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

3DS Case Comes With Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow — Mirror Of Fate Pre-Order

Konami has announced a pre-order bonus for Castlevania: Lords of Shadow — Mirror of Fate. Those that pre-order the game will receive a special case for the 3DS.

Other pre-order bonuses include decals for Trevor, Simon and Alucard. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow — Mirror of Fate will release for 3DS on March 5, 2013.

Source: Siliconera.com

Angry Birds Movie Pegged For 2016

Rovio Entertainment has confirmed that it is financing an animated Angry Birds film for release some time in 2016. Marvel Studios chairman and Iron Man executive producer David Maisel has been hired to executive produce the 3D CGI feature while Despicable Me producer John Cohen has been signed as the movie’s producer.

“John’s an exceptionally talented producer, and we’re delighted to have him join the flock,” said Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment. “With John’s hands-on producer background and David´s expertise in establishing and running his own successful studio, these two are the dream team for making a movie outside the studio system. Both professionals have the ideal skills and vision to achieve incredible things.”

“I’m so excited and honored to be working on this film with Mikael, David, and Rovio’s incredibly talented game developers and artists,” said Cohen. “From both an entertainment and strategic perspective, Rovio is at the forefront of game innovation and is trailblazing terrific new ways for Angry Birds fans to interact with these characters. I’ve personally spent countless hours playing the Angry Birds games over the last few years, which I can now happily justify as research for the movie.”

Exclusive: Newzoo On The State Of MMOs

By Meelad Sadat

Newzoo released new data showing revenues from MMO games on the upswing in the U.S., Europe, Russia and Brazil. Along with Turkey and Australia, these markets now represent $6.5 billion in money spent on MMOs, both in subscriptions and transactions in free-to-play games. Europe is experiencing the fastest growth among these territories, at a rate where it could soon overtake the U.S.

Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo, spoke to [a]list daily to offer insight into his firm’s new findings, including what makes MMOs so appealing to European gamers and a look ahead at where the category is headed.

[a]list: Your data shows Europe has the biggest appetite for MMOs among these regions, nearly as big as the U.S. but growing twice as fast. What’s driving growth there for these types of games

Peter Warman: There are some cultural, social and economic factors at play here. I will try to explain.

Asia will remain to be the biggest market for MMOs for a long time. One of the reasons why Asia will continue to grow at an enormous pace is the fact that the internet population has a lot of room to grow. On a smaller scale this is also the case in Europe. Internet penetration in Europe is on average 63 percent, still growing every year. In North America it is 78 percent. The whole of Europe has some countries that you could consider being emerging markets. And, do not forget that Europe is about three times larger than the U.S. in terms of population with 820 million inhabitants. Something that we tend to overlook.

Another general reason is that Europeans are and always have been more geared towards PC gaming as opposed to consoles, if you compare with the U.S. Except for the UK, whose gamers show a profile that is closer to the U.S. than mainland Europe. The PC has been popular because Europeans do not have second and third TV sets in the house like Americans. It is not common [in Europe] to give a kid or even a teenager their own TV in their room, let alone a console. It is related to the simple fact that houses are smaller in Europe.

Germany, Poland and Russia are examples of countries where PC gaming is culturally seen as the ultimate form of gaming. Consoles and their controllers can be seen by fanatic PC gamers as gadgets more suitable for families and kids.

There’s also buying behavior. In Europe, taxes are high and income is spread more evenly than in the U.S. The current recession impacts a broader group of people in Europe than in the U.S., including the people that would regularly buy $60 boxed games. The free-to-play business model offering triple A quality MMO games provides a welcome alternative. Even before the recession, this has played an important role. Americans simply consume more products, they buy more. Europeans tend to have a more “try before I buy” attitude. They do not want everything cheap but they want to be sure they have value for money.

And Europeans explore. European countries are small so everyone speaks multiple languages, has friends in various countries and often travels through different cultures. Playing together and communicating with people across the globe in MMO games fits in nicely. The current MMO ecosphere with more than a 1,000 pretty good quality free-to-play MMO games is heaven for them.

It’s too bad that marketing towards the whole of Europe is impossible. You need to localize your game in certain territories, not localize in others, take local payment behavior into account, and find local marketing partners and channels. One of the things that we help our MMO clients with is connecting them with the local independent champions in each individual EU country that have the highest traffic amongst paying F2P MMO gamers. Again, in an attempt to lower the overall cost of acquisition of players now affiliate network prices have gone through the roof.

