MMO Business Roundup: The Fair Play Alliance, Warface splits from Crytek, ESA expansions, and WoW esports


We’re back with another quick roundup of MMO industry news!

Remember the Fair Play Alliance? It was supposed to be a group of major and minor gaming companies coming together to “develop and share best practices in encouraging healthy communities and awesome player interactions in online gaming.” Blizzard, EA, Epic Games, Riot, Twitch, Ubisoft, and Discord are among the notables there. And it is indeed continuing; this week the group announced an all-day summit at GDC, with presentations on social systems, penalization systems, player behavior myths, healthy community tooks, and player behavior research.

Crytek isn’t having the best year, what with its lawsuit against Cloud Imperium Games not going so well. Now, it appears that the studio responsible for the five-year-old shooter Warface has split off from Crytek and set up a new independent company called Blackwood Games Studio. Crytek characterized the move as best for the future of the game, while Blackwood’s new boss wrote, “It’s very important for us to focus on developing Warface in a way that lives up to players’ expectations. […] We have kept the development team intact, and their expertise will allow us to move forward with our plans and ideas. Yet we’re very thankful to Crytek for all the great years together and for their commendable support of this move.” [Thanks, Kinya!]

The Electronic Software Association (ESA) has expanded: The industry group announced today that it’s added six new companies to its roster, including Riot, Sega, THQ Nordic, and Wizards of the Coast. According to GIbiz, half of the list are former members now rejoining.

Finally, Blizzard is touting the start of World of Warcraft’s Arena World Championship this weekend. And yes they have an app for that. The first events begin at 1 p.m. tomorrow.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

I do remember the fair play stuff. Blizz did a very good session on it at BlizzCon with all sorts of data about what works and what isn’t helpful which got almost no coverage and was certainly drowned out by the Blizzard Immortal ruckus, which included some examples of what Blizz was on about at that very presentation.

One of their points was that tarring a whole community as bad over the actions of what is almost always a few bad characters is likely just to make more of the community angry and resentful. So you saw Blizz trying to back away from blaming the community while some of the gaming press was doing that over and over.

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Jack Pipsam

Crytek has been going down a black-hole for a while now. Not paying their employees, mass layoffs, game cancellation, having to sell off the Homefront IP (I doubt making back what they lost on it) along with the studio making it effectively closing and reforming under with a different publisher.
It seems their main focus is VR (yeah like that’ll go well) and that Hunt game which has been in early access for ages now.

CryEngine itself becomes less relevant every year as more devs big and small switch to Unreal Engine 4, which was already happening long before this new juicy Epic Game Store thing.

The last major game they released was Ryse: Son of Rome as an Xbox One launch title. Microsoft apparently offered to fully fund a sequel (it’s an expensive game) on the condition they get to acquire the IP as part of it. Crytek refused as they wanted to keep the IP, understandable in a way, but alone they’re unable to do anything with it of any note.
I strongly suspect they’re regretting not taking that deal when they had the chance, not like EA wants to work with them again for Crysis.

Then again they’re still around, so they must be cooking up something which isn’t just the Hunt.

Bruno Brito

Arena Championship

Ah yes, the world-wide event of major pillarhumping and cooldown yelling known to humans.