Insomniac Talks Bigger Audience in Social Sector

Insomniac recently formed their Click division as an attempt to reach the larger social and mobile audience. Chief creative officer Brian Hastings offered some comments as to why the AAA developer was moving in this direction.

“That core audience isn’t really expanding much and the total dollars each core gamer spends isn’t going up,” said Hastings. “So as triple-A budgets inflate, each developer has to steal players away from other games in order to simply keep their revenues above their costs. The only long term viable solution for all parties would be to expand the audience. I’m not in the doom-and-gloom camp in terms of the health of the console market, but I do think it’s becoming increasingly challenging in that space. It’s getting to the point where only the very best triple-A console games are profitable. And, of course, it’s increasingly expensive to make the very best games. So not every developer can survive.

The main reason I believe it s important – even necessary – to expand into the social sector is that there is simply a bigger audience there, he added. Because triple-A games are necessarily complex they have a fairly predefined audience of core gamers. That core audience isn t really expanding much and the total dollars each core gamer spends isn t going up, so as triple-A budgets inflate, each developer has to steal players away from other games in order to simply keep their revenues above their costs. The only long term viable solution for all parties would be to expand the audience.


Burger King Parts Ways With Agency

Burger King has announced that they are parting ways with their advertising company of seven years. The partnership developed notable campaigns like Subservient Chicken, the Facebook stunt Whopper Sacrifice, and the plastic-faced “King” mascot.

“Burger King Corp. and Crispin Porter & Bogusky have enjoyed a tremendously successful relationship over the past seven and a half years, said a joint statement. During that time, our creative partnership resulted in countless innovative and engaging campaigns for the BK brand. We are incredibly proud of all that we have accomplished together, but have mutually decided that now is the right time to part ways. We are fans of each other’s work and wish each other much success in the future.”

Burger King has been going through some tumultuous changes in the past year and a half, having three different VP-Global Chief Marketing Officer and a change in the marketing department to align the company’s global brand marketing and global operations teams.

Source: Ad Age


Zynga: Xbox Live’s Demographic ‘Too Small’

Zynga has made a fortune by piled by appealing to the masses of Facebook with their titles. As Zynga’s Chief Game Designer Brian Reynolds says, Xbox Live (which is roughly 5 percent the size of Facebook as far as number of users) doesn’t have the reach to make it worth it.

“We’re after a lot of demographic, says Reynolds. If I explain what we think is the core magic of social, I think that will explain the relative attraction, or the lens through which we view the relative attraction of different platforms. The thing that seems to make social gaming and networking magical is the fact that all my friends are potentially there and they might see the things that I’m posting or doing or expressing.

“[Xbox Live’s] too small a demographic, continued Reynolds. Think about, of my friends, how many of them own an Xbox 360 Well, I’m a game developer and I even come from a triple-A space so we might even be in the double digits… Twenty or maybe even thirty percent of my friends might have an Xbox 360, but effectively 100 percent of them have Facebook and effectively 100 percent of them have a mobile phone. Of them, probably 90 percent have a smartphone.

“So when you think about the social potential of a platform . . . if we made a game on Xbox Live, I think – forgetting about the fact that I might have an artificially high percentage of friends that do it because of what my profession is – the number of anyone’s friends that’s going to be able to participate in the social experience is going to be a very small number so the amount of social capital that there is isn’t going to be very high, he detailed. That’s why right now we’re on Facebook for sure, and mobile is the obvious next place for us to go because it is an inherently social platform. I mean, we’ve got to be on several different kinds of platforms, but especially if we can figure out a way to have people socialize cross-platform. Then, hey, we’re helping with the problem. We’re helping people socialize that wouldn’t be able to.”

Source: IndustryGamers

WWE All-Stars Million Dollar Pre-Order

THQ has announced a pre-order bonus for WWE All-Stars on PS3 and Xbox 360. Those that pre-order the game at GameStop will receive a code to download the Million Dollar Pack featuring both WWE Hall of Famer Ted “Million Dollar Man” DiBiase and his son current RAW star, Ted DiBiase Jr.

We really had no choice, reads the release by THQ. When it came to being the only pre-order exclusive for WWE All Stars, ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase reassured us that ‘everybody s got a price!’ Along with his son Ted DiBiase Jr., this duo can make your WWE All Stars experience a priceless one if you pre-order at Gamestop!

Find out more at GameStop online!

Nintendo Draws Line Doing ‘Business With The Garage Developer’

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata made waves at GDC when he warned the industry against the dangers of low quality social and mobile games. Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime is reinforcing that, saying there’s a definite line they want to draw between who they want to deal with and who they do not.

“I would separate out the true independent developer vs. the hobbyist,” says Fils-Aime. “We are absolutely reaching out to the independent developer. Where we’ve drawn the line is we are not looking to do business today with the garage developer. In our view, that s not a business we want to pursue.”

“Look at the music industry,” he noted. “There are certainly highly talented people who work other jobs and have a passion to be in the music industry. They work at it. There are reality TV shows that revolve around this concept. I love it when there’s a game that’s found that captures people’s imagination, just like that singer toiling in a factory.”

The problem, as Fils-Aime sees it, is that current market trends with cheap and free game apps imply that games have little to no worth. “When we talk about the value of software, it could be a great $1 piece of content or a $50 piece of content,” he says. “The point is: Does it maintain its value over time or is it such disposable content that the value quickly goes to zero We want consumers to see value in the software, whatever that appropriate value is. And we want to see that value maintained over time.”

