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

I keep bookmarks close by for Urban Dictionary and Know Your Meme.

Funny enough, Urban Dictionary says that "Chad" is derogatory. I may have looked it up before my previous post just to make sure I understood the usage, which apparently is wrong now

Older definitions certainly would be derogatory. There's currently 157 pages of definitions for "Chad", and many of the newer ones are more positive, though some are still pretty sarcastic about it.

Meanwhile in game business news, Unity is merging with ironSource, an Israeli company that does adware, ad analytics, ad mediation, etc., and seems to have a pretty scummy reputation.

Bye Unity
Unreal is more interesting but it needs competition.

To be fair, IronSource has had a much better reputation more recently. The bad reputation that it garnered earlier was via third parties installing malware using IronSource's installation technology; it wasn't that IronSource was a bad actor back then, just that they didn't have great controls over what their software was able to do.

We use IronSource for our ad mediation in our games. (For those who don't know what that means, it is a cool technology where their software can "bid" for the available adverts to show players, and grabs the ones which offer the best reward to the game provider. It gathers these bids from multiple different advert providers.)

I mean, I'm not personally a big fan of ads in games, but it keeps our company afloat, and a paycheck in my pocket.

The main thing that's making me nervous about this merger is that Unity is doing a big push to provide ALL of the services. They've purchased multiple technology companies and third party solution providers, and onselling them to their consumers (us), charging quite a bit for the service. (eg: backtrace for error logging, PlasticSCM for source code repositories, Unity Cloud Build for CI, Unity Analytics, plus a huge Unity Back End suite etc). A lot of the things they're providing are systems that we're either using other providers (because we've historically used them prior to the Unity offering), or we've built our own systems.

The prices of some of these services that they're now providing often aren't cheap. For example something as simple as PlasticSCM for version control can be costly, especially compared to git, which is of course can be free for the most part.

My worry is that we'll end up HAVING to use and pay for the Unity systems in order to be competitive. I'm most likely worrying needlessly, but the thought still sits at the back of my mind.

KOTOR remake delayed indefinitely amid studio shakeup:

On June 30, Aspyr finalized a demo of the game, known as a vertical slice, to show to production partners Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC and Sony Group Corp. The developers were excited about it and felt like they were on track, according to a person familiar with the project, so they were shocked by what happened next.

The following week, the company fired design director Brad Prince and art director Jason Minor. Neither responded to requests for comment, but Minor suggested on a social media page that his dismissal was unexpected.

Representatives for Aspyr and Embracer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Aspyr’s studio heads told staff that the vertical slice wasn’t where they wanted it to be and that the project would be paused, according to two people who were in the meeting. One person familiar with the discussions suggested that a disproportionate amount of time and money had gone into the demo and that the project’s current course wasn’t sustainable. Another point of contention may be the timeline. At the outset of development, Aspyr told staff and partners it would release the game by the end of 2022, according to two people familiar with production. Developers said a more realistic target now would be 2025.

It's probably dead.

Well damn.

I've never been able to figure out if this is taking the old game and updating it for new hardware or if it's a completely NEW game with new mechanics, story, etc. Maybe "reimagining"?

Does anyone know?

Top_Shelf wrote:

I've never been able to figure out if this is taking the old game and updating it for new hardware or if it's a completely NEW game with new mechanics, story, etc. Maybe "reimagining"?

Does anyone know?

This. Needing an additional 2+ years on top of the 3 years already spent for a remake is really weird.

It only made sense to me if the redid everything but the voice lines. You can keep the same style of combat but it would have to be cleaned up a bit. Game is good but feels old and that feeling is probably rooted in a bunch of code that you can't easily replace.

It was going to be a remake of the first game. There were no details on how they’d be updating combat, which I agree feels very dated. But it was going to be the first game’s story.

Not often I get to dig this out...

IMAGE(https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EO_E1D2UUAALPJ8.jpg:large)

From Jason Schreier at Bloomberg:
Rockstar Games Cleaned Up Its Frat-Boy Culture — and Grand Theft Auto, Too

Production on Grand Theft Auto VI has been slower than expected, largely due to the pandemic but also due to these changes, as employees grow accustomed to working at this new Rockstar. But many say morale is higher than ever and that the cultural changes are well worth it.

Some highlights from Nibel on Twitter:

Some of the changes at Rockstar since 2018

- more producers help to avoid overtime (crunch)
- schedule changes
- conversion of contractors to full-time employees
- removal of abusive employees
- new mental health & leave benefits
- staff is more flexible with their time

Grand Theft Auto 6 will also feature a playable female protagonist for the first time; she's a latina that is one of a pair of leading characters, influenced by Bonnie & Clyde

^^^

In the Believe it when I see it category.

