MMO Business Report: US Tariff on Game Consoles, Pearl Abyss Quarterly Report, and More

Our MMO Business Report is back once again! This week we have some more quarterly reports, this time from Tencent and Pearl Abyss. We’ll also be taking a look at US tariff on game consoles, and a disappointment in the esports industry.

 

Tencent Quarterly Report is Looking Up

Honour of Kings

Tencent’s online game revenue has increased 8% year on year. This is thanks to the end of China’s freeze on game approvals and because of Honour of Kings which has been a constant, steady earner for the company. Mobile games made the most revenue, $3.2 billion USD which is up 26% from last year, but in the same time period, they saw a decline in PC game revenue of 11% to $1.7 billion USD. Looking back at where Tencent was during Q2 last year  and comparing it to this year, you have to keep in mind that last year they were only able to release one new game in China during all of Q2. In comparison, in Q2 2019 they released 10 mobile games, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the company is doing well.

 

Source: Tencent Quarterly Report

 

MMO ‘Seed’ Raises $22 Million from Series B Funding

Seed

SpatialOS MMO Seed has raised an additional $22 million in funding. The money came from investment firms Novator, Northzone, Neoteny, firstminute capital, Makers Fund, New Life Ventures, and LEGO. Yes, THE LEGO. When combined with previous funding this brings the total for Seed up to $37.42 million.

“We are thrilled Novator and LEGO Ventures are making this big bet on us and for getting Ragnarsson on as our Chairman – he truly understands the value of single-shard MMOs and brings his amazing experience from CCP to Klang,” said Klang CEO Mundi Vondi. “Partnering with LEGO Ventures, the global phenomenon of emergent gameplay, is fantastic and aligns perfectly with our vision. Finally, we are humbled that our great current investors Neoteny, firstminute Capital, Northzone, and Makers Fund are joining the round as well and couldn’t be more excited to have the fuel to deliver SEED without compromising on its very big vision.”

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Pearl Abyss Quarterly Report Wows

Black Desert Online

Q2 2019 was Pearl Abyss’ best performing quarter in terms of sales with an amazing 266% rise in net profits quarter on quarter. The overseas market (in this case meaning outside of South Korea) makes up 74% of their sales. During the quarterly report, they also talked about upcoming games. EVE: Aether Wars has been given the green light despite originally only being a technical demo. Black Desert Mobile is set to launch in Q4 2019 globally. Project CD is a new AAA RPG that isn’t based on the Black Desert IP and is going to be targeted to a global audience. Project K and Project V are casual shooting games developed using Pearl Abyss’ new engine. No dates yet for the unnamed projects thus far.

 

Source: MMOCulture

 

Gfinity Esports Australia Closing

Gfinity Esports Australia which has been holding esports events across Australia for the last two years, will be closing in November. The company put out a press release that made it clear the company had not seen the return that was forecast when it was launched.
Dominic Remond, CEO of Gfinity Esports Australia said, “We would like to thank all our stakeholders and the Australian esports community for their support over the last few years. This is a very difficult announcement for all our staff. We will continue to meet our obligations to our existing partners, including Supercars with the upcoming Gfinity Supercars Eseries, and deliver outstanding events until we close later this year.”

Ciaran Davis, Chief Executive of HT&E added, “Esports remains an exciting industry with significant global interest and activity and HT&E believes it will become a mainstream and significant content-audience-commercial medium in the long term. But our absolute focus is on our core radio business and the economics of esports in the Australian market are yet to deliver sustainable, positive earnings. It is critical our investments deliver value for shareholders and with esports there is no certainty on when a positive contribution might be achieved.”

 

Source: Esports Insider

 

US Tariff on Game Consoles

New Tariffs on electronic devices made in China were set to go into place on September 1st, however, the United States Trade Representative said they will delay the tariffs until December 15th. The tariffs cover cellphones, laptops, some toys, computer monitors, video game consoles, and some clothes. The tariff was originally announced in May. Since then Apple, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft have all sent letters to the USTR stating the tariffs would have an impact on the US economy and force them to raise the prices of their products. What does this mean for consumers? If you’re planning on getting anyone a console for Christmas, buy it now! In fact, Donald Trump even mentioned Christmas while addressing the press.
“We’re doing this for Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. customers, which, so far, they’ve had virtually none. The only impact has been that we’ve collected almost $60 billion from China – compliments of China. But just in case they might have an impact on people, what we’ve done is we’ve delayed it so that they won’t be relevant for the Christmas shopping season.”

Of course, what Trump said isn’t accurate. The tariffs aren’t being paid by the country they’re coming from or even the countries in that country. They’re a tax on the good being brought into the country by companies that typically end up being passed on to consumers. So don’t be surprised when Christmas is more expensive than usual this year.

Source: Cnet

 

Loot Crate Files for Bankruptcy

Loot Crate has been struggling quite a bit over the last 18 months and has now filed for bankruptcy. However, they’re also claiming they will continue with business as usual. Investor Money Chest LLC has purchased the company’s term-loan and offered $10 million to help keep operations going. Loot Crate said they will continue to pay their employees as usual and overall, from the way they speak of it things seem to be quite smooth.

However, former employees have made claims stating otherwise. Two days before the bankruptcy was announced Loot Crate laid off 50 employees with no severance and no warning. With one of them saying to GamesIndustry.biz, “There’s been a lot of speculation that the reason for that was those who put this layoff together knew the company would be filing bankruptcy, and that they did this knowing former employees couldn’t pursue legal action because of bankruptcy protections. Is this how and why this went down the way it did? I don’t have the ability to say, but I can see the sense in it from those involved in making the decision who likely were apathetic to the employees that would be lost.”

Lootcrate now employs 60 people.

 

Source: Games Industry

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Worlds Adrift is Hosting an End of the World Event as the Game Shuts Down Tomorrow

Worlds Adrift is hosting an end of the world event for the last few hours the game remains online tomorrow. Beginning at 7 Pacific Time one final event will be running in the game which can be watched on Twitch if you can’t make it there in person.

The shutdown of this unique spatialOS MMORPG was announced back at the very end of May. In the FAQ about the shutdown they said this about the shutdown; “Making such an ambitious game was always going to be a challenge and we love the game we’ve built together with our community. However, Worlds Adrift has not captured the imagination of as many people as we needed to make it commercially viable.”

Unfortunately, the game was plagued with terrible griefing problems and the addition of PvE servers came a little too late. According to Steam Charts however, the game never really got an audience. Its all time peak number of players was just 2,031 and that happened back in May 2018. There was a little bit of a boost in October when the PvE servers were introduced, but that boost didn’t last.

On the bright side, this isn’t the end of Bossa. In their FAQ they make it clear that the studio will continue and that they always have 3 games in development. One game that we do know is in the works is Pigeon Simulator which will be on PC, PS4, and Xbox One, and yes, it is exactly what you think it is.

 

 

Source: Official Site and Steam Charts

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Improbable, Epic Games, and Umi Co. Ltd. Team up to Make New MMO Code: Odyssey

Improbable, the makers of SpatialOS, Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, and Umi Co. Ltd., the makers of…well, actually they’re pretty much an unknown Chinese developer…the three of them are teaming up to create an MMO 2.0 game currently called Code: Odyssey.

The game will be created using Unreal Engine 4 and this won’t be Umi’s first. They already have a mobile MMORPG using Unreal Engine 4 that was released in China and another one, besides Code: Odyssey in development.

From the sound of it Code: Odyssey might actually be a title we see get a global release. It’s being called a “super large scale sandbox open-world MMO 2.0” with an aim to create a global cultural IP derived from China. It is just one of many games that have been announced recently that uses Chinese myths and legends with a steampunk theme.

So far that’s all we know about Code: Odyssey. But, it caught our eye because SpatialOS has a lot of potential but doesn’t get used nearly often enough.

Dragon Raja

Also, in China, the game previously known as Project: SU which is in the works between Epic and Loong Entertainment was finally given a name. It’s being called Dragon Raja and it will be another Unreal Engine 4 MMORPG. And yes, this one is a mobile game too, that’s the world we live in now. The game will feature, amongst other things PvP battles that support up to 100 players. It’s based on the Chinese novel Dragon Raja, not the Korean one with the same name. Tencent will be publishing the game in China.

 

Source: MMOCulture, MMOCulture

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SpatialOS Unveils a Dev Kit for Unity

The SpatialOS platform, which provides cloud services to a number of online worlds like Worlds Adrift and Fractured, is branching out once again. A new SpatialOS Unity dev kit has been introduced, allowing game developers the ability to make their own large-scale online titles with the Unity engine.

spatialos unity dev kit

The new dev kit offers the same features for managing and hosting large online play spaces for games, but also comes with modular game features to create a variety of online games and performance improvements to SpatialOS overall. There’s even an open source FPS Starter Project module that lets Unity developers create an online shooter that can handle as many as 200 players at once right out of the box.

“Fast iteration means you can focus on what’s most important – finding the fun in your game,” remarks Improbable’s global marketing head Paul Thomas. “Improbable’s focus with the SpatialOS GDK (game developer kit) for Unity is allowing developers to create unique content faster than ever.”

Those who are interested in finding out more about SpatialOS for Unity can get the details and download here.

Our Thoughts

Well, this most definitely opens things up! There are quite a few game dev studios out there that prefer to work in Unity, so offering them the chance to make their own MMOs and large-scale online games is extremely exciting to us to say the least!

Source: press release

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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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SpatialOS: Making MMOs Big Again

Is SpatialOS The Next Big Tech?

Improbable has been on our radar for a while here at MMOGames. Who doesn’t love new technology? There’s always something to keep an eye on in the gaming world and the small shifts in technology can have a lasting impact on our multiplayer games. How many new games have been spawned by the suddenly free professional game engines? How many games suddenly have more voxels than you can shake the stick you made out of voxels in the game at? How many people remember the hope and promise of StoryBricks?

Admittedly, not all technology is created equal and not all good ideas get to be games. Taking two examples above of voxel technology and StoryBricks, the ideas behind them while genius wasn’t enough to see Everquest Next to fruition or the longevity of Landmark. Of course, there are always other factors at play around games: the money, the talent, the studio … and now thanks to 2018 porn stars and geopolitics.

Still, I can’t quite help but get excited when a new technology gets to shine both a light on itself and on the potential in the future. Shadowed images, almost ideas that could be. There are chances with new technology to take our worlds all sorts of places. Why else did every crowdfunding project in a certain window three or so years ago offer or outright pledge VR support? It was the wave of the future! A silly one in some cases, but still a wave.

This particular technology is getting more and more press thanks to E3 2018. Mavericks: Proving Grounds had bold claims of big player counts in the battle royale genre. No mere 100 players for them, they were going for 1000. It’s eye-catching to be sure but the technology, SpatialOS, caught my eye early last year when instead of being part of the battle royale revolution, it was used for a darling indie MMO.

Mavericks: Proving Grounds

RainBow

Developers Krillbite Studio wanted to do something for the Norwegian Gameplay Championship. We’ve all heard of game jams turning out fun little games in tight timeframes and with not many people behind them. How about an MMO in a week? The idea is clearly insane. A week to create a game that a lot of people could play, that could be entered into a competition and because they apparently don’t do things by halves in Norway, tackle the concept of xenophobia as the theme.

You can read their full adventure in putting the game together here. Suffice to say that the developers turned to Improbable and SpatialOS … and got the game done. There’s almost certainly going to be people who will look at the blog post and the concept of the game and try to draw comparisons to Agar.io or similar games but there’s no pleasing everyone I am afraid.

The point here is the technology exists and works with the engines our favorite devs already work with.

So what about it?

Let’s go first with what they claim themselves both on the Improbable website and in the promotional material for Mavericks: Proving Grounds.

Meaningful Persistence and Massive Scale

You can’t argue that being able to host ten times the number of people in a standard battle royale in a single match isn’t impressive. We’ll see eventually when it comes out if it is actually fun, but that’s not something you find in support documents or video tutorials. The skill of the devs and the execution of the vision will decide if the game is fun or not. I will admit I will be very amused at the thought of a thousand people at once squatting in bushes waiting to see who breaks first, but I never claimed to be normal.

The change in scale offers us options in plenty of avenues. I have no idea off hand how many players Crowfall hopes to have taking part in any particular siege but I bet it could be scaled up. The scaling technology could also deal with issues a more traditionally designed game might have with areas of high traffic and lag, but you’d have to grab a developer and ask them to be sure. What we players dream does not always match reality, especially where actual development is involved.

The idea of meaningful persistence is also a very alluring one. Setting fire to a forest to smoke out a number of foes or just to deprive them of cover. Demolishing things that stand in your way or cutting off retreat. We will be seeing plenty of developers looking at, for example, Crowfall with its physics and voxels and wondering how they can make it all last longer. After all, the hardest thing with any MMO is to make the world feel alive as living things change. The world shouldn’t be as soft as cheese because players absolutely will undermine the bedrock of everything just because they were bored, but the idea of taking a persistent world and being able to see the scars of its history as we play out our games is definitely appealing to me.

It is far too early to herald Mavericks: Proving Grounds as the next big thing in technology but it is certainly one of the most interesting things. It is also prophetically named. Whatever other projects are currently eyeing up or already deploying the talents of SpatialOS exist, they aren’t making the same noise. One way or another, this bold, big new entry into the battle royale genre will be the proving ground for more than just the players. It will prove the technology is or isn’t viable… and it will prove if we will be seeing more of it.

Great projects can die, just look at StoryBricks. That said, the possibilities offered by SpatialOS have the chance to make MMOs feel huge again in a way we have long since lost under fast travel and flying mounts.

Only time will tell if a huge world is a good one or merely a big empty promise.

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