Bilbo Cast For Hobbit Movies

While the issue of where the two Hobbit movies will be filmed is very much up in the air, more clear is who will be playing the principle parts. As rumored, Martin Freeman (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Hot Fuzz, Love Actually) has been cast as Bilbo Baggins, the adventurous Hobbit who happens across the One Ring.

“Despite the various rumors and speculation surround this role, there has only ever been one Bilbo Baggins for us,” said director Peter Jackson. There are a few times in your career when you come across an actor who you know was born to play a role, but that was the case as soon as I met Martin. He is intelligent, funny, surprising and brave — exactly like Bilbo and I feel incredibly proud to be able to announce that he is our Hobbit.”

Other major castings include Richard Armitage (MI-5 and Captain America: The First Avenger) as Thorin Oakenshield, leader of the Company of Dwarves seeking to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from a dragon. “Richard is one of the most exciting and dynamic actors working on screen today and we know he is going to make an amazing Thorin Oakenshield, said Jackson. We cannot wait to start this adventure with him and feel very lucky that one of the most beloved characters in Middle Earth is in such good hands.”

Meanwhile, Aidan Turner (Being Human) and Rob Kazinsky (EastEnders) have been cast as Kili and Fili, more members of the Company of Dwarves. “Rob is an extremely talented young actor with a huge career in front of him. I’m thrilled that he has agreed to take on the role of Fili, said Jackson. Besides his talent as an actor, Rob is also a champion sword fighter and I’m looking forward to seeing the damage he can do to a horde of marauding Goblins … Aidan is a wonderfully gifted young actor who hails from Ireland. I’m sure he will bring enormous heart and humor to the role of Kili.”

Other Company of Dwarves membesr will include Graham McTavish (Secretariat) as Dwalin, John Callen (Power Rangers Jungle Fury) as Oin, Stephen Hunter (All Saints) as Bombur, Mark Hadlow (King Kong) as Dori, and Peter Hambleton (The Strip) as Gloin. “Graham is a terrific actor, with a great depth of experience, which I know he will bring to the role of Dwalin, Jackson noted. I have worked with Mark Hadlow on many projects, he is a fantastic actor…I am also proud to annoucne the casting of New Zealand actors as Peter Hambleton, John Callen and Stephen Hunter. Fran and I know that they will bring great depth and talent to our Company of Dwarves.”

Other choice roles like Gandalf, Gollum, Smaug, and the Elf King have still yet to be officially cast.

Source: Deadline

PlaySpan Picks Up NCsoft Titles

PlaySpan has announced that it will be distributing titles from NCsoft for digital distribution. This includes the recently profiled Guild Wars series, City of Heroes: Going Rogue Complete Collection and Aion: Assault on Balaurea.

“PlaySpan provides us with the opportunity to expand the reach of our paying audience,” said Keri Taylor, NCSoft Director of North American Sales. “With a vibrant community and a large selection of payment methods, their Marketplace offers the opportunity to monetize players we couldn t otherwise acquire.”

“Our goal is to provide end to end Monetization-as-a-Service solutions for our game industry partners,” said Karl Mehta, CEO of PlaySpan. “From the Marketplace on the front end to catalog management, contextual merchandising and payment solutions on the backend we have the entire spectrum covered in one integrated platform.”

Social Gaming Fund Launched For $250 Million

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is launching a $250 million fund dedicated to investing in social-related startups. They will work with Amazon.com, Facebook, Zynga, Comcast, Liberty Media, and Allen & Co. as partners to help grow the space.

Bing Gordon, former Electronic Arts chief creative officer and Kleiner Perkins partner, says that this will be just the beginning of this new initiative, since he sees the growth of Facebook usage as ready to explode in the coming years. While the fund has already grown hugely in the past couple years, Kleiner Perkins partner John Doerr says “that this social gaming fund was only starting now because, with the arrival of Zynga, we discovered (that the social) application opportunity was going to be enormous.”

Source: PaidContent.org {link no longer active}

Alan Wake Developer Talks Expectations And Marketing

Alan Wake was a survival horror game a long time in development (it was first revealed in E3 2005) but it ultimately met most critical expectations. Despite early expectations that it would have more of an open world, Remedy’s managing director Matias Myllyrine was generally pleased with how the game came out.

“I’m really happy with some of the things; for example in terms of the mood and the story and the setting, I think we did achieve what we went for,” said Myllyrine. “We were very close to what we had in the beginning in terms of feel, mood and atmosphere. We had these three central themes from the very beginning. One was a strong sense of character in the writer. The writer felt like a natural choice because we’d used that in-game monologue before, and the writer’s a natural storyteller so it’s like his story.”

On the sacrifice of a larger world for more concentrated narration, Myllyrine noted, “It’s better to land where we landed than [get a] lukewarm response. There’s a Bill Cosby quote – he said something along the lines of he doesn’t know the key to success but he knows the key to failure is to try and please everybody. I think, luckily, we certainly didn’t land there.”

Still, the game only sold 145,000 units in its first month, a sign that the game may have had promotional issues. “I think we could have benefited from maybe being able to have an even crisper communication of what the game does, and we should have probably backed that up with stronger advertising about what’s unique about this game,” said Myllyrine.

Source: IGN

Sony Sees 2.5 Million Move Units Shipped

Sony confirmed recently that the PlayStation Move has sold over one million units to retail in America. This makes for a total of 2.5 million shipped when including Europe.

Jack Tretton, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, indicates that demand is outstripping supply and that Sony does not expect to catch up until February. “We had to go back and increase production twice, we’re absolutely maxed out right now,” said Tretton.

“We believe consumers have already shown their preference for a precise, interactive game experience, added Tretton. We are on target to meet our end of year goals and expect sales to increase as our publishers and developers continue to update popular titles and introduce new games.

Source: Reuters

Angry Birds Publisher Acquired By EA

Electronic Arts has purchased Chillingo, which has been confirmed by EA spokeswoman Holly Rockwood. The U.K. publisher of Angry Birds has focused on iOS games and was reportedly acquired for $20 million in cash, though that has not been confirmed.

“By acquiring Chillingo, EA Mobile is increasing its market leadership on the Apple Platform as well as reaffirming its position as the world s leading wireless entertainment publisher,” said EA in a statement. “This acquisition will combine Chillingo s expertise in cultivating the ideas of independent developers with EA s global mobile publishing reach.”

Angry Birds developer Rovio does retain the rights to the game, so it won’t be published by EA. The developer will no longer work with Chillingo.

Source:  LA Times

Blizzard Offers Direct Download Of Cataclysm

It seems like the entire world is getting amped up for the next WoW expansion from Blizzard. The developer said at its BlizzCon event that it’s going to be taking pre-orders for WoW: Cataclysm on its official store.

Gamers can download all of the expansion’s files in advance of the official December 7 release. Then, when December 7 arrives, those who pre-ordered can blissfully skip the installation and patching process.

This means subscribers should be able to play pretty much instantly when Blizzard flips the switch on the servers.

Mouse vs. Cat: Fight!

Cute little hand-drawn fight animations have been around almost since the internet has existed and now YouTube helps proliferate them even more. Here’s a cute Street Fighter take-off, featuring a cat and a mouse.