MMO Money: September Earnings for Games, Game Deals Reach Record Highs

In this week’s MMO Money we’ve got a look at the September earnings for games, Mergers and Acquisitions in the gaming industry, investments, and more Tencent news. There were a few surprises this week and a few heartstoppers. Find all of that and more below.

 

Destiny 2 Gets Massive September Boost

Superdata has released their list of September earnings for games on PC, Console, and mobile. The big story from September was the success of Destiny 2’s expansion Forsaken which shot it up to the number one spot on console. In fact, over 60% of all Destiny 2 monthly users bought the expansion. Also looking solely at console, Fortnite slipped down to 4th place when in the previous month it held the number one spot. There was a lot of moving around and swapping places in the chart in September thanks to expansions and in-game events. Mobile seems to be pretty stable though. Check out the full list below.

Also, part of that report was the news that digital spending on games is up this year from $912 million to $1.24 billion from the same month last year. This is fantastic news as we head into the holiday season. It also suggests that this holiday season will be stronger than last year’s as well.

Source: Superdata

 

Wild West Online Studio Collapsed, But All is OK Now?

As it turns out, one of the reasons people stopped talking about Wild West Online for a few months there is because the studio stopped making the game. In fact, the studio collapsed altogether because they couldn’t pay their employees. The game got a bit of a helping hand from Free Reign Entertainment who is now helping to develop the game. The new team only includes 3 from the original team so it sounds like they’re going through a bit of a reboot. Another sign of that reboot is the introduction of a Battle Royale mode. The Battle Royale mode will be ready for testing sometime very soon, but will it be a success? We’ve seen many times where games have transitioned to follow the current trend and suffered for it. One such example is SOS, which never recovered from becoming a Battle Royale title and will be shutting down quite soon.

Source: Official Forums

 

Epic Raises $1.25 Billion from Investors

It’s a good time to be Epic. They’ve got one of the most successful, most talked about games in the world at the moment and now they’ve got an additional 1.25 billion dollars to work with. The company is already estimated to be worth between 5 and 8 billion. Tencent and Disney are already invested in Epic and now KKR, ICONIQ Capital, Smash Ventures, aXiomatic, Vulcan Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Lightspeed Venture Partners are joining in. Epic hasn’t laid out any plans for all of that money yet but we’re sure they’re already working on that. CEO Tim Sweeney spoke about the fundraising saying, “We’re excited to partner with the finest minds in the financial, sports, and entertainment communities. This reinforces Epic’s position of leadership in real-time 3D technology, and accelerates our ability to improve the way people play, work, and interact with the world.”

Source: Games Industry

 

Game Deals in 2018 Worth a Record $25 Billion

Digi-Capital has revealed that games deals have already gone past the $25 billion mark in the first 9 months of 2018, making this year a record year. However, previous experience suggests that we may be in for a sharp decline very soon. 2014 was a fantastic year for mergers and acquisitions but immediately following that we saw a sharp decline to the lowest numbers in a decade. MMOs and MOBAs in mobile and PC sectors saw significant investments despite the fact that these genres are in a decline. Much of it came from Tencent who has been quite busy diversifying and throwing money at companies.

While gaming mergers and acquisitions have hit a near record high just one single deal accounted for nearly half of the total. This was when South African based media group Naspers sold 2% of Tencent for more than $10 billion. That’s a 60,000% return on its original investment.

Games IPOs seem to be following a three-year pattern since 2010. They will have a big year followed by two quiet ones and then repeat. 2017 was a record year with $17.1 billion but that number has dropped 90% to just $1.1 billion in 2018. That suggests that 2019 will also not be a very strong year for IPOs. Which raises questions about Green Man Gaming who has delayed their flotation twice now.

Source: Digi-Capital

 

Steam Reaches 90 Million Monthly Users

In just over a year the number of active monthly users of Steam has grown by 23 million according to a new report from Valve. In January they had a peak concurrent users at 18.5 million. This was at the height of PUBG’s popularity. The growth comes, in part like so much of the industries growth this year…from China. In China, the number of people using Steam doubled from 15 million last year to 30 million this year.

What does all of this mean for Valve? More money of course. But, there may also be some complications with their expansion into China as the government cracks down harder every month on games, especially foreign ones.

