The Video Game Industry Hits a Breaking Point

The Video Game Industry Hits a Breaking Point

THIS WEEK IN BUSINESS | Big game companies across the industry finally started using their voices to say something this week.

The events of the past week have been shocking, painful, and to far too many people, eye-opening.

In many ways, it feels like the industry hit a tipping point. After years of doing its best to avoid "politics," to never say anything that could rub any potential customer the wrong way, the games industry collectively decided it was seeing something so unquestionably reprehensible that to remain silent was to be complicit.

Or maybe they just decided remaining silent was bad PR.

Regardless, the business of games suddenly didn't seem so important this week, or even appropriate. Sony pushed back its PS5 software showcase. EA postponed the Madden NFL 21 reveal. Fortnite and Call of Duty updates were moved.

Those things will all happen in time, of course, long before the fight that Black Lives Matter represents is won. So while we can hope that the police brutality we've all seen this past week comes to a quick end, we should also hope the support this industry has shown to the movement lasts much longer.

QUOTE | "Black Lives Matter" - Sony, Riot Games, Ubisoft, Activision Blizzard, Naughty Dog, and more. Microsoft, Nintendo of America, Epic Games, and pretty much everyone else said something, too, even if they didn't use those exact words.

QUOTE | "..." - Valve Software, operator of Steam and one of the biggest and most prominent and influential companies in the industry, saying absolutely nothing this week because it would happily support and profit off any kind of content it is allowed to, no matter how racist or vile.

QUOTE | "Toxic behaviours, abusive language, inappropriate emblems, I don't want that around. So for our community, Sledgehammer Games and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare we have pretty low tolerance for toxic behaviour." - Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare director Michael Condrey, in November of 2014, talking about how committed Activision Blizzard is to keeping Call of Duty's community a positive place.

QUOTE | "There is no place for racist content in our game. This is an effort we began at launch and we need to do a better job." - Call of Duty: Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward this week explains that it will add a filter presumably so that people can no longer use the N-word and other slurs in their user names. The studio said it was been banning thousands of people a day for racist and hateful names.

QUOTE | "Kotick's apparent failure to achieve more than half of the targeted performance strongly suggests that Activision Blizzard's skewed approach to human capital management—lavishing multi-million dollar rewards on the CEO as employees face layoffs—needs to be addressed before it manifests in deeper operational problems." - CtW Investment Group has urged its fellow Activision Blizzard shareholders to vote against renewing the compensation plan for CEO Bobby Kotick, who has received almost $100 million in stock options and equity since 2016 and receives more than 300 times the compensation of a typical Activision Blizzard employee.

QUOTE | "This was an incredibly difficult decision for us to make, but it became necessary when we felt business circumstances might compromise the development, execution and integrity of the game. To that end, we encourage you to apply for a position with us." - Michael Cook from Take-Two's Private Division explains in a message to employees of Kerbal Space Program 2 developer Star Theory that it is cancelling the project (which would doom the independent studio) but wants to hire the individual developers to make Kerbal Space Program 2 as part of a new Take-Two-owned studio.

STAT | 4 - The number of games on each model of Sega's new Game Gear Micro retro handheld. There will be four different colors of the handheld in Japan, each with its own selection of games, and preordering all four will allow you to buy a magnifying attachment to more easily see the screen.

QUOTE | "What we're looking for is complementary titles, to build the portfolio with things that perhaps [are] new to Konami—Western titles for Western audiences." - Konami senior European brand and business development manager Richard Jones explains the strategy behind titles like Skelattack.

QUOTE | "We're trying to be the organic, ethical sausage makers." - Saleem Dabbous, co-founder of the coincidentally named worker co-op KO_OP Mode, after being asked if any of his publishing partners care how the sausage is made or if they just care that the games get done.

STAT | 25% - Percentage of women who play more than 30 minutes of games a week who would consider themselves a gamer. For men, the number was 55%.

QUOTE | "An organization of our size has different needs, and we must ensure that our employees continue to feel valued and empowered to shape our company, even as our structure shifts towards larger teams and projects." - Paradox Interactive chief human resources officer Marina Hedman announces that the company has signed collective bargaining agreements with a pair of Swedish labor unions.

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Brendan Sinclair

North American Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry International in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at CBS-owned GameSpot in the US.

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