Tag - gaming industry

Io-Interactive Becomes Independent and Takes Hitman with Them

It looks like the changes keep coming for Square Enix as Io-Interactive has left their umbrella, becoming an independent developer and taking the rights to the Hitman IP with them (after a buyout of course). Here is an official message from Io-Interactive CEO, Hakan Abrak:

In its 19 years of history, Io-Interactive has brought you original and exciting entertainment; from Mini Ninjas and Freedom Fighters to gaming’s most notorious criminals Kane & Lynch and of course our beloved Agent 47. With our latest game, we have not only transformed Hitman, but also moved our entire studio into the AAA digital era. Our live product has disrupted the video game business and has received recognition and praise from press, community and our fans.

There are many tales of hope, dreams, hardship and joy within these walls. We have never strived for the expected or predictable. Instead, we are always in pursuit for what feels original and real. Our passion and determination has never been greater and so that is why we have decided it is not the time to stop as we have many more exciting and original tales to tell.

Therefore I am proud to announce today that IOI is now officially an independent studio. We have successfully concluded our negotiations with Square Enix and have agreed to a management buyout. Crucially, we will keep all of the rights to the Hitman IP. 

This is a watershed moment for IOI. As of today, we have complete control over the direction for our studio and the Hitman IP – we’re about to forge our own future and it’s incredibly exciting. We are now open to opportunities with future collaborators and partners to help strengthen us as a studio and ensure that we can produce the best games possible for our community.

I would like to say a big and sincere thank you to all of our players, community, friends in the media and everyone else connected to the studio for the messages of support that we have received in the last few weeks. I would also like to thank Square Enix; it has been a great family to be a part of and we are proud of what we have achieved together in the last eight years. IOI started as an independent studio and we will now return to those roots with an extremely passionate and talented team.

We are counting on the continued support of all our players; simply by having fun with everything we’ve released so far for HITMAN – and we want to encourage more of you to try our game. We have more details to come on our plans for that next week.

Thank you.


Nexon and First Strike Games Partner for AAA Multiplayer Titles

LOS ANGELES – MAY 1, 2017NEXON Co., Ltd. (“Nexon”) (3659.TO), a worldwide leader in online games, today announced its wholly owned subsidiary, Nexon America Inc. (“Nexon America”) has entered into an ongoing relationship with First Strike Games, a game studio formed last year to specialize in multiplayer experiences.  Nexon has acquired the worldwide publishing and marketing rights to First Strike Games’ first title, an unannounced multiplayer online game

“Partnering with First Strike Games is another example of our focus on and commitment to working with the best development talent in the Western market,” said Owen Mahoney, president and CEO, Nexon. “This partnership will leverage First Strike Games’ passion and unbeatable background in multiplayer games and our deep expertise in online services to build innovative games that appeal to global tastes and engage communities of players that will stand the test of time.”

Founded in 2016, First Strike Games is a new studio formed by industry vets with strong pedigree in AAA game development across a broad range of multiplayer genres and led by CEO Kevin Franklin whose over a decade of experience in the industry includes 343 Industries (Microsoft) and EA Blackbox.

“We are super focused on competitive multiplayer games at First Strike,” said Kevin Franklin, CEO, First Strike Games.  “In Nexon, we found a partner who has truly understood the gameplay we are exploring, has embraced our company vision and has contributed great ideas and expertise. We are looking forward to making amazing games together.”

First Strike Games joins a growing roster of renowned Western developers that have partnered with Nexon, including Cliff Bleszinski’s Boss Key Productions on its first title LawBreakers and Dallas Dickinson’s QC Games on its unnounced first title.

First Strike Games is currently entering full production on the new game by growing its team from 30 to over 50 developers. The yet unannounced title is expected to have broad appeal, with an E10+ rating, with more details to be announced later this year.


About First Strike Games – http://www.firststrikegames.com

First Strike Games is a game studio located in Bellevue, Washington. Founded in 2016, the company’s mission is to create gameplay focused multiplayer experiences and online services on PC and Console. The studio consists of over 30 developers with a pedigree of working on major releases from companies like Microsoft, Bethesda and Sony. First Strike Games is currently in development of their first IP and game with an unannounced release date.


