2K Games' new president David Ismailer has laid out a fresh five-year plan for the label that will tap the strengths of its catalog IP including its growing AAA games business and annualized sports titles.
Despite releasing a number of key games in FY17 like Mafia III and Battleborn, 2K Games didn't contributed as strongly to total fiscal year sales earnings as it normally would with such a hefty release slate. Of course it didn't help that Battleborn was quickly swallowed up by Blizzard's Overwatch, and Mafia III was plagued with a rocky start. The current fiscal year, FY18, sees 2K Games' slate much thinner than usual. The label's newly appointed president, David Ismailer, has laid out a new five-year plan that will leverage the label's beefy catalog in strategic ways to help boost earnings.
In a recent interview with Games Industry.biz, Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick and 2K Games President David Ismailer discuss the future of the label. The publisher's "huge" new game is still on for FY19, which is likely to be Borderlands 3, and 2K will continue annually releasing sports games from its WWE and NBA IPs to help bolster profits. Ismailer affirms that his new five-year plan isn't dramatically different from 2K's current strategies, but he is aiming to release a new AAA game every year.
Ubisoft reports stellar first quarter revenues and sales driven by strong digital growth across all segments and platforms, including PS4, Xbox One and PC.
French games-maker Ubisoft is transforming more and more of its business into digital revenue streams, and this initiative is paying off big. The company recently announced total sales earnings of 202.1 million euros ($232.78 million) in the three-month period ending June 30, all without even releasing a new game.
What's even more impressive is that 80.4% of these earnings, or 164.2 million euros ($189.07 million) were from digital purchases such as full game sales as well as recurrent consumer spending via microtransactions, DLC and add-ons. Ubisoft categorizes the latter digital monetization revenues as PRI, or "Player Recurring Investment," which also saw tremendous growth in the quarter: the company earned 83.1 million euros ($95.69 million) in PRI, up a mighty 73.4% year-over-year. PRI actually made up 41.1% of the quarter's total sales, meaning almost half of Ubisoft's digital revenues consisted of paid add-ons and other content.
As the games industry shifts towards a digital-powered games-as-a-service model with recurring revenue streams at the whims of consumers, analyst firm SuperData reports that console gamers will purchase and consume more digital content in the form of microtransactions, DLC, and add-ons than games in 2017.
In today's market, digital-driven games like Overwatch, GTA Online, Rocket League and FIFA dominate consoles across the world, earning billions in combined revenue. We've just reported on how Ubisoft's digital-first strategy is paying off big, and other publishers are just as keen on slicing off their share of the lucrative market as gamers are to spend on their creations. Analyst firm SuperData predicts that add-on content--which includes microtransactions, DLC, season passes and other post-release content like map packs--will make up over 50% of the console gaming sector's total revenues for 2017. This effectively means console gamers are willing to spend more money on add-ons than they are on full game downloads.
The firm also reports that add-on content makes up 75% of total revenues for top-earning console games for 2015 through 2017. Reliance on additional content is furthered by the yearly decrease of retail sales (2016's holiday season was the worst for retail games in the US in 20 years). Publishers must learn how to establish a proper timetable and road map for new console IP to gain maximum revenue.
Take-Two Interactive's massively lucrative online-based Grand Theft Auto game has pulled in considerable lifetime-to-date earnings, according to research firm SuperData.
Grand Theft Auto V's massively popular persistent online open-world component, GTA Online, has generated an estimated $1.092 billion in total revenues, analyst firm SuperData reports. GTA V is the highest-earning digital console game of all time thanks to its hugely profitable add-on content, the firm said in a recent market report, with total revenues of $1.4 billion since its release in 2013--78% of which was earned by add-on content through GTA Online.
Rockstar Games parent company Take-Two Interactive reported strong earnings in its last fiscal year thanks to the years-old GTA V and GTA Online powerhouse. The company earned $927.1 million in digital net revenues, with recurrent consumer spending on DLC/add-ons/microtransactions making up 50% of revenues, or $460.85 million. GTA Online had a tremendous effect on digital sales revenue, too: bookings from recurrent monetization streams grew a substantial 52% over last year to an impressive $562.7 million, or 57% of total digitally-delivered bookings.
Microsoft today reported strong Q4 and full year fiscal earnings across all of its segments, and its gaming branch pulled in over $9 billion in revenues despite lower Xbox console sales.
Despite Sony's dominant lead in console sales, Microsoft's gaming segment is extremely healthy and prosperous as the company's digital cross-platform transformation continues paying off. The Redmond-based titan has unified Windows 10 PCs, mobile phones, and Xbox consoles with its unique Xbox-as-a-service initiative, which sees Xbox LIVE connecting a manner of popular devices together.
I've dug around in the financials and have formulated a quick analysis to give you a better idea of Microsoft's gaming growth, but first let's take a look at the raw numbers. Gaming, which is part of Microsoft's More PC Computing segment, earned a total of $9.076 billion in the fiscal year.
Gaming is a significant force behind the More Personal Computing segment, but unlike Sony, gaming doesn't represent a strong earner for Microsoft's total revenues. Total gaming revenue ($9.076 billion) made up 18.78% of total quarterly More Personal Computing segment revenues ($38.77 billion), and 23.4% of total MPC revenues for the full fiscal year.
