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Giving in, giving out, giving up

Weekly recap: A handful of days marked by companies adapting to the market, collapsing when they couldn't, or just plain calling it a day

September is here, which means the summer convention season is beginning to wind down, starting with this weekend's big PAX Prime show in Seattle. And even though big consumer-focused shows have a tendency to create news vacuums in their vicinity (see last week's Gamescom-affected recap), there are always things that happen which are not subject to a marketing team's sign off.

Unfortunately, that sort of news is negative as often as not. There was word this week of French mobile and PC publisher Bulkypix being liquidated, with its partners now having to fill out forms in the hopes of recovering even some of the money that might be owed them.

Faring slightly better was another European mobile publisher, Berlin-based Wooga. The company behind Agent Alice and Pearl's Peril axed 40 developers and refocused its business on casual games, with one of its three teams working primarily on Apple Watch. It was the latest in a series of layoffs hitting German studios this year, following layoffs in the hundreds from Goodgame Studios and Aeria, and a 50-person cut at GameDuell.

And while there was some sadness to the news that Renegade Kid would cease to be, that was somewhat offset by the accompanying news that it was because company co-founders Jools Watsham and Gregg Hargrove would each be starting their own studio. Watsham's new outfit is Atooi, which will inherit Renegade Kid's library of 2D game IP (Mutant Mudds, Xeodrifter) and focus on "retro-inspired games." Meanwhile, Hargrove will take Renegade Kid's 3D series (Dementium, Moon Chronicles) with him to his new "multimedia company," Infitizimo.

Fortunately, it wasn't all grim tidings. In perhaps the happiest industry news of the week, ModDB acquired the shuttered mod file-sharing site GameFront and announced that it plans to relaunch it and keep its library of files accessible for all. (Disclaimer: is owned by Gamer Network which provides advertising sales representation to ModDB.)

There were also examples of companies making adjustments to the market that may help them stave off bad news in the future. For one, Take-Two announced its first VR title. It was a surprising bit of support for the technology considering Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick has been one of the most vocal sceptics of VR over the past couple years. Granted, the announced title is Carnival Games VR a downloadable-only budget-priced minigame collection based on a known-but-not-particularly-precious IP, so this is a pretty low-risk way to test the market. It may not be much, but it's more support than Take-Two ever gave the Wii U. And that's kind of shocking, considering Carnival Games began on--and was one of the few massive third-party hits for--the Wii.

CCP also gave in to a long-running trend in MMORPGs, making its flagship game EVE Online free-to-play after more than 13 years. While the subscription model will continue as it has been, the game will get a new free-to-play tier where players will have restrictions on available skills, skill levels and rate of training. This is the latest in a series of attempts CCP has made to expand the game's notoriously devoted (and notoriously niche) fanbase. The company made a free-to-play first-person shooter for the PS3 called DUST 514 that took place in the EVE universe, but shut it down earlier this year. On top of that, CCP was an early supporter of VR hardware, producing the space dog-fighting game EVE: Valkyrie as a launch title for the Oculus Rift.

Elsewhere on this week

Crashlands developer says the industry's a lot more nuanced than conventional wisdom would have you believe

This War of Mine studio 11 bit Games aims to be the "first choice" publisher for meaningful games

EA's Patrick Soderlund suggests the Frostbite engine could survive future console transitions

Quantic Dream COO explains why the studio intentionally includes "mundane" gameplay in its titles

The NPD Group acquired market research firm EEDAR

In other news

The Witcher publisher CD Projekt Red is now a $1 billion company

HTC Invests $5 Million in VR Game Developer Steel Wool Studios

Genvid Technologies raises an additional $1.5 million to work on eSports streaming tech

Gran Turismo Sport has been delayed to 2017

Google's VR head of partnerships shares his view of how the tech will change advertising

Nvidia has released its VR Funhouse Modkit on Steam, and simultaneously published the source code for free on Github.

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Brendan Sinclair avatar
Brendan Sinclair: Brendan joined in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot.