Video Games Weekly Chronicle – Team17 find its CEO

Team17 announced the appointment of Steve Bell, co-founder/CEO of global marketing agency Iris, as CEO. He will work closely with Debbie until the end of the year before taking charge in January. We believe his innovative marketing knowhow plus global M&A ambitions will launch Team17 to the next level. Devolver Digital’s marketing team showed off its sense of humour last night with this parody video highlighting its views on the limitations of the upcoming GenAI revolution – alongside previewing upcoming release such as Human Fall Flat 2. We also remind readers Frontier Dev will be releasing its FY23 trading update next week, so keep an eye out for commentary on the future of its Frontier Foundry label and the Group's upcoming releases including Age of Sigmar.

Hopping across the pond, this week exemplified again that when Apple does something, it tends to do it right. Its latest, cutting-edge product is an augmented reality (AR) headset complete with a similarly mind-blowing price tag of US$3.5K (c.7x the cost of Meta’s upcoming next-gen device: Quest 3). Whilst disclosure of what video games content will be available is limited so far (though Apple Arcade will be available), Unity has launched its beta program to create spatial experiences for Apple’s vision OS platform.

Finally, the good news we didn’t know the gaming industry needed: Coke has partnered with Epic Games to create a fizzy drink specifically targeted at gamers. At the very least it shows the commercial firepower of the gaming industry is being more broadly accepted.


News this week

Apple unveils AR headset

This week Apple revealed its augmented reality (AR) headset, Apple Vision Pro. Costing a cool US$3.5K Apple is targeting the very top end of the market, but how did the product fare when people tried it out? It’s worth noting that Apple has filed c.5,000 patents over the past few years as they left no stone unturned in this venture into a new market. Typically, as with most Apple products, people agreed its fundamentals were very good. The screen produced a fantastically high resolution image, video passthrough worked perfectly, the eye tracking for navigation functioned perfectly. Even the head strap was relatively comfy. However, some criticised the external battery (removed from the headset to make it more wearable) and many found the avatar the product creates of you (for use on live streaming calls) unhumanlike and off-putting. The broader questions were also asked about the point of the product, with some suggesting product specific apps, that really make use of all its features, would be required to make the experience worth the price tag. Others questioned whether it marked the end of group experiences, and one has to question the use of the clip Apple used to demonstrate its 3D camera in the release video. It showed a father in a park taking a 3D video of his children playing - but who in their right mind would wear an enormous headset when popping out to the park especially given it only has a 2 hour battery life? It’s an unwieldy and expensive camera to carry round the whole time. But Apple stressed this was a prototype, and it was definitely impressive, so watch this space. Source:


The PIF revolution is in full swing

This week, Saudi Arabia’s public investment fund (PIF) effectively bought the sport of golf through its controversial agreement with the PGA, alongside signing Real Madrid forward Karin Benzema for one of its Saudi football teams for an eye-watering £86m a year. However, it is not just sport that this seeming bottomless pot of money is targeting. The fund has purchased stakes in Capcom, Nexon, Activision Blizzard, Take-Two Interactive, Electronic Arts, and Nintendo, increasing its stake in the latter two to 9% and 8%, respectively during this year. Its subsidiary, Savvy Games Group (SGG), has a war chest of US$38bn to build Saudi’s presences in the gaming market. In addition to this war chest, since its formation in November 2021, SGG has already spent US$1bn purchasing a stake in Embracer Group and completed the US$4.9bn purchase of Scopely, whilst also building its presence in the fast growing e-sports market. This comes as Saudi seeks to diversify its economy with the aim of creating 250 games and esports companies, along with 39,000 jobs, by 2030. Demographically, those in charge believe this market is a good fit for Saudi, with 70% of the country under the age of 35 and 68% identifying as gamers. Encouraging the global firms to take the Saudi domestic market is high on the agenda, and being the second fastest growing market in the space indicates that they will do in the near future. One thing is for sure, when the PIF targets a market, money talks, and they usually have a significant impact. Source:


Diablo 4 sells well but fans annoyed by its low value for money

Diablo 4 became Blizzard Entertainment’s fastest selling game by reaching over 3.7m units sold. Whilst the game proved a hit with critics, scoring an average of 88 across PC and consoles, user reviews are significantly lower, averaging 5.3 across the two platforms. Interestingly, many players quoted that despite the US$60 price tag for the base game they were still expected to fork out significant amounts of cash in in-game purchases to access some exclusive content. Many others also felt the gameplay wasn't that different from Diablo 3. It hit upon a key trend in the industry where more expensive titles are increasingly expected to exceed expectations in order to justify the extra cost. It is this drive for differentiation that has caused so many to be repeatedly delayed as production of higher quantity and higher quality material takes significantly longer to produce - hence the strength of video game services partner KWS in recent years. Source:


In other news...

  • Microsoft fined US$20m for violating children’s online privacy law
  • China’s games market reaches US$45bn
  • Oasys announces blockchain hackathon for gamers in Tokyo
  • Square Enix, final fantasy developer, getting a new boss as CEO steps down
  • Legend of Zelda is May’s #1 game, selling over 10m copies globally
  • New Prince of Persia game announced by Ubisoft
  • Twitch rolls back ad guidelines after streamers revolt