MMO Business Roundup: Stardew, Curse, Epic, Niantic, unionization, and HOTS’ wrecked esports scene


Welcome back to another catch-all post of gaming business stuff that might otherwise slip through the cracks!

Stardew Valley creator Eric Barone, who recently took back over publishing of his wildly popular sandbox, announced that he’s sidelining his next game in order to form a team to “keep making new content for Stardew Valley,” including a new free content update that’s on the way. “This world is so full of potential, I could probably work on it for the rest of my life,” he writes. “There’s also such a wonderful community surrounding the game… and I like making you guys happy.”

Twitch announced last week that it’s selling off Curse Media to Fandom (you probably know it best as Wikia). Curse, of course, is widely used by online gamers and MMO players for its mod hosting platforms, though as Gamasutra notes, it’s more likely Fandom wants the Gamepedia wing of Curse Media in an effort to consolidate its hold on the fan wiki market.

More info on the Epic Games Store deal has come to light thanks to Rebel Galaxy developers, who in the process of explaining why the game wouldn’t be on Steam immediately revealed that part of the Epic Games signing deal requires them to stay exclusive to Epic’s platform for a year. They aren’t mad about it, either: “Is some form of exclusive content required to get the momentum to make that happen?
Yes. And we’re willing to get on board to make that happen. The only way this gets any traction is with some exclusive content and we’re willing to be one of the canaries in the mineshaft. Do we hope there is a big upside for us? Sure. That’d be amazing. But we also hope this is the start of establishing a new standard.”

Not all video game companies slumped this year in tandem with the overall market: Pokemon Go company Niantic, for example, is currently worth $4 billion, thanks in part to its latest venture capital raise.

Last week, video game industry unionization effort Game Workers Unite announced that it has become an official branch of The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain. GIbiz calls it the “second union in the world to represent industry employees” in video games. The first is STJV in France, formed last year.

Finally, as we reported last week, Blizzard announced that it was scaling back Heroes of the Storm development, ending its esports program, and pulling developers for other projects. Polygon chronicles the creator and esports scene as folks have been devastated by the news, including people who’d dropped out of college to pursue pro careers and signed leases and said they’d been entirely left in the dark by Blizzard for many months. HOTS Production Director Kaéo Milker also penned a letter, but it’s more to the playerbase and doesn’t apologize to those whose real lives have now been disrupted by Blizzard’s change of plans.

With thanks to Xijit and BalsBigBrother!
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