« That Just Seems Friggin’ Insane: » Chaos Reigns at Unity and Activision This Week


This Week in Business is a collection of stats and quotes from our sister site GamesIndustry.biz that sheds light on console sales, new trends, and more. Check back every Friday for a new entry!

Hello, USgamer readers. Long time, no see! This here is This Week in the Business, a weekly collection of quotes and stats pulled from stories on USgamer sister site GamesIndustry.biz. It’s a business-focused site, and most of this stuff was published in the last week, so that explains the stunningly creative name for the column.

We’re hoping this feature will offer you interesting perspectives and industry scuttlebutt to see you into the weekend. If it sounds familiar, it might be because this column has been running on Kotaku for the past eight years.

Appropriately enough, the big stories leading off this week’s column involve the dissolution and formation of various partnerships. They’re also a little more recent than usual, as the past couple days of industry news have been particularly eventful, full of big news, confusing motivations, and questionable decisions.

QUOTE | « Going forward, Bungie will own and develop the franchise, and Activision will increase its focus on owned IP and other projects. » – Bungie and Activision announce a premature end to their partnership on the Destiny series. The original deal was announced in April of 2010 and would have terminated early next year.

QUOTE | « I was talking to a publisher a couple months ago and they asked what I wanted. I just want them to get out of our way and let us make a game. Trust we’re going to do something great, give us the money to pay for it, and then get out of our way. » – Bungie founder and chief creative officer Jason Jones, in a video (below) released in 2010, just after the announcement of the Activision deal.

STAT | 10.4 percent – Decline of Activision Blizzard’s stock price from the time the Bungie split was announced Thursday after the close of trading to early Friday afternoon.

QUOTE | « You may not directly or indirectly distribute the Unity Software… by means of streaming or broadcasting so that any portion of the Unity Software is primarily executed on or simulated by the cloud or a remote server and transmitted over the Internet or other network to end user devices without a separate license or authorization from Unity. » – A recent addition to Unity’s terms of service that applies retroactively. Streaming tech company Improbable said the language threatened the future of Unity-based games developed using streaming, like Bossa Studios’ Worlds Adrift and others that have been in development for years.

QUOTE | « If it really is that Unity has consciously decided to terminate the development of loads of people who’ve been developing on our product for years, without telling them… that just seems friggin’ insane honestly. I don’t know who that helps. » – Improbable CEO Herman Narula questions Unity’s decision, saying indie developers will be hurt the most by the engine-maker’s new policy.

QUOTE | « We have been clear with Improbable that games currently in production and/or games that are live are unaffected, and we would have expected them to be honest with their community about this information. Unfortunately, this information is misrepresented in Improbable’s blog. » – Unity, in its first public statement on the situation, says Improbable needlessly put developers through an emotional wringer.

QUOTE | « …both sides have certainly made errors… » – The closest Improbable came to addressing its alleged dishonesty in a response to Unity’s response covered in an update to the same story.

QUOTE | « Epic Games’ partnership with Improbable, and the integration of Improbable’s cloud-based development platform SpatialOS, is based on shared values, and a shared belief in how companies should work together to support mutual customers in a straightforward, no-surprises way. » – Epic Games announces the formation of a $25 million fund to help developers using Improbable’s SpatialOS technology transition their games from Unity to other engines . (*cough*Unreal*cough*)

QUOTE | « Epic continues to disrupt the video game industry, and their third-party digital distribution model is the latest example, and something Ubisoft wants to support. » – Ubisoft VP of partnerships Chris Early explains why Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 for PC will launch on the Epic Games Store, but not Valve’s Steam.

STAT | $7.16 billion – The net worth of Epic founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, as estimated on Bloomberg’s billionaires index. Sweeney was ranked the 195th richest person in the world by Bloomberg, well ahead of Valve’s Gabe Newell, who was ranked 368th with a paltry $4.48 billion to his name. Psssh.

QUOTE | « In their heads, they have this vision of what they want to happen and when it doesn’t, they’re upset because they care. Even the guys who are sometimes a little toxic or a little upset on Reddit or whatever, it comes from a good place. The day I will be afraid is not when we have negative comments or criticisms, it’s when we have nothing. When we post an update and nobody cares, that’s the day I’ll be scared. » – Supercell’s Brawl Stars community manager Ryan Lighton suggests toxic behavior is evidence of affection, which sounds like a profoundly unhealthy way to look at it, but whatever you need to tell yourself to get through the day, games industry community managers.

QUOTE | « It’s not like we’re just chugging champagne, I don’t want to give that impression. Failing sucks, and we take it super seriously, but celebrating the learnings is the point of it. » – Supercell’s Jonathan Dower explains why the company breaks out champagne to officially toast the failure of a game.

QUOTE | « I’m like a rat in the sewer of the games industry. I only need a few hundred people to buy a game to pay rent for a year or something. » – Greg Lobanov, designer of Wandersong, explains how he was able to scrape by for a decade making comparatively unheralded small games in the lead-up to his IGF-nominated breakthrough game.



« I only need a few hundred people to buy a game to pay rent for a year or something, » says Greg Lobanov, designer of Wandersong. | Greg Lobanov

QUOTE | « For my generation, privacy kind of meant something. For kids growing up today, it’s sort of a weird, strange word. They don’t really understand it. They’re so used to sharing everything they do on Facebook and social media. » – SimCity and The Sims designer Will Wright addresses privacy concerns about his upcoming game Proxi a little further down in the same column as the above Wandersong quote.

QUOTE | « In the long-term, perhaps our focus as a business could shift away from home consoles—flexibility is just as important as ingenuity. » – Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa says that the company that got its start selling playing cards a century ago is more committed to staying in business than staying in a specific market.

QUOTE | « Just talk to the communities. Pay them. Pay people from the queer communities, pay people of color to come in and help you be better, help you learn and hopefully work alongside you. Value them as equals on your team. This is not rocket science. If it was rocket science, you’d hire a rocket scientist to work on your team. » – Fragments of Him consultant Mata Haggis-Burridge has advice for developers who want to portray queer people in their games but aren’t sure they’ll be able to do it properly.

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