Week in Views – | Pocket Gamer.biz

The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can’t let go of…

So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we’ve created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.

Daniel Griffiths
Editor – PocketGamer.biz
Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment media brands in the world. He’s interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of videogames, music, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. Yup, he said garden design… He’s the ex-Editor of PSM2, PSM3, GamesMaster and Future Music, ex-Deputy Editor of The Official PlayStation Magazine and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Rhythm, Computer Music and more. He hates talking about himself.

Apple faces pressure from major shareholders to disclose AI plans

Famously Steve Jobs put the block on an iOS App Store both before and after the launch of the iPhone. He reasoned that their combination of hardware and software was so finely balanced and perfect that if anyone else other than Apple put an app on an iPhone they would only go and spoil it. (A situation that was reversed a year after launch.)

I wonder if perhaps Apple would like to inflict the same draconian rules on investors who would like to buy their shares because – judging by this week’s demands and uproar from some seriously big names – some of the company’s biggest investors clearly don’t know or understand the first thing about how Apple works.

The complaint is that Apple isn’t talking enough about AI. The hardware-meets-software synergy giant has remained resolutely mute on the subject apart from the advent of Siri (let’s not go there) and Tim Cook expressing “interest” in the field. (As he always does as a precursor to every big next move.)

The result is that these investors aren’t seeing Apple’s shares scooping skywards like Nvidia’s and they’re pissed off because they think they’ve backed the wrong horse. Why don’t they get on the AI gravy train like everyone else (who’s busy backpeddling away from the metaverse and blockchain)?

But expecting Apple to give us a sneaky peek at something half baked? Or shoot their mouth off and tip the competition off about what’s coming next?

Come on, guys. You might have given them millions, but how well do you really know Apple? Rest assured the big moment (and hopefully the big bucks) will come.

Craig Chapple
Head of Content
Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at PocketGamer.biz, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.

Unity shares fall 18% despite revenue growth to $2.2 billion in 2023

Unity is still deep in its cost cutting measures, which it elaborated on further during its financials this week. It is laying off 25% of its staff, closing offices, cutting cloud hosting costs, limiting its Professional Services unity to “a few strategic engagements”, and “exiting the hardware components of its multiplayer business”. All this would reduce $250 million in annual non-GAAP losses, it said.

And you can see why it’s cutting back on so much. While revenue rose 57.2% year-over-year to $2.2 billion, it accrued net losses of $826.3 million – a reduction of just 10.1% Y/Y.

But it’s got a mountain to climb still regardless of the cuts it makes. Applovin is eating its lunch in the ads space. I found it interesting that interim CEO James Whitehurst blamed the consolidation period between Unity and IronSource for the lack of competitiveness in the space. Now that’s completed, he said, growth awaits.

But you look deeper… IronSource executives have left the company, and it starts to look like, to date, the merger has been mismanaged. They have allowed Applovin to grow considerably, and clawing those gains back won’t be so easy after the horse has already bolted.

For what it’s worth, Applovin’s share price is nearly double Unity’s now. Unity has a market cap of $11.1 billion, while Applovin is valued at $19.4 billion.

In its engine business, Unity is still going ahead with the runtime fee. It said that, despite all the controversy, there wasn’t a great impact on their business. But I don’t think we won’t see the full impact for a few years. It’ll take time for licences to be up for renewal and for current projects to finish production. Then we’ll really see how developers feel about the broken trust.

Nobody wants Unity to fail, and hopefully it’s able to refocus on key areas most beneficial for developers. In the meantime, it would likely help developer confidence if it didn’t keep talking about growth outside of games.

Paige Cook
Deputy Editor
Paige is the Deputy Editor on PG.biz who, in the past, has worked in games journalism covering new releases, reviews and news. Coming from a multimedia background, she has dabbled in video editing, photography, graphic and web design! If she’s not writing about the games industry, she can probably be found working through her ever-growing game backlog or buried in a good book.

Sony Interactive Entertainment axes 900 staff across the globe

Sadly, it seems this was always only ever a matter of time. With thousands of layoffs throughout the gaming industry this year and last, every area of the industry is taking a hit. Back in January, Microsoft had layoffs over its video game workforce, and many commenters stated, ‘Playstation would never’, and here we are, they would, and they have, which only emphasises that nobody is above what is currently happening in the industry.

Despite fantastic success last year with massive games such as Spider-Man 2 arriving on the platform, several studios, including Spider-Man creators Insomniac, have been hit with losses, not to mention the entire closure of a London studio. It’s understandable why so many feel scared right now to be working in games. If giants such as Sony are laying off staff for many of its biggest studios, creating titles worth millions, can anyone feel secure in their position?

Then there’s the question of why is this still happening? It’s been discussed numerous times that many of the layoffs are due to rising costs of operations and how team sizes increased over the course of the pandemic, and this is the inevitable comedown. While that makes sense, I can’t help but think that companies must have known that this wouldn’t be sustainable in the long run, and more could have been done to prepare for what we are seeing now. Of course, there are likely other reasons behind the scenes that people don’t like to speak of when letting hundreds of people go, such as profit margins and debts that make businesses look unappealing to investors; there’s even the question of AI. Is that already playing a part in these restructures?

It is truly a sad time in the industry when friends and passionate people are losing their jobs. It’s hard to predict when the end is in sight for layoffs, but all we can hope is that it comes soon and the industry can begin to build a space that feels stable and secure to work in again, because one thing that is for sure, the demand for games shows no sign of slowing down.

Aaron Astle
News Editor
Aaron is the News Editor at PG.biz and has an honours degree in Creative Writing.
Having spent far too many hours playing Pokémon, he’s now on a quest to be the very best like no one ever was…at putting words in the right order.

DeNA shares on fire, surging 24.4% after Pokémon Trading Card Game reveal

As expected, The Pokémon Company celebrated another Pokémon Day on February 27 with a slew of announcements spanning mobile and the Nintendo Switch, and this year noticeably swung towards the former.

Not only were all five active Pokémon mobile games given screentime in the Pokémon Presents presentation, but so too was a sixth game revealed. The next to join this expanding catalogue is Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket, a lengthy title to be sure, but thorough enough to explain what it is.

Pocket is, after all, a mobile version of the incredibly popular collectible card game, and is a mobile adaptation in the truest sense: with daily incentives to play like free in-game card packs, online trading and even a battle mode.

Anyone who knows about Pokémon cards will know what a big deal this is, with huge potential given physical card sales have exceeded 50 billion over the years. Putting them onto mobile with free daily packs, and leveraging the digital format to introduce interactive cards, it certainly looks like Pocket’s developers know what they’re doing.

That’s where DeNA comes in, already having a hand in Pokémon’s mobile pursuits via Pokémon Masters. Pocket is being developed by DeNA together with The Pokémon Company and Creatures Inc, and within a day of the card game’s announcement, DeNA got a much-needed share surge, up an impressive 24.4%.

Indeed, it looks like investors have high hopes for Pokémon Trading Card Game Pocket too…