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Hideo Kojima Joins Advisory Board Of VR Company Prologue Immersive

Hideo Kojima is currently developing Death Stranding over at the new Kojima Productions, after his fallout with Konami. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have time for something else on the side.

Gamasutra reports the Metal Gear creator has joined the advisory board of Prologue Immersive, a virtual and augmented reality company. The company has worked on big-budget films such as Iron Man, Prometheus, and Godzilla, but also specializes in learning software using virtual and augmented reality. Other notable board members include Kyle and Kimberly Cooper, who has designed a number of film and game title sequences, including those for Metal Gear Solid 2, 3 and V.

You can read Andrew Reiner's latest interview with Hideo Kojima here.

[Source: Gamasutra]


Our Take
It makes sense that Kojima, a man whose works never been reticent about exploring the limits of technology both thematically and literally, would take on an advisory position at a VR Company. It's unclear how much of an impact he will have on the company's work, however. – The Feed

Battleborn Sales Below Take-Two Expectations, But Company Not Giving Up

During its earnings call yesterday, Take-Two took a moment to comment on the performance of Gearbox’s latest game, Battleborn. The game has struggled out of the gate, but the publisher isn’t giving up on it quite yet.

In his prepared remarks, CEO Strauss Zelnick was up front about how the game fared with both critics and customers. “While the game launched to solid reviews, its performance in the market has been below our expectations,” he said. “We think there remains an opportunity to grow the audience for this unique experience over time, and 2K will continue to drive engagement and recurrent consumer spending on the title through add-on content and virtual currency.”

The tenor of the comments isn’t entirely unlike how Take-Two spoke about Evolve last year following its release. Recently, new life was breathed into it with a completely free version called Evolve Stage 2.

2K has opted not to monetize the game at all right now. This is led to growing the player base from about 200 to more than 2 million since the reboot one month ago. There is room to introduce purchases for currency tied to cosmetics or major content add-ons later.

Later in the conversation, Zelnick mentioned the two games side-by-side. While this isn’t hinting at Battleborn moving into a free-to-play model, the comparison bears watching. This follows a rapid drop in price that even saw Gearbox’s “hero shooter” as one of about ten games in a Humble Bundle, effectively pricing the game at $ 15.

“So with regard to Battleborn, we're being very frank about where we are, because we're a transparent company,” Zelnick said. “We're still delivering new content to Battleborn. Audiences love Battleborn. We still have virtual currency coming for Battleborn. We're not counting it out for a minute. We're just telling you where we're at now. And equally, we just launched Evolve Stage 2, which is another way to express the IP of Evolve. And we've had over 1 million people sign up to play Evolve Stage 2, and that's super exciting.”

For more on Take-Two’s first quarter, check out our coverage from yesterday’s earnings report.


Our Take
For Battleborn to have a real shot at a solid audience, it needs something like Evolve Stage 2. According to SteamCharts, the game’s 30-day average player count is under 1,000. 

The bind 2K and Gearbox are in is that the DLC hasn’t even fully rolled out yet. There are still three characters left to go before the season pass is fulfilled. That’s going to hold up any change in business model for at least the next couple of months.

Evolve has proven that games can be resurrected to solid performance, but not without effort and passion. It will be interesting to see if 2K and Gearbox are up to that challenge. – The Feed

Playdead Co-Founder Dino Patti Leaving Company To ‘Seek New Challenges’

Playdead's co-founder Dino Patti has decided to "seek new challenges" and leave the development company after almost 10 years.

Playdead was founded in 2006 by Patti and Arnt Jensen, and received critical praise for its premiere title, Limbo. In the game players traverse a dark and desolate world searching for their sister, tricking spiders and finding clever ways across dangerous environments.

More recently the studio's second title, Inside, came out on June 29 to similar praise.

[Source: Twitter


Our Take
Seeking new challenges is always an admirable effort, especially for Patti after receiving critical acclaim for Limbo, and more recently Inside. I'm eager to see whether he might feel establishing a new studio is a suitable next step, or seeing how his skills might apply to another, already successful, studio. – The Feed

Sales double at GameStops that are now PokeStops, says company chief

GameStop chief J. Paul Raines recently told CNBC that the retail chain has seen sales double after hosting Pokemon Go-themed promos in 462 stores that are also featured in-game as Pokestops or gyms. …

Gamasutra News

PlayStation exec Adam Boyes announces departure from company

Playstation’s VP of third-party relations told Twitter followers he’d be stepping down from PlayStation for a return to the world of indie game development. …

Gamasutra News

Starbreeze’s latest acquisition is a VR/AR toys-to-life company

Swedish game company Starbreeze is adding another acquisition to its books with the purchase of ePawn, a French firm that takes virtual reality, augmented reality and toys-to-life tech as its remit. …

Gamasutra News

Starbreeze’s latest acquisition is a VR/AR toys-to-life company

Swedish game company Starbreeze is adding another acquisition to its books with the purchase of ePawn, a French firm that takes virtual reality, augmented reality and toys-to-life tech as its remit. …

Gamasutra News

Production company lays plans to adapt Mirror’s Edge for TV

Production company Endemol Shine Studios has purchased the TV rights to EA’s Mirror’s Edge games. …

Gamasutra News

Disney Pulls Plug On Infinity Series Costing Company $147 Million

The toys-to-life genre has its first major casualty. Disney has announced a $ 147 million charge related to its self-published console games business and the cancelation of its Infinity series.

