Rovio Veteran Goes Over To Big Fish Games

Big Fish Games has announced that it has hired Wibe Wagemans to lead their push in the mobile market. The former senior vice president at Rovio will help the company tackle over 150 exclusive development partnerships.

“Wibe is a data-driven brand steward who understands the distinct needs of mobile consumers and how to scale a growing portfolio of first and third-party content to mobile fans worldwide,” said Jeremy Lewis, chief executive officer and president of Big Fish. “With the addition of Wibe, we add another tremendously skilled member to our team.”

“Big Fish has a trusted entertainment brand 10 years in the making and huge further potential as it extends its 2500+ game catalog to capitalize on the worldwide growth in mobile gaming. I am delighted to be joining such a strong and well-positioned company,” said Wibe Wagemans. “We have an exciting 2012 content lineup in the works from Big Fish Studios and our hundreds of talented development partners.”

Skylanders Demand Far Outstrips Supply

Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure was a holiday hit for Activision, but there’s definitely a dearth of supply at the moment. While the game/toy hybrid has been a hit, the company has been unable to meet demand.

“We are doing our best to keep up with the consumer demand for Skylanders and to keep product on the shelves,” said Activision VP of marketing John Coyne. “Skylanders was one of the most popular gifts this holiday season and demand for toys has continued to rise week after week without any signs of slowing down. We’re shipping Skylanders toys out as soon as they come off the production lines and will get them to stores as quickly as we can.”

Fortunately, more limited characters will be releasing in greater numbers later in January, with a new $20 adventure pack on the way as well. Lightning Rod, Zook, Warnado, Camo, Wham Shell and the Dragons Peak Adventure Pack (including Sunburn) will be releasing in the Spring, marking the final release in the first generation of Skylanders.


Mass Effect 3 Figurines To Carry DLC Codes

Mass Effect 3 is getting a set of four figurines from BigBadToyStore. The Miranda, Garrus, Mordin and Legion figures range from between 6.7-7.25 inches high, with individual figures costing $17.99 or $67.99 for a case of all four.

“Each character includes updated photos, character bio, storyline, and logo, and is packaged with Mass Effect 3 branding,” says BigBadToyStore. “This product contains a code that can be redeemed for bonus content for Mass Effect 3 multi-player that could include powerful weapons to take on the Reapers. The pack could also include character boosters, weapon modifications, and weapon upgrades to make your multiplayer squad stronger.”


Mario Deals With Indie Cred, Or Lack Thereof

Braid is a game that’s so indie in its construction and execution it hurts, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t inspired by other games. Here, we see the hipster hero of Braid shown just how close to other games his is.

Deus Ex – Extraction Protocol Short Film

Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a game with a very distinctive look and style. While this short film Extraction Protocol by Hit Film’s director Simon K. Jones doesn’t quite have the budget to replicate cybernetic limbs, it gets most of the game elements pretty well.


Heroes And Survivors Wanted

Soon to be in theaters, The Grey is the story of an oil drilling team in Alaska struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. A pack of wolves are hunting the humans who see them as intruders. Several Facebook destination apps have been rallying fans on Facebook with various engagements and sweepstakes. An app called The Grey contains trailers and links to social media (including Google+). Fans can register to win a trip to the Daytona 500, text to win a trip to Alaska or check out a PDF and learn more about the gray wolf or pick up some survival tactics. The app also contains a link to the film’s Tumblr which contains stills from the film and a link to the official website. Fans can also win a poster signed by Liam Neeson after uploading a photo of themselves with a poster, standee or billboard for The Grey. Another app called “Local Heroes Sweeps” asks fans to tell their story about how they have acted as a hero to win free movie tickets for a year. At the top of the app, a box containing stories from different heroes in the news is followed by user submitted stories which fans can read and vote on in order to determine the winner.

Get Crackin’!

The relationship between Wonderful Pistachios and Rovio’s Angry Birds entered a new level with the launch of The Hunt for the Golden Pistachio, the first fully branded Angry Birds game. The game, which rolled out on, requires a Chrome browser and functions like the standard Angry Birds games except that birds are used to crack open pistachios as well as destroy pigs. Golden Pistachio is the first game conceived from inception with the advertiser in mind. Users will also get the chance to win a total of $300,000 in prizes, which range from free pistachios and Angry Birds plush toys to $25,000 cash. Those prizes will be offered through December 31.

Feature: MLG’s Four Seasons Of Fun

The 2011 MLG Pro Circuit season was the most successful in the history of the competition, reaching more than 3.5 million unique stream viewers combined, and seeing an all-time high of 241,000 peak concurrent online viewers during the Finals. Hoping to capitalize on this momentum, MLG is taking a different tack in 2012 by spreading the competitions more evenly throughout the year, with a four part structure starting with StarCraft II tournaments announced for the first Winter season. We talked with MLG CEO Sundance DiGiovanni about the success of the past year and where he hopes to take the company in 2012.

