Another month has come and gone already which means it’s once again time to look at the financial and business news from the MMO industry.
Lockboxes and Cash Shops
This month one of the major talking points in the industry was lockboxes. As MMO players, we’re quite used to seeing lockboxes which these days are the norm for online games, but because we’ve started seeing them pop up even in single player games, there is more contention being taken with them. For instance, a petition in the UK asked the UK government to look into if lockboxes are gambling. If so, then children must be protected from them. In the US, the ESRB has come out and said that lockboxes are not gambling.
Late last month we saw players accuse Runescape of promoting gambling to children after they introduced a prize pool as part of opening lockboxes. Almost a month later Jagex apologized for the poor quality of microtransactions in the game. In the same statement, they said that they wouldn’t be doing the prize pool promo ever again, though they are still planning on experimenting with other promotions.
At the moment nothing has really changed about lockboxes. The uproar created a lot of discussions but no changes. Lockboxes are pretty universally hated by players, but people still buy them, and so long as people continue to buy them studios will continue to use them. Vote with your wallets.
While we’re talking about lockboxes, Activision gave a gem that is tangentially related. They got a patent for software that tricks you into buying cash shop items. If you’re wondering, it basically works like this: you buy something from the store and it will place you in a match where that thing you bought will be really useful. So you’ll have a positive reaction to the thing you bought and in turn, you’ll want to buy more things. Activision has said that it hasn’t been implemented in any games and that it’s just for the purposes of exploration, but that doesn’t stop them from putting it into use in the future. Just in case you aren’t sure who we’re talking about we’re talking about games like Destiny, Call of Duty, and Skylanders. They’re also under the same umbrella as Blizzard.
Virtual Reality Meets Reality
Things don’t seem to be going very well for virtual reality. It isn’t the next big thing that everyone expected it to be a few years ago, and before this turns into a massive opinionated rant, I’ll dive into the news that came out about VR this month. First, Facebook, the owners of the Oculus Rift lowered the price of the device once again, bringing the core bundle down to $399. This is the second price drop it has had this year when it started out at $600. They also announced the Oculus Go which is intended to be a sweet spot between a full-sized Rift and smaller competitors like the Gear VR. This will be available starting in November for just under $200.
CCP has also announced this month that they’re going to stop developing for VR. Along with this, they’re closing two studios, with one of them being sold off. Despite seeing success with their VR titles CCP feels there is limited opportunity for growth for VR in the next few years. Instead, they’re going to be focusing on their PC and mobile development.
This is, of course, all part of a bigger discussion on the future of virtual reality and where it will be headed. A topic for another time perhaps.
Superdata put out another monthly report. This one showed that Destiny 2 shot straight up to the number one position for console earnings in September. It was also declared the fastest selling digital console game in history. While League of Legends topped the PC list, PUBG also climbed the list, making more than World of Warcraft and Crossfire.
About halfway through the month, Superdata said that the eSports market has finally hit the mainstream. They put League of Legends at the top of viewership numbers followed by PUBG and Dota 2.
This month Digital Extremes, the makers of Warframe, announced that they were opening up another studio. This one will be working on game development but what they’ll be working on exactly isn’t known yet. This is especially true since the news came out that they’ve halted work on The Amazing Eternals. Might there be another Digital Extremes game in our future?
Armored Warfare Business Model Changes
My.com announced they’re making some changes to the business model for Armored Warfare. To start with, players will be able to buy vehicles and other items that were previously only available in bundles as individual items. They’re also unifying the price across all the regions, so if something costs $9.99 it will also cost €9.99.
As far as finances go, October was pretty quiet. There weren’t any quarterly reports released and aside from a couple of big stories not a whole lot happened. While a slow month may be bad for anyone who covers the news, it is generally a good sign for the industry. Next month we’ll have quarterly reports to pour over, which is always exciting.Related: Column, Financials, MMO, MMOney, MMORPG