MMO Business Roundup: Video game gambling, toxicity, post-lawsuit reconciliation, and successful UX design


Welcome back to another mish-mash roundup of MMO-business-related happenings that just don’t fit in anywhere else. To wit:

On game gambling: Remember the bizarrely bad optics of Rockstar putting a glitzy casino in GTAO in the middle of a global crackdown on actual video game gambling? Turns out it’s more than bad optics: There’s a huge list of countries whose residents can’t even play pretend casino in the game, including China, Argentina, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, and UAE, where gambling even in games is more or less illegal. As Gamasutra points out, players can still play the game; they’ll just find features “unavailable” when they try to gamble in the gameworld.

On toxicity: The Anti-Defamation League conducted a survey of gamers to determine the level of toxicity experienced in gaming. Nearly three-quarters said they’d been harassed, over half said they’d been “targeted based on their race, religion, ability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ethnicity,” and almost a third claimed to have been doxxed in an online game. A quarter of players say they avoid specific games because of rampant harassment too. Unsurprisingly, the games indentified as being the most harassment-stuffed are online competitive titles like League of Legends, Overwatch, and PUBG. The civil rights group said “it’s imperative for industry leaders and policymakers to take action to prevent this poisonous ecosystem from overflowing and causing additional harm.”

On reconciliation: Remember back when PUBG Corp. lodged a plagiarism lawsuit against Epic Games right around the time Fortnite was taking off and eating away at PUBG’s slice of the battle royale pie? The suit was dropped half a year later, and now PUBG’s told PCGN that it’s not carrying a grudge. “People have this idea that there’s some animosity or something with Epic, but they’re one of our best partners, we talk to them all the time,” the studio director says, arguing that the “PUBG formula is unique, [that] there really is nothing else out there like it.”

On UX success: User experience expert Celia Hodent has published a detailed piece on why exactly Fortnite has been such an explosive success – from the perspective of psychology. She ought to know: She was the Director of User Experience at Epic Games from 2013 until late 2017, meaning she is a large part of what drove Fortnite to success. (Random: I took the awareness test Hodent links and immediately saw the thing, but I bet I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t basically trained for years to watch things other than the ball at basketball games.)

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