News: Pay to Win

This is going to lose Activision a whole bundle of money!
Much easier to cut a cheque than to work for something.

Candy Cash

If one has learned anything from the wise philosophies of Gaston, it is that being the best means having the best. When one is the biggest and best fish in the pond, one requires the absolute biggest and best of everything. Never mind that something a little more modest and practical might get the job done just as well, if not better. It would appear that this humble author is not alone in his reverence for the profound words of Gaston however, as Bobby Kotick also seems to share a passing familiarity with his teachings.

As such Activision this week elected to spend 5.9 billion dollars in order to acquire the current market leader in the mobile gaming sector, King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga. Never mind that the popularity of Candy Crush Saga has peaked, and the company’s prospects are now on the wane. Never mind that King has produced over two-hundred games, yet Candy Crush Saga has been its only notable success. Never mind that King just copied the design of Candy Crush Saga from other match-three games, and only became successful by dint of blind luck. Never mind that 5.9 billion dollars could pay for the setting up of an entire fleet of Activision mobile game sweatshops, and here they are spending it all on a single studio with 1400 employees and one popular game. None of that even matters because Bobby Kotick is getting into mobile development, and when Bobby Kotick gets into mobile development he wants to be the best right away – so he pays to win.

Before anyone dismisses this as console gamer sour grapes, it is not just game bloggers who are noticing that this move makes no financial sense whatsoever, as the mainstream press is saying much the same thing. Cyrus Sanati of Fortune writes:

So what does it take to make a super-hot mobile game these days? If history is any judge, not much—and that’s the problem with this merger.

The most successful mobile games are all very simple and basic. There are really no major skill barriers, meaning that just about any mid-level programmer has a shot at making it big. This presents major competition issues for established mobile gaming companies since it makes defending market share nearly impossible.

But gaining access to the mobile gaming community isn’t hard—you just need to make a good game, something King Digital has done only once. Activision could have bought hundreds of gaming startups for a fraction of the price it paid for King Digital. It could have also easily built its own mobile gaming platform from the ground up, which would have been far cheaper than going out and buying the market leader.

While this deal catapults Activision to the top of the mobile gaming space, it can be knocked down from its perch at any time.

One is rather inclined to agree with this frank assessment. Activision are paying a wildly inflated pricetag for something that is in no way tangible, like the emperor taking out a mortgage to pay for his new clothes. It is almost as if nobody cares to acknowledge history in this industry, as a scant moment of self-reflection would reveal a Zynga that is a shell of its former self, and a Rovio that is rapidly divesting itself of any employee that is not nailed down. It has not been a long time since these two companies were the toast of the industry, and society is still drowning in surplus Angry Birds merchandise as a vestage of Rovio’s time at the top. The mobile industry creates giants and then just as quickly it fells them. It was a bad move on the part of Activision to pay 5.9 billion dollars for a studio that they will probably be closing down in two year’s time, but at any rate nothing of value will be lost.

Like Konami would even know what to do with this!
The Metal Gear family are looking for a new Mother Base.

The Last Vestiges of Kojima Are Dismantled

This week the thirty-five employees of Kojima Productions LA will join their Kojima Productions Tokyo counterparts, along with Hideo Kojima himself, on extended vacation. It really is just a big old holiday, guys! The studio had been at work helping Konami executives to gorge themselves like ticks on Metal Gear Solid V multiplayer standover money, but that role has obviously been fully discharged, as they have all been sent on extended holiday [while their offices begin to look conspicuously derelict].

Konami has made the decision to close its Los Angeles Studio, effective immediately, due to the product development resources being restructured into a more centralized unit.

Yes, Kojima Productions LA is now defunct in much the same way as Kojima Productions Tokyo – and apparently this was done just in time, as no sooner was the studio disbanded before Konami began internal discussions about a possible Metal Gear Solid sequel! At least this is the case if Nikkei’s reporting is to be believed. It of course makes an awful lot of sense that Konami would be looking into producing a follow up to Metal Gear Solid V, seeing as it has managed to sell a phenomenal amount of copies in such a short time. What makes less sense is why Konami would liquidate two studios who were staffed by Metal Gear veterans right before beginning internal discussions about potentially green-lighting another Metal Gear Solid entry. Unless of course…

When we start development, a large-scale investment will become necessary.

