Sales figures, studio acquisitions, accounts, developer transfer window, investments… if these topics interest you, you’ve come to the right place. We offer you an update on the past week’s business news.
- Activision Blizzard x Microsoft: US tightens the noose
- Splash Damage (Brink) offers the studio behind Battalion 1944
- Diablo IV: chaotic development, crunch and mixed developers
- Microsoft announces a price increase!
- Short in the week’s business news
- Our other business articles of the week
Activision Blizzard x Microsoft: US tightens the noose
Nothing works. Despite several statements by Phil Spencer, Brad Smith or Satya Nadella, the main competition regulators does not seem convinced by the takeover attempt by Activision Blizzard King by Microsoft. Announced almost a year ago, the takeover deal has still not been validated in the US, UK or within the EU. The last two launched a thorough investigation and FTCwhich we knew to be divided, finally declared his intention to oppose the project.
The argument is similar to the statements made by the United Kingdom and the EU, namely that it is frowned upon to imagine that Microsoft, one of the most powerful companies in the world, take control of the largest independent publisher in the United States. The FTC believes that this acquisition would put Microsoft capable of harming its competitorsboth in terms of sales of consoles and subscriptions or cloud games.
Microsoft has decided to make several Bethesda titles, including Starfield and Redfall, exclusive to Microsoft, despite assuring European antitrust authorities that it had no interest in withholding games from competing consoles, the FTC says.
Microsoft has already shown that it can and wants to withhold content from its rivals. Today, we seek to prevent Microsoft from taking control of a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in several dynamic and growing game markets. added Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Competition Bureau.
However, the EU responded to the FTC saying that:
Microsoft has made no commitment to EU regulators not to release Xbox-exclusive content following its acquisition of ZeniMax Media
A situation which, according to Jez Corden, demonstrates the FTC’s ‘nonchalant’ approach as well as its ‘widespread incompetence’. But unlike its counterparts across the Atlantic, the FTC isn’t just launching a new phase. After a vote of 3 to 1, the FTC decided to file a complaint to the administrative court to block redemption. It’s a rare decision for Microsoft, which hadn’t been so targeted in twenty years. However, Axios states that since the case has not been filed in federal court, does not yet threaten the operation. However, this can greatly slow it down, which shareholders may not appreciate.
We continue to believe that our agreement to acquire Activision Blizzard will expand competition and create more opportunities for players and game developers. We have been committed since day one to addressing competition concerns, including offering concessions to the FTC earlier this week. While we believe in giving peace a chance, we have full confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present it to the court,” said Brad Smith.
The claim that this agreement is anti-competitive does not fit the facts and we believe we will win this challenge. The competitive landscape is changing, and quite simply, a Microsoft-ABK combination will be good for players, good for employees, good for the competition and good for the industry. Our players want choices, and that’s exactly what we’re giving them. We believe these arguments will prevail despite a regulatory environment driven by ideology and misconceptions about the tech industry, added Bobby Kotick, who still believes the deal will close.
Splash Damage (Brink) offers the studio behind Battalion 1944
During The Game Awards, the studio Splash Damage, which gave birth to BRINK, Dirty Bomb, collaborated with Warner Bros. for Batman Arkham Origins, and worked on many episodes of the Gears of War license, has announced that it is working on Transformers: Reactivate. The title will enter closed beta in 2023, but it is not exclusively developed by Splash Damage. We now know that it will be the result of a collaboration with bulkheads (The Turing test, battalion 1944). A very close collaboration, as parallel to the announcement, i.a. Splash Damage said it acquired Bulkhead, which the study has confirmed. The size of the operation is not disclosed, but the comments have already been published.
It is a new era. We are proud to be part of Splash Damage. To be acquired by a developer of the games we grew up with is an honor. Everyone at Bulkhead is ready to show the world what we’re capable of with the right partner. Let’s make dirty shooters.
Last August, the Bulkhead studio announced the end of the partnership with the Square Enix Collective brandin part because Square Enix didn’t want to failed to live up to its commitment to release PS4 and Xbox One versions of Battalion 1944. The study has therefore found a new home and we are now waiting to discover the fruit of this new association.
