Black Isle Crowdfunds New Game

Plenty of studios have asked their fans to fund a game’s development this year, but Interplay’s revamped Black Isle Studios is asking their fans to fund a prototype for its next game, Project V13. The studio today launched a fundraising campaign on its official site with a 30-day time limit and no specific funding goal.


“Our goal at this stage is threefold: 1) prove to management that you want Black Isle Studios resurrected – and all the history and tradition of excellence that goes with it; 2) to continue to staff up BIS and complete our PV13 game design; and 3) to develop a tech demo/proof of concept for our design that will open the doors to additional funding.”

Unlike Kickstarter, those who pledge money will have their credit cards charged immediately. As for what their money will buy, that would be access to special forums for the game’s backers (those are expected to launch in late January) and a certificate of recognition for their contribution.

Source: Black Isle Studios {link no longer active}

Senator: Gaming Markets Violence To Kids

Last week’s school shooting in Connecticut has renewed the debate over violent video games. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is leading the charge this time, proposing a bill that would have multiple government agencies research the effects of violent games on young players.

“Major corporations, including the video game industry, make billions on marketing and selling violent content to children,” Rockefeller told Bloomberg news service. “They have a responsibility to protect our children. If they do not, you can count on the Congress to take a more aggressive role.”

If the bill passes, findings from the studies would be presented to Congress within 18 months. An Entertainment Software Association statement on the subject stated that there was no link between violent games and violent actions, adding, “The search for meaningful solutions must consider the broad range of actual factors that may have contributed to this tragedy.”

Source: Bloomberg  {link no longer active}

Jason Rubin: THQ Bankruptcy Should Be Seen As Positive

THQ’s bankruptcy shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone given the publisher’s ongoing financial situation, but now that THQ has filed for Chapter 11, president Jason Rubin wants gamers to understand that it’s actually a good thing for the company’s future and for the continuation of great brands like Saint’s Row.

“The most important thing to understand is that Chapter 11 does not mean the end of the THQ story or the end of the titles you love,” Rubin wrote in a blog post to fans. “Quite the opposite is true, actually.”

“So THQ made headlines today – and I am sure there will be tons of click-grabbing headlines over the next month or so,” he continued. “But what matters to us is not what is happening to THQ right now, but what the company and its teams will make of ourselves after we complete the sale. In short, the teams will be unburdened by the past and able to focus on what they should be focusing on — Making great games.”

A Fitting Tribute To Infocom

This week D.I.C.E. Summit organizer AIAS announced the recipients of their annual Pioneer Award as Dave Lebling and Marc Blank, co-founders of legendary adventure game maker Infocom.  The pair met at MIT in the late 1970’s.  For early gamers who hark back to text-based adventure classics such as Zork and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game, what followed is history.

In perhaps one of the most fitting tributes ever in game journalism, WIRED’s Chris Kohler decided to pay homage to D.I.C.E.’s recognition of Lebling and Blank s by turning his opportunity to interview them into a text-based adventure.

Given the time of year, Kohler’s Pioneers: An Interactive Fiction is essentially a gift to gamers all over the world, especially the ones old enough to remember playing these types of games.  Regardless of whether someone’s played a text adventure before, it has to be experienced to appreciate how WIRED turnd an interview, one they say was exclusive and therefore would have likely drawn plenty of attention from the game industry, into an excercise in pushing the creative boundaries of how online outlets can cover games.

Kohler created his interactive adventure with Playfic, an online platform backed by a supportive community that is helping keep the text-based adventure genre alive.  It lets users play a variety of games from “indie” game makers – that could have meant have meant “independent” or “individual” back in the day.  The more experienced or dedicated can use Playfic’s tools and tutorials to create their own adventure.

AIAS will present Lebling and Blank with the Pioneer Award at the 16th annual D.I.C.E. Awards on February 7 at The Joint in the Hard Rock Resort in Las Vegas.  The awards ceremony is part of the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit.


DeNA Sees Huge Opportunities In Emerging Markets

DeNA’s U.S. subsidiary ngmoco is looking to shake up the mobile market in 2013 with a hardcore shooter called The Drowning, but the company isn’t pinning its hopes on North America alone. As digital becomes more and more prominent, it’s opening the doors to markets that used to be overrun with piracy. ngmoco boss Clive Downie sees emerging markets as the next frontier.

“Brazil has 50 million smartphone subscribers already, and it had year-on-year growth of about 35 percent. That’s huge. That’s in the top five, and Russsia’s in the top five too. Exciting times. And then you get into specific content for those markets. It’s something I’m very intrigued by,” he commented.

