The business of video games can be complicated. In each episode of Virtual Economy, hosts and analysts Amanda Farough and Michael Futter break down the biggest business news in the video game industry.
Episode 150: Square Enix Says No Flippin’ Thanks to its Web3 CEO (News Show)
51:12Square Enix is having a time of it, as its Web3-loving CEO is leaving and Luminous Productions is no more. Also: Ubisoft and Activision messing up labor issues again, and the US is investigating extremism in online games. Also, Manda is going to talk to you about The Lord of the Rings, and Mike will do his best Gollum impression. Maybe. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! TIME STAMPS [00:01:04] - Square Enix Needs to Sort Itself Out [00:05:41] - The US Government Wants to Know About Extremism in Online Games [00:09:21] - Epic Lays Out Its Plans for the Future of Epic Games Store [00:13:29] - Investment Interlude [00:17:04] - Quick Hits [00:33:06] - Labor Report [00:42:54] - FAFO! SOURCES An Update from Luminous Productions | Luminous Productions (@LumiPro_EN) on Twitter Reorganization within the SQUARE ENIX GROUP | Square Enix "FINAL FANTASY XVI" Trial Review & Interview! Overwhelming presence of the summoned beast felt in full-scale action! | PlayStation Blog JP Yuji Naka admits to insider trading | Square Enix Notification of Changes in the Representative Director of the Company and a Consolidated Subsidiary | Square Enix Exclusive: U.S. rep mulls legislative action to press games industry on extremism | Axios Epic Games Store Launches Self-Publishing Tools for Game Developers and Publishers | Epic Games Beyond Good And Evil 2 Studio Head No Longer At Ubisoft | Kotaku EA Lays Off Over 200 Apex Legends Testers Over Zoom Call | Kotaku Activision fired two testers for 'profane' language, now a major tech union is filing charges | PC Gamer Take-Two confirms layoffs following 'exponential growth in recent years' | PC Gamer Gameloft closes Budapest studio as it shifts focus to console and PC | GameDeveloper Lince Works is Shutting Down | Lince Works (@LinceWorks) on Twitter Destiny 2 cheat maker AimJunkies ordered to pay $4.4 million to Bungie | Game Developer Bungie seeks $6.7m default judgment in case against LaviCheats | GamesIndustry INVESTMENT INTERLUDE Canadian Gaming Leader Behaviour™ Interactive Acquires Award-Winning SockMonkey Studios | GamesPress EMBRACER GROUPS’S MIDDLE-EARTH ENTERPRISES AND NEW LINE CINEMA JOIN FORCES TO FURTHER EXPLORE THE CINEMATIC UNIVERSE OF “THE LORD OF THE RINGS” AND “THE HOBBIT” | Embracer Group
Episode 149: The Great Games as a Service Massacre (News Show)
1:16:01It’s been a bloody couple of weeks for service-based games, and we suspect the murderer is still on the loose. Also: IT’S EARNINGS SEASON, BAYBEEE! We’ve got a meaty plate of all your favorite cold cuts: EA, Capcom, Sony, Nintendo, Square Enix, Take-Two, Capcom, Sega, Embracer Group, Starbreeze, and more. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! TIME STAMPS [00:02:28] - Sony Q3 FY22 Earnings [00:06:22] - Nintendo Q3 FY23 Earnings [00:15:12] - Square Enix Q3 FY23 Earnings [00:17:14] - EA Q3 FY23 Earnings [00:26:18] - Take-Two Q3 FY23 Earnings [00:32:16] - Capcom Q3 FY23 Earnings [00:35:29] - Sega Q3 FY23 Earnings [00:36:17] - Embracer Group Q3 FY23 Earnings [00:40:29] - Starbreeze Q4 FY22 Earnings [00:44:04] - Investment Interlude [00:52:18] - Quick Hits [00:58:09] - Labor Report [01:03:38] - NPD Report on US Video Game Spending for January 2023 [01:10:42] - Mike remembers there’s a listener question (oops!) SOURCES Sony FY2022 Q3 Earnings Announcement | Sony Nintendo Q3 FY23 Earnings | Nintendo Square Enix Q3 FY23 Earnings | Square Enix Electronic Arts Reports Q3 FY23 Financial Results | EA Take-Two