GameStop Picks Up Cloud Gaming, Digital Download Services

GameStop has announced that they are closing a deal to purchase Stardock subsidiary Impulse and Spawn Labs. This access to a digital delivery service and streaming technology will give the retailer an important foothold in the downloads market and compliment their acquisition of Kongregate.

“With these important acquisitions, we will continue to make appropriate investments related to our multichannel strategy,” said GameStop CEO J. Paul Raines. “GameStop is uniquely positioned to be the leader in both the physical and digital gaming space.”

Twitter Ditches QuickBar

Twitter recently released their QuickBar on their iPhone apps, adding ads the the top. The move proved unpopular with users, and Twitter has announced that it was only a test and that they are removing it.

Rather than continue to make changes to the QuickBar as it exists, we removed the bar from the update appearing in the App Store today. We believe there are still significant benefits to increasing awareness of what s happening outside the home timeline,” said the Twitter blog. “Evidence of the incredibly high usage metrics for the QuickBar support this. For now, we re going back to the drawing board to explore the best possible experience for in-app notification and discovery.:

Source: Twitter Blog

Gears Of War 3 Will Own N00bz

Wunderkind Pictures has announced that it has received permission to use Gears of War 3 in the upcoming movie N00bz. The comedy from director Blake Freeman will start production in May 2011.

N00bz revolved around competitive online gaming and follows four friends on their journey to Las Vegas to compete in the gaming world championships. Gears of War 3 will release on Xbox 360 on September 20, 2011.

Platinum Games Assumes Roll As ‘Japanese Standard Bearer’

Platinum Games has released several critically acclaimed games including Bayonetta, Vanquish and MadWorld. They’ve been a shining example of quality and originality from a Japanese game industry that has fallen on hard times, something Platinum Games President and CEO Tatsuya Minami is acutely aware of.

“The current games business is struggling. The ‘fresh surprises’ I mention are becoming few and far between, especially in our home of Japan. Not so long ago, Japan lead the world’s games business, and it was not a stretch to call games a uniquely Japanese specialty; however, now it appears that Japanese games companies have lost their vigor,” wrote Minami. “Series grow ever-longer; original titles are on the decline. Games with new at their core are disappearing. Japanese games that garner worldwide acclaim are slipping away. This state of affairs deeply saddens us.”

“When we turn this mirror on ourselves, I feel it is fair to say that PlatinumGames is currently one of the very few healthy Japanese games companies. I also came to realize that we must now consider our work in creating games to be that of a mandate, he continued. ‘The Japanese Standard Bearer in Global Competition.’ At PlatinumGames, we strive to be the face of Japanese game studios on the worldwide stage. We want our contributions to not only be towards the games industry as a whole, but also be contributions towards our homeland of Japan. That is the principle that will guide our company into the future.”

“We aim to bring happiness to gamers worldwide. We seek to ignite a Japanese games revival. And our troops will have the highest morale. We’re in this fight for the long haul, he concluded.”

Source: PlatinumGames.com

Heavy Rain Creator Skeptical Of L.A. Noire Technology

The DepthAnalysis’ Motion Scan technology used for L.A. Noire uses 32 HD cameras that capture all the details of an actors head from various angles, resulting in some of the best facial animation seen in a game to date. Heavy Rain creator David Cage, however, is less impressed.

“What to say about L.A Noire I think it’s an interesting solution to a problem for now, said Cage. “But it’s also an interesting dead end. That’s exactly what I feel. Their technique is incredibly expensive and they will never be able to shoot body and face at the same time.”

“We are doing that now [at Quantic], and our next games will be shot with performance capture,” he explained. “We see a huge difference between shooting the face and body separately and shooting everything at the same time. Suddenly you’ve got a real sense of acting that is consistent. You can’t imagine how related what you say with your face is to what your body does.”

“[Those using MotionScan] will never be able to do that. The other thing is that they can’t have real time lighting,” he added. “Their technique means they can’t have lighting the way I think we should do it. Basically, they take pictures; they take scans several times per frame. They also have limitations on the shaders they use, they can’t re-target the eyes because they eyes are captured. When you have actors in real time you like to to re-target the eyes to make sure they look at each other [convincingly] etc. etc.”

“It’s a list of important problems that cannot be solved with their technology. I think L.A Noire looks good – honestly, it does – but I don’t think they’ll go much further than where they are. With the technology we use, we can improve; there is a lot of room for improvement and we hope to show very soon where we are now. We’ve made significant progress since Heavy Rain and will continue to make progress until we reach the stage of Avatar. That is probably three, four five years from now.”

