Turtle Beach Hires Bob Picunko As CMO

Turtle Beach has announced that they have appointed Bob Picunko as Chief Marketing Officer. His prior experience is in marketing, product development, business development, licensing as with companies like MTV Networks, The Walt Disney Company, Interplay Entertainment, Acclaim Entertainment and DDB Worldwide Advertising.

“Bob is a dynamic addition to Turtle Beach,” said Carmine Bonanno, Chief Executive Officer of Turtle Beach. “He has a track record of success and innovation in the industry, strong relationships with key partners and a keen understanding of both our market and consumers.”

“Audio is a really critical part of the video game experience,” said Picunko. “Through my work on successful titles like Kingdom Hearts, Rock Band, and Dance Central, I understand how much effort the developer puts into game audio. It is very exciting to be a part of a company where the mission is to assure that players experience games the way the creators intended.”

Skyrim Awareness, Purchase Intent High, Says Ipsos

Ipsos has issued their latest GamePlan Insights, detailing franchise engagement. According to the metrics of the study, it shows the ‘stickiness’ of traditional retail videogame franchises.

“When assessing the performance or health of a traditional retail gaming franchise, most people rely on unit sales or YoY growth,” says the report. “But often publishers and retailers do not understand who is driving the sales or whether they are likely to continue with the next installment of the franchise.”

“As keen observers of the gaming space, we are constantly in search of new metrics that offer a fresh and meaningful perspective for the industry,” the report continues. “One such metric is Franchise Engagement, which uses data from our nationally representative weekly GamePlan Insights tracker to provide a unique viewpoint on the ‘stickiness’ of a franchise. Franchise Engagement is calculated by looking at the ratio of Purchase Intent to Awareness and comparing the scores across a large number of franchises to provide benchmarks.”

“Among franchises tracked in the last 12 months, Elder Scrolls has the highest average conversion of Awareness to Purchase Intent: meaning a Franchise Engagement Ratio (FER) score of .563. Since January 2011, not only has Awareness for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim doubled, but Purchase Intent has doubled as well. As a result, it has maintained an impressive conversion ratio and is growing at the ideal scale. Improving upon the open-world gameplay consistent with the Elder Scrolls series, Skyrim is an Action RPG set in a fully realized fantasy world filled with lively cities, towns, and expansive wilderness,” the report notes. “While the sales ceiling for Elder Scrolls may be lower than powerhouse franchises such as Call of Duty and Madden, it has an avid and growing fanbase and a bright future. Assuming Skyrim receives the critical acclaim that many in the industry are predicting, loyal fans will continue to evangelize the franchise to friends and family. This bottom up approach takes time to develop (the first Elder Scrolls launched in 1994), but clearly Bethesda has developed a rock solid foundation and has identified a winning formula for a successful and healthy video game franchise.”

Talking Friends Downloaded 225 Million Times

Outfit7, publisher of games like Firefly Hero and House Of Mice, have announced that the range of Talking Friends apps have seen 225 million downloads. They note that 51 percent of users have purchased two or more games from the series, while 20 percent have downloaded at least four, with 60 million monthly active users.

“These numbers are getting us into a very different stage and kind of company,” said Outfit7’s executive chairman Narry Singh. “Our users’ lives are obviously not just on the smartphone.”

Outift7 signed up with talent agency William Morris Entertainment in June with expectations to expand the brand to TV and movie markets. “We fundamentally believe that for the next Harry Potter . . . the likelihood of it coming from the mobile market will be much higher than traditional ways,” noted Singh.

Source: VentureBeat

IOS Facebook Additions For Unreal Development Kit

Epic Games has announced that the Unreal Development Kit (UDK) has added new iOS Facebook features. This will allow developers to access wall post and friend list functionality, along with the ability to request various permissions from users.

“Epic Games will host the next Unreal University at the Montreal International Game Summit on November 1-2, 2011,” the company also noted. “Unreal University is an academic initiative that offers professional guidance to anyone using Unreal Engine 3. Sessions are free, and topics include level design best practices, mobile game development tips and tricks, and more. Thanks to Autodesk, these learning sessions will be streamed live via the Autodesk AREA community portal. Unreal University’s next stop will be the Dubai World Game Expo, which will be held November 30 through December 3.”

