EA Has Been Given a Guinness World Record for Most Downvoted Comment on Reddit

EA has been given a Guinness World Record for the most downvoted comment in Reddit history, an event I’m sure they’d prefer the world forgot. It is for the now-infamous comment from an EA community manager responding to complaints about Star Wars Battlefront II’s lootboxes. The comment got 683,000 downvotes. That’s an amazing 600,000 more than the next highest downvote count. It is rather astonishing just how big it got. However, while people were angry with EA for their perceived greed, there was also a lot of brigading going on. Which raises the question of why this incident appeared in the most recent edition of the Guinness Book of World Records.

It was spotted by Reddit user -amsha- in the 2020 Guinness Book of World Records who then posted a picture of it on the Star Wars subreddit. In the 7 hours that the post has been on Reddit it has earned 58.3 thousand upvotes.

The award has sparked conversation and raised quite a few questions in the MMOGames office. Did the Guinness World Records actually send EA a physical award for this? If so, how angry were the higherups who opened that package? Will they be hanging it up somewhere for all to see? But the question that sparked the most debate was if this is even deserving of recognition with a Guinness World Record? The general consensus on that last one is a big no. But also the feeling that the world records generally aren’t what they used to be and that these days they feel more like an attempt to sell books than actually marking anything that’s noteworthy. What do you think? Does EA deserve to be recognized for this? Does putting it down in the book immortalize it for the rest of time? Let us know in the comments.

 

Source: PCGamer

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MMO Money: Fortnite on iOS Earns $300 Million in 200 Days

After a brief break, we’re back looking at the gaming business world. This week we have more updates to the ongoing Tencent story, Fortnite on iOS earns $300 million in 200 days, acquisitions, downsizes, and much more. Find all the stories below in this week’s MMO Money.

 

Fortnite on iOS Earns $300 Million in 200 Days

Fortnite on iOS

Fortnite continues to dominate the world of gaming having earned $300 million just on iOS in 200 days, with $20 million of that coming from the week after Season 6 launched. This news comes from a new Sensor Tower report. The last one on Fortnite iOS showed the game had brought in $100 million in 90 days. Quite a big difference between the two. While this is massively impressive, it actually isn’t the fastest game to reach $300 million on iOS, that record goes to Pokemon Go which got there in just 113 days. However, just as Fortnite iOS was able to surpass Clash of Clans, which it had failed to beat at the 90-day mark, it is entirely possible the game will also surpass Pokemon Go at the next milestone. Fortnite’s biggest rival, PUBG Mobile has reached about $47 million on iOS since it started offering in-app purchases on April 15th.

A whopping 65% of the revenue from the 200 days came from the United States. Around the world, players spend an average of $1.5 million per day on just the iOS version of the game, and that number has gone up to $2.5 million since the launch of season 6. On Android, it has been estimated that Fortnite has brought in over $60 million since it started beta in early August.

Source: Sensor Tower

 

Epic Games Acquires Game Security Firm Kamu

Epic Games has acquired a Helsinki based game security and anti-cheating firm named Kamu. They offer publishers a range of services that include multiplayer game management, game security, game telemetry, and anti-cheat technology that is used by 100 million PC players around the world. They’ve been working with Epic on Fortnite to ensure that the multiplayer is fair for all players. The amount Epic acquired Kamu for has remained undisclosed.

Source: Games Industry

 

UK Games Industry Contributes £2.87 Billion to the Economy

A new report on the effect of tax relief in the UK has revealed that the UK games industry contributes £2.87 billion to the economy. It also supports 47,620 full-time equivalent jobs. Games that were part of the tax relief system generated £156 million in tax revenue. This comes from £45 million that was paid out in tax relief, meaning that for every £1 invested by the government in the games industry, another £4 was added to the economy. In many cases, the games never would have been made if it weren’t for the tax relief that the UK offers. The number generated was higher than children’s TV which brought in £2.73 for every £1. It certainly wasn’t the highest however, with animation (£4.44), high-end TV (£6.10), and film (£7.69) bringing in more. Still, the UK has proven that tax relief for video games is incredibly profitable for the people of the United Kingdom. All of these numbers come from 2016 and are likely higher today.

Source: Games Industry

 

Tencent Update

We’ve been following Tencent quite a bit recently as they’ve been massively impacted by the new regulations in China and it is time for yet another update to the story. So far this year, the company has seen $190 billion wiped from its market value.

At the beginning of October, Tencent announced they would be restructuring for the first time in six years. The company has decided to consolidate three content business groups to form a new group for cloud and smart industries. The company said in a statement: “[Tencent will] further explore the integration of social, content and technology that is more suitable for future trends, and promote the upgrade from consumer internet to industrial internet.”

Tencent has also started using facial recognition software to check the age of people playing Honour of Kings in China. Honour of Kings has previously faced backlash for causing addiction in young players. In July last year, Tencent introduced a daily play limit of one hour for children under 12 and two hours for those aged 13 to 18. They also added real-name recognition to the game last month. The trial is limited to thousands of players in Beijing and Shenzhen.

