Sony Talks Improved Numbers For PSN, Post-Hack

The PSN outage was a PR disaster for Sony, leaving customers unable to access the internet with the PS3’s for a few weeks. Sony senior director of global business strategy and development So Saida indicated that the response by Sony, with a ‘Welcome Back’ program and a redesigned UI, has made the service better (and more successful) than ever.

“Our outage has woken up our dormant customers, we have improved the platform, the content, how you can access your content,” said Saida. “We have increased the revenue of games by 14 percent. We have acquired 800,000 active users for Music Unlimited, five percent revenue for Video Unlimited and we now have three million accounts for this service.”

Source: TechRadar

Blizzard Says DOTA ‘Should Belong To The Community’

DOTA, named after the “Defense of the Ancients” mod for Warcraft III, has become the unofficial name for a new competitive gaming genre, inspiring imitators like League of Legends and Heroes of Newerth. However, Valve has tried to trademark “DOTA” for their game Dota 2, while Blizzard is developing Blizzard DOTA and doesn’t think that any one company should own the name.

“I can share that our opinion about the situation is that the DOTA name really should belong to the community,” said Blizzard president Mike Morhaime. “I think that it’s been part of the Warcraft III community for a very long time, and we would like to see the community continue being able to use that name, and having an exclusive mark owned by a competitor doesn’t feel right to us.”

Despite the legal shake up, Morhaime says, “We’re very friendly with Valve. So yeah, we do talk to Valve.”

Source: Eurogamer

Valve Can’t Explain Team Fortress 2’s Huge Conversion Rate

Free-to-play is a business model that covers a wide variety of games, from Facebook titles like FarmVille to MMORPGs like MapleStory. However, Gabe Newell of Valve notes that conversion rates and participation are vastly different, depending on the game the F2P model is incorporated.

“The most recent thing that also is really puzzling is that we made products available for free on numerous occasions, without significantly impacting the audience size,” said Newell. “We recently said, we’re now going to do something different, we’re not only going to signal that it’s free but we’re going to say, ‘it’s free to play,’ which is not really a pricing signal, even though that’s what you would ordinarily think it is. And our user base for our first product that we made free to play, Team Fortress 2, increased by a factor of five. That doesn’t make sense if you’re trying to think of it purely as a pricing phenomenon.”

“Why is free and free to play so different  Well then you have to start thinking about how value creation actually occurs, and what it is that people are valuing, and what the statement that something is free to play implies about the future value of the experience that they’re going to have. And then the conversion rate, when we talk to partners who do free-to-play, a lot of people see about a 2 to 3 percent conversion rate of the people in their audience who actually buy something, and then with Team Fortress 2, which looks more like Arkham Asylum in terms of the user profile and the content, we see about a 20 to 30 percent conversion rate of people who are playing those games who buy something,” he added. “So that’s a fairly surprising and fairly recent statistic, which is that there seems to be something about the content that significantly changes how your monetization occurs, with apparently much broader participation than you would see out of something like FarmVille.”

“We don’t understand what’s going on. All we know is we’re going to keep running these experiments to try and understand better what it is that our customers are telling us. And there are clearly things that we don’t understand because a simple analysis of these statistics implies very contradictory yet reproducible results. So clearly there are things that we don’t understand, and we’re trying to develop theories for them. It’s just an exciting time but also a very troubling time,” he concluded.

Source: GeekWire

Akira Movie Greenlit, Filming In 2012

According to sources, the Warner Bros. live-action remake of Akira has been greenlit and will start filming late February/early March. Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown, House of Wax) has been tapped to direct the film, and it is believed to have to a budget of $90 million.

The two leads of Kaneda and Tetsuo are the choice roles, and Tron: Legacy star Garrett Hedlund is being considered for one of them. Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran will produce Akira with Mad Chance’s Andrew Lazar.

WB acquired the rights to Akira for seven figures from Japanese manga publisher Kodansha in 2008. The cyberpunk classic deals with biker gangs, destructive psychokinetic abilities and government conspiracies; Katsuhiro Otomo, writer and director of the 1988 Japanese anime, will executive produce the film.

Source: Variety

Minecraft Designer Talks Problems With Free-To-Play

Markus “Notch” Persson indicates that his new game will have free-to-play elements in it. However, he says they won’t call it that because it’s not free, and he indicated that he dislikes free-to-play games.

“The reason some people are moving to this area is that free to play showed up in the ‘social gaming’ segment (Facebook) and made a few people (Zynga) very rich,” wrote Persson. “It’s been tried in other genres in other markets with decent success. By ‘success’, I mean ‘it’s profitable’. The reason anyone switches to ‘free-to-play’ is to make more money. You get your players hooked on your game, and then you try to monetize them. The idea is to find a model where there basically is no cap on how much the player can spend, then try to encourage players to spend more and more money. Various psychological traps like abusing the sense of sunk costs get exploited, and eventually you end up with a game that’s designed more like a slot machine than Half-Life 2.”

“So instead of calling it ‘free to play’, we should call it ‘as expensive as you want it to be’ or something,” he added. “I do not mind paying for games after the purchase. I like customizing my character, or getting a few extra levels (Deus Ex Human Revolution: Missing Link, woo!), or even paying a subscription cost for something with running costs. But let’s get one thing clear: people who think ‘free to play’ is a great future are mostly game developers, not game players.”

Notch’s thoughts can be best summed up like this: “While I am skeptical of the free to play trend, what I hate is the wording ‘free to play’,” he said before saying about some free-to-play games, “I’ll go play some Team Fortress 2 now until Dota 2 is released. I can’t wait!!”


NCsoft Appeal Denied In $32 Million Contract Ruling

A tribunal in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a $32 million judgment against NCSoft from Richard Garriott. The suit detailed revolved around NCsoft stock options, which would basically be better if Garriott was dismissed (as he argued) or whether he left on his own (as NCsoft has unsuccessfully tried to argue).

“NCSoft schemed to avoid its obligations to [Garriott] at the trial court and on appeal, and neither the jury nor the 5th Circuit bought any of it,” said Stephen E. Fox, Garriott’s lead counsel in the suit. “Contracts have consequences, and as the Court of Appeals explained, the trial court is not a trial run.”

Source: Gamasutra

Sony 3D Display Coming November 13

Sony has confirmed that it’s launching its special 3D display TV on November 13 for $499. The HD set will have a pair of glasses, an HDMI cable, a copy of Motorstorm Apocalypse, and those who pre-ordered the display before October 1 will get Resistance 3 also.

The display is capable of not only 3D, but also a neat trick that allows two players to playing together on the same screen without using split-screen . The 3D glasses separate the two pictures letting one player use the glasses and another the TV display.

Any possible information you could want on the display is available over at the PS Blog.

Mass Effect 3 Demo Landing January 2012

BioWare has announced that Mass Effect 3 will have a pre-release demo in January 2012. The Online Pass for Battlefield 3 will unlock this early access and there will be other ways to get involved announced sometime between late November and early December.

The demo will include both single-player and multiplayer sections. However, it seems the multi-player are the parts limited to those that unlock it through the Online Pass or other means – the single-player section of the demo will be available “on day one of the demo launch.”