How Valve Has Fallen: From Half-Life to Dota Underlords

Valve’s created many moments that will remain engraved in players’ minds for the rest of their lives. It was Gabe Newell’s company that created indisputable classics such as the Half-Life and Portal series, not to mention being at the helm of video game digital distribution platforms with Steam.

But those days are a thing of a distant past. Valve isn’t the trendsetter that it used to be and seems content with following a new trend, resorting to game designs that lack the flair that Gordon Freeman once brought us. Valve seems to be following the money, instead of striving for innovation and brilliance like it once did.

It only takes a quick glance at the studio’s latest releases to realize that despite its huge success, Dota 2 was heavily inspired by League of Legends. I’m willing to give Valve a free pass for that, but fast forward a few years to Artifact and we see Valve’s attempt to set foot in one of the latest and most profitable trends; the digital collectible card game. Hearthstone was the obvious game to beat, but Blizzard’s colossal CCG didn’t feel the blow, not even in the slightest.


Where Do We Go from Here?

Artifact’s colossal failure wasn’t entirely expected, but putting a price tag on a game in a genre filled with great free-to-play options felt arrogant. Valve’s ego was so inflated from previous successes that it was convinced players would jump in blindly, and truth be told, many did. Soon enough though, players realized that Artifact wasn’t everything it was advertised to be, especially with Hearthstone or Shadowverse ripe for the picking. Polished, brimming with content, and above all, free. What else is there to say?

Artifact isn’t dead, but it is going through a painful “process of experimentation and development.” No matter how much they change it, the harm is done and even if a business model switch is looming, it won’t make paying players happy. Artifact is in a scary place, stuck between uncertainty and cancellation. So, what’s next for Valve? Perhaps the long overdue Half-Life 3? Another insanely funny and genuinely clever Portal game? Maybe a third game in the awesome zombie co-op shooter Left 4 Dead? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem likely considering Valve’s adverse relation with the number “3”. Every single one of its franchises hits a dead end with third titles, and this has naturally turned into its own meme.

But I wouldn’t lose hope. Perhaps Valve, in another one of its unprecedented outbursts of creativity, is secretly working on Team Fortress 3. You know, there’s this huge game called Overwatch and the hero shooter genre is timeless, so maybe it can borrow a significant chunk of Blizzard’s player base with a new game?

Valve Dota Underlords Auto Battler Team Fortress 2

This is only speculation, but one thing that is very real and palpable is Valve’s latest game, Dota Underlords. Like a snake eating its own tail, Valve once again turns a mod into a full game. However, unlike Dota 2, where the Auto Chess craze derived from, this Auto Battler game feels bare bones and, quite frankly, deprived of any true challenge or long-lasting appeal. It’s a game where lady luck (RNG, in fact) plays a preeminent role, leaving player skill as a superfluous afterthought.

Dota Underlords doesn’t feel like a true Valve game. It feels like a student project that garnered lots of attention for some unfathomable reason, and that is noticeable in every aspect of its design, from the overly simple mechanics to the rudimentary graphics. Early Access isn’t an excuse for everything, and I always expect more from Valve in every regard.

I strongly disagree with most player claims that Dota Underlords is “fun” and “interesting”, but I do agree with those who say it’s addictive. Loot boxes are addictive as well and that doesn’t make them any more fair or fun. Watching a bunch of heroes having a go at each other is the stuff of generic mobile games, where auto battlers, commonly known as hero collectors until recently, are a dime a dozen. Dota Underlords is an evolution of the hero collector genre, with a side dish of RNG for extra… hmm… appeal?

Dota Underlords Bubble Chaos

The Future Is Uncanny

It’s not like Valve won’t release Half-Life 3 because it lacks the budget, engine or staff. No one is asking it to push the medium forward once more, as it happened with Half-Life 2’s brilliant physics-based puzzles or the exciting and brand-new Gravity Gun. I just want another trip to a world that profoundly affected me, to reunite with old friends and enemies, and to continue a story that was cut short because Valve didn’t bother to release Episode 3. There was no closure.

