business news Call of Duty, Ubisoft x Tencent, CD Projekt… the business news of the week
Sales figures, studio buyouts, financial statements, developer transfer window, investments… if these topics interest you, you’ve come to the right place. We offer you an update on the business news of the past week.
- Ubisoft: the Guillemot family is getting 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
- Briefly in the business news of the week
Ubisoft: the Guillemot family is getting 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 euros and remains a minority (49.99%), which means 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 the Ubisoft press release.
Thanks to this agreement, Tencent will however 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 before five years and above all from increasing its stake in Ubisoft beyond 9.99% before eight years. And in the event of the sale of Ubisoft shares of Tencent, the Guillemot family will benefit from a priority right.
Tencent therefore seems to be for 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 from a hostile operation. The “enlarged concert” formed by the Guillemots and the Chinese group now has 19.8% of the capital and 24.9% of the voting rights. He may also “increase its stake 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 it with essential stability for its long-term development”summarized Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft.
Call of Duty on PlayStation: Sony considers Microsoft’s promise “inadequate”
Since the announcement of the takeover of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft in January, the maintenance of the Call of Duty franchise on the rival platforms of Xbox – and more particularly PlayStation – is a recurring subject. After making various more or less vague statements on the subject, Phil Spencer, boss of Xbox, revealed this last week:
In January, we provided a signed agreement to Sony to guarantee Call of Duty on PlayStation with feature and content parity for at least several more years beyond Sony’s current contract, an offer that goes far beyond the agreements typical of the gaming industry. Phil Spencer, CEO of Xbox.
For Jim Ryan, CEO of PlayStation, this promise is not enough according to comments relayed by Gamesindustry :
I had no intention of commenting on what I thought was a private matter, but I felt the need to set the record straight as 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 almost twenty years of release of the franchise on PlayStation, their proposal seems inadequate to us on many levels and does not satisfy the consideration of the interest of our players. 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 must still obtain the green light from the competition authorities before being finalized, which should happen by June 2023 according to Microsoft. Last week, the British Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) expressed its concerns and announced the opening of an in-depth investigation.
The Call of Duty franchise had exceeded 400 million games sold in the spring of 2021. Now counting on the very lucrative free-to-play Call of Duty Warzone, which will itself be available on mobile, it calls on 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 from the Polish firm, 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 satisfying sales figures”, can we read. On the finance side, turnover for this first half amounted to 80.2 million euros, down 20% compared to the same period a year earlier. In contrast, net profit is up 8% and reaches 24 million eurospartly thanks to lower operating costs.
As announced last year, CD Projekt is working on two AAA productions simultaneously, including the upcoming The Witcher, currently in pre-production with Unreal Engine 5, which will mark the start of a whole new saga in the franchise.. In other words, the studio is already starting to think about several new adventures in the world of witchers. But for now, as you can see from the infographic opposite, the project that occupies the majority of developers is the extension of Cyberpunk 2077, named Phantom Liberty and planned for 2023 on PC, PS5 and Xbox Series. Acquired in October 2021, The Molasses Flood studio 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 entrusted to the Saber Interactive teams before being taken over internally 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 dating from April.
Briefly in the business news of the week
- 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 will not 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 uchronic FPS Atomic Heart. The game will therefore be published by Focus and will be released next winter on PC and consoles.
- Following its acquisition by Embracer Group, the Crystal Dynamics studio has announcement having fully recovered the rights to several licenses such as Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain, previously held by Square Enix. Same thing for the Eidos Montreal studio and the Deus Ex and Thief franchises.
- EA announced the departure of Lars Gustavsson, creative director of the Battlefield license who has been at DICE for 22 years. At the same time, the American firm revealed that the name of the team led by Marcus Lehto (artistic director of the first three Halos) is Ridgeline Games. This studio founded a few months ago is working on a new Battlefield narrative experiencewhich will not be part of Battlefield 2042.