StarCraft II Free-To-Play ‘Definitely An Option’ Says Blizzard

Free-to-play is a significant phenomenon for multiplayer PC games, and Blizzard is aware of this. There are possibilities in selling factions or perhaps even a small subscription fee for multiplayer StarCraft II – Blizzard implies it is all on the table.

“That’s definitely an option for us at some point down the road,” said Blizzard designer Dustin Browder. “I don’t think there’s any reason why we wouldn’t, except to make sure we do it properly, that we don’t make any mistakes, and that we are supporting the fans the way we’re supposed to.”

Source: PC Games N


Hobbit Film Collaboration Coming From Kabam

Kabam announced that they have agreed with Warner Bros. to develop and operate two multiplayer strategy games based on the upcoming film The Hobbit. The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, for mobile devices and The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age, for web browsers, both launch in the Fall, with beta sign ups available at

The Hobbit films are among the most anticipated entertainment launches of all time,” said Kevin Chou, CEO, Kabam. “Kabam’s unique ability to blend the art of game design and the science of free-to-play distribution makes us a natural fit to partner with Warner Bros to deliver thrilling games via the Web and mobile devices for The Hobbit film fans around the world.”

“We are very pleased to work with Kabam in creating immersive free-to-play online games on massive scales across multiple platforms,” added Greg Ballard, SVP of Digital Games at Warner. “Kabam’s Armies of the Third Age and Kingdoms of Middle-earth will be an excellent way for The Hobbit film fans around the world to delve more into the iconic story and interact with the characters in the universe.”


The Secret World – Three Day Trial Available

Funcom announced that they are offering a free trial of The Secret World for three days. This offer is not limited and extends to all new accounts.

“Complete 30 Missions to get two extra free days of playing time. Any new player which completes this challenge also gets 1200 Bonus Points (equal to $10) which can be used in our in-game store,” notes Funcom. “Defeat the fearsome Ur-Draug boss and complete the first dungeon in The Secret World, The Polaris, to get a unique reward — The Whispering Demon Ring. Equip this powerful ring to increase your stats and get an XP bonus in the early parts of the game.”

Sing up for you free trial today on


Gambitious Crowdfunding Platform Launches

Gambitious, a crowdfunding platform set up specifically for games, has launched with seven titles. Somewhat more like a publishing platform, backers receive dividends based on their initial investments, though developers keep their own IP and need a detailed business plan.

“Crowdfunding is causing a great seismic shift in how projects get funded, however, there are risks of crash-and-burn due to unfulfilled projects and unfinished games,” said CEO Paul Hanraets. “Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, Gambitious is designed specifically for the video game industry and ups the ante of developer credibility, investor engagement and development cycle understanding.”

“It is time to move from the wild, wild, west of crowdfunding to a more professional model,” said co-founder Mike Wilson. “Crowdfunding is the best thing to happen to indies since shareware in the 90’s and Gambitious is a transformational way of funding the video game market – legitimizing, protecting, and maximizing the opportunity for all that want a stake in the game.”


A 46-foot Wide Interactive Comic

The popular webcomic xkcd has posted a massive black-and-white drawing called “Click and Drag”. Explore it from every possible angle by dragging your way through the image in its relatively limited frame. Explore artist Randall Munroe’s mountainous landscape from side to side, delve into the subterranean depths or sweep the skies looking for airplanes, levitating jellyfish and other oddities. It’s an amazing accomplishment, packed with Easter eggs, such as a Super Mario Bros.-esque series of pipes, which extend down, down, down into vertical caves with “walls worn smooth by billions of tumbling Mario corpses.” Browse a mashup of the full image here. This isn’t xkcd’s first ambitious art project. If you missed it, be sure to revisit Munroe’s awe-inspiring look at “Lakes and Oceans” around the world.


Zynga’s Former Marketing Head Now At GSN

Jeff Karp has popped up at Game Show Network (GSN) two weeks after leaving Zynga. He will be the executive vice president of mobile and social games and will report to Peter Blacklow president of GSN subsidiary WorldWinner and will be responsible for overseeing GSN Digital’s virtual currency business across its mobile, social and online gaming platforms.

“Jeff will be leading businesses which are crucial to continuing GSN’s growth,” said GSN CEO David Goldhill. “With his demonstrated expertise and strategic vision, Jeff is the right executive to lead us in achieving our ambitious goals.”

“I am very excited to join the GSN team, which has already built leading cross-platform virtual currency game businesses, including the GSN Casino mobile app, the Games by GSN Facebook app and the virtual casino,” said Karp. “I am eager to help GSN take these businesses to new levels of success.”


