THQ Launching Into Social Games

THQ has announced its plans to enter the social gaming space. To that end, they have signed an agreement with middleware firm Joyent to provide the tech base for this venture, in order to help get games quickly to market.

“For me it’s all about building a platform that the developers can actually use,” Mike Hogan, THQ’s vice president of Online Publishing and Operations, “and they can work on stuff that they’re good at – which is creating games. Everything that we can do to spend more effort and polish on the game makes the game a better game, and it makes the audience a larger audience. Instead of spinning the wheel every time we make a game, we just solve the problem once, and that has to impact the quality.

“Our business model at Joyent is to have our customers be successful and to work with our partners to make sure that their businesses grow. And then as their businesses grow our business grows, said Adrian Ludwig, Joyent VP of Marketing. “Whereas a lot of the other cloud providers right now, they’re in the business of selling part of a pool that they’ve built.

Frankly they don’t care whether the particular customer is successful or not, as long as in general the number of customers satisfies the need that exists and the resources that they have, added Ludwig. We have built our business on the success of customers going from being relatively small in a particular application to being relatively big. We fundamentally believe that getting those customers to be successful is the way that we’ll be able to catch up with the bigger competitors in this space.”

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

Michael Jackson MMO Planned

See Virtual Worlds has announced an agreement with the Michael Jackson Estate to publish Planet Michael. This virtual world will be built around the King of Pop’s music, his life and the global issues that concerned him.

When we first approached the Estate and talked about creating Planet Michael, one of our primary goals was to build an interactive environment where fans from all over the world come together to affirm Michael’s life-long dedication to fostering global friendships, said Martin Biallas, CEO of See Virtual Worlds. In building a space worthy of those global connections, we envisioned a magical, enjoyable place that will capture that zest for fun and life that was at Michael’s very core. Throughout his extensive career, the King of Pop was well-known for his visionary contributions to music, dance, fashion, entertainment and philanthropy, and it was critical that we somehow incorporate all of those elements into the game.

Planet Michael will be published for the 3D environment known as Entropia Universe. It will be free-to-play, with players able to take occupations in the game environment and sometimes contribute to charity.

No artist unified the world like Michael Jackson, so it is fitting that in Planet Michael his fans will be able to join together in such a unique way online to celebrate his music, his artistry and his devotion to helping those in need, said John Branca, co-executor for The Estate of Michael Jackson.

Michael was always exploring creative new ways technology could enhance the experiences of his fans, and for that reason we are thrilled to be working with See Virtual Worlds to build a global interactive experience that befits an artist as innovative as Michael Jackson, added John McClain, co-executor of the Estate.

Facebook Phone Considered

Facebook has come out and denied reports that the company was working on a branded mobile phone. However, other reports say that the company this summer did touch base with phone manufacturers and carriers to try and see if a Facebook phone is a good business idea.

A source has said that while Facebook is mulling the idea of a mobile phone, they have not decided whether to pursue the matter or not. The failure of Google and Microsoft of their Nexus One and Kin smartphones might prove to be a good example of why Facebook shouldn’t launch this venture.

Source: CNet

Digital Surpassing Retail For PC Games

The NPD has released a study called PC Games Digital Downloads: Analyst Report. They estimate that for the first half of 2010, there were 11.2 million full-game digital downloads purchased online and 8.2 million physical units purchased at retail.

Despite digital comprising a majority of sales for the PC gaming sphere, the NPD notes, games sold at physical retailers continue to maintain a greater share of dollar revenue at 57 percent versus 43 percent from digitally downloaded games.  This is attributed to a higher average selling price at retail.”

Regardless of the trending towards digital purchases, sales for both digital and physical PC games for the first half were down 21 percent. Total unit sales were also down 14 percent compared to the first half of 2009.

One major finding from this latest report is that the ‘big got bigger’ in the first half of 2010, with both Steam and Bigfish capturing a bigger share of full-game PC games digital download sales than they did last year,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The overall decline of PC games when combining sales via both digital downloads and physical retail sales is impacted by the expansion of social network gaming as well as the continued expansion of free game options.

Apple Working On New IPad For 2011, Says Report

According to reports, Apple is looking to release a new version of the iPad in early 2011. Taiwanese suppliers are planning to roll out shipments at the beginning of next year, which would hold to Apple’s normal product refresh cycle.

This would mesh with a report from an Apple Insider who said, “A version of the tablet device with a built-in video camera and support for the new FaceTime video conferencing standard has already progressed to the advanced testing stages,” according to a person with proven knowledge of Apple’s future product plans.

Source: PC World

Microsoft Spending ‘Hundreds Of Millions’ On Kinect Launch

 

Microsoft is hopeful that the Kinect motion sensing camera will sell 3 million units in its first two months after launching on November 4. Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s Senior Vice President of Interactive Entertainment, said he expects Kinect will push the Xbox 360 to have one of its “biggest holidays ever.”

To that end, Mattrick said that Microsoft will spend “hundreds of millions of dollars” in marketing and advertising the Kinect. 30,000 retail locations will sell Kinect on the launch day, of which about 7,000 will open at midnight.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Tecmo Koei’s Fist Of The Alarm Clock

Anyone who has been to an industry event has probably come back with at least an armful of swag, much of which is cool but little of which is useful. Tecmo Koei took a different route at Tokyo Game Show, handing out a bag of Samurai Warriors rice and a Fist of the North Star alarm clock.

Proof that this is a real thing.

Source: Kotaku

Molyneux Talks Fable Movie

Peter Molyneux has helped cast an all-star team of British comedic talent for Fable III, including Ben Kingsley, Simon Pegg, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Ross, Michael Fassbinder and John Cleese. In particular, Molyneux says that Cleese really imprinted himself on the character of Jasper the butler. “He improvised a lot,” says Molyneux.

When asked if he’s tempted to make a Fable movie, Molyneux said, “Part of me says ‘yes’. I could got to the set and hold the camera. I could go to the movie premiere. But then, I think how Hollywood has driven pretty much every game franchise into the ground.”

Source: Kotaku

Samsung Shows Off Galaxy Tab

Samsung has unveiled its Galaxy Tab in the U.S. recently. The tablet computer, running on Android, will be sold by Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile in the weeks and months to come.

Pricing depends on what carrier is used, and while a Wi-Fi only version of the 7-inch tablet is planned, no release details were given. Partners like MTV, NBC, Paramount and Universal Home Entertainment will provide content for the device, which will be displayed via a Media Hub.

Source: WallStreetJournal.com

DFC On F2P

Broadband connections are having a huge effect on the way that people buy and consume entertainment. In fact, DFC Intelligence thinks that by 2014, over 50 percent of global game software revenue will be generated online.

In Asia, the dominant form of online games are free-to-play, where they generate billions of dollars every year. Still, English language F2P represented only $249 million in revenue.

There are several reasons why client-based F2P games have been slow to emerge, notes DFC. However, DFC believes the number one obstacle has been the continued difficulty of delivering a large client to consumers. Game publishers like to talk about having millions, or even tens of millions, of registered users. For DFC registered users is almost a meaningless number. A major issue is a large portion of registered users never use the product because they are not able to get it to download and install.

DFC believes the situation with downloads will improve, and that eventually Western developers will better adapt to methods that consumers will want to pay for micro-transactions. They see the English-language F2P market reaching $2 billion by 2015.

Source: IndustryGamers