Warcraft Jabbing Tagline ‘Well-Intended Humor’ Says Trion

Trion’s Rift launched with an ad campaign tagline of “We’re not in Azeroth anymore.” While this might sound standoffish, Trion’s Scott Hartsman claims it mostly designed for a good laugh.

“For starters, I loved the campaign. When I first saw the campaign pitch I laughed my ass off. Very bluntly. We saw it and went, ‘Wow there’s no way we can do that. That means we have to do that’,” said Hartsman. “If people take it too literally and don’t take it as the well-intended humor it really is, it does invite people to go, ‘Oh well, if they re going to say that, then I’m going to make a checklist, and I’m going to go ding ding ding ding.”

For any company that’s starting out, trying to get attention in a very crowded marketplace, you have to do something to get attention and I think that campaign really helped us stand out,” he added. “And that’s really what we needed. So in that regard, I think it did its job phenomenally.”

Read more about the Rift campaign in the feature here.

Source: IndustryGamers {link no longer active}

Top Spin 4 Gets 2K Open Contest

2K Sports has announced a their 2K Open Contest for Top Spin 4. This contest will allow users to compete for a chance to win a fully paid trip to the 2011 U.S. Open at Flushing Meadows, New York.

To participate, players must compete in online matches in Top Spin 4‘s ranked 2K Open mode. At the end of the day on April 30, the two users with the highest ranking on the 2K Open Leaderboard {link no longer active} will be deemed the 2K Open Contest’s semi-finalists and awarded a fully paid trip to the 2011 U.S. Open; the two will then play a Final Match and the winner will be crowned the 2K Open Champion.

Microsoft Planning Free-To-Play Xbox Live Titles: Report

According to internal sources, Microsoft will release free-to-play games over Xbox Live. These games will be released for free and generate income via the purchase of content like items and other perks.

Originally, Microsoft title Kinect Joy Ride was going to be a F2P title, supported by customization purchases. F2P titles run the gamut on PC right now, from MMOs of all sorts to shooters and racing games.

Source: IGN

Cisco Turns Off The Flip

Cisco Systems has announced that they are shutting down their Flip video camera line, only two years after purchasing Flip creator Pure Digital for a half billion in 2009.  FlipShare users are promised a transition plan.

In an age where mobile phones have their own video recording, their convenience, storage capacity, location features and Internet connectivity trump the video quality of dedicated recorders like the Flip. 550 employes will apparently be laid off as a result of this decision.

Source: PC World

Social Games Are ‘Designer’s Paradise’ Says Zynga’s Brian Reynolds

Facebook games are often sneered at for their design by hardcore gamers, but Zynga chief games designer Brian Reynolds says that many in the industry are starting to feel the exact opposite. With the ability to put games out in front of people in months rather than years, he says that designers are perhaps more important in social games than AAA games.

“One of the things I do is I recruit very senior game designers into Zynga and what I’ve found is a growing interest that people are realizing that there’s actually more game design to be done. This is work at the cutting edge of a new space,” said Reynolds. “A game designer is actually more important on a social game than on a triple-A game because on a triple-A game you spend a lot of time making technology and tools and gigabytes worth of animations and things like that, and I can remember whole months going by where they didn’t need me to do any game design whereas on social games it’s a game designer’s paradise.”

“We invent new things and try them out very quickly. I tell the young game designers, ‘Listen, you come here, you’ll have ideas, and then 2 months later they’ll be in front of millions of people.’ On a live game it might be a little bit longer but even then 2 months is actually the slow version and that’s if it’s a really big idea. This is a great place to come if you want to try new ideas and see results quickly and if you want to see things shipped and in front of players,” Reynolds continued. “This is an industry now where we’re able to talk to audiences that we’ve never been able to talk to, much larger audiences. People that we were never able to interest in games are now interested in games. I was talking this week with a very veteran and well known games designer and he was saying, ‘Wow, I’m really jealous of you guys because you’re achieving what’s been my lifelong dream, which is to make a game that tens of millions of people can play’.”

“So I feel like when game developers actually take a look inside they like what they see. I got into this the same way I got into every kind of game I’ve ever made, which is, they were the kinds of games I was playing. In 2008 I got into Facebook and I was like, ‘Wow, this is awesome. What is this This is mind-blowingly different.’ And then I found out you can make games on Facebook and I was like ‘Sign me up’,” concluded Reynolds.