“Right now we think about genre, but in the future we can think about country and genre. Why not go after the minutes that exist in Brazil, or Russia Mobage’s doing that very successfully; we have Mobage China, Mobage Korea. We have very different offerings to our Chinese consumers and our Korean consumers and our North American consumers and our Japanese consumers. We’re already lined up well for that.”

Downie also talked about the impact that tablets will specifically have on consoles, especially as games on tablets start to rival the visual fidelity and gameplay quality of the consoles.

“I believe their market share will be eroded due to the opportunities that tablets can provide to more consumers all over the world,” Downie said. “I do believe there will always be a console market – my sense is it will become ultracore, almost like hobbyist, in the way that certain genres of entertainment or product become hobbyist over time as people have migrated to other things.”

Source: GamesIndustry International {link no longer active}


Steam Box: Should Microsoft And Sony Be Worried?

While many gamers are enjoying Nintendo’s new Wii U this holiday, there are some who are anxiously awaiting next-gen consoles from Microsoft and Sony, one or more of which could launch a year from now. That said, there’s another potential competitor in the hardware field on the horizon, and it’s a company that’s certainly got a track record of disrupting markets: Valve.

Veteran games journalist Chris Morris argues in an op-ed that the so-called “Steam Box” could end up becoming a major player in the war being waged for living room dominance.

“If the recent whispers of Valve’s plans to launch a game hardware system prove true, that could upend the playing field,” he noted, adding that both Microsoft and Sony could feel a large impact on their respective bottom lines as a result.

“A Steam Box won’t stop the core from buying an Xbox or PlayStation, but it could easily distract them away from those systems. And the entry of a third high-definition, AAA system (fourth, if you count Nintendo as part of this fight – though that company tends to exist in its own space), could further split the core gaming community – possibly severely impacting the revenue streams of Sony and Microsoft.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

Instagram Says Sorry

“Thank you, and we’re listening,” tweeted Instagram.  The site was responding to the controversy over privacy changes that would technically allow users to appear in advertisements without their knowledge, a move ready to take effect on January 16.  Faced with a steady stream of disapproval, and plenty of press attention to support the outcry, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom took the lead in communicating how the initiative was being retracted.

“Because of the feedback we have heard from you, we are reverting this advertising section to the original version that has been in effect since we launched the service in October 2010.” Systrom wrote in a blog, pointing readers to the current terms.

The update which stirred up users was an attempt to allow advertisers in Facebook’s ad networks to use data and information shared on Instagram , which Facebook owns, to better target advertising.  Users called it a ploy to sell their content.  Systrom addressed that misunderstanding.

“You also had deep concerns about whether under our new terms, Instagram had any plans to sell your content,” he wrote. “I want to be really clear:  Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did.  We don’t own your photos — you do.”

Still, with the apology to quell a veritable user firestorm out of the way, the photo-sharing platform hinted that moving forward it may not be so transparent.  Systrom added that Instagram will no longer “obtain permission from you” when planning out its advertising, but instead “complete our plans, and then come back to our users and explain how we would like for our advertising business to work.”

Source: Instagram

Rovio Brand Strategy, Exclusive Newzoo Research Headline [a]list summit NY

[a]list kicks off its series of 2013 events in late January with [a]list summit New York, a day of sessions focused on mobile as a platform for game brand building and marketing.  Announced today, Rovio senior VP of brand marketing Ville Heijari and Newzoo CEO Peter Warman will be headliners at the summit.  The event is being held under the banner “The Rise of Mobile Content Marketing.”

Heijari, who has been with Rovio since the earliest days of the company’s blockbuster game IP Angry Birds, is speaking in a fireside chat.  The session will look at how Rovio built the biggest game brand on mobile, and arguably one of the most recognizable entertainment properties in the market today.  Heijari joined the Finnish game maker shortly after the first game in the Angry Birds franchise launched on iOS in 2009.  Today, the brand extends into merchandise, theme parks, even a new game franchise blending its IP with Star Wars.  And there’s an Angry Birds movie in the works, tied with Despicable Me producer John Cohen.  All told, Rovio says licensing now accounts for 40 percent of revenues from Angry Birds.  At [a]list summit, Heijari will show how the company grew the brand through a strategy focused on content marketing.

Peter Warman, CEO of Newzoo and now a regular provider of mobile game market data to [a]list daily, is presenting the keynote session at [a]list summit New York.  Warman’s presentation will have new research that Newzoo is planning to release at the summit, including an exclusive data brief provided to all attendees as takeaways.

[a]list summit organizer Ayzenberg Group is partnered with Mobile Gaming USA East on [a]list summit New York, scheduled to take place January 29 at the New Yorker Hotel.  The two events take place in succession, with Mobile Gaming USA East continuing at the same venue January 30-31.  Organizers are offering all-access passes to both events.

For more summit information and to register, visit the [a]list summit New York web site.

Angry Birds movie in the works