MMO Business Roundup: Valve’s SteamPal, Rockstar’s record label, and Cyberpunk’s legal battles

Plus Apex Legends monetization and Ubisoft's scandal

    
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Welcome back to another roundup of MMO and MMO-adjacent industry news bits.

Valve: Would you like Steam to be your pal? Too bad because Valve is making SteamPal a thing, according to an Ars Technica report stuffed with unnamed sources effectively leaking the toy. It’s apparently an “an all-in-one PC with gamepad controls and a touchscreen” still in prototype development, and you wouldn’t be wrong to think it has a bit in common with the ever-popular Nintendo Switch.

Cyberpunk 2077: You probably forgot that Cyberpunk 2077 was yanked from the PlayStation store last fall, but it was. And it’s still in that yanked state. And apparently, even CDPR has no idea when Sony will let the game back on the platform. “We are still in discussions and with every patch the game gets better and there is a visible progress, but as we said the decision is an exclusive decision of Sony, so we are waiting for the information about the fact that they took the decision to bring back this game,” CEO Adam Kiciński explained to investors.

CDPR: During the same shareholder call noted above, CDPR told investors that the four (!) class action lawsuits being waged against it over its disastrous Cyberpunk 2077 launch have been consolidated by the court system into one single case with a lead plaintiff, with the case itself to be filed in June. In other words, the class action suit marches onward.

Ubisoft: File this one under “everything’s under control, situation normal”! Earlier this month, French publication Le Télégramme published an update on the Ubisoft sexual harassment scandal from 2020 and concluded that very little had been accomplished to clean up the cororation since then. But Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot has now countered the piece by basically saying the opposite. “Considerable progress has been made, and we will continue to work hard with the ambition of becoming an exemplary workplace in the tech industry,” he wrote in his statement. “The teams at Ubisoft continue to impress me with their engagement on this journey.”

Apex Legends: The rent is too damn high, players told EA and Respawn in last week’s AMA. Math is hard, Respawn replied. Thus began a controversal discussion in the Apex community, whereby Apex players have struggled to get a hard answer out of Respawn as to why skins in the game are so expensive (around $20). “[W]e think about this constantly and it’s tough because we want Apex to be around for a loooooong time,” a Respawn rep explained. “[B]eing able to continue to make the game depends on operating a healthy business. We’re hoping players understand this is something we’re working hard to balance, but when you consider the full picture, it’s a tough challenge.”

CircoLoco Records: Rockstar Games is apparently launching a record label with CircoLoco because why not? The first EP launches June 4th.

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Leo
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Leo

These free-to-play games should always have prices at the more cost of a sandwich level. Like the thing you can just buy and not feel to bad about. $20 is the cost of some really good games, so harder to accept that.

Warframe is another thing I think they should look at. That game allows for all kinds of customization, so just the character (the frame itself) you have the skin, the helmet, the shoulders, the chest, the skins, and back accoutrements. They are usually easy to buy on a whim and can really get people to support your game without making them think they were cheated.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

It’s hard to figure exactly what the prices are because cash store coins. (Which is really the entire point of using them.) But I think most full Warframe skins are about $6, give or take a bit. Tennogen skins are priced in real money on PC, because they’re actually being sold by Steam. And those are all about that price. It’s expensive enough that most people will consider carefully which skins to get… but not so much that their first question is “Should I even get this skin, or a new game?”

For the cosmetics people can buy with cash store coins, the game also allows players to trade the cash shop currency – it’s entirely possible to grind for warframe/weapon component blueprints, and sell those to other players. Meaning that as long as you don’t have your heart set on a Tennogen skin, it’s possible to get even most of the shop-only cosmetics with only an investment of time. (Well, the person who doesn’t want to spend money has to invest time. Obviously at some point, someone has to have bought the cash shop coins with real money.)

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Yeah, I’m sure Ubisoft has everything under control. The corporate culture that completely failed to stop sexual predators from RUNNING THE PLACE has examined the issues, heard the evidence, and issued a report that there is no problem whatsoever.

And if anyone believes that, can I get in touch with them? I’ve got a *great* deal on an exclusive lease for a rainbow bridge to Asgard.

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Arktouros

I would be interested in a Steam Pal if it has the same kinda TV dock as the Switch. One of the big reasons I have a Switch (beyond family friendly party games) is the ability to go mobile or hook it up to a TV. If it’s only mobile (like Switch Lite) then it’ll get a hard pass from me.

I’d really love something to bridge the PC to the living room TV experience but so far most things I’ve tried or seen have been disappointing.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I’m expecting it to get the same level of ongoing care and support as every other piece of hardware Valve has released. IE, basically none.

The problem with Valve’s “only work on what you love” approach is that everyone wants to be the person designing a new toy. No one wants to be the person stuck on tech support explaining to a tech-illiterate customer that no, it’s not a Switch and no, it doesn’t play Super Metroid. I don’t care what Youtube said.

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Arktouros

I don’t really care what support it gets after the fact, if it doesn’t have the feature set I want then I have no interest in it in the first place.