Thanks For Another Great [a]list summit

Well that s a wrap.  The 2009 [a]list summit has come to a close and what an event it was.  We learned that wine can be used as a bargaining chip for IGN ad rates, Resident Evil 5 was actually set in Calistoga CA. not Kijuju and the origins of the Xbox actually started with a silly string fight in the Excel testers workspace. Well… only one of those is partially true, can you guess which?

From all of us here at Ayzenberg Group we want to thank all of you that attended and participated this year.  We could not have done it without you.  In particular I want to thank our esteemed panelists, speakers and moderators.  The content this year was top notch and that can directly be attributed to the quality of speakers we were privileged to have this year.

For those of you that were fortunate to attend this year s event we also would like to extend our thanks.  You brought enthusiasm, professionalism and participation that helped elevate this year s conference.  And to those of you reading this that missed out on the event this year, you missed a good one!

Over the course of the next few weeks we will be releasing highlights of the talks and sessions from the [a]list summit 2009 right here on the [a]list daily.   Look for an addition to the site on the right hand side.  These highlights will be video clips from each of the days sessions and showcase our top learning s from them.

So to all of you that made this year so successful, THANK YOU.  And for those who enjoyed it drop a note to Mr. Ayzenberg so he is encouraged to do it again next year!


Steve Fowler
V.P. Strategy

Sony Rebrands The PlayStation 3

At this week’s Gamescom, Sony announced a myriad of developments, from the creation of a new design for the PlayStation 3 to a multitude of games and peripherals for their home and portable consoles.

One thing that didn’t make so much of an appearance?   The words PlayStation 3.

Ever since the terrible design decision to go with the Spider-Man font for it’s PlayStation 3 branding, both in games and on the console itself, PlayStation 3 has had quite a hard time getting consumers really interested in the machine.

We’re not laying blame just on the branding, but the rebranding efforts that are going on are a great step in the right direction.  Amongst the changes:

–    Junking that horrible Spider-Man font
–    Focusing on the term PS3 instead of PlayStation 3
–    Making the multi-colored PS logo, unchanged in 15 years, a sleek chrome
–    Having a classy look to the start of their Gamescom videos, with colorful laser lights that exude the cutting edge

Now if only they stopped with the accented “PlayStayshon” bumpers, we’d be all good.

Stop The Bullshot

Joystiq had a funny piece yesterday regarding some screenshots they received for the Wii version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare:

All jokes aside … have a look at the dead guy in the foreground of the above shot. Does something look a little odd to you Perhaps a closer look {link no longer active} is in order. And those clouds  {link no longer active}. Didn’t we see them in our Betamax copy of Apocalypse Now?

Companies have been using photoshop to touch up screenshots for years now, but blogs have been getting wise to them for just as long, going so far as to coin a term for those kinds of screenshots: bullshots.

The Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare example is a bit more egregious than most, but in general we believe the game’s need to market themselves.  The slow erosion of consumer confidence once those bullshots are found out is something that can be tough to reverse, so keep in mind, if you want to make your game look better, leave it up to the developers.

Sony Motion Controller Makes Gamescom Appearance

Announced at this year s E3, the Sony Motion Controller is PlayStation s answer to the Wii remote and Microsoft s upcoming Project Natal.  The wand made an updated appearance at this week s Gamescom, bringing with it a look at some new software examples and a couple of swipes at the competition.

The Gamescom trailer shows off an updated version of the archery game shown at E3, a horror game where you control a flashlight to see where you re going, a fighting game with swordplay and more.

If you have a keen eye, you ll notice Sony taking swipes at both Microsoft and Nintendo.  Notice that Pinata halfway through the video being bashed   A not so veiled reference to Microsoft’s family series Viva Pinata.

Nintendo gets the brunt of the sniping, with lines like? In real life, people don’t just move sideways, that s why our motion controller reads your position in full 3D, and Gone are the days of just standing there waving your arms around.   Meow!  They also had to sprinkle a nod to PS3 s HD capabilities, for which Nintendo has no answer.

