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.

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

Apple Sees Two Top Executives Depart

Apple announced that head of store operations John Browett is resigning from the company after just a half year on the job. The over 360 stores that Apple runs will report to CEO Tim Cook while the company looks for a replacement.

Meanwhile, senior vice president of iOS software Scott Forstall is also leaving, reportedly over the Maps fiasco. He joined Apple in 1997 with its purchase of Steve Jobs’ NeXT startup and is credited as one of the original architects of Mac OS X; Mac OS head Craig Federighi will add iOS development to his responsibilities.

Source: AP {link no longer active}

Windows Store Has 120,000 Apps

Microsoft revealed the Windows Store now has 120,000 apps, accessible in 191 countries. Windows Phone Program Manager Joe Belfiore says that out of the 50 top smartphone apps, 46 are now on the Windows Phone.

Windows Store is still behind both Android and iOS platforms which each have more than 700,000 apps available. Microsoft is doubling its language support to 50 languages, and will include country localizations for apps, he added.

The iOS and Android publisher Gameloft also announced plans to bring 12 of its most popular games to the platform, including Modern Combat 4: Zero Hour and Asphalt 7: Heat. “Gameloft is thrilled to be able to take advantage of the integrated Xbox gaming service on Windows Phone 8,” said Gameloft’s Baudouin Corman in a statement. “As smartphones continue to gain ground as one of the most widely adopted gaming devices, we see this as a great opportunity for us to optimise our titles for Windows Phone 8 users to enjoy with the platform’s new features.”

Source: CNET

Tablet Usage Approaching Mainstream Critical Mass: Flurry

According to a report by Flurry, tablets are close to reaching critical mass for both consumers and business. The company, reporting on over 6 billion application sessions across approximately 500 million smart devices, looked at over 30 million consumers who have opted-in to share demographic data.

“The chart above shows the distribution of age for smartphone versus tablet users across traditional age groupings (aka “age breaks”).  The blue bars represent smartphone consumers and greens bars represent tablet consumers,” wrote Flurry. “Each group of same-colored bars totals 100 percent.  On average, smartphone users are younger than tablet users, 30 versus 34 years of age.  Nearly three quarters of smartphone users are 34 years of age or younger, while more than two thirds of tablet user are 25 years or older.  Additionally, recent research from the OPA conducted by Frank N. Magid and Associates indicates that household incomes for tablet owners are becoming increasingly affluent, with 59 percent of household incomes for tablet owners surpassing $50,000 versus the U.S. average of 41 percent households with incomes over $50,000.”

“The pie charts above compare the gender split between smartphone and tablet users, with women shown in dark pink and men shown in blue,” added Flurry. “While smartphone usage trends slightly more male, tablet usage is nearly even.  Traditionally, males adopt technology devices more than women.  With an even gender split for tablets, this bucks the trend, indicated that tablets likely have more long-term mass-market appeal.”

Very interesting is this chart comparing the time spent across app categories between smartphones and tablets. “At a high level, consumers spend more time using tablets for media and entertainment, including Games (67 percent), Entertainment (9 percent) and News (2 percent) categories which account for nearly four-fifths of consumption on tablets,” said Flurry. “Smartphones claim a higher proportion of communication and task-oriented activities with Social Networking (24 percent), Utilities (17 percent), Health & Fitness (3 percent) and Lifestyle (3 percent) commanding nearly half of all usage on smartphones.  Games are the most popular category on both form factors with 67 percent of time spent using games on tablets and 39 percent of time spent using games on smartphones.  Further reinforcing that tablets are “media machines” is the fact that consumers spend 71 percent more of their time using games on tablets than they spend doing so on smartphones.”

Another interesting revelation is that consumers use apps on smartphones more frequently but for shorter periods of time. Tablets are used more for media consumption and during their free time, while smartphones are used during the day for things like checking into social networks and using utility apps.

“Studying smartphone versus tablet usage differences not only provides insight into how developers should consider form factor when designing app experiences, but also how digital distribution could disrupt the living room,” said Flurry. “As we imagine a world of connected TV, tablet usage gives us the best current-day hint of that world to come.  Tablet users are older, more female, and we can surmise, more affluent.  Additionally, they use more during the evenings and for longer sessions.  Finally they consume more media and entertainment experiences, with a significant proportion spent on games.  In particular, this would indicate that as Apple and Google enter the living room with connected TV initiatives, game consoles made by Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo would experience the greatest competition.  The distribution of content into the living room may also significantly change for network and cable television content providers.  In summary, the impact of smart devices on both work and play are profound.  With a bevy of significant companies vying for tablet hegemony, including Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Samsung, developers and consumers should expect nothing short of tremendous innovation.”


Activision Says Multiple Skylanders Releases Are ‘Complementary Experiences’

Skylanders has resulted in 30 million toys being shipped and $500 million in lifetime sales in just under a year. The company is planning Skylanders: Battlegrounds and the free-to-play Skylanders: Lost Islands for iOS with the recent console installment Skylanders: Giants just being launched with a Skylanders: Battlegrounds Starter Kit coming soon to import the toy characters to the iOS games.

While this might sound like overkill, Activision Mobile VP Greg Canessa indicates that they’re not worried about burning people out. “If this was simply a matter of porting the games, we could risk brand saturation or overexposure,” Canessa said. “But I think by creating those complementary experiences, I like to think of it as more fleshing out of the world and creating different experiences on different devices.”

“We’re being pretty meticulous in terms of the experiences we’re creating, that are varied and interesting,” said Karthik Bala, CEO of Activision’s Vicarious Visions studio. “As a character-based franchise, we’re inspired by folks like Nintendo, who’ve really brought different dimensions to their character franchises, creating different kinds of gameplay experiences that drive engagement. That’s really important to us creatively and for our players.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

Call Of Duty: Black Ops 2 Rocks The Launch Trailers

The official Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 live action trailer, part of the “There’s a Soldier in All of Us” series, was directed by Guy Ritchie and features a blistering amount of cameos (FPS Russia!) in the span of a minute. Also included is the regular launch trailer showing off the game, which many have probably seen as a TV spot.