3DS Coming 2011, Says Fils-Aime

Initially it seemed like the E3 announcement of the 3DS would be for a release in 2011, given the way the timing of these things usually work. However, reports were that the portable system could possibly launch by Christmas 2010.

That seems to be out of the question now, though. While appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said that the 3DS will release next year.

Capcom’s Inafune On Western Development

Keiji Inafune is a legend in the Japanese gaming industry, having worked on franchises like Mega Man and Onimusha at Capcom. He’s also well aware of the situation of the Japanese gaming industry, which is reinforced every time he comes out to E3.

“Every year that I come to E3, year in and year out, the one thing I’ve noticed is that it seems like the Japanese game developer share seems to be getting smaller and smaller,” said Inafune. “If you look at the major titles, they’re now primarily Western. If you look at all the different signs and all the billboards, most of those are Western titles. A lot of the key announcements are also Western titles. I think to myself sometimes, if we keep on this course, the Japanese gaming market will disappear totally. That is one of the valid concerns that I have, which is why as a Japanese publisher, as Capcom, we really want to fight the good fight, and try and make our games work within this more primarily Western market.”

“So, of course, we can’t just rely on our own skill, our own Japanese developer skill and know-how, to steer us through this dark time,” Inafune continued. “It’s going to have to come through collaborative efforts and co-operation. It’s our U.S. staff, our European staff, working closely with them. Of course we are working with a lot of different Western developers as well. It’s being able to share their knowledge and information, to collaborate with them on a very in-depth level, that’s going to allow us to grow as a company and to be able to understand how the market is changing in the West, and allow us to be competitive in those markets. That’s going to be essential for us.”

“While Western developed titles like Dark Void and Bionic Commando haven’t turned out the way Capcom would have liked,” Inafune asserts that Dead Rising 2 will be different.

“With Dead Rising 2, right now, we have finally reached it. We have learned what areas work, what areas don’t work, and that has helped us to create Dead Rising 2, which looks very much like the first one, feels like it’s got that Capcom essence to it, yet there are a lot of ideas and concepts in that game that a Japanese development staff would not have come up with. So it does take the best of the West and the best of Japanese game aesthetic design,” said Inafune. “Now that we have that knowledge, we can use that in future Western titles going forward. It’s not an easy process. It took some growing pains, but we finally got there.”

“The other thing that’s changed is that come this last April, I became the global head of all R&D throughout the world for Capcom. Now I’m able to give them sound advice to all the development teams, as well as synch them up so that we all are collaborating and we’re not separate companies just because we’re on different sides of the globe. I think that’s helping a lot, too,” he added.

Source: VideoGamer.com

Final Fantasy XIV On Xbox 360 In Doubt Over ‘Closed’ Xbox Live

Final Fantasy XI came to the PS2 and, later, to the Xbox 360. The chances of Final Fantasy XIV coming to the Xbox 360, however, seem slim.

“The main reason why we couldn’t go with Xbox 360 was the Xbox Live system,” Final Fantasy XIV director Hiromichi Tanaka explained. “[Live is] different to the normal internet environment, so when we wanted to introduce this game in the same environment as Windows PC it had to be PS3, so that was our choice.”

“Microsoft has a different point of view: they want to have a closed environment for Xbox Live,” added Tanaka. “We’re still talking to [them, but]… We couldn’t come to an agreement on Xbox Live.”

Source: Eurogamer

PS3 Huluing?

Inside sources are indicating that Hulu and Sony are close to an agreement. The deal would see the second-largest video website come to the PS3.

The formal partnership could be announced within the week, according to people with personal knowledge of the deal. This would make Hulu’s potential pay service a bigger deal, with PS3s giving the video service more access to televisions, and making their service more appealing for CBS, Viacom and Time Warner to add their shows to the pay service.

Source: Bloomberg {link no longer active}

Facebook Could Reach One Billion, Says Zuckerberg

With 500 million users worldwide, Facebook is already a powerhouse on the Internet. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long vision, however, and he thinks the site can continue its breakneck expansion, particularly if it targets China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, where it is currently not the leading social network.

“We saw our exponential growth rate continue for a very long period of time, and it still does at a super-linear rate, though not quite three per cent a week any more,” said Zuckerberg. “Now for the first time we are focused on doing some specific things in specific countries.”

“I think if we succeed, we have a good chance of being the company that brings [social networking] to one billion people,” he added.

Zuckerberg said that Facebook is used in the the same way over the world, though ad programs were more varied, noting that mobile growth was accelerating as well. “We are getting our first crop of countries now that have more mobile usage than web usage,” he said, citing India. “I think most people think it’s only a matter of time before that starts happening more universally.”

Source: Financial Times

Heroes Of Dotnia Auditions

Oh 3D Dot Game Heroes, your tongue-in-cheek humor is translating to the promotional material. Witness these “interviews” with presumptive heroes of Dotnia.

{video link no longer active}
 

YouTube Vanquishes Viacom Lawsuit

In a legal conflict that has taken over three years, Google has emerged victorious over Viacom. The corporate entity was suing over copyright infringement on YouTube.

“Today, the court granted our motion for summary judgment in Viacom’s lawsuit with YouTube. This means that the court has decided that YouTube is protected by the safe harbor of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) against claims of copyright infringement. The decision follows established judicial consensus that online services like YouTube are protected when they work cooperatively with copyright holders to help them manage their rights online,” said a statement on the YouTube Blog. “This is an important victory not just for us, but also for the billions of people around the world who use the web to communicate and share experiences with each other. We re excited about this decision and look forward to renewing our focus on supporting the incredible variety of ideas and expression that billions of people post and watch on YouTube every day around the world.”

