Kingdom Hearts 3D Drops Into Your Dreams

Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance is the third entry in the series after Kingdom Hearts 2. While this game maybe, possibly sets up a Kingdom Hearts 3, we can all sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of the Kingdom Hearts 3D‘s launch trailer

Exclusive: Aeria Takes Flight

While free-to-play is the standard MO in regions of the world like South Korea, it’s only been the past couple of years that the F2P model has really become an established business in the West. California-based Aeria Games has reflected the evolution of free-to-play games in the West, handling publishing for Korean, Chinese, Japanese and American games in the U.S., South America, and Europe. Aeria purchased ijji Games and has begun the transition of some of that portal’s largest title’s onto their own service — we caught up with JT Nguyen, COO of Aeria Games, to discuss the reasons behind the transfer and about their business plans in general.

Why are you deciding to make the switch with these games from ijji to Aeria?

Earlier this year we announced the acquisition of ijji Games in conjunction with a strategic investment with NHN Corporation. Since then, we’ve been working closely with NHN to instrument how to best fold ijji Games into Aeria Games. The decision to migrate the ijji Games was driven by our ongoing desire to offer players the highest level of service and we feel the best way to deliver that is through our Aeria Games distribution platform. Compared to ijji, our platform is more robust in terms of community, support and monetization. From simple things like how games are downloaded, updated, and launched through our Ignite distribution platform to how players interact in the community to how they get support when they need it “in their own language” we have spent a lot of time trying to perfect our approach so users get the best experience.

This will also allow us to cross-promote between the two communities, and of course the Aeria Games community is the larger of the two with 40 million registered players.

Is the plan to offer seamless transitions for players of those three games while potentially expanding its audience to new people?

That’s right, we have a combination of two things with the transition: we will expand the audience by introducing these great games to new players across our Aeria Games community and we can increase the level of service offered to the current ijji players. We look at as a win-win for all involved.

The migration is happening now so we wanted to let everyone know what to expect. It should be a seamless transition in that players can just log in through their iiji account and get prompted to move their characters over to Aeria. At that point they’ll be on the Aeria Games platform.

We’ve put a lot of work into this migration. Another point of good news for the players is that finishing the migration allows us to put our focus back into creating content. For instance, we’ll be seeing new languages for A.V.A. in the future — that’s something we already have in progress.

Will we be seeing more similar transitions as time goes on for ijji titles?

We are very familiar with the ijji titles and have determined these three games as the best candidates to fit into our community. Not only are they outstanding games, but they have the most active user base. They also bring something new to our portfolio. We’re not looking to bring over any additional titles at the present, as making this transition to our Aeria Points currency with characters intact is a one-time operation.

Why, in particular were Alliance of Valiant Arms (A.V.A.), Soldier Front and GunZ chosen for this switch over?

As three unique shooters, they fit very well into our mix of games, so that’s important. You look at A.V.A. where you jump into strategic shooter combat in an alternate timeline, it has UE3 graphics, and a strong sense of competitive play — that’s very attractive to our players. A second factor is they’re three quality games with a strong audience of dedicated players. Third, they were created by developers who have proven their ability to create games of quality, and that’s also very important to us as we continually look to partner with great development talent.

So we want to take what A.V.A. and the other games already have and make it even better through offering the highest level of support and the opportunity to become part of a very strong online gaming community. There’s a reason our players stick around for longer and more frequent play sessions — Aeria Games is a good home for players.

What sort of extra promotional support are you looking to give these games on Aeria’s game portal?

They’ll be featured in our mix of games, where they will get exposure in front of our audience of millions of players. We’re really excited to be able to integrate them into our Ignite platform. Ignite is the most powerful means of communicating with our players on a real-time basis we’ve had to date. It opens up new ways to interact in real time. Our community team will also be driving some new programs to welcome these games and their players to Aeria Games. We’ll have some packages and bundles to encourage the new players to migrate, and we’ll be giving away virtual items. Details are already starting to roll out on www.aeriagames.com.

