Riot Games Refuses to Budge on Forced Arbitration

Earlier this month employees of Riot Games held a walkout in protest over the company’s forced use of arbitration in a handful of lawsuits the company is facing. We did an extensive deep dive into the events that led up to the walkout. At the end of the walkout one of the organizers, Jocelyn Monahan said that if Riot doesn’t make a commitment on the forced arbitration before May 16th she and others involved in the walkout would take further action. May 16th was selected because that was the next scheduled town hall style company meeting, something Riot holds biweekly. The May 16th meeting has now been held and they have released a statement. In their statement Riot has announced that they will continue to hold their current stance. “Ultimately, given the complexities of ongoing litigation, we will not change our employee agreements while in active litigation.” The statement also goes on to talk about their 90-day plan and how well it is going for them. They’re also introducing a new program called the D&I Rioters Council and they have invited a group of employees to take part in reviewing aspects of their code of conduct.

Image from Riot Games via Upcomer

Kotaku, who originally broke the story about the problems in Riot Games, reached out to Jocelyn Monahan. “We’re disappointed leadership doesn’t seem to be considering any major changes to their active policy. That said, we’re blown away by the passion, solidarity, and vulnerability that workers who support the walkout are showing. As we continue to pressure Riot to end forced arbitration, we are leveraging that teamwork and solidarity by involving more coworkers in the effort.” So there still aren’t any concrete details from her about what they will be doing next but it is likely that we will hear something about it this week.

 

Source: Riot Games Official Site, Kotaku

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Everything You Need to Know About the Riot Games Walkout

Yesterday, the world witnessed a walkout for the first time in the history of the video games industry. The Riot Games walkout is something that is grabbing attention from inside and outside of the industry as it highlights some of the horrible business practices that are being used by companies in the United States. Before we can really dive into what took place yesterday we need to take a look at what led up to this point.

In December Riot Games suspended COO Scott Gelb for two months for inappropriate and unprofessional behavior. What was he accused of doing? Farting on employees, dry humping them, and slapping or flicking testicles. Things that would get any average employee fired on the spot. Along with this came sexual harassment allegations in the company as well as a heaping dose of sexism and discrimination. Kotaku broke the story with dozens of accounts from current and former Riot employees, we’ll link to that and other articles below if you’re interested in reading even more in-depth on the topic. Riot responded by promising a significant culture change and improvements. This included Gelb’s suspension and the hiring of Angela Roseboro, the first-ever Chief Diversity Officer for the company.

Image from Riot Games via Upcomer

Five former and current Riot employees have filed lawsuits against Riot Games. Riot then made motions to force two of those women into private arbitration, saying that the women had waived their rights to sue the company when they were hired. This is actually a pretty common part of employee contracts, though highly controversial. In fact, in the last few months Facebook, Google, and Uber have all announced they would end forced arbitration practices for harassment cases. Riot themselves have even ended forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault claims. But, it only applies to future employees, meaning those two women who are facing forced private arbitration instead of being allowed to take Riot to court are still impacted. In a statement on the Riot Games website the company said, As soon as current litigation is resolved, we will give all new Rioters the choice to opt-out of mandatory arbitration for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. At that time, we will also commit to have a firm answer around expanding the scope and extending this opt-out to all Rioters.” They also went on to give a 90-day timeline for changes they plan to make within the company as well as outline what arbitration means with Riot Games.

Over the weekend Roseboro spoke to employees on the company’s private Slack saying, “We’re also aware there may be an upcoming walkout and recognize some Rioters are not feeling heard. We want to open up a dialogue on Monday and invite Rioters to join us for small group sessions where we can talk through your concerns, and provide as much context as we can about where we’ve landed and why. If you’re interested, please take a moment to add your name to this spreadsheet. We’re planning to keep these sessions smaller so we can have a more candid dialogue.” In Waypoint’s report, however, one anonymous employee responded saying, “When Angela Roseboro offered to schedule focus sessions with people there was backlash because people were frustrated at yet another example of closed-door discussions instead of transparency. Overall, I think Rioters are sick of feeling like they have no visibility into what leadership is actually doing to improve.”

