In this week’s news, Epic Games announces $1.78 billion in funding, Blizzard faces employee complaints over unfair pay, and pundits debate the potential impact of President Trump’s Tencent ban on the gaming industry.
An Epic round of funding
Epic Games, creator and publisher of the massively popular “Fortnite” game, announced a $1.78 billion round of funding — which the company says gives it a post-money equity valuation of $17.3 billion. The round includes the previously announced $250 million strategic investment from Sony Corp., under which Sony obtained a 1.4% stake in Epic. Following the closing of the funding round, Epic will remain controlled by founder and CEO Tim Sweeney. CNBC noted that while most gamers know Epic for its battle royale blockbuster Fortnite, it’s Unreal game engine software was likely a major driver of this valuation. VentureBeat and Variety both pointed out that Sony’s massive investment indicates that more entertainment related events like their virtual Travis Scott concert are likely on the horizon for Fortnite.
Employees demand that Blizzard pay up
Following an internal announcement around new compensation structures which greatly stunt employee pay raises, employees at Blizzard circulated an anonymous salary spreadsheet and began compiling requests for Blizzard management demanding fair pay and benefits. . Bloomberg’s Jason Schrier reviewed the internal company messages, and reported that most of the pay increases given after Blizzard’s study were less than 10%, significantly less than most people expected. This comes as parent company Activision-Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick continues making a staggering yearly salary. In the Bloomberg report,Blizzard employees described having to skip meals to make rent, while one veteran claims they are making less now than they were with Blizzard almost a decade ago. Last year, Blizzard was asked by parent company Activision Blizzard to cut costs, resulting in hundreds of cut jobs, with new responsibilities foisted onto remaining workers without a pay increase. Gamespot reported that it was telling that same story has repeated for a number of years, even as the company posts record profits. Forbes also published an opinion piece citing this incident as proof that discussing salary with co-workers should be normalized.
Gaming industry concerned about Trump’s Tencent ban
President Donald Trump signed an executive order yesterday that will prohibit Americans from making transactions with the Chinese-owned company, Tencent. This led many gamers to worry about the fate of games developed by studios Tencent owns such as Riot Games, makers of League of Legends and Valorant, and Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite. Specifically, The Verge and Quartz published articles speculating on the potential impact of the ban on the gaming world. However, new information suggests this order will not include Tencent’s gaming portfolio. When the order was announced the wording suggested that all of Tencent’s properties would be included in the ban, meaning many of the biggest games in the world could be impacted. However, a report from LA Times reporter Sam Dean reveals that the order is only to prevent WeChat transactions, and all of Tencent’s gaming portfolio is not included in the order. Forbes pointed out that the amount of gaming companies Tencent has a stake in is quite surprising, and shows just how much influence the company has in the gaming world — meaning that the gaming industry could have been dramatically affected by a ban.