Immortals: Gods And Heroes

Archaia Entertainment and Panelfly have announced the launch of a new cross-platform, multi-media fan experience to coincide with the release of Immortals in theaters this Friday. Immortals: Gods and Heroes HD is a new application for iPad and iPhone that unlocks access to a variety of exclusive Immortals content. Includes exclusive Art from an A-list of celebrated comic creators, including Ben Templesmith, Scott Hampton, Trevor Hairsine, Jock, Dennis Calero, Kevin Colden, Patrick Scherberger, Phil Hester, Steve Ellis, and Rafael Kayanan, one of the principal conceptual designers on the film itself. Check out a teaser of the app or check the official page and download.

Feature: Rayman’s Triumphant Return

The first thing name “Ubisoft” conjures up is probably very different depending on who you ask. For many, the Prince of Persia franchise is the first thing that comes to mind given how well established and beloved it is. For others, the various Tom Clancy games are their first though, and when you talk about their largest franchises, surely some people surely think of Just Dance and Assassin’s Creed. There would not of been any of that, however, without Rayman — a cheerful cartoony mascot character that helped put Ubisoft (and designer Michel Ancel) on the map with 19 million in sales over the lifetime of the franchise. We talked with Ubisoft senior VP of sales and marketing Tony Key about the refresh of the Rayman franchise in Rayman Origins.

How much of marketing Rayman Origins has been focused on conveying the changes (the new control method and such)?

It’s a really interesting concept in this world of fancy features and stereoscopic 3D, we’re bringing out this 2D product that takes advantage of all the things the new tech can do, including HD graphics. We have a very old school perspective with Rayman Origins, because it takes Rayman back to its roots. It has a graphical style that I think is very colorful and arresting. It’s all about the UbiArt Framework development tools that the Ubisoft Montpellier team made that lets you drop images in the game. Using that they’ve been able to put a lot of time into the development of the gameplay and worry less about integrating assets. The game is really big from a content perspective.

It’s certainly a unique sort of release these days, with a 2D game seeing a retail release around the holidays for $60 . . .

It’s a big retail game for us, it’s got a lot of content and I think it’s going to be highly appreciated from the press side. We’ve gotten some high early reviews we think its going to be one of the best of the year and we hope the retro gamers are brought in and we hope that this sort of game appeals to younger gamers as well. There’s a good chance if they’re under 12, they may not even know who Rayman is!

It comes off as a very artistic and unlikely game — meaning a perfect Michel Ancel project.

He’s very particular about this game, and if you saw him during the E3 2011 Ubisoft press conference, he was having a lot of fun showing off his game on stage. He’s one of biggest pure artists in the gaming industry. I don’t think he thinks about success and money the way other people do; what’s important to him is if people can appreciate [this games]. He wonders, “will people like it “ rather than will it see X millions of sales. He never wants to come across as overselling the product — it has to be genuine.

So is Michel Ancel actively involved with the marketing as it relates to the presentation of the game?

Oh yeah! All the ads that are made for Rayman Origins come from his studio or we send it to him and ask, “how do you make this better “ We try to include him in the process to marketing the game.

Ancel’s works are wonderful. Incidentally, Beyond Good & Evil was a super game and it would be great to see more of that too . . .

Ultimately, Rayman is [Ancel ‘s] original creation, and if all the people that love Beyond Good & Evil understand he is more than a one trick pony . . . and that if Rayman does well, it gives him more leeway for other opportunities because he has to build up his studio. Just like how Beyond Good & Evil had a whimsical style but included gameplay for adults, Rayman will appeal to more than just younger gamers.

Beyond Good & Evil HD is doing very well on PSN and Xbox Live and there’s a lot of people coming back, and if they choose to do a sequel the audience is bigger than before.

With four-players able to play simultaneously, it seems like the sort of things that kids can play with their parents or older siblings with younger siblings . . .

That’s the way he designed it, that’s what they created. We took that tack in marketing, that a kid could play with their parents. We have an ad where Kal Penn is playing the game with a kid, and he’s totally trash talking with him. But that’s the model we see is that any age group can play it.

