Oct 21, 2021

Axios Gaming

Hi, everyone. Stephen Totilo here.

If you subscribe to a certain other Axios newsletter, you know that Kendall Baker always writes "Let's sports" in his intros. Should we try ... Let's game? (Hmmm. Maybe not ... )

Today's edition is 1,123 words, a 4-minute read.

1 big thing: Left out of the credits

"Metroid Dread." Screenshot: Nintendo

Video game developer Roberto Mejías created some of the visuals that players see in Nintendo’s new hit Switch game “Metroid Dread,” but, to his frustration, his name does not appear in its credits.

Why it matters: Video game credits are inconsistent across the industry and are often complicated by the policies and politics of the studios and publishers that create them.

  • That’s been an issue around many major releases, including “Dread,” following a report by the Spanish-language outlet Vandal about crediting complaints from three developers who helped make the game at Spanish studio MercurySteam.

“What I know is that I worked really hard for those eight months and my work is there,” Mejías told Axios. “It's as simple as that.”

  • He first raised the issue publicly last week on his LinkedIn, in which he congratulated his former colleagues for their game.
  • But, he added, “I would like to ask MercurySteam: Why do I not appear on the game's credits? Is it some kind of mistake?”

What they’re saying: MercurySteam did not reply to requests for comment from Axios but told Vandal that the company’s policy is to credit developers who worked on the game for at least 25% of the time, though it could make exceptions.

  • Mejías worked at the studio for eight months, but the game was in development for 3+ years.

Mejías said he took a 30% pay cut to work at MercurySteam back in 2019, hoping the prestige — including an in-game credit — would compensate.

  • He didn’t even know he wasn’t listed in “Dread” after he started playing, because the credits don’t roll until the player beats the challenging game 10 or so hours later.
  • But a friend raced through it in a weekend and contacted him. “She told me, ‘You are not there. ... What's going on?’”

The big picture: For years, developers in this largely nonunionized field have complained of being omitted from the credits for games they’ve worked on.

  • Studios often cite tenure policies, saying developers need to have worked on the project for a specific amount of time or been there when the game ships.
  • Beyond whether developers are listed in credits, there are issues with job titles or even when and how the credits in a game roll.

What’s next: Mejías can’t point to what he worked on, because an NDA prohibits him from identifying his exact work in the game — another common industry practice.

  • But he trusts that future employers will believe him, even though, without the credit, he doesn’t have the proof he felt he’d earned.
2. "New World" money woes

Image courtesy of Amazon Game Studios

Consumers are grappling with inflation in this world. But in another world, it's deflation, Axios Closer's Courtenay Brown writes.

Driving the news: Amazon's massively multiplayer online game "New World" — recently out after a slew of delays — is dealing with a crisis in its player-driven economy, PlayerAuctions reports.

  • It comes down to this: The way players can get paid — completing quests, for instance — aren't offering enough coin to keep up with how much "New World" money is leaving circulation.
  • The result: Money is scarce, so its value is skyrocketing. Now players are opting to barter for goods rather than spend their oh-so-rare coins.

Prices for goods are plummeting, sparking fears that players won't be able to profit from their (now super cheap) produced goods.

The bottom line: It's killing the fantasy economy and may turn players off the game entirely.

  • There's no central bank to intervene, but game developers could step in.

Note from Stephen: The deflation troubles are impacting a game that is otherwise overperforming.

  • One measure of that: It was the 10th most-watched game on Twitch in September, despite launching on the 28th, and remains in the top 10 two weeks since launch, according to tracking service Stream Elements.
3. New studio round-up

Among the many indicators that gaming is booming, there's a plethora of new game studios. Recent notables include:

4. Need to know

🧙‍♀️ The most successful game launch in China this year has come from NetEase’s “Harry Potter: Magic Awakened,” a mix of role-playing game and card collecting that includes its own in-game social network, the analysts at Niko Partners explain.

⚠️ EA has published a 3,720-word breakdown about the recently completed “Battlefield 2042,” beta, saying it was based on a build from August and explaining how the launch version in November will differ. The beta had received a mixed reaction, with some players calling for another delay.

🎮 Game tech company and Epic rival Unity is releasing a suite of tools called “Unity Gaming Services,” designed to help mid-sized and indie developers manage content and services for their game well past release date with the kind of post-release support that’s in vogue at big-budget game publishers.

💰 Nvidia is offering a higher-spec version of its GeForce Now streaming service, betting customers will pay $100 for a six-month sub of games being streamed from servers using top-end RTX 3080 graphics cards.

5. Worthy of your attention

"Despite Filing Harassment Reports, Employees Say Ubisoft Isn't Doing Much" [Ethan Gach, Kotaku]

“I suddenly began to understand the response some veteran Ubisoft devs gave me when I tried to recruit them to come forward [about similar issues],” they told Kotaku. “It was always some variation of, ‘Same thing happens every few years, I’ve reported X number of things, with witnesses and proof and either nothing was done or person X was promoted or moved.’ It’s sad, and if it’s an intentional way of burying this stuff, it’s working.”
6. Video game vs. movie trailer

"Uncharted 3," PS4 video game:

Screenshot: Sony Interactive Entertainment

"Uncharted," movie trailer released today:

Screenshot: Sony Pictures

(Comparison inspired by VGC.)

7. Follow-up: "Squid Game" x Roblox

Roblox search results for "Squid Game," as of yesterday. Screenshot: Axios

A Netflix exec says he welcomes the scores of fan-made games about the hit "Squid Game" that are proliferating on Roblox, games noted by Megan last week.

  • "I think that's great, and I think that we should celebrate that fandom and that excitement as well," COO Greg Peters said in an investor update this week.

Why it matters: Roblox users can make anything, perpetually testing what the platform holder will allow — or what Roblox, reliant on users being excited by each others' creations, would willingly jettison.

  • Roblox policy bars users from making games or experiences that infringe on others' intellectual property and threatens to remove them if the IP holder complains.
  • Doesn't sound likely here.

🎁 Like the newsletter? Refer Axios Gaming to your friends to spread the word and get free stuff in the process. Follow the link here to begin.

🐦 Find us on Twitter: @megan_nicolett / @stephentotilo.

Let's ... interactive entertainment?

Editor's note: Yesterday's newsletter was corrected to show the size and weight of the regular-sized promotional fridge, not the mini-fridge.