ONE100 at Palm Jumeirah in Dubai (Image courtesy of Sotheby’s)A modern-style mansion on Dubai’s manmade archipelago, Palm Jumeirah, is on the market for just under $33 million.The 14,000-square-foot home was built by clothing industry businessman Michael Alibhai, who told the Wall Street Journal he “wanted to blow people minds when they visit me.”He bought the property for an undisclosed sum in 2011 and spent six years designing and building the home, taking aesthetic notes from the modern-inspired mega-mansions mansions of Beverly Hills and Bel Air, particularly a Bruce Makowsky-developed property that sold last year for an underwhelming $94 million.The influence shows in both design and amenities. The spaces are almost all right angles and centered around a massive double-height living room with large windows and glass doors leading out to the backyard swimming pool.There are three home theaters — one inside, one on the roof, and another hydraulic-driven pop-up theater outside. The house comes with a Rolls Royce, a Ferrari, and a custom Harley Davidson motorcycle turned into an “art piece,” Abilhai told the Journal.That’s another cue taken from Makowsky and his fellow Los Angeles-area spec builders, including Nile Niami. Both of them included high-priced cars and artwork with their spec properties, although both removed extras with price chops later. [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink TagsDubai
All of the lights in the Hilton Times Square have been pitch black for weeks — one of several ominous signs for hotel owners in New York and other large cities around the country.The owner of the 478-room property, just blocks away from Broadway and Bryant Park, disclosed plans to the state’s Labor Department last month to permanently shut its doors and lay off 200 employees.The real estate investment trust Sunstone Hotel Investors had been struggling to make payments on a $77 million mortgage even before March, and the 44-story building became one of several name-brand hotels to permanently close this fall. The Hilton Times Square was soon followed by the Courtyard by Marriott in Herald Square and the Roosevelt Hotel on East 45th Street, which shuttered after nearly a century of business.On the other side of the country, the Luxe Rodeo Drive Hotel in Beverly Hills also closed for good, after having embarked on a full renovation just before Covid hit. Owner Luxe Hotels told the Los Angeles Times it’s now considering “alternative options” for the high-end hotel.Seven months into a pandemic that has hit the hospitality and retail sectors the hardest, many hotel owners around the U.S. are at a crossroads, despite an uptick in occupancy after most city and state shutdown orders were lifted. Some of the more highly leveraged owners are now deciding between repurposing their properties, selling at deep discounts, throwing the keys back to their lenders or buying themselves more time if they can afford to.But forbearance agreements are quickly expiring, and temporary layoffs are becoming permanent. Without a federal bailout, an estimated 38,000 U.S. hotels could close permanently, while another 28,000 are at risk of being foreclosed on, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.At the same time, from California to South Florida, hotel owners face growing threats from natural disasters, including fires, storms and flooding. One Napa Valley resort reportedly suffered extensive damage from California’s wildfires last month.After a tumultuous 12 months, average hotel occupancy nationwide was at the halfway mark in September, down about 30 percent year over year, according to preliminary monthly data from hotel research firm STR. Average revenue per available room in New York, meanwhile, tumbled about 70 percent year-over-year to $53 a night from $182 in the same period. In California, RevPAR fell by nearly half to $71. In Florida, it dropped by about 30 percent to $46.Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, a partner at the Miami-based commercial law firm Bilzin Sumberg, said many hotel owners have become paralyzed by the potential for new shutdown orders as Covid starts to resurge in major markets.“I think people just don’t know what to do at this point,” said Amaducci-Adams, who runs her firm’s real estate practice. “Borrowers have been using their savings, whatever available cash they have on hand, and now that money has pretty much run out. Hotels are holding their breath.”Still, distress always creates new opportunities, and there are plenty of buyers in the market, including Starwood Capital Group co-founder Barry Sternlicht and the British billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben of Reuben Brothers.Insiders say a number of loan sales and preferred equity deals have already happened. But when it comes to outright property sales, the asking price and the offers are still far apart in many cases, and time is running out for many borrowers.“Any forbearance the lenders have previously offered is starting to end, and they’re very reluctant to do anything further,” said Jake Wurzak, whose Wurzak Hotel Group owns and operates hotels in several U.S. markets.As the clock ticks…In the early months of the pandemic, many borrowers worked out special arrangements with their lenders, in some cases burning through their reserves to fund interest payments.But a growing number of owners have stopped making payments altogether and are walking away from their hotel properties.“As owners start to realize how long this is, they’re going to have to reevaluate whether it makes business sense to hang on,” said Amaducci-Adams.Ashford Hospitality Trust — which reportedly received and returned $38 million in Payment Protection Plan funding in the first few months of the pandemic — sold its newly purchased Embassy Suites near Times Square to Magna Hospitality Group for a 41 percent discount after missing several mortgage payments.The hotel REIT announced that it signed forbearance agreements for 34 hotels, totaling about $1.2 billion in debt, which will allow Ashford to defer interest on its loans for another six months.Meanwhile, a $768 million loan backing Colony Capital’s Tharaldson hotel portfolio tops the list of commercial mortgage-backed securities deals that are more than 90 days delinquent, according to data from Trepp. The second-biggest delinquent CMBS deal is a $329 million loan backing Thor Equities’ Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, which went into foreclosure in August. CMBS loans, which are more difficult to renegotiate than most other loans due to obligations borrowers have with their bondholders, often become the first to go under.“The original reaction was to kick the can,” said Douglas Hercher, principal and managing director of the New York-based advisory firm RobertDouglas. “Lenders and borrowers are now looking for a solution that will carry them for the next 12 months.”But this pandemic is unlike previous economic crises.Demand for international travel may not return until at least 2024, according to one industry study. Domestic travel, especially business travel, is expected to remain low, and now that school is back in session, many families are traveling less by car.As a result of the plunge in demand, many hotels are extending their temporary layoffs beyond six months and eliminating positions. Walt Disney recently announced that it plans to cut 28,000 jobs, mostly at its California and Florida theme parks. “Even in the depths of post-9/11, you never had occupancy go to 10 or 20 percent. You never had hotels closing,” Hercher noted.Lender limitsAt the same time, most lenders don’t want to take over a hotel if it means running it in a coronavirus economy.Attorney Luis Flores, a partner at Miami-based Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, said the majority of banks and other debt providers didn’t issue their loans “to become hotel operators.”But many hotel owners that can’t climb out of the hole are now asking their lenders to take a discounted payment on their debt while forgoing whatever equity they had left, accelerating transfers of ownership, he said.