In this week's Roundtable, the squad dives into Disney's $1.5 billion investment in Epic Games, aiming to create custom Fortnite-related experiences. We speculate on what Disney's persistent world might look like, especially in light of its potential connections to Fortnite and the recent Lego collaboration. Then, we shift gears to discuss Mythical Games' settlement of its lawsuit against Fenix Games, concerning a significant $150 million investment debacle. The conversation takes an optimistic turn with the successful launch of Heroes of Mavia, a mobile web3 game, and what its early success could mean for the future of web3 mobile gaming. We also marvel at Palworld's explosive growth to 19 million players across Xbox and PC, highlighting the potential for smaller studios in today's competitive landscape. Finally, we tackle WB's latest foray into live service games with Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, dissecting the challenges and consumer backlash faced by transitioning beloved franchises into the live service model. Join us for all the latest games business news with Anil Das-Gupta and host Devin Becker.

We’d also like to thank Lightspeed Venture Partners for making this episode possible! With its dedicated gaming practice, "Lightspeed Gaming," the firm is investing from over $7B in early- and growth-stage capital — the by far largest fund focused on gaming and interactive technology. If you’re interested in learning more, go to

This transcript is machine-generated, and we apologize for any errors.

Devin: Hello everyone. Welcome to another Naavik Roundtable. I'm your host Evan Becker. And today we have Solo Anil unfortunately Jonathan suffering a bit from the the flooding in SoCal. So we send our best wishes down to SoCal, especially for him and everyone else down there suffering from some of the strangest weather we've had.

You get wildfires, they get rain. Unfortunately not at the same time it seems. Maybe not the greatest time for them, but best wishes to everyone out there that hopefully everything subsides. But we do have Anil. At least we managed to capture someone from across the ocean at least.

Hey. We got a lot of good topics today too, but How are you doing first?

Anil: I'm good. Yeah. Like I said, I think the year has started pretty interestingly for games yeah, looking forward to diving in and talking some stuff.

Devin: Yeah I definitely find that even with the layoffs and everything else, we're not short of interesting topics.

We've got quite a few today. I think the top one that we were gonna dive right into here is Disney dropping 1.5 billion into Epic, and I think that's steals the show I think a little bit, if you wanna dig into that one.

Anil: Sure. What a huge announcement that is Disney have been, almost fascinatingly absent from video games for such a long time, and everyone wondered why are they doing this?

Of all of the IP they have, are they making their own studios? How are they going to do that? Clearly this is really taken from the Lego School, the video games who did something similar. So I think it's really worth referencing that Lego put a 1 billion investment themselves into Epic a while ago.

And what came out of that was the Lego survival mode that is a separate game mode in Fortnight that you can play. That's been extremely successful. I believe they're really pleased with how well that's done. So now Disney kind of trump that by investing 1.5 billion prices go up. That's the cost of not doing your business early.

So that's what's going to happen. Look, I think there's so much to talk about. First and foremost, it really is like Disney back with a bang in video games. That's a huge investment to put in. Secondly though, the strategy in terms of how to do that. So this investment implies, that they're going to be not making their own games per se, but use modes in the game.

And I think what this really signals is Fortnite essentially now, not even a video game per se, but it is…

Devin: Meta-versa Anil. Say it.

Anil: Yes. I didn't want to use that word, but I'm glad that you did because to be fair, I think this more than anything else, I think the Lego one was certainly going some way towards doing that.

But now that you've got different IPs, multiple IPs in the same game, plus the Fortnite IP itself is so strong, it really does feel like that. I'd be interested to see what you think of this actually, Devin, because. I actually say that this worries me a little bit because it does feel a bit like this is now almost becoming a bit too much of a juggernaut that can't be stopped.

This is now moving, in my opinion, away from gaming. Even though it is games and more into TikTok Facebook, that kind of territory in terms of what it is. It's going to become a ubiquitous part of Gen Z and Below's time on the internet, and that's how they're gonna capture them. And I get it. I think that is super smart from Disney.

I thought it was smart from Lego too. That whenever you launch your own products, even if you've got the exact same team to build it, you are not guaranteed to get the users. The users are so hard to get. That is why we've seen so much consolidation in the industry. This one, you're basically guaranteed to do it.

I would say that, Epic themselves have done such a brilliant job in the past of some of their tie-ins. Like I remember some of the Avengers tie-ins they did in the earlier seasons of Fortnite. So it makes a lot of sense. I wouldn't have been surprised if that partnership has been going strong, so well, what are we going to see from it?

That is very interesting. So the Lego was actually more of a kind of survival type mode, right? It was. More Minecraft, you could say more arc than it was fortnight And. Of course, they could have just gone pure fortnight mode. So what are Disney planning? We really don't know, is just pure speculation in terms of what to do it.

Of course Disney, they have quite a lot of IP on their hands. Would you believe them? And I know that might shock you, but I've heard of some of it, I think.

Devin: Yeah.

Anil: Some star sci-fi thing. Probably Skywalkers. Yeah. Yeah. Apparently some comic book ips and even some Mickey Mouse characters, although he's now actually public domain.

So actually to be there, Steve will —

Devin: Yeah. Probably won't see him in in Fortnite anytime soon.

Anil: Yeah. So what does it mean? Very interesting. So yeah, it's huge. Absolutely huge. I wonder how many more are gonna go into it. Why they've I will say this, I think from Disney, this is and actually from Lego.

It wasn't too surprising a move. 'cause they're companies that essentially they need a video gameplay. But it feels like both of those companies were been burned in the past by trying to do their own thing from scratch. Probably because of their own culture and the fact that their industry is slightly different.

I. As we know, making movies is very different to making video games. I don't know if we should be thankful or disappointed by that because there's Yeah, you're —

Devin: I, I wouldn't mention before, but we're like in a previous discussion, but we're actually like starting to close some of the gap on that, which is part of the reason that movies can do this sort of breaking apart and coming back is partially due to the unionization and what's been a big theme over the last couple years.

Yeah. Unionization. Maybe we're moving that direction, but that's a whole separate side topic, but I just wanna mention that. Yeah, that's an interesting one. I had a don't ignore that.

Anil: I had a boss once who thought that could be the future of games development.

I'm not gonna say who that was. It was quite an interesting topic. I, I always feel that with games, you need to build that experience over years, so it's hard to do that, but perhaps not if you've got something like this where the tools are already there. So that's interesting to see.

Yeah, I guess what I'm saying is that I feel that like for companies like this, that need to have a video games play, but don't have the experience. The time to really get into that this presents like a new opportunity and could work out for both parties. And that's certainly what it feels like. It is.

It feels like that's the future of Fortnight and maybe even Epic. So I think everyone's super curious. I would be extremely surprised if this wasn't a big success. I feel like after Lego, in my opinion as well, the Disney ips are way stronger than the Lego ip. And even though I think we do have to say that in recent years the Disney have been lacking somewhat, like it's a fact that their movies have not been performing in a box office as, as well as they have been.

To be honest with you, this feels like a good move to recharge it because it's tackling into something that's more of street. As my thoughts, how about yourself?

Devin: Yeah. I think that the holy approach is totally interesting. Obviously they, a big part of the reason they did this, and they said something about that in the announcement as well, is that their experience with Fortnight has been very positive.

They've obviously done a lot of crossover ip, I think they did Star Wars and Marvel stuff.

It's been very successful for them in, in, in approaching the audience. It's it's a good target audience for them, right? Where it's not overly young. Like obviously Disney had, a lot of times skewed very young.

Now they're hitting that middle audience, which is a good target for a lot of that IP, that star Wars and Marvel IP. So it makes sense to like, take advantage of that. And also you've got Disney who tried to do some stuff before, like similar to Lego, like I've talked before about how Lego did Lego Worlds and they also had the Lego creator program.

Like they had a lot of attempts before. And you can't forget about Disney Infinity. Also trying to be a sort of I mean there was a little more Skylanders but also mixed with a little bit of Minecraft. Like it was all over the place. But it did, it was their sort of experiment in this sort of world of the IP crossover kind of ideas.

And obviously they haven't really laid out what they're gonna do with this, but they mentioned persistent world, so that's what I'm curious what that means. Does that mean more towards MMO sort of thing or does that mean persistent world is in like Minecraft? Because those are both persistent worlds, but like in a different kind of fashion.