About Nexon America Inc. – http://www.nexon.net
Nexon America Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEXON Co., Ltd. (“Nexon”) (3659.TO) a worldwide leader in online games. Based in Los Angeles, Nexon America was founded in 2005 to bring the best of online entertainment to the North American audience. The company’s growing library of titles includes fan-favorites MapleStory, the classic side-scrolling MMORPG, and Vindictus, an action-packed combat MMO. New titles now in open beta include Riders of Icarus, a mount-taming MMO that allows players to fly and fight on the backs of dragons; and First Assault, a first-person shooter based on the critically acclaimed “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” IP. Upcoming titles from Nexon America include LawBreakers, a Steam exclusive and the first title from Cliff Bleszinski’s studio Boss Key Productions; and an unannounced title from QC Games.

Valve Announces the End of Steam Greenlight

Looks like Valve has announced that it will be ending its Steam Greenlight system, which was used to get independently-developed games onto the digital distribution platform. Steam Greenlight will be replaced this Spring by what they are calling “Steam Direct”. Steam Direct will allow developers more direct paths to publishing their games.


You can read the entire blog post at the above link!

SAG-AFTRA Video Games Industry Strike

LOS ANGELES (Feb. 2, 2017) – During a major rally today in Los Angeles, SAG-AFTRA members called for the 11 struck video game corporations to end their bargaining standoff. Members contend the long-running strike can be concluded with a fair agreement benefiting both sides.

SAG-AFTRA’s approximately 160,000 members have been on strike against an 11-member bargaining unit, which includes video game corporations Activision Publishing Inc., Electronic Arts Productions, Inc. and WB Games, Inc. among others, since Oct. 21, 2016. The strike came after 19 months of negotiations wherein the corporations refused to alter their bargaining stance, or make any concessions. The rally in Los Angeles, which began at SAG-AFTRA Plaza and continued at the nearby La Brea Tar Pits, marks the two-year anniversary of the bargaining process on the interactive contract, which governs video game work.

“This is a crucial time. The video game companies are getting ready to start production on a slate of new titles. They need and want our members’ talent to be on their games,” said SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris. “I urge these video game corporations to accept the industry-standard agreements that they know are fair and right so we can get back to work – together.”

Carteris on Thursday addressed a crowd of approximately 500, which included SAG-AFTRA members and members of WGA, DGA, Actors Equity, IATSE, UNITE HERE, SEIU, the Teamsters and AFM, which sent a New Orleans-style brass band to lead a march down Wilshire Blvd. Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation, Rusty Hicks of the L.A. County Federation of Labor and Los Angeles City Councilman David Ryu also spoke to the crowd. Rapper Murs performed.

National Executive Director David White said, “Enough is enough. It’s time for the video game corporations to stop stalling and meet us halfway. Working together we can achieve continued growth for their companies along with fair compensation and safe sets for our members. Their continued stalling is only going to slow down their game production and hurt their bottom lines.”

SAG-AFTRA Interactive Negotiating Committee Chair Keythe Farley said, “I can’t believe we’re still fighting for this contract two years later. I thought we’d be done by lunch on day one. I figured we were all eager to update the substandard, 20-year-old contract that we’ve been operating under and start fresh with a modern, industry-standard agreement that protects, and fairly compensates, performers working on today’s video games. The one thing that keeps me going is our members’ dedication and commitment to a fair contract. It’s the same dedication they bring to their performances, so I guess it’s no surprise, really.”

Meanwhile, Interactive Negotiating Committee member Phil LaMarr announced that nearly a dozen games have been signed to SAG-AFTRA’s new interactive contract, which includes secondary compensation, transparency and stunt safety provisions. “These deals show that other companies see that what we’re asking for is reasonable,” LaMarr said.

Zenimax Media Buys Escalation Studios

February 1, 2017 (Rockville, MD) – ZeniMax® Media Inc. – parent company to video game publisher Bethesda Softworks – today announced that it has acquired Escalation Studios, located in Dallas, TX. Founded in 2007 by industry veterans Tom Mustaine and Marc Tardif, Escalation’s team has helped build and support some of the biggest franchises in the industry – including id Software’s award-winning first-person shooter, DOOM which launched in 2016.

“We have continually been impressed with the team at Escalation that Tom and Marc have assembled,” said Todd Vaughn, Vice President of Development at Bethesda. “Their commitment to quality and innovation has made significant contributions to the projects we’ve worked on together, and we’re excited to have them join ZeniMax.”

