Grand Theft Auto V Coming Spring 2013

Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive have confirmed that Grand Theft Auto V will launch in Spring 2013 for PS3 and Xbox 360. Grand Theft Auto V pre-orders are set to officially launch November 5.

Take-Two later confirmed that this means that Grand Theft Auto V will not launch before the end of March and it will come out squarely in the next fiscal year.  Rockstar has had a tendency to release large titles in May and June and it seems likely that Grand Theft Auto V will release in a similar time frame.

Star Wars Fans React To Disney Buying Out Lucasfilm

The world of popular culture was rocked when it was announced that Lucasfilm was being sold to Disney for $4 billion. The reaction from social circles was immediate and certainly mixed.

“The series had stagnated creatively,” said Facebook user Chris Goodson. “This could go well…Or not.”

Probably the biggest news that came out of this announcement is the fact that Star Wars: Episode VII is planned for release in 2015. It had long been expected that Episode III: Revenge of the Sith in 2005 was the last live action Star Wars film that would ever be filmed, due to George Lucas’ personal intransigence on the matter.

Lucas will provide story treatments and will be a creative consultant on the new Star Wars films, but will be much more hands off than any Star Wars movie previous, which has led to some wondering if this is the death of the franchise or a rebirth. “People don’t seem to be recognizing that taking Star Wars out of George Lucas’ hands is the best possible thing for the franchise,” Jesse Taylor argued on Twitter.

Beyond the movies, there’s a good chance that Star Wars content will come to the Disney XD cable TV channel and will find parts in Disney’s global theme parks. Kathleen Kennedy, the current co-chairman of Lucasfilm, will become its president and report to Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn.

“The main thing is to protect these characters to make sure they continue to live in the way you created them,” Kennedy said to Lucas.

Source: Reuters

Electronic Arts Says Digital Revenue Up 40 Percent

Electronic Arts is seeing increased revenue from digital, including $115 from digital FIFA titles like FIFA Online 2 and FIFA World Class Soccer that combined for over $50 million. Mobile titles saw a 60 percent increase in mobile revenue and the Battlefield 3 Premium service has now sold over 2 million subscriptions to date.

“EA is performing well, once again beating street consensus in fiscal Q2,” said CEO John Riccitiello. “We delivered yet another quarter of sharp digital growth, with digital revenue up 40 percent compared to the same period last year, reflecting our strength across multiple brands and channels.”

The number of digital registered users increased from 140 million last year to 250 million, though social game users dropped from 101 million MAU last year to 42 million MAU. Origin has over 30 million users, including 13 million mobile users, and EA has signed agreements with 71 independent companies for the online retailer.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Bigpoint, Square Enix Team Up For Gameglobe

Bigpoint announced it is working with Square Enix on Gameglobe. This site is described as a unique browser-based experience that allows players to create, share, and play their own games and game worlds.

“People find it hard to believe that this is free-to-play in the browser and now that we’ve opened up the game to everyone, we can’t wait to see what the world will create,” said Rune Vendler, Game Director.

Focus On Sociability In Social Games, Says Facebook

Facebook says for social games to succeed, developers need to make their games more social and embrace targeted sharing tools such as Open Graph. Speaking at a meeting with press at the company’s headquarters, Facebook director of user growth Alex Schultz said games on their platform need to be “fundamentally better with friends, and fundamentally impossible to play without your friends.”

Schultz pointed to Open Graph as the perfect tool to spread the word about games to friends, given how it promotes “shares that are intentional by the user.”

With the way Open Graph functions, once a user adds an app to their Timeline any actions within the app are shared with their friends. In-app actions become woven into users’ activity on Facebook, constantly prompting friends to join them.

“If people are visiting their friends’ profiles — which they do — you have these aggregation units that say ‘Alex defeated five enemies this week’, or whatever. That kind of data — seeing what their friends like to play, and the progress they’re making — gets users excited to try a game,” said Schultz.

He also pointed to mobile as an increasingly important platform to drive Facebook app adoption. There is now a seamless transition between Facebook apps played online or on mobile apps.

“Mobile is bringing this, too,” Schultz said. “Mobile platforms can drive a delayed bump in users — and increased engagement — if, for example, a previously iOS-specific game is ported to Android. Players’ friends can see via Facebook that a game that they were interested in is now on their mobile platform of choice, and help boost engagement for everyone by joining in.”

Source: Gamasutra

Nintendo Details Wii U Digital Rewards

Nintendo today laid out details for the digital rewards for the deluxe Wii U hardware package. Those that purchase new games for the system will get a 10 percent rebate on goods downloaded from the Wii U eShop.

A game purchased for $59.99 would earn 599 points and for every 500 points earned, Nintendo will give users a code for $5 in store credit for the Wii U or 3DS eShops. Points will be earned for all digital purchases on the Wii U deluxe hardware through 2014 and codes will then have to be obtained from the proper site by the end of March 2015, with those codes further redeemed for the actual eShop credit by the end of June 2015.

Wii U will launch November 18 in two versions: a black 32GB deluxe version with a copy of Nintendo Land and stands for the console and controller for $349, and a white 8GB version for $299.

Microsoft CEO Says Surface Is The Tablet Consumers Finally Want

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is known for his bellicosity, and he’s rattling the saber at Apple. Despite the fact that over 100 million iPads have been sold, he doesn’t think any tablet has serviced customers the way that Surface does.

“I don’t think anybody has done a product that is the product that I see customers wanting,” said Ballmer. “You can go through the products from all those guys…  and none of them has a product that you can really use. Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon. Nobody has a product that lets you work and play that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point.”


Google: 700,000 Android Apps And Counting

Google has announced that 700,000 Android apps are available right now. This puts it in contention with Apple for software tools, as Apple has announced that the App Store has more than 700,000 apps.

While Google can crow about its competitiveness with Apple, it still has to deal with issues like piracy, fragmentation, and difficulty monetizing the Android platform compared to iOS. Apple recently said that it has paid $6.5 billion to developers since the App Store was introduced in 2008.

Source: Business Week