Google Play Unites Services

Google announced today that it is integrating Android Market, Google Music, and its online eBookstore into a single brand: Google Play. Along with the branding decision, they will tie all the content together in the cloud so that it can be accessible on Google devices like Google TVs and Android phones and tablets.

“Entertainment is supposed to be fun,” wrote Jamie Rosenberg, Google’s director of digital content. “But in reality, getting everything to work can be the exact opposite—moving files between your computers, endless syncing across your devices, and wires . . . lots of wires. Today we’re eliminating all that hassle with Google Play, a digital entertainment destination where you can find, enjoy and share your favorite music, movies, books and apps on the web and on your Android phone or tablet. Google Play is entirely cloud-based so all your music, movies, books and apps are stored online, always available to you, and you never have to worry about losing them or moving them again.”

Also, Google announced that it will offer “Now That’s What I Call Music 41,” the popular game Where’s My Water, the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and the movie Puncture for just $.25.  Google will also offer collections of hip-hop, rock, and country albums for $3.99 all week, detective novels from $2.99, some of its editorial team’s favorite movies and apps for somewhere around $.49 and $.99 cents.

Source: GoogleBlog.com

Marvel Talks Moving Away From AAA Licensed Games

Sega has produced a number of licensed movie games in recent years based around popular Marvel brands, including Thor, Iron Man and Captain America. However, the company will not be making a AAA title based around any further movies, something explained by Marvel vice president of games production TQ Jefferson.

“There are no current plans for additional Marvel games to be published by Sega,” said Jefferson. “We just launched Marvel: Avengers Alliance on Facebook; which is just the tip of the iceberg. This is the first in a much larger effort to support the Avengers franchise across not just one but multiple video game touch points. The Avengers are bigger than just one game, and we’re planning to allow consumers to enjoy The Avengers regardless of their preference in gameplay style or platform. Look for more announcements in the weeks to come.”

Explaining why AAA movie license games are dying, Jefferson said, “In my opinion, the biggest afflictions affecting movie-licensed games is the amount of development time and a strict adherence to retelling the story of the film in the form of a game. The former is easy to understand — less development time means less time to design, produce and polish the game, resulting in a poor or lesser-quality experience. The latter is a little more subtle, but I can sum it up thusly: If a development team were to follow a film’s plot line to the letter, then you would have a two-hour experience with a bunch of thugs and one boss fight. That’s simply not how we define ‘movie licensed console game,’ now or ever. In order to hit the expected amount of gameplay, you need to embellish, add additional characters, story, subplots and objectives to make a more robust and satisfying experience. That’s where a lot of movie licenses fall down – lack of content.”

When asked about his company’s new MMO and the direction the industry is taking to free-to-play, he said, “I’m not saying anything revelatory when I say everything is pointing toward online and the connected experience. I believe free-to-play is exceptional in that it lowers the barrier to entry to nothing and allows consumers to sample the product before making a purchase. In today’s economic climate, games needed to do something to meet the consumer halfway, and free-to-play is a great first step.”

Marvel Heroes, the first Marvel MMO (massively multiplayer online game) to be launched with our licensee Gazillion, will allow us to reach an entirely new and different group of fans, to tell stories in ways we’ve never done before and get players to interact with our characters and each other in new and exciting ways,” he added. “This is a very different experience from console games, where the interactions are with fewer online characters and are more linear experiences. With Marvel Heroes, we’re talking about dozens of playable characters over many hours of gameplay.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Minecraft Mines A Million Sales For Pocket Edition

While Minecraft: Pocket Edition got off to something of a rocky start, the game has been purchased a million times. The Android version of Minecraft: Pocket Edition launched in August and the iOS version came in mid-November 2011.

Minecraft – Pocket Edition has now sold more than 1 million copies,” tweeted Daniel Kaplan, a designer on Pocket Edition. “Thanks all for the support and I hope you will like the coming updates!”

Spry Fox Says Developers Should Innovate, Not Imitate

Daniel Cook, CCO of mobile developer Spry Fox, is currently engaged in a legal battle with 6waves Lolapps over the similarity between their Triple Town and 6L’s Yeti Town. However, he thinks copying in general is common in the industry and that around 80 percent of game developers copy the success of others.

“There’s a lot more to life than cloning the work of others and merely adding your own 10 percent innovation,” he said. “I want designers to stand up and say: ‘I am an inventor!’ That way we have a chance to not only make a mark upon the world, but even change it.”

“Innovation pays off as it allows you to be first, fastest and to dominate,” he added. “You have to invent and execute, of course. If you fail to execute then it leaves the door open for someone to come in an take your innovation and establish their game around it as market leader. But there is a magic spot where innovation tied with execution pays off in this industry.”