Notable missing bullet point:
Hiring non-males and people of color from leadership on down.

polypusher wrote:

Notable missing bullet point:
Hiring non-males and people of color from leadership on down.

it does say removal of abusive employees, so at least the white male headcount is significantly down.

There was so much in that article...

Concern that losing a frat boy culture would mean less edgy humor? This is partly me growing up, and partly (as stated in the article) that the US has become the parody, but GTA's nihilistic humor hasn't been funny to me for at least a decade. The idea that you need to be assholes to be funny is just... ugh.

Concern that GTA VI will not be as ambitious and groundbreaking as earlier releases? GTA hasn't been really groundbreaking since the GTA 3 games, and releasing a "smaller" game and releasing expansions is way more lucrative AND better for the mental health of your employees.

And regarding concerns that healthier work culture leads to longer development times? Firstly: GOOD! Secondly, mentioned nowhere is how GTA V being a huge cash cow might have impacted the incentive to release a new one.

Chad is still pretty much used as a derogatory statement.

Rat Boy wrote:

KOTOR remake delayed indefinitely amid studio shakeup:

On June 30, Aspyr finalized a demo of the game, known as a vertical slice, to show to production partners Lucasfilm Ltd. LLC and Sony Group Corp. The developers were excited about it and felt like they were on track, according to a person familiar with the project, so they were shocked by what happened next.

The following week, the company fired design director Brad Prince and art director Jason Minor. Neither responded to requests for comment, but Minor suggested on a social media page that his dismissal was unexpected.

Representatives for Aspyr and Embracer didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Aspyr’s studio heads told staff that the vertical slice wasn’t where they wanted it to be and that the project would be paused, according to two people who were in the meeting. One person familiar with the discussions suggested that a disproportionate amount of time and money had gone into the demo and that the project’s current course wasn’t sustainable. Another point of contention may be the timeline. At the outset of development, Aspyr told staff and partners it would release the game by the end of 2022, according to two people familiar with production. Developers said a more realistic target now would be 2025.

It's probably dead.

Maybe not dead. Bloomberg: development has shifted to another Embracer Group owned studio.

Might be premature, but Amazon planning to buy EA - report.

halfwaywrong wrote:

Might be premature, but Amazon planning to buy EA - report.

That makes sense... Hope this one goes through

Now various places are walking back those rumors.

I don't think further corporate consolidation is a good thing for anyone but (in this case) Bezos. And f*ck that guy.

I guess Amazon has given up on actually starting their own dysfunctional game studio(s) and decided to just buy someone else's.

What does EA even have at this point? Madden, FIFA (though we'll see how that goes without the license), and .... whatever their military shooter is called? Battlefront? Field? One of those. The shell of Bioware? I guess FIFA makes a ton of money from people buying card packs or something, but again, will that still be the case without the license?

billt721 wrote:

What does EA even have at this point?

Electronic Arts annual revenue for 2022 was $6.991B, a 24.2% increase from 2021.
Electronic Arts annual revenue for 2021 was $5.629B, a 1.66% increase from 2020.
Electronic Arts annual revenue for 2020 was $5.537B, a 11.86% increase from 2019.

billt721 wrote:

What does EA even have at this point?

A crap load of consumer behaviour data, ample opportunities for ad space in existing properties, ability to install stealth adware, key loggers, and monitoring software directly to 100’s of millions of users.

Jonman wrote:
billt721 wrote:

What does EA even have at this point?

Electronic Arts annual revenue for 2022 was $6.991B, a 24.2% increase from 2021.
Electronic Arts annual revenue for 2021 was $5.629B, a 1.66% increase from 2020.
Electronic Arts annual revenue for 2020 was $5.537B, a 11.86% increase from 2019.

Meanwhile their stock underperformed the S&P 500 over the last three years by 10%.

I know its easy to be cynical and skeptical about Electronic Arts, but even if you think all of their games and IP are terrible, you can throw all of that out the window and you're still left with

Bioware
Respawn
EA Sports
DICE
Sims/Maxis

No one can build talent pool of talent like that from scratch, and I'm not talking about CEO's and GMs.. I'm talking about artists, engineers and designers who make the game. If all of that talent was laid off tomorrow it would still cost an enormous amount of money (beyond just the salaries) and time to build studios like that from scratch picking up those pieces.

yes revenue and IP are important.. but nothing is harder today than building a pool of talent. You'd probably be right in saying Amazon would do no better (probably a LOT worse) job managing that talent than EA, but acquiring talent is honestly probably as much a driving force as the actual games that would be acquired.

Much of EAs fortune relies on FIFA. Didn't they lose the rights to that recently. They can still make the same game as they have, but without the branding, advertisement etc. I assume they can still use real player names, looks ec, otherwise that would be worse.

I want EA to succeed though. Mostly because they own Bioware.
For that reason alone, I sure hope Amazon don't buy them.