Konami allegedly told Nikkei that a large-scale investment will become necessary if and when the project is approved, yet what Konami terms a large-scale investment and what Hideo Kojima considers an adequate-scale budget may be two different things. The Metal Gear franchise may be in for a bumpy ride ahead of it.

They deserve Microsoft.
Halo fans cheer at the news that Microsoft has established a direct connection to their wallets!

Xbox Is a Joke and Halo Fans Are the Worst!

Halo 5 has seen release this past week, and with it a rare opportunity for Microsoft to crow about some good Xbox news. Halo is a big franchise for Microsoft, and Halo 5 has managed to sell a bunch of copies – as expected. It does however appear that Microsoft may have been just a tad overzealous in trumpeting the game’s success though, as the company released a statement claiming that Halo 5 has been the most successful game launch in the series history, earning over $400,000,000 in its opening week. This would be fine if it were actually true, but what Microsoft have done is take the sales earnings of the limited edition Halo Xbone console and combine them with the sales earnings of the game in order to make the launch seem more impressive than it really was.

One week after launching worldwide, Halo 5: Guardians has made history as the biggest Halo launch and fastest-selling Xbox One exclusive game to-date, with more than $400 million in global sales of Halo 5: Guardians games and hardware, pushing the franchise to over $5 billion lifetime. With the highest week one attach rate for a Microsoft first party title on Xbox One, the game was the most played of any game on Xbox One, as well as the most played on Xbox Live.

Halo is an important game, and so it was always going to dominate the week’s sales, but there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that it has not fared particularly well in relation to previous entries in the series. For instance UK sales charts reveal that Halo 5 is the worst selling original game in the series [within the UK], Putting it in front of the Master Chief Collection but well behind ODST. The lukewarm reception surrounding Halo 5 about its three hour campaign and microtransactions appears to be taking its toll on game sales. That being said, Microsoft at least has one staggering figure to crow about – and that is that since the game launched a week ago Microsoft has earned over $500,000 through microtransactions alone. Nice one, cucks!

Miyu Matsuki as Anna Nishikinomiya
Alas! The love nectar has run dry!

Anime News: Rest in Peace, Miyu Matsuki

It is one’s unenviable task to impart some truly terrible news this week. The actress who depicted Anna Nishikinomiya in the staff favourite Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn’t Exist, Miyu Matsuki, has been taken away from anime fans far too soon, dying at the young age of 38. She had reportedly been receiving treatment for pneumonia since July of this year, an illness to which she presumably succumbed on the 27th of October – though one is unsure whether her official cause of death has been pronounced as of yet. It does not sound as though she expected the illness to claim her life, as she was looking to the future as recently as September 14th, her 38th birthday. She had received a big birthday cake, which she thought looked like a wedding cake, prompting her to later remark on her blog:

It was totally like a wedding ceremony. A splendid solo wedding. When I get better I’m gonna get married!

Sadly, that will never happen.

As well as Starring in Shimoneta and even performing a small role in Full Metal Alchemist, Miyu Matsuki had an anime career which extended well beyond this – with a filmography so extensive that it is arranged alphabetically [and has most of the letters covered]. Beyond this, she also did a little video game work, portraying Maria Renard in Castlevania Judgement and playing one of the lead characters, Lailah, in last month’s JRPG release, Tales of Zestiria. She seems to have had little time for rest throughout her career, but the time for work is now over. Rest in peace, Miyu Matsuki.


  1. Terrible news about Miyu Matsuki. –Really awful. I’m surprised that Pneumonia could have killed someone in the prime of life here in the 21st century. Usually, it is only fatal in cases where the immune system is already compromised.

    Sad times. I will miss her voice acting. Anna in Shimoneta was great. :(

  2. The New York Times this week declared that Bobby Kotick is “The King of Gaming.”

    Time for a revolution.

  3. Do royalists get to call for Revolution? Shouldn’t you leave this sort of thing to the Jacobins?

  4. I thought you had agreed Kotick was Emperor. Whether this involved moistened bints or watery tarts lying about in ponds dispensing cutlery, I leave to you.

  5. @Lane: Time for a reading of the script to Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

    Actually, I don’t own a copy of that movie any longer. I had it on VHS years ago. To Amazon!

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