Week 42

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 42

Highlights

Consumer spending on mobile games hit $20 billion in Q3 2020 (link)

  • Mobile consumers spent $20 billion on games throughout Q3 2020 according to data provided by App Annie

  • Both the App Store and Google Play experienced great growth, given consumer spending on games was up 5% quarter-on-quarter. In terms of genre, RPGs proved to be the most lucrative, as did the strategy category

  • More specifically, Pokemon Go led the charge for RPGs – unsurprising given it is nearing $4 billion in lifetime revenue – while Strategy was led by Rise of Kingdoms. Meanwhile, the sports genre and core simulation led by Professional Baseball Spirits A and Disney: Twisted-Wonderland, respectively

September is 2020’s biggest month so far for game industry TV ad spend(link)

  • The TV advertising spree for gaming brands continued in September with a 76.35% increase in estimated spend, up to $39.5 million from August’s $22.4 million

  • PlayStation commanded nearly 46% of the industry’s budget. Overall, 13 brands aired 51 spots over 6,500 times, generating nearly 1.6 billion TV ad impressions. Sports, and in particular the NFL and NBA, were big drivers of impressions for gaming brands

Newzoo downgrades esports 2020 revenue forecast for third time to $950.3 million (link)

  • The revision is only slightly down from the previous forecast of $973.9 million, which Newzoo predicted back in July. In April, it revised its earlier estimate to $1.059 billion, and back in February — before the pandemic — the forecast was $1.1 billion for 2020 revenues

  • In past years, physical venue revenues, from such streams as event ticket sales and merchandise, were a big part of esports revenues. And while digital events produced huge viewer numbers, the revenues associated with digital events tended to be smaller

Epic Games and Apple are heading to court in May 2021 (link)

  • The legal battle between Epic Games and Apple will go to court in May 2021

  • As detailed in the case scheduling and pretrial order, there are several reasons that the selected date was chosen

  • Namely, the backlog that has been created by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, the fact that both Epic and Apple chose to have a bench trial, rather than a trial by jury also impacted the date that the companies would appear in court

  • Epic loses court bid to force Apple to reinstate Fortnite in the App Store (link)

Microsoft is looking at a web-based xCloud app for iOS devices (link)

  • As reported by Business Insider, Xbox's Phil Spencer told his staff that the company is currently looking at a "direct browser-based solution" to get its cloud gaming service on to Apple devices
  • Should Microsoft pursue the web-based route, it would be totally separate from the App Store which prevents it from breaching any rules and regulations set for the storefront

N3twork launches Funko Pop! Blitz on Android and iOS (link)

  • The match-three puzzler was published and developed through a collaboration with Tic Toc Games and features the Funk Pop! versions of different characters from a variety of franchises

  • At launch, the game will feature Back to the Future, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. Furthermore, various characters from DreamWorks will also feature. Namely, those found in Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and How to Train Your Dragon

Voodoo's titles are launching in China through The9 (link)

  • Two of Voodoo's titles launch in China via Shanghai-based developer and publisher The9

  • The Chinese firm has purchased two licenses to bring Voodoo's games to China, with potential for a third, though it is currently unknown as to which titles it will release

  • Currently, The9 runs and operates a variety of games in China, including Planetside 2 and Ragnarok Online 2

IBM teams up with Activision Blizzard to manage tech for the Overwatch League (link)

  • In a multi-year deal, IBM is teaming up with Activision Blizzard, one of the biggest players in the game industry

  • IBM will provide cloud, Watson AI, and machine learning for the Overwatch League and become a presenting partner of the Overwatch League Grand Finals

  • The technology company will help run interactive and analytical content for the league, which is one of the powerhouses of the $950 million esports industry

Xbox Game Studios has a record year heading into console launch (link)

  • Microsoft said its Xbox Game Studios has so far enjoyed a record year in terms of the number of games it has launched ahead of the November debut of the Xbox Series X and Series S consoles

  • Games marketing general manager Aaron Greenberg said in a blog that Microsoft’s internal game studios have launched 15 games so far this year, 10 of which are brand-new titles
  • Including Bethesda, Microsoft has 23 game studios, with close to 5,000 developers, compared to 15 studios before the acquisition

M&A and Capital Raising

Tilting Point acquires TerraGenesis, a sim game from Edgeworks Entertainment (link)

  • Tilting Point has acquired the popular terraforming simulator TerraGenesis from Edgeworks Entertainment, continuing a strategy of acquiring popular games and making them even bigger through user acquisition techniques
  • Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Tilting Point president Samir El Agili said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company paid multiple millions of dollars to buy the game from Edgeworks

My.Games buys control of Deus Craft for up to $49.1 million (link)

  • The deal gives My.Games, the gaming division of Russia’s Mail.ru Group, control of 51.1% shares of Deus Craft. It includes an upfront, payment of $14.1 million and a deferred payment of up to $35 million payable in April 2021
  • The payout will go through only if the studio reaches monthly revenue of $15 million by the end of the first quarter of 2021, but the transaction is expected to be completed this month

Thunderful Group acquires Shadow Point developer Coatsink (link)

  • The Sunderland-based indie games specialist has been purchased for £23 million ($29.8 million). However, £11.5 million ($14.9 million) will be provided in cash, while the remaining £11.5 ($14.9 million) million will come in the form of Thunderful shares
  • However, there is also an earn-out component to the deal, which makes it worth up to £65.5 million ($85 million). At a cap of £42.5 million ($55.1 million), the consideration is subject to Coatsink's financial performances in 2021 and 2022
  • Currently, the developer has five announced and unannounced projects, including Jurassic World Aftermath and Transformers Battlegrounds. Coatsink will continue to operate as an independent studio

JetSynthesys acquires Real Cricket developer Nautilus Mobile (link)

  • Based in Pune, India, Nautilus is best known for its Real Cricket franchise, which has racked up more than 100 million downloads and 10 million monthly active users

Donut Lab raises $1.6 million for Kids vs Zombies mobile game (link)

  • Game studio Donut Lab has raised $1.6 million to finish making its Kids vs Zombies multiplayer shooter mobile game. The game is an example of taking something potentially violent and serious and transforming it with cartoon art so that it’s suitable for young folks to play

Others

Call of Duty: Mobile nears $500 million in revenue (link)

  • Activision's Call of Duty: Mobile has generated around $480 million in revenue within its first year of release, according to Sensor Tower

  • Given the shooter is already an established franchise with a healthy player base on PC and console, it was bound to be popular on mobile devices. This was proven to be true very early on, as Call of Duty: Mobile accumulated 100 million downloads, which after eight months, increased to 250 million installs

Jam City is the first mobile games firm to partner with McDonalds (link)

  • The partnership is with the Canadian chain of the fast-food giant, and will involve prizes being given as part of the monopoly game across more than 1,400 restaurants

  • The game developer will give away over $300,000 through virtual giveaways for its match-3 puzzler Cookie Jam, which has racked up more than 150 million downloads

Mortal Kombat 11 gets its first next-gen blood November 17 with Rambo (link)

  • Mortal Kombat 11 is one of the most successful fighting games in recent history, and Warner Bros. Games has announced Mortal Kombat XI Ultimate, which is coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X on November 17
  • Mortal Kombat 11 Ultimate is also coming to Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Stadia, and PC on November 17

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-41

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 41

Highlights

Google to better enforce Play Store in-app purchase policies, ease use of third-party app stores (link)

  • Under threat of regulation, Google announced it’s updating its Google Play billing policies to better clarify which types of transactions will be subject to Google’s commissions on in-app purchases
  • While the more detailed language doesn’t actually change the earlier policy’s intention, it will impact a percentage of developers who don’t currently use Google Play’s billing system when selling digital goods in their app.
  • In addition, the company announced it will make changes in Android 12 that will make it easier for users to install and use third-party app stores as an alternative to Google Play
  • The company says that its current billing policies only apply to less than 3% of apps on Google Play. Of those apps, 97% already use Google Play’s billing library

Twitch viewership will grow by 26.2% this year, faster than previously forecast (link)

  • Time spent watching gaming content on Twitch increased by 50% between just March and April 2020, according to StreamElements and Arsenal.gg
  • Previously, it was expected that Twitch would to reach 37.5 million viewers in the US this year, but considering the recent spike in viewing hours, the figure has been updated to 41.5 million, representing a 26.2% increase from the 32.9 million US viewers the platform had last year
  • This growth is driven in part by the pandemic-related proliferation of non-gaming streams

Krafton to merge with PUBG Corp later this year (link)

  • The merger will take place later this year, and will see the support and publishing teams from PUBG Corp become one with Krafton's. Meanwhile, the development team behind popular battle royale PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds will join Krafton's line of studios, though it will maintain its independence

  • "In order to create premier gameplay experiences, we believe that each of our studios should build their own unique creative identity," said Krafton CEO Kim Chang-han

  • "The announced consolidation will allow Krafton to create sustainable environments where each of our studios can focus on what they do best: development. With a gameplay-first mentality, we are confident that this system will lead to sustainable growth and the ability to develop distinguished products within particular genres."

