business news Sony launches Inzone, Blizzard buys a studio… the business news of the week
Sales figures, studio buyouts, financial statements, developer transfer window, investments… if these topics interest you, you’ve come to the right place. We offer you an update on the business news of the past week.
- Blizzard buys Proletariat studio to support World of Warcraft
- Niantic (Pokémon GO) cancels four projects and cuts its workforce
- Sony targets the PC market and Asia with its new Inzone range
- Valve doubles production of the Steam Deck
- Briefly in the business news of the week
Blizzard buys Proletariat studio to support World of Warcraft
Last Tuesday, the Proletariat studio announced the end of Spellbreak. Launched in free-to-play on PC and consoles in September 2020, the battle royale based on the use of magical powers will definitively close its doors in early 2023. The news was communicated in a short ticket which does not mention at any time the future of this independent team founded in Boston in 2012… yet already traced for several weeks.
The website GamesBeat indeed reports that Proletariat has been acquired by Blizzard for an unspecified sum. The approximately 100 studio employees have actually already started working with the Californian firm since last May, more specifically on World of Warcraft. The objective of this acquisition is to strengthen the team dedicated to the MMO, in particular with a view to the release of the extension Dragonflight planned for this year.
Asked by GamesBeat, John Hight, general manager of World of Warcraft, admits that the follow-up to the extension
shadowlands was complicated and that the frequency of updates was too low to keep players on their toes. “As you’re no doubt aware, World of Warcraft players have a voracious appetite for content. And what we’ve seen over the past year is that we need to increase the amount of content we can create, and how often we put it in the hands of our players”he commented.
For his part, the CEO of Proletariat Seth Sivak indicates having had a “very open and transparent conversation” with Blizzard about issues of toxic culture, harassment, and discrimination within the studio. “I think the Blizzard team recognized some of the challenges they faced. We talked about how they plan to continue to create a great place to work for developers. It was encouraging. Obviously , there’s a lot of work to do to continue to create a great place for developers, but we were pretty happy and happy with the direction the teams are heading.”, did he declare. Like Vicarious Visions last year, Proletariat will be fully absorbed by Blizzard in the coming months.
Niantic (Pokémon GO) cancels four projects and cuts its workforce
Even though Pokemon GO has generated six billion dollars in six years (according to data from SensorTower), all is not so well at Niantic. It’s no secret the Californian studio is struggling to establish another hit game. The main disappointment is undoubtedly Harry Potter: Wizards Unitelaunched in June 2019 and closed permanently last January. Pikmin Bloom did not unleash the crowds either, while Catan: World Explorer was abandoned even before its official release.
This week, Bloomberg reported that Niantic will lay off 85 to 90 employees, or 8% of its workforce. In an email sent to his teams, general manager John Hanke explained that the studio “faces a period of economic turmoil” and that the company has already “reduces its costs in various sectors”. He also indicated that it would be necessary “to further streamline (our) operations to best position the business to weather any economic storms that may come”. In this context, four projects were canceled, including the game Transform: Heavy Metal which was announced last year and Hamlet, a collaboration with Punchdrunk. Niantic is still working on two new augmented reality games: Peridotexpected by the end of 2022, and NBA All-World, freshly announced on June 28.
Sony targets the PC market and Asia with its new Inzone range
After releasing its first first-party games on Steam and the Epic Games Store (Horizon Zero Dawn, Days Gone, God of War, etc.), Sony is looking to establish itself a little more on the PC market. The firm revealed “Inzone”, a new brand of peripherals intended primarily for PC gamers, and particularly for FPS enthusiasts. The first products in the range, two monitors and three headsets (including the Inzone H9 that we have already been able to test) which will be released from July, are nonetheless compatible and optimized for the PS5. Here is what the official statement about this new initiative which also targets esports enthusiasts, knowing that Inzone will be one of the sponsors of several esports events including the EVO (event co-owned by Sony), the PGL Dota2 Arlinghton Major and the Valorant Champions Tour.
The market has expanded: the expansion of eSport tournaments and the wider distribution of matches have increased interest in gaming. With Sony having a long history of technologically advanced audio and video products, this new range will provide additional options for those looking to upgrade their current gaming gear. We are committed to supporting the growth of gaming culture by providing PC and PlayStation gamers with a wide range of options to enrich their gaming experience.
According to analyst Daniel Ahmad, Inzone should also help Sony increase its presence in Asia, where gamers are mainly present on PC and mobile, in addition to being avid esports fans. “About 49% of gamers in Asia are eSports content viewers and fans, which has led Sony to partner with top leagues to promote its brand. dedicated gaming features as a determining factor when buying a new PC and accessories”he commented.
Valve doubles production of the Steam Deck
Officially launched last February, the Steam Deck is still difficult to obtain and subject to a reservation system. Deliveries are made in dribs and drabs according to the “first come, first served” rule. Result, if you reserve your Steam Deck today on the Valve’s websitewe cannot expect delivery before next October, at best.
However, things are improving. On Twitter, Valve brought “good news from the production front” : all deliveries scheduled for the second quarter have been honored and, above all, the pace will accelerate. The company is confident enough to announce that it will now ship “more than double the number of Steam Decks each week”. On the other hand, no news of the official Steam Deck docking station which was to be launched at the end of spring. Its release has been postponed indefinitely, the reason given being “the shortage of parts and the closure of factories in China because of the pandemic”.
Briefly in the business news of the week
- Nice launch for Sunbreakthe expansion for Monster Hunter Rise, which has over 230,000 concurrent players on Steam todaywhile the base game never exceeded 135,000.
- Former head of the American subsidiaries of Sony Computer Entertainment and Sega, Bernie Stolar died at the end of last week at the age of 75. We dedicated a tribute article retracing his journey.
- This is the instant sales figure, with first Soccer Manager 2022 which reached one million seven months after its release knowing that it is also available in the Game Pass. On his side, NieR Automata is at 6.5 million five years after its launch, i.e. 500,000 more than in June 2021. A number that will increase further with the arrival of a Switch version on October 6. Good longevity also for Kingdom Come: Deliverancepublished in February 2018, which has sold 5 million copies, compared to 4 million last November.
- The publisher 505 Games (Control, Ghostrunner…) has bought the D3 Go studio, responsible for games Alien: Blackout, Marvel Puzzle Quest or Magic The Gathering Puzzle Quest.
- Fire Emblem Heroes became the first Nintendo mobile game (Pokémon GO being operated by The Pokémon Company and Niantic) to gross over $1 billionaccording to the estimates of SensorTower. Driven by its lucrative “gacha” system (random result microtransactions), it is actually far ahead of the others, namely Mario Kart Tour ($282 million), Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp ($282 million), Dragalia Lost ($168 million), Super Mario Run ($87 million), and Dr. Mario World ($14 million).