Hi Everyone. We just launched a massive report with Delphi Digital (and sponsored by Immutable) titled The Great Reset: Your 2023 Guide to Web3 Games. We dig into 2022’s most notable milestones, why (and how) the industry needs to reset, examine the most important sub-trends (like games, infrastructure, guilds, regulations, etc.), and discuss the path forward — including top opportunities and risks. We also include inputs and quotes from industry leaders like Ryan Wyatt (CEO of Polygon Studios), Robbie Ferguson (CEO of Immutable), Amy Madison (legal expert & investor at DIGITAL), Dean Takahashi (the prolific GamesBeat reporter), and more! We’ll share more about the report further down in today’s issue, but you can also check it out right here.

Understanding Web3 Player Behavior 

Minecraft Podcast

What makes web3 players different from web2 players? Why is it so hard to get actionable insights in web3? How can you combine on-chain and off-chain data? 

To answer these questions, and many more, your host Niko Vuori is joined by Nathan Snell, founder of web3 data analytics company Raleon, who brings a wealth of experience to the key question: “how can I understand my web3 player behavior better”? 

You can find us on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, YouTube, our website, or anywhere else you listen to podcasts. Also, remember to shoot us any questions here.

#1: Why Minecraft Won’t Reach Its Full Potential

Minecraft Skyblock
Source: YouTube

If there is one thing that Minecraft has proven, it's that you don't need high fidelity graphics to be the best selling game of all time. Rather, Minecraft attracts and retains players by giving them access to an endless stream of user generated content so there’s always something new to play or watch. In the early days, many people might create games for fun, but as many UGC platforms have evolved, the most talented creators and game developers stick around because they know they can make money. While Minecraft has shown consistent growth over its first 12 years — and so did the broader creator economy — there are signs that growth is reversing for the game.

In order to get a fuller picture of the state of Minecraft in 2023, we interviewed several of today's top Minecraft creators. In this article, we'll assess what has enabled Minecraft to become the second largest UGC games platform by creator earnings, but also why also why its brightest days might be in the past. 

Founding Story

The idea for Minecraft stems from when Swedish developer, Markus “Notch” Persson played the resource management and construction game, Dwarf Fortress, back in 2009 and was drawn to its minimalist aesthetic, its open ended gameplay, and its high regard in indie circles.

Minecraft Fortress
Dwarf Fortress looks like one of the first computer games ever made, but it came out in 2006 | Source: Dwarf Fortress

From the beginning, Minecraft was community-driven as Notch actively decided features based on players' feedback (e.g. in the first year after launch, he replied to every single email he got about the game). By 2010, he decided to found Mojang with fellow game designer Jakob Porser. Things accelerated quickly from there and by 2011 when Minecraft officially released, 16 million people had already downloaded the beta version and an additional 4 million purchased the full-version of the game. By the time Microsoft purchased Minecraft for $2.5 billion, Notch was ready to move on to other projects and step out of the limelight. Fast forward to today, Minecraft reports that there are over 238 million units sold, 140 million monthly active users (as of last year), and a reported $350 million in revenue earned by creators on Minecraft Marketplace. 

Current State of Minecraft

There are several Minecraft products, but the two notable ones with meaningful player bases are Minecraft Bedrock and Minecraft Java. Minecraft Java is the original game and only available on PC (Windows/MacOS/Linux), whereas Minecraft Bedrock was ported over from Minecraft Pocket Edition, the mobile version of the game. In addition to mobile, Bedrock is cross-platform on all consoles, PC and VR. As such, the breakdown of players of Bedrock to Java is roughly 9:1 according to a creator I spoke with. 

Additionally, Mojang occasionally launches Minecraft spinoffs such as the expected Minecraft Legends, a PvP action-strategy game, and Minecraft Earth (which was shut down) — but these are fully distinct games that simply leverage the Minecraft IP and don’t count towards Minecraft sales data. 

The latest numbers reported by Microsoft above are quite strong but they are from mid-2021. As the mobile revenue graphic below shows, a lot has changed since then.

