Free-To-Play Goes To Digital Extremes

Digital Extremes has announced that their new project will be Warframe. The free-to-play game will have a sci-fi focus and marks a return by the studio to PC development

“We’ve heard for years now that PC gaming is dead,” said head of Digital Extremes James Schmalz. “It isn’t dead; it just went underground for a few years and is now re-emerging with this massively growing free-to-play market that has matured to the point where the quality of games we’re seeing rivals many AAA retail games.”

Digital Extremes is looking to release Warframe into beta in Fall 2012.

Crytek Talks Lack Of Free-To-Play On Consoles

Free-to-play is becoming the dominant economic model for the PC gaming platform. Still, consoles have only made small steps towards F2P, and Crytek CEO Cevat Yerli thinks the platform owners are the issue.

“Why are free-to-play online games not widespread on consoles You should ask Microsoft and Sony this question,” said Yerli. “We see the future of consoles as free-to-play – ideally focused on free-to-play. That’s what I want to see in the future. But unfortunately not everybody shares this vision due to many other reasons.”

“The number one issue that needs to be resolved is how companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo become independent from retail so that they can go fully digital,” he added. “It’s an industry problem that needs to be overcome and somebody just has to say, ‘I’m going to cannibalise it, I don’t care, there’s a risk of burning some relationships, but we’re changing the world for good.'”

Source: CVG  {link no longer active}

Kindle Fire 2 Announcement Rumored For July 31

It is believed that Amazon will reveal the Kindle Fire 2 tablet at a launch event on July 31. It is believed that the device will have a price of $199 and the price of the old Kindle Fire will drop.

The source reported that the tablet would add a camera and physical volume buttons to the overall hardware. Resolution and chip-set are expected to be updated, but it is uncertain how much; another report said the new Kindle Fire to add a 1280×800 screen.

Source: CNET

YouTube App Now On PS Vita

The YouTube application is now available as a free download via the PS Vita Store on PSN. The application will display recommended vidoes, have a search and history option and the ability to add favorites.

Videos will be viewable in two modes — full screen and small screen. In Full Screen mode, a control panel will be displayed on the screen, which will allow you to easily expand or minimize videos. Additionally, an HD button will appear when playing high definition (up to 720p) videos. Simply tap on the HD button to switch from HD to SD.

“In Small Screen mode, you’ll be able to view a video, while having access to the Like or Dislike buttons, Suggested Videos, Comments and Information,” said Don Mesa, Director of Handheld Consoles Product Planning and Platform Software Innovation, SCEA. “PS Vita was designed to deliver the best high-resolution portable entertainment experience possible. We’re very excited to be able to offer the content and applications that are compelling to you, and we looking forward to bringing you more as we move further into 2012.”

Source: PlayStation Blog

Angry Birds Developer Touts Word Of Mouth Over Reviews

Rovio’s vice president of M&A Teemu Huuhtanen indicated at Gamelab that early professional reviews and positive blog reports can help with early buzz. However, he said that eventually word of mouth takes over, since casual gamers just don’t read reviews.

“We try to monitor social media, Facebook, Twitter, blogs and even reviews,” said Huuhtanen. “I think they are all important, especially in the beginning. But I don’t think many casual gamers actually read any blogs or reviews – they hear about games from their friends, mostly. But to gain momentum in the beginning, it definitely helps to get good reviews.”

Journey Collector’s Edition — Glorious Details

Details have come out for the recently outed Journey Collector’s Edition. The PS3 exclusive is currently scheduled for release in North America for $29.99 on August 28.

“From the simplicity of flOw, to the poetry of Flower, to the awe of Journey, this special Blu-ray bundle features thatgamecompany’s three award-winning PlayStation Network-exclusive titles, paired with exclusive new content and previously released digital content,” says Sunni Pavlovic Studio Manager at thatgamecompany. “We are particularly excited about the Creator Commentary play-throughs of all three games, because we get to share with players insights about flOw, Flower, and Journey straight from the minds of the designers, artists, engineers and composers who worked together to make these games so special.”

