TheGamingEconomy’s Daily Digest brings you the prevalent business stories in gaming. In today’s news: Apple terminating Arcade games for retention; PlayBrain raises USD$6m (£5m); and Mountaintop Studios formed.
Apple terminating Arcade games for retention
Apple Inc. is reportedly cancelling development contracts with partners for its Apple Arcade service as it seeks to improve customer retention on the fledgling platform. According to anonymous sources speaking to Bloomberg, Apple has been informing developers of certain in-production titles that their new titles lacked sufficient engagement, and is attempting to address the drop-off of users once their free trial period expires. While Apple has paid affected studios for development milestones reached, the cancellation of contracts during the Covid-19 pandemic has reportedly left some of these developers in financially precarious situations.
In a statement, an Apple spokesperson replied, "Apple Arcade has redefined what a gaming service can be, putting unlimited play at the fingertips of subscribers and their families across all their Apple devices. We are proud to have launched the first-ever mobile game subscription service that now features more than 120 games, many of which are award-winning and widely celebrated for their artistry and gameplay. The vision has always been to grow and evolve the Apple Arcade catalog, and we can’t wait for our users to try the games developers are working on now."
PlayBrain raises USD$6m (£5m)
Japan-based esports content provider PlayBrain has announced that it has raised USD$6m (£5m) in Series A funding, including participation from previous investor Bitkraft Esports Ventures. The financing will be used for expansion into further esports titles and to further commercialisation of the League of Legends Japan League (LJL), jointly run by Playbrain in partnership with Riot Games and Yoshimoto Creative Agency Co. Ltd. The Tokyo-based firm has also revealed that it has appointed Buddy Marini (Founder & CEO of Mangamo, formerly Supercell Japan and Hulu Japan) as a member of its advisory board.
Commenting on the funding, PlayBrain Founder Mike Sheetal said, "PlayBrain helps global games and brands reach Japanese audiences by producing market-leading esports events and by creating our own portfolio of major esports platforms and formats, tailored to the Japanese market. Although the Japanese esports market had a late start in comparison to the rest of the world, the esports market in Japan is expected to grow 250% over the next four years. We are proud to play an integral role in establishing and building the esports market in Japan and helping it gain more ground in the global esports industry.”
Mountaintop Studios formed
Nate Mitchell, Co-Founder of Oculus, has announced the launch of a new US-located development house dubbed Mountaintop Studios. The nascent outfit will primarily operate on a remote-first basis and aims to foster an inclusive and anti-crunch culture, with plans to expand to a "mid-sized" studio in due course. The founding team of Mountaintop includes Matt Hansen (former COO of Double Fine); Rich Lyons (Naughty Dog, Vigil); and Mark Terrano (former Creative Director at Oculus and lead designer of Age of Empires II). The studio has not disclosed details of its debut title as yet, though the blog post announcing the formation of the outfit suggests it will incorporate both single- and multi-player elements.
Mitchell commented on the studio's opening, "Games are a reflection of the teams that make them. So to make the best games, we’re building a studio that puts the team first — one that’s collaborative, anti-crunch, diverse, and inclusive."