Assassin’s Creed III — Ubisoft Marketing VP Talks Growing The Brand

Assassin’s Creed III is perhaps the most ambitious entry in the series so far, taking place more in rural environments rather than urban landscapes. It’s going to be the biggest investment in Ubisoft’s history and Ubisoft senior vice president of sales and marketing Tony Key realizes there’s risk in that.

“We assess the potential and the quality of a product long before we’re announcing the thing. We understand what we have, and while we’re not flawless in our projections – we’ve had plenty of games that didn’t meet our expectations – we firmly believe that this is a really good bet,” Key explained. “And our goal is to grow the brand. We are one of the elite brands in the industry, but we’re not the biggest – there are a few brands that sell more than Assassin’s Creed so we know that there’s room for this to grow. So we’re getting behind it with bigger development resources and bigger marketing and our goal is to significantly grow it from where it is right now – so not just a little, a lot.”

Despite the many resources that are being poured into the game, that doesn’t alleviate the fact that Assassin’s Creed III will be the fourth major release in the series in as many years. “Any publisher who says that they don’t worry about burnout is probably not being honest,” admitted Key. “There’s always the worry about burnout because consumer tastes change, trends come along that cause you to evolve things in certain ways, so you always have to be forward thinking about your brand and where you’re going next with it.”

“You certainly have to strive not to do the same thing every year. You don’t have to completely reinvent the brand every year to be successful on annualizing, but you do need to bring something new. And so, with Assassin’s 3 that’s not an issue at all – the thing is completely new,” Key emphasized. “It was started the day that Assassin’s 2 shipped, it was in another section of the building from where Brotherhood and Revelations were being made, it took a different path with different tech and so they started right from that first day to do a true and honest sequel.”

Brotherhood and Revelations were both really good products, but they were derivative of the second game, but the public responded very well to them because they were high quality, they added a lot of cool features, they evolved the character – and when people fall in love with a character they don’t necessarily want to throw that away after one game. So Ezio had a good run with three strong outings and now people are ready for a new guy,” he concluded.

Source: GI.biz

XBLA Might Be Dissolved But Not Soon

Digital distribution is the future of gaming, and it is also increasingly becoming its present. Because of this, XBLA Microsoft Studios global marketing manager Michael Wolf doesn’t think that making an online designation between download-only titles and AAA titles will make sense forever.

When asked if XBLA might one day be dissolved as a brand, Wolf said, “Personally, I’d say absolutely, yes. I think digital distribution has to be like that. I don’t think XBLA will be leaving soon. It is an incredible platform. We have XBLA fans, I don’t think it’s going to be announced anytime soon. One thing Microsoft has proven is that we continue to try and adapt and innovate in experiences.”

Microsoft, however, was quick to pour water on any talk of XBLA being disbanded any time soon, saying in a statement, “Xbox Live Arcade is and will continue to be the premier destination for quality downloadable games at a great value, boasting an ever-growing, eclectic library of hundreds of games, spanning every genre. We are committed to providing new downloadable games for Xbox 360 and continuing our work with 1st and 3rd party developers on the platform. We have no plans to dissolve the service at this time.”

Source: GameInformer

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

Yahoo Struggling For Content Partners For Sales Alliance

Reports are that Yahoo is holding content distribution deals over the heads of some prospective partners as a result of its new sales alliance with Microsoft and AOL. Also the company is apparently looking to entice others with the promise of getting their content on Yahoo’s traffic-heavy homepage.

Yahoo is doing this by basically threatening companies like The Weather Channel, Reuters and ABC with the possibility of using competing content if they don’t join the sales alliance. On the other hand, Yahoo executives are said to be offering non-content partners the chance to cut editorial distribution deals in exchange for joining the sales alliance.

Sources are indicating that Microsoft and AOL are not employing the same tactics as Yahoo. Jim Heckman, Yahoo’s SVP of strategy and emerging businesses, is thought to be the driving force behind this tactic, given that he’s under pressure to deliver the 20 partners promised last year when his 5to1 Holding Corp. was purchased for $25 million.

The portal sales partnership is right now in limbo as Yahoo struggles to get other Web publishers on board. While Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL were supposed to be teamed up already, things are still pending and it is believed that alliances are being shored up before pushing the partnership. A rep from Yahoo characterized the sales process as “in progress.”

Source: AdWeek

 

Keep Your Eyes On The Road And Stay Connected

Automaker Ford is looking to integrate Facebook with its popular voice-controlled SYNC software currently featured in the newer models. This function will allow users to look up an event location, see who’s attending, and even check-in to the event upon arrival. Currently, Ford SYNC AppLink allows drivers to connect to apps like Pandora, iHeartRadio and a Twitter-based app Orangatame OpenBeak. Users can control and navigate these app simply by using their voice.