NABU Contrasts Megacities To Wood Splinters

NABU, the German Society for Nature Conservation, recently put out these ads highlighting how urbanization is leading to deforestation of 130,000 square kilometers of forest worldwide every year. You have to pull back a bit to really notice it, but it’s a splintered trunk designed to look something like a skyline.

Source: Ads of the World

Assassin’s Creed III Freedom At GameStop

GameStop has revealed that it will be getting the Freedom Edition of Assassin’s Creed III. This collectors edition of the game will feature the game in a steelbook case with art by Alex Ross, George Washington’s notebook detailing the conflict between the Assassins and the Templars during the American Revolution, a 24-cm high-quality figurine of Connor and an exclusive Lithograph.

The Freedom Edition will also feature two downloadable Single Player Missions in the Lost Mayan Ruins and Ghost of War, unlocking the weapons Captain Kidd’s cutlass and The Pontiac’s War Club. For multiplayer, there will be the Sharpshooter package with 1 new character, the Sharpshooter, 1 Relic, 1 Emblem, 1 special Picture and the Title of “The Jester”.

Feature: Brand Opportunies Beyond Publishers

For a long time, there was singular sort of game that brands would have to go publishers to make into a retail. It’s because everything, whether it was a blockbuster movie or a soft-drink mascot, was going to come out in some sort of physical format. Digital has changed many things now, and it’s also opened up different avenues for brands to get messaging out. We talked with Patrick Sweeney, head of Reed Smith’s Video Game Practice and a member of the Video Game Bar Association’s board, about this new trend.

[a]list: Talk to me about this approach by brands to directly produce games and potentially bypass game publishers – should publishers be worried?

Patrick Sweeney: In some cases, yes….These are potential revenue-generating opportunities that publishers may not have a chance to profit from. But, realistically, a lot of publishers would not have wanted to invest in many of these projects anyway. That being said, this is symptomatic of a larger issue that should be concerning to some. Regardless of whether the game is brand-based, the ability to bring a game to market without a publisher ought to be concerning to many publishers.

[a]list: Why bypass publishers?

Patrick Sweeney: I think every brand is going to have a different perspective, but the major factor is the relatively lower production cost and barrier to entry to reach the consumer. Games like these are not $50 million investments and there is not the risk of dealing with a warehouse full of inventory. Independent games have to manage the process with digital platforms, but its a much different level of commitment.

The Sour Patch Kids game split things a little bit – Kraft managed development through a client of mine (Beefy Media), but they didn’t completely bypass the traditional publisher. There was still an important role for Capcom on the marketing side. It’s not accurate to say that a publisher has no value in a situation like this….they just have a different value proposition for this type of opportunity.

[a]list: Why are things like Facebook games increasingly popular in your opinion for brands

Patrick Sweeney: I think it’s a similar thought process. The barrier to entry for Facecbook games is lower – you can get wide exposure to a mainstream audience for a lower production cost. And you don’t NEED a publisher to launch a game on Facebook. Because of the lower amount of development time, it’s easier for the brand to wrap its arms around the development process and the cost associated with it. It appears less daunting and easier to put together for an entity that may not have a lot of game development experience.

[a]list: Social games can also be more directly reactive to consumer reactions and demands. How does that factor into these opportunities?

Patrick Sweeney: You’re exactly right. Social games can iterate quickly based on consumer feedback. It’s not like a traditional boxed product, where that content is static.

[a]list: What else about mobile and social game opportunities are appealing to a brand?

Patrick Sweeney: The shorter development time is attractive. Showtime might say, “The next season of Dexter in 9 months…it would be great if we had a game associated with the launch.” Well, of course, you can’t launch a console game in that time (at least not a good one), but it’s likely that you can do something on Facebook. So if a licensor hasn’t been thinking far enough ahead, there still may be an opportunity for some game based on the brand.

[a]list: It seems like many brands are retreating from the AAA games field. Take something like Hunger Games – a decade ago, that would have gotten a PS2 game, now it’s just on Facebook.

