of missed because they came out right as we were graduating from high school and we were more in the arcades. And then we went straight to the computer. I remember we were playing some of the early EA games like Starflight on a compact portable that had an RCA out that we could plug into a television. And so we were watching it. We were playing it. That was our monitor to play, but that competition... It did have a 30 pound, you know, sewing machine. I remember those old boxes for the mouse. They had like a track ball mouse. Oh, wow. So, and then we bought our first console actually when she was interviewing for the job at Activision. I was at Disney and she needed to play... So she got into the games business first? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. She needed to play Mac Warrior on... Oh, great. On the great game 20, 20, 47. And I forgot what it was. I played that on the Mac. Yeah, yeah. So we had to buy a SNES so she could study the Activision games before she went in for her interview. Wow. And then she got hired and worked there for 15 years. Wow. How did she decide to transition her career from lawyer to game developer? When we were in law school together, we wrote a game together. I programmed and she designed. No way. Yeah, it sucked, but it was like... Wow. But still, we were... We just sort of knew that was our calling and like we practiced law for a couple of years, but neither of us were totally into it. She actually was a district attorney in the Hardcore Games unit in LA and so she had a much sexier job than me who was just doing representing Atari Games against Nintendo. Wow. So this is wild, like both of you decided that it was economically better for... I don't want to say decided. You went to law school or rather than go into making games. Yeah. Is it because you thought there was no money in making games? It was no... You know, it's just one of those things where you don't know that it's possible, right? I mean, I... I think that's... It's true. You find this to be the case in Hollywood quite a bit, right? Where kids who've grown up in Kansas or whatever, you know, they'll say when they're interviewed, like, you know, well, why didn't you choose the subject? It was profession. Why did you go do something else first? And they were like, I didn't know you could do this for a living. And I kind of didn't know you could do this for a living, right? It just seemed so out of touch. But slowly but surely, like, you know, partly it was through the Atari Games Nintendo lawsuit where I had to go around and take depositions of all of these early box console guys who made cabinets. And the electrical instruments, scientific instruments department at UC Santa Barbara was like where Nolan was hiring all of his top engineers, right? Because those guys knew how to make multiplexers and, you know, these... Like, because remember these box console, they were making what we would now think of as software in hardware. Yeah, there was no software. There was no software. Yeah. And so I went around and interviewed these guys and I was like, these people are so cool. Like, what am I doing? Like, there's another world out there. And so I left and went to Disney. Yeah, I think it's funny. You mentioned like the kid in Kansas has no idea this is even possible. I always joke like I had a double life, right? I played video games and I still played video games probably way too much. And I wasn't even until I entered venture capital that I realized, oh, you could like invest in games. Like, that's a thing and I learned about Mitch and Bing and all these people. I'm like, whoa, that's like... I didn't even think that's possible. And even after I ended up in venture capital, I was like, I didn't even realize that was a thing. And that's today. Imagine the game's business in the late 80s. Yes. This is another great thread. You said, even you said, I play games way too much. There's this stigma around this industry. Still, why is there this stigma? Oh, I mean, I definitely just objectively played too many games. But the statement too much requires... It's a moral judgment. Yes, yes. Yes, yes. I'm standard by which someone has to hold the role. People that let's remove it from playing games, I think a lot of people in the business world think of the video game industry as like, whatever that's like for kids or that's like not real. That's not real business. Well, and you, I think, addressed this quite well in the first Nintendo episode, when you talk about the roots of this business in the toy business, even Nintendo making the glove for the Magnavox Odyssey. If I remember that correctly. The light gun. Yeah, I'm sorry. The light gun, yes, indeed. That was real. It persisted long into the 90s. It was still kind of considered part of the toy business. Hasbro made a run at Activision, a little known fact in the late 90s when I was running the studios there. And I remember going to Toy Fair in New York, which is a trip, man. If you notice, like, back in those days, like, and we went actually to the Hasbro pre-Toy Fair thing in Boca Raton, Florida, of all places where they were, they'd taken over a hotel and in every ballroom in the hotel, one of the brands was showing their stuff. So like Super Soaker was in one room and, you know, whatever, like Nerf was in another room or whatever and you just went from room to room to see all the toys and the deal never ended up getting done. But really in those days, it wasn't that much of a stretch to think of the video game businesses, basically being really a pertinent to the toy business. And now we don't think of it. Now we