MMO Business Roundup: Gaming addiction, GTA6, Ubisoft layoffs, Epic v. Google, and more

    
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Welcome back to another roundup of MMO and MMO-adjacent industry news. There’s been a lot this week, so we’ll keep ’em brief!

Addiction: A woman in Arkansas has filed a lawsuit accusing companies ranging from Microsoft and EA to Epic and Ubisoft of facilitating and spreading “video game addiction.” The plaintiff says her son and husband are addicted to the point of bodily injury and financial distress, citing multiple Activision, Microsoft, and EA patents that use behavioral data to prey on gullible players and whales.

Ubisoft: Ubisoft has seen yet another large-scale round of layoffs, this time 124 workers from its VFX and IT teams. It’s at least the third such layoff round of 2023 for the studio, as the company has cut around 1300 workers since September of last year even if you don’t count the “soft layoff” of its RTO mandate.

GTAV: Take-Two effectively announced Grand Theft Auto 6 this week when it promised a trailer coming in December. Of course, what multiplayer gamers are now wondering is what happens to GTAO?

Lawsuit: A second lawsuit, this one lodged against Roblox, was filed in California this week by a group of parents who say Roblox Corp has violated the state’s consumer laws by exposing their children to grooming, mature themes, and microtransaction predation. Roblox insists that it is focused on “keep[ing] kids safe” with its filters and parental tools, though of course we’ve seen plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Roblox: In continuing Roblox news, the ongoing Israel/Palestine conflict has apparently spilled over into the game, as players reported that pro-Palestine protests and messages in the title were being taken down by moderators. Roblox reps, however, say that while political symbols and personages are against the terms of use, expressions of solidarity – like the slogan “Free Palestine” – is “compliant with Roblox’s Community Standards” and would not be prohibited.

Krafton: The Korean gaming company lodged solid Q3 2023 performance this week, with sales up 16% since last quarter and up 4% year over year, owing to PUBG Battlegrounds. Looking forward, the company is touting Bluehole’s Dark and Darker Mobile extraction RPG.

Epic: Finally, the ongoing Epic/Google antitrust case continues to spew fun factoids via internal docs, including the news that Google offered Epic Games $147M in incremental funding to get Fortnite on Google Play. Initially, Epic refused the deal, though of course it changed its mind in early 2020. Google booted it off Google Play later that year when Epic inserted its direct payment option, and the rest is lawsuit history.

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