Minecraft Graph
Source: Data.ai

Minecraft’s mobile revenue showed consistent growth from 2011 through 2020, before picking up considerable steam through the pandemic. However, revenue on mobile plummeted by 54% across March, April, May of last year, to below pre-pandemic levels. With that said, active users remained stable indicating that Minecraft had not lost players, simply their willingness to spend.

Minecraft Graph
Source: Data.ai

I looked across Roblox and TikTok data and saw similar drops in revenue around early 2022, suggesting that this is likely more to do with the declining economic environment impacting the young age demographic that is most drawn to these platforms. However, TikTok and Roblox rebounded, whereas Minecraft has not. 

While we don’t have revenue numbers for console and PC, we know these platforms make up a fair share of active users and revenue. Minecraft was the third most downloaded game on Playstation 4 in 2021, but slipped considerably late last year, likely due to competition from a strong AAA release slate to close out the year. Minecraft is also currently the sixth most downloaded game on Xbox and was the most downloaded game on Xbox Game Pass until the end of 2022. Given the lack of player data across other platforms, we can only speculate that other platforms (i.e., console and PC) that cater to an older demographic might be less impacted by the mobile trends witnessed here. Also missing from this iOS and Android data is the large audience that plays Minecraft in China (in partnership with NetEase), which reportedly surpassed 400 million players in 2020.

The data is limited, but the sheer magnitude of the drop in mobile revenue after what otherwise appeared to be consistent growth over the last decade is concerning. It’s not just because it signals waning interest from players, but also because the creator economy that provides the content for players is most sensitive to revenue declines such as this. In order to understand why Minecraft might be struggling while Roblox continues to show growth, we interviewed several Minecraft creators to see if this was a creator economy issue.

How Creators Make Money

Each section below represents a different segment of the Minecraft creator marketplace. Creators have a tendency to focus on one or two segments so we interviewed creators covering each segment. 

Minecraft Marketplace: On Microsoft Bedrock, this is the digital storefront where the majority of UGC content is sold across all of Minecraft. Creators must be approved in order to produce content packages that players can purchase using Minecoins. Any content package that is created is also heavily reviewed — this ensures that the package performs on all devices and is appropriate for kids, but the process takes months before publishing. 

According to Microsoft’s fact sheet from April 2021, Minecraft creators have cumulatively made $350 million from selling mods. As far as fees, after the 30% platform fee, Minecraft splits the rest 50/50 with the creators meaning that creators make about 35% of the total sales value. This also means that Marketplace had generated $1 billion in total sales value as of April 2021. 

Given that the Marketplace launched in 2017 and generated $1 million in its first two months (a modest amount), we can roughly estimate that the annual market size for creators on Marketplace was about $100- $150 million during the pandemic. One creator warned that since those 2021 reported numbers, they have seen a considerable decrease in revenue, though not as much as the mobile graph above suggests.

Private servers: Since the beginning, Minecraft servers have acted as the primary way to play multiplayer. Creators have used these servers to create entirely new Minecraft games or even platforms in the case of the largest Minecraft server, Hypixel. It’s hard to know how much money creators make on private servers, but one creator I spoke with reported $1 million off of 2000 concurrent users (CCUs).

Minecraft Breakdown
This is a breakdown of everything that goes into running a Minecraft server. As you can see, it’s not easy to get started | Source: Naavik

As far as profitability goes, an early Hypixel quote points to $100,000 in monthly costs for salaries, hardware, bandwidth, DDoS protection. At that time, they reported 16,000 CCUs, which would have been $8 million in revenue according to our estimate. That’s $8 million in revenue at a cost of $1.2 million–an 85% gross margin with $6.8 million in profit.

But that is the top performing server, and the next biggest one is 1/4th the size. When looking at the top charts for private servers, we can see that only five companies have 2000+ CCUs and another six have more than 1000 (note that the linked chart is not exhaustive, but includes most of the major servers).

Minecraft Playercount
Source: Grafana

Of course there can be a wide range of monetization tactics in these servers, but if we assume the same average, the TAM for Minecraft Java servers is conservatively $50 million. Thus, to anyone looking to start a Minecraft server business, I’d recommend thinking twice.

