PSP Still Hunts Monsters

While the PSP business might be winding down in the U.S., in Japan it is still a hot platform. Witness the updated PSP model for Monster Hunter Portable 3rd, featuring both a stylized case, a concave analog topper and an extended battery pack.

This limited edition release is limited to Japan and will ship on December 1 for 19,800 yen ($230).

Source: Kotaku

APB Given Death Sentence

Launching in late June, expectations were high for APB. Combining a Grand Theft Auto-like setting with a compelling avatar generating system in an MMO universe seemed like it would be a winner. Sadly, the game never found its audience and it’s been shut down after less than three months.

APB has been a fantastic journey, but unfortunately that journey has come to a premature end. Today we are sad to announce that despite everyone’s best efforts to keep the service running; APB is coming to a close. It’s been a pleasure working on APB and with all its players. Together we were building an absolutely amazing game, and for that, we thank you. You guys are awesome, said Community Officer Ben Bateman in a post. From all of the Realtime Worlds staff we thank you for your continued support. The servers are still up, so join the party and say goodbye!

No buyers were found for the project after Realtime Worlds entered administration shortly after APB‘s release. Clearly, this is a failure of everyone involved: the designers for not making a better game, the producers for letting development drag on and the marketers for not properly getting the word out during the launch period.

EA’s Brown Talks DLC’s Importance

Electronic Arts’ controversial project to include a $10 online pass in all its games is vital for its future. Still EA’s chief financial officer Eric Brown said at the Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. Technology Conference in San Francisco that it could help EA monetize the large number of used game consumers out there.

“We think that used games in America at this point are perhaps 20 percent of overall business,” said Brown. “That’s not captured in any statistic. You add back 20 percent and you probably get a slightly different view of packaged goods.”

“The price is $10, which seems to be gaining user acceptance the acquisitions, the take rates are quite high, well north of 60 per cent on the titles we’ve seen so far, he continued. “There hasn’t been any significant push-back from the consumer, because I think people realize that if you’re buying a physical disc and it requires an attachment to someone else’s network and servers, people know bandwidth isn’t free. So the fact that we’re diffusing or covering online costs is not viewed to be unreasonable. We’re well into this program and there is no consumer backlash.”

What EA is more optimistic about, however, is its DLC. “We don’t expect to be able to attach an additional $10 to every used purchaser. What we’ve had more success with is a digital extension to the core product called Ultimate Team, described Brown. FIFA 10 generated just over $30 million in gross DLC sales so that’d be above and beyond the revenue that we made just selling the physical disc.

“Now that still represents a single digit uptake on revenue, but if we can take it from single digit to 20 per cent or so of the full franchise in the mid-term, that revenue on the margin is very profitable to us, he continued. “70 or 80 percent fully loaded net margin digital revenue stream, and so if we bring that well north of $30 million to 60/70 let’s say, a lot of that’s going to drop to the bottom line.”

Despite diminishing sales at retail, Brown sees the highest level titles doing better than ever and opening up even better opportunities for DLC. “Instead of selling one product with a unified $60 price point we see people buying a $60 disc and then bolting on hundreds of dollars of DLC. We’re happy to have $500 worth of extra content to sell, said Brown. There’ll generally be half a dozen different pieces of DLC available for a title, and GameStop’s in a really good position to explain to the customer what the DLC is, what pack number one and five and four and six provides, because they have a staffing model and a customer service model geared exclusively to games. So we view them as a very important current and future market partner for all forms of DLC.”

Brown also noted that the PS3 business is picking up steam and surpassing the Xbox 360. “They’re actually up about 34 percent calendar year to date, so PS3 is much stronger than the 360 which is in turn stronger than the Wii, said Brown.


PSP2 Already In Developers’ Hands

Rumors for the PSP2 have been actively swirling for months, and it’s widely believed that the portable console will have a touchscreen on the underside. Despite denials by SCE, Netherrealm Studios executive producer Shaun Himmerick almost casually confirmed the fact that they have a PSP2 development unit.

