Are You Patient X?

On the official Facebook page of the upcoming Steven Soderbergh film Contagion, a new app “Are you Patient X ” challenges fans to find the correlation between their online interactions and potential real-life contagions. Once the user clicks a large button, they will being to initiate social analysis and enter a full screen mode. The experience begins with a loading screen that reviews some startling facts about how disease and viruses can spread. Fans will then be greeted by a doctor that will ask them to complete a questionnaire to determine the likelihood that they would be “Patient X”, someone likely to carry the deadly virus. The experience concludes with the user’s Facebook data being pulled into a grid of images and video from the film itself.

Feature: MLG Does It Via Live Streaming

While certain people might debate over whether video games can be sport, to Major League Gaming and its devoted followers, the question was answered long ago. The professional gaming league is on the rise, and it has been helped in no small part by the streaming of its matches online. MLG’s recently concluded Raleigh Pro Circuit saw an all-time high 138,000 peak concurrent online stream viewers from 173 countries, consuming more than 3 million hours of content over the course event. We had a chance to talk with Sundance DiGiovanni, CEO of MLG, to chat about how online streaming is changing professional gaming and what it means to sponsor brands.

How has streaming video changed the face of professional gaming?

I think one of the great things about the evolution streaming technology is accessibility to the competition and sport; anything that is competitive is ideally experienced live. There’s this thing I strive for: “I was there when” moments, like when the Yankees won the World Series for the first time in the ’90s ending their championship drought, now this allows people to watch when an MLG event is happening along with people in 173 countries. It lets us put the content out there, without TV and craft it for the home viewer and make it as entertaining as possible.

Speaking of which, talk to me about the benefits of online video streams over traditional video media like television.

TV was the only way to get out mass media videos for practically forever, until internet video became available. [Television is] expensive, it’s in 30 minute blocks and you have to drive people to it. It’s nearly impossible to do that for three straight days for 6 hours per day!

There’s a lot of gatekeepers to TV. By contrast, once you decide on the size and the cost process for online streaming, it’s liberating. It has challenges, but the ability to package your content and distributive it everywhere is great. It is because of online streaming that we’re able to offer so much.

With competitive gaming primarily on PCs, is it important to be there, were your audience is?

It is, along with mobile devices and iPad; it benefits any media property to be accessible across devices. The NFL has done a really good job with being accessible on multiple devices and I think we’re shaping up well in that too. We’re delivering things on Xbox Live and Android mobile devices and we’ll have an iPad app soon, so the PC is one of the components as is a Boxee box or a PlayStation 3 or any mobile media device. We have to address the scale of the audience.

With viewers from 173 countries, what are some of the benefits and challenges of having such a diverse audience?

The advantage is being able to point to global reach. We’ve got the same global reach as the Super Bowl; it’s crazy to think about but we’re getting up there! It shows this activity is universal. The language is taking over – when someone scores a goal in soccer, you don’t have to tell anyone what that’s about; the game is the shared language and its becoming the same way with our games.

The question is: how to we monetize that Do we know they’re going to be satisfied It’s easy to handle that local audience since you understand the local culture and speak the same language, but once you get into 160-or-so countries there are challenges to make it compelling. I think we’ve done well, because with every event, we add a country or two. It’s all part of our plan to reach gamers everywhere.

Talk to me about some of the reception you had a the competitions you’ve held this year.

The audience turnout has been great. We’ve expanded the seating — still need more seats! It’s a first-world problem, but we’re seeing thousands of people coming in, we have people from Korea for StarCraft, from South America, U.K. Australia for games like Call of Duty and we’ve got a broad reach but there are spectators coming over as well. They want to experience it first hand and the fans have been fantastic.

Given the large viewership online, has this increased the appeal of MLG to sponsors?

Yeah, our current sponsors are very happy. We have relationships with brands like NOS and Sony Ericsson for our international audience and but our national brands like Stride gum and Dr Pepper think the global attraction is good. People talk about the expanded audience on television and we bring that to streaming. They like to see the rise of viewership, that they’ve got a smart spend and that they are getting in on the ground floor of something expanding. Our partners express a lot of good feedback about our progress – it’s been incredibly positive.

So is the ultimate goal to make MLG the number one brand for competitive gaming, like the way UFC is for MMA?

My goal has been to make MLG the premier competitive gaming league. By working with other competitive organizations, like GOMTV and IMG Worldwide, we position ourselves better globally. We want a championship at our event to be the ultimate accomplishment. We’re not quite there today. We embrace other organizations, but we strive to be the Cadillac brand. Some people don’t like to hear that, but it’s what I strive for.

Well, good luck to you with that and thanks for your time.

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Interested in competitive gaming Watched some MLG streams online Join the discussion on Facebook.

Supremacy MMA Gets GameStop Pre-Order Bonus

505 Games and Kung Fu Factory have announced that there will be a pre-order bonus for Supremacy MMA for GameStop customers. The game will release on PS3 and Xbox 360 on September 20.

“505 Games and Kung Fu Factory today announced that GameStop customers who pre-order a copy of the no holds barred mixed martial arts fighter Supremacy MMA will receive both the exclusive playable level ‘The Glass Slipper’ and the chance to expand their roster and play as undefeated Strikeforce icon Shane Del Rosario,” read the release.

Sonic Generations Loads Up with Collector’s Edition

Sega has announced a Sonic Generations Collector’s Edition package. It will come packaged in a lenticular box with the two Sonics on it with a code for the DLC.