Client-side modifications (Mods): The most popular form of content is in the form of Mods, but these are exclusively done by hobbyists and there is very little monetization beyond having a Patreon account. Part of the reason why there is little monetization space is that mods are not easy to install. There is also an expectation from the community to get this content for free. For this reason, professional creators I spoke to generally avoided this segment. 

YouTube/TikTok videos: Minecraft and YouTube have been tied together at the hip since the beginning (Hypixel for example, started off as a YouTube channel making adventure maps). In 2021, Minecraft passed 1 trillion views on YouTube (check out this tribute for a bunch of interesting insights on the evolution as well as a genre breakdown over time). Not only is YouTube a key lever for marketing new content from creators, it’s also an opportunity for creators to make “commissions” by building maps for YouTubers, like PrestonPlayz.

Commissions: In addition to contracting for YouTubers, brands or non-profits will do activations in Minecraft. In the case of big brands, these contracts can be in the high six figures according to a creator I spoke with whereas the non-profits will be in the $50k-$100k range. Notably, Minecraft has done few brand activations relative to its Roblox and Fortnite peers. This is reportedly Minecraft’s choice.

Looking across all these prospective revenue streams, one of the creators I spoke with struggled to see opportunities for further growth. This could explain why Voldex, a studio with at one time multiple prominent Minecraft servers, is now exclusively focused on Roblox. Notably, Voldex just announced a funding round led by a16z to continue to invest and develop content on Roblox.

Minecraft’s Areas for Improvement

In my UGC Games Playbook, I discussed all the ways that UGC game platforms can continue grow, so let’s use that framework to assess where Minecraft needs to improve to grow their creator economy. 

Accessibility: When competing for creators, making tools more or less technical is a strategic trade off that platforms have to make, but Minecraft offers very little to even help creators get started. Creators are forced to piecemeal an assortment of hardware and software to get started. In the case of Bedrock, the application process that creators must go through in order to be approved is a major bottleneck. While this might mean that existing creators are more likely to stick around, I believe the lack of accessibility is to the detriment of Minecraft as fewer creators means less competition and less compelling content for players to play. 

Adding New Creator Tools: From what I have gathered, Minecraft does remarkably little to add tools that might increase monetization and attract new creators or developers to the platform. This isn’t necessarily the fault of Minecraft — according to one creator I spoke to, the community is sensitive to changes to the game, especially monetization. Minecraft Bedrock was created in part to segment core players from casual players and thereby enable Minecraft to be more intentional about building out its creator economy. It has been fairly successful in doing so; however, the waning mobile numbers suggest more investment is needed. 

Funding Tentpole Content: Minecraft’s original game has drawn hundreds of millions of players who would explore additional content created by the community despite a remarkably difficult user experience. To give an example, the user flow journey below shows just how difficult it is to join a Minecraft Java server (this is from PC, but I’ve cropped each screen for viewing purposes). The player must click through several screens and manually input the Server Name and Address. If they don’t know the server name and address, players have to search on Google, or YouTube, in order to find it. The poor discovery means that players are less likely to go from tentpole game to creator content.

Minecraft Java Edition
Source: Naavik

Furthermore, Minecraft has not funded new games like Roblox does. Yet the need is clear enough that Overwolf announced a $50 million fund for this type of content back in 2021. Minecraft has also not attempted to launch any new game modes since 2014 to draw players into the ecosystem other than launching fully distinct games like Minecraft Dungeons that use the IP but are otherwise completely separate from the original game. 

Moderation: Minecraft reviews all UGC that is added to Minecraft Marketplace as part of Minecraft Bedrock whereas Roblox allows creators to publish anything and then removes it if it’s inappropriate. On the one hand, this likely means that there is far less inappropriate content on Minecraft, however, the question is — at what cost? I believe that this approach has limited the growth of Minecraft’s creator economy as one top creator I spoke with reported a major bottleneck in getting content approved (at one point, up to six months). Furthermore, this strict content moderation has also made it difficult for brands to enter the platform.

