MMOney: Q3 2017, Kickstarter, and Lootboxes

Shadow’s Kiss Funds

Shadow’s Kiss, the Vampire MMO from Clockwork Throne Studios has finished up its Kickstarter successfully. A very dark and mysterious 884 backers pledged $80,414 to help bring this project to unlife. While it fell short of some of the stretch goals, the original core experience was only aiming for $25,000. Here’s to a successful campaign and a game to watch in the future.

 

Crowfall Drops Pledges for Pre-Order Packages

Crowfall is making a shift. The company behind Crowfall, ArtCraft Entertainment, has decided to make the move from selling pledges as a kickstarted game would into selling pre-order packages.

“For the last two years, we’ve used crowdfunding (and company investment) to fund the game. Now that we’re getting closer to launch, we need to transition our project from selling pledge packages to selling pre-orders of the game.

On December 31st, we will retire all 2017 pledge packages and the majority of our parcels and strongholds bundles. Essentially, everything that was priced over $200 USD is being removed from our virtual item catalog.”

Visit the link for an FAQ and to get in on the eternal war if it catches your eye.

 

Saga of Lucimia Raises Funds

The team behind the Saga of Lucimia has continued to work on the game for nearly four years now despite a lack of traditional financing. Between their early pre-order program and participation in Early Access, they have almost entirely funded development to date with the team reaching into their own pockets to keep everything going. Now though they have announced a new evolution with the securing of independent funding for the game. Not only that but in January of 2018, they will be announcing several positions that they hope to fill for the calendar year on a contract basis. So if you want to ready that resume and join in on one of the more unique roads to an MMO, time is short.

 

Jeremy Soule Kickstarter Album Gets an Update

From a positive note to a slightly less so one. 4,256 backers on Kickstarter brought together $121,227 to fund the Soule Symphony No. 1, “The Northerner” way back in March 2013.  This huge amount pledged was based off of a $10,000 goal. Since the original report on Kotaku regarding the absence of the album, some news has emerged with Soule chiming in and Kotaku updating the report:

“Shortly after the publication of this article, Soule said he will release “Northerner Diaries” to backers on December 20. This is not the symphony he Kickstarted, Soule told Kotaku, but “the fully produced vignettes of my ideas for it so far.””

 

Raph Koster Chimes in on the Economics of Making a Game

How much does it cost to make a game? What are the overheads faced by companies? If you are interested in the reality of game economics and the pressures faced by companies there is a masterclass available on Raph Kosters blog. Raph Koster was the lead designer of Ultima Online and the creative director behind Star Wars Galaxies. He has probably forgotten more about the games industry than we could hope to recount over the course of his career.

If I had to go with a choice quote, it would easily be this:

“Basically, there isn’t a good business plan. There aren’t any realistic expectations. Any sane business person would say “don’t make games.” You can see this in MMOs now — where just getting 100k people subbing to something ought to make a highly satisfactory viable business… but go look at player reactions to visuals that aren’t at the absolute top end.”

 

Niantic Raises $200 Million for More AR Games

Niantic, the company behind the multiplayer mobile augmented reality games Ingress, Pokémon Go, and the upcoming Harry Potter game has raised roughly $200 million in funding. Recently we have heard plans for Ingress to be rebooted into Ingress Prime and of course, Pokémon Go continues to be popular. Exactly how popular their Harry Potter AR will be likely can only be measured on a scale of “Everyone plays” to “Seriously everyone plays”. Time will tell what those funds will make for us, but be prepared to hear more even about Niantic in the future.

 

Things Looking Up for Funcom

Funcom’s recent financial report and presentation for Q3 2017 is out now and contains some good news. They are reporting their third consecutive profitable quarter, which is now the most profitable YTD 3Q in Funcom history. This is a far cry from the dire straits they were in in recent memory. Further to that, they are reporting “Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization” of $1.8 million. Players of Secret World Legends can also look forward to more improvements in the game in 2018 with this being a key part of the financial presentation. Congratulations to Funcom on the great news.

 

NCSoft Has Strong Q3

From one studio’s financials to another, this time with NCSoft. According to our friends at Massively and the figures themselves, NCsoft had an exceptionally good third financial quarter this year, reaching a record high in sales and operating profit for the company. Guild Wars 2 gets a highlight for the sales of Path of Fire being robust, even if not as high as Heart of Thorns. Of course, there’s also the massive rush in mobile for NCSoft recently so keep an eye on your phones for more of their games headed that way.

