NCsoft Regroups With New Western Corporation

NCsoft Corporation has announced that it will sell shares in North American subsidiary NC Interactive for over 78 billion KRW ($73 million) on December 24, 2012. They will use these funds to establish a new corporation in North America on the same date that will handle the company’s business in the U.S. and Europe.

“As part of NCsoft’s ongoing efforts to become a stronger global company, we are making adjustments to ensure that our western teams and games are more independent and more agile,” said NCsoft in a statement. “These efforts have no effect on NCsoft, ArenaNet or Carbine employees, nor will they have any effect on current titles or those in development.”

Source: Polygon

Tim Schafer Wonders If Double Fine Will Be On Next-Gen Consoles

Tim Schafer indicated that Double Fine is unlikely to return to the world of $40 million, AAA titles like Brutal Legend and he’s not sure that there will be a place for them on consoles because of it. The company has done well by smaller titles like Stacking, Iron Brigade and Middle Manager of Justice and because of costs for things like certification, patches and TCRs, they’re less feasible on consoles.

“Our fear was that next generation was going to be only big AAA games. It was only going to be a place for Call of Duty and Halo,” said Schafer. “But we’ve talked to [the console manufacturers], and told people what things would be hard for teams our size with regards to consoles.”

“We’d still like to be active in that space, we care about consoles, but unless they open things up a lot more like what we have on Steam… if they opened things up more it would be a more friendly place from our perspective,” he added. “We’ve talked to them about this stuff, and you know, they hear us. They’re big companies and they can’t make changes overnight, but I think they’re taking all of that stuff into consideration. We’ll have to see what happens.”

Source: Polygon

Google Maps Now Back On iPhone

Google has announced that it has released Google Maps on iPhone. The app has quickly ascended to the top of the Apple App Store.

“The app shows more map on screen and turns mobile mapping into one intuitive experience. It’s a sharper looking, vector-based map that loads quickly and provides smooth tilting and rotating of 2D and 3D views,” said Daniel Graf, Director, Google Maps for Mobile. “The search box at the top is a good place to start—perhaps by entering the name of a new and interesting restaurant. An expandable info sheet at the bottom shows the address, opening hours, ratings and reviews, images, directions and other information.”

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Google indicates they are constantly improving Google Maps with info on more than 80 million businesses and points of interest. There’s voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic conditions and information for more than one million public transit stops.“The world around us is constantly changing and, thanks to feedback from you, we make tens of thousands of daily updates to keep Google Maps accurate and comprehensive. Here’s a helpful hint for the new app: if you see something off, simply shake your phone to send us feedback,” said Graf. “To complete the Google Maps ecosystem, we’re also releasing the Google Maps SDK for iOS, and a simple URL scheme to help developers use Google Maps when building their beautiful and innovative apps.”“Visit the App Store today and download the new Google Maps app. We believe this delightful new experience is a great starting point—and we’ll continue to improve Google Maps for you, every day,” Graf concluded.Source: Googleblog.com

Game Monetization Summit: Making Games Work For You

Big Fish CEO Paul Thelen spoke at the Digital Game Monetization Summit in San Francisco and noted that his company is making money on a variety of casual games, ranging from free-to-play to $19.99 collector’s editions. He said that one of the keys to stay solvent is to reinvent your business constantly.

“Just because we made money doing this last year doesn’t mean we will make money doing this again next year,” he noted. “You need to match the game mechanic to the business model, and the monetization needs to match the business model of the game. If you have a game that has 6 to 8 hours of linear gameplay and when you finish it, you’re done, there are very limited ways you can monetize that game. What we’ve done is a simple transaction; you buy it, just like you would buy a book. It’s very hard to monetize a book with free-to-play.”

Big Fish will launch dozens of games over the next year, and notes that a big title for them only costs $500,000 to produce, can be ported to the iPad for about $20,000. “Now you have a half-million dollar game on a hyper growth platform, and that game has already returned a profit to the developer,” Thelen said.

“Supercell came from nowhere after a lot of mistakes, and they are now making $300 million on two games on iOS alone.” added Thelen, who noted that free-to-play games reach 1.2 billion PC users, an that 14 million gamers are visiting Big Fish each month.

While there’s success to be had in the mobile and F2P realms, Rumble Entertainment CEO Greg Richardson asserts the importance of core games. “If you look at what people successfully did on Facebook or the early days of mobile, a lot of it was about cheap user acquisition through the spammy virality that Facebook allowed for a while, or manipulations of the terms of service from Apple or Google on the mobile side. That’s gone away,” said Richardson. “Of the $50 billion that was spent worldwide last year on games, less than 10 percent was spent on casual content. These companies were really smart around analytics and monetization and very light in terms of product and content creation. I’m not sure any of those things are particularly sustainable. The future lies in going into the larger part of the market which is people that self-identify as gamers, and where the user acquisition and long-term value creation comes from making great games.”

In talking about stickiness, Hawken creator Mark Long, CEO of Meteor Entertainment, detailed how they changed the beginning of their game. “In our closed beta exit survey, we saw a lot of players play one session and leave, and this concerned us,” said Long. “We came up with the idea of what we call Newbie Island; your first five sessions you’re only playing new players, so there’s a safe place for them to not get their asses handed to them and hopefully get the them to come back after that first session.”

On the subject of real-money gambling for online games, companies like Zynga will find themselves fighting with casino operators over reaching the next generation of gamblers. “They have to. The typical Vegas operator is concerned about their traditional customer base, which ranges between the ages of 50 and 75,” said George Zaloom, CEO of GoPlay. “They see the traditional social gamer as this young mom who’s sophisticated, who’s technology savvy, and likes to play games. If they can migrate that customer from being a free-to-play player and bring them into their real-money space, that’s a new way to save their business.”