Enabling Brands to Fund Growth: Minecraft is very picky about the brands it allows to activate in-game. All activations must be approved by Minecraft as part of its end user licensing agreement. This means that only a select few studios will be allowed to benefit from contracting for brands. Activations have included Batman, Frozen, Sonic and Burberry, but from my interviews with creators these are few and far between.  

Platform Expansion: Minecraft is on every platform, and although Minecraft Java is only on PC, this is out of technical constraint rather than strategic folly. As I mentioned, Minecraft Bedrock was launched to unlock cross-platform play for Minecraft players.

As we look ahead, and wonder whether Minecraft will implement the changes required for its creator economy to flourish, it’s important to think about Minecraft in the context of Microsoft. 

Minecraft Struggles in the Context of Microsoft

Back in 2014, Microsoft purchased Minecraft for the user base and alignment with their platform strategy at that time. A VP at one point made the dubious assertion that Minecraft players would be the next PowerPoint and VisualStudio creators. 

Today, Minecraft’s biggest strategic advantage has likely been the opportunity to convert players to Xbox Game Pass as demonstrated by its long-reigning position as the top game on the service until late last year. However, this has mostly been to the benefit of Game Pass rather than Minecraft. As we know, the value of the subscription model depends on a player’s ability to find additional games to play in their library rather than just one or two games (otherwise it’s cheaper to just purchase those games). In this way, Xbox Game Pass competes with Minecraft. If players find more value in UGC games than in their Game Pass library, it makes more sense for them to purchase Minecraft for $20 than to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass at $10/month. The conflicting incentives don’t stop there. 

In the last few years Microsoft has come under intense scrutiny as part of the broader regulation of big tech. The Digital Markets Act and the FTC’s attempt to block the Activision Blizzard acquisition means that Microsoft does not have a lot of leeway for PR issues. That means that the preservation of Minecraft as a well regarded brand that is educational and safe for kids will remain paramount over empowering creators on their platform.

In sum, Minecraft is in a stalemate where it won’t take risks that might jeopardize the Microsoft or Minecraft brand, but at the same time won’t invest in and empower its community the way Roblox has in order to grow the platform. That is unfortunate for all parties as UGC games become a larger and larger segment of the gaming market. As the best selling game of all-time, though, we have to say Minecraft is no underachiever. (Written by David Taylor in collaboration with Nicolas Vizioli)

#2: The Great Reset: Your 2023 Guide to Web3 Games

Minecraft Immutable
Source: Delphi Digital + Naavik

Editor’s Note: This is the introduction to our joint report with Delphi Digital, sponsored by Immutable. It's free for everyone to read, so make sure to check it out here or below!

Most gamers have always viewed web3 gaming with skepticism, and 2022 — with its major hacks, frauds, and FOMO-driven bubble popping — certainly didn’t help. The lowlights of the year have felt embarrassing to many in the space, and one could argue that the Wild West nature of crypto has actually done more harm than good so far. After all, despite reaching tremendous multi-tens-of-billion dollar heights a year ago, those gains have since fizzled away and unfortunately were never sustainable to begin with. At the same time, the space has made tremendous steps forward in scalability, game design innovation, talent flows, community, and more. While a skeptic might argue that it’s more or less back to square one, many teams continue to march forward and are making quiet progress.

The story of web3 gaming feels new — and in many ways is — but its foundational narrative is a story as old as time. Like most emerging technologies throughout history, it rolls through the hype cycle and experiences growing pains (sometimes big ones) on its way to maturity — whatever that ultimately looks like. Of course, “maturity” is never guaranteed, and the time it takes to roll through an entire cycle varies, but it’s a useful model for understanding volatile, nascent markets.

Minecraft Cycle

It might feel obvious where we are in the cycle today (sentiment and expectations have plummeted), but before we stake our flag in the ground on where we’re going next, let’s take a short trip down memory lane.

