Home Gets Three New Free-To-Play Titles

Sony Computer Entertainment America announced that it is launching three free-to-play games in PlayStation Home. No Man’s Land is a cover-based shooter, Mercia offers RPG dungeon crawling and Cutthroats: Battle for Black Powder Cove is a game with pirate ship combat; gamers can also now talk to each other in the Adventure District.

“These new titles are delivering on the promise we made to the PlayStation Home community when we first launched the new core experience in November of last year, offering a variety of genre-based games to suit every gamer’s preference,” said Chris Mahoney, senior business manager of PlayStation Home, SCEA. “We’re bringing gamers the kind of experiences they expect from these genres with the social elements that are only available through PlayStation Home.”

Red Dead Redemption Informing Assassin’s Creed III’s Development

Red Dead Redemption was a huge worldwide hit, but unbeknownst to anyone outside of Ubisoft, they were planning similar elements for hunting and an open frontier in Assassin’s Creed III. The success of the Old West game actually influenced Assassin’s Creed III‘s development.

“I think it’s a convergence of minds. When people are thinking about the same topic at the same time, they’re bound to have some ideas come around at about the same moment,” explained Assassin’s Creed III lead writer Matt Turner. “We’d been working on the animal and the frontier stuff and then [Red Dead Redemption] came out. We saw it, played it cover to cover, and it was less of an ‘oh shit’ and more of a ‘aha! How can we do better than that ‘”

“Because that’s something that Rockstar does – it always strives to be the best. They always try to push things in new directions and I think we need to do the same thing,” added Turner. “As a team we saw how good [Red Dead] was and how they had tons of success and we were like, ‘OK, let’s look at their success and see how we can take it in new directions.’ That’s what I think we’ve tried to do.”

Source: CVG

Gears Of War Wasn’t Supposed To Be ‘Dude-Bro’

The Gears of War series has developed a reputation for being the embodiment of machismo in video games. Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski claims that it was never intended to make the game’s tone the way it was perceived.

“I didn’t always make these dude-bro games at Epic,” he said. “The intent was to make Gears of War a lot more Band of Brothers and take it a lot more serious. If we get around to ever doing more Gears games, I hope we can continue to drift back more towards a Christopher Nolan type dialogue as opposed to a Tim Burton or Joel Schumacher Batman. But that’s way down the line.”

Source: IGN

Max Payne 3 — Multiplayer Special

Max Payne 3 has multiplayer, addressing an element that players have been asking for in the series since the first entry. As this video shows, they address the issue of how bullet-time fits into the balance of the game, along with previewing some of the game’s multiplayer modes.

Sony Online Entertainment Goes Live With Fan Event

Sony Online Entertainment has announced that its fan event SOE Live, with identity designed by the Ayenberg Group, will take place at Bally’s in Las Vegas, October 18-21, 2012. The gathering will give the SOE community a chance to be social in person and will feature panel discussions and game-themed live events for their full line up of games, which include DC Universe Online, EverQuest, Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes.

“The ‘SOE Live’ name change represents a deeper meaning behind our annual event,” said Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Sony Online Entertainment. “As our game portfolio continues to expand, we wanted to better represent our diverse player base and games, including the newest additions to the SOE family, with DC Universe Online, Free Realms, Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures, and the highly anticipated PlanetSide 2. Previous event attendees can rest assured that we are not removing any of our established activities in order to accommodate the new players; rather, they can expect even more to make this the ultimate SOE fan experience.”

Ngmoco Predicts Free-To-Play Equivalent Of Skyrim Coming Soon

Right now, most free-to-play games are synchronous and asynchronous multiplayer experiences. However, Ngmoco’s Ben Cousins believes that single player games will eventually be viable for all sorts of experiences.

“I believe that single-player will be the next to be cracked in terms of freemium monetization,” he said. “And I’m talking about traditional, story-based, scripted, linear and non-linear single-player that we see on consoles. I am totally 100 percent confident – I will bet large amounts of money – that we will have, in the next few years, a free-to-play equivalent of Skyrim. A game like Skyrim, where you accrue skills and equipment over time, that you can play for hundreds of hours, is actually one of the easiest games to develop for a free-to-play model. That would be a big hit.”

“In the future I believe free-to-play will be the way that nearly everyone plays games, it will be nearly every genre, and it will be nearly every platform,” Cousins continued.

Source: GI.biz

Feature: Rift — One Year On

In 2011, Rift seemed to be a game coming from a different era of gaming. Having a fantasy setting and using a subscription-based revenue model, the game seemed destined to dash itself up against the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft. However, instead of turning meekly from this fate, Trion embraced the role as challenger and launched the provocative “We’re not in Azeroth” campaign; one year later, the game is still going strong and Trion is looking to expand to future products. We talked with Jim Butler, Sr. Director of Global Marketing at Trion, about the one year anniversary of Rift and look back at the original provocative ad campaign.