Finally, to round out the Tencent news for this week, the company has announced that they’ve invested $316 million in Bilibili. This will give Tencent a 12.3% share of the company which owns the Overwatch League Hangzhou team. The company itself is a video sharing service but it is also the owner of a League of Legends team. So, while things may be looking somewhat grim for Tencent at the moment they are still investing in other companies, which is always a good sign.

Source: Games Industry, Games Industry, Games Industry

 

Media Company Advance Acquires Majority Stake in Newzoo

Advance, the media company behind Reddit, Conde Nast, Charter Communications, and many others now has a majority stake in game industry analysts Newzoo. Alongside the majority stake purchase, Advance is planning on making a significant investment in the company. With the investment, the company plans to increase its US presence, beginning with the existing office in San Francisco. Newzoo also plans on opening an office in New York, where Advance is located, in the future.

Source: Games Industry

 

South Korean Network OGN Bringing Esports Programming to North America

Esports Network OGN has announced that they’re investing around $100 million to broadcast live esports events in North America, with a part of this beginning with PUBG. They will be broadcasting the debut of the National PUBG League (NPL). The NPL is planned to start in January with a prize pool of $1 million. To house the league, OGN has started construction of a 35,000 square foot arena in Manhattan Beach, California.

Source: CNBC

 

Infinite Esports & Entertainment Lays off 19 Employees

Overwatch Arcade Changes We'd Like to See - Overwatch Battle Royale

Infinite Esports, a holding company with a number of esports related subsidiaries including the Overwatch League Houston Outlaws team, has laid off 19 employees and replaced their President. The new President of the company has come out and said that they grew too fast. Going forward, 70 employees will remain at the company, including the previous President who will remain involved as co-founder and owner.

Source: Games Industry

 

FIFA 19 Now Gives You the Odds on Packs

For the first time ever, FIFA 19 is disclosing pack odds…and it isn’t great news. The trouble with it lies in the FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT) and the Ones to Watch promotion. The promotion includes 23 of the highest profile and most promising transfers from across the world. Special versions of Cristiano Ronaldo and Riyad Mahrez are included. These highly sought after cards have a less than one percent chance of dropping. The inclusion of the odds comes after EA ran into trouble with the Belgian Gaming Authority with FIFA 18’s lootboxes.

Source: Gamasutra

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MMO Money: 16 Countries to Investigate Lootboxes and More China Trouble

There are really only two big news stories from the last week in gaming business. The biggest story is the ongoing lootbox controversy and the fact that 16 countries have now signed a declaration to investigate lootboxes and skin gambling, and news on the Chinese regulation of new games entering the market is grim as it looks like it could continue for some time to come. Plus, there’s a surprise in this week’s UK gaming charts as an MMORPG that is several years old enters the top 10. Find all of that below in this week’s MMO Money.

 

China’s Freeze on New Games May Continue Another 4-6 Months

There’s more bad news this week for Tencent and in fact, any game company hoping to break into the Chinese games market from outside of China. It looks as though the government mandated freeze on new games may continue another 4-6 months. It began in March as the government announced they would be implementing new procedures and systems for games entering their market but these things take time to create. In the meantime, there has been a massive reduction in the number of new foreign made games released in China. Part of the reason they’ve cited for not approving new games has been a recommendation from the Ministry of Education who suggest that limiting games and the amount of time young people can play them may reduce child myopia. This, despite there being no scientific proof that looking at a screen all day causes myopia.

So far this hasn’t had a massive impact on larger publishers like Tencent and Netease. Yes, Tencent lost billions in its market value, but it still only amounted to a small percentage of their worth. Larger companies like this will have had permission for games well in advance of their release and they’re still banking on those, but the longer this hold continues the fewer games they will have left to release in China. That lack of growth will end up impacting the bottom line of these companies in a big way. The Chinese market is already starting to feel the effects too, as market growth is down to just 5% from 30% at the same time last year.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

 

UK Charts

The Elder Scrolls Online

This week The Elder Scrolls Online was the big surprise on the charts. It entered the charts at number 8 ahead of the release of their latest DLC Murkmire. At the same time, GTA V has dropped down a few places to number 6. PUBG was also pushed down to 11 from 9. Ultimately, Spider-Man managed to keep the number one spot for another week, which isn’t surprising at all given how universally loved it is. Check out the full top 10 below.

This Week Game Last Week
1 Spider-Man 1
2 Shadow of the Tomb Raider New Entry
3 NBA 2K19 New Entry
4 Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy 5
5 Mario Kart 8: Deluxe 7
6 Grand Theft Auto V 3
7 F1 2018 4
8 The Elder Scrolls Online New Entry
9 LEGO The Incredibles 10
10 Super Mario Odyssey 15

 

Lootboxes

Just when it seemed like we might be able to stop talking about lootboxes because news was slowing to a complete standstill on that front, it jumps back up to be the center of attention again. Since the last MMO Money was released, we’ve had three different stories coming from Europe about lootboxes.

The first one is actually a continuation from last week. Belgium has officially started criminal investigations into EA’s noncompliance with the country’s gambling laws. EA has continued to maintain that lootboxes aren’t gambling, which seems like a pretty massive gamble on EA’s part. We’ll just have to wait and see how things turn out in Belgium.

