Netflix Nixing DVD Queue Management From Consoles

Netflix has allowed users to manage their DVD Queue from streaming devices, such as game consoles. Netflix has announced that they’re withdrawing this feature from streaming devices; users will now have to add DVDs from the Netflix web site.

“We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly,” writes Jamie Odell, director of product management at Netflix. “Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming functionality.”


Ubisoft Gets Smurf’d

Ubisoft has announced that they are collaborating with Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation to make a game based upon the upcoming movie The Smurfs. Aimed at the DS and Wii, the game mirrors the plot of the movie, where the Smurfs have been chased by Gargamel into Central Park.

We look forward to continuing our work with Ubisoft in the video game space, said Mark Caplan, Vice President, Consumer Products at Sony Pictures Consumer Products. The Smurfs video game will provide kids and families around the world with hours of enjoyment.

We’re thrilled to be working with Lafig Belgium and Sony Pictures on the Smurfs license. Our ongoing partnership with Sony Pictures Consumer Products allows us to create fun and entertaining video games based on some of the most popular family films, said Christian Salomon, vice president of worldwide licensing at Ubisoft. Ubisoft’s creative team is working hard on crafting the perfect video game experience that will appeal to new and old fans of The Smurfs.

THQ’s Bilson Says New Consoles ‘Would Be Horrible’

Typically, the way that the console business cycle has gone is that every five years, a new generation has launched and forced developers to adapt to new platforms. While that cycle appears to have stopped with this console generation, EVP Core Games at THQ Danny Bilson thinks that launching new platforms in a few years would be a disaster.

“It would be horrible,” said Bilson. “But I think they all know our model’s broken anyway. It still costs us a fortune to make games on this platform. If they’re going to up the scale, up the art, up the content, I don’t know how to make that and sell it to anybody for under $100 a game.”

“Who wants to do that?” he asked. “It’s bad for everybody.”

Bilson argues that now that the technology of consoles is down pat, developers can concentrate on being creative. “Stability of technology allows for the fruition and the growth of creative,” he declared. “We’re not having to invest all of our focus, and, oh my god, how are we going to deal with that new technology? We understand it. We still have guys trying to squeeze it to do cooler stuff, but it puts the weight of the mission under creative, which ultimately should get us more interesting and more creative stuff.”

“That’s the trick. We’re not going to get beat by another hardware upgrade like every five years like it was before. There will be little things. It’s up to us to compete in graphics and creativity. Sometimes I hope good creativity and style will be able to be more important. It is more important,” he continued. “As long as we’re creatively satisfied as gamers by what we’re getting, I’m really satisfied,” he added. “I still see cooler stuff, better stuff. So much is in the software engineering and working with the technology. I look at games and I go, wow, how did they get such great characters?”

Source: Eurogamer

Feature: Taking Pocket God Social

Pocket God has been one of those success stories of the App Store, catapulting Bolt Creative with its success. Looking to expand on the success, they tapped Frima to bring the game to Facebook and they worked with them on adapting the game to the new platform. We talked to Frima’s Senior Brand Director Jake Theis and CEO Steve Couture about Pocket God, social games and more.

Talk to me a bit about the success you’ve had with Pocket God so far on Facebook.

Jake Theis: We’re kind of in a really interesting space. You see things cropping up on new platforms a lot now and this was such a good opportunity. We saw they were offering this and it was obvious they were passionate about the brand. They’ve obviously been successful on iPhone and we saw a tremendous opportunity for Facebook.

Why did you think Facebook was a good spot for Pocket God? Are you seeing new users or cross overs from the mobile version?

Jake Theis: We’re definitely seeing both. [Pocket God] has this enormous user base; people are checking in on the game from Bolt’s blog. Facebook as a gaming platform is immense and there’s a large audience for this sort of experience; it’s a very simple game but rewarding. We can’t have all the tactile features of the iPhone game but we’re able to offer things iPhone doesn’t; we have something with leveling and progression that pays off weeks and months from now. It’s a great solo play for iPhone, but we have some more intimate features with Facebook. You can talk to your friends, or spawn pygmies based around people you know and, say, throw them in a volcano or drop a shark on your boss’ head and then you can let them know it!

Are you pleased with the response to Pocket God for Facebook so far?

Jake Theis: Yeah, absolutely. We see the opportunities to grow. Soon, we’ll reach the 10 million pygmies kill mark in the game. We’re digging into stats like that, like how many times people use certain features, and it really tells us how to build things up.

Do you think there’s a good natural connection there between Facebook games and mobile games?

Jake Theis: Absolutely! From an industry standpoint, we see it going both ways. People are buying into the brand on iPhone and then bringing it to Facebook. You’ll probably see more mobile conversions of Facebook titles too. It’s a mistake to launch an iPhone game on Facebook, though; it’s good to take a concept of a game on iPhone and adapt it to Facebook. You have to use the medium to the best of your abilities.

We’ve noticed you’ve done work for several different platforms.

Jake Theis: That’s one of the great things about our company; when we see an opportunity, be it working with others or our own brand, we can take it on. We think there’s a lot of opportunities there on consoles. As new technology becomes available, we consider it for development.

Steve Couture: We have a great R&D team, we can launch on most every free platform; it’s more a question of business model. We do a lot of work for hire, yes, but also our own stuff. In this case, Bolt’s really been a great partner. They’re playing it and giving us feedback. There’s also all the data, which is very valuable. Jake, for instance, has been killed hundreds of times and on a typical day 360k friends are killed in the game!

What has to be considered when launching a game on Facebook as opposed to other mediums?

