A Better World Counts

An interesting new twist to the Nike Better World Campaign entitled Journey, Jason Lester will travel for the next 102 days across the U.S. biking or running the entire 4000 miles. The site will track his journey via photos, a stats dashboard and a map of his location.  A calendar of Facebook events allows users to join the journey in their city.

SOE Converting Vanguard to Free-to-Play

SOE has announced that they are bringing Vanguard into their free-to-play fold. The game will join other SOE titles that have made the switch, like EverQuest, EverQuest II and DC Universe Online, in Summer 2012.

“A few weeks ago, we began ramping up the Vanguard development team with some familiar faces.  Our criteria was simple; we wanted the most Vanguard-knowledgeable, passionate developers.  While we plan to continue growing the team over the next few months, I wanted to briefly introduce a few of our team leads, including Salim ‘Silius’ Grant (Creative Director), Todd ‘Hobart’ Schmidt (Technical Director) and me, Andy Sites (Director of Development).  Fortunately, I am the only noob to the world of Vanguard, although having been part of the original EverQuest, EverQuest II, Free Realms, and Clone Wars Adventures teams, I’ve spent most of my career working on MMOs,” wrote Andy SitesDirector of Development.

“Over the next several weeks, we plan to roll-out individual ‘spotlight’ pieces for each team member, to give you an opportunity to get to know each of them.  In addition, you can expect to see more frequent game updates, as well as more detailed information regarding the upcoming free-to-play aspects of Vanguard.”

Source: vgplayers.station.sony.com

GameStop Doubts New Consoles Will Block Used Games

There have been some reports that the next game console by Microsoft will not allow players to play used-games. To GameStop CEO Paul Raines, he thinks it unlikely that publishers and manufacturers will ignore $1.2 billion in pre-owned sales.

“We think it’s unlikely that there would be that next-gen console because the model simply hasn’t been proven to work,” said Raines. “Remember that used video games have a residual value. Remember that GameStop generates $1.2 billion of trade credits around the world with our used games model. So, consider taking used games out of that, you’d have to find new ways to sell the games, and our partners at the console companies have great relationships with us.”

“What we’ve done is created a way for that new leading edge consumer to dispose of their old games and that’s what creates this great circle of life we talk about that so many try to imitate,” he added.

App Store Ruled By Conglomerates, Says Ready At Dawn

The App Store is often cited as being a shining beacon of developmental freedom in today’s market. However, Ready at Dawn CEO Ru Weerasuriya says that making games for iOS isn’t really too different compared to other markets.

“I have a lot of friends working in that environment, and the funny thing is that I know that it’s a great environment to be in because I love playing those games and I know that everybody does. But people have too easy a time thinking that, ‘Well, it only costs this much and we’re gonna make money,’ and it’s not necessarily the case,” Weerasuriya said. “I mean, if you really look at the market, at the thousands and thousands of games that are out there, there’s a very, very, very small percentage of them that literally do make money and their success is only shared by a very few big publishers on that front as well.”

“It’s not the independent guys that are really doing it [on mobile], so the scary thought is that it’s kind of turning out to be like the rest of the industry, which I’d hoped it wouldn’t be; I’d hoped that it would be a very independent based industry. But now you see these conglomerates really controlling the biggest and best or most money making titles, which, I don’t know, it’s kind of disheartening a little bit,” he lamented.

Source: GI.biz

Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Reaches $1.5 Million

The Wasteland 2 Kickstarter has managed to exceed more than its $1.5 million goal, meaning that a Linux and Mac version are coming. With over three weeks remaining on the Kickstarter, inXile CEO Brian Fargo is bowled over in the response.

“I continue to be overwhelmed by the positive feedback and enthusiasm from the support I have gotten from Kickstarter,” wrote Fargo. “The groundswell of people cheering us on and the evangelism – people spreading the word – is unlike anything I have experienced. In fact, I would say the last week was the high water mark of my career.”

While the whole project has been one big feel-good story, Fargo couldn’t help but relate a few of what he calls “human moments” that have come up. “We started off strong in the first 24 hours raising nearly 50 percent of our minimum need but still I was nervous,” said Fargo. “All the signs of success were there but we all wanted it to happen so badly that it seemed to good to be true. Around 6:00 that first night we received an email from a wealthy software industry individual who is a passionate fan of Wasteland and offered to help fund the game if Kickstarter came short! Talk about feeling good. Of course I thanked him and said I hoped we would not need his assistance but he made my whole day/week/month/year.”

“On the next day I get a short tweet from an individual that confesses he pirated Wasteland as a kid and was donating to help make up for it,” he added. “I of course forgave not knowing he had donated $10,000 dollars. An incredible gesture . . . now if we could get every pirate of Wasteland 1 to donate we could really beat the Kickstarter all time record.”