Just a couple of days later researchers in the UK identified a link between lootboxes and gambling. They surveyed adults playing 10 major games with lootboxes and found there is an important relationship between problem gambling and the use of lootboxes. The more severe a participant’s gambling problem, the more money they spent on lootboxes. They also go on to say the following:

“However, regardless of the direction of causality, the games industry faces a crisis of conscience. Industry bodies such as the ESRB can no longer claim that there is little evidence of a link between problem gambling and loot box use. We call on individual companies within the games industry to remove loot boxes from their products. When companies include loot boxes in their games, our results suggest that they are either profiting from problem gambling or causing problem gambling. Loot boxes have no place in video gaming culture. We also follow Drummond and Sauer in recommending that ratings agencies incorporate additional parental advisories into games that feature loot boxes. We recommend that games with loot boxes are restricted to players of legal gambling age. Given the severity of the link seen here we also strongly recommend that relevant authorities restrict access to loot boxes as if they were a form of gambling.”

Your move EA.

Finally, 15 member nations of the 2018 Gambling Regulators European Forum signed a declaration in which they expressed concern over third-party game related betting and skin-gambling sites, as well as the potential for lootbox models to bleed over into legitimate gambling. This is mostly a declaration stating that they intend to begin investigating lootbox regulation. The declaration was signed by the 15 nations that take part in the forum, which are Austria, Czech Republic, France, Gibraltar, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Washington State, and the UK. Finland also joined in the signing of this declaration, though they aren’t involved in the forum. This could represent a major shift in lootbox regulation just as it seemed like the whole issue was dying out. It’s going to be interesting watching this story develop over the coming months, and could finally mean the big change so many consumers have been hoping for. Everyone cross your fingers!

And no, I don’t know why the United States has a representative on the Gambling Regulators European Forum, I’m still trying to work that out myself.

Source: Nieuwsblad.be, Loot Box Spending in Video Games is Linked to Problem Gambling Severity by David Zendle and Paul Cairns, UK Gambling Commission

 

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EA Under Criminal Investigation in Belgium for FIFA Loot Boxes

You’ve got to fight! For your right! To charge people for the chance at cards to fill out a digital football team! That appears to be the stance that EA has taken up regarding FIFA loot boxes, as the company’s unwillingness to remove the monetization practice from FIFA 18 and 19 has kicked off a criminal investigation by Belgian authorities.

fifa loot boxes

A ruling from Belgium in April threatened action against a number of games including FIFA if loot box practices were not changed or outright remove to comply with the country’s gambling laws. While a number of titles complied with the order, EA did not and so the Belgian public prosecutor’s office is launching a criminal investigation, which could land EA in court.

EA has made it clear that it doesn’t agree with Belgium’s assessment of loot boxes as gambling. EA CEO Andrew Wilson argued in May that the fact players always get something absolves loot boxes from the definition, and EA mentioned in June that loot boxes in FIFA 19 will disclose the odds of getting certain player cards for the game’s Ultimate Team feature. It appears, however, that adjustment was not enough for Belgium.

Whether the case goes to court or not, it appears that Belgium will continue its push against loot box practices, stating in part that it will advocate revisions to the country’s gambling laws to directly cover loot boxes according to a translation of Belgian outlet Nieuwsblad.

Our Thoughts

Small market or not, it’s clear that Belgium is not looking to back down against loot box practices and has taken a “all out or else” stance. We’re definitely curious to know where this story goes from here and what sort of repercussions, if any, it will have in the wider gaming world.

Sources: Eurogamer, 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.

 

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

 

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

 

Lootboxes

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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MMO Money: Why Amazing Eternals Stopped Development and Runescape Brings in $800 Million

For some reason, this week was the week we found out how much a bunch of games have made since they launched. In some cases like Pokemon Go, it’s an anniversary that passed by while for other games it’s breaking an incredible milestone. Then some games…well they seem to be just because. It’s a little bit of a weird and random week in MMO Money. But, at least we get a break from lootboxes!

 

Amazing Eternals Shelving Explained

The Amazing Eternals Video Why Amazing Eternals Stopped Development

Digital Extremes have explained one of the things that contributed to Amazing Eternals being put on a shelf was watching how much LawBreakers was struggling. “The competitive landscape at that time was pretty hefty. We just saw LawBreakers not do so great, and it was a fantastic game, so that was sad. That happened right when we were starting our closed beta for [The] Amazing Eternals.”

It was also noted that it was just a bad time to be working on another game as Warframe’s Plains of Eidolon update needed a lot of resources. It was the perfect storm of things going wrong so it seemed like a good time to put the game on a shelf for a while. The good news is that the studio is still very much interested in picking it back up at some point in the future.

 

Pokemon Go Brings in $1.8 Billion Since Launch

Pokemon Go is two years old this month and thanks to intelligence firm Sensor Tower we know that the game has brought in $1.8 billion since it launched. $607 million of that coming from the United States while Japan is the second highest at $500 million. The game has continued to be incredibly successful even after the worldwide hype died down. This summer has been even better than usual thanks to the heatwave taking place all over the northern hemisphere getting people back outside and the update to the game that brought trading and so much more to the game. We recently did an article that looked into why now is the best time to go back to Pokemon Go, be sure to check it out if you’re interested in the game.

