PSN Video Marketplace Coming To Europe

Sony is launching the PlayStation Network Video Delivery Service in Europe on November 18, reports Kotaku. The service is available in UK, France, Germany and Spain, with additional territories added through next year. Kotaku lists about twenty films available at launch including summer blockbusters Star Trek, X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Transformers 2. Read more at Kotaku.

IPhone Developer Sued For Mining Phone Numbers

A lawsuit against Storm8 alleges the iPhone developer’s game apps are designed to mine phone numbers. As reported by Boing Boing, number mining in Storm8 games became public in August. The developer called it a bug at the time. The class action suit filing counters that claim, saying the code performing the function in the games was specialized software. Storm8 games include iMobster and Vampires Live. Read more at Boing Boing.

EXCLUSIVE: Dunking For Apple

Appy Entertainment put all the pieces in place for runaway success as an iPhone developer. Now if their number one customer would just keep noticing.

By Meelad Sadat

Appy Entertainment


It doesn’t take long for Appy Entertainment’s Paul O’Connor to turn the conversation to Apple. It’s understandable. Appy is an independent iPhone app maker. That’s all they do. That makes Apple their publisher and their retailer. As Appy’s brand director, Paul spends a lot of time thinking about them.

“I call Apple the Kremlin,” Paul says. “They’re very secretive.”

He also calls Apple his number one customer.

Apple’s success with iPhone and iPod Touch is common knowledge at this point, mostly because the company doesn’t hesitate to quantify it. Apple says it has sold at about 50 million of the devices worldwide. It was 40 million in June. This summer they announced that downloads at the App Store surpassed the 2 billion mark. That milestone might have taken even Apple by surprise. The simple announcement contrasted the fanfare that it built up to mark 1 billion downloads, where it gave its billionth customer a backpack full of pricey Apple hardware. That had taken place only about five months before. This week the company trumpeted another milestone, where strangely enough the number of apps in the App Store also doubled in about five months. There are now more than 100,000 apps available to iPhone and iPod users. That’s a hundred thousand unique pieces of software for mobile games, utility and everything in between, and much of it for free. That’s the marketplace where Appy is competing.

Appy started up just a little over a year ago and is completely self-funded. Among the five founders, four including Paul are game developers who spent the majority of their careers creating feature loaded, time-gobbling console and PC games. And they were good at it. Paul along with co-founders Chris Ulm and Farzad Varahramyan led design and visual direction on Lorne Lanning’s first three Oddworld games. Emmanuel Valdez was behind Midway’s bestselling boxing franchise Ready2Rumble. The fifth founder is Rick Olafsson, who was previously CFO of console game developer High Moon Studios. In fact all of Appy, including their production staff, were among the startup team and early hires that helped build High Moon before it became an Activision studio. Throughout their experience, they saw the evolution of videogames into ‘appointment experiences’ where players have to block off hours at a time to enjoy a gaming session.

Appy recognized a very different, and potentially a very hefty opportunity for games on iPhone. Here was a suddenly huge install base for a robust mobile computing platform, and by all accounts one made up of a game savvy audience. As a game platform, the layers between creators and consumers needed for a $60 packaged good were gone. Product development cycles were months or even weeks, compared to two years or more for console games. Consumer feedback was instant, and nearly instantly addressable.

“We thought there was an opportunity for a different type of game on iPhone,” says Paul. “All of our ideas from the very beginning were based on the underpinnings of what made the iPhone different. The iPhone is cool, it’s a status symbol. People want to share it, and they want something on it to share.”

Appy Entertainment's Appy Entertainment’s “Face Fighter”



Paul refines the concept with the phrase ‘compulsively sharable’ to describe what types of games do well on iPhone. It’s a view that sees the iPhone and most of its users as a show and tell platform. The key is to give them something to show off. Another core concept for Appy is that games need to reflect a game play attribute they label as 5-500. An iPhone game has to be an experience that feels complete in about 5 minutes of playtime, but is compelling enough to want to come back to 500 times or more.

That’s Appy’s blueprint for creating game apps. And Appy is big on blueprints, with something akin to a style guide that extends from the types of products they make to their efforts at creating a memorable developer brand. That was first order of business for Appy. They didn’t just slap a name on the company to get cracking on product. From the get-go they set out to create a developer brand with personality, something that would speak to their eventual consumers.

