E3 Staying In L.A. Until 2015

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced that the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) will remain in Los Angeles for the next three years. E3 2013 will take place June 11-13, 2013, at the Los Angeles Convention Center, L.A. LIVE and a plethora of venues throughout downtown Los Angeles and the City.

“We are proud to partner with Los Angeles for another three years. The City serves as a strong backdrop for the video game industry’s biggest announcements and we look forward to remaining in LA,” said Michael D. Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, which represents U.S. video game industry. “Video games are a dominant force in the global entertainment marketplace and there is no better place to display that than Los Angeles. We look forward to continuing our relationship with the City and AEG.”

45,700 video game professionals, analysts, journalists and retailers from 103 countries attended E3 2012. The city of Los Angeles was notably eager to keep E3, as the thousands of people attending generated roughly $40 million in revenue for Los Angeles in three days.

“The City of Los Angeles is thrilled to welcome E3 back for another three years,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “My office was committed to doing whatever it took to keep the largest annual conference that the City hosts here for another three years. I personally joined in the negotiations, and we worked with all parties to ensure the needs of E3 would be met. The City is grateful the Entertainment Software Association continues to view L.A., the entertainment capital of the world, as the ideal location for the world’s premiere video game convention.”

The main threat to E3 remaining in Los Angeles were AEG’s plans for downtown Los Angeles that are scheduled to include a reduction in size of the Los Angeles Convention Center, a necessity for the planned development of the new Farmer’s Field. That concern has apparently been addressed with E3 now situated in multiple venues in close proximity.

“ESA’s commitment to remain in Los Angeles is a critical endorsement of Los Angeles as one of the nation’s most important convention destinations,” said Timothy J. Leiweke, president & CEO, AEG. “Working with ESA to provide the confidence in scheduling they have requested has truly been a collaborative effort. We are also grateful to ESA for their thoughtful input into the design plans which will result in the most efficient and modern facilities that will not only benefit E3 but all of the new conventions that will come to Los Angeles. On behalf of our City and AEG, thank you ESA, we won’t let you down.”

“ESA supports AEG’s mission and vision for downtown Los Angeles and the areas surrounding the Los Angeles Convention Center,” Gallagher added. “We appreciate AEG’s willingness to work in partnership with our organization to not only create a construction schedule to accommodate the needs of our guests but also their commitment to incorporate many of our suggestions into the design of the new venues. These resulting upgrades to the facility will truly benefit all conventions and further establish Los Angeles as industry leaders. We are glad we could come to an agreement that keeps E3 in its traditional home.”

Registration for attendees is not currently open, but additional info for hotel & travel accommodations, media credentialing and registration will be forthcoming and available at www.e3expo.com.


Facebook: Growing To 1 Billion Members And Beyond

Facebook is set to hit 1 billion users by the end of 2012. Growing this number is helped by a dedicated team that helps influence nearly every aspect of Facebook, and has grown from just five people to 150.

Central to this group is Naomi Gleit, product manager and the second-longest-tenured Facebook employee. Her goal is making “Facebook available to everyone in the world” as she describes.

Growing Facebook is perhaps more vital than ever, given some signs that expansion is slowing down and disappointing results from Facebook’s fiscal report. Since Facebook’s initial public offering in May, its shares have fallen more than 22 percent, to about $29 per share.

Gleit joined Facebook in early 2005 after writing a thesis on how Facebook beat out a rival website called Club Nexus on the Stanford campus, and after being turned down for a position as assistant to then-President Sean Parker, she eventually landed a job on the marketing team. “She wanted to work at Facebook more than anything,” says Matt Cohler, an early executive at the company who hired Gleit and is now a general partner at the venture capital firm Benchmark Capital.

Gleit pushed Facebook to expand beyond Ivy League schools to other colleges, followed by high schools, businesses, and, in 2006, to basically everyone. “My job has been, over the years, to remove barriers that are preventing people from joining Facebook,” says Gleit.

Gleit was the product management leader for the growth team when it was formed in 2007 because growth had cooled after reaching 100 million members. “She is someone that the engineers both tremendously respected and also feared,” says Palihapitiya, who left Facebook last year. “We used to call her ‘the Mom.'”

What helped the company expand was a deal with Google to show profiles in results and launching the “People You May Know” application. They later created a translation tool lets users in Spain, France, and Germany navigate the site in their native languages and within two years of its creation, the team had expanded Facebook’s roster of users sevenfold to 360 million.

Eventually, the goal of the GEM team (an acronym for growth, engagement, and mobile) was to keep existing members active and logging in from mobile devices.

Gleit wants to build “magic moments” in the site, and helped develop functions like the contact importer, which suggests friends based on names in a user’s e-mail address book. The next big opportunities are in emerging markets like India, where penetration still isn’t high for the site.

