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Game Workers Unite condemns ArenaNet for Guild Wars 2 developer firings

Grassroots advocacy group Game Workers Unite posted a statement on Pricegate today, “emphatically denouncing” ArenaNet for firing Guild Wars 2’s Jessica Price and Peter Fries over last week’s Twitter/Reddit meltdown.

“Regardless of how one feels about Price’s actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price’s tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to,” the statement said.

The group labeled Mike O’Brien as a “clearly inadequate” leader who “made the knee-jerk reaction” last week to fire the two developers.

“ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players,” the group wrote. “This event carries echoes of Gamergate, and will only embolden harassers further.”

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The ESA claims crunch issues in the industry have been declining over the past decade

Crunch – the act of putting in way too much overtime to get a video game completed and out the door – is a sensative topic in the industry and one that players often ignore as long as they get their games. But Waypoint made an effort to reach out to over a dozen studios at this past June’s E3 to ask how they are dealing with crunch these days.

Both Microsoft and Nintendo said that they were looking out for employees and their work-life balance as games near the crunch period. The Division 2’s PR handler stepped in to stop the line of questioning on crunch, even while Creative Director Julian Gerighty was praising the Swedish work ethic and the balance that he had struck with his work and home life.

And ESA President Michael Gallagher claimed that crunch issues have lessened over the past decade. “I hear more and more publishers saying—and they’re doing this for competitive reasons, for culture reasons, they’re rejecting crunch, and saying ‘That’s not how we operate.'” he said. “And that is an attraction for the best and the brightest to see those opportunities and make those individual choices, to go to those companies.”

Source: Waypoint

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LawBreakers helped kill The Amazing Eternals during testing

The death of The Amazing Eternals partway through its testing was a shock for numerous fans, all of whom were looking forward to the first post-Warframe title from Digital Extremes. But there were good reasons for stopping the title there, and according to publishing VP Meridith Braun, one of the big reasons was LawBreakers:

The competitive landscape at that time was pretty hefty. We just saw LawBreakers not do so great, and it was a fantastic game, so that was sad. That happened right when we were starting our closed beta for [The] Amazing Eternals.

Braun also noted that the game was “the right game at the wrong time,” while also attributing the unexpected resources required to make Warframe’s Plains of Eidolon update as good as it could be. It was a perfect storm of forces arrayed against the title, in other words; the one saving grace for fans is that the company would still like to revisit it at some point (though considering the big updates approaching for Warframe, it shan’t be soon).

Source: PCGamesN via VG24/7

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IGDA calls for transparent guidelines on game studio social media and harassment following Guild Wars 2 dust-up

Regardless of who you believe had the right and wrong of the ArenaNet Twitter fiasco last week, game developers have expressed concern over the way it was handled and the potential impact on the greater industry. As Gamasutra noted, the International Game Developers Association has put out a blog post urging developers to demand that companies “clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts,” specifically referencing the recent Guild Wars 2 firings. Moreover, IGDA says, companies should be transparent about how they will “protect [their] talent from internet harassment mobs.”

“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean writes. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”

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Crowfall studio ArtCraft spins off new company to license its MMORPG-oriented Artisan Engine

Well now things just got interesting over in the land of Kickstarted Crowfall. ArtCraft announced this morning that it’s spinning off a “new division” called ArtCraft Technologies and specifically positioned for “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games” – all based on Crowfall’s underlying tech.

“This technology stack, the Artisan Engine, will include a robust feature set for solving the full spectrum of challenges that emerge when supporting thousands-upon-thousands of concurrent players in a virtual world: networking, persistence, physics, procedural world generation, dynamic world editing and seamless worlds up to 5,120 meters by 5,120 meters in size. In addition, it includes an exhaustive, fully-featured RPG layer, including characters, inventory, equipment, monsters, AI, harvesting, races, classes, sub-classes, powers, banking, secure trading, skills, leveling and more.”

The new division will be headed up by Josef Hall, whom you might remember from his work on Shadowbane as well as the KingsIsle titles (similar to ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman’s pedigree). Anybody thinking “SpatialOS competitor”? Because we sure are.

Source: Press release

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Overwatch players raised almost $13M to fight breast cancer in ‘Pink Mercy’ campaign

Remember last spring when Blizzard ran that big “Pink Mercy” charity campaign in Overwatch? The company’s run the numbers, and it turns out Overwatch players are really generous, really pissed off about cancer, or really like pink. My guess is it’s all three.

“Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the Overwatch community during the Pink Mercy charity campaign, we’ve raised more than $12.7 million (USD) to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This is the largest donation by a corporate partner within one year in BCRF’s 25-year history, and it’s all because of you.”

Naturally, there’s a video of the pink Mercy skin contributors have snagged!

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Titanfall Online is over before it had even begun

Korean website Game Focus is reporting today that Titanfall Online has effectively been canceled.

As Kotaku notes, EA and Nexon have been working on the project for several years, though it just announced the team-up and its plans to launch for Asia last year. But now it appears the companies have taken stock of the changing winds of the games market, finding that player testing wasn’t going well.

“It is true that Nexon and EA have agreed to cancel Titanfall Online under a business decision. […] After much deliberation, it was decided that reallocating development resources to another project was better for the company.”

Our condolences to fans and developers.

Source: Game Focus via Kotaku

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

According to Friday’s Daily Grind on hype cycles, a lot of folks think they begin way too early for most games. But what about games with the opposite problem – hype that just isn’t loud enough?

