The Reality Of AR

Writing for iMedia Connection, emerging technology strategist John C. Havens covers the current landscape and potential future applications for augmented reality.  He positions his piece as what marketers need to know about AR.  Yet he goes beyond simple brand suitable applications such as mobile geo-tracking, showing how AR will enhance interactive experiences.  It’s a good piece to see how existing and near-term products, for instance Microsoft’s Natal, are going to help AR go mainstream, even as edge-nudging concepts such as the augmented reality mobile shooting game from Georgia Tech University are in early R&D.

Read John C. Havens article at iMediaConnection.

Sony ‘Make.Believe’ Becoming Reality

Sony head Howard Singer has announced the company s plans to deliver an all-encompassing digital content service networking its array of hardware products, reports NY Times.  Singer said the network, called Sony Online Service, will build on PS3’s existing PS Network to link all manner of Sony entertainment content with Sony hardware.  He positioned the service as a big step forward in the company s longtime effort to link hardware and software development.  That vision has been recently communicated en masse through Sony s make.believe messaging and marketing campaign.

Covering the announcement for NY Times, Hiroko Tabuchi questions whether Sony can overcome the often publicized and maligned divide between its hardware and software developers, including an age gap that exists among engineers in the two divisions.  He cites it as the source of the company’s woes, where competitors such as Apple were able to create multi-faceted gadgets while Sony stuck with a strategy of developing diverse, and sometimes seemingly discordant devices.  Howard suggested at the press conference that with Sony Online Service the situation is turning in the right direction.  He said Sony has a supreme advantage once it gets software right because of its exceptional hardware.  In a direct comparison to Apple hardware, Howard said people don’t want something that breaks down every ten minutes.   Read more at NY Times.

FTC Commends Game Industry Marketing

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has released a report to Congress that praises the game industry for acting responsibly in the way it markets and advertises mature content.  As reported in Gamesindustry.biz, the FTC has said games surpass other entertainment industries in responsible marketing.  The report points to little evidence of games inappropriately targeting youth with mature content, referencing prominently displayed ratings information, TV restrictions on advertising M-rated games before 10 p.m., and age-gated online content.  The government agency also specifically praised new online ratings summaries by the Entertainment Software Rating Board.  Entertainment Software Association head Michael D. Gallagher, whose organization runs ESRB, said the report lends credibility to effective industry self-regulation.

Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.

NPD Finds Fewer U.S. Teens Play Games

A survey by NPD has found a great majority of American children call themselves gamers but fewer older teens are playing games.  As reported in Edge-Online, NPD surveyed more than 5,000 U.S. children two to 17 years old and found 82 percent – an estimated 55.7 million – of them are gamers.  Within the segment, the firm found the largest group of gamers are among nine to 11 year olds, while those two to five years old represented the smallest group.  In measuring game play hours, the firm found those aged 12-14 are putting in the most time at 10.6 hours per week

The biggest declines in game play time were among older teens aged 15-17 as well as female gamers.  NPD’s Anita Frazier cited competition for games in getting teen mind share as other forms of entertainment and activities, parent-imposed limits, and schoolwork.

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

EA To Roll Out Branded VISA Cards

EA is launching an EA Sports branded VISA debit card, reports Gamasutra.  The cards reward customers of select EA Sports games and partnered retailers with points redeemable towards games and game consoles.  MetaBank is issuing the cards as Visa-licensed prepaid cards, meaning they’re accepted as Visa credit cards but cardholders will have to deposit funds before using them.  Gamasutra says it wasn t able to find out details of how cardholders earn reward points.

Read more at Gamasutra.

The Beautiful Game In 3D

Sony is using the 2010 FIFA World Cup to kick off its push for 3D HDTV technology.  The company is taping 25 matches using 3D cameras at the international soccer tournament (read: mother of all sports tournaments) taking place this summer in South Africa.  The matches will be televised in 3D at special Sony Fan Fest screenings in seven cities worldwide including London, Paris and Berlin.

Sony has estimated that revenue from 3D related products from its line of HDTVs, computers, Blu-ray players, PS3 consoles and videogames will tally up to one trillion yen, or more than $11 billion, by 2013.  The company s announcement for 3D World Cup games prompted analyst firm Screen Digest to raise its forecast for Europe 3D TV adoption, pegging it at an estimated 13.6 million sets by 2013.

Read more at Brand Republic.

Dark Continent For Games

Australia’s entertainment ratings board has refused to grant rating classification for Sega’s Alien vs. Predator due to violent content, reports Gamespot.  The game has joined a growing list of recent titles rejected for inappropriate content by the country, which has no game rating equivalent to a mature or 18+ rating used in the U.S., UK and other major territories.

In denying the game a rating in its current form and effectively banning it, Australia’s Classification Board cited violence such as decapitation, dismemberment, location-specific damage, and the depiction of human corpses as trophies.   Sega said it will appeal the ruling but made no comment regarding changes to the game to address the board’s objections.  Gamespot suggests Sega’s refusal to censor content in order to release “Alien vs. Predator” in Germany may have set precedence for the same outcome in Australia should the appeal be denied.

Read more at Gamespot {link no longer active}.

Twitter Gets An iPhone AR App

Presselite has released an app for iPhone that brings augmented reality to Twitter, reports FastCompany.  Presselite s “Twitter 360” app is an AR overlay on the iPhone camera that geo-locates the direction and distance from where Tweets originate.  FastCompany points to the France-based company as the first developer to bring AR to iPhone, releasing the navigation app “Metro Paris Subway” before Apple’s official rollout of AR-capability in its iPhone 3.1 software upgrade.  With “Twitter 360,” one of the app’s niftiest features is the ability to geographically tag the origin of Tweets worldwide, showing direction and distance to Tweeters who aren t necessarily within line of sight.

Read more at FastCompany {link no longer active}.

Stack Of Mags Try To Revitalize Game Print

The stack of magazines trying to fight the shrinking audience for game print just got thicker.  Kill Screen has joined EGM Now and a revamped GamePro in an attempt to revitalize the category, although with a more focused effort.  As reported in Joystiq, Kill Screen is launching as a nonprofit, subscriber-funded publication looking to raise the quality bar in game journalism by un-tethering itself from the formulaic writing of traditional game magazines.  The magazine is currently working on a zero issue slated for January 2010 with a planned run of about 3,000 copies.  The magazine co-founders are Jamin Brophy-Warren and Chris Dahlen.

Read more at Joystiq {link no longer active}.