G/O Media in Dispute with Staff Over Ads; EA Revenue Increases by 4%

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TheGamingEconomy Daily Digest brings you the trending business stories in gaming. In today’s edition: G/O Media in dispute with staff over ads; EA revenue increases by 4%; and Anzu.io hires Guy Ben-dov.

G/O Media in dispute with staff over ads

G/O Media, the owner of gaming website Kotaku along with the Gizmodo, Deadspin and Jezebel publications, is under fire from its editorial staff following the deletion of blog posts, published on Monday (28th October), criticising the sound-on autoplay video advertising units which have been used across its portfolio. Such ads have been rarely used on high-tier publications in several years, and were criticised by the World Wide Web Consortium as long ago as 2008. Staffers allege the deletion of the blog posts constitutes a violation of editorial independence, a right enshrined within GMG union contracts. The removal of the posts led to a backlash from readers and former G/O Media staff alike, with the company turning off the email address used to submit feedback.

In separate developments on editorial freedoms at G/O Media, Deadspin deputy editor Barry Petchesky, who openly criticised the removal of the offending blog posts, was allegedly fired by G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller for publishing stories outside of the publication’s traditional sporting remit.

EA revenue increases by 4%

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EA revenue for the second quarter of the 2020 financial year has risen by 4% year-on-year to reach USD$1.348bn (£1.048bn), with 68.4% of net sales generated through digital channels. The quarter marked a successful period for the firm’s sporting franchises, with unique player increases of 22% and 19% for its FIFA Ultimate Team and Madden Ultimate Team services. Lifetime revenue for The Sims franchise surpassed USD$5bn (£3.9bn), with monthly active players for The Sims 4 increasing by 40% during this quarter. Popular free-to-play battle royale title also reached 70 million lifetime players during the period, with total sales of its Star Wars Battlefront series reaching 33 million units. Despite several new titles planned for the remainder of the financial year, including Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the next editions of the NBA Live and the Battlefront series will not ship during FY2020, and will instead be developed later to take advantage of next-generation console capabilities.

In a statement accompanying the financial results, EA COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen said, “The strong results this quarter illustrate the power of our live services and our core franchises. Strength in Ultimate Team, The Sims 4 and FIFA Online drove live services performance above our expectations,” said COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen. “Looking ahead, we are doubling down on live services combined with our core franchises. We’re investing in games that people play for longer and engage with much more deeply. This focus will continue to drive growth and profitability for the company through the remainder of this year and beyond.”

Anzu.io hires Guy Ben-dov

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Programmatic in-game advertising platform Anzu.io has hired Double Fusion co-founder Guy Ben-dov as a strategic advisor. Ben-dov comes with 25 years of experience within the gaming industry, including in-game advertising through Double Fusion along with mobile and VR title development through his leadership of the Side Kick Games company. The hire follows the recent appointment of former Nike head of brand media Mike Cookson as chief strategy officer, and a successful Series A funding round of USD$6.5m (£5.05m) in August.

Announcing the hire, Anuzu co-founder and CEO Itamar Bendy said, “Anzu’s team is fast-growing and I am excited to have Guy join us as we continue to make in-game advertising accessible to the world’s biggest online marketers. Guy has been a pioneer figure in the field of in-game ads and knows the industry inside-out. His experience would take Anzu to new heights by combining our technological innovation with his strategic excellence. Together we are set to create scalable growth for in-game ads, across platforms.”