Source: IndustryGamers {link no longer active}

Monopoly Millionaires Gets Prius Gifts

Electronic Arts has announced that they have signed a 12-month partnership with Toyota Motor Sales. This agreement will see the Toyota Prius and Toyota Prius Eco-Greenhouse as giftable virtual items within the Monopoly Millionaires social game.

“Monopoly and Toyota are two iconic brands and I m delighted to help bring them together,” said Joy Taylor, Global Director, Marketing Solutions at Electronic Arts. “Toyota, and Prius in particular, has a huge, devoted following that will get genuine value out of this partnership. We’re connecting one of the world’s most loved cars, with one of the world s most loved games, on the world s largest social media platform. It’s very exciting.”

“We’re excited to continue our successful partnership with EA through the Monopoly Millionaires game platform,” said Kim Kyaw, Senior Media Strategist for Toyota. “The Toyota in-game experience allows us to tap into consumers memories of Hasbro s iconic Monopoly game while broadening the reach and appeal of Prius to all ages and lifestyles. The social nature of Monopoly Millionaires on Facebook will help us achieve that.”

Find out more at facebook.com/monopolymillionaires.

Facebook Advertising Cost Increased 40% In 2011

According to a report from Efficient Frontier, Facebook has increased the cost of advertising on the site. It’s virtual monopoly among social networks in the U.S. has led to a 40 percent jump in cost-per-click in the first quarter of 2011.

Efficient Frontier based this data on a subset of the company s client roster called the Customer Index. They handle over a $1 billion in annual marketing spending on behalf of clients like Discover, Baby Center and Crate & Barrel.

The report says that advertisers see a tremendous value in the ads, despite issues with click-through rate compared to other banner ads. Last year, Facebook served up 50 billion banner ads per month and generated $1.86 billion in advertising revenues in 2010.

The report also stated that search engine marketing grew 17 percent year-over-year, primarily because of increases in the retail and finance categories. Also display advertising showed a 300 percent increase in exchange ad inventory and a 30 percent CPM decline, attributed to greater gains in reach and efficiency within the ad exchanges.

Source: Mashable

Mass Effect 3 Promises Dark Tone

The story of Mass Effect 2 set up the epic conclusion to the sci-fi series with hints at the impending Reaper invasion. The tone of the game will grow even darker in the series third game, executive producer Casey Hudson reveals.

“Yeah [the tone continues]. I don’t want to say it’s hopelessness, but it’s that sense of, given the scale of what you’re fighting, how can you possibly win It’s going to take so much coordination and so much force,” said Hudson. “Whereas Mass Effect 2 was sort of stylishly dark – cool and slick, this is much more of a full-scale war feel. You don’t really have the luxuries, and you don’t have the sense that you can for sure win. Deep down, you know that it’s going to get ugly and there are things that are going to be lost, even if you win.”

While the intention is to make the story feel hopeless Hudson indicates that there is a reason to believe later. “If I tell you that reason to believe right now, then the story up front doesn’t make sense when you play, because you’re waiting for X to happen,” said Hudson. “That’s thing we don’t want to reveal.”

Source: GameInformer

3DS Will Not Match DS, Says Analyst

IHS Screen Digest believes that the 3DS will have a global installed base of 11.6 million units by the end of 2011. However, they have come out and said that they don’t believe that the console will match the success of the DS.

“While this represents strong performance, growing competition from the iPod, iPhone and Android smart phone and tablets will prevent the 3DS from matching the sales of the previous-generation Nintendo handheld, the DS,” said analyst Piers Harding-Rolls. “Nintendo’s accent on network services in the key US market represents an attempt to convince users to carry their 3DS systems with them at all times and to engage with the platform everyday and in every place.

“This engagement strategy, alongside 3D graphics, camera and video, is key to Nintendo competing with upcoming devices from Sony and also from non-specialist smart phones, entertainment devices and tablets, which offer a legitimate alternative to handheld consoles, added Harding Rolls.

Guitar Hero On ‘Hiatus’ Says Activision

Activision rather unceremoniously disbanded their Guitar Hero unit after Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock and DJ Hero 2 underperformed expectations. However, despite the lack of new Guitar Hero games for the first time in several years, Activision indicates they’re not done with the brand.

“Actually, just to clarify, we’re just putting Guitar Hero on hiatus, we’re not ending it, said Activision VP of developer relations Dan Winters. We’re releasing products out of the vault – we’ll continue to sustain the channel, the brand won’t go away. We’re just not making a new one for next year, that’s all.”

Source: GamesIndustry.biz