Free-To-Play Studio Founded By Activision Veterans

Dusty Welch and Chris Archer have founded U4iA Games and have appointed themselves CEO and chief creative officer. The Activision veterans have headed up the production and brand management for franchises like Call of Duty, Guitar Hero, and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and will now work on an online-only, hardcore freemium, first-person social game.

“U4iA Games is grounded in the insight that core gamers desire robust, social gaming options on social networks and mobile devices,” said Welch. “Playtime and dollars are starting to migrate from console to casual and/or mobile gaming and a new segment is emerging – the Hardcore Social Gamer.

“We founded U4iA Games to satiate our passion for creating new IP and game experiences while honing in on the industry’s sweet spot,” added Archer. “Many studios are making casual games for a core audience. We’re making core games for a social audience.”

Skyrim Child Has Been Dragonborn

In February, Bethsoft issued a proclamation: anyone to give birth to their child on November 11, 2011 and name it after The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim‘s protagonist Dovahkiin would win free Bethsoft games for life. As it turns out, some young family has met the challenge.

“Today we congratulate proud parents Megan and Eric Kellermeyer for completing the quest. As noted on their webcomic site (and documents shared with us), Megan gave birth to Dovahkiin Tom Kellermeyer last Friday at 6:08 pm PST,” said the Bethsoft Blog. :Be it the real world or the game worlds we create, we wish young Dovahkiin the best in all his adventures. And if Alduin ever reaches this realm, we’ll be in touch.”

Source: Bethblog.com

Developer Tiny Speck Says Certain Free-To-Play Policies ‘Unsavory’

An increasing risk that a lot of free-to-play games run is the “pay to win” policy where progress is all but impossible for paying customers. Tiny Speck co-founder Stewart Butterfield believes this policy is self-destructive for social developers.

“The fundamental design of the game became ‘Here’s a stop sign in your gameplay, you can stop now and come back in a day, or you can keep on playing and it will cost you three bucks, or a buck, or ten bucks, or whatever it is,” said Butterfield. “Not just because it seems unsavory and I think people will burn out on it, but once you go down that road and start designing the game mechanics around that you can’t help but design the whole game around that. That has to be the basis of the game, because if you did the alternative to that then it’s not going to work.”

“People will get burnt out on this,” he said. “Maybe some of them will last for a very long time, but I feel like the easy successes have been taken already, and that won’t work in the long run. I mean, I could be wrong about that, and I hope I am, because that would be a lame future for games. Just my own reaction, the first time I saw that it was okay, the second time I saw that it was okay, and by whatever time it is now I’m like, ‘I get this. It’s transparent, and I don’t give a shit about having a bigger building here that cost me three dollars.'”

Tiny Speck has a game in Glitch, which Butterfield expects to have a smaller but more dedicated audience. “When there’s 100 million people playing CityVille, the overwhelming majority will have just tried the game that day, or they’ll spend five minutes and they’re never coming back,” he said. “They won’t be as into it as someone who’s playing WoW is in to WoW, or someone who’s playing EVE is into EVE, or even someone who’s playing Civilization IV is into Civilization IV. It’s a much lighter touch.”

“People who play StarCraft hardcore for several years, it becomes a significant part of their life and their identity,” added Butterfield. “Whereas a year from now, six months from now, they’ll forget they ever even played CityVille.”

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

Casual Gamers Increasingly Moving Away From Portable Consoles, Says Survey

According to a survey by Cowen & Company only 26 percent of casual gamers played on a Nintendo DS, 3DS or a Sony PSP. Of those surveyed, 37 percent played games on a dedicated handheld device, while 52 percent played on their phone.

“Over the last five years, the penetration of dedicated handheld platforms into survey respondents self-identifying as casual gamers has declined by 29 percent, with the vast majority of that decline occurring in the last two years,” states the report. “We believe cellphone and smartphone gaming is significantly impacting demand for dedicated handheld devices.”

“We do not view the decline of casual handheld gaming as a particular problem for the U.S. publishers, as they have migrated their exposure away from dedicated handheld platforms, and in some cases (particularly EA) have invested significantly in phone and tablet platform game development,” the report noted. “However, we do view this trend as a negative one for Sony and especially Nintendo.”

Spin The Wheel Already

Check out The Sitter: Home Edition now exclusively on IGN Movies. The new mini-game engagement similar to “Life” asks fans to spin the wheel to help Noah (Jonah Hill) find his girlfriend and get the Pedulla kids back home before their bedtime. Press start to reveal the board. Each time the users spin the wheel, they get a clip from the movie. Keep spinning the wheel and depending on your location on the board more content will unlock and be revealed.

Rayman Origins: Kal Penn Vs. The Kid

Rayman Origins is coming out during the holidays up against some heavy competition, much of is oriented towards more “mature” audiences. This video sends up that concept, as a kid sasses back to comedian Kal Penn.

Minecraft Mines Gold Status

Minecraft has finally reached gold status, despite the fact that the game has been available to buy for many months and has surpassed 4 million sales. An Xbox 360 version, which will be compatible with Kinect, will release in Spring 2012.

“So, yes. Minecraft has gone gold,” said Markus “Notch” Persson, studio head at developer Mojang.

Source: Twitter

3DS Getting Paid DLC

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime indicates that they are letting developer charge for DLC. The update to the 3DS will be coming to enable the sale of downloadable content during December.

“We’re interested in it to the extent that it makes sense to the consumer,” Fils-Aime said. “In terms of what the next system update will allow, it will allow developers to sell add-on content, and whether that’s for a physical game or a digitally released game.”

“In terms of how it will work, it’s up to the developer whether they want to make it to buy new levels, new items – all of that is up to their imagination,” said Fils Aime. “Essentially, what we’re doing is creating the framework for those transactions to happen.”

Nintendo has offered free DLC for like new puzzles for Professor Layton games or and challenges in Mario Kart Wii and Fils-Aime indicates they will continue with that policy.

”I’ve had this conversation with a number of our key developers, and their mentality is, ‘Reggie, when we sell a game, we want the consumer to feel that they’ve had a complete experience.’ Now, in addition, if we want to make other things available, great, and we’ll look at that,” He continued. “But we’re unwilling to sell a piece of a game upfront and, if you will, force a consumer to buy more later. That’s what they don’t want to do, and I completely agree. I think the consumer wants to get, for their money, a complete experience, and then we have opportunities to provide more on top of that.”

Source: AOL