Image from Riot Games via Upcomer

This all finally brings us to yesterday’s walkout. More than 150 Riot employees in their Los Angeles headquarters staged a walkout that took place in a parking lot on Riot’s campus. The employees carried signs and passed around a megaphone sharing stories of harassment, as well as their hopes and fears for the company. More than one employee said that they would be quitting because they were failed by the internal investigation process and because walking around the campus makes them uncomfortable. Upcomer has posted transcriptions of 3 of the speeches from the walkout, these are just a few of the highlights.

“We want Rioters to present a unified front. I spent every day listening to people who were scared. There’s a gap here between our sense of safety and leadership’s perception of those numbers.”

“We cannot thrive if any of us is scared. Imagine a Riot where everyone felt safe and included. If you already feel that way, take a second, look around, and think about who might not, and why?”

“In almost five years here, I’ve heard these words repeated again and again. Constant calls for Rioters to hold one another accountable. I’ve heard it from every one of my managers. I’ve heard it from all the leaders throughout the company. I’ve heard it from those named in the lawsuit articles. ‘Hold me accountable.’ That’s what they said. We are here today to do just that.”

Image by Nathan Grayson from Kotaku

The signs being held up by Riot employees further expressed their feelings. Some signs read “I reported and he got promoted”, “Forced is not a word women like,” and “It shouldn’t take all this to do the right thing.”

Toward the end of the walkout the main organizer of the event, Jocelyn Monahan made an announcement saying that if Riot doesn’t make a commitment on the forced arbitration by May 16th she and others involved in the walkout would take further action. There was no specification on what that entailed but, talking to Kotaku another organizer, Indu Reddy said, “we do have plans, and we do have days that we’re planning, and we do have commitments that we have responses for.” The May 16th deadline was put in place because it is the date of the next scheduled bi-weekly townhall style company meeting. We’re just a little bit over a week away from that event now and as things stand it looks like we might not hear anything else about this ongoing story until then. But, if anything does come out we will be sure to update this article with the latest.

 

Kotaku Report on Riot’s Culture

Riot Games’ Official Response

Waypoint’s Report on the Weekend before the Walkout

LA Times Coverage of the Riot Games Walkout

Upcomer Transcription of Speeches at the Riot Games Walkout

Kotaku Coverage of the Riot Games Walkout

Header Image by Kevin Hitt

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10 Absolutely Shocking or Surprising MMO Events

The video game industry isn’t all about making games; that would be so downright boring. That is why now and then we get a shocking scandal, surprise announcement or surreal occurrence. Here are 10 controversial or surprising happenings that spread like wildfire and in some way changed the industry.

Save the Whales – Lockbox Legislation Around the World

Video Game Industry Scandals Star Wars Battlefront 2 lockboxes

Do you like gambling? Great! So why aren’t you inside a casino? Oh, that’s right, most games nowadays come with some sort of gambling feature called lockboxes. The premise is simple and ingenious: you are promised amazing in-game rewards that will be all the rage. So, what should you do? Purchase more and more of these boxes to increase the odds of getting that rare piece of gear or costume. Go on, put that credit card to use, games don’t make themselves, you know?

That was sarcasm, in case you didn’t notice. Always be responsible with your spending.

The shady thing with lockboxes is that the odds of really getting something worthwhile are incredibly slim and shrouded in secrecy, not to mention that they have this tempting allure that many players aren’t able to resist. It does sound a lot like gambling, right? That is how you end up spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on randomized pieces of loot.

Oddly enough, it was China that first started looking into this matter and demanded that developers publicly revealed the odds of earning an in-game item. Crossfire was one of the first games to come to light and the ludicrous 3% proves that lockboxes are a wonderful deal… for publishers.

Other regions such as Belgium and The Netherlands started investigating lockboxes, with some games such as Overwatch stopping the sale of lockboxes in affected regions. Electronic Arts was involved in this controversy as well, with games such as Star Wars Battlefront 2 and FIFA 18 being mentioned as examples. Of course, other countries aren’t entirely sure about this subject. France and Ireland, for example, aren’t the biggest fans of lockboxes but see this practice as a legally grey area.

Lockboxes are a touchy subject and will surely continue to be discussed during the following years. My advice to you is: if you really like a game and want to support the development team by spending some money, which you should totally do, look at the item shop and leave lockboxes alone.