Zynga to shut down the original FarmVille at the end Of 2020 (link)

  • As detailed in a site update, one of the reasons for the decision is that Facebook will stop supporting flash games after December 31st, 2020. The reason being that Adobe will stop distributing and updating flash player across all web browsers

  • "Following an incredible 11 years since its initial launch back in 2009, we are officially announcing the closure of the original FarmVille game on Facebook," said Zynga

IronSource expands LevelPlay to help mobile game and app developers in ad monetization (link)

  • Launched a year ago, LevelPlay is an in-app bidding tool that is now automatically enabled and available for any developer, giving them instant access to all bidding networks. Only the biggest publishers previously had access to LevelPlay as the company refined the technology for automating monetization

  • IronSource is expanding access to LevelPlay as a broadly available tool to help smaller mobile game and app developers generate higher revenues from advertising

Microsoft is launching a new Xbox app with remote play on iOS (link)

  • As reported by The Verge, the new updated Xbox app on the App Store will let iOS consumers use remote play, which will enable Xbox One players to stream their games to mobile devices

Gameloft increases downloads by seven-fold on Huawei's AppGallery store (link)

  • Gameloft has seen its mobile downloads increase seven-fold within its first three months of being a part of Huawei's AppGallery

  • Huawei has put this impressive growth down to not only the reach of the store, but also the wealth of capabilities provided by its Huawei Mobile Service (HMS) Core that allows developers to add to their games in a number of impressive ways

Niantic is removing various Pokémon GO COVID-19 changes (link)

  • Niantic will roll back on various changes that were made to Pokémon GO as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak

  • "Over the past few months, we've been making temporary changes to Pokémon GO to adapt to the changing global environment," said Niantic

  • "Some of these changes will remain implemented for the foreseeable future, such as the ability to raid remotely, changes to the GO Battle League, and the increased distance at which you can spin Photo Discs at Gyms and PokéStops."

Glu Mobile launches real-life e-commerce store Design Home Inspired (link)

  • The new store, Design Home Inspired, allows players to shop for real-life home décor accessories

  • "With Design Home Inspired, we are introducing a new way to express your style, shop and live the life of an interior designer, all while playing a game," said Glu Mobile Executive Vice President and Design Home lead Mark van Ryswyk

Call of Duty: Mobile has more than 46 million pre-registrations in China (link)

  • After having been approved on August 6th by the country's games regulator, a final test will be held on October 20th for Android devices
  • "The game is a deep collaboration between Tencent's TiMi studios, the developer, and Activision Blizzard, the IP holder," said Ahmad (Niko Partners senior Analyst)

Among Us surge in popularity sees 655% rise in downloads, tops 120 million installs globally (link)

  • InnerSloth's social deduction Twitch hit Among Us has reached 120.8 million lifetime downloads on mobile, according to Sensor Tower

  • Among Us accumulated 94.5 million downloads or 78% of its total installs during the months of August and September 2020

M&A and Capital Raising

U.S. gaming platform ROBLOX prepares to go public according to CNBC (link)

  • According to CNBC, ROBLOX is working with investment banks to prepare for a U.S. stock market listing that could come early next year
  • The online gaming platform expects could double its recent $4 billion valuation, people familiar with the matter said
  • ROBLOX is weighing whether to go public through a traditional initial public offering or a direct listing

Sumo Group acquires co-development specialist Pipeworks in a $100 million deal (link)

  • The agreement will have an initial consideration of $59.5 million, of which $35 million will be given in cash while the remaining $24.5 will be through equity in Sumo Group
  • Pipeworks was founded in 1999 and is known for its co-development portfolio, as well as its work with live operations. Since being founded, the US-based company has worked on nearly 100 games

The Walking Dead: Onslaught creator Survios raises $16.7 million for VR games (link)

  • Survios has raised $16.7 million to continue building virtual reality games such as the just-launched The Walking Dead: Onslaught
  • This is the company’s fourth funding round and is particularly important as the VR industry approaches a new hardware cycle

Others

Netflix is releasing a Resident Evil TV show in 2021 (link)

  • The Japanese publishing giant Capcom revealed that a new Resident Evil TV show – Infinite Darkness – will be debuting on the streaming platform

  • The series is set to be rolled out in 2021 and stars Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield of Resident Evil 2 fame. This is also separate from the previously-announced live-action Resident Evil TV show that Netflix also has in the works

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate adds Minecraft characters (link)

  • Nintendo revealed Minecraft characters Steve, Alex, Zombie, and Enderman as the newest fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the hit fighting game on Switch

Pokémon GO and Pokémon Home will have a link by the end of the year (link)

  • As confirmed in the Pokémon presentation, Pokémon that have been caught within Niantic's Augmented reality title, can be transferred to Pokémon Home, which in turn will allow those specific Pokémon to be used in the Switch games, Sword and Shield

Apex Legends goes cross-play on PC, PS4, and Xbox One on October 6 (link)

  • Respawn Entertainment will enable cross-platform play in a beta test for its popular Apex Legends battle royale shooter on October 6. Players on PlayStation, Xbox, and Origin (EA Desktop App on the PC) may join cross-play or continue on platform-exclusive servers

Huuuge Group welcomes Grzegorz Kania as its new CFO (link)

  • Grzegorz has more than 20 years experience within the media and technology industries, having most recently served as the CFO for Agora SA, the publisher of the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza

  • Before Agora, Grzegorz worked for another newspaper and magazine publisher, Axel Springer Polska, where he also held the CFO role

Osmo launches self-paced kids math games for pandemic learning (link)

  • Osmo is launching its Math Wizard educational games series, which lets kids learn math at their own pace and helps parents augment pandemic schooling

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-40-true-02

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 40

Highlights

U.S. judge halts Trump administration's order to remove WeChat from app stores (link)

  • A U.S. judge early Sunday blocked the Trump administration from requiring Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google to remove Chinese-owned messaging app WeChat for downloads by late Sunday

  • U.S. Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler in San Francisco said in an order that WeChat users who filed a lawsuit “have shown serious questions going to the merits of the First Amendment claim, the balance of hardships tips in the plaintiffs’ favor.”
  • Based on news sources, Tencent separately submits settlement proposal to the US, including the following measures:
    • Create a US version of WeChat app for only US WeChat users
    • Set up relevant measures to ensure the security of the source code
    • Store US WeChat user's data in the cloud provided by the US company
    • The US version of WeChat will be managed by a newly established US company with corporate management structure approved by the US government
    • The source code of the US version WeChat will be submitted to a third-party independent regulatory agency for review (to prevent possible "backdoors")
    • Build a regular data audit and data transmission notification system for the US version of WeChat
    • Establish a strict data management system to restrict company personnel from accessing user information

Tencent’s Gaming Stakes Draw U.S. National Security Scrutiny (link)

  • According to Bloomberg, the Trump administration has asked gaming companies to provide information about their data-security protocols involving Chinese technology giant Tencent 

  • The Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., which is chaired by the Treasury Department, has sent letters to companies, including Epic Games Inc., Riot Games and others, to inquire about their security protocols in handling Americans’ personal data

Scopely's Marvel Strike Force leads the way in US RPG boom (link)

  • Mobile RPGs have seen a surge in player spending in the US as the sector hit $2 billion in the first eight months of 2020, representing a 33% YoY increase according to Sensor Tower

  • The most lucrative title proved to be Scopely's squad RPG Marvel Strike Force, generating around $144 million

Zynga launches Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells (link)

  • The game uses mechanics of titles like Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga, but the team spent a couple of years refining it and building the lore and magic of the world of Harry Potter into the game, said creative director Mark Turmell in an interview with GamesBeat

  • Rather than putting a brand name on a generic game, San Francisco-based Zynga set one of its biggest teams ever on making a game that incorporated a lot of the world created by author J.K. Rowling’s books and the Warner Bros. films

Blizzard cofounder Mike Morhaime launches new gaming endeavor Dreamhaven (link)

  • Mike Morhaime, the cofounder of Blizzard Entertainment, has launched a new game company called Dreamhaven, and it has established two new game studios: Moonshot and Secret Door

  • So far, the company has 27 employees across all three entities, and it’s hiring more staff. The artwork on the company’s homepage combines aspects of both fantasy and science fiction, but the company isn’t yet saying what games it is working on, nor is it talking about genres. But it is working on a familiar model, as it closely resembles the way Morhaime ran things at Blizzard, with an emphasis on quality, iteration, and giving creative staff enough time

Amazon Luna cloud gaming service launches with support for iOS (link)

  • Amazon revealed the Amazon Luna streaming platform, which enables Amazon-device owners to play games on their connected TVs from a remote server. This includes Amazon’s Fire TV, but it also works with PC and Mac