Minecraft side is a little bit easier to imagine with the roots of Fortnite being basically in a Minecraft game originally, and then obviously the Lego one being also very in that wheelhouse. But, they might wanna do something different. What I find interesting about the whole approach is contrasting with Roblox.

So Roblox because it was popping off during the sort of metaverse craze. You had a lot of people coming in to do experiences for their brand. And I think that's a very different thing. That to me, I. Screams advert games more than anything else. Or like virtual malls or like second Life experiences that they used to have.

Whereas that's let's just get our experience in there. And some of those were pretty successful. I remember the Sonic one being pretty good and there's been, a number of good ones, but at the same time, like it is still a leaning a bit more towards the game side.

Whereas you take something like the Lego thing and that's like a game. And I think for tonight, having mechanics built in that could be built upon, even if you don't go the exact same direction, like there's mechanics already, the players know how to use those mechanics. The controls are already built.

It's well built. It's already cross-platform, multiple control types, things like that. It all works very well. Why not build off that now? I don't know. 'cause Disney. Didn't really want to lean super hard, it seemed into the Minecraft Sandbox kind of world in infinity. And they seemed to pull outta that probably a little prematurely, but obviously the sales weren't there.

Outside of collectors, it didn't really take off the way, say like Amiibo's did over time for Nintendo, but it was like their dipping their toe into that world. And, but again, that wasn't necessarily first party developed either. That was, they tend to farm stuff out to different developers.

So I do wonder in this case too is Epic developing the experience for them or is it like another studio or is like a multi-partner thing where Epic's doing part of it to help facilitate it, but another studio is also like doing a lot of the content. It's hard to say, like Disney tends to not.

Build a lot of their own content and they haven't for a long time. They tend to part that stuff out and, mix results. Like we, we tend to forget, there actually has been like a lot of Disney games. They've just been like a lot of mobile games that are tons across.

Yeah. Like all those, and then the whole mirror reverse thing that they're pushing, I could even see them pushing say the mirror reverse and this, to build up that world because I've seen that IP start to grow a bit. And so there's, angles there, but then you've got weird stuff like Disney Speedstorm I think is coming out, like finally hitting like 1.0 or whatever.

And they've tried stuff. And I still see Lion King in the Latin on sale, re like on Steam, like recently for, the old classics that they did, back in the day. Obviously I don't think they developed those in-house. But it's gonna be interesting to see what they do with this, because as you said, the Lego one was a big success for them.

And I think this just builds off of that. And Fortnite is obviously hitting like the right mark. Like they're not skewing as young as Roblox, so it's not as tricky for them. To deal with. I think it's like a, an audience that's a bit more like gamer-centric. Yeah. And able to like, get into it. But the fact that they've got all these different platform support, I think helps for them.

And even if they have to go off the stores, like they're willing to make it work on those platforms. And they fought hard for cross-platform. Don't forget, like they, they pushed Sony heavily into that territory and they fought for that and they're fighting for a lot of app store stuff.

 If anyone's going to become the metaverse, or take over or become this IP platform, like at least it's someone who's fighting for a lot of like bene like beneficial things for developers. It's like actually things that, that benefit developers that will eventually benefit consumers in dumping tons of money into it.

Devin: If Disney's dumping money into them and they're dumping that into legal battles that may benefit us. Cool. Disney's now actually doing something useful with illegal battles rather than just trying to extend copyright, for Infinity. So it's, and it's kind nice. I think it's a good thing.

But I am curious though, like if you had any more information on. Exactly how Disney invested because I did see something about a minority stake. So I'm curious like how they're actually involved, like what the financial deal was, what level of like influence or control they might have over a Fortnight or Epic or anything like that.

Anil: Obviously there's a huge cash injection for, for Epic, but I would imagine it's very similar to how Lego did it themselves. So when they made that there was Sony also, I dunno if you notice are also involved. Both of those made $1 billion investments and it was for minority stakes I believe two to 3% at the time.

I reckon it's probably for the same amount 'cause probably the valuation of Epic has gone up since then. So Yeah. It doesn't mean you're a majority control, but it means you always have access to full information. You're first to know what's going on. Get Tim Queen's email. A essentially yes.

Essentially yes. And it's gonna allow you, because that's the thing is like the curious thing with Fortnight, when we compare it to your Roblox analogy, is that these game modes sit on the front screen at the moment. There's not so many modes that you can choose from, but what happens when there's a hundred different game modes that you can choose from?

Now all of a sudden those companies are battling with one another. So I suppose that having a minority stake means no, actually, you are always going to be part of the big kahuna, so to speak. And you'll get it there. So just before we round this section up, I think it's high time. Like when I see the success of the Spider-Man games on PlayStation, I'm not actually a hundred percent sure who owns the Spider-Man IP, exactly.

I think parts of it owned by Disney.

Devin: Yeah. Got parts on shifting from Sony.

Anil: Yeah. Yeah. Anyway, my, my point is that's been very successful and I've just always thought, why are Disney leaving so much money on the table? I cannot believe during the whole MCU, especially the Avengers endgame phase, that like it.

Any sort of half competent video game, even probably a not competent video game would absolutely have cleaned up. And yeah, more importantly is to connect with that audience, which it just feels like a massive waste. Now they've solved it, so let's not yet, but we feel they're going to solve it.

Devin: Yeah, and I'll be interested too to see if they like the big question I have whenever these IPs get involved is the fortnight creator mode. If eventually some of that bleeds into there, like I, that can become again, essentially a Disney infinity kind of thing or so like a Lego thing. Those both kind of suit that idea as we've seen, experiments with that in the past.

I don't know though, Disney tends to be pretty tight about controller IP, so I feel like Lego is much more likely, but Lego is also its own IP is actually somewhat vanilla a lot of the times as opposed to a lot of the IP they bring in. But they do have other ones like Ninjago and some of their sort of like first party IP I believe that, they've built up over time.

Although like I said, a lot of their success has been off of other people's IPs and there, so it's like Fortnite's becoming this big mishmash ball of IP. And so it's which parts of that will make it into creative mode so that we can hopefully leverage some of that. Like I don't think we're gonna be able to just make a Disney IP-based full-on Fortnite creator mode game anytime soon.

But they could take advantage of allowing some of that. Like I, I believe when the Sonic thing happened in Roblox, there was like a bit of access to using some of the Sonic IP for games. I think some people made some like Sonic games and things like that, so it would be a bit of goodwill for Disney to like.

Allow a little bit of it. Say you guys could do something or they could just be funny and just put Winnie the Pooh in Steam, but Willy and just be like, here, you can have at it with these two just so we don't have to worry about copyright. Yeah. Yeah. We'll see. It's a big topic and it also I think could lean eventually, potentially into Web3 aspects.

Obviously Fortnight hasn't said anything about trying to do anything Web3 or anything like that, but they've been at least Epic has been fairly friendly to Web3 in terms of allowing stuff on the store, actually, like making policy changes to help support it. And then you've got Disney. A lot of people, don't know this is going on, but Disney actually just is like launching right now in the middle of all this, a Web3 project , flow from Dapper Labs.

And I actually just got like an invite to like the early access. I, it's probably not exclusive or anything. For like their app on iOS for pin trading is what it is because they actually started taking pin trading away from the theme parks for some reason. But they are like doing it via Web3 now, which is interesting.

It's interesting that they're dabbling still in that and it doesn't seem obviously that's happening right now, still while Iger to take it back over. So they seem to be pretty friendly towards at least experimenting there. And I. I dunno again, that, that could be very interesting if if Fortnite or Epic starts to go more in that direction, that actually swings over to another Web3 topic that we actually have.

We have a couple of 'em, surprisingly today despite the fact that it's cool down, which is again, related to IP and financing around Mythical and Phoenix. Something that was a hot topic, what was it, a year or two ago at least? Because it was one of the bigger fundraisers that we'd seen around Web3, which was $150 million to a company called Phoenix that had essentially broken off from Mythical Labs who are still, doing good stuff with NFL rivals, which I'm sure will be very interesting with the Super Bowl coming up here, EJ now.

So that, that should be like a big, this will be basically a big distraction off their plate for that as they have now settled between the two because to catch everyone up on what happened, essentially three of the executives from Mythical games we're out essentially doing some fun and this, some of this is, purported, I don't really know how much fact there is on here. But basically the executives were supposed to be out fundraising for Mythical Labs and somehow made some deals with Cypher Capital and some others to essentially fundraise for their own project instead which is what the lawsuit was about.