Viacom, not surprisingly, did not agree with the ruling. “We believe that this ruling by the lower court is fundamentally flawed and contrary to the language of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the intent of Congress, and the views of the Supreme Court as expressed in its most recent decisions,” said Viacom in a statement. “We intend to seek to have these issues before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit as soon as possible. After years of delay, this decision gives us the opportunity to have the Appellate Court address these critical issues on an accelerated basis. We look forward to the next stage of the process.”

Source: Forbes

Feature: Top Gaming Execs Talk Marketing Strategy

Last week in Los Angeles during the E3 Expo, we had the chance to meet with numerous video game executives and decided to ask each about their perspectives on marketing. In Part 1 of this feature we bring you insights from Nintendo’s Reggie Fils-Aime, Microsoft’s Albert Penello, and THQ’s Danny Bilson.

Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America President

[a]list: I know you have a very diverse marketing background. You worked for Guinness; you worked for VH1, correct Now that you’ve been in this video game business for seven, eight years, how do you see sort of the differences in marketing these video game products versus something like beer?

Reggie Fils-Aime: You know, in the end, marketing is about communicating compelling propositions in a way to excite the consumer. From that standpoint, the similarities between my past and what we’re doing here at Nintendo are quite significant, especially when Nintendo is an extremely consumer-oriented company. We always think of the consumer first. What I would say, maybe, is surprisingly refreshing about, at least our business, is just the fantastic age range that we market to. Everything from young children, to their parents, and their grandparents, we’ve been able to effectively message to them in very compelling ways. That is very provocative from a marketer’s standpoint because, typically, the marketer thinks of a narrowly defined demographic target. Marketing textbooks will tell you the better you can define your target, the better you will be. With us that is true, but for every software title, and as you layer all the software titles together, you get this massive addressable market. That is very interesting in my view, at least from Nintendo’s perspective about this gaming market.

Albert Penello, senior director of global marketing for Xbox 360

[a]list: In general, with these triple-A games costing so much money, anywhere from $40 million to $80 million or even $100 million, I’m wondering in order to recoup the costs on the development, if you really want to get huge exposure, almost like Hollywood campaign-type style, exposure for these blockbuster games. Just how crucial is it to have a marketing initiative, sort of that Hollywood style, for these games to actually get that money back and get the people interested in the product and brand?

Albert Penello: Part of deciding to go do games that expensive is that you’ve got to decide that you’re going to do a marketing campaign right behind it. The good news is, while I wish it didn’t cost what it cost to produce games, the market is certainly there, much like blockbuster movies, to recoup a ton of money. I think it’s great that we can support things like indie games. I think it’s great that we can do, you know, a little bit more polish, a little bit higher production arcade games and still sort of get some of that core, good, old-fashioned, old-school type of games inexpensively. And then you know what, just like every studio goes and spends $200 million on a summer tentpole movie, we’re going to decide what our big bets are. We just announced Kingdoms; that’s going to be a big initiative for us. And, as part of that, you’ve just got to commit to doing a big marketing campaign. I think it’s great. I think it’s fun. It’s fun to do those types of marketing campaigns. It’s fun to have those types of games get made. And then, you know you offset the business risk by having these smaller indie games and these smaller arcade games, and that’s sort of what keeps everything going.

Danny Bilson, head of core games at THQ

[a]list: I’m curious, just from a marketing viewpoint with the way games are today, costing anywhere between, I don’t know, $40 million and $100 million or something…

Danny Bilson: Well not here, not here.

(Laughter)

[a]list: The average triple-A game costs a hell of a lot to make.

DB: It does.

[a]list: Does that mean, to you, that an equally expensive marketing campaign, sort of Hollywood style, is needed to really back it up and really get the exposure it needs to recoup those costs?

DB: Well… I don’t think it’s about money. I think it’s about smart. I think it’s time to stop marketing games like games. So Homefront is absolutely an example of what I’m talking about. There’s nothing gamey about the marketing of that. We’re not overspending, but we’re certainly exposing it in really interesting ways. I think you can see it all over this show from the crazy parking lot stuff.

You really need to see our trailer, because one of the strategies in marketing, and this is cost saving on a side you might not expect, if the marketing team or PR team is constantly in the studio during development of a game saying, “need assets, need assets, make me a trailer, make me a trailer,” that’s all dev time not being used on the game. And having been a developer myself, when I got some control over marketing, I was like, “How can we market without game assets?” So I really encourage you to look at the Homefront back story trailer. It’s all over the booth or you can see it on the web, and you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. And, again, we built it, it’s getting great response. It starts to talk about the world, it engages people in the game, but the team didn’t have to do one bit of work on it. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to show assets; of course we are. I just want to reduce it, and when I show them, I want to show it later in the production cycle when they really are real and really polished and the team isn’t making them up.

But as far as bigger cost against bigger game is, I think it’s about smarter. One of the bigger questions we have to ask ourselves is how important is television How important is television to a core gamer on a non-television brand So I think television has some relevance on WWE and UFC because I consider those TV brands. But our other stuff, I question it severely. It’s incredibly expensive, and what I can do with two million dollars, which will buy a few TV spots on a big sporting event, what I can do in outdoor, or on the web, or direct-to-consumer is way more exciting. You know I’ve grown up with television; I stopped watching it years ago, except for sports. I used to make television. I made it for many years. Some people love it, but I know I’m playing games, I’m not watching TV. You know where I want to market I want to market on Xbox Live. I want to market on PSN, because every night that’s the switch I turn on at my house. And that front end comes, and those windows come, and all that marketing’s getting right to me because I’m a core gamer. That’s where I want to invest. Television is a big question mark for me. So those are kind of my points around marketing, but I’d like you to focus some of the examples… Look at the example of Homefront. I feel like it’s a really effective campaign and it’s not a really costly campaign.