Darksiders II, Sleeping Dogs Sell Under 250k First Month

Reports are that Darksiders II managed 247,000 units for the August reporting period for the NPD, making it the best selling game during that month. Sleeping Dogs saw only 172,000 copies sold at retail; both games had PC versions, though those numbers were not tracked as they were digital releases and not at retail.

“I think that the sales are below what they had hoped for. I presume it sold around 500,000 globally in the first two weeks (the NPD cutoff was Aug 25), so it’s probably over 1 million now, but my understanding is that breakeven is greater than 2 million units, so it’s not likely to get much higher than that,” said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter of Darksiders II. “We should probably give it another month and see if it’s tracking better.”

This demonstrates the current difficulties with original IP in the AAA sphere these days. Despite generally favorable reviews and Metacritic scores in the mid-80s for both titles, they may not sell well enough to see sequels.


Steam Greenlight Announces First Approved Games

Valve has announced the first ten titles that have been approved via the Steam Greenlight submission program. The games are Black Mesa, Cry of Fear, Dream, Heroes & Generals, Kenshi, McPixel, No More Room in Hell, Project Zomboid, Routine and Towns; these games were the ten most popular on the Greenlight charts.

“The Steam community rallied around these titles and made them the clear choice for the first set of titles to launch out of Greenlight,” said Valve’s Anna Sweet. “Since launch, hundreds of titles have been submitted, with more coming in every day. We expect to be announcing more titles coming to Steam via Greenlight soon.”


Social Casino Games Booming Worldwide

According to a report by SuperData, social casino games are expected to hit $1.6 billion in worldwide revenue this year with the number of players doubling since 2010. Furthermore, the online games research firm expects the market to grow wildly on Facebook and increase to $2.4 billion by 2015.

“Both small social game developers and large land-based casino operators are looking at this new space,” said Janelle Benjamin, SuperData’s vice president of research, “With declining margins in the overall social games segment, casino-style games offer a healthy growth potential.”

SuperData estimates that the average social casino gamer spent $78 in July or nearly double the amount the average social gamer spent ($43). Those numbers refer to the average revenue per paying user, since most users in free-to-play games pay nothing at all.

The U.S. is the largest market for social casino games with $660 million in annual spending from 35.4 million monthly users, followed by Europe ($446 million) and Asia ($311 million). Latin America spends $180.7 million on social games, while Australia spends $59.8 million.

Source: SuperDataResearch.com


Microsoft Patents 3D Projection Gaming

Microsoft is at least thinking about a sort of “Immersive Display Experience” that could change gaming. The idea seems to involve using something like a Kinect to read the details of a room and project game images using wide-angle RGB projectors with a combined 360-degree field.

There are adjustments in the technology to account for a player’s peripheral vision and when they look to either side. The 360-degree display unit could also work with the depth camera to avoid shining light in users’ eyes or distracting them with moving images projected onto their bodies.


Game Connection Rolling Out Marketing Awards

Game Connection Europe has announced that it will be launching the Game Connection Marketing Awards. The awards are designed to recognize outstanding work in marketing and communications from across the breadth of the video game industry worldwide, from PR and advertising, to community and digital.

“The Marketing Awards are comprised of seven main categories, with all submissions automatically entered for the eighth category of ‘Best Videogame Marketing Team 2012,'” said Game Connection Europe. “The awards are open to anyone working in video game marketing and communications, whether in-house with a publisher or developer, at an agency, or independent. Those wishing to submit campaigns for consideration can do so as many times as they like and across as many different categories as are applicable.”

Game Connection is accepting submissions for the Marketing Awards from until October 11 with more information at Game-Connection.com/Marketing-Awards. Game Connection Europe 2012 will take place this November 28-30 at Porte de Versailles in Paris, France.


Amazon Shows Path Forward From Boring PowerPoint Presentations

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used PowerPoint in his recent Kindle Fire presentation, but he did so differently than many companies have done in the past. Instead of bulletpoints, he used slides that were light on text and heavy on images.

