Call Of Duty Annihilation Website Unlocks New Content Over Time

To compliment the multiplayer trailer {link no longer active}, the official website for the Call of Duty Black Ops: Annihilation map pack features five sections for each area and each with 9 unlocked screenshots. Users can return to the area to get a look at exactly what the action is going to look like in this heavily anticipated DLC content. Hangar 18, the drive-in, silo, hazard {links no longer active} (based on World at War’s Cliffside but made into a golf course) and the ancient ruins/zombie stronghold of Shangri-la levels each look action packed and promising.

Sonic Appearing At Macy’s Parade

Sega announced today that there will be a Sonic float during the 85th Annual Macy s Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday, November 24 as part of the franchise’s 20th Anniversary. Sonic was the first-ever video game character to appear in the annual event back in 1993.

“Sonic the Hedgehog was a Macy’s Parade trailblazer when he burst into the line-up, becoming the first-ever video game character to fly in our annual march,” said Amy Kule, executive producer of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. “Sonic continues to be a worldwide phenomenon and we are thrilled that this Thanksgiving his distinctive blue spikes will be seen zooming down the route once more, as part of his 20th birthday celebrations.”

“The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a celebration of the most famous faces and characters in our culture, so it was a simple decision to bring Sonic back to the parade to celebrate his 20th anniversary in great company,” says Judy Gilbertson, Senior Brand Manager, Sega of America. “It will be a thrill for Sonic fans young and old to see the balloon this Thanksgiving.”

Facebook And Microsoft May Threaten Google’s Search Dominance

Microsoft purchased a $240 million stake in Facebook in 2007, and they signed an agreement Microsoft would manage Facebook’s display ad sales outside of the U.S. That sewed the seeds of Microsoft using Facebook’s social graph data into Bing search results, which could have benefits from both parties.

“To understand what this partnership means for search, let’s quickly review the history of search engines. They began with directories that helped people find sites (the original Yahoo model) and then evolved to an on-site optimization model (think of Alta Vista),” writes Dave Williams. “Today, Google’s algorithms and theories of Link Authority and Site Authority are the driving force behind search. Social graph optimization — using the influence of friends and Facebook likes to tailor search results — is the next evolution of search, and it represents the biggest innovation since Google arrived.”

“This allows friends on Facebook to influence the results of Bing, making things more relevant to users, especially locally. Once Microsoft rolls out its socialized mobile search options, it may change the way people think about local results.”

“The Facebook and Microsoft partnership essentially forms the biggest threat to Google that we’ve ever seen in the search space,” adds Williams. “Ironic that it’s coming together just as the Federal Trade Commission plans to investigate the search giant for alleged anti-competitive practices. Google has held roughly two thirds of the search market for the past few years, but it can’t compete with Facebook when it comes to social media. The search giant recently rolled out +1, a feature that promotes items in the search results according to how many consumers click the ‘+1’ icon.”

“Still, Google doesn’t know who is making those recommendations while Microsoft will. The Microsoft/Facebook partnership could help Microsoft gain Bing converts from Facebook and open the door to more relevant ads on the social network.”

“Search intent is the best way to target advertising online,” notes Williams. “That’s why paid search brings in more revenue than any other online ad channel. Were Facebook to gain access to Microsoft’s data, they’d have a backdoor to intent-level data, giving them access to what consumers like and are looking for online. With that, Facebook would instantly compete with Google at the top and the bottom of the sales funnel online. That positioning would come in handy, especially when you consider that Facebook is already on pace to bring in more display revenue than Google this year.”


Star Wars Galaxies Falling Into Black Hole

Sony Online Entertainment has announced that it is shutting down its Star Wars Galaxies services on December 15, 2011, including the MMO and Trading Card Game. Effective immediately, the ability to 12, 6 and 3-month subscription packs is turned off and the TCG store has closed, followed by the end of new subscriptions, renewals or new accounts on September 15 with billing ending and the game entering free game trial mode on October 15.

“We are extremely grateful to all of the SWG fans. We have had the rare opportunity to host one of the most dedicated and passionate online gaming communities and we truly appreciate the support we’ve received from each and every one of you over the course of the past eight years,” read a statement by SOE and LucasArts. In recognition of your incredible loyalty, we are extending special Fan Appreciation offers to the current SWG community. We also plan to go out with a bang with a galaxy-ending in-game event in December and hope to see you all there. The details relating to these offers and events as well as the timeline and specifics regarding the discontinuation of the service, are provided below.”


