Black Ops II and Mass Effect 2 – Switched at Birth
Call of Duty bros made a shocking discovery this week when upon opening their brand new copies of Call of Duty: Black Ops II on the PC they discovered that the game’s second install disc was missing, and in its place was the horrible abomination to entertainment that is Mass Effect 2. Then to add insult to injury Electronic Bioturds proudly announced that the first fifty people to send in a photo of their terrible burden would receive free copies of the entire Mass Effect trilogy, thus compounding misery with dire misfortune.
The story does not end here however, as unbelievably the same thing occurred with an entirely different game, Lego Lord of the Rings. More specifically, the problem was isolated to the game’s Xbox 360 release, and saw the game disc replaced with the demo disc. If anything this situation may be even more extraordinary than the Call of Duty: Black Ops II mix-up, given that conventional thinking on the industry seems to suggest that it is the console manufacturer who is responsible for producing and packaging a publisher’s games. If that is the case then congratulations are in order to Microsoft for royally fucking up a procedure that should be routine and fool-proof.
Zynga’s Social Bubble Continues to Burst
Back in June Lusipurr.com brought word that Zynga were in dire trouble after their stock plummeted below $5.00 off the back of disappointing quarterly results. It would appear that very little has actually changed during the intervening months, save for the fact that the company’s share-price is now even lower, and Zynga’s CEO, Mark Pincus, has allegedly been brought to the point of tears after the company’s shareholders brought in Apple director, Bill Campbell, to give him a grilling.
From the point at which Zynga’s share price peaked at $14.69 in March of this year, the company’s stock has fallen steadily until this week when it hit a nadir of $2.21. Since Zynga’s initial hardships began the executive level of the company has opperated like a turn-style, while the company has recently announced the termination of 170 employees, and retired thirteen of their older games. The company is to shut down a studio in Boston, while studios in Japan and the UK remain in the balance – but even so, the company still looks decidedly bloated given the decreasing revenues supporting their 3,200 employees worldwide.
Zynga has produced five of the current top ten games on Facebook, and still accounts for 7% of the total revenue brought in by the platform, yet that figure is down from 10% in the second quarter, and 12% in the third quarter of 2011. All of this is occurring while other Facebook developers are growing their market-share. Zynga still has some strong fundamentals; they have a lot of development resources coupled with vast amounts of cash on hand, and their games still bring in significant quantities of revenue – yet it looks increasingly as though the company’s revenue-base cannot hope to sustain the size of the operation. This is all made worse by the fact that Zynga has locked themselves into a social/mobile focus, even as the platform’s popularity is dwindling and the social gaming ecosystem is becoming more competitive. Do not be surprised if Zynga is not here this time next year, as the people calling the shots may have taken their bags of money and run by that point.
THQ Defaults On Loan
Zynga is not the only publisher to stare into the yawning abyss this week, as a cash-strapped THQ has gone on to do them one better by defaulting on one of their loans. THQ incurred a technical default on their loan from Wells Fargo, as they allegedly borrowed more money than the terms of the loan allowed for, and then could not pay it back. THQ and Wells Fargo are currently in talks to renegotiate the terms on the loan, so everything will likely be fine in the short-term, yet it is a worrying sign for the company that they did not possess the wherewithal to service the loan.
That is not the extent of the company’s problems however, as even before news of THQ’s default had hit the press, investors were already divesting themselves of THQ shares. THQ lost 55% of its share value ($1.10) over the course of the week off the back of disappointing financial results and the promise of more short-term pain resulting from multiple big-ticket game releases being pushed back into 2013 and beyond. THQ famously blundered their way into this predicament when, following the successful launch of the casual-oriented uDraw game and tablet for the Wii, they actually thought that it would be a good idea to develop and release uDraw for the PS3 and 360 – in large quantities. The game tanked, was shovelled en masse into landfill, and allegedly cost an already beleaguered THQ in excess of 100 million dollars.