Source: Steam

 

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go find a time machine and invest in Tencent.

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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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MMO Money: Q2 2018 Reports and Kid Friendly MMOs

The Q2 2018 reports have started pouring in and so far it is good news all around. We’ve also got a couple of more lifetime revenue reports from Sensor Tower that make us wish we had made those games. But perhaps the biggest surprise is a kid’s MMO that doesn’t get much press coverage and many people don’t even know about that is doing amazingly well, with a subscription even. All of that and much more below in this week’s MMO Money.

 

1.3 Billion in Player Spending for Lineage II: Revolution Since Launch

Lineage II: Revolution launched in South Korea in December 2016 and in less than two years it has brought in $1.3 Billion, with 64% of that money coming from Google Play while the rest is from the iOS app store. The largest market for Lineage II: Revolution should come as no surprise, it’s South Korea which accounts for 57% of total player spending. Japan is second, accounting for 26% of player spending. The United States accounts for just 3% of the game’s lifetime revenue. It also continues to rank highly in the global app revenue. Last quarter it ranked number 15 for all app spending on the iOS App Store and Google Play, it also ranked number 12 among all mobile games. While spending in the West is barely worth mentioning it is important to keep an eye on mobile games like these which seem to be the future for MMO players.

Source: Sensor Tower

 

Fortnite Not Using Google Play

Fortnite Battle Royale

In a move that some find to be controversial, Epic has announced that while they are bringing Fortnite to Android, they won’t be using the Google Play store. From a business perspective, it makes complete sense. It is the most popular game in the world right now so they don’t really need the exposure that being on that distribution platform would provide. There’s also the fact that Google takes a 30% cut. Why would they use Google Play when they can do it themselves so easily? There are some minor concerns about the security risk that is involved with not having the game on Google Play, but these concerns seem to be completely overblown. Unfortunately, we still don’t know when Fortnite will be released on Android yet.

Source: The Verge

 

Fallout Shelter Lifetime Revenue Passes $90 Million

Fallout Shelter

Can you believe it has been 3 years since Fallout Shelter was launched? Since then the game has generated $93 million on iOS and Android. Not only has it brought in that much money, it also recently had its second most profitable day yet. On June 15, 2018 player spending was at $212,000. In comparison, the best day the game has ever had was September 14, 2015 when it grossed $237,000. Sensor Tower founder Oliver Yeh projects that Fallout Shelter will reach $100 million before the end of 2018. The United States accounts for 59% of all the game’s revenue. It also happens to be quite evenly split between iOS and Android. iOS accounts for 49% while Android accounts for 51% of spending.

Source: Sensor Tower

 

Novaquark Gets $3.5 Million in Funding for Dual Universe

Dual Universe is a sandbox science fiction game that is currently in pre-alpha testing and now thanks to a funding deal they’ll be able to expand the team and make the game a reality. This money, when combined with their 2016 Kickstarter campaign brings them up to $11.5 million in funds raised for the game. Currently, the game is on track to launch in 2020.

Source: GamesIndustry.Biz

 

Activision Blizzard Revenue Up Despite Lack of Major Releases

Despite the fact that Activision Blizzard didn’t have any major releases or expansions launch in Q2 they still had an amazing quarter, bringing in an amazing $1.64 billion in that period. They also said that they have 37 million active monthly users across all its games. If it were evenly distributed, which of course it isn’t, that would mean each person spent $45. Battle for Azeroth, World of Warcraft’s upcoming expansion has had strong pre-orders which has helped the company get that high quarterly revenue.

Source: Activision Blizzard Q2 2018 Report

 

Kakao Invest in Esports

Kakao’s gaming division has been having year after year of growth and companies investing in it. In fact, just this year they’ve had $131 million invested in them from companies like Bluehole, NetMarble, and Tencent. Now they’re spreading the love too with a $17 million investment in esports developer Neptune. The two companies are going to work on 2 different mobile games featuring the Kakao Friends cast of characters.