And then went off and suddenly quit, and I think it was like less than a month later, they announced Phoenix, which of course, it's supposed to be like the Phoenix command, although they spelled it with an F, and that was their big project and they announced they like raised 150 million. This was a big deal and they were gonna act as both like a publisher and a developer, which I imagine the publisher part was probably because they didn't have like games ready to go or anything, but wanted to start doing stuff and.

After that, big whole thing happened. They just kinda went quiet for a while. And there was the lawsuit announced from Mythical that hey, we're suing them over that they were basically diverting our fundraising to them when they were still employed here. No. And they've now settled, but it's, it sounds like basically this is a little late for Phoenix as they apparently never raised the 150 million, which I'm assuming is probably because of the lawsuit.

But no details from the case on that as they've settled. And I imagine probably haven't announced a lot publicly and related to that, but at this point it sounds like Phoenix is basically done. One of the three executives, the CEO of the company is already gone, and I can't imagine the other two are there still.

So I think at this point it's someone put out the fire essentially. Mythical games won that one. We don't know what the terms were, but I can't imagine, they got 150 million out of it, right? They, those never raised, probably not a lot to win out of the settlement. So unfortunate circumstance, but for mythical labs, it sounds like probably a decent outcome.

Anil: Outrageous, the whole thing. That really implies that, as you say, they were employed by a mythical and fundraising for another entity and, circumventing that money to that new entity. And if there was any proof of that, then, no wonder they were probably in legal hot water and decided it's just better to move on with it and accept that it never happened, rather than fight it out of an expensive lawsuit and lawyers win again.

Anil: But in this case, if that definitely happened that way, you have to say that, mythical world in their rights to do that. That is a gross, what's the word? But negligence when been that sabotage almost espionage in terms of a company, I'm not really, I, I guess things like this do happen all the time in more traditional industries, but that's really quite outrageous for that to happen.

Devin: Games in, we don't know the full details, right? I don't wanna, I don't wanna overly assume, but it certainly did look at least from the public perspective, a little dodgy. And it obviously did not work out.

Anil: As you said, the one month is the big giveaway, right? If it's, if it was six months or a year, you would still basically assume that was the case.

But you would assume that gardening leave and or non-competes were put in place so they would be safe.

Devin: Yeah. You think your non-complete would've stopped them from doing that, but yeah.

Anil: Maybe that's why they thought that wasn't the case and that's why they were confident.

Maybe they spotted that in their contracts, for example.

Devin: Anyway, I don't think we'll get a Netflix docu-series, unfortunately, but too bad when the details come out. Something. Yeah. But hopefully, again, like I said, it wasn't a huge distraction for Mythical games because they've obviously been trying to play off the success of NFL Rivals trying to get the Nature Nation world tour going.

They're trying to like pivot Blaycoast, block party over to mobile eventually I saw another game on their site that couldn't even read the name of 'cause the Art, but they look like they have another one in the works. They're weird about making sure they promote their new stuff across all their pages for some reason.

 They definitely are doing quite a bit. So hopefully this is a case where now they can maybe accelerate a little bit more, especially post Super Bowl obviously we're both Web3 fans here, so we do wanna see some success and NFL Rivals is one of the few that I would say was a mobile success.

Like it actually, whether or not long term is as far as like actually landing on the store, like getting promoted by Apple, pulling in money. We can't say that they're making profits. We don't know how much they're spending, but it's still like one of the better, like success stories I think we've seen.

It's good. Obviously it's a, it's American centric, so I'm sorry. You guys don't, you don't get it, but you'll get your own I'm sure at some point, right? It's settled now. So I think we can move on from that, thankfully.

Anil: Sure. Let's keep in a Web3 world then, and move on to our next topic.

So another really interesting topic this to discuss this week is the Heroes of Maivia Worldwide Launch. Heroes of Maivia is another Web-III game, Web-III mobile game. It is essentially Clash of Clans, but with Web-III elements added to it. What's interesting about this is, I guess, the Renaissance party for Web3 gaming.

This is the first one that I think has really made quite a big impact, I would say. And we are both in the Web3 world, and I can say there has been the talk of the town in the last week or so. So their game had been in development for a while, but they actually listed their token at the same time. And a lot of people thought gaming tokens were dead.

Certainly disagrees with you. A as a time of speaking, they have a market cap of a billion. Their token already went up by kind of 25%. I think what's impressive is they had over a million downloads in three days. They were using quite an innovative acquisition campaign. Which is almost play to airdrop is how you would call it.

So we've had play and earn, we've had play and own.

Devin: Yeah. I dunno if that's much of a pivot. I think airdropping and earning is the same thing.

Anil: Their response was that you that download the game and play to be eligible for the airdrop. And the reason why I bring this up is that's what's given them a million installs in three days.

No matter how you want to cut it. Really one of the fundamental issues in games, I would say in the last two to three years has been scaling. And attracting audiences to your products. And that's not just in mobile, that's across everywhere. That is the reason why, coming back to our first topic of the show, why have Disney invested in Fortnite rather than making their own game?

Because they realize that is how you get the audience. Everything else is a risk. So in order to achieve that is still quite impressive. However, we want to cut it. And so far it has. I would say that they, it's considered within the Web3 space as being a very successful launch in terms of the token.

And people are quite bullish on it compared to things that have gone before. I think what's worth giving, relevance to this as well, is that there has been a bit of a renaissance in Web3 in gaming tokens over the last. Four to five months. Shrapnel listed their token at the end of last year, and that really surprised people with how successful it is.

Shrapnel is like an extraction shooter style game. It's, it looks pretty high. It's a side note.

Devin: They have some play tests going on this week, I think. So you could probably find some videos of people playing online there.

Anil: There you go. There you go. It'd be interesting to see. I'm sure they all launch big at some point this year and more, although it's more of a platform, the immutable X token has also gone up quite a lot recently too.

So that's, there's three separate cases of things doing it. And it seems that after years of building and surviving the bear market that now some of these games are releasing and starting to put in some performance in terms of just to give some more kind of context. The game is quite derivative, I would say.

I don't hope it doesn't come across as unfair, but it is very much clash of clans. And I think if you look at the game review scores, it was currently sitting about 3.4 when I last looked at it. And so the two biggest complaints were one issues with kind of the servers. It may be getting hammered by a lot of people playing, which I guess of a million downloads in three days is understandable.

Devin: Yeah. So that's what they call a good problem, I think.

Anil: Uh, well, Unless it does unfortunately say that they haven't built their architecture properly, but I don't wanna expect it. I just, I dunno if you remember this Devin, but Simpsons tapped out was a thing many years ago. Oh, I remember it quite well.

Yeah. Yeah. They had to pull that and re-architect it, and it took six months to do if those things do go on. And it has happened, so at least it was appropriately named. Or Drive Club. Do you remember that on PlayStation? Another similar one that unfortunately the architecture wouldn't support it, so it failed even though it was quite um, did the —

Devin: What game, what big game launch doesn't fall upon. Yeah, almost immediately. We just had the whole thing with a suicide Squad, their early access following like day one. Yeah. So yeah it's hard for the course at this point.

Anil: I think we can cut them some slack. Yeah. The other one I guess was unfinished features.

There's a lot of kind of coming Soon's mentioned in the game. I think, one of the big things here is they're literally going up against one of the biggest games in gaming history, but certainly over the last decade, Clash of Clans has literally got what now? 12 years worth of content on there.

If you are a player and you've spent. Six years in Clash of Clans. Are you gonna leave that game for a new one? Maybe not. I would probably tend on not, but you know.

Devin: That's, if you think about it like, so the big thing right, is the sunk cost. Yeah. Is like the reason not to leave.

But if you're talking about a Web3 game and the Web3 game does offer the ability to potentially take what you have and leave, now you're like, oh hey, I have sunk cost to Clash of Clans, but have some cost to clutch this. But I'm not gonna sink or have a sunk cost in this game because I could take it out and like self-justify why it's okay to do it a second time.

Anil: Maybe I'm just saying possibility. That's exactly where perhaps you should work for Ma and Sky Studios. But look, I wanna say firstly for someone in this space, congratulations to them. That's, I think regardless it's still a pretty good game. It's going to grow and get better over time. And it's showing wallet.

