MMO Business Roundup: Roblox prank, Hi-Rez, Wargaming, Epic’s funding round, CCP’s metaverse

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

A Roblox player from a goofy political meme group apparently pulled quite a stunt on the White House. Politico reports that a gamer going by Kacey “Lego” Montagu whipped up a fake persona as a White House pool reporter, along with a popular Twitter account, which she then parlayed into questions sent directly to actual reporters, some of whom (admittedly from low-ranked publications) were tricked into posing the questions themselves. While Montagu says she pulled the prank because “the Press Corps is doing a pretty bad job at the moment” and she wanted to “ensure some transparency and ask some questions [she] and some friends wanted the answer to,” most of the actual questions she was asking were mundane – COVID travel bans, ambassadorships, Microsoft, the Biden/Obama relationship, and presidential portraits. Ultimately, the weird scheme fell apart as journalists who declined to ask her questions got suspicious and social media companies, including Twitter and Google, began pulling her fake pages down as they violated impersonation rules.

Hi-Rez Studios released a big presser for its remote work policy yesterday, which essentially encourages many of its developers to work from home permanently, not just during the pandemic. “The new Creativity Unchained program allows and encourages over 80 percent of Hi-Rez Studios employees to work remotely in a collaborative, creative environment,” the company says. “Employees can work from most locations in the USA or UK, with work being done to expand the program across Europe. The Creativity Unchained program formalizes proprietary work processes developed at Hi-Rez Studios during the pandemic, which led to a surge in both employee satisfaction and company revenues. […] The program extends to both high-performing, existing Hi-Rez Studios employees and new job openings. Most jobs will allow fully flexible work options, letting most employees decide their work location and mix of office to remote hours.” The company’s Georgia and England bases will remain open.

Wargaming is expanding yet again, as this week it’s announced the opening of another studio, this one in Vilnius, Lithuania. It sounds as if this studio will be focused on mobile development, and it’s hiring in bulk.

Epic Games has raised another $1B in funding, a fifth of it from Sony. Tim Sweeney remains in control of the company. “We are grateful to our new and existing investors who support our vision for Epic and the metaverse,” he says. “Their investment will help accelerate our work around building connected social experiences in Fortnite, Rocket League and Fall Guys, while empowering game developers and creators with Unreal Engine, Epic Online Services and the Epic Games Store.”

Finally, we come to the London Games Fest, where yet another developer has been talking up the metaverse. This time it’s EVE Online’s Hilmar Veigar PĂ©tursson.

Spot more industry news you think we should cover? /!

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Bruno Brito

While i don’t vouch for Hi-rez as a company in any way, shape or form, the new CEO seems to be a improvement. Considering that they were able to keep a good chain of content during the pandemic for Smite, and i would assume, Rogue Company, even working from home, i think this is a good move.

Let’s keep in mind, COVID is never going away. We should as people start culturalize being healthy and wearing masks and caring for others. Making jobs that are possible to be worked from home, worked from home is also a good idea. Less transit, less cars, more comfort.

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Greaterdivinity

On the Politico article one amusing tidbit I noticed – they quote a guy by the username of “pres. arnie vinick” and COMPLETLEY MISSED THE OPPORTUNITY TO POINT OUT THAT THIS DUDE MUST BE A FAN OF WEST WING/ALAN ALDA. I got a chuckle outta that, and the whole affair.

And that Epic investment…yeah, I don’t think Epic is hurting with the annual losses from the EGS. Platform holders like Sony have a pretty solid interest in investing in Epic given the strength of Fortnite and the potential for UE on their platform. Hell, Sony’s investment alone nearly covers the entirety of their EGS losses last year.