Source: Pulse News

 

Animal Jam Lifetime Revenue Hits $150 Million

Animal Jam

Whoever said MMOs aren’t for kids clearly hasn’t heard about Animal Jam. The MMO focused on kids launched 8 years ago, with a mobile version having released 3 years ago. The majority, 85% of revenue comes from subscriptions, the rest coming from in-game currency items and licensing deals. The game has 100 million registered users, 61% of those living in the United States or Canada, they also account for 79% of revenue. The game’s next highest market is Brazil which is home to 11% of monthly active users. Mobile revenue has gone up 36% in the last year and daily active users are split pretty evenly between the web and mobile versions. In all so far the mobile game accounts for $20 million in revenue, 72% of which comes from iOS. Animal Jam has clearly succeeded where so many others have failed, not only being an MMO for kids but also having a subscription.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

 

NetEase Q2 Financials

Things are looking good for NetEase as they announce a net revenue up 21.7% year on year, giving them $2.5 billion. Online games account for $1.5 billion of that, but the area that is most impressive is mobile games. They account for 74.7% of the segment’s revenue. This comes as the company is diversifying and moving beyond the MMORPG genre. Many of their non-MMORPG games have been at the top of the charts in China. They also released Justice, which became one of the most acclaimed PC games launched in China in recent years.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

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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: Huge Disappointment for Tencent

Seed has raised more than 8 million dollars for development of the unique MMO, while Niantic has acquired another game studio. Fortnite is still making more money than anyone could ever count, but a massive mobile game from China has turned into a huge disappointment for Tencent. Plus, we have more lootbox news, which includes some very interesting statistics that show most players don’t care about them at all.

 

Klang Raises $8.75 million for space MMO Seed

Space colony MMO Seed has an extra $8.75 million to work with for the development of the game thanks to recent fundraising efforts. This brings the total the studio has raised for the game up to $13.95 million, thanks to a previous funding round in March. Speaking about the latest funding Klang’s CEO Mundi Vondi said: “We’re truly humbled to have secured the Series A for the development of Seed, a project that we believe will play an integral role in the next generation of social simulations. We are honored to share our vision with Northzone, and are more excited than ever to tackle this very ambitious project.”

 

Fornite Earned $1 Billion From In-Game Purchases Alone

Yes, Fortnite has become one those topics we’re covering every week and starting next week we’re going to lump all the Fortnite news into one section. This week thankfully we only have one thing to talk about, and that is that Fortnite has earned 1 billion dollars just from in-game purchases. Monthly revenue for the game has done nothing but climb since October as shown by the graph above. In May viewers watched almost 700 million hours of battle royale content, 83% of that was Fortnite. More on Fortnite coming soon…

 

“Coming Soon” No Longer Allowed in German Preorders

star citizen like eve online

A recent court ruling in Germany may have a ripple effect around the world as it was declared that using vague terms like “coming soon” in preorders isn’t allowed. Part of the ruling said: “in the view of the judges, this information was too vague to comply with the statutory information obligation of the providers. According to this, potential customers should know before the end of the ordering process how long the delivery time will be at the maximum.” Exactly what this means for the future of gaming isn’t clear yet but it could possibly put an end to vague release dates, Kickstarter claims, and much more.

 

Video Game Kickstarters Equal Almost $10 million So Far in 2018

ICO Partners have put out their regular report on Kickstarter campaigns for video games which shows that video game Kickstarters have brought in $9.82 million so far this year. That’s up just $400,000 from the same period last year. This was in fact done with fewer Kickstarter campaigns than in previous years, just 723, the lowest first half of the year since 2012. Kickstarter is generally seeing a bit of a slowdown when it comes to video games, as people are learning how difficult it is to put a successful campaign together.

 

Niantic Acquires Seismic Games

Just last week we were talking about Pokemon Go creators Niantic acquiring a company and now here we are with another, their fourth acquisition in recent months. This time they have acquired Seismic Games, the makers of Marvel Strikeforce and VR experience Blade Runner: Revelations. John Hanke, the CEO said this in a statement: “We recently gave a peek under the hood of the Niantic Real World Platform, and we see the addition of Seismic Games as a significant accelerant for realising our vision of an operating system that bridges the digital and the physical worlds. At Niantic, we’re committed to our mission of motivating people to exercise, be social, and discover new places. We’re confident that Seismic Games will help us deliver on that mission – faster, and better.” All of these acquisitions are putting Niantic in position for a lot of awesome in the future which makes you wonder, what are they coming up with next?