Patrick Sweeney: I don’t think that the brands are retreating. I think the publishers are. The brand likely would welcome a large license fee for a big AAA console release. Publishers are not going to take the risk on just ANY license. But I think the top end licenses will always have an opportunity to partner with publishers. There’s some licenses/brands where a AAA cross-platform commitment is justified, whether it be Spider-Man, Batman or the sports leagues or whatever the next mass-appeal franchise may be. But it’s at this next level of license that I think publishers have retreated from the AAA-level of investment. Not to single out Dexter (it’s one of my favorite shows). But, it’s unlikely that there’s a good console, AAA publishing opportunity out there today. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a different games avenue for that license.

[a]list: It also means more opportunities for independent developers.

Patrick Sweeney: Absolutely…and not just for the developers. I think that new ways to bring games to market (whether branded or otherwise) is great for the industry in general. For example, Beefy Media was helping Kraft to craft the Sour Patch Kids games. Developers like Icarus studios and Three Rings found an opportunity to develop the Dexter and Dr. Who games, respectively. It goes beyond developers. Companies like [a]list games that are working on marketing campaigns for mobile and social games as well as tech/middleware companies like Havok all benefit from having more potential customers. All of a sudden, there’s an ecosystem of marketers.

Independently-funded games might not be good for all companies, but it’s definitely good for the industry as a whole. This goes above and beyond branded games. Traditional Publishers all recognize that things are changing. They all have to adjust and each approach it differently. Some companies will adjust through acquisition of mobile/social companies. Some will phase out of retail console and gradually change their portfolio of release.

The ability to publish and develop games without the traditional publishers is opening up new opportunities for commercializing content. This is not just limited to brands/licenses, but I think that brands are certainly taking advantage of this new world. I expect it to continue.

[a]list: Patrick, thanks.

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Online Gaming In Korea Expected To Be $5 Billion By 2016

According to a report from DFC Intelligence, the online gaming market in South Korea is expected to be $5 billion by 2016. This would represent an annual growth of over 9.7 percent every year in Korea, with last year’s revenue at $2.7 billion.

“Korea is an example of what happens when you give consumers access to games online,” says David Cole, president of DFC Intelligence. “The rest of the world is just starting to catch-up to Korea.”

With major television content devoted to gaming and e-sports (especially StarCraft and it’s sequel) fueling the growth of various PC games, it’s not surprising that Korea has the highest per capita spending on PC games in the world.

Gaming Business Review Relaunches

The Gaming Business Review (GBR) website has re-launched itself with a tighter focus on companies, trends and issues that help to expand the gaming industry. The site has a new interface and has a new Managing Editor/Analyst in Wolfgang Gruener, who will oversee all of the content published on the site.

“GBR enables us to deviate from the typical blog model. Our goal is to publish content based on industry expertise and evolving trends and analysis,” Gruener said. “GBR will provide reliable content our readers can trust. We are building GBR as an essential daily read for executives and developers looking for information critical to their business and product decisions.”

“GBR is not a news site, but rather a source for discussing trends, highlighting companies and technologies, and presenting viewpoints from interesting executives,” says Wanda Meloni, founder of GBR. “We speak with so many fascinating people and companies on a weekly basis we wanted to find a way to bring that together in one spot for people.”

Microsoft Not Offering Same-Day Digital Downloads For Retail Games

Sony has been offering digital downloads of their PS3 titles on the same day as retail release for a while now and Nintendo has said they will do the same this year. Microsoft, however, says that they will not be following suit, at least for the time being.

“We don’t do Games on Demand on day one, we focus on boxed retail for day one,” said Xbox Live UK product manager Pav Bhardwaj. “That’s where our focus has always been and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. We release a game roughly six months after it arrives at retail at full ERP. That’s our model and we’ll be sticking to that. It’s a successful model, so why change something you don’t need to ”

“The customer has the choice of going to retail on day one if they really want to buy a particular title, or to wait a couple of months and buy it full price from the Xbox Live marketplace. It’s a successful part of our business, we’re very pleased with the growth and it continues to do really well. Clearly there’s an audience out there who are happy to purchase a product at full ERP six or so months after [its retail release],” he said.

Source: MCV {link no longer active}

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Coming Free To Steam

Steam announced that they are rolling out a free weekend for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer. This sort of offering is becoming more and more common, even among games with paid products as a ways to attract customers to the multiplayer.

“Activision will be hosting a Free Weekend for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3! Pre-load the game now and be ready to play when the free weekend starts on Thursday, April 26 at 10 a.m. Pacific Time,” announced Valve. “Click here {link no longer active} to start pre-loading, or visit to install Steam.”