 

Overwatch Players Raise Nearly $13 Million to Fight Breast Cancer

It’s always a beautiful thing when a game’s community comes together to raise money for charity. Well, this time around Overwatch players went above and beyond raising over $12.7 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The event ran last spring and was called the Pink Mercy charity campaign. The BCRF told Blizzard that this was the largest donation by a corporate partner in one year that they’ve ever had in 25 years of being in operation.

 

The Sims Mobile Brings in $15 Million in Four Months

If you’ve not heard about The Sims Mobile, it’s ok, you aren’t alone. Sensor Tower estimates that The Sims Mobile was EA’s eighth highest earning mobile game in June across both platforms. It does trail behind the other mobile games based on The Sims, The Sims FreePlay. That game was the third highest earning for EA in June. 59% of revenue from The Sims Mobile comes from the United States. The next highest is Great Britain which makes up only 8% of earnings. While the game is doing incredibly well it does have a long way to go to catch up to the much older, much more established mobile game based on The Sims.

 

Runescape Has Brought in $800 Million in its Lifetime

Why this week was the week of “Look how much money these guys have made” I have no idea, but we aren’t done with it yet. Runescape is 17 years old and in those 17 years the game has brought in 800 million dollars. It has even been reported that the game is still growing. Runescape currently has 250 million accounts. Many of those accounts are certainly inactive, but on Twitch it’s one of the most popular games being watched. It’s in the top 40 for most viewed and in the top 20 for most relevant.

Earlier this year Jagex announced they would be shutting down Runescape Classic because of the growing difficulty of supporting it. Old School Runescape, also known as Runescape 2 remains active alongside Runescape 3 which is the newest version that is simply called Runescape. Old School Runescape will actually be expanding, it’s currently in beta for Android and an iOS release is planned for later this year.

 

EA Executive Sells $1.5 Million of EA Stock as Value Continues to Decline

It is thought by many that this year’s E3 was EA’s weakest in quite some time. Since E3 EA’s stock has also reflected that with a steady downward trend. Well, thanks to SEC filings last week we’ve learned that Blake Jorgensen, COO and CFO of EA Games sold $1,503,967 worth of stock. Games Industry executives are known for doing this kind of selloff when they predict a future drop in value.

If this is the case it isn’t entirely unwarranted. The only Star Wars game that has been announced is just that, it has been announced. We’ve not seen what it looks like and we don’t know much about it, which means that it isn’t coming out any time soon. There are concerns that Anthem will be a hollow game that amounts to little more than a Destiny-like clone. But perhaps the biggest slap in the face is Commander & Conquer Rivals. C&C fans have been waiting a very long time for a new title to be released and when one finally gets announced…it’s a free to play mobile disappointment and it’s only in alpha. It’s not looking great for EA right now, though you won’t see many tears shed by gamers.

 

Clash Royale Exceeds $2 Billion Since Launch

Clash Royale

Yes, we have another one of these, but I promise it’s the last one this week. Supercell has become the first publisher to operate two multibillion-dollar mobile games now that Clash Royale has breached the $2 billion mark. Clash Royale launched in 2016, while Clash of Clans, Supercell’s other megahit, has brought in $6 billion since it launched more than 6 years ago. Unsurprisingly, the United States accounts for the largest share of revenue at 30%. Germany is the second highest with 10%, followed by France, China (iOS only), and South Korea. Amazingly, despite China only having the iOS version of the game revenue is almost even between iOS and Android. Android accounts for 51% while iOS accounts for 49%.

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MMO Money: Mobile Revenue is Breaking Records

Quarterly report season, it’s exciting and a little bit brain melting. In between it all we’ve got other business news to talk about too including esports betting and more lootbox drama. We also get a real-world example of what can happen to a company’s stock when an embargo is broken and false information is released. There’s one theme that runs throughout this article, mobile revenue is breaking records all over the place. There’s a lot of information to digest in this week’s MMO Money so grab a drink, maybe a snack too and sit back for a wild ride. It all ends with more lootbox talk from Begium, Guild Wars 2’s game director, and everyone’s favorite…EA.

 

PUBG Mobile Revenue Only 1/3 Fornite iOS Revenue

Mobile Revenue is Breaking Records

While PUBG mobile and Fortnite iOS came onto the scene at roughly the same time back in March, PUBG has only started to monetize in the last week. The revenue for that first week isn’t amazing. In fact, it’s one third the revenue Fortnite got in its first week being on iOS only. For those who don’t know, PUBG is available on both Android and iOS. Fortnite generated 3.7 million dollars its first week on mobile compared to PUBG which comes in around $1 million.

The report from Sensor Tower also states that Fortnite beat out PUBG with fewer players, 3.7 million downloads vs 22 million. But it doesn’t show how many of those 22 million downloads since launch are still active PUBG players, so this isn’t really a fair comparison to make. The 3.7 million Fortnite players would have all been active at some point in that week simply because it was the very first week, and not a couple of months later. Randy Nelson, Head of Mobile Insights at Sensor Tower attributes the differences to the means of monetization. “There’s also the possibility that the way Epic Games has structured its purchases may be giving Fortnite a leg up on its biggest competitor,” he said. “It offers limited-time costumes and set daily items that players can purchase outright, as opposed PUBG Mobile’s primary use of loot boxes that produce random (and often duplicate) items when opened by players.”

