MMO Business Roundup: Paradox signs union agreement, shareholders slam Activision-Blizzard


Welcome back to another quickie roundup of MMO and MMO-adjacent gaming industry business news.

Activision-Blizzard is under fire yet again for its corporate management, this time from its own shareholders and their appointed watchdog groups. One such investment accountability group, CtW, argues that Bobby Kotick is grossly overpaid, on the order of $100M in options and equity over the last few years, “consistently larger than the total pay… of CEO peers at similar companies,” while most employees take home less than a third of a percent of his regular earnings. Shareholders are being urged to vote down the company’s June proposal given the company’s demonstrated “human capital management” issues.

“Disclosure surrounding the strategic objectives portion is severely lacking and merely cites ‘attracting, retaining and motivating top talent; cultivating new business opportunities and expanding existing ones; delivering production and development milestones; and increasing productivity. […] We note that three of these objectives are clearly related to human capital management, and that Kotick’s apparent failure to achieve more than half of the targeted performance strongly suggests that Activision Blizzard’s skewed approach to human capital management – lavishing multi-million dollar rewards on the CEO as employees face layoffs – needs to be addressed before it manifests in deeper operational problems.”


Paradox Interactive stole headlines this week for signing a collective bargaining agreement with its employee unions. “Under the terms of the agreement, Paradox employees have a formalized means of influencing their pay, benefits, responsibilities, and more,” the company says. “The agreement will apply to all Paradox employees working at locations within Sweden as of its implementation, expected to be finalized within the quarter.”

Tired of hearing about esports? Then this story will leave you entirely… neutral. Nexon is apparently closing down its physical esports arena in favorite of a supporting “grassroots e-sports competitions and lowering the barriers to entry so that anyone, including teenagers, college students, and office workers, can easily participate in the competition, providing a wide range of opportunities for users.”

We don’t cover Iron Realms much since the company focuses on MUDs – albeit extremely detailed and high-quality MUDs for a modern audience. But this week the studio announced players had helped it donate $15,000 to a medical fund assisting people affected by COVID-19; players apparently bought 500 pets across the company’s games to contribute to the fund. (Thanks, Drelkag!)

Finally, MY.Games is apparently throwing its hat in the distribution ring and taking on giants like Valve and Epic with its new commission plan for developers, offering a revenue split of 90/10 (which is to say, 90% of revenue goes to the dev). The caveat here is this one sounds much more like an affiliate program; the sales have to be generated through an affiliate link rather than just being a portion of actual sales.

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