 

The Lootbox Saga Continues

No business roundup would be complete this year without mentioning loot boxes or the major disappointments with both Star Wars Battlefront 2 in particular and EA in general. With various parts of the world waking up to the scandal regarding loot boxes, we have had governments move to investigate if they are gambling which will in turn likely bring down regulation upon them. Belgium wants to ban loot boxes on the basis of gambling and if nothing changes, that may echo across the EU and before long the industry as a whole. The sum effect thus far, however, was a sharp decline in EA stock trading wiping out a not inconsiderable amount of shareholder value. Of course, even with this recent backlash, EA is still trading at levels far beyond what it was a year ago. Only time will tell what the long-term effects will be of a short-term microtransaction grab.

 

Digital Game Revenue up 15%

According to the market research specialists in Superdata digital games revenue grew 15% worldwide in October. With players having spent $8.5 billion across console, mobile, and PC in October, up from an equally stellar $7.4 billion in the same month last year. League of Legends still sits atop a mountain of cash of course but Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is hardly slacking having recently set a number of world records and inspiring Bluehole to turn their Devilian creating subsidiary into the PUBG Corp. Will battle royales continue to chase after MOBAs or are we seeing a shift in the worlds favourite sort of game?

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MMOney: eSports Investments and Digital Sales Up

Hurricane Relief Funds Raised

Paladins

Throughout September several games ran hurricane relief fundraisers to help out those impacted by the major hurricanes that ravaged the region. These games include the not yet released Valiance Online, which raised $700. World of Warships, World of Warcraft, Paladins, and Smite all added items to the in-game shops which saw the proceeds go towards hurricane relief funds. While FFXIV fans got together to holding streaming events to raise funds. It’s unlikely we will ever know exactly how much money was raised by gamers during September but it is events like these that make you proud to be a gamer.

 

eSports Investments and Funding

blizzard esports

September was a great month for eSports funding and investments. Of note, Jennifer Lopez (yes, that Jennifer Lopez) was part of a $15 million investment in NRG Esports along with other names you might recognize like Michael Strahan and Alex Rodrigeuz. They join Twitter COO Anthony Noto, Sacramento Kings minority owner Kevin Nagle, and Shaq.

Gamer Sensei, a one-on-one eSports coaching website also raised $4 million in funding. This round of funding was led by Accomplice and Advancit Capital, both of whom already have impressive gaming and eSports ties.

 

Funcom Quarterly Financials Give Fantastic News

It seems like just yesterday that things were looking somewhat grim for Funcom, but you know what? They have totally turned that around! In fact, they have just celebrated the most profitable half-year in the history of the company. This is down to the success of Conan Exiles and Secret World Legends. Revenue for the second quarter is up 79% from the same period last year. This puts them at $3.07 million. For those who have been watching Funcom, you will note that this is down quite a bit from Q1 2017 which saw 10.92 million in revenue. The reasons for this are that Secret World Legend’s launch had very little impact and they also took the opportunity to cut the company’s debt in half.

The recently revealed The Secret World television series was only briefly mentioned in the quarterly report to say that it is part of long-term plans and will contribute to the company’s financials for the next couple of years.

Funcom is also working on a new Conan the Barbarian game along with a tactical turn-based strategy game with Bearded Dragons. The strategy game is expected to launch in 2018.

 

Minecraft Marketplace Creators See Success

The Minecraft marketplace has been running for a few months now and Microsoft was eager to announce how it was doing. So far, creators have earned over $1 million from content. This is made even more impressive when you learn that at the start only 9 people had been accepted into the program and now it is up to 12. How much of that goes into the pocket of the creators? The platform takes a 30% cut from each purchase and content creators get the majority of the remaining money from the sale. What that means exactly isn’t clear, but a good guess is that there are additional fees. Possibly listing fees that are also added in.

 

CD Projekt Red Q2 Financials Show Revenue Drop, But Not All Bad

It feels a little bit odd talking about CD Projekt Red but thanks to Gwent it is now one of the studios we follow closely. The financial results for the first half of 2017 show a slight dip in revenue and profits for the company. Revenue for the studio was 254.82 million zloty (About $71m) with post-tax profits of 143.24 million zloty ($40m). However, the studio is valued at 2.3 billion dollars which is more than double what it was valued in August 2016. The success comes from The Witcher III and expansions. GOG has also had a strong performance over the first half of 2017, much of that thanks to Gwent.

 

Bandai Namco on the Hunt

Dragon Ball FighterZ

Bandai Namco recently acknowledged that they’re a little bit too Japanese-centric and are looking to become a little more global. How do they intend to do that? They’re looking to expand their mobile business with acquisitions and mergers. They’re looking for medium or small sized studios with a lot of talent. It isn’t just games they’re interested in either. Those making edutainment or an app that helps maintain brain activity may also be considered. They’re hoping to get to a point where half of their output is from outside of Japan. So expect to see more news from them in the future.

