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subdirectory_arrow_right Epic Games (Company)
In May 2024, the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) fined Epic Games €1,125,000 for using "unfair commercial practices" aimed at children in Fortnite. The investigation found that Epic Games "exploited [the] vulnerabilities" of children through design choices in the game's Item Shop. Examples include the use of demanding phrases like "get it now" or "buy now" on certain advertisements, which the ACM deemed an "illegal aggressive commercial practice", as well as countdown timers that were used on some ads for items still available in the shop after the countdown ended, exploiting a fear of missing out by making items that were still available for sale falsely seem scarce. Epic Games immediately made changes to the game in response to this report, including removing countdown timers worldwide and adding time indicators for shop refreshes and item removal dates. As of May 24, 2024, players under 18 years of age in the Netherlands can only see items available for 48 hours or more in the store. However, the company still planned to appeal the decision, claiming that the ACM's findings contain factual errors about how Fortnite and the Item Shop operate.
Skull and Bones
Despite incorporating several elements common in a live-service game (i.e. an in-game store, a battle pass, seasonal events, and premium currency), Skull and Bones was given a price tag of $70. Yves Guillemot, the CEO of Ubisoft, justified this during an investors call before the game's release, stating:

"It's a very big game and we feel that people will really see how vast and complete that game is. So it's a really full triple-A, quadruple-A game that will deliver in the long run."

It's worth noting, however, that the game cost $200 million due to its decade-long development, with Ubisoft admitting that they did not think they would be able to break even due to its poor launch. Knowing this, it can be inferred that Ubisoft insisted on referring to Skull and Bones as a "quadruple-A" title not because of the scope of the project, but for how abnormally long it took to produce and raised the price to recoup costs, because this was not the first or only game they called a AAAA title in the past. It was discovered as far back as 2020 on the LinkedIn pages of several Ubisoft employees that they referred to Skull and Bones, the also long-delayed Beyond Good & Evil 2, and later Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, all games with development times lasting at least six years, as AAAA titles in their work experience.
person chocolatejr9 calendar_month April 29, 2024
Company: Funomena
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person chocolatejr9 calendar_month March 26, 2024
Platform: Nintendo Switch
subdirectory_arrow_right Nintendo (Company)
In 2020, hackers Gary Bowser and Max "MAXiMiLiEN" Louarn were arrested and extradited to the United States for money laundering and selling products meant to crack the Nintendo Switch's copy protection to run pirated copies of games. The two were members of Team Xecuter, a hacking group which specialized in similar measures for a large number of Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft consoles. In 2021, Bowser pled guilty on conspiracy and trafficking charges and was sentenced to 40 months in prison; Nintendo later filed a separate civil suit against him, which together with the prison sentence left him $14.5 million in debt. The company's legal department claimed during the court case that the unusually severe punishments were intended to send a chilling effect through the piracy world, intimidating would-be hackers by using Bowser's punishment as an example.

Following the case, multiple news outlets noted the irony of Gary Bowser's last name, which is shared with Nintendo of America president Doug Bowser and Mario series antagonist Bowser.
person ProtoSnake calendar_month February 2, 2024
Sunset Overdrive
subdirectory_arrow_right Insomniac Games (Company)
In the 2023 Insomniac Games ransomware data leak, a leaked financial document revealed the development costs, sales, and shares for every game Insomniac has worked on for years. Sunset Overdrive, a 2014 Xbox and PC exclusive game co-developed by Insomniac, sold 1,898,433 units for a total of $49,737,133, but only netted the company $567 in profit after costs had been divided. This is a testament to the fact that a modern game has to sell exorbitant amounts for the development studio to make back what it often invests in creating it, possibly being an indicator of why Insomniac pivoted to making games based on financially lucrative Marvel Comics properties.
The Last of Us Part II
subdirectory_arrow_right The Last of Us (Franchise)
Attachment At E3 2018, it was initially confirmed that The Last of Us Part II would feature a multiplayer mode, following the Factions online multiplayer mode featured in The Last of Us that received more uniformly positive praise from fans and critics compared to the main game. However, in September 2019, the same month the PlayStation 3 servers for the original Factions mode were shut down, it was revealed that Part II would solely focus on a single-player narrative, and that development on the multiplayer mode had been spun-off from the main game to continue work separately. Throughout 2020 and 2021, Naughty Dog increased job openings related to the multiplayer mode's development and continued seeking out additional staff to work on it, implying that it had increased in scope to a full game.