think of it more as a pertinent to Hollywood. I mean, you look at the last of us or things like that where, where, you know, now we're supplying IP to like serious drama and whatever. But like, that one, that was the case. Yeah, I think there's also the subtle shift of games becoming really social. Like there was maybe hanging out with your friends, they would come over and you'd have a little lamp party or you'd play Mario Party, whatever it was. But obviously games today now, like I play League of Legends with my friends online that I actually probably haven't seen some of those people in person in years. But I still play with them all the time and I know what they're up to. And it's sort of the equivalent of playing golf on some level of like, I'm catching up and I'm sure the games itself are a way to facilitate. I'd also see that the content itself and our choices early on in the business was somewhat self-limiting, right? In the sense that, I mean, we made a lot of really violent stuff, right? We made a lot of, you know, games that, to Genoa's point, perhaps didn't explore all of the spectrum of human emotion. And as a result, I think it was easy for moralists to look at it and say, oh, this is a deviant activity. The same way that comic books were viewed maybe in the 1940s, right? Or, you know, certain kinds of independent film or sexually explicit content or whatever has been viewed historically, right? Whereas maybe those things change over time as they get more mainstreamed or whatever. But like, I think that had something to do with it as well. It is interesting that you say this is how I hang out with my friends, Blake, because you wouldn't say I hang out with my friends way too much, but you say I play video games too much. And it's like there's nothing wrong with being social and there's nothing wrong with having fun and enjoying your life. So why is it that there's something wrong with playing video games with your friends? Maybe it's just a game that I play, but they're really competitive and so they make me very upset and feeling very tilted after I play those games. So it's more of that feeling. And it isn't the case in my family. I mean, my wife just played Elden Ring through, finished it. Right? Those of you who do not know what I'm talking about, Elden Ring to finish Elden Ring is not only do you have to be hardcore, but you have to expend 100 hours or more, right? I finished Elden Ring with a one year old. Oh, I'm still married. So, um, she finished. She was like, okay, now I got to play it as a different character. Played it again. Okay? Wow. We started watching Craig Mason's The Last of Us on HBO and she was like, oh, I haven't played these games. Sat down and played one and two back to back all the way through. Right? So this is the family I live in. Wow. Where I'm like the non-gamer. So what's your drug of choice here, FIFA? Currently, well, it has historically been FIFA, which I had a son who grew up to be a very, very accomplished soccer player before becoming a musician. And so he and I played a lot of FIFA together, which was kind of our dad, son bonding stuff. But then he became too good. And then that made your career out of it. It's like the backyard basketball trip. Where your son turns out to be LeBron. And then, but I've always also been a real-time strategy enthusiast and grew up in the era of Command and Conquer and Starcraft and Warcraft and currently, and playing Age of Empires for pretty obsessively. Well, a way that we wanted to kind of bring this episode home is you guys recorded Game Craft in full before getting any input from the outside world, acquired basically only ever has one episode in the can. And so when we release it, we get feedback. We incorporate it into the next episode. I'm sure you've gotten a flood of feedback since releasing the whole series. Is there any sort of mailbag or things people have brought up where you might want to address things from the series? Yeah. I mean, I think broadly, it was a bit scary because we did release eight episodes pretty much just sort of back to back to back. And as you said, they were all in the can when we recorded basically the first episode or when we released the first episode. And I've just been incredibly surprised by how universally positive the feedback has been. I think there really wasn't much like it on the market in terms of not all, like deeply researched, very much I think inspired by what you guys have demonstrated is that there is an audience for this kind of well-prepared, intellectually rigorous kind of exploration of a niche industry that most people wouldn't consider interesting, but you can make interesting. And I think that was partly our goal when we started. And so we did have some inspiration from, I mean, I think if you guys hadn't existed, we probably wouldn't have done it. But yeah, we got- Sounds like Malcolm Gladwell helped a little bit. He just told me not to write a book, which I think he's been on that for a while, like that podcast or the future. I think he's done a couple episodes with Bill Simmons, who calls himself the pod father. And he is. It's true though. We've been asked many times, we've been asked about writing a book many times. It never pencils. It's never a good decision. Which is kind of sad, but is just the reality to the day. Yeah, I just echo what Mitch has said, which is the feedback has just been amazing. It's the most common feedback or the mail back stuff is you lead us right to the current time. And they're like, what's happening now? What about AI and games? Yeah, like- Let's talk about that, right? Because we have gotten