Real Economists Studying Virtual Economies

Economists have turned to video game virtual economies to see how their behavior reflects the real world.  Reporting for Reuters, John Gaudiosi writes that researchers from University of Indiana and USC Annenberg School for Communication have been studying micro-transactions in Sony Online’s Everquest II.

The researchers tracked 314 million transactions in the game and were able to calculate the GDP of one of the game servers.  They found that as more gamers joined and server population soared, its virtual economy exhibited behavior of a developing nation or a country at war, such as an inflation spike.  The researchers believe that studying virtual economies has value in that they are essentially human-run economies and can be tweaked to run controlled experiments.

Read more at Reuters {link no longer active}.

Is Japan Game Market Caught In A Shrink Ray?

The once-Godzilla of the game industry continues to struggle.  As reported by Kotaku, Japan magazine publisher and research data provider Enterbrain has released figures for the first half of fiscal year 2009 ending September 28, 2009.  The results show a 10.5 percent decline in the country’s video game market, with sales declines of 15 percent for hardware and 7.5 percent for software.

Read more at Kotaku.

Games On Demand Service OnLive Attracts Major Financing

OnLive closed its biggest financing round on the heels of last month’s beta launch of its games on demand service.  OnLive serves high-end video game titles, including full versions of popular console games, through TV and PC without the need for additional hardware.  Investors in the round included AT&T Media Holdings, Warner Brothers and Autodesk.  The amount raised was not disclosed.

Read more at Gamasutra {link no longer active}.

EA Sports Balls Coming To Stores

EA Sports has partnered with IMG Licensing to introduce a new line of branded sports equipment, reports Industry Gamers.  The Sweet Spot Sports Line includes balls for various sports designed to coach young players.  The balls emit sounds when handled or hit properly.  Start listening for them at your local sports store as the balls are hitting shelves early this month.

Read more at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.

Social Game Developer Attracting Astronomical Audience Daily

Zynga released traffic details to Gamasutra, saying it reaches 34 million unique players per day and 70 million unique players each month.  The company is the maker of hit social games Mafia Wars and FarmVille and runs four of the top ten social media games, based on data provided through Facebook.  Zynga has also seen user base grow 330 percent to 129 million in six months.

Read more at Gamasutra {link no longer active}.

Movie Gallery Removing GameCrazy From 200 Locations

Movie Gallery is shutting down the GameCrazy section at nearly a third of its movie rental stores.  The company blamed the economy as it targeted 200 underperforming locations in deciding which would have their videogame store-within-a-store sections eliminated.  GameCrazy is located inside approximately 680 Movie Gallery stores.

Gamasutra reports the story based on it first appearing in Home Media Magazine.  A stock portfolio manager is quoted in the magazine as saying the future for Gamestop is also uncertain, given that it also relies on videogames sold on physical media as digital downloads grow.

Read more at Gamsutra {link no longer active}.

Best Buy Seeing Consumers Spending Again

Best Buy is keeping its full year forecast as it stocks up on inventory in anticipation of brisk holiday sales.  Chief executive Brian Dunn told MarketWatch that the retailer is also hiring more seasonal employees for the holiday rush.

Like all retailers, the company has been hurt by recent declines in demand for products including video games and digital cameras.  Best Buy is preparing for what is traditionally its most profitable period of the year by staying competitive on price with discount retailers such as Walmart and running special promotions for loyal customers through its RewardZone program.  Best Buy has also launched a customer service page on Twitter called Twelpforce.

Read more at MarketWatch.

A Blu-Ray Film In The Hand Is Worth Two On Sony Game Systems

Sony is releasing select films on Blu-ray disc that will include a digital copy that can be loaded onto a PSP using a PlayStation 3.  The first discs with the additional copy will be released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on November 10, 2009.

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

Take A Trip With This Sony Ericsson Ad

Sometimes all it takes to transform that dreary commute is a dose from your sweet music library.  Sony Ericsson takes that trip in this colorful ad for its headphones.

The spot uses a combination of simple cartoon animation and claymation (or really good looking digital clay ).  The premise is simple.  The ad starts in a drab and dreary commuter train where everything is black and white except for our product protagonist, a young kid.  As soon as the kid dons his presumably Sony Ericsson headphones, the train transforms.  Funkadelic sound and psychedelic colors fill the scene as previously somber passengers groove and inanimate objects come to life, all as if hearing his music.  It s a visually pleasing transformation, and the ad uses a nice plot cum product messaging device to reinforce it.  The kid is interrupted by a phone call, which he seamlessly answers with the same headphones, during which everything goes back to drab.   To make matters worse, a giant of a man enters the train and sits right next to him during the sequence.  What to do?   Put on the headphones, and everything goes back to normal.

Watch the spot at BrandFreak.