Will PortalOne Change Entertainment?

When it comes to investing in new concepts, many things should be considered, not least of which the popularity of the product. The success of gaming and streaming video content has led to the creation of PortalOne. And it seems that they’re not the only ones who think the enterprise could be successful – they have announced a $15 million round of seed funding. The start-up which merges gaming with streaming is due to emerge from its beta. But why is PortalOne significant – and could it change how we see the future of gaming and content?

What is PortalOne?

Founded in Oslo, Norway in 2018, and beginning the investment period in 2019, PortalOne has made quite some headway into the gaming sphere. The platform provides a gaming experience with live shows within them. The first launch will be PortalOne Arcade. The retro-themed game will see guests of the live show appear in the games. Players will be able to engage with smartphones and compete with these guests in a slew of 1980s inspired games.

Two of the games so far on the beta include Blockbuster, where players throw a ball to knock over blocks, and Centipede, a remake of the 1980 arcade classic. Using a VR headset, users can watch and play. Those who score highly can win prizes – mimicking the leader board facility of the classic arcade game. There are also options for the company to upsell through their store, showing the ability to scale up and to make money.

Taking two of the most popular activities and creating a blended approach to them seems to be paying off, at least in the early stages. One of the most notable aspects of the start-up’s rise so far is that they acquired funding from Atari (which ceased production of their stellar console in 1992). Angel investors into the start-up also include the founders of Twitch, Riot Games (famed for 2009’s League of Legends and more recently the successful Legends of Runeterra), and Blizzard (who developed 2004’s World of Warcraft). If such formidable forces in the industry are prepared to take a chance on the start-up, it is automatically given greater legitimacy.

Will PortalOne Be a Success?

Investment is good, but players and profitability will be how the success of the platform is evaluated. Other aspects of entertainment have harnessed the ability to consider new ways of approaching existing concepts in gaming and in content. For instance, Netflix and Endemol Shine UK production Black Mirror: Bandersnatch provided a pre-filmed piece of content that the viewer directly had control over. The choose your own adventure style extended episode gave viewers control over the world they were viewing, which is what PortalOne’s streamed content within the games looks to do.

Elsewhere, adding live streaming elements to games was popularized by the Nintendo 3DS which was launched in 2011. The device featured a camera that allowed users to take photos of themselves which could then be implemented into the games. This may be primitive but shows the concept PortalOne aims to replicate. Moreover, as we can see with the range of live casino games available at several online casino platforms, the concept of live streaming in entertainment is nothing new. The live games allow players to play traditional table games such as roulette and poker while seeing a live dealer in front of them in real-time and having this content streamed to augment their game.

Moving away from entertainment, even the Peloton bike and its subscription classes have a way of merging the direct environment of the exercise machine with the live-streamed exercise videos. The sales figures for the bike – which surged by 172% in 2020 – show that people are responding to this method of working out.

Elsewhere, we can ascertain live streaming’s popularity through the viewing figures in the Twitch live streaming platform – which hit a high of 2 billion hours viewed in January 2021. Through the advancement of VR hardware live streaming is expected to continue its growth and the immersive aspects it offers. Facebook Gaming has also seen an increase in users over the past few years.

The blend of a media company to rival the streaming giants and gaming platform to compete with the gaming goliaths positions PortalOne in an interesting place. No other company so far has aimed to cross the gulf between the two concepts. Whether or not the gamble pays off, PortalOne has shown innovation. To attract such big names to invest in the start-up already is promising. Ultimately, the company may end up changing the face of entertainment.

Rohit Pandit
Haven't been everywhere but it's on my list.

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