I’m thinking of games like Project Gorgon here. It saw a flurry of activity when it crowdfunded, and again when it went into early access on Steam, but because it’s such a small studio, it doesn’t really generate much hype on its own, being reliant on word of mouth. It’s a wondrous little game with really unusual and unique ideas, but it mostly flies under the radar.

Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

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Make My MMO: Camelot Unchained’s crash rate is coming down (July 7, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, the Kickstarter MMO crowd held its breath to find out whether or not Camelot Unchained would indeed make its July 4th beta test date as planned. Thanks to an annoying crash bug, it didn’t, but the studio is crunching to sort it out and isn’t anticipating more than a few weeks of delay, which isn’t going to seem like much to people who have already been waiting years.

“Still going through the logs. We’ve eliminated a lot of the crashes. Andrew’s working on another fix that should help things as well,” CSE’s Mark Jacobs told backers last night. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to talk about [the date] on Monday. […] Still no long-term change, no short-term change, no change whatsoever in what our original estimate was. We’re getting really close.” He reiterates that the crash rate has gone down, but they really need human testers testing, so get in there if you can.

Meanwhile, Richard Garriott rebutted claims that Shroud of the Avatar is a flop, some troll faked a former Star Citizen developer’s Glassdoor review of the studio, Temtem fully funded, and Fractured has passed 500 backers and half of its Kickstarter goal.

Read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Betawatch: Camelot Unchained has to delay that beta (July 6, 2018)

It’s important to note that however frustrated you might be about the fact that Camelot Unchained had to delay its long-awaited beta, the developers are probably even more frustrated. The whole thing was scheduled to go off on July 4th, but when the time came it turned out that the client crash rate, like the rent, was too damn high. We’re told it should only be a short delay, so keep your eyes peeled for further bulletins as events warrant.

Other beta news? During a holiday week? There was a little, yes.

A lot of things were also probably blown up over the past week, but that was the holiday and not beta testing, so we’re not covering that. We make up for a lack of listed explosions with a list of games currently in testing, and you should feel free to let us know if something in that list is incorrect. Heck, you should even feel encouraged to do so!

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Women In Games report suggests strategies to promote gender diversity in e-sports

The subject of gender imbalance in gaming, especially in professional e-sports, and how to rectify it has been a matter of debate within gaming communities for quite some time. A recent article by GamesIndustry.biz’s Haydn Taylor highlights a paper published by Women in Games that puts the spotlight on the topic, providing suggestions for ways to increase gender diversity in e-sports.

Drafted by leaders of women-in-games groups from the UK, France, Germany, and Italy as part of a discussion titled “Increasing female interest and participation in esports careers” held at the inaugural Global Esports Forum organized in conjunction with Intel and e-sport organizer ESL, the paper summarizes the current obstacles inhibiting female participation in e-sports and lays out 12 recommendations for remedying the situation.

The post on WomenInGames.org quotes five-time Counter-Strike and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive world champion Steph “missharvey” Harvey as saying she believes that the main reason the number of women in e-sports is so low — estimated at about 5% — is that women in gaming are “automatically judged for being different,” citing her own experiences of “extremely graphic” harassment about her gender. Women In Games seeks to eradicate this kind of toxic behavior and promote gender diversity in gaming and e-sports.

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Todd Howard says ‘Elder Scrolls Online is one of the biggest online games in the world’ as Ubisoft and Bethsoft weigh in on games as a service

Are you all in on games as a service? Are single player-games over, replaced by much more profitable eternally online (and lockbox-ridden) titles? Bethsoft’s Todd Howard doesn’t think so. Speaking to GIbiz, Howard says that in spite of Fallout 76’s controversial online nature, the always-on games-as-a-service motif “doesn’t mark the future.”

“Corporately we’ve done a mix; people forget sometimes,” he says. “Elder Scrolls Online is one of the biggest online games in the world, we have Fallout Shelter which we keep updating, and Elder Scrolls: Legends. Anyone who has ever said ‘this is the future and this part of gaming is dead’ has been proven wrong every single time. We like to try it all. For a long time we wanted to try a multiplayer game and we had this idea. We shouldn’t be afraid. We should try it.”

Ubisoft, on the other hand, has taken a different tack. The company’s EVP of Creative, Lionel Raynaud, spends some time in a corporate blog post to come at the problem from a narrative angle, saying his studio is trying to keep games going by doing its best not to “give finite experiences.”

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Pokemon Go’s second anniversary report card sees high marks for content and innovation

Today is Pokemon Go’s second-year anniversary. Last year’s report card had to grapple with things like the game’s rapid rise and fall as a fad, its severe lack of promised content even with its first major update, crimes associated with the game, and being somewhat anti-social – and that was before the disaster known as Pokemon Go fest 2017. It was probably the worst way to start off a new year for your game, and it’s probably no surprise that our coverage of the game waned after the fallout.

But something happened. Whether it was because series Director/Producer Junichi Masuda was there to witness the horror or because some internal change in Niantic’s process changed, we’ll probably never know. But change came. Generation 3 became Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel. Suggestions I’d made previously happened and are still happening. The numbers are showing that the improvements are paying off, as the game’s playerbase is at the highest it’s been since its 2016 peak, after having gone through a brutal 80% dropoff. I thought I was being overly optimistic with my 2018 predictions for the game, but so far, so very good!
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