Gamer Numbers Double Since 2008, Says Parks Associates

According to Parks Associates indicates that the U.S. gaming population has more than doubled in the last three years, increasing from 56 million in 2008 to over 135 million in 2011. Most of this is due to the increased gaming mobile devices; 57 percent of smartphone owners game, along with 75 percent of U.S. tablet owners play games on the device, increasing to 79 percent of teenage tablet owners.

“The increase in the number of gamers is impressive because it crosses almost all demographics,” said Pietro Macchiarella, Research Analyst, Parks Associates. “Most of this growth is due to increases in the casual gamer segments, with tablets and smartphones usurping PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox as popular gaming devices.”

“These changes have significant implications for the gaming industry,” Macchiarella said. “This new majority of casual gamers is looking for games with low entry barriers, with limited investments required in terms of dollars and time necessary to learn the game. In addition, the ubiquity of portable devices and Internet access allows more people to play on-the-go, putting pressure on the gaming industry to design games that can deliver a satisfactory experience within these specific conditions.”

Zynga CEO Wants Stock Giveback From Early Employees

Reports are that Zynga CEO Marcus Pincus is looking for certain early employees to give back their stock of the company ahead of the IPO. The executive apparently developed “giver’s remorse” after giving out stock so freely early on.

A large part of the stated “giver’s remorse” is that Pincus doesn’t feel some early employees contributed as much as later employees did, though due to their seniority they ended up with more stock in the company. Zynga had no official comment, since they were in their federally mandated quiet period ahead of its IPO.

Source: Washington Post

Steam Suffers Breach, Information Stolen

Valve founder Gabe Newell has issued a statement confirming that Valve’s Steam was hacked in a November 6 raid that resulted in the Steam forums being defaced. User information was obtained and the system’s entire database has maybe been exposed.

“We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums,” stated Newell. “This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating.”

“We don’t have evidence of credit card misuse at this time. Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely,” added Newell. “While we only know of a few forum accounts that have been compromised, all forum users will be required to change their passwords the next time they login. If you have used your Steam forum password on other accounts you should change those passwords as well. We do not know of any compromised Steam accounts, so we are not planning to force a change of Steam account passwords (which are separate from forum passwords). However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change that as well, especially if it is the same as your Steam forum account password.”

L.A. Noire Creator Talks Pressured Development, Why The Studio Closed

L.A. Noire released to critical praise earlier this year, but it was followed by a dark cloud of controversy due to working conditions in the weeks that followed. Brendan McNamara, who was head of the now dissolved Team Bondi, indicates that the post-release controversy prevented the studio from signing a new contract.

“Mainly, I’d say because we got a lot of bad press about what it was like to work with us and our conditions,” said McNamara. “That, obviously, didn’t come at the right time. To do a deal for a major video game probably takes about a year. We didn’t start running around doing that stuff until well after the game was finished. That’s the problem when a game is all consuming and you need to get out there and do whatever you need to do to get people to know it and interested.”

Rumors floated about that Team Bondi existed in a state of extreme “crunch mode” all of the time. With 110 hour work weeks, unpaid overtime and enmity between the staff and the management. For his part, McNamara defended the development process.

“Yeah, 110 hour weeks are tough,” said McNamara. “But not many people worked 110 hour weeks making L.A. Noire, I can tell you that. And it wasn’t mandatory. It was just, yeah, it was hard, and it was brutal, but I would say, most of those triple-A games, when you aren’t sure of what the technology is, and you aren’t sure what the process is, it’s going to be pretty difficult. Time’s a finite thing. You can’t extend it forever. We certainly had plenty of time.”

As for what he and former members of Team Bondi are doing, McNamara said, “A lot of people who were working on L.A. Noire have gone across to KMM, some of them to be working on some of the film projects. A lot of the art and animation guys went across. Some of the people have gone to work in different Rockstar studios. I’m personally just writing some new stuff now, which I’ve been pitching around for the last couple of weeks. Hopefully I’ll have something to announce on that pretty soon.”

Source: Eurogamer

Legend of Zelda: Link To The Past May Go 3D

There’s a lot on the table for Nintendo and the Legend of Zelda series, with releases on 3DS and Wii this year. While a brand new game seems to be in the works for 3DS, a remake of a classic 2D title might come out as well.

“Well actually, even Mr. Miyamoto himself has been talking recently about going back to the 2D Zelda games,” said Skyward Sword producer Eiji Aonuma, “in particular the ones that were designed with multiple levels to the world like A Link to the Past, and taking those 2D graphics and recreating them in 3D so that you could get a sense for the depth of those worlds. That’s something that might be interesting to do, so I would say there might be a possibility of something like that in the future.”

Source: GamesRadar

Battlefield 4: EA President Says To Expect It

Reports are that Electronic Arts president Frank Gibeau has confirmed that there will be a Battlefield 4. He confirmed that the game will come out at a keynote at the University of Southern California.

Battlefield 3 was the fastest selling game in the history of Electronic Arts, netting 5 million in sales in the first week. No context was given about the setting, but considering the succeed in and demand for modern settings in military FPS titles, it will probably mirror and build off of Battlefield 3.

Source: IGN

Rockstar’s Dan Houser Talks Max Payne 3

While the gaming industry tends to be a very open one when it comes to marketing and hands-on time for titles, but not with Rockstar Games. The developer purposefully keeps its projects under wraps and lets out info in small organized chunks, but it’s all part of the grand strategy.

“It’s really important to us that the games (feel) kind of magical,” said Dan Houser, VP of creative and co-founder of Rockstar. “It might annoy people that we don’t give out more information, but I think the end point is people enjoy the experience. The less they know about how things are pieced together and how things are broken down and what our processes are, the more it will feel like this thing is alive, that you are being dragged into the experience. That’s what we want.”

A notable issue with Rockstar’s upcoming Max Payne 3 is that the last entry released several years ago, meaning that there’s a competition with rose colored glasses much as anything. “I think the challenge of nostalgia is a profound one, because one thing about videogames is your memory tends to remove the horrendous,” Houser says. “(The games) become these great, perfect experiences. It’s definitely a challenge to get the right pitch when you want to appeal to the fans of the original and bring in a new audience.”

Houser is the lead writer on Max Payne 3, which has a story where Max finds himself embroiled in a kidnapping scheme in Brazil. “If games are to be the next major form of creative consumption, art, cultural expression or whatever the correct term is, then strong narrative has to be part of that,” he says. “If the mechanics are fine and the story is ridiculous, the experience is much diminished.”

With notable exceptions, multiplayer modes tend to exist outside of the realm of the main single-player story, but Houser hints that may not be the case with Max Payne 3. “We wanted to put some elements of single player into the multiplayer so the multiplayer will have a lot more detail and have elements of story in it and have a sort of an immersive quality,” he says. “We think that’s something that is under-explored in multiplayer.”

As always for Rockstar, both realism and attention to detail are important. “We are building a film set, but it’s a 360-degree film set that has to join together and feel real,” he explains. “Some of the stuff we end up being most obsessed by are the things that join between walls. And where a lot of other games fail is their models may look great, but they don’t sit together very well.”

Despite the similarities between Rockstar’s approach to games and movie studios, Houser isn’t eager to jump down the 3D rabbit hole. “I don’t think anyone has solved the riddle of how you make 3D an integral part of the gaming experience,” he said simply.

Source: Variety