“The aggressive owners and developers are being smart and saying … ‘We want to exit the asset as soon as possible,’” Flores noted.He and others in the business say bank financing for new hotel acquisitions has become virtually nonexistent, limiting the pool of buyers to private equity firms, special purpose funds and family offices that will pay cash.A growing number of banks and other lenders are also looking to liquidate their loans.Frank Nardozza, chair and CEO of REH Capital Partners, an investment advisory firm based in Fort Lauderdale, said some nonbank lenders are considering selling their loans for deep discounts — ranging from 20 percent to 60 percent.Not all hotels are on the chopping block, though.Properties that rely on large conventions and meetings and that require air travel to get there will likely take the longest to recover. On the flip side, drive-to destinations, including many beachfront markets throughout Florida and in other locations with access to beaches, mountains or parks, experienced a rise in occupancy over the summer.“People don’t want to get on planes. The lead time for booking those 2,000- [to] 10,000-person conventions is six months or more,” Hercher said, referring to markets such as Las Vegas, Orlando and New York City.“The operating costs for those hotels is really high,” he added.Who’s buying?Despite the growing number of challenges facing hotel owners, some investors are still ready to pounce on new hotel deals.CBRE hotel broker Paul Weimer said he’s being “overloaded” with calls from potential buyers, many of whom have ideas for repurposing existing hotels into multifamily or other uses. “Everybody and their brother wants to buy a discounted hotel,” he maintained.Sternlicht, for one, has been vocal about his hunt for discounted hotels. As of late July, a Starwood fund was looking to raise billions to snap up distressed properties, including hotels that have shuttered due to the pandemic.Reuben Brothers last month acquired a 25 percent stake in Jeffrey Soffer’s JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in South Florida’s wealthy Aventura enclave, and plans to partner with Soffer on other assets. Since April, Soffer’s Fontainebleau Development has been seeking modifications to a $975 million CMBS loan backing its 1,500-room Fontainebleau Miami Beach — Miami-Dade County’s largest hotel, which relies heavily on group bookings.CGI Merchant Group, meanwhile, launched a $500 million fund to invest in struggling hotels in North America and the Caribbean, properties that would be branded under the Hilton flag. Miami-based Safe Harbor Equity, led by Rafael Serrano, is raising $500 million as well to invest in hotels in major metropolitan areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami.Serrano said his fund will spend between $25 million and $50 million to acquire the debt on distressed hotel deals. “We would like to work with the borrowers to position ourselves as rescue capital,” he noted.Even some operators that already own struggling hotels are in the market for discounted assets. Wurzak, whose Philadelphia-based firm has majority stakes in 12 properties around the country, said he has his eyes on full-service hotels in markets with high barriers to entry, such as New York and Miami.“This amount of distress will probably create the greatest investment opportunities I’m going to see in my lifetime,” he said.Wurzak said he’s looking to inject $200 million into more than $1 billion worth of hotel properties over the next three years. Though his hotels are “certainly in some level of distress,” Wurzak said his firm can raise capital as needed and is well-positioned to make it to the other side of the pandemic.“We’re not a hedge fund sitting in front of a monitor in New York,” he noted. “We operate hotels.”Though a number of U.S. hotels are now up for sale, many buyers and sellers haven’t been able to agree on a price, according to industry brokers.Susan Gale, a hotel broker with One Sotheby’s International Realty in Miami Beach, said some of her clients are “under pressure” and willing to discount up to 20 percent.Gale said the situation will be even more dire come November, as the hotels that have been waiting to reopen burn through more cash to cover expenses that include brand fees, maintenance and accounting.REH Capital’s Nardozza said a high-end hotel could be incurring $1 million in annual operating costs even if it’s shut down.Repurposing roomsSome owners are considering alternative uses for their properties, including converting their hotel rooms to office space, student housing and homeless shelters, the latter of which can collect rent from city governments and nonprofits. The 600-plus-room InterContinental Times Square in New York, which housed doctors and nurses this spring, is now offering rooms as office space on a suite-by-suite basis.Developer Jimmy Tate, who purchased distressed debt in the last recession, said owners have to do what they can to fill rooms. In addition to running marketing campaigns for staycations at his Bahia Mar Fort Lauderdale Beach, Tate is setting up some of the resort’s rooms as offices.“It’s different, but it’s getting people to come to the hotel,” he said, noting that his plans to redevelop the waterfront Fort Lauderdale property are temporarily on hold.While predictions for a full recovery range from 2022 to 2025, no one really knows when the country’s biggest hotel markets will return to pre-pandemic levels.For now, many of the hotels that remain open have slashed their rates, resulting in a pricing war that could slow down the industry’s recovery in the long run. The average daily rate in the U.S. was under $100 a night in September, a 26 percent drop year-over-year, according to STR, with one of the steepest declines occurring in New York City at nearly 50 percent.Some industry players warned that the markets that had been struggling before the pandemic, whether there was an oversupply or the properties were overleveraged, will experience the greatest challenges. “There are certain urban markets that are just going to recover more slowly,” said Hercher of RobertDouglas, citing the Big Apple as a prime example.“New York is going to be challenged for a while,” as the pandemic has imposed a “day of reckoning” for many hotel owners in the city, he argued.“So many things people think of as quintessentially New York — great restaurants, Broadway, music venues — until you get that tourism engine really fired again, that’s just a big demand generator that’s not there,” Hercher noted. 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Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink TagsAirbnbIPOshort term rentals Share via Shortlink Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky (Getty)Airbnb is going even bigger for its IPO.The home-rental company wants to boost the proposed share price, which would give it a valuation of as much as $42 billion, according to Bloomberg.Airbnb now wants to set the share price range at between $56 to $60 according to the report. That’s up from $44 to $50, which gave it a target valuation of up to $33 billion.Airbnb’s stock market debut is scheduled for Thursday on Nasdaq.Last week, Airbnb executives started marketing its offering to mutual funds and hedge funds via the virtual investor roadshow. The company’s initial valuation target was already higher than expected, the Wall Street Journal reported.December is typically a quiet time in the IPO market. But not this year. Food-delivery company DoorDash, video game firm Roblox; and ContextLogic, which operates online retailer Wish, are also expected to jump on the initial public offering wagon this month. [WSJ] — Akiko MatsudaRead moreAirbnb targets as much as $33B valuation for IPOAirbnb is offering hosts company shares. But millions may miss outWhy Airbnb is going public in a pandemic
