BATTLETECH and Paradox’s 4Q Interim Report to Shareholders

BATTLETECH and Paradox’s 4Q Interim Report to Shareholders

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Prussian Havoc

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Tomorrow at 6am EST, 3am PST, Paradox will hold their 4Q Interim Report to Shareholders Livestream at: https://www.twitch.tv/paradoxinteractive

009884B6-9502-4613-A66D-E457FB9D53E3.jpeg

While I don’t expect many Western Hemisphere BATTLETECH and HBS fans to be online that early, I’ll be there and I’ll take notes. Notes that I will post back here for discussion afterwards.

Team Paradox has really come through for us as a BATTLETECH Community. @AndrewT and @emmasterakia are Big and Stompy BATTLETECH All-Stars in my book! :bow:

Let me know if you plan on Twitch-attending tomorrow. And for all those who can’t attend live and ask questions, post any questions you might have in a post below. I’ll bounce them off the ones I’ve already submitted and we’ll see what we get back from Ebba and CFO Alex.


As ever, good luck and good Paradox gaming! : )
 

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For better context, here are my earlier posts on past Paradox Interim Reports to Shareholders:

FIRST VIEWING of Paradox Interim Report (01JAN2019 - 30JUN2019)... on a lazy Saturday morning... : )


PARADOX INTERIM REPORT - most current (01JAN2019 - 30JUN2019)

There is a lot to unpack here, so please bare with me and add whatever details or correction where needed.

BUSINESS 101: Watching the above linked Paradox Interim Report, we learn that Paradox Games takes new game releases as Capitalization. Paradox does not take it as a Cost until the Game’s Release, when it is then linearly depreciated over its first 18-months of being released into the WILD.

AGGRESSIVE INVESTMENT - for a number of Quarters now Paradox has invested heavily in Games in Development.


WHAT THIS MEANS TO BATTLETECH and HBS: Of course I could be wrong but this would seem to me that during this past Interim Period for Paradox, BATTLETECH passed into its 19th month since release, therefore according to Paradox Accounting Practices, it is now fully depreciated, with all attendant Base Game Costs now being fully realized. While BATTLETECH has long been successful in our Hearts, here’s to hoping it has been successful according to Paradox Accounting Practices too!

Secondly, this better explains HBS’s “Secret Projects” to me. Again I could be wrong, but the cost of development for these is being treated Capitalization by Paradox with Costs not to be realized until these Secret Projects are released.

Yes, I want HBS to focus on BATTLETECH...

...but...

...I am very much in support of HBS’s pursing additional titles given the realities of Paradox Business Practices. And while nothing from Shadowrun may be in the HBS Development Pipeline at the moment, I sincerely hope HBS returns to turn-based Shadowrun development as I think it could be a MAJOR success for both HBS and Paradox.



INTERESTING FACTS
1.) HBS’s new digs in Seattle were part of a 500-pax Construction(s?) for Paradox Seattle Officespace. HBS and Hardsuit Labs (Bloodlines 2) are located across Lake Washington from one another. (Paradox acquired a 33% Interest in Hardsuit Labs in JN2018.)

2.) Being located just across Lake Washington from Hardsuit Labs, the Developing Studio for Vampires 2 may (or may not) shed something light on early HBS Job Announcements for those experienced in the Horror genre of Computer Gaming. Especially seeing as how some level of collocation between such geographically colocated Paradox Subsidiaries, would make sense.

3.) Paradox’s Business Model Places a Premium on cancelling game development before the game’s announcement if the game proves to be non-viable for any number of reasons. Approximately 40% of Paradox Games are cancelled prior to Announcement. IIRC in 2nd Quarter 2019, two games were canceled prior to announcement.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO BATTLETECH and HBS: It now makes a world of sense why Mitch and Team HBS have made reference to multiple Secret Projects (plural) at a few points over the past six months or so. It is just plain good business sense to have multiple irons in the fire under this manner of Business Model.

4.) OCTOBER 2019 would have been the last month that BATTLETECH Game Development was depreciated against its costs of development, if indeed this model was applied retroactively for the purposes of Paradox Accounting and Swedish Tax Requirements. Alternately, The cost of HBS’s Acquisition may or may not have completed its 18-month depreciation in OC2019 - while it is true that for HBS/Paradox there is a 5-year period of Profit Sharing, the accounting for the purchase cost of new studios was touched upon by Paradox’s CFO during the above Paradox Interim Report, and may or may not apply to HBS.

