MMO Business Roundup: Tim Sweeney’s politics gaffe, Nexon’s Q4 2019, and the old BioWare crew

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

Politics in games

Epic’s Tim Sweeney opened this week’s DICE Summit with a whopper of a speech that argued for “separation of church and state” when it came to politics and gaming, as he maintains that studios should “get the marketing departments out of politics” and “divorce themselves from politics” to avoid “controversy around political censorship.” Sweeney came under heavy fire from gamers and journalists for these statements, leading him to both suggest IGN’s headline was misleading (it really wasn’t, I’m shocked to say) and then to walk back and muddy his argument. “If a game tackles politics, as To Kill a Mockingbird did as a novel, it should come from the heart of creatives and not from marketing departments seeking to capitalize on division,” he clarified. “And when a company operates an ecosystem where users and creators can express themselves, they should should be a neutral moderator. Else the potential for undue influence from within or without is far too high.”

Putting the ol’ BioWare crew back together

Over the last year or so, we’ve been chronicling Wizards of the Coast substudio Archetype Entertainment, led by former BioWare creative director and lead designer James Ohlen. A week ago, we reported the new studio had scooped up BioWare Austin studio director Chad Robertson, fresh off his gig at Anthem. Now, it’s landed the lead writer for multiple BioWare games: no less than Drew Karpyshyn himself. His blog post announcing the move isn’t too kind to his old studio, either – recall that he, too, once worked on Anthem:

“When I started at BioWare, everything was fresh and exciting. It was a dream job – talented people working together to create epic games like Baldur’s Gate, KOTOR, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. But as we grew and became more successful, things changed. We became more corporate. We were less able to make what we loved, and the teams were pushed to create games based on market research rather than our creative instincts and passions. My dream job became just a job, and I lost the enthusiasm and excitement I once had.”

Nexon’s Q4 2019 financials

Finally, Nexon’s released its latest quarterly investor report, after a bizarre 2019 that saw the company’s owners give up on a sale and instead begin slashing teams and projects around the world, prompting the company’s dev union to agitate. The loss of Peria Chronicles in particular was felt by many MMORPG gamers who’ve been dismayed to see resources turn to mobile instead of PC MMOs. But as it stands, it is MapleStory, MapleStory Mobile, and now FIFA Online 4, and the Korean and Chinese markets, that are Nexon’s cash cows. Revenue for 2019 was down slightly compared to 2018, though it was up for 4Q YOY. Plus, check out the awesome unitless squiggles on the official graphs in the investor presentation! They go up, so that must be super good, right?

Snark aside, there’s one interesting bit in the investor presentation. Remember back when Moonlight Blade was still marked as in the “pipeline” for “North America and the rest of the world”? It’s not in the pipeline section anymore, but it is binned under “key titles by region,” both a change since Q3 2019, which also then referenced a “Contribution from Moonlight Blade, AxE and OVERHIT” in the region. It’s not confirmation of anything, but definitely something to keep an eye on.

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NecroFox4

Karpyshyn’s post goes to the very heart of what happens to so many studios. That is precisely what has led Blizzard, and many before them, to the state that they are in now.

When the business replaces the art with pure science, the heart and soul of the game is lost.

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Robert Mann

Sweeney, being Sweeney, saying things in stupid ways, and ensuring at least enough hypocrisy without a roundabout explanation that makes politics look short winded to try to squirm out of discomfort when people, predictably, react by telling him he’s an arse.

He might have good intentions buried in there, but the slime, misdirection, trolling, and failure to act decently toward others ensure that I will continue to look at him like a ‘Nigerian Prince’ and think “Yeah, there’s something wrong with any deal he is offering, and any point he is making; or at least there’s a trap in there waiting to screw me over.”

miol
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miol

Surprised the charts didn’t go like this:

ic.jpg
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Arktouros

After actually watching the speech and going through it, I get what Tim Sweeney was trying to say there and the difference he’s trying to make but I also dislike him and how he operates so fuck him.

Cool about old Bioware. Look forward to seeing them sell out again when they go to retire and need another big cash boost.

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Armsbend

Bree I love the edge on this article!

“(it really wasn’t, I’m shocked to say)”

“Plus, check out the awesome unitless squiggles on the official graphs in the investor presentation! They go up, so that must be super good, right?”

Lol I love it! Unitless squiggles should be in next year’s Webster’s dictionary running.

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Schmidt.Capela

I tend to assume that any and every example of unitless squiggles in investor presentations is a clear sign that adding proper units to the axis would turn the graphics into bad (or at least less good) news. But then, I’ve been kinda conditioned to see intentionally hiding information as being mainly done when transparency would make whoever hid the information look bad.