business news Call of Duty, Ubisoft x Tencent, CD Projekt… this week’s business news
Sales figures, studio acquisitions, accounts, developer transfer window, investments… if these topics interest you, you’ve come to the right place. We offer you an update on the past week’s business news.
- Ubisoft: The Guillemot family gets stronger thanks to a new investment from Tencent
- Call of Duty on PlayStation: Sony considers Microsoft’s promise “inadequate”
- CD Projekt unveils its balance sheet and takes stock of its projects
- Short in the week’s business news
Ubisoft: The Guillemot family gets stronger thanks to a new investment from Tencent
As Reuters reported in early August, Ubisoft has opened the capital of its holding company, Guillemot Brothers, to the Chinese giant Tencent. This equity investment amounts to €300 million and remains a minority (49.99%), meaning that the Guillemot brothers are still at the helm of the company they founded in the 1980s. “Tencent will not be represented on the board and will have no operational veto or approval rights”emphasizes Ubisoft press release.
Thanks to this agreement, However, Tencent will have the right to increase its direct stake in Ubisoft from 4.5% to 9.99% of the capital. But the management of the French company added binding clauses preventing Tencent from selling its Ubisoft shares within five years and, above all, from increasing its stake in Ubisoft beyond 9.99% within eight years. And in the event of the sale of Ubisoft shares in Tencent, the Guillemot family will benefit from a preferential right.
Tencent therefore appears to be in favor of the Guillemot family a way to consolidate, at least in the short term, its position as the main shareholder of Ubisoft and to protect itself against a hostile operation. The “enlarged concert” formed by the Lomvians and the Chinese group now has 19.8% of the capital and 24.9% of the voting rights. He can do that too “increase its shareholding to 29.9% of the capital or voting rights”according to the press release. “The expansion of the concert with Tencent strengthens the anchoring of Ubisoft’s reference shareholding around its founders and provides the essential stability for its long-term development”summed up Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft.
Call of Duty on PlayStation: Sony considers Microsoft’s promise “inadequate”
Since the announcement of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard in January, the maintenance of the Call of Duty franchise on the rival Xbox platforms – and especially PlayStation – has been a recurring topic. After making various more or less vague statements on the subject, Xbox boss Phil Spencer revealed this last week:
In January, we delivered a signed agreement to Sony to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation with feature and content parity for at least several years beyond Sony’s current contract, an offer that goes far beyond the agreements typical of the games industry. Phil Spencer, CEO of Xbox.
For Jim Ryan, CEO of PlayStation, this promise is not enough, according to comments shared by The gaming industry :
I had no intention of commenting on what I thought was a private matter, but I felt the need to set the record straight when Phil Spencer brought the subject into the public arena. Microsoft only offered to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation for three years after the current operating contract between Activision and Sony expires. After nearly twenty years of publishing the franchise on PlayStation, their proposal seems insufficient to us on many levels and does not satisfy the consideration of our players’ interest. We want to ensure that PlayStation players can have the best Call of Duty experience possible, and Microsoft’s offering goes against that principle. Jim Ryan, CEO of PlayStation.
Remember that the acquisition of Action Blizzard still needs the green light from the competition authorities before it is completed, which according to Microsoft should happen in June 2023. Last week, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) expressed its concerns and announced the opening of an in-depth investigation.
The Call of Duty franchise had surpassed 400 million games sold in the spring of 2021. Now the highly lucrative free-to-play Call of Duty Warzone, which itself will be available on mobile, is expected to require more than 3,000 developers.
CD Projekt unveils its balance sheet and takes stock of its projects
CD Projekt presented its financial results for the first half of 2022. “A Busy Time”according to the press release of the Polish company, which notably launched the PS5 and Xbox Series version of Cyberpunk 2077. This resulted in “a flurry of positive feedback from players and was followed by satisfactory sales figures”, we can read. On the financial side, turnover for this first half year amounted to 80.2 million euros, a decrease of 20% compared to the same period the previous year. Opposite to, net profit has increased by 8% and reaches 24 million eurosthanks in part to lower operating costs.
As announced last year, CD Projekt is working on two AAA productions simultaneously, including the upcoming The Witcher, which is currently in pre-production with Unreal Engine 5, which will mark the start of a brand new saga in the franchise.. In other words, the studio is already starting to think about more new adventures in the witch world. But for now, as you can see from the infographic opposite, the project that occupies the majority of developers is the expansion of Cyberpunk 2077, named Phantom Liberty and scheduled for 2023 on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series. The Molasses Flood studio was acquired in October 2021 and continues to work on an unannounced game based on one of CD Projekt’s franchises (Cyberpunk 2077 or The Witcher therefore). Finally, the new gen version of The Witcher 3 is still scheduled for the end of 2022. It was initially handed over to the Saber Interactive teams before being taken in-house last April.
As a reminder, CD Projekt has sold 40 million The Witcher 3 and 18 million Cyberpunk 2077 worldwide, according to the latest figures from April.
Short in the week’s business news
- Don’t Nod will co-produce the next game from Tiny Bull Studios, a small Italian team that previously signed Omen Exitio and Blind. It won’t be a narrative game, but an action RPG. “We were seduced by the unique project developed by this talented studio, which underlines DON’T NOD’s desire to support original creations in line with our DNA, our values and in a genre that reaches a wide audience”commented Oskar Guilbert, CEO of Don’t Nod, whose journey as a publisher began with Gerda: A Flame In Winter, released September 1 on PC and Switch.
- Another collaboration announced: that of Focus Entertainment and the Russian studio Mundfish around the non-chronic FPS Atomic Heart. The game is therefore published by Focus and will be released next winter on PC and consoles.
- After the acquisition of the Embracer Group, the Crystal Dynamics studio announcement after regaining the rights to several licenses such as Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain which were previously owned by Square Enix. The same for the Eidos Montreal studio and the Deus Ex and Thief franchises.
- EA announced departure of Lars Gustavsson, creative director of the Battlefield license, who has been with DICE for 22 years. At the same time, the American company revealed that the name of the team led by Marcus Lehto (artistic director of the first three Halos) is Ridgeline Games. Founded a few months ago, this studio is working on a new Battlefield narrative experiencewhich will not be part of Battlefield 2042.