MLG Announces Further Details For Coming Season

Major League Gaming (MLG) has announced the the timing of the four championships for 2012. The Spring Championship will happen June 8-10, the Summer Championship will come August 24-26 while the Fall Championship will occur November 2-4; location to be announced in all cases.

“The Winter Season for StarCraft II is comprised of three levels of competition culminating with the Winter Championship event where the world’s best will compete for $76,000 in prizes with $25,000 awarded for 1st Place – five times the 1st Place prize at a Pro Circuit event in 2011,” said MLG. “The stakes are higher and the competition is being elevated.”

StarCraft II regional online qualifiers will happen January 31 – February 8, wit the winter arena from February 24-26 in New York City and the winter championship in Columbus, Ohio from March 23-25.

Champions Online Celebrates One Year Of Free-To-Play

Cryptic games has announced that Champions Online has celebrated its first anniversary since going free to play. As a result, they are running a sale in the C-Store that will run until January 31 at 7:00AM where all items will be 20 percent off.

“In addition, we have some in-game goodies planned for you as well. Throughout the duration of the event, Witchcraft will be returning to Millennium city with Double XP Rewards for all Champions Online fans,” writes Cryptic. “Also, the new Mountain Archetype has some party favors for sale! For the first time ever, players will be able to purchase the Halloween and Winter Grab Bags for in-game resources, but only from The Mountain. Players will also be able to perform a daily mission for The Mountain to earn one of the new Mountain Costume set pieces.”

Source: Champions Online

Assassin’s Creed In 2012 ‘Will Be The Biggest To Date’

Ubisoft promises that Assassin’s Creed 3 in 2012 will be the biggest entry in the series yet. Despite the annual releases over the past three years, Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot is not concerned that the brand is being diluted.

Assassin’s Creed is an incredible franchise and there are a lot of expectations that it will continue to grow,” said Guillemot. “We are pleased with our continued success so far: in the U.S., Assassin’s Creed: Revelations was a Top Ten title for the entire calendar year, which shows that the demand is definitely there.”

“We think that delivering regular installments and expanding the brand to other platforms will continue to satisfy the demand, while at the same time attracting new fans,” he added. “And we’re confident that the next installment of Assassin’s Creed will be the biggest to date.”

2012 will be a key year for Ubisoft, hoping to build on the strength of being the U.K.’s No. 2 publisher, and having the second biggest selling game in the U.S. in Just Dance 3. “We’re challenging [EA and Activision], certainly,” Guillemot noted.“If we keep our focus on delivering high-quality games and on attracting and retaining top talent, I’m confident we’ll reach that goal of becoming No.1.”

Source: MCV

Apple’s Smartphone Share Surged Late 2011

According to a survey by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, Apple’s share of the U.S. Market doubled from a year ago to 44.9 percent in the October – December period beating out Android which fell from 50 percent down to 44.8 percent. Unfortunately for Microsoft, Windows Phone share in all nine of the key markets measured remained at less than 2 percent despite the launch of Nokia’s Lumia smartphone line.

“Overall, Apple sales are now growing at a faster rate than Android across the nine countries we cover,” said Kantar’s global consumer insight director Dominic Sunnebo.

According to the NPD, Android ending up at 47 percent U.S. market share versus Apple’s 43 percent U.S. market share, a change from the previous quarter where Android held a 60 percent market share and Apple held a 26 percent share. Apple also had the top three sales as far as devices, while RIM’s Blackberry only had a 6 percent market share overall.

Nielsen’s reports mirrored these, as Android’s share fell to 46.9 percent versus Apple’s 44.5 percent with RIM’s Blackberry dropping to a meager 4.5 percent at the end of 2011. Looking at all smartphone sold, Android has a 46.3 percent share, Apple a 30 percent share, and RIM a 14.9 percent share.

Source: Reuters

Nintendo Mulling Wii U Rename – Report

Reports are that at the highest levels of Nintendo’s management in both Japan and the U.S., they are considering re-branding the Wii U. This follows a less than stellar debut at E3 2011 and some brand confusion differentiating the 3DS and the DS.

This would follow with statements made by Nintendo CEO and President Satoru Iwata who said the company learned a “a bitter lesson” from 3DS and public confusion over its features. For the Wii U, the omnipresence of the controller and the almost complete absence of the system meant that many people thought the tablet controller WAS the console, while the fact of the matter is that the controller does not operate on its own.

Source: CVG

Tagged Lays Out Hi5 Plans

Tagged has announced its plans for the recently acquired social network hi5. The Tagged vice president of sales and marketing Steve Sarner says it will become “a experience with a hi5 wrapper.”

“We think that in the short- and mid-term, running two separate brands makes sense,” Sarner says. “We don’t want to completely alienate the current userbase. In the long-term, there’s certainly an opportunity for merging the brands.”

Also worth noting, the hi5′s gaming platform will be retired for third-parties. With the third-party support not as robust as they would like, they will now focus on in-house development.

Source: Tech Crunch

One Piece Social Game Breaks Million Member Mark

Namco Bandai have revealed that One Piece Grand Collection has acquired over a million users. The feat was reached in just four days after the mobile social game was launched.

One Piece Grand Collection is playable on the popular Mobage mobile social platform. The free-to-play game is based off of the popular manga and anime series and lets players collect figures of their favorite characters from the series, and face off against rival boss characters in battle.


Nintendo Network Service Evolving Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection

Nintendo has been criticized in the past for not being as quick to embrace having a contiguous online network like Microsoft and Sony. However, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata outlined during a recent financial briefing that their online situation will be changing very soon.

“The Nintendo Network service is our network platform which will cover the Nintendo 3DS and the Wii U,” said Iwata. “Unlike Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, which has been focused upon specific functionalities and concepts, we are aiming to establish a platform where various services available through the network for our consumers shall be connected via Nintendo Network service so that the company can make comprehensive proposals to consumers. For example, competitions and communication among users, as well as the sales of digital content, will be covered within the Nintendo Network.”

“For the digital sales of the content, we are also considering the future possibility of digital distribution of packaged software, which is often referred to as “software download sales.”  This concept was built into the design of the Nintendo 3DS, and we already have the necessary infrastructure. We will prepare the same infrastructure for the Wii U. However, we have not decided the concrete timing of when we will start it,” Iwata added. “Also for the Wii U, we are planning to introduce a personal account system compatible with Nintendo Network. With this, for example, the ease of using a video game system when the hardware is shared by multiple family members, which has been a challenge we needed to tackle, shall be improved, and we will also be able to construct and offer the system by combining a variety of different services and content.”