Newzoo partners with eSports team”Streamers and eSports athletes are the new celebrities”Rachel WeberSenior EditorFriday 23rd October 2015Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleNewzooAnalytics firm Newzoo has partnered with eSports organization Fnatic, home of six professional gaming teams, in an attempt to “to provide deep and global insights into the eSports audience.”The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed but will see Fnatic offer up its social media following of eSports enthusiasts, while Newzoo will help the Fnatic with finding and evaluating potential sponsors and media partners. “Slowly but surely, companies ranging from big global advertising brands to traditional media giants are realizing that eSports is more than a stand-alone and temporary phenomenon,” said Newzoo CEO Peter Warman.”The business, consumer and technology trends that are driving the explosive growth of eSports are reshaping digital media as a whole and accelerating the inevitable disruption of the traditional media space. Streamers and eSports athletes are the new celebrities. Teams are at the very epicenter of change and I am extremely proud to work with the most popular, professional and fun team in this space.”Fnatic was founded in 2004 and is based in Lodon, and its teams compete across League of Legends, CS:GO, Dota2, Smite, Heroes of the Storm and Battlefield 4. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games “Esports is receiving so much attention from press, media companies and advertisers that it is not surprising that many reach out to Fnatic, having been around for over 10 years and now the most popular team worldwide,” added Wouter Sleijffers, CEO at Fnatic. “On a daily basis, we find ourselves explaining esports as a phenomenon to the world. We have been using Newzoo’s work in this space for quite a while. Following a number of discussions that took place across the globe, we discovered the unique insights this partnership will deliver, from industry-wide trends do deep audience insights that can help our existing partners and new non-endemic brands looking to enter and find value in the vastly growing esports audience.”In September Newzoo predicted that eSports revenues will hit $765m in 2018.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesGlobal games market to generate $175 billion in 2021- NewzooResearch firm notes a decline of 1% year-over-year in revenueBy Jeffrey Rousseau 5 days agoBrazilian games market to hit $2.3bn in 2021 – NewzooResearch firm shares key trends for Latin America’s largest region at BIG FestivalBy Jeffrey Rousseau 7 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
eSports’ “path to profitability farther off than VR” for publishers – PachterDespite the slow ramp up of headsets, VR should monetize better for publishers in the next few years, the analyst saysJames BrightmanMonday 6th June 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareVirtual reality dominated this year’s Game Developers Conference and it’s sure to grab numerous headlines at next week’s E3 Expo in Los Angeles, but for the average consumer, VR will have little impact on their lives in 2016. The installed bases will just be too low, but despite the slow adoption curve, Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter believes game publishers will be able to make more money on VR than eSports over the next few years. “We expect VR HMDs to sell fewer than 5 million units in 2016, and expect to see that sales figure double in 2017 and to double again in 2018. Once the installed base of HMDs has reached 20 million or so, it is possible that one or more of our covered publishers will begin to monetize its IP and to generate profits from virtual reality,” he noted.”eSports is also a 2016 event, but the path to revenue and profitability is probably farther off than it is for virtualreality,” he continued. “We expect the publishers to take baby steps with eSports, investing modest sums sponsoring and promoting tournaments, as each endeavors to find the right balance of opportunity. Over the next 5 – 10 years, we think that eSports can generate eyeballs and revenues that are on par with established sports such as NBA basketball or Major LeagueBaseball.”In an email to GamesIndustry.biz, Pachter did clarify that he’s talking strictly about the impact of eSports on the major publishers that Wedbush covers. As an overall revenue generator, eSports is of course much larger worldwide at the moment.Pachter sees the large market opportunity in VR as being at least 3 – 5 years away, so Wedbush does not expect publishers to deliver meaningful revenue contribution from VR anytime soon, but it could be even longer for eSports. While Pachter expects eSports ultimately to make a big difference for the publishers, the market could take 5-10 years to grow substantially.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games What’s interesting is that the two biggest publishers, Activision and EA, have taken very different approaches to eSports. Activision, which acquired Major League Gaming, is looking to make a dent with its own eSports channels and tournaments; the idea is to generate money from advertising, sponsorships, merchandising and ticket sales from tournaments. EA, on the other hand, “looks at eSports as an opportunity to drive interest in its games, similar to the way that AYSO soccer drives purchases of athletic shoes and uniforms,” Pachter noted.”On balance, we favor EA’s approach, as we believe it is a more realistic, albeit less lucrative, near-term opportunity. We think that by sponsoring tournaments, EA can create a pyramid of different skill levels, with entry level players at the bottom of the pyramid and professional players at the top. This is analogous to soccer, with hundreds of millions playing in youth soccer leagues and only several hundred players playing professionally. As players progress to higher levels in the pyramid, EA is making a bet that they will be more active players of the underlying eSports game, and will spend ever-increasing amounts for the game itself, on downloadable content for the game, and on microtransactions that will enhance their gaming experience,” Pachter continued.”Activision’s approach, on the other hand, appears to rely upon its ability to generate fan and viewing interest in tournaments based on its popular Call of Duty, StarCraft II, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and recently released Overwatch brands. We think that the company’s desire to be ‘the ESPN of eSports’ is misguided; in our view, if anyone will be the ESPN of eSports, it’s likely to be ESPN itself. It is important to note that neither FIFA nor the NFL, owners of the two most watched televised sports in existence, generate significant revenues from their proprietary broadcasts of their respective sports on their own television networks. Instead, the sports leagues generate the bulk of their television revenues from licensing the rights to broadcast to the various broadcast networks.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The VR & AR newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesMTG loses money in Q1 despite greater revenuesESL Gaming parent company doesn’t expect a significant return to live esports events until 2022By Brendan Sinclair 12 days agoGrid secures $10m in Series A fundingGerman-based esports data company will use the “investment to take on the US”By Jeffrey Rousseau A month agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