“There are still a lot of barriers in international markets, whether that be governmental barriers like in China, and occasionally Vietnam, or competitive barriers like VKontakte in Russia,” she says, referring to the Eastern European social network with more than 100 million users in that country.

Membership growth programs has become a mandatory part in many companies at Silicon Valley, with Quora, Dropbox, and Twitter all having their own now. While Facebook is staring down a billion users Gleit’s more interested in looking ahead. “1 billion is one-seventh of the world’s population,” she says.

Source: BusinessWeek.com

Blizzard Executive Agrees With Newell ‘Catastrophe’ Sentiment On Windows 8

Gabe Newell recently criticized the upcoming release of Windows 8 from Microsoft, calling it among other things “a catastrophe”. Rob Pardo, the executive vice president of Blizzard Entertainment, has taken to Twitter to support the sentiment.

“nice interview with Gabe Newell – ‘I think Windows 8 is a catastrophe for everyone in the PC space’ – not awesome for Blizzard either,” tweeted Pardo.

Windows 8 is being designed to be more friendly to tablets, though the part that has developers concerns is that Microsoft will want to have more control over various applications and purchases made through the OS.

Source: Twitter.com

Disruptor Beam Hires New COO

Disruptor Beam has announced that it has hired Blue Fang Games veteran Hank Howie to be the company’s new Vice President of Business Development & Chief Operating Officer. He will be responsible for licensing, publishing and building partnerships on behalf of the company, as well as operations relating to all projects including the upcoming Game of Thrones Ascent social game being developed in partnership with HBO and author George R.R. Martin.

“With over 20 years of experience in the game and Internet industries, I’m confident that Hank’s worldwide connections and in-depth insight will prove to be invaluable as we continue to grow,” said Jon Radoff, CEO and Founder of Disruptor Beam. “I can’t think of a better person to help Disruptor Beam reach its next chapter, creating innovative social and mobile games and furthering our position as a key member of not just the Boston game development community, but the global games industry as a whole.”

“I’ve experienced first-hand the industry-wide transition towards targeting a continually growing population of casual gamers with social and mobile games,” said Howie. “The potential for Disruptor Beam to become a leader in this space is clearly apparent. This is one of the many reasons that I am thrilled to join the Disruptor Beam team and I’m looking forward to building prosperous and long-lived partnerships that will skyrocket the company to the next level.”

Find out more about Disruptor Beam and Game of Throne Ascent in this exclusive [a]list interview.

Car Town Coming to Asia Via Proto Corporation

Cie Games announced that they are working with Proto Corporation. The developer of the automotive-based Facebook game Car Town has 40 million users and a means to help expand the auto-enthusiast magazine across Asia,

“We are thrilled to partner with Proto Corporation to focus on bringing localized and exclusive content to Car Town players in Asia,” said Dennis Suggs, president and CEO of Cie Games. “Enabling fans to play in their native language with new, custom-designed features for each region will further enhance the players’ overall user experience and expand our community.”

The partnership will see Proto publish, market and develop localized versions of Car Town on Facebook for Asia in 13 countries, including Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. Cie benefits from being one of the first social game developers to utilize a game as an effective brand building and advertising platform.

Wasteland 2 Screenshot Releases

inXile Entertainment released the first, in-progress screenshot of Wasteland 2 over the weekend. inXile CEO Brian Fargo noted that this was unusual for him, but he felt it was important to give backers a good feel for how the project is progressing.

“We also have our first pass at a Wasteland 2 screen shot to share that is running inside the Unity engine,” wrote Fargo. “The process up till now has been in getting up to speed with Unity but also much discussion about look and feel.”

“Releasing a screen shot this early in the process is a new concept for me as we typically want to hone in every element before we show it,” he added. “But based on the requests and our desire for fan input, we are doing so to solicit feedback on the basic look. Please keep in mind that we have not put in the particle effects and post-processing which will have a dramatic effect on the scene, and this represents just one of the various environments for Wasteland 2 so expect to see other quite different locales. Also, this particular camera angle is on the low end of a range that the player can adjust upwards to a much more top-down view, for those who prefer that style during game play.”

Source: Kickstarter.com


OnLive Coming To Ouya

OnLive will launch its full service on the Ouya console. This adds hundreds of games to the Android powered console, and enhances OnLive’s cross-platform functionality between PC, mobile devices and now Ouya.

“When OnLive first heard about Ouya, we were excited to see console gaming becoming more available and open. Like Ouya, we came to gaming with a new vision for making top-quality gaming accessible to more people, and we continue to look for ways to expand on that vision,” said OnLive’s U.K. general manager Bruce Grove. “Ouya is rethinking the console business, making waves by using standard technology to make gaming for your living room accessible, affordable and more innovative than ever. In OnLive’s case, we pioneered a groundbreaking, cloud-based system that instantly delivers games to any device on demand.”