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Consumer spending on video games rises to $28.9 billion for the first half of 2021

Consumer spending on video game hardware, software and accessories rose to $28.9 billion for the first half of 2021, up 15% from the same time last year, according to the NPD group.

Why it matters: The easing of pandemic-related lockdowns in the U.S. hasn't stopped the boom in gaming, which began with the onset of COVID-19 last year.

  • If anything, the pandemic is now holding back hardware spending, as console manufacturing, impacted by supply chain disruptions, is keeping supply well short of demand.

By the numbers:

  • The Nintendo Switch led in unit and dollar sales for the first half, according to NPD, which doesn’t release specific tallies.
  • For June, the Switch sold the most units, but the more expensive and newer Xbox Series X and S consoles combined led in dollar sales.
  • NPD's June software chart, tracked by revenue, was topped by "Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart." Notably, a free "Pirates of the Caribbean"-themed update to Xbox's "Sea of Thieves" bumped the 2018 game from No. 36 in May to No. 20 in June.

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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