PS3 Sells 30 Million In Europe

Sony announced that the PS3 has hit 30 million sales in Europe and other PAL territories. The system launched in Europe in March 2007, a few months after the U.S. and Japanese launch.

“This is a major milestone for us and clearly shows just how popular the PlayStation brand and products are within Europe and the PAL territories,” commented Jim Ryan, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. “We are really pleased with the success of the PS3 system over the last six years, and are committed to continuing our support of the platform with high quality products and titles that are of the caliber that PlayStation fans have come to expect.”

SOE President On Why The MMO Future Is Free, Emergent

Since shifting its business over to free-to-play, Sony Online Entertainment has seen stats like DC Universe Online‘s daily revenue increase by 700 percent, EverQuest 2‘s registration numbers more than triple and EverQuest seeing registrations increase by 350 percent and daily logins double. It’s not surprising that the first SOE free-to-play title made from the ground up, Planetside 2, has seen 1.6 million registrants so far, 250,000 of which log in everyday.

“You have to play a lot of these games to figure that out,” Sony Online Entertainment president John Smedley said. “Most of us play games non-stop, and most of the games I play now are free-to-play; Dota 2, League of Legends, our stuff. It’s sort of a gut feeling. I’d say it’s more of an art, not a science. Zynga likes to pretend it’s a science, but it’s more of an art.”

“There’s a great quote from The Matrix: ‘That’s the sound of inevitability.’ At some point, when there’s a business model that just works, it’s hard to fight it. Free-to-play is just too good of an idea,” Smedley added. “The idea is just so simple. It democratizes and capitalizes, makes true capitalism out of the MMO gaming space.”

Smedley also sees emergent gameplay as becoming fundamental to MMOs. “Our opinion is that today’s MMOs, and I’d include ours in that mix, are stagnant and stuck in this model that we frankly helped create with EverQuest, where we put new content in the game, and they go through it at an incredibly fast rate because of sites like Thottbot and that kind of stuff,” Smedley said. “We need to change the way we do this. We’re building a sandbox and giving players the tools to help shape the world that they’re in. That’s the direction we’re going we’re going in with EverQuest Next; trying to make a world that players create while being a living, breathing world around them. It’s not just a prop for them to walk around in, which is really what all of today’s MMOs are. Their worlds are nothing more than a movie set.”

The reinvention of the EverQuest franchise in EverQuest Next will heavily incorporate both emergent gameplay and free-to-play. “What we’re doing [with emergent gameplay] is so radically new that we’re not really talking about it,” Smedley said. “What I will say is that what we’re looking at is ways of making players part of the world itself. You’ll understand it when you see it. We’re almost at the point where we want to show the world.”


Escape To An Island Of Happiness

{links shown in this article are no longer active}

Take a trip over to Coca-Cola’s Happiness Islands, a friendly little “sitelets archipelago” in the vast Internet ocean.

Each island leads to its own breezy diversion-like,, and The unassuming sitelets add a little happiness to your day, in support of the marketer’s broader brand promise.


The Unmaking Of Carthage – Total War: Rome II Developer Diary

This developer diary by Creative Assembly looks at making Carthage a dynamic place to fight, a first look at the new tactical map, and combined naval and land battle features. The second video has Jack Lusted, Lead Unit Designer on Total War: Rome II, who goes into more detail on the battle of Carthage and discusses some questions that have emerged on the Total War forums.


Rewind YouTube Style 2012

As a tribute to the hottest videos of the year, YouTube got some of their most recognizable stars to appear in this mash-up. In five years, this video will make no sense to anyone, but it certainly is fun now!


Zynga CEO Named Among 2012’s Worst

Dartmouth business professor Sydney Finkelstein has named Zynga CEO Mark Pincus as one of the five worst CEOs. Also an dishonorable mention on the list was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for his company’s stumbles after the initial IPO.