How are you looking to expand and promote Aeria games in the coming months?

We will continue to invest in our PC and online business but we see mobile as a very key area of expansion. As you may know, we recently launched Aeria Mobile and it’s an important initiative as we expand from PC and browser games to more platforms, including mobile and tablet. We’ll not only be bringing new titles to mobile, but we’ll be taking our games to new platforms and new languages so expect to hear more from us in the coming months with more details. We see ourselves becoming platform agnostic and we’ll bring our games to wherever our mid-to hard-core players live.

Aside from business initiatives like mobile, it’s important to keep our players happy. Happy players encourage organic growth and you can’t underestimate how important that is.

How is the cooperation with NHN Corporation and can we expect the first game from them this year?

NHN is a fantastic partner and we’re very excited about these titles we’re bringing into Aeria Games. The partnership has been working very well and they have been very helpful in terms of title migration and we’ve brought over a lot of their team members. Born to Fire is the first game we’ll be publishing from NHN — it’s a class-based MMOFPS that will have a beta coming up soon. Head over to www.borntofire.aeriagames.com if you want to see how things are developing!

JT, thanks.

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Mario – Post It Life

YouTube users FinalCutKing has brought Mario to life with with thousands of Post It Notes in this stop motion animation. Pac-Man even makes a brief appearances, but it’s mostly about Mario, and an animation that doubtless took many hours to put together.

London 2012 Olympic Games ‘Stadium U.K.’

The BBC commissioned a trailer based around the concept of ‘Stadium U.K.’ — bringing the nation together in a huge Olympic Stadium for the London 2012 Games. Swimmers swim in the Scottish Lochs, weightlifters practice dockside, and sailing happens alongside the white cliffs of Dover.

Halo 4 Tops Anticipation For Holiday 2012 Season

Nielsen recently surveyed when are the most anticipated games for 2012 after the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). Halo 4 is the most title for Xbox 360 gamers, though Call of Duty: Black Ops II has now inserted itself at the top of the list for PS3 gamers (ranking a close second on Xbox 360 as well), while for Wii, Just Dance 4 is in the top spot.

Madden NFL 13 still ranks in the top 5 for all three consoles, with three other titles making the top 15 across the consoles as well; Need For Speed: Most Wanted (2012), FIFA Soccer 13, and NBA 2K13,” added Nielsen. “In addition to Call of Duty: Black Ops II, other titles that are not releasing on the Wii but have high marks on both the Xbox 360 and PS3 are Assassin’s Creed III, Resident Evil 6 and Borderlands 2.”

“The anticipation level among gaming consumers was derived from leveraging several key consumer metrics, including Awareness and Purchase Interest, into one overall score. That score was then compared to scores from all previous games released on the same platform at the same point in their release cycles, to determine the percentile ranking of the upcoming title (aka the Nielsen Game Rank),” noted Nielsen. “Consumer data was derived from online interviews of 4,823 male and female active gamers (those who own at least one current generation console and actively play on and purchase games for that console), between the ages of seven to 54. The timeframe for the data collection was June 3 to June 30, so consumer measures may shift further as marketing efforts heat up over the rest of the year.”

Source: Blog.Nielsen.com

Disney Admits It Looked At Games ‘As A Marketing Extension’

Speaking at GamesBeat 2012, Disney senior vice president of social games John Spinale admitted that the company hasn’t always done a great job with games. He thinks that the company is doing a better job now with its focus on social rather than AAA games.

“Historically, at Disney, we probably haven’t done the absolute best job of being a games company. We’ve started off as a film company, then television, parks, and continuing to broaden out the portfolio of things that we did. But I think games, until pretty recently, was more of an afterthought. It was viewed as a marketing extension of what we did. So, “Hey, here’s a movie, how do we make the game” said Spinale. “That worked okay for the company, but I think when you look at the growth in the entire games business, it’s pretty obvious this is a big piece of the media pie that’s just going in the right direction. Disney made a decision a couple of years ago to treat games as a first-class citizen. It really is quality first, consumer experience, what do people want And then we’ll worry about how the details play out later.”