 

Activision-Blizzard Q1

They’re winning all of the money. End of story.

Overwatch Retribution Event - McCree and Reaper

Kidding…well sort of. They really are winning all the money. Activision-Blizzard had a net revenue of $1.97 billion for Q1, that’s up from $1.73 billion for Q1 2017. Net revenue from digital channels were at an all-time quarterly record of $1.46 billion. In Q1, Activision Blizzard had 374 million monthly active users, 38 million of those coming from Blizzard games. Preorders for WoW’s Battle for Azeroth expansion are ahead of where they had originally forecast.

The Overwatch League has strong viewership globally, reaching millions of people every week. As a result of the league and the upcoming playoffs, this summer there is increased engagement with the franchise. This means more people are playing and watching for longer than previously.

On the mobile side of things, King has had its highest quarterly net bookings in history. That’s money made from merchandising, products sold, licensing fees, and so on. This quarter King also had 2 of the top 10 highest-grossing titles in US mobile app stores for the 18th quarter in a row.

Generally speaking, things are great for Activision-Blizzard, so much so that they’re raising their outlook for the full year.

 

German Mobile Game Revenue Seeing Explosive Growth

Thanks to the many articles we’ve done covering the 2017 games business scene we know that mobile is still growing in a massive way and is already really dominating the gaming industry. But there’s one market in particular that is seeing massive, unexpected growth: Germany.

The German Games Industry Association reported on data from market research company GfK that in 2017, mobile gaming revenue grew faster than all of the German gaming market. Mobile gaming sales rose 21% versus the overall market which saw only 15%. Most of the revenue came from in-app purchases which totaled €481 million ($569 million). Just to put all of this in perspective, in-app purchases have more than doubled since 2014. It also doesn’t look like things are going to slow down any time soon. What this does show is that Germans are a fantastic audience for mobile games, unlike most of Europe who seem to prefer to keep a tight hold on their wallets.

 

Want to learn more about the games industry in 2017 check out these articles:

2017 Online Games Financial Review
2017 Games Industry by the Numbers
2017 Games Industry Revenue

EA Celebrating Record Year

It’s good news for EA, despite all the very public lockbox drama they had throughout the last year. Game sales are actually down, but live services are picking up the slack and now make up 40% of the publisher’s income. For the full year, EA’s net revenue was up 6.2% to $5.15 billion. But the news that most people were really hoping to hear was about Anthem and EA did not disappoint, saying that Anthem is set to ship in the last month of the last quarter of the year, that gives it a launch date in March 2019. During the call, they also talked a bit about lockboxes, but we’ll go into more detail on that in the section dedicated to all things lootbox.

 

Dow Jones Reporting Problem

Dow Jones News Service broke embargo and false information was released ahead of Activision-Blizzard’s quarterly report call. This information caused Activision-Blizzard’s stock to tumble, as well as stock for EA and Take-Two. Activision-Blizzard suffered a 6.3% drop, but within a couple of hours the correct information was published and in the end, Activision-Blizzard closed down 2.3%. Afterward, Dow Jones issued a statement saying, “We regret our error as well as inadvertently breaking the embargo. We have issued a correction and are reviewing our processes.”

 

Tencent Q1

Have you had enough with all the good news yet? Well here’s some more for you. Tencent is reporting a 48% increase in revenue year on year. Most of this has been driven by mobile games and social platforms. Total revenue for the quarter was $11.69 billion with operating profit at $4.88 billion. Smartphone game revenue increased 68%. This includes both mobile games and social games on their social media platforms like QQ, which has 805.5 million active users. Facebook is at 2.2 billion, just in case you’re wondering.

On the PC gaming front, revenue remained fairly flat year on year. But with new titles expected in the coming months, Tencent has said this will change. The company also attributes the lack of significant revenue increase on more and more people making the transition to mobile gaming. Tencent is going to be responsible for releasing PUBG and Fortnite to China, assuming they get government approval. They’re also going to publish Ubisoft mobile and PC games in China. So, the future is looking bright for this monster of a company.

 

Boss Key Saga

By now you’ve almost certainly heard about the saga of Boss Key. The company shut down this week just a month after putting a new game up on Steam Early Access. If you haven’t heard all of the drama, or you haven’t seen the concept art from the games they never got to make there’s an entire article on the Boss Key saga.

 

Pearl Abyss Q1

Pearl Abyss had a record first quarter thanks to mobile games. Are you starting to see the same pattern we are? Net profits are up a massive 82.9% compared with the same period last year. Much of their success is thanks to releasing Black Desert Mobile in Korea. North America and Europe account for 56% of Black Desert Online’s game sales. Coming up, the company is working on MMOFPS Project K, casual mobile MMO Project V, and Black Desert Mobile is going to expand to more regions of the world. You can expect it to reach the West sometime next year.

 

Kakao IPO

Black Desert Online

Speaking of Black Desert Online’s performance, we need to talk about Kakao Games, the publisher of BDO in the west. They’re preparing an IPO on the KOSDAQ in Korea. If it passes the screening required, it will most likely go public by the end of this year. According to Samsung Securities, Kakao is worth an estimated $1.4 billion. In addition to BDO, they’re also responsible for publishing PUBG in Korea and developing mobile games.