Kickstarter has been good to Brian Fargo, and he wants to help spread the love to other developers. “Speaking of goodwill it occurs to me that we can harness the power of Kickstarter in a more meaningful way,” said Fargo. “an funding is bigger than me or Wasteland 2 as I have remarked before. The development community has come together to support us in ways that I didn’t think possible and our power as developers will ultimately come from us sticking together.  Both gamers and developers have so much more strength than they realize. But in order to help facilitate the power of crowd funding I am going to suggest that all of us that do utilize this form of financing agree to kickback 5 percent of our profits made from such projects to other Kickstarter developers. I am not suggesting taking a backers money and moving it to another project.. I mean once a game has shipped and created profit that we funnel that back into the community of developers to fund their dreams. I am tentatively calling this ‘Kick It Forward’ and I will be the first to agree to it. In fact, I will have our artists create a badge that goes on all Kickstarter projects that agree to support this initiative. Imagine the potential if another Minecraft  comes along via Kickstarter and produces millions of dollars of investment into other developers. This economic payback will continue to grow the movement way beyond the current system. I hope others will join me with this idea and make this a true shakeup.”

“Any developer that puts the ‘Kicking it Forward’ badge on their Kickstarter project page is agreeing that they will put 5 percent of their finished product profits back into other Kickstarter projects,” he continued. “To be abundantly clear, this is only money that the developer earns as profit AFTER the project ships and AFTER they have paid their expenses. This is NOT a suggestion to invest money they received from people who invested into their project via Kickstarter.”

“Once a project in this program has become profitable, the developer is going to spend this 5 percent profit, which is their own money, on whatever Kickstarter projects they want to support,” he added. “They can determine unilaterally who they want to give it to and when. Neither myself nor a committee is going to tell successful developers what projects to invest in. Ultimately, this is an honor system at the end of the day. No one is going to audit their books to make sure they complied. In many ways Kickstarter is an honor system too, so this is no different. Of course some unscrupulous developer may not follow through with their promise but I believe the development community sticks together.:

Source: kickstarter.com

Rovio Targets Disney, Wants ‘Angry Birds Available Everywhere’

Rovio’s Angry Birds is a worldwide phenomenon with 700 downloads on a variety of platforms. However, teaming up with NASA, National Geographic and Walmart for the launch of their new game shows the ambitions of the studio expand beyond a simple mobile game.

“It’s not just the launch of a game, it’s the launch of a franchise. It’s bigger than most movie launches in Hollywood,” said Rovio CMO Peter Vesterbacka “Rovio is one of the first brands to launch from the digital to the physical world.”

Rovio rejected a $2 billion buyout offer from Zynga last year because they have vast ambitions. They want to be bigger than Disney, which is a $74 billion company.

“Zynga is a game company. We stopped looking at ourselves as a game company. We sold 25 million plush toys last year. For us, it’s about making Angry Birds available everywhere,” said Vesterbacka, who added, “You go shopping in China, you see Angry Birds everywhere. We are the most copied brand in China, which means we are the most loved brand. We aren’t advocating piracy… but we have millions of Chinese people who love Angry Birds.”

Source: businessinsider.com

Apple Sent Letters By Congress Over User Personal Information

The U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee has sent letters to 34 companies, including Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare. They are asking the details of their data collection and usage in order to make sure Apple is protecting the personal information of iOS users.

“Following recent reports that apps could collect address book information and photos without notice and consent from users of Apple’s mobile devices, the members are seeking to better understand what, if any, information these particular apps gather, what they do with it, and what notice they provide to app users,” read a statement by the committee. “The members want the information to begin building a fact-based understanding of the privacy and security practices in the app marketplace.”

Source: AllThingsD

Telltale Offers Zombie Bonus For The Walking Dead Pre-Orders

Telltale Games has announced a contest for pre-order customers of The Walking Dead game. To incentivize this, Telltale is offering a 10 percent discount to pre-orders, meaning a $22.49 price tag for the five episodes instead of $24.99.

“By pre-ordering the game, you’re automatically entered for a chance to join the cast of the game. Our artists will model you in-game as a human who will die a horrible death, returning as a ravenous walker. You’ll appear in Episode 4 of the game,” says Telltale. “Up to four others will be selected to become part of the undead horde. They’ll be modeled as zombies by our artists and will be seen shambling around in the game…or perhaps eating an unfortunate victim!”

Source: TelltaleGames.com

Nexon Sponsoring Korean Baseball Team

Nexon has announced that it will be an official sponsor of the Lotte Giants. The Korean baseball team will feature the Nexon logo on their uniforms, their home stadium will have special seating called the “Nexon Zone,” and Nexon will begin to promote upcoming games with the Lotte Giants.

Sports teams in Korea are owned and sponsored by major corporations, and yes that includes professional StarCraft players. Major owners of various baseball teams include the Samsung Lions, the Kia Tigers and the LG Twins.

Source: Kotaku