WHAT THIS MEANS TO BATTLETECH and HBS: the timing of HEAVY METAL’s Release in November, can Now be held against a fully depreciated cost to have developed BATTLETECH in the first place. Similarly Free Update 1.9 may cause just enough Marketing buzz and Sales interest in BATTLETECH and its DLCs to help generate a Revenue Spike for HBS and BATTLETECH.

This is to all our benefit because as @HBS_HighCommand has long made known to us, “In Success, ALL is possible.” And now that BATTLETECH’s initial development costs are possibly depreciated, bumps and spikes in sales are held as more purely profit and against HBS Ongoing Operating Costs, rather than Operating Costs and a 1/18th of Depreciating Game.





See I knew I could wring some BATTLETECH-benefit from my retuning to University for my MBA! : )

To me it is important to understand HBS in the larger context of Paradox’s Business Model and Practices. I am not saying there are any epiphanies to be found here, but “apparently loose ends” that have been niggling at me for more than a year now, do fall into place and my patience and understanding of Mitch’s and HBS has increased and expanded respectively. :bow:

Again, all question, comments or constructive criticisms are welcome.
Touching back on the topic of BATTLETECH and HBS as facets of periodic Paradox Reports to its investors, we have just over three weeks until the 2019 Year End Paradox Report and Livestream: https://www.paradoxinteractive.com/en/calendar/

Of interest there are English translations of Paradox’ original messages to its Investors: https://www.paradoxinteractive.com/en/interim-report-january-june-2019/


Unsurprisingly Paradox’s Segment Reporting turned up the information that interested me most, helping to place Paradox in a fuller context.

FBADF231-3314-4604-B90A-B297AA513F3A.png


I find that I’ve contributed my own very, very small measure toward Paradox and HBS’s recent success.

While it is true that I supported HBS’s Kickstarter at the House Scion level, I have now spent much more than that on other Paradox Games.

<———— Whereas I began with maybe 4 non-HBS Game Icons to the left, under my Acatar, I now have 55 such Paradox Game Icons.

It was not all at once, but after I came to appreciate the following, I came to be nearly as much a fan of Paradox as I am of HBS:
1.) Paradox’s reception of us (BATTLETECH and HBS fans) here on our new forum home.
2.) Watched AndrewT continuously engage with and resolve many more of our Bug Reports than I ever though possible.
3.) And most of all engaging with our Community Developers in support of BATTLETECH Friday Night Fights and now BATTLETECH2020, a Fan Event.

After the Year End Report next month, I’ll follow up here with some more comments and excerpts. :bow:
 

SQW

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Hope to get some insight regarding PDX and HBS.

It seems strange for PDX to bring on HBS when the latter has only two marketable IPs in Shadowrun and Battletech- neither which will be in use as of 2020. Crimson sky doesn't feel like a PDX game tbh and single player WWI era dog fight in a world dominated by World of X just seems a huge risk.

So either the accounting wants something fresh for tax deduction purpose or "in success, everything is possible" didn't turn out to be very successful or both. Before the announcement, just how many here would have bet HBS dropping BT development?
 

Prussian Havoc

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Hope to get some insight regarding PDX and HBS.

It seems strange for PDX to bring on HBS when the latter has only two marketable IPs in Shadowrun and Battletech- neither which will be in use as of 2020. Crimson sky doesn't feel like a PDX game tbh and single player WWI era dog fight in a world dominated by World of X just seems a huge risk.

So either the accounting wants something fresh for tax deduction purpose or "in success, everything is possible" didn't turn out to be very successful or both. Before the announcement, just how many here would have bet HBS dropping BT development?
Your questions and concerns here are helpful, Good @SQW. :bow:

I actually have a Business Logistics with a Minor in Business Law as an Undergraduate, and have been accepted to start my Masters of Business Administration in the Fall at a nearby University...

...so I know just enough to think I have an idea what is going on here! lol : )


When a Company like HBS is acquired, it is for BOTH what they have accomplished and the franchises they can touch back upon once IP Rights are acquired/retained/maintained.

And please understand with Sales of over $1.2b last year, Paradox does have the deep pockets and Industry Clout/Influence needed to help HBS with IP Rights. And this is something that HBS alone could never have managed to near the same degree... especially as the BattleTech IP has begun to overheat and gain in popularity with the wild success of CGL’s Clan Invasion Kickstarter, PGI’s MWO and MW5 and Harebrained Scheme’s own BATTLETECH.

Make no mistake all four of those efforts have been highly successful. We are not talking AAA game development here, when one factors in the size and challenges faced by CGL, PGI and HBS, their success is even more evident.


