Blizzard Offering Salable Pet, First Step To RMT?

Blizzard recently announced that they were introducing a new pet to their World of Warcraft in-game store in the Guardian Cub, which will sell for $10. Unlike other purchasable pets, this pet will be salable for in-game gold on the auction house, making the cosmetic pet a tacit way for players to exchange money for in-game currency.

“While our goal is to offer players alternative ways to add a Pet Store pet to their collection, we’re ok with it if some players choose to use the Guardian Cub as a safe and secure way to try to acquire a little extra in-game gold without turning to third-party gold-selling services,” says Blizzard. “However, please keep in mind that there’s never any guarantee that someone will purchase what you put up for sale in the auction house, or how much they’ll pay for it. Also, it’s important to note that we take a firm stance against buying gold from outside sources because in most cases, the gold these companies offer has been stolen from compromised accounts.”

“While some players might be able to acquire some extra gold by putting the Guardian Cub in the auction house, that’s preferable to players contributing to the gold-selling ‘black market’ and account theft,” they note.


Zynga Rolls Out Project Z Platform

Zynga recently announced five new games in CastleVille, Zynga Casino, Dream Zoo, Hidden Chronicles and Mafia Wars 2. Also announced was the new Project Z, which will be a host site for their games; they had previously used individual sites for their games.

“I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what we’re trying to do. What’s in all these games that we have now How do you string it all together, tie it back to our mission that we’ve been pursuing for the last five years ” said Zynga CEO Mark Pincus. “We challenge ourselves every day with the question ‘how do we get you guys to play ‘ You don’t have time to sit and play games, yet we really think that play is this macro theme activity that we all need to fit back into our lives. Everything behind the products we’re creating is our mission to build what we think of as a platform for play.”


Uncharted 3 Goes Gold, Gets Starhawk Beta Code

Sony announced that Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception has gone gold for the game’s November 1 release. Along with the news that all copies of the game will include four behind-the-scenes videos detailing the development and production of Uncharted 3, another bonus was announced.

“And as an added bonus, all retail copies of Uncharted 3 will include a voucher code for early access to the upcoming Starhawk Public Beta {link no longer active}, which will be coming in early 2012,” said Eric Monacelli, Community Strategist at Naughty Dog. “Just like Uncharted 3, Starhawk promises to provide an incredible multiplayer experience that only PS3 can deliver. Here’s a glimpse of what the voucher insert looks like, and you can keep tabs on for more details.”


Wii Goes Blue, U.S. Gets Slim Version

Nintendo has announced that they will be launching a new slim Wii model for the U.S. The black Wii will come with matching controllers New Super Mario Bros. Wii and a Super Mario Galaxy soundtrack CD and release on October 23 for $149.99.

Additionally, the U.K. will see two Wii Fit Plus bundles, the first includes a black Wii console, a copy of Wii Fit Plus and a black Wii Balance Board, along with another bundle that has no Wii. There will also be a Wii Family Edition bundle that includes the slim Wii with Wii Sports and Wii Party.

Finally, Europe will see a new blue Wii model. This bundle will include Mario & Sonic at London 2012 Olympic Games along with a matching blue Wii Remote Plus.


Apple Will Have Game Changing Living-Room System, Says Valve’s Newell

Valve’s Gabe Newell said recently that he believes that home consoles will be outdated by new hardware from Apple. What exactly it will look like, however, he has no idea.

“I suspect Apple will launch a living-room product that redefines people’s expectations really strongly and the notion of a separate console platform will disappear,” said Newell.

Newell also expressed worried that closed platforms will become more prevalent because of Apple and Xbox Live. “I’m worried that the things that traditionally have been the source of a lot of innovation are going,” he shared. “There’s going to be an attempt to close those off so somebody will say, ‘I’m tired of competing with Google, I’m tired of competing with Facebook, I’ll apply a console model and exclude the competitors I don’t like from my world.'”

Source: The Seattle Times

BlackBerry 2011 Outage Affects Millions

BlackBerry has reported issues with their clients in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and India. Unfortunately, glitches in the browsing capabilities, the BlackBerry Messenger and email have spread to North America.

“Although the system is designed to failover to a back-up switch, the failover did not function as previously tested,” said the company {link no longer active}. “ As a result, a large backlog of data was generated, and we are now working to clear that backlog and restore normal service as quickly as possible.”

Thousands of unhappy RIM customers have posted messages on the BlackBerry Facebook page {page no longer active} to complain. While some customers are venting, others are posting very real threats of switching over to Apple, which just announced the release of its own iMessage app to directly compete with BBM.

Reports are that this is the worst BlackBerry service disruption in two years. It comes from the issue of the centralized BlackBerry servers used around the world; while this makes it easier to encrypt data for security purposes, if a server goes down, it can knock out regions of the world and affect millions of customers.