Other bonuses include a half hour behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of Journey, concept art and screenshot galleries for the three games, original soundtracks for the three games, PS3 dynamic themes and wallpapers, PSN avatars including 8 exclusive new Journey avatars never released before and official game trailers and developer diary videos. The box it comes in will feature reversible cover art.

“Another great feature included on the disc are the three exclusive mini-games born out of a thatgamecompany tradition: the 24hr Game Jam. As the name implies, each game was created by us, start to finish, in 24 hours. So for the first time ever, thatgamecompany’s mini-games, Gravediggers, Duke War!!, and Nostril Shot, will be available to play outside of our studio,” says Pavlovic. “We share these mini-games as a ‘thank you’ to our players for supporting us over the years. In case the names didn’t already give it away, these mini-games showcase thatgamecompany’s lighter side with madcap competitive multiplayer action. We hope you sincerely enjoy their silliness as much as we have.”


Marketing Challenges For Mobile Discussed By Natural Motion

Natural Motion CEO Torsten Reil spoke during Game Horizon in Newcastle about how traditional marketing and PR is ineffective for mobile titles. He said there was no material impact on how many copies of his company’s game were downloaded because of traditional marketing.

“We learned the hard way that we really needed to rethink marketing. I don’t think it works at all,” said Reil. “It has no impact that you can see for a big game when you run a dedicated, very well executed PR campaign, it does nothing, absolutely nothing. The download numbers that you’re dealing with overall are so huge that any PR downloads that you create are just noise.”

“The only thing you could argue is that maybe it gets you just over the hump to get a viral thing going. Whenever we’ve done PR and then not done PR there is no difference,” added Reil. “It doesn’t mean PR isn’t useful in general, for the company, for recruitment, it should definitely have a role but I’m seeing more and more PR agencies for iPhone games realizing that they don’t actually move the needle anymore in terms of overall game downloads.”

Reil said the focus should be on getting users to click and download games and make them eye catching. He cited My Horse, which has been downloaded over 11 million times.

“There are better ways of marketing a game and creating downloads. Some of these are how you use the App Store. We’ve found the name of the game is incredibly important in terms of discoverability,” he said. “The icon is your packaging. You can essentially double the number of downloads by getting these things right.”

Reil noted that viral marketing is still important for iOS games and noted that AAA production values can be a benefit. “You can go viral in the old fashioned way on these devices,” said Reil. “People will go out to a pub and show your game to their friends if they really like it. Very often it’s because of production values and overall graphics. This is where we have a huge opportunity. We always want to wow people. Whether the traditional gamer or the mass market gamer they want to show off what they have on their phone.”


OnLive Coming To Vizio Set Top Box

Vizio has announced that it is releasing the Co-Star, a Google TV-powered set top box for $99. Along with Google TV functionality, and apps for Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, there will also be compatibility with OnLive’s streaming game service.

“Our focus to deliver the best consumer experience continues with today’s announcement of the Co-Star, which delivers a superior smart TV interface that anyone can add to their existing HDTV,” said Vizio chief technology officer Matt McRae. “We combined the powerful features of Google TV with an intuitive and easy to use interface, giving users the power to enjoy an entire world of entertainment.”

The Co-Star can be paired with OnLive’s controllers via Bluetooth and the system also has 802.11n Wi-Fi and an integrated USB port to attach other peripherals.

Infinity Blade: Epic’s Most Profitable Game

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney talked at GDC Taipei about the state of the gaming industry. He addressed issues of differences between Asian revenue models and Western ones and about how successful Infinity Blade is for the company.

“The most profitable game we’ve ever made, in terms of man years invested versus revenue, is actually Infinity Blade,” said Sweeney. “It’s more profitable than Gears of War.”

“North American and European developers are far, far behind the state of the art Asian business models,” he added. “We’ve been building these games like Gears of War where you go into the store and you buy a piece of plastic! You just buy this DVD. That is going to change rapidly. All these western developers spending 30 million to develop these games for dedicated consoles – all of these companies are going to be invading the Asian markets within the next five years or so and they’ll be free to play, worldwide, global products. … The only way to survive is to go global.”

Source: Gamasutra