 

Pearl Abyss Prepping For IPO

Black Desert Online

Thanks to the strong performance of Black Desert Online, Pearl Abyss is preparing for an IPO. Over the 3 years BDO has been on the market, the game has earned $300 million in revenue and as of July 2017 it has 7.65 million registered users. They’re also planning on expanding into SE Asia, Turkey, and the Middle East in the near future. And in China BDO, which is being run by Snail Games, has already been pre-ordered by 200,000 people. The IPO is expected to value as high as $164 million.

 

Superdata Shows August Digital Sales Market Up 11% Thanks to F2P MMOs

PUBG dominated PC game sales for the third month in a row and overtaken World of Warcraft in the worldwide top-grossing PC game for the month. The top of that list is, however, League of Legends. Hearthstone also had an all-time revenue peak thanks to the sales from Knights of the Frozen Throne expansion. Grand Theft Auto V tops the console chart, and at the top of the mobile chart is Honour of Kings.

 

Snail Games Suing Fox Entertainment Over Planet of the Apes Game

Snail Games is taking Fox Entertainment to court over a licensed game deal that went bad. According to the developer, they agreed to pay Fox a $2.5 million advance plus royalties for the rights to two games based on War for the Planet of the Apes. One of the games was set to be an AR title but it was canceled when the Chinese government raised concerns after the success of Pokemon Go. The lawsuit is however about the other game, which Snail claims Fox failed to provide assets and information for in a timely manner. It also states that Fox rejected an alpha version of the game that was submitted by Snail but offered no guidance on how to change the game to get it approved.

 

Plarium Acquires Rumble Games, Maker of KingsRoad

KingsRoad

Israeli studio Plarium, who is responsible for titles like Vikings: War of Clans has bought Rumble Games in the hopes that they will help them expand into new markets. This is coming just a little over a month after Plarium was themselves acquired by Australian casino company Aristocrat.

 

FFXIV Quarterly Financials Looking Good

Reshade Install guide

Final Fantasy XIV was only briefly mentioned as part of Square Enix’s financial report but the news is fantastic. Subscribers are at a record high, though no exact numbers were given. The release of Stormblood also contributed to high sales numbers. They went on further to state that they expect the expansion pack to make a sustained earnings contribution going forward.

 

Star Citizen Denies Claims That Backer Received A $45,000 Refund

A Reddit user claimed that they asked for and received a $45,000 refund for Star Citizen and the studio fired back. The claim states that the user and two guildmates asked for refunds on completionist packages, each one totaling $15,000. Of course, Star Citizen very quickly refuted these claims stating that the evidence they provided are forgeries and in reality, the refunds they received were for $330.

 

Bossa Studios Gets $10 Million in Investment Funding

A number of UK investment firms have helped Bossa Studios, the team developing Worlds Adrift, with a 10 million dollar investment. The funding is going to be used for the future success of the company by allowing them to hire new talent and allow them to prepare for the launch of Worlds Adrift.

 

September was filled with fantastic news from studios all around the world and the genre itself seems to be performing quite well. Will that trend continue after what many consider a lackluster convention season? What does October have in store for the industry? Check back at the end of the month to find out.

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MMOney – Q2 2017, Charts, and Investments

The staff at MMOGames are always looking for new ways to dissect and investigate the online gaming industry. Which is why we’ve introduced MMOney, a new monthly column that looks just at the financial news from the industry in the previous month. We will try to use language that makes it easy for everyone to understand. This column may be more frequent during quarterly report season as so much new information is released. We would also love feedback from you, our readers! Do you like the column? Is there anything we can do to improve it? Let us know in the comments.

 

Blizzard Q2 2017 Report Falls Short of Expectations

The Q2 financial report for Activision-Blizzard wasn’t as strong as investors were expecting and as a result stock took a bit of a hit. But it isn’t all bad news. Blizzard has been the driving force for the company accounting for 42% of the revenue Overwatch and Hearthstone have both seen their monthly active user numbers continue to rise, despite both being more than a year old. Blizzard also talked up their time spent metric, showing that compared to last year players are spending more time in World of Warcraft. Not surprising at all when you consider Legion’s release.

Destiny 2 was also a talking point for the company. The console beta had more players than the 2014 Destiny beta and there have now been more pre-orders made for Destiny 2 than there were for Destiny. If you look at the reasons why you have the fact that Destiny 2 will be on PC, opening up a whole new audience. You also have those who started playing after pre-orders finished. So really, this is in line with expectations.

 

Pokemon Go Returns to the Charts and Gaming Industry is Expanding in Superdata Reports

Superdata released 2 different reports this month. The first looked just at July, which most notably saw the return of Pokemon Go on the Mobile Game earning chart. League of Legends tops the PC chart, and Grand Theft Auto V tops consoles. Free to Play MMOs showed the most growth in July, increasing 29%. While pay to play MMOs declined by 2%. PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds sold another 1.6 million units last month.

The second report looked at all of 2017 so far and had a number of different interesting bits of information. Mobile is the biggest platform, female gamers make up 46% of the market in the US, and 665 million people have watched videos about games so far. The biggest game of the year so far is of course League of Legends. For the first time in history, interactive media has reached $100 billion. It is also predicted that by 2020 that number will be $168.8 billion. More people watch gaming video content than HBO, Netflix, ESPN, and Hulu combined. In fact, the audience is twice the population of the United States. Gamers are also more likely to be watching live streams than prime time TV as this is when the most content is watched.

 

Gamestop Q2 Profits Fall

Despite the Nintendo Switch releasing Gamestop’s profits continue to fall. Their sale of Kongregate kept the decline at 20%. They have seen some growth in the digital market however which increased 28%. Collectibles also saw growth of 36%. In an effort to help the struggling retailer stay afloat ALL Gamestops will be open on Thanksgiving.

 

Dual Universe Gets Massive Investment

Private investors have given Dual Universe a massive $3.7 in funding, which adds to the $630,000 that was raised on Kickstarter. The MMO will be entering pre-alpha on September 30th. Though it will be limited to crowdfunding backers who have pledged at the gold level or higher. Which on Kickstarter was at least €100.

 

Guild Wars 2 Hits An All Time Low in NCSoft’s Q2 Report

Thanks to the launch of Lineage M NCSoft’s mobile games totaled 93.7 billion Won. Meanwhile, Guild Wars 2 saw only 13.5, the lowest it has ever been. However, thanks to Path of Fire, Guild Wars 2 will have a fantastic third quarter.

 

WoW Gold More Valuable Than Real Life Currency

As a result of the ongoing troubles in Venezuela World of Warcraft gold is worth more than the Bolivar. On the black market, now the best place to get Venezuela’s currency, you can get $1 for 8493.97 bolivars while a WoW token is worth 8385 gold per dollar. This was discovered by a Twitter user and later a website that tracks currency said that actually, the gap between WoW gold and the Bolivar is even higher than originally thought.

 

Korea’s FTC Will Investigate Starcraft

Korea’s PC Bang Association has requested the Fair Trade commission look into Starcraft fees. The association argues that Blizzard are double-charging by requiring an hourly fee on top of the flat fee for the license. They go further to say that it isn’t worthy of the new fees as the upgraded version has no new content. Blizzard Korea fired back saying that Remastered is a new game with new perks and exclusive offerings.

 

Shroud of the Avatar Raises Almost $700,000

Shroud of the Avatar

The Shroud of the Avatar equity crowdfunding campaign on SeedInvest raised just under $700,000 from 518 investors. While the monthly telethon raised $67,500 which has granted several stretch goals to players.

 

Elite Dangerous Passes 2.75 Million Sales

This month Frontier Developments announced that Elite: Dangerous and the expansion Horizons have passed a grand total of 2.75 million sales. The last sales count we were given was back in January 2016 when they reported 1.4 million copies sold.

 

Pearl Abyss Merging Game Companies

Pearl Abyss has its fingers in many pies and they’ve announced that they’re combining all of their game businesses in one pie tin. It will be called Kakao Games Holdings. The company has several mobile games, Black Desert Online, and will be publishing PLAYERUNKNOWN’s Battlegrounds in Korea. The reason for this move is to improve efficiency and to prepare the company for an IPO.

 

Scott Hartsman Addresses Concerns Over Trion’s Financial State

Delidding Tech put out a piece in which they paint the situation at Trion in a negative light, pointing at layoffs and a shareholder report for Fidelity’s Contrafund as the source of the concerns. Trion’s CEO Scott Hartsman very quickly took to Reddit where the article had been shared in the ArcheAge subreddit to address the concerns. Quite simply one of Fidelity’s funds has had a small stake in Trion since before Scott took over. As for the layoffs, Scott pointed out that in the last 4 years they’ve become a company which doesn’t lay off people every year, something that is quite common in the industry.

 

More eSports Prize Funds Surpassing $1 Million Than Ever

12 eSports have over $1 million in prize funds, more than have ever been seen before. In 2016 10 games made the list. You only have to go as far back as 2010 to find a time when there was only one game, Counterstrike with prize funds over a million dollars. Dota 2 tops the list so far this year with $32,803,807.04 across 71 tournaments. All of this comes from esportsearnings.com which has information as far back as 1998.

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