Emergency Alerts Coming To Online Game Nets

New York is testing integration of its statewide emergency alert system into online game networks including Xbox Live and PS Network, reports Information Week. The state’s Emergency Management Office issues emergency alerts and regular emergency test broadcasts over TV stations and cable TV networks. The agency says that with young residents spending more time playing games than watching television, it decided to tap into online game nets in the interest of emergency preparedness. The plan is part of New York’s Empire 2.0 initiative expanding the state’s emergency response capabilities into digital media. Other components of the program include monitoring Facebook posts for suicidal behavior, using the MMO game Second Life to train emergency responders, and integrating social nets such as Twitter and Linked In as emergency communication tools.  Read more at Information Week.

Flip For ‘Borderlands’ DLC

The video trailer released by 2K Games to promote a downloadable content pack for Borderlands may have snuck one past ESRB. While the trailer for the DLC pack Zombie Island of Dr. Ned highlights great extra content, the standout moment might be seeing Dr. Ned giving the finger at the end.

 

The video is age-gated, and that may be what kept the sequence in there. It also plays into the approach 2K and developer Gearbox have been taking with videos and TV spots promoting their new IP, with plenty of other tongue-in-cheek moments.

 

Watch it at Crave Online.

Report: Premium Game Prices Proving Resilient

Research firm EEDAR has released a report on game pricing that shows quality titles have managed to retain premium price points much longer on this generation of consoles. In reporting on EEDAR’s analysis, Gamesindustry.biz says the report shows that titles for Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 have, on average, maintained their initial $59.99 price points for a year longer than games for the last generation of consoles.  EEDAR says that price resilience is even greater with high quality titles rated at 80 percent or higher in reviews.  The firm predicts that once Microsoft and Sony release motion controllers for their systems, it will introduce a lower introductory price category of $49.99 for the more casual fare developed for the peripherals.

EEDAR puts Nintendo Wii is in its own category based on the console s casual content and audience demographics, as well as Nintendo’s decision to retain last generation s premium price point. The report shows Wii game prices began falling last year, one year earlier than PS3 and Xbox 360. However EEDAR says new Wii titles will continue to debut at $49.99.

 

Download the full report at Gamesindustry.biz.

Disney Film promo ‘Crashes’ Google Maps

Disney has been running a multi-faceted campaign for Skyrunners, a teen-skewed sci-fi film being released under its Disney XD children s network banner.  As reported in Multichannel News, Disney has now teamed up with Google on a unique promotion through Google Maps Street View. The promotion lets people access Google Maps through the film’s web site to watch short animations of UFO’s crashing into any neighborhood they select. Disney’s campaign for the film has included other digital and viral efforts tied into the film’s UFO abduction premise. The company created a mock UFO crash site using illusionist sidewalk painting at Comic Con in San Diego this summer. Earlier this year it began releasing viral videos referencing UFO sightings and featuring the film’s actors in a press conference.

‘Assassin’s Creed II’ Targeting Hispanics

Ubisoft has partnered with Spanish-language media network Univision to promote Assassin’s Creed II to the Hispanic market, reports Radio Business Report. The publisher is launching TV ads, PR placement and other promotions through Univision properties and programming. The campaign includes TV spot rotation during Mexican League Soccer playoff games being broadcast on the network, as well as custom skin display ads overtaking both the soccer league and Univision Sports web sites. Univision’s entertainment TV program All Access will also feature an in-depth segment on the game.

Radio Business Report cites that more than 80 percent of Hispanic males 18-44 years old are gamers, and that they have proven to be more inclined to purchase action games over sports and strategy. Read more at Radio Business Report.

A Byte Of ‘TRON’

Spike TV’s Video Game Awards 2009 is giving audiences a first glimpse of Disney’s TRON game, said to be tied into the upcoming film sequel TRON Legacy. The show is scheduled to air December 12 and the network is promoting its exclusive with this teaser trailer. There is exactly five seconds of game footage in the fifteen second cut, and most of it distorted. Still for the hardcore set they re trying to get excited, they probably had them at the login screen.

 

Watch it at GameTrailers.

Op-Ed: Nintendo’s Future Is In Social Games

Writing for Industry Gamers, James Brightman suggests that Nintendo’s next pioneering move just might be in social gaming. Brightman makes his case by citing two trends: the booming social game category and the growing risks of console development. He points to Nintendo’s track record in developing casual games that are exactly the type of fare pushing social games to becoming a billion dollar category in the game industry. Then there’s the company’s IP portfolio, without a doubt among the most powerful brands in games and with a built-in audience for casual fare. He suggests that by no means is Nintendo hurting to rush into social games just because of a dip in its console business, as perhaps EA did with its Playfish purchase. Instead, Brightman sees the move as possibly the next forward-looking step for a company that seems to stay stubborn about technological trends yet always manages to pioneer in other areas of gaming.

Zinged Zynga Hits A Milestone

Zynga has said that more than 100 million unique players a month now play its games, reports Industry Gamers. The social game maker announced the major milestone, marking ongoing growth even as it faces a class action lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges Zynga and Facebook, the platform delivering Zynga’s games, accepted misleading in-game ads that scammed consumers into giving personal information and charging them money for unwanted services.

In marking the milestone, Zynga founder Mark Pincus said the popularity of virtual goods more at Industry Gamers.

Survey Finds Wii Falling, PS3 Rising

Analyst firm Cowen and Company has conducted a survey that found demand for Nintendo Wii games falling while purchase intent is rising for Sony PS3, reports Edge-Online. The firm conducted a survey of 1,312 people and 1,013 gamers. It found falling demand for Wii games among both Wii and multi-console owners. For PS3, the survey found that 21 percent of those who don t own Sony’s system said they will buy one eventually. Software purchase intent was also high for PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, with respondents saying they planned on buying more games for those systems this holiday season. Read more at Edge-Online.

Millions Using New Social Nets On Xbox Live, Says Microsoft

Microsoft has said that only one week after integrating social media features into Xbox Live about 2 million people have accessed Facebook through its service, reports CNET.  Microsoft s David Dennis shared the Facebook stats. He added that the company has also seen messages sent to Twitter from Xbox Live accounts from all over the world.

Microsoft’s recent feature updates also included adding music streaming service Last.fm and putting its portable music player Zune brand on its music marketplace. Dennis says 1.7 million people have now visited the Zune marketplace through Xbox Live, and that a half million new Last.fm accounts were created in the first 24 hours it was available. Read more at CNET.