Online Mobile Service Playerize Brings In $1.1 Million

Playerize has announced that it has secured $1.1 million in funding. The company, which likens itself to Google AdWords, boasts 5.3 billion mobile subscribers and will use the resources to expand and develop its email service.

“Playerize uses display advertising through blog networks to help find new players for mobile and social games,” said co-founder Lyal Avery. “For example, if a game studio creates a puppy themed game, we would place a display ad on a puppy related website to drive players to the game.”

Source: VentureBeat

Zynga Launches Two New Titles

Zynga has launched two new titles in Hidden Chronicles on Facebook, and Scramble With Friends on mobile. While some might think that the launch of new products would be an encouraging sign for the company, especially given the impressive production values of both titles, the company’s stock instead dipped below $9.

Still, despite these warning signs, BMO Capital analysts Edward Williams isn’t giving up hope. “We believe Zynga will continue to see strong growth as the dominant social games player in the industry and is poised to further grow following its investments in the mobile category,” said Williams.

Aeria Games Lands Agreement With NHN

Aeria Games has announced that it has received an investment from Korean internet company NHN, who they will work with to publish its games globally. Aeria has also acquired the free-to-play gaming portal ijji Games.

“The acquisition of ijji Games further enhances our market leader position in the rapidly consolidating free-to-play sector of mid- and hard-core gaming,” said Lan Hoang, CEO of Aeria Games. “In addition to outstanding new content such as the popular A.V.A. and Soldier Front games and other quality titles from NHN going forward, NHN’s investment-which is our first external funding-will provide resources to facilitate our continuing growth and business expansion in multiple areas.”

StarCraft II Lego Battlecruiser Rules All

Lego builder Sven Junga has really out done himself with a reconstruction of Jim Raynor’s flagship the Hyperion, a Terran Battlecruiser in StarCraft II (along with a pic of his other impressive models of a Marine, a Thor and a Viking). He spent six months on this model, which is 115 studs long and includes around 15,000 pieces.

Source: www.flickr.com/photos

Metal Gear Creator Talks About How Games Have Changed

Hideo Kojima has been making games for well over two decades, and he’s seen the video game industry go over vast changes. One things that’s changed is that budgets, and expectations, have gone way up.

“[The atmosphere of my first games were] very different to today’s games. Now there’s a lot of pressure – back then it was very free,” said Kojima. “It’s much more competitive now: if you look at triple-A titles on a worldwide scale there’s maybe only ten really big games that can get gamers’ attention, and I’m not sure how Japan can compete on that level.”

“I think it’s more consumer demand – right now, consumers are happy with what they have,” he added. “First-person shooters sell like crazy, so there’s not really a strong demand for anything else, and that’s why [original ideas] stop being made. People are satisfied with making minor upgrades and tweaking things here and there – as long as that’s the landscape, it will keep on happening. I don’t see a problem necessarily, but at the same time it is nice to see new things come.”

Just like how war had changed in Metal Gear Solid 4, Kojima acknowledges that development has changed radically these days. “Maybe for new ideas, the way to do it is [by] releasing things via online services first and then seeing how people react to that,” said Kojima. “Or even if you’re making something from a game-design perspective that’s completely different, you could tie it to an existing franchise – like even if it had the Metal Gear Solid title, it could be completely different. Maybe you can make a Batman game that has the Batman title, but you can still be free with what you make the game into. Making something that’s completely new – where the gameplay, the characters, the world, everything is completely from scratch – that’s very hard to realize in this day and age.”

Of course, what has people excited now is Project Ogre. “I can’t really say too much about that project yet, but it’s a very subdued experience – it’s a little bit different to what I’ve done up until now,” says Kojima. “On the surface it will look similar, but once you get into it, it will be a different experience – and I’m hoping people look forward to that. But the Ogre project is going to take a lot of time, so I want to produce some other things on the side, like I’m doing with Metal Gear Rising. So while I’m working on Project Ogre there might be a couple of other projects going on at the same time.”

As for Metal Gear Solid 5, Kojima said, “Well, I think we’ll probably have to make it at some point, but what that will be, we have no idea. As far as my involvement in the project is concerned, [it] probably won’t be as much as it was with MGS1 – maybe I can do just one stage! For MGS1 I made the maps myself, laid out the enemy routes myself, did everything hands-on – that level I can’t do again.”