 

Riot Games Bro Culture, Testicle Flicking and Gender-Based Discrimination

Video Game Industry Scandals League of Legends Riot Games

Riot Games achieved intergalactic fame riding on the success of League of Legends, but by late 2018 it was talked about due to the worst possible reasons: an alleged culture of sexism, a “giant fraternity,” and a “bro culture” where women were not welcome. It was a place where women were discriminated against, as their career progression was stifled as positions went to less-qualified men.

Kotaku created an amazing article with several interviews that dropped like a bomb in the already fragile and scandal-ridden video game industry.

Naturally, this piece spread like wildfire and had severe repercussions, with Riot Games having to undertake some serious damage control. Riot’s COO Scott Gelb was in the spotlight by facing accusations from multiple employees about repeatedly flicking testicles, farting on employees or humping them for comedic effect. Sounds like a lot of fun when you are on the receiving end, right?

To cut a long story short, several former Riot Games employees started sharing their experiences after reading the articles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and the least that can be said is that it is some heavy reading. Riot Games eventually apologized, but the damage was done, and the past can’t be erased. How it has affected the studio – and League of Legends – remains a bit of a mystery, but I doubt that it did them any favors. And it’s so easy to apologize after your humiliating studio culture is revealed to the world…

 

A Bad Case of Battle Royale – PUBG Corp Sues Left and Right

Video Game Industry Scandals PUBG

Here’s a lawsuit for you! And you! Everyone gets a lawsuit!

There is no denying that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds was the game that kickstarted the Battle Royale craze. It remains as one of the most played games in its genre, but it is now trailing behind Epic Games’ Fortnite, and Respawn’s Apex Legends is also proving to be a worthy challenger.

However, if there is one thing that developer PUBG Corporation can’t claim is having invented the Battle Royale genre or its mechanics. That is why suing Epic Games sounded more like a desperate attempt to put a stop to the rising fame of Fortnite Battle Royale than an authentic, credible case. It felt more like a kid throwing a tantrum because someone stole his candy. His delicious, everlasting candy.

But before the Epic Games lawsuit, there was a previous one targeting NetEase. PUBG Corporation wasn’t pleased with Knives Out and Rules of Survival, going to the extent of detailing several game mechanics over 100 pages. Claiming copyright infringement for things such as a pre-game lobby, the air jump, character attributes and much more seems a bit of a stretch. Sure, I’ll admit that the frying pan armor may be somewhat original, but still…

PUBG is a huge success and shady copycats were bound to happen, but it will be a depressing day when a studio is granted the copyright for trite game mechanics or a completely unremarkable game idea. Let’s cross our fingers and hope that the day will never come.

 

Trust Us, This Time It’s Good – Bless Online Western Release Mess

Video Game Industry Scandals Bless Online

Bless Online is the perfect lesson in exaggerated hype and subsequent disappointment. May its legacy serve as a warning for future generations about the dangers of high expectations.

For the lucky few who aren’t aware of the whole situation, Bless Online is a Korean fantasy MMORPG that was several years in the making and had a large budget as well. A few lackluster betas led to a Rebuild project that ended up not changing that much, and the attrition between original western publisher Aeria Games and developer Neowiz was a clear sign that Bless Online wasn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

Ultimately, Neowiz decided to self-publish Bless Online in the west through Steam, but with a major twist – it was going to be buy-to-play! An unfinished, buggy mess of a free-to-play Korean game that the western crowd was now expected to pay for. Oddly enough, many players cheered this decision because things are always better when you pay, right? With the reality shock and negative feedback stemming from the Early Access phase – because Bless Online wasn’t in development for long enough, you know –, there was a 180º turn and Bless Online’s official launch marked a switch to the original free-to-play business model. Too little, too late?

Apparently, yes. As the original Korean servers shut down, along with the failure of the Russian and Japanese versions. The Steam release of Bless Online is now the sole focus of Neowiz. Unsurprisingly, it is bleeding players and its future is uncertain, to say the least.

