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 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 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.”


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.”

Free-To-Play Development Called ‘More Challenging And More Exciting’

Free-to-play games are often negatively perceived by certain gamers, and even by some people within the gaming industry. However, F2P games have to be designed for hundreds of hours of gameplay, and have to allow for feedback from users.

“In free-to-play you can’t simply create a good game that attracts an audience; instead you have to create a sandbox for intense human interaction and emotion with sticky hooks that not only get and keep people playing, but incite them to spend money repeatedly,” writes Robin Kaminsky is the co-founder and CEO of 1st Street Partners. “Or said another way, traditional game developers create amazing and beautiful content whose primary (and perhaps only) objective is to get you to buy the game. They don’t need to care how often you play, whether you play all parts of the game or at its heart, if you even play the game at all. The sale’s been made. Publishers can even market their way to success on a traditional but lower quality console and PC game, because in that market you simply have to acquire purchasers upfront. A free-to-play developer does not have that luxury.”

Kaminsky thinks that the development problems for F2P developers are greater than conventional developers. She thinks that understanding the desires of players in a F2P environment makes it the most exciting challenge in development.

“I believe free-to-play is the new frontier of western game development,” said Kaminsky. “Free-to-play’s biggest difference is that success is based on creating an intense emotional response and ensuring real human interaction across huge hours of play. People are interesting, complex and challenging. In free-to-play games, people ARE the game, not the graphics, not the game mechanic, not the AI or scripting, but real, living, breathing people. The games must be designed to drive the consumer to engage with the game and ideally with one another. This is the key to success for Words with Friends. Real people get to interact virtually. The more engagement, the better the results.”

“Great free-to-play games are built to create intense emotional trigger points to drive purchase. Hard core themed games from publishers like Addmired do this extremely well with violence and clans providing the emotional triggers. But more casual games can do this too using animals and other cuddly creatures to get an emotional response. Diner Town Zoo by Playfirst has a well-defined economy built around the emotional connection to its world and animals,” notes Kaminsky. “Monetization is also increasingly built through ‘chance’, when the player spends to get something big for less. There is an increasing use of games of chance within the free-to-play environment, whether hidden as a game mechanic as is the case with DragonVale breeding or Dream Zoo animals, or more obvious as is the case with the daily spin on Bejeweled Blitz. This is not surprising given the consistent and increasing success of poker, slot and bingo games and the Chinese and Korean development models to follow.”

“For all these reasons, free-to-play is the most interesting and challenging development available to game makers today. Most free-to-play games do not look like console games (yet) but they offer as many, if not more, complex and interesting design and programming challenges. The world of free-to-play in the west is in its infancy. The future of gaming is free-to-play, perhaps not exclusively but certainly in terms of category growth. If building profitable free-to-play games was easy everyone would be successful, but it’s not easy and the barrier is not money to make the game (as it is in part on consoles) but rather the game maker’s ability to build truly engaging, compelling content that drives the players to engage with the game and one another in a way that creates real meaning. This is the power and the challenge,” she concludes.

Windows Phone Marketplace Reaches 50,000 Apps

Microsoft has announced that the Windows Phone Marketplace has reached 50,000 apps. Right now, 42,655 of the apps are currently available in the U.S.

The pace at which apps have been submitting has gone up. Over 17,000 apps have been submitted to the Marketplace in the last 90-days from over 13,000 different publishers (an average of 265 per day).

Source: Slash Phone

Steam Reaches 5 Million Concurrent Users

Valve’s steam service has seen a new high in concurrent users with 5 million. The number of users is highly dependent on the circadian cycles of North American gamers, as the number bottoms out to almost half million during certain mid-day hours.

Various incarnations of Counter-Strike along with The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Team Fortress 2 continue to be the top titles on Steam. This news should be encouraging to Valve, given the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic on EA’s rival Origin service over the holidays.

Source: PC Gamer

Half-Life Movie Posters Powered By Batman

British graphic designer Sean Keenan has made some Half-Life movie posters which are really everything one could hope for from such a design. The subdued look is said to be based off the movie posters for Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies.

“Inspired by The Dark Knight I created a set of live action movie posters based on the video game Half-Life,” said Keenan. “This project provided me with a great opportunity to combine my interest of Photography, Typography and Conceptual Design.”


Legend Of Zelda: Skyward Sword — First And Last ‘Impressionist’ Zelda?

The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword has won acclaim for its art style which is based on Impressionist paintings. However, Legend of Zelda series head Eiji Aonuma isn’t sure that other games in the series will follow suit.

“With Wind Waker, the graphics were suited to handheld gaming,” said Aonuma. “Also the game ended with Link embarking on a journey, so it left open the possibility of what comes after the game. With Skyward Sword, positioning it as the first Zelda game means everything else connects to it and comes after it. It becomes a little bit difficult to do something else within that world and certainly much more difficult to do something that comes before it.”

Source: Nintendo Everything

PS3 Beta For Dust 514 Begins Soon

CCP has announced that they have open registration to the PS3 Beta of the online shooter title Dust 514. The early testing with special events will only be available to EVE Online subscribers at first, but the possibility was left open that a public invite would go out later.

“We’re hugely excited to be able to extend this exclusive opportunity to our player community,” said CCP in the announcement.



LeBron James Wants You To Wake Up

LeBron James didn’t go to college himself, but he wants to emphasize that education is important. He appeared in a brief ad for State Farm during the debut of the NBA season – check out the ad and some videos explaining the context below.

Danny Trejo Is Bad Ass

People become celebrities overnight via the magic of YouTube, so it was only a mater of time before one of these videos was turned into something like a movie. This trailer might be a parody, but it does credit to the meme known as “Epic Beard Man.”