  • Amazon also built a web app to ensure that Luna can work on iOS outside of the confines of the Apple App Store. This separates it from Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which are trying to launch apps on iPhone and iPad. Android support is coming later

Facebook takes a shot at Apple over stance on paid online events for game creators (link)

  • In August, Facebook introduced paid online events. Facebook said it would not collect any fees from these paid online events for at least a year. On Android and the web, it instituted that policy so small businesses could keep 100% of the revenue. But on iOS, Facebook asked Apple to eliminate its “30% App Store tax” or allow Facebook to offer Facebook Pay so Facebook could absorb all the costs. Apple declined to do so, and Facebook pointed this out

  • Upon deliberation, Apple changed its mind, saying that it would waive the 30% App Store fee for the remaining three months of 2020, allowing businesses to keep all of their paid online event earnings (minus taxes) until December 31. Facebook Pay will process all of the event purchases

ROBLOX stages a virtual concert with Ava Max (link)

  • The event is a new way of expanding the entertainment in ROBLOX, a virtual gaming world with more than 150 million players, who play do-it-yourself games and learn programming on the side

  • The “album release party” was held on Friday inside a concert venue inside ROBLOX. Ava’s Launch Party Place was created by Atlantic Records and Artist Partner Group, in partnership with a top ROBLOX developer

M&A and Capital Raising

Epic Games acquires kid tech platform SuperAwesome (link)

  • Epic Games has announced the acquisition of SuperAwesome, a pioneer in the “kid tech” market that provides children with what it says are safe digital experiences and age-appropriate advertising. Terms of the deal were not disclosed
  • SuperAwesome’s “kid tech” infrastructure sees use from more than 300 companies, including Mattel, Disney, Hasbro, and Lego. SuperAwesome says it has defined the digital standards that keep more than half a billion children anonymous when they’re engaging with online games and videos

Playco raises $100 million at $1 billion valuation for instant games across platforms (link)

  • Playco is targeting platforms such as cloud streaming, Google Play Instant, iOS App Clips, Facebook Instant Games, and Snapchat Minis. Playco will make games, provide the backend infrastructure and analytics, and distribute the games across a number of instant game platforms
  • Sequoia Capital Global Equities and Mino Games founder Josh Buckley led the round, with participation from Sozo Ventures, Raymond Tonsing’s Caffeinated Capital, Keisuke Honda’s KSK Angel Fund, Taizo Son’s Mistletoe Singapore, Digital Garage, Will Smith’s Dreamers VC, and Makers Fund

Mobile Premier League raises $90 million in Series C funding (link)

  • Bangalore-based esports and mobile games platform Mobile Premier League (MPL) has Raised $90 million in a Series C funding round

  • As reported by TechCrunch, the investment was led by RTP Global – an early-stage investor – and MDI Ventures. Further participation came in the form of Sequoia India, Go-Ventures and Base Partners, all of which were current investors

  • Overall, the company has raised $130.5 million, $35.5 million of which was generated via Series A funding back in April 2019

Epic Games invests $15 million in DIY game startup Manticore Games (link)

  • Manticore Games has raised $15 million in a round of funding led by Epic Games as the two companies further pursue their mission of creating an endless gaming multiverse, or metaverse

Others

Ryu Games is launching its own games tournament platform to compete with Skillz (link)

  • San Francisco-based startup Ryu Games is launching a gaming cash tournament SDK

  • At launch, Ryu's SDK will feature 15 games from a variety of genres

Playdemic is bringing The Ryder Cup to Golf Clash (link)

  • Playdemic has teamed up with the PGA of America and Ryder Cup Europe to bring The Ryder Cup to Golf Clash players

  • As part of the partnership, the competition will be featured in-game via tournaments and exclusive items, such as a Ryder Cup ball

InnerSloth cancels Among Us sequel to focus on original (link)

  • InnerSloth has decided to cancel its plans for a sequel to its online multiplayer party game Among Us

  • As detailed in a blog post, the company has decided to put all of its focus into Among Us, which recently exceeded 86 million downloads following an impressive spike in installs last month

Fortnite to host hit boy band BTS (link)

  • Fortnite will host South Korean boy band BTS in its Party Royale mode

  • Earlier this year, Epic teamed up with US Rapper Travis Scott, as the artist performed an in-game concert in Fortnite

ROBLOX welcomes Andrea Wong to its board of directors (link)

  • Most recently, Wong served as the president of international at Sony, which involved her overseeing 18 production companies as part of Sony Pictures Television. Before her time with Sony, Wong was the president and CEO at Lifetime Networks

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-39-true

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 39

Highlights

August 2020 NPD: Madden and UFC supercharge U.S. game sales (link)

  • Consumers spent $3.3 billion on video game hardware, software, and accessories in August, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group. That’s up 37% year-over-year from $2.4 billion

  • Strong debuts for Madden and UFC as well as resilient performances for Final Fantasy VII Remake and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild fueled the growth

Nintendo Switch sets new August hardware sales record in the U.S. (link)

  • “Hardware spending increased 37% in August 2020 when compared to a year ago, to $229 million,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “Nintendo Switch set a new U.S. August hardware dollar sales record, besting the August 2008 dollar sales of the Nintendo Wii. Nintendo Switch unit sales volume more than doubled when compared to a year ago.”

Apple revises App Store policies to allow Stadia and xCloud on iOS (link)

  • Apple has revised its App Store guidelines to allow game streaming services such as Google Stadia and Microsoft's xCloud to operate through the App Store

  • Games still must be added to the App Store individually, and therefore go through the same review process as other games, including for updates

Electronic Arts doubles down on EA Play brand with EA Desktop app (link)

  • EA says the service will have faster downloads and updates, simpler access to games, and the ability to connect with friends across platforms. Gamers will use the EA Desktop app to access subscriptions such as the newly renamed EA Play ($5 a month) and EA Play Pro ($15 a month)

Among Us hits 86.6 million downloads two years after release (link)

  • The game has hit the milestone just over two years after its June 2018 release. Last month, Among Us, experienced incredible growth as its install rate grew by 661% month-over-month, generating 18.4 million

  • The growth has continued in the first half of September, as the online party game brought in almost 42 million downloads, a month-on-month increase of 127%.
  • Across the combined 45 days of August and September, the game accumulated 70% of its total installs

Apple to roll all services into one subscription (link)

  • Apple is set to bring all of its subscriptions together under one service as confirmed in its Apple Event

  • The new subscription, dubbed Apple One, will include Apple Arcade, music, 50GB of iCloud storage as well as TV+

PlayStation leads in TV ad impressions, but Square Enix is close behind (link)

  • Gaming industry TV ad impressions saw an 87.7% increase from mid-August to mid-September, compared to the previous 30-day period. From August 16 through September 15, 12 gaming brands aired 49 spots over 6,500 times, resulting in 1.5 billion impressions

  • Sports, particularly NBA playoff games, were a large driver of impressions for the industry overall, and three brands dominated this time around: PlayStation, Square Enix, and Nintendo

Sony reveals release date and price (link)

  • The PlayStation 5 is $500 and the PlayStation 5: Digital Edition is $400, and both are launching November 12 in the U.S. and other territories. More regions will follow November 19

M&A and Capital Raising

Microsoft to acquire ZeniMax Media and its game publisher Bethesda Softworks (link)

  • Microsoft announced plans to acquire ZeniMax Media, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks, one of the largest, privately held game developers and publishers in the world
  • Microsoft will acquire ZeniMax Media for $7.5 billion in cash

  • With the addition of Bethesda, Microsoft will grow from 15 to 23 creative studio teams and will be adding Bethesda’s iconic franchises to Xbox Game Pass
  • The planned acquisition includes publishing offices and development studios spanning the globe with over 2,300 employees, including Bethesda Softworks, Bethesda Game Studios, id Software, ZeniMax Online Studios, Arkane, MachineGames, Tango Gameworks, Alpha Dog, and Roundhouse Studios

Unity’s stock rises 31% in first-day trading (link)

  • On its first official day of trading, the company rose more than 31%, opening at $75 per share before closing the day at $68.35

  • Unity’s share price gains came after pricing of the company’s stock at $52 per share, well above the range of $44 to $48 which was itself an upward revision of the company’s initial target
  • The share price implies a fully diluted market cap of $21.6 billion (accounting for over-allotment)

Stillfront acquires Nanobit in deal worth up to $148 million (link)

  • The Transaction will be executed in two tranches, whereof 78% of the shares in Nanobit will be purchased for an initial consideration of $100 million

    • $30 million of the First Tranche Consideration is payable in 280,542 newly issued shares in Stillfront to the founders and the remaining $70 million is payable in cash

  • 22% of the shares in Nanobit will be purchased for a second tranche consideration of an amount depending on the EBITDA development of Nanobit for the financial years 2021 and 2022 but however not exceeding $48 million

