Mobil 1 Announces Racing Challenge

Mobil 1 today announced a new online game. Called The Mobil 1 Global Challenge, it’s slated to come out at the same time the program Mobil 1 The Grid launches on Speed.

The game features a recording function that allows users to race against ghost images of their friends or Vodafone McLaren Mercedes F1 drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton. The Mobil 1 Global Challenge features a variety of races, like the NASCAR Raceway Challenge to the Russian Tundra Ice Drift Challenge.

The Mobil 1 Global Challenge will also feature the ability to post results to Facebook and instantly challenge friends. The online game builds on Mobil 1’s Will You Be The 1 game from 2009, which had 62,000 racing fans from 26 countries competing to set the fastest lap time on Lewis Hamilton’s Mobil 1 Supercircuit.

The game is available at

Jobs Lines Up Keynoting Duties For WWDC 2010

While Apple CEO Steve Jobs missed last year’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), he will be present at this year’s event. He will give the keynote in San Francisco on June 7 to launch the five-day event.

“Jobs has enthusiastically returned to his spot as the best pitchman in the country,” said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research to Computerworld. “He seems to be enjoying that role again.”

While the cat may already be out of the bag for the expected iPhone 4G announcement, there may be other surprises in store. “There were some implications in the last earnings call, and other clues, such as the shutdown of Lala, that there could be some announcements related to online,” said Gottheil. “The most likely is a subscription music or video streaming service. It wouldn’t quite fit in [with WWDC] unless there was something to be programmed. But if Apple were to provide a platform that interacts with code on one or more of their mobile devices, and offers some APIs [application programming interfaces], it would make sense.”

Other announcements could revolve around the front facing camera on the iPhone 4G. “Lots of people are using Skype for video calling, and a much smaller number is using high-end [technology] for video conferencing,” said Gottheil. “There’s a lot of potential in the middle. Apple could say, ‘Here’s basic video chat,’ then tell developers ‘Here are the APIs you can use to add video chat to your iPhone games.'”

Jobs, when recently asked by Gizmodo if Google had surpassed the iPhone with Android, simply responded, Not a chance.

7-Eleven Serving Up Zynga Games

Zynga is making its bid on being an accepted part of American popular culture with a 7-Eleven promotion this Summer. Consumers will be able to buy items in the store that have redeemable codes for virtual gift products in Zynga’s FarmVille, Mafia Wars and YoVille social games.

From June 1 to July 15, those interested will be able to pick up items like a branded Slurpee cup and receive a virtual item in one of the three games. Chief marketing officer Rita Bargerhuff at 7-Eleven said the campaign is one of the most unique in the chain’s history as it gives more than 30 product incentives to Zynga’s 239 million monthly active users.

“Through our promotion with 7-Eleven, we are expanding our reach and making our games more accessible to consumers,” said Vish Makhijani, senior vice president of business operations at Zynga.

7-Eleven is looking to promote the venture using satellite TV, local radio, print and outdoor venues. It has real potential to drive more users to Zynga’s games, since they are all free to play and readily accessible to mainstream audiences.

Source: Venture Beat

Shrek Forever After Box Office Below Expectations

Shrek Forever After took the top slot in the box office over the weekend with $71.3 million domestic. Still, it came in below most estimates and less than the $122 million opening take for Shrek the Third, which eventually took in $799 million total globally.

These returns call into question whether movie-goers are growing tired of premium-priced 3D tickets or if the family movie wasn’t considered suited for the extra price by most people. There’s also the distinct possibility that the franchise is simply becoming worn out.

Iron Man 2 was second at the box office with a solid $26.6 million take for a new total of $251.3 million. Robin Hood was third with $18.7 million, totaling $66.1 million at the domestic box office.

Source: New York Times

Pac-Man Creator Talks Origins

Pac-Man is one of those seminal games for the industry, giving gaming one of its first true personalities and introducing the world to the maze genre of games. Creator Toru Iwatani has mentioned he created the game to appeal to women, and he detailed why.

