industry

Riot and Tencent appear to be on unpleasant terms with one another

Some fans are still probably a bit miffed that Riot Games (maker of League of Legends and that’s all) teased them about the possibility of an MMO. But it seems like the studio’s parent company is pretty miffed at Riot in general. Gamasutra cites a report from several anonymous sources (which is unfortunately behind a paywall) that China’s Tencent (owner of Riot) and Riot are not on cordial terms due to differing opinions about mobile titles and the reported decline of LoL‘s playerbase.

The short version is that Tencent wants more mobile titles (which Riot does not wish to develop) and has shopped out something just short of a clone to other studios, while Riot is dealing with dropping numbers as other games move into the spotlight. An official statement from Riot disputes this report, stating that the company is happy with LoL at its current numbers and it remains a vibrant community, and relations with the studio’s parent company remain positive and supportive.

It’s also worth remembering that the studio does appear to be working on something new. Equally relevant are the issues surrounding any new games in China, with Monster Hunter World running into trouble and Korean developers unable to publish there.

Source: Gamasutra

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Monster Hunter World breaks its Steam record but now faces a regulation nightmare in China

The record for highest concurrent users on Steam for a game launched in 2018 goes to Monster Hunter World, smashing the record set by… Monster Hunter World. Yes, after hitting around 240,000 concurrent users at launch, the game went on to climb to 340,000 concurrent users over the weekend, which makes this a rather silly record but a significant one. It shows a game not just hotly anticipated but one actually building momentum.

It’s difficult to know exactly how many copies the game has sold thanks to Valve’s new way of handling services like SteamSpy, but estimates place it between 2 million and 5 million copies on the platform, with other data pointing closer to the 2 million figure. For an obscure title that had long been released only in Japan, it’s still an amazing number, and it seems to indicate that the title is doing quite well for itself. Even with the issues that the port has had.

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WoW Factor: World of Warcraft’s market saturation and the pull of vague memories

Here’s something a little different: Usually, before I write a World of Warcraft column (or any column), my assumptions and data are pretty firm before I put them down on paper, else I wouldn’t be writing it in the first place. This is one of the reasons that, for example, I spent so much time showing my work when trying to predict the launch date for Battle for Azeroth; that was all about hard numbers, so it was easy to check math and assumptions in an obvious fashion.

But in this particular case I’m exploring a concept that I’m still playing with and researching, something that may turn out to be somewhat erroneous. To wit: I suspect World of Warcraft expansions have switched from selling to existing customers and into reclaiming old customers as a primary design focus.

It might seem like an odd assertion, but I think it’s an interesting thing to consider and may help shed light on a number of design decisions, several of which I think are pretty bad ones. But for this particular column I’m not interested in analyzing the merits of design choices; I’m interested in presenting the evidence and showing how it lines up in a more neutral fashion. Because I think it can shape some interesting thinking.

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Netmarble’s earning report shows more revenue from North American markets than Korea

Netmarble has released its earnings report for the most recent quarter, which means that if you love looking through investment reports for various companies, you’re soon to be quite happy. Of particular note is the fact that Netmarble’s report shows overseas revenue broken down by region, and North America has now surpassed Korea in revenue. In short, this Korean company now makes more money from American players than Korean ones.

Or at least it did in the last quarter; it may not be a consistent trend. Netmarble’s biggest title at the moment is Lineage II Revolution, but it has already announced a focus on other titles for the next quarter, including Blade & Soul Revolution. We can only wait to see if this means the company will be a bit more focused on its American customer base moving forward.

Source: MMO Culture

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Amazon Game Studios hires Christoph Hartmann as Vice President

The first big release from Amazon Game Studios, Breakaway, was pretty unceremoniously killed earlier this year. That means that the future of the studio’s other games, like the anticipated New World, feels somewhat in doubt. So it’s good news that the announcement of Cristoph Hartmann joining the team as vice president of Amazon Game Studios includes an explicit namedrop of New World as one of the titles he’ll be handling in development.

Hartmann joins the studios after his long run as president of 2K Games, so he’s got 20 years of experience in the industry. Of course, that’s not quite as calming as actual news about the game… but it’s not nothing. There are also promises of new titles to be announced, so it’s quite possible that Breakaway will turn out to be more of a hiccup than an indication of the future.

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Albion Online’s shift away from mobile was a matter of market forces

If you remember a lot of the early marketing for Albion Online, it focused quite heavily on how the game was going to feature cross-platform play for PC and mobile devices. The game has launched at this point, but the mobile versions are still in testing. A recent interview with CTO David Salz reveals that it’s hardly something the developers forgot; it’s simply that when the game was first planned, it seemed that mobile was the wave of the future. As the game acquired fans, it became clear that PC was the preferred platform for most of the would-be players, which caused a shift in design to emphasize desktops over mobile devices.

Salz also talks about the shifts in business models and the technical hurdles involved in building the game from the ground up, starting with a prototype that was built to see if the game could even be made fun or if the project was doomed from the start. Check out the full interview for a peek at the industry history as well as the technical roadblocks that hit the game over time.