The genesis of web3 gaming, the “technology trigger,” began with CryptoKitties in late-2017 (amidst the heights of the previous crypto bubble). CryptoKitties was a special because it was the first widely recognized NFT project to be minted using Ethereum’s ERC-721 token standard, but more practically it was the first time many people realized that scarce digital assets with some type of utility (like breeding and composability) could be a thing. Naturally, though, the project hit too early. Even if there was more to do with the assets, Ethereum’s network couldn’t handle the throughput. Scalability was still a distant dream, and the project’s hype fizzled away. Nevertheless, CryptoKitties played a key role in inspiring developers to think bigger about how this technology might permeate gaming more broadly.

The next milestone, Sky Mavis’ launch of Axie Infinity — a true web3 game in which teams of NFT monsters battle against each other for financial rewards — took place in 2018 to small reception. The team’s original mission was to “introduce the magic of blockchain technology to billions of players,” while “believing in a future where work and play become one… [and] in empowering players and giving them economic opportunities.” 

The game began to skyrocket once Ronin, Sky Mavis’ sidechain, launched in early 2021. Spurred by financial incentives under the term “play-to-earn” (P2E), growth was exorbitant — especially in developing markets like Southeast Asia where many players treated the game as a job (the mania also coincided with COVID, which prevented work for many). By the end of the year, the game’s governance token, AXS, was worth over $40B (fully diluted), larger than all but the very biggest publicly traded games companies. 

This financial success created enormous ripple effects. Dozens of play-to-earn copycats rapidly took off, dreams of games-driven universal basic income abounded, fundraising from both institutions and retail investors skyrocketed, countless guilds (who buy and rent in-game assets to players for a cut of the proceeds) became all the rage, digital land was viewed as the next great asset, and valuations across the entire digital asset landscape were higher than ever. FOMO dominated the market, and the rapid explosion of activity led many to sacrifice investment discipline as they chased the next big hit. If that doesn’t shout “peak of inflated expectations” nothing ever will. Of course, it wasn’t all negative. Even if the peaks were unsustainable, it turbocharged developer interest, put web3 gaming on the map, and led to the funding of many teams who still aim to create great games and innovate in new ways.

Unsurprisingly, and as we all know, this mania has largely come to an end. 2022 was the year play-to-earn died — or at least, more specifically, the era in which the primary driver of play is earnings.

Delphi covered the fundamental growth of the ecosystem early on, and Naavik chronicled the Axie Infinity story — as well as a report on why the initial model was unsustainable — here and here. To simplify the top takeaway: when most players aim to financially extract more value from a game than they put in or create, that lasts only as long as new players enter and put new money into the system. Even though the team had good intentions of helping people, because of a breeding-driven business model, revenue (and therefore valuations) were propped up by the pace of user growth more so than the total player count and spending (like most games). This, of course, wasn’t unique to Axie Infinity — STEPN, Pegaxy, Town Star, DeFi Kingdoms, and dozens of other “games” have similarly faced unsustainable economy-driven death spirals in 2022. 

Notably, the economic fallout didn’t only affect the assets of pure play-to-earn games. The guilds around them have also been falling apart and pivoting (as we’ll discuss more below), virtual real estate (in worlds like The Sandbox and Decentraland) have plummeted, and hacks (like of the Ronin Bridge), frauds (like FTX), and platform crackdowns (like Apple’s latest App Store policies) only make the broader situation more challenging. Despite progress that’s being made in many corners of the industry, it's not surprising to see a generally bearish sentiment.

Daily unique active wallets (UAWs), a rough proxy for active users who interact with the blockchain elements of games, are well below their highs and show no current signs of growth.

Minecraft UAW

Secondary market NFT transaction volumes, which display actual economic activity across various blockchains, are similarly in the doldrums. 

Minecraft Revenue

Welcome to the “trough of disillusionment.” The gap between hype and reality has largely closed — with many dreams having fallen much faster than progress could rise — and everyone in the blockchain ecosystem, including those who are doing interesting and compelling work, feels the pain. If reading this piece so far feels overly negative, well that’s because that’s what the market currently reflects! After all, the entire ecosystem went through enormous hype all for there to be more hacks, rug-pulls, and hate from mainstream gamers than truly great games to play (so far). This makes it harder to raise money, recruit top talent, build trust with consumers, and know what rules and regulations to prepare for.

