UPDATE: A White House official has clarified that the executive order will only apply to WeChat and operations regarding WeChat and will not directly impact gaming companies.
LA Times reporter Sam Dean posted the following tweet after receiving information from an official:
This is subject to change, but for now, good news for the gaming industry.
President Trump signed an executive order late on August 6 evening to ban transactions related to WeChat, which is owned by Tencent. The order is banning any transaction starting in 45 days.
Upon an examination of the executive order, it could have an impact on the entire gaming industry.
The specific portion of the order that impacts the gaming industry is in relation to how the White House defines WeChat’s ownership group. It says “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity, as identified by the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) under section 1(c) of this order” will be banned starting in 45 days.
The part that involves gaming industry is “any subsidiary” of Tencent Holdings LTd. Tencent has expanded their grasp around the world with acquisitions alongside investments in gaming companies.
The impact here for Call of Duty is around the Mobile title. Activision and Tencent formed a partnership to create and distribute Call of Duty: Mobile. A Tencent subsidiary, TIMI Studios, is the developer of the mobile game. TIMI Studios is based out in LA.
Tencent currently has a 5% investment stake in Activision Blizzard. Alongside Activision, they have investments in Epic Games, 100% ownership of Riot Games, and more as shown in the chart below.
The order could have an impact on the financial partnership between Activision and Tencent to deliver Call of Duty: Mobile. Alongside impacting Call of Duty: Mobile, Tencent develops PUBG Mobile, one of the most successful mobile games of all time.
In the past, Tencent was developing and releasing Call of Duty: Online exclusively in China.
As of now, Activision has not issued a statement. Tencent did not respond to requests for a comment from news organizations.
Activision ignores Warzone anti-cheat as streamers switch to Apex Legends
Activision is continuing to ignore an anti-cheat system for CoD and Warzone, leading to more players jumping over to Apex Legends.
During Activision’s most recent Investor Call, they once again neglected to discuss a Call of Duty anti-cheat system, despite the fact that many players and streamers are switching over to Apex Legends Season 10.
Call of Duty is in a precarious spot at the moment. Black Ops Cold War is moving along nicely during the year with more content planned for the game and setting up a healthy transition over to Call of Duty: Vanguard.
However, Warzone is a bit more complicated at the moment as the endless cheating and hacking is drawing people away from the game. In particular, big streamers like NICKMERCS are now favoring Apex Legends.
Activision held their quarterly Investor Call on August 3, and it featured no mention of the much sought-after anti-cheat system. This may make things worse, especially with huge titles like Halo: Infinite and Battlefield 2042 on the way.
Even though Season 5 of Black Ops Cold War and Warzone has just been announced, the talk is still very much about Warzone and its problems.
As pointed out by CoD Twitter page ModernWarzone: “There was no mention of an anti-cheat for #Warzone in today’s Activision Blizzard’s quarterly earnings call. It was never expected to be mentioned unless someone specifically asked a question regarding it, but that didn’t happen either.”
For the last few seasons of the battle royale shooter, players have to contend with one issue after another. The stim glitch, invincibility-causing God Mode glitches, players getting under the map, unbreakable gas masks, and many more.
It seems like many have reached a breaking point, including big-name streamers too. NICKMERCS has lost the desire to play Warzone and is now moving across to play Apex Legends to enjoy its new Season 10 content drop.
It’s not only Apex Legends that is the big concern for Warzone at the moment. The Halo Infinite flight test has just concluded, further building hype for the legendary sci-fi shooter’s newest entry.
Battlefield 2042 is closing in day-by-day, and players are even onboard the new trend train with Splitgate – described as Halo meets portals.
Unless Activision is secretly developing their own anti-cheat software, might there come a point where it will be too late?
Image Credit: Activision / Raven Software / Respawn Entertainment
Blizzard Entertainment President steps down; new co-leadership announced
Blizzard Entertainment has announced that J. Allen Brack has stepped down as President of the company, with co-leaders assuming the role.
In response to the ongoing Blizzard Entertainment lawsuit, J. Allen Brack has stepped down as President of the company, and “Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward.”
Activision Blizzard is being sued by the State of California, with the lawsuit against the publisher alleging that Activision Blizzard has failed to address “frat” culture and “sexual harassment”, amongst other things, within the company.
This led to employee walkouts and calls for players to boycott their services as a result. Now, a significant reshuffle in the company’s hierarchy has been announced, with an official statement announcing that J. Allen Brack has stepped down as Blizzard Entertainment’s President.
His role will now be fulfilled by Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra, as they have succeeded him and will oversee the co-leadership of Blizzard Entertainment.
Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick had to issue an email to the company’s employees citing their initial response to the lawsuit as “tone-deaf.”
Blizzard has now released a full statement regarding the company’s Presidency, and steps moving forward.
“To all members of the Blizzard Community,
We want to let you know about an important leadership change at Blizzard Entertainment.
Starting today, J. Allen Brack will be stepping down as the leader of the studio, and Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will co-lead Blizzard moving forward.
Jen joined Blizzard in January as executive vice president of development, where she’s been providing senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises. Jen is the former head of Vicarious Visions (which is now part of Blizzard Entertainment).
