Things are looking pretty rosy for Nexon as the studio posted its Q4 2017 financials. Revenue and profit both shot up compared to the year previous, and Dungeon & Fighter has proved to be a smash hit in China.
Nexon reported that it made around $2.2 billion in revenue for 2017, a number that is up 28.3% from 2016. The company attributed the success to increased sales in China and stable economies among the countries in which it does business.
The studio made 72% of its revenue from PC and 28% from mobile. Breaking income down by countries, China was the largest at 43%, followed by Korea (40%), Japan (6%), and North America (6%). Nexon also split its stock at the time of this report, taking it from 440 million shares to 1.4 billion shares.
Earlier this month, the studio was hit by a round of layoffs that may have impacted as many as 20% of the company’s western office.
GamesIndustry.biz is reporting that Nexon America has undergoing a round of layoffs. The number of affected employees is currently unknown, though a source reportedly told the publication that it may be as many as 20% of the American branch, and Twitter suggests that some of the company’s most front-facing employees – community managers and brand marketers – were hit.
A South Korean Nexon representative says that the restructuring is an attempt to “streamline operations and reset the organisation to pursue a deeper focus on our most promising titles,” claiming that while there were indeed layoffs, “the numbers do not represent any significance to [Nexon’s] overall workforce.” The spokesperson also deflected assumptions that the layoffs are related to the collapse of LawBreakers.
Our sympathies go out to those losing jobs and coworkers this week.
Lies piss me off. I have had MMO developers look me in the eye and lie right to my face. I have had PR promise something and then intentionally break that promise with a shrug. I have had studios mail me statements that are not just playing loose with the truth but dropping it on the ground and driving their boot heel right into it. I’ve had studios claim they never said a thing right up until I produce the recording where they very clearly did (always save your recordings, folks). I’ve been doing this a long time, but nevertheless, just when I think I’ve seen everything, I’m confronted with even more shenanigans.
You folks see plenty too! Just last year, in the midst of what was apparently a furied license negotiation, layoffs, community team silence, missed patch dates, and sexual harassment scandal – some or all of which ultimately led to the abrupt end of Marvel Heroes – Gazillion reps claimed to us that “the company is functioning normally.” And don’t even start me on the “sense of pride and accomplishment” line.
Which MMO studio told the biggest fib last year, and what was it?
Earlier this week, we got a tip claiming that the Albion Online team had been severely cut back before Christmas, perhaps as much as 50%, owing to poor performance. Turns out there were some layoffs, but not quite so many, and in fact the studio says it had ramped up studio numbers ahead of launch and is now downsizing to a live team. Moreover, the studio says its playerbase has “stabilized” and is still growing.
Here’s the full statement Sandbox Interactive issued to Massively OP this afternoon:
“Albion Online saw a successful release in July 2017. To get ready for release, during beta testing, our team size almost doubled to more than 50 people. Now that release is behind us, we are reducing the team size to levels similar to those at the start of pre-release beta testing. 31 people in total, supported by talented freelancers, will constantly improve and expand the game. This goes hand in hand with our strategy to fully focus on the game’s original core vision: with the release of our Kay update in December, player numbers have stabilized at a high level and continue to grow. Our next update, Lancelot, will continue on this path and is set to release in March, with further updates to come according to our road map.”
Our sympathies go out to those affected.
Earlier today, we asked the Chronicles of Elyria team for a statement regarding a tip we’d received about layoffs and salary cutbacks at Soulbound, and presumably in response, the studio has published a fresh letter to the community addressing some of the rumors. Turns out they’re true, and the studio has indeed suffered a round of layoffs.
Jeromy “Caspian” Walsh explains that over the course of the last year, his team had “nearly doubled” in size, but that size was unsustainable, as the company was hoping to have secured a publisher or additional investment but hasn’t yet done so, necessitating the staff reduction.
“As a result of our change in focus, we adjusted our resources accordingly so as to be sustainable solely through sales from our online store,” he says. “Unfortunately this meant parting ways with a few of our team members. This was painful for all of us as we had developed a close bond with everyone in the studio, but it was a necessary action to move forward at the velocity and cost we need to succeed.”
Last week, we reported on a situation brewing on the EVE Online subreddit, where player after player spoke out about the game’s botting problem, exacerbated by a recent post about a specific botter corp leaving expensive capital ships where other players could easily take them out.
Seeking a statement on the botting situation, we reached out to CCP, whose CCP Falcon posted a response to our article on Reddit.
“[Botting is] to the detriment of the game and it needs to be stamped out,” he says. “It’s garbage behavior, it’s against the rules, and it’s something that has a magnified effect in EVE because of the single shard nature of the game, the economy, and the fact that everything on the market is player built or sourced.” Specifically, he dismissed the idea that CCP generates revenue from botters. That said, he also believes CCP has more work to do on the problem.