Sony Sees PS3 Games Coming For The Next 2-3 Years

With the new slimmer PS3 not getting a price reduction, some are wondering if it is designed to appeal to a new audience. According to John Koller, marketing VP at Sony Computer Entertainment America, late generation Xbox 360 owners looking to try out PS3 exclusives and are prime targets for the console

“We have seen a very high interest rate from Xbox 360 consumers wanting to purchase a second console,” said Koller. “We saw the same kind of thing happen in reverse during the PS2 years, when a lot of PS2 consumers said they wanted to get an Xbox because of Halo and some other games. So we think the strategy works and it’s a good one.”

Of course, the question for many is: why purchase a PS3 now if a new console from Sony is due to come out very soon Koller was, unsurprisingly, not talking about details for a PS4, but he did say that PS3 content will be coming out for the foreseeable future.

“A lot of great content is coming, and over the next 2-3 years, the PS3 has got an incredible lineup,” said Koller. “We’re going to continue supporting the PS3 for the next few years. Absolutely. And we’re going to continue supporting it not only that long, but as long as there is a development spigot that’s running hot.”

“And I can tell you right now, the development spigot for PS3 is very hot. A lot of great games coming. Same thing with PS2 . . . it’s kind of stuck around as that old warrior, many years after its launch. But there’s still games launching for it,” he added.

Source: Gamespot


Nvidia: ‘This Is The Last Console Cycle’

Cloud gaming might see unprecedented resolutions for its games with no lag in the very near future. Because of this, Nvidia’s GeForce Grid Cloud Gaming general manager Phil Eisler thinks that TV gaming might come from the cloud in the future, not consoles.

“They say this is the last console, and I am certainly a believer in that,” Eisler said. “The last one is almost 10 years old now in terms of the technology. As we go through time, the good thing about cloud gaming is it’s going to get better every year. One of the reasons we’re investing in it is we see that there are some issues today, but they’re all solvable and they’re all moving in the right direction. Bandwidth is going up. The cost of server rooms is going down. We’re bringing latency down. The experience will just get better and better every year, to the point where I think it will become the predominant way that people play games.”

“Clearly Sony believes in it enough to put their $380 million dollars into it,” Eisler added. “That was equally supportive for those people that are pro-cloud gaming. Anybody who’s in the game console business is clearly awakened to the potential of streaming games to TVs.”

Source: VentureBeat


IPhone 5 Might Represent Peak Of The Market

How hot is the iPhone 5 Analysts are now expecting the phone to be the bestselling mobile device of all time.

There is a worry, however, that the device will represent a peak of the smartphone market, particularly in the U.S. The number of American smartphone subscribers is expected to reach nearly 140 million by the end of 2012, equal to 57 percent of wireless customers.

It is expected that the percentage of wireless subscribers with a smartphone is on pace to eclipse the 70 percent threshold next year, or the level at which most telecommunications services, like cable and broadband, have historically begun to slow their rapid rise. Because of this, the iPhone 5 might hold the U.S.’s sales record, possibly forever.

“The smartphone market, and particularly the iPhone market, will slow next year after very strong shipments of the next iPhone through year-end,” predicts Kevin Smithen, analyst at Macquarie Securities.

The U.S. smartphone upgrade rate has already begun to fall, thanks to elements like limited innovation and expensive upgrades from carriers. Activation fees have also been increased, incentivizing more tiered plans and lengthening the contracts.

“These moves should result in fewer total upgrades … than seen in prior launches,” said Mike McCormack, analyst at Nomura Securities.

While iPhone sales nearly doubled in 2011 and is expected to double again in 2012 to roughly 20 million, with two-thirds of the 30 million iPhones sold in the U.S. sold to new customers. Expansion after this year, however, looks flat.

iPhone represented 45 percent of all smartphone sales last year with Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. That figure is expected to to rise significantly this year . . . then level off.

“We do not believe that Apple can grow its market share at the Big Three beyond 70 percent, as we expect several new low-end smartphones from Amazon, Huawei, LG, Nokia, Microsoft and Motorola in the new year as well as a Samsung Galaxy S4 at the high end,” said Smithen.

Because of these factors, Macquarie predicts that iPhone sales will top out at 46.3 million next year before falling to 45.5 million in 2014. Of course, if Apple makes the iPhone 6 an innovative, disruptive device then things could change.

“As long as there are Apple fanboys and fangirls, there will always be demand for the iPhone,” says Ramon Llamas, analyst at IDC. “There’s so much about the iPhone that people love and lust over, and Apple just kind of ropes you in. There’s a lot to keep Apple’s momentum going.”

Source: CNN