 

NCSoft Q1

All of NCSoft’s games are down this quarter with the exception of Aion. Guild Wars 2, the company’s most popular game in the west saw a massive, though entirely expected drop. Q4 2017 is where all the revenue for the game’s last expansion Path of Fire was at, so while there was a 32% drop quarter on quarter, year on year there was actually a 66% increase.

During the investor call, NCSoft admitted that Blade & Soul II for mobile has been delayed until 2019 because it didn’t meet expectations. It has a new team and a redesign which is the same thing they did for Lineage Eternal.

 

Nexon Q1

Finally, we’re at the last quarterly report that has been released as of this moment, Nexon. Much like many of the companies already mentioned in this article, Nexon has a strong showing this quarter with $827 million in revenue. That’s up 21% year on year. One thing that really makes them stand out from other companies is that most of its business, 84% of it in fact, was on PC. The vast majority of Nexon’s earnings came from China (67%) and Korea (22%) while North America accounted for just 4%. Later on this year in the west we can expect to see Durango, Maplestory 2, Maplestory M, and Final Fantasy XI mobile.

 

Esports

You can expect to see esports betting blossom thanks to a ruling by the US Supreme Court. They effectively overturned the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which banned sports betting in all but a few states. The Supreme Court ruled that PAPSA violated the Tenth Amendment. What does this mean for esports betting? It means we’re going to see it a whole lot more. DraftKings have already got plans to move into betting for sports and esports.

In other esports news Quarterback Inc. has raised 2.5 million dollars in its initial seed funding round. The funding will go towards continued development and growth of Quarterback’s esports gaming platform. The seed round was back by Bitkraft Esports, Crest Capital Ventures, Deep Space Ventures, and UpWest Labs.

 

Lootboxes

Finally, we end this article as we always do with a look at what has been going on around the lootbox controversy in the last two weeks. The biggest news has been that the Belgian Gaming Commission released their full report on the controversy. The report itself is 25 pages long and in English, if you want to give it a read, but the most important thing to take from it is that they recommend criminal prosecution being initiated. Another recommendation that they give is age verification and banning the sale of games featuring loot boxes to minors. Wow.

Gamasutra posted an interview with Guild Wars 2 game director Crystin Cox from GDC that touched on the lootbox controversy that is well worth a read as she had a lot to say. She had a hard time defining what an ethical, non-painful lootbox experience might be like and she also said she hopes the government doesn’t get involved in regulation. Guild Wars 2 was specifically mentioned in a recent article here on MMOGames talking about a site that explains microtransactions for games. Guild Wars 2 has frequently been called out by players for their lootbox practices.

Lastly, as promised there is EA news to talk about. EA is adamant that lootboxes aren’t gambling at all. Why? Well, according to EA CEO Andrew Wilson, it’s because players always get a specified number of items and there’s no way to cash the items out or sell them for currency, real or virtual. This argument is a bit like Santa promising you’ll get 5 things for Christmas and on Christmas morning finding out that 3 of them are lumps of coal, one is a gum wrapper, and the other is reindeer droppings. You still got something though!

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MMO Money: Fortnite Forever

A large portion of every MMO Money article we’ve done for months now has been dedicated to lockboxes, but it seems like things might be calming down on that front as politicians and players move on to focus on other things. In reality, they’ve all just been distracted playing Fortnite, which has continued to be a massive success for Epic.

 

More Battle Royale in the Future

Fortnite Success

Analysts are predicting that there will be more Battle Royale games in the future following the massive PUBG and Fortnite success. An article on investors.com was released that said some investors are worried that Fortnite is drawing attention away from games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Grand Theft Auto. Wall Street analysts predict that Fortnite will have a modest impact on the major game publishers in the short term, but long-term they’re predicting that EA, Activision, and Take-Two are all likely to introduce Battle Royale games of their own or release it as part of a game already in the works. Analyst Michael Olson from Piper Jaffray, an investment banker and management firm, believes that we will see Battle Royale modes for games like Call of Duty and Battlefield in the second half of 2018 or early 2019. If that’s the case, it will mean that these are likely to be revealed at E3. MMOGames will be keeping a close eye on these publishers to see if the prediction comes to pass.

 

Sea of Thieves UK Hit

Despite the launch issues and the complaints that there isn’t much content in the game, Sea of Thieves is top of the UK charts for the week ending March 24th. The previous week, Burnout Paradise Remastered topped the list but after several high profile releases, it has dropped down to 6th. On Metacritic, Sea of Thieves currently has a 70% based on critic’s reviews and a 5.3 based on user reviews. Will Sea of Thieves be able to hold on to that top spot after such a rough start? Only time will tell, but it is going up against Far Cry 5 which released this week so chances are pretty slim.

 

Vivendi Sells Ubisoft Stock

You may recall that Vivendi has been trying to do a hostile takeover of Ubisoft for some time now. They own a 27% stake in the company, or at least they did until recently. It would appear that the idea of a hostile takeover is behind us now as Vivendi has sold its stock in Ubisoft. Part of the sales agreement adds that Vivendi cannot buy more Ubisoft stock for the next five years. At the same time this was revealed, Ubisoft announced they were teaming up with Tencent to move into the Chinese market. Tencent will operate several of Ubisoft’s most successful PC and Mobile games.