I mean, Here's the questions of why weren't to bring it up. Is this the start of a new wave of Web3 games this year? In my opinion, I think it will be. I think you're gonna see much better quality stuff coming out this year. I also think with the sheer number of games, maybe not necessarily this year, but it were in development, that one surely is going to break out and be pretty successful.

And that may even make many of them. I think the space has definitely evolved a lot. But now that this quality has been increased, are we gonna see this kind of new wave? I suspect we probably are Bitcoin is halving in April. Will that lead to a crypto bull run? I don't know.

Devin: It's certain, yeah, I think I saw some notifications earlier about it hitting 40 5K again, so I don't think, I don't think bull run, I'll be honest, but at the same time yeah, it's not all sad times.

Anil: Yeah, so I, I would agree. I feel with Two Wars literally going on, on the planet right now, I don't think that's good for going to lead to a bull run. So that's maybe something outside of its control, but we'll see. Do we think the game can sustain its performance? I think that's an interesting one because what tends to happen with a lot of the Web3 games is that they come out of a strong start.

I can remember the game feeds an arena from a few years ago, but it can't really maintain it because not enough people doing and, people are aping into Bite the Token, it's going up too quickly too soon, and then it crashes and then it's all dead. One thing I'll say is a game that is based on Clash of Clans, it's gonna have a lot of progression and a lot of meta to keep people there for a long time.

Devin: At the very least, it has a lot to look at from Yeah, what Supercell has done and copy if they want to, or make adjustments if they feel like, hey, that was not the right direction or the players being like, Hey, we actually want more of this type of game. Like they do have some opportunity to steer it a little bit in a different direction potentially.

Anil: Exactly. They do say that the MAVIA token is going to be used for governance and making decisions. So it'll be interesting to see how that plays out. And, you kind of already touched upon it. One of the questions I wanted to ask was, what impact does the Web3 element have in terms of interest and reception?

And, you made quite a good argument there that could be a reason that you think okay, hold on. If I go into this game and then it turns out I don't like it, I can actually get something back from it. Or I can play the game around the game if I come into it. And, that's always been one of the things that we people have said could be the reason why Web3 gaming takes off and it becomes a thing.

It's certainly possible. You certainly see that kind of evidence in behavior and in other non-traditional games and markets. So we'll see that. And I think you. Perhaps the best way to describe this is it might not be something that's gone completely nuclear like Power World, which we'll come to in a moment.

Just to give an update on that, which is, you know, that's why I feel this year has already started in pretty interesting way. I would say look, we're only, what, six weeks into the new year, we've already had Disney dropping 1.5 billion in making a Fortnite game mode. We've had the game come out absolutely nowhere to, to be the new darling of Web3, all streamers worldwide.

Devin: Yeah, it's not the only one too. We had other big success stories like Lethal Company and stuff like that, some of these smaller ones.

Anil: So, yeah, you never know, know this, this year and now we have this, the Renaissance of Web3. So I think that's already quite a lot of interesting things here to see. And yeah, what I would say is I feel that like this game has probably got a strong enough start now that it may give it a platform to see if that model going forward.

If we conceptually think about it, a game where the players have genuine power to decide what comes next and ownership over it, you are certainly pulling a face and perhaps that face is right to be pulled. But it's an interesting model stroke, hypothesis for can you make a game and sustain it that way?

My personal opinion is I think that could be a very successful model. I think that what I see, I think over the last couple of years is that games these days are really growing from word of mouth. I would say that's. Known for about the last five to six years that's the biggest way to pull in new people, is that, one of your friends is playing it, so you want to play it with them.

If there are games where you feel that, then you have ownership over it, and those sneaky devs are actually listening to you and doing what you want and doing things that are in favor of the player base, does that actually lead to an overall more profitable game, which was flew in the face of what was previous logic in yesteryear.

And I feel with the games industry getting more and more competitive, that perhaps that is the way to go because it means that, you have something genuine and that connection is gonna be the thing that keeps you in the game. There are so many games that you know, the truth is that if no video games came out from now to the rest of your life, you still wouldn't have enough time to play all of the video games that are out there.

And I'm sure that everyone, no matter how much of a gamer you are, you've missed out on some absolute incredible titles. It's just the way that it is. All I'm saying is I wouldn't rule this kind of thing out. I think that so far it's done it in quite a nice way. There's no sort of like power progression there.

It seems fairly fair the way that they've done it. Obviously Clash of Clans is a power progression game, so maybe it's not going to quite work in that space. And that would be my question for them actually. Like how you, you make that work in such a setting. But like I said, I think it's really interesting, one that definitely a lot of the industry will look at.

Perhaps it's a full start or perhaps it is another big, checkpoint on the way to seeing some kind of new tech and disruption in the games industry.

Devin: I think you touched on the most important topic, I think going forward for Web3 mobile, which is does this work for user acquisition? That's, yeah. If it succeeds in it because because the Web3 part, you're going to see more people do it. That's just how mobile works. It's a lot of Xerox machines out there. They see something that works. Everyone starts doing it because well it makes business sense to do that when it's, especially a lot of business people running these mobile game companies when you're so analytics data-driven, so numbers-driven, like it, if you see that work, you're gonna try and do it.

We saw what Thetan Arena did that you mentioned earlier, like that had a pretty big impact on people being very excited about that. But we didn't really see a lot of mobile hits come out after that, which was surprising because I don't wanna integrate mobile development, but it's certainly a little bit easier, I think, than say trying to develop four consoles or potentially even PC.

You had these potentially big AAA games coming out and stuff. It's why are, why isn't everyone just tagging into mobile? Obviously there was a lot of uncertainty around the app source and I think that contributed to. The slowness of this and like this idea of this renaissance, it might just be a delayed, Hey, we had to wait till we know what the policies were before we could truly commit.

And then success is like, and if arrivals helps show like, okay, there's some path here. I would be curious to see the actual details. 'cause I haven't dived into the implementation just yet, especially with a lot of the coming students on there of the implementation of Web3 because it's still a tricky space.

And I think as that gets fleshed out, that will help determine how much this becomes a bigger movement. Or if it's just, hey, like a nice note, and then if maybe six months from now we get another one, maybe not. But I think there are plenty of mobile games that struggle with user acquisition that would look at opportunities like, Hey, if we just did some airdrops in here, could we suddenly be like, I think to something like Blur was a good example of like, oh, how can you compete with open C?

Let's just. Get people super excited over airdrops. Yeah. And that worked out quite well for them. And whether it's sustainable or not doesn't really matter for them at the end. And I don't mean that as a pump and dump rug kind of thing. I just mean like it sometimes they, they could get enough of a flywheel or just sometimes, hey, it's successful enough.

No business lasts forever. And if they can last a year and do really well off that and then it crashes and birds, that's. Certainly not the worst business to run.

Anil: Obviously another, but that, that's something I'm quite curious on because perhaps maybe it is already a success. It's hard to say, but the amount of volume of the token that's already been traded, I don't know if their market making of their token, which means reinvesting it to, to maintain the price.

But it is possible, as you say, given how much it costs to make a mobile game, that they might already be ROI positive, in which case it would be a success. They can, obviously, I hope they do maintain it and keep the kind of community going, but as you say, like in the past, before live service games were a thing, how did the games used to work is you'd set a budget and if it meet your targets, then you light the sequel and if it doesn't, you move on to the next one.

Devin: How much money did I have left over after that game to do something else? Pretty much, yeah. Or DLC, maybe if you're lucky like, oh, we think we can squeeze a little more outta this.

Anil: The expansion pack model as well, right? As as the obvious used to be in the FTA. So yeah. Then we'll, we'll see how it goes.

 I think you're right. I think that would be a prediction I would make is I feel that maybe not this year, but I think what this year will really flesh out what will be then allowed with kind of Web3 and mass market, and we'll start to see that more next year. 'cause I feel that like this year will give us the answers and then the legislation will be made so that it rolls out.

Unfortunately, it still takes a bit of time, but this is still a great first start, I think, for doing that. So just so people know it's not currently working in the game and not at least what I could find, but. Supposedly they will have the ability to buy the Web3 assets inside the game using marketplace, using some kind of proxy part currency.

Devin: Maybe going with the kind of stepping route or something like that. Yeah, and that's the thing is that there are a lot of like hoops to jump through with mobile development for Web3, but I think there's also a lot of solutions to things that are relatively feasible, even if they're not fund implement.