    • The Second Tranche Consideration will be payable by Stillfront in 2023, out of which 70% shall be paid in cash and 30% in newly issued shares in Stillfront

Keywords acquires Heavy Iron Studios (link)

  • Keywords bought the LA-based developer Iron Studios for $13.3 million

  • Founded back in 1999 and bought from THQ in 2009 by its current CEO Lyle Hall, the studio has worked on titles including the recently-launched Marvel's Avengers from Square Enix, Activision's Call of Duty and Disney Infinity

Gameloft acquires episode mobile storytelling games maker The Other Guys (link)

  • Acquiring The Other Guys gives the studio a developer with expertise on a specific kind of casual gaming — one that focuses on episodic stories with big decision-making moments for players

Embracer Group picks up VR firm Vertigo Games (link)

  • The company has bought the VR firm for €50m ($59.3m), €40m ($47.5m) of which is being paid out in cash, with the remaining €10m ($11.9m) taking the form of newly-issued shares in Embracer

Bunch raises $20 million to help friends party up in mobile games (link)

  • Venture capital firm General Catalyst led the round, with participation from top game developers — including Electronic Arts, Take-Two Interactive Software, Krafton, Ubisoft, Mixi, Miniclip, Colopl, Riot Games, Ubisoft, and Supercell

Metacore raises $17.6 million from Supercell and launches Merge Mansion mobile game (link)

  • Finnish mobile game company Metacore, formerly known as Everywear Games, has raised $17.7 million in funding from mobile gaming giant Supercell. It has also launched Merge Mansion on iOS and Android

  • The Helsinki company has additionally secured an $11.8 million line of credit

Bayes raises $6 million for global esports data platform (link)

  • Bayes has raised $6 million to provide data on the esports industry. The money came from Pohlad Family investment group, Fertitta Capital, and the Sony Innovation Fund

Others

Harry Potter game Hogwarts Legacy debuts on PS5 in 2021 (link)

  • Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment revealed the game during the PlayStation 5 Showcase. The title takes you through the usual learning of wizardry skills at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from J.K. Rowling’s popular Harry Potter novels. While the series has ended, this game looks like it goes beyond the tales to a time before the books

Ubisoft announces Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed for Oculus VR (link)

  • Elizabeth Loverso, the vice president of product development at Ubisoft’s Red Storm Entertainment, joined Facebook Connect event to reveal that the publisher is bringing two major franchises to VR: Splinter Cell and Assassin’s Creed. They will be exclusive to Oculus platforms

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-37-true

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 37

M&A and Capital Raising

Skillz Set To Go Public (link)

LionTree acted as financial advisor to Skillz

  • Skillz Inc., (“Skillz”) a leading mobile games platform connecting players in fair, fun, and meaningful competition, and Flying Eagle Acquisition Corp. (NYSE: FEAC) (“Flying Eagle”), a publicly-traded special purpose acquisition company, agreed to a business combination that will result in Skillz becoming a publicly-listed company
  • Skillz is pioneering the competitive mobile gaming experience, powering tournaments for thousands of game developers around the world, expanding and leading growth in the mobile gaming market
  • It is anticipated that in 2020, Skillz’s patented technology will power over two billion casual esports tournaments and facilitate $1.6 billion in paid entry fees for games hosted on its secure and proprietary platform
  • Key Highlights:
    • The transaction implies an equity valuation for Skillz of $3.5 billion, or 6.3x projected 2022 revenue
    • Investors including Wellington, Fidelity, Franklin Templeton, and Neuberger Berman funds have committed to a $159 million PIPE with total commitments exceeding $250 million
    • High growth business with projected 2022 revenue of $555 million, a 57% CAGR from 2020
    • Andrew Paradise, CEO & Founder of Skillz, and Casey Chafkin, CRO and Founder of Skillz, will continue to lead the company
    • Existing Skillz stockholders and Flying Eagle sponsor agree to 24-month lock-up

Huuuge Inc. files prospectus with Polish Financial Supervision Authority for potential IPO (link)

  • Mobile games applications provider Huuuge Inc. plans an initial public offering on the Warsaw Stock Exchange

  • Huuuge Inc. said it has submitted an IPO prospectus to Poland's financial market regulator KNF, but provided no details regarding the share offer or its timetable

Voodoo invests in Istanbul-based developer studio Fabrika Games (link)

  • As part of the agreement, the two companies will come together to work on a variety of new titles, and explore opportunities within the Turkish market

  • Founded in 2019, Fabrika is best known for Draw Car which was released last year and has accumulated more than 50 million downloads. Currently, the development studio boasts a team of 11

Gamezop secures $4.3 million in Series A funding (link)

  • The investment was led by esports specialist Bitkraft Esports Ventures, who recently secured $165 million for games industry investments. Other participants included Velo Partners, FJ Labs and Survam Partners

Highlights

Apple delays privacy policy changes to next year (link)

  • Apple will delay changes to its privacy policies that could have a negative impact on Facebook and other companies with an iOS user base

  • As reported by Reuters, the delay would be welcomed by Facebook, who recently made its negative thoughts on the iOS 14 changes public

Apple follows through with threat as it removes Epic's developer account (link)

  • Apple has gone through with its promise to terminate Epic Games' developer accounts

  • As confirmed by Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman – via Twitter – the account removal will effectively prevent Epic from adding apps or updates to games on the App Store. The American firm had already confirmed that iOS users would not get access to the next season of Fortnite

Niantic reveals cellular partners for 5G consumer AR platform (link)

  • Niantic is announcing the Niantic Planet-Scale AR Alliance, a collection of cellular partners that will help distribute “exclusive 5G-ready AR content” and demonstrate 5G consumer AR experiences to the public

  • Niantic’s initial partners are Deutsche Telekom, EE, Globe, Orange, SK Telecom, SoftBank, Telus, and Verizon, representing countries ranging from the United States and United Kingdom to South Korea, Japan, Australia, the Philippines, and parts of Europe

  • Collectively, the group’s marketing efforts and large number of retail locations could play a critical role in popularizing consumer AR across the world

PUBG Mobile gets hit with a ban in India (link)

  • Tencent's PUBG Mobile is one of 118 apps with a link to China to be banned in India

  • As reported by TechCrunch, the offending apps have been removed from the country as they posed a "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order." The decision has been made for the security of India, and the protection of mobile users in the nation

GameClub ports 3 new PC games to its mobile subscription service (link)

  • GameClub gives subscribers access to a library of over 100 games for $5 a month. It is similar to Apple Arcade. Both offer a cheap way to enjoy premium games on mobile without having to worry about free-to-play systems like microtransactions

  • However, while most Apple Arcade’s offerings are mobile originals, GameClub specializes in finding PC games that it thinks would be a good fit for smartphones and tablets. It then takes on the porting work

  • GameClub has announced that it’s adding three new titles to its mobile game subscription service: Tokyo 42, Ancestors Legacy, and Chook & Sosig: Walk the Plank

Deutsche Telekom launches cloud gaming platform MagentaGaming (link)

  • The new service is currently available as an over-the-top media service in Germany. Customers will be offered a free three-month trial period

  • "MagentaGaming will increase user experience for a much broader audience thanks to lower entry barriers for high-quality gaming. Together with our great partners, our strong network capabilities in Germany, and the huge existing customer base we are sure that MagentaGaming will drive the cloud gaming market forward" said Deutsche Telekom MagentaGaming chief product officer Dominik Lauf

Big Fish Games cuts 250 jobs and streamlines mobile game operations (link)

  • Big Fish Games announced it has cut 250 jobs as it restructures the mobile game publisher and developer to “address scaling challenges and reinforce the company’s positioning for growth.”

  • In an email to employees, co-presidents Andrew Pedersen and Jason Willig said, “By streamlining the legacy evergreen catalog businesses and refactoring operations, Big Fish will increase investments to drive growth while improving underlying operating capabilities. These decisions, while difficult — and taken only after careful consideration — reinforce a commitment to players and the mission to become a truly great games company.”