 

Fortnite Tops iOS Charts

It seems like just yesterday every other story was about PUBG, now every other story is about Fortnite. Not that we’re complaining, it’s a great game. Fortnite has also made the leap to mobile where it instantly topped the charts in just about every market it was released in. In just 4 days after release, the game made $1.5 million, just on iOS.

 

Epic Releases $12 Million in Paragon Assets for Free

paragon v.40

Do you remember that other game Epic was working on that wasn’t Fortnite? Paragon, the MOBA they canceled. Well, Epic is being epic and releasing 12 million dollars worth of assets from Paragon for free to be used in Unreal Engine 4 development. $12 million and that isn’t even all of their assets that they’ll be releasing from the game. It wasn’t all amazing news though. There was a rumor that Tencent may buy the game from Epic. The release of these assets pretty much killed that rumor, leaving people who had their fingers crossed disappointed.

 

Pantropy Kickstarter Canceled

Pantropy

We’re moving away from Epic and Fortnite to talk about Pantropy now. The sci-fi MMO shooter was holding a Kickstarter campaign, but it was struggling to reach its goal. In fact, it was only just a little over halfway to the €75,000 goal when the devs pulled the plug. It isn’t all bad though, the devs have promised that they’re going to make changes and come back again sometime at the end of March. They have also received multiple publishing and investment offers, but they reassure fans that they are going to remain independent. The game is still expected to be released in Steam Early Access later this year. It will be interesting to see if this move of relaunching their Kickstarter campaign works. Many times the relaunch of the Kickstarter doesn’t get as much press as the original and also doesn’t make as much money.

 

H1Z1 Charts

We’ve been talking about H1Z1 for a few weeks now. It started out with the shocking report that the game had lost 90% of its playerbase. Shortly after that, the game launched, giving it a very small boost in player numbers. Then Daybreak made the game free to play and it received a substantial boost in players. Since that happened in early March, H1Z1 has seen a very slow decline in player numbers on Steam. It’s a bit early to say for sure, but it looks like March 2018 has been the best month they’ve had this year thanks to the change in their business model.

 

Star Wars Battlefront II Won’t Have Lockboxes

Star Wars Battlefront II

It was only a matter of time before we had to talk about lockboxes. There isn’t anything new on the political front at the moment. Instead, we get to talk about the most controversial game of the entire lockbox saga; Star Wars Battlefront II. EA announced that they are overhauling the entire progression system. Lockboxes won’t be coming back and everything you’ve unlocked already is yours to keep.

Just a week after this was announced it came out that EA may also be starting work on a new Star Wars game, this one will be open world. This came from job listings that mention creating a Star Wars open world game. So, if you had hopes that Disney might pull the plug on the agreement with EA, it seems that this isn’t happening, for now at least.

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How Much Money MMO Developers Make

Talking about wages is an incredibly taboo subject, you’d never just ask someone how much they make (if you’re curious why this is a bad thing watch this). So with that in mind, let’s look at some wage information from the United States Department of Labor. Specifically, we’re looking at how much money MMO developers make every year.

Before we dive into the numbers we should talk about where this data comes from. If a company wants to hire foreign employees on an H1-B visa they must first submit a labor condition application, in which you must list the base salary for the job. This information is then public knowledge. The fine folks at loveforgames.com have taken the data and sorted it into a very easy to use tool and now we’re going to take a look at it. Keep in mind that this is just the base salary and it doesn’t include bonuses or equity programs. It’s also broken down by company by loveforgames or you can search by job title. Job title is a little bit more challenging because studios all have slightly different names for positions. Each listing also has the start date so we know roughly when the opening was available.

 

Gazillion

How Much Money MMO Developers Make

We start with one of the strangest studios to see on the list, Gazillion, who of course made the last few months of 2017 very interesting with everything that went down with Marvel Heroes and the studio suddenly closing. The last job they had listed before they closed was for VP, Engineering. What makes this job most interesting isn’t the $215,000 salary, it’s the fact that the start date would have been October 23rd, 2017. So the studio was looking to fill this position just as everything started going south. If they hired anyone for the position, they would have arrived to a studio that had already missed out on doing anything for the release of Thor: Ragnarok, which was really the first sign that things weren’t normal.

 

Riot Games

One of the studios with the most jobs on this list is Riot Games with 334 listings since 2010. For reference, League of Legends was released late in 2009. The very first job on the list is for a Systems Engineer and at that time the pay was $115,000. This was a position they were looking to fill again by October 2011 with the same salary. In September 2017 they were looking to hire a Senior Producer who would make between $180,000 and $190,000 a year. Starting just a month earlier was a Senior Software Engineer position which was given a range of $127,608 and $220,000. Not only is that a massive range, it also shows that being towards the top of the command chain isn’t always where the pay is at. For reference, all of these were for their Los Angeles office, which is currently hiring for 91 positions.