And I think as we see more demonstrations of that the step in example I mentioned with their sort of like side currency to try and make Apple happy and things like that. I think in these situations if you manage to, pay the the troll under the bridge their fee you could pass as much as you need to.

And that's what it comes down to. As long as you're like legal and making sure Apple or Google get their cut, I think we'll see a lot more stuff be okay. And I think I. One of the things, that may contribute to more of these things if it's successful, right? Where it's like you people see a success, they will try and do more of it is like the tooling has improved over time.

There's more frameworks and SDKs and tools and stuff to where I. It's more doable in a shorter timeframe than it used to be. And so I, as I mentioned earlier, Heroes of Mafia is not like a new game. Like it didn't come outta nowhere. They announced it a long time ago. And that is one of the things too, you have to consider, is that they had an invested player base a long time ago, similar to a Kickstarter or something where they're invested in it, but it maybe even more financially than like a Kickstarter where you just have bought something ahead of time.

This is really like investing in the game and that, and it's not just tokens that I believe there was land. In this game as well. I, not sure.

Anil: Yeah, there were airdrops and things like that. Yeah. I thought as well, just before we move on to the next topic, is, I actually think that is, in my opinion, the thing that I've noticed with the sort of breakout games recently is they do tend to have this kind of grassroots into phenomenon type journey.

So they have an early version and some true believers that stick with them for a while. They're building like in the spare time secretly undercover, but they're always making the quality of the game or the fundamental gameplay loop really good. And then at some point it crosses a threshold where actually it is good and then they go big and then it sustains because it's good.

So yeah, maybe it is like a Kickstarter plus. But it is interesting because I, what I'm saying is I feel like that is. Proving to be a bit of a consistent way of being successful. And in the industry right now where it's big bets that you're making on and people generally trying to play it safe rather than scared, right?

Devin: Maybe that's, that, that's the way that you get around. And that's the thing too, is like a lot of the big companies, they're trying to make games. They're either trying to capitalize on IP or they're trying to do a bunch of soft launch testing on some idea that may be a clone or maybe like an iteration of something, and then just doing a whole bunch of.

Analytic stuff and then pumping for scale once they figure it out. But it's not really like community building. And I think Web3 whether you like it or not, has actually changed that quite a bit. Like they've really shifted people's mentality around community building on Discord especially. I think Discord has probably been the biggest beneficiary of Web3.

Time that doesn't get talked about often enough is just they get gaming in general.

Anil: I would say. I feel right. It's the—

Devin: And so it's one of those situations where like the community building was just ignored for a long time. Mobile was very not social, didn't have a lot of social aspect to it.

Reddit was the closest thing we had to communities around mobile games and may maybe occasional forums, but forums slowly died off in favor of stuff like Reddit. And so I think we're in a position now where community buildings should be maybe a little more considered earlier on.

People like working with community building stuff up instead of this idea of we just always have to rely on IP. If you're gonna build new IP, it can't always just be off of I'm gonna have a huge marketing campaign and shove this in everyone's face, and that's gonna build the IP. I think that model, yeah, still can work is a little expensive now. I think that's the big problem is it's

Anil: Do you think it can work? I'm not sure it can.

Devin: It can. It's, it is just, it's really expensive and a failure is a big failure. But even like with huge IP, it could still fail. Like we, like you said, even Disney has been struggling with their Marvel, IP and other things a lot.

Even with successful IP. So no surefire bets, but speaking of like the, the groundswells like uh, community sort of buildups and games, obviously you, we mentioned earlier, power World continues to do quite well with some big numbers coming out. We talked about it like early on and it's still growing.

Anil: That's what I just wanted to point out. We don't need to do like a big update on this, but it's now hit 19 million players. So you know, with these games that kind of come out of nowhere, I think recent examples would include, full guys would include among us, but these games didn't really sustain to include the 19 million players is pretty impressive, I would say.

And I think because it's based on kind of survival mechanics and arc style gameplay. I would suspect that whilst it may not sustain that amount of players, it will probably keep a lot of players for a long time. So I think this is now a big success. And yeah, a lot's been spoken about it, but I am very curious now to see what happens if this, because going back to our kind of recurring theme today of people not necessarily taking risks with new kind of mechanics and things like that.

If he already owned an existing IP or, I don't know, just to put it out there, if you at Disney, we've just seen the Pokemon with Guns Works. Does Disney characters have guns work?

Devin: I, I don't dunno. We got Disney Speedstorm so we could see them racing and then we've got 'em fighting and Mirrorverse stuff.

So like I feel like they're edging that. You never know. Maybe I could see it Gun.

Anil: I think if you made a Power World game with Disney IP.

Devin: I, that's the thing is it's if Disney did disney stuff with guns. There's no way that wouldn't sell. Like it's just a matter of whether or not they wanna protect the brand enough to not do that.

But I think there's no way that doesn't sell. Like it's just going to,

Anil: They don't have to be guns. Right? They can be super so because they're shooting right. Foam or whatever I mean you have people hitting each other with frying pans and stuff.  

Devin: Exact games. Exactly. Like obviously there's some level of weapons that like they're consider are okay to use.

Yeah. Or even in the Infinity Games I mentioned earlier, like they're still combat. So I don't know.

Anil: So that, that, that is, I'm sure this was discussed last week. But that would be my prediction is that which Major IP is going to take their mechanics and do their version of it first. Surely Pokemon have already greenlit their own version to do it.

Seeing as the game has literally proven what's them to do. But look, congratulations to them. And I always say that I think it's great in the games industry how no matter how corporate it sometimes feels in recent years and how consolidated it gets. They're in games. Something random like this can happen anytime, anywhere, out of nowhere.

And when it does, it always puts a smile on my face. You obviously hope it's gonna be you, but even if it's not you, I just think that it's like the soul of video games. There's something special about it that doesn't really exist elsewhere. Like I feel like even in movies these days, it's rare that you get like a movie that comes out of nowhere.

Like you used to occasionally have things like maybe Blair Witch Project or Saw or maybe Parasite to some degree, but that was quite hyped up in Korea, for example. But you, they, they never really become like massive successes, right? They just become more indie darlings, even if they're ROI positive.

But in video games, it still appears that you can come out of nowhere and do gangbusters, Baldur's Gate, another one I would say, although, that was a recognized mean. They'd been pretty successful before that.

Devin: That developed. Yeah.

Anil: That, that, that's why's pretty, that's why I'm putting an asterisk over.

But even then, the amount that they did is still incredibly impressive. I don't think anyone would've ever predicted that him to do that. So yeah, very nice story. Good to see that happening. And um, yeah who's gonna copy Power World first, I guess is our, the cynical take on it.

Devin: Yeah I think you're right on that.

At the very least people will try. It's just a question of whether someone with like strong IP will do it, I think the question mark is like, will someone actually risk their IP to do it? But I think there's some IP that are a lot looser or more sense of humor than others.

I honestly don't, I can't see like game Freak or Nintendo doing it. But at the same time, like they have, you've got a MOBA, Pokemon Unite, like, where they're willing to fight each other. There, obviously if you think about it, Pokemon's entirely based around combat. So it's not

I was, had a Pokemon snap I guess. So it's not I guess too far fetched but we'll see. It's a, It's definitely nice to see. As you said though there was a pretty interesting story and I, we touched on it before, just the whole story around their game development and the struggles they went through and the risks and stuff.

I'm not saying go out and copy that. It was probably a hair away from being just a complete failure. No one ever heard about, but I'm sure they did some community building and stuff like that as we were just talking about. And I think built that up. But it is interesting to see like that particular genre have some staying power.

We talk about oh, how long will this last? It's even, stuff like Valheim lasted quite a while. I think most of the games that I've had some early success in that genre tend to stick around. You look at stuff like Ark, it stuck around quite a long time.

And even like you still see some of the smaller ones like the forest into the Sons of the forest and stuff like that. As long as they have some unique hook, they tend to stick around for like longer.

Anil: Yeah. Those games, I feel, from a meta kind of view and a design standpoint, I think they're well suited to that.

That's the, like my previous examples that I gave, like full guys and among us, what they had was, it was so easy to get into and you could understand it really quickly, but there wasn't really that much to retain you. These type of games, they're very sticky loops, you are playing as that progression.