This abrupt cliffhanger felt like a genuine cop-out, one that could tarnish the reputation of a studio for good. It’s been over a decade and the promised third episode is now an illusion. With Arkane Studios pumping out two fantastic Dishonored games during this interval, I’m starting to wonder if Valve’s staff isn’t being pushed around for lesser, potentially more profitable projects, such as Dota Underlords.

Valve Campo Santo In the Valley of Gods

It is rumored that Valve has other games in development, something that isn’t surprising. There is so much untapped potential in the studio’s catalogue that it would be a crime not to take advantage of it. However, I’m guessing that the next big game is going to be a “borrowed” one: In the Valley of Gods, developed by Firewatch creators Campo Santo, now a Valve subsidiary since 2018. I’m utterly convinced that this will be a remarkable adventure, but it won’t be a tangible way to gauge Valve’s current expertise.

I have such an admiration for Valve’s previous efforts that I’m reluctant to watch it transform into a bland trend follower, failing to realize its own ideas because of too much reading into charts and figures. Valve made a name for itself when it didn’t care about what was hot, setting out to create the games that its staff wanted to play. Those days appear to be behind us. Right now, Valve seems to be on autopilot, pretty much in tune with its latest release, an auto-battler.

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Dota Underlords – A Roll of the Dice

I hope that the future will prove me wrong but we may be on the verge of the birth of another gaming trend: Auto Chess games. Dota Underlords and League of Legends’ Teamfight Tactics are the hypothetical precursors of the genre, but this style of gameplay harkens back to the origins of mobile games. It’s heavily RNG-based, with luck playing a major part in your experience, while your effect in a match is akin to rolling a dice as the battles unfold automatically.

At this stage, Dota Underlords is a conundrum of massive proportions. It’s not that different from the dreaded hero collector games that you find on mobile, yet it gets praise for a depth that simply isn’t there. It works as a harmless game mode for Dota 2; as its own standalone game, it’s shallow and unrewarding.

Dota Underlords Round Start

RNG: The Game

Currently in Early Access, Dota Underlords feels strangely rudimentary. Valve virtually rushed it to the store in an attempt to thwart Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics from taking the spotlight. The clueless tutorial is proof of this, teaching absolutely nothing substantial about the mechanics of the game with round after round of generic and useless info. Only after googling some tips I was able to understand what was needed to level up a hero.

Hint: you need to get three copies of the same hero to merge into a two-star hero and three two-star heroes to create a powerful three-star hero. It’s not about combat experience (kills, matches, etc.) as I initially expected it to be.

Dota Underlords isn’t a game that you can play to kill some minutes since a successful match can take up to an hour. You’re not facing a single opponent; instead you participate in an eight-player tournament where you face one rival at a time. A defeat will take some of your health, with each participant being eliminated as their health drops to zero.

Matches have the problem of being mostly decided by lady luck, as you take the heroes that you get from the shop. If you’re lucky enough to get a few heroes to fuse into two-star heroes during the early rounds you may have a shot at the top spots. Otherwise you’re likely to find yourself in a situation where it’s impossible to catch up with the other players. Spending gold to reroll the shop with no worthwhile upgrade showing up is a guarantee that the goddess of RNG isn’t by your side. No matter the heroes that you choose or their board placement, Dota Underlords is mostly about hero level with skill playing a lesser role.

Dota Underlords RNG Shop

You can also spend gold to upgrade your overall player level with each stage granting an additional hero spot on the board. This is essential as to not fall behind but I always make leveling up my heroes the top priority. Having a full team of one-star heroes ultimately amounts to nothing much but it’s all about balance… and luck.

There are other ways you can affect the performance of your heroes, thanks to loot rounds. During the first three match rounds you will face AI creeps. If you win you get to pick one item from a pool of three, and if you lose stop playing immediately because you’re bad beyond belief… I mean, the game chooses one item for you. For example, some items can be used with one hero while others have overall boosts that affect a specific class. Further loot rounds happen at round 10, 15, 20 and so on.

Alliances need to be taken into consideration as well. You must pay attention to the icons under each hero, as they represent their faction: Assassin, Druid, Mage, Human and many more. This is a system where having multiple heroes from a single faction on the board will reward you with some boosts.

Dota Underlords Ship of Doom

Am I a Player or Am I Being Played?