Q3 FY23 Earnings | Take-Two Capcom Q3 FY23 Earnings | Capcom Sega Q3 FY23 Earnings | Sega Sammy EMBRACER GROUP PUBLISHES INTERIM REPORT Q3 OCTOBER-DECEMBER 2022 | Embracer Group Starbreeze Q4 FY2022 | Starbreeze NCsoft West lays off 20% of staff | GamesIndustry Tilting Point to cut 14% of its global staff | GamesIndustry Microsoft Studio Behind Halo Faces a Reboot on Years of Turmoil | Bloomberg Blizzard staffer alleges that Proletariat studio culture isn't progressive | GamesIndustry Activision Blizzard planning to end full remote work | Game Developer INVESTMENT INTERLUDE KEYWORDS STUDIOS’ ENGAGE DIVISION POWERS UP ITS CREATIVE HOUSE OF BRANDS TO SERVE GLOBAL INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY | Keywords Zordix Reorganizes Maximum Entertainment | Maximum Entertainment (@maximumentmt) on Twitter Dauntless creator Phoenix Labs spins out of Sea/Garena | GamesBeat Notice of possible remedies | CMA
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Episode 148: Dungeons & Dragons, New Coke, and Other Terrible Mistakes (News Show)
1:04:18Wizards of the Coast squandered goodwill to find itself right back where it started. Also: Earnings season has begun, the GDC State of the Industry report shows developers put the smackdown on Web3, NPD for December shows a bit of lift, and (as we grimly expected) we’re in the layoff bad times. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! TIME STAMPS [00:01:17] - Learnings for the GDC State of the Industry Report [00:26:42] - Wizards of the Coast Fizzles OGL Update [00:30:05] - Microsoft Q2 FY23 Earnings [00:41:33] - Investment Interlude [00:45:38] - Quick Hits [00:52:36] - Labor Report [00:57:05] - NPD for December 2022 SOURCES Earnings Release FY23 Q2 | Microsoft Microsoft Corporation Form 8-K | United States SEC Xbox's Phil Spencer Says Microsoft's 10K Layoffs 'Hurts' In Email To Staff | Kotaku A Working Conversation About the Open Game License (OGL) | D&D Beyond OGL 1.0a & Creative Commons | D&D Beyond Unity lays off almost 300 staff | Eurogamer Riot Games to lay off nearly 50 staff as part of "strategic shifts" | Game Developer Hasbro lays off 15% of staff to cut costs | Eurogamer Ex-Sega developer highlights lack of credit for translators | Eurogamer Workers at World of Warcraft studio Proletariat withdraw union petition | Polygon INVESTMENT INTERLUDE Microsoft faces EU antitrust warning over Activision deal - sources | Reuters Playtika tries to buy Rovio | GamesIndustry SKYBOUND ENTERTAINMENT MAKES SUBSTANTIAL INVESTMENT IN MEGA CAT STUDIOS | Skybound
Episode 147: Ubisoft in Crisis (Season 4 Premiere)
1:30:48We’re back for Season 4! Good thing we’re not on HBO Max, amirite? The ghosts of Ubisoft’s failure to care for its employees are now haunting its financial performance. Also: Let’s talk about D&D and Hasbro’s huge, shortsighted missteps with the OGL, Epic has been slapped with a fine over Fortnite, Zenimax QA workers unionize, while Activision Blizzard moves to make things hard for workers at recently acquired Proletariat. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! TIME STAMPS [00:02:34] - Dungeons & Dragons Rolls a Critical Miss [00:23:13] - Ubisoft’s No Good, Very Bad Day [00:34:48] - A Pair of Fortnite Stories [00:48:47] - Investment Interlude [01:05:02] - Quick Hits [01:19:40] - Labor Report SOURCES Dungeons & Dragons’ New License Tightens Its Grip on Competition | Gizmodo Let’s Take A Minute To Talk About D&D’s Open Gaming License (OGL) | Noah Downs on Medium A Legal Perspective on the OGL | Chris Reid (@NYGameLawyer) on Twitter Paizo Announces System-Neutral Open RPG License | Paizo An Update on the Open Game License (OGL) Canceled D&D Beyond Subscriptions Forced Hasbro's Hand | Gizmodo UBISOFT STRENGTHENS