Business news NFT, Activision-Blizzard, Focus Entertainment… The business news of the week
Sales figures, studio buyouts, annual accounts, developer transfer windows, investments… if these topics interest you, you’ve come to the right place. We bring you an update on last week’s business news.
- NFT: Ubisoft pulls out, Square Enix makes it possible
- Acquisition of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft: United Kingdom and European Union join
- Halo: 343 Industries Loses Its Founder & CEO
- Focus Entertainment buys BlackMill Games (WW1)
- Just in the business news of the week
NFT: Ubisoft pulls out, Square Enix makes it possible
To say that Ubisoft responded by launching its Quartz platform, targeting NFTs and blockchain, is an understatement. Between total rejection and excitement of the public, the initiative did not leave anyone indifferent. Launched in 2021, Quartz has at least for now only sold items related to Ghost Recon Breakpoint. We had a feeling it was a trial run, but everything indicated that this first step would be followed by others pretty soon. Ubisoft also seemed very confident, Nicolas Poulard, vice president of the laboratory for strategic innovations, indicating that people who reject NFTs did not understand what benefits they represented. But the future of NFTs at Ubisoft doesn’t seem so sure anymore. During an exchange with Eurogamer, Yves Guillemot finally explained that Quartz and NFTs were just a “test” :
We really look at all the new technologies. We are very into the cloud, on the new generation of voxels, and we are looking at all the possibilities of Web3. We recently tested a few things that give us more information about how it can be used and what to do with it in the video game world. So we’re testing games that… We’ll see if they really meet the needs of the players, and then they’ll hit the market. But we’re still in research mode, I’d say. (…) We should have said that we are working on it, and if we have something that will give you a real benefit, we will bring it to you. (…)
Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but it’s always to make sure we can provide the players with a new experience that will be innovative and interesting. The goal of doing business is always to create the best experience, and new technologies are always good for that because there is less competition and people are more interested in trying new things on new technologies.
This change in discourse may resemble a reversal, echoing the statements from former data analystspolled by our colleagues from Gamekult last July, as well as at 96 successful trades on quartz according to Ars Technica:
We did a little study where we transferred a few things on Reddit summarizing the positions of gamers talking about NFTs, it was very negative. Obviously we wouldn’t have people raising their hands and saying “yeah, give us NFTs in Ghost Recon”. In fact, it’s an investigation that was done with some haste, because we didn’t have much time to tell Yves Guillemot not to.
If you know a little bit about Yves’ character, he was thorough. Once it’s bullshit marketing that can make money, it’s gone. So he asks our department if we have any information about NFTs. The director then asks a team leader, who in turn will ask someone from my team, who will start an analysis for her by collecting data from social networks and comparing it with other data. He passes on his analysis to the sports director, who then answers: “Oh no, we can’t say that to Yves”. That’s it, end of story.
on his side, Square Enix has long expressed interest for the blockchain and NFTs, but we were still waiting to know how this would all happen. This week, the Japanese publisher announced that the joins the Oasys blockchain with a launch towards the end of the year holiday. The project is being followed by about twenty other companies, such as Square Enix, that will validate the nodes. Like others, Oasys presents itself as eco-friendly, while the publisher sees it as a way use user contributions. In short, and despite the vagueness that currently surrounds Web3 and cryptocurrencies, Square Enix makes concrete his intentions.
Acquisition of Activision-Blizzard by Microsoft: United Kingdom and European Union join
We suspected it, but Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision-Blizzard-King won’t go as a letter to La Poste. Estimated at almost $70 billionthe operation is monitored very closely by the financial authorities, as well as by the competition, Sony in the lead. The PS5 manufacturer tells anyone who will listen that Microsoft’s acquisition of licenses like Call of Duty would have a major negative impact on consumers, but Microsoft responded by stating that removing Call of Duty from PlayStation players would be commercial nonsense.