This motion controller fight is getting a little nasty, and we ll see how the companies market against each other as new products start shipping.  We ll have our popcorn at the ready.

The Beatles: Rock Band Getting Microphone-Only SKU?

From Kotaku:

An MTV Games/Harmonix spokesperson e-mailed Kotaku a statement this morning denying the existence of the SingStar Fab Four edition, which was reported by British gaming news outlet MCV earlier this week. SingStar, for those who aren’t familiar is Sony’s successful karaoke game series, which has seen numerous themed editions around the world.

“Contrary to the rumored reports, there is no Singstar: Beatles software product. There is only “The Beatles: Rock Band” hitting shelves worldwide on 9/9/09 on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii in which players can play as a singing game or as a full band game.”

We were informed that the company is considering special microphone packs […]

Disregarding the Singstar rumor bit, we think it would be a stroke of genius to have a microphone-only package for The Beatles: Rock Band.

If the sight of plastic guitars and drums give you thoughts of cluttered living rooms and broken dreams, a version that provides enough for a lead singer and backup may be more accessible than the normal pack with all that fake equipment.

It s one of those ideas that seems so obvious, and we hope they go this route for gamers who just don t feel the need to (fake) rock out.

If It’s In The Game, You’re In The Game

FIFA 10, the world’s bestselling soccer game, had a feature-filled trailer on display at Gamescom.  Amid all the footy action was a nifty feature that allowed gamers to map their faces onto the player models in the game.

This is a great feature to have as games (and media) become increasingly interested in personalization.  The FIFA series is also where a lot of new features are tested and then make it around to the other sports games like Madden NFL and NBA Live.

Check it out at around the 54 second mark.

{video link no longer active}

Unboxing The New PlayStation 3

Sony’s recent unveiling of the PlayStation 3 was handled beautifully at their Gamescom press event in Germany this week, but it was what they managed to do back in the States that should be appreciated.

Shortly after the announcement of the new PS3 version, Sony started delivering the console, brand new and in a retail box, to a multitude of press outlets just minutes after the event wrapped up.

Engadget, Kotaku {link no linger active}, Joystiq and more were able to post their hands-on impressions with the compact new machine, with most of them creating their own unboxing videos for their readers.

Sony did it right: big announcement followed directly by hands-on press coverage from around the world, all leading up to a global launch in just a matter of days.  Kudos.

No Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Beta

CVG reports: {link no longer active}

Activision has told CVG at Gamescom that there’ll be be no multiplayer beta for
Modern Warfare 2. You may remember that the first MW game had a huge open beta test that you could say was a massive success in bringing people round to Call Of Duty’s multiplayer options. But it looks like there’s no need to do that this time round.

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare kicked off a public beta a few months before its release date, allowing gamers who received a promotional code to log onto the game and have some time with Infinity Ward’s multiplayer masterpiece (it s still on the top three active Xbox Live games).

Why would Activision not have a public beta of Modern Warfare 2 after all the successful hype and press received by the first game s beta   Marketing for the game this early has huge potential to get interest up to a fever pitch for its November release.

We figure it s because Call of Duty 4 and 5 (World at War) cotinue to occupy two of the top three spots in the weekly Xbox Live active games lists, and both games have significant DLC still being churned out (World at War recently released its third map pack just weeks ago).

Still, it would have been great to see all of these Call of Duty fans going absolutely bonkers for a chance at getting a beta code.  Next time.

Video Of The Day: Don’t Try To Be Cool

CNN has been trying to reach a larger, hipper audience through segments that really speak to the youth, like What The… and Just Sayin .   Oh CNN, you used to be a real news network.

Jon Stewart, a longtime antagonist of the original cable news network, took the opportunity to highlight CNN’s cringe-worthy efforts on one of this week s episodes of The Daily Show, and it’s our video of the day.

The moral of the story?   Don’t try too hard to be cool, because it can backfire with a fury.