At the end of the day, Dota Underlords can be incredibly infuriating. When you win it feels unrewarding as it’s mostly down to luck, even if you’re unwilling to admit it during your first victories. When you lose it’s mostly due to a case of bad luck. Leveling up heroes, using items and creating alliances… everyone is doing it as well. You either have good high-level heroes, and hero balance is a serious issue right now, or your odds of winning are seriously affected.

If this was proper chess instead of Auto Chess, you know just like the classic Battle Chess series, each match would surely have several layers of strategy to it. As it stands it’s just a frenzied rush of heroes while tactical prowess sits at the sidelines, depressingly eating popcorn and shaking its head in disbelief.

Monetization is yet to rear its ugly face but you should expect an unhealthy dose of hero skins. This should add to the mess that happens on the board as the heroes aren’t that easy to recognize to begin with. That takes me to another worrisome issue, the clunky UI. It feels unintuitive and ugly, certainly not up to the standards that you would expect from a company such as Valve. Eventually you’ll grow used to it but that is not the same as appreciating its design. Teamfight Tactics’ UI looks extremely clean and polished in comparison while Dota Underlords’ interface seemingly designed without flair and with mobile devices in mind. This game is available for PC and mobile devices but that’s never an excuse for lackluster design.

Dota Underlords Bubble Chaos

When you perform well Dota Underlords grabs you and you feel tempted to keep playing, raising your ranking in the hopes that you’ll become skilled enough to turn into a respected player.  By skilled I mean having a broad knowledge of each hero’s strengths and a four leaf clover in your pocket. Dota Underlords has obvious eSports ambitions and additional features may eventually turn it into a richer game, or a proper game, one where your actions have real repercussions.

Right now Dota Underlords feels more like a weird emerging trend that is more frustrating than interesting. A game where your role is more of a spectator rather than that of a player. It’s akin to rolling the dice and hoping that you get the desired results. In my book this doesn’t count as a proper game, let alone spawn an entire gaming genre. Sure, it’s addictive but in a very exasperating and punishing way. I would never trade the challenging depth of Minion Masters for any Auto Chess game.

And boy, that shop bell really gets on my nerves.

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Dota 2 Update 7.20 Makes Huge Adjustments to Gameplay

I’m going to be honest with you, I’m not a Dota 2 fan, or a fan of MOBAs at all. With that said, as someone on the outside looking in, even I can tell that Dota 2 update 7.20 has made some pretty massive changes to the way the game is played; from items to mechanics to heroes, there was very little that was untouched.

dota 2 update 7.20

The patch notes website for the latest update is a laundry list of updates with bare little frills, detailing all of the adjustments made to the MOBA’s map, mechanics and more. The page is broken up into three pieces with details about general gameplay adjustments, item changes, and hero changes.

Of note to most will be the general section, which has modified several overarching aspects of play. Rewards for deny mechanics have been adjusted; the formula for armor has been changed; mana and HP regen has been reworked to follow your attributes; and Towers have all seen a rise in HP.

Really, there is a whole lot of things to digest, so the Dota 2 fans out there will want to scour the full notes for all the salient details.

Our Thoughts

Like I said, not a Dota 2 guy, but those are some genuinely impactful adjustments. Which leads me to think that this is all meant to shake up what might have been a stale meta. Ideally, that will indeed be the case and people won’t just end up being aggravated by everything that’s new.

Source: official site

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Dota 2 Announces a Gabe Newell Voice Pack

Nothing brings the excitement of a rousing round of Dota 2 quite like the vanilla monotone of Gabe Newell. Whether you find that statement hilarious or painfully true, those who get the Battle Pass are now going to be getting themselves a Gabe Newell voice pack.

gabe newell voice pack

The reveal of the new announcer pack was made during yesterday’s leg of this year’s International event in a rather amusing announcement trailer. In the video, Valve’s big boss is in the recording studio with members of the sound staff who quickly find that a simple 15-line recording session becomes a hair-pulling marathon of frustration.

The Battle Pass, as Dota 2 fans likely already know, is the primary fuel that funds The International’s immense prize pool with 25% of Battle Pass sales going into the event’s pot. At the time of this writing, the total pool sits at over $25 million, with first place getting nearly $11 million and 18th place getting just over $62,000.

