Games Radar Plays Name That Tune With L.A. Noire

Games Radar has launched a contest  {link no longer active} and removed the music track from L.A. Noire and inserted iconic scores from five classic noir film scores. Name the five films that each song originally appeared in and be entered to win a one-of-a-kind L.A. Noire prize pack including a copy of the game! Prizes includes a PS3 or Xbox 360, globe lighter (straight from the Bamba club), a can of Parnell’s Soup, an L.A. Noire t-shirt, serial killer magnets, an evidence journal, pencil case, pencils and stickers. Check out this video on YouTube  {link no longer active} to see the song selections.

Minecraft 1.6.6 Beta Available Now

An update to the downloadable Minecraft client are available now. A new use for bonemeal has been added and glowstones have been changed from glass to stone and require a pickaxe to mine resources from it. Glowstones also drop more loot. Unlimited FPS has been reintroduced and renamed again and boats now fall into water and rise to the surface quicker. Happy mining!

Feature: Raptr Plays Social Networking Game

Contrary to popular belief, gamers are the social sort, wanting to share news about their recent exploits and discuss current events with other gamers. A site such as Facebook might not be the best place to discuss gaming matters, and that’s where Raptr comes in. Serving as a hub for gaming networks, Raptr provides a service for gamers and extracts information from them about their habits that proves invaluable. We talked with Raptr CEO Dennis Fong about how Raptr works for gamers.

[a]list: Start off by getting everyone up to speed on Raptr.

Dennis Fong: Quick background piece, we’re about three years old. We officially launched last Summer now are at over 8 million users adding a half million users a month from friends telling friends, since we spend no money no advertising. The platform is for social networking between gamers. It can hook into other gaming networks like PSN, Xbox Live and Steam, tracking stats and facilitate chatting across those platforms. You can see when a friend is playing on their Xbox 360 in real time, and you can send something to him via a desktop PC or iOS device to them. It uses the networks themselves to send that. Raptr has an aggregated identity and we created that because people play games on more than one platform, and combining that helps people show off who they are as a gamer; Facebook is not a good home for that.

That’s what Raptr is today, and we’ve raised $27 million from Excell Partners. Why does a social network need those kids of resources It’s because our business is based around data. You have a lot of data tracked after you have opted-in, along with your activity, so we know what games you’ve played, how far you’ve played in those games and who you’ve played them with. By opting into the free services, our goal is to mash up the data sent to us, analyze it and present it as profile abilities. Every analyst now uses our data, because what makes our data unique is we’re tracking the same users over multiple platforms and I think we’re the only platform that does that. How many people play Xbox Live and Facebook In a world where trends are moving towards digital, and NPD has difficult tracking games and a lot of popular games games feature free-to-play and they don’t sell anything right out so there are no sales to track, so it’s the post-sale data that’s important along with how many people are playing those games. We can give it to people who need it, whether it’s analysts or reporters.

[a]list: Sounds like a classic information economy company…

Dennis Fong: I think everyone agrees that insights into users interests, if you’re able to capture that, there’s a lot of strategic value and monetary value. So that’s kind of how we positioned ourselves.

What we launched recently is something beneficial to the consumer. If you think about the data sets, we know what you’ve played, what publishers you’re interested in. We’re helping solve the problem have too much info coming in from Facebook to Twitter; the same thing goes for gaming news and content. I think when people play games, it’s cyclical; they don’t play 10 games at the same time, but just because they own a 100 games doesn’t mean they want news on all these game or that they even like them all. We want to target content that’s very particular and important to them. We rely upon users to submit what they want so the community, which helps curate it, vote it up and down so the homepage is customized, it’s specific to you and shows things relevant to you.

Get social with Raptr!

[a]list: Who do you find is the primary gaming audience for Raptr, console or PC gamers?