So what’s next? Will the web3 games industry face a quiet death, or will it find its way out of the Wild West and enter the “slope of enlightenment”? And if the industry is to claw its way out of the darkness, what “enlightenments” — new games, business models, infrastructure capabilities, and more — will make that happen?

We can’t answer those questions with complete certainty, but we’ll take a shot. What we do know, however, is that if 2022 marked the year play-to-earn as a model died, then 2023 will be the year web3 gaming dramatically resets. Call it “The Great Reset,” if you will. 

It may or may not be the year in which new games catapult the industry to new heights, but it should be the year of going back to the basics (and hopefully leaving the term “play-to-earn” in the past). The industry must renew its focus, reprioritize what matters most (fun, sustainable, and scalable games), and (re)establish new and old best practices. It won’t be perfect, it will take time to work through, there will be both ongoing innovations and obstacles, and many teams won’t survive, but it’s truly going to be the great reset that sets the foundation for the industry’s next (and likely superior) era. 

Any reset will also be driven by the combined efforts of strong leaders and companies across the entire industry; it must be willed into existence. Fortunately, tremendous talent has entered the space, many smart companies are well funded, and many promising games are in the pipeline. Even if the details on what’s next are fuzzy, there’s plenty of reason to be excited about the long-term road ahead as many excellent teams relentlessly experiment with crypto technologies in and around games.  

Several industry leaders (many of which we quote throughout this report) seem to roughly agree with our general thesis. For example, Dean Takahashi, the legendary and prolific GamesBeat reporter, puts it quite simply. He tells us:

“The time for raising money and building companies on hype is over. With the economic downturn and the crypto winter, it’s time to focus on building real products. The talent has been moving into the space from traditional gaming, based on the promise of successful past disruptions like free-to-play games. Now it’s time for blockchain gaming to move on to delivering real products. We’ll see fewer new startups and more consolidation, but those who have been focused on development should be able to launch their products into the market. Gamers will be skeptical, and so those games need to be fun first and deliver on promises. Once we cross that bridge, the market will begin to grow. But the quality bar will only get higher, and if the products are successful then the road to the metaverse will be open. I expect this process will begin in 2023, but it could take many years to fulfill.”

Ronen, a core contributor for Game7, also thinks similarly:

“The original promise of blockchain games was to help us create more equitable and fair game economies that were inclusive and collectively owned by players and developers. But the contagion following the collapse of 2022, led by incompetent 'heroes', created a crisis of credibility in blockchain technology and its promise. Despite that, blockchain gaming presents creative and economic opportunities, and the past cycle only represents its initial attempt to prove it. 

It's clear now that we must rebuild the foundations and revamp education by which we will build sustainable economies and the infrastructure to support them. In the coming years, we will see successful web3 native studios create the next wave of blockchain games that are fun with a community-first approach, where players and developers collectively define their desired experience. 

For web3 gaming to reach mainstream adoption, we must address accessibility and usability. Gamers don't want to pay outrageous prices for an item or wait for a node validator to process a transaction before getting their seasonal cosmetic item. In a bear market, the best products are built, and I anticipate tremendous advancement in infrastructure across L2s, Zero Knowledge technology, wallet UX, and innovation in crypto native economic game loops that genuinely highlight the promise of the technology.”

Sebastien Borget, the co-founder and COO of The Sandbox, also echoes these thoughts. He tells us:

“2022 brought a great wave of experimentation among blockchain games and some took off while others already disappeared. An excessive focus of the primitives of play-to-earn hasn’t proven to be sustainable in the long term by over-emphasizing tokenomics than actual gameplay, but the industry is ready to move over. We’ve seen it before – from arcade machines, consoles to mobile phones that simplistic gameplays prevailed initially and were sufficient to attract early adopters. 

Over the mid-term, increased sophistication of game mechanics, core loops, and retention systems became needed to keep users and establish top grossing studios. It is expected that 2023 will bring more varied & rich gameplays from studios having accomplished fund raisings throughout 2022. Attracting players to create their wallet might still remain a challenge of both UX, tech and education in 2023, but once users get their wallet and own NFTs they are more likely to engage over a long time. 