STRATEGIC FOCUS… | Ubisoft Ubisoft Delays Skull And Bones, Cancels More Games, And Announces New Cuts | Kotaku Parents say game developer made ‘Fortnite’ as ‘addictive as possible’ | Washington Post Epic Games Fined by FTC in Children’s ‘Fortnite’ Privacy Case | Bloomberg Law Hasbro’s Wizards of the Coast Cancels Video Game Projects | Bloomberg (Paywall) Playtika to lay off over 600 staff; studios at risk, three games canned | Mobilegamer.biz Microsoft game makers unionize after vote passes by "supermajority" | Axios Proletariat Workers Become Third Group of Activision Blizzard Workers to Form Union with Communications Workers of America | Communications Workers of America EVERYONE DESERVES A VOTE | Proletariat INVESTMENT INTERLUDE MICROSOFT/ACTIVISION BLIZZARD PHASE 2 MERGER INQUIRY | UK Competition Markets Authority UK regulator extends deadline for investigation into Microsoft's Activision Blizzard deal | Game Developer Exclusive: Microsoft, Activision back off aggressive claim in FTC case | Axios Microsoft Sued by Gamers Over $69 Billion Activision Deal (2) | Bloomberg Law Google, Nvidia Express Concerns to FTC About Microsoft’s Activision Deal | Bloomberg (Paywall) Yuga Labs Appoints Activision Blizzard President and COO Daniel Alegre as New CEO | Yuga Labs Jagex Acquires SCUM Developer Gamepires | Jagex NDREAMS ACQUIRES NEAR LIGHT | nDreams SkyBox Labs is joining NetEase Games | NetEase GEARBOX ENTERTAINMENT COMPANY ANNOUNCES ACQUISITION OF CAPTURED DIMENSIONS | Gearbox ATARI: OPENING OF THE FRIENDLY TENDER OFFER FOR ATARI SHARES | Atari MY.GAMES ANNOUNCES BUSINESS RESTRUCTURING AND DECISION TO CEASE OPERATIONS IN THE RUSSIAN MARKET | My.Games
Episode 146: GameStop’s Still Hemorrhaging Money (News Show)
1:22:30It’s our season finale! GameStop has more than a little red on it, with losses continuing to mount on a crypto deal gone bust. Also: Microsoft makes nice with Nintendo (again) to pressure Sony, layoff continue to plague the industry, Zenimax QA workers on the path to unionization, and a fresh FAFO. Oh… and we have a tiny, little announcement. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! The views and opinions expressed on this podcast are ours and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of our employer or the organizations with which we work. TIME STAMPS [00:00:30] - Some exciting news! [00:05:44] - Gamestop Q3 FY2023 Earnings [00:14:20] - NPD U.S. Video Game Spending Report for November 2022 [00:19:46] - Twitch’s new Shield Mode [00:22:51] - Investment Interlude [00:49:36] - Quick Hits [00:54:19] - Labor Report [01:14:26] - Listener Question [01:16:01] - FAFO SOURCES GameStop Q3 FY2023 Earnings | GameStop GameStop begins layoff | Axios Protect Your Channel With Shield Mode | Twitch Activision Blizzard QA Workers Call for End to Bug Quotas | ABK Workers Alliance (@ABetterABK) on Twitter ‘Diablo IV’ developers work long hours, bracing for impending release | Washington Post Activision sues California agency that sued it over misconduct | Axios Zenimax QA Workers Will Unionize | ZeniMax Workers United - CWA (@ZenimaxWorkers) on Twitter “Massive” layoffs at Wildlife as it drops all non-mobile game projects | Mobilegamer Just Cause Studio Employees Call for Change Amid Year-Long Battle Over Controversial Hire | IGN DEI at Avalanche Studios Group | Avalanche Studios Group Insider trading in FF development? Former Square Enix employees re-arrested | Asahi INVESTMENT INTERLUDE SONY INTERACTIVE ENTERTAINMENT OBSERVATIONS ON THE CMA’S ISSUES STATEMENT | UK Competition and Markets Authority MICROSOFT’S RESPONSE TO THE CMA’S ISSUES STATEMENT | UK Competition and Markets Authority FTC Seeks to Block Microsoft Corp.’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Inc. | FTC Microsoft Didn’t Lie to the EU on ZeniMax Deal Like the FTC Said, According to Sources A Letter from CEO Bobby Kotick Regarding Activision Blizzard’s Merger with Microsoft | Activision Blizzard Keywords acquires AI-driven player support platform for $75m | GamesIndustry STARBREEZE STUDIOS EXPANDS WITH NEW STUDIO AND DEDICATED TEAM IN THE UNITED KINGDOM | Starbreeze SPLASH DAMAGE ANNOUNCES TRANSFORMERS: REACTIVATE | Splash Damage