Cook also took practices like design documents and milestones to task. “I hate design documents. Anyone writing design documents right now: You are wasting your life. Written designs are theories and they become locked in too early. Instead try to use design logs – more like a diary of the design. They look ahead at the next few steps, but mainly chart reactions to the theories and builds,” he said. “Iterate with the willingness to change direction. Milestones are the enemy of innovation. In real invention the goals change. Be open to changing goal posts as you go. That way we have more of a chance to claim that we are inventors.”

Source: Gamasutra

Darksiders II Pre-Order Upgrade

THQ has announced that those that pre-order Darksiders II will be upgraded to the Limited Edition. The Limited Edition will come with a code for Argul’s Tomb, the game’s first single-player DLC pack, that pre-order owners can then download for free.

“The Darksiders II fans spoke and we listened; we are thrilled to be able to offer them a high quality Collector’s Edition and to reward gamers who pre-order with a free upgrade to the Limited Edition,” commented Jim Huntley, Vice President of Global Brand Marketing.

There will also be a Collector’s Edition of Darksiders II that will retail for $99. Along with including Limited Edition version of the game, the Collector’s Edition will feature a life-sized replica Death Mask with display stand, a unique Shadow of Death armor and scythe for use in game, a digital copy of the Darksiders II sound-track and a hard-cover Darksiders II art book.

Capcom Sees Digital Revenue, Profits Skyrocketing By 2017

Capcom’s senior vice president Christian Svensson predicted that most of the company’s revenue will be via digital channels in five years. Svensson also predicted that the publisher of the popular Smurfs’ Village mobile game will see its operating profit comprised of well over 50 percent from digital.

“And certainly sometime before five years from now, every game will be digital and retail day and date,” said Svensson. “On some platforms that’s already the case – it is on Vita. In Europe, the PlayStation 3 is already that way. I wish it were that way in the States as well. But I’d say that’s an inevitability. No one is really fighting that, but the question is when that will occur.”

As far as retail goes, he believes that, “the value proposition of retail and publishers will change. I think that retail’s role will shift from planned purchase to impulse purchase, predominantly, and planned purchases will increasingly happen online, just for sheer convenience’s sake.”

Source: Gamasutra

Capcom Prepping New Darkstalkers According To Source

According to a reliable source, Capcom is preparing a new Darkstalkers game. This same source indicated that Resident Evil 6 was coming and would star Chris Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy, something that was proved out as true.

Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken producer Yoshinori Ono is said to be working on the new Darkstalkers game. The unannounced game is being made with a modified version of the Street Fighter X Tekken engine, and Ono has reportedly been working on it since late in 2011.

While characters from the monster-themed fighter have made several cameo appearances over the past several years, most prominently in Marvel vs. Capcom 3, the last game to release in the franchise was Darkstalkers 3 in 1997.

Source: VentureBeat.com

Dust 514 Completely Free-To-Play

CCP Games has confirmed that Dust 514 will be available for free, dropping the mandatory initial payment for virtual goods. The game will be part of the massive shared, persistent Eve Online universe and will be coming to the PS3 via PSN later in 2012.

Dust 514 has everything you could want in a shooter: thrilling gameplay, spectacular graphics and an incredible strategic depth that comes from sharing the living universe of EVE Online,” said CCP CEO Hilmar Pétursson. “Dust 514 embodies the passion and creativity the world has come to expect from CCP, and we think PlayStation 3 owners will be amazed at the opportunity to play such a groundbreaking new game of this caliber for free.”

“As the first true free-to-play FPS on PS3, Dust 514 signifies a big step forward in the evolution of console gaming,” said Phil Rosenberg, SVP of Business Development, Sony Computer Entertainment America. “PS3 is the only platform where players will experience a AAA game like this for free and showcases our commitment to deliver the best games exclusively on PlayStation Network.”

Zynga Platform Beta Launches

Zynga has announced that it has launched the early beta of the Zynga Platform on Zynga.com. They were quick to emphasize that, “Zynga.com is completely integrated with Facebook, which means players carry their game progress to Zynga.com, easily play games with their existing friends and find others who love the same games.”

Some of the key features of the new Zynga.com are the ability to play third-party games, better interact with other players by making zFriends, and live chatting. Players are able to log in to Zynga.com with their Facebook ID and play games with their existing Facebook friends, along with playing with new friends on Zynga.com.

Source: Company.Zynga.com

Nintendo 3DS Bundle Madness

Nintendo has announced plans for crazy amounts of different colored 3DS systems. A Monster Hunter 3G start pack that include either Cosmos Black or Fire Red 3DS handhelds that will go on sale March 17 for ¥19,800 ($246).

There will also be two Super Mario 3D Land bundles on sale in Ice White and Misty Pink that also come pre-installed with Super Mario Bros., also priced at ¥19,800 ($246) and out March 24.

Finally, there is a custom Cobalt Blue Fire Emblem 3DS bundle hitting stores on April 19 for (once again) ¥19,800 ($246).

Source: Kotaku