International Game Technology Doubles Down With $500 Million

Double Down Interactive has announced that they have been acquired by International Game Technology. The social game developer was purchased for a cool half billion, and will keep the Seattle-based working on social and mobile titles, with new projects in the works.

“Double Down and IGT share complementary cultures focused on innovation and creativity. Both companies are committed to providing unrivaled quality, service and entertainment to millions of players,” said Greg Enell, CEO of Double Down. “Leveraging IGT’s Research and Development, global reach, and best-in-class content will provide our loyal player base with an even more robust experience and is expected to augment Double Down’s growth trajectory.”

“As technological innovations increasingly influence consumer behavior, social dynamics are quickly transforming entertainment and gaming experiences everywhere,” said Patti Hart, CEO of IGT. “The addition of Double Down launches IGT into a leadership position in social gaming, extends our global reach through new mediums, and leverages our unmatched expertise in game development. We intend to drive meaningful value from this rapidly growing distribution platform that reaches a new, but complementary, demographic of gamers.”

DeNA Rides NetDragon Into Chinese Venture

Japanese online company DeNA has announced a new venture with the Chinese developer NetDragon Websoft. This furthers a collaboration that started in April 2011.

This agreement will see DeNA bring more social and mobile games to the Chinese market, which will be socialized by NetDragon for their mobile marketplace with around 40 million users. The collaboration between the two companies will start with $6 million and an initial team of 30.

Mass Effect 3 Coming To Origin, Not Steam

Electronic Arts has not released certain titles on Valve’s Steam service since launching their download service Origin. Not surprisingly, Mass Effect 3 is joining the ranks of Dragon Age II and Crysis 2 in games from EA that aren’t coming to Steam.

“During initial release Mass Effect 3 will be available on Origin and a number of other 3rd party digital retailers, but not on Steam at this time,” said BioWare. “Steam has adopted a set of restrictive terms of service which limit how developers interact with customers to deliver patches and other downloadable content. We are intent on providing Mass Effect to players with the best possible experience no matter where they purchase or play their game, and are happy to partner with any download service that does not restrict our ability to connect directly with our consumers.”

Source: social.bioware.com

EA Brings In $1 Billion Prompting Restructuring

Electronic Arts saw $1 billion in digital revenue for 2011, and as a result the company will be restructuring. With the departure of Barry Cottle from EA Interactive, the division will be split up among EA Labels president Frank Gibeau, COO Peter Moore, and CTO Rajat Taneja, and EVP of digital Kristian Segerstral.

Following the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Origin distribution platform and the online service FIFA Ultimate Team, EA wants to make digital sales a larger part of its overall strategy.  EA CEO John Riccitiello called the $1 billion in 2011 an “incredibly important milestone” for the company.

Source: Gamasutra

Street Fighter Turns 25

2012 marks the 25th anniversary of the Street Fighter franchise and Capcom is planning to celebrate throughout the year. While Street Fighter X Tekken is currently the biggest game in the franchise on the slate, and Capcom Community Manager Brett Elston hints that there’s more on the way before and after the series’ official birthday on August 30.

“Can you believe Ryu has been throwing fireballs and scarring chests for a quarter century” writes Elston. “For 25 years Street Fighter‘s iconic hero has wandered the globe in search of the perfect battle, and to commemorate his quest – not to mention the millions of fans who’ve followed him every step of the way – we’re preparing some big plans for 2012. The full details of this international celebration are still to come, but I can at least share the official logo that’ll emblazon all related products through the year.”

Source: capcom-unity.com

Google ‘Search Plus Your World’ May Draw SEC Complaint

Google recently unveiled the ‘Search Plus Your World’ option for their search engine. This more personal way to browse the web might bring up privacy and antitrust concerns.

Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that they are considering filing a letter with the FTC. “We believe this is something that the FTC needs to look at,” Rotenberg said.

While this move by Google should help them better compete with Facebook and its more than 800 million users, some critics are saying that they’re using their leadership in Internet search to favor its own products and take on its main competitor.  “Google is an entrenched player trying to fight off its challenger Facebook by using its market dominance in a separate sector,” Rotenberg said. “I think that should trouble people.”

Microsoft has teamed up with Facebook for their Bing search engine, but this move by Google is attracting more attention because Google handles over 66 percent of the Internet searches in the U.S. Google Fellow Amit Singhal said the company has taken important steps to make its new feature private and secure, and noted they were open to including information from Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

“However,” added Singhal. “It has to be done in a way that the user experience doesn’t deteriorate over time and that users are in control over what they see from whom and not some third party.”

Source: latimesblogs.com

IPhone 4S Release In China Results In Riot

The release of the iPhone 4S at Beijing and Shanghai retail stores on Friday was stopped when it started a riot. When the store refused to open as scheduled, a group of customers that had waited overnight threw eggs and attacked a mall manager.

Apple spokeswoman in Beijing Carolyn Wu said the company’s five authorized stores in China had sold out of the iPhone 4S; the Beijing store was prevented from opening because of the large crowd. “To ensure the safety of our customers and employees, [the] iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being,” Wu said.

The main reason for the tension was that people wanted the phone without a plan, and were willing to pay $790 to $1,070 for the iPhone 4S alone. Another point of restlessness were people hired by scalpers who wanted to later sell the phone on the gray market. “Ninety percent of the people here are scalpers,” said a man surnamed Jin, who said friends recruited him to stand in line.

Apple’s sales in China rose from $3 billion to $13 billion over the last two fiscal years and Apple’s five official stores in China generate more revenue on average than any other Apple stores in the world. Bill Bishop, a Beijing-based technology consultant, said that Apple helps stoke this attitude that leads to riots by pushing back and limiting releases. “It’s a conscious marketing strategy by Apple, and it’s going to cause a problem because things are ridiculously out of control,” he said. “Nobody can be happy with Apple today in Beijing.”

Source: L.A. Times