Toon Blast achieved over $1 billion in lifetime revenue (link)

  • Peak Games' Toon Blast has exceeded $1 billion in lifetime revenue according to Sensor Tower

  • The puzzle title was released in 2017 and served as a follow-up to Peak's other game, Toy Blast, which has amassed around $820 million in revenue. In August 2019, the Istanbul-based developer cracked $1 billion in player spending

Others

CD Projekt-owned studio Spokko soft-launches The Witcher: Monster Slayer (link)

  • The AR location-based title set in the dark fantasy world of The Witcher, will feature "foul creatures" that roam the vast lands of the Continent, leaving it down to monster hunters to track them down

The Witcher 3 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC will get a free next-gen upgrade (link)

  • CD Projekt Red announced that The Witcher III will be available for the next generation of consoles as a free upgrade for those that own the corresponding current generation versions

Wargaming UK rebrands as DPS Games (link)

  • "At DPS Games, we still remain a proud member of the Wargaming family – intrinsically linked through infrastructure, ecosystems and community. That said, our games will be very different – and our players will be, too. Together, we've faced many challenges, but we've had a huge amount of fun along the way. It is this journey of passion and play that has forged DPS Games, and here, play is everything" said DPS Games studio head Sean Decker

Super Mario 3D World Deluxe is coming to Nintendo Switch in February (link)

  • The company announced the release of Super Mario 3D World Deluxe as part of Super Mario’s 35th anniversary. This updated platformer joins a collection of classic 3D Mario games and a number of other Mario-related product launches to celebrate that birthday

Scopely appoints Aaron Loeb as its new chief business officer (link)

  • In his new role, Loeb will be responsible for bringing teams together to refine Sopely's game development, creative process and the quality of its tech. He has a wealth of experience in the mobile space, most recently serving as FoxNext Games president. Prior to that, Loeb worked as the president of studios at Kabam

Glu Mobile welcomes Jon David as its new vice president and general manager (link)

  • The exec joins San Francisco-based firm from fan engagement company Taunt, where he served as the CEO. Before that, the 20-year veteran worked for PopCap Games, during his time there, David was the vice president of social games

Roblox hires Barbara Messing as its new chief marketing officer (link)

  • She has joined the company from retail giant Walmart, where she served as senior vice president and chief marketing officer for over a year. Before that, she worked as the chief marketing officer for American online travel company TripAdvisor, the exec was with the firm for over seven years

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-36-true

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 36

Highlights

Judge rules Apple can’t block access to Epic’s Unreal Engine (link)

  • A federal judge on Monday blocked Apple from shutting down Epic's Unreal Engine

  • The ruling safeguards Fortnite creator Epic’s computer graphics software Unreal Engine, which it offers through an affiliate business and which hundreds of games and other apps use to power their apps on Apple’s iPhones

Facebook says Apple’s forthcoming privacy moves will throttle publisher revenue on its Audience Network (link)

  • Facebook said publishers should “expect their ability to effectively monetize on Audience Network to decrease.”

  • “Ultimately, despite our best efforts, Apple’s updates may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14” the blog post continued

Pokémon GO had its second best month ever for revenue in July 2020 (link)

  • Niantic's Pokémon Go proved to be the top-grossing mobile title last month according to SuperData Research

  • In July, the augmented reality title experienced its second best month in terms of revenue ever, having earned just 0.4% less than what it generated in August 2016, back when the world had just been introduced to the hit game

  • Last month, it was revealed that the mobile title is closing in on $4 billion in lifetime revenue

Fall Guys crosses 7 million copies sold on Steam as it becomes the most downloaded PS Plus game ever (link)

  • Released earlier this month by UK studio Mediatonic, Fall Guys landed on top of the Steam charts on PC and Sony’s PlayStation 4, where it’s available for free

  • The game’s official Twitter account has more than 1.2 million followers, and the game has been a constant on the Twitch viewership charts. According to publisher Devolver Digital, the game has sold more than 7 million copies on PC

Fate/Grand Order's English version exceeds 11 million downloads (link)

  • Sony's English version of mobile RPG Fate/Grand Order has accumulated 11 million downloads

  • As announced via its US website, the milestone will be celebrated with some in-game freebies and new in-game missions as thanks to all the players who downloaded the game

Oculus rebrands as Facebook Reality Labs (link)

  • In a post on the Facebook blog, the firm revealed that Oculus was being rebranded to Facebook Reality Labs. This is where the company's AR and VR businesses will be based from now on

  • The social media giant has also put its name on the firm's Oculus Connect event, which is now called Facebook Connect

The Call of Duty League delivers a throne and a $4.6 million prize pool (link)

  • The winner will take home $1.5 million, and the total prize is around $4.6 million

  • For the first time, the league has been organized along a city-based franchise model, like the Overwatch League that preceded it and professional sports franchises

  • Disrupted by the pandemic, this year’s physical events were canceled and everything moved online in April

M&A and Capital Raising

Unity files for IPO (link)

  • Unity Technologies has filed for an initial public offering to help its business of making it easier for developers to create video games as well as developers in other industries outside of gaming to create applications
  • As of the filing date, 50%+ of all games are made with Unity, software built with Unity runs on more than 1.5 billion devices worldwide. Within the top game developers, 93 out of the top 100 game development studios by global revenue in 2019 were Unity customers
  • Key Financial Highlights:
    • The company reported revenues of $380.8mm and $541.8mm in 2018 and 2019 (42% YoY growth), and 1H 2020 revenue of 351.3mm (39% YoY growth)
    • Of the company's 3 independent but related businesses: Create Solutions, Operate Solutions, and Strategic Partnerships and Other, Operate Solutions is the fastest growing and largest segment, including Unity's advertising business
      • 48%, 54% and 62% of the revenue are from Operate Solutions for 2018, 2019 and 1H 2020 respectively, growing 58% YoY in 1H 2020
    • Of its customers contributing more than $100,000 in revenue in 2019 and 1H 2020, outside of gaming accounted for 8% of the total customers in this category, with the remaining 92% all coming from Gaming customers
    • Customers that represented more than $100,000 in revenue were 484, 600, and 716 in 2018, 2019, and 1H 2020 respectively; this accounted for 68%, 74% and 74% of total revenue in the same period
    • 34% and 38% of revenues were generated from EMEA, 33% and 32% of revenue were generated from Asia-Pacific, and 33% and 30% of revenues were generated by Americas in 2019 and 1H 2020 respectively

Tencent and Leyou file joint announcement of Tencent's proposed take-private of Leyou (link)

  • The announcement values Leyou at up to 11.61 billion Hong Kong dollars (US$1.5 billion) in an all-cash deal

  • Tencent's offer, including options, is at HK$3.3219 per share for Leyou with an intention to delist the company from the Hong Kong stock exchange

Restream launches Studio tool and raises $50 million (link)

  • The platform has grown more than 300% since January. It serves more than 2 million creators and businesses that want to broadcast one video feed over multiple platforms

  • Investment firms Insight Partners and Sapphire Ventures led the funding. And Restream plans to use the influx of cash to bring in more workers and expand its marketing efforts

Others

New Batman Video Game ‘Gotham Knights’ Revealed at DC FanDome (link)

  • “Gotham Knights” was revealed at the DC FanDome virtual event. It’s being developed by WB Games Montreal, the studio behind “Batman: Arkham Origins” from the popular “Batman Arkham” video game series

  • The initial teaser trailer showed a dark Gotham City where crime has run even more rampant after the apparent death of Bruce Wayne, whose alter-ego Batman was last seen in “Batman: Arkham Knight.” Following their mentor’s demise, Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing and the Red Hood emerge as the city’s new protectors

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League Set in Batman: Arkham Universe (link)

  • At DC Fandome, Rocksteady Studios revealed Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, a new action game starring the infamous super villain team. The game will be launching on in 2022 for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X according to the teaser
  • Rocksteady Studios' Sefton Hill confirmed Suicide Squad is a "continuation of the Arkhamverse" that began in Batman: Arkham Asylum and came to its seeming end in Batman: Arkham Knight. Hill explained that Suicide Squad is part of this world and will actually let players see the continuation of plot threads and characters first introduced in those Arkham games

Lego Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga is coming in spring 2021 (link)

  • Shown off at gamescom 2020's Opening Night Live, LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga's new trailer showcased some of the famous recreated scenes, gameplay, and humor to come

Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War arrives with cross-generation, cross-platform play on November 13 (link)

  • Call of Duty: Black Ops — Cold War will launch November 13 on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One and will be “cross-generation”, meaning players will be able to play multiplayer with each other on both the current generation consoles and with next-generation players on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X when those consoles launch

World of Warcraft: Shadowlands expansion launches October 27 (link)

  • The Gamescom opening ceremonies revealed that World of Warcraft: Shadowlands is launching on October 27. This is the MMO’s eighth expansion. It has players exploring the fantasy universe’s afterlife

Little Nightmares II is coming on February 11 with big creepy things that scare little creepy things (link)

  • Bandai Namco and Tarsier Studios announced that Little Nightmares II is coming to PC and consoles February 11, with next-generation console versions coming later in 2021

Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart will release in PS5’s ‘launch window’ (link)

  • Rift Apart is the latest in insomniac’s 3D action-platformer series. The franchise mixes traditional platforming puzzles with shooter aspects and wacky guns. The first Ratchet & Clank came out for PlayStation 2 in 2002 and has had over a dozen sequels. The last one came out for PlayStation 4 in 2016

Doom Eternal expansion The Ancient Gods Part One arrives October 20 (link)

  • Bethesda and id Software announced that the first single-player campaign expansion for Doom Eternal is The Ancient Gods Part One, and it will debut October 20

Voodoo expands with multiple offices across Asia (link)

  • The regional headquarters will be based in Singapore and will be headed by Julian Corbett. He has a strong background within Asia, as he is the co-founder and chairman of Ksubaka, and served as Take-Two Interactive's Asia vice president of publishing

