PS Vita Pricing Explained

PS Vita games will run the gamut of games costing $10 for the downloadable titles to $40 for retail games. While some think that isn’t necessarily the best course of action in an age where people are paying little to nothing for games on their smartphones, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida thinks it’s all about value.

“We have a theory that if we create really compelling, engaging experiences that you can spend hours with, you’ll see the value of spending $40 against $1,” said Yoshida. “The good thing about $1 games is that people are not spending too much money on them. If you buy 40 of those, you might be spending $40, but still… Or many games are free Gamers love all kinds of games. I totally understand people who like games like Angry Birds, but if you’re a gamer, you’re also interested in trying different kinds of experiences, bigger games.”

“You saw Nintendo’s 3DS, it had many software hits last December, like Mario Kart,” Yoshida said. “That’s the theory. That’s what I’d like to see proven, after the launch of PS Vita. I can see, looking at the games in game stores, when you see games that you feel you can find on the iPod or iPad for five dollars, why should you spend $40 So software publishers will really have to think hard when they approach pricing their software. Is this the experience that will compel people to spend that much Or is this something they should provide for more accessible prices, so that people will try it ”

“For the past consoles, we had a pretty rigid price range we kept to. This is a full-price game, $60, this is a Greatest Hits, $30. Like that,” he continued. “But for PS Vita, you’ll see games that sell for $50, $40, $30. And on the digital, $45, $35, $23, $15, $10 and $5. A very wide variety of pricing. We’re looking at each title and the value and scope of the content, and trying to match people’s value perception with the pricing. We are not just focused on big-budget, triple-A, $40 titles. We’re big fans of the smaller experience as well.”

Sony is teaming up with cellphone carriers to provide bonuses in the West in order to push the 3G version of the PS Vita. “But we are coming to see more of a one-to-one kind of sell-through in Japan,” Yoshida revealed. “That’s how, in the U.S. and Europe, we’ve tweaked it a little bit to sweeten the deal for the 3G SKU. Instead of keeping on saying that 3G is good for you, we added some content that people can immediately see the value of, like adding the memory card, adding free game content to download. The hardware is a bit lower now, so they’re willing to try it.”

Source: VentureBeat

Obsidian Looks To Player-Supported Funding

Obsidian Entertainment, inspired by the success that Double Fine had in raising $1 million in less than 24 hours, is considering crowd sourcing a new game. Obsidian creative director Chris Avellone, who just happened to work on the cult hit RPG Planetscape: Torment, has asked fans for different Kickstarter ideas.

“The idea of player-supported funding is… well, it’s proof certain genres aren’t dead and sequels may have more legs than they seem,” said Avellone. “And the idea of not having to argue that with a publisher is appealing.”

“All of Double Fine’s success from Kickstarter has been inspiring,” he continued. “I admit, I’ve got Kickstarter fever now. I feel like a bunch of doors suddenly appeared in game development.”


Gree Opening San Francisco Studio

Gree International announced that it will move into San Francisco’s China Basin. They will house a variety of different development jobs in a 41,000 sq. ft. space this Spring and it will be run by Eiji Araki, Senior Vice President of Social Games.

“We know San Francisco is the best place for us to find the significant industry talent we are searching for, to help us bring a top notch social gaming experience to all of our players. We are thrilled to create this unique and comfortable space to illustrate our commitment to both San Francisco, an international hub of this industry, and our employees,” says Naoki Aoyagi, CEO of Gree International, Inc. “Gree is committed to building the leading global mobile social games ecosystem and reaching our goal of having one billion users. We are confident we can make this happen thanks in part to the games coming out of our North American studio, our amazing partners, and the new Gree Platform.”

“Our team is hard at work to deliver best-in-class content,” says Araki. “Our aim is to constantly change the face of mobile social gaming and we know, without a doubt, that San Francisco is THE city to find the top talent to build unique games from the ground up for the Western Market.”

Cut The Rope Licensing Bonanza

ZeptoLab has signed licensing deals with a variety of companies, including Hasbro, Mattel, Jakks Pacific, and LF USA. Mattel will produce toys based on Cut The Rope‘s Om Nom character, Hasbro will make Cut The Rope branded board games, Jakks Pacific will release Cut The Rope-branded game controllers, and LF USA will design Om Nom sleepwear.

“We’re looking beyond where things are in the moment,” said executive chairman Misha Lyalin. “We have 100 million downloads now, but this is the beginning of where we are going to go.”

Source: VentureBeat

Zynga Sued Over Networking Patents

Personalized Media Communications has made a legal complaint against Zynga, saying that Words with Friends, CityVille and FarmVille violate their patents. They argue that their patents from 1995 cover subscriber data and networked data, along with creating personalized output like targeted advertising.

“Many years of time and labor went into developing our inventions and securing the patents that permit their practice,” said PMC founder John C. Harvey. “It wouldn’t be right to sit by and allow them to be infringed.”

Syndicate Recruits Veteran Actors

Electronic has announced that Michael Wincott (The Crow), Rosario Dawson (Sin City, Men in Black II) and Brian Cox (The Bourne Identity) have been recruited for the upcoming Syndicate. Dawson plays conflicted EuroCorp executive Lily Drawl, Cox plays cutthroat board leader Jack Denham and Wincott voices Jules Merit, a highly regarded senior agent.

