Valve Talks MMO Experiments With Team Fortress 2

Valve’s Robin Walker says that Team Fortress 2 was a way for the company to explore MMO business. When free-to-play became a trend, they were able to experiment again in Team Fortress 2 and apply those lessons to Dota 2.

“We were starting to feel the same way about micro-transactions as we did initially about MMOs: that our company was at risk if we didn’t have internal experience and hard data on them,” he continued. “In the end, TF2 has been ended up being one of the most useful tools we’ve ever built to reduce risk in our company’s future. The thought that if we hadn’t done it, we’d be here today without any data or experience with service based monetization strategies is quite terrifying.”

Source: Gamasutra

Obsidian Details Project Eternity

Obsidian Entertainment revealed that Project X is Project Eternity. Under the supervision of game designers Chris Avellone, Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer, the Kickstarter project is being made in the image of classic RPGS like Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment.

Project Eternity aims to recapture the magic, imagination, depth, and nostalgia of classic RPGs that we enjoyed making – and playing,” reads the description. “At Obsidian, we have the people responsible for many of those classic games and we want to bring those games back . . . and that’s why we’re here – we need your help to make it a reality!”

The game will focus on a central hero that the player will create, which Obsidian implies they want to take through multiple adventures. The story promises depth and complexity with mature themes and sharp writing.

“We have wanted to go back to our roots and create an epic PC role-playing game adventure for years. But, it’s been almost impossible to get funding through traditional methods for a game like this. The great thing about Kickstarter is that we can go directly to the people who love to play RPGs as much as we love to make them. Plus, we don’t have to make compromises with a publisher. We make the development decisions, we market the game, and we don’t have to answer to anyone but you — our fans,” says Obsidian. “Our relationship with you can be even closer with Kickstarter. We can be more transparent with development and give you an inside look to what goes on day-to-day with the programmers, artists, and designers of Project Eternity. We want to give you a behind the scenes look at the game’s development, and we have fun stuff planned like developer blogs, web broadcasts, dev chats, and much, much more.”

“We need to raise $1.1 million to fund an experienced team to do this right. We are asking for more than a lot of the other Kickstarter projects and that’s because we are not only making a game, we are creating a whole new world. That means a new RPG system, entirely new art, new characters and animation and whole lot of lore and dialogue. We’ve also designed the game to have a flexible budget and scope, so if we reach our target budget goal, we have a list great stuff we can add into the mix through stretch goals. And, additional money we raise will go straight into the game to add new levels, companions, NPCs, features, and even entirely new parts of the world which will add hours and hours to the adventure,” concluded the pitch.

The company shot past its $1.1 million goal in 24 hours and is sitting at over $1.4 million after just a few days post-launch.



Free Games See Rise In European Game Time

GameTrack and Interactive Software Federation of Europe is reporting that the games market is still driven by boxed sales in western Europe. For the second quarter of 2012, the games market for four regions totaled just over $1 billion, with $351 million in Germany, $291 million in the UK, $256 million in France and ‚$107 million in Spain.

Free games were nearly half of all games acquired, with most of those free games being mobile apps. The study found that while online games ARE popular, it does not necessarily drive the market as far as revenue; overall, 51 percent of the French population have played games in the past 12 months, ahead of the UK with 37 percent, 35 percent in Germany and 31 percent in Spain.

“This data proves that GameTrack provides an unparalleled view on the market, but it will really start to show its true potential once we can compare year-on-year quarters and see trends emerge,” commented Simon Little, MD of ISFE


Mass Effect 3: Special Edition Gets ‘From Ashes’ On Disc

Mass Effect 3: Special Edition will release on Wii U with the “From Ashes” DLC on the disc. The content was available as day-one DLC for the PS3, PC and Xbox 360 versions of the game or free for those that purchased the collector’s edition of the game.

