Walmart Looks Into Smartphone Checkouts

Walmart is looking into a mobile self-checkout model in their stores. This change, where customers can scan items with their phones and then go to a special self-checkout counter for payment, is part of the plan by the big-box retailer to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs.

Read more at MediaPost.com.

 

Exclusive: Turtle Beach’s New CEO

By Meelad Sadat

Juergen Stark

Turtle Beach has replaced longtime CEO and co-founder Carmine Bonanno with Juergen Stark, who takes the helm at the high-end audio peripherals maker effective today. Bonanno, who has been running the company since its founding in 1975, will remain on the board of directors.

Stark last served as COO of Motorola Mobility’s Mobile Devices business, where he played a role in the division’s $12.5 billion sale to Google in May 2011. Shortly after the deal, he was among a handful of senior executives who left Motorola, including CEO Sanjay Jha.

Stark left a company in turnaround, one that’s now seeing fits and starts with recent changes and layoffs announced by Google. With Turtle Beach, he’s joining one on the rise. Based on NPD data, Turtle Beach was the top seller of game accessories in 2011, dominating the headset category. Its products accounted for 12 of the top 25 best-selling gaming headsets last year. Turtle Beach has also struck a number of high profile deals in the game industry. It recently announced a second deal with Activision and developer Treyarch for branded headsets based on the upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Earlier this summer, the company took over as official audio gear provider of Major League Gaming, replacing rival Astro Gaming.

The [a]list daily had a chance to interview Stark about his move and what he sees as Turtle Beach’s prospects with products and marketing efforts aimed at gamers.

How do you see your experience at Motorola translating to Turtle Beach?

Smartphones are probably some of the most challenging, competitive, and complex technology products delivered to consumers today. Every element . . . from design and development to marketing to supply chain will apply to Turtle Beach. At the end of the day, successful consumer products are about great design, friendly user experience, and exceeding customer expectations.

Mobile games are starting to look and play more like their console or handheld counterparts. Is that an area where you see growth opportunity for Turtle Beach products?

Superior audio performance shouldn’t be sacrificed on mobile gaming devices, and Turtle Beach offers a mobile series engineered for gamers on-the-go. As this segment of the industry progresses, we’ll be on hand to deliver audio solutions best suited to the devices setting the pace for mobile gaming.

As you take the helm, what is it about your new company that excites you most?

In 2011, NPD recorded Turtle Beach as the number one headsets/headphones company and the number one overall for third party console video gaming accessories based on dollar volume. But here is what is interesting: only 1 percent of gamers use headsets today. Those who have tried Turtle Beach headsets all share that they had a superior experience with a headset and can never go back gaming without one. That opportunity alone is tremendously exciting.

Right now it looks like your Call of Duty headsets are unique products, as far as game licensed headsets go. Is that an exclusive deal with Activision or are you pursuing other licenses?

We were thrilled to be invited back by Activision and Treyarch for a second year with Call of Duty to produce an exclusive, premium line of headsets in anticipation of Black Ops II. We’re always interested in conversing with creative organizations and discovering how we can support their titles and fans in reaching a new level of immersion.

Your marketing visibility in the game industry is growing tremendously. You’re now the official Major League Gaming (MLG) audio supplier. It seems you exhibit at every major game trade show. Do you see gaming as the most important category for Turtle Beach?

Turtle Beach has been in the audio industry for 37 years and currently maintains a single focus on gaming audio. Creating an integrated gaming headset is extremely complicated because it’s more than just a microphone to headphones — its digital processing various channels originating from the game and the gamer. For many industry players gaming audio is a side project, whereas at Turtle Beach gaming audio is our sole focus.

Where do you see social media’s importance in marketing and branding strategy, are we at the tip of the iceberg or has it pretty much carved its niche?

We’re extremely fortunate to have a robust and growing community both on social networks and in our pre-set community which has received over 330,000 visits to date. Social media’s integration into an overall marketing approach is essential, as is the data collection and analysis that can guide us as we move to new products, evolved customer experience and future campaigns. In that respect, many organizations are only hitting just below the surface, but the wealth of knowledge already available is astounding and extremely insightful.

Jurgen, thanks.

 

Sports Casino Uses Zynga Platform

Rocketplay announced that they are teaming up with Zynga to launch Sports Casino on Facebook. This will allow players to bet on professional and college sports using a virtual currency, though the company said it’s ready to switch over to real-money should the laws change.