“I’m amazed how video games have become so deep in story, delivering fantastic worlds and memorable characters rivaling big Hollywood films,” said Dawson. “I was excited when EA approached me to play Lily Drawl in Syndicate. She’s an interesting and strong female character. How cool is it to play the mastermind who designed the military chip inside the player’s head!”

Syndicate immerses players deep into a dystopian world of unscrupulous corporations and chip augmented enforcers,” added Mikael Nermark, CEO of Starbreeze Studios. “These agents are the weapons of this war for market dominance and we needed strong talent to represent these intense characters. We are honored to have worked with the incredible Rosario Dawson, Brian Cox and Michael Wincott to make this world come alive.”

Facebook Praised, Criticized At Inside Social Apps Panel

At the Inside Social Apps conference, a panel discussed the importance of Apple, Google and Facebook to the industry. Facebook was agreed to be very important, despite its issues, Apple is seen as having the leading mobile platform and Google+ is seen as an important platform for the future while Android is also raising its profile.

Wooga in particular has managed 40 million monthly average users on Facebook, triple the growth over last year, with 5 percent of new users coming from advertising, 55 percent coming from cross-marketing from their own games, and 40 percent being viral. “We are very happy with the growth we see on Facebook,” said Jens Begemann, founder and CEO of Wooga. “Our four largest games had their all time highs last week., and some of them are two years old.”

Facebook Credits were a major issue of contention among the developers, since it taxes developers 30 percent of their revenue. “I think Facebook Credits have probably helped our growth rate by 5 percent to 10 percent,” said Kevin Chou, CEO and co-founder of Kabam. “Which means we’re taking a 20 percent net tax.”

“Facebook Credits have been a wash,” according to Jamil Moledina, VP of Business Development at Funzio. “The percentage of users that is paying is increasing, but the total volume is flat.”

Begemann disagreed with the negative sentiment, however, saying, “You should appreciate more that the Facebook platform is completely free. I’ve never heard anyone complain about Apple’s 30 percent share. Only if you’re successful do you give 30 percent to Facebook.”

The panel moved on to mobile games and it was agreed that social and mobile sectors are coming together. While Android is fragmented compared to iOS, it was agreed that Google’s mobile OS was growing in importance.

“We started off with two very separate efforts that are starting to meet in the middle,” said John Spinale, SVP of social games for Disney Interactive. “People have more devices in their hands these days that don’t have keyboards than do. We’re making sure our existing social games extend out to mobile. Largely that means iOS, but we’re seeing incredible revenue growth on Android.”

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Last Guardian Making ‘Slow Progress’ Says Yoshida

While the lack of news on the anticipated Team ICO project The Last Guardian has been discouraging, Sony Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida says that it is still in development. There’s reason to hope that the game will release… but perhaps, not for many more months.

“The project has been making progress, but slow progress,” detailed Yoshida. “So that’s tough, but we haven’t changed any focus. It’s still a really important project and a vision we want to see realized, and Fumito’s vision is really causing a very difficult challenge for the developers, so there’s some scrapping and rebuilding — iteration in the process. That’s why [it’s taking so long].”

Yoshida was also quick to emphasize that Fumito Ueda is dedicated to finishing the game. “You know, we discussed an arrangement so he could focus on the creative side. But his work and his presence on that team never changed, so it was just more a contractual rearrangement, and that was taken [by many] as ‘he left’,” said Yoshida. “He comes in every day, and he’s probably one of the people who works the longest hours.”

Source: 1UP

Unreal Engine 4 Will ‘Shock’ At Its Profound Effect

Epic Games vice president Mark Rein indicates that the Unreal Engine 4 will be revealed in 2012. The middleware is apparently running on “systems we can’t name yet,” according to Rein.

“People are going to be shocked later this year when they see Unreal Engine 4 at how much more profound an effect it will have,” Rein said.


Zynga Signs Deal With Hasbro

Hasbro and Zynga have announced a partnership for Hasbro to develop toys and games based upon Zynga’s social games, such as FarmVille, CityVille and Words With Friends. The first products as a result of this deal are expected to be available beginning Fall 2012.

“It’s exciting to partner with Hasbro as we share a common vision for play and a mission to connect the world through games,” said Mark Pincus, founder, CEO and chief product officer of Zynga. “This partnership is so special because it represents an exciting leap forward in enabling people to connect their virtual and real worlds. Hasbro has inspired play through their famous toys, games and action figures and we look forward to working with a company that continually creates meaningful and fun brands.”

“Hasbro is thrilled to have the opportunity to bring Zynga’s immensely popular social games to life in a variety of creative and new expressions that reflect consumers’ growing desire to surround themselves with gaming brands they love anytime, anywhere together with their friends and family,” said Brian Goldner, President and CEO of Hasbro. “Zynga is bringing more games to mainstream culture and is redefining how people play. At Hasbro, we’re proud to help bring their games to even more people around the world. This strategic alliance plays off of both Hasbro’s and Zynga’s proven strengths and is emblematic of the new innovations and new platforms we are creating across our entire gaming portfolio.”