Failbetter Games: Seven Years, Ten LessonsFounder and now ex-CEO Alexis Kennedy on leaving the company he builtAlexis KennedyMonday 27th June 2016Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleFailbetter GamesLast week I was the CEO of a prosperous mid-sized indie studio. This week I’m a freelancer. No-one expected this, but it was what I found I wanted. My time at Failbetter was wonderful, but there are a lot of things I wish someone had told me – things I’ll bear in mind if I found another studio – things that other growing indies might find useful. Here are ten of them.Take yourself seriously from the start. It took a couple of years before I could bear to take seriously the possibility that this might be my career. I worried that it would be arrogant or unrealistic to think of myself as a game developer or a writer, rather than a software engineer on sabbatical. So every time I introduced myself to someone, I said ‘tiny’ or ‘trying’ or ‘sort of’. When we found clients, I was so dazzled by the idea that people might pay us to make games that I didn’t negotiate effectively. Every time I thought about spending money, I looked at what we could afford, not what we needed. It held us back.I don’t mean you need to be one of those startups where the site says grandly LONDON, PARIS, TORONTO and where one person (who has ‘Founder, CEO and Chairman’ on their biz card) writes all the posts and refers to her/himself anonymously as ‘we’. I mean, sure, it does no harm, but it’s just playing house. I do mean that if you’re making a game, you’re a game developer. If you’re making a game full-time, you’re a professional game developer. If you’re cash flow positive, you’re a successful professional game developer, and if you’re not, you’re a struggling professional game developer. There are no other qualifications. If you’re doing it, tell people what you’re doing and don’t be abashed.(Conversely, if you’re an ‘aspiring game developer’, that means ‘not a game developer’. Take it out of your Twitter bio and make a game.)If something seems unthinkable, think about it anyway. Some things that happened in my time at Failbetter: I had to lay off the whole writing team; we made a commercially and critically successful PC game (after making nothing but browser games for five years); the founder and majority shareholder (me) sold his shares back to the company.A couple of years before any of these things happened, they were unthinkable. All of them went okay, because we’d taken good advice and we were lucky. But we were lucky, and we’d have managed more easily if we’d thought about them as possibilities. Even if they hadn’t happened, it would have stretched our brains in useful directions. Again, the gods won’t punish you for your hubris if you spend fifteen minutes thinking about what you’d do if your next game really took off, or your colleague who was never going to leave suddenly wants to go into politics or be a full-time parent.(The year before I left, an interviewee asked what would happen to Failbetter if I left, and I laughed rather patronisingly and said it wasn’t something he needed to worry about. Sometimes I’m a certified idiot.)Client work, or your own IP: pick one and stick to it. When you’re a cash-strapped indie dev, it’s very tempting to take time away from your own projects to pay the bills with client work. But client work always takes priority over your own work. You’ll be working to their schedules, on their terms, and developing the competencies that they, not you, require. It’s difficult to wean yourself off client work, and it requires a whole different set of processes and skills. And you can’t make it rain. If, as a small business without a sales team, you need client work and none’s forthcoming, then good luck.I say this even though at Failbetter, we were really lucky with our major clients – they treated us well and paid us on time, and they’re all people we genuinely liked. But I have to say that if I had everything to do over, I’d hire slower or spend more time looking for funding or put the effort into trying to get profitable with our own stuff. “We’ll do one for them and one for us”? This never works.(Client work has advantages! In a previous career, I went to work for a software consultancy specifically because I wanted a wider variety of experience. And I’ve just gone back to the freelancer’s life for exactly the same reason – to shake my brain up a bit and learn new lessons from other people. But client work interwoven with your own work is ketchup on ice cream.)Marketing is no less (and no more) important than QA. It’s very hard to have a success without good marketing and QA (and it’s impossible to have it without good production.) Always remember, when you’re convinced you’ve told everyone in your network everything about your game, half of them won’t even know you’re working on a game. This goes both for marketing and for community relations.This goes, like, triple, for indies. You’re invisible without putting proper effort into marketing. You can’t compete for coverage with the big guys, and if you’re in it to make money rather than make games, you’re probably in the wrong room. (You’re certainly in the wrong article. You should be reading that piece on Business Insider about the uptick in Series C funding rounds or whatever.)So for God’s sake do open production! – by which I mean developing where your potential audience can see your work. This means development blogs, Early Access, crowdfunding, a founders’ beta, all the above. This means the things you can tell the world are the things you’re already thinking about. Sure, it means being transparent, but you’re an individual or a small team. Tell your story directly and honestly; if you’re going to be different, be different; don’t sausage-machine it into generic marketing glurge.(The cheapest, although not exactly the easiest, £3,000 that Failbetter ever made was when my game director Liam and I offered to get inked as a stretch goal for Kickstarter. To this day, people still ask to see the tattoos at conferences.)Get early feedback earlier than feels safe. This is the other big win from open production. Get early versions, and updates, out as soon as you can get useful feedback. The bar here is ‘will anyone bother to play it?’ If it looks so dreadful, is so buggy, or is so light on content that people are going to fire it up, go ‘eh’ and never get around to saying anything useful, hold off. But if it has a face that only an enthusiast would love, get it out now – if only to your enthusiasts. Don’t make people sign NDAs! If it leaks a little beyond your core community, fine. It won’t go far, and when the time comes, you’ll need all the eyeballs you can get.’Ship early, ship often’ is advice that’s been around a long time in software development, but it’s still good advice. It may take work to get your game running reliably outside your development environment, to distribute it to volunteers or enthusiasts, to deal with feedback. But a lot of this is work you’ll need to do anyway. If it’s prohibitively time-consuming, find tools and processes to make it easier, and train your community to help. In any case, the time you’ll save on not making daft mistakes is going to be a lot more valuable.