RIM Pushes Back BlackBerry 10 To 2013

Research in Motion announced that BlackBerry 10 is being pushed back to 2013. The company is planning to cut 5,000 jobs by the end of fiscal year 2013 as part of a comprehensive cost-saving and restructuring program to save RIM at least $1 billion.

“RIM’s development teams are relentlessly focused on ensuring the quality and reliability of the platform and I will not compromise the product by delivering it before it is ready,” said RIM CEO Thorsten Heins. “I am confident that the first BlackBerry 10 smartphones will provide a ground-breaking next generation smartphone user experience.”

“I am not satisfied with these results and continue to work aggressively with all areas of the organization and the board to implement meaningful changes to address the challenges, including a thoughtful realignment of resources and honing of focus within the company on areas that have the greatest opportunities,” Heins added.

NBA 2K13 Cover Gets Rose, Griffin, Durant

2K Sports has announced that Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Clippers’ Blake Griffin and the Chicago Bulls’ Derrick Rose will cover NBA 2K13. The three have all won an NBA Rookie of the Year award, and have also amassed eight All-Star berths, three scoring titles, and one Most Valuable Player award between them.

“Being crowned as one of the NBA 2K13 cover athletes is a huge honor and something I always dreamt about ,” said Durant. “It’s definitely humbling to grace the cover after the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird.”

“There’s so much young talent around the NBA, so it’s very exciting to be chosen for NBA 2K’s “New Dynasty” alongside Kevin and Derrick,” added Griffin. “The NBA 2K series has always been my first choice when I want to get a game in.”

“It’s a dream come true to be one of the cover athletes for NBA 2K13,” commented Rose. “I’ve worked closely with 2K Sports since NBA 2K10, and I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan as the latest Chicago Bull to be featured on the cover.”

“There are many young superstars in today’s NBA, but we’ve selected three incredible athletes for the cover of NBA 2K13 that represent the NBA well,” concluded Jason Argent, vice president of marketing for 2K Sports. “It’s clear to us that Blake, Derrick and Kevin are the most deserving guys to inherit the NBA 2K cover from Jordan, Magic and Bird.”

Yodo1 Partners With Robot Entertainment To Bring Hero Academy To China

Yodo1, a publishing platform, has announced it has raised $2 million seed funding from Chang You Fund to help its plans bring Western developed games for Android and iOS games to the Chinese market. They also announced a partnership with Robot Entertainment to bring its iOS title, Hero Academy, to China, with a new Chinese-specific race for the game featuring Shaolin monks and other characters tailored for the region.

“Western smartphone games have huge potential in China, but most Western developers don’t know how to monetize this market,” said Yodo1 CEO Henry Fong. “For example, Chinese gamers can spend a lot of money on virtual items and showcase these items to other players; that’s very different from the Western market where gamers may not want others to know they are spending to get an in-game advantage.”

“Hero Academy gets more downloads in China than in any country except the U.S., even before Yodo1 helped localize it,” said Robot Entertainment CEO Patrick Hudson. “By adapting the game for Chinese players, we can deliver Hero Academy to a much larger audience in China. We chose Yodo1 for this work because they have a deep understanding of the Chinese gaming culture, are very trustworthy with our game design and IP, and have a full appreciation for what makes Hero Academy unique and fun.”

PlatinumGames Writer Talks Issues With Japanese Development

Jean Kellams, PlatinumGames’ international co-ordinator and writer, recently talked online about his theory as to why games fail or succeed on either side of the Pacific. While it is often maintained that games from Japan have a different “flavor” than Western games, he has a simpler way of looking at things.

“The problems with Japanese games aren’t that they are JPN games or that they are Westernized games,” said Kellams. “The problems with JPN games are simple: Most of them aren’t very good games. People don’t buy those. Most games from anywhere aren’t good. That’s why exceptional means exceptional.”

He also noted that the investment issue is a vicious cycle for Japanese developers – without large finances you can’t compete with companies like Ubisoft and Activision, but if you don’t invest that money you probably won’t have huge hits. “Most Japanese publishers/developers can’t invest money/manpower enough to compete with exceptional Western productions,” he noted. “Risk is too high. It costs money and sweat to make things stand out, but it also raises the risk. Then marketing is crazy expensive after that.”

Source: Twitter.com/PG_jp

Hitman Director Laments Most Fans Don’t Finish Games

Using trophy/achievement systems as monitors, it is very easy for developers to keep track of how few people finish their games. IO Interactive director Tore Blystad thinks that’s a shame, since his upcoming game Hitman: Absolution is made for high replayability.

“The general player will probably never even finish the game, which is very sad. Or they might only play through it once, but the game is built for the people who want to go back through every single level and get all the stuff out of it. It’s built to last, rather than be a one-off experience,” said Blystad. “I guess people can’t commit to taking all those hours to finish one product, they get tired of it. It’s not just for this game, it’s for any game. Knowing that 20 percent of the players will see the last level of the game. It’s horrible to know. It makes the people working on it really really sad.”

While there’s a temptation to move more interesting levels earlier in the game, Blystad says that’s not really possible in Hitman: Absolution. “It’s very difficult when something is constructed to fit into a larger story to move things too much around. I think in some of the previous Hitman games that that might have been the case – that some levels were moved earlier, because they were more catchy or interesting. For us it hasn’t really been that easy, because the story is really tying all the levels together, so they’re still coming in the same order, more or less, that they were designed.”

Source: OPM UK

NPD: Gamers Growing More Comfortable Making Online Purchases

Online Gaming 2012 NPD’s Online Gaming 2012 report stated that 67 percent of all gamers reported acquiring at least one game in either a physical or digital format in the past three months, 75 percent when looking specifically at online gamers. Gamers reported acquiring an average of eight games, with those acquiring only digital games reporting an average of six games compared to three for those acquiring only physical games; those that acquired games in both physical and digital formats 15, including free or paid games.

“Gamers are growing more comfortable in acquiring content online, as we saw the preference for digital increase ten percentage points from last year,” said Liam Callahan, industry analyst, The NPD Group. “The proliferation of free games on mobile devices has reduced the barrier of entry for online gaming to zero, fueling an increase in acquisition.”

Gamers have said that the other entertainment features on their console/portable device are slightly causing them to game less. Similarly, there is a slight increase in those saying they are spending less money on gaming due to the entertainment features available and over one-in-five online gamers state that other household members are using their systems for other entertainment activities, also up 3 percentage points from 2011.

“Every year at E3, we hear about new non-gaming features being added to major console and portable device manufacturers’ online services,” said Callahan. “It is reasonable to expect changes in the share of time and spend as consumers become aware and increasingly comfortable with the number of features, including gaming, available through their multifunctional devices.”

Kickstarter For Sam Suede Gets Canned

Wisecrack Games has canceled its Kickstarter project for Sam Suede in Undercover Exposure. Negative attention in the form of a suggested lawsuit from Leisure Suit Larry creator Al Lowe (who was involved in the project several years ago and whose likeness was used in the pitch video) helped kill the project, even though the reports turned out to be false.

“After much deliberation, we have decided to take a step back, regroup and brainstorm as to the best approach to re-launching this project,” wrote Ken Wegrzyn of Wisecrack. “Within an hour of the Kickstarter launch, erroneous and misleading information was posted and declared to the media about Wisecrack Games, attempting to derail any progress of this Kickstarter campaign. It was the leg work and research of the gaming community that revealed the foul play. Eventually, the truth prevailed, albeit too late.”

The developer will look to other means to finance their project. The Kickstarter had not even raised $15,000 of it’s half million dollar goal by the time it was canceled.

Source: Kickstarter