MMO Business Roundup: Overpaid gaming CEOs, FTC’s lootbox workshops, and why online launches are trainwrecks

    
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Kick it down the road.

Welcome back to another MMO Business Roundup, where we check in on all your favorite flaming dumpster fires in the gaming business world.

The 2019 As You Sow report on most overpaid CEOs is out, and you bet it includes some video game company bosses. Activision-Blizzard’s Bobby Kotick is ranked at 45 with over $28M annual pay – not a great look given the company’s mass-layoffs following a record revenue year. EA’s Andrew Wilson clocked in at 98 with $35M. (The watchdog group calculates the rankings not based on the pay alone but on multiple factors, including shareholder return – via Gamasutra.)

Did you think the FTC was blowing smoke when it agreed to commit to an investigation on the effects and impacts of lootboxes in video games last year? Well it might still be, but it’s since announced it’s going to hold public workshops on the issue in 2019, with the goal of bringing together “consumer advocacy organizations, parent groups, and industry members” for discussion.

Finally, GamesRadar has a solid piece up interviewing multiple devs on what the heck almost nobody can manage to launch an online game without a total trainwreck – something every veteran MMORPG player is well acquainted with. Devs from companies like EA, Massive, BioWare, and even old Gazillion argue that it isn’t always an issue of insufficient server hardware or capacity anymore; login bottlenecks are often the real problem in a world where you can pop up a new Amazon server in a few minutes. ISP issues, server pipeline bugs, or even memory leaks can throw a wrench in the works, and not even the biggest company in the world can simulate the crush of live players in testing.

With thanks to Serrenity and Ben!

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Mewmew
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Mewmew

“not even the biggest company in the world can simulate the crush of live players in testing”

Hmm you’d think that there may be a way to simulate it. Use a program that’s connecting from multiple different servers far away all hitting the login server with a great many logins. You’d need to spread the connections all over the place so that they’re not bottlenecked going out either, but there could be a way to simulate it.

Of course it would take money, and other than the bloated CEO paychecks (of which they wouldn’t take a dime less to help launch issues go smoother) there isn’t a lot of extra money to go around for that kind of testing for something that usually works itself out after a number of days.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Gotta love the nashing and wailing of teeth, not to mention bloodletting when it comes to discussion of executive salaries and layoffs in the gaming industry. Like somehow this business should operate differently than any other business in corporate America simply because of the product they produce.

When Toys R Us closed up shop last year, tens if thousands of employees were left with nothing in their hands, while the top level suits walked away with million dollar bonuses for essentially running the business into the ground for years to force a bankruptcy, allowing the investment corporations who owned the brand and sadled it with all that debt to conveniently wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

And the layoffs at Acti- blizzard were a blood bath? Give me a break.

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Bruno Brito

When Toys R Us closed up shop last year, tens if thousands of employees were left with nothing in their hands, while the top level suits walked away with million dollar bonuses for essentially running the business into the ground for years to force a bankruptcy, allowing the investment corporations who owned the brand and sadled it with all that debt to conveniently wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

Maybe that’s a problem with the WHOLE system?

I don’t know, does that sound good to you?

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Certainly not, but let’s keep all this in perspective shall we?

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Bruno Brito

Uh, i am. Again: Where any of this sounds good?

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Armsbend

This is a blog devoted to video games. Perhaps if this were a blog devoted to toys there would be gnashing of teeth about Toys ‘R’ Us in the comments.

I don’t think anyone is suggesting that only video games economic systems be changed – on the contrary. If you haven’t noticed socialism and a call for change is taking deeper root in the United States. It is a predictable path. Every nation, city-state, empire, etc has taken this exact same road since road – and likely before that.

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Armsbend

should have said, ‘…same road since Rome’. Bugs me I got that wrong :)

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Mr.McSleaz

& When Rome went the “Socialism” route it died.

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Bruno Brito

Western civilization hangs by a thread – to rescue it, we must delve deep into the past to find out how to save the future. The fall of the Roman Empire closely mirrors the challenges currently facing Europe and North America – toxic multiculturalism, rampant immigration, runaway feminism, debt, currency corruption, wildly antagonistic politics – everything we need to know to save everything we love is written deep in the history of ancient Rome – all we need to do is look!

Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio, takes you on a journey deep into the philosophical, cultural, economic and political causes of the decline and death of ancient Rome. Once you understand what happened in the past, you will never again be confused by what is happening now – and never be more certain about how to change what is to come.

No. God no.

The Roman empire fell because it was too big for itself. Everything happening inside it was a consequence. EVERY empire falls. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. And it falls because of the hubris from the people on top.

Also:

toxic multiculturalism, rampant immigration, runaway feminism

Yeah. No.

And:

Stefan Molyneux, host of Freedomain Radio

Great credentials right there.

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Jack Kerras

Nope.

It’s just that every business in corporate America should operate differently, because they’re bleeding us fucking dry as a whole country.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

No argument there.

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Bannex

And in this episode of crying about CEO salaries…

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Tobasco da Gama

The watchdog group calculates the rankings not based on the pay alone but on multiple factors, including shareholder return – via Gamasutra.

“Crying”.

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Randy Savage

Who decides how much CEO’s get paid? The board of directors. And who decides who sits on the board? The shareholders. So maybe the shareholders are happy with their returns since they’re not calling for the heads of these so-called overpaid CEO’s.

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Bruno Brito

Who produces the things that makes these people rich?

How much of the cut do they get?

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Bruno Brito

I’m curious, how does suit balls taste?

Can you tell me?

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Randy Savage

Better than Karl Marx’s balls

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Armsbend

I want all of the balls.

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Bruno Brito

Live balls are way better than dead balls for sure.

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Utakata

I prefer cubes. o.O

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Robert Mann

Given the executive salaries have been up (balanced against dollar value) over 22000%, while worker salaries are down over 60%, during a period from 1962 to now… yeah, people are upset. Go figure. *Frankly, as much as I’m not about to advocate standard models, this is a problem.*

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PanagiotisLial1

The funny question would be, to joke a bit, how many lootboxes would be needed to fund a CEO hire? lol

I mean are people generally mostly paying those when buying/opening lootboxes?

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Fervor Bliss

With Facebook and Youtube being able to handle the amounts of logins and distributing content (not to mention placing ads on top of all that). With database sharding having working models. I’m am just skeptical that “no one can model crush of live players”. Events like World Cup and Super bowl do happen. Yes these events are only live 4k video and not a video game launch. (rolls eyes)

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Armsbend

Shows where the talent is going – and developer priorities.

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Fervor Bliss

Yes I think the truth is they will not pay to model the crush of live players. Just because you will not pay for a kitchen overhaul. Does not mean it is impossible. Meanwhile, just use the electric lime green stove.

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rafael12104

FTC workshops on Loot Boxes? Err… WTF?

Listen, a Workshops, generally, are used as forums to teach and learn. Is the FTC unable to understand the loot box? Heh. I’m sorry but the term workshop is just so horribly used by the feds that it is disconcerting.

We aren’t scrapbooking or looking for best methods in macrame…

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Armsbend

You thought the Feds would be quick and efficient about this?

I want to live on your Idealistic Planet.