(Do make sure that any screenshots are prominently watermarked ALPHA, for when you get press later.)Go beyond your community. For an indie dev, your community is essential. They’re your evangelists, your early warning system, your Baker Street Irregulars, your Praetorian Guard. They’ll tell the world about you, they’ll QA your game unevenly but enthusiastically, they’ll keep your morale up when you most need it… and all you need to do in return is treat them with courtesy and give them the best game you possibly can.But you have to look beyond them, too. Another term for ‘your community’ is ‘the people who’ve already heard about your game’. They’ll buy your new products, but wouldn’t it be nice to have customers who’ll buy your back catalog too? You need new customers. At Failbetter, we spent years focusing on our core players, because they were keeping us afloat – but when we launched Sunless Sea, Fallen London suddenly got a whole new non-core audience, and Fallen London revenue literally doubled overnight.And when you’re looking for those new customers, never forget that a core player (a) sees the game very differently from how a new customer will see it (b) will give more feedback, good or bad, and attract your attention more easily than a new customer. Elsewhere I’ve called this ‘the Veteran’s Curse’. We learnt this the hard way on Sunless Sea. Listening disproportionately to feedback about the endgame rather than the early game probably lopped 5% off our metacritic score. Of course not listening at all would have been much worse.(If community members are saying something that’s wrong, about you or about the game, don’t intervene unless it’s really hurting. And it’s better to ban someone than post in anger. Your forums are your house, and having a silly argument with a drunk on your doorstep is not a good look.)Above all else, hire people you can trust to work effectively when you’re not looking. Indie teams have to be small, lean, and run with minimal oversight. If you have to chase someone to do what you need – not just ‘do work’, but ‘do the work you need’ – you’re not just losing productivity. You’ve also missed out on the chance to get someone who’d do a better job; you’ve missed out on Christ knows how many wins you can get from someone showing useful initiative; and you’ll find the rest of the team knows what’s going on.Conversely, when you find someone who understands what needs doing and can do it, give them their head. It’s better for them to get something non-critical wrong, and learn from it, than it is for you to guard them from every possible mistake. Especially since you won’t always be right either.(Take probation periods seriously. They’re your safety net to avoid making a hire you’ll regret, and mediocre hires who don’t cause active trouble can slip through if you’re not paying attention.)Story is not a feature. Failbetter has a very good name for the quality of the writing, but the writing wasn’t the story. In a good narrative game, the story is expressed through everything, from writing to game mechanics to art direction. If you’re making a narrative-centric game, make sure the whole team understands the story – not every detail of continuity, but what’s going on, and why the player should care.(As a writer, it also took me a while to accept that lore I actually made up five minutes ago can always be changed, and that the story is collaborative. Of course in most shops the writer isn’t the CEO, and I don’t think anyone’s ever suggested that writers are treated too respectfully in this industry, so I don’t know how useful this point is.)”Overnight successes are years in the making.” This isn’t a novel sentiment, but I want to dig into it a bit. Reading industry news is vital to keeping informed; but unless you remember that newsworthiness is by definition unusual, you may end up with a distorted idea of normality. “Unknown indie dev has a surprising success” is newsworthy. “Beloved indie dev shuts down” is newsworthy. “Reasonably successful indie dev continues to have a reasonably good time” rarely makes headlines. Most life isn’t stories: that’s why we have stories. Don’t panic, don’t get distracted, and leave bandwagons to roll on their own.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games (Sometimes you need to change course, obviously. But looking back on Failbetter’s early years, we spent a lot of time zig-zagging.)It’s more important to focus on what you’re good at than try to fix what you’re not good at. I took this away from a talk by Fredrik Wester of Paradox, and it’s probably the most important point here. If you can’t be distinctive as an indie, you’re screwed anyway. Be distinctive.(I think this is good business advice. Even if it’s not, I can guarantee it’s good advice about having fun.)Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesFailbetter Games’ quest to eradicate crunchAdam Myers and Hannah Flynn talk about making Sunless Skies with a dedication to ethical development practicesBy Connor Makar A year agoFailbetter: Sunless Skies did “far better than we needed it do”London-based indie reportedly in good financial health following critical and commercial success of latest titleBy Haydn Taylor 2 years agoLatest comments (1)James Berg Games User Researcher 4 years ago Great interview! 3Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds sells 1 million on Xbox OneSurvival shooter hits milestone in first 48 hours on sale in Xbox Game Preview program, now free with Xbox One X purchases through year’s endBrendan SinclairManaging EditorFriday 15th December 2017Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleBlueholePlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds has made the jump to consoles and is off to a promising start. Microsoft today announced that the Bluehole survival shooter game sold more than 1 million copies in its first two days on sale.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games The game launched on Xbox One as a console exclusive this Tuesday after months of anticipation. However, first impressions were less than glowing. Fellow Gamer Network site Eurogamer compared it unfavorably to the already-rough-around-the-edges PC Early Access version, saying, “In terms of first impressions, PUBG is borderline horrendous – an assault of low quality artwork, jarring pop-in and disappointing performance.”Despite that, PUBG had been positioned as one of the major selling points for Microsoft’s Xbox One X heading into this holiday. The company is doubling down on the tie between the game and its premium-priced system, as it also announced a promotion beginning this Sunday and running through the end of the year that will see every Xbox One X hardware purchase (in select regions) come with a free copy of PUBG.For more on the game’s success, check out GamesIndustry.biz’s write-up of Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene as one of our 2017 People of the Year.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Publishing & Retail newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesKrafton makes Bluehole into an independent subsidiaryPreviously, Bluehole had been an internal development studio after 2018 Krafton rebrandingBy Rebekah Valentine 7 months agoPUBG. Corp says Epic is “one of our best partners” despite previous lawsuit attemptStudio director Brian Corrigan dismisses notion of animosity between two companiesBy Haydn Taylor A year agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
3Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyChristopher Dring Publisher, GamesIndustry.biz2 years ago @Emmanuel Dorée: That’s not true. Everyone is interviewed as part of the GameTrack [email protected] Nash… no, Fornite PS4 players that want to also play the game on Xbox and Switch are pissed. Well, some of them. 2 years ago We absolutely care. Not everyone agrees on consoles. But games we do and is something that should be cross platform. 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyChristopher Dring Publisher, GamesIndustry.biz2 years ago The question that was asked was: “Developers and console manufacturers are starting to allow gamers to play against (and with) those that may own a different console or platform (for example, PC gamers playing against console gamers, and console gamers playing against those on different consoles).”And then we asked them to agree or disagree with a series of statements about how this would impact their gaming habits, such as ‘It would make me more likely to play online’ or ‘ would consider buying a console over another’… and we asked them how important such a feature would be to them.You should find details on the GameTrack panel on the firm’s website. It’s quite extensive and also includes direct communication, not just online communication. 2 years ago “Sony’s show lacked surprises, yet you still couldn’t say PlayStation lost E3.”Sure you can. Watch me: “Sony LOST E3”. See, it was easy and I didn’t even break a sweat.”So Microsoft has attacked”I wouldn’t say they attacked. The E3 comments were made to show people that cross-play is now a viable option and it works well. The comments from Phil and Reggie in that recent interview were their responses to the cross-play questions asked about them. I don’t think neither went out of their way to attack Sony out of the blue. It might have appeared that way after Sony’s baffling response to why they weren’t interested in cross-play but that’s because they felt Sony’s answer wasn’t sincere(saying it was due to safety reasons). As for the video, that could have easily featured an Xbox gamer, Nintendo gamer and Sony gamer all playing happily along together. Again, I doubt they made it to attack Sony but instead did it to show gamers that cross-play is indeed possible this generation.As for the survey I’d like to know how thoroughly they explained cross-play to the people taking it. It’s true that there are people that are a little less interested in it but I know lots of people who have been interested in it since last gen. And if it were fully explained to the responders that it could/would, eventually, mean that all third party multiplayer games had the ability to do cross-play such as Call Of Duty, Battlefield, Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto, etc, the results probably would have been much different and in favor of cross play.I also don’t buy the whole “nobody cares” excuse. They said the same thing about backwards compatibility this gen after Microsoft brought it back and Sony couldn’t. As someone who still uses backward compatibility to play last gen games: yes we care about it. Just like we care about cross-play. As someone above mentioned it seems inevitable that cross-play is the future of gaming, regardless of which system/PC/tablet/phone you are playing on. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyKeldon Alleyne Strategic Keyboard Basher, Avasopht Development2 years ago A more telling question would be, “would the availability of cross play with friends who have the game on a different console influence which console you purchase the game for?” 2 years ago You’ve completely misunderstood the reason why this blew up in Sony’s face. It wasn’t over cross-play, it was because a Fortnite account that had been previously linked to a Sony Entertainment Network (PSN) account cannot be used on the Switch version of the game. This means that Fortnite players could not carry their PS4 progress over to the Switch version, dashing these players’ hopes and dreams – they’d envisioned being able to play Fortnite on-the-go using the Switch, while still keeping the PS4 as their primary Fortnite device at home. Conversely, Xbox One, PC and mobile users can all use the Switch version with no problems.The problem is compounded when you factor in people who used the PS4 version just to redeem console-exclusive items or deals and don’t usually play on the PS4. They too are locked out, because once your Fortnite account is linked to PS4, it can’t ever be unlinked. It’s forever branded and it’s (apparently) not possible to remove that association. Fortnite PS4 players are pissed, and all the blame has been laid at Sony’s feet. They don’t care about cross-play; they care about being able to play Fortnite as Epic and Nintendo promised that they could, using their existing profile with all of its unlocked features and progress. 2 years ago Don’t forget us oldies!Despite my advancing years, I still enjoy spending time with my partner and playing games with him, but local co-op seems out of fashion, and even where it is available, either I can’t see what I’m doing on my portion of the screen, or it limits where I can go, cramming us both into a tiny space and destroying the “open world” I was hoping to enjoy.So here I am on my PC, and I can see an XBox and a PS4 just a metre away. But we can’t use them to play together; no, in order to do that we have to have two of one console, which is more than a little disappointing. 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyPaul Jace Merchandiser Edited 1 times. Last edit by Emmanuel Dorée on 27th June 2018 1:55pm 6Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyRichard Browne Head of External Projects, Digital Extremes2 years ago As someone with two younger gamers with friends who are younger gamers … they don’t care. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyDaniel Trezub QA Analyst, Ludia2 years ago Most people may not care, but surely who does care is really vocal. As usual. So it seems that everybody and their moms all care about the ability to play ONE niche game in more than one platform. Like the article said, it’s a small subset of a really small subset.I’d like to see the numbers of players affected by this “issue” versus the number of players actively playing (any game) on each platform, what is probably what Sony executives are looking at right now to take their decisions. 2 years ago I’d be interested to see how the question was phrased in the GameTrack survey and in what context and also what profiles they used. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyAdam Campbell Product Manager, Azoomee2 years ago I don’t play online much these days, but its a bit of a shame that I wouldn’t be able to play with some of my closest friends, because they have an Xbox. Especially given the technology has long allowed it. 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyBen Link Video Game Enthusiast and Graphic Artist 2 years ago It’s a waedge issue that many will see as categorically unfair.Now what I’d be afraid of if I were Sony is Nintendo seeing how terrible their online and contractors are, and having Microsoft run their online operations in the future. Pretty sure they’re willing to do that deal at extremely reasonable rates 1Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyGraeme Quantrill Mobile App Developer 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyJeff Kleist Writer, Marketing, Licensing Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 28th June 2018 11:09pm 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyBonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer Xbox and Nintendo gang up on PlayStation in cross-platform rowCould console momentum switch because of an issue most gamers don’t really care about?Christopher DringHead of Games B2BWednesday 27th June 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet Share”Who won E3?” We all get asked it every time a show ends, but actually you can’t really win E3. Not outright. There’s no single winner because E3 is designed for all companies to win. That’s the point. It’s an expensive, noisy marketing vehicle to reveal your content and excite fans. As a result, this year, Bethesda won E3, and Ubisoft, and Capcom, and CD Projekt, and Square Enix and well, pretty much everyone. Even if there was a company you thought underwhelmed, that opinion is typically subjective. I am not a huge Super Smash Bros aficionado, so was a touch disappointed by Nintendo. My brother loves the game, and