Around the time that we launched Pac-Man, video arcades were filled with games where you shoot aliens, said Iwatani. It seemed very dark. It was for men, it wasn t fashionable at all. When women would go out, they’d go out in a group of friends or with a boyfriend as a couple. And I realized that if women and couples were going to come to game centers, they had to be cheerful places.

When you think about things women like, you think about fashion, or fortune-telling, or food or dating boyfriends. So I decided to theme the game around ‘eating’ after eating dinner, women like to have dessert, continued Iwatani. If you take a pizza and remove one piece, it looks like a mouth. That s where my idea came from.

The anime and manga influence is readily apparent in modern Japanese games, but it was no less the case for Iwatani Pac-Man is inspired by all the manga and animation that I’d watch as a kid. The ghosts were inspired by Casper, or Obake no Q-Taro, he described. The game idea eating a power cookie and powering up to defeat the ghosts was inspired by Popeye eating spinach and defeating Bluto, turning the tables on him.

When asked about the Japanese aesthetic that was part of Pac-Man, Iwatani was highly insightful. Japanese youngsters really wanted ‘ghost’ type characters not necessarily modeled on creatures, but things that don’t really exist in this world. Even within animation, they want characters that are the products of the writer’s imaginations. In North America at the time, the games were about car races or warfare. They wanted games that simulated the real world, whereas Japan wanted otogibanashi (fairy tales), said Iwatani. Also, when you look at Japanese games, the characters may be deformed in such a way that their heads are half of their total height. This was not popular in the U.S., as you know, they wanted real proportional humans. In Japan, dolls like Hello Kitty are deformed into a different shape, into an animal that doesn’t really exist. The dolls in the U.S. would be a real cat.”

Source: Wired

Movie Posters Contain Retro Gaming Aesthetics

In order to convey the difference between 3D and regular movies, Titanic Cinema has had a series of posters fashioned which harken back to the days of 2D sprite-based gaming. All of the posters are based on popular movies of yesteryear, not current but easily recognizable which helps convey the message of the posters.

Indiana Jones

The Matrix

Star Wars

Source: Ads of the World

Killzone 3D

Some details of the hinted at Killzone 3 came out this weekend via GamePro magazine. The game will have a variety of environments, some of which are described as arctic, and the sense of scale will be larger overall with action featuring jet-packs.

The game is said to include more details about the Helghast and why they hold a grudge against the ISA. Perhaps most interesting, however, is the confirmation that the game is going to be playable in 3D. While both 3D glasses and a compatible TV are necessary to play, the effects in game are described as crazy and a game changer.

Source: Kotaku

Facebook CEO Offers Mea Culpa, Privacy Changes Planned

Facbeook is looking to modify its privacy settings to make them simpler for users to understand, dividing things into categories like everyone, friends of friends or just friends. This comes after days of sharp criticism, particularly from Europe.

“There is a fundamental revision going on about the company’s approach to privacy,” said Simon Davies of Privacy International to

For his part, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg issued an email to a tech blogger where he seemed contrite about the concerns users had.

We’ve been listening to all the feedback and have been trying to distill it down to the key things we need to improve. I’d like to show an improved product rather than just talk about things we might do. We’re going to be ready to start talking about some of the new things we’ve built this week. I want to make sure we get this stuff right this time, wrote Zuckerberg. I know we’ve made a bunch of mistakes, but my hope at the end of this is that the service ends up in a better place and that people understand that our intentions are in the right place and we respond to the feedback from the people we serve.

Dragon Age Gets Official Machinima Series

Machinima series are fairly common and machinima done as an official promotion of a game is not unheard of. Machinima that is officially part of a game’s canon, however, is much more rare, but BioWare has given its blessing to Machinima Inc’s Dragon Age: Warden s Fall series, which details a Grey Warden encountered in the DLC Dragon Age: Awakenings.