It's like how with power, it's like, how many powers can you get? That's literally gotta collect them all with Pokemon, right? Gotta catch 'em all. So I think that alone makes it like a sticky game and it's easy enough to keep the content treadmill going. So yeah, I think this is one that, like I say I don't think it'll maintain those numbers, I mean in terms of CCU, but I feel this will be here for a while and it won't just be a fad.

Devin: Yeah. And I think it's also worth noting, like they very quickly seem to make a deal with Microsoft for Xbox live, and that must have been like. Less than a week of deal making. Like they were probably on the phone like twenty-four, seven, making that work. And so that's a big, I think, coup for Microsoft to pull that off and like pull them over as quick as possible make that huge deal.

I remember seeing something like in the indie movie, wasn't there like some big thing with meat Boy and like that whole thing where like trying to negotiate a deal to be in the part of their indie thing, like that was a big, like back and forth. I feel like it was like that kind of scenario with just these sort of frantic phone calls to try and make it in that window.

And I think obviously that helped. We talk about the 19 million and that was 12 million on PC, which of course like it's been dominating steam. It's like right now just below Counterstrike too, but it was like above it at one point. Even it was like the top game on Steam period and getting above Valve's games is never easy.

That's a rare feat. It usually like down in the hall of fame of like peak gamers at that point. But they did manage to pull it off and they're still right. Like I said checked earlier today, still just below Counter-Strike two. So they did obviously quite well in PC, but like Xbox 7 million of that and that obviously I don't know if that counts people just playing on Game Pass, but if it doesn't like, then, yeah, maybe they cannibalize some sales for Game Pass players like that were just like, Hey, I'll play it on Game Pass.

But I think because even with that weak delay, everyone jumped on it already. Like by, by the time it came outta Game Pass a week later, everyone already probably owned it at that point that was gonna play it or at least tried it out there. And my point around that though is even if they don't sell anymore, I gotta imagine the deal they have with Microsoft is still gonna continue to bring them money around the Game Pass version.

So even like non-continued sales will still help them succeed if that continues to be a game that's played on Game Pass. 'cause if it's still played a lot on Game Pass, Microsoft will obviously wanna keep it on Game Pass because that helps keep people around on the subscription because it's a subscription.

Therefore, anything that keeps people playing is a positive for that subscription. So that's like a very positive situation for them because it's a type of game where you do invest in your Server or your world and you build it up and like people have a sunk cost like we were talking about earlier.

So it's a very interesting situation for them to be in where I think they could sustain a good amount of income for a while, at the very least to actually consider what they wanna do next, whether that's a Power World two or treat this more like a live service ongoing thing for a long time.

Like they definitely have a lot of opportunities and options at this point. It is good, as you said, to see, and hopefully they spend the money wisely and don't go do a bunch of dumb stuff with it, but. In terms of live service stuff, there was one last thing we wanted to touch on, which is not like a news topic in of itself necessarily, but it is related to a game that was just released, which is we talked a little bit about this before in a couple different ways, which was around live service games like, uh, people, I.

Like maybe shine off them even a little bit. And then also we've heard from people jumping on them, like it's been back and forth and Wb uh, Warner Brothers was one of the companies that was like suddenly very bullish on it. And it seems every article I saw on that was mentioning that in a way that they almost like, felt like they missed the boat on doing that with Hogwarts legacy.

Like they were like, darn it, if only I'd done that with Hogwarts legacy, I'd be rich now. Like that, like almost regret around that. It seemed to be the con, the context for that announcement to me. Not in so many words, but like a subtext. And so they've been trying to make that shift to live service games.

They know that they had games slated for 2024 that aren't going to make that. So like the two games that they have. Announced I believe won't be Life Service Games. At least the Wonder Woman Game supposedly will not be single player. And then the Harry Potter Quidditch game. Quidditch Champions, I believe it's called.

Doesn't seem like it will be I don't think they've specifically said it will not be, but that is one that is multiplayer. But bringing it back to the games that have come out the reason I'm bring this up is I wanna question whether or not this is a strategy that they've been executing well on, and whether it's been a good idea for them to be as maybe overly enthusiastic as they have been about it.

Again, we don't know what they're, what they have planned for past 2024, but the two games that have come out like in this strategy have been Mortal Kombat one, which was really Mortal Kombat 12. For those of you who don't know their insane numbering system or

Anil: Injustice three or it's 12, what can you do?

Devin: You believe? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So there was that, which was, which shifted a lot of stuff from Mortal Kombat eleven's like design into like live service. Most meaning like they piece mailed it out. They stretched out some of the content, like in terms of characters, like took a lot of outta the main game and stretch them out.

Did a lot of modifications to the game to support service model, which. Hasn't gone down. 100% great. And I'll get into the detail of that. But the other one being the suicide Squad game, which just came out. And the big thing around that was from the developers of the Arkham Asylum series of Batman games that was very highly regarded.

That sort of trilogy that ended. It was at 2015 or Arkham Knight, I believe came out. And so it's been a while since they released one of those. And it was a big deal. And also like Kevin Conroy's passing was like a big point of contention with it, but we won't get into that. But it's unfortunate.

Kevin Conroy definitely one of the best. But it, it definitely was a big shift for them into live service because they've been developing the single-player games. Obviously Mortal Kombat wasn't a single-player, but it wasn't truly live service. This one was like shifting from single-player to live service looter shooter, almost like Destiny or something like that sort of model where it's very grind-heavy.

 This story ends before really the live service starts and then it's like artificially stretched out past then. And for games that are built around their story and their immersion and that sort of single-player experience into this different co-op shooter experience it, it hasn't seemed like it's worked out great.

And it's a little early to be a hundred percent on that. But I do think if we look at the numbers around these games and the responses, stuff like that, it is looking like they could be maybe putting the cart before the horse when it comes to converting at least established franchises into this model.

And that's what I worry about because WB is more than happy to constantly beat their chest about their IP and their franchises. So I would expect that is where they will plan to use this stuff. First off, I just get your take on sort of Mortal Kombat being a street fighter, you know, fighter fan in general.

I'm sure you have lots of opinions of it, but also anything you have to say about suicide. Squad. I haven't had a chance to play it, but definitely.

Anil: It seems like growing pains for WB with their live service strategy, which is not surprising. It's funny how you see so many companies pulling out from it.

I think it's one of those things that you have to have conviction for because if you're going to do it, you're not gonna solve it immediately. You've gotta stick the course and, for a successful as Fortnite has been. Remember that game was in development for around seven years and didn't exactly have a smooth start, A huge pivot.

Yeah. Yeah. They changed the game. Let's be honest. If it wasn't for PUBG, I think the game would've failed. But they spotted that and managed to change and put that game mode in. So that's what I mean about are you going to stick with something or not. I do think what's a bit weird with WB though, is that there's some of the games they choose to be live service.

Is it the right pick? Like certainly of suicide, Squad. That was one of the big of, well you are kind of, yeah. Your reaction here for those on the video you can see is very similar. But you know, As you say, for a studio that was so known for making these great single-player games, even though they did move more to open world over time.

Is that the sort of, with characters in the story, can you really sustain that as a live service? It doesn't seem like a good fit. I know they had some technical problems, but you've also got a studio that doesn't have experience in building those games. So if you put that all together, would you expect that to be a super smooth smash hit right out the park?

I probably wouldn't, would be just my, not knowing anything but just 50 foot view of things. Mortal combat I think is an interesting one. It's funny 'cause you asked me, what do I think of it in terms of being like a fighting game? And I've always said that like, as weird as this sounds, it's um, I don't really consider it a traditional fighting game per se.

I don't think that's a bad thing. I've always felt that it has more of a kind of casual flavor to it rather than an arcade view. So people I know who play that game, they are more from the casual standpoint. They get enjoyment through playing the game for the story for the characters. And I would ask

Devin: Which Mortal Kombat you're talking about that starts with though, 'cause I, I don't think that applies to like one and two.

Maybe no, because they, where do you feel like that starts, right?

Anil: Yeah. Yeah. So I would say I, I think it was four. It's whichever the first series was that didn't come out in the arcade. I personally do remember playing Mortal Kombat three and Ultimate three in the arcade. So I think when you're an arcade game, you're still by definition competitive because you're literally putting your quarters in and you're saying, I'm better than you, or you are better than me.

They've been, let's play and let's have a best of three kind of thing. When you've gone to console, then you are, you're realizing you've got like a different demographic and their series has always essentially had the gimmick to sell it, which is fatalities, I dunno if you've seen, but in Mortal Kombat one, they have extra fatalities that you can buy as DLC, right?

