MMO Business Roundup: Kakao’s controlling stake in XLGAMES, Steam’s new record, Xbox’s games-as-a-service

    
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Welcome back to another roundup of MMO (and MMO-adjacent) industry news!

Kakao Games: Kakao has snapped up a controlling stake in XLGAMES, having acquired 53% of the company’s shares. Kakao is of course a massive Korean media corporation, but even western MMO players know Kakao well, as its European branch currently operates Black Desert’s western PC version for Pearl Abyss. As for XLGAMES, you know it best from its origination of ArcheAge, published here by Gamigo. According to MMO Culture, XL’s founder, Jake Song, will stay in charge of the studio and focus on development (presumably instead of publishing).

Steam: Steam just had a hot weekend, as the platform counted 19,107,803 people online and 6,079,346. Unsurprisingly, a big chunk of those players – 901,681 – were playing CSGO specifically, marking the game’s own all-time player peak, according to tracker SteamDB.

Xbox One: Finally, Microsoft’s Phil Spencer gave an interview on GamerTag radio that dives into both cloud gaming, platform exclusivity, the idea that the company doesn’t need to turn everyone into a subber, and the long-term health and marketing of games. “I don’t think it’s really healthy the way you see decay in retail today,” GIbiz quotes Spencer as saying. “Gamers like buzz, they like what’s hot right now, and a game will come out, and so many people will flip a bid positively or negatively on a game right in the first day or two, and I think people will…miss things that they aren’t playing, or that they even didn’t buy, because they aren’t going to go back and buy last year’s game, because they feel like they missed the buzz time around that game and they’re going to use their new dollars for something that shipped more [recently]. […] When I look at games and how much studios and publishers are spending to develop games, we need to extend the window of when these games are viable, when they have large playerbases, just for the health our industry needs. Games need to find players. GamePass and just subscriptions in general are a way to help people discover games that maybe they missed when they came out.”

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Arktouros

Oof that Game Pass idea took a big hit over night.

Apparently Activision pulled all it’s games from GeForce Now. That’s pretty brutal, imagine buying a game on a cloud platform only to have it yanked entirely.

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Rodrigo Dias Costa

To be fair GeForce Now doesn’t operate as a game store, so you would need to purchase the game on Battle.net still. But yeah, it’s still wild west on the cloud streaming world, so nothing should be taken for granted (a good reminder as to why not be an early adopter).

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psytic

Game Pass for me is pretty valueless. By the time I get around to catching up on my single player catalog I’m usually 3 years behind thanks to MMOs.

I just beat the Witcher a few weeks back and ive had it since 2015. I usually get the games for under 20 bucks by the time I buy them years later anyway.

I have Outer Worlds installed from Game Pass I probably won’t play more than an hour before my 3 month trial is over as now I’m trying to level up Shai in BDO and more tanks in FFXIV. By the time I get around to Outer Worlds I will probably be able to buy it for 15 bucks on Steam.

Godnaz
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Godnaz

Best move for Archeage since the game first launched.

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Arktouros

What I think this underestimates as well is there’s a lot of people out there who have experienced a lot of those games and content fluttering from one new release to the next over years. For someone like me who’s never played any console exclusive title, sure there’s a lot of potential value there for me. However someone who’s been on the Xbox for multiple console generations the value of a subscription giving access to games they never really wanted becomes more questionable.

Despite that I really like the idea of the game pass because it makes a lot of sense given the ways we consume other sources of entertainment. This idea of paying $15/mo for a single game is archaic in the age where you have services like Netflix offering near unlimited hours of video binging or Amazon Prime’s myriad array of benefits.

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Greaterdivinity

Man, Kakao is becoming a freakin giant. I can’t imagine all this money comes from BD (even with the mobile version apparently generating over $1B in the first month, or something crazy like that) alone, but the sure seem like they’ve been on a spending spree lately.

Speaking of XL, do they even have much going for them? Checked and it looks like Civilization Online shuttered after a year of “early access” in Korea, and I’m not sure how Archeage is performing (not amazing in the west, to say the least) so I’m wondering what made them an appealing target for investment. Maybe they’ve just got money to burn.

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John Mynard

Maybe they like the ArcheAge IP and want to do something with it?

As a game, AA was always a guilty pleasure with my cat lady battlemage and some of the systems were fantastic(others not so much). It was always the Land Rush and lack of any real approachable(coherent?) PVE campaign type stuff. I kept trying to come back with the idea that I would be some sort of itinerate adventurer type, righting wrongs and dealing with problems the local constabulary were incapable or unwilling to, but there was never really anything like that. So, eventually, I lost interest.

But an AA sequel, done in the BDO graphical style, I could be in for that if it were to happen. I’m not one to talk, my BDO main can’t break 150 AP and I got lost in the main quest when they wanted me to build a boat and didn’t bother to tell me where to go or at least to who to talk to and the quest marker remains on the guy you have to turn in at, which is the guy that gave you the quest in the first place….

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Arktouros

There’s no part in any main quest to build a boat.

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Rodrigo Dias Costa

The money is probably coming from Kakao other non-gaming, hugely successful ventures. Even if Kakao Games is an not really successful arm right now, I’m pretty sure they’re seeing their minority owner Tencent (yeah Tencent is almost Lovecraftian, having its tentacles everywhere around Entertainment and TelCom world) and wanting to become something like that still.