Impact To GameStop From DLC Is Eight Years Out, Says Analyst

An analyst from Broadpoint AmTech says GameStop should look for the first big impact from digital distribution in 2017, but is upbeat about their near-term performance.  Reported by Industry Gamers, analyst Ben Schachter says his firm has initiated coverage of the game retailer with a buy rating and $33 per share target.

Schachter tells IG that the growth of digital content is still overcoming barriers, including broadband adoption and hard drive space on consoles.  He anticipates the current console cycle will run through 2014.  He also cites issues on both the retailer and consumer side of the industry as barriers to digital growth.  The importance of retail marketing to help sell games is often overlooked, he says.  And as a study by GameStop found, the game consumer still puts $10-20 additional value on physical packaged product.  Schachter sees games eventually impacted by factors similar to what the music industry has seen in its shift to digital, yet amidst that gloomy comparison stays positive on GameStop’s ability to continue profitability.

Read more at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.

CNET Takes A Spin With XBL Social Media Tools

CNET took a spin with Facebook and Twitter on Xbox Live in advance of Microsoft’s official launch.  Microsoft hasn t set a launch date but says to expect rollout sometime in November.  In addition to the social media tools, the rollout includes, a music matching service, and InstantON, a tool that lets users immediately stream videos of content they’ve purchased to download.

In previewing the social media apps, CNET cites missing features that users accustomed to web versions might find glaring, such as uploading photos and clicking through on URLs.  Microsoft says their focus is on recreating the experiences as both befitting Xbox Live and the living room.

Read more at CNET.

Gamers Can Be Impulse Buyers, Says NPD

NPD released a study showing 40 percent of game consumers in Canada have made a game purchase on impulse in the past six months, reports  The research showed the average price of impulse buys was $27.19 compared to $42.97 for games people planned on purchasing.  Packaging was cited as an important factor in decision making by 40 percent of respondents, and 25 percent said they were affected by in-store demos.


Mod The World

Layar released their augmented reality app for iPhone with a feature included that lets users manipulate the information overlays.  Layar’s app overlays information on images viewed through the iPhone camera.  The data displayed is like marrying Google Streets with the regular map browser, where the destination points and other data from the map appears in a photo of that location.  The information displayed can include popular businesses or tourist destinations.  Layar describes the experience as “browsing the world.”

Kit Eaton at FastCompany writes that the app includes code that lets developers customize overlays with their own information.  Perhaps great for practical jokes, but what Layar has in mind is to see iPhone developers creating new apps and savvy users creating ARG mods.  Their open source thinking extends to their pricing model the app is free.

Read more at FastCompany {link no longer active}.

EA Brings Madden To Arcade

EA Sports is releasing Madden NFL Arcade for Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, reports 1up.  The game is a pickup and play version of the publisher s pro football franchise, with all 32 NFL teams intact.  In the interest of casual play the game eliminates the pesky things that weigh down American football, such as penalties, field goals, and probably a lot of linesmen.  The arcade version is a 5-on-5 match on a 60-yard field.

The move follows EA’s release of 3 on 3 NHL Arcade, a similarly stripped down version of its professional hockey franchise for XBL and PSN.

Read more at 1up {link no longer active}.

Free-To-Play Games Coming To iPhone

Apple is extending the ability to run micro-transactions to free apps, reports Macworld.  Currently only paid apps can run money transactions in the software linked to Apple iTunes App Store.

Rob Griffiths of Macworld sees the first key development being that Apple developers can now process game purchases from inside their free demos.  Apple’s restriction had forced people who play free demo versions of software to return to the App Store and purchase the full version as a separate product.  Griffiths predicts the end of iPhone’s free demo  lite apps altogether, with developers now able to roll out a single app that runs a free demo and can activate the paid version.  A welcome byproduct of the change will be eliminating double listings that clutter the App Store, where any product with a free demo is listed twice.

Eventually developers are expected to start rolling out subscription based products, and look to use the free-to-play model taking hold on PC.

Read more at Macworld.

VidZone Streaming Videos Will Be On PS3 Only

Digital content company VidZone is bumping up its streamed video offerings for PS3 but sticking to downloadable content on 360, reports  Talking about the company s Europe plans, VidZone’s Michael Russo says its PS3 streaming content service will expand to cover 18 countries by Christmas.  While not providing specifics, he says additional services are planned for the U.S.

As for 360, Russo calls the platform a smaller business , one where VidZone only sells downloadable music videos from independent labels.  He calls their streaming content service on PS Network more of a ‘proper consumer product’ than what they offer through Xbox Live.


PC Shipments Up From Early 2009 Decline

Research firm IDC has found third quarter sales of personal computers jumped 2.3 from the same period last year, reports AP.  The industry had expected sales to continue falling after declines in the first half of 2009.  Computer makers have also been reeling from a tough 2008, when holiday sales fell to their lowest in six years.  IDC partly attributes the third quarter jump to robust back-to-school sales.  It ranked HP as the world s biggest computer maker, with Taiwan’s Acer bumping Dell for the number two spot.

Read more from AP {link no longer active}.

‘Guitar Hero’ In ‘Couples Retreat’

Activision scratched a winner when Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn wrote Guitar Hero 5 into the script for Couples Retreat.   As fans of the game in real life, the famously funny pair wrote a scene into the movie where a Guitar Hero face-off moves the plot forward.

According to Variety, the news had Activision executives in stitches when they heard about the unendorsed placement.  The game publisher quickly joined Universal’s list of product placement licensors for the film ranging from booze brands to apparel.  Activision then launched a nationwide contest supported by radio spots to promote the film and its starring product.

Couples Retreat was the number one movie in the U.S. last weekend, overcoming dismal reviews – 15 percent at Rotten Tomatoes – to pull in $34 million.

Read more at Variety.

Wall Street Journal Is Number One U.S. Paper

The latest report by the Audit Bureau of Circulations shows Wall Street Journal is the number one newspaper in paid circulations in the U.S., reports Ad Age.  The report shows U.S. paid circulation for the Journal climbed to 2.02 million, a slight increase from last year.  Going the other way was USA Today, suffering a big drop to 1.88 million subscribers from 2.3 million last year.

Ad Age says a price hike hurt USA Today, as did fewer copies at hotels seeing fewer guests.  ABC counts hotel freebie papers as paid circulation.  The agency will publish its full round-up of newspaper circulations on October 26.

Read more at Ad Age {link no longer active}.