MMO Business Roundup: Japanese lockboxes, POGO and Square Enix financials, and Prima’s end

    
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“The Good Times Are Over for Japan’s Loot-Box-Style Gaming Bonanza” – that’s the brutal headline plonked onto this week’s Bloomberg report on Japanese lockboxes. Specifically, we’re talking about gacha here, which is a type of gamblebox akin to Guild Wars 2’s mount lockboxes (rather than the more generic type). If you’ve gone down a toy aisle in the US in the last year and spied the “mystery box” stands on every endcap, you’ve seen the gacha plague descending there too.

Bloomberg says that while gacha exploitation has “generated at least $55 billion since 2007,” that’s on the wane now, though it’s apparently because Chinese and South Korean games are outcompeting Japan and “the gacha business model is under pressure to change.” According to the analysts interviewed, the country’s 2012 reforms had little impact on the booming smartphone market, and while Japanese gacha games traditionally raked in big bucks, they’re now being outspent and out-creativitied by China and Korea.

In other business news, Sensor Tower (via GI.biz) has some new numbers up for Pokemon Go; Niantic reportedly pulled in $73 million in gross revenue in October alone – an increase of 67% over October of 2017. “This ranked it one spot ahead of Fortnite from Epic Games,” the firm notes. Worth pointing out is that about two-thirds of that revenue comes from Japan and the US alone, split almost evenly. Android users are a clear majority as well.

A bit of dark financial news out of Final Fantasy XIV publisher Square Enix: The company has apparently scaled back its relatively new studio Luminous Productions, suggesting that it will focus on AAA titles, presumably at the expense of the other media projects – including the Final Fantasy XV’s prequel film. As GIbiz notes, that’s led to a $33M loss, compounded by additional sales losses for the last two quarters. The company still anticipates a net sales gain for the year, though profits are expected to be down nearly 20% year over year. One YouTube referred it outright as a total meltdown (thanks, Rafael!).

Finally, Prima Games, which has been churning out video game guides for decades, announced it’s closing down next spring.

Spot any business news relevant to MMO player interests that you think we should cover? Send it our way!

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