“Included in the Collector’s Edition is a collectable figurine featuring both Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic, an exclusive, individually numbered commemorative ‘Gold Ring’, and a ’20 Years of Sonic Art’ book, containing never before seen sketches and images from the past 20 years,” said Sega. “Also contained in the Collector’s Edition are the ’20th Anniversary Sonic Soundtrack’ featuring a selection of tracks handpicked by Sonic Team, and the ‘History of Sonic: Birth of an Icon’ documentary, an exclusive collection of interviews and footage charting Sonic’s life from inception through to becoming one of the most iconic characters in videogame history.”

Vostu Takes In MP Game Studios

Vostu, while threatened with legal action by Zynga, is not stopping its growth. Using venture capital worth $30 million, the social games company has acquired MP Game Studios.

MP has produced dozens of games based upon properties from TV networks including Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and TNT along with major brands such as Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Unilever and National Geographic. The Argentinian developer will integrate and relocate to Vostu’s new headquarters in Buenos Aires.

Electronic Arts ‘Doesn’t Understand’ Digital Monetization, Says Bigpoint

Large game companies like Electronic Arts have tried to use digital content as an incentive for purchase, such as with the pre-order pack for Battlefield 3. Philip Reisberger, chief games officer of browser based gaming company Bigpoint, thinks that such tactics (which are said to convey no in-game advantage) show a misunderstanding of the market.

“In a nutshell, EA doesn’t understand it,” said Reisberger. “It wouldn’t ruin the game. If selling an advantage ruins the game, you haven’t done the balancing right . . . EA and Ubisoft, for example, they’re both trying, but they’re not really there yet.”

“It’s a delicate balance, though, and that’s why I love my game designers. All of them have understood how to do this. If you have a sophisticated approach to free-to-play games, in the end you can monetize everything,” he added. “There are millions, hundreds of millions of people willing to invest even though they aren’t obliged to. The crucial part of the design is not having to invest, but wanting to. Most people in the Bigpoint universe don’t ever pay. But if they want to pay, don’t just offer hats – offer them something that will help them.”

Source: Edge

Digital Sales To Reach $81 Billion By 2016: Report

According to DFC Intelligence, the digital sales market for games will hit $81 billion in 2016. Already at $66 billion in 2010, digital sales are expected to surpass retail by 2013, with total worldwide sales of online games are expected to increase from $19.3 billion in 2010 to $37.9 billion by 2016.

“On a global basis it looks like retail delivery of physical software peaked in 2008,” said DFC’s David Cole. “We expect a slow, steady decline for physical game sales, with a steady increase for online delivery of games and new business models such as subscriptions and virtual item sales.”

“Systems like the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are having their best sales ever five or six years into their lifecycle,” he added. “Unfortunately this means Microsoft and Sony are in no hurry to launch new systems that would generate substantial consumer excitement and spending,” says Cole. “The dedicated console business is still the major driver of industry growth, but we feel overall it has peaked with the current console systems.”

While new categories, like social gaming, are growing right now DFC theorizes that these add to the industry and do not take away from consoles. “Games on Facebook and products like the iPad help expand the audience and the way products are delivered. The console business is firmly established and suffers mainly from the reluctance of hardware manufacturers to commit to expensive new products,” added Cole. “Overall the game industry is becoming more diversified and global as it continues to grow. This makes the industry challenging because it is hard to know where to place one’s bets. At the same time, there are many niches of opportunity that didn’t exist in the past.”


Pokémon Goes Zoroark Crazy For September

September is officially Zoroark month for Pokémon, starting with a contest at Fans can enter to win a Grand Prize package including a 3DS system, both Pokémon White and Black, a movie DVD, TCG packs, an action figure and a manga, while 25 second place winners will receive the DVD, a TCG collection box and the action figure.

Additionally, those visiting Toys”R”Us stores nationwide from September 18 to September 25 can receive a special Zoroark character for their copies of Pokémon Black and Pokémon White. Those interest can watch the new movie Pokémon-Zoroark: Master of Illusions, on September 17-18, only at before it goes on sale on DVD September 20.

Twitter Posts Cause Panic In Veracruz

According to reports, a man and a woman in Mexico face possible 30-year sentences for terrorism and sabotage because of their false tweets. Spreading the rumor that gunmen were attacking schools in Veracruz and kidnapping children, with the results being likened to the Orson Welles’s 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds.

“There were 26 car accidents, or people left their cars in the middle of the streets to run and pick up their children, because they thought these things were occurring at their kids’ schools,” said Gerardo Buganza, the interior secretary for Veracruz.

Both are pleading not guilty and Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola claims that the rumors already existed on the internet, saying, “How can they possibly do this to me, for retweeting a message I mean, it’s 140 characters. It’s not logical.”

Source: AP

Netflix Loses Starz, Faces Competition

Starz recently announced that it would pull its 2,500 new and old TV and movie titles from Sony Pictures and Disney from the streaming service of Netflix. This comes at a time when the service is increasing the price of its services and when YouTube and Amazon ramp up their streaming service offerings.

“More competition is good for content [distributors],” said the head of the digital division at one major Hollywood studio. “When Netflix first started in this space, there was a lot less scrutiny on the deals that were done with them. Given how big Netflix has become, those arrangements are discussed regularly. We’re looking at pricing and windowing. . . . They need to be competitive in terms of buying content.”

Netflix played down the announcement, saying there’s no change in its content relationships. “If there’s any reevaluation by the studios, it’s ‘How much more money are we going to be able to generate in revenue from Netflix because Netflix is willing to write big checks for content.’ We’ll take the money that we were going to spend on Starz and spend it on other content,” said Netflix spokesperson Steve Swasey, who added, “At $7.99 a month, we can’t be expected to have everything, and we provide an amazing DVD service,” he said. “If you want to see everything, you can subscribe to the DVD service, and you don’t have to subscribe to the streaming service.”