Frontier Developments reveals two games from its new publishing label (link)

  • Founded in 1994, Frontier Developments has created and self-published hits like Planet Coaster and Jurassic World: Evolution. Now it is getting into the business of publishing games from other developers

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-32

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 32

Highlights

EA reports strong June quarter with revenue up 21% to $1.46 billion (link)

  • The big game publisher released just two games during the quarter: Command & Conquer Remastered Collection, a remake of the real-time strategy series created by Westwood Studios in the 1990s; and Burnout Paradise Remastered. But EA’s development teams put out more than 30 content updates as part of the live services it provides for its existing games, the company said
  • The Sims 4 hits 30 million players with massive pandemic bump (link)

  • Tens of millions of new players dove into EA games during the pandemic (link)

15,000 games removed from Apple’s App Store in China ahead of registration deadline (link)

  • At the request of the Chinese government, Apple has removed nearly 15,000 games since July 1, with more likely to disappear when the August 1 requirement for registration arrives

  • Niko Partners analysts reviewed the top iOS games in China when the announcement was first made by Apple and found that 97 of the top 100 grossing games on the China App Store have legal ISBNs (International Standard Book Number). Foreign companies have to have a Chinese game publisher apply to get an ISBN from the Chinese National Press and Publication Administration. That process takes about 80 business days, according to publisher Cocos. The NPPA approves or denies games based on its censorship laws

Roblox expects to pay $250 million to its mostly young-adult developers this year (link)

  • The blocky and cartoon-style virtual world Roblox expects to pay $250 million to its mostly young-adult developers this year. The company made the announcement at RDC, its sixth annual developer conference
  • By sharing its proceeds with its developers, Roblox can grow its platform and move ahead on its big goals. CEO David Baszucki wants the company and its users to collectively build the Metaverse, the universe of virtual worlds that are all interconnected, like in novels such as Snow Crash and Ready Player One

At Pokémon Go Fest 2020, millions of players caught nearly a billion Pokémon (link)

  • Niantic announced that Pokémon Go Fest 2020 drew millions of players who caught nearly a billion Pokémon over the weekend.

    The annual fest took place on July 25 and July 26 as an online-only event, in contrast to prepandemic years, when it was held as a physical event in big parks in different regions

Ori dev Moon Studios signs deal with Take-Two’s Private Division (link)

  • Private Division, a publishing label under Take-Two Interactive, announced deals with three independent developers. This includes the studio behind the Ori series, Moon Studio

  • Along with Moon, Private Division will publish games from League of Geeks, best known for the digital board game Armello; and Roll7, responsible for Laser League

  • Take-Two started Private Division in 2017. The label focuses on smaller games, not triple-A fare. It has published hits such as Kerbal Space Program and The Outer Worlds

Tera: Battle Arena brings team-based action to the MMO’s universe (link)

  • En Masse Entertainment has announced Tera: Battle Arena, a team-based brawler that will be available for PC later this year as a new mode for the massively multiplayer online game

  • Tera launched back in 2011. It has stood out with its use of real-time combat, offering faster action that most other online role-playing games. Battle Arena is focusing solely on action, with players picking heroes and then fighting against each other in two teams of three players

Netflix's The Witcher is getting a prequel TV show (link)

  • A prequel TV show for The Witcher is coming to coming to Netflix
  • Blood Origins will be a six-part limited series

M&A and Capital Raising

Esports firm Vindex to buy Belong brand from GAME for around $50 million (link)

  • According to the Financial Times, the deal is valued at around $50 million. The Belong brand was launched by GAME back in 2016, with these stores featuring esports arenas that consumers could go to in order to watch matches and take part in competitions

Huuuge Games acquires Finnish games studio Double Star (link)

  • Mobile games developer and publisher Huuuge Games has acquired Finnish games studio Double Star

  • The companies have already worked together having released casual RPG Bow Land. The deal has cemented Huuuge Games' presence in Finland, with Double Star being based in Helsinki

Moss creator Polyarc raises $9 million to expand from VR to AR games (link)

  • Polyarc, creator of the virtual reality game Moss, has raised $9 million as it expands beyond VR to augmented reality games. The funding was led by Hiro Capital, with contributions from Vulcan Ventures and Galaxy Interactive via its Galaxy EOS VC Fund

Others

Cuphead launches on PS4 (link)

  • Cuphead has had a surprise release for PlayStation 4. While it was a surprise when Cuphead released for Switch, a PS4 port is even more irregular. PlayStation 4 is the direct competitor to Microsoft’s Xbox One. But Microsoft has been showing some flexibility in recent years

2K forms partnership with OneTeam Partners and the NFLPA (link)

  • American games publisher 2K has formed a partnership with OneTeam Partners and the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA)

  • The new deal secures the right for 2K to use names, numbers, images, and likenesses for more than 2,000 NFL stars. Currently, the company has multiple American football games in development, with them set to begin being released in 2021

Google adds 4G and 5G streaming to its Android Stadia app (link)

  • Google has added 4G and 5G capabilities to its Android Stadia app as part of a new "experiment" for the service

  • Previously, streaming games through the Stadia app could only be done through Wi-Fi connections. Now, however, players can opt-in to use their mobile data instead

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-31

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 31

Highlights

Xbox Games Showcase: Microsoft comes out in force (link)

  • Microsoft showed off an amazing array of games at its Xbox Games Showcase to prepare fans for the holiday launch of the Xbox Series X game console. The company didn’t disclose the launch date or price of the new hardware, as it focused on just the games
  • Halo Infinite reveal pits the Master Chief against The Banished in an open world (link)

  • Fable reboot closes out Xbox Games Showcase with cinematic teaser (link)
  • Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II will be set in Iceland with highly realistic scenery (link)
  • Tetris Effect Connected comes to Xbox (link)
  • Tell Me Why gets new trailer at Xbox Games Showcase (link)
  • Interior/Night Games unveils As Dusk Falls for Xbox Series X (link)
  • Stalker 2 is an Xbox timed-exclusive on console (link)
  • State of Decay 3 brings zombies to Xbox Series X (link)
  • Next-gen Forza Motorsport will take advantage of Xbox Series X power (link)
  • Rare’s Everwild is looking magical (link)
  • Avowed is Obsidian’s answer to The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim on Xbox (link)
  • Psychonauts 2 gets new trailer and Jack Black theme song at Xbox Games Showcase (link)

Digital games made $10.46 billion in June 2020 (link)

  • Digital games revenue had its second-best month with $10.46 billion in June 2020, according to SuperData

  • Overall, there was a revenue increase of 9% year-on-year and a 3% rise over earnings in May. However, both PC and console have seen a loss, although mobile has offset this through hitting an all-time high in revenue growth

Twitch launches a new sports category as Amazon pushes for sports dominance (link)

  • Twitch has gradually become a key place to watch live sports and content over the past year, and Amazon is now acknowledging its push for sports dominance with the launch of a sports category on Twitch
  • The standalone sports category will include streams from soccer clubs like Arsenal and Real Madrid, with Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain set to follow. Twitch’s new sports category will also play home to the existing NBA, NHL, RFL, UFC, and NWSL content that’s available on the platform

Ghost of Tsushima sells 2.4 million copies in first 3 days (link)

  • Sony’s Ghost of Tsushima sold more than 2.4 million copies in its first three days of sales, making it the PlayStation 4’s fastest-selling first-party original intellectual property
  • The PS4 game debuted July 17 as the console’s last big exclusive. The open-world title is a samurai action-adventure game from Seattle’s Sucker Punch Studios, the developer that made other PlayStation exclusives like the Sly Cooper and Infamous series

EA Mobile reels in Jeff Karp from Big Fish Games (link)

  • Jeff Karp, the president of mobile game maker Big Fish Games, has resigned from that post to become the head of Electronic Arts’ mobile game division

  • Karp replaces Samantha Ryan, who headed EA Mobile as well as other studios. Ryan will keep her other responsibilities, while Karp will focus on making sure that EA launches good mobile games

TinyBuild’s Hello Neighbor 2 is coming in 2021 (link)

  • The company revealed the news in a trailer on Geoff Keighley’s Summer Games Fest event ahead of the Xbox Games Showcase. Last week, TinyBuild announced it would acquire the Hello Neighbor property from Dynamic Pixels and invest more than $15 million in the franchise

Ubisoft is keeping the $60 price for next-gen games in 2020 (link)

  • Ubisoft is going to charge $60 for its games on Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 in 2020. This is in line with the company’s (and most of the industry’s) pricing since the launch of the Xbox 360
  • In comparison, Take-Two and its subsidiary 2K Games announced they are upping the price of NBA 2K21 on the next-gen consoles to $70

Rocket League is going free-to-play and leaving Steam (link)