“Sports Casino delivers an authentic virtual sports-betting experience to social gaming and sports fans,” said Mani Honigstein, CEO of RocketPlay. “We’re thrilled to launch with Zynga’s support, a company that has set the social gaming benchmark and will help us bring a great game to a wide range of players.”

Find out more at Facebook.com/sportscasino.

 

Valve Adds $100 Donation To Each Greenlight Submission

Valve announced in their official Steam Community blog that submissions have been coming in fast for Steam Greenlight. However, despite over 700 submissions, certain issues have cropped up quickly for the service designed to highlight indie games.

“Two things we’ve noticed so far. First, there are a ton of legitimate submissions that people want to see,” posted Valve employee Alden Kroll. “Second, there is unfortunately a significant amount of noise and clutter being submitted, either as a joke or by fans not fully understanding the purpose of Greenlight.“

This has prompted an update requiring a $100 fee for anyone to post to Steam Greenlight. This money will go to the Child’s Play charity and will not be retroactively applied to any game that has already been submitted.

“The second part of this update is to improve your window into Greenlight and help you find ‘your kind’ of games. The next time you visit Steam Greenlight you’ll be shown a smaller, manageable list of games that you haven’t rated. This view is a mix of popular games and new games to Greenlight,” notes Kroll. “In the end, we’re very interested in maintaining an environment that is fair and beneficial to everyone involved, and one that fun and rewarding to join.”

“And, of course, we’re going to keep iterating on this system and updating as we learn more about how the community and developers want to utilize it,” Kroll concluded.

Source: SteamCommunity.com

 

 

PointMMO Launches MMO Platform

PointMMO has launched a digital distribution platform for MMO titles. Given the same name as the company, it is designed to help companies self-publish and distribute their games and is designed with social features in mind that will work well between MMO titles.

“While there are other digital distribution platforms already operating, not one of them has a focus on MMO players,” said CEO PointMMO Kay Gruenwoldt. “Our system is designed to be the fastest and easiest way for MMO players to find, try, and play MMO games.”

“With our leading progressive download and streaming technologies, we get players into games without them even having to install the client, and in a fraction of the time a full download takes,” said PointMMO CTO Jens Bohnwagner. “For Free-to-Play publishers, the player benefits are clear and the innovative business model accommodates their needs much better than other digital distribution platforms.”

Source: PointMMO

 

Capcom Tightens The Belt On Development

Capcom recently outlined plans for the way it will change its development strategies going forward. The company will plan to develop games in cycles of 2.5 years, with DLC releases in year one and year two.

“Teams developing major titles will be limited to 100 members, with multiple sequel titles developed at the same time. Also, as it will be necessary to create a large-scale development structure for shortening the development process, we will strengthen in-house development staff recruitment,” said Capcom in a statement. “In addition, we will increase the number of titles released in a single year and expand earnings using a hybrid development model whereby the core portions of the project are developed in-house by Capcom and the process-work is outsourced to outside development companies.”

 

Pro Evolution Soccer 2013 Feels The Power Of Steel

Konami announced a special pre-order offering for Pro Evolution Soccer 2013. Certain retailers, including GameStop, will offer the game in an exclusive limited edition metallic casing for the game.

The custom case will feature a homage to the UEFA Champion’s League as a gift with purchase. In addition to the UEFA Championship SteelBook, fans will also have the option of selecting an exclusive Copa Libertadores SteelBook cover as well.

 

Metal Gear Solid Enters Ground Zero

Hideo Kojima took the wraps off his new project, which is called Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes at the Metal Gear Solid 25th Anniversary event in Japan. Running on Kojima Productions’ new Fox Engine, the demonstration of the game showed something of an open-world environment, where Snake was depicted running around a military base in the rain at night and able to operate vehicles.

Kojima also revealed that Metal Gear Solid: Social Ops is in development. The social game will be made using the Unity Engine and will appear on Japan’s Gree platform, with its first public demonstration coming at the Tokyo Game Show next month.

Finally, it was confirmed that a Metal Gear Solid movie is officially in production. Avi Arad (producer of X-Men and Spider-Man) took the stage, and announced his plans to produce the film with Sony Pictures. “For many years I fought to bring comics to theaters . . . and video games are the comics of today,” asserted Arad.

Source: CVG