Weekend Short-Takes: 9/19/14

Microsoft to break even on Mojang this fiscal year

 

Simon Wu: 

What are the possible ways this could happen? First, Minecraft is now getting released on the Xbox One and was just released for the PS4. Microsoft is taking in these sales at their highest levels. This not only includes new sales of software, but also upgrades from those who have it for the 360 and PS3. I bet that owners of the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will be dying to check out Minecraft Pocket Edition for their new, bigger screens. And while Windows Phone is still a fairly small portion of the market, it's fans arguably care even more about Minecraft, having already either played it on the PC or 360, and will still make an impact. Let's also not forget about Minecraft's own Realms paid subscription service, which offloads the hassle of having to make or join a server of your own. Microsoft will surely look to capitalize on this as it leverages its own cloud based offerings to power the game. just look at Halo. From one game, Microsoft has created a multi-billion dollar entertainment portfolio. With the wild success of the Lego movie, a Minecraft movie wouldn't be remiss, nor would Minecraft licensed, well, anything. 

Alex Miller:

That Microsoft expects to make up 2.5 billion dollars in essentially 6 months (as the sale won't close until later this year and their financial year ends in June as the article says) is incredible. The fact that I do not doubt that prediction speaks to the strength of Minecraft as a title, and video games as a brand. If you had told someone in 2000 that video games would get the same (or bigger budgets) than the biggest summer blockbusters, they would have called you crazy. Now that’s the reality, and while it can lead to more studios playing it safe with such massive investments, it also means the incredibly talented people in the industry we love have more to work with, and I think that at least is certainly encouraging. 

Jonathan Tung: 

By now, everybody has already known that Mojang, the creators of the surprise hit Minecraft, has been bought out by Microsoft, the same company that also happens to manufacture the Xbox line of game consoles. So instead of regurgitating the news we already know about, let's break down what to expect in the near future: Microsoft will still release updates to Minecraft on consoles other than the Xbox, meaning versions on the iOS, Android, and PlayStation platforms will still be up to date as expected. However, given Microsoft's current state of paying for times exclusivity rights, those updates might be delayed so that they will debut on Xbox first, which could lead to the company proclaiming that the best way to stay up to date on Minecraft will only be on Xbox One. Still, with Mojang's other titles not living up to the same hype expected from Minecraft, I fear the company will become nothing more than a one-trick pony and end up going the way of Rare. 

justpushstart.com 

EA chief lays out three-year plan, wants a 'player-first culture'

 

Jonathan Tung: 

This coming from the same guy who thought online passes and having your own separate PC launcher was a good business idea. Personally, I call bull. So far, EA has been messing up in more ways than one in trying to win back gamers, from The Sims 4 suffering from a rather poor reception to the police militarization of Battlefield Hardline in the wake of the Ferguson shooting. If they want to win back customers, they might as well give us the players what we really want: true sequels to Need for Speed: Underground and Battlefield: Bad Company. That, or at least get their games back onto Steam. 

Alex Miller: 

I must say I disagree with Jonathan on a few points here. First of all, much as we may not like it, online passes and controlling the means of your games delivery to the consumer are both solid moves from a business point of view. Now, whether those fit into their "player first" strategy is more tenuous, but as a business move it makes perfect sense. Also, I think given the fact that Hardline has been in the works for at least a year (shown at E3 weeks before the tragic events in Ferguson and the absurdly militarized police response) and that cops and crooks is a pretty standard game team 1 vs team 2 setup (see GTA 4, Payday and Payday 2, etc.), its unfair to say the game is in poor taste. If anything it helps the issue of unnecessary force used by police forces in the United States stay in the public view. All that being said, I would question how well this "player-first strategy" has been thought out. Removing content from The Sims 3 for The Sims 4 has not been a great start, and if EA wants to avoid another worst company in America reward than I suggest they make sure they are truly taking this new strategy to heart. 

polygon.com 

GTA Parent Publisher Says Ignoring New IP Is "Kiss of Death"

 

Simon Wu: 

Wise words from the president of Take-Two, but aside from briefly noting that new IPs should take up as much consideration as existing titles, most of the discussion then moved on to monetization of existing games during development cycles to keep revenue streams up. Rockstar has not had a major new IP for three years now, the last being L.A. Noire. They do, however, have two very promising titles of their own primed to launch for the new console generation: Gearbox's Battleborn, a co-op FPS with MOBA elements, as well as Evolve, the Left 4 Dead-esque 4v1 asymmetric monster hunter. 

Alex Miller: 

Spot on from Mr. Slatoff. His words regarding annualizing popular series highlights exactly what can happen (and what many think has happened) with a game series like Call of Duty; one that is annualized and heavily relied upon by Activision, "[b]ecause god forbid, one of your core IP starts to deteriorate over time, then you're in real trouble." And though the last time Rockstar came out with a new IP was three years ago, as Simon points out, they aren't releasing games every year so that’s less of a concern than if they were releasing games every year with no new IP. As I mentioned in the Minecraft article, these games are getting movie budget levels of funding, and that budget should go to making the best possible game. You can't do that if your releasing every year; it's just impossible to ensure the quality of the game with that sort of time. If it means we have to learn to get used to DLC and micro-transactions to support a game over a couple years, then as long as developers support them with quality content over the break I would support that move if it decreased the driving-into-the-dirt levels of repetition we see from some franchises today. 

gameinformer.com 

Create New Account or Log in to comment