As to HBS wrapping up BATTLETECH Development. I am glad Mitch and Team HBS did not let themselves get pigeonholed as simply and endless source of BATTLETECH games and DLCs.

To me, Team HBS cut their teeth back in 2011 on a Crimson Sky’ish game, and have ever since kept their staff and fans fresh by moving on to new titles and new franchises. Witness their games thus far:


@SQW, back in 2015, who would have ever thought HBS would move on from Shadowrun?

I am willing to bet that a key means of HBS keeping their costs down was to negotiate for limited, manageable IP Rights right from the start. Specifically one game and 2-expansions for Shadowrun and on game and 3-expansions for BATTLETECH.

This is my best Business Estimation of the evidence before me. I could of course be wrong, but I think not.


And guess what? If I am right, the IP Holder (Microsoft, for both IPs IIRC) would have wanted a all too healthy premium for renewing / extending access to either IP. And HBS is a very savvy game developer... not sure if this is Mitch, or just the very smart, very talented people he surrounds himself with (and in the end, these are one and the same thing, quiaff?) but the smart play in each situation has been for HBS to move forward to a fresh IP and a relatively low-cost acquisition of IP rights.

If I am correct in this analysis, other of FASA’s IP’s may be inline for similar game development by HBS. Similar to the treatment already accorded to Shadowrun and BattleTech. Here is a list of FASA titles, some of which would make for excellent “translation” by HBS into 2021 and 2022 Game Titles:

Role-playing games
Board games
Miniature games
  • VOR: The Maelstrom (1999)
  • Demonworld (second edition: 2011, miniatures by Ral Partha Europe. The first edition was released in 1999 by Hobby Products)


Just as it was back in the day (Winter ‘85 through Spring ‘89) I am very interested in some of these IPs. I hope to see HBS take a crack at developing both Crimson askies, Renegade Legion and in a perfect world where all the stars have aligned behind Mitch and Team HBS - a turn-based Star Trek PC game.

And yes, while HBS has still not returned to the Shadowrun IP, I would like to see Shadowrun tapped first another base game and a couple expansions (maybe in the 2023-2025 timeframe) before HBS ever returns for a BATTLETECH 2 (maybe in the 2025-2026 timeframe.)

Mitch and Team HBS are incredibly savvy and talented.


And Paradox knew this.

Mitch and Team HBS knew that their goals and plans would be even more possible with the deep pockets and Inductry Clout of Ebba and Team Paradox behind them.

Together, so much is possible and within sight.

THAT is why the acquisition occurred.

THAT is why HBS just moved into a brand new studio this year. Brand new... and larger than they had need of at the time. Large enough for HBS to grow into, unless I am mistaken.


Anyhow Good @SQW, that is my assessment going into the Paradox 4Q 2019 pitch on Twitch in another 3 hours, This is all rather exciting for me as I stretch my largely nascent Business Analysis and Predictive Assessment skill sets in advanced of this Fall’s return to the Ivory Towers of Academia. Please forgive me from running on so, I literally could not help it. :bow:
 

Prussian Havoc

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Less than 2-hours till Paradox’s Livestream!


(Yes, I woke up too soon for this livestream. : ) But unless I stay awake now, I am doomed to sleep though the 6am livestream. lol #RetiredPersonsProblems)
 

Prussian Havoc

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Here are the questions I’ve submitted for Paradox consideration:

CF205D31-0B6D-4CA6-8661-7AE0CCA10322.jpeg
 

Eelectrica

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When it comes to the next projects that HBS are working on we know, or at least are pretty sure one of them is a World of Darkness RPG. So that's going to be cool.
The other one is a real mystery. I can think of a couple of possibilities, but who knows. Kind of hoping it's a Tyranny game though...

Can I pre-order both?
 

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When it comes to the next projects that HBS are working on we know, or at least are pretty sure one of them is a World of Darkness RPG. So that's going to be cool.
The other one is a real mystery. I can think of a couple of possibilities, but who knows. Kind of hoping it's a Tyranny game though...

Can I pre-order both?
I agree. : )

World of Darkness, huh... hmm... brb
 

Prussian Havoc

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@Eelectrica, long story short, I preordered the World of Darkness’s Bloodlines2, Blood Moon edition.

The game is set in Seattle. And the concept art is hauntingly ethereal!

81CB0BF8-F415-4109-A779-30110CC89F1E.jpeg


...and to me, more than reminiscent of HBS’s Shadowrun series. All the time I was checking out the World of Darkness IP, I was thinking of HBS’s recent Job Notice for a individual with experience in game development of a Horror genre game.