Nick Bhardwaj, the VP of monetization for Natural Motion, described his work for CSR Racing and how they helped make in the number one racing app in 75 countries, bringing in $12 million in revenue during its first month. “I was in mobile advertising, I understood user acquisition, I understand all the price points, and the truth is, it’s a shitty industry,” Bhardwaj said. “It really is. The first harsh reality is: CPIs [Cost Per Install] are only going to go up. You think they’re high now? It’s going to be just like gas prices. Right now, average CPIs in the industry on the weekends are over $2, $3. There have been previous weekends where I’ve seen major players bid upwards of $10 per install. This will only go up for two reasons: new entrants, and cash influx from Asia. There are a lot of great companies in Asia who’ve been doing great games in Japan, China, and Korea, who now want entry into the U.S. Next you’re going to see the influx of real-money gambling apps. The LTVs [Life Time Value} of those customers are hundreds and hundreds of dollars, 10x, 20x higher than anything you see in even the greatest mobile games. I would assume by the end of Q2 next year you’re going to see average CPIs above $5.”

In the subject of ads in games, it’s accepted now that it doesn’t work in all titles, but it’s noted that Zynga and King.com will work to generate more revenue from the huge numbers of players. “I do think Zynga will soon start doing pre-roll ads for users who virally don’t invite a lot of new people,” said Greg Mills, VP of marketing for Goko. “If you look at the number of impressions that would generate, it would be huge. It’s going to start with the large companies that have a massive audience, then it will trickle down.”

Emily Greer, COO and co-founder of Kongregate, noted that with micro-transactions, permanent items generate more money than consumables. “The other thing that’s really important, besides big spenders, is commitment really matters,” Greer said. “We divide our player base on a game into four categories: Non-repeats, players who come into a game once and bail; repeats who play a game between 2 and 9 times; regulars who play between 10 and 49 times, and the committed players who play 50 or more times. For the top ten games, the 7 percent who are committed are 87 percent of the revenue.”

“When games have problems, they are either not getting players deep enough into the game or they don’t maximize what they can get from players,” said Greer.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Miami Connection Giveaway Bonanza!

Miami Connection has come something of a cult hit, it’s odd combination of ’80s rock and martial arts appealing to people in an ironic sense. Now, Wired and Alamo Drafthouse Films are offering a Miami Connection VHS Starter Kit that includes:

• VCR plus AV cables
• VHS copy of Miami Connection
• Three mystery ’80s action movies on VHS from the personal collection of Drafthouse Films’ Creative Director Evan Husney
• Blu-ray of Miami Connection
• Large Dragon Sound T-shirt
• 7-inch Dragon Sound vinyl soundtrack

To qualify for the giveaway, leave a comment at Wired describing your favorite ’80s action flick and why you love it. Deadline to enter is 12:01 a.m. Pacific on Dec. 18, 2012 and one randomly selected winner will be notified by e-mail or Twitter.

Enter at Wired.com.miami-connection-giveaway!

Street Fighter x Sanrio Controllers And Cases Revealed

To help celebrate the 25th anniversary of Street Fighter, Mad Catz partnered with Capcom and Sanrio to create an exclusive FightStick for the Xbox 360 Console. Also featuring the unique Street Fighter x Sanrio artwork is an Street Fighter x Sanrio Protective iPhone 5 Case and a Street Fighter x Sanrio Protective Case for iPad 2/3.

Source: Madcatz.com

Hawkeye Initiative Fights Against Crazy Superheroine Poses

Comic book heroines have long had issues with both real proportions and contortions, pushing both to the extremes of believability over the decades. That is being challenged by the Hawkeye Initiative, where many of the ridiculous stances of super-heroines are replaced by the bow-wielding Hawkeye doing the same thing.

“It started off as only a bit of fun and I had no idea that it would blow up the way it did,” said webcomic artist Noelle Stevenson who started the project. “I thought that it was a really interesting way to make people pay attention to the way that female superheroes were posed in comparison to male superheroes. But mostly it was just silly. It’s amazing that so many people were inspired to contribute!”

There are many supporters and complainers, but Stevenson remains unfazed by the complaints. “My favorite part is the people who are getting mad and freaking out about it, because we haven’t done anything but take the poses that were already drawn and replace them with a character that already exists, and the only difference is gender.”

Source: Wired.com

EVE Online Hits 450,000 Subscribers

CCP Games says that EVE Online has passed the 450,000 subscriber mark. This follows the release of the expansion Retribution on December 6 and the game’s launch in China with Chinese partner TianCity.

“I can’t think of a better way to kick off our celebration of our tenth anniversary than bringing a new era of EVE Online to mainland China, and I welcome them into the world of New Eden as we enter into our second decade of growth and prosperity for EVE,” said CCP Games chief executive officer Hilmar Veigar Petursson. “Because of the tremendous effort of the team at CCP, we can proudly say that EVE Online has grown every year since its launch in 2003.”

GTA V Pre-Order Offer For KIFFLOM Tee

Rockstar is offering a special pre-order with those that order from rockstarwarehouse.com. Those that order Grand Theft Auto V from that site will receive a KIFFLOM Tee.

On the shirt, ‘KIFFLOM’ printed on the front in white, and the phrase ‘The Tract is not yet Written’ on the back. These references all relate to the Grand Theft Auto V viral site and fake cult detailed at EpsilonProgram.com.

Source: RockstarWarehouse.com