You can take in the sugary, dulcet tones of Gabe Newell’s recording session in the aforementioned trailer below.

Our Thoughts

From the blank look on Newell’s face to his confusion at the concept of the number three, we have to admit that there’s a certain level of charm in both the announcement trailer and the voice lines themselves. Of course, whether the jokes inherent in this new announcer pack have staying power is entirely up to fans of the game, but it’s hard to ignore the meme factor in this piece of DLC.

Sources: YouTube, official site

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AI Bots Take Down Some of Dota 2’s Best Players

If you believe in the idea of the singularity, the news of a Dota 2 bot team that handily took down some of the MOBA’s stronger players might put you into a state of worry. That’s not our intention, though, and there are some things that to bear in mind in case you’re concerned.

dota 2 bot team

The bot team in question was put through their paces during the OpenAI Five Benchmark, which put a team of specially designed Dota 2 playing AI bots against 99.95th-percentile former champs of the MOBA, including William ‘Blitz’ Lee and Ben ‘Merlini’ Wu. The purpose of the event, according to OpenAI’s blog, was to see if their bot team could be tuned to square off against competitors at The International 2018 by the end of August.

The battle went down this past Sunday, August 5th and saw the OpenAI Five win 3-2 against the human team.

As mentioned earlier, there are a couple of caveats before you start welcoming your AI overlords. The build of Dota 2 being played only had 18 of the 115 heroes in the MOBA’s roster, and the third match was lost once the OpenAI devs agreed to let the broadcast’s chat room determine the bot team’s hero picks. Further analysis from the folks at Rock Paper Shotgun and AI researcher Mike Cook seems to suggest that the bot team were unable to adapt to situations outside of those they had previously practiced.

If you’re curious to see how the OpenAI Five performed, you can check out the VOD here.

Our Thoughts

Winning over former pros is certainly nothing to slouch at when it comes to bot AI in a game like a MOBA, but we suspect that ti’s going to take a lot more practicing, coding and tweaking before this team is ready to take on pros of The International’s caliber. That said, we’ve only just started the month of August, so perhaps there is time yet to see this bot team improve.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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MMO Money: EA Eyes Battle Royale and Crowfall Hits Funding Milestone

We’re back again with another look at the world of MMO business. This week we’ve got more funding milestones, Superdata has released another month’s revenue report, and there’s more lootbox news. Oh, and we can’t forget the Battle Royale games. Battle Royale forever!


Crowfall Hits Funding Milestone

Crowfall Hits Funding Milestone

ArtCraft Entertainment has now raised $20 million from a combination of investments, partnerships, and their crowdfunding efforts. The Kickstarter campaign finished with more than $1.7 million donated back in March 2015. Later that same year they had raised $10 million through investments. Now, in the time since then, they’ve doubled their money and raised another $10 million. This was announced in a press release by the company in which they also announced an international distribution agreement that will see Crowfall released in Russia and the CIS.


Source: Press Release


Netease’s SpatialOS Investment

Netease has invested $50 million in SpatialOS which they’re calling a small equity stake to act as a strategic investment. How anyone can consider 50 million anything small is beyond me. Improbable has said that they’re establishing a presence in China to support game developers while also actively seeking other partners in Asia. In the press release announcing this investment, they also say: “the investment will increase our ability to help game makers in China and beyond to build previously impossible games, by helping game makers to benefit from a neutral, openly available technology platform supporting the next generation of online gaming.”

At the moment, SpatialOS is being used by Worlds Adrift, Mavericks, and Fractured. Last year they also received a half a billion dollar investment from SoftBank. What does this all mean? We’re like to see a whole lot more games made with SpatialOS in the future. Though, it should be noted that earlier this year Chronicles of Elyria dropped SpatialOS. It’s not clear yet if Netease will be using SpatialOS in any of their future games, but it certainly doesn’t seem like it’s outside the realm of possibility.

Netease was also in the news recently for another reason, they’re taking over publishing EVE Online in China starting in October. They’re also responsible for bringing Blizzard games to mainland China.


