The Apocalypse Will Be Televised

Director and animator Sugimoto Kousuke hasn’t done anything of significance to Western audiences.  At least not according to Google or Bing.  His nifty animated piece The TV Show might put him on the radar.  There’s no corner of pixilated pop culture that he doesn t explore in his video.  It s official Mr. Kousuke, you ve exposed the madness, and you re just as wrapped up in it as the rest of us.

Watch it at YouTube.

More Voices For Less Money

Writing for LA Times, Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier have penned an article looking at recently proposed changes to Screen Actors Guild contracts dictating compensation for videogame voice-over.  The changes include a slight overall pay increase, but at issue is how they affect the amount of atmospheric dialogue a SAG actor can be asked to record during a session.  A group of Hollywood heavyweights have opposed the contract, saying it amounts to more work for less money.  Fritz and Verrier get input from both sides, with actors saying they re feeling left behind by a booming industry, and supporters saying that the new SAG guidelines will ultimately help grow the amount of game VO work going to union actors.

Read Ben Fritz and Richard Verrier’s article at LA Times.

Happy Meal Model, Without The Box

Writing for NY Times, Ari Karpel looks at creative promotions launched by film marketers facing tighter ad budgets.  Products are getting ever more prominent placements and going way beyond the traditional Happy Meal model tie-ins.  Although, as Karpel points out, Happy Meals are still very much part of the mix.  He looks at a range of recent efforts, from tie-ins bleeding out of the recent Twilight saga film New Moon, to the broad promotional campaign executed for Where the Wild Things Are that also relied on social media.

Read Ari Karpel’s article at NY Times.

Wii Lead Is Too Big To Overcome, Says Analyst

Jesse Divnich of analyst firm EEDAR has shared a forecast on game console performance through 2013 with Industry Gamers.  Divnich predicts that even with a worst case scenario for Nintendo, the Wii will ultimately benefit from its current lead to ride out this console generation as the best-selling box.  Divnich starts his argument using forecasted 2009 sell-through for consoles in the U.S., where Wii is expected to reach more than 26 million units compared to about 18.4 million units for Xbox 360 and 11.1 million units for PS3.  The figures are derived from existing NPD install base data combined with EEDAR s forecast for console sales in November and December.

In his worst case scenario for Wii, Divnich assumes a 25 percent decline in sales in 2010, followed by two years of 30 percent declines and a 50 percent drop in 2013.  For Xbox 360, he predicts 10 percent annual bumps capped by a 30 percent decline in 2013.  For PS3, he predicts a 25 percent boost in 2010, followed by two 10 percent annual bumps, then a 30 percent decline in 2013.  The scenario has Wii as the winner come 2014 with 41.7 million units sold compared to 39.2 million units of Xbox 360 and 33.4 million units of PS3.  Divnich says that marks the end of this console cycle.  However he predicts that Sony will pursue a strategy similar to PS2 leveraging PS3 s movie-playing capability, in this case Blu-ray, to support it into the next generation.  Read more at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.

UK Game Retailer Reports Double-Digit Decline

Game retail giant Game Group has said that sales of videogame hardware and software declined by 14.3 percent across its stores in the UK and Ireland, reports Edge-Online.  Game Group is the largest specialist retailer in the UK, operating more than 1,400 stores.  The retailer said it saw overall sales fall despite a bump in demand for consoles from recent price cuts and record-breaking software sales by Activision’s Modern Warfare 2 and EA’s FIFA 10.   It pointed to weaker than expected sales of other recently released titles, which it didn’t name.  Game Group added that it is investing in digital distribution for games.  It claims to be the only UK game retailer currently operating a down service for PC games.

Read more at Edge-Online {link no longer active}.

Abundance Of Ideas For PS3 Motion Controller

A recent patent filing by Sony has shed light on a range of possibilities and add-on peripherals for the upcoming PS3 motion controller.  Kotaku got a hold of the patent filing and accompanying diagrams.  The documents make no reference to PS3 but showcase a device with form factor identical to the console s planned motion controller.  Among methods and apparatus patented by Sony for the device is the ability to join two controllers together in various ways, representing different setups for different types of games, as well as attach add-ons.  Diagrams of the add-ons include drawings for a flashlight, a baseball bat, a maraca, and a microphone.  Kotaku says the filing also includes a proposed biometric reader to identify fingerprints.

Read more, and check out diagrams from the patent filing, at Kotaku.

New Editors At Future U.S. Magazines

Future Publishing has appointed new editors-in-chief at two of its U.S. videogame publications, reports Industry Gamers.  Logan Decker has been named to the position at PC Gamer, and Gary Steinman will fill the role at PlayStation: The Official Magazine.  Industry Gamers says Decker will turn focus at the PC magazine to covering massively multiplayer online and independent games, while Steinman intends to target more core and casual console game fans.  UK-based Future had recently reported a 61 percent drop in profits for its 2009 fiscal year ending in September, pointing to slumping revenues at U.S. game magazines.

Read more about the new editors at Industry Gamers {link no longer active}.

Penny Arcade Raises A Million Bucks For Kids

Penny Arcade has raised more than $1 million in its charity drive for Child’s Play helping children s hospitals, reports 1up.  Penny Arcade’s Mike Gabe Krahulik says the tally jumped by more than 25 percent in one week to surpass the million dollar mark.  He added that their charity drive is continuing for a number of weeks with an upcoming event sponsored by MTV Games and Rock Band.  Read more, and access the Penny Arcade Child’s Play web site, at 1up {link no longer active}.

Grand Theft Auto IP Has Peaked, Says Analyst

Broadpoint AmTech analyst Ben Schachter suggests that Take-Two s flagship franchise Grand Theft Auto has reached saturation point with gamers.  As reported in Industry Gamers, Schachter points to the underperformance of GTA titles and downloadable content released this year for Xbox live, Sony PSP and Nintendo DS, despite being quality fare that was well-promoted and competitively priced.  He says that lower than expected performance coupled with the growing competition of open-world action games going forward doesn t bode well for Take-Two.  Schachter also labeled as a “bombshell” guidance by Take-Two that it will not be profitable in 2010 despite high-profile games from key franchise Bioshock, Max Payne, Red Dead and Mafia.

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

Target Opens Holiday Quick Shop Stores

US retail giant Target has opened temporary storefronts in major cities carrying popular items for quick shopping on the go, reports Ad Age.  The stores, called Target-to-Go, are being launched in New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C. from Dec. 11-13.  In stock will be about 50 of the most popular products for holiday shoppers, ranging in price from under a dollar for items such as Christmas ornaments to high-priced electronics.  Ad Age says Sony PSPs are among products being stocked.  Target is using Twitter to promote the stores, with each storefront running its own Twitter feed to inform people about their location and items for sale.

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