"Game On" is The Fly's weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks.
NEW RELEASES: This week's main big release is Activision Blizzard's (ATVI) "World of Warcraft: Shadowlands," the latest expansion to the long-running massively multiplayer online role-playing game. "Shadowlands" first went live on Monday and is the eighth "World of Warcraft" expansion to date since the PC game's initial release in 2004.
KEYBANC ON ACTIVISION: Late last week, KeyBanc analyst Tyler Parker reiterated an Overweight rating and $102 price target on Activision Blizzard, saying that while he was expecting the typical midweek press release from the company touting opening weekend sales of the latest "Call of Duty" game, which was released last Friday, the typical Wednesday/Thursday release window has come and gone. The analyst believes the only logical read-through is a "weak" opening weekend relative to recent history, especially given the fact that the only time in the past five years a timely release didn't occur was the disappointing "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare" in 2016. Parker added that some U.K. sales data confirm his suspicions, indicating that when including digital sales, "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War" was down 16% year-over-year in first week sales.
EPIC ON APP STORE: Last week, CNBC reported that "Fortnite" creator Epic Games and Spotify (SPOT) responded to Apple's (AAPL) move to reduce App Store fees to 15% for developers who make under $1M in annual net sales from the App Store, saying they are not impressed with the policy update. "This would be something to celebrate were it not a calculated move by Apple to divide app creators and preserve their monopoly on stores and payments, again breaking the promise of treating all developers equally," Epic CEO Tim Sweeney said. "By giving special 15% terms to select robber barons like Amazon, and now also to small indies, Apple is hoping to remove enough critics that they can get away with their blockade on competition and 30% tax on most in-app purchases." Sweeney went on to note that Android and iOS need to open up competition for payments to level the playing field among developers and service providers, according to CNBC. Investors in Epic include Tencent (TCEHY), KKR (KKR), Disney (DIS), and Sony (SNE).
OTHER STORIES TO WATCH:
Xbox (MSFT) boss Phil Spencer told The Verge that we may see a dedicated Xbox app for smart TVs by next year.
Polygon reported last week that Nintendo (NTDOY) is facing yet another class action lawsuit filed in a Seattle court over issues associated with the Nintendo Switch console's Joy-Con controllers, which have a tendency to "drift," or move on-screen avatars without player control.
Nvidia (NVDA) announced on Thursday that it is working with Epic Games on a "touch-friendly" version of "Fortnite" for Apple's iPhones.
Meanwhile, Ubisoft (UBSFY) reported "strong" early sales for "Assassin's Creed Valhalla," saying the game has sold through more units in its first week than any other "Assassin's Creed" game sold during the same period.