Ubisoft Recruiting for AAA VR Title; Current-Gen Console Sales Declining at Faster Rate

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TheGamingEconomy’s Daily Digest brings you the prevalent business stories in gaming. In today’s news: Ubisoft recruiting for AAA VR title; current-gen console sales declining at faster rate; and ByteDance appoints head of gaming.

Ubisoft recruiting for AAA VR title

Ubisoft Blue Byte GmbH is hiring for a series of roles to work on a AAA VR project, which will be based upon one of the publisher's "greatest IPs". While Ubisoft Blue Byte is best known for developing titles based on the Anno and The Settlers franchises, the development for the unannounced project will take place across multiple Ubisoft studios, indicating the title could be based upon IP such as Assassins Creed, Far Cry, Splinter Cell, or Watch Dogs. The advertised positions include both creative roles, such as character artists and narrative designers, along with more technical design roles such as level designers.

As the advertisements state that the roles are for an "unannounced" project, it is unlikely that the recruited individuals will be working on the recently announced Prince of Persia: The Dagger of Time VR escape room title, which is due to launch in physical out-of-home locations in Spring.

Meanwhile, ahead of the launch of its own VR title based on a flagship franchise, Valve is continuing to see retail stock shortages of its Index headset, prior to the debut of Half-Life: Alyx on March 23rd. Following shortages reported last month, the device remains sold out in 30 out of 31 markets according to observations by Road to VR, with limited availability recorded only in Japan.

Current-gen console sales declining at faster rate

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US hardware spending on the current generation PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles declined by 35% in January 2020 according to figures released by NPD Group, a markedly steeper decrease than that observed in January 2013, when the previous-generation PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles were at a similar point in the end of their lifecycles. Sales in the Nintendo Switch, which debuted more than three years after the Microsoft and Sony devices, remained steady.

The sharper decline in console sales has been attributed to a number of factors by Niko Partners senior analyst Daniel Ahmad, including the early announcements of the consoles relative to the previous generation, and the confirmation that both devices would confer backwards compatibility with previous titles. The delay to several titles in recent months, including Watch Dogs: Legion (Ubisoft), Cyperpunk 2077 (CD Projekt Red), and The Last of Us Part II (Sony Interactive Entertainment), has also been cited as a reason for the drop-off in console sales.

ByteDance appoints head of gaming

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ByteDance has is set to announce the appointment of Yan Shou, current vice president of strategy and investment, to exclusively lead its nascent gaming division, according to anonymous sources speaking to Reuters. As previously reported in TheGamingEconomy, ByteDance has already amassed over 1000 employees for the division, as well as acquiring studios such as Shanghai Mokun Digital Technology and Levelup.ai, as it bids to wrest market share from rival Chinese tech giant Tencent.

While ByteDance is yet to launch a AAA mobile title, with two such games mooted to debut in Spring 2020, the Beijing-based firm has already seen significant success with ad-supported free-to-play games, having published three out of the five top-performing games in the category in terms of player numbers on day one of the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, according to data from Qimai Data and TF Securities (via Abacus News). ByteDance's effective use of rewarded video ad units, as well as the ability to heavily promote its titles through its Douyin (social video) and Toutiao (news aggregation) platforms have been cited as contributory factors to its early success.