 

EA

Shadow Realms Screenshot Coast

EA actually tops the list with 476 listings, which makes a lot of sense because EA has many fingers in many markets. Unfortunately, it also makes it a bit of a challenge to know exactly where in the company the job listing was for. Some of them do list Visceral or Origin and they all have a location listed. So if there’s an EA job listed for Austin, Texas, you know that’s Bioware. Which, as it so happens the most recent job on the list was for a Database Engineer and they would have started March 2nd, 2018 with a base salary of $114,354. In late 2016, Bioware Austin was looking to hire a Senior Database Engineer for $115,277. In 2012, at their Playa Vista office, they were looking to fill a position for “Software Engineer Ii” and the salary for that job was $191,360,000 which is, hopefully, a mistake on loveforgames’ part because this application was approved. In reality, their highest paying position listed is for Vice President, Mobile at the end of last year who would have started out making $255,000 to $270,000. If you’re curious about the artistic side of things, a Concept Artist in August of 2017 in Playa Vista, California was looking at $80,000.

 

ArenaNet

ArenaNet, currently just one studio working on one game…or are they? Guild Wars 2 isn’t known for being mobile friendly but in September, they were looking to hire a Head of Mobile Production Management and Analytics. A position that offers $220,000 to $230,000. A 3D Artist in April 2017 would have made between $47,965 and $67,000. Though the most recent position they have listed is for Senior Producer, which pays $130,000 to $140,000 a year. That’s the same they were offering for a Systems Analyst position just a few months earlier.

 

Trion

Many of the positions Trion has been looking to fill through the years have been related to localization, something that makes a lot of sense. Languages have included the two you would expect to see; German and French, but Korean and Russian also make an appearance. Also, very oddly, most of the applications were withdrawn. It may have been because they filled the position with someone in the US, or maybe they decided not to hire for the job overseas after all. We can also compare their Senior Producer job with ArenaNet for a moment. In late 2016, Trion was looking to hire one with a salary between $131,000 and $144,000. They’re pretty much the same, despite being a year and a half apart and two states away. It does seem to suggest that pay isn’t really a reflection of where the studios are located, so maybe if you were deciding between the two you might make the move to Washington to work for ArenaNet where your money would go a bit further than Redwood City, California where Trion is based.

 

Cloud Imperium

At this point, we kind of have to talk about Cloud Imperium since they’re on the list. Unlike many of the other studios, this one has only had 3 job listings. They were for Character Artist, 3D Artist, and Graphics Programmer. The jobs had starting dates in 2014 and 2016 and the salary ranged from $54,000 for Graphics Programmer to $80,000 for Character Artist.

 

Blizzard

We can’t talk about MMOs without talking about the king of them all, World of Warcraft, or at least the creative minds behind it, Blizzard. The most important thing I learned through my looking into Blizzard is that their Austin, Texas office holds Dodgeball tournaments. If that’s not the best perk, I don’t know what is. Most of the jobs though are, as you might expect, for their main office in Irvine, California. The most recent job was for Senior Concept Artist II which pays $112,504 a year. They also have one of the few community management listings, in 2016 an Associate Community Manager job had a salary of $53,601.

All of this has just barely scratched the surface of the information available, so, if you’re interested in knowing how much money MMO developers make head over to loveforgames where you can find information on even more studios like Hi-Rez, Turbine, ZeniMax, and Daybreak Games.

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RUMOR: Disney and Lucasfilm Seeking New Publishers for Star Wars Games

Okay. We’re going to need a lot of tinfoil for this one. Like, a lot of it. Everyone suitably wearing their hats? Good. There’s some scuttlebutt out there that seems to suggest that Disney and Lucasfilm Ltd. are shopping around for new Star Wars game publishers, potentially in direct response to continued fan reaction and assumed mishandling of the franchise in EA’s hands.

star wars game publishers

According to anonymous sources, Disney and LFL execs have reportedly pulled EA “to the principal’s office” with regards to the state of the Star Wars license in the publisher’s care and have been shopping around for other publishers to handle games for Star Wars, with Ubisoft and Activision being name-dropped in the report.

The timing seems to suggest that the event in question is recent, but also references reports in November about Disney strong-arming EA’s decision to remove loot boxes from Star Wars Battlefront 2, which could mean that the search for different publishers was part of Disney’s tactics to bring EA back in line.

Incidentally, there’s word that Disney is capable of looking for alternate publishers despite having a contract with EA as a result of a clause that would let the Star Wars license change hands “if certain standards/conditions weren’t being met”. Whether the agreement between EA and Disney has such a clause has not been confirmed.

These all directly fly in the face of statements made by EA CEO Andrew Wilson during a fiscal earnings call, where he stated that EA and Disney have “a tremendous relationship” and denied reports of Disney’s attempts to step in.

It is vital to note that the sources in question were not able to provide specifics, with the only vetting of said sources being that they have been “trusted in the past”. So be sure to include some salt grains along with those tinfoil hats.

Our Thoughts

It’s not what one would consider to be the most solid of sources, but it’s also hard to ignore EA’s impact on Star Wars games in recent months, with entire world governments pointing at the publisher’s loot box practices as a means to push gambling on children and calling Battlefront 2 “a Star Wars casino”. Having an IP owned by Disney associated with harming children certainly goes against the very identity of Disney, so it’s not too off the wall that they would be displeased. If more firm details arise from this story, we’ll be sure to report them ASAP.

Source: Cinelinx

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