Red Dead Dusted Off

Rockstar shows how sometimes the source material is so pure that complete imitation is simply the sincerest form of presentation.  It doesn’t even matter that the source material in this case is only being used for inspiration.  The debut trailer for Red Dead Redemption, the sequel in the game maker’s Western franchise, is exactly what it should be.  It’s a wholehearted homage to the revered Spaghetti Western films of Italian director Sergio Leone and a few of his capable imitators.  Precision six-shooters aside, these are the films that lifted Westerns out of their slide into a cotton candy-colored, pubescent plot-burdened gulley to make the genre both sophisticated and timeless.  One can only hope Rockstar can build on the success of the first Red Dead to do the same for the genre in games.

Watch it at GameTrailers {link no longer active}.

Void Of Words, And Effectively So

Capcom’s cinematic trailer for Dark Void foregoes dialogue and anything beyond rudimentary story setup to focus on the action and set down its game play promises.  While the trailer is completely high-resolution CG and not in-game unless the[a]listdaily missed a console transition it works in presenting both a compelling action premise and core game play features one can expect in the game.  In no particular order, it is going to be about shooting hordes of creatively designed metallic thugs, piloting vehicles, fighting giant bosses, and generally rocketing around in combat like Iron Man but without any of the licensed game baggage.

Watch it at GameTrailers {link no longer active}.

Marketing Lessons In Social Games

Writing for Adweek, interactive shop Barbarian Group s Benjamin Palmer turns his FarmVille addiction into an exploration of lessons in social games for online marketers.  The interesting part of his piece is that Palmer isn’t simply highlighting brand-pasting and product-placing in social games.  Rather, he wonders how game play elements could translate to compelling marketing experiences.  For example, he sees the most engaging aspect of FarmVille and other social games like it in how the experience is less about winning and more about leveling up.  He draws a line from that to a similar and very successful offline marketing practice, that of airlines offering frequent flier miles.

Palmer sees frequent filer miles as a service based form of marketing that became a leveling up experience for those obsessed with earning miles to cash in for perks.  From there he explores what other sorts of interactions that are pulling in massive audiences into these games could translate into creating marketing experiences and compelling campaigns.

Read more at Adweek {link no longer active}.

‘Ten Commandments’ For Social Media

Digital media specialist Paul Chaney has created a list of what he calls the “Ten Commandments for communicating effectively through social media.”  At first glance it comes across as a primer, yet there are gems of advice even for the initiated.  One particular piece of advice that social media communication is a mindset essentially sums up why it’s good to reiterate the fundamentals and think of the almost daily horror PR stories popping up of those who, perhaps for one instant in time, misunderstood and misused the medium.  Thinking of that, it’s worth considering etching a list like this into physical media and hanging it on high, just as commandments are meant to be.

Check it out at MarketingProfs {link no longer active}.

EA’s Future Conquests Are In Digital, Says CEO

EA CEO John Riccitiello has said the company is out to grow online and digital offerings to match the packaged goods side if its game business in scale.  He made the comments in an interview at Reuters Global Media Summit.

As reported in Gamesindustry.biz, Riccitiello points to subscription and micro-transaction supported online games as well as social games as making up as much as 45 percent of the game industry.  He says EA s revenues from such fare came to $138 million in the last quarter alone.  EA sees that area of its business growing significantly in the wake of its acquisition of social game maker Playfish, with a strategy of migrating over strong game IP such as its sports brands to games designed for social nets.  Riccitiello says the company’s merger and acquisition strategy is to conquer new digital territory.

Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.

‘Left 4 Dead 2’ Sells Two Million Units In Two Weeks

EA’s Left 4 Dead 2 has sold two million units in the two weeks since launch, reports Edge-Online.  The sequel in the zombie action game franchise doubled the total set by “Left 4 Dead,” its predecessor and the top selling new IP of last year.  Developer Valve’s Doug Lombardi says the game has already attracted more than a million players on Xbox Live.  He added that news regarding downloadable content for the sequel is on the horizon.

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

Univision To Form Online Ad Network

Spanish-language media giant Univision is launching an ad network aggregating web sites that reach a significant portion of the U.S. Hispanic audience, reports Adweek.  The company has approached niche web sites and blogs that have a significant audience but lack ad sales operations.  The strategy is similar to moves by MTV Networks and Martha Stewart’s media company to create vertical ad networks for their target audiences.  Univision’s group includes Spanish-language online destinations for news, entertainment, business and sports content.

Read more at Adweek {link no longer active}.

Ubisoft CEO Sees More 3D Games After ‘Avatar’

Ubisoft s 3D title Avatar: The Game will not be the company’s last, with its pioneering in 3D game development part of the company s objective to become a multifaceted entertainment provider.  Ubisoft CEO Yannis Mallat shared that sentiment in an interview with Canada newspaper Financial Post.

Ubisoft is the first to release a 3D videogame with Avatar: The Game, which has 3D support in versions for Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360, and only for those who also have special 3D-enabled HDTVs and 3D glasses.  The game is based on the upcoming James Cameron film, a blockbuster billed special effects extravaganza also being shown in 3D at theaters.  Mallat said Ubisoft wouldn t have incorporated 3D support into the game if it thought the technology wasn t going to be widely adopted.  He compared the transition to 3D TV to the evolution of monaural audio to Dolby stereo sound.  Mallat again reiterated Ubisoft s desire to become a multifaceted entertainer, saying his company wants to transform from game developer to 360-degree entertainment content provider.   It s not the first time Ubisoft has hinted to that strategy.  The company acquired feature film special effects house Hybride last year.  It then had in-house creative staff work with Hybride to produce Hollywood quality short films promoting the sequel in its Assassin s Creed franchise.  While promoting that effort, Mallat had said Ubisoft is exploring getting into the film business.  Mallat repeated that comment to Financial Post, saying that Ubisoft could eventually produce games and films in-house for simultaneous release.

Read more at Financial Post.

THQ And Dreamworks Extend Licensing Deal

THQ has extended its licensing deal with Dreamworks to cover four of the animation studio s properties, reports Gamesindustry.biz.  THQ and Dreamworks had previously announced a partnership on a game based on MegaMind, the upcoming Ben Stiller produced animated film formerly titled Master Mind.  As part of the extended agreement, THQ is slated to release games over the next two years based on additional Dreamworks properties Kung Fu Panda, Puss in Boots and The Penguins of Madagascar.  Gamesindustry.biz points out that Dreamworks also has a game licensing agreement with Activision, which published the first Kung Fu Panda title and still has rights to Shrek and the upcoming 3D film How to Train Your Dragon.

Read more at Gamesindustry.biz.

ESRB Releases Ratings Guide App For iPhone

The Entertainment Software Rating Board has released an iPhone app designed as a ratings guide on the go for parents buying videogames for their children.  As reported in Edge-Online, the free app lists ratings and rating descriptors for every game rated by ESRB since July 1, 2008, totaling more than 18,000 titles.  The organization says that should cover nearly every game making children’s holiday wish lists this year.  It’s raising visibility for the app with a nationwide TV and radio campaign.

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