Meanwhile, Fils-Aime denied any plans of Nintendo to replace the Wii. “The Wii has a long life in front of it,” he says. “We’re still sitting at $199. There are a variety of marketing tools at our disposal.”

Source: Gamasutra

Ubisoft Expects 3DS To Be Bigger Than DS

Ubisoft has managed to make the most of the launch of many of the last few major hardware releases, and they plan to do so again with the 3DS with eight different titles in the launch period. While this includes Ghost Recon: Shadow Wars and Splinter Cell 3D, Ubisoft brand manager Jan Sanghera thinks titles like Rabbids: Travel in Time 3D and Rayman 3D will have a great effect long term.

Given the innovation that s inside a 3DS and what it has to offer, it s difficult to imagine a scenario where the 3DS isn t bigger than the original, said Ubisoft brand manager Jan Sanghera. We re expecting the 3DS to have a broad consumer appeal from launch and, as such, have ensured we offer a variety of titles. We ve historically been a leader in games developed for new Nintendo platforms, and with eight games available during launch and more to come, we hope to maintain this position.

Nintendo is offering more than just something that appeals to the core gamer, she said. 3D itself will be a massive draw, but also with its connected digital features that allow not just social gaming gaming experiences, but also the ability to download and consume much more. We d expect 3DS to compete strongly in the broader handheld category, offering a wide range of good reasons for consumers to purchase it. All of which is brilliant news for third party publishers.

Source: MCV

Anarchy Reigns With Baron

Sometimes you’ll see game characters that tread the fine line between unnecessary excessive stereotype and cheeky super parody. Considering the level of seriousness surrounding Anarchy Reigns (read: not very) and the exaggerated nature of all the characters so far, we’re willing to go with the latter for Baron.

Oscar Winner Nearly Part Of Heavy Rain

Heavy Rain recently won three BAFTA awards for Original Music, Story and Technical Innovation, and won general acclaim for its mature story and cinematic flair. While the group of lesser known actors did a great job of carrying the story, there were options for better known actors.

“I’m interested in doing that if these people respect the medium, and come with a will of using their full talent and skills – not just to get some cash. With David Bowie [for Omikron: The Nomad Soul], he was fascinated by the medium, the game and the experience from a creative point of view, said David Cage, Heavy Rain Director. “There were some business things involved, of course, but that was not his motivation. He invested a lot of time, gave us ten original songs, voice-overs, motion capture and more. He had a real respect for what we wanted to achieve.”

“That level of respect is very difficult to find these days,” he added. “When you go to famous people, their first reaction is: ‘Give me one million dollars and I’m going to think about it.’ That’s not my approach. It’s not even a financial issue. At the end of the day, you may say: ‘Okay, one million, fine, he’s so talented he’s worth it.’ But if these people don’t understand what you’re trying to achieve, if they’re not interested in the creative adventure, there is no respect. If we’re talking about actors, I prefer to work with younger guys who are committed to working hard. They want to experience to succeed because they are at another stage in their career, rather than having an old famous actor who doesn’t care about anything but money.”

When pressed, Cage did admit to trying to bring on someone who had won an Oscar. “There were some discussions with big names on Heavy Rain, and it didn’t work out, said Cage. Again, that was not for financial reasons – but for the reasons I explain. At some point, we got the feeling that we didn’t get what we wanted in terms of commitment and talent. We decided to stop the process and it was not an easy decision, because when you have incredibly famous with established talent, it’s someone that every [customer] would recognize.”

“But at the same time, if he gives you just a tiny part of his talent, that is below your expectations it’s never easy to say: ‘Look. I don’t think this is working.’ He can say: ‘Who are you to tell me this ‘ But then I can say: ‘Well I’m the director of this game, and you should respect the director of a game the same way you respect the director of a movie.’ If that’s not the case, it’s just not going to work, he said.

Source: CVG

Valve Talks Half-Life Movie

There have been some interesting fan takes on a Half-Life movie, but nothing has ever materialized from Hollywood. Speaking during a recent Steamcast, Valve CEO Gabe Newell said that he was open to the idea, but it would have to be based on an interesting idea.

“Certainly it’s something we’ve talked about a bunch, said Newell. The problem that we have is the same problem we have when we were having this conversations with people outside is we need to have an interesting movie in mind before we commit to it. There’s really so little value to making a bad movie about anything.

“I know it’s super exciting if somebody shows up and says: ‘Hey we want to option your movie and we’ve got a director and a writer attached to it, blah blah blah,’ he continues. it sounds really exciting, and then you sort of take a step back and say: ‘There has been a lot of really bad, bad, bad video game movies made and the world doesn’t need another one.’ I think that applying that test to anything we do is just as valuable as applying the test to any of the proposals that we ever say.”


Hitman 5 Teased In ARG

There’s a full Hitman ARG going on right now, started by a catalog at the Sundance Film Festival with a picture of box of doughnuts featuring a barcode ending in 47, and a branding of “Hitman Series.” When the advertiser was inquired, what was sent was more paperwork, another barcode, and Agent 47’s black gloves.

What else could it be

An IO Interactive community manager is teasing what all this might mean, but nothing has been confirmed at this point. It’s widely believe the Hitman game will be revealed at E3 2011.

Source: OXM