But I saved the best for last! Out of the blue, Neowiz and Bandai Namco announced Bless Unleashed, further stirring up the hornet’s nest, a.k.a. Bless Online PC players claiming that resources were being shifted to this upcoming game. This Xbox One exclusive is developed in Unreal Engine 4, is free-to-play and is scheduled for a 2019 launch. How does that old saying goes? Fool me once, shame on you…?

 

Who’s the Parent – Daybreak / Columbus Nova Chaos

Video Game Industry Scandals Daybreak PlanetSide Arena

Daybreak Game Company was in the spotlight for an important part of 2018, and no, it wasn’t due to the massive layoffs (around 70 people). It was because of all the confusion surrounding Daybreak’s alleged parent company, Columbus Nova.

The makers of Z1 Battle Royale, DC Universe Online and PlanetSide Arena, among others, were involved in a tangled web of miscommunication, doubt and unexpected twists. Daybreak has officially denied any affiliation with Columbus Nova, claiming that Jason Epstein, former member of Columbus Nova, is the primary owner of the studio. This conflicts with a 2015 privacy policy which described Columbus Nova as the parent company.

This almost feels like a detective movie, involving a Russian oligarch, billions worth of frozen assets and nail-biting suspense. All that is lacks is a romantic subplot, but let’s not make it more complicated than it already is.

 

Elves on Spaceships – Pearl Abyss Purchases CCP Games

Video Game Industry Scandals Black Desert Online

What does it take for one Korean studio to acquire a hugely reputed developer with a massive hit that has been live for more than 15 years? The answer has three words: Black Desert Online.

Pearl Abyss delivered a stunning MMORPG that is almost unrivaled when it comes to graphics and action combat. It is also incredibly deep and complex – so much so that it’s awfully grindy and requires a hefty dose of patience, and usually money, to become a powerful player. There are reports of players having spent over $5,000 USD on Black Desert Online, and I’m betting that is the tip of the iceberg.

With such revenue numbers, it’s clear that Pearl Abyss had a bit of pocket money. They decided to use it on the acquisition of CCP Games, makers of the intergalactic epic EVE Online. Apart from the upcoming release of EVE Online in Korea, we don’t know what other plans Pearl Abyss has for the Icelandic studio. Let’s just hope that it doesn’t involve spaceships landing in Black Desert Online.

 

A Handful of Nothing – Wargaming Seattle Closes Without a Single Release

Video Game Industry Scandals World of Tanks

Gas Powered Games is a name that brings back some pleasant memories. It takes me to a time when I enjoyed playing the Diablo-like Dungeon Siege, or the complex real-time strategy series Supreme Commander. However, in 2013 the studio was suffering from severe financial issues and ended up being purchased by World of Tanks publisher Wargaming.

Thus, Wargaming Seattle was born, along with hopes of a new “big free-to-play MMO” that never saw the light of day. Five years later, not a single piece of info or a measly screenshot was released to the public, and Wargaming decided to cut its losses. The studio was closed, affecting a 150-strong team and leaving the gaming community oblivious to what kind of project was in development.

However, this isn’t stopping Wargaming’s ambitions. The Belarusian company acquired Edge Case Games in November 2018 and has several partnerships with various developers, one of the latest being Ukrainian studio Frag Lab, which is working on a next-gen free-to-play MMO first-person shooter.

 

Not So Heroic – Marvel Heroes Downfall

Video Game Industry Scandals Marvel Heroes Gazillion

There was once a time when Marvel Heroes merged the best of two worlds: Diablo-like gameplay and super heroes. Sure, it didn’t have the greatest start, but just as it happened with other online games – League of Legends is the perfect example –, it eventually got better as development progressed, gameplay was finetuned and new heroes joined the fray.

After a few years of live service, some worrying news came to light, and not all of them involving the game. A sexual harassment scandal concerning Gazillion’s CEO Dave Dohrmann is a major problem, and Disney’s (owner of Marvel) intention to cut ties with Gazillion was a death sentence. It all ended with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in 2018, meaning that the studio wasn’t paying its creditors and was forced into bankruptcy by the same entities.

Gazillion workers ended up without any kind of PTO or severance, making the entire situation even more dramatic.

