Epic to eat nearly $330M in costs from exclusivity deals
"Game On" is The Fly's weekly recap of the stories powering up or beating down video game stocks.
GAMESTOP: Last Thursday, GameStop (GME) announced that it had nominated the following six individuals to stand for election to its Board of Directors at the company's Annual Meeting of Stockholders on June 9, 2021: Alan Attal, Larry Cheng, Ryan Cohen, Jim Grube, George Sherman and Yang Xu. The video game retailer also said that, following the annual meeting in June, the board intends to elect Chewy (CHWY) co-founder Ryan Cohen as chairman.
Several days later, Reuters' Svea Herbst-Bayliss reported that the company was looking for a new CEO to replace George Sherman as it transitions from a brick-and-mortar video game retailer to an e-commerce company. GameStop's board is working with an executive headhunter on the CEO search, Reuters said, citing three people familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, Fox Business' Liz Claman reported Monday that GameStop also has a job listing for "something involving" non-fungible tokens and blockchain.
ASCENDIANT DOWNGRADE: Following the Ryan Cohen news, Ascendiant analyst Edward Woo downgraded GameStop to Sell from Hold, saying the Reddit trading surge" is likely to fade as "digital threats increases," Woo tells investors in a research note. The analyst sees "significant digital and execution risks" for GameStop and a "hazy" outlook for fiscal 2021 despite "strong new consoles launches."
EPIC GAMES: Epic Games, the creator of "Fortnite" and owner of Houseparty, committed roughly $444M to Epic Game Store exclusivity deals in 2020 alone on "minimum guarantees" for games that release on the company's store but stay off PC gaming storefront Steam for a year, PCGamer's Tyler Wilde reported over the weekend. New court documents from Apple's (AAPL) legal conflict with Epic spotted by PCGamer show that Epic is going to eat "at least" $330M in unrecouped costs from minimum guarantees alone if one were to also consider 2019's exclusive deals.
Following the report, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed the news, saying the move to invest so heavily in minimum guarantees "has proven to be a fantastic success in reaching games with great games and a fantastic investment into growing" the company. Investors in Epic Games include Tencent (TCEHY), KKR (KKR), Disney (DIS), and Sony (SNE).
Video game developer Arkane Studios, which was recently acquired by Microsoft (MSFT) in the ZeniMax deal, announced via Twitter that it has made the decision to delay the launch of its upcoming game "Deathloop" to September 14, 2021. The Fly notes that the game, which has a timed console exclusivity deal with Sony's PlayStation 5, was previously planned for release on May 21, 2021.
Hasbro (HAS) has announced an official partnership with Roblox (RBLX) to introduce a range of Roblox inspired NERF blasters and a Roblox version of its "iconic MONOPOLY board game.