Ubisoft has stated that all of its games will have live services that tie into recurring player investment, hinting that Assassin's Creed: Origins may be monetized with in-game purchases and microtransactions. In a Q1 earnings call, key Ubisoft executives give more clues on how the next Assassin's Creed will continue earning money long after initial sales.
French games-maker Ubisoft has made a tremendous transformation in the last few years, and its digital-first strategy is paying off big. Instead of focusing on single-release games, Ubisoft has embraced the next evolution of gaming which sees digital titles being treated as a service--the Games-as-a-Service trend, or GaaS--to ensure its games keep pulling in revenues months or even years after release. One of the main ways it achieves this goal is by infusing microtransactions into its games. While online multiplayer games like Rainbow Six: Siege and For Honor are obvious choices for this monetization path, traditional game like Assassin's Creed are prime targets as well.
The Assassin's Creed series is no stranger to in-game microtransactions, and I expect the upcoming Egypt-based Assassin's Creed: Origins to be no different. I've already predicted that Ubisoft will monetize AC: Origins with loot boxes that contain randomized items, gear, or skill buffs, and now key corporate Ubisoft execs are adding weight to these predictions. In a recent Q1 earnings call, Ubisoft exec Alain Corre hints that the company may use Origins' heavy RPG focus as a path to recurring revenues.
"As far as the digital potential for Origins and its engagement capability, as we've said we really invested heavily to increase the RPG side of the game. [As a result of this investment] we clearly feel that we have better potential to increase the engagement of the game, and we believe that therefore the player recurring investment will continue to grow," said Alain Corre, Executive Director of Ubisoft's EMEA branch.
Blizzard is making good on its promise to kill off support for legacy Windows operating systems in its popular franchises.
Blizzard has announced that Windows XP and Windows Vista users will no longer be able to play StarCraft II, World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm after the killswitch is flipped in October.
"Microsoft ceased mainstream support for these versions of Windows in 2009 and 2012, respectively, but since a decent portion of our audience was still using them at the time, we continued supporting them. However, there have been three major Windows releases since Vista, and at this point, the vast majority of our audience has upgraded to one of the newer versions.
Nintendo's third smartphone game is booming, raking in considerable six-month sales.
Fire Emblem Heroes has made $114.9 million in revenues since its release on February 2, analyst firm SensorTower reports. These substantial earnings were generated with a rather smallish 11.7 million user install base compared to Super Mario Run's 90 million downloads in its first two weeks. Unlike Nintendo's "Mario on mobile" smartphone game, Fire Emblem Heroes has generated significant revenue from in-game purchases thanks to its specific earnings strategy.
The star mobile game leverages the massively lucrative "gacha" free-to-play business model, which sells in-game currency called "orbs" starting at $1.99 all the way up to $74.99. These in-game orbs are used to unlock new characters, upgrade stats, and other bonuses. Although the playerbase is smaller than most high-earning smartphone games, Fire Emblem Heroes is Nintendo's most profitable mobile game to date.
Nostalgia is massively lucrative, and it looks like Nintendo will continue stirring up millions of consumers with a Nintendo 64 Classic Edition in 2018.
Nintendo today filed a very interesting and instantly recognizable trademark in the European Union Intellectual Property Office that shows the Nintendo 64's iconic controller. As the graphic is quite similar to previous visual trademarks used in previous Nintendo "mini" consoles, it's very likely to represent a future Nintendo 64 Classic Edition micro-console to be released sometime in 2018.
Both the NES Classic Edition and the upcoming $79.99 SNES Classic Edition micro-consoles feature a distinctive controller logo on the top of their boxes. We've included a few side-by-side comparisons to illustrate.
AMD has taken its next-gen Radeon RX Vega onto the road, landing in Budapest first. AMD is showing off its new GPU architecture to gaming fans, teaming up with ASUS to show off AMD/ASUS products.
The company has since shown off its new logo/branding for Radeon RX Vega, testing RX Vega with AMD's own Ryzen 7 1800X processor and Battlefield 1 at 3440x1440 on a beautiful FreeSync-powered UltraWide display. There was also another gaming PC next to it running NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1080 (and not the GTX 1080 Ti) pitted against Radeon RX Vega.
The GeForce GTX 1080 powered gaming PC had the same 34-inch display and native 3440x1440 resolution, but was a G-Sync panel, compared to the RX Vega powered PC and its FreeSync Display. Both monitors were covered so you couldn't tell the difference between the systems, making it a blind test.
AMD didn't have FPS counters on the machines, but Szunyogg said on Reddit:
- The AMD rep guy was asked and he said it's a GTX 1080 non Ti against the RX VEGA
- We were given 2 systems with an RX and a GTX to play BF1 on.
- They do use free- and g-sync and yes there were no fps counters. From my experience there were no fps drops on any of the systems.
- There was a little hiccup, but they resolved it in an instant and from my experience and many others the difference was unnoticeable. Mind you we were not told and are not going to be told which setup is which.
AMD will taking Radeon RX Vega to Portland and LA next, hitting PDXLAN between July 21-23 and LA for SIGGRAPH on July 30.