Ancel seems to be the master of reaching across generations, having a very Sesame Street like appeal where he reaches across generations with this games.

He’s like the Dr. Seuss of gaming. [Rayman Origins] might be the most highly rated game he’s ever made. It’s a top quality product and it’s counter-programing from what everyone wants to talk about this time of year, which is shooters and military games. We believe that platforming games can be successful; it’s beautiful and fun and it’s a very social four player game.


Keep an eye out for the second part of our interview with Tony Key focusing on Assassin’s Creed: Revelations!

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Digital Games Projected At $53 Billion By 2016

According to search firm Ovum, says that digital game revenues worldwide will reach $24 billion for 2011, an increase of 16 percent over 2010. They expect that number to climb to $53 billion by 2016 as more casual, social and mobile games hit the market and with more free-to-play games proliferating.

Ovum also notes that mobile games are expected to increase 26 percent annually between 2011 and 2016. With the margin on digital games increasing over retail from 20-30 percent range to 50-75 percent, the advantages for publishers and developers are many fold. “The use of ‘online passes’ that are increasingly required for network gaming are also reducing the threat posed by pre-owned games,” Ovum notes.

Source: Ovum

Game Of Thrones Going Social, MMO, And RPG

The Game of Thrones series recently saw the release of a strategy game A Game of Thrones: Genesis but that won’t be the last game based upon the the series. Quite the opposite, there will be an RPG from developer Cyanide Studio and publisher Atlus simply called Game of Thrones, a social game adaptation and a free-to-play MMO from BigPoint.

George R.R. Martin created characters for the RPG including a member of the Night’s Watch on the frozen Wall and a Red Priest. For his part, he knows he is “facing many more years of writing. Hopefully I can stay ahead of the HBO series.”

“That creates a certain amount of pressure, having a freight train coming up behind me. Right now it’s way back, but it’s moving faster than I am,” he noted.

Source: USA Today

Kindle Fire Gets Extensive App Support, Including Games

Amazon has announced that the Kindle Fire will have extensive app support right off the bat. This will include Netflix, Rhapsody, Pandora, Twitter, Comics by comiXology, Facebook, The Weather Channel and games from Zynga, EA, Gameloft, PopCap and Rovio.

“EA is proud to be part of Kindle Fire,” said Bernard Kim, Senior Vice President & Head of Global Sales and Marketing at Electronic Arts. “On Kindle Fire, we’re offering some of the world’s most popular titles with incredible gameplay and breathtaking graphics that anyone can play and enjoy anytime, anywhere.”

“Zynga strives to deliver the best mobile social gaming experiences that can be enjoyed by players anytime and anywhere,” said David Ko, Chief Mobile Officer at Zynga. “Teaming with Amazon to make Words With Friends a featured game on the Kindle Fire provides us with a great way to reach new and existing players on a fresh and exciting device.”

Adobe Flash Mobile Fizzles

Adobe today officially announced that they were canning Flash player for mobile browsers, essentially surrendering the mobile space to HTML5. They will drop an estimated 750 jobs and choose to instead focus on Flash Player 12 for computers instead.

“We are super excited about the next generations of HTML5 and Flash,” said Danny Winokur, Vice President & General Manager, Interactive Development at Adobe. “Together they offer developers and content publishers great options for delivering compelling web and application experiences across PCs and devices.  There is already amazing work being done that is pushing the newest boundaries, and we can’t wait to see what is still yet to come!”


Social/Mobile Game Studio Yippee! Entertainment Founded

Yippee! Entertainment has opened and it has announced it will focus on casual and social games for console, Smart TV, IPTV, and mobile devices. The company will work with indie games publisher Chillingo for their first original title on mobile and is set to announce another new partnership with IPTV.

“This is a very exciting time for Manchester and Salford and we are delighted to be part of it with Yippee Entertainment,” said Yippee! Entertainment CEO Mike Delves. “The talent we have at Yippee has worked on some of the biggest titles in the world and we are proud to have found our home here amongst some of the world’s biggest media companies. The industry response has been excellent in regards to our new venture and teaming up with Chillingo on our first original title could not offer a better start.”

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