MMO Business Roundup: China’s freeze, ABK’s new diversity officer, and Sony and Epic’s metaverse

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

China has ended its latest gaming-approval freeze after nine months of regulators locking out new licenses, according to Reuters and GIbiz. Readers will recall that China had been cracking down on youth gaming, streaming, currency, and “blurred moral boundaries” in the industry, as well as blocking Steam, shuttering Fortnite in the region, and driving an estimated 14,000 gaming firms to close down. The 45 new approvals this week effectively put an end to the freeze.

Sony has gone all-in on the metaverse, joining a long list of other megacorps that are trying to make the metaverse happen including Epic Games, SEGA, Meta, and Roblox. This week, Sony put a billion bucks into Epic’s latest funding round, which actually reached $2B thanks to a commensurate investment from The LEGO Group’s investment branch. “As a creative entertainment company, we are thrilled to invest in Epic to deepen our relationship in the metaverse field, a space where creators and users share their time,” Sony Group Corporation’s Kenichiro Yoshida says. [Thanks, Schlag!]

Finally, we come to Activision-Blizzard, which in addition to announcing an uncharacteristically early Q1 2022 investor call for April 25th announced that it will formally appoint a new Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer on the same day. Kristen Hines, formerly of Accenture, will reportedly “strengthen work underway with the company’s leadership team and its Employee Resource Groups to implement programs and policies that foster a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace environment” as well as “partner across all gaming teams to ensure diverse and inclusive perspectives are included in game design, including storylines, character development, gameplay and community interaction.” Given the sexual harassment and discrimination imbroglio currently consuming Activision-Blizzard, as well as the wrongful death lawsuit, we’d say it certainly can use the help.

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