It’s tradition around here to take stock of Daybreak’s MMO offerings every year, thanks to the fact that one of the first big stories we did after moving from Massively-that-was to MOP centered on Daybreak’s massive transition from SOE and then round upon round of layoffs, way back in 2015. Last year, we counted it out: Daybreak has now shut down approximately 16 games, most of them in the last few years – more than most studios will ever launch.
In 2015, you all thought Dragon’s Prophet was the most vulnerable game in the stable. You were right; it shut down, at least on this side of the pond, that same year. Last year, however, you suspected PlanetSide 2 was most likely to crumble, but instead, the game is still going and picked up a largish patch toward the end of the year. How about this year? Has anything changed with the company that once won best studio four years in a row thanks to its one-time reputation for keeping beloved MMORPGs going? Which Daybreak MMO do you think is most vulnerable now?
Good news for anybody out there worried about the future of EVE Valkyrie: CCP’s Newcastle studio, the one that runs Valkyrie, has been acquired by UK-based Sumo Digital, which isn’t exactly known for VR. According to GIbiz, 34 CCP devs will make the jump to the new group. Sumo Digital has been collaborating with CCP already on Project Nova, the FPS following in DUST 514’s footsteps.
You’ll recall that at the tail end of October 2017, the EVE Online developer announced that it was pulling out of the virtual reality market, with intent to close down or sell off some of its properties while pulling Sparc in-house. Though Valkyrie received an update in the interim, its longer-term future had appeared uncertain until Sumo Digital announced the buyout.
We’ve reached the end of another year, and it’s certainly been a busy one for EVE Online
. This year saw heavy gameplay iteration, with improvements to everything from the UI to ship balance, and the Lifeblood expansion’s total moon mining overhaul
. PvE-focused players got a new AI-driven Resource Wars
activity in high-security space, and an experimental user interface named The Agency has helped tie seasonal in-game events together. New refinery structures caused a bit of a land grab on moons and gave alliances more to fight over, and CCP Games
lifted some of the free to play alpha clone restrictions
to help bring in new players.
It’s the players that make EVE Online special, of course, and this year had no shortage of crazy political shenanigans. We followed The Imperium’s war for revenge in the north of EVE that eventually fizzled out, watched as The Judge betrayed his alliance and stole the largest sum of ISK in the game’s history, and sat aghast as the leader of that alliance was banned for threatening to cut off the thief’s hands in real life. CCP Games itself hasn’t exactly made it through the year unscathed, with the company unexpectedly pulling out of the VR market and laying off around 100 staff worldwide.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look back at the past year of EVE Online news and summarise the highlights.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to do something most of them hate: brag! We’ve tried to isolate our favorite personal work from the year and talk about why we think it matters, then identify our favorite work from somebody else on the site this year and do the same. I always tell them it’s easy, but it never is!
As Counting Crows told us, it’s been a long December, although the fact that it has also only just started being December speaks to something unpleasant in the makeup of this particular month. But it also means that this is a good time to check in on the overall health of various MMORPGs and see which ones look to be in the healthiest state at the end of the year.
This is, I hasten to point out, not a scientific process; last year I pointed to Marvel Heroes as a not-quite-MMORPG title that was still in a very healthy and robust place, and it later turned out that this was entirely not true and had been built upon a foundation of lies. But we’ll cross that bridge if and when we come to it in 2018. What are the healthiest games running right now?
Still reeling from the abrupt early sunset of Marvel Heroes yesterday? Same here. If you want a little closure, maybe check out Kinda Funny Games, which yesterday posted an interview with former Gazillion Systems Designer Anthony Gallegos, who discusses the collapse of the studio.
Gallegos suggests that Gazillion is going through “some kind of bankruptcy” and notes actually furloughed employees a week and a half before the layoffs – and indeed, lost a quarter of its staff from layoffs earlier this year. He also confirms that the license (he says “contract”) for Marvel Heroes was lost in October and negotiations with Disney/Marvel began anew.
This was a time when Gazillion reps were telling the press and the playerbase that “the company [was] functioning normally.” It clearly was not.
While studio layoffs have an immediate effect on the people that are let go, the ramifications of such decisions can end up impacting players as well.
Case in point, EVE Online. CCP’s decision last month to shutter two of its studios included the layoff of most all of the studio’s social media team. One of these employees, CCP Logibro, helped players with organizing tournaments on a separate test server. Without this help, many of these tournaments are in doubt, including this year’s Anger Games. The event was to be the third in the game’s history, but CCP could not scramble to find someone to assist in this, and the tournament had to be canceled.
Players were upset over the last-minute cancellation, but CCP said it couldn’t be helped: “Sorry we weren’t able to support this as planned. At the minute, we’re currently working on prioritizing quite a few community projects and getting our heads together to resume regular service, but unfortunately the Anger Games happened to be too close to recent events for us to be able to assist.”
Here is hoping that next year, CCP will be in a more stable position and can assist players in getting this (and other) tournaments up and running. But for now, CCP is gambling with employees’ lives and hurting the game culture overall.