Bonus Episode 7: What to do When Your Brand Isn’t Working for You Anymore
39:54Brad Wildes, CEO of video game accessories maker PDP, joins us to discuss the company’s recent rebrand and the complicated process of reshaping your brand identity. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise!
Bonus Episode 6: How Equity Funding Works (With Kelly Wallick)
52:06Indie Megabooth founder and 1UP Ventures partner Kelly Wallick joins us to discuss how studios can access equity funding and what they should know before pitching. In this conversation, we discuss the different types of funding, what different rounds of funding typically mean, and how venture capital works. If you’ve ever been curious about how studios (rather than games) get funded, this is the episode for you! You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise!
Episode 145: NetEase Thinks Activision is a Big Jerk (News Show)
1:04:41A NetEase exec has pulled no punches after the Chinese giant’s Blizzard relationship hits the skids. Also: NPD spending report for October 2022, Embracer group earnings and reorganization, more on Microsoft’s plans to acquire Activision, new studio announcements, and more! You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! TIME STAMPS [00:01:26] - NPD US Video Game Spending Report for October 2022 [00:09:11] - Embracer Group Q2 FY 2023 Earnings [00:21:09] - Investment Interlude (Now in Activision Jerk Flavor!) [00:39:31] - Quick Hits [00:54:58] - Labor Report SOURCES NPD Report on US Video Game Spending for October 2022 | Mat Piscatella (@MatPiscatella) on Twitter EMBRACER GROUP PUBLISHES INTERIM REPORT Q2 | Embracer Group Bethesda Responds to Mick Gordon Allegations | Bethesda (@Bethesda) on Twitter Microsoft to Adopt New Sexual Harassment Policies After Gates, Misconduct Audit | Bloomberg (Paywall) INVESTMENT INTERLUDE The Banished Vault | Nic Tringali on Medium European Commission responds as staff member says COD will stay on "my PlayStation" | Eurogamer Microsoft’s Xbox chief settles the Call of Duty PlayStation debate once and for all | The Verge Blizzard Entertainment and NetEase Suspending Game Services in China | Activision In candid email, Blizzard head details suspension of game sales in China | Washington Post BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT AND NETEASE SEVERING TIES | Niko Partners Sweden’s Behold Ventures raises $25.9M to invest in Nordic gaming startups | GamesBeat Senior Executive behind global beloved franchises, such as THE WALKING DEAD, THE BOYS, INVINCIBLE and many others, announces ASTRID ENTERTAINMENT | GamesPress We Are Methodical | Methodical Games Ex-Wargaming and Valve devs form Eschatology Entertainment, raise $4 million in funding | Game Developer NetEase Executive Responds to Falling Out with Blizzard | Simon Zhu on LinkedIn
Episode 144: Weird Corporate Shenanigans (News Show)