When asked if this meant that photo-realistic graphics were coming soon, he said, “Yes. Four or five years. Maybe it’s going to require a new [gaming] platform, but when you look at where real-time is right now, it’s probably where CG was five, six years ago. You can say there’s a five-year gap between CG and real time. Avatar was released last year, so that’s where we should be in five, six years from now.”

Source: CVG

Be The Bunny

In anticipation of the upcoming Easter Bunny 3D animated movie Hop, a flash animated quiz for kids and families to enjoy lets you see if you re ready to Be the Bunny!  Answer a series of timed questions that require quick pattern recognition or preferential choices to get to the end.  Try for your best score to see if you have what it takes to be the bunny, just like E.B. in the movie!  Listen for voices from the film like Russell Brand saying, “Keep hopping!” as you progress through to the end.  Fans that complete the quiz to the end will receive a downloadable PDF activity page to keep the fun going all afternoon!

Wii ‘Will Continue As A Strong Viable Format’ Says Nintendo

Rumors have been running pretty rampantly of late that Nintendo will be releasing a Wii HD or some other updated version of the console soon. However, U.K. marketing manager James Honeywell thinks the Wii has a long life in Britain and abroad.

“We’ve been really pleased with Wii and how it has performed. It’s the market leader in the UK by some margin. I think it has been proven really that it is Britain’s favorite home console with a huge install base,” said Honeywell. “But obviously as you reach a certain level things perhaps might slow down, but again we’ve got a really strong line-up, we’re really proud with what we’ve achieved in getting it into so many homes, and we’ve have a strong campaign for promotion this year and think it will continue as a strong viable format.”

“I guess we haven’t made any announcements recently because we’ve been concentrating on the 3DS launch, but there are still lots of games to come, he teased. I’m sure you’ll see at this year’s E3. For anybody who has a Wii, they can rest assured that we’ll be bringing some fantastic new experiences to them.

Source: CVG

Angry Birds Maker: Pressure Is On Console Developers

Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata recently took a swipe at social and mobile games that did not offer long term value, in his mind. While others in the industry have criticized Iwata’s stance, Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka has offered a response of his own.

“It’s interesting to see people like Nintendo saying smartphones are destroying the games industry,” said Vesterbacka. “Of course, if I was trying to sell a $49 pieces [sic] of plastic to people then yes, I’d be worried too. But I think it’s a good sign that people are concerned — because from my point of view we’re doing something right.”

“Games consoles for us are just like launching on a new smartphone platform,” he added. “Look, the console market is important, but it’s also… It’s not dying, but not the fastest growing platform out there. So we don’t see it the way others do. A lot of people in the games industry, they think the ‘real’ games are on consoles. You’re only a ‘real’ games company if you do a big budget game. But we don’t have that inferiority complex.”

While there’s been talks of bringing Angry Birds to the Xbox 360 and DS, Vesterbacka says updating issues have been a hurdle. “There is no reason why, when you do digital distribution on console, you couldn’t do frequent updates,” he explained. “It’s just a legacy way of thinking. And if the consoles want to stay relevant they have to start mimicking what’s going on around them on app stores, smartphones and online. It’s the only way. because people expect games to stay fresh.”

“If you pay $59 or $69 dollars and you get no updates — but you pay 99 cents for a game in the App Store and get updates every month, then it sets the expectations higher. So the pressure is definitely on those guys, he added.

Source: MCV

Kinect Sports Appearing On Sports Show

Sky have announced that they have signed a product placement deal between Microsoft. The British show sports panel show A League of Their Own will have Kinect Sports in the pre-title sequence; the Xbox 360 is already a sponsor of the show.

“Coming hot on the heels of the Xbox sponsorship of Got To Dance 2, this product placement deal with Sky provides yet another highly innovative partnership opportunity,” Microsoft’s retail sales and marketing division boss for Xbox Stephen McGill stated. “Kinect Sports is an ideal fit for A League of Their Own, and I’m sure viewers will be interested to see how the game has been integrated into the show.”

“We’re delighted to be able to build on our broadcast sponsor partnership with Kinect for Xbox 360 and Kinect Sports in this way, especially as it is the first product placement deal we’ve agreed to make it on air,” said head of branded content at Sky, Jason Hughes. “Both Kinect Sports and A League of Their Own are all about people having fun with sport, and we look forward to working with Xbox to innovate and develop our relationship further over time.”