Recession Proof Industry? No

NPD Group recently released some numbers showing the industry isn’t as recession proof as everyone has claimed for the past few decades.

The video game market is looking to stabilize this year with no more than 5 percent growth around last year’s revenue mark of $11 billion.

Console sales have been dropping for each of the three major players, including Nintendo, and price cuts are rumored for all three systems ahead of this year s holiday season.

Amazon.com also mentioned video games as one reason it had modest Q2 2009 earnings.  Does this portend the end of saying video games are recession proof?

Xbox Goes Indies

Microsoft today announced the rebranding of the XNA Community as Xbox Live Indie Games, a destination for up and coming developers to show off and sell their wares.

These are games that go through a bit of a different approval process; a bit easier, and never involving a major publisher (except for Microsoft itself).

These games have been on sale for a couple of years at $5 and $10 price tags, but Microsoft is probably taking a note from Apple’s iPhone games in adding a $1 option for developers.  The only catch is the game file has to be less than 50MB.

This seems like the perfect incubator for great, independent ideas that may not make it through to a larger audience.

We wonder how many smart, savvy marketing executives are looking through the catalog of indie games, trying to find inexpensive talent to launch effective games that could easily be sold against.  Get to it.

[XNA announcement] {link no longer active}

Fashion Watch: Xbox 360 Pirate Gear?

Xbox 360 and its little avatars are about to throttle up the fight against Nintendo Wii and those Mii characters you create by introducing a whole new line of clothes and accessories to spend your dough on.

Amongst the first items available in the store will be Halo and Gears of War shirts, Monkey Island gear, and steampunk accessories, all ranging from free to a couple of dollars.

So how can you take advantage of this new development?   Xbox Dashboard advertising has ratcheted up in the past several months, and this looks to leapfrog Microsoft ahead of its competitors in monetizing in all new ways (at least on video game consoles).

Time to put in a call and get some virtual clothes made up.  The earlier, the better, especially when gamers have been hammering Microsoft to increase their initial paltry selection of a few shirts and pants.

[Joystiq fashion police]

Bill Gates Drops Some Knowledge

Bill Gates surprised Gizmodo readers and editors by penning a nostalgic story about the early days of Microsoft, and it is worth a read.  A choice excerpt:

Today, I would be surprised if the number of million-dollar applications isn’t in the millions itself, and they range from apps and games created by a single developer working at home that you can download to your cell phone to massive solutions built by huge development teams that run the operations of huge corporations.

It’s not often you hit the blogosphere with the man who built Windows, so click on over for an inspiring story that could do you well in the near future.

[Gizmodo editor Bill Gates]

Movie Studios Continue Screwing With DRM

Netflix on Xbox 360 has been a great success for both companies, allowing Netflix members to watch streaming rentals on the Microsoft console at no additional charge (except for the Netflix and Xbox Live member accounts).

Brian Crecente at Kotaku recently shot a short video showing off the latest version of Netflix on Xbox 360, and it looks great.  Now you can queue up movies on the fly and even watch them with other people on the network at the same time.  So far, this is a great user experience, and will lead to more subscriptions, right?

Unfortunately, Crecente experienced that jabbing pain whenever a paying customer loads up anything with DRM.  When trying to launch Pineapple Express, he was met with a message that it could not be viewed with a party.

Why is that?   Our hunch is the movie studios, who have been extremely slow to get out of the stone age and into the 21st century, put in additional restrictions for some unknown (re: stupid) reason.

A great service rendered just a little bit useless, at least until the movie studios wake up and allow honest consumers a more seamless experience.  It’ll happen, fellas, you just need to breathe a little bit and let it go.

How Gamers Are Wrecking Video Games

Rev Rant, a series of videos we never heard of from a website we’ve definitely heard of (Destructoid) posted a quick video challenging hardcore gamers on their notions of how a video game needs to be paid for.

Amongst the topics are how the industry is still feeling out different revenue streams, how there is a clear double-standard when paying large publishers versus independent ones regardless of a game’s quality, and an intriguing idea you can take hold of.

Games aren’t music or movies or TV shows… games can be anything we want them to be.  Why do we have to adhere to this formula of paying for a finished product, receiving that finished product, and that s the end of that?

If gamers were able to foot the bill for some of the development they say they would like to see, would it lead to more chances being taken in the industry?

VOD: This Game Knows Everything

Scibblenauts is a new game coming out for Nintendo DS this September, and developer 5th Cell has set out to create a virtual world that can have anything in it that you can think of.

If you don’t know about this game or the amount of detail going into the different items available to the game’s players, watch our VOD.  Even keyboard cat makes an appearance…

{link no longer active}

Epic Slams Wii, Says Not Worthwhile

From IndustryGamers:

We noted that more third parties are trying to push hardcore games on the Wii, but Rein countered, And they’ve been huge financial flops… It’s just not where the market is. Look at EA. Do you see the same Madden game on Wii Of course not it’s a dumbed down game.

We further pressed him that even if it’s a different market for Wii that there would be some way for Epic to apply its Unreal technology to the platform to benefit Epic’s business and aid publishers with their portfolios on Wii. He answered yet again, You’d just be stretching it too thin; I just don’t see it as worthwhile.

Pretty big words against Nintendo’s cash cow.  Has the Wii hit its peak, with too many third-party games flopping and future endeavors just being boondoggles

[Full article on IndustryGamers] {link no longer active}

Looking For 19 Million Gamers?

Yahoo! Games, one of the Internet’s largest gaming destinations, is available for buyout offers, according to PaidContent.

The casual games portal currently serves 19.2 million monthly unique visitors and is considered one of the largest casual gaming platforms on the Internet.

Yahoo! Games is joining HotJobs and Yahoo! Personals as channels that are up for grabs, but only if Yahoo! receives the right offer.  PaidContent outlines a couple of potential buyers:

Who might buy If News Corp wanted to loosen the purse strings (we re not sure how much), Yahoo Games could fit with IGN Entertainment , which had 14.4 million unique visitors in June…MSN Games could break into the top five with an acquisition; ditto for AOL.

Casual games is a market with a great amount of growth over the past few years, but is the Yahoo! move indicative of a market at its apex, or just a smart selloff to reduce costs in the long run   And why can’t video game sites come close to the amount of traffic circulating through their casual cousins?

[PaidContent has more] {link no longer active}

Twitter 101 For Business

Twitter is all the rage, and we’re fine with it.  Even if you throw up an RSS feed on a Twitter account, it’s just another delivery method for content to your readers.

For businesses wanting to take the next step up in the Twittersphere, the Twitter 101 for Businesses site is worth a read.  The folks at Twitter know that engaging business (and eventually upselling them) will be key to any future revenue plans they have, and this initial engagement hits the right notes.  Some key excerpts:

But if you’re new to Twitter and still wondering what all the fuss is about, hang around the site (or a good third-party client) for a week or two and give it a few minutes a day. Twitter almost always delivers Aha! moments for people, but it can take some getting used to before you have your moment of enlightenment.

And if you see a few people spending a bit too much time in the office using Twitter, you may want to show them this:

In fact, Twitter works best for businesses when you start slow, devoting a few minutes a day to see whether and how it s valuable to you.

Get into this microsite this weekend, see how it applies to your business and clients, and come back on Monday, ready to go!

[Twitter 101]