“The typical PowerPoint slide has forty words,” writes Carmine Gallo. “It was nearly impossible to find forty words on ten slides of the Amazon presentation. Bezos told the story behind the new products in images and text. I’ve discussed this technique before in more detail but in short, it’s called Picture Superiority. It simply means that the brain processes information more effectively when the information is presented in pictures and words instead of words alone. Neuroscientists have also found that when a slide (or advertisement) contains pictures and words, it’s best to have the picture on the left side of the page or slide and words on the right. This is exactly what Bezos did for a majority of his slides.”

Bezos introduced the new Kindle Fire HD with slides that just had images and very elemental words, like movies, games, photos. The final slide simply had ‘Kindle Fire HD, 7″ 16GB, $199.’

The presentation also included the Kindle Paperwhite. Notably, instead of just saying that it has eight weeks of battery life, it showed a picture of a calendar with the months September and October starting with the day of the presentation, connecting watchers to the presentation.

“I know what some of you are thinking — it works for Bezos because he’s revealing products that people can see and touch,” noted Gallo. “Let me be clear — picture superiority works in any presentation, even for the most complex ideas. I recently gave a presentation on the topic of communication and storytelling to scientists at one of America’s largest nuclear labs. One person implemented the techniques immediately and sent me an email, saying it helped him deliver one of the most persuasive presentations of his career.”

“In no way am I advocating that you ditch PowerPoint. I am recommending that you ditch PowerPoint as we know it — dull, wordy, and overloaded with bullet points. Image-rich presentations work effectively because pictures appeal to the right hemisphere of the brain — the emotional side. You can have great ideas backed up by data and logic, but if you don’t connect with people emotionally, it doesn’t matter,” concluded Gallo.

Source: Forbes.com


Obama Hugger Faces Social Media Criticism

When Big Apple Pizza & Pasta Restaurant owner Scott Van Nuzer in Fort Pierce, Florida bear-hugged President Obama and picked him up off the ground, it created one of the more photographic moments from this week on the campaign trail. This being an election year, there was an immediate backlash on Yelp with multiple one-star reviews based solely on this incident and not on the quality of the restaurant.

“Talk about committing business suicide,” wrote Greg S., Cottonwood, Arizona. “After picking up Obama, your books are gonna be in the red pretty soon. Not too smart.”

There were, however, some people who came out in support of the gesture. “Pizza is awesome, New York pizza is the best in the world, and if this place sells “Big Apple” pizza it must be worth a visit,” wrote ‘Conscientious S.’ from Oakland, California. “This review brought to you by a political independent who thinks it’s wrong to vote down a business you’ve never visited just because the owner was hospitable to the President of the United States.”

Source: CBS


Apple Press Event Might Overshadow Nintendo’s

This week Apple and Nintendo are both making major product announcements at separate press events on September 12 and September 13 respectively. This potential conflict has some PR experts thinking Nintendo may have erred.

“My main thought is that Nintendo has a bigger PR problem than the date of its press conference,” said an anonymous PR veteran. “The biggest issue Nintendo has is the lack of anticipation or confidence. They have not created enough excitement and confidence among both consumers and developers, nor has their quiet given people the sense that a delightful surprise awaits. There seems to be a cloud hanging above them of ‘concern.’ They did not do a great job after E3 of bridging toward the fall. If they want this press conference to succeed, making people believe that there will be a surprise or proof of a big flagship title may help. Highlighting their focus on third party or any other innovations would also help.

“It seems that Nintendo does not think of Apple as a true competitor, and they seem to be relying on the fact that their intense focus and disregard of the rest of the market will prevail again. It’s interesting Nintendo is doing their press event in New York; that feels like a statement of appealing to the mainstream press, the mass market (as opposed to Silicon Valley or the game developers). But Apple is already mainstream and doesn’t really need that, of course. It’s possible Nintendo believes reporters who cover interactive, games and tech will simply cover both events, and since they don’t seem to really think they are in the same business as Apple, they may be surprised.”

