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.
Axie Infinity: Origins is available on the Apple App Store right now…in select countries
If you've been nose down playing mobile games for the last few years (as you should) then there's a genuine chance that Axie Infinity may have passed you by. It's a simple character-breeder/builder game that lets you engage your creations in combat and seek ever greater glory in usual blah blah blah manner that you've probably read a thousand times.
What made Axie so interesting however was its blockchain usage and close allegiance with the AXS token used in the game. Back in the day (and I'm talking as far back as 2021 here) the world slowly went crypto and Axie 'mad' as more and more players piled on and the price of securing three NFT Axies with which to play the game began to spiral upwards. But with the promise of big bucks to be earned and that AXS token always ascending in value what's the small matter of parting with six or seven hundred tokens of real currency when you can earn thousands of virtual ones?…
And the rest is history, as I wrote in this piece for BeyondGames back at the time. It's quite a tale… So to see Axie not only back… But as a free-to-play… AND on the iOS App Store had me doing a bit of a double-take this week. I'm excited to see if Axie can still draw a crowd and if enough new players will be tempted to try out, dive in and reinvigorate it's once all-powerful, blockchain-based original.
I wish them - and the players who do decide to take a chance - the best of luck.
BattleGrounds Mobile India to be ‘unbanned’
I admit, I’m actually somewhat surprised by this. We don’t know what happened behind the scenes in any great detail and neither Krafton nor the Indian government seem eager to spill the beans. However, what we do know is that, pending a three-month review period - during which the Indian government will be keeping a very close eye to ensure it’s compliant with legislation - BGMI is back.
The ban didn’t set the best precedent for the Indian gaming market, given that BGMI went to great lengths to extricate itself from any connection to the foreign companies that Indian legislators were worried about, only to then be banned anyway. And an unspoken aspect is the frosty reception to the game and the tabloid rumours swirling around it.
That’s not to say I was having sleepless nights worrying about Krafton’s revenue, only that I don’t think it sent the right message. Video games shouldn’t be a political football in any country, and it seems fortunate that Krafton has managed to satisfy whomever needed satisfying.
So now what? Now we wait, see how it does, and in particular - as I point out in my coverage - how it competes against home-grown competitors that stepped in to fill the void.
Saudi Arabia boosts stake in Electronic Arts by 55%
Saudi Arabia is at the heart of the MENA region, which represents a significant market for mobile gaming. Its investment in gaming companies, through the sovereign wealth fund PIF, should therefore come as no surprise, as the country has long been attempting to diversify from its core economic export, oil.
What makes this deal interesting is that it represents, once again, attempts to diversify away from mobile gaming - the most profitable of all gaming platforms, and the most popular in Saudi Arabia. While PIF subsidiary Savvy Games Group’s acquisition of mobile gaming giant Scopely proves that the country remains focused on mobile gaming.
Saudi Arabia’s increased stake in EA therefore represents something of a hybrid investment. Although the company has created a number of highly successful mobile titles, it has also created many for other platforms, allowing the country to diversify its interests while maximising revenue streams and increasing its profile in the wider gaming arena. Mobile gaming is likely to remain the country’s focus for the foreseeable future, but investments in a variety of game makers working on a variety of platforms seem more targetted help consumers worldwide take notice of Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry.
Ubisoft upbeat on Rainbow Six and Division Mobile in full-year financials
There was a time when Ubisoft seemed king of the hill in the gaming industry. Assassin's Creed was continuously successful, Far Cry was doing well and they had gems such as Prince of Persia in the bag. So seeing the company's financial slump feels like quite the fall.
It seems logical that Ubisoft is putting a lot of its hopes into the Assassin's Creed franchise with the latest instalment Mirage appearing to make a return to the more traditional AC games fans fell in love with, but what other options do they have that can help resurrect the business?
Mobile perhaps? Another long-running franchise from Ubisoft is Rainbow Six. Bringing Rainbow Six Siege to mobile will require some adaptation for shorter, snappier gameplay sessions, but it could be a great way to expand the fanbase and encourage competitive mobile play. Similarly, Ubisoft is bringing The Division to Mobile with Resurgence, another title that, if done well, could see Ubisoft finally make a mark in the mobile world.
If Ubisoft is unable to bring back its former glory years, I am left wondering if this one-time giant will be snapped up in the next big acquisition.