“Mark Pincus, the CEO of Zynga, the mobile gaming company that brought the world Farmville, among other online distractions. Zynga stock is down 75 percent so far this year, and the company is losing top executive talent. Pincus has a fairly illustrious pedigree — he got a bachelor’s degree in economics from Wharton in 1988 and his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1993,” writes Louis Lavelle. “But Finkelstein says he’s made some rookie mistakes, including hitching his company’s wagon much too securely to Facebook, which Zynga relies on for a big chunk of revenue. And he hardly expressed confidence in the company’s prospects with his move to unload 16 million shares after the IPO lockup period ended. Joe Libonati, a spokesperson for Zynga, declined to comment.”


Exclusive: Ubisoft On Marketing The American Assassin

In part one of our interview with Tony Key, SVP of Sales and Marketing at Ubisoft, we discussed the marketing on Just Dance 4. In this second entry, we shift focus to the company’s other big annual franchise: Assassin’s Creed.

[a]list: Do you feel like one of the elements to longevity in the franchise is offering up an open world experience incomparable in most other annual franchises?

Tony Key: Open world is hard. It’s something, because it’s open, that can continuously be built upon. Between all the Assassin’s Creed games and what we’ve learned about open world games from that, all that expertise helps us realize what’s great in an open world experience. To keep Assassin’s Creed fresh takes an enormous amount of resources. We have to field a top-selling, high-quality game to annualize the brand and I feel one of the primary things that makes it’s appeal so broad is the open world part. There’s never one Assassin’s Creed game being developed at any one time; they’re working on several at the same time and that’s the key to success.

Having those familiar open world elements that you recognize and connect with in a new environment helps you engage with new character and new settling. Building upon your experiences, every one of Ezio’s games were bigger than the last. Now in Assassin’s Creed III it’s on a larger scale than Assassin’s Creed Revelations. Being able to build upon that is fundamental. We hope fans understand that it’s just going to become bigger and better every year… if we don’t do that we put the whole strategy at risk!

[a]list: Do you feel like the timing was right to expand the scope of the world, introducing the new character in Connor and having the new setting in colonial America?

Tony Key: That’s not necessarily true, when you’re going from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood to Assassin’s Creed Revelations, you’re using the same character in a bigger world. When we created a new continent with Anvil Next, that was a major undertaking, so the amount of resources put into the game is not a gauge of size or quality of the game — it depends on where the game is and what the characters is.

[a]list: I’m sure there’s a conscious effort to avoid the release of the “off year” Assassin’s Creed titles. Without naming names, some franchises have done that and damaged or outright killed themselves because of it. Fans are smart — they recognize when a game is half-hearted effort.

Tony Key: You want to avoid the appearance of a glorified add-on pack and every publisher is guilty of that at one time or another in this day and age. But now, the bar has just gotten too high for that in AAA gaming.

That goes with the marketing too, by the way. The resources to do AAA marketing are bigger than they ever have been. So the top games are selling more and the other games don’t make back their money.

[a]list: Speaking of marketing for the game, was there any concern about introducing a new protagonist and go away from a popular and well known character in Ezio, who had become something of a de facto face of the franchise?

Tony Key: Ezio got pretty old. It was never our intention to focus on one assassin, it’s a plan to have a string of assassins so it’s logical to move to a new character. It happens to be another 200 years later, but the lineage goes horizontally and vertically – we want to explore in all directions. This time was Conner and next time, we’ll see. Ezio was a great character and the world he was in was so rich and was set during a transformative era. Whether that’s true for the American frontier, we’ll see. We’ve explored plenty of different assassins using trans-media. The brand will continue to expand.

I won’t deny that you won’t get a high up mucky-muck saying, “wow no Ezio or Altair in this game” but our executive prouder has a good idea of where the brand is going and we’ve bought into that vision. The way we’ve expanded, Assassin’s Creed III got to be two times bigger than Assassin’s Creed II. So the vision is working for us. Our team in Montreal is motivated, the consumers we’re clamoring for the new assassin and the New World setting gave the brand new vