MMO Money: A Week of Lawsuits and Nintendo Being Awesome

Lawsuits abound this week in the online gaming world with both Activision Blizzard and Epic Games the focus of new lawsuits. Meanwhile, Nintendo gives us a much-needed breath of fresh air with how they treat gamers and their employees. Bidding for Nexon is set to begin in April with the list of bidders reduced to just 5. Find all of this and more in this week’s MMO Money.

 

Nexon Shortlists Five Bidders for the Company

There has been quite a lot of interest in Nexon recently from major companies around the world including Disney, EA, Comcast, Tencent, and many others. But, Nexon has now lowered that list to just 5 bidders. Those five include Tencent and Kakao Corp. along with three private equity firms, Bain Capital, MBK Partners, and an unidentified firm. Quite significantly Netmarble isn’t included in this list. Netmarble had been putting together a consortium of Korean firms to bid together, believing that selling to an overseas company will damage the local games industry. In fact, this may be why we don’t see any Western-based interests in the shortlist. Bidding for the 98.64% share of Nexon that is expected to be worth as much as $13.3 billion is expected to begin in early April.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Nintendo Asks Mobile Partners to Stop Players From Spending So Much

In a time when it seems like all game companies are after is your money Nintendo comes out and gives you a little bit of faith in the industry once more. The company is concerned with its self-image and has asked some of its mobile game development partners to adjust the microtransactions in their games so players are less likely to overspend. A source at CyberAgent, who owns the developers of Dragalia Lost told the Wall Street Journal, “Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game. If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”

This also comes less than a week after a recruitment page for Nintendo shed some light on what it’s like working for the company. The average salary is ¥9.03 million, that’s $80,000, employees can potentially get bonuses in June and December plus a pay increase every April. The average workday at Nintendo is seven hours and forty-five minutes long. As if all of that doesn’t already sound amazing full-time employees stay at the company for an average of 13.5 years. Anyone familiar with the games industry in the West will know that developers tend not to stay in one company for very long. If you’re interested in knowing more about that check out this article from Polygon.

From a personal point of view both of these pieces of news make me more likely to look at Nintendo games and support what they’re doing. Their views and the way they treat their employees is a breath of fresh air in the games industry today.

 

Source: Wall Street Journal, Games Industry

 

 

Vivendi Sells Remaining Ubisoft Shares

Ubisoft Joins Forces With Horror Movie Studio

Its been almost a year since Vivendi announced it was going to stop trying to acquire Ubisoft and finally the remaining shares it had in the company have been sold. The remaining shares it had was about 5% of the company, €429 million.

At one point in time, Vivendi owned a 27.3% stake in the company and though its attempts to own the company completely failed they did bring in about €2 billion, a capital gain of €1.2 billion. Though they failed to achieve their original goal you can hardly call the entire thing a failure. I’d love to fail my way to €2 billion, that’s about $2.2 billion USD. Vivendi has stated that they will honor their agreement and not buy shares in Ubisoft for at least 5 years.

Vivendi had previously owned Activision Blizzard but it sold the company to an investment group led by Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly for $8.2 billion. That deal pushed Vivendi out of the games industry for 3 years until it bought its way back in with a hostile takeover of Gameloft.

 

Source: Games Industry

 

A New Law firm is Encouraging Shareholders to Sue Activision Blizzard Over Bungie Split

Another law firm is inviting shareholders to join in a class action lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, accusing the company of misleading shareholders over the end of its partnership with Bungie. The firm’s loss submission form makes the following claims:

Activision failed to disclose that “the termination of Activision Blizzard and Bungie’s partnership… was imminent”

That this termination “would foreseeably have a significant negative impact on Activision Blizzard’s revenues.”

And as a result “Activision Blizzard’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all times.”

Activision Blizzard previously said that the split from Bungie was because Destiny 2 failed to meet financial expectations. But in a recent SEC filing, the company recognized $164 million in revenue from Destiny for 2018 as a result of the split.

This comes at a time when shareholders for Activision Blizzard aren’t too happy with the company. They’ve had to warn investors that cutting hundreds of jobs (800 in total) may damage the company. They even went so far as to say there can be “no assurance that our business will be more efficient or effective” than it was before this new strategy.

Why can’t you be more like Nintendo?

 

Source: Games Industry

 

Man Sues Epic Games Over Predatory Loot Boxes

While we’re on the topic of lawsuits we should mention that Epic Games is being sued, yet again. This time though it isn’t because they used a dance in their game, instead it’s over allegations that Epic Games has engaged in predatory schemes with loot boxes in Fortnite. They allege that Epic intentionally designed Save the World to hinder player’s progress if they didn’t spend real money. They also say that Epic has “made a fortune on in-game purchases, preying in large part on minors who are especially susceptible to such predatory tactics.” The lawsuit accuses Epic of violating California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law.

What the lawsuit doesn’t mention though is that since January Epic Games now shows the contents of loot llamas in Save the World before they’re purchased with V-Bucks. So it is possible that the lawsuit won’t go anywhere since they’ve already made changes to the areas that the lawsuit covers.