1:32:44We’re SO close to the end of earnings season. This week: Square Enix, Nintendo, Take-Two, Unity (and a discussion about that brutal Bloomberg expose about CEO John Riccitiello). Also: Strange happenings at Studio ZA/UM, Remedy details Control 2 publishing deal, the EU gets prickly about Microsoft’s proposed Activision acquisition, and more. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! TIME STAMPS [00:02:03] - Square Enix Earnings [00:11:00] - Nintendo Earnings [00:18:41] - Take-Two Earnings [00:26:22] - Unity Earnings and Discussion about Bloomberg Riccitiello Expose [00:38:20] - Investment Interlude [00:44:03] - Quick Hits [00:46:56] - Labor Report (Activision, Kabam, Studio ZA/UM, iD Software) [01:18:38] - Listener Question SOURCES Consolidated Financial Results for the Six-Month Period Ended September 30, 2022 | Square Enix Consolidated Results for the Six Months Ended September 30, 2021 and 2022 | Nintendo Notice of Establishment of Joint Venture Company with DeNA Co., Ltd. and added as a Specified Subsidiary | Nintendo Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. Reports Results for Fiscal Second Quarter 2023 | Take-Two Unity Announces Third Quarter 2022 Financial Results | Unity Unity and ironSource merge to simplify launching and growing great mobile games One of Gaming’s Most Hated Execs Is Jumping Into the Metaverse | Bloomberg (Paywall) Activision Blizzard files motion to impound Albany union vote ballots | Games Industry Composer Sarah Schachner Exits ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II’ Soundtrack Citing ‘Challenging Working Dynamic’ With Audio Director | Variety November 2nd, 2022 Bargaining Session Update | Game Workers Alliance TO FANS OF DISCO ELYSIUM, CONCERNING THE SITUATION AT ZA/UM | Robert Kurvitz and Aleksander Rostov on Medium Gaming company Kabam lays off 7% of its workforce to better align with goals | TechCrunch Disco Elysium studio ZA/UM confirms former employees were fired for misconduct | Games Industry INVESTMENT INTERLUDE Mergers: Commission opens in-depth investigation into the proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft | European Commission KRAFTON, INC. REPORTS Q3 2022 REVENUE OF 433.8 BILLION KRW ($320.4 MILLION) | Krafton Remedy Entertainment signs a co-development and co-publishing agreement with 505 Games for Control 2 | Remedy
Episode 143: Microsoft and Sony Stumble on Subscriptions (News Show)
1:21:10With Microsoft and Sony falling short on subscriptions, is our future still an all-you-can-eat buffet? Also: Earnings for Microsoft, Sony, Capcom, Paradox, Remedy, and Sega; Embracer shutters recently acquired and rebranded Studio Onoma, and Marvel Snaps up huge mobile revenue. You can support Virtual Economy’s growth via our Ko-Fi and also purchase Virtual Economy merchandise! TIME STAMPS [00:] - Microsoft FY23 Q1 Earnings [00:] - Sony FY23 Q2 Earnings [00:] - Capcom FY23 Q2 Earnings [00:] - Paradox FY22 Q3 Earnings [00:] - Remedy FY22 Q3 Earnings [00:] - Sega FY23 Q2 Earnings [00:] - Electronic Arts FY23 Q2 Earnings [00:] - Investment Interlude [00:] - Quick Hits [00:] - Labor Report SOURCES Microsoft Earnings Release FY23 Q1 | Microsoft Microsoft's Xbox chief on the future of gaming | Tom Warren on YouTube Microsoft promises to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for as long as PlayStation exists | The Verge Quarterly Financial Statements for the Second Quarter Ended September 30, 2022 | Sony Capcom Consolidated financial results for the 2nd Quarter of FY2022 | Capcom Interim report January – September 2022 | Paradox Remedy’s Investments in Game Projects Continued, Burdening Profitability | Remedy Consolidated Financial Results for the Six Months Ended September 30, 2022 | Sega Electronic Arts Reports Q2 FY23 Financial Results | EA Creative Assembly Statement on Allegations Against Former Employee | Creative Assembly (@CAGames) on Twitter Creative Assembly vows investigation after 'deeply concerning and serious' allegations of workplace abuse | PC Gamer INVESTMENT INTERLUDE Game Developer Index 2022 | Swedish Games Industry Spry Fox is joining Netflix! Frontier Developments Acquires Complex Games Inc. | Frontier Developments