is eyeing up Switch bundles as a result of its reveal. Nintendo won E3, too.So you can’t really win E3 outright. But you can lose it. These incidents are rare and usually linked to PR blunders or a game that simply disappointed. We can remember the famous ones, such as the Wii U announcement, Assassin’s Creed Unity… and, of course, the most famous one of all (at least in recent years) the 2013 Xbox One reveal.One company having a better (or more exciting) show than the other doesn’t really bring about change, it’s typically not going to be enough to convert millions of fans from one console or franchise to the other. But if one company excites its fans and the other one disappoints them, then that’s when change can occur. That’s what happened in 2013.At E3 2018, Xbox probably had the best press conference. There are not too many big Xbox One games coming over the next year (but even then, Forza Horizon 4 looks fantastic), yet Microsoft did a great job of exciting its fans with those studio acquisitions, the reveal of big new games in its AAA franchises, and even ending on Cyberpunk 2077 – one of the most talked about games at the show.Fornite and Nintendo provided Xbox with a means to hurt SonyBy comparison, Sony’s show lacked surprises, yet you still couldn’t say PlayStation lost E3. The games it showed looked great, there were original concepts, big exclusives, and some are due out quite soon. You might have left that press event a little dissatisfied, it was definitely a quieter show, but it wasn’t a defeat. The promise of a Ninja Theory game on Xbox One isn’t going to see floods of PlayStation owners switching machines.That is why, when Fortnite got its full reveal on Nintendo Switch the next morning, fully cross-compatible with every console bar PS4, that Xbox pounced. Here was its chance to not just win E3, but also inflict a defeat on its competitor. With a new console fight due soon, this was a chance to turn the narrative in Microsoft’s favour and have a 2013 moment but from the other side. It was something Xbox could also prepare for, because this isn’t a new issue. It emerged initially with Rocket League in 2017, and Fortnite creators Epic Games talked openly about the issue at GDC.The problem is, contrary to the angry Twitter commentators, cross-play isn’t really that big of a deal. The genuine demand for it is limited. It only really involves games that are proactively seeking cross-play, primarily Rocket League, Fortnite and Minecraft, and these are games that perform strongly on PC and mobile – platforms that are cross-compatible with PS4. So it’s only an issue for players of certain games on certain platforms – a subset of a subset. And more to the point, most gamers simply don’t care. We asked GameTrack – a consumer research project run by Ipsos Connect that is used by many major publishers – to ask its panel of European users how it felt about cross-play, and the responses were indifferent. 58% of respondents said they didn’t care much about it. When asked if cross-play was a reason to buy a console, 54% disagreed with the statement (in fact, 38% strongly disagreed), while only 13% said it might be a consideration in which console or service they would buy.”The data shows that most gamers simply do not care about cross-play.” 48% of respondents disagreed that cross-platform play would be an incentive to buy a game they otherwise might not, versus 17% who agreed; and 49% of respondents disagreed that cross-platform functionality would make them more likely to play online than they currently do, compared to 17% who agreed. The data shows that although there are some gamers that find cross-play intriguing, the majority are simply not fussed.When you consider how blurred console transitions are likely to become, Sony is understandably unwilling to give its competitors a chance to speak with and engage its audience. By the time the next generation finally arrives, we should be looking at over 100 million PlayStation customers. Sony will want them to stay with them onto PS5 and you cannot underestimate the power of: “I’m going to buy this machine because all my friends have one.” There has always been this threat of a ‘hard reset’ whenever a new generation arrives, yet in the future the reset might not be so definitive. PS5 players will likely still be playing with PS4 owners. Friends lists and game libraries will likely transfer across. Enabling customers to switch to Xbox and still allow them to play with their PlayStation friends gives away a big competitive advantage. So why do it, especially if the majority of gamers are not actually asking for it?Yet for Microsoft, it does make sense. This is a company that wants to knock down console barriers so it can attract people to its platform – and we’re not just talking about a physical platform here. It’s the challenger brand, so it has less to lose from opening its platform to its competitors and more to gain. The big thing, however, is that the resistance to cross-play is not a good PR look for PlayStation. It cannot legitimately argue that its decision to block cross-play is for user safety, especially when Nintendo – a company that is perhaps a bit overzealous with protecting its customers online – is so open to the concept.So Microsoft has attacked. Initially with a few cheeky comments at E3 and getting its execs to tweet about how much fun they’re having with Fortnite on Switch, and then it escalated that to a full-on marketing video for the new Minecraft on Switch, showcasing the game’s ability to connect with Xbox players. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games It’s quite something to see Nintendo and Xbox unite in such an aggressive and blatant attack on PlayStation. Whether it’s a sign of a deeper bond between the two businesses, or a temporary alliance against a common enemy, it’s not entirely clear. But it puts Sony in a tricky predicament. If it relents to cross-platform demands, then it’s Xbox that will truly win, as it will paint Microsoft as the hero and take away one of the many reasons to own a PlayStation over any other device. Stick to its guns, and Xbox and Nintendo will continue to paint PlayStation as anti-gamer.All over an issue that most people don’t really care about.Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesEA leans on Apex Legends and live services in fourth quarterQ4 and full year revenues close to flat and profits take a tumble, but publisher’s bookings still up double-digitsBy Brendan Sinclair 4 hours agoEA Play Live set for July 22Formerly E3-adjacent event moves to take place a month and half after the ESA’s showBy Jeffrey Rousseau 5 hours agoLatest comments (14)Emmanuel Dorée Studying Software Engineering, Open University2 years ago The people who care about crossplay are not the people who have been interviewed. The people who care about crossplay are the younger gamers the ones that are happy to play on anything their parent let them play with: an old phone, an old tablet, the old family PC, the brother’s PS4, the Switch they got at Christmas etc. These players represent a huge amount of people and are underestimated by this article. Crossplay is the future. Game as service is growing every year so soon FIFA, COD etc will also transit towards crossplay and Sony will have to change his stance or be prepared to lose some ground. 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyShow all comments (14)Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd2 years ago What percentage of respondents would have said a battle royale game would influence them to buy a console before Fortnite came out?It’s hard to gauge consumer interest in a feature that has never been offered, especially when many assume it isn’t technically possible (having been told as much for years by console makers).Ignoring demand for crossplay isn’t a problem until it is. Fortnite is unlikely to be the last game as a service where the benefit is clear. The advantage of a unified player base for games like Destiny 2 and GTA Online is obvious. 