“That was the mandate given to us in the games group a little while ago, and I think you’re starting to see the by-products of that just now come out in the marketplace. If you look at us in any channel right now, Disney went from ‘who are they ‘ in the games space to stealthily owning the top spot or, at least depending on what cycle we’re talking about, getting into a top 10 spot,” he added.

Source: VentureBeat.com

Ouya ‘Around The Size Of A Rubik’s Cube’

Ouya designer Yves Behar indicated that the Android powered console won’t be much bigger than 2.2 inches by 2.2 inches. Despite the compact size, it will boast a NVidia Tegra 3 quad-core ARM processor as well as 1GB of memory and another 8GB of flash storage.

“Our console is quite small, around the size of a Rubik’s cube, and so it will easily fit anywhere in a room, or be easy to throw in a backpack,” said Behar during. “We intend to give the Tegra chipset room to breathe, as obviously it does get warm. Airflow is important here.”

Ouya has currently raised over $5.4 million in funding from over 42,000 people on Kickstarter.

Source: Kotaku

Windows Store To Offer Full Trials

Microsoft today announced that all developers for the Windows Store will have pricing tiers available from $1.49 to $999.99, with Microsoft handling international pricing. Along with in-app purchases, advertisements and other standard options, there will also be fully-functional trials offered.

“The developers at Collecting Smiles are the creators of the great painting app Colors. They are interesting in selling this app to users at a particular price, but want to make sure that ALL users have the ability to see the great functionality of the app and be enticed to make a purchase. They have decided to offer a fully functional, time limited trial of their app to enable users to get started. On the Windows Phone, we have seen apps with trials bring up to 5 times the revenue of apps without trials,” writes Antoine Leblond. “By selecting a seven day trial while onboarding their app, they have enabled all users to click the Try button on their app description page to get access to their app — before they decide to buy it.”

Source: blogs.msdn.com/windowsstore

Indie Developers Vocalize Complaints Over Console Certification

Indie developers have often had a bumpy relationship with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Some prominent indie developers made their frustrations very specific in a recent article titled “How certification requirements are holding back console gaming.”

“The edge that both Apple and Valve have going into the future is that they both genuinely care about the end-user experience and want to make it as good as possible,” said Braid creator Jonathan Blow. “Which coincidentally seems to be the place that these consoles are handicapped due to their corporate culture. Can anyone look at the current 360 or PS3 dashboards and legitimately say that those are products of an entity that deeply cares about user experience ”

Blow contrasted the experience with the console manufacturers to Apple, saying, “There is almost no certification process for iOS, so by the Microsoft/Sony/Nintendo theory, the apps should be crashing all the time, everyone should think of iOS as sucky, etc. But in fact this is not what is happening. There is no public outcry for more testing and robustness of iOS software.”

World Of Goo designer Ron Carmel was very negative describing working with Microsoft Studios on XBLA. “Contract negotiations [with Microsoft Studios] are drawn out and adversarial,” said Carmel. “I’ve heard many complaints about having to work with a producer, and their terms are the worst among all modern digital distribution channels.”

Derek Yu, creator of Spelunky, issued a warning about the expense in both time and money bringing his game to XBLA. “In my opinion, the entire process of console development is prohibitive-not just the expenses but also the selection process and the time invested into understanding the platform,” said Yu. “You should only do it if you have the resources and really want to be on a console.”

Source: Ars Technica

Jagex Adds Another Studio

Jagex has opened a new studio and is working on a brand new game. The free-to-play publisher recently celebrated Runescape reaching the 200 million players milestone.

“We actually do already have a small studio outside of Cambridge, and that’s working on a very experimental game,” said Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard. “We have the resources to add another studio, and we very much want to make more games than what we’ve committed to so far. But the quality mark is how many great games can we make a year, rather than how many we can make a year.”

Source: Develop