  • Rocket League is one of the standout hits from the outgoing generation of consoles, and now the vehicular-soccer battler is going free-to-play. Developer Psyonix plans to make the move later this summer. As part of this shift in business models, the company will also roll out its biggest update yet
  • Psyonix promises to provide more details about the timing of the update in the next few weeks. But for now, it is confirming that it’s going to overhaul how Rocket League’s Tournaments and Challenge systems work. More important, the studio is also adding cross-platform progression

Riot Games unveils LoL Esports brand (link)

  • Riot Games announced its official League of Legends esports brand will be known as LoL Esports. The move will tie all of the company’s different regional tournaments under one umbrella in the moment of online-only esports. The brand will serve as the platform and voice for global competition for all regions, said Riot’s David Higdon in an interview with GamesBeat

Jørgen Madsen Lindemann steps down as Modern Times Group CEO (link)

  • The Modern Times Group (MTG) CEO and president Jørgen Madsen Lindemann has handed in his resignation after 26 years with the company

  • The company board has accepted his decision, though is reluctant to do so. Lindemann cited possible new challenges as the reason for his decision. It also gives the company the chance to prepare its long-term CEO succession plan

Jason Killingsworth leaves Riot Games (link)

  • Riot Games creative director Jason Killingsworth has announced that he is leaving the League of Legends maker

  • In a post on LinkedIn, he revealed that he was leaving to focus on his new publishing company, Tune and Fairweather

M&A and Capital Raising

Mobalytics raises $11.25 million for gaming assistant for hardcore players (link)

  • Mobalytics has raised $11.25 million for its gaming assistant platform, which offers an automated way to coach millions of wannabe pro gamers on League of Legends and other games. Providing analytics for such games might sound like overkill, but Mobalytics says more than 7 million players use its service, which delivers advice and information in real time

Games development agency Amber is merging with studio KaraOkulta (link)

  • The new merger came several months after Amber set up shop in Mexico with an office in Guadalajara. KaraOkulta first worked with the agency firm in 2019, when the pair collaborated on the casual title Toy Blitz

Others

Sea of Thieves surpasses 15 million players since March 2018 (link)

  • Like a siren’s song, Sea of Thieves is continuing to draw in an audience. Developer Rare’s pirate-adventure simulator has had more than 15 million players since its debut in March 2018

  • June 2020 – was also the biggest month so far for Sea of Thieves in terms of active players, with more than 3.3M players setting sail. A contributing factor to this growth has been the recent launch on Steam

Ludia unveils Disney Wonderful Worlds mobile puzzle game (link)

  • Mobile game publisher Ludia and Disney announced the new match-3 mobile game Disney Wonderful Worlds

  • The Montreal-based Ludia is creating a game that features a “Wish Upon A Star” storyline as players build and customize their Disney theme park. Match-3 games are a competitive space with broad audiences. Zynga recently teased that it’s almost done with its competitor, Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells. And in November, Jam City launched Disney Frozen Adventures

Super Evil Megacorp to launch Early Access for Catalyst Black (link)

  • American firm Super Evil Megacorp has launched an Early Access programme for its game Catalyst Black

  • The battleground shooter is the company's second title, the first being Vainglory, which Super Evil Megacorp saved from being shut down earlier this year. Catalyst Black will enter Early Access on August 12th, for iOS devices only

Mojang is moving Minecraft to Microsoft's Azure servers (link)

  • Developer Mojang is moving its smash-hit Minecraft from Amazon Web Services to the Azure platform run by its parent company Microsoft

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-30

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 30

Highlights

U.S. game-console spending up 25% through first half of 2020 (link)

  • In the United States, the pandemic dictates what our lives can look like. Even as some states attempted to reopen, many are going back on lockdown. The prospect of movie theaters, comedy venues, or concert halls opening up through the end of the year is laughable. So people — at least those who still have work — are turning to video games to find some source of entertainment and social connectivity. That has led to a 25% year-over-year increase in hardware sales through the first half of 2020, according to industry-tracking firm The NPD Group

June 2020 NPD: The Last of Us Part II has best U.S. launch month of the year (link)

  • The Last of Us Part II was June’s best-selling game and is now the third best-selling game of the year. The Last of Us: Part II now ranks as the No. 8 best-selling game of the 12-month period ending June
  • “June 2020 tracked spending across video game hardware, software, accessories, and game cards totaled $1.2 billion, gaining 26% when compared to a year ago,” NPD analyst Mat Piscatella said. “This is the highest tracked spend for a June month since $1.3 billion was reached in June 2009.”

China removes Supercell’s Hay Day and 2,500 other games from iOS app store (link)

  • The Chinese government has cracked down on unlicensed mobile games in China’s Apple App Store, removing more than 2,500 in the first week of July, according to measurement firm Sensor Tower

  • Among those removed are Hay Day from Supercell, which launched the farming game back in 2012. Also gone are Nonstop Chuck Norris from Flaregames, Contract Killer Zombies 2 from Glu, ASMR Slicing from Crazy Labs, and Solitaire from Zynga

Ex-Valve luminary Anna Sweet joins J.J. Abrams’ game studio as CEO (link)

  • Anna Sweet is the new chief executive officer of Bad Robot Games. Sweet, who is a games-industry veteran, will oversee efforts to build games in collaboration with the Bad Robot movie studio

Nexon shuts down its Orange County game studio (link)

  • The company said the reason for the shutdown was not based on any Nexon business concerns but was more due to the creative direction and core focus
  • “We deeply appreciate the commitment and output of the OC team, however projects in development there no longer fit with our focus on core creative competencies,” a Nexon spokesperson said in a statement

Ubisoft is launching Brawhalla and Tom Clancy's Elite Squad on mobile next month (link)

  • French publishing giant Ubisoft is geared up to release Brawlhalla on August 6th for iOS and Android devices

  • The fighting title was first released in 2017 for PC and PlayStation 4 and was later released for Xbox One and Nintendo Switch in November 2018. Currently, potential mobile players can pre-register, and those who do will get an exclusive skin upon release

Harmonix, Konami, Supermassive sign up to bring exclusives to Stadia (link)

  • A number of games studios have pledged to bring titles exclusively to Google's Stadia streaming platform
  • In the latest Stadia Connect event, the search giant revealed that Konami's Super Bomberman R Online would be launching on its cloud service, while One Hand Clapping from Bad Dream Games would also be launching 'First on Stadia

  • Meanwhile, Harmonix, Uppercut Games and Supermassive have all committed to bringing exclusive titles to Google Stadia

Zynga adds Noel Watson to its board of directors (link)

  • Zynga has welcomed Noel Watson to its board of directors as an independent director

  • With this new appointment, Watson has become Zynga's ninth member for its board of directors. Last year, Watson became the CFO for TrueCar, a digital marketplace for car buyers. Before that, he worked as the chief accounting officer for TripAdvisor

Trivia Royale scores over three million downloads in less than a month (link)

  • Teatime Games' head-to-head quiz battle royale Trivia Royale has surpassed 3.1 million installs since launching on June 17th, according to Sensor Tower data

  • The trivia mobile game that has players facing off against 1,000-plus other contestants to find one overall winner has started off extremely well. The majority of the downloads have originated from the US at 2.2 million installs or 70.9% of the overall figure

M&A and Capital Raising

VGames raises $30 million for game-focused investment fund in Israel (link)

  • VGames has raised more than $30 million for its game-focused investment fund based in Israel. It’s one of dozens of venture capital and investment funds that have been drawn to the game industry in recent years

Tilting Point acquires Plamee Studios and FTX Games assets (link)

  • Tilting Point has acquired all of Plamee Studios and the assets of FTX Games from gambling technology software firm Playtech in Estonia, adding to Tilting Point’s growing portfolio of mobile games

  • The New York-based Tilting Point did not disclose the purchase price. The move is part of a series of acquisitions that Tilting Point has undertaken to become a big mobile game publisher and developer. Typically, this company takes games that are hits and tries to turn them into bigger hits using user acquisition spending and other marketing technology

TinyBuild acquires Hello Neighbor devs and will invest $15 million in franchise (link)

  • Game publisher TinyBuild has acqui-hired the development team behind hit game series Hello Neighbor from Dynamic Pixels and will invest more than $15 million in the franchise

  • The new team will be called Eerie Guest Studios, and will be located be in Hilversum, Netherlands. The company didn’t disclose the deal price, but it is part of the $15 million investment

Huuuge Games acquires interactive ads firm Playable Platform (link)

  • Mobile games developer and publisher Huuuge Games has acquired Dutch advertising start-up Playable Platform

  • The Amsterdam-based ad firm has a focus on interactive and playable ads. As such, it has created AI-driven technology to optimise various forms of creatives, such as interactive videos and playable ads

Animoca Brands acquires social games platform GAMEE (link)

  • Animoca announced that it has paid €4 million ($4.5 million) for the GAMEE platform in shares. However, there are additional earn-out payments of up to €1 million ($1.1 million) in either cash or shares

