Will Disney buy EA?

Unity has a new CEO, new PS5 comes in November and xDefiant is delayed indefinitely

I thought I was going to do something in technology, but it never crossed my mind that I’d be a CEO or go down that path – James Whitehurst

Hey there!

It’s not a huge surprise that Unity has a new CEO, but who is James Whitehurst?

One of my favorite games from my youth might be back, and we will have a new version of PS5 in November (but to me it looks ugly AF).

Don’t miss The Power-Up Chronicles, at the end of this newsletter.

Let’s go!

Welcome to The Power-Up #23

Biz Reel

🤯 Disney executives are reportedly interested in acquiring game publisher Electronic Arts (EA), furthering Disney's push into gaming. While Disney and EA have maintained a relationship over the years, notably with Star Wars game licensing, previous acquisition rumors involving other companies like NBC Universal and Amazon have not materialized.

💰 Fast Travel Games has secured $4 million in an investment round, led by Handelsbanken Fonder, to expand its VR game publishing and development with new IPs.

🤑 China's top mobile publishers generated a combined revenue of $1.96 billion in September. 39 of the top 100 publishers are based in China. Anniversaries of popular games, such as Genshin Impact, boosted monthly revenues significantly.

🚀 In South Korea, RPGs dominate mobile game sales with a 60% share, led by MMORPGs. Squad RPGs like "Goddess of Victory: Nikke" are growing in popularity, with character collection driving significant sales spikes.

Industry Level-Up (or Down)

👋 John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity Technologies, abruptly "retired" following a controversial decision to change pricing, leading to significant backlash from developers and damaging the company's reputation.

🤝 The new Unity's interim CEO is James Whitehurst, who previously held CEO positions at Delta Air Lines and Red Hat, served as VP and director of the Boston Consulting Group, was president at IBM, chaired Red Hat's board, and advised the private equity firm Silver Lake.

🤝 Emma Egan-Lawless, previously of AppLovin, has been appointed by mobile game publisher Homa as the head of user acquisition. Homa aims to utilize her expertise to enhance player experience and drive advanced user acquisition strategies.

🥳 Merge Mansion developer Metacore is opening its first overseas office in Berlin after reaching 50 million downloads. CEO Mika Tammenkoski highlights Berlin's rich gaming talent and anticipates contributing to its vibrant ecosystem while expanding their game portfolio.

🪧 Game Workers Unite (GWU), the UK's game industry union, is hosting a Zoom meeting on October 12 to address recent developer layoffs affecting over 500 individuals in UK studios. The session aims to discuss support for affected workers and strategies to prevent large-scale future redundancies. The meeting can be attended by current and non-union members.


⚽️ EA Sports FC 24 garnered 11.3m players in its first week, surpassing FIFA 23's 10.3m players. Despite dropping the FIFA license, the series continues to thrive, with EA Sports FC Mobile also achieving 11.2m downloads in its initial ten days.

🎮 Sony introduces "smaller" versions of the PlayStation 5 and PS5 Digital set to launch in the US this November and will roll out globally in the following months. PS5 will cost $499.99, PS5 Digital will be $449.99. These consoles offer a significant reduction in volume and weight, with an optional $79.99 disc drive add-on for the digital-only version and a Vertical Stand for $29.99.

😱 Activision Blizzard plans to introduce more titles to Xbox Game Pass in 2024 after its expected acquisition by Microsoft. However, neither Modern Warfare III nor Diablo IV will be added to the service this year.

🚨 2017 dashcam footage reveals two LAPD officers neglecting a robbery to play Pokémon Go, driving recklessly to catch Snorlax and Togetic. After the incident and subsequent lies, both officers were fired.

😳 Ubisoft's online shooter xDefiant is delayed indefinitely due to game inconsistencies discovered in a public test session. This continues Ubisoft's challenging year, with multiple game delays and unexpected setbacks.

Game Central

🙅‍♂️ Humble Bundle is discontinuing its Game Collection perk, a library of original Humble games for subscribers, on November 7. While the Humble Choice subscription service will continue, previously offered games will remain accessible in the Humble Vault.

💾 The PS1 cult classic game "Hogs of War" is set for a remastered return 23 years after its original release. A Kickstarter campaign for the "Hogs of War Lardcore" remaster will begin soon, aiming to fund enhancements and potential expansions like online play and a PC port. When I was young, I spent a tremendous number of hours playing this game! 😆

🏥 "War Hospital," a strategy/survival game by Nacon and Brave Lamb Studio, has been postponed from its October 26 launch to early 2024. The game will be released on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series, and various PC platforms.

🧱 Roblox has been released on PS5 and PS4, with the app available in the PlayStation Store, despite initial concerns over child exploitation. However, only a PS4 version of the Roblox app exists, with no native PS5 version.

💻 Supercell is introducing Clash of Clans and Clash Royale to PC via Google Play Games, starting with soft launches in Canada, Chile, and Singapore. This shift to PC signifies a major change for the primarily mobile-focused developer and highlights an endorsement of Google Play Games over other platforms like Steam.

The Power-Up Chronicles

The MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region is becoming an essential hub for the global games market, defying worldwide trends with a 7% growth in 2023. 

It boasts the fastest-growing revenue and player base, with predictions of a 12.3% growth in player numbers this year. The region thrives on a young, esports-loving audience, primarily using mobile platforms, as 65% of the revenue comes from mobile games. Significant investments, particularly from Saudi Arabia, are fueling the gaming sector.

➡️ A feature by Iwan Morris on PocketGamer.

A web game developer faces a conundrum when considering the App Store for a game with swipe mechanics.

Safari's limitations hinder the game's web play, but the App Store poses challenges like a competitive pay-to-play environment, a 30% cut on in-app revenues, and potential copycats. Moreover, managing both web and iOS versions adds complexity. While the App Store offers benefits like user reviews and dominates global gaming revenue, the web provides frictionless onboarding and better SEO.

For solo developers, launching outside the App Store might be a strategic move to evade early competition and spotlight.

➡️ An article by Spencer Dailey on Key Discussions.

Valve has provided insights into how games are featured on the Steam platform, emphasizing a blend of algorithmic and curated methods. 

Key visibility factors include effective use of tags, strong localization, regional pricing, and controller support. Central to Valve's marketing strategy is their commitment to match games with their ideal audience and avoid a "pay to win" model by not selling ad placements, ensuring a level playing field.

While the top banner on Steam's front page is curated, most other sections are algorithmic, suggesting games based on user preferences and interactions.

➡️ An article by Bryant Francis on Game Developer

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

Bobby & Andrei

Did you know?

In 1997, PlayStation was offered the chance to secure the FIFA license, but chose not to.

Tom Stone, EA's vice president of European marketing at the time, shared that ISL, responsible for FIFA licensing, approached PlayStation's European leadership behind EA's back.

Chris Deering, PlayStation’s European president then, informed Stone about the proposal but assured him they wouldn't proceed unless negotiations between EA and ISL failed. E

A held the exclusive FIFA license for 25 years until 2022 and now produces soccer games under the EA Sports FC label.

The future holder of the FIFA license remains uncertain.