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Call of Duty Mobile Generates USD$87m (£66m); Ragnarok Sues Human Head

Call of Duty Mobile

TheGamingEconomy Daily Digest brings you the trending business stories in gaming. In today’s edition: Call of Duty Mobile generates USD$87m (£66m); Ragnarok sues Human Head; Microsoft working on low-cost disc-less Scarlett console; Microsoft shareholders reject publication of gender pay gap report.

Call of Duty Mobile generates USD$87m (£66m)

Call of Duty Mobile has generated USD$87m (£66m) from 172 million downloads since its release on 1st October, according to estimates from Sensor Tower Store Intelligence. The data suggests that demand for the title, developed by Tencent subsidiary TiMi Studios and published by Activision, is decreasing, with 21 million installs in November compared to 146 million in October. This is perhaps unsurprising given the game’s early success, with 100 million downloads in its first week, making it the most successful mobile game launch of all time.

However, the disparity of in-game spend during October and November is not quite as dramatic as downloads, with the title generating USD$55m (£42m) in October compared to USD$31m (£24m) in November. Spending on iOS devices represents the bulk of the title’s revenue, with 59.2% of in-game purchases (USD$51m/£39m) being made on iPhone and iPad, compared to 40.7% ($35m/£27m) through Google Play. The US dominates in terms of revenue share, with American players spending $36m (£28m) on the title, or 42% of the total, followed by Japan (USD$11m/£8.4m, 13.2% of total) and Great Britain (USD$2.6m/£2.0m, 3% of total).

Ragnarok sues Human Head

Human Head Logo

Rune II publisher Ragnarok Game LLC has filed a lawsuit against developer Human Head Studios on multiple charges including breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, and unfair business practices, following the latter’s sudden closure and subsequent absorption by Bethesda Softworks. Under the terms of the lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court for the State of California, Ragnarok is seeking a jury trial and damages of no less than USD$100m (£76.6m), as well as all assets and source code for Rune II, which were allegedly withheld by Human Head executives Ben Gokey, Christopher Rhinehart, and Paul MacArthur, who have also been named in the lawsuit. The filing also reveals that Ragnarok staff only learned that Human Head was folding three business days prior to the launch of Rune II, with the studio folding seven days subsequently.

The lawsuit summary reads, “Human Head entered into a long-term agreement with Ragnarok — the whole goal of which was to launch Rune II and to provide the necessary support for its commercial success, Human Head accepted millions of dollars in payment, but failed to perform, instead of curing its deficient work, Human Head secretly conspired to abandon Ragnarok and the Rune II community in an apparent attempt to defraud and harm Ragnarok and the game, and Human Head timed the unveiling of its plan to cause maximum damage.”

At the time of Human Head’s closure, Rhinehart stated, “Sadly, we had to wind down the business of Human Head Studios and close its doors, which was particularly devastating due to the passion and creativity of the team we’d assembled. We reached out to our friends at Bethesda for help, and they saw that same creativity and passion in our team. With the formation of Roundhouse Studios, Bethesda offered every employee of Human Head a position at the new company. We are excited our team will remain together, pursuing the work we love, as part of a company we already know and admire.”

Microsoft

Microsoft working on low-cost disc-less Scarlett console

Microsoft is working on a low-cost disc-less Scarlett console, along with a premium high-performance device, according to four individuals speaking to Kotaku on condition of anonymity. While it was originally rumoured that Microsoft will be releasing Project Scarlett as two consoles, dubbed “Anaconda” and “Lockhart” respectively, this speculation was seemingly quashed in July.

However, according to the sources, Microsoft is still working on the lower-end Lockhart device, which is expected to integrate heavily with the firm’s Project xCloud game streaming platform, as well as its Game Pass subscription service. While it is the reasoning behind the potential backtracking is unclear, Microsoft executives have reportedly been heartened by the lukewarm reception of Google Stadia, which they feared would have a more significant impact at launch.

Microsoft shareholders reject publication of gender pay gap report

In other news from Microsoft, shareholders of the Redmond, Washington-based company have rejected a proposal from investment firm Arjuna Capital to compile and publish a report examining gender pay gap across race and ethnicity, with less than 30% of shareholders voting in favour. The matter was discussed and voted upon at yesterday’s annual shareholder meeting.

A statement supporting the proposal on the Microsoft Investor Relations website reads, “Microsoft reports women earn 99.7% of the compensation received by men on a statistically adjusted equal pay basis. Yet, that statistically adjusted number alone fails to consider how discrimination affects differences in opportunity. In contrast, median pay gap disclosures address the structural bias that affects the jobs women hold, particularly when men hold most higher paying jobs. Women account for nearly 28% of Microsoft’s employees, but only 22% of leadership.”

In response Microsoft’s board of directors stated, “The single median pay gap metric being proposed doesn’t help us improve our approach or provide the details our managers and leaders need to make hiring, promotion, and retention decisions in a way that drives representation of women in management and leadership roles. We believe that the metrics we use drive both equal pay for equal work and meaningful recruitment and advancement of diverse employees across all levels of our global workforce, including in executive and senior roles.”