We have a PSP2 in the house and we re looking at the engine, like what can it support. Always a big thing for us is the performance, said Himmerick. We’re running at 60 fps, what can we do and do we have to build all the art assets over. We’re definitely looking at them. PSP2 looks like it s a pretty powerful machine. We don’t have a 3DS system in house yet, but we’re looking to get one, and we’ll certainly look at what its power is.

Source: IndustryGamers

Internet Explorer 9 Beta Launches

Microsoft has launched the beta of Internet Explorer 9 to the public recently. Included in the update is listing webpages as apps, jumplists for easy access to sites like Facebook and Twitter, a unified search and address bar and a new layout.

Some of the features Microsoft has added are basically playing catch-up with other browsers. Tear-off tabs, where you create a new browser window by dragging a tab out of its current window, is a great addition and standard in most other browsers. You can also consolidate regular browser tabs by dragging them back into one window. Just remember this feature does not work with sites pinned to your taskbar, writes Ian Paul. IE9 also has a new downloads manager as mentioned earlier that lets you pause, restart and cancel downloads.

However, IE9 does not work on Windows XP; it is only available for users of Vista and Windows 7.

Source: PC World

Halo Reaching For $200 Million In Sales

Microsoft has confirmed that Halo: Reach has managed $200 million in sales in Europe and the U.S. This eclipses the one-day sales mark of Halo 3, which racked up $170 million in sales.

Halo: Reach is the biggest game Microsoft has ever released, and its launch has already surpassed every game, movie and entertainment launch this year, said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. Every major installment has grown in scope and popularity, firmly cementing the Halo franchise as one of the most popular entertainment properties in the world over the past decade.

Aurora Feint Launches For Android

Aurora Feint is looking to bring its OpenFeint social game platform from iPhone to Android. This will add leaderboards, achievements, friend requests, and multiplayer gaming to over 20 games, which the game makers hope will call more attention to their titles.

We’re partnering with developers and wireless carriers to bring the best iPhone games to Android, said Jason Citron, CEO of Aurora Feint.

Source: Venture Beat

Team Ninja Girds Up

Team Ninja has revealed what its next projects will be, the next being Ninja Gaiden 3 unsurprisingly. While an image of hero Ryu Hayabusa was shown, implying he will return for the third game, no platform or release date was given, though it was stated that new details should be coming soon.

The developer also announced that its next collaborative title after Metroid: Other M will be Ni-Oh with Tecmo’s corporate partner Koei. The period samurai action game was originally announced for the PS3 in 2005; Team Ninja will collaborate with Koei founder Kou Shibusawa on the game. Finally, a version of Dead or Alive for the 3DS was confirmed.

Source: Kotaku

Kotick Hints At Activision Blizzard Movies In Near Future

Speaking at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch’s Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick talked about making Activision Blizzard the most profitable entertainment company in the world. One of the ways that might happen, he hinted, was using the same technique that crafted StarCraft II’s hour of in-game cinematics.

“If we were to take that hour, or hour and a half, take it out of the game, theorized Kotick. And we were to go to our audiences for whom we have their credit card information as well as a direct relationship and ask, ‘Would you like to have the StarCraft movie ‘, my guess is that . . . you’d have the biggest opening weekend of any film ever.”

Kotick noted that they could side-step the theatrical distribution model and sell to customers online, with a $20 or $30 price tag thrown out. “Within the next five years, you are likely to see us do that. That may be in partnership with somebody, it may be alone,” said Kotick.

“There will be a time where we capitalize on the relationship that we have with our audience, and deliver them something that is really extraordinary and let them consume it directly through us instead of theatrical distribution,” noted Kotick, adding that even if they distributed movies to consumers’ homes, “an extremely high percentage [of consumers] would then go to the theater then watch it again. That’s the nature of our consumer — a very enthusiast consumer.”

Kotick’s intent is to clearly keep as much money in house as possible, avoiding all the usual catches with Hollywood collaboration, like movie studios, film distributors and big-name actors. “For starters, our virtual characters don’t have agents, they don’t have managers, they don’t have lawyers,” said Kotick, noting inefficiencies in the way movies and TV shows do reshoots. “Our business is the exact opposite,” he said. “We can iterate and test and iterate and test until we get a really great result. And if you have the scale, the resources, capability and discipline that we have, that ensures a much better commercial result.”

Source: Gamasutra