Sony Makes Believe For UK TV Spot

Sony has a TV spot promoting its UK Sony Centre retail stores using the company’s recently introduced “make.believe” messaging.  Sony launched the “make.believe” campaign in early November to highlight its place in entertainment consumers lives as an innovator where cutting-edge hardware ( make ) intersects ( dot ) with creative content ( believe ).

The new spot has the same dreamy feel as that first ad, and Sony’s videogame products again get cameos only despite the protaginist being of perfect gaming age.  Game plugs in the ad come by way of floating PSPs and a giant, almost frightening Sackboy from Little Big Planet who looks like he’s about to treat the kid like one of his in-game props.

Watch the UK Sony Centre spot at Campaign {link no longer active}.

The Economics Of Social Games

Venture capitalist Jeremy Liew looks at factors that are driving the sudden booming economy of social games.  Liew’s VC firm Lightspeed Venture Partners is an investor in Playdom, a social game maker that recently boasted annual revenues of $50 million to put it alongside EA’s Playfish and Zynga as the big players.  In looking at the sudden success of the category, Liew argues that three core characteristics have helped along that growth surge and made startup developers and their investors – well positioned to take advantage.  His article outlines why the keys for success have been rooted in low development overhead, digital distribution, and the sense of discovery and viral nature that are drawing audiences.

Read Liew’s article at {link no longer active}.

How Facebook Games Make Money

Nicholas Carlson has a piece for Business Insider brilliantly titled, “How a Stupid Facebook game makes Zynga millions”.   It’s Carlson’s attempt to take it upon himself to jump into one of Zynga’s latest hit games, FishVille, and show the uninitiated just how these games draw people’s time and money.  Carlson wants to know how FishVille has drawn millions of people a week to total more than 20 million players since launching in early November.  He also wonders how these free games making money off of bits of virtual goods are churning out an estimated $250 million in revenues for Zynga in 2009.  Carlson does a step-by-step screenshot walkthrough of how FishVille draws him in, introduces incentives to invite friends, and eventually compels him to open his wallet.

It s worth noting that this piece is a great companion to Jeremy Liew’s on the economics driving the success of social gaming, also posted in today’s newsletter.

Check out Carlson’s piece at Business Insider.

Rental Kiosk Redbox Testing Game Rentals

Rental kiosk operator Redbox is talking to game makers about adding videogames to its offering as it begins running game rental trials in select markets, reports Reuters.  The McDonald’s owned company has seen significant success in its cheap DVD rental business, renting movies at $1 a day through automated vending machines.  It s now testing game rentals at $2 a day in two markets in Nevada and North Carolina.

Redbox began as a venture designed to draw traffic to McDonald’s restaurants.  Today it operates independently, running more than 20,000 kiosks across the U.S.  The company’s success hasn’t been without growing pains, with major film studios accusing it of devaluing their products and cutting into their DVD sales.  Redbox has been embroiled in lawsuits with Time Warner, Fox and Universal, whose products it says it currently has to purchase at retail to stock into rental kiosks.  Reuters says the move to talk to game makers even as it tests videogame rentals is to avoid similar resistance to its business model from game companies.  THQ CEO Brian Farrell has said his company would consider working with Redbox, adding that music and movies have proven that resisting new business models has not been a great formula for success.

Read more from Reuters {link no longer active}.

Take-Two Hints At Online And Social Game Strategy

Take-Two CEO Ben Feder has said that his company is looking to tap into bigger markets and grow its audience through online and social game offerings.  His comments were made to investors at the FBR Capital Markets conference and reported in

Feder said social nets will attract a true mass audience for games, pointing to his company s plan to bring Sid Meier’s Civilization franchise to Facebook in 2010.  He also highlighted his company’s partnership with China game operator Tencent on an online version of NBA 2K targeted to Asia as an effort in growing its audience there.  Feder added that he expects better performance for Take-Two in 2010 based on big console game releases BioShock 2, Red Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3 and Mafia 2.


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}.

EA To Set New Medal Of Honor In Afghanistan

EA is updating its Medal of Honor franchise from World War II to a modern warfare game set in Afghanistan, reports Edge-Online.  The game is being developed at EALA and is slated for 2010 release.  It follows a secret ops organization operating in the war-torn country under the command of the U.S. military.  The publisher has arranged a first peek with a debut video trailer airing during Spike TV’s Video Game Awards show later this month.  EA says that it’s working with U.S. special ops to achieve the most authentic modern war experience possible.

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

Nielsen To Start Measuring Online Video

Television ratings provider Nielsen will begin installing devices into U.S. homes that measure online activity in addition to TV viewing habits, reports Ad Age.  The company’s goal is to create a single source of data measuring audiences for both internet content and traditional TV viewing.  Nielsen is installing 7,500 of its new meters starting this month with the hope of delivering its first data set by summer of next year.

Ad Age says Nielsen had been under pressure to deliver a way to tie its measurement of TV viewing habits with digital media consumption, or face the prospect of being replaced as the standard for TV ratings.  The pressure came from TV networks struggling to figure out ways to sell their content to growing internet TV destinations such as Hulu, and needing a way to measure and price ads placed online.  Nielsen had initially predicted that the earliest rollout of a single measurement source would be 2011.  It had been testing its internet devices in 400 homes to ensure that the data didn’t taint its TV ratings measurements.

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

Modern Warfare Talent Bleeds Over To Film

The resounding success of Modern Warfare 2 is lifting more than game retailer stocks and Bob Kotick’s personal worth.  As reported in Variety, the game’s casting director Keith Arem has made the move from games to film, getting his script Frost Road green-lit for production with Angels in America director Cary Brokaw at the helm.  Arem’s story follows one man fighting an apocalyptic disease pandemic starting in a small American town.  The project is also getting a graphic novel, with Christopher Shy illustrating.  Arem’s other game credits include “Lord of the Rings,” “Spider-Man,” “Rainbow Six,” “Silent Hill,” and “Prince of Persia.”

Read more at Variety.

Indie Comics That Deserve Film Treatment

Writing for Crave-Online, Joey Esposito pulls together his collection of independent comics with potentially enough underground following to make them film candidates.  His choices are for the most part very adult-oriented graphic novels, complex enough in their diegesis that he bills them as potential Oscar contenders.  He even takes artistic license in suggesting cast and direction.  It’s worth a browse, whether as a bit of legwork for licensors lurking out there, a quick catalogue to quickly catch up with one segment of counterculture, or even a holiday shopping helper for anyone with a graphic novel fetish.

Check it out Crave-Online.