The Great Video Game Business and Financial (In)Stability Thread

It would be good to know what Apple’s percentage of IAP is compared to the other platforms. Do the other platforms not ask for a cut of IAP? Is it the same or close to the same?

Imagine if Microsoft said that any program that runs on Windows 10 and has any sort of monetization requires a 30% cut back to Microsoft.

Apple rejected a native app Game Pass streaming app from Microsoft because they felt they should
Get a 30% cut of all the subscription revenue.

I’m all for any company to make a profit. I’m not for companies to abuse that and hurt the consumer.

I’m an Apple fan but their hardware is definitely not a loss leader like the other platforms who rely on their cut of purchases to be a viable business model. When Apple first announced they wanted to pocket 30% of my Kindle ebook purchases, for doing not much of anything, I immediately decided I’d never purchase an ebook through the iOS app. Amazon ended up taking the decision out of my hands but I stick to that policy in general.

I don’t support Epic’s specific argument in this case but Apple has engaged in anticompetitive practices on iOS in the past, at least as bad as Microsoft preinstalling Internet Explorer in Windows. They bear watching.

TheGameguru wrote:

I’m all for any company to make a profit. I’m not for companies to abuse that and hurt the consumer.

Yeah, it's not really a question of what their specific cut is - even if you're taking 2%, it's still be illegal to use your market position to prevent someone else from taking 1%.

Another side to this is that there's never been any bright line for what Apple does and doesn't allow. They have a long history of removing apps because they disagree with any random thing (business, design, opinions, whatever). So whatever market forces appear to be in play are kind of a sham - there's no market pressure in their system because any dev who exerts pressure is removed from the system.

Are any of us are well enough versed in the laws for monopolies and whatnot to have insights other than conjecture? Serious question.

garion333 wrote:

Are any of us are well enough versed in the laws for monopolies and whatnot to have insights other than conjecture? Serious question.

Hoeg Law / Virtual Legality is a great resource on YouTube. The guy is an antitrust lawyer with a focus on the tech industry.

He's done several series on Epic v. Apple and brings a pretty level-headed analysis to the table. Spends a lot of time deciphering legal documents in the case in layman's terms and reflecting on past legal cases of similar nature for context and precedents.

It's super-interesting stuff that eschews the armchair-analyst takes that tend to be guided by biases for and against the companies involved.

garion333 wrote:

Are any of us are well enough versed in the laws for monopolies and whatnot to have insights other than conjecture? Serious question.

Not specifically but our corporate lawyers and our patent lawyers tell me that the laws are woefully unprepared to handle the modern digital ecosystem.

TheGameguru wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Are any of us are well enough versed in the laws for monopolies and whatnot to have insights other than conjecture? Serious question.

Not specifically but our corporate lawyers and our patent lawyers tell me that the laws are woefully unprepared to handle the modern digital ecosystem.

So is Congress.

PaladinTom wrote:
TheGameguru wrote:
garion333 wrote:

Are any of us are well enough versed in the laws for monopolies and whatnot to have insights other than conjecture? Serious question.

Not specifically but our corporate lawyers and our patent lawyers tell me that the laws are woefully unprepared to handle the modern digital ecosystem.

So is Congress.

Great point.

Yeah I don't even try to follow corp-vs-corp lawsuits. It's like vaccine trials - I'm interested in the end result, but I wouldn't pretend to understand the process of how they get there.

That said, I think it's okay for us layman plebs to share opinions about the business/ethics/etc side of things, separate from the legal wrangling.

Speaking of the devil, news out about Apple fiddling search results, care of discovery in the lawsuit.

Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture. The allegations contained in the article and the court filings are as bad as one would expect if the state's getting involved.

Rat Boy wrote:

Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture. The allegations contained in the article and the court filings are as bad as one would expect if the state's getting involved.

I'm wondering if this is isolated to the "Blizzard" side of things or more pervasive through Activision at large.

Nevin73 wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture. The allegations contained in the article and the court filings are as bad as one would expect if the state's getting involved.