Dennis Fong: We don’t categorize gamers as Facebook, console, or PC gamers, we look at how often they play games. Whether it’s World of Warcraft, Angry Birds, or Call of Duty they all have hardcore elements in that community that are avid, so it’s no so much about the nature games. It’s been geared towards the most avid gamer; not just a half our every month, they spend more time playing it, they care about their identity. With the launch of our new platform we’re helping people stay connected but they don’t have to actively look for stuff as much. Most people who play games are not looking for gaming content; take fan art or live action videos… they might think its entertaining to see so we link them up. If you think about game FAQs, it takes months to make them and they’re helpful, and we’re looking to bring that content to them because not everyone goes to a gaming site every day to see whats coming. If they play Call of Duty, maybe they want to know when a new trailer comes out for the next game

[a]list: Certain people follow gaming news intently, but I can’t imagine most people who game bother to actively do that every day…

Dennis Fong: Raptr is a discovery engine. The vast majority of people are not keeping up with gaming news in the way you and I do. So that’s why I think it can be helpful to people who play games by putting things that are useful in front of them. For instance, they don’t have to sift through news about the Wii because they don’t own them or the family genre of games because they don’t own them. If we know you just started playing this brand new game, you’re not likely to see as much news about it as compared to when you’re 30 hours in when we’ll show more FAQs and trailers for the sequel. Bringing things that are contextually relevant using the data that players want automatically, not manually, that’s how Raptr work.

We think we’ve taken a great first step by automating it, but our mission is to help people get more out of great games, because there’s so much out there about games and no one thought about presenting things in this way before.

[a]list: Are the tracking of Achievements/Trophies a huge feature for core gamers?

Dennis Fong: For the guys that are into their gamer score and trophies, but if you think about what you can do with that data, its pretty interesting and goes beyond that; we might be able to find out where they’re stuck with a game. We can find out a lot if interesting data with 8 million gamers to put hooks into, tracking profiles their achievements or other things, because gamers use us for different reasons.

[a]list: How about game publishers, have they used Raptr?

Dennis Fong: Yeah we have! We don’t sell any of this data, and certainly no individual info is given out – it’s all aggregate. Anyone who wants access to this can come to us. We’ve built it in a way that it’s meaningful to take.

[a]list: What data do you all have that the publishers themselves wouldn’t have themselves?

Dennis Fong: Most publishers can’t track the data and many certainly wouldn’t know what they had if they did. The most recent Goldman Sachs reports included Raptr data, comparing Modern Warfare 2 to Battlefield: Bad Company 2 and it’s all freely available. Devs and publisher might have more comprehensive data about their own games, but nothing beyond that universe; they can’t actively compare with other games.

For example, for the really big franchises like Modern Warfare 3 vs. Battlefield 3, that will be interesting to watch, and we’re probably the only company that can tell you who’s winning,who is playing what, and for long.

[a]list: How does Raptr help increase the awareness of certain games?

Dennis Fong: A few ways. Number one, just by being able to see what your friends are playing. There’s a discovery component to that and that’s way Facebook games are so viral; we do that around all games. 10 percent of your feed are actually recommended stories based around the games you care about. We take into account other things as well, like publishers you buy from, what genres what you like, what your friends like, along with people in the Raptr community as a whole, so all of these things come in and help people find new content.

[a]list: Would you ever consider a partnership with a game company in order to promote yourselves and their game on the service?

Dennis Fong: We’ve already partnered with game companies. There are companies that find value with the platform so many bundle the Raptr client with their games because it keeps [players] engaged. [Users] spend an average of 80 hours in our service per month. Number two, by the virtue of using it, it turns the user into a viral marketing tool for them. When I’m playing Modern Warfare 2, you can see what platform and server your friends are playing, so bundling it (and it’s free) makes it easier to play with people and their friends that don’t have it see you have that so it spreads. The platform gives users a really easy way to keep up with their customers. Some of the more popular games have hundreds of thousands or even millions of people playing it, so the community builds on itself. You can also follow people and see who is posting sources. I’m waiting until a person who has a one million followers!

[a]list: Dennis, thanks.

_ _

Use Raptr? Like sharing info about your gaming habits? Join the discussion on Facebook.