Steve Couture: Facebook is a social environment, but we don’t necessarily make the [games] social. They’re not as social as MMOs; you can’t chat with your friends, so the social components are not in real time. You need to make a social experience but you also need to have a deep gameplay experience with your friends. We need to use a technology that is simple, like with Flash. Our statistics show that if people have to download an external player, they’ll probably leave. So we need to use a technology that’s in wide use like Flash. The new version will make Flash more immersive, but for now it’s very basic for gameplay components, so we need to be careful.

For Pocket God, there were some really neat features, like shaking your iPhone to create an Earthquake; obviously you can’t do that with your laptop! Things are adapted to the mouse to produce some of the effects of the Facebook game; it’s about bringing the spirit [of the game] onto the new platform.

How is creating titles for the downloadable environment different for the PSP?

Jake Theis: We’ve had great, great reviews for Space Shooter For 2 Bucks; we’re getting a lot of love for truth in advertising. That’s the first touchstone with the game. For a game like Pocket God on Facebook, we released the game once we were comfortable with it and we’re going to continue developing it, but [for consoles] initially you have to overwhelm them with value. Space Shooter touches something that’s familiar, but you can also trick out your ship, so it twists it on its ear, and it’s open ended with randomly generated levels. You’re able to explore, too. [A console game] has to be really solid from the start.

Steve Couture: This is one of the biggest differences between social games and console titles. For the console, it needs to be as complete as possible, but on social games, you don’t launch with 100 percent of the features you want; you want to react to the metrics and the player patterns in the games. You want to figure out what they’re doing with the game, then you can create the game based upon what your players want. It’s less the feel of the game designer; its designed by the market instead. We see this as a new trend.

How are the players different on each of the platforms?

Jake Theis: Each platform has its own customer base: console gaming is big but so is Facebook gaming. We have passionate iPhone users, as well. They’re mostly separate but there are places where the Venn diagram overlaps. I think the general feeling is, when you do the console title, you’re painting a painting, but for social games, you’re painting a mural that’s never ending.

With console games, most of the heavy lifting is done before release, but it almost seems like it’s better to plan for changes over time.

Jake Theis: Launching a console title is like Christmas day, but social games are like having Christmas 52 weeks a year!

What do you look for when changing social games?

Jake Theis: The first thing I’m looking forward to in the morning is the statistics and what people are doing. One of the things we look at are what powers people are using and unlocking. As we get a better idea of what people do, it’ll dictate what people would like to do. We have social quests that will have more direct ways to get new items and quests, which is really popular, but we’re going to have something similar that you do with your friends in huge projects; that’s driven by what’s popular.

So word of mouth is generally what you rely on to get the word out.

Jake Theis: There’s traditionally the seep of gaming news and there’s also conferences and other things. There’s also talking to fine reporters from established media sources! We do t-shirts, promotional items… I don’t think we’ve unlocked some new marketing. Reviews are very important, I’d like to add.

Talk to me about growing the company, and your extension onto new platforms.

Steve Couture: Most of what we do is work-for-hire for entertainment companies. We appreciate that business, and we want to work with independent partners like with Pocket God, but we want to do more where we own the IP; in short term, this is what we are doing, and Jake is here to manage this part of the business. We’re building a new division for special FX for television and 3D animation for the next generation of gaming console in 4-5 years, when we’ll probably be managing a lot more polygons. The special FX that’s in movies is what you’ll see on the next generation of platforms; that’s part of our growth. We’re 260 people and we’re still hiring as we continue to grow the business.

Guys, thank you for your time.

_ _

Are you a fan of Pocket God How do you feel about games from iPhone being ported to Facebook and vice versa  Join the conversation on our Facebook page!

Dead Space: Aftermath — Stross Clip

The Red Marker caused hallucinations in Issac in Dead Space, and that sets up the scenario for the planet of Aegis VII before he arrived. Check out this clip of Dead Space: Aftermath and try to guess where scientist Stross makes a huge mistake.

Final Fantasy XIII-2 Debuts In English

Watching the beginning part of this trailer is like watching the last few moments of a movie unless you’re familiar with the context, it can be a bit confusing. Still, images of this direct sequel are set up, and it certainly looks very pretty.

We had the trailer here, but unfortunately Square Enix removed the embed (not such a smart marketing move when people want to spread the word and show the trailer to friends…), so we’ll direct you to the official site where you can watch it.

Kongregate App Cut From Android Market

Almost as suddenly as it launched, the Kongregate Arcade app was removed from the Android Market store. Google claims the app violates the developer agreement of the Android Market store and Kongregate is working to restore it.

As reported earlier today, the Kongregate Arcade app was launched on the Android Market and was enthusiastically received by the gaming community, receiving 4.5 out of 5 stars, said Kongregate. Tens of thousands of users successfully downloaded the new app but, due to unknown reasons, Google has pulled it from the Market. Gamers wishing to experience Kongregate Arcade will be happy to learn it is now available for download at

Source: Joystiq

Zynga Opens Up RewardVille

Zynga has announced the launch of a new rewards program at While currently in beta mode, this new program will reward people who play certain Zynga titles with points that can be redeemed for virtual items.

“As a company focused on innovation we’re constantly testing new products and features, said Zynga in a statement. When experimenting with new products we take the feedback we receive and apply it to deliver the best possible user experience. We look forward to hearing how our users like RewardVille.”

Source: Inside Social Games

Batman Faces Off Against Bane, Catwoman In Next Movie

Warner Bros. announced today that Selina Kyle (better known as Catwoman) has been cast for the upcoming film The Dark Knight Rises. Joining her will be Tom Hardy, who will play the manipulative and dangerous Bane.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Anne Hathaway, who will be a fantastic addition to our ensemble as we complete our story, said Nolan. “I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies.”