Welcome back to another roundup of MMO- and MMO-adjacent industry news. I’m sorry.
Raven Software: The internal Activision studio that saw first a strike and then a push to unionize is now seeing Activision-Blizzard throw new obstacles in its path. Raven Software abruptly announced that it would be restructuring the unionizing QA workers to “embed” them inside various teams in the company, which sounds really great until you realize it’s a soft union-busting effort by the company designed to make QA qualifying for a union more complicated, not something that will help the workers, though it’s not clear whether Activision’s stunts will work.
“The union would have a decent case to make that by doing this on the heels of a request for recognition and on the heels of all this union organizing activity, that this was somehow unlawful, intended to kill the union strength,” said Liebman.
— Shannon Liao (@Shannon_Liao) January 25, 2022
Kakao Games: Kakao announced it’s invested $20M USD into Frost Giant Studios, a Blizzard-developer-bedecked studios working on an upcoming RTS. Kakao’s press release declares that it’s “making a major play in western markets” with this move. The company already publishes Elyon, ArcheAge, and Eternal Return here for MMO players.
Sportswashing: Longrunning esports outfit ESL has reportedly been purchased by an investment company run by the Saudi Arabian government for a cool one billion dollars. As we’ve previously written, the Saudi government has been attempting to rehabilitate its image using everything from sports to gaming over the last few years, so this is just one more attempt.
SquidCraft Games: Who know Minecraft esports tournaments were so cutthroat? Apparently, the SquidCraft Games were disrupted by hackers who leveraged DDOS attacks on the microstate of Andorra and drove the Andorra streamers out of the game two days in a row – and their chance at the $100K prizepool.
Riot lawsuit: No not that lawsuit – a new one. Riot Games is suing a developer in Vietnam, Imba Technology, for ripping off League of Legends in its mobile title I Am Hero: AFK Tactical Teamfight. Riot argues that Imba has yoinked characters and word-for-word lore.
PUBG: Krafton is declaring PUBG Battlegrounds’ conversion to free-to-play a success, with almost 700,000 total active players since January 12th.
“In the week following the F2P transition, the game saw a 486% increase in new players, outpacing its 2017 player growth rate. Furthermore, new user growth increased at a higher rate percentage (537%) in specific territories, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Southeast Asia and South America. Additionally, the game has seen significant increases in average playtime when compared to the week prior to F2P, with average playtime on PC and consoles increased by 100% week-over-week while PlayStation players recorded a 400% increase in playtime.”