that as a question. This is a brave new world, right? And I think one of the things that's kind of fun about AI and games is that we've had AI and games, right? Like- Exactly. I remember Danny Berry when she was making Mule back in the old EA days. She was basically like, you know, like, oh, I would make the characters behave randomly because they seemed more intelligent, right? And so every once in a while, I would get my NPCs to make mistakes. And then people were like, oh my god, they're alive. Because that just seemed so human compared to the computer-like behavior. It started there. And it's kind of evolved all the way to the very sophisticated kind of computer- I mean, there was at least what a five-year period, I think, where Microsoft's AI was called Cortana. Yeah. After Cortana from Halo. So now we obviously, you know, you can't- every rock you turn over in Silicon Valley these days is an AI pitch, right? So yeah, we're at benchmark and I can see like 15 founders on the side of the- Literally, literally, the parking lot was full. We had to drive around to link the town hall door. There's only eight spaces. But we get asked a lot about, you know, where we see the technology being applied. And I think there is a kind of- there's a train of thought that has been advanced that, oh, wow, this is really going to democratize the game industry. And in a way where now, kind of like you're seeing with mid-journey, for example, where you can just describe a piece of art and it magically appears that people will be able to describe a game and it'll magically appear. I don't subscribe to that. I think- and again, maybe it's just my narrow-mindedness. But I do believe that making games is really hard, right? And I think making a coherent, narratively satisfying, you know, journey in a game context, an interactive context is not necessarily going to fall to AI early, right? That may be one of the later things that happens. But in the interim, man, there is going to be some really cool stuff to happen. So I would- I think we're talking about this with some senior executives in the video game industry recently. And I think we kind of agreed on that there were going to be four really interesting areas of investment early on. I think one is art pipeline, clearly, right? Because just the amount of money that's spent on art in video games is mind-boggling. It's just staggering. Because you think about it, it's like you're making an MMO, you got a town, one of many. There are buildings in the town, every building has a table, every building has a chair, every building has a piece of art on the wall, every- and there is a- Every character has clothing. Has clothing, every rug has a different pattern or whatever, or it gets monotonous. Like you have to change it. Every event themes these things for Halloween and Christmas and New Year's. I mean, hopefully you guys played Breath of the Wild. Absolutely magnificent. I mean, it is a magnificent achievement. Well, men, when you're playing it, think about what it took to make it, right? Every one of those characters, the dialogue, all of that stuff, right? And so I think it's not going to replace the need to design those things, but it may replace the need to hire an artist to go and bang out 30 different variations of a chair, right? For example, so I think that's a- the art pipeline feels like a no-brainer. Yeah, that's like the lowest-hanging fruit. I think that- and, you know, right now we're in the 2D phase of that. Will we have a 3D phase? Absolutely. Yes, for sure you will. Right. Number two, I think, is quality assurance and balancing, right? Because we can now train an AI to play these things. And we were talking to a senior executive who has done so, and it reported back that the AI can now describe an activity as fun. Wow. Which that has been a hot topic of debate in the video games industry forever to define fun. So even AI who can tell us if something is fun or not, when like, I don't think there is a consensus view on what fun means. True. I mean, I've- you know, I have my own theory of fun, right? And which I talk about quite a bit, but yeah, to have an AI that could describe their experience of playing the game in those terms is extraordinary. So- Wow. Um, balancing is really hard because balancing is essentially an arbitrage activity, right? It's like you're trying to find little advantages that the game engine, the spreadsheet, if you will, of the game allows. So for example, I'm playing Age of Empires, right? The Chinese cavalry under certain circumstances has an advantage that I can exploit in an arbitrage-like way, right? And so finding counters to those or whatever is a really interesting potential use of artificial intelligence that we haven't explored really very much. And I think that's going to be really cool. It's like to bring in the thing we've all, I think at least three of us have mentioned as a pillar of our life to bring in Halo. I mean, when dual wielding first came out and Halo 2, so overpowered. Yes. And it was one of these things that like took a whole, you know, new disk shipping to fix the fact that all you should ever do is run around dual wielding fully charged and then run a your enemy and like if we can do that, of course, through play testing and it gets fixed quickly now, that's one thing, but AI can catch that way earlier. Absolutely. And find potentially new ones that we hadn't even thought of. And as we move into this era of more and more sophisticated game economies, being able to sort of play out those game theory kind of scenarios, right, where about where we're you know, hoarding of