Escalation is currently working on a number of projects with studios throughout the ZeniMax family and will continue to contribute its talents across PC, console, mobile, and VR titles going forward.

“ZeniMax Media’s studios are responsible for some of the most iconic games in our industry,” said Marc Tardif, Co-Managing Director of Escalation Studios. “Becoming a part of this amazing family of developers is an honor for everyone at our studio.”

“We are proud of the incredible team that has helped make Escalation such a success,” added Tom Mustaine Co-Managing Director of Escalation Studios. “We can’t wait to see what the studio is capable of with the support of such a great company as ZeniMax.”

For more information on ZeniMax Media, visit www.zenimax.com.

For more information on Bethesda, visit www.bethesda.net.

For more information on Escalation Studios, visit www.escalation.com.

World of Warships 2017 Community Manager Interview

Recently, we got the chance to ask Wargaming.net Community Manager, Chris Stott, some questions about the the release of “dragon boats” in World of Warships we well as some questions regarding the game’s 2017 roadmap. We’d like to thank Wargaming.net’s PR department as well as Chris Stott for making this interview possible.

Q) Wargaming has laid out a great roadmap for future changes in World of Warships. How far out has the team planned? Just a year in advance or even further?

A) You probably have seen what we have announced for 2017 in videos or on the forums but we have plans for 2018 and even some exciting ideas for 2019! There are a whole boat load of new tech trees and features that we have been wanting to put into the game since we started so we have a pretty full schedule of new things coming. World of Warships is one of those games that your mind can go wild with the potential of where we could be in 1-2 years. Naval combat has so many interesting mechanics we can expand on and there a ton of cool new ideas that really capture the feeling of being on the deck of a ship during a fierce battle. So we have quite the backlog of ideas too!

Q) Wargaming has a history of adding fictionalized vehicles and vessels into their titles alongside more realistic units. Why was the choice made to add Dragon Boats to World of Warships?

A) We set out with the goal of sticking to historical visuals and ships but both the players and us keep coming up with cool things we could do in our engine. Our players always want something new to keep them interested or a new way to show off their accomplishments, so we started creating some less historical designs. Many of our designs are inspired by the really crazy “dazzle” camouflages that were used in real warships. There are some very psychedelic and mind-bending designs that real navies were using that we could pull from. It turns out, it was a big hit in the community and we have continued to push more non-historical content in our game. Ultimately, our game is about having fun, and sometimes that means doing something a bit off the wall compared to what you are used to. Plus our artists get bored drawing gray ships all day!

Q) What kind of changes can we expect to see with regards to Soviet Destroyers?

A) We are splitting the current Soviet Destroyer into the two main gameplay styles that destroyers typically have, Gunboats and Torpedoes. Right now the Russian tech branch contains both and playstyles often switch back and forth as you climb up tiers. This can be really annoying or just confusing when you unlock your next ship and it plays totally different that what you just had. We recently did a split to the Japanese destroyers for the same reason and we will add in new destroyers to fill out the gaps in the two lines. For the Russian DDs, the new additions are more mostly torpedo focused as the line of ships already features amazing gunboats.

Q) What other legendary commanders can you tell us about? Any as “notorious” as Steven Seagal?

A) Haha. Commander Seagal is the first of many Legendary Commanders to come. Some will be historical with skills and abilities that represent some of their greatest achievements during real world naval battles. We also plan to make Commanders that are totally not from history and are just for fun. As for specific Commanders, I can’t say but they will be equally famous, if not more!

Q) Can you tell us about any of the new commander skills that are coming down the pipe?

A) There are several new Commander skills that are going to be very powerful from the skill rework. Priority Target is one that seems to be going under the radar at the moment. It tells you when and how many ships are directly aiming at you. Basically, it gives you more warning that you are about to start being blasted to bits. Even just a few seconds of knowing that can be huge for some of the lighter classes like Destroyers and Cruisers. For the Captains who like to sling HE shells all day, Inertial Fuses is going be a big boost. It reduces your chance to start fire, but increases the penetration power of your shells. This can push some small cannons from entirely bouncing off thicker armor like on Battleships or angled armor to being able to pierce that steel like a hot knife through butter. In addition to several brand new skills, we made most skills cheaper to obtain by flattening the tree a bit so players can unlock more options and different builds much easier.