“From here on out they need to really close the gap, make a statement and gain consumer confidence for the retail launch,” the PR veteran concluded.

To our own PR director Meelad Sadat, the timing might not be as much of a problem. “This might be a case of different vibes for different tribes,” he wrote. “The iPhone launch will surely get coverage on game sites, but at the end of the day it’s a smartphone. It’ll get launch coverage and a follow up piece or two to have its hardware dissected. With the Wii U, we’re getting the first next gen console. I think with game press and for the people who religiously follow game news, they’ll get their fill of Wii U coverage.”

“Whether this was an orchestrated showdown at high noon or a couple of gunslingers who bumped up against each other at the bar, neither should blink,” he added. “That’s my advice. Can you imagine the headlines ‘Apple’s new iPhone sends Nintendo running for cover.’ Maybe as a headline that needs an edit, but you get my point.”

Sadat notes that Nintendo still has some challenges for this new press event. “As for impact, unfortunately Nintendo’s introduced a piece of hardware that’s only raised questions since it was announced. There are questions around the system’s capabilities compared to this generation, GamePad issues and how it might slow down game performance, and of course price point. The latter comes down to what it costs to take the system home with two controllers, whether that’s a GamePad and Wiimote, and a game. If that’s climbing towards $400-$500, look out. If I’m a hardcore gamer, do I spend that money or wait to see what powerhouse next-gen console Sony and Microsoft are planning ”

“If I’m looking at making this the kids’ best Christmas ever, is it with this pricey, cumbersome looking game console or an iPad (or even the iPad mini, which very well could be on deck for Apple’s upcoming event) — continued Sadat. “Nintendo’s event needs to be a wonderfully orchestrated, entertaining affair that answers troubling questions. I think I just talked myself into catching the live stream.”

Source: GamesIndustry International


Mortal Kombat’s Future Likely Next-Gen, Not Tied To DC

NetherRealm Studios are currently finished up work on Injustice: Gods Among Us, a fighting game based around DC super heroes. Ed Boon indicates, however, that this does not mean that they’re looking to follow the game up with another Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe . . . or even with a Mortal Kombat game this generation.

“We don’t have any current plans to mash the two franchises together again,” he said. “Never say never, of course, but we loved how our last Mortal Kombat game was strictly Mortal Kombat. And when you think about it, the last Mortal Kombat game we did, it really had the essence of the series more so than any other game in years. With Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, there’s two pretty different audiences; one which wants to see violence and blood, and there’s another that wants to see grand superhero moments. We were kind of balancing on a fence trying to accommodate both audiences with Mortal Kombat vs. DC.”

“Just philosophically, I don’t think we could take the approach of doing the same thing but adding new characters in our next Mortal Kombat game,” he added. “We definitely want to do something new with it, we feel we have to introduce something into the mix. If you introduce another edition of your game on the same console, you cannot provide a radically different experience. I’m sure, if we were to do a new Mortal Kombat game on next generation systems, I think we would be able to provide dramatically different experiences.”

Source: CVG


Ghost Recon Online Now Focusing On PC Exclusively

Ghost Recon Online was, at one point in time, designed to be a free-to-play title that would release on PC and Wii U. While it was anticipated as one of the first, if not the first, free-to-play titles on the new Nintendo system, it’s been revealed that it may never see the light of day on Wii U.

“As of right now, the entire Ghost Recon team is focused on the PC version only. The Wii U version is on hold,” said Ghost Recon Online’s producer Theo Sanders. “It’s hard to say how the future will go for Ghost Recon Online. I think in the future as different platforms evolving towards service models and towards being really online-driven, community-driven platforms, then we’ll definitely be looking at what our options are.”

If in the future we have an opportunity to address it again, we’ll make future announcements. But as of right now we’re focused completely on the PC version,” he continued. “It’s not a reaction to anything specific happening to [Wii U]. It was a really fun, cool platform to develop for. But you realize once you launch an online service that it’s an all-consuming effort, so we really wanted to have all hands on deck.”

Source: Video Gamer