 

Worlds Divided – Gamigo Buys Trion Worlds

Video Game Industry Scandals Trove

Trion Worlds was once one of the most prolific free-to-play games publishers and developers. Trove, Rift, Defiance and Atlas Reactor are all their own doing, and you certainly have heard about ArcheAge as well.

While some of these games were moderate successes, they weren’t enough to keep the company afloat. In October 2018, German publisher Gamigo acquired Trion, along with the full rights to the aforementioned games. They even managed to get a few Gazillion assets (makers of Marvel Heroes) in the deal as well.

Gamigo was undoubtedly one of the top players in the free-to-play market when the genre was on the rise. Recently, however, its catalog is more discreet, with the decent shooter Ironsight being one of the latest releases.

 

Guild Lost – ArenaNet Layoffs and a Grim Future

Video Game Industry Scandals ArenaNet Guild Wars 2

For some reason, ArenaNet felt to me like one of those studios that couldn’t do any wrong. Sure, it’s not like they have done much besides Guild Wars and its sequel, but both MMORPGs were critically and commercially acclaimed, thus my appreciation and admiration for their spotless track record.

Nonetheless, there are very few studios that manage to keep going for years without the occasional new release. Founded in 2000, ArenaNet was allegedly working on two new projects, but delayed development and a shift of staff from Guild Wars 2 to these unannounced games ended up being an unsuccessful move.

Reports mention over 100 layoffs at ArenaNet following a restructuring decision by the studio’s owner NCSoft. The future of ArenaNet is now uncertain, and if there aren’t any new games in an advanced stage of development, there is only so much that new Guild Wars 2 expansions can do. I fear that we will end up seeing the talented staff being engulfed and separated by NCSoft in a not-so-distant future.

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TJ Sports to Handle League of Legends in China

Tencent and Riot have come together form TJ Sports (short for Tengjing Sports), a new company based in China that will oversee and expand League of Legends esports in China. Both companies have invested in this new company equally and the management will also be made up of top executives from both companies. So far, $78 million USD in capital has been made available for this new company.

TJ Sports has laid out three main goals for 2019. First, finalize major rules such as esports rules, wage rules, and business cooperation rules. Secondly, Optimize their business model. Lastly, improve new player development plans.

At the same time, the announcement of this new company was made the partnership list for the League of Legends Pro League (LPL) for 2019 was released. The head partner for this year is Mercedes-Benz. Other partners include KFC, Alienware, Doritos, and L’Oreal Men Expert just to name a few. The equipment partner will be with DxRacer. Media rights partners include Huya, Douya, Panda TV, Bilibili, Tencent Sports, and Weibo.

All of this is important to note because last year LPL broke the 15 billion viewers record. So there’s certainly a lot of money to be had. It makes perfect sense that with those kinds of numbers you see a new company being formed just to deal with it. In the future, it looks like we can expect more news about sponsors as they’re looking for title sponsors. Nike is also currently in negotiations for a sponsorship deal. Though according to sources this would be exclusively under the condition that LPL teams don’t seek out other sponsorships. It will be interesting to see if the Nike deal goes ahead or not as that is quite a hefty restriction to put on teams.

TJ Sports is also going to be involved in charity and social work, though there is no further information on that yet.

 

Source: Esports Observer, MMOCulture

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Two Riot Employees Leave over PAX West Panel Row

As Riot Games continues to reportedly clear its culture and sexism issues, the departure of two Riot employees over a PAX West panel briefly muddied those efforts a bit. However, it appears that their social media engagement ultimately lead to their departure from the studio.

two riot employees

The panel in question was offering presentations on art design, game production and narrative writing for women and non-binary game dev aspirants. What caused an uproar was the fact that the panel blocked males from entering. This sparked a firestorm of claims that the decision was sexist.

One of Riot’s systems designers, Daniel Klein, waded into the outcry, referring to one Reddit thread as a “toxic landfill” populated by “manbabies” and explaining that sexism refers to discrimination against a marginalized gender. This prompted further rancor from the League of Legends playerbase, who called on Riot Games to act.

Communications associate Mattias Lehman came to Klein’s defense. “It’s telling when people spend more time tone policing him than calling out those harassing and threatening him,” tweeted Lehman. “Being an ally means listening to, learning from, and standing up with marginalized people.”

Days later, both Klein and Lehman were released from Riot Games.

