Market Wire | Mar 13, 2023
Free Fire Max shutdown, Epic Games Store, CODM phase out for Warzone, Dark and Darker developer raided by police, and RAID: Shadow Legends reveals teaser for animated series
Phew! We had a bunch of $$$ in SVB, which I had just moved over one week before the bank collapsed. While I don’t think we were ever in danger of complete collapse, some capital loss was certainly avoided.
More than a few of my friends were quite nervous about a potential existential crisis and making their next payroll, so I’m glad to see things resolved.
On behalf of our studio and the many other companies that avoided bad outcomes, let’s count our blessings and get on with business!
News this week:
Garena's Free Fire Max might be shutting down for good (PocketGamer)
Epic Games has big plans for its store, has its mobile apps ready (Axios)
Rumor: Call of Duty Mobile Could Be Getting 'Phased Out' [Update] (GameRant)
Dark and Darker developer Ironmace raided by Korean police (Gameindustry.biz)
RAID: Shadow Legends reveals teaser for upcoming limited animated series called Call of the Arbiter (PocketGamer)
In-depth coverage is below!
Top 10 Charts
Hot damn, Going Balls is going balls in top downloads!
Congrats to new game Fashion Famous for breaking into top downloads.
Big move up for Arknights
Top 10 Publishers by Rank
Top 5 Trending
Summoners War is making a big push in both downloads and revenue
The last game listed above for Biggest Revenue Increase is translated from Japanese as “Pro Baseball Spirits A”: big increase last week
#1. Garena's Free Fire Max might be shutting down for good (PocketGamer)
PocketGamer reported that Brazilian players of Garena’s Free Fire Max were sent an in-game announcement suggesting a potential sunset of the game:
“Have you downloaded the original Free Fire? To improve the experience for everyone who plays Free Fire, we will be focusing our resources on the original game. Therefore, effective March 21st, 2023, we will stop providing maintenance and updates for the Max version. Ensure that the account is linked to a social network to access it in the original Free Fire.”
PocketGamer Hypothesis: “It seems like the developers couldn’t handle the strain of managing two versions of the game simultaneously, resulting in one getting axed”
Open Question: “What is unclear is if the servers are only shutting down in Brazil or worldwide. As of now, the Brazilian server is the only one that has received this message.”
#2. Epic Games has big plans for its store, has its mobile apps ready (Axios)
“I've always believed there's a tipping point that we're getting closer and closer to," Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney tells Axios, "a new breakthrough, a new Cambrian or evolution type of event in the history of stores, that gets us out of the doldrums we've been stuck in for so long.”
“Epic Games is moving full steam ahead with its 4-year-old online store, launching tools today to self-publish video games and prepping it for the day it can finally appear on iPhones and Androids.”
Epic Games offers a 12% platform fee vs. Steam’s 30%
“The end-game there, Sweeney says, is to get Epic’s store on iOS and Android, which he believes legal challenges and regulatory pressure will eventually allow.”
“Epic wants to work with all platforms to ‘agree to some industry standards to recognize player entitlements and also player social systems.’”
“Epic Games Store’s library is far smaller, at about 1% of the games sold in Steam, estimates Steve Allison, general manager of Epic’s Store.”
Tim Sweeney is as ambitious as ever. It’s not surprising that he’s eyeing not just competing against Steam and not just launching mobile app stores but also expanding beyond games and into general apps as well.
"It's the ‘Epic Games’ store,” he tells Axios, “Not the Epic ‘games store.’"
Despite massive investment from Epic, it’s still unclear why Epic has been unable to drive higher adoption vs. Steam. It’s almost like they are competing against Craigslist, lol.
The key thesis behind the Epic Games Store (EGS) seems driven by the hypothesis that free games would drive usage and adoption. Interestingly, I’ve spoken to several developers who have suggested that they see increased sales on Steam when their games go free on EGS. Something isn’t quite connecting with the Steam audience to fully adopt EGS besides downloading some games for free but then sticking with Steam.
I’m rooting for Epic, but they are missing the drive from their product team to move the needle on EGS. They must go first principles with their store and experiment fast and hard.
They should also take inspiration from services like Shein or Temu (featured article #1) to see if some of the practices driving those stores can be adapted to EGS.
Finally, for more background on the store and Tim’s thoughts on the Metaverse, make sure you check out our exclusive interview with Tim two years ago:
#3. Rumor: Call of Duty Mobile Could Be Getting 'Phased Out' [Update] (GameRant)
As many of you following this newsletter know, it’s rumored that the relationship between Chinese and US mobile game teams on virtually every major game has suffered from strained relationships.
So it’s not a huge surprise to hear that Call of Duty: Mobile could be phased out in favor of a game developed by Activision Blizzard. Further, this helps increase margin/revenue for the company.
Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile is in development for iOS and Android and has already seen a limited release in some markets. The new game is being developed by Digital Legends Entertainment, Beenox, Activision Shanghai, Solid State Studios, and Demonware. All five are Activision subsidiaries, guaranteeing Activision Blizzards exclusive ownership and control of Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile.
Microsoft wrote a response to the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) that indicated CODM getting phased out over time.
GameRant highlighted this post by Twitter user @charlieIntel:
Key quote from the tweet:
CoD: Mobile is expected to be phased out over time (outside of China) with the launch of Warzone Mobile.
#4. Dark and Darker developer Ironmace raided by Korean police (Gameindustry.biz)
Oh damn! Everyone in the gaming industry has been talking about Dark and Darker.
We’ve covered this game before (February Hot Takes). Unfortunately, it seems there is some dark news that may get even darker.
“Police raided Dark and Darker creator Ironmace earlier this week, seizing company material related to the game.”
“A user claiming to be an Ironmace employee wrote on Discord the next day, saying that the process went quickly and the police did not find what they were looking for.”
“The raid follows allegations from Korean games giant Nexon, which has accused the studio of stealing game assets and even personnel. Ironmace has denied these allegations.”
“Ironmace was founded in October 2021 by Park Sueng-ha, a former Nexon employee that has been working on a project known as P3.”
“Nexon has claimed Ironmace's medieval MMO Dark and Darker has ‘striking similarities with the concept for P3 in major gameplay, rules and arts, which could not have been made independently.’”
Without pre-judging the studio - I hope they are innocent - I will say this behavior seems to happen more often than expected. I can name a few high-profile examples but will save those examples for private conversations.
#5. RAID: Shadow Legends reveals teaser for upcoming limited animated series called Call of the Arbiter (PocketGamer)
“Pixel United and Plarium have just announced an upcoming limited animated series for their insanely popular mobile game, RAID: Shadow Legends.”
“RAID: Call of the Arbiter will be released on May 18th, on YouTube.”
“Over a few weeks, ten five-minute episodes will be released on a weekly basis. The show delves into RAID’s core set of characters, with storylines deepening their narrative with cinematic-quality animation.”
Check out their trailer now!
With comic books and books largely tapped out for ideas, it’s great that games are increasingly becoming expanded into movies or animated films.
I love the trend and wish Plarium all the best with its upcoming animated series!