Kindle $189 Sells Out

While Amazon has launched their $139 Wi-fi only versions of the Kindle, they’ve revealed that the $189 version with 3G support has sold out. There’s no word as to when this version of the Kindle will go back in stock.

“We’re seeing very, very strong [Kindle] device growth and we’re seeing very, very strong content growth,” said Thomas Szkutak, chief financial officer of Amazon, during a conference call.

Source: PC World

BioWare Discusses Learning Experience From Mass Effect On IPhone

Sometimes it’s worth reaching out to new areas and other times it’s just worth it to know what your audience is. Such is the case with Mass Effect Galaxy, an iPhone game that wasn’t half as well received as its Xbox 360 and PC brethren.

Oh, I think it was very worth attempting, says Greg Zeschuk vice president and co-founder of BioWare. Even when something’s not as successful as you’d like, you can take some lessons away and apply them, right For us, that’s kind of where humility comes in, to eat the humble pie on the Mass iPhone game [laughs] and go, ‘Yeeeaaah, we made a big mistake,’ in the sense that we thought story could carry it. Maybe it wasn’t even a mistake as much as we took a guess, our guess was wrong, and we learned something in the process – that the fundamental tactile gameplay is actually the key thing on the platform. Unless your game is utterly designed about tactile gameplay, you shouldn’t release it. That was good information for us to have.”

When asked about future Mass Effect ventures on iPhone, Zeschuk responded, I don’t know. We still poke around on it. At some level we’re leaving the expertise on the iPhone to the folks who are experts. We’ll explore stuff. For us, it may be things that link into other games. It’s the cross-platform nature of the potential platform, like an iPhone app able to somehow access one of the other games’ universes, or something. That would be really cool.”


3DS Details Coming September 29

Nintendo released their less than stellar fiscal forecast today, with decreasing software sales of the DS and Wii combined with a strong Yen leading to a loss well over $200 million. This made analysts keen to wonder when the 3DS would release and they got an answer . . . sort of. Nintendo said it would reveal the date and the price for the 3D portable on September 29, 2010.

Many investors are in a tug-of-war between the outlook for a weak first half and expectations for the new DS model in the second half, said Mitsushige Akino of Ichiyoshi Investment Management Co.

Source: Bloomberg

Battlestar Galactica Spin-Offs Floated

Battlestar Galactica and Caprica co-executive producer Michael Taylor is working on an online series called Blood & Chrome. They are currently planning on having the project run nine or 10 episodes of nine or 10 minutes each.

“[Blood & Chrome is] about a young man’s initiation into war: both the realities of war as fought by soldiers on the ground (and in Battlestars and Vipers), and the somewhat less real version portrayed in the media,” according to Taylor.

The project, if approved, would be filmed on green screens and virtual sets. High-tech scans were made of all Battlestar Galactica‘s sets so a special-effects team will be able to re-create them for another show.

“I’ve seen the virtual, 3D version of CIC [Battlestar’s Combat Information Center] and it’s pretty damn cool,” said Taylor. “And yet the movie isn’t confined to Galactica. Far from it. It’s a story that will take us to new corners of the Battlestar world (or worlds), and yet it aims to be a very contemporary war movie in a lot of ways. I would say I’m thinking as much of Afghanistan and Iraq–the reality of Hurt Locker, Sebastian Junger’s Restrepo, and similar movies–as I am about about the largely implied past of Battlestar.”

Taylor said he’ll look for the sort of highly charged emotion that was part of the Battlestar Galactica series. “We’re not going to be shying away from R-rated blood and guts and sex,” Taylor noted. “Because this is initially meant to air online, we pretty much have no restrictions in that department.”

If it’s successful, it could serve as an opening for similar initiatives or as a pilot for a whole new series. Another spin-off Taylor is proposing is The Watchers; it will focus on espionage and the worrisome nature of having so much power over ordinary citizens.

Source: Chicago Tribune

Dell Talks Streak

In this completely networked world, companies often find it important to connect with customers via the Internet about products that haven’t even released. Such is the case with Dell and the Streak; while some might be a little disappointed about the news they deliver here (ruling out T-Mobile, Android 1.6 right now) it’s an important touch point with potential consumers for this tablet/smartphone crossover.


Zynga Japan Launches Via Softbank Partnership

Zynga has confirmed that Softbank has invested $150 million in the company. The two companies will launch a joint venture called Zynga Japan to distribute social games in the Japanese market.

Zynga is a leader in social games and I am delighted to partner with them to introduce their social games to Japan, said Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of Softbank. We share the same vision as Zynga in social games and look forward to working together to create a social game powerhouse.

“We’re excited to partner with Softbank to bring Zynga’s social games to Japan and gain insights from the Japanese market,” said Mark Pincus, CEO and Founder of Zynga. “As one of the most innovative technology companies in the world, Softbank is bringing the mobile internet to consumers making the social web more accessible to people everywhere.”

Game Teaching Girls About Abstinence

The University of Central Florida was granted $434,800 by the National Institutes of Health. This money will be used to develop a game with life-size avatars designed to teach sexual abstinence to Latina middle schoolers.

UCF nursing professor Anne Norris and UCF computer science professor Charles Hughes will work with UCF’s Institute for Simulation & Training during the next two years on the project. The game is designed to be played in after-school and youth outreach programs run by trained teachers and counselors in order to improve girls skills in responding to peer pressure to engage in sexual behavior.

Our ultimate goal is to reduce pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease among the young Latina population, Norris said.

If successful, a similar sort of game could be developed for boys and other ethnicities.

Source: Orlando Business Journal

Kongregate, GameStop Talk Partnership

Kongregate has focused on community driven games up until now, and that’s a stretch from where GameStop’s retail oriented business is coming from. Still, both parties think that the combination of the two, especially GameStop’s 10 to 15 million unique web visitors, will open up new possibilities.

“We’ve been talking for a while publicly about where we see ourselves in the future as it relates to our digital strategy,” said Chris Petrovic, GameStop’s General Manager of Digital Ventures. “They know how to bring mass amounts of community to a destination, as well as get great games from developers and monetize that. We feel we’re kindred spirits in that way, we both appeal to the core gamers primarily. This allows us to fulfill a lot of what we’ve talked about up until now — to be that leading destination across internet-connected devices.”

There are a lot of consumers, by consequence, that will have never heard of Kongregate or its business model before this move. “There’s a huge offline world of gamers who maybe haven’t been exposed [to free to play games],” says Kongregate founder Jim Greer. “I think it makes sense for us to be reaching them in the browser.”

“A few years ago, if you went to the community of console gamers and told them about Flash games, they’d be like, ‘why would I waste my time, I’m playing Call of Duty,‘ Greer added. I think that has really changed over the last two years, as we’re seeing big publishers like EA and huge companies like Bigpoint investing huge resources into the browser.”

Meanwhile, Greer insisted that it will be business as usual for Kongregate’s numerous small developers. “The popular stuff on our site . . . the majority of it continues to be from one and two-person development teams, he said. It’s going to be business as usual in terms of the way we treat [developers] in terms of transparency and access.

Source: Gamasutra