Specifically cited in the company’s second quarter earnings release is that the cost is “principally Infinity” such that the charge is named the “Infinity Charge.” We already knew the game was skipping a year, focusing instead on a few new playsets.

This is the first we’ve heard that the plug is being pulled entirely. A note in the earnings statement also indicates that the $ 147 million charge includes employee severance and inventory write-down.

Disney’s game publishing arm, which appears to be defunct at this point, is part of the Consumer Products & Interactive Media division. That group saw a dip of 2 percent year-over-year for the quarter, but is up 4 percent at the half-year mark.

We’ve reached out to Disney for more information, including regarding any staff affected by this news. We’ll update should we learn more.

Update: Disney is also shuttering Infinity studio Avalanche, which has been in business for 20 years. The studio employed approximately 300. 

“After a thorough evaluation, we have modified our approach to console gaming and will transition exclusively to a licensing model," says Disney consumer products and interactive media chairman Jimmy Pitaro. "This shift in strategy means we will cease production of Disney Infinity, where the lack of growth in the toys-to-life market, coupled with high development costs, has created a challenging business model.  This means that we will be shutting down Avalanche, our internal studio that developed the game.  This was a difficult decision that we did not take lightly given the quality of Disney Infinity and its many passionate fans.”

Update 2: On Disney's earnings call this afternoon, chairman and CEO Bob Iger explained more about the company's decision to close down Infinity production. "We thought we had a really good opportunity to launch our own product in that space, "Iger said. "I realize it was console space, but it was also essentially– a large component of it was the toys-to-life, they call it toys-to-life business. In fact we did quite well with the first iteration of it, and we did okay with the second iteration. But that business is a changing business and we did not have enough confidence in the business in terms of it being stable enough to stay in it from a self-publishing perspective.

Iger reinforced the financial earnings report that attributed much of the write-down to lingering Infinity inventory. "You know that you take on substantially more risk, particularly when it comes to manufacturing and managing the inventory, the toy inventory, of that business," he said. "In fact, as Christine noted, a good part of the write-off that we just announced comes from having to write off that inventory that we took responsibility for when we went into the publishing business. We just feel that it's a changing space and that we're just better off at managing the risk that that business delivers by licensing instead of publishing. It's just that simple. We actually made a good product. I give the developer a lot of credit for the product that they made. It was extremely well-received. But we knew going in that there would be a lot of risk with this product and the fact that we did so well initially gave us the confidence to continue with it. The truth of the matter is that the risks that we saw at the beginning when we started this caught up with us."

[Source: Disney]


Our Take
Infinity had a solid run, but Toys to Life is an expensive genre. It's a shame that Disney, with its familiar properties, wasn't able to go long on the franchise. Our thoughts are with any individuals affected by this. – The Feed

Konami Sales And Profits Up As Company Turns Away From Console, PC Development

Konami has closed out its fiscal year, and the company has some good news for investors. If you’re hoping to hear about new Contra, Metal Gear, or Castlevania though, we don’t have anything significant to report.

You can expect a new Pro Evolution Soccer this year. And if you play Yu-Gi-Oh (with physical cards), those aren’t going anywhere.

However, most of Konami’s focus in its financial earnings report is on gambling, health, and mobile. Fitness revenue dipped by 2.8 percent. Pachislot and pachinko revenue fell by 17.8 percent. The gambling division climbed by 1.4 percent.

In contrast, digital entertainment revenue (console, PC, mobile, and the Yu-Gi-Oh card game) revenue climbed by 36.8 percent in the fiscal year, in part due to strong sales of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Company-wide revenue was up 14.6 percent to ¥249.9 billion ($ 2.3 billion), with a major jump in operating income of 61.2 percent to ¥24.7 billion ($ 228.8 million). Net income grew, though modestly, by 5.6 percent to ¥10.5 billion ($ 97.6 million).

Despite the successes in fiscal year 2016, Konami expects revenues to decline in the new year. However, the company anticipates controlling expenses to raise net income for the period. this is in part due to a significant reduction in both revenue and expenses in the digital entertainment category. Revenues in other segments will drop slightly, though profits are anticipated to rise on cost control.

[Source: Konami]


Our Take
While Konami says it’s committed to Metal Gear, at this point it’s hard to see the publisher as a major player in the console and PC space. I wouldn’t expect Pro Evolution Soccer to disappear, and there might be the occasional handheld Yu-Gi-Oh game. But the days of Castlevania and Contra seem to be sadly behind us. – The Feed