After announcing that Fractured Space was ending development the news that Wargaming acquires Edge Case, the makers of Fractured Space is a bit of a surprise. What isn’t a surprise though is that Activision is tightening its grip on Blizzard and making them focus more on money. This represents a massive change in the culture at Blizzard. One that some former developers aren’t too keen on and may, in fact, be responsible for Diablo Immortal. This week we also found out what the top grossing games in October were, though the top games really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows the industry. Finally, we get a new report from the UK Gambling Commission that doesn’t show any connection between lootboxes and gambling, despite what some who reported on the matter interpreted from the report. You can find all of that and much more in this week’s dive into the business behind games, MMO Money.
Activision Tightening Its Grip on Blizzard
Activision and Blizzard have been together since 2007 but, according to a recent article from Kotaku, Activision has started having a greater influence over Blizzard. Much of it started with Activision Blizzard’s Senior VP of Investor Relations took on the role of CFO at Blizzard earlier this year. Shortly after she was appointed she told employees that Blizzard was looking to save money this year. This is very different from the message previously given. Anonymous employees who spoke to Kotaku said that the way they were being scrutinized you would have thought Blizzard was going under and had no money.
Activision hasn’t been having an amazing year. Share prices have taken a hit and Destiny 2 is underperforming which may be putting a little bit of pressure on the company as a whole. Blizzard has also had a drop in monthly active users for four quarterly reports in a row. That simply comes down to not releasing any new games in a while.
This almost certainly had an influence on Blizzard’s decision to go into mobile games as well. The Kotaku article also says that they have more in the works, including a Warcraft Augmented Reality game like Pokemon Go.
It looks like Blizzard as we once knew it is changing. If that’s a good thing or not depends on how much you have invested in the company.
Wargaming Acquires Edge Case
Last month Edge Case announced they were ending development on Fractured Space. Now we’re finding out that the studio has been acquired by Wargaming. The 32 members of the Edge Case team will be relocating to Wargaming UK’s office bringing the total number working there up to 55. There they will be working on an unannounced F2P MMO. Wargaming UK isn’t looking to acquire any more studios, but they are hiring for a number of positions.
It’s too early to have any idea what exactly the next Wargaming F2P MMO is going to be. But that isn’t going to stop us from hoping that it is going to be World of Spaceships. That’s what happens when you mix Fractured Space with World of Tanks…right? Whatever the game is we’re looking forward to the day it gets announced.
Source: Games Industry
October’s Top Grossing Titles
Superdata released their monthly look at the top grossing titles. For the first time ever console gamers spent over $1 billion on full game downloads in a single month. Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 topped the console charters with Red Dead Redemption 2 and Fortnite in third. Pokemon Go holds the number 2 position as far as mobile games go. Second only to Honour of Kings, a Chinese game which has been at the top for quite a long time now. Overwatch, which didn’t make the top 10 list is seeing microtransactions are down 20% from last October. However, thanks to Halloween they were up from September.
The UK Gambling Commission put out a report that said they are concerned with the increasingly blurred lines between games and gambling. The report also found that 3 in 10 children have opened lootboxes while playing video games. However, this doesn’t mean that lootboxes are a gateway to gambling or that they are themselves gambling, which some media companies reported. For the first time ever questions around awareness and usage of lootboxes were included in an annual survey of 3,000 kids in the UK ages 11 to 16. Speaking to Games Industry a spokeswoman said, “We’ve not in anyway, in the survey, referred to it as exposure to gambling. The reason we’ve asked that question is that it’s a very popular subject matter and we want to try and make sure that we have as much information and data around it as possible.”
The survey did find that 15% of children 11-16 are aware of skin betting websites. However, only 3% have ever participated and this has no connection to lootboxes at all. Awareness of lootboxes was at 54%. Those are kids who said they knew it was possible to pay money for them in games. 31% said they have acquired them and opened them either through their parent or guardian or through their own means.
It’s very disappointing to see that the UK continues to hold a stance that goes against what many countries in Europe have decided. But then again, we have come to expect that sort of thing.
Source: Games Industry