The acquisition has already been validated by Saudi Arabia and is expected to be decided by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) for the United States. This could deepen the research, such as: this should be the case in Western Europe. Indeed, the UK Competition Markets Authority announced last week that it is considering such an agreement can possibly be extended.
Following our Phase 1 investigation, we are concerned that Microsoft could use its post-merger control of popular games such as Call of Duty and World of Warcraft to harm rivals, including recent and future rivals, in multi-game subscription services and cloud games.
An idea what could the European Union follow? according to the Financial Times, with statements of great caution from authorities:
Regulators and other parties involved in the deal expect a lengthy EU investigation when Microsoft formally files its case in Brussels in the coming weeks. People familiar with EU thinking said regulators would take time to review the deal due to the size, nature of the buyer and growing concerns from rivals, including Sony.
Halo: 343 Industries Loses Its Founder & CEO
15 years after the founding of 343 Industries, Bonnie Ross, founder and director of the studio, has announced that she is leaving the company. Halo Infinite’s situation clearly has nothing to do with this departure, the stakeholder indicated that she was leaving to settle a medical problem within her family. It is therefore with regret that she announced her departure on Twitter via a press release.
While I was hoping to take care of Halo until the Winter Update is released, let me know that I will be leaving 343 (Industries) and solving a family medical problem. I am incredibly proud of the work everyone at 343 Industries has done with Halo Infinite, the Master Chief Collection, the Halo TV series and much more. It has been an honor to serve alongside the team for the past 15 years and be a part of a world I love. Thank you to everyone in the Halo community for their support. The future of Halo is bright. Can’t wait to show you what we have in store and cheer you on as a fan at the Halo World Championship in October!
A departure that should bring about change in the studio, as she will leave her post to three people. Pierre Hintze, studio veteran, immediately takes over the management of the latter while leading the roadmap for Halo Infinite and The Master Chief Collection, as well as future productions. Elizabeth Van Wyck will oversee business and operations commercial, while Bryan Koscki will take over the franchises.
Focus Entertainment buys BlackMill Games (WW1)
Founded in 1996 under the name Focus Home Interactive, the French publisher has embarked on a gentle but sensitive change for several years now. the editor presidential change in 2018passing from Cédric Lagarrigue to Jurgen Goeldner, gradually offering Deck13 (The Surge), Douze Dixièmes, dotEmu or Leikir Studio. Guided acquisitions in 2021 due to a name changewith a publisher now to be called Focus Entertainment.
Ambition is still the keyword in the publishing house, which keeps its niche of producing double A, medium/high budget games. A desire for growth continued very recently with the acquisition of majority stake in BlackMill Games. Focus Entertainment bought out M2H’s stake, and now owns 66.6% of the shares from the studio. Jos Hoebe, founder and creative director of the studio, will retain the remainder of the company’s capital and management. To make it easier for you, M2H takes care of the transition:
We know that the WW1 game series is in the capable hands of Jos and Focus Entertainment and we are confident that together they can make the series bigger than ever. While we can’t wait to embark on an exciting new project, we will be sure to pass on our knowledge and expertise over the coming year to ensure a smooth transition. We can’t wait to see what the new owners bring to the WW1 Game Series,” said Matt Hergaarden, co-founder of M2H.
Just in the business news of the week
- 3.45 million copies in three days is the score of Splatoon 3 in Japan! A resounding success for Nintendo’s new production. To situate, in five years, Splatoon 2 has sold 13.3 million copies.
- Roblox will launch in-game ads next year
- Activision has banned more than half a million Call of Duty accounts.
- THQ Nordic officially has hair new studio, referred to as Campfire Cabal. The latter is intended to develop RPGs.
- Garena (Free Fire) is said to have laid off 15% of its Shanghai workforce as part of a global restructuring.
- From August 29 to September 4, 2022, The Last of Us Part I on PS5 dominated the physical sales market in France by value, according to SELL. Then follow Horizon: Forbidden West (PS5), Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Mario Strikers: Battle League Football and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.