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

    
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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.”

Meanwhile…

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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Jahlon

I wish Paradox and White Wolf Publishing would jump back on the MMORPG hype train with the World of Darkness MMO.

Although Bloodlines 2 will scratch that itch a little bit, a WoD MMORPG would kill in the market and drain it dry.

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Bruno Brito

I find that hard to believe.

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styopa

It’s unsurprising that European company would agree to a union arrangement. First, it’s a more usual norm in Europe generally. Secondly, European unions and companies seem to work more constructively and cooperatively than in the US. Certainly there are strikes, etc but I’m talking about on a more daily, operational basis where the union workers council understands that the business MUST be successful for those jobs to exist.

Hell, in the European firm I work for I watched the plant manager and the workers rep TOGETHER fire a worker that was lying about being sick to extend his vacation. This could certainly have been more of a German thing, but I’ve seen quite positive union/corporate cooperation at our plants in Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands.
Of the many US unions I’ve had the regrettable experience dealing with, that could never have happened.

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Bruno Brito

Bobby Kotick is grossly overpaid

Oh boy, i’m loving this.

That being said, i never thought i would hear a expression so dehumanizing as “human capital”.

Anyway. I wanna see his earnings get completely slashed. Sadly i won’t see this pile of waste get bankrupt but at least he’ll suffer to get dates.

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McGuffn

They’ve blown past that and “human capital stock” is a thing now.

Delphos
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Delphos

Bobby Kotick getting his ass kicked out of Activision-Blizzard would be a dream… his is a total disaster for thoose who like good games!

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Fisty

Paradox is just one of the all-time great studios.

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dreamer

I have some qualms with the quantity, quality, and pricing of their DLC, but the games they put out are all fantastic (Imperator: Rome was an aberration). I’m extremely excited about CK3.

Cyclone Jack
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Cyclone Jack

I would agree with this. I think they need to take a bit more time with each DLC. Still, they do tend to support their games for years. Cities Skyline was released 5 years ago and is still getting new content, and CK2 was supported for what, 7-8 years? That’s pretty impressive, though it can be daunting to someone wanting to get into the game 2-3 years after release.

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Kayweg

I really do like their games and own quite a few of them, but i agree.
Paradox DLC i only buy at at least 50% off during sales (which are frequent), and have done so for years now.
And i get that this may actually be a strategy on their part, overprice the DLC and during a sale you’ll rake in what would be a reasonable actual price.
Still, they make good games, and if you have the patience you can keep the costs down.
Must-have-nows. pre-order junkies and DLC completionists will pay through their noses though.

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Sorenthaz

Well good on those who are calling Kotick out, hopefully it actually leads to something but guessing it likely won’t.

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silverlock

Most likely it will lead to all other CEO’s saying they are clearly underpaid.