 

Mobile Game Spending Up in the First Half of 2018

Mobile game revenue is up 19% in the first half of 2018 in the App Store and Google Play. App Store spending was about $6 billion higher than Google Play. Combined, the estimate is that global spending on the two platforms was at $26.6 billion. That’s a 19.1% increase year on year. One thing that may have an impact on Google Play’s revenue is that it isn’t available in China, at all. Also, many Android apps are available in third-party stores which isn’t the case for iOS. The top grossing games across both stores were Honor of Kings, Monster Strike, and Fate/Grand Order. But, PUBG mobile was the most downloaded. All of this just goes to show that mobile gaming is here to stay and there’s a lot of money to be had.

 

Arena of Valor Revenue Passes $3 million in 7 Months

Arena of Valor

Its only been 7 months since Arena of Valor launched in the west and in that time they’ve brought in $3 million. For any other game that would be fantastic, but Arena of Valor is Tencent’s Honor of Kings, one of the most successful mobile games at the moment. The Chinese version of the game has 200 million players and in 2017 brought in $1.9 billion in revenue. The founder of Sensor Tower, the intelligence firm who released this information spoke about the launch of the game and why they think it’s underperforming. “Arena of Valor launched in the US just as the battle royale craze was beginning to heat up, with Fortnite hitting mobile three months later-and subsequently dominating the time and wallets of the very users Tencent’s MOBA is gunning for. Undeterred, the publisher has continued to build out the game in the West, adding new modes, content, and characters, most recently the eagerly anticipated debut of Batman as a playable hero.” All fair points…also, Batman will be playable? Where do I sign up?

 

Lootboxes

A patch was introduced to CS:GO for Dutch and Belgian players that locks containers, making it so you can’t open lootboxes in those countries. In June, Valve disabled item trading in the Netherlands in response to the threat of prosecution from the Dutch Gaming Authority. At the time they also said they hoped to fight it, now it seems that item trading is back but lootboxes may be gone for good.

A survey of gamers from the UK, France, Germany, and Spain has revealed that the majority of gamers are either unaware of lootboxes or largely indifferent to them. According to the survey, only 27% of gamers in these countries are aware of lootboxes. When it comes to general consumers that number drops to 17%. When asked if lootboxes are a positive influence on the games industry, 29% had no opinion while only 25% thought they don’t. In question after question, the respondents showed they had very little opinion on lootboxes at all. It would seem that those talking about them and thinking about them often are in the vocal minority.

The post MMO Money: Huge Disappointment for Tencent appeared first on MMOGames.com.

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: Champions Online Subscription Controversy and GTA V on the Decline

GTA V on the decline as the game is starting to show its age. Meanwhile, Fortnite is continuing to smash records as it is shown that Battle Royale players are more invested in their games than other gamers. Star Citizen made the news for a $27,000 ship pack, and we got the latest game charts from Superdata.

Champions Online Creates Controversy with Subscription Changes

Champions Online Nightmare Invasion Event

You don’t usually hear much about Champions Online in the news. The game is silently carrying on as it always has. But on June 1st the game found itself in a bit of a controversy over announced changes to subscriptions. In fact, it was going to drop subscriptions altogether. While there were some fears that this was signaling the beginning of the end for Champions Online that actually wasn’t what had fans up in arms. The new premium pack that was going to replace subscriptions had one thing, that fans are massive fans of missing, Freeform character slots. Fans were so vocal about their displeasure that Cryptic has delayed the changes to address the issue.

 

Bless Online Launch Disaster

In case you’ve been living under a rock, you may not have heard that Bless Online had a disaster of a launch. Endgame content was missing, features you’d only see in bad mobile games were there…it was and still is a mess. If you want to learn more about Bless, its messy launch and why you really shouldn’t be surprised by it check out the article I did on the history of Bless Online. But right now you might be asking, why is this in the business column? Well, that’s because Steam was giving back refunds past their usual limits. So the bad launch is also hurting Neowiz’s bank account.