2Sign inorRegisterto rate and replyChris Nash QA Engineer 0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? 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Newzoo: Mobile esports seeing windows of opportunity openBetter hardware, Eastern popularity are driving slow but steady growth of large-scale, competitive playRebekah ValentineSenior Staff WriterTuesday 28th August 2018Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleNewzooMobile esports continues to grow as an industry, albeit slowly, but Newzoo and software design company Arm see the rapid spread of high-end hardware as a potential catalyst for it to thrive.A recent report co-created by the two groups analyzes the growing mobile esports industry and expectations for its near future, noting higher interest in mobile gaming in the East and the increasing prevalence of better hardware globally.As esports experiences rapid international growth, mobile esports remains but a small portion of it. In 2017, the industry brought in a total of $655 million in revenue from media rights, advertising, sponsorships, merchandise, tickets, and publisher fees, according to the report. Newzoo predicts the global industry will bring in a total of $906 million this year (which would be a 38% YOY increase), and $1.7 billion by 2021.The success of mobile esports is largely contained (for now) in Asia, especially China, where mobile gaming is booming. Newzoo foresees mobile esports following the same track that PC esports has as more mobile esports leagues and tournaments pop-up, lead by giants such as the King Pro League, Vainglory World Championship, and Battle of Balls. The King Pro League in particular, as Tencent’s biggest event for Honor of Kings, is the #1 mobile esports league event in the world and boasted 18,000 attendees at its 2018 Split Finals in Shanghai last month. Competitors played for a total prize pool of $1 million.In addition, the report notes that mobile esports is represented as a part of the Asian Games as a demonstration sport this year and for possible medal inclusion in 2022. Tencent’s Clash Royale and Arena of Valor are both represented.Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games The report states that mobile esports in the West is growing at a far slower rate as PC remains dominant, though games such as Clash Royale, Vainglory, and Summoners War are helping push the industry forward. One key difference between East and West in approach to mobile esports is that Eastern esports events typically center around a single publisher’s games, while Western events (primarily Amazon’s Mobile Masters and Champions of Fire events) bring multiple games from different publishers together.That said, Supercell’s Crown Championship (a single-game event) is the biggest Western mobile esports event, and saw 122,000 total Twitch viewing hours for its 2017 World Finals event in December. But its viewship numbers still pale in comparison to those of PC esports.Overall, Newzoo and Arm see the increasing share of high-end smartphones worldwide as a major positive indicator for the future of mobile gaming and mobile esports specifically. In June, the report says, 31.1% of all active smartphones were classified as “high-end,” which is a 76% YOY increase. 44% of all active smartphones had screens that were 5.5″ or larger–a feature that improves competitive gaming experience in particular. Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Mobile newsletter and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesGlobal games market to generate $175 billion in 2021- NewzooResearch firm notes a decline of 1% year-over-year in revenueBy Jeffrey Rousseau 5 days agoBrazilian games market to hit $2.3bn in 2021 – NewzooResearch firm shares key trends for Latin America’s largest region at BIG FestivalBy Jeffrey Rousseau 6 days agoLatest comments Sign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now.
0Sign inorRegisterto rate and replySign in to contributeEmail addressPasswordSign in Need an account? Register now. Rovio prepares to sell Hatch following lacklustre financialsAngry Birds developer sees annual profit and revenue decline following “best ever year”Haydn TaylorSenior Staff WriterThursday 14th February 2019Share this article Recommend Tweet ShareCompanies in this articleRovio EntertainmentComing off the back of its “best ever year”, Finnish mobile developer Rovio Entertainment is prepared to sell its controlling share of Hatch Entertainment after posting a decline in revenue and profits for 2018. The mobile game streaming platform which launched in the limited regions late last year is currently 80% owned by Rovio. However, in a statement released today, CEO Kati Levoranta said Rovio is “prepared to reduce its ownership in Hatch Entertainment below 50%” as the company seeks external funding. This month, Hatch announced a partnership with Japanese mobile operator NTT DoCoMo, with the aim of bringing 5G cloud gaming to Japan. Rovio share price took a 9.8% dip this morning following its lacklustre financial results and — despite recovering somewhat — is still marching steadily downwards at the time of writing. Hatch Entrainment played a significant role in a company-wide profit decline of 22%, down to €31.4 million for the year. However, even excluding Hatch from the figures, profits were still down 5.6% to €38.4 million. Annual revenue was down 5.4% to €281.2 million year-on-year, impacted partly by a “large revenue peak” from the Angry Birds Movie in 2017. The games segment saw a 1% bump to €250.4 million, with the company spending 31.4% of gross income on user acquisition which increased last year by 12.9% to €78.6 million. Meanwhile, the two-year content roadmap revealed in May last year has yet to yield results, with brand licensing revenue down 37.4% to €30.8 million. Again, the revenue spike from the Angry Birds Movie was attributed to the comparative decline last year. The Q4 results paint a fairly similar picture with profits declining 49.5% year-on-year to €5.3 million for the period. Overall revenue fared better, but was still down 1.7% year-on-year to €72.7 million. Related JobsSenior Game Designer – UE4 – AAA United Kingdom Amiqus GamesProgrammer – REMOTE – work with industry veterans! North West Amiqus GamesJunior Video Editor – GLOBAL publisher United Kingdom Amiqus GamesDiscover more jobs in games Levoranta confirmed that the developer’s next game is likely to launch in the second half of 2019. “We have strengthened our new games pipeline which consists of 13 new games in development for 2019-2021, of which one is in soft launch,” she added. “We are naturally also excited for the premier of the Angry Birds Movie sequel in August and expect the movie and surrounding marketing to boost our licensing business as well as drive users to our Angry Birds games towards the end of 2019.”Celebrating employer excellence in the video games industry8th July 2021Submit your company Sign up for The Daily Update and get the best of GamesIndustry.biz in your inbox. Enter your email addressMore storiesRovio shuts down HatchUpdate: Rovio clarified that the family-focused branch of the service, Hatch Kids, is still openBy Marie Dealessandri 3 months agoRovio names Alexandre Pelletier-Normand as new CEOFormer EVP of games will take over from Kati Levoranta on January 1By James Batchelor 4 months agoLatest comments (1)Kim Soares CEO, Kukouri Mobile Entertainment2 years ago Selling Hatch would be a good move for Rovio as the service, at least from what I have seen, isn’t really ”Netflix of games” and I doubt it will never be.