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

What Was Frank Doing During Those Missing Years?

On the official Facebook fan page for Dead Rising, a new App called Frank’s Missing Years {link no longer active} brings together user generated content for a contest. Fans can upload a photo or choose one from Facebook and inset an image of Frank serving up zombie beat downs. A toolset allows fans to manipulate the final image for submission. Check out the freshest images, hit “Like” or search through images to find your buddies’ entries. Also, Capcom has released a new application for the iOS Platform, Shot By Frank {link no longer active}, that allows users to take photo’s using the iPhone camera (or import them from the photo album) and use them as magazine covers. Magazine (or newspaper) cover shots can then be shared worldwide via Twitter and Facebook integration. Also in the application Frank will review the cover shots and give you some helpful tips on how to become a better photographer.

It’s UP2U

A new microsite for Mentos’ new line of gum (a pack with two flavors) puts the choice in your hands. This interactive video experience pairs four films that run parallel to each other. The user can drag a slider between each one as the video plays. In one scenario, visitors can decide between being a “Hip Hop Superstar” with Naughty by Nature, or an astronaut. In another, they can either take part in a Japanese Game Show or run from zombies. The unique interface allows users to toggle seamlessly between the two scenarios. A central menu holds all the different combinations of films, each representing one flavor of the Mentos gum. At the end, the user’s engagement is measured and the experience can be shared via Facebook and Twitter.

Mirror’s Edge 2: DICE Thinks Fans Are Ready

Mirror’s Edge has obtained something of a cult following, but it was not a game without issues. DICE studio producer Patrick Liu thinks that certain issues can be worked out in a sequel and that sales can follow the positive critical reception.

“I think [Mirror’s Edge 2 is] something that people are ready to get into again,” said Liu. “We see that there’s a huge fan following, it’s almost like a cult! And we know what strengths we had, and what weaknesses we had in that game. If we were to release a new game, we’d know what to improve and how to reach a broader audience. So I definitely think there’s a market there.”

Source: Spong

Battlefield 3: Rep Your Class In A T-Shirt

Players tend to have preferences for classes that they play online in Battlefield 3, and DICE wants players to express their preferences in one of four new shirts. The designs, for Support, Engineer,Dice Recon and Assault are available now for pre-order for $34.99 per shirt.

Source: {link no longer active}

Social Networks Other Than Facebook Expected To See $5.6 Billion Revenue By 2014

According to Viximo, worldwide revenue generated in the social gaming market from non-Facebook sources will expand from $3.2 billion to $5.6 billion in 2014. Facebook currently represents only about a third of worldwide traffic for social networks, leaving plenty of opportunities for local social networks and especially in countries like Brazil, Germany, Russia and Turkey.

“The social web beyond Facebook is often overlooked when it comes to games and applications.  As it turns out, social networks beyond Facebook represent a non-trivial – in fact, significant – and fertile ground for games and apps,” said Dale Strang, CEO, Viximo. “What we uncovered with this study was just how quickly non-Facebook social gaming is exploding around the world, giving game-makers a terrific opportunity to reach new audiences and generate new revenue.”

The study also revealed that Russia and Brazil are the two Western countries with the largest social gaming audiences, with 35 million and 32.6 million respectively. While Facebook does dominate in North America, it represents only about a third of worldwide traffic for social networks.

The study conducted by SuperData Research also says that Asia remains the largest market for social games and has an estimated $2 billion in total revenue for 2011, however key markets in South America and Western and Eastern Europe may have more room for growth. Germany is the Western country currently generating the most social gaming revenue with more than $173 million; this is predicted to reach $250 million in 2014.