So they're looking to monetize what is the gimmick of the game that is.

Devin: That is a great example. I would say like of the live servicing.

Anil: Yeah. But I guess my point is that the right way to live service it? So I will say that a lot of fighting games, it has surprised me that more fighting games haven't gone down the live service route.

I've always been shocked actually that neither street Fighter nor Tekken tried it. Because I feel like if you were to do the League of Legends model where you start with two champions or two characters, and then you can try out or then buy the other characters outright, that how many more people would you reach?

Devin: And in my opinion, I think you would reach a ridiculous amount because I, but you have a whole issue of competitive landscape when it comes to paying for characters has always been a huge point of contention though.

Anil: But you could grind to get those characters too, right? Right. So it could be that, like if you are just a free to play player, if you played a game every day for two years, you'll actually end up with eight characters.

But if you wanted the whole 36, you have to pay for them.

Devin: Yeah. As you said, like obviously League of Legends has their own model around that sort of thing. Yeah. That does show that like competitive landscape can still have.

Anil: Yeah. Character rotation things. I, I get your point, but I mean, my, all I say is that I feel that like, especially with those games, the reason it surprised me is the one thing that they've proven over the years is they have incredible gameplay that people will stick around and they want to play it over and over again.

So if you've got something as sticky as that, what your barrier to entry is, getting people to try it in the first place, if it's free and there's no commitment, people are way more likely to try it. So I think from that sense it can make a lot of sense, as you say, with Mortal, Kombat, the live ification as you, if that's a word, but we're making it a word now.

Yeah. But if you are going to do that. If you already have an initial upfront cost, then you know, are people going to stick around? Now, to be fair, I do know that in Mortal Kombat, the people who play that game, they're not so interested in the online play. They're more interested in the other kind of modes, or they have a kind of towers mode or conquest mode and things like this that are essentially grind the RPG mechanics.

I dunno if you've ever played the Mortal Kombat mobile games, but they're not fighting games. They might look like. Yeah, I saw one that came out recently.

Devin: Yeah. Yeah. I played a bit of that one as well as the Street Fighter one, which were both very different takes for sure.

Anil: Yeah, because they're not really fighting games.

They look like them, but they're not. They're RPGs in disguise, so you could go there. Yeah, look I, what I know is that I feel that players feel that Mortal Kombat one was rushed. It didn't feel like a finished game when it came

Devin: out and it was live service gaming off to release it completed.

Anil: But perhaps you do that seems to your philosophy. Yeah. I, look, I would say that even a lot of games have got that wrong. Like street Fighter got it wrong with Street Fighter five two, which is that if the game comes out and it's not as good as the previous one you are, it, you are starting off in a bad set.

Devin: Yeah. You probably should finish that first before putting that out.

Anil: Yeah. It's notable that both Street, Fighter, VI and Tekken eight, which has just come out recently, both of those had extremely strong launches because the opinion, especially from the hardcore players is that on day one they were very well-rounded.

That they had a lot of content and good gameplay, Street Fighter, VI having amazing NetCode and that kind of got him off over there. Because as we're saying here. This MK has not really sold so much, whereas the previous one got great sales, it hit 15 million. It's still the highest selling, fighting game out of all of them.

Even though I've said that it's not really a fighting game, it's more of a kind of single player game. But with this one, if they've already on the da, the decline, it's hard to see them picking up. And so I fear for that franchise a little bit. And perhaps if you are gonna plan live service, it's still important that the base product is good enough to retain player interest.

So they want to keep there. It's a difficult one to say. What I can see is that. Yeah, they're still obviously a bit far away. I mean, you know, WB also had Multiverses, right? Which is the game you really like.

Devin: And that also true, so that's what I'll get you after is that's the next one in the, in the volley.

But it's like, it's a relaunch rather than a first launch. So yeah, unless you consider that beta was actually a beta. But of course like if you could spend money and buy season passes and stuff, let's be honest, that's not

Anil: a beta. What I would say, and which I would guess would worry me is what have they learned?

Because none of these games just seemingly had a good smooth launch. That's still, that's the big test, right?

Devin: Yeah. Is if they come out and they've learned a lot. They actually had a chance to try it out, but they were free. And I think that's a big differences. The verses wasn't coming out.

It was a platform fight, a game. So more similar to Smash brothers and that like. but it was also still a fighting game and it's, had characters you could buy and things like that, what you're talking about. But it also was free to begin with and I think, it was hugely successful.

It used IP as well, it definitely flexed Warner's IP quite a bit as well as, I still see to this day like. Pretty much every day on the sub, there's people talking about what characters should come in. So being like a cross-IP thing was clearly a big win for them. But it is going to be a big question because there is like no information on what's changing with the relaunch.

And there's like these weird sort of like, uh, Promotions that came out in McDonald's, in like Germany that may have just been like delayed promotion deals that weren't even relevant yet. But supposedly it's launching some time. Early this year. So like that may be like next month, whatever. A lot of people speculating that it was meant to kind of like wait till the suicide squad stuff was done and then follow up.

It is important to bring up to see like, did they learn from that? Because their big problem was around monetization and retention were like very difficult for a Smash brothers style game because that's difficult to, but we still have games like Brawlhalla that are managing to survive.

So clearly it's, there's some model that works and that also is dipped into cross IP and stuff. So it's just a question of like, yeah, if, did they learn anything? And if they do, that would be valuable learning, I think for WB in general. Yeah, so like they, they pretty much took a year off that game, which can't have been cheap to be spending on that.

I doubt they like scaled the team down to retrofit it either a lot. So they probably were working very hard on it, like expensive. So hopefully it's a case where like they were essentially investing in here's how live service should work. Obviously we'll find out, when it comes back out it was free so obviously you could try it when it comes back out unless for.

Pivot it to, to pay. But that is a big difference is both Mortal, Kombat and suicide Squad were paid up front Games meant to continue to monetize you after that. And the big complaint I see in any review of them is even the positive reviews are like, this game's too expensive, violent something.

Anil: Oh, there you go. There you go.

Devin: Yeah. Clearly the upfront price is a big part of that hurting the games. And obviously you go back to the original Mortal Kombat, you had to pay quarters to, to play every, practically every fight you did. It was always pay-to-play, but this, that, shift the mentality around buying upfront and then continuing to milk for money.

I don't know if it always works great, but I think, their older model wasn't so bad. Like, So I was a pretty lapsed Mortal Kombat player and hadn't really played one much since. Like three probably, but 11 brought me back in because of the DLC. Which was, Robocop, Terminator, I think it was Rambo.

I was just like, dude, I'm gonna play this Robocop Terminator. I don't care. I bought the game like at two different systems because of that. I bought the full complete editions so that I got the DLC with it. Like they brought me back in. But if that was like a live service model and I was having to buy that game and then do some weird Grinding stuff or all this other stuff to get it, like that wouldn't have sold me the same way that did.

And that brought me in as a Mortal Kombat player to the point where I was like actually excited to see what one would do, and then they dropped the ball in my opinion with that. And it's interesting to see like that upfront cost as well seems to not be helping. Retention, obviously it helped their initial profit, right?

The way they supposedly sold 3 million copies, but they haven't said anything since that, and that's the part that makes me suspicious. They announced that when they hit the 3 million, which was like very early on. And then had been dead size since. I couldn't find any numbers after that. And that was, quite a while as it was.

September I think was when they, when it launched and they, you know, I think they announced those numbers, I think like maybe a month or so after. And they were like, just to give steam numbers as an example, they were like 14 K average players. That's the average, not peak. And they're all the way down now to one of the lowest of all the fighting games at like, what was it uh, 1.7, which is, that is below games that have been out since 2021.

What was it? Uh, Guilty gear Strive, which, still has some life in it. That's hitting evil again for the third time. It's like it's got some life in it, but it's a 2021 game and that never had big numbers, but it still managed to hold. In the thousands on average players, and it's 1.9 right now.

And you've also got like 1.9 for what was it? Grand blue fantasy versus, which is rising, which is, I'm sure like the aficionados have been all over that, but that's not a game a lot of people have heard of. And if that's hurting worse than a huge franchise on its 12th game, that's not a good sign for a live service.

Like the whole point of live service is that retention. Obviously we don't have numbers for console. These are console. Centric games more to be fair, like the numbers would be better on Xbox or PS five or maybe not switch the reviews on Switch tend to be very negative in terms of performance and stuff.