Other additions to the Mass Effect 3: Special Edition include special GamePad controls and the recent Extended Cut ending as standard. The Wii U game will also have a digital comic that will let users make decisions and review the major events of Mass Effect 1 and 2.


Facebook ‘Poked’ Users To Vote In 2010

During the 2010 election, Facebook posted a “Today is Election Day” prompt to certain users and not as part of a social study. It was found that those exposed to the message were 0.39 percent likelier to cast their vote than the other groups, amounting to an extra 60,000 votes cast by the “social message” recipients and possibly pushing as many as 340,000 people to vote because of the poke.

“Social influence made all the difference in political mobilisation,” said James Fowler, a professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego who led the experiment. “It’s not the ‘I voted’ button or the lapel sticker we’ve all seen that gets out the vote. It’s the person attached to it.”

“Such interventions also have the potential to promote positive social changes, such as increasing the rate of HIV testing, reducing violence, improving adherence to exercise, or increasing political mobilization and awareness,” said New York University academic Sinan Aral. “In this way, the science of social influence may have dramatic implications for products, politics and public health.”



MvP Invitational Announced By MLG, IEG

MLG, International eSports Group (IEG), and the Korean eSports Association (KeSPA), today announced the MvP (MLG vs. Proleague) Invitational. The event will feature 48 of the world’s best StarCraft II players including the top 24 ranked StarCraft II Players in KeSPA’s Proleague, 12 players from North America, six players from Europe and six players from Korea /Taiwan.

“We are excited to unveil the MvP Invitational as the next step in our multi-year global partnership with KeSPA, a collaboration that aims to further bridge the Western and Korean StarCraft worlds,” said Sundance DiGiovanni, CEO of Major League Gaming. “This flagship competitive program guarantees that top StarCraft II players from KeSPA’s Proleague will compete LIVE at the MLG Fall Championship in Dallas. We plan to expand MvP and roll out new programs in 2013.”

“IEG will continue to contribute to various events between KeSPA players and international players,” said Jae Myung Lee, President of IEG. “With the successful launch of the MvP Invitational, we will make an effort to provide high-quality content around the world.”

Broadcasts of the competition begin September 24 at with matches airing weekly.


Reggie Fils-Aime Talks ‘Love’ For Free-To-Play

Nintendo has had an uneasy relationship with free-to-play games, not helped by a speech given by CEO Satoru Iwata during GDC ’11 questioning the value of games given away for free. Nintendo appears to be turning the corner with free-to-play on the Wii U, however, and Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said his company is open to numerous types of business models.

“Free-to-play or any other business model really needs to be separated out into the business model itself and the content that delivers on that business model,” said Fils-Aime. “In terms of business models, we love them all. Full priced games, smaller digital content, free-to-play, consumable content, subscription services . . . we love them all. The good news is that the system that will support Wii U will accommodate all of those business models. So at that point, it’s up to the developer and publisher to figure out what it is that they want to do.”

“On the content side, we just believe it’s important that the content match the business model. And some of the people who are having trouble today are, I think, examples where the content is not matching the business model by having something that’s free-to-play but it’s not hooking me and I’m not getting far enough into the game to actually spend money on future purchases, that’s a bad business model,” he added. “I’m not going to call out any competitors, but there are a number of people where [it’s a problem]. Pick the business model, and I can find people where it’s working and I can find people where it’s not.”



Chinese Brands Transforming Product Placement

Chinese products are increasingly finding their way into interesting places like The Big Bang Theory with Shuhua Milk, made by the Chinese dairy giant Yili and Chinese computer company Lenovo and the electronics company TCL as marketing partners on Iron Man 3. Though The Big Bang Theory doesn’t air on regular Chinese television, it has drawn as many as 18 million hits on domestic video sites.

“Chinese consumers are wowed when they see Chinese brands in American media,” said Janie Ma, entertainment marketing director at Ogilvy Beijing, which represents Lenovo. “It polishes the brands’ local image.”