Diablo IV: chaotic development, crunch and mixed developers
It is now official, Diablo IV will be released on PC and consoles June 6, 2023. A highly anticipated opus presented from the start as a return to basics that will feature the fearsome Lilith. However, an article from the Washington Post dampens the enthusiasm around the game somewhat, as it describes a difficult development and a release date that will require crunchingwith no guarantee of being able to meet deadlines. One of the teams is said to have lost half its workforce due to layoffs, and a current Blizzard Albany employee (who recently formed a union) induces 12-hour days which affects his health as well as his relationship. Blizzard would have offered these overtime hours without charging them, in exchange for $25 per day (DoorCash) for employees working more than 10 hours :
We wouldn’t be able to be there without crunch. And even with crunch, I don’t even know if we can make it, says a source.
Activision Blizzard also offers actions based on position and seniority to promote retention. We are talking about $5000 in shares for a junior and $50,000 for the oldest. A common practice according to the information gathered, which is quite frowned upon within the teams because it would promote exhaustion and would not allow games to be better finished. Joost van Dreunen, associate professor of gambling business at New York University’s Stern School of Business, says the problem is that he “is about writing checks that someone else has to cover”referring to Microsoft’s possible takeover. “Assuming the deal goes through, Bobby Kotick doesn’t have to give you any money, plus rushing a title can erode the value of the franchise if it’s not flawless.”he adds.
The article also discusses the management and beyond firings of Luis Barriga and Jesse McCree, and finally the arrival of Sebastian Stępień, former creative director on The Witcher 3 and lead writer on Cyberpunk 2077. The latter would have tried several times to rewrite the story by adding stories related to the rape of a female character, to give a darker tone to the story. An approach rejected by the teamsand who ended up being deposed.
I complained about the way we treat Lilith, I think we made her someone who is less interesting as an antagonist than she could be if it was handled by a better writer, says one developer.
We’re at the point where they don’t want to delay the game anymore, so we all have to keep up and figure out how bad we’re willing to hurt each other to make sure the game comes out in a good enough state.
At the moment, testimonials suggest that Diablo IV, at launch, won’t necessarily be a huge slap in the face. The developers seem to be mixed on the quality of the title, ranging from “fun” game to title that will receive “poor or fair” ratings.
Microsoft announces a price increase!
Phil Spencer had maintained the status quo when Sony announced games for €79.99 and when the PS5 saw its RRP drop from €499 to €559. But Microsoft must comply current economic contextand recently announced that Xbox Games Studios games should go from $60 to $70, bringing the price down to around €80 in Europe. A decision that obviously caused a lot of reactions, some players imagine that Game Pass and the Xbox series soon follow the same path.
Phil Spencer had also paved the way for this rise, declared recently “that at some point we will have to raise the price of certain things. But as the holidays approached, we thought it was important to maintain the prices.” The latter, head of Microsoft Gaming, therefore explained himself at the microphone on Second Request recently:
Pricing is always something we are aware of, as is the impact it has on our customers (…) Given the current economic realities, we had to make concessions in order to continue to do business on basis of increased costs that we had .
He also claims that this increase is not due to a desire to improve the margins achieved on sales and that the brand has “Stay away” of these increases for as long as possible. The increase in prices enters into force in 2023and was taken on the basis of “cost of creating games” and the necessary funds for “managing the company in the right way”.
This price reflects the content, breadth and technical complexity of these titles. Like all games developed by our team on Xbox, they will also be available with Game Pass on the day of their launch.
Short in the week’s business news
- Sega of America inaugurated its new headquarters in California. 2945 m² a few steps from the former headquarters, which will house the 235 employees, including Atlus USA.
- Tekken 7 has reached the bar for 10 million copies sold. The license now shows 54 million copies sold since 1994.
- 500 copies of Digimon Survive have been distributed worldwide. A performance that satisfies Bandai Namco, after years of delays.
Refunds promised by Google after the closure of Stadia has started. Launched from November 30, these refunds relate to equipment (Stadia Controller, Founders Edition, Premiere Edition and the “Play and Watch with Google TV” bundle) purchased from the Google Store.
- Pokémon Purple dominates the physical sales ranking by SELL value. It is followed by Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Pokemon ScarletFIFA 23 and Just Dance 2023 (Switch)