Q) Some rumors are saying that anti-ship missile weapons are going to be added to the game – can you confirm or deny this and, if they are being added, how will they be balanced alongside the existing weapon types?

A) We mentioned in our 2017 Preview that we will be adding new armaments to the game and at this moment, missiles is the top guess from our players. There may be some hints in the background, so take a look, but all I can say is that we are testing a few ideas for new weapons, but we don’t know which ones will make it in yet. We will have to see how they feel and how well they can be balanced before we make any more crazy announcements.

Q) The Halloween event was a lot of fun, can you tell us about any upcoming modes for PvE play?

A) Halloween Mode allowed us to test the waters for how we should develop PvE in the future. In short, it was a huge success and it definitely encouraged us to do more like it. While Halloween Mode wasn’t exactly historically accurate (to say the least!) our next PvE event we are planning is based on a famous moment in naval history. We really want to raise the bar again in World of Warships for what we can do with asymmetrical gameplay and storytelling. The mission won’t be a walk in the park but we plan to include a bunch of fun secondary objectives, so even if you don’t make it all the way through on your first or second try, you can still earn a bunch of prizes.

Q) How goes the possibility of adding World of Warplanes or World of Tanks players into WoWs so there can be joint battles?

A) Currently, it’s not something we are considering doing for a few reasons. The scale of our games is very different and it’s not a simple task to maintain a balance between realism and fun when you have such differences between scales. It is also partly due to the design of the machines. The tanks in our game are designed to fight other tanks, and part of what makes tanks so awesome is the constant attempts from each side to outdo each other. That makes each battle very compelling and contain some interesting match ups. For us, it doesn’t make sense to combine these different experiences. Each game has its own balance and pacing that make it engaging compared to other games. On top of all that, just balancing everything gives me nightmares. The largest tank ever made just can’t stand up to a warship that fires shells the SIZE OF A TANK from miles away. It wouldn’t be a fun time for that poor tanker.

Q) Is there anything else you guys would like to talk about with regards to upcoming World of Warships changes, etc?

A) We will be announcing more new features and ships in the future, but right now we are excited about the new loot that is on the horizon! We added in bonus loot boxes for earning experience in World of Warships recently, but we plan to expand the system to have unique equipment and consumables with special bonuses. Second thing to mention is the Carrier rework. This has been a big request from the community and will be a high priority for us this year. Our current plan is to see first iteration of changes in March or April.

Fig Raises $7.84 million in Series A Financing

San Francisco, CA, January 18, 2017 — Loose Tooth Industries Inc. (d/b/a “Fig”), the only crowdfunding platform and publisher that sells SEC-qualified shares tied to individual game projects, announced it has raised $7.84 million in Series A financing.

Spark Capital and Greycroft led the round, with participation from Resolute Ventures, NextView Ventures, and Draft Ventures. The investment will allow Fig to accelerate the number of innovative game projects made available to investors and backers on its unique crowdfunding platform, which lets fans support games through either rewards-based campaigns or by investing in shares tied to a game project securities, such as Fig Game Shares™.

“Fig is singular in video games in that it is the first to allow fan investors to participate in the upside of a video game’s financial performance,” said Spark Capital’s Nabeel Hyatt, who was also the lead investor of Cruise Automation (acquired by General Motors for $1 billion). “Investors on Fig don’t have to wait for a company to be sold before they can reap returns, an occurrence that is rare and can take 7 to 10 years.”

“Interactive Entertainment is a $100 billion-a-year industry¹ yet many talented, veteran teams are still constrained by lack of resources.” said Jon Goldman, Venture Partner of Greycroft and Partner at Skybound, the IP holders of The Walking Dead. “Fig provides a new avenue for funding that brings makers and players into an entirely new relationship, which should foster innovation and help this amazing creative industry grow even bigger.  

In 2016, Fig hosted four of the year’s 10 largest crowdfunded games including Psychonauts 2, Wasteland 3, Jay and Silent Bob: Chronic Blunt Punch, Consortium: The Tower, Kingdoms and Castles, Make Sail and Trackless. In 2016, Fig has a 78% campaign success rate that was twice the success rate² for all campaigns on a leading crowdfunding platform, and nearly five times the success rate³ for the video games category. Fig released an infographic detailing it’s 2016 year in review which can be foundhere.