“We wanted to draw from Apple’s branding,” Paul says. “We also wanted to prepare for the extended development period before the first title, when we were live and trying to build a base but we couldn’t talk about what we were doing. All we had to talk about was our name, and our attitude.”

Appy has one of the best visual designers in the business in Farzad Varahramyan. Farzad was behind much of the art direction in the visually rich universe of Lanning’s Oddworld games. At High Moon, he was responsible for the warped vampire Western universe of the studio’s first game, “Darkwatch.”  For its moderate commercial success, “Darkwatch” garnered an impressive amount of recognition for art direction and visual design, including numerous awards. Farzad’s visual design resume extends from games into films such as “AVP: Alien vs. Predator” and “Jumanji.”  There’s a lengthy blog on Appy’s web site about the process that Farzad put into the studio’s logo.

“We wanted a clear symbol that could be animated. Our character had to be easy to remember, with a distinctive silhouette,” Farzad says in the blog. “I started exploring bringing the [iPhone] button shape itself to life. He had to be something a college student would wear on a shirt. We also wanted a shape that was simple enough for anyone to draw.”

Appy logo sketches


Appy now has three products released into the App Store, not counting demo versions and updates. The first was “Appy Newz,” a sort of pocket Photoshop-Illustrator designed with a single purpose: to quickly create outlandish tabloid newspaper covers using photos of friends.  They followed with “Face Fighter,” taking their customization tech and making a game out of it. It’s a pick-up and play fighting game where users import photos to create enemies out of their friends.  Their most recent game is “Zombie Pizza,” a puzzle game seeped in Appy attitude and art style. Each app has done better than the last. All three of products have been featured by Apple, something that started with “Face Fighter.”

“Face Fighter was [an Apple] staff pick worldwide. We took off like a rocket. Suddenly we were in the top ten paid apps,” says Paul.

That set off a light bulb for Appy, completely changing the way the company sees its marketplace.

“Zombie Pizza” screen shot

“If Apple doesn’t promote you, you’re in trouble. You have to please Apple or you’re dead. In console games it’s no different, except you had to please Walmart or Target or you’re dead. They were gatekeepers that determined how successful you could be. Apple’s now my most important customer. Everything we do is with Apple in mind. Would Apple want this app on their phone? Would it be featured in an iPhone commercial?”

Last month “Zombie Pizza”  had a coup when it was featured in the App Store for four straight weeks, benefiting from being a fresh horror-themed app in time for Halloween. Appy calls it unprecedented coverage by Apple. Sometime during its run, the app ended up getting its own sidebar as the Halloween app recommended by Entertainment Weekly magazine. This week, Appy hit a major milestone when “Face Fighter” reached one million downloads. All of this in just a little over a year after starting up. The studio would have been happy to be an overnight success, catching lightening in a bottle as some have managed to do on iPhone.

“We can be impatient,” says Paul.  “Like Carrie Fisher said, the only problem with immediate gratification is that it takes too long.”

Yet the gradual growth is very much part of Appy’s blueprint, with all the parts in place and success now in their sights. As long as Apple keeps noticing.

Friday Edition Of [a]listdaily

Our web site host Media Temple had a critical hardware failure on Friday, taking [a]listdaily down with them. We apologize for any inconvenience.

Features that we normally include on Fridays are in today ‘ newsletter.

A Beat To Quicken Your Heart Rate

The launch trailer for Modern Warfare 2 proves Activision wants to use the few days before the game releases to drive excitement up to cardiac arrest levels. For anyone who has managed to avoid everything else designed to mine excitement for the game, consider this video an executive summary. Included are plenty of accolades early press reviews have heaped on the title.

Occasionally a trailer can have such an impact that it forces introspection, raising deep questions. What makes world destruction scenarios such compelling entertainment fare of late? Is there such a thing as too much realism in a war game

Will the retail lag ever go away so big titles don t have to ship in the middle of the week


Watch, and ponder, at GameTrailers.

Ad Age Viral Video Chart For Week Of Oct. 26

Ad Age’s weekly chart lists the top 10 viral videos from last week. A top new debut is a viral campaign for Butterfinger candy starring Seth Green, entering the chart at number two with about 1.3 million views. The number one video for the week is again Volkswagen’s street art experiment where the carmaker turned a subway staircase into a foot piano. It got well north of 2 million views.

The best video this week has to be the local TV ad that hit the chart at number nine but still made Ad Age s headline. The spot for a dealer of foreclosed mobile homes tries tongue-in-cheek candor to sell the goods. It’s produced by Rhett & Link, a pair of independent North Carolina filmmakers gaining a following for producing local ads with heavy doses of campy comedy.

Ad Age’s chart includes number of views for the week and percentage change in views for videos that stayed on the chart. The list is compiled by Visible Measures.

Check out the full list and watch the videos at Ad Age.

Mobile Internet’s Rising Tide

MarketingProfs looks at skyrocketing mobile internet usage and the opportunities it presents for marketers. A recent report from the Search Engine Marketing Professional Organization (SEMPO) shows a quickening shift from desktop to mobile in internet searches. Data from the report compiled by researcher comScore found a 73 percent rise in mobile internet searches between January 2008 and July of this year.  MarketingProfs sees the shift fueled by the growing popularity of iPhone and other mobile devices that offer a computer-like internet experience. One analyst firm forecasts a nearly ten-fold increase from last year’s numbers to more than 56 million mobile internet users in the US by 2013.

MarketingProfs has several data charts to demonstrate mobile internet growth and the closing gap between mobile and tethered internet usage. Included is a handy pie chart of web market share by browser, showing that right now it’s clearly Apple’s pie.

Read more at MarketingProfs.

Is There A Market For Mature Games On Wii?

Writing for G4TV, Patrick Klepek looks at recent signs and sentiments that Nintendo systems are a graveyard for games aimed at adult audiences. The signs come from less than stellar performance on Wii and DS for what were thought to be highly-anticipated M-rated titles.

Klepek points to EA’s Dead Space: Extraction and Sega’s MadWorld. Both Wii games were expected to do well and built a lot of buzz, but didn’t meet sales expectations. Even Rockstar’s Teflon franchise Grand Theft Auto got dinged on Nintendo. The highly touted DS exclusive GTA: Chinatown Wars very quickly became non-exclusive after release, migrating over to Sony PSP and iPhone.

Publisher sentiments about mature content for Nintendo s audience might be summed up by how much M-rated fare is out there. ESRB data shows 36 M-rated titles for Wii compared to 168 for Xbox 360 and 126 for PS3. Klepek wonders if it s not an issue of adult content versus violent fare, with the games that haven’t done well falling into the latter category. He asks what if Nintendo has an audience ready for adult content that’s not necessarily rated M just for violence.


Read more at G4TV The Feed.

Edge-Online Games Index For November 2

Edge-Online charts internet buzz for games in the UK.

Microsoft’s Forza Motorsport 3 races to the top for overall positive buzz. Last week’s leader, Sony’s Uncharted 2, dropped completely off of the list. EA’s FIFA 10 stays strong at second on high volume of positive comments, while Namco Bandai’s Tekken 6 debuts with more overall mentions than FIFA but ranks third in good mojo.

The gap between fourth and fifth seem to represent a divide between the haves and have-nots this week. 2K’s Borderlands is a close fourth to Tekken, but Sega’s Football Manager 2010 ranks fifth with nearly half as many positive mentions.

The chart can be manipulated to rank top ten games by volume of comments, or by percentages of positive and negative mentions. Check it out at Edge-Online.

Shack News Game Release List 11/8 — 11/14

Shack News lists this week’s releases for PC, Xbox 360, Sony’s PS2, PS3 and PSP, and Nintendo’s Wii and DS.

This week belongs to Activision and Infinity’s Modern Warfare franchise. The highly anticipated sequel Modern Warfare 2 hits PC, PS3 and 360. The consoles get accoutrements in a special edition game that comes with night vision goggles and a branded 360 bundle. Nintendo consoles get their own versions with Modern Warfare: Reflex for Wii and Modern Warfare: Mobilized for DS. Happy sniping.


Check out the full list at Shack News.