Source: Official Announcement


At EA Battle Royale Is On Everyone’s Mind

During EA’s Q1 earnings call executives fielded questions from investors and it seemed that everyone had Battle Royale fever. There were questions about if Battlefield V’s model might resemble Fortnite. EA held firm saying that the game’s Battle Royale mode would be just that, another mode. But there was also a hint at the possibility of EA releasing a comparable game in the future. “We’re interested in experimenting with a free-to-play standalone game that might be in a shooter genre or another genre. But I don’t think that’s how we’re looking at the Battlefield stuff right now.”

EA’s CEO Andrew Wilson also said that the company is open to cross-platform play. “We’re looking at key franchises in terms of how we should deliver cross-platform play in a similar way that Fortnite has, especially some of our titles that have a broad and diverse player base,” he said. “The ability to bring PC to mobile or mobile to console can bring family and friends together, and we think that’s an important part of our future development profile. Expect more from us on that front in the future.”

So, expect more Battle Royale from EA in the future.




Top Grossing Games in June

Superdata released their monthly look at the top grossing games with a look at June. PUBG got a massive boost thanks to the Steam sale. In June the game sold 4.7 million units, but at a reduced price. That being said it was still the second best month the game has ever had. On the list, PUBG jumped from 9th to 3rd for PC.

Pokemon Go also had a fantastic month, they were previously in 7th for mobile games back in April but have now jumped up to 3rd. They owe their success to the warm summer months and to very popular changes to the game which have brought a lot of players back. Including regular community events like the upcoming Eevee event in which Eevee will be a whole lot more common and boosts will last longer.

Much of the rest of the list remains the same, however.


Source: Superdata Report


Vainglory Made $50 Million Since Launch

Mobile MOBA Vainglory is one of the great successes of the MOBA genre and is widely considered the best mobile MOBA available. So it shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise that they have brought in $50 million since they launched in 2014. This actually makes it the third most successful mobile MOBA behind Arena of Valor and Mobile Legends. 32% of that revenue comes from the United States while Japan is the next highest at about 12%. Almost 64% of all revenue comes from iOS which isn’t really much of a surprise given that it launched as an iOS-only title. While everyone keeps talking about battle royale games it is nice to see former trends can still succeed.


Source: Sensor Tower Report



For Dutch players of Dota 2, it is now plainly obvious what is contained inside lootboxes now. They’re following in the footsteps of Path of Exile who have done this previously. In doing so they put the power in the hands of the players, letting them decide if they want to buy it or not. While some people have said that it has taken the thrill out of opening the box, others welcome it as they’re now getting only what they want to pay for. While Valve hasn’t come out and said that this is because of the Dutch Gaming Authority’s ruling earlier this year, it isn’t a stretch at all to assume that it is. Yay progress!

Meanwhile, Rocket League has published a blog post which has the drop rates of crate rarity levels and they promise that any changes they make in the future will also be announced. The rates range from 55% to 1% and also include Painted and Certified Attributes.


Source: Rock Paper Shotgun, Rocket League

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Loot Boxes in Dutch Version of Dota 2 Reveal Contents Before a Purchase

Following a stern ultimatum laid down by the Dutch gaming commission after their findings on loot boxes were published, Dota 2 loot boxes have seen an update for the Dutch version of the MOBA.

dota 2 loot boxes

Players of Dota 2 in the Netherlands will now get to see what reward lies within the confines of a loot box before a purchase is made. Additionally, loot box purchases in the country cannot be done in bulk, forcing players to buy one at a time, and the opening animation has been completely scrapped

The move follows a decision in June by Valve to remove item trading and Steam Marketplace transfers from the Netherlands in both Dota 2 and CS:GO in response to the June 20th deadline for change laid down by Dutch governing bodies.

Time will tell whether this adjustment will be enough to appease the Dutch gaming authority, but it does appear to be aimed at countering the problems of people not knowing whether an item in a loot box is worth the cost as well as cutting out the “almost winning” sensation a box’s opening animation involves.

This is the most recent change to loot boxes in gaming from one of the larger games that use the monetization model. Other games have also followed suit, such as Rocket League’s decision to publish the drop rates of items found in its crates and big changes to loot boxes made in Star Wars Battlefront II earlier this year.

