THQ Files Chapter 11

THQ announced they are pursuing Chapter 11 bankruptcy, with a deal announced with Clearlake Capital Group that will see the firm act as a “stalking horse bidder” for the publisher for $60 million. Companies have 30 days to submit another bid, and the sale will finalize if none do so.

Pending court approval, THQ has said it will continue to operate as normal with no layoffs. THQ’s four studios will continue to operate and its employees will continue to be paid.

The bankruptcy will allow THQ to discard certain obligations with debt and hopefully put them on firmer financial ground when it is done. THQ has also obtained financing commitments of about $37.5 million from Wells Fargo.

Nintendo TVii Launches

Nintendo has confirmed the launch of the TVii service on Wii U for December 20. The service is designed to help users search for content and get recommendations from cable or satellite television and Web-based video services.

Users can also use the GamePad to post to Nintendo’s Miiverse, Facebook or Twitter and look up Internet-based information such as cast details, movie reviews and sports scores. However, the service only works with Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus and local cable or satellite services; Netflix and TiVo will have to wait until 2013.

A Care Bear For The Holidays

Ayzenberg has an iOS app that’s sure to help relieve any holiday-related stress.  It’s Punch A Holiday Bear for iPhone and iPad.

The name says it all.  The touch-enabled app is essentially an interactive toy — a big virtual teddy bear that you can beat the fluff out of by tapping on it.

“Just punch me, I am a holiday bear who loves you.  I am made out of stuffing and you can’t hurt me so just go ahead and whale on me in the comfort of your own phone,” says the Bear.

He means it.  He takes a licking and keeps on ticking, just like a tough old mall Santa.

Download it for free on iTunes. {link no longer active}

Deus Ex Campaign Pushes The Boundaries Of Human Augmentation

Square Enix went all out for their ad campaign for Deus Ex: Human Revolution. The campaign began on a viral marketing website for the fictional Sarif Industries which was later apparently ‘hacked’ by the ‘Purity First’ terrorist group.

The Sarif Industries website has been posting links to real cybernetics developments like an artificial hand that can feel {link no longer active},  powering cybernetics with the mind {link no longer active}, and a bionic eye that could restore vision.

Fans can choose a way to augment themselves, capture and image with a webcam and add to an ongoing user-generated mosaic. {link no longer active}

Valve Games Get Branded Headsets

Valve and Plantronics are rolling out branded headphones that come with virtual goods for popular Valve games.  The new line features game brands as well as visual ID drawn from within game universes, such as Aperture Laboratories from Portal 2 and Mann Co. from Team Fortress 2.  DOTA 2 and Counter-Strike are also part of the line, which includes Plantronics’ GameCom 780 and high-end GameCom Commander headsets.

In making the announcement, Plantronics said the deal will eventually extend to more products and “is the beginning of what is expected to be a long term relationship with Valve.”

The company said the partnership also includes joint marketing efforts through in-game promotions, online tournaments and social media programs aimed at Valve’s player communities.

Separately, Plantronics announced a new head of PR and analyst relations.  Genevieve Haldeman joins the company as VP of global communications.

Source: Plantronics

Instagram Terms Of Service Roils Users

Instagram recently announces changes to their Terms of Use agreement, which will be effective January 16. While many expected more integration between Facebook and Instagram, (and indeed the ToU states that the information that users have shared on Instagram, about favorite places, bands, restaurants or hobbies will be used to target ads) but more eyebrow raising was a clause over the photos themselves.

“To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you,” stated the Instagram Terms of Use agreement.

The lack of any notification is disturbing to Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Most states have laws that limit the use of a person’s “name or likeness” for commercial purposes without consent,” Rotenberg said. “The legal purpose is to allow people to obtain the commercial value of their images and endorsements, which is a big issue for celebrities and others, but also a reasonable concern for Facebook users whose images are used by Facebook to encourage friends to buy products and services.”

The terms also stated that underage users of Instagram are also essentially agreeing to the same rules and ads may not be labeled as such. “You acknowledge that we may not always identify paid services, sponsored content, or commercial communications as such,” the company wrote.

“Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups,” said Instagram in a blog post. “This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.”

The outrage over the clause was immediate and pushed Instagram to announce that they are taking out the language saying user photos can be used in ads. Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom said the company is exploring other forms of advertising to make money.

“Our main goal is to avoid things likes advertising banners you see in other apps that would hurt the Instagram user experience,” said Systrom.


Project Godus Reaches Kickstarter Goal

22 Cans has reached its goal of 450,000 British Pounds ($730,000) for Project Godus. The successor to Populous hit the goal with less than 48 hours remaining on the Kickstarter.

22 Cans announced stretch goals for the product as well. At £460,000 they will add three additional single- and multiplayer game modes, at £475,000 players will be able to create their own sects, at £485,000, BAFTA award winner James Leach will pen the story, at £500,000 the team will add both first-person world crafting in “possession mode” and a co-operative multiplayer mode and at £550,000, support for Linux and Ouya will be added.