[a]list: There’s growing competition and some pretty dominant games in the MMO category, examples being League of Legends and World of Tanks. What do you think it now takes to launch a big successful MMO?

Peter Warman: First of all you need to have the “of”-factor. World of Warcraft, Clash of Clans, League of Legends, World of Tanks.. what do they have in common But seriously, I believe game companies should pay more attention to the name of their game. Secret World as a title, however cool the game may be, does not appeal to any niche or give any insight into gameplay or theme. Picking out a specific part of your game and enlarging that in combination with your brand is something that I do not see a lot. The Battle of Butterflies would, for instance, appeal to everyone who (slightly) likes butterflies, and it would be the only game out there with that theme. Of course I realize this is never as important as the game itself but the impact of targeting a niche and having a brand is underestimated enormously.

The second point is a more obvious one. League of Legends had a beta period of nine months. SWTOR [Star Wars: The Old Republic] took 6 days for beta. You need at least a year of getting your gamers involved in your game before you can commercially launch. And even then you need to have convinced investors that this is a service that you’re are launching, and the big bucks might take another year to build up as you learn from your community. Not many developers, publishers or investors have that patience. An example of build-up – we are now helping a Korean MMO developer seed trailers into consumer game portals across Europe as part of their launch strategy, [which is] somewhere in 2014. The game hasn’t even launched in Korea but anticipation there is enormous. Anticipation built without big press conferences and marketing budgets, but rather by building respect from gamers. Respect for the game, the brand, and even its developers.

[a]list: In our conversation, you made an interesting statement about digital games going “from ARPU back to IP.” Can you elaborate on what this means?

Peter Warman: One of the reasons why some MMO companies are struggling to maintain healthy profitability and revenue growth is the extreme rise in cost of acquisition per registered player. Free-to-play MMO companies are driven to a large extent by metrics from ARPPU to churn and conversion rate, especially Asian MMO companies. To put the current prices of “buying” players on a CPA [cost per acquisition] basis, ranging from $1 to $6 depending on region, they are having a hard time making their spreadsheets turn out positive figures. This is forcing publishers to take new approaches to marketing that are closer to traditional marketing strategies that have built game IP as brands.

This requires a different way of thinking, and it’s not a guaranteed result. It puts more pressure on the quality of your game and your marketing content. Often, companies that cover both approaches perform best. League of Legends and World of Tanks’ marketing consists in large part of events, unique content and impressive presence at game events, providing entertainment and engagement with the game experience before people have even played the game. This way of marketing is also becoming more important because of the fact that consumers are spreading their time and games budget across multiple screens. Since the uptake of tablets and smartphones, the number of engaging screens has doubled. IP, brands and marketing content travels across screens. Even if your business model is only on one screen, your marketing should be on every screen. I always advised Western companies about the power of metrics required for games-as-a-service, and now I spend more time advising my Asian and some European clients on how to manage their game as IP.

[a]list: Your data shows that money spent on f2p in these regions has a slight advantage over paid MMOs — 53 percent to 47 percent. How has this gap changed since last year, and any forecast of where it’s headed

Peter Warman: Last year it was about 50/50 for the countries that are listed in the infographic, all taken together. Combined with the overall rise, that means a big leap forward for total F2P spending. I remember that in 2009 the percentage of F2P MMO games was about 39 percent in the US, now it’s 50 percent.

Where is it headed In two or three years we will not be able to tell the difference. Games offering free gameplay and subscriptions and one-off fees will be options that gamers will have to contribute to the revenues and growth of their game. We always have researched all business models behind F2P and P2P, so I hope we are prepared for the time the divide can no longer be made. In that respect the end of free-to-play might be near, as a term that is.

[a]list: What MMO games do you see on the horizon that have potential to be bona fide hits?

Peter Warman: Personally I am following WarFace by Crytek and Hawken by Adhesive Games. Lots of triple-A F2P Shooters have just been released or will be soon… DOTA2 vs LoL [League of Legends] will be fun to watch as well. I am also quite confident that Kabam will get things right with The Hobbit. Their experience from their early days combined with learnings from their mobile success Kingdoms of Camelot should give us a good game with a well balanced business model. And I respect The Settlers Online from BlueByte and Ubisoft a lot for their ongoing growth and specific niche. Curious to see the upcoming MMO titles that Ubisoft has planned.

[a]list: Thanks, Peter.