Source: AdWeek

Sims Social Players Mimic Habits Of Zynga Players

Raptr released a report on The Sims Social saying that the PopCap purchase gave the company more direct access to casual players 59 percent to 75 percent of which already play social games as well. Additionally, it was found that The Sims Social players have an average of eight sessions per day, five minutes per session, similar to the Zynga games from which most are believed to be drawn.

“EA is a rising force in the social games industry,” said Dennis Fong, CEO of Raptr. “Data from the previous Raptr Report outlined the strength of Zynga’s position in the social gaming space, but EA is poised to capture significant market share if it can capitalize on the popularity of The Sims Social. With this report we examine the basis of The Sims Social’s success and the potential significance of EA acquisitions of Playfish and PopCap to the company’s future social strategy.”


Resident Evil 5 Movie Sees Set Accident

Reports are that 16 actors dressed as zombies were injured when a platform collapsed on the set up Resident Evil: Retribution. Twelve victims were taken to a hospital, none of the injuries were considered life threatening.

“I could see the look on the first paramedic, saying ‘Oh my God,'” said Toronto emergency medical services Commander David Ralph.

The local Police Sargent and responders identified who was really injured, despite the zombie makeup. The incident involved only background actors and lead actress Milla Jovovich was not even on the set when the accident occurred.

Source: AP

Gaming Kids: 90 Percent In U.S. Do Game, Says NPD

According to the NPD, the growth of gamers ages 2-17 has outpaced the population growth of that age group. Over 90 percent of kids ages 2-17 (population of approximately 64 million) are gaming in the U.S., an increase of 9 points when compared to 2009.

“Year-to-date through August 2011, kids comprised 44 percent of new physical software dollar sales, representing a vitally important consumer segment for the games industry,” said Anita Frazier, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “Knowing how kids are spending their gaming time and dollars in both traditional and non-traditional outlets is key to staying relevant to this highly engaged audience.”

The growth of gamers has mostly been among kids ages 2-5, with females and teens ages 15-17 also contributing. Mobile devices have, not surprisingly, contributed quite a bit to in the increase of gaming; since 2009 gaming on mobile devices is up from 8 percent to 38 percent, gaming on traditional portable devices was up from 38 percent to 45 percent.

iOS and Android devices have proliferated greatly over the past couple of years, as has content for these systems. It is worth noting, however, that the amount spent on physical game products was over five times what was spent on app-capable devices in the past 3 months.

Rage On PC: id Explains The Issues

The game Rage was made on 64-bit PC systems and submitted to a “build system,” to build all the platforms. The game’s creative director Tim Willits says that helped produce a smooth console product at launch… but there are issues with the PC version.

“This system has led to incredibly solid and bug-free 360 and PS3 versions,” Willits said. “Unfortunately, we have had video driver issues that have caused problems and frustrations with our PC fans. Everyone at id Software is very upset by these issues which are mostly out of our control. We are working with both AMD/ATI and Nvidia to help them identify and fix the issues with their drivers. We’ve had assurances that these problems are being addressed and new drivers will be available soon.”

“The driver issues at launch have been a real cluster !@#$,” wrote id founder John Carmack. “We were quite happy with the performance improvements that we had made on AMD hardware in the months before launch; we had made significant internal changes to cater to what AMD engineers said would allow the highest performance with their driver and hardware architectures, and we went back and forth with custom extensions and driver versions.”

“We knew that all older AMD drivers, and some Nvidia drivers would have problems with the game, but we were running well in-house on all of our test systems. When launch day came around and the wrong driver got released, half of our PC customers got a product that basically didn’t work. The fact that the working driver has incompatibilities with other titles doesn’t help either. Issues with older / lower end /exotic setups are to be expected on a PC release, but we were not happy with the experience on what should be prime platforms.”

This sounds like an indication that Rage was not developed as a “PC first” game, and that’s a sentiment that Carmack seems to back up. “You can choose to design a game around the specs of a high-end PC and make console versions that fail to hit the design point, or design around the specs of the consoles and have a high-end PC provide incremental quality improvements,” Carmack replied. “We chose the latter.”

“We do not see the PC as the leading platform for games,” Carmack added. “That statement will enrage some people, but it is hard to characterize it otherwise; both console versions will have larger audiences than the PC version. A high end PC is nearly 10 times as powerful as a console, and we could unquestionably provide a better experience if we chose that as our design point and we were able to expend the same amount of resources on it. Nowadays most of the quality of a game comes from the development effort put into it, not the technology it runs on. A game built with a tenth the resources on a platform 10 times as powerful would be an inferior product in almost all cases.”

Source: Kotaku