AFK: Zombie Couture

Today’s AFK shows that brand can expand into anything and everything, even if you’re talking about small casual games.  PopCap, creators of games like Peggle and Plants Vs. Zombies, just opened up their online store with a bevy of goodies for the casual gamer.

Our favorite item is the old tyme Moustache Mode shirt that harkens back to an older, simpler time full of hair tonic and zombies, but the Peggle plush toys and collectable coins are nifty too.

We’ve said it time and again on this blog: if your fans love your brand, give them more of it!

[PopCap Merch] {link no longer active}

 

Tony Hawk Trying Really Really Hard

The upcoming Tony Hawk Ride comes with a skateboard peripheral, unveiled at E3, for use on your living room floor.  The idea is you re meant to fake skate by standing on the board, pushing your other foot along the side to mimic gaining speed, and then to spin the board to create tricks.

It sounds absolutely crazy, and we’re just waiting for the ow i just totally smashed my face into my plasma screen tweets for rides gone wrong, but we re willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.

Even after watching a video that, at least to us, is a little cringe-inducing.  Pro skateboarders having a try at fake skateboarding is sort of, well, wrong.  The whole point is to have poseurs like us think we re really skateboarding.  It s hard to believe pro skaters like Paul Rodriguez would really be that enthusiastic about pulling off an ollie when they do that in their real lives every day.

Anyway, here’s the video.

Japanese PS3 Slim Campaign ‘Happily Ripped Me Off’

From Kotaku:

Back in 2002, artist Phil Toledano did a photo series of the different faces gamers make while playing. Now in 2009, Sony is doing the same.

About his original photos, Toledano said this, “I wanted to take portraits of people that would reveal a hidden part of their character. So I had them play video games.”

The PS3 Slim Sony campaign is called “Play Face” and currently features celebrities. Kotaku contacted Toledano about the PS3 campaign. His reply: “It pretty much looks like they happily ripped me off…”

You can take a look at a couple of his pieces on this page and the rest of his project at his site, and compare it to the campaign that’s now running on Japanese TV. He may have a point, although he may also want to talk to British filmmaker Robbie Cooper and his fantastic video of the faces kids make while playing violent video games.

We’re not lawyers, just passive observers, but remember what they say, “every poet is a thief.”

Original Phil Toledano Photos

Sony’s Play Face Campaign

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Robbie Cooper’s The Immersion Project
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EA Sports Active Expanding Ahead Of Holidays

EA Sports Fitness has been the first real discernible hit for EA on the Nintendo Wii, so much so that teams devoted to other projects on PS3 and Xbox 360 were recently pulled off those projects to concentrate on beefing up the game s activities.

The fruits of that labor will come to bear on November 17, as the first expansion in the series makes its way onto Wii.

From Gamespot: {link no longer active}

The new game comes in the form of EA Sports Active More Workouts, which will arrive on the Wii in November. The game will include a new six-week challenge, and EA Sports boss Peter Moore got onstage to show off one of the new workouts, which included squats, hurdles, and balance exercises.

This is one of the very few genres that cater much more heavily to women, and it’s a great way to market to a brand new audience that isn’t your everyday gamer.  EA realizes this, so kudos to them for reacting quickly to a changing market and taking advantage.

Heavy Rain Gets Heavy Voiceover Work

Heavy Rain, the upcoming drama game that will teach us all how to love again, is fully prepared to take the world by storm.  At least when it comes to audio options.

The game, which plays much like a movie with an in-depth script, will feature voice options in thirteen languages and subtitles in five more.

Territory mainstays like English, German, Japanese and Spanish are always par for the course, but Dutch, Italian, Portuguese and Russian don’t usually make it into many titles.

The jury s out as to whether Heavy Rain will be one of the blockbusters Sony needs in its arsenal, but they’ll be prepared to satisfy users worldwide, no matter what their language.

Ubisoft Targets Wii Fit Market With Natal-Like Device

From Joystiq:

Ubisoft has released a video for GamesCom highlighting Your Shape, the Jenny McCarthy-endorsed, camera-focused exergame for Wii. The video highlights the game’s camera, giving us a good look at the device and an explanation behind the technology powering it (hint: it’s not rocket science). While it bares resemblance to Project Natal, unlike Microsoft’s peripheral, Ubisoft’s device and Your Shape will actually be out this year — more precisely, this December.

If this works as advertised, this could be a huge opportunity for Ubisoft to take the standard webcam to the next level (and months before Microsoft).  We’ll reserve judgment until this comes out later this year.

Check out the video below for a look at how Ubisoft is targeting the core audience for these kinds of exercise-focused games: women in their 20s and 30s.

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If you missed the Jenny McCarthy video, that is embedded below as well 

Next-Gen Prices Coming For PC Users

From Ars Technica:

Gamers have long put up with the $60 price tag associated with the release of current-generation console games, but PC games have largely avoided the trend with $50 or under price points for new games. It looks like that trend may be coming to a close, as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is being spotted online at a $60 price point for the PC.

Arguably, one of the reasons the PC games market has been able to sustain itself after years of doomsayers predicting its demise is because prices have stayed relatively cheap compared to their console counterparts.  $40 to $50 was the norm, but Activision is willing to test out that $60 price point so common in the Xbox 360 and PS3 markets.

Does anyone else see a potential danger in doing this, especially in the already shaky PC market?   Smart move or blockheaded?

World Of Warcraft: The Magazine

From WoW.com:

In a rather surprising turn of events, Blizzard has announced that they’re teaming up with publishing group Future to print a quarterly magazine about, you guessed it, World of Warcraft.

For the yearly subscription price of $39.95 USD, readers will receive four issues of the ad-free WoW magazine, including concept art, hints and sneak peeks at upcoming content patches and expansions, interviews with developers, strategies for raid and dungeon encounters, and more “insider and player perspectives”. The issues are stated to be more than 140 pages long and glossy as heck.

Ten bucks a pop for a World of Warcraft magazine when all the strategies and tips are already online, and in much finer detail?   We don’t know about this one.

Then again, there is a reason why hyperfocused outlets (including a site like WoW.com) do extremely well.  They don t try to do anything other than cater to their ravenous fanbase, especially one that has such an expansive audience as World of Warcraft.

Video Of The Day: Blade Runner Is Here

CBS has teamed up with Entertainment Weekly to bring readers the first ever in-magazine video ad.

After opening the insert for the new CBS fall lineup, a small video window starts playing with the cast of the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, complete with audio.

Definitely viral, definitely cool.  We’re picking up an issue tomorrow.  (Just dunno if we’d watch The Big Bang Theory regardless).

New PlayStation 3 Shipping Even Earlier?

Sony is moving fast and furiously to rebrand PlayStation and usher out the new, slimmer PlayStation 3, but we didn t know how fast until we looked at Gamestop s site.

The Gamestop listing for the system shows a shipping date of August 25, about a week earlier than planned, allowing consumers to get their hands on the system ahead of time.  That s a rarity in the video game industry — release dates actually moving up.

Maybe this is Sony’s way of making amends for their stumbling last couple of years?