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Stay Awhile And Listen II is on Kickstarter covering the development of Diablo II

Would it be wrong to call Diablo II the most influential sequel ever? Maybe. But it undoubtedly had a huge impact on the game industry as a whole, multiplayer games as a subgenre, and anyone who enjoyed rolling into a dungeon and watching corpses explode. And now you can help fund a book all about how the game moved from conception to development, covering the genesis of the sequel as well as the somewhat controversial expansion pack for the original game.

The project has passed 1/3rd funded at the time of this writing, with a rather modest goal of $12,000 for a print run. If you’ve got an interest in the history of game development in general and this franchise in particular, it’s the sort of thing you’ll want on your bookshelf.

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ZeniMax is getting only half of the amount originally awarded in the Oculus lawsuit

Did you think that the Oculus vs. ZeniMax lawsuit was over when ZeniMax was awarded $500 million in its legal battle with the VR manufacturer? That’s silly; this lawsuit and associated wrangling will outlast the stars themselves. The judge in the case has cut the award from $500 million to $250 million while also denying an injunction against the sale of the headsets. That’s a bit of a black eye for ZeniMax, with a statement that the company is considering its next steps.

For those of you who no longer recall why these two companies were fighting like newly divorced parents, the courts found Oculus guilty of using proprietary software and copyright infringement when developing the Oculus Rift. ZeniMax Media is of course the parent company of Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Online Studios, the latter of which is in charge of The Elder Scrolls Online, so that’s very much relevant for both MMOs and future VR developments. If you need a bit more recap, we’ve got our whole roundup of coverage of the trial below for your enjoyment.

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Nexon rolls out a flexible work schedule similar to Netmarble’s to reduce employee overwork

No company wants to be in the news by overworking its employees to death; that usually looks bad. (Due to it being bad.) Netmarble already got hit with that particular bit of badness, but Nexon appears to be hoping to get out ahead of the pack by introducing its own flexible working schedule to reduce employee stress. And it probably looks better than your work schedule, to boot.

Employees will either have a mandatory working time between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. or 11:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., with more flexible arrival and departure times along with a hard limit of work past 10:00 p.m. during holidays or weekends. Nexon will also be working with shuttle bus services and other local conveniences to better accommodate the needs of employees. You can catch up on the history of Netmarble’s particular struggles just below, but it’s good to see a company moving out to hopefully take care of this before multiple employee deaths.

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PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has lost nearly half of its players since January as Sanhok map goes live

Alas, poor PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, we’ve entered the second phase of your musician biopic when the fans start leaving. Sure, the game was riding high in January with 3.2 million concurrent players on Steam. But we’re six months away from that now and the game is now down to 1.7 million concurrent players. These are clearly not numbers to scoff at, but they’re also easy to see as a sign that the game hits its peak and then has started turning downward.

What’s caused the drop? Lots of factors are obvious culprits, including the success (and free-to-play nature) of Fortnite and the simple decay of interest over time, but there’s no obvious magic bullet. Feel free to speculate about it whether you play or not. The game clearly isn’t about to die, but if you thought there was no upper limit on its playerbase, it looks like that’s been proven false.

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Steam and Discord keep trying to copy each other

Where does your allegiance lie: Steam or Discord? It won’t really matter either way, considering that both online services are trying so hard to ape each other that they’re becoming hard to distinguish.

Earlier this month, we covered how Steam is instituting a very Discord-like chat system in an attempt to pull some players back into its ecosystem. Now, Discord has pushed out a games tab that looks pretty much exactly like what you would find on Steam.

Both platforms show what friends are playing (because virtual stalking is a must-have feature in 2018) and pulls some headlines from games that you’ve indexed. Maybe when we blink, the two services will merge together and become the ultimate social gaming platform that will devour the world and consume all our attention?

Source: Eurogamer

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Glassdoor marks Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime as a great boss but says the studio’s salaries are too low

If you had to go work for a major corporation, what would factor into that decision? Having a great boss might be a consideration, and if that’s the case, then Blizzard Entertainment has this covered.

According to Glassdoor, a site in which employees give their companies anonymous reviews, Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime is one of the top CEOs of a large company according to 2018 rankings. Morhaime placed 23rd on the list of 100.

“It’s such an honor to be recognized on this list,” Morhaime tweeted. “Thanks to everyone at Blizzard for making it such a great place to work.”

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E3 2018: Perfect World is paving the way to bring Steam to China

If you want to go somewhere to escape Steam’s spreading influence, you might be tempted to head to China, where the country has officially operated free of Valve’s platform to date (although it was accessible more or less unofficially anyway). That won’t be the case for long, however, as Perfect World Entertainment announced that it is working with Valve to bring Steam to the country some time in the future.

Valve and PWE partnered up back in 2012 to bring a few titles, such as Dota 2 and CS:GO, to the country, but obviously this is a much, much bigger deal. PGamesN notes that the two companies currently are figuring out an initial line-up of games for this version of Steam, which raises the spectre of moderation, limited selection, and government censorship.

This is particularly pertinent in light of the recent decision by Valve not to moderate its selection of games unless studios submitted titles that were illegal or designed to troll certain groups.

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