The original advertising for Rift threw down the gauntlet to World of Warcraft. A year on, do you feel that was successful in drumming up attention for a then very new game?

When I first arrived at Trion, the challenge was in creating awareness around both a young company and a very new game. It was important that we delivered a message that got the attention of our core consumers and resonated within the audience. Our Effie-winning “We’re not in Azeroth” campaign worked wonders here, generating word of mouth and awareness that we couldn’t have achieved through a traditional media buy. We worked carefully in driving home the message across print, display advertising, social media, broadcast, and more. It definitely exceeded our expectations and was the right message at the right time.

How is the first year anniversary of Rift being celebrated?

We started things off by thanking all of our fans who have made this such a wonderful year. We couldn’t have done it without you. Oh, and there was cake. *laughs*

It’s hard to believe it’s already been one year, but the celebrations continue both in-game and out. We kicked off the anniversary events in late February with the start of a new world event that has erupted into the Carnival of the Ascended. Carnival games, loot piatas, subscriber bonuses, and much more are going on in Rift right now (you can check out the full list at http://www.riftgame.com/en/community/updates/carnival-ascended-events.php). The celebration also spilled over to the Rift Mobile app, where current and former players could win prizes with the Carnival Candy loot card game.

How has Trion been incentivizing people to stay, or even return if they’ve been sampling something else?

The development team has been producing high-quality updates at a rapid pace, and that provides a natural point for us to drive re-engagement with former subscribers and encourage existing subscribers to continue playing. We’ve capitalized on this by creating events around the updates, such as Guinness World Records for online marriages we set in February. We also leverage videos and arrange press coverage around key dates to continue to drive awareness.

Do you feel like your free trial up to level 20 has helped draw in new players?

The numbers clearly show that it’s working. Moving from a time-limited trial (7 days) to a level-limited one allows players to fully experience the game without worrying that a late night at work or a movie with friends will cause them to miss something. We re-branded the trial Rift Lite and allowed former subscribers to come back and play their low-level characters as well. More engagement is always better.

Rift is and continues to be reliant solely on subscriptions for revenue. Does Trion still feel that the quality of product dictates the necessity of the subscription model?

We continue to believe that there is room in the MMO marketplace for high-quality, AAA games that can command monthly subscriptions. I don’t think that quality forces us to a subscription model, as there are high-quality free-to-play games coming up. Like”¦End of Nations. *laughs* 

What has Trion learned from launching Rift in a marketing sense that you will likely apply to your future products?

Plan ahead. Iterate a campaign a few times to really make it shine. Go big or go home. Make sure everyone in the company knows what you’re doing . .  and when. This is fairly basic stuff at some level, but it’s easily forgotten.

Marketing an MMO impacts virtually every group in the company, from Customer Service and Finance, to Legal, Development, and Platform. Everything we do is so public that it needs to fire flawlessly with all hands on deck just in case something unexpected happens (and it will).

Everything we do is focused on the consumer and their experience with Trion and all our games. As long as we keep focused on exceeding customer expectations, both in terms of the quality of the game and in how they are treated, then we’re going to level up and do even more awesome things.

Jim, thanks.

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Martha Stewart Reigns Over CastleVille

Zynga has announced that they are launching an integration with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in CastleVille. This will put the Queen of Domesticity into the game, allowing players to both interact with the entrepreneur and receive in-game rewards.

“I love playing games, but I love being in a game even more,” said Martha Stewart. “Turning my personal domain into an imaginary and fanciful kingdom is not only fun for me and the players of CastleVille, but a clever way to share my particular style of living with an interactive and creative audience. I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to encourage my fans to take a little break in their day to play.”

Players will begin receiving invitations from Martha Stewart to visit her neighboring kingdom. Players can then interact with her in her home, which has its own unique animals and flowers, and participate in an Easter egg hunt, that will see players build a crafting gazebo to work on different crafts including egg decorating.

“Martha Stewart is someone who people across the world have welcomed into their home for years, and I’m thrilled to welcome her onto CastleVille game boards,” said David Rippy, General Manager of CastleVille. “Zynga is creating a new form of entertainment through our games, and we are always looking for ways to keep play fun and interesting, and to surprise and delight our players by bringing a bit of what they love in the real world to their virtual kingdoms. We’re honored that Martha has journeyed into CastleVille and hope our players will truly enjoy getting a chance to craft with their homemaking hero in the game.”

CastleVille currently has over 26 million players every month. Since the game launched in November 2011, players have completed over 2 billion quests, built 529 royal buildings, raised nearly 100 million baby cows and banished 1.5 million beasts.

EVE Fanfest 2012 – Cinematic Trailer

Dust 514 looks to expand the universe of EVE Online with infantry combat on various planets. As this epic trailer details, the plot for the game revolves around a technology that lets soldiers be easily cloned.