Ubisoft, Toys’R’Us Team Up For Toys’R’Us Towers

Ubisoft and Toys’R’Us have announced that they are teaming up to create Toys’R’Us Towers, a free-to-play toy store simulation game with real-world benefits, coming to mobile soon. The game centers around managing a toy store and amass sales and experience by building up a store, eventually earning a coupon for 15 percent off their next in-store or online purchase.

“We’re excited to partner with Toys’R’Us and bring a great game with real-world benefits to players with Toys’R’Us Towers,” said Chris Early, vice president of digital publishing, Ubisoft.  “Toys’R’Us Towers delivers a fun gaming experience that both social gamers and fans of the iconic toy store will enjoy, along with some incredible discounts at Toys’R’Us, just in time for the holiday season!”

“Toys’R’Us Towers offers a unique way to receive savings at physical retail locations, and extends our brand to the social gaming community,” said Michael Scharff, senior vice president, new ventures, Toys’R’Us, Inc. “We’re pleased to partner with Ubisoft to engage our customers, including our more than 3.4 million Facebook fans.  Avid Toys’R’Us shoppers can now experience the excitement of building, managing and working in their very own toy store through this fun new game and be rewarded with great deals and discounts to use at our stores nationwide.”

Find out more info at Facebook.com {linked page no longer available}

Metal Gear Solid V Linked To The Phantom Pain

One of the more ambiguous parts of the VGAs was a trailer for something called The Phantom Pain. The announcement came with no fanfare and no explanation followed its mysterious trailer debut.

Some clues started popping up, however, pointing to the project being Metal Gear Solid V. One of the main elements is the fact that the character that the trailer seems to focus on appears to be Snake, including similar scars, while some claim to see Metal Gear Solid antagonists Psycho Mantis and Volgin in the trailer.

The video makes reference to a Swedish studio “Moby Dick”, which according to its website was founded by CEO Joakim Mogren. The first name Joakim is, an anagram of Kojima, as in Hideo Kojima of Metal Gear fame.

Game journalist Alex Rubens also reported on Twitter a post-VGAs Konami party hosted a VIP section full of “people wearing Phantom Pain/Moby Dick Studios t-shirts”. Notably, none of those developers are Swedish.

Perhaps most tellingly, someone imposed the worlds “Metal Gear Solid V” over the logo for The Phantom Pain… and it seems to match up convincingly. So now the only real question is whether or not this is for Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes or for a completely different game called Metal Gear Solid V.

 

Valve Testing Dota 2 On Tablets

One of the primary focuses of Valve over the past few years (at least, that people know about) is Dota 2, an ARTS title the company has had in beta for a while. Interestingly, Valve CEO Gabe Newell reveals that he wants to bring the game to tablets, but they can’t handle Dota 2 just yet.

“We were working on getting Dota 2 running on some tablets,” he said. “That ended up being kind of a disappointment. But the good news is that tablets are getting faster very quickly, so I think we’ll get the kind of performance we want and other game developers want in the near future.”

Source: Kotaku

Nintendo Rolls Out Digital Deluxe Promotion

Nintendo launched its Digital Deluxe promotion site for users that purchased a Wii U Deluxe model and any games from the eShop. Signing in using a Nintendo ID, users can enter retail codes or redeem digital purchases to get 10 percent back in points.

Those with at least 500 points can trade them in for an activation code worth $5 of eShop credit. Ineligible for the promotion are items purchased within the Wii compatibility mode, anything on the 3DS eShop or any subscriptions.

Source: Nintendo.net {link no longer active}

Google: Android Winning Over iOS

There is some debate whether Android has surpassed iOS in the smartphone market, given the greater developer support for iOS at the moment. However, Google chairman Eric Schmidt thinks that the 1.3 million Android devices activated every day and the 72 percent share last quarter of the mobile market point to a clear Android victory.

“This is a huge platform change,” he said. “This is of the scale of 20 years ago: Microsoft versus Apple. We’re winning that war pretty clearly now.”

“The core strategy is to make a bigger pie,” he added. “We will end up with a not perfectly controlled and not perfectly managed bigger pie by virtue of open systems.”

Source: Bloomberg

The Secret World Opens Up Business Model

Funcom has eliminated the mandatory subscription from The Secret World, assuming a model not unlike Guild Wars 2. Those that maintain their subscription will receive points to spend on virtual goods, while all missions, abilities and equipment will be available to all players.

“Everyone who has purchased (or will purchase) the game can now enjoy the full game without being required to sign-up for a monthly fee,” said Funcom senior community manager Tarib. “This means that all of the heralded story-line and all of the game content available right now can be played as you please without requiring any additional payment.”