A Marriage Of Awkwardness

In celebration of the long awaited remake of the 1981 Warner Brothers bachelor gone wild classic Arthur, on Facebook fans of the upcoming new release were asked to submit their most hilarious and awkward wedding photos to be eligible for a contest to win a package of Arthur-inspired wedding gifts (i.e. a luxury bath set).  Finalists have been selected and fans have been asked to vote as many times as they’d like to decide the winner before April 7, 2011 at 11:59 PST.  Partnered with the internet photo blog phenomenon Awkward Family Photos, the winner will also receive a copy of the Awkward Family Photos book.

Puppies! Kittens! Your New Friends In 3D!

Curious about how the Nintendo 3DS will make hang out with your pooches and kitties seem more real and alive  Check out the official Nintendo website for nintendogs + cats and explore an illustrated interactive brochure that explains all the different ways that you can use augmented reality to interact with the 3DS, your environment and your pet! Plan which puppy you would like to take home and think about taking him out for a walk. Find some fun trinkets any time of day morning, day, and evening.  Teach your puppy to sit and give it a name, then head back to the kennel and choose from three kitten types Standard, Oriental Shorthair, and Longhair.  Take a look how videos and screens to get a sense of how StreetPass communication lets you share puppy data as well as a gift with other pet owners you’ve passed on the street, on the train, at school, or on the playground.  After you do, their Mii avatar and pet will appear in your in-game park!


Zynga Explains Traditional Game Publisher’s Facebook Struggles

Zynga has had multiple successful titles on Facebook so far, so it could be almost easy to look at them and take for granted their level of reach. However, more established traditional publishers have not always had comparable success and Zynga’s chief games designer Brian Reynolds thinks there’s a reason why.

“The important thing with social is to understand that the core of it is social,” said Reynolds. “You can’t just go write… Call of Duty and add Facebook functionality. You’ve got to make a game that’s about socializing, make social the core of what you’re inventing, and then build the game around that. Mostly where I see triple-A people or developers trying to get into social and then failing is where they say, ‘We’re just going to take game X and kind of give it a little bit of Facebook plumbing and that’ll be great.’ In some ways, they’re missing the point of what social is all about and why it works.”

Reynolds says that instant accessibility is key to hooking people into social games. “In the old days, again, we were talking about the golden hour – you had to catch the player in the golden hour to get them to love it enough and tell their friends and whatever. These days it’s more like the golden 15 seconds,” he commented. “You can actually watch the little waterfall graph of the longer the bar goes for loading, the more people you lose forever for first time players. That’s part of the whole metric driven thing; we learned that stuff.”

When asked about the size disparity between social and traditional games, Reynolds said, “I don’t think the traditional space is going to go away. I mean, it has shrunk…it shrunk a little last year, and it shrunk a lot the year before. It’s not going to always even be shrinking, but it’s never going to be growing the way social is growing right now. It’s never going to suddenly have hundreds of millions of players on a game or something like that. Those platforms don’t have that potential. It’s going to continue to be a perfectly fine business, but it’s just not going to become a particularly larger business then it already is. It’ll grow at a modest rate is my take on it. Some of these publishers will figure it out and they’ll get into social and they’ll succeed. Some of them will try and they’ll fail. That’s what we see with any new kind of platform, is their success and failure in adopting the platform and figuring it out.”

Source: IndustryGamers {link no longer active}

THQ Working With Random House On ‘Transmedia’

THQ and Random House have announced an agreement to create IP ready for both games and books. Along with continuing efforts to bring THQ’s existing IP to all book publishing formats, they will help create world bibles for prospective THQ properties via the book publisher’s IP creation and development group, Random House Worlds.

“Working with THQ has been nothing less than a huge pleasure for us, and we have very lofty goals for where this project will go,” said Keith Clayton, director of creative development at RHPG. “It’s really inspiring to work side-by-side with partners who share our creative passions as well as our view on the evolution of the entertainment industry. We truly think that this is the new direction for entertainment, and we’re proud to be leading the way as we provide a platform for storytellers to have their visions realized across multiple mediums.”

“This collaboration is a shining example of how we can generate interesting and exciting publishing opportunities as our various media continue to converge,” said Lenny Brown, THQ Director, Creative and Business Development, Core Games. “Working with the incredible team at Random House, we expect to build a huge IP universe from the ground up, exploring the characters, settings, and stories of these worlds in ways that let each medium do what it does best, and giving fans a truly unequaled experience. We hope to make this relationship the gold standard in transmedia.”

