It's that time of the week again. Get ready to cruise into the bank holiday weekend with our roundup of the latest games industry news that caught our attention this week. Enjoy!
Roblox is one of the biggest success stories in games from the last few years, with millions of fans and a highly engaged audience. It's a game (or platform?) that allows players to create their own multiplayer games, with a blocky style, a broad framework with a low learning curve.
Some have even taken to creating games studios specifically focused on creating Roblox titles. Yet, many game developers don't take it seriously. This week, Terry Cavanagh (creator of the rather brilliant Dicey Dungeons) spoke to VICE about how Roblox won him over, and became his new obsession.
The games industry has been a hotbed of activity for mergers and acquisitions in recent years, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Mobile games giant Zynga have just hit the games industry headlines with their acquisition of Chartboost for $250m.
Whilst games biz M&A has become a staple of the news cycle lately, this move is slightly different to the usual game studio snap-ups. Firstly, Chartboost isn't a studio, it's a mobile ad and monetization platform. That's an understandable move for a company like Zynga who have a significant player base and portfolio of games. It's also well-timed with Apple's recent IDFA changes which is expecting to have some impact on player acquisition for games companies through reduced targeting and tracking capabilities (more detail here).
This move suggests a potential defensive or hedging maneuver in anticipation of some of the fallout from the latest iOS14 update. Zynga's president Bernard Kim shared with GIBiz that they are now able to be less reliant on new player acquisitions and leverage their existing, significant audience, saying: "We can start garnering more traffic from potentially Zynga games within our own ecosystem".
The idea of maximising existing audience engagement and using technology to migrate players within their ecosystem (over purely focusing on new player activations) is an interesting safeguard against the as-yet-unknown extent of the impact of Apple's latest changes.
The movie industry has been hugely affected by the pandemic over the last year, with cinemas taking a huge hit while being forced to close. As cinemas start to come out of lockdown it look's like they are exploring different avenues to generate money, and what better way than focusing on the thriving gaming industry?.
Gamers can now rent cinemas to play their favourite games on the big screen (and with those immersive sound systems). Looking at Cineworld, it costs around £119 for two hours, and you can have up to 20 people. You're able to take your own consoles, or for an additional fee the consoles and games can be provided. This makes a lot of sense for the cinema industry: they have all the equipment to provide a gaming experience that you likely won't ever get to enjoy otherwise.
On Wednesday, as part of an anti-toxicity progress report, Call of Duty staff announced that they've banned over 350,000 accounts in the past year for "racist names or toxic behaviour". That's an impressive number, but it does span several large games: Call of Duty: Warzone, Black Ops Cold War, Modern Warfare and Call of Duty: Mobile. The Call of Duty devs have also acknowledged that they still have a long way to go.
Toxicity, racism and harassment can easily become cultural norms in many games if developers allow it to become widespread. These things can be much harder to root out later on, so what else can be done? One answer is to focus on more comprehensive prevention efforts upfront, devoting more resources to detection, reporting and enforcement. Players need to feel like reporting a player will result in action being taken. If they have no confidence in the system, they're more likely to mute and move on, rather than pushing back against the problem.
If you're a Borderlands fan, good news, cross-play is coming! If you're a Borderlands fan who owns a PlayStation (or your friends are), bad news, cross-play isn't coming for you. This was announced by Gearbox CEO, Randy Pitchford, from his Twitter account earlier this week. While we were discussing the Apple vs Epic saga on our live show a few weeks ago we talked about how Sony are not fans of cross-play, so this is perhaps not a huge surprise. In this case, it sounds as though this has been a directive from 2K, so we'll have to wait and see if they make any further comment.
Good news or bad news first? Good News: An update for Borderlands 3 has been prepared for release that includes full crossplay support across all platforms. Bad News: For certification, we have been required by the publisher to remove crossplay support for PlayStation consoles.— Randy Pitchford (@DuvalMagic) May 27, 2021
Thanks for joining us for our roundup, if you want more from us, head on over to our YouTube channel which is jam-packed with gameplay, interviews with industry experts and marketing tips. If you prefer a live experience, join us every Thursday at 4pm on Twitch for our weekly live show where we discuss industry news, play some games and have discussions about topics affecting the wider games industry. Check out yesterday's show right here 👇