various resources and what that does to the economy, et cetera. Yeah. You had a funny line yesterday of like you just write the problem to like, get rich, like to someone like to like to the bot, right? And you're like, what does the bot do? And you're like, that was not at all what we were thinking of how they're going to like right to economy. So I think those things are going to be really, really exciting. And then I, the one I'm particularly excited about is live ops because we're spending boatloads of money on live ops. It's really hard. And it's a very delicate thing because you've got a game that's already working, right? And so you don't want to make those kinds of nerfs and buffs that rip out the competitive balance on the one hand, but you want to continue to introduce new content into the game. And so I think that's really interesting. And also just adding a sense of dynamism to that where let's say if we were all playing together, it understands kind of what our capabilities are, what our characters are like. And it designs quests that are kind of challenging to us, but accomplishable or whatever. Like that you can have a real time quest system or narrative system that you could build into a live game that would be really exciting. And then the last one, which is particularly interesting also, is an adjunct of that. It's sort of an analogous to that, which is live DMing for like, you know, Dungeons and Dragons like experience where, you know, if you've ever been a, like Dungeons master. Dungeons master. Yeah. Not live direct message. Not direct message. You're a Monday to your day. We have a different kind of acronym. But you know, the Dungeons master is a role in, you know, if you've ever played Dungeons and Dragons with your friends, right? It's like somebody's got to play that role. And it's a very difficult role to play. I mean, you are a storyteller. You have to some, you know, you're one of your players enters a tavern. You've got to figure out an non-player character to interact like the tavern wench or whatever, to interact with that character. And, you know, that requires like storytelling and narrative. And if you could have an AI assistant that could help, that could supply you with narrative in the background, right? And, and, and sort of help you tell that story. I think that's super exciting. And I think that's, there's going to be a lot of, a lot of interesting things that are going to happen in that space, particularly now where we're in the middle of a massive Dungeons and Dragons Renaissance. Yeah. I think there's, there's also this inherent tension within the games industry of, if you are maybe an incumbent studio, are you comfortable, you know, using AI arts and doing asset generation? And what does that mean? Maybe as an innovator's dilemma type scenario. But then there's also maybe like a working theory that I have is the UGC platforms like the Fortnite Creatives or the core or the Roblox's of the world might actually be the ones that accrue the most value in this AI asset generation time where, you know, if you can't spin up these 3DS sets and you're letting the users go and do that, that should be just a really more obvious way that this evolves than having, you know, your artist push back and be like, hey, don't, don't use my art style. And that's going to be a whole other sort of thing. It certainly seems from the, you know, mostly outside that a problem in the games industry right now is the amount of resources and capital required to make a great game. Did you agree with that? That it stifles innovation. I mean, again, as a former studio boss, I would say yes and no, right? In one sense, yes, because it doesn't fully democratize the ability to make games, right? And we're getting there. It's better than it used to be. It used to be you had to write your own engine in order to make a game work, right? And so you had, so you couldn't make games unless you were John Carmack or unless you were Tim Sweeney. That's no longer the case, right? Now you can go and license Tim Sweeney's engine, the Unreal engine, and you can build a game on top of that. That's already somewhat democratized it, right? It's like we didn't, in the old days, we used to create bitmaps by hand to like, you know, try and wrap around 3D characters. It's like now you got, you know, incredible technology, my advanced Photoshop tools and all of these other things that are just capable of sort of accelerating that process. They're a little bit expensive, but they're, but they're accessible to individuals in a way that you used to, when I started in the business, you needed literally a Silicon Graphics workstation. In fact, when I started, companies were being valued on the basis, on the number of Silicon Graphics workstations that they had available to them. You talked about this in the series. It was crazy. It was crazy. Rocket science games, you go, go, go, go look them up. It's like they were literally valued in their series A on the basis of the number of the, it's a great, graphics workstations they have. That feels like an arbitration. So I think that that democratization on the one hand is fantastic, right? We've seen with things where that has happened like YouTube. Let's take that as an example. Where all kinds of interesting new content that we never expected before. I mean, if I had told you 15 years ago that unboxing videos were going to be like a billion dollar business on YouTube, you'd be like, get out of here, right? It's like, there's not the unboxing videos. Come on, man. But like they are, right? And all of the, you know, these are new kinds of narrative