Braid Developer’s New Game Set For 2011

Jonathan Blow, developer of the critically-acclaimed Xbox Live Arcade game Braid, has let loose a few details of his upcoming game, Witness.

The reason we care is, in addition to being fans of Braid, we were interested in the game’s release date.

Says Blow, he’s looking to release the game in late 2011, when the game will hopefully be finished.

When was the last time a hotly-anticipated game was expected to drop more than a full two years from its announcement?   Usually a big game is announced for the very next year, at the latest…and then delays carry it through the two year mark.

Let’s see how this extremely advanced start on marketing a game works out…in a couple of years.

Bioshock Marketing Team Being Creepy

From Kotaku: {link no longer active}

They sent creepy drawings. Then a record. And now, apparently not getting the memo that the game’s been delayed until 2010, the BioShock 2 marketing team has sent directions about where and when fans need to be on Saturday.

The directions pinpoint ten locations around the world, from The Netherlands to Australia to Jones Beach in New York and Santa Monica Beach, as well as times of when they want people to gather.

The subversive campaign has been going on for a few weeks now and is tied to Bioshock 2’s 2010 release, but we haven’t the foggiest clue of what to expect.  We ll find out after the eighth…unless we ve all been kidnapped by a bunch of Big Daddies.

That just sounds wrong.

Wipeout HD Ads Controversy: Gamers Win

Yesterday we reported on the recent addition of in-game advertisements by Sony and Double Fusion in the newest update to Wipeout HD.  A lot can change in twenty-four hours.

The ads were designed to show up in the loading screen of the game, and we actually think that’s a great place for them.  The unfortunate part comes in something we didn’t notice until we perused YouTube and found this video {link no longer active}.

Sony quickly removed the advertising today in response, as the worst fears of many gamers were coming to pass: paying for a game, then waiting through commercials to play the game.

We’ll follow this one as the concept is solid, the execution isn’t.  Any way a short-form video or ad can be used for shorter loading times?

Nintendo CEO: No Wii Price Cut, High Hopes

After a dismal first half of the year, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata has high hopes for the rest of the year, and downplayed any talk of a Nintendo Wii price cut in the near future.

The Japanese territory will have a black version of the Nintendo Wii soon that Iwata hopes will lift sales, and looks at three key titles to bring in some significant bank by the end of the year.

From {link no longer active}

[Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit Plus and New Super Mario Bros. Wii] are Nintendo’s main titles for the year, Iwata said. Nintendo believes they easily have the potential to sell 10 million units each worldwide by the end of the fiscal year (March 2010). Iwata said that, due to the lining up of the three releases, “We’d like to work so that people say ‘This was the best Christmas in Nintendo history.'”

Of particular note is how, despite all the press and praise heaped on Nintendo for the past couple of years, Iwata was very critical of the success of their key games last year.

Killer releases may not necessarily mean just games released over the quarter. It appears that Nintendo has come to expect some of its games to have long legs, and Iwata once again expressed disappointment with one title and its lack of extended sales: Wii Music. He also seems disappointed with sales of Animal Crossing City Folk.

“Last year, Wii Music and Animal Crossing City Folk did not reach our expectations,” said Iwata. “If we had made them into long sellers, the effects of the lack of software in the first half of the year would have been lowered. However, their sales slowed in a relatively short term.”

The Best Way To Integrate Console Games And iPhone

From Kotaku: {link no longer active}

The app, which can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store as of yesterday, offers Call Of Duty: World At War who take these things seriously on-the-go access to game related news, World At War career stats, leaderboard access and more. That fun statistical data is carried over from the official Call Of Duty: World At War site, should you be a registered player.

iPhone games are all the rage, but Activision is doing something with Apple’s platform that is ostensibly less expensive and potentially more engaging to their audience.

Rather than try and come out with a stripped-down version of their popular Call of Duty games for iPhone (although we expect that announcement any day now), Activision is giving away a free iPhone app that helps players track their stats and the latest COD news using the game s APIs.

It’s all about extending the brand to multiple platforms, and this is a great (and cost-effective) way to do just that without compromising either the game or iPhone experience.

[iPhone Call of Duty app (iTunes link)]

How To Sell Social Network Ads

The difficulty in marketing to sites like Facebook, Myspace and more is the sheer volume of page views and audience these sites have.  It could be extremely difficult to target these audiences effectively, but Business Insider has an interesting case study on one company that s proven successful.

Earlier this year, Huggies sponsored a Moms-only Facebook app called “Circle of Moms.”

But before it did, AppSavvy set expectations for how users would react to the ads. AppSavvy said how many users it expected would interact with Huggies-branded areas of the app.  AppSavvy also set expectations for how many times users would run diapers-related queries within the app after seeing Huggies ads.

Those numbers were the KPIs [Key Performance Indicators].

In the end, the number of clicks into Huggies-sponsored areas of the app and diapers searches exceeded AppSavvy’s expectations. Huggies, as well as its ad agency Mindshare walked away with the notion that hey, maybe social media advertising doesn’t stink after all.

[More case studies at Business Insider]

Left 4 Dead Proves Games Live Forever

Another example of how games are living past their traditional prime.

Left 4 Dead came out late last year and was one of Xbox 360’s big holiday hits, so it came as no shock that Left 4 Dead 2 was announced for release later this year.

What is surprising is the fact that Valve, the game s developer, has just announced an expansion pack for the original game just ahead of the game’s sequel.

The pack, which will be free to PC owners and cost $7 for Xbox 360 players, adds an additional chapter to the zombie-filled adventure.

Take note because, whereas a game’s lifespan would traditionally end shortly after its retail launch, games like Left 4 Dead show increased value as a marketing tool to bolster a brand and even promote and lead into an upcoming sequel, as is the case here.

Fable II Clothes Hit The Virtual World

From Lionhead Studios:

A lot of people have been asking us in recent months about Fable II clothes for their Xbox360 avatar. Well, you’ll be happy to learn that we’ve got something coming your way! It’s not going to be a single shirt but a whole package of clothing! It will be available for a few Microsoft points from Marketplace at some stage this month… We’ve got one teaser image showing you a shirt, but there are boots, shirts and hats! No underwear though…

Fable II came out last October to a solid critical and commercial reception, but this recent post on Lionhead s community forums shows how today’s games have very different opportunities to market to gamers, even if significant amount of time pass.

These virtual goods will be on sale soon on the Xbox 360 avatar marketplace, and Fable II will be one of a few games that have virtual shirts, pants and more for sale.  Other games at launch will include Gears of War and Halo.

This kind of development presents a few clear opportunities for marketers and publishers alike.

Firstly, it s a great source of additional revenue by way of microtransactions with very minimal cost to produce.

Secondly, it bumps up the game in question in the minds of consumers; Fable II came out almost one year ago, but these new threads have the game get into the conciousness of gamers who may have even forgot about the popular game during the busy holiday season in which it was released.

Most importantly, though, it bolsters the Fable name and brand just by being connected to gamers, tugging at their passion points and really engaging fans of the series to promote the brand to the friends they have on Xbox Live.

We look forward to seeing how the avatar marketplace goes when it launches later this year with a new Xbox 360 dashboard update.

AFK: You Think Today’s Game Writing Stinks?

Today’s AFK moment is a trip down nostalgia lane to the games of yesteryear, where proper grammar and correct punctuation were but extravagant luxuries reserved for the classiest of organizations.

Our favorite line is “Put fish in you mouth,” although “Dodongo dislikes smoke” strikes just the right tone with its artful use of the name Dodongo.

AList Shares AFK: You Think Today's Game Writing Stinks?

[via .png]