Microsoft Said To Be Close To Free-To-Play

Free-to-play has been suggested for Microsoft previously, and now it looks like they’re moving even closer towards that step. Hi-Rez Studios co-founder and chief operating officer Todd Harris thinks that micro-transaction based games are coming sooner or latter for Xbox 360.

“It’s really just the degree to which the free-to-play model and, even more specifically, constant updates are at – kind of what level of support there is for Xbox, or even PlayStation at this point,” Harris explained. “So the ability to patch frequently, the ability to have it be free-to-play so users can get a taste without any fee. At least from our conversations, both Sony and Microsoft are moving there strategically but there are still some things to be worked out on both the business side and the technical side and the certification side regarding frequency of patches. And those issues just need further advancement before we would be comfortable putting a release timeframe on a console version. It’s not the case of ‘never’, but we know all those things we can handle on the PC, so that’s why PC is first.”

“They’re [Microsoft] seeing where the industry is going,” Harris continued. “It’s inevitable that Microsoft will move towards that because the industry is moving towards that, and once that groundwork has been laid we would be in a better position to consider Tribes: Ascend for Xbox.”

While Nintendo might give a hell no response to such a suggestion, Xbox senior product manager David Dennis says that Microsoft is, at least, considering such a move.

“We’re always looking at different models and different ways we can work with partners to bring content out,” said Dennis. “If you look, for example, at the stuff Kudo [Tsunoda, Kinect creative director] showed onstage at E3 Kinect Fun Labs that’s an ad-supported model. Those titles are sponsored. There are different ways you can deploy or distribute games using different types of business models and we’re always open to talking to partners.

“The strength we have in the business right now and the momentum we have allows us to experiment and try different things like that and see what consumers like and what they don’t like,” Dennis continued. “If there are experiences that they like and want to download because it’s ad-supported versus what are they willing to pay for it you’ll see us continue in the future to look for a lot of different models for distribution like that.”

Source: Eurogamer

Rovio Signs Ad Agreement For China

Rovio and Madhouse has confirmed that they will be working together for a mobile ad partnership. This will let Chinese advertisers harness the Madhouse SmartMad Ad network to reach Angry Birds users; they’re hoping to reach 100 million in China by the end of 2011 to add to the 300+ million global users of Angry Birds.

“In-app advertising is the future of mobile marketing, as well as a key development area for Madhouse,” said Joshua Maa, the founder and CEO of Madhouse. “I am very pleased to work closely with Rovio, one of the leading mobile game and media companies in the world, and contribute to the development of mobile marketing in China. I trust this partnership will attract attention from brands, which will further boost the growth of the mobile marketing industry in China.”

“With 900 million mobile users, China is the second largest market for Angry Birds downloads, just after the United States, stated Henri Holm, Senior Vice President, Rovio Entertainment Asia, showing his confidence in this partnership. This indicates the huge potential for mobile advertising, which is still to be recognized by brands. We value Madhouse for its technology advantage and brand resources. By working with Madhouse, we hope to develop products specialized for the China market and further contribute to the growth of the mobile marketing industry in China.

King Of Fighters XIII Pre-Order CDs

Atlus has announced a special pre-order offer for The King of Fighters XIII. Participating retailers will give fans a 4-CD soundtrack compilation with music spanning the 15+ year history of the fighting game series.

Atlus also invited fans to join them at EVO 2K and Otakon (July 29-31), said the release by Atlus. With a playable early version of the console release open to the public, plus a panel with KOF XIII’s director at EVO 2K (July 30 at 10:00 AM PT), the shows offer the perfect opportunity for the community to get a sneak peek at the game in action and ask their most pressing questions.

EA Shifting Away From 3D To Social, Mobile

Electronic Arts has previously stated that they’re bullish on 3D games. However, now EA CEO John Riccitiello isn’t that optimistic in 3D, instead turning to other areas.

“We have not seen a big uptake [in 3D gaming],” said Riccitiello. “We have not seen a big uptake in 3D TVs in the home [either]. We are not here trying to drive a market. We are here to react to what customers want.

Noting the positive returns from mobile, social and online gaming, he added, “We see really high returns in these markets and very poor returns focusing on 3D, so we are allocating our resources toward new innovations.

Source: VentureBeat