 

Funcom Q1 Report

Funcom has had one of its best quarters in a very long time thanks to the sales of Conan Exiles, which they also pointed out is now officially Funcom’s best selling game of all time. Secret World Legends didn’t get much of a mention, just a promise of more content and events. They also reminded everyone that they are working on a new game, Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden, which is due out in the second half of this year.

 

Star Citizen Offers Ship Pack Worth $27,000

star citizen like eve online

Once again, if you’ve been living under a rock you may have missed Star Citizen releasing a ship pack that they’re selling for $27,000. Even worse, to see what the pack offered you had to have already spent $1000. Did anyone buy one? The world may never know. What we do know is that a lot of people had something to say about it. In their defense, Star Citizen claimed that this pack was requested by players. If you’re curious what you could have bought instead here’s an article we did right after the news broke.

 

PUBG Sues Fortnite

The battle royale of the Battle Royale games has taken a bit of a nasty turn as PUBG has sued Fortnite developers Epic Games. The lawsuit, which is taking place in Korea, states that Epic Games plagiarized PUBG’s interface and in-game items. Many fans see this as a low blow from PUBG Corp as well as an attempted money grab and an attempt to keep Fortnite out of the Korean marketplace. It will be interesting to watch how things progress in this case while Fortnite continues to dominate gaming.

 

Battle Royale Gamers More Likely to Spend

Data from Newzoo shows that Battle Royale players tend to spend more money on games than other gamers. They’re also more engaged than those who play other core competitive games like CoD, CSGO, Overwatch, LoL…and so on. 88% of Battle Royale players are likely to spend money on games vs 75% in these other competitive games. Also, more than 80% of Battle Royale players watch live streams of game content. It’s 67% for competitive games.

From the report, we’ve also learned that Fortnite appeals to a younger, more casual audience vs PUBG. PUBG players are more likely to identify themselves as core gamers.

 

Superdata April Report on the Gaming Industry

GTA V on the Decline

Fortnite is continuing to break records for yet another month. But the real story from Superdata for April is that GTA V is finally starting to show its age. In fact, GTA V Online has been declining every month so far in 2018. This is most likely due to the popularity of Fortnite and the lack of new content from Rockstar. Meanwhile on mobile Honour of Kings brought in $185 million in revenue in April. In comparison, Fortnite made $296 million on console, PC, and mobile in that same time period.

 

Tencent Gets Majority Stake in Path of Exile Creator

Tencent continues its domination of the gaming world by getting a majority stake in Path of Exile’s creator Grinding Gear Games. In the announcement, they quickly tackled any concerns that this would mean the game would be changing by saying that the studio would remain independent.

 

Lootbox Roundup

Talk about lootboxes seems to have calmed down some in the last couple of weeks, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to talk about. The first news is that Webzen has decided to pull Mu Origin out of the Netherlands over lootboxes. The game will no longer be playable in the country as of June 20th. In the announcement, Webzen directly stated that this was in response to the recent decision from The Netherlands Gaming Authority against in-game lootboxes.

EA has also taken a bit of a stance against lootboxes, at least in Battlefield V which they’ve promised won’t have them. They also said the game won’t have premium passes. What they haven’t said however is what will be replacing both of those things in their business model.

Finally, GamesIndustry.biz put out a fantastic article on some things the president of the ESA said recently about lootboxes. In a speech at the Nordic Game Conference, he compared the lootbox controversy to the WHO’s gaming disorder crusade and the US government’s attempts to link video games and violence. He also spoke out against government regulation, effectively saying that the government couldn’t possibly understand well enough to have input. It’s an interesting article if you’re invested in the lootbox controversy.

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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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Microtransactions Data Before You Buy: Microtransaction.zone

These days it can be harder than ever to know how much a game might cost. The box price doesn’t always let you know what else might be out there, what hidden transactions are laying in wait to snare you and this can make it hard to know if you’re getting your money’s worth.

Of course, where possible, MMOGames will mention what we can, but two industrious people by the names of Simon and Taylor have set out to make it easier still to work out what you might possibly want to know about a game.

Leveraging the Giant Bomb API and some other third party tools, Simon and Taylor have created MICROSTRANSACTION.ZONE for giving people all the microtransaction information they can. Or as the lads themselves put it, “how badly various video games are sticking their dick in it when it comes to monetization.”