Assumptions regarding their departure hit a high point, but internal sources mention that Riot Games asked employees to not engage with the controversy. Klein and Lehman – both outspoken people who have advocated for more diversity at Riot Games – apparently did not heed those instructions. Additionally, Klein stated to The Verge that he was fired for violating the company’s social media policy. It’s not clear whether Lehman was also fired for those same reasons or if he quit on his own.

Riot issued the following statement:

“These departures are independent from our efforts to evolve our culture. Our culture remains our top priority, and we remain committed to taking the steps that we need to become a leader in Diversity & Inclusion. We will always encourage Rioters to share their perspectives, and we fully support efforts by Rioters to further our Diversity & Inclusion initiatives. We are committed to making real, positive change in Riot’s culture and internal advocates are a crucial part of making that happen.”

Our Thoughts

This definitely seemed to hit the precise same notes that led to firings at ArenaNet, but in this case it appears that there was some actual clear instruction by the company to its employees. That said, it still does look like Riot Games has a lot of work to do in order to become a more inclusive company.

Source: Kotaku

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MMO Money: Tencent’s $20 Billion Loss and Fortnite’s Decline

After having taken a little bit of time off for the end of convention season the weekly online gaming business article is back with more amazing news. We have Superdata’s latest gaming revenue charts, the UK’s weekly gaming chart, a little bit of lockbox news, and a company that lost $20 billion in value and is still going strong.

 

Superdata July Charts

Fortnite's Decline

Superdata released their monthly look at the gaming charts around the world with some interesting findings for July. First up, League of Legends drops down to second in terms of earnings on PC. It was overtaken by Dungeon Fighter Online which is massively popular in the east. In fact, only 2 of the top 5 PC games at the moment are from the West; LoL, and Fortnite. Speaking of Fortnite, the game’s earnings were only up 2% in July over June which is prompting many to say that the game’s peak is now behind us and Fortnite’s decline is imminent. However, it is still growing…for now. And, if they can get past all the security issues, Fortnite does still have the Android release coming which will be massive for the game’s population and revenue.

Overwatch, despite having a very stable player base is seeing revenue continue to drop month after month. In fact, the game is no longer charting at all but looking back as far as December, this isn’t the first time that has happened this year. It was also the case in February and April. In December 2017 and January it was number 10 on the PC chart. It hasn’t appeared on the chart for PC again since then. Looking at the charts for all of 2017 Overwatch ranked number 2 on the revenue charts for all Premium PC games. So, while it may not be on the charts right now, there is every chance for it to come back as it has done previously. On the other end of the spectrum, No Man’s Sky had its best month since it launched, and GTA V had its second best.

Fortnite still hasn’t managed to make it into the charts for Mobile games and in fact, the mobile chart changed very little from June to July. The one change was Fate/Grand Order overtaking Monster Strike. Until Fortnite has a global release on Android we’re unlikely to see it push into the mobile charts. Even then, the early security issues may have done enough lasting damage to make sure they don’t chart.

Source: Superdata

 

Tencent Market Value Drops by $20 Billion…but its ok

Tencent mobile financials - MMOGames.com - Your source for MMOs & MMORPGs

If any other company besides Tencent had lost $20 billion in market value the company would be done for. For Tencent though, that was just 5%. While they did lose a massive amount of money, the real story is why. China has been cracking down on games from other countries for quite some time. Tencent has been able to profit off of this. They know the laws better than any Western studio so they can offer to publish the game in China and deal with all the red tape themselves, but recently China has been making it even harder for game studios.

What triggered this massive loss for Tecent was China’s new regulation that will restrict the number of new online games that are released as well as implementing age-appropriate restrictions on games, including how long you can play them. The reason they give for doing this is the massive number of nearsightedness found in Chinese youth. Though there hasn’t been any scientific backing of the claim that screen time has any impact on vision. All of this puts Tencent’s current business model in jeopardy and they will have to make some changes if they want to continue. If you’re interested in reading more on this check out our recent news post that goes into more detail.

