#26 - Epic 100%

Spider-Man 2 has a great rating, Tim Cook made a surprise visit in China and Avalanche has opened a new branch.

Our goal has never been to make the most. It's always been to make the best – Tim Cook

Hey there!

If you only read one piece of news today

💯 Epic Games Store is offering developers 100% revenue for six months if they bring their back catalogue titles to its platform.

This initiative, called "Now On Epic", requires games to be transferred in bulk and comes after Epic laid off 16% of its workforce due to financial challenges (click here to read more).

🎉 But we have so much more:

Good news for Gollum – it might not be the worst game of the year anymore!

Lies of P sold over a million copies in its first month. Meanwhile, a new wave of layoffs is hitting the industry.

Apple is trying to find ways to cozy up to China (and gaming).

Don’t miss The Power-Up Chronicles section at the end of this newsletter. It has stories about

  • Zen Match’s $150M acquisition woes 

  • Unity’s future 

  • a game developer’s Humble Bundle experience.

Play on:

Welcome to The Power-Up #26

Biz Reel

💰 Industry veterans from Riot Games, Wizards of the Coast, and Phoenix Labs have formed Jam & Tea Studios, raising $3.15 million to develop a multiplayer RPG using generative AI.

📱 78% of gamers play on mobile, though younger generations, like Gen Z, are less likely to consider it their primary platform compared to baby boomers.

🥵 Zeedz.io has launched its play-for-purpose mobile game, Zeedz, after securing $1M in funding from Germany’s Shark Tank equivalent, with unanimous support from all judges. The game combines immersive gameplay with education on climate change, allowing players to combat carbon emissions in-game and dedicating a portion of earnings to real-world green projects.

Industry Level-Up (or Down)

👋 Pete Hines, head of publishing at Bethesda, is retiring after 24 years, having been a key figure in the company's growth and recent game launches. Bethesda praised Hines for his integral contributions and the values he championed, while Hines affirmed his lasting affection for the company and community.

🏣 Avalanche Studios has opened a new branch in Montreal, Canada, marking its fifth global office and further expanding its development reach. The new studio aims to tap into Montreal's rich game development talent pool, following Avalanche's acquisition of Monster Closet Games.

🤝 Will Shen, former design director at Bethesda for Starfield, has joined Something Wicked Games as the lead content designer for Wyrdsong, reuniting with ex-Bethesda project lead Jeff Gardiner.

💔 Following the commercial failure of The Lamplighters League, Paradox Interactive and Harebrained Schemes will part ways in a "mutual agreement" effective 1st January 2024.

😳 Thought Pennies, an all-remote RPG studio founded by Tim Ernst, has reportedly laid off multiple employees, with news of the layoffs emerging on LinkedIn.

😔 Frontier Developments, the UK-based developer behind Elite Dangerous, F1 Manager or Planet Zoo, has announced layoffs, a hiring freeze, and spending cuts due to recent financial challenges.


☁️ Netflix has initiated testing for its cloud gaming service in the U.S., allowing members to play games on TVs and TV-connected devices using their mobile phones as controllers.

💾 Analogue is developing the Analogue 3D, a modern rendition of the Nintendo 64 that uses FPGA to render games in 4K on contemporary displays without emulation, supporting only original cartridges.

🚀 Lies of P achieved over one million global sales within a month of its release, as announced by publisher Neowiz and developer Round8 Studio.

🍎 Apple CEO Tim Cook made a surprise appearance at Tencent's Honor of Kings tournament amidst uncertainty regarding Apple's future in China. Amid challenges in the Chinese market and regulatory pressures, Cook's presence could signify Apple's effort to strengthen ties with Chinese consumers and comply with local regulations.

🆓 Mega Crit, creators of Slay the Spire, have released a free new game, Dancing Duelists, using the Godot Engine after moving away from Unity.

🕹️ A Newzoo's report indicates that 94% of Gen Alpha are game enthusiasts, with gaming being popular across all age groups, and mobile gaming remains the predominant platform. The study also highlights a generational shift in gaming habits, with younger generations engaging with more genres and integrating gaming content into their consumption.

💽 Shadow, a gaming cloud infrastructure provider, experienced a data breach affecting over 500,000 customers, compromising names, emails, and other non-sensitive details.

Game Central

🦔 A planning document hints at a new Sonic the Hedgehog game launching in holiday 2024 and DLC for Sonic Superstars. The document also mentions a Knuckles TV show, Sonic Prime Season 3, and a third Sonic movie releasing in 2024.

🚙 Netflix is reportedly exploring the addition of a Grand Theft Auto game to its expanding gaming library.

🚀 Spider-Man 2 is one of Insomniac’s highest rated games with a Metacritic score of 91. It shares this top rating with two of the studio's past games: Spyro: Year of the Dragon (2000) and Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal (2004).

🥉 Roblox ranks third in PlayStation player engagement at launch, behind only Fortnite and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, according to Circana's data.

🤢 Skull Island: Rise of Kong, developed by IguanaBee, is being criticized as potentially the worst game of 2023 due to poor graphics, movement, combat, and cutscenes. Many players have called the game a "complete scam" based on its lackluster gameplay and visuals.

🤼 EA UFC 5 is set to release on October 24 for early access and October 27 officially on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S.

The Power-Up Chronicles

In 2022, Moon Active acquired the innovative puzzle game, Zen Match, for $150M. While the game initially set trends in the Tile Match genre, its performance and user acquisition waned post-acquisition. As competitors like Tile Busters modernized the genre, Zen Match's relevance diminished. To regain its lead, Zen Match must adapt by refining gameplay and drawing inspiration from evolving market trends.

➡️ Read the story on Deconstructor of Fun

Unity's financial and managerial struggles culminated in the sudden retirement of CEO John Riccitiello. Though emblematic of the company's challenges, Unity's problems run deeper than just one executive. Despite significant revenue growth, the company consistently prioritized expansion over profitability, leading to mistrust among developers. Unity's future leadership faces the daunting task of restoring trust and establishing financial stability, with Riccitiello's exit only marking the beginning of addressing these core challenges.

➡️ An opinion by Rob Fahey on GamesIndustry.biz

“My game was invited to be in a Humble Bundle, and here's how it went”.

The highlights: 5,000 keys were sold during the bundle, resulting in roughly $8,000 combined from game and DLC sales.

However, the bundle's performance was below expectations and comparable to what could be earned in a standard Steam sale.

Key insights were that if a game is still popular on Steam, bundles may not be beneficial unless there's DLC to promote. Bundles don't significantly boost Steam visibility, but can increase wishlists. Ultimately, indie game marketing remains unpredictable, with influencer promotions being most effective, and steady wishlist growth being crucial for consistent revenue.

➡️ Read the thread on Reddit

That’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Stay powered-up until next time.

Bobby & Andrei

Did you know?

The Nintendo 64 (N64) is a home video game console developed by Nintendo.

It was released on June 23, 1996, in Japan; on September 26, 1996, in North America; and on March 1, 1997, in Europe and Australia.

The successor to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, it was the last major home console to use cartridges as its primary storage format until the Nintendo Switch in 2017.

Time named it Machine of the Year in 1996, and in 2011, IGN named it the ninth-greatest video game console of all time.

The Nintendo 64 was discontinued in 2002 following the 2001 launch of its successor, the GameCube. N64 sold 32.93 million units worldwide.