Microtransactions Data Before You Buy: Microtransaction.zone

Each game that is on the site comes with a very clear guide beneath showing which of the ten categories they have created apply to a given game.

You get this at-a-glance view telling you what you need to know quickly:

  • Spotless (No Monetized Content)
  • Free to Play (No Cost of Entry)
  • Expansive Expansions (Expansion Packs)
  • Horse Armor (Cosmetic/Frivolous DLC)
  • It’s Not Gambling, We Swear (Loot Boxes & Other Randomized DLC)
  • Infinite Money Hole (No Spending Cap)
  • It’s Not Just Cosmetic (Gameplay-Altering DLC)
  • Time Is Money (Pay-To-Skip)
  • But First, You’ll Need a Contract (Subscriptions)
  • Batteries Not Included
  • Table for One (Standalone Single Player)

Picking a game at random, we’ll go with Guild Wars 2 where they have it tagged for the Free to Play through Time Is Money options, which really does encapsulate Guild Wars 2. There’s no subscription which is the norm in MMOs these days but for a new player it might be nice to know at a glance, and there’s no single player.

The Batteries Not Included category is something you’ll typically see used where games have toy interactions like with the Nintendo Amiibo. Then again, I would gleefully buy any Skritt statues in person that might somehow delete all Quaggan from the world of Tyria but that might not be for everyone.

Taking another MMO, let’s try Black Desert Online.

Horse Armor, It’s Not Gambling, We Swear, Infinite Money Hole, and It’s not Just Cosmetic all apply to Black Desert and the categories fit well. It does beg the question whether their MMO selection would benefit from a buy to play tag for the at a glance viewing, but in reality, no Free to Play tag should tell you that you will need to put money down. Spot an MMO you like without Free to Play or But First, You’ll Need a Contract and you know you have a single purchase game like Black Desert Online on your hands.

If you want a good example of a game that they rate Spotless, i.e. “You buy the game, you own the game—full stop.” You need look no further than Stardew Valley which is everything in one game at one price, including the new multiplayer mode we have reviewed for you.

Personally, I have a lot of time for this tool and the efforts of the MICROTRANSACTIONS.ZONE team. Partially because I love the quick reference guide and efforts that have been put in to make it quick and clear to get a handle on it, and partially because I am amused that it’s always supposed to be referred to in all caps like LEGO. That and it reminds me of the sorts of sites that used to grow up around MMOs with little to no prompting. We have here two people putting their coding skills to use and trying to make other peoples lives just a little easier. In fact, if you are interested in their efforts, they have been laying out things on their blog regarding accessibility, security and the thinking around what tags they do and do not use.

The Game Awards 2016

In an ideal world, this sort of website would not be necessary. As it is, you may see review sites start to work with them or adapt their categories to try and better inform consumers. These days there is a constant issue with DLC making its way into games that should otherwise be complete experiences like with the Star Wars Battlefront 2 debacle or you have other games like Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery going in heavy on microtransactions and handicapping their gameplay in the hopes of getting people to shell out.

If things continue down this line, and to be honest they don’t look like they’re stopping really despite what EA claims about Anthem in our future, MICROTRANSACTION.ZONE and other tools aimed more at consumer advocacy will be invaluable.

Ideally, DLC would only ever be in the Horse Armor category. A nice addition or skin that does nothing but let you look a little different or do something silly. Failing that, it could be like the recent Mercy skin with proceeds going to charity. Ideally, in some gamer utopia, DLC would only ever be a little added spice. Instead, it is now a pervasive part of the gaming landscape, and hugely lucrative at that.

There is, of course, a reason for developers to try and monetize games. Bills sadly do not pay themselves, but there is occasionally a blatant gulf between some developers getting paid for their hard work and some publishers shaking down customers for cash. Until we can find the happy middle ground, a type of game development and game consumption that could almost be called sustainable gaming, we will have to keep on being vigilant.

If you have the money to burn and don’t care, enjoy the fine Infinite Money Holes on offer throughout gaming. If you’re worried about a great title possibly hiding costs behind the glossy case or slick YouTube trailer then, for now, MICROTRANSACTION.ZONE will be invaluable to you. Of course, you could always take some of that money you have saved on an ill-advised purchase and donate to the developers via their page here.

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