“The opportunity for fans to invest in the games they believe in opens up an entirely new narrative in the evolution of crowdfunding,” said Fig CEO Justin Bailey. “Fans on our platform have already demonstrated that they’re willing to invest over 20 times more money per person for equity over rewards. This creates an avenue of funding for independent games that has never existed before. In addition, our model is allowing investors to reduce content risk by finding out if there’s sufficient market demand through fan funding prior to completing development.”

Fig CEO Justin Bailey added, “Looking forward, we’re exploring the possibility of amplifying the impact of fans even further by inviting institutional investors who have already expressed interest in our unique model to provide matching funds across our platform.”

With Fig Game Shares, non-accredited investors are able to participate in the potential success of a game. Fig Game Shares pay returns based on the sales revenue of a single game, so investors get paid when a game launches, rather than having to wait for an exit if and when that occurs, which is the case with other crowdfunding platforms supporting investments in game studios.

Founded in 2015, Fig strives to create an ecosystem where game development studios can stay independent, new talent can be discovered and profits can be shared with fans who invest. Development funds are raised in two ways on Fig.co’s platform. The first is through the developer’s rewards-based campaign. Secondly, Fig can offer securities, such as Fig Game Shares, that have returns tied to an individual game’s sales. On Fig, developers keep 100% of the rewards proceeds (minus credit card fees), and backers receive copies of the game, T-shirts or other items.

Bigben Interactive Acquires Test Drive Brand

Lesquin (France), December 14th, 2016 – Bigben Interactive has announced the acquisition of the rights to use and develop the TEST DRIVE brand from the Atari group and announces its project to develop new titles from the franchise Test Drive Unlimited. Atari retains all rights to sell all previously-released Test Drive games.

“We are more than confident with respect to the quality of this franchise, which is loved by so many players,” stated Alain Falc, CEO of Bigben Interactive. “Our teams are very enthusiastic at the idea of being able to work on this license, which has already proven its worth – the game Test Drive Unlimited 2 sold 1.8 million units,” he concluded.

The acquisition broadens Bigben’s catalogue, taking its place alongside such titles as WRC, TT Isle of Man, Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter, Outcast and 2Dark. It is a clear demonstration of Bigben’s desire to offer quality video games on all current platforms.

Annapurna Interactive Announced

(Los Angeles, CA) December 1, 2016 – Annapurna Pictures, the production company behind ZERO DARK THIRTY, HER, and SAUSAGE PARTY, has expanded its operations with the creation of Annapurna Interactive, a division entirely dedicated to producing and publishing video games. Annapurna Interactive will focus on developing personal, emotional, and original games that push the boundaries of interactive content and encourage artists to bring new visions to the medium.

Annapurna Interactive is set to publish two games targeting Spring 2017 release dates: Jason Roberts’ Gorogoa and Giant Sparrow’s What Remains of Edith Finch. Gorogoa, by Jason Roberts, is a beautifully hand-illustrated story suspended inside a puzzle with a unique mechanic where the player moves panels on a grid as though arranging framed drawings on a wall. What Remains of Edith Finch, developed by Giant Sparrow, is a playable collection of short stories, each with different art styles and gameplay mechanics centered around the cursed Finch family.

As part of its growing portfolio, Annapurna Interactive will also release games from highly regarded industry talents, including San Francisco-based developer Funomena and Creative Director Keita Takahashi, creator of the Katamari Damacy franchise, and Mountains, which is led by Ken Wong, best known for his work on Monument Valley.

The new publisher will be run by a team of game veterans whose credits include Journey, God of War, Mortal Kombat, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, Flower, and Fat Princess.

“I’ve had a great passion for video games for as long as I can remember. Growing up, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was one of my all-time favorites. My brother and I ran up quite a bill calling the 1-900 numbers for tips on those games, before the internet provided game-guides. The artistry and diversity of interactive storytelling is exciting and we look forward to exploring the limitless possibilities in gaming. We want to empower artists across this medium to make Annapurna Interactive their home and I believe we’ve assembled the perfect team to make that happen,” said Annapurna’s founder and CEO, Megan Ellison.

The Annapurna Interactive team added, “We believe video games have a powerful ability to stir emotion. We are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with the artists who inspire us in order to bring memorable experiences to all players, whether experienced or first-time gamers.”

Annapurna Interactive is located on the company’s campus in West Hollywood.

To learn more about Annapurna Interactive and to stay up to date on its upcoming releases, please visit annapurnainteractive.com.