Kevin Butler Back After Hiatus

The PlayStation spokesperson Kevin Butler has typically been an active tweeter, but the tweeting stopped when PSN went down. Now that PSN is back online, everyone’s favorite fictional VP has also returned.

I just shaved off the most epic beard ever, tweeted Butler, who responded to an inquiry about the facial hair, Sorry, the KBeard has already been donated to the local chocobo rescue as a nesting habitat.

He later tweeted, I m not saying I was in ‘places undisclosed’ with my SEAL team. But I m not not saying it either.

Magic Pixel Waggles Into Public View

Veterans who come from THQ, EA and Activision (some of whom worked on Boom Blox) has formed Magic Pixel Games. They will focus on motion control games across several platforms such as Wii, PlayStation Move and Kinect for Xbox 360.

“This company was formed because the team has developed a unique chemistry and talent for building engaging gameplay, capitalizing on the strength of any given game platform motion control or otherwise,” said Mark Tsai, president, Magic Pixel Games. “With our first title launching this holiday season, we look forward to new challenges and partnerships that allow us to continue finding the fun in everything we do and every product we make.”

Magic Pixel will unveil their first project at E3 2011.

Rovio Talks Media Success Of Angry Birds

Back in 2009, Finnish studio Rovio was desperate for a hit and went through a bunch of ideas, but one stood out. “[It was] a bunch of angry-looking bird characters,” says Rovio franchise development VP Ville Heijari. “Everybody fell in love with them, so we decided to use them.”

The call was a sound one, and Angry Birds has become the top selling paid app on the App Store and has been downloaded over 200 million times. “Anything from 500 to 1 million downloads [was] our most optimistic plan,” says Heijari. “The success has been quite staggering.”

Rovio has ridden this success with merchandise like plush toys, T-shirts and phone cases, with a board game upcoming. “We had the prototype, got in contact with Rovio, and got a deal going pretty quickly,” says Mattel marketing manager Ray Adler.

All of this is a calculated plan, not unlike the way Disney expanded into a media empire. “Rovio is taking the long view, building brand equity in the long term,” said Richard Gottlieb, publisher of Global Toy News, noting that margins on licensing deals are likely 10 percent to 12 percent. “It’s substantial, incremental income.”

While some are wondering if Angry Birds will eventually fall out of fashion, Rovio is looking towards more spin-off merchandise in the U.S. “We could see Angry Birds bubble gum to card games to theme parks,” Heijari says.

Source: AdWeek


Angry Birds Launched At Kombo

Developer Rovio is flush with cash having made Angry Birds into a worldwide phenomenon and they’ve used some of that to acquire Kombo. The Helsinki-based animation studio will probably create Angry Birds animated features like they have in the past, though that wasn’t explicitly announced.

“We have had a long and fruitful relationship with Kombo in the past,” said Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio. “This acquisition is an important step in the execution of our media strategy. The attitude, creativity and quality of Kombo’s work is simply fantastic, and we look forward to delighting our fans with more Kombo animations.”

Nintendo Opening 3DS eShop June 6

Nintendo has confirmed that the 3DS eShop will go live on June 6, just in time for the start of E3. The download will include a web browser for 3DS owners as well and free Wi-Fi will be offered at 25,000 locations nationwide.

The Virtual console will offer a 3DS remix of Excitebike for NES will be free until July 7 along with Pokedex 3D, a pokemon collecting program using StreetPass, SpotPass, and QR codes. There will also be 3D trailers available for download, with the first being Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D.

Twitter Swallows AdGrok

Twitter has announced that it has acquired start-up AdGrok. Always on the look out for ways to generate more revenue, Twitter may use AdGrok to monetize users photo streams.

“When Twitter approached us and asked if we d be interested in working on their monetization platform, we realized that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that we just couldn t pass up,” writes AdGrok founder Matthew McEachen. “The fact that the Twitter team is both smart and user-focused only made our decision easier.”

Source: {link no longer active}