After many years at XBOX, Mike joined the company in 2019 as the executive vice president and general manager of platform and technology, where he’s been overseeing the evolution of Battle.net and our development services organization.
Jen and Mike have more than three decades of gaming industry experience between them. Moving forward, they will share responsibilities over game development and company operations.
Both leaders are deeply committed to all of our employees; to the work ahead to ensure Blizzard is the safest, most welcoming workplace possible for women, and people of any gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or background; to upholding and reinforcing our values; and to rebuilding your trust. With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion, and a dedication to excellence. You’ll hear more from Jen and Mike soon.
The following is a message from J. Allen Brack:
“I am confident that Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra will provide the leadership Blizzard needs to realize its full potential and will accelerate the pace of change. I anticipate they will do so with passion and enthusiasm and that they can be trusted to lead with the highest levels of integrity and commitment to the components of our culture that make Blizzard so special.”
Finally, thank you all for being a part of the Blizzard community, and for your passion and determination for safety and equality for all.”
Additionally, Activision Blizzard’s President and COO has also made a statement regarding the recent position changes.
“I am pleased to announce that, effective immediately, Jen Oneal and Mike Ybarra have been appointed co-leaders of Blizzard. Jen and Mike will share responsibility for development and operational accountability for the company. Both are leaders of great character and integrity and are deeply committed to ensuring our workplace is the most inspired, welcoming environment for creative excellence and to upholding our highest game development standards.
Many of us already know Mike and Jen and have experienced their leadership, their empathy and their unwavering sense of accountability:
- Jen is an 18-year company veteran and the former head of Vicarious Visions studio. As Executive Vice President of Development at Blizzard, she has been providing senior development leadership and support to the Diablo and Overwatch franchises.
- Mike has been in the technology and gaming industries for over 20 years, including 7 years as a senior executive at Microsoft’s XBOX division. Most recently Mike was Executive Vice President & General Manager of Platform and Technology at Blizzard overseeing Battle.net and our Development Services organizations.
With their many years of industry experience and deep commitment to integrity and inclusivity, I am certain Jen and Mike will lead Blizzard with care, compassion and a dedication to excellence.
With Jen and Mike assuming their new roles, J. Allen Brack is leaving the company to pursue new opportunities.
We’ll continue to bring you any fresh developments on the situation.
Image Credit: Activision Blizzard
T-Mobile reportedly no longer a sponsor of Call of Duty League & Overwatch League
T-Mobile appears to have ended their sponsorship of both the CDL and OWL after Activision Blizzard harassment lawsuits surfaced.
T-Mobile appears to have abruptly ended their sponsorship of the Call of Duty League and Overwatch League this past week. The company’s logo has been removed from the sponsorship section of both of the websites.
T-Mobile was one of the largest non-endemic partners of the Call of Duty League. The US wireless carrier was the Official 5G Sponsor of the League and featured weekly 5G T-Mobile Drops for fans to enter to win real life prizes.
The Call of Duty League features sponsors including the U.S. Army, Astro Gaming, SCUF Gaming, Zenni Gaming, Game Fuel, USAA Insurance, and Google Cloud.
T-Mobile’s logo was seen on the Call of Duty League site as recently as July 21 alongside the other sponsors, per the Wayback Machine, as seen in the screenshot below:
Now, visiting the Call of Duty League website and looking at the same sponsor area, T-Mobile’s logo has been removed. The other sponsor’s logos are still featured.
Another part of T-Mobile’s activation with the Call of Duty League was their 5G Weekly Drop activation, where viewers could text a code to a number to enter for a chance to win bonus items – like free controllers, phones, headsets, and even a trip to CDL Champs.
However, for the Stage 5 Major event (taking place July 29 through August 1), the official rules website says the Weekly Drop was cancelled with no explanation provided.
T-Mobile was also a sponsor of Activision Blizzard’s other major league, the Overwatch League. But on the OWL’s website sponsor section strip, T-Mobile’s logo is gone. It was there as soon as Monday, July 26. T-Mobile’s branding still appears on their site for Viewership Drops as those assets appears to have not been updated yet.
It’s not officially confirmed as to why T-Mobile has decided to end its sponsorship of both of the leagues so suddenly or if the sponsorship is truly over, but the timing seems suspicious with the recent harassment lawsuit against Activision Blizzard from the state of California.
Activision Blizzard employees staged a walk out on July 28 in protest of the company’s responses to the harassment lawsuit over a toxic, sexist workplace culture.
Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick responded in an email published on July 27 that the company’s responses were “tone deaf” and they would work to build a better, safer culture.
Activision Blizzard and T-Mobile both have not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.
Warzone & Cold War Season 5 weapons officially revealed
Season 5 will be bringing an assortment of new weapons for Call of Duty: Warzone and Black Ops Cold War...
New Warzone Combat Scout & Tempered perks coming in Season 5
Season 5 of Warzone will see the new Combat Scout and Tempered perks become available for players to use, and...
Apex Legends Season 10: Emergence Legends tier list
Apex Legends Season 10: Emergence has brought changes to the Legend meta, so let's take a look at how the...