Pirates Board ‘Little Big Planet’

Sony has licensed Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean for downloadable content introducing water-based game play to its PS3 title Little Big Planet.   As reported in 1up, the new pack introduces a water mechanic Sony had been planning on releasing for the unique platform game, one where game play is based on object physics and player-modified levels.  The licensed content sets the stage for the new mechanic and cleverly re-imagines the game’s characters as those from Disney’s pirate films, for instance turning game protagonist Sackboy into a Sack Sparrow.  1up says the “Pirates of the Caribbean” pack is priced at $5.99 plus an additional $1.99 for costumes based on the film characters.

Read more at 1up.

A Futurist’s View On Marketing Trends

Writing for Ad Age, Jim Louderback looks at predictions for 2010 from futurist Mark Anderson.  Anderson has made a name for himself as a bona fide forecaster of global trends affecting business.  He claims an accuracy rate of 97 percent for his wizardry in years past.  Louderback looks at which of his predictions for next year marketers need note, from augmented reality working its way into business applications to more content breaking free into the digital space, for a price.

Read Jim Louderback s article at Ad Age {link no longer active}.

What Makes Croal Crumble

As a game writer and a notable analyzer of the medium, N Gai Croal has the distinct ability to put an expert lens on the most granular gamer matters.  Here in a piece for Edge-Online, Croal breaks down how action games have evolved in the way they treat player vulnerability, moments of danger, and finally loss of life.  For Croal, it s been a slide towards less difficulty and a greater embrace for the careless (read: casual or button-mashing) gamer.  The result has been a change in his own learned behavior, with much less tolerance for that most essential formula of earlier games in the genre: trial and error.

Read N Gai Croal’s article at Edge-Online {link no longer active}.

EEDAR On The State Of Games

Matt Martin of Gamesindustry.biz is has a thorough interview with EEDAR analyst Jesse Divnich on the state of the game industry.  Divnich made waves at last month’s Montreal International Game Summit when he pointed to a study at his firm that shows marketing trumps quality in game sales.  Martin catches up with Divnich to talk about the fallout from developers after the study s findings which Divnich himself labels as depressing and segues into a full rundown of the state of the industry.  It s one analyst’s view, yet it s soup to nuts on the menu of what is currently on the industry s mind.

Read the full interview at Gamesindustry.biz {link no longer active}.

Honda’s Layers Of Expertise

Honda is promoting its Civic model in the UK with a nifty new spot getting a big kickoff, launching as a cinema ad running before the upcoming big budget film Avatar before moving to TV.  BrandFreak calls the spot a marvel of engineering, and rightfully so.  The outlet is playing in the message in the ad that Honda products like the Civic benefit from its expertise in engineering all manner of things motorized, from ATVs to Asimo the high-tech robot.  The spot is, however, a true marvel of engineering from a video editing perspective.  It s a collage of discordant scenes juxtaposed and layered together on the screen at the same time, and edited skillfully both audio and video to become harmonious.  BrandFreak provides a few details of the work that went into it.

No word on whether the ad is getting localized for the U.S., but the message in the spot seems a decent response to Chevrolet’s recent ads prodding Honda for not just being a carmaker, but cranking out lawn mowers too.

Read more and watch it at BrandFreak.

It’s Not Da Vinci’s Internet

Google uses just about every craft known to man in a creative video promoting Google Chrome.  It s an involved production, one that seems to have enlisted enough artists and artisans to put together theatre.  In a sense it is channeling that altogether analog medium, full of irony in its setting and moving along with the help of whimsical devices.  It s certainly memorable, with a few how d they do that gimmicks but mostly punctuated by just how long, and how many takes.

Watch it at YouTube.

‘Habbo Hotel’ Becomes A Marketing Tool

Teen-skewed virtual world Habbo Hotel is launching a marketing measurement tool aimed at tracking brand conversations among its users, reports Edge-Online.  Habbo Hotel is a persistent world game operated by Finland-based Sulake Corp.  The company says the community, where users create avatars to communicate and interact, has more than 155 million registered accounts with the majority of users under 19 years old.  Sulake says the measurement tool, called Habble, was recently demonstrated during a campaign for the MTV European Music Awards.  MTV and Sulake say they were able to measure the effectiveness of a campaign promoting the show.  Using Habble, they monitored spikes in conversations regarding the MTV program among “Habbo Hotel” users and also pinpointed where in Europe the mentions originated.

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

Sega Viral, Burger King On Xbox Get Nods As Decade’s Best

Ad Age has a list of what they ve chosen as the ten best non-television campaigns of the decade.  In essence, the list is reaching back to when viral was known as community to most, and marketers would execute a street campaign without necessarily videotaping it for YouTube.  For games, nods got to Sega’s pioneering community building campaign for its then NFL-licensed 2K football franchise.  The publisher launched a blog for a fictitious game tester called Beta-7 overcome by the First Person Football feature in its title ESPN NFL 2K4.   The campaign generated massive viewer traffic and impressive engagement for its time.

Ad Age also includes Burger King s innovative decision to create branded games for Xbox packaged like titles boxed for retail and sold for cheap at its restaurants.  The effort benefited from being more than a gimmick, with engaging mini-games using The King character and with up-to-spec Xbox graphics, courtesy of UK game developer Blitz.  Burger King gets a second, well-deserved spot on the list for its seemingly space-time bending Subservient Chicken campaign.

Check out the full list of ten at Ad Age {link no longer active}.

NPD Lists The Year’s Bestselling Games

NPD Group has compiled sales figures for games up to November 2009 to highlight the year s bestsellers to-date.  The list of units sold, including bundles and collector s editions, was provided to Industry Gamers.

Activision took top slot with the Xbox 360 version of Modern Warfare 2 selling 4.2 million units.  The game s PS3 version made eighth on the list with 1.9 million units sold.  The year s second bestselling title belongs to Nintendo, with Wii Fit selling 3.5 million units.  In-fact Nintendo titles dominated overall, selling more than 58 percent of units sold in the top ten according to Industry Gamers.  The company filled the third through fifth bestseller spots with Wii Sports Resort with 2.4 million, Wii Mario Kart with 2.2 million, and Wii Play with 2.1 million units sold.  The publisher’s DS game Pokemon Platinum Version is the seventh bestseller with 1.9 million units.  The New Super Mario Brothers is tenth with 1.4 million units.

Rounding out the top ten are Microsoft s Halo 3: ODST at sixth with 2 million units, and EA’s Madden NFL 10 for Xbox 360 at ninth with 1.5 million units.  As pointed out by Industry Gamers, NPD’s Anita Frazier has also Tweeted the year s top moneymaking franchises.  They are Call of Duty, Wii Fit, Mario Brothers, Guitar Hero and Rock Band.

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

Social Viruses Of A Different Kind

Writing for NY Times, Brad Stone says viruses popping up on social nets are distinct from regular computer viruses in that they can attack people’s dignity.  Viruses and malicious links are popping up on social sites Facebook and Twitter, and often to take a hold of a user s network to spread their message.  Internet security firm Kaspersky Labs says as many as 500 links on Twitter on a given day are malicious, and another firm Sophos estimates that more than a fifth of social net users have been the targets of viruses.

Stone’s article looks at anecdotal evidence, citing a few cases to highlight how getting infected on a social net has more to do with public embarrassment than the private pain of a corrupted computer.  One example: the poor guy who clicked on a scandalous photo, discovered the image posted on his Facebook page, and then found out it was sent to his entire friends list.

Read Brad Stone s article at NY Times.