The Blockchain Game Alliance 2022 Members Survey still indicates that 68.9% of the 347 individual industry professionals considered “true digital assets ownership by players” as the primary appeal for using blockchain, and 89% of respondents see themselves continuing to work within one year in the industry, which shows confidence in the future. The combination of user-generated content, socialization, gaming mechanics, story telling, brands/IP and token-based incentives – where users are true stakeholders of the future of the platform they spend time into – offers great potential. And 2023 might be that year as platforms like The Sandbox or Otherside will be opening to the public.”

Why do we still lean excited, and what does a great reset even mean in practice? And where should we even look to spot the most needed innovations and changes? That’s what we’ll dig into today. This report explores:

  • 2022’s most notable milestones and what they mean for the industry
  • Examinations of the most important sub-trends, such as the latest with new games, guilds, infrastructure, virtual worlds, policies, and more.
  • Our big open questions with thoughts on where the industry goes from here
  • Further statements from other industry leaders like Robbie Ferguson, Ryan Wyatt, Nicolas Julia, and Amy Madison.

Content Worth Consuming 

Tabletop Gaming Preview 2023 (Polygon): "Tabletop games continue to grow in popularity, and thousands of new board games and role-playing games launch every year. To kick off 2023, Polygon assembled experts and critics with specialties all across the hobby games industry to forecast the year ahead — and point our readers to where they can follow these new games online. These are the most important new games of 2023. Whether you’re on the hunt for your next legacy-style board game, or a fresh alternative to Dungeons & Dragons, it’s a great place to get started." Link

M&A Funding Capacities of Public Gaming Companies in 2023 (Luweiming): “2022 was a historic year for gaming M&A, with a record-breaking $100+ billion in gross transaction value. This included two mega deals worth over $10 billion each (Activision $68.7B and Zynga $12.7B), all first-time for the industry. The record-breaking M&A activity in the gaming industry was somewhat overshadowed by reports of layoffs and a deteriorating economic outlook. In this post, I will analyze the total available M&A funding capacity of publicly-traded gaming companies worldwide. I will also provide a breakdown by region and a high-level overview of their financial strength for M&A.”Link

GameCraft: “Mitch and Blake discuss perhaps the most important developments in the video games business since the 1990s: the rise of casual and mobile gaming. Mitch explains how the casual business was catalyzed by the most unlikely of heroes. He talks about his time as the CEO of the first public mobile game company in the US (JAMDAT) and events leading up to the launch of the iPhone. They look at the rise of so-called "social gaming" on Facebook and how it was enabled by new advances in analytics and data science. They do a deep dive on the iOS App Store and Mitch talks about how Apple's desire to curate its end-user experience inadvertently led to the rise of Facebook as a customer acquisition gatekeeper. They end with a discussion of why SuperCell succeeded in building a multi-billion dollar mobile game business while Rovio did not.” Link

Geoffery Golden On Narrative Design (Ultimate Writing Machine): “Join M. S. Arthadian in a conversation with an amazingly talented guest! Geoffrey Golden is a game developer, storyteller, and much more! He has worked in multiple mediums and has a special love for his artform, telling incredible stories.” Link

Ashes of Creation: A New Era For MMORPGs (SequelGG): “If you're a diehard fan of MMORPGs, chances are you have heard of Ashes of Creation (“AoC”). Ashes of Creation is an upcoming MMORPG developed by Intrepid Studios (“Intrepid”) that has been in development since December 2015 and has the potential to redefine the genre at large. What makes AoC one of the most anticipated games in recent memory is its design pillars, systems, and open development approach. As MMORPGs struggle to retain players due to a lack of innovative gameplay, AoC's goal is to provide a new and improved experience that offers a deeper sense of immersion, escapism, and interconnected social experiences through authentic roleplaying. AoC aims to deliver exactly what players are looking for in their gaming experience. While AoC doesn’t plan to utilize blockchain components, we will present ways for the game to implement the technology that could benefit the end user. Before addressing the game’s parallels to web3 and how blockchain elements might be able to enhance the overall end-user experience, we must explain what AoC is and the five design pillars that are unique to the game.” Link

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