And then during the just completed Paradox livestream, Ebba spoke of the high hopes and significant investments that Paradox is making into the World of Darkness IP / Universe. From her comments I could very easily see the workload outpace Hardsuit Labs projected growth. And seeing as how both Hardsuit Labs and HBS are both located in the Greater Seattle area... well it is to me a natural fit to see one of HBS’s two upcoming projects be set in the World of Darkness Universe.

While it might be too much to hope for, I would very much like to see HBS introduce some Shadowrun elements into a World of Darkness setting.

World of Darkness has come a long way since its inception with Vampire: The Dark Ages (set in the year 1197.)

With Hardsuit Labs Bloodlines 2 set in 21st Century Seattle, it seems to me that there are some very exciting possibilities for HBS to reach back to its Shadowrun experiences and skill set with Turn-based RPG gaming and craft an absolutely outstanding Horror genre Role-playing, Turn-based PC Game set in the World of Darkness “shared” universe.

Of course, I could be mistaken in the finer details or in the entire notion.

Time and Mitch will tell. : )
 

Prussian Havoc

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And the 4Q Paradise Report to Shareholders is in the books: https://www.twitch.tv/videos/553896012

It was a unexpected but exceedingly pleasant surprise to note all three of my above questions made the cut for Ebba’s use during the 40 or so minute livestream.

As a matter of fact, between HBS and HEAVY METAL being the top earner for Team Paradox in 4Q 2019, and a number of others asking HBS-related questions, Ebba ended up speaking of Seattle’s HBS quite a lot.

Another high point of the livestream for me was Ebba’s rather extensive vision for World of Darkness’s rollout across a number of different mediums and games. Set in 21st Century Seattle, Hardsuit lans’ Bloodlines 2 has been the tip of the World of Darkness Spear for Paradox.

As a matter of fact, Ebba opened the livestream with a comment that she had just returned to Stockholm from yet another trip to Seattle. While her last trip (JAN IIRC) was to Harebrained Schemes, I’d be willing to bet this trip was primarily to Hardsuit Labs.


As a matter of fact, this livestream and today’s purchase of Bloodlines 2 puts Hardsuit Labs nearly the top of my list for a Studio visit while I am in Seattle from 27FEB trough 05MAR... I hope to include PGI and Vancouver as a day trip during that week too. Catalyst Game Labs is on that list too... though my hopes for a Sun Zhang Academy T-shirt from their 2017 GENCON Setup is probably just too much to hope for. And yes, I hope to visit HBS’s new digs in Kirkland too. : )



Now onward to my Notes from today’s Paradox Lifestream:

1.) While it comes at the very end of the livestream and my Twitch question to confirm the message that I heard from Ebba, went unanswered, it appears that Harebrained Schemes was originally valued at one price at its purchase, but in the last nearly 2-years HBS’s 5-year Plan has been largely determined. This has driving some refinement to the accounting procedures for depreciating the purchase cost of HBS. I could be wrong but for a variety of very salient reasons, HBS’s valuation appears to have changed. Paradox remains very supportive and excited for both of HBS’s current projects.

2.) I had been in error earlier. The facilities buy in the Seattle area for HBS had been for a 100, not 500-employee build. (It has been Paradox HQ in Stockholm that had seen a 500-employee build. Alex confirmed that the 100-employee build was intended to give HBS a room to grow in the outyears.

3.) As alluded to above, the World of Darkness represents a very significant investment of resources and capital. This investment began in Quarters past and will continue for at least a year, likely two, maybe even 3, judging by the words and tone Ebba used when describing Paradox excitement of the inherent potential of the World of Darkness IP Rights.

4.) Again, as alluded to above, HBS was a Top-Five Earner for Paradox this past Quarter and to close out 2019.

5.) Even with few Game Launches compared to 4Q 2018, Paradox still outperformed their numbers from same quarter last year.



It is a quick 40+ minute viewing, I suggest you view it if you have the time and opportunity, There was enough mentions of HBS to make its viewing well worth my time.

If anyone has any questions, please do not hesitate to ask and I will do my best to answer them if I can.

Until then and as ever, good luck and good BATTLETECH gaming! : )
 

Mabberton

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Would love to see something done with the Renegade Legion IP. I always liked that one.
 

ThatGuyMontag

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It seems strange for PDX to bring on HBS when the latter has only two marketable IPs in Shadowrun and Battletech- neither which will be in use as of 2020. Crimson sky doesn't feel like a PDX game tbh and single player WWI era dog fight in a world dominated by World of X just seems a huge risk...
HBS aren't their IPs. They're a studio with a demonstrated ability to deliver high quality products on time and to pretty tight budgets. They also have proven capacity to develop the kinds of games that Paradox hasn't developed before.

