MMO Money: Gazillion Assets Sold and Pokemon Go Population Goes Up

Gazillion is back in the news, for a short time at least. CCP takes a jab at Star Citizen, but it’s all light-hearted fun, and the Pokemon GO Population goes up for the summer. There’s all of that and more in this week’s MMO Money, the weekly gaming business news report.

 

Trion Buys Gazillion Assets

Marvel heroes

In an interview with VentureBeat, Trion World’s CEO Scott Hartsman revealed that the company has purchased what remains of Gazillion’s assets. The goal isn’t to revive Marvel Heroes, though fans of the game are hopeful this could happen. They were specifically interested in Gazillion’s tools that will help them with the publishing side of things. In the VentureBeat article, it says

“We‘ve built an amazing ecosystem in support of our games and those we’ve published. We’re excited to add more tools to our library in order to embolden our teams and partners to create truly fantastic games,” said Hartsman. “Our suite of vital technology and experience in publishing and operation at a global scale allows us to provide essential ‘ecosystem as a service’ support, empowering developers from all over the world to create all new AAA online experiences, sustain their studios in very crowded markets, and take more creative risks.”

The article also points out that as part of this asset purchase Trion also got a game engine to make it easier to develop isometric games. This along with all of Gazillion’s trademarks, licenses, patents, and it’s library of games. However, they don’t have the license to bring Marvel Heroes back. They would have to work with Disney for that to happen, and while it doesn’t seem likely that Trion will go this route, it can’t be entirely ruled out either.

 

Pokemon Go Gets a Summer Boost

Superdata has released its monthly look at the industry and the biggest story of them all is Pokemon GO. The game is enjoying a boost thanks to summer and fantastic weather. In May it generated $104 million, which is up 174% year over year. That boost is only getting bigger thanks to the introduction of trading and giving gifts to friends, something that has been sought after since the launch.

Other news from Superdata shows that Fortnite has reached another all-time high…but it is slowing down. They estimate that Fortnite made $318 million across all platforms in May. That’s up 7% from April.

 

Bethesda Sues Behaviour Interactive and Warner Bros. Over Alleged Fallout Shelter Ripoff

Fallout Shelter

Bethesda, of Fallout and Elder Scrolls fame, is suing Behaviour Interactive (Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade) and Warner Bros. because the new Westworld game is very similar to Fallout Shelter. Behaviour Interactive developed for Bethesda, and the two games are so similar that the same bug appears in both games. Bethesda accuses them of using the same design, code, and gameplay for Westworld without being given permission. “The Westworld game is a blatant rip-off of Fallout Shelter. Working with the same copyrighted computer code used by Fallout Shelter, Westworld has the same or highly similar game design, art style, animations, features and other gameplay elements as Fallout Shelter, all of which are owned by Bethesda.”

What the financial outcome of the lawsuit will be remains to be seen. However, Warner Bros was apparently surprised by the “baseless accusations” in the Westworld lawsuit. They further went on to say that while it is built around a similar concept to Fallout Shelter their game is entirely new and features no code from Behaviour’s work on Fallout Shelter. “Warner Bros. has been assured by the game developer, Behaviour Interactive, that Bethesda’s allegations are untrue and that none of Bethesda’s code was used in the Westworld game. Moreover, contrary to Bethesda’s baseless accusation, Warner Bros. at no time ‘induced’ Behaviour to use the Fallout Shelter code in Westworld.” A pretty bold statement considering the same bug has been found in both games.

 

EVE Online Pokes Fun at Star Citizen

CCP decided to have a little fun after EVE Online fans pointed out that Star Citizen has, in their words, blatantly ripped off the looks of one of EVE Online’s ships. They introduced a bundle of skins for the Venture ship with a price tag of 120 plex. A jab at the the $120 Vulture ship from Star Citizen that looks just like the Venture. In the official announcement for the skin bundle CCP says, “Just beware of sneaky vultures attempting to swoop in and loot your assets!” Well then! I guess we know how CCP feels about the whole thing. At least they’re having a good sense of humor about the whole thing.

On the Star Citizen subreddit, CCP Falcon made an appearance in the thread saying they were glad the majority of the comments are light-hearted and fun. Ending a long post by saying, “I’m super interested to see what’s next for both Star Citizen and EVE, and contrary to what some of the more vocal fans on both sides of the fence might think, over here in Reykjavík we’ve got nothing but love for our fellow sci-fi developers, and continue to wish Cloud Imperium Games and the Star Citizen community nothing but fair skies and smooth sailing.”

Doesn’t that just warm your heart?

 

Shroud of the Avatar Suffers Layoffs

In the wake of Shroud of the Avatar launching Portalarium has downsized. This is a fairly common practice in the industry, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less. On the official forums, they had this to say about the layoffs.

“Now that we are almost complete fulfilling our Kickstarter promises (brewing coming online in R55, physical rewards shipping very soon, progress being made on castle defense, etc.), we are adjusting our team size to better match our current monthly revenue. This will give us the balance we need to begin work on Episode 2 while ensuring we can support the online service. To do that means having, at least for now, a smaller team. Right now we will shift our focus from creating new content to polishing our existing systems. This means making a stronger new user experience, fixing bugs, reworking the quest system, performance improvements, user interface polish, and more. At the same time, we will continue the Tier adjustments in progress which will rework our existing scenes to more appropriate difficulty levels based on our current player population.”

 

Valve Turns off Lootboxes in The Netherlands

Valve has temporarily turned off lootboxes for CSGO and Dota 2 players in The Netherlands. This comes after the Dutch Gaming Authority named Valve as one of several companies that needed to change their lootboxes or face prosecution. Valve’s official statement has said that they don’t agree with the DGA’s ruling and that appeals are ongoing. Many people who are against lootboxes hoped that the ruling from the DGA would result in a worldwide shift but it looks like Valve is going to fight it and at the very least find a way around it on a local level. This could mean that in the future game experiences will be different in different countries, which is something nobody wants.

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Trion Worlds Buys Up Gazillion Assets to Expand its Publishing Arm

Looks like Trion Worlds is making some big moves. The company has recently completed a full Gazillion acquisition including licenses, trademarks, patents, domains and IPs. And, yes, that most definitely includes Marvel Heroes, which as we know went through a rather catastrophic shutdown last year.

gazillion acquisition

What’s being done with the licenses and IPs isn’t immediately clear, but Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman seems to be more interested in the tech developed by Gazillion to help put together MMOs, which will play into a larger strategy to improve the company’s publishing division.

“We‘ve built an amazing ecosystem in support of our games and those we’ve published. We’re excited to add more tools to our library in order to embolden our teams and partners to create truly fantastic games,” said Hartsman.

The company is reportedly already working with developers using Trion’s tools to help bring their games to a large audience, though who those dev teams are was not revealed. “What if you want to publish a game on the PC as well as the PlayStation 4? There is store, security, customer service, server hosting, distributing processing, and other kinds of work to do,” remarked Hartsman. “We believe developers can use us to get to a global scale. We want ourselves and other developers be able to make games and succeed and have sustainable life cycles.”

Our Thoughts

All of this reads a bit like Marvel Heroes will remain dead, living on only as a framework for MMOARPGs in development to use. That said, who’s to say that perhaps some developer will take up the Marvel Heroes mantle and utilize the building blocks Gazillion created to make a re-release or new version of the game? Time, ultimately, will tell.

Source: VentureBeat

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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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Gazillion Staff Laid Off The Day Before Thanksgiving

The Marvel Heroes saga continues in the worst way as news came across our proverbial desk this morning that revealed all Gazillion staff have been laid off. The day before Thanksgiving. And the game itself is now due to close tomorrow, where it was originally announced it would continue until December.

Gazillion Staff Laid Off The Day Before Thanksgiving

This whole situation was already bad enough for the studio behind the free to play hack and slash MMO, but to have to have pulled the plug so suddenly and with such unfortunate timing for all involved is frankly horrifying. And worse, it has been reported that Gazillion staff aren’t being paid severance, any remaining holiday, and their medical insurance will end as of next week.

If you’re not sure where all of this is coming from, it was announced last week that Disney and Gazillion had ended their relationship and Marvel Heroes was due to be shut down. Following this news, console players sought out refunds for the game which has only been live for them for 6 months. It’s a terribly sad example of how harsh the gaming industry can be.

 

Our Thoughts

Of course our hearts go out to all staff affected. This is a terrible situation as is, but to receive such terrible news the day before a major holiday like Thanksgiving with this kind of severity is just horrible, so please do treat those affected with kindness. We have seen several studios and individuals reaching out with recruitment offers to Gazillion folk, including the likes of Blizzard, Bethesda, and even the indie route, so here’s hoping they’re all snapped up quickly as they’re a bunch of talented game devs!

Source: Kotaku

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Disney Announces Shutdown of Marvel Heroes

Our friends over at MassivelyOP had mused about what precisely has happened to Marvel Heroes. Unfortunately, we now know: a statement from Disney has confirmed a Marvel Heroes shutdown.

marvel heroes shutdown

As many fans know, Marvel Heroes and specifically Gazillion Entertainment had fallen radio silent over the past few months, with the last major message made on October 18th making a vague reference to harassment. Now, Disney has stepped forward with a statement, confirming their ties with Gazillion are severed and the game is going dark.

“We regret to inform our Marvel Heroes fans that we have ended our relationship with Gazillion Entertainment, and that the Marvel Heroes games will be shut down. We would like to sincerely thank the players who joined the Marvel Heroes community, and will provide any further updates as they become available.”

At this point, both the Gazillion Twitter and the Marvel Heroes Twitter accounts are yet to redirect to any statements. We’ll be sure to update this story as details come to light.

Our Thoughts

While we certainly were preparing for the worst, it still doesn’t help how terrible it is to get full confirmation that Marvel Heroes – arguably one of the best implementations of free-to-play in MMO gaming – is being shuttered. Our best wishes to those who have been affected by this decision.

Source: Kotaku

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