Our Thoughts

We suspect these changes to the Dota 2 loot box will go a long way towards re-establishing goodwill between Valve and the Dutch gambling authority. Ideally, other games will follow suit around the world and we’ll see this monetization scheme at least become a little more fair if not killed outright.

Source: Eurogamer

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Dota 2’s 2017 Baby Roshan Statue is a Disappointing Lil Demon

The Dota 2 Battle Pass tied with the MOBA’s International esports event generally offers up lots of juicy rewards, so consider the surprise of fans when the Dota 2 Baby Roshan statue that was on offer from 2017’s Battle Pass ended up looking a lot less than what was promised on the tin.

dota 2 baby roshan statue

Pictured above is an image from the mock-up of the statue, which was an 8.5cm x 9cm physical reward offered to those Battle Pass owners who managed to make their way to Battle Level 2000. The statue was stated to be created in a silver nickel finish and intended to be a centerpiece.

What players got instead, however, ended up looking alot less centerpiece-worthy as illustrated in the image below (click to expand):

Not only does the statue look less like silver nickel and more like silver Sharpie marker scribbling, but the statue was also ended up having underwhelming levels of detail and some very obvious seam lines from poor casting.

Valve has responded to the reaction of fans, expressing what appears to be just as much surprise as those who received the item. “We apologize to our fans for that, it is well below the quality we expected,” reads the post. “We are going to start from scratch on new production for the statue, and prioritize delivering it as soon as possible to every customer that reached level 2000 last year.”

Our Thoughts

Awe, smol Roshan is trying his very best! But, seriously, that’s a pretty ugly statue and good on Valve for taking steps to correct it. Is it weird that we kind of find the underwhelming version a bit cute, though? Or maybe we’re thinking allegorically…

Sources: Dota 2 subreddit, Valve official site

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A Battle Royale-Style Mode is Part of the Dota 2 Battle Pass 2018

The esports prize pot/buyable goodie bag of the Dota 2 Battle Pass 2018 is out there for this year’s International, and it’s coming with a little something that will either be intriguing or set your eyes rolling at warp nine: a battle royale-style multi-team dungeon clash known as The Underhollow.

dota 2 battle pass 2018

Here’s how it works: teams of three enter an underground dungeon and need to navigate through it to get XP and Gold enough to upgrade themselves to take on rival teams or enemies and secure a rare wheel of cheese. Teams need to beware, though, as Roshan will be on a “cheese-fueled rampage” and cause cave-ins that will shrink the available dungeon area. Last team standing wins.

In addition to the Dota 2-flavored battle royale mode, this year’s Battle Pass adds a Cavern Crawl mode that opens up with wins using designated heroes, an unranked Mutation Mode that introduces a number of random modifiers, and a host of other features and rewards.

A date for the opening of The Underhollow is not confirmed as of right now, but players can learn more about the 2018 Battle Pass on the game’s site.

Our Thoughts

Well…at least the setting is unique? Honestly, though, this battle royale proliferation does seem a bit…much. That said, we leave the floor to you, the Dota 2 players: is this new game mode an interesting part of the Battle Pass, or are you done with this whole battle royale thing already?

Source: official site

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MMO Money: Top Grossing Games of March and Tencent Breaks Records

Superdata has released their list of the top grossing games of March, and nobody knows what is going on with Daybreak Games. Plus there’s fantastic news for Tencent who are breaking records with money and there is a lot to talk about around the lockbox saga. Find all of this and more in this week’s MMO Money.


Top Grossing Titles in March

MMO Money: Top Grossing Games of March and Tencent Breaks Records

Superdata has put out their monthly list of the top grossing games for PC, Consoles, and Mobile and there has been a move in the top of the charts. Dungeon Fighter Online took the top spot from League of Legends who held it in February. This came on the back of their third-anniversary celebration and a limited event that challenged players to level up new characters. Fortnite and World of Warcraft both overtook PUBG which slipped to seventh on the list. Speaking of Fortnite, it is now the largest free to play console game of all time! This is in terms of revenue generated and monthly active users. Also in March, it increased revenue by 73% from February to generate $223 million across all platforms.


