The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can’t let go of…
So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we’ve created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.
Xbox’s Phil Spencer talks Microsoft’s moves on mobile, plus Activision Blizzard and AI
You have to laugh, don’t you? How tortuous can this whole thing get? How confused, multi-angled and ass-backwards does the acquiblizz story have to get before someone cuts through and makes it make sense.
But mercifully the clouds parted this week and someone actually said what we’ve all been thinking. Step up Microsoft’s chief Bruce Campbell lookalike, Phil Spencer, a man who speaks his mind and – frankly – should have been handed the mic months ago on this particular debate.
You’ve got to love Bruce’s, sorry, Phil’s bold admission that “it’s painfully obvious, is that we don’t really have any capability on mobile” but that’s the truth and that’s the reason why Microsoft are buying Blizzard. There. He said it.
These words – finally actually spoken out loud words from an important Microsoft figurehead – combined with them signing deals with any and all takers for Call of Duty (except Sony who still have an axe to grind in the aquiblizz mill) FINALLY clearly spell out Microsoft’s intentions and – to my mind – make the whole ‘stop the takeover’ argument completely moot.
The only gnarly aspect of this wholly accurate dissection is the fact that it’s taken Microsoft a year to get here. And ‘here’ is still a million miles from ‘there’. Sigh.
Lewis Rees is a journalist, author, and escape room enthusiast based in South Wales. He got his degree in Film and Video from the University of Glamorgan. He’s been a gamer all his life.
Sony reportedly eyeing up acquisition of Take-Two Interactive
Sony has made waves in the mobile space for its frequent, and loud, attempts to scupper Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard, so in some ways the news that the company is itself eyeing up its own acquisition may seem hypocritical.
One big factor in this? Grand Theft Auto. The franchise sits just 30 million copies behind Call of Duty in terms of sales, with Grand Theft Auto V being the second highest-grossing video game of all time, helped in part by the numerous rereleases the game has seen since its original release in 2013. With a new Grand Theft Auto game on the horizon, this arguably makes Take-Two Interactive a prime acquisition target.
This acquisition would also give PlayStation ownership of Zynga, just as its own ambitions in mobile gaming are reaching the next level.
This deal could, arguably, result in a cold war type situation, which might make Microsoft’s deal with Activision Blizzard easier for Sony to stomach. Should Microsoft decide to make Call of Duty an Xbox exclusive in the future, something many analysts and regulators have noted as a possibility, Sony could return in kind by doing the same with Grand Theft Auto. With both companies at risk of losing access to the other’s properties, this deal could force them to maintain availability of their own.
Is the deal hypocritical? Well, that depends on Sony’s intent. Zynga is likely to be identified as a prime driver of the deal should it be officially announced, but if it makes any moves to restrict GTA, or any other popular properties under the Take-Two umbrella, Sony could face the same regulatory barriers it’s helped build in Microsoft’s path.
Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who only occasionally refers to himself in the third person.
“Hypercasual isn’t dead, it’s just overworked” – Kwalee pivots to hybridcasual
To me, this seems like a pretty clear response to Alex Shea’s comment that “Hypercasual is dead.” And while he wasn’t saying it was an absolute, like “Oh, the entire genre is gone and buried,” Kwalee are still saying that it will remain a relatively significant part of their portfolio. However, the fact that they’re diversifying – to me at least – indicates that they want to try and preempt any major drops in revenue from hypercasual.
I think it’s a pretty obvious decision. I mean hypercasual’s whole selling point is being short and relatively disposable right? But these games don’t just disappear over time, despite concerns about game preservation. These games will stay around for ages, so you’re going to be continuously fighting against thousands if not millions of similar games, maybe even your own titles.
Indeed, as Alex Shea observed, Voodoo’s most popular games in 2022 were existing titles and not newly developed ones. This isn’t the only factor of course, rising CPI is one. As if you’ve got low retention and player time, the cost of CPI rising even slightly is a major problem.
Therefore, it’s better to start creating games with deeper mechanics, progression and core gameplay loops that people want to return to. Developing a loyal audience is what all studios, developers and other media businesses aspire to, a group of people who’ll provide revenue no matter what you give them – to a point at least. If people don’t recognise your name but only “Hypercasual Game #40004”, then you’re playing a losing game.