Carbonated raises $8.5 million for squad-based mobile shooter (link)

  • Carbonated has raised $8.5 million for its mobile game studio. It’s building a squad-based shooter that taps artificial intelligence as a core feature. The company has thought not only about incorporating AI into making mobile gaming easier, but to update these apps even with a small team

Others

Overwatch League's online-only playoffs start on September 3rd (link)

  • All 20 OWL teams will take part in the playoffs. OWL Vice President Jon Spector told The Washington Post Blizzard decided to include every club to accommodate those teams that were particularly affected by the coronavirus pandemic

  • To start, they will play exclusively against other franchises in their region. Blizzard will seed each organization based on how they performed throughout the year. Higher ranked teams will have advantages like first map choice against their lower-seeded peers. After two weeks of play, the top two teams in each region will advance to a global double-elimination bracket

Microsoft to launch xCloud streaming free with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in September (link)

  • Microsoft is planning to launch its game streaming service, currently known as Project xCloud, free to its paying Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in September. The xCloud service will allow Xbox players to play games on mobile devices or even start a game on their consoles and resume it on their phone or tablet

NetEase soft-launches strategy card title Marvel Duel (link)

  • NetEase has soft-launched Marvel Duel, a new strategy card mobile game featuring the brand's iconic superheroes

  • NetEase claims that Marvel Duel features one of the largest rosters of Marvel characters in a mobile game ever, with more than 150 characters available for collection and upgrade

LEGO partners with Monument Valley developer Ustwo for LEGO Super Mario app (link)

  • The LEGO Group has partnered with Monument Valley creator Ustwo on its upcoming LEGO Super Mario app on mobile
  • The app will primarily be used to update the LEGO Mario figure and will need to be installed for anyone purchasing expansion packs for the starter set

Nintendo and LEGO team up for an NES building set (link)

  • The new block building set is aimed at adults, not only does it feature the classic console, but consumers can build a replica NES controller and a 1980s TV set for a true nostalgic trip down memory lane

Clash Royale fights its way through $3 billion in lifetime revenue (link)

  • The milestone has been hit just over four years after the real-time strategy game was released. Unsurprisingly, Clash Royale is one of the highest-grossing mobile titles out there, although it does sit behind Clash of Clans – another Supercell game – which has earned around $7 billion, and experienced its best month for revenue ever in December 2019

Gaming Public Multiples

Gaming Weekly-29

GGP Gaming Weekly – Week 29

Highlights

Mobile games consumer spending hit $19 billion in Q2 2020 (link)

  • Consumers have spent more than $19 billion on mobile games in Q2 of 2020, according to App Annie

  • Furthermore, both the App Store and Google Play generated more revenue in Q2 2020 than in Q1. However, the latter saw the most significant growth at 25%, more than two times the rise seen on the former. Moreover, 85% of earnings through the Android storefront came from games while they accounted for 65% on iOS

Newzoo: Esports revenue forecast drops despite huge interest and viewership (link)

  • Back in April, market researcher Newzoo was pretty timid about knocking down its esports forecast for 2020. But the company revised its forecast a second time, saying that 2020 revenues would be down 8% from its forecast from February

  • The downgrading is happening as physical events get delayed or dry up altogether. Esports companies and game publishers are taking their events online, but COVID-19 has prevented them from doing any physical events, which were previously a big chunk of the industry’s revenue. Newzoo said the situation is fluid and it may revise its forecast again as needed

AppLovin strengthens its executive team with four new appointments (link)

  • The first hire is Basil Shikin, who is now the chief technology officer. He previously held the role of vice president of engineering at the company

  • Victoria Valenzuela has filled the second role, chief legal officer and corporate secretary

  • Keith Kawahata is the next hire, and he will serve as AppLovin's first head of games. A mobile games veteran, Kawahata has over 10 years experience in the industry with his last role being head of mobile for Wargaming.net

  • Deepak Gupta will take on the part of chief revenue officer

Magic Leap appoints ex-Microsoft exec Peggy Johnson as new CEO (link)

  • Microsoft's Peggy Johnson will leave the company to become Magic Leap's new CEO on August 1st

  • Currently, Johnson is Microsoft's vice president of business development and has been with the company since 2014. Before that, she spent 24 years at American firm Qualcomm. In that time, she held a variety of leadership positions. On top of this, Johnson sits on the board of directors for BlackRock

Amazon delays New World MMO until spring 2021 (link)

  • The company said it is delaying its New World massively multiplayer online game until the spring of 2021, based on feedback it’s received from testers and players

The Sims will get its own reality TV show on TBS (link)

  • Electronic Arts said The Sims will get its own reality TV show, dubbed The Sims Spark’d, on the TBS television channel in a partnership with Turner Sports, Eleague, and Buzzfeed Multiplayer

  • The show about EA’s life simulation video game will debut on TBS at 8 p.m. Pacific on on Friday, July 17, and new episodes will air weekly on Fridays through August 7. It’s another sign that games are mainstream and that television companies are recognizing that they need to do something to get younger viewers back. That trend has only accelerated during the pandemic, though TBS said this deal has been in the works for more than a year

Ubisoft’s Hyper Scape battle royale enters open beta (link)

  • Ubisoft revealed the game July 2 as a free-to-play battle royale game, which is a hot genre with titles like Call of Duty: Warzone, Fortnite, Apex Legends, and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Hyper Scape will debut on the PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One later this summer. Ubisoft just finished its first tech test with players on the PC in North America and Europe

Ubisoft unveils Far Cry 6 for February 18 launch (link)

  • Ubisoft unveiled the first trailer for Far Cry 6 at its Ubisoft Forward event, announcing that the new installment in the popular series will debut on February 18, 2021
  • Far Cry 6 features actor Giancarlo Esposito, a veteran of shows such as Better Call Saul, Breaking Bad, and The Mandalorian

Buildbox owner AppOnboard hires Riot Games leader Mike Seavers as CEO (link)

  • AppOnboard has named former Riot Games chief technology officer Mike Seavers as its new CEO. Founder and previous CEO Jonathan Zweig will continue as president at the company, which makes a do-it-yourself game platform and playable ads

Niantic soft launches next AR title Catan: World Explorers (link)

  • The game's description points to users harvesting supplies, such as Lumber, Wool, Grain, Brick, and Ore, as well as constructing buildings on settlements and playing dice mini-games to earn bonuses

Rockstar Starts Production on AAA Open-world VR Title (link)

M&A and Capital Raising

Sony invests $250 million in Fortnite maker Epic Games (link)

  • Sony has invested $250 million for a minority stake in Fortnite maker Epic Games. With the new money, Epic Games has raised $1.83 billion to date

  • The companies said the deal cements an already close relationship and reinforces their shared goal to advance the state of the art in technology, entertainment, and socially connected online services. This close relationship was underscored in May when Epic first showed the upcoming Unreal Engine 5 graphics running on a PlayStation 5

Tencent in exclusive talks to buy Hong Kong gaming firm Leyou (link)

  • Leyou has a number of subsidiaries which make video games and is most well-known for “Warframe,” a title created by subsidiary Digital Extremes

  • Leyou and controlling shareholder Charles Yuk have entered into an exclusivity agreement with Tencent Mobility Limited, a Tencent subsidiary

Traplight launches Battle Legion mobile game and raises $9 million (link)

  • Mobile game studio Traplight is launching its Battle Legion mobile strategy game worldwide and announcing a $9 million funding round that EQT Ventures led

Animoca Brands secures $4.1 million through strategic investors (link)

  • In an announcement, the company confirmed the money was raised through strategic investors M7 Asia and global venture capital firm Mind Fund, though there was participation from other firms

Others

Niantic teams up with Rian Johnson for Pokemon Go Fest trailer (link)

  • Announced via its website, the American firm locked in the Star Wars: The Last Jedi director to make a commercial that will both celebrate the upcoming event and pay tribute to the game's fourth anniversary

Crash Bandicoot: On The Run is a new mobile runner from King (link)

  • Activision‘s mobile label King is making a new Crash Bandicoot game. Crash Bandicoot: On The Run is bringing the beloved platforming character to iOS and Android as an autorunner. Like in other Crash games, players will control the titular marsupial as he attempts to defeat the villainous Dr. Neo Cortex

Thatgamecompany’s Sky reaches 20 million downloads (link)

  • Thatgamecompany announced that its latest release, Sky: Children of the Light, has passed 20 million downloads. This happens just ahead of the free-to-play multiplayer mobile game’s first anniversary

Manticore will pay DIY game creators $3 per daily player (link)

  • Manticore Games has unveiled a pilot version of the monetization process for its Core platform, a do-it-yourself game construction set that folks use to create their own games. The company said it will pay these DIY creators $3 per daily gamer during its testing period

  • The Core platform is a free platform for game development and a community for player-creators. The company will make more than $1 million available during the pilot program for the monetization

Gaming Public Multiples