The UDK is available for free download; check out the full details here.

Kinect Effect Goes Commercial

The Kinect has been a phenomenal success for Microsoft, 8 million sold milestone after only 60 days on the market. Now, to compliment the release of the Kinect for Windows SDK, they’ve launched a commercial program with companies such as Toyota, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Razorfish.

“Keen on encouraging the fast-growing wealth of non-gaming applications that have sprung up for Kinect, Microsoft released an academic and enthusiast software development kit for non-commercial projects in June and promised to develop a similar kit for commercial uses. To that end, today Microsoft announced that the Kinect for Windows commercial program will launch early next year, giving global businesses the tools they need to develop applications on Kinect that could take their businesses and industries in new directions,” says Microsoft. “Thus, the genesis of the so-called ‘Kinect Effect’ – a term coined in the hallways and conference rooms of Microsoft to describe the device’s increasingly widespread appeal and diversity of uses.”

Source: Microsoft.com

Angry Birds Pirated In China, Rovio Not That Upset

Angry Birds is one of the hottest properties in China, but much of the product available in that nation aren’t officially licensed. Rovio CEO Peter Vesterbacka came on stage at the Disrupt conference in Beijing with non-licensed Angry Birds balloons that he purchased on the street to demonstrate a point.

“There are a lot of Angry Birds products out there, but most of them aren’t officially licensed,” he said. “Angry Birds is now the most copied brand in China, and we get a lot of inspiration from local producers.”

“Right now, we’ve proven that there’s demand, and we’re going for 100 million downloads this year for Angry Birds, and again the same demand for the physical products,” he added. “The way we look at it is, of course we want to sell the officially licensed, good quality products, but at the same time we have to be happy about the fact that the brand is so loved that it is the most copied brand in China.”

“It’s great for us to see the demand, and that’s why we’re building our own stores here,” he noted. “And actually we’re building our first stores here, and not in Helsinki… We hope to have quite a few over the next 12 months. We actually expect to do a lot of services, a lot of products, here first. It’s a different approach to some of our competitors. We want to be more Chinese than the Chinese companies.”

Fast approaching a half-million downloads globally, Vesterbacka bragged that Angry Birds is the “the fastest growing brand ever.” Despite demand for a feature films, he still pegs it as two to three years out, and isn’t sure that theaters will be the right market for it.

“Who knows if they will even hit the theaters, because distribution on the movie side is changing. Right now, we have pretty massive distribution power through our game,” said Vesterbacka. “We probably have more distribution power than any of the Hollywood studios.”

Source: TechCrunch.com

Batman: Arkham City DLC Plans Kept Close To Chest

Rocksteady Studios game director Sefton Hill says that Catwoman was planned from very early on for Batman: Arkham City to be the complimentary character to Batman. However, the Robin discussion came up much later, and as far as future DLC announcements for the game, that will have to wait a while longer.

“The main thing we’re doing is the challenges for Robin and we’re doing some avatar skins as well . . . ” said Hill, and when asked about any story DLC, he smiled and responded, “I don’t think I’m allowed to talk about that at this stage.”

Source: Guardian.co.uk

Nintendo Looks To Enhance Digital Offerings For 3DS

The 3DS was behind the online curve when it first launched; it’s eShop was not even available until a couple of months after launch. New changes announced will allow games to have post-release DLC and to have demos available on the eShop.

“We are . . . aiming to accelerate our digital business, the importance of which is expected to become even higher in the future,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. “In terms of its usability, we know that there still are several issues with the Nintendo eShop. We have made several improvements for this time. For example, software downloads can be done when Nintendo 3DS is in sleep mode, which will lessen the need for the users to patiently wait by while downloading several software titles at once or while downloading software with a large memory capacity.”

“Although this next feature is not going to be available with the next system update, we are now preparing for the Nintendo eShop to be available on the Web so that you can access it via PCs or smartphones too,” he added. “At the beginning, you will not be able to directly purchase software from your PC or smartphone. Instead, you will need to take a photo of a QR code at the Nintendo eShop by using the camera of your Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo 3DS will then open that specific page of the Nintendo eShop. That function is already included in the upcoming system update for the Nintendo 3DS. In the future, we will make it so that you will be able to purchase software by using your PC or smartphone.”

Source: Nintendo