At Summer Game Fest 2022, Neil Druckmann showed off the game's first piece of concept art and confirmed that they were working on it as its own game, revealing that the team's ambitious scope had caused it to be "as big" as the single-player modes. The game would feature its own storyline that would be told in a unique way compared to the previous two games, take place in a new location in the United States (presumably San Francisco based on the art featuring the South of Market neighborhood and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge), and feature brand new characters.

The development of the game, which was later revealed in 2023 to be named "The Last of Us Online", was led by co-game directors Anthony Newman and Vinit Agarwal, and narrative lead Joseph Pettinati. Starting with the Summer Game Fest appearance, Druckmann reiterated that more details on the game would be revealed in 2023, and shared a second piece of concept art in January of that year.

In May, it was revealed in a Bloomberg article that Sony had scaled back development on the game and moved many of its developers to other projects, with Naughty Dog putting out their own statement on Twitter shortly after the article's release which revealed that they "realized what's best for the game is to give it more time." As a result of Sony's more recent heavy investments into "games as a service" (GaaS) products in an attempt to centralize control over and make more money on its games after release, they requested Bungie, a studio which Sony had recently acquired in July 2022, to re-evaluate the game. Bungie questioned its ability to maintain player engagement for long periods of time, which was ultimately what caused Sony to intervene.

According to Naughty Dog in a December 2023 blog post, the entire time since the multiplayer mode was first being worked on for The Last of Us Part II in 2018, The Last of Us Online had still been in pre-production, with the multiplayer developers' vision changing and taking time to form into something they were more satisfied with. With Sony's GaaS investments affecting the game, if they wanted to put the game into full production, they would need to take all of their resources away from the single-player games they had become known for and switch to a fully live service model with the ability to put out long-term post-launch content updates.

After Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells retired in July, the company faced an internal restructuring, eventually leading to at least 25 contracted developers being laid off from Naughty Dog's staff in October, contributing to a wave of layoffs across the video game industry at the time. With a reduced, restructured workforce and other major upcoming single-player projects at the helm, Naughty Dog was inequipped to become a live service studio, and announced in December that they cancelled the development of The Last of Us Online after more than three years of work.
person ProtoSnake calendar_month December 17, 2023
E3 2018 confirmation article:

Multiplayer standalone game update articles:

Naughty Dog tweet confirming continued development:

Naughty Dog multiplayer job listings increase article and blog post:

Summer Game Fest 2022 announcement and first piece of concept art:

Second piece of concept art:

Development scaling back article:

Naughty Dog co-president retirement and restructuring:

October layoffs article:

Naughty Dog statement on scaling back development:

Cancellation articles and blog post:
In 2023, Activision Blizzard was ordered to pay $35 million by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over its failures to maintain proper workplace disclosure controls and violations of whistleblower protections. The fine was imposed due to the company’s failure to ensure proper employee protections against workplace harassment and gender discrimination, which led to many women leaving the company. The SEC used a 2021 lawsuit by the state of California’s Civil Rights Department against Activision Blizzard to launch its own investigation meant to determine whether the firm’s handling of the situation constituted a breach of its fiduciary duty to investors. The proceedings were started after the company’s home state charged it with violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act in summer 2021.
Alan Wake II
Reportedly, Alan Wake II's budget stands at €70 million: €50 million was spent on development, while the remaining €20 million was spent on marketing. This makes the game one of the most expensive cultural products in the history of Finland.
person chocolatejr9 calendar_month December 12, 2023
[Both sources are in Finnish.]


Most expensive cultural product statement:
Missile Command
subdirectory_arrow_right Imagic (Company), Atari (Company)
Attachment When the Atari 2600 conversion of Missile Command released, the conversion's developer, Rob Fulop, was not paid in money by Atari, but rather a coupon for one free turkey at the American supermarket chain Safeway. Rob Fulop left to co-found Imagic as a result of this.