 

Source: Games Industry

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MMO Money: Fortnite Forever

A large portion of every MMO Money article we’ve done for months now has been dedicated to lockboxes, but it seems like things might be calming down on that front as politicians and players move on to focus on other things. In reality, they’ve all just been distracted playing Fortnite, which has continued to be a massive success for Epic.

 

More Battle Royale in the Future

Fortnite Success

Analysts are predicting that there will be more Battle Royale games in the future following the massive PUBG and Fortnite success. An article on investors.com was released that said some investors are worried that Fortnite is drawing attention away from games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Grand Theft Auto. Wall Street analysts predict that Fortnite will have a modest impact on the major game publishers in the short term, but long-term they’re predicting that EA, Activision, and Take-Two are all likely to introduce Battle Royale games of their own or release it as part of a game already in the works. Analyst Michael Olson from Piper Jaffray, an investment banker and management firm, believes that we will see Battle Royale modes for games like Call of Duty and Battlefield in the second half of 2018 or early 2019. If that’s the case, it will mean that these are likely to be revealed at E3. MMOGames will be keeping a close eye on these publishers to see if the prediction comes to pass.

 

Sea of Thieves UK Hit

Despite the launch issues and the complaints that there isn’t much content in the game, Sea of Thieves is top of the UK charts for the week ending March 24th. The previous week, Burnout Paradise Remastered topped the list but after several high profile releases, it has dropped down to 6th. On Metacritic, Sea of Thieves currently has a 70% based on critic’s reviews and a 5.3 based on user reviews. Will Sea of Thieves be able to hold on to that top spot after such a rough start? Only time will tell, but it is going up against Far Cry 5 which released this week so chances are pretty slim.

 

Vivendi Sells Ubisoft Stock

You may recall that Vivendi has been trying to do a hostile takeover of Ubisoft for some time now. They own a 27% stake in the company, or at least they did until recently. It would appear that the idea of a hostile takeover is behind us now as Vivendi has sold its stock in Ubisoft. Part of the sales agreement adds that Vivendi cannot buy more Ubisoft stock for the next five years. At the same time this was revealed, Ubisoft announced they were teaming up with Tencent to move into the Chinese market. Tencent will operate several of Ubisoft’s most successful PC and Mobile games.

 

Fortnite Tops iOS Charts

It seems like just yesterday every other story was about PUBG, now every other story is about Fortnite. Not that we’re complaining, it’s a great game. Fortnite has also made the leap to mobile where it instantly topped the charts in just about every market it was released in. In just 4 days after release, the game made $1.5 million, just on iOS.

 

Epic Releases $12 Million in Paragon Assets for Free

paragon v.40

Do you remember that other game Epic was working on that wasn’t Fortnite? Paragon, the MOBA they canceled. Well, Epic is being epic and releasing 12 million dollars worth of assets from Paragon for free to be used in Unreal Engine 4 development. $12 million and that isn’t even all of their assets that they’ll be releasing from the game. It wasn’t all amazing news though. There was a rumor that Tencent may buy the game from Epic. The release of these assets pretty much killed that rumor, leaving people who had their fingers crossed disappointed.

 

Pantropy Kickstarter Canceled

Pantropy

We’re moving away from Epic and Fortnite to talk about Pantropy now. The sci-fi MMO shooter was holding a Kickstarter campaign, but it was struggling to reach its goal. In fact, it was only just a little over halfway to the €75,000 goal when the devs pulled the plug. It isn’t all bad though, the devs have promised that they’re going to make changes and come back again sometime at the end of March. They have also received multiple publishing and investment offers, but they reassure fans that they are going to remain independent. The game is still expected to be released in Steam Early Access later this year. It will be interesting to see if this move of relaunching their Kickstarter campaign works. Many times the relaunch of the Kickstarter doesn’t get as much press as the original and also doesn’t make as much money.

 

H1Z1 Charts

We’ve been talking about H1Z1 for a few weeks now. It started out with the shocking report that the game had lost 90% of its playerbase. Shortly after that, the game launched, giving it a very small boost in player numbers. Then Daybreak made the game free to play and it received a substantial boost in players. Since that happened in early March, H1Z1 has seen a very slow decline in player numbers on Steam. It’s a bit early to say for sure, but it looks like March 2018 has been the best month they’ve had this year thanks to the change in their business model.

 

Star Wars Battlefront II Won’t Have Lockboxes

Star Wars Battlefront II

It was only a matter of time before we had to talk about lockboxes. There isn’t anything new on the political front at the moment. Instead, we get to talk about the most controversial game of the entire lockbox saga; Star Wars Battlefront II. EA announced that they are overhauling the entire progression system. Lockboxes won’t be coming back and everything you’ve unlocked already is yours to keep.

Just a week after this was announced it came out that EA may also be starting work on a new Star Wars game, this one will be open world. This came from job listings that mention creating a Star Wars open world game. So, if you had hopes that Disney might pull the plug on the agreement with EA, it seems that this isn’t happening, for now at least.

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