Microsoft Defenestrates ‘Family Guy’ Promo

Microsoft pulled out of a deal to sponsor a comedy special by Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane after previewing the content of the show, reports Variety.  The move comes after much hoopla about the partnership between Microsoft, MacFarlane, and his Family Guy network Fox.  The deal had Microsoft sponsoring a commercial free comedy variety show produced and hosted by MacFarlane to promote the launch of Windows 7.

According to Variety, Microsoft executives left a preview of MacFarlane’s Almost Live Comedy Show with reservations about content including jokes about the Holocaust and incest.  After submitting notes to the producers, Microsoft decided to opt out entirely.  The company released a statement that it s exploring other areas with Fox and MacFarlane.

Read more at Variety.

Large Nintendo DSi Chasing Older Japanese

Japan media is reporting that Nintendo is planning to release a new version of its handheld DSi with a larger screen aimed at older gamers.  Picked up by Kotaku, the news reports say the new Nintendo DSi will bump up its screen by three quarters of an inch to four inches.  The price is expected to remain the same as the regular DSi.

Read more at Kotaku.

Developers Should Own Up To Marketing Their Games, Says Infinity Ward

Modern Warfare developer Infinity Ward is calling on other game studios to get directly involved in the marketing of their products.  Talking to MCV, Infinity Ward community manager Robert Bowling says developers should cut out the middleman and consider that they know their products and consumers better than anyone.  The studio has been directly involved in Activision’s marketing and PR for the upcoming sequel Modern Warfare 2.   Bowling has been behind revealing game information through social media channels such as YouTube and Twitter.

Read more at MCV.

Taking ‘My’ Out Of MySpace

MySpace CEO Van Natta sees his social networking site as a place for users to access and share commercial content such as music and movies.  To get there, he plans a revamp that dials down user generated content, eliminates sections such as the classifieds, and cleans up the overall look of the site.

Once the social media trailblazer, MySpace continues to shrink even as competitors such as Facebook thrive.  Data firm comScore shows MySpace reached approximately 68 million users in September compared to 96 million for Facebook.

Speaking to Adweek, Natta says MySpace will eventually become a next-generation content distribution platform.   Adweek sees recent changes to the site’s Music channel, such as the music video hub, as early indications of where Natta is taking MySpace.

Read more at Adweek {link no longer active}.

Rumor: Nintendo DSi Getting Talk Functionality

Internet sleuths have dug up evidence that Nintendo is preparing to roll out talk functionality for the Nintendo DSi, reports Industry Gamers.  The speculation is that Nintendo is enabling DSi owners to communicate with each other using the handheld system’s microphone and camera.  The evidence is mainly instructions that appeared on a customer service page on Nintendo’s web site referring to a DSi Speak Channel.  The text has since been removed.

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

Japan Console Price Cuts Help Sony And Nintendo

Enterbrain data for game console sales in Japan shows Sony and Nintendo fared well after hardware price cuts, but not Microsoft.  Reported by Kotaku, the data shows sales increases by percentage for the period between each manufacturer’s price cut and the week ending October 11, 2009.

Sony lowered the price of PS3 by 25 percent in early September.  It has since seen a 707 percent spike in PS3 sales.  Sony also lowered the price of PSP in Japan by about 15 percent, driving up sales of the handheld by 126 percent.  Nintendo Wii got a bump from its 20 percent price drop on October 1, seeing sales increase by 29 percent since the cut.  Microsoft dropped the price of Xbox 360 Elite by 20 percent in early September and saw an initial increase in sales.  Sales of 360 have since dropped by 70 percent.

Read more at Kotaku.

‘Video Games Live’ Makes It In New York

The videogame music concert Video Games Live sold out the historic Beacon Theatre on New York’s Broadway.  Writing for NY Times, Seth Schiesel observes the cultural ramifications of the show and how it represents an ever growing, and ever maturing gamer culture.

Schiesel notes that in his attendance at dozens of sold-out rock concerts at the theatre, he has never seen crowds show up early to mingle with strangers.  With a scant activities such as “Guitar Hero” stations, he observed how hundreds showed up an hour before the concert, some in cosplay.  He calls the sense of community in the audience as impressive as anything on stage.  He also notes that besides a small crowd of parents with young children, the majority of the audience that turned out to hear the concert s treatment of game music was made up of young men and women.

Schiesel draws a line between his experience at “Video Games Live” not just to changing gamers, but also the changing role of music in games.  Game music has come full circle, evolving from programmer-produced primitive sounds to licensed popular music.  The medium now has a dedicated music game genre.  In an interesting side note, Schiesel mentions comments from Harmonix’s Alex Rigopulos at a recent DJ Hero event.  Rigopulos predicts an open platform for future music games, one that allows artists to independently publish their music for use in games such as Guitar Hero.

Read more at NY Times.

Sony VP Of Epic Footage

Sony’s zany spokesperson ads for PS3 featuring a marketing executive with an ever changing title is gaining a following.  The latest, and perhaps funniest ad yet, has won Kotaku over.

This time Sony’s fake spokesperson, Kevin Butler, is presented as the VP of Epic Footage.  When a new PS3 owner challenges Butler to show what Sony has to impress, he responds with, Two words, mon-tage.   The ad has a great punchline.

Watch it at Kotaku.

NBA Star Power, Multiplied

Adidas new campaign for basketball shoes makes the most of its NBA star power.  The Brotherhood ads aim to deliver the message that individual style and personal drive are as much a part of basketball as being a team player.  It s a great hook for a shoe company that s runner-up to Nike and Reebok when it comes to basketball.

To get the message across, the ads combine multiple takes of the same players -stars such as Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Chicago’s Derrick Rose – performing moves on the court.  The smooth presentation and clean background make it a visual treat.  It also helps Adidas squeeze a lot of highlights from their all-star lineup into one ad.  Whether it lays the groundwork for a multi-ball variation of the sport, maybe for an All-Star Weekend gimmick, is another story.

Watch it at YouTube {video link marked “private”}.

Adweek Digital Hotlist 2009

AdweekMedia digital editors Mike Shields and Brian Morrissey rank the year’s ten hottest digital companies.  With this year s list topped by Facebook, the writers see the social media site as overcoming negative sentiments about its ad targeting and privacy practices.  The site continues to exhibit exponential growth in users as it draws in more marketers and bigger ad dollars.

Following Facebook, the top eight in the list are, respectively, Hulu, Twitter, Google, iPhone, Huffington Post, Bing and Wall Street Journal.  Among these digital giants, two less recognizable digital companies round out the top ten.  At number nine is digital media publisher Federated Media. Adweek describes the firm as one that s trailblazing in digital marketing, with campaigns focused on engagement and niche targeting.  The company has created notable social campaigns for companies such as Microsoft and Toyota.  Number ten is Addicting Games, the Viacom-owned casual game site that beats out the company’s entertainment properties such as MTV and Nickelodeon in audience.  Addicting Games has grown its audience by 47 percent this year to 15 million unique users, becoming the third largest casual game site behind Yahoo Games and EA’s Pogo.

Check out the full list at Adweek {link no longer active}.