Google AdWords Get Interest-Based Integration

Google launched interest-based advertising back in 2009 that let advertisers target consumers based upon their web habits. Now, they have expanded their interest-based ads available to its AdWords advertisers.

“Over a year ago, we announced a beta of interest categories on the Google Display Network,” wrote Lauren Barbato, Inside AdWords crew. “We’ve been slowly expanding the availability of this feature, and as of today, interest categories are now available to all AdWords advertisers. It works like this: our system looks at the types of pages a user visits, taking into account how recently and frequently those pages have been visited, and then associates their browser with relevant interest categories. Using these categories, you can show ads to the people most likely to purchase your products or services, and you can reach them across all types of sites in the Google Display Network in addition to contextually relevant sites.”

“With over 1,000 interest categories from ecotourism to mobile phones, we re confident you’ll find a category that fits your business,” she added. “And with over 500 million users interested in these categories who visit the Display Network every day, you ll be able to reach a huge number of potential customers. You pay only for clicks or impressions at auction prices, as always. Our beta advertisers have used interest categories to successfully meet all kinds of goals, from an advertiser increasing brand lift by 40 percent to a shoe retailer driving 400 percent more conversions at a lower advertising cost per sale.”

“As we ve made interest categories available to more advertisers, we ve remained committed to providing users with the highest level of control and transparency. Users may, at any time, view and edit interest categories or permanently opt out of receiving interest-based ads entirely with the Ads Preferences Manager. Also, we label our ads with the AdChoices logo to give users notice and choice about the ads they see,” Barbato noted. “We hope you’ll use these interest categories to enhance your advertiser campaigns. We think you’ll find them an effective way to reach more interested users, increase awareness of your products and services, and ultimately drive more sales. You can visit our Help Center to learn more.”

Source: AdWords

Google Seeking Games Manager

According to a job listing, Google is seeking a ‘games product manager.’ This lends credence to the rumors that the search giant will be making a major push into gaming very soon.

“Rare opportunity to grow a brand-new business – Games at Google! We are looking for a strategic, technical and game-loving Product Manager to drive Google’s gaming strategy,” the listing describes. “You will design strategies for game distribution and discovery, player identity, game mechanics, and more. In addition to designing a great user experience and building out key partnerships, you will be significantly influencing Google’s social platform as you work directly with a critical set of early adopters, game developers. Interesting and impactful decisions involving social gaming, privacy, virality, business, and technical APIs await you and the strong, passionate team of gamers you will work with.”

Source: {link no longer active}

Xbox 360 ‘Halfway Through’ Lifecycle, Kinect Has Helped, Says Microsoft Exec

It’s rumored that the next generation of Xbox will be announced in 2012, but you wouldn’t think that given comments by Xbox’s EMEA VP Chris Lewis. When asked about where the Xbox 360 was at the “late stage in a console lifecycle” he indicated that it’s not nearing its end.

“We see it as about halfway through. But yes you are right, Xbox is defying the normal curve you might expect. There’s no doubt that Kinect put a huge shot of adrenaline into the business,” said Lewis. “What we are now seeing is massive swathes of families and younger audiences flocking to it. As you saw at the press conference, we are now in line with what we projected at E3 2010.”

While families and kids were the primary focus of the Xbox 360 to begin with, Lewis says that the peripheral is now moving more towards core experiences. “What you won’t see is us contriving that,” he said. “What you will see is us using Kinect to enhance the experience and not detract from it. I don’t think our core gamers will tolerate anything else from us.”

Source: MCV

Blizzard ‘Would Love’ To Make World Of Warcraft Portable, Says Designer

The prospect of Blizzard actively developing titles for the mobile space is something that industry pundits have wondered about for years. For his part, World of Warcraft lead systems designer Greg Street says that Blizzard is filled with iOS fans.

“Everyone I know here has an iPhone or an iPad so we’re huge fans of the hardware,” said Street. “If we could make the right game changes to make that work, it’s something we’d be interested in. It’s not something you’re going to see in the next week or two, but it’s the kind of thing we’re always looking at.”

When asked about bringing World of Warcraft to mobile platforms he said, “That’s a really big topic. The one [issue] that comes to mind is that WoW is designed for use of a mouse and a keyboard and we haven’t yet seen a console solution that lets us replicate it easily. I suspect that we would also want to own a lot more of the back-end than most console companies would be willing to let us have. Right now we’re being pretty successful just supporting the PC and Macintosh. We’d love to do it if it ever made sense – I’m sure we would.”

Source: Eurogamer