The Gaming Economy’s Daily Digest brings you the prevalent business stories in gaming. In today’s news: Ragnarok accuses Bethesda and ZeniMax of complicity in allegedly sabotaging Rune 2; streaming network Venn raises $26m in series A funding; and Ghost Gaming is set to move to Atlanta after being acquired by a group of investors.
ZeniMax, Bethesda, and Roundhouse brought into Rune 2 lawsuit
Ragnarok, the publisher behind Rune 2, has accused ZeniMax Media, Bethesda Softworks, and Roundhouse Studios of deliberately sabotaging the aforementioned title and another game it had contracted Human Head to develop. The aggrieved studio has now added the companies to its pre-existing lawsuit against key former members of Human Head, which it filed in December last year.
The original lawsuit accused Human Head and 3 of its co-founders for breach of contract and fraud after the studio ceased operations a day after launching Rune 2, only to reform as a new, Bethesda-owned studio named “Roundhouse” just days later. Ragnarok also claimed that ZeniMax, which was acquired by Microsoft last month, had created the Roundhouse subsidiary 2 weeks prior to the launch of Rune 2, with the media company acquiring the studio’s assets, including material containing the source code for Rune 2 and Oblivion Song, the second game Human Head had agreed to develop for Ragnarok.
“In an act of utter bad faith and contractual breach of confidentiality requirements, Human Head secretly provided Bethesda and ZeniMax with 'keys' that permitted it to play a confidential, pre-release version of Rune 2. This enabled Bethesda and ZeniMax to see for themselves the threat that Rune 2 posed to their hit franchise, Skyrim/Elder Scrolls,” read a statement from Ragnarok.
Venn raises $26m for streaming TV network
Venn, a streaming network dedicated entirely to shows about gaming and culture, has raised USD $26m (£19.8m) in a series A funding round. The round, which was led by seed investor Bitkraft and new investor Nexstar Media Group, brings the company’s total funding to USD $43m (£32.8m).
Contributions also came from fellow seed-round investors Eldridge, Alumni Ventures Group, Wise Venture, and businessman Josh Kroenke. However, the addition of Nexstar is the most significant development from the round – as the largest owner of TV stations in the US, investment from Nexstar could boost Venn towards its ambitions to break into TV.
The network, which launched in August, has also bolstered its leadership team. A notable addition includes the appointment of MTV and Viacom alum Jeff Jacobs as executive vice president and general manager. Jacobs’ experience in content development, having worked as vice president in charge of production at MTV, is expected to help the Venn enhance and expand its current programs.
Ghost Gaming acquired by Atlanta-based investors collective
California-based Ghost Gaming has been bought by a group of investors based in Atlanta, Georgia. The collective, led by Andrew Steinberg, managing partner of Phoenix Capital Ventures, and Todd Harris, CEO of Skillshot Media and co-founder of Hi-Rez Studio, plans to move the prominent gaming brand to Alpharetta, a northern suburb of the Atlanta metropolitan area.
Launched in 2017, Ghost Gaming is well-known for its throng of professional esports players across a number of games, including Fortnite, Rocket League, and Smite, which is based in Atlanta. Steinberg, who previously served as chief revenue officer for the city’s NFL team, Atlanta Hawks, will combine his experience in traditional sports with Harris’ expertise on the gaming industry.
The financial details of the deal remain undisclosed, but Harris revealed that around 15 of Ghost Gaming’s players and staff members will stay onboard, with a further 10 roles to be added over the next 2 years.
For Steinberg, the deal is a step towards developing the culture of gaming as a lifestyle. He said “we really want to grow it as a culture and lifestyle brand around gaming, […] I think of Atlanta as the centre of culture, with hip-hop being the most prominent example, and we want Ghost to help make Atlanta the centre of gaming culture as well.”