 

UK Charts Gaming Charts

Minecraft MMO Money: Tencent's $20 Billion Loss and Fortnite's Decline

The UK is one of the few countries that release gaming charts on a weekly basis. We’ve decided to add them to our weekly business article as they give us some idea of how games are performing, not just in the UK but among all western audiences. At the top of the charts this week was F1 2018, managing to hold out against a new game on the chart, PES 2019. In third is Grand Theft Auto V which actually climbed one place from last week. PUBG managed to climb up from 11th to 7th this week. Amazingly, Minecraft is still in the top 20, last week it was at 14 and this week it dropped to 20. Check out the top 10 for the week ending on September 1st below.

This Week Game Last Week
1 F1 2018 1
2 Pro Evolution Soccer 2019 New Entry
3 Grand Theft Auto V 4
4 Crash Bandicoot N.Sane Trilogy 3
5 Yakuza Kiwami 2 New Entry
6 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe 5
7 PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds 11
8 God of War 6
9 Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate New Entry
10 Fifa 18 10

Source: Press Release

 

Lootboxes

Overwatch Winter Wonderland - Christmas Loot Boxes

There hasn’t been a whole lot to talk about on the lootbox front. It seems like the world is slowly moving on and forgetting the topic altogether. Or maybe there’s a whole lot going on in the background that is going to take time to come into being. Either way, the big news recently is that Blizzard is disabling Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm lockboxes for Belgian players. Earlier this year Belgium was one of the first countries to investigate lootboxes in online games and issued threats to ban multiple games. Valve very quickly took action for CSGO and Dota 2.

Blizzard announced that they would be doing this on the official forums. In it they said…

“In April 2018, the Belgian Gaming Commission published a report that was endorsed by the Belgian Ministry of Justice in which they concluded that paid loot boxes in Overwatch are considered gambling under local law. While we at Blizzard were surprised by this conclusion and do not share the same opinion, we have decided to comply with their interpretation of Belgian law. As a result, we have no choice but to implement measures that will prevent Overwatch and Heroes of the Storm players located in Belgium from purchasing in-game loot boxes and loot chests with real money and gems.

No matter what, we want to make sure that our players around the world have the best entertainment experience possible. While players in Belgium will no longer be able to purchase paid loot boxes in Overwatch and loot chests in Heroes of the Storm, they’ll still be able to earn them by playing the games, and they’ll still have access to all in-game content.

These measures will be implemented shortly. We also remain open to further discussions with the Belgian Gaming Commission and Ministry of Justice on this topic.”

Source: Overwatch Forums

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Chinese Regulations Result in Tencent’s Market Value Dropping By $20 billion

There’s more bad news for the gaming industry that expands well beyond the borders it was intended for and has resulted in Tencent’s market value dropping by $20 billion.

Regulators in China have recently been putting a lot of strain on the gaming industry and they just hit the industry with a massive blow. China is cracking down on online games specifically in an attempt to combat screen-related myopia, that’s nearsightedness. There isn’t any scientific proof that online gaming has and an impact on myopia, however. In addition to this move to limit games, they’re also going restrict the amount of time young people spend playing games and they’re exploring an age-appropriate restriction system as well.

League of Legends

As you would expect this news didn’t go over well in the stock markets. This is where Tencent, a company that has been spreading its wealth far and wide to international game companies. These deals with them have also allowed Tencent to publish many of the games in China. But, since China will be restricting games…it looks like those deals aren’t going so well for Tencent anymore. The $20 billion loss is actually only a drop of 5%. In all though, Tencent has lost more than $160 billion in market value since January because of all of the recent regulation changes in China.

Tencent mobile financials - MMOGames.com - Your source for MMOs & MMORPGs

While the BBC speculates that Tencent will continue to invest in markets outside of China it is equally possible that they won’t given the fact that they won’t be able to release the games they invest in for Chinese audiences. This lack of investment could very well have a snowball effect that has a massive impact on the gaming industry as a whole. We may see Tencent and other Chinese gaming companies shifting gears to focus more on single player, offline games.

 

Source: Reuters, BBC

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Riot Games Reels Back Esports Spending

Esports is big business, but the folks behind League of Legends maybe have stepped on the gas a little too hard. According to a Reddit thread, Riot Games esports spending is looking to be scaled back as the company reportedly hasn’t broken even on their investment.

riot games esports spending

Riot’s global esports head Derrick “FearGorm” Asiedu addressed observations of future LoL events being smaller in scope, confirming that the company needs to better manage its money in order to both see a return on investment as well as help see the game’s esports efforts grow.