experiences that we would never have really found valuable. So I think there's great value in that and I'm a big proponent of that. On the other hand, you know, not everybody is good at this. And that's also something you see on YouTube, right? Which is, you know, there's thousands and thousands of videos. You don't get fed to you in the algorithm, which suck, right? And that's going to be the same in the video game business. Yeah, I think that's right. I think there is, we still haven't fully reached maybe the iPhone moment for your camera. But we're getting there and it's, there is this parallel track within games that we know modding is such a key part of innovation and how these games evolve and new genres are created that we're getting so close to those moments of with the UGC getting better and you can have the random kid maybe come up with a new genre or a new game and it looks like a mod or whatever it is, but it might just be important on creative or roadblocks. Right. We old Hiroshi Yamaguchi, Maxum that, you know, they're a handful of Shigeru Miyamoto's in the world that can make games like that and we want them all, you know, making games for Nintendo is probably still true. It's true. Absolutely true. Absolutely. That's amazing, right? Like, Spieler didn't get any worse in, you know, this current time. That's right, right, right. But the window for that, like, say it's, I don't know, one in a million. The denominator of the number of millions is artificially limited right now. Yes. And you think about, you know, how Carmack and Romero got into the position they got into and all the luck and sort of serendipity that was involved, same with Miyamoto, right? It's like, what has he been, he's been there since 77? Yeah. And he was hired to design the arcade game. Yeah, exactly. And they plucked about even the guy who trained him that you talk about in that first episode who himself was kind of plucked up the assembly line. Yeah, the assembly line. Yeah. Okay. And that's the part where hopefully we can be a little more efficient about how we find those Miyamoto's. Well, on that note, I want to close with a pitch to you guys, okay? Which I've texted you about, but I want to now make it, you know, live in public, which is I really think you should continue the GameCraft podcast, not that you need to, but I do think like, hopefully you've seen this in the reaction to it. Like, I think this can be a really good galvanizing force for people to take this industry more seriously, invest in this industry, most importantly, enter it. Like, make games, become entrepreneurs. I agree. I think I'm feeling a bit of that pressure. I mean, when I started this, I think the other thing that I learned from Malcolm and from Michael Lewis was they were like, I said, well, should I do it as a weekly? And they said, no, that's a job, right? But they said you should do it as a, as a special project. And so I think what we're trying to figure out right now is how we keep it a special project and not turn it into a job, but still make it meaningful to the audience. And so I think we have some ideas and I think we'll be back later this year with some fresh content. Great. Great. And look, we, one of the benefits of being old is I've met everyone in the video game business over the last 30 years, right? And some of them even like me. And so hopefully I can, we can bring, start bringing some guests on who can help us tell some of these stories because I certainly know my path through the video game business and Blake knows his path through the video game business, but there are many paths through the video game business. And I think that's the part that excites me. Well, everyone should definitely check out the GameCraft podcast. Where else can people find you on the internet? I met Mitch Lasky on Twitter. Yeah, I'm Blake I.R. on Twitter. And Mitch, you don't tweet that much, but Blake, you're an excellent follow. When Mitch does tweet though, it's good, but it's great. I, you turn on the notifications for Mitch because it's just, it's once like a week, you'll get it, you'll just get a notification and you just know it's spicy. So I recommend it. Awesome. Thanks so much guys. Thank you. Thanks for the pleasure. All right, David. That was awesome. Really pumped. We get to do that with Mitch and Blake. So great. Love this guys. Listeners, we appreciate you joining us for those on video. Sure, it was kind of fun to feel like you were actually in the room, especially at the wide angle camera this time, capturing what the table actually looked like. We got a lot of feedback on the first benchmark episode that we talked about this cool shape and you couldn't actually see it. So made sure to get that. We do want to say a huge thank you to our sponsors, Statsig, pitch book and vouch. Also huge thank you to Mitch, to Blake and to benchmark for hosting us and doing this together. If you want to hang out with us more, come check out ACQ2. It's where all of our interviews are happening with founders, investors and basically all of our interviews going forward. We're going to be putting over on ACQ2, which is really becoming known as the acquired interview show. Yep. Lastly, if you want to become an LP, you should help us pick future episodes. We'll be doing the next one in a month or two as we kick off the next season. So be sure to go to acquired.fm slash LP if you want to come deeper into the acquired kitchen. Alright, that's all we got. Talk about the episode in Slack. If you want acquired.fm slash Slack and with that listeners, we'll see you next time. We'll see you next time. Who got the truth?