'RED DEAD ONLINE': In an exclusive interview with The Fly, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said that it is "not fair" to "Red Dead Online," the online multiplayer component of Rockstar's (TTWO) "Red Dead Redemption 2," to compare it to the very lucrative "Grand Theft Auto Online," as that would be an "unfair benchmark." Rockstar's latest "Red Dead" has sold "extremely well," Sebastian said, noting that gamers haven't experienced the formal launch of "Red Dead Online" yet and that there's "still quite a bit we don't know."
'FALLOUT 76' AND LIVE SERVICE GAMES: When asked about the negative reception to Bethesda's open-world, multiplayer-only live services game "Fallout 76," Sebastian told The Fly that he doesn't know if the negative feedback is an "indictment" on that style of game, though he said "Fallout 76" has "fallen short on a lot of levels." In response to a question about Activision Blizzard (ATVI) discussing their disappointment with "Destiny 2," another live services game, the Baird analyst said that it's "worth thinking about" the future of this kind of game. "I do think the experience of 'Destiny' and 'Fallout 76' might dissuade some developers from pursuing that genre," Sebastian said. The analyst noted, however, that the future of the medium is being built around shared experiences, live events, and multiplayer experiences.
MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS: After Activision Blizzard's stock slipped after it reported quarterly results last month, some had attributed the slide to the company's quarter-to-quarter decline in monthly active users. The Fly asked Sebastian about the importance of MAUs as a metric for game publishers, to which he responded that MAUs can be "misleading" if viewed in isolation. The analyst said that MAU is an "important" metric and will become more important for assessing monetization looking ahead, but it can also be misleading if you look at it in isolation because some games are declining but the churn is often non-paying users, while the number of paying users may actually be increasing, such as with "Candy Crush." Also, as an overall number, it misses that some key games such as "Call of Duty" are actually increasing, while less important franchises are declining, such as "Destiny 2," Sebastian said.
'DIABLO IMMORTAL' REACTION: On the topic of Blizzard's upcoming mobile game "Diablo Immortal," which was negatively received when it was unveiled at BlizzCon last month, Colin Sebastian said Blizzard probably picked the wrong venue to announce the game. "If they had to do it all over again, I assume they would have just announced the game in a press release ahead of time," the analyst said, noting that "Diablo" is a brand with a large core audience. Sebastian added that he suspects a lot of the core audience will try the game and that the "real question" for Blizzard is whether they can extend the franchise to a broader audience.
EA CONCERNS: Sebastian told The Fly that the sentiment around Electronic Arts (EA) is "quite poor" right now, as competition over the holidays is "rough" and there is some skepticism over how successful the company's upcoming 2019 action role-playing game "Anthem" can be. Moreover, the analyst said he thinks there's more concern or worry about what the company's core strategy is going forward, noting that the growth of the company's top franchises "FIFA" and "Battlefield" have "slowed" recently. "What does EA look like 2-3 years from now if those franchises are stagnating?" he said, adding that there are questions around leadership at the company, as there's been some turnover recently.
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Keywords: video games, games, game on, video game, red dead online, diablo, fallout, destiny