I'm wondering if this is isolated to the "Blizzard" side of things or more pervasive through Activision at large.

The WoW team is specifically mentioned.

I have a friend who works on the Diablo team. I’ve toured the Blizzard campus several times. In the offices where he works it’s as quiet as a library. He has mentioned that they had to ban liquor from team meetings and nothing stronger than beer is allowed anymore. That happened years ago.

In the article Blizzard claims that this report is based on things that happened a long time ago and no longer reflects the current work culture. From what I’ve seen, that seems to be true, but of course I’ve never visited the other teams’ workspaces.

They also claim they've created "fair and rewarding compensation packages," and robustly committed to improving diversity even though in January they were complaining that interviewing women and PoC for positions was an unworkable practice, so color me skeptical.

SpacePProtean wrote:

in January they were complaining that interviewing women and PoC for positions was an unworkable practice, so color me skeptical.

Yeah. I totally understand your skepticism. Do you have a source for that January statement? I would like to read it.

RawkGWJ wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture. The allegations contained in the article and the court filings are as bad as one would expect if the state's getting involved.

I'm wondering if this is isolated to the "Blizzard" side of things or more pervasive through Activision at large.

The WoW team is specifically mentioned.

I have a friend who works on the Diablo team. I’ve toured the Blizzard campus several times. In the offices where he works it’s as quiet as a library. He has mentioned that they had to ban liquor from team meetings and nothing stronger than beer is allowed anymore. That happened years ago.

In the article Blizzard claims that this report is based on things that happened a long time ago and no longer reflects the current work culture. From what I’ve seen, that seems to be true, but of course I’ve never visited the other teams’ workspaces.

Blizzard's response is utterly abhorrent.

Not only do they victim blame, they don't even really deny the allegations.

They also have the gall to blame the state for identifying that an employee apparently committed suicide over the toxic work environment.

And then for final bonus points, they try to go all right wing news talking points about "unaccountable bureaucrats" and threaten to leave the state.

Reaper81 wrote:
RawkGWJ wrote:
Nevin73 wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

Activision Blizzard Sued By California Over ‘Frat Boy’ Culture. The allegations contained in the article and the court filings are as bad as one would expect if the state's getting involved.

I'm wondering if this is isolated to the "Blizzard" side of things or more pervasive through Activision at large.

The WoW team is specifically mentioned.

I have a friend who works on the Diablo team. I’ve toured the Blizzard campus several times. In the offices where he works it’s as quiet as a library. He has mentioned that they had to ban liquor from team meetings and nothing stronger than beer is allowed anymore. That happened years ago.

In the article Blizzard claims that this report is based on things that happened a long time ago and no longer reflects the current work culture. From what I’ve seen, that seems to be true, but of course I’ve never visited the other teams’ workspaces.

Blizzard's response is utterly abhorrent.

Not only do they victim blame, they don't even really deny the allegations.

They also have the gall to blame the state for identifying that an employee apparently committed suicide over the toxic work environment.

And then for final bonus points, they try to go all right wing news talking points about "unaccountable bureaucrats" and threaten to leave the state.

Ew. That's all gross as hell. I thought Blizzard was one of the more respected developers in the industry? I have no desire to give them any more money. Gross.

Some Activizzard Rep wrote:

The [California Department of Fair Employment and Housing] includes distorted, and in many cases false, descriptions of Blizzard’s past. We have been extremely cooperative with the DFEH throughout their investigation, including providing them with extensive data and ample documentation, but they refused to inform us what issues they perceived.

So the issues are in the past, but also California is lying about them, but don't worry, they don't happen any more, in fact they never happened, but if they did happen, they happened in the past and not now. Also they won't tell us what the issues are, but no matter what they are, they happened in the past and not now and also never happened at all.

"The State did not paint us in the most favorable light, instead focusing on the reality of the situation. As such we will sue them for slander."

SpacePProtean wrote:

Here is Waypoint's write up.

Yeah. I agree. That’s abhorrent. The statement about there not being talented women and PoC is false and outright racist and bigoted.