These are literally the things that got mentioned at the time of the acquisition and in the Paradox Podcast that got released at the time which had the conversation with their acquisitions guy.

The goal was to expand Paradox as a publisher, not to gain any particular IP.
 

unclecid

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vampire / horror games....meh
hopefully the other project is something interesting enough for me to open my wallet
 

Prussian Havoc

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HBS aren't their IPs. They're a studio with a demonstrated ability to deliver high quality products on time and to pretty tight budgets. They also have proven capacity to develop the kinds of games that Paradox hasn't developed before.

These are literally the things that got mentioned at the time of the acquisition and in the Paradox Podcast that got released at the time which had the conversation with their acquisitions guy.

The goal was to expand Paradox as a publisher, not to gain any particular IP.
I did not know that Good Sir. Thank you for the 411! :bow:
 

gh0s7

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Having HBS do a squad-turn-based game, like their previous Shadowruns and BATTLETECH, in the World of Darkness IP does make some sense, as HBS has accumulated plenty of knowledge on this particular genre. Good speculation...
Hopefully, we'll either have an announcement and/or a teaser by late this year.

@Prussian Havoc : Glad to see another who decided to take a chance and pre-order Bloodlines 2. Recommend going to the official site and logging in and participating on the browser "games" over there, not to mention the very nice background info on factions and etc. Also, there's a thread on the subforum of the game that has collected all the official information about the game. :)
Finally, as you have pre-ordered VtMB2, I strongly recommend the first Bloodlines along with the unofficial patch by wesp5.
 

BARBOSA (Aries)

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While being a WOD fan i´m glad with the upcoming bloodlines 2 (i finished the 1st long ago), but i don´t understand why quitting BT development if HBS and HM were top earners. I was really expecting years of DLCs, like paradox usually does...
 

Prussian Havoc

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While being a WOD fan i´m glad with the upcoming bloodlines 2 (i finished the 1st long ago), but i don´t understand why quitting BT development if HBS and HM were top earners. I was really expecting years of DLCs, like paradox usually does...
I think of it this way... I was truly concerned that the criticism I had heard most about Paradox was going to prove true - that BATTLETECH would turn into a DLC machine with its fans drained of cash almost as fast as the game would be drained value, excitement and its Big Stompiness. : (

Of course those concerns proved completely unfounded and only so much inconsequential hot air.


Also, please consider that those early days of BATTLETECH where we had the “Ask the Devs” forum, twice weekly 3-4 hour DFA live-streams, monthly DEV Q&As and even GENCON appearances and Booth manning by not just Team HBS but our marvelous Forum Moderators! But here over this past year... not so much.

With two new projects underway, there are two Communities of Gamers out there that wil be very fortunate indeed as Team HBS will in due time, craft a respectful and professional “take” on their IP and eventually an exceptionally FUN PC game.

Or even better, HBS may be working toward release of the very first game in a brand new IP and franchise!

Not all Studios can pull that off - spark passion, excitement and compelling immersion into something brand new. But Mitch and Team HBS surely can.

No it won’t be Big and Stompy but it just might be...

Zoomy and Crimson, or...

Shadowy and Hacked, or...

Legiony and TOG-full, or...

Dark and Whampirery.


Any which way it goes, I know HBS-trademark Focus and Quality will be its touchstones. :bow:
 

ThatGuyMontag

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ThatGuyMontag

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On the White Wolf IP question I was thinking through my likely picks and it turns out there are a couple of really good options for settings for an HBS game:

My heart hopes for a Mage: the Ascension game but it's easily the most ambitious.

The most likely game given where HBS is coming from and which ties in well with Bloodlines is something involving Hunter.

Moving away from WoD seeing someone try to do an Exalted computer game would be hilarious and if I'm honest I'm all for that.

A final fascinating option is doing a trilogy of games set in Trinity. They could do the full Adventure-Aberrant-Trinity arc with maybe a linking story of some sort.
 

LucidFugue

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I've always been a little iffy on the WoD setting. I wasn't interested in the tabletop game and while Bloodlines had some interesting narrative stuff it felt constrained by trying to wedge TT rules into a first person game. The different vampire "races" are frequently problematic lore-wise and also don't feel too interesting to me from a mechanical difference.
If it's true HBS are doing something in that universe, I'd be interested to see what they come up with. They did a great job telling a story in the Battletech universe and creating a compelling turn based strategy from the TT game. But in my mind WoD seems like a tough one to do right.