Pokemon Lands One Direction

Nintendo has announced that they have hired One Direction to promote Pokemon Black/White. The boy band will be ‘brand ambassadors’ for Pokemon appearing in special events, meeting fans and shooting advertisements.

“Zayn and I played it loads when we were younger, but Harry had never really played before we introduced him to it,” said Liam Payne. One Direction member. “We all started playing the new version during rehearsal breaks whilst on tour and now we can t put our consoles down.”

The X-Factor finalists join other performers from the show like Olly Murs, JLS, Alexandra Burke and Jedward to align themselves with Nintendo.

Banner Ad Click-Through Rate Not Pretty In 2010

Banner ads are one of the omnipresent means of online advertising, but their reach and pull is not what it once was (or what it was once hoped to be). Click through rates are continuing to go down, according to data from online ad solution provider MediaMind.

Analysis from 200 billion banner ads served up over the course of 2010 says that getting the right site can improve a click-through rate by several hundred. With most banner ads getting responses of less than 1 percent, click-through’s importance has decreased significantly.

Source: Ad Week {link no longer active}

Video Game Industry Left Out Of Basketball’s Big Dance

CBS and Turner Broadcasting have had record ratings with the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, but the gaming industry is spending this March Madness on the bench. 2009 was the last time a college basketball game released, while NCAA football games release regularly; there’s a reason for that as EA’s college football games regularly sell a few million, or ten times the number that their college basketball games did.

The breakeven on a sports game is probably around 1 million units, and NCAA Football regularly exceeds this level, while NCAA Basketball regularly fell short, says Michael Pachter, video game analyst, Wedbush Morgan Securities. Electronic Arts, in particular, has made a concerted effort to eliminate games that don’t make money, and 2K Sports dropped the game when EA signed its deal with 200 colleges for NCAA Football. It appeared to me at the time that 2K decided not to participate in the escalation of rights fees, and figured EA would do the same thing with basketball.

Whereas college football is wildly popular across huge parts of the country from the months of September through January, college basketball simply doesn t have that type of popularity, says Chris Sanner, executive editor for OperationSports.com . It was also bad marketing from the game publishers who shipped their college basketball video games in the fall, which made them old by the time March Madness rolled around in the spring.

Some believe that the lack of player likenesses and names hurts sales of the game. Pachter thinks that were the NCAA’s amateur rules changed, all college games would benefit and might make college basketball games feasible again.

Source: Forbes

Gears Of War 3 Beta Might Top One Million

The Gears of War 3 beta is a major promotion, with many gaining access by pre-order on April 25 and many Bulletstorm owners gaining earlier access on April 18. With three new game modes and four maps, running on dedicated servers, interest in the beta is expected to be high.

“I don’t know if we necessarily have a target but our expectation is around the one million range – that’s what we’re thinking, said executive producer Rod Fergusson. “We’re not trying to set any records, we’re not trying to beat anybody for highest number of players on a beta. We’re just trying to get enough data to help us make a better game.”

Source: CVG

Final Fantasy XIV: No Timetable To Resume Subscriptions

When Final Fantasy XIV launched, the initial reception to the game was so bad, Square Enix extended the free trial that came with the game indefinitely. While the company definitely wants to collect subscription fees for the game, when they will do so is still up in the air.

“It was pretty much personally because I’ve been a player for so long, I wanted to make sure that I would only ask the player to pay for something [once the team had established a firm plan for improvements],” said director Naoki Yoshida. “The reason we’re doing this is we’re showing the players, yes, it’s still costing us a lot of money, and we’re not getting that money back yet, but we’re serious about making these changes. This is one of the ways that we can show players that we are serious and we are taking it seriously.”

Source: Gamasutra

NPD Acquires Digital Analyst Company

The NPD Group has announced that it has acquired In-Stat. Focused on mobile phones, connected devices, and digital entertainment, In-Stat will operate in conjunction with NPD’s DisplaySearch and giving the NPD a boost to their digital research team that also includes Solarbuzz, and Connected Intelligence.

“With the acquisition of In-Stat, NPD is offering unique information on the intersection of hardware, content, and distribution,” noted Tim Bush, General Manager of The NPD Group’s Technology Analyst Business. “In-Stat’s world-class team of analysts brings deep industry knowledge that will enable us to help our clients understand and identify business opportunities.”

“We look forward to joining The NPD Group s growing Technology Analyst Business,” added Mark Kirstein, who will continue to serve as In-Stat’s President. “This change will help us to better support the needs of our clients and significantly extend our services globally.”

NPD monthly sales results were recently criticized for their lack of digital stats, something the company promised to rectify.