Add to that their pro fascist stance on the Hong Kong protests and it paints a real ugly picture of that organization.

merphle wrote:

Ew. That's all gross as hell. I thought Blizzard was one of the more respected developers in the industry? I have no desire to give them any more money. Gross.

They were before Activision bought them. There is no such thing as the old Blizzard any more, hasn’t been for a few years.

LeapingGnome wrote:
merphle wrote:

Ew. That's all gross as hell. I thought Blizzard was one of the more respected developers in the industry? I have no desire to give them any more money. Gross.

They were before Activision bought them. There is no such thing as the old Blizzard any more, hasn’t been for a few years.

I’d argue a toxic workplace doesn’t appear over night, or over the course of 4-5 years. It’s a systematic failure and enablement of toxicity at all levels. You’ll have to excuse me if I find it hard to believe that Blizzard “turned bad” only after the Activision purchase.

staygold wrote:
LeapingGnome wrote:
merphle wrote:

Ew. That's all gross as hell. I thought Blizzard was one of the more respected developers in the industry? I have no desire to give them any more money. Gross.

They were before Activision bought them. There is no such thing as the old Blizzard any more, hasn’t been for a few years.

I’d argue a toxic workplace doesn’t appear over night, or over the course of 4-5 years. It’s a systematic failure and enablement of toxicity at all levels. You’ll have to excuse me if I find it hard to believe that Blizzard “turned bad” only after the Activision purchase.

They merged in 2008, 13 years ago. A lot can happen in 13 years.

Sounds like one of the people specifically named in the suit was with Blizzard and working on WoW from 2004 to 2020. 2004 counts as “old Blizzard.”

World of Warcraft players are hosting sit-in protests after Blizzard allegations:

World of Warcraft’s current social hub of Oribos is packed with players, but it’s not due to a new raid or update. Hundreds of players are participating in an in-game protest against Activision Blizzard after a lawsuit was filed Tuesday by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The court documents include allegations of a “frat boy culture” that subjected female employees to “constant sexual harassment.”

The protest was organized by Fence Macabre, a role-play guild that runs faction neutral stories on the Wyrmrest Accord and Moon Guard servers. In addition, the group is running a fundraising campaign for the charity Black Girls Code, a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching girls ages 7-17 about computer programming and digital technology.

The lawsuit was widely publicized on Wednesday night. Many players were horrified to hear about the alleged culture surrounding a game that’s meaningful to so many people.

As players log off from the protest, new faces show up to join the group. Many of their accounts are “sub locked,” which means that they have pre-paid active game time on their account. I sat among the protests for a while, watching the conversation ebb and flow. Some showed up to say goodbye and wish their fellow role-players good luck, like an elf who said he had been looking for a reason to return to Final Fantasy 14. Others at the sit-in used the opportunity to vent anger and frustration with specific Blizzard employees named in the suit, speculating in in-game chat as to which executive wrote the company’s immediate response.

Blind_Evil wrote:

Sounds like one of the people specifically named in the suit was with Blizzard and working on WoW from 2004 to 2020. 2004 counts as “old Blizzard.”

I imagine we'll find out a lot more in the coming days. It's possible that that guy was well-behaved under old management and only felt free to be a sh*thead under new management. Or it's possible that the environment has been pretty much universally sh*tty all along.

hbi2k wrote:
Blind_Evil wrote:

Sounds like one of the people specifically named in the suit was with Blizzard and working on WoW from 2004 to 2020. 2004 counts as “old Blizzard.”

I imagine we'll find out a lot more in the coming days. It's possible that that guy was well-behaved under old management and only felt free to be a sh*thead under new management. Or it's possible that the environment has been pretty much universally sh*tty all along.

Yes, I would not be shocked at all to learn that this is how it was in the days of yore. But until the current regime can provide definitive proof that such things ended when they took over 13 years ago, that they some how prevented one of the harassers cited in the suit from harassing from that time until he mysteriously and without comment left the organization last month, I'm a little reticent to sweep this all onto the old times.

Last year, not month. June 2020 if I remember correctly.