Portal Themed Bedroom

Portal and Portal 2 are some of the most innovative and creative titles in this industry, and Valve’s legion of fans will do all sorts of things to express their adoration for the games. Take, for example, this unique bedroom (and bathroom) makeover a gamer dad put together for his lucky son.

Analyzing Kinect’s First Year

Microsoft’s Kinect peripheral has certainly seemed like a boon for the company and its Xbox business, but what do people in the industry think about its performance and its future

“I think Kinect is now a part of the Microsoft ecosystem, and it’s an integral part,” said Arcadia analyst John Taylor.  “You’re doing this story at an interesting time because the new Dashboard and all the stuff they’re doing with Bing is just about to happen. I think that’s going to bring magic to this thing again. This isn’t gaming related. I don’t think Microsoft has to rely on games to drive demand for this. They’re hoping, and I think there’s a good chance that the voice interface, the entertainment search feature that’s going to be built into this thing is going to be a tie-breaker for an awful lot of people. I want to watch a movie but I don’t want to have to wade through 50 pages of menus. If Microsoft can get the thing right, in terms of allowing people access to all that stuff that’s out there, they can win on that basis without needing a game to drive the installed base.”

That’s all well and good, but third parties would like to see Microsoft pushing the Kinect a little harder with better first-party efforts too.

“It’s not healthy to just sell in the holiday, or 90 percent of your units in the holidays. We would really like to see them have some major launches during the non-holiday part of the year,” said Ubisoft’s VP of Marketing Tony Key. “That will help keep the visibility of the machine high and enable better catalog sales throughout the year, and also give us the opportunity to launch some things throughout the year. We put out Michael Jackson: The Experience in April and we would love to continue to have Kinect games come out all year long, but we need support from first-party [Microsoft] also on that front.”

Source: IndustryGamers

Scribblenauts Developer Bashes Retail Model

5th Cell creative director Jeremiah Slaczka is saying that the current retail model for games is broken. Skyrocketing budgets have exposed the weakness of the $60 price tag, he asserts.

“Before the model was tolerable, because the cost was reasonable enough to allow mediocre selling games to make money,” he said. “Now it’s just insane. If you aren’t going to be a mega hit at $60, you might as well give up before you even try, because it’s tens of millions down the hole.”

“As a consumer, why would I want to play an okay FPS when I can play a bunch of great FPS titles for the same price And that’s what the consumers did,” said Slackza. “But what if you could rent Homefront for $4.99 for 24 hours from your console What if Homefront was only $30 dollars upfront for the single player and if you liked it you could buy the multiplayer for an additional $30 All of the sudden it’s not a binary purchase option anymore.”

Source: GameInformer

RedOctane On The Arduous Task Of Launching Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero is well past its prime and it’s unclear if Activision will bring the franchise back, but the brothers behind the game at RedOctane, Charles and Kai Huang, have learned a lot from the trials and tribulations of launching a mega blockbuster in this industry.

Explained Kai, “We almost went out of business three times from the beginning to when we were acquired. The first two times we said we’re never going to let this happen again, and of course it happened again. The last time was right in the middle of launching Guitar Hero. We decided we were going to launch originally with 50,000 units for that holiday season. It was 2005. We ended up signing a deal with MTV, for marketing, and when we did that we decided to bump our hardware production up to 150,000 units, which was huge for us. Very expensive. Just the hardware investment alone and the cost of goods was $3 million for a company that was doing a total of $6 million. We had tripled our production forecast, so we pretty much ran out of money. We went out to VCs and we tried to raise money and we couldn’t, and that was when Charles and I decided to mortgage our houses and borrowed as much money as we could. On top of that, we had to borrow another half a million dollars from a family friend, who happened to have the money lying around because they were remodeling their house. We used all of that to launch Guitar Hero.”

Kai also revealed that his next project will involve “figuring out ways to get people healthier — more active and fit, ultimately leading them to a healthier lifestyle by leveraging gaming some how.”

Source: Mashable


Inside Infinity Blade II’s Amazing Visuals

Epic and Chair Entertainment are almost ready to release their follow-up to one of the most successful iOS titles to date. Infinity Blade II launches on December 1 and here’s a closer look at the visual masterpiece.

Call Of Duty Dethroning Target Of U4iA

U4iA founder Dusty Welch is very confident about the future possibilities of his free-to-play shooter company. In fact, he believes that one day they will compete with the largest FPS titles on the planet.

“I created Call of Duty to dethrone the established leaders back in the early 2000s, and you bet my goal at U4iA is to repeat that success again,” said Welch. “Providing a AAA, first person shooter experience in a browser is really what the end game is for us. And I think that’s going to help lead the new dynamic and a transition of gamers into the social.”

“I think you look at my track record of knocking off the established players and you can imagine that my goal for U4iA is to once again dethrone the established players, across the spectrum, across the space and allow gamers to again unite and experience the best consumer proposition that’s available, and usher in a new genre experience,” he added. “That’s what U4iA is going to provide.”

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

Microsoft To Launch Kinect Hardware For PC

Microsoft has revealed via its Windows blog that it’s preparing to launch a PC-specific Kinect camera peripheral early next year. The new Kinect will launch as part of the Kinect for Windows commercial program, and the camera’s firmware will feature a new “near mode,” enabling the device to keep track of objects as close as 50 centimeters away, “with graceful degradation down to 40 centimeters.”

That’s a whole lot better than the Xbox 360 version of Kinect, which has difficulty tracking players if they’re too close in a tightly packed living room.  It’s not clear if the “near mode” will be brought over to the 360 version with a later update, but we sure hope so.

The PC Kinect will also come with a shorter USB cable, and a small dongle to “improve coexistence with other USB peripherals.”

DC Universe Online Sees Huge Lift From Free-To-Play

Free-to-play is one of the biggest trends sweeping the industry right now – it seems like almost every major online title is offering some kind of free-to-play or “freemium” service and with good reason: it’s a business model that works. Sony Online Entertainment has revealed that its DC Universe Online has seen a staggering 700 percent revenue jump since making the switch to free-to-play.

Having already announced that one million new players had signed up since transitioning to the new business model, John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment, announced the revenue jump and noted that 85 percent of daily log-ins are now by returning players, and the user base continues to grow at a rate of 6 percent per day. He also said that daily revenue is now mostly generated by players purchasing additional character slots and new skins for their in-game characters.

Netflix And Nintendo Push ‘Just For Kids’ Section On Wii

Netflix has done a fantastic job penetrating the console market and the Wii is perhaps the most family-friendly console ever created, so it makes sense that the streaming video service is leveraging the Wii with a special “Just For Kids” section.

By selecting the section within the Netflix app for Wii, members will see a variety of content that’s perfect for their children 12 and under, with popular characters like “Phineas and Ferb” and “Elmo.”  The “Just for Kids” section lets users scroll through row after row of TV shows and movies organized by genres like superheroes, princesses, dinosaurs and girl power. Additionally, Netflix is using ratings and reviews from Common Sense Media “to help parents make great media choices.”

The Netflix “Just for Kids” section is now available in the U.S. on the Wii console (and PC/Mac). Netflix is planning similar functionality for other devices over the next year.