“I intended to take it to a certain point and then hand it off, but that didn’t work, because it’s hard to convey the concept to other people then have them take the reins and carry on and preserve that vision,” he noted. “That’s why it’s easier to have them come up with everything from the start and then take it to the end. I feel that Metal Gear Solid can continue without me, but it will be different. It’s still Metal Gear – it’s just not my Metal Gear.”

Source: OPM

Mass Effect 3 Pre-Orders Gear Up

We’re only a couple months away from Mass Effect 3 and EA is announcing the various pre-order elements and showing them off. Pre-order from GameStop and get the N7 Warfare Gear, while everyone who pre-orders from other sources will receive the M55 Argus Assault Rifle; Origin pre-orders will grant the AT12 Raider Shotgun (not in the trailer).

Microsoft Flight Gets Icon A5

Microsoft Studios has announced a new game in Microsoft Flight. The first craft in the free-to-play game will be the Icon A5, a high-wing amphibious monoplane with a carbon fiber airframe that will release commercially later in 2012.

“Icon Aircraft and Microsoft Flight both share the goal of making the fun of flying accessible to everyone who’s ever dreamed about it,” said Icon Aircraft CEO Kirk Hawkins. “ Icon does this by fusing world-class product design with the very best engineering, and Microsoft by combining the excitement of a great gaming experience with the authenticity of a top notch flight simulator.”

Multiverse Implodes

Multiverse has announced that after seven years, they were shutting their doors. Owners of the MMO rights to franchises like Titanic, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly had technology that allowed for the creation of virtual worlds, though later it was adapted to web-based and social games.

“Although thousands of developers showed interest in the Multiverse Platform, Multiverse wasn’t able to achieve a profitable business model,” announced the company. “As a result, Multiverse ceased operations in December 2011 due to lack of funding.”

“A group of individuals is creating an online community to support developers who wish to continue using the Multiverse Platform. They are in the process of creating a non-profit foundation to take over support of the platform. A project has been created on SourceForge at sourceforge.net/projects/multiverse3d to provide access to the platform and facilitate further development by community members. Multiverse has contributed source code for the last released version of the 3D client, server, and tools (circa late 2008) as the initial starting point. Access the forums at multiverse.forumotion.co.uk to get the latest information on this project,” it continued. “This website will stay operational for several months to allow an orderly transition of the master server, user registration system, and other infrastructure to the foundation.”

Source: multiverse.net

Interactive TV Division Purchased By TransGaming

TransGaming has announced that they have picked up the interactive TV division of Oberon Media. The $7 million deal (consisting of $3.0 million on closing, $2.0 million in earn outs based on the achievement of revenue thresholds and the issuance of 4 million shares of TransGaming) is expected to close January 6, 2012.

“With the strategic acquisition of Oberon Media’s iTV & Connected TV division, TransGaming cements its position as the clear leader in the delivery of video games to the connected living room,” commented Vikas Gupta, CEO & President of TransGaming. “We now have the ability to reach the hundreds of millions of set-top boxes currently deployed in living rooms globally, while also defining a clear migration path for service providers to bring high quality gaming to their subscribers as they deploy next generation devices. We have immediately increased our total addressable market for GameTree TV and have created a compelling value proposition unmatched by any other company in this space.”

The company will reach 50 million new customers via agreements with Dish Network, DirecTV, Reliance Digital TV and AirTel Digital TV. It will also add over 100 video game titles to TransGaming’s GameTree TV portfolio, including franchises like Tetris and iconic brands from Hasbro.

“Our team that has worked within the interactive TV business has developed an extremely strong presence in this market, and we’re delighted that they will be able to move to TransGaming and continue this success. Through this combination of assets, we are also confident that our customers will have a terrific interactive TV experience moving forward,” said Bob Hayes, President and COO of Oberon Media. “This transaction marks an important step in our transformation of Oberon into a streamlined and highly focused company. Although Oberon will continue to distribute games to connected and interactive TVs via TransGaming’s global network, our efforts will now be centered on the growth of our recently launched Blaze ecommerce platform, which provides personalized and targeted solutions to our partners and their customers.”