“We’re ok with costs continuing to be high, because we think the value esports provides to everyone who plays LoL is worth it. But we don’t want to continue to be in startup mode – we’re now a mature business and costs need to be more in line with revenue in the future. This means that we’re holding ourselves more accountable to net income targets than we have historically.

We’re a long way from breaking even (revenue minus cost equaling 0), and are trying to see if on the cost side, there are things we can cut or scale back that fans don’t care about, while continuing to invest in the areas fans do care about.”

Ultimately, the company believes that revenue increases will be more beneficial than cost decreases, with a number of investments being made such as traditional investments.

Our Thoughts

If this, ultimately, doesn’t mean that esports events for LoL are changed too much and end up still being enjoyable, then so be it. A company exists to make money after all, and making esports profitable is pretty much the point that most companies are trying to get into this whole shebang anyway.

Source: GamesIndustry

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Riot Games’ Marc Merrill Talks Plans for New Game Releases

It appears that Riot Games’ Marc Merrill has taken a shine to dangling carrots in front of fans. An interview with Variety has offered up a couple of intriguing (if unfortunately vague) hints at what his company is looking to release next, with goals to release “a handful of games” every 10 years.

riot games' marc merrill

The interview opened up with reference to “that tweet” which caused the company’s communications team to go into redaction mode. That said, when pressed about the idea, Merrill gave the sort of non-committal answer one might often see from an in-the-works project.

“I’m not going to answer that directly. The question that is really interesting and relevant is, ‘What does the future of MMOs look like?’ I think we have a view, others have a view, players have a view. ‘World of Warcraft’ continues to be a dominating game. There is a really good argument that going head-to-head with ‘WoW’ may not be the best move, but who knows.”

Ultimately, Merrill states that the “s” in “Riot Games” is “aspirational” and that the company has a number of projects in R&D. “We’re emerging from being the ‘League of Legends’ company to whatever it will be in the future,” says Merrill. “We’ve been working for such a long period of time on so many things.”

In spite of all of these plans, don’t expect League of Legends to suddenly fall to the wayside. In fact, a post in the LoL forums offered a look at Nexus Blitz, a short-form game mode arriving to PBE that lets a duo jungle in three lanes on a new, close-proximity map. More information about that mode can be read here.

Our Thoughts

Whatever these new games are coming out of Riot, we’ll certainly be interested in learning all about them. That said, it still sounds like the majority of these projects are in very nebulous forms and may not even take shape at all. So we’ll just have to wait and see, in any case.

Sources: Variety, official forums

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Riot Games Sinks Hopes for a League of Legends MMO

Earlier this week, many players of League of Legends and perhaps no small number of the MMORPG-playing world stopped to consider the potential of a League of Legends MMORPG as a result of a tweet from one of Riot’s top brass. Turns out, his idle musings were just that – idle musings.

league of legends mmorpg

According to a report from Variety and a statement from Riot’s North American communications director Justin Kranzl, co-founder Mark Merrill’s tweet shouldn’t be read into too deeply. “He was being playful around the release of this world map and wants to encourage our players to think of what Riot’s long-term goals could look like,” said Kranzl.

The revelation might be a bit of a letdown to fans of the League of Legends world, particularly since Riot Games appears to be focusing on expanding upon the lore and general universe its MOBA is based on, the majority of those efforts being visible on a dedicated section of the LoL website.

Still, if Mr. Merrill’s intent was to stir up daydreams, it appears to be job done. “When a single tweet can drive your imagination to the point where you’re already imagining how you’re gonna raid Cho’Gath with 20 members of your Noxian guild wearing max-level Shuriman Armor,” reads one such reaction on the game’s subreddit.

Our Thoughts

Well, heck. Guess we’re not going to see a more vibrant in-game LoL world beyond the maps of the MOBA. That is a shame, too, because spending all of this design time and effort to build a backstory almost seems like a bit of a waste. Unless…nah, nevermind; Overwatch has been doing the same thing for a while now.

Source: Variety via MMORPG

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