Anil: No, but you still have a point. It though that's, those seem shots do tend to be indicative because if we compare that to 11, 11 still had quite a strong base even years after the election.

Devin: 11 almost has more than one does right now.

11, I think it was 1.7 or like 1.5. Like it's actually close. They shouldn't be Neck-and-neck. Yeah, I mean I know Battlefield Four, for example, was one of those kind games that would hang around. But this is not this is supposed to be a pass the Torch franchise not a Go Backwards franchise.

Exactly. So this I just think this is a, an indicator that maybe WB needs to like, calm their excitement for a minute and like if these games that they're working on now aren't coming out this year, I. Take a breath and think about their strategy so they're not just excited about the next Harry Potter thing.

They can slam live service onto and make sure that it makes this 'cause like even Harry Potter, is that a really a good fit, like for Harry Potter to become a live service game for the same reason? Was suicide Squad a good fit? Maybe if you have the right developer who knows how to do that correctly and this is nothing against the Rocksteady, they're fantastic developers.

Like they, they make a great game. So like I still see a lot of positive reviews and it, right now it's still at very positive on Steam with like about 84% positive last checked. So there's still people, a lot of people enjoy the game play, but like I said, even the positive reviews that are part of that 84% are like, skips too expensive, buy it on sale.

Like it's not enough for them to refund it, but they wouldn't buy it again, kind of thing. So it's, this is a difficult position to be in where you're charging full price for these games and uh, and you know, obviously looking at a street, Fighter six is still doing Better Tech and eight, which just came out as doing better.

And these are games that aren't like, as you said, leaning super hard and lean the into live service. But they are, doing DLC, right? They're doing more like what you would expect from these games, which is let's release a solid game and then continue to expand on it. Not let's release a rushed game and then piece-mail it out so that people have to wait, a month between each thing and get quote-unquote excited about it.

It's clearly not seeming to work from, in my opinion. Obviously Suicide Squad is a little early to be sure, but I do see them already starting to tank in terms of number of players. And it's fairly low number of players for that type of game. That's a co-op multiplayer game, which means you, you're expected to be at least more than one person.

So the number of players matters even more than, like a one-v-one fighting game would, for example. So it's not looking great. Obviously multiverse is struggled and may or may not be able to come back. I really hope it does as a fan of that game, just 'cause it was a fun game. I liked it and uh, and it was free and there's no reason not to jump in and have a good time as long as you wanted to.

And it wasn't overly monetized, it wasn't stringing you along with stuff. If you wanted characters, you get 'em. They weren't crazy. It just didn't have the retention. That's, and that's the problem I see with a lot of this stuff when we talk about people backing away from live service games is retention is not an easy thing to do.

And it's hard to do it without skewing the game in negative ways. But you could do it positive ways. It's just not easy. It's not the easy lift. So I feel like we'll have to wait and see the other IP that they, they have, that they've mentioned that I do think, obviously DC outside of just suicide, Squad the Wonder Woman game, like I said, is not tagged to be like, this must be open world whatever.

And it surprisingly, I noticed it was from like a developer I'm surprised it's still doing cool stuff like monolith, which I. It goes way back to like blood and Shogo and stuff. But uh, cool to see they're still around doing stuff and I they're a good developer, so I do expect if they were to do something that they would also be able to do it well.

But I don't think that's going live service. But there's also Harry Potter, as I mentioned, and Game of Thrones is one they've teased a couple times that I could see them going more in that direction. And they didn't mention, I don't know if they have still deals around Lord of the Rings, but that was what Monolith had done previously to this was the Shadows of Mordor games, which were quite good.

I don't know we'll have to see, but obviously there's a lot of different directions you can go with any given IP. So there could be something very appropriate in DC that makes sense for live service and just have the right developer and, I dunno think about it correctly, because. I hate to see them, them screw this up with good IP.

And especially with franchises, going back to the 12th game now. And as a side note, I just happened to catch a a really great documentary on Midway that includes a lot of, like the early stuff on YouTube called Insert Coin, I think it was. Oh yeah. Okay. I'm sure. But I do recommend anyone who's curious about the early Midway people and their mentality, just, it's a fan.

I think it's a fun watch. I think it's, if you wanna see how Mortal Kombat developed originally, I think that's a great one. And it's just on YouTube, so I think you just watch it for free. But definitely recommend checking that out if you're interested in the early roots of like those people just doing crazy stuff and not thinking about it from my observers, but still thinking about monetization, which was interesting.

Like, They're very much like how they're doing the sales of the, it's quarter by quarter, and I don't mean a fiscal quarter. A literal quarter twenty-five cents at a time was their mentality at that point. And so it's a very interesting, I think, contrast to looking at and in context for something like Mortal, Kombat one.

So we'll see, obviously like Tekken eight for examples, is pretty new Multiverse come back out yet. Street Fighter six may or may not have a long lifespan. It has, dipped a bit in terms of player base. We'll see. I don't, I, I'm not ruling Mortal Kombat one out yet, but I do expect that they're going to have to work to earn things back a little bit.

They the, the scores on Metacritic are not great. The reviews are mixed on Steam. While suicide Squad has had a better start, I do expect that will also potentially suffer a similar fate if they don't find some way to pick that up. Just wordly wise, if you're doing live service games, like just think it through a little, think it through.

Anil: Yeah, I, I would always say take your time. I think it's interested, you mentioned the multiverses. Just to put it out there, of course I get it, that portfolio slates a planned years in advance of revenue targets, so it's easy for me to say this, but if I was someone like a Sony or something similar, I think rather than committing to having all my games live service right away, I would choose one kind of smaller IP and or game and studio and use it as a testing ground and really just work it out so that you can fail 5, 6, 7 times if need be, until you really learn what you need to do.

And then once you've got one that is a success, then you look to bridge it out. I suppose to be fair to Sony, who've bought Bungie, they probably think that because they have the Destiny IP now in their, they're stable that they've already got that. But yeah, for example, in WB, I think just if you make your entire slate like that.

It's and you haven't had one success. Yeah. It just feels like you're making the same mistake in different ways, multiple times rather than solving the core issue. Like I said, I guess that's one way to learn. Yeah. Yeah, I suppose so. It's a more expensive way to learn, but yeah, like I say, it's, I just wanna say that's a very easy thing for me to say and point a critical.

I get how it works in these big organizations, but my experience is that the amount of times, I think we've discussed it many times on this show or off air, that to get a live service game working, it's like fundamental shift in the way that everything is done. It's not just the case of the game quality and things like that.

I mean, It's interesting how early you mentioned how you felt making mobile games was easier than console and PC, but I feel now. Yes, I was gonna say that I thought in, in the, the space year 2024, which is now where we live, that's not, so the case may maybe from the pure artistry and visuals required Yeah.

I'm some of the technical aspects as well. Yeah, Yeah. But if you include the overall package, I think you'll find that there's different problems that are just complex and different. There you go.

Devin: Yeah. I'll end this with one final thought. Obviously, WB needs to just bring Harry Potter over to Fortnite.

Anil: It's not the worst idea done, obviously that's the solution. But with a 2 billion investment. Yeah. 'cause they'll have to increase. Yeah, you gotta step it up.

Devin: Come on. You can't just match. If you want priority access or, they could bring DC or I, I'm not sure if DC ever had a Fortnite crossover.

I don't recall. But where's the DC versus Marvel, fight in Fortnite. There we go. Anyways. Yeah that's the final thought there. I think uh, we actually ended up with quite a bit to discuss on these topics and I think, as you said, like a lot of interesting stuff happening this year.

And definitely keep your ear to the ground because there's just a lot of people trying to work out a lot of interesting problems. I think that's worth highlighting is that it's not easy money but there's a lot of money to go around it seems. So definitely gotta figure that out, but we'll help you figure it out as well, you know, with uh, trying to bring the insights we can from the news and interesting things going on.

But I wanna thank of course, you listener and Anil for managing to make it thankfully no, no floods over there, although I'm sure it rains plenty.

Anil: It is raining right now, actually. At least you're on an island, so you're fine.

Devin: Yeah. But but yeah, thanks everyone for tuning in and I think. We may or may not catch you guys next week.

I think we're still trying to figure out the schedule for the next holiday week, but just stay tuned and uh, thanks for listening.

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