Talk to me about MLG’s success in 2011 and where you generally feel it came from.

We saw a tremendous amount of growth in 2011 and Blizzard’s game StarCraft II was a tip of the spear for us with MLG. We saw a tremendous response from Europe and people, no matter the time of day, their eyes were on what we were doing. 15 million hours of video were shared and the average engagement time was 2 hours. It was a fantastic team up for us, and 2011 was a year that shows that we could really engage with a huge worldwide audience.

For us, if you compared what we showed to the Super Bowl that broadcast in 175 countries, we had the same number of countries. The reception in those countries is like March Madness, like the NBA Finals or the World Series because you have people celebrating in the room with this high level of engagement. So we think that stacks up pretty well there.

Logo from last year’s Finals in Providence.

Do you feel like the enthusiastic reception to the MLG 2011 finals is a definitive example of how appealing the streaming video format is?

Streaming has been a fantastic tool for us. We would not reach the audience we do without putting it on people’s PCs and mobile devices. The response has been an incredible lift for us, and we wouldn’t have gotten here if weren’t aligned with the best of breed in streaming.

Give me and overview of the decision to divide the 2012 Pro Circuit into seasons.

There’s a couple of things. We like the idea of more competition and more partitions to the competition. There will be an overarching championship and we’ll have open play for amateur players. As great as last year was, what was disappointing was there was only 18 days where fans experienced what it was like in the pro-circuit. So the decision was to make sure there wasn’t as many peaks and valleys.

Just with the announcement around StarCraft II we think there will be a huge uptick for 18 to 20 days of competition for games this season.

Related to that, why was StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty chosen to kick off the season?

Again, we owe a lot of our success to our publishing partners, but Blizzard has delivered to us a unique title in StarCraft II. We just felt like if we waited longer we wouldn’t serve our primary audience well. The other titles have a different structure, but our partnership with Blizzard means it makes sense to launch 2012 with it. We love all our are partners, but StarCraft II is advancing competitive gaming.

The other titles we’ll make an announcement for pretty shortly, but StarCraft II communities are all a big part of what we did right last year.

Anything you can tease us with for what’s coming in the spring season for MLG?

The way we are going to approach it is that we’ll focus on Winter and we have some surprises for Spring. I’ve been told I need to respect embargos [laughs] so I’ll say our focus is on Winter right now. This year is more of doing what we do best. Our future games may be familiar and some of them may not be so familiar.

What areas is MLG looking to expand with in 2012?

What we’re going to see, if you saw the engagement and growth over 18 months for us, is that sponsors will have more engagement and content, fans will see more teams and brands. Every Sunday during the Fall you see football and now we bring in regularly scheduled competitive gaming for fans. The advertisers have more opportunity to get out in front of gamers with this year long engagement so it’s not as much of a leap of faith.

Talk to me about the structure of the different seasons.

What you’re going to see is StarCraft II is across all four seasons, maybe some titles will be on for only a season or two. This change to four seasons allows us to make changes on the fly. The great thing about this is there will be more competition. Should the desire be there for a certain title, we can add it on the fly. You’ll see what we’re doing in fighting and first-person shooter games. We will add and subtract as we see fit, by having these 4 contiguous seasons where we make sure certain games are not over-served.

Fans at an MLG event in Dallas.

Talk to me about the benefit of having various finals in locations like last year’s final in Providence, Rhode Island and the upcoming Winter final in Columbus, Ohio.

One of the things we see there is when we go to a city, the economy picks up dramatically. The good thing is there are 200,000 undergrads around Columbus so it’s in their backyards. I wish we could do this more often, but now we’re doing more and more of it pure broadcast. The at home experience is often better than live action. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s more involved to produce.

We get thanked all the time for the experience by people who drive for hours to attend and we get people asking for us to come out to their area, so the local players and people in the surrounding States love it when we come by.

Sundance, thanks.

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Mass Effect 2 Beginning Called ‘Jarring’ For New Players By BioWare

BioWare released Mass Effect 2 on the PS3 with the motion comic Mass Effect: Genesis for the benefit of PS3 gamers who did not have access to the first game. BioWare doesn’t think that’s good enough, however, and will alter some character interactions based upon whether or not Mass Effect 3 players played the second game along with including a narrative of the game so far.

“In all honesty, we didn’t do a really good job of new player orientation,” said Nick Clifford, Product Marketing for Mass Effect 3. “If you didn’t play the first game then 2 was pretty jarring for the first half hour.”

“If I’m a new player and some guy walks up to me and is like ‘Ohhhh Shepard! Remember that one time ‘ I would be like ‘No. I don’t remember that one time’,” he added. “So we wanted to make sure that there aren’t those moments that the player is like, ‘Who is this What’s going on What are they talking about ‘”