This practice is widely acceptable in China, where brands sometimes subsidize as much as 30 percent of a movie’s budget for the privilege. Chinese director Feng Xiaogang’s film A World Without Thieves, for example, featured BMW, Nokia and Canon, among others.

Now that Chinese films have become completely saturated with such ads, Chinese companies turn to films from the West. This is coupled with a general belief that Hollywood represents a globalized cool.

“We think Hollywood movies have great advantages in their quality, box office [reach] and commercial operation compared with domestic films,” said Xie Wei, brand manager for Meters/Bonwe. “To a certain extent, Hollywood means high-tech, high box office, high quality.”

With Hollywood films dominating the Chinese box office, the tact may be working.  In the 2011 film Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a Chinese scientist slurps a carton of Shuhua Milk in an elevator with star Shia LaBeouf, saying “Let me finish my Shuhua Milk” in the Chinese version. The line became an online catchphrase in China; sales of Shuhua Milk rose 12 percent last year.

“One of the key goals of product placement is to make a brand seem bigger than it actually is,” said Morgan Spurlock, director of the documentary The Greatest Movie Ever Sold and a product-placement expert. “And in a lot of places around the world, nothing does that better than being in a Michael Bay movie.”

This hasn’t stopped some Chinese consumers from criticizing the moves. “It is creepy to watch Transformers 3,” wrote one user on blog Sina Weibo. “The hero, who works in a big U.S. company focusing on national defense, would use a computer produced by Lenovo And people drink Shuhua Milk produced by China ”

“A beautiful day begins with a bottle of Shuhua Milk ” said Tong Xi, a marketing manager at the magazine Cosmo Bride. “So embarrassing, it not only smashed the brand’s image but destroyed Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”

There are risks for Chinese brands targeting a native audience, as some Hollywood films are barred in China and there are limited slots for non-Chinese movies. Also, some Chinese companies are unfamiliar with the way that Hollywood production works.

“The industry [in China] is really fluid and flexible. There are no established mechanisms, no established procedures,” said Norm Marshall, a Burbank product-placement expert. “I had one brand that was going to spend some ungodly amount of money on a movie that was already three-quarters in production. Somebody [in China] was telling them: ‘We can do it.’ And there was no way it could be done.”

Source: L.A. Times


Monster Hunter Film Might Come From Resident Evil Director

According to reports by Cinema Today, Capcom might work on a Monster Hunter film. Paul W.S. Anderson was asked about ideas for conversion from games to movies, and responded, “Recently, I’ve been loving Monster Hunter! A film conversion is currently in planning.”

While Anderson would need a new project after he finishes up with Resident Evil, it’s uncertain if a Monster Hunter film has even been greenlit or if he will definitely be involved. Resident Evil is currently in its fifth incarnation named Retribution and a sixth film is planned pending the results coming after the film’s release September 14.



James Cameron Might Make Fourth Avatar Film

It has been confirmed that James Cameron could shoot three more Avatar eventually. A fourth film, which is not actively being worked on and would probably follow his long awaited Battle Angel Alita adaptation, would be a prequel.

“I haven’t really put pen to paper on it, but basically it goes back to the early expeditions of Pandora, and kind of what went wrong with the humans and the Na’vi and what that was like to be an explorer and living in that world,” said Cameron. “Because when we drop in, even in the first film in ‘Avatar 1,’ as it will be known in the future, we’re dropping into a process that’s 35 years in to a whole colonization.

“We’ll focus on Avatar for the next four or five years. Hopefully right after that . . . I am confident you will see [a Battle Angel movie].” said Avatar producer Jon Landau. “It’s one of my favorite stories, I think it is an incredible story, a journey of self-discovery of a young woman. It is a movie that begs the question: ‘What does it mean to be human Are you human if you have a heart, are you human if you have a mind, are you human if you have a soul ‘ And I look forward to bringing that film to audiences.”

Source: Christian Science Monitor