Hot Five: September 12th. The five stories you need to know before you start your working week

Regulars

Start your week with a Monday briefing of the most read articles from the global mobile games industry in the last seven days on PocketGamer.biz:

We’re back again with another Monday morning briefing. Last time we discussed The Pokemon Company getting litigious, Sony snapping up their first mobile developer in a long time, Unity and ironSource’s merger moving ahead, Roblox acquiring TriplePlay and Google Play Games for PC spreading through even more regions. There are always trends in Mobile Games and what people are reading, but this week’s been a little different.

So, before we dive in, let’s talk about some of the stories that didn’t quite make it to this highlights page. For a start, Nintendo’s mobile-first IP, Dragalia Lost, has received its shutdown date, Garena is heading toward a mass layoff and Gadsme have decided to start working on Audio Ads alongside their standard fare. But, we also saw job-change galore too, as Adobe’s Stefano Corazza landed a new role at Roblox Studio and Gamigo hired a new marketing director.

The elephant in the room, however, was Tencent’s investment in Guillemot Bros, the company comprised of the founders (including the current CEO and Chairman) of Ubisoft. By increasing their stake in the company they’ve now got a combined power, alongside the Guillemot Bros, far exceeding others at Ubisoft. This means that Ubisoft retains its independence, but is heavily backed by a non-board-sitting Tencent. This is surely a win for Ubisoft, who is the only one of the surviving big three publishers – Activision-Blizzard, EA, Ubisoft – from the start of the last console golden age (2007) who aren’t in the process of being acquired or preparing themselves for acquisition.

Ubisoft have also, themselves, just had a phenomenal run of announcements through their Ubisoft Forward event, which revealed a company that is very keen to turn its eye to mobile. A company that announced three mobile games for the Netflix platform, as well as a new, mobile Assassin’s Creed – all while already moving to bring other IPs like Rainbow Six, Just Dance and The Division to success in the mobile market.

But, as decided by where the most eyes landed on our site, below are the biggest five stories on the site from the last seven days.

1) Scopely acquires Stumble Guys from Kitka Games

Have you heard of Stumble Guys? Maybe it’s not fair to call it a phenomenon, but it certainly hit with the right idea at the right time. That said, you might have heard a little about the idea previously – as (as people don’t hesitate to say) it’s got a similar ‘buffoons toddling through comedic, oversized obstacle courses’ vibe as Fall Guys, the popular PC & Console sensation. Well, it’s been snatched up for an undisclosed amount, with the IP, operation and more moving to Scopely.

I’ve not been covering the biz side of the industry for long, but I have to wonder if this will possibly set a precedent for game-likes being nurtured and grown to be sold off to larger publishers… Maybe not, though, as it’s clear that the team behind Stumble Guys continued developing and evolving the game into its own thing after launch – they even have a Very Positive rating with their Steam port of the game,  and almost 50k positive reviews there.

2) Azur Games acquires Mushroom Wars development studio

It’s been acquisitions for breakfast, lunch and dinner over the last few weeks. However, in an interesting development, Azur Games’ acquisition of Zillion Whales’ Mushroom Wars IP and development team leaves Zillion Whales in the hands of its original investors. Azur Games has been on a spending spree lately, investing in Pinpin Team and KoGames Studios recently. They could certainly be one to watch, as they’re really starting to expand their talent (and now IP) pool.

3) Lockwood announces mass layoffs

Sad news as Lockwood announced a string of layoffs, this time cutting back 15% of their workforce. This comes after the Avakin Life developer laid off 10% of its workforce last year in a move that gained the attention of a union and member of parliament. Several issue were raised surrounding the recent layoffs, including CEO salary and the reasons cited. Regardless of the cause or effect, we do hope that everybody recovers quickly and finds a new role.

4) Gacha mechanics to be removed from Mario Kart Tour

Early in the week Nintendo put out a tweet saying that they were making changes to the Pipe System, which is Mario Kart Tour’s gacha mechanic. Nintendo has notoriously seem success with this kind of system in both Fire Emblem Heroes and Dragalia Lost, however with the latter shutting this could be a sign of Nintendo changing their stance on mobile gaming. Time will tell.

5) ByteDance reportedly downsizes games divisions

Another unfortunate one, I’m afraid. Bytedance, the company behind social monolith TikTok, has reportedly taken the axe to its video gaming unit and, as a result, is moving toward mothballing a lot of projects and sub-departments. This means that there are potentially hundreds of workers’ jobs at risk – not an unprecedented situation with Bytedance, who shut down their 101 Studios in June. Hopefully all of the staff find new roles quickly.

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