Daybreak Layoffs and Rumors of New Games


Daybreak has been having an odd couple of weeks, to put it mildly, and no one really seems to know what’s going on exactly. It started with their (maybe?) Russian parent company being investigated. Then they came out and said that no, they weren’t owned by that company at all! Despite many documents saying otherwise…Massively has done an amazing job covering it all and one little paragraph wouldn’t do the whole scenario justice so be sure to check out what they’ve been saying. The most recent updates though have been that there are confirmed layoffs. Not long after the layoffs, a rumor came out saying that they were working on Planetside 3 and Everquest 3. Also part of that rumor is that both Everquest and Everquest 2 are getting their last expansions next year.


Dota 2 on the Decline

New data from Superdata shows that Dota 2 is on the decline. Ever since the 7.00 update in late 2016, Dota 2 has been on a slow decline in popularity. The downward trend picked up steam in the last few months though. The emergence of the Battle Royale genre could be one of the reasons for this decline. Dota 2 is also approaching 5 years old, at which point it’s perfectly normal to see a declining population. It isn’t the end for Dota 2 though, Superdata thinks that Dota Plus can provide a steady revenue stream for the game. This means it could keep going for some time.


Tencent is Breaking Records with Investments

Tencent mobile financials - - Your source for MMOs & MMORPGs

According to data from Digi-Capital, Tencent was involved in 40% of all money invested in game company funding over the last 12 months. They were also part of more than three quarters of all industry mergers and acquisitions. Tencent’s largest acquisition was the $2 billion deal for Vivendi’s stake in Ubisoft.

2017 was a bit behind 2016 when it came to market investments and mergers and acquisitions. In 2016 the industry reached a peak with $28.4 billion invested, whereas 2017 saw only $22 billion worth, though $17 billion of that was in mergers and acquisitions.

Finally, Digi-Capital predicts that the software and hardware market revenues will reach $160 billion this year and be more than $230 billion by 2022, just 4 years from now.


Lootbox News

The biggest news in the Lootbox controversy in recent weeks was Belgium calling out Overwatch, CSGO, and Fifa 18. The Belgian government has even gone so far as to say that these companies are violating the law with their lockbox mechanics. An announcement from the Minister of Justice said in a press release that the loot boxes must be removed and… If that does not happen, the operators risk a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to 800,000 euros. When minors are involved, those punishments can be doubled.” Things got serious, fast! An EA spokesperson spoke with Eurogamer saying, “We strongly believe that our games are developed and implemented ethically and lawfully around the world, and take these responsibilities very seriously. We care deeply that our players are having a fun and fair experience in all of our games, and take great care to ensure each game is marketed responsibly, including in compliance with regional ratings standards. We welcome the dialogue with Minister Geens on these topics, as we do not agree that our games can be considered as any form of gambling.” Belgium hasn’t set any deadline for companies to change their games so it may be some time before we see anything else come from this.

Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, four out of ten popular games they studied were found to be in violation of their Betting and Gaming Act. The Gaming Authority didn’t say which games they studied or which games were in violation but Dutch language news site NOS reports that Fifa 18, Dota 2, PUBG, and Rocket League are the four games in violation of the law. Unlike Belgium, the Netherlands has given the companies a June 20th deadline. The Netherlands is also pushing for EU-wide legislation on lootboxes.

Based on player feedback, Tera has revamped their lockbox system. They made sure each one will contain something the player will find useful and you can also find out what is in each box.

Then finally, there are what seems like conflicting reports from Superdata and Juniper Research on the future of lootboxes. Superdata is saying that game marketers will be pushing the idea of “no loot boxes” this fall more than things like “60fps” and “4K HDR.” While Juniper Research is saying that loot boxes will be a major factor in industry growth over the next 4 years. Juniper has also likened loot boxes to gambling, so it’s not that they necessarily stand behind the practice. Superdata, on the other hand, believes that the anti-lockbox sentiment will continue to grow and developers will find other ways to monetize their games. Specifically, they point at Fortnite: Battle Royale which brought in $126 million in revenue in February without selling a single box. Superdata also acknowledges that lockboxes aren’t going away anytime soon with games like Overwatch making over $600 million from them.

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