Gearbox, Unity, and Fortnite Highlight Week of Business Drama

Gearbox, Unity, and Fortnite Highlight Week of Business Drama

THIS WEEK IN THE BUSINESS | Last week's chaos spills into this week as Improbable and Unity resolve their dispute, Gearbox enters legal battle with former lawyer, and more Fortnite dance lawsuits emerge.

This Week in Business is a collection of stats and quotes from our sister site that sheds light on console sales, new trends, and more. Check back every Friday for a new entry!

After a flurry of activity last week that saw an ongoing conflict emerge between Improbable and Unity, their troubles seemed to settle only for new ones to awaken in various other corners of the industry—Gearbox in particular. There's been an awful lot of back-and-forth this week between various industry figures accusing, clarifying, and responding to things like lawsuits, misconstrued statements, or actual scandals.

In their midst, though, we have success stories from Fortnite, Nintendo, IO Interactive, and Nomada Studios that include both positive reflections on recent releases and optimistic future endeavors. It can't all be bad, after all!

STAT | $2.4 billion – The amount of digital revenue Fortnite earned in 2018. According to SuperData, it's "the most annual revenue of any game in history."

QUOTE | "We compete with (and lose to) Fortnite more than HBO." – In a letter alongside its Q4 financial results, Netflix said that competition for "consumer screen time" plays out across both mobile and television and across a wide variety of companies and services.

STAT | 5 million – The number of copies that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sold globally in its first week, according to Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa. Furukawa added that Nintendo Switch software sales so far are the fastest software sales for a home console in Nintendo's history.

QUOTE | "We have created, and will continue to create our own services. We will integrate our own services, but we will not block developers from using competitive third-party services." – Unity CTO Joachim Ante outlines in a blog post that the company will reinstate Improbable's license to use the Unity engine for SpatialOS after a tense back-and-forth last week, but also says Unity "does not consider them a partner."

QUOTE | "The attacks made by my former friend and colleague have no basis in reality or law. He is simply trying to shake me down for money. We will win, but because lawsuits are pending I can't comment as much as I'd like." - Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford's response to the public revelations of a lawsuit filed against him by former Gearbox lawyer Wade Callender alleging fraud, contract violations, and inappropriate conduct. This lawsuit followed a different lawsuit filed against Callender by Gearbox in November, also for fraud.

QUOTE | "During my employment with the Respondent [Gearbox Software], I have been subjected to unfair standards and expectations based on my religion. Mr. Randy Pitchford (President & CEO) would constantly harass me based on my religious beliefs." A harassment claim filed in Texas from Wade Callender alleges that Randy Pitchford discriminated against him due to his religion. The report was filed ten days before Gearbox filed the lawsuit mentioned above.

QUOTE | "Like selling a cheap knockoff, Defendants sold the Random dance in-game and simply renamed it to 'Orange Justice.' However, the Orange Justice and the Random are one and the same." – Rachel McCumbers, mother of the "Orange Shirt Kid" whose dancing video went viral with a petition to put it in Fortnite, claims that Epic Games profited off her son's creative expression and likeness without consent in a lawsuit against the company.

QUOTE | "Right now a significant part of marketing budgets of big games is allocated to pay influencers. Those are one-off deals. I think having a way for influencers to be able to stream any game and make money without relying solely on big publishers would be awesome." Epic Games director of publishing Sergey Galyonkin clarifies several ideas the company is pursuing for the Epic Games store, including new ways to partner influencers with developers.

IO Interactive opened up a new studio in Malmö, Sweden. | IO Interactive/Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment

QUOTE | "Sometimes you need to put in long hours…But that can't be the de facto way of working. We're in a creative business and I just can't believe that people would come up with creative ideas if they're really, really tired or at risk of being burned out." – Supercell CEO Ilkka Paananen acknowledges that self-inflicted crunch may occur at his studio, but says the company's team-led structure means the mandate never comes from the top.

QUOTE | "This will expand our muscles for creating brand new and exciting endeavours, new universes, new franchises. In other words, IOI Malmö and Copenhagen are one family." - IO Interactive CEO Hakan Abrak describes the plan for the new studio the company has just opened in Malmö, Sweden, including hinting at possible new projects beyond Hitman.

QUOTE | "Conrad is an artist. He doesn't know how to code. We're programmers. We don't know anything about art. It was a good match." - At the Fun & Serious Festival, Nomada Studio co-founder Roger Mendoza tells the story of the unlikely encounter that led to programmer Adrián Cuevas, Barcelona artist Conrad Rosset, and himself partnering to create Gris.

QUOTE | "Player experience first; Dare to dream; Thrive together; Execute with excellence; Stay hungry, stay humble." - After a Kotaku report last year revealed a pervasive culture of sexism and toxicity at Riot Games, the company announced this week that it would be updating its company values to these five items.

STAT | $8.9 billion – The estimated worth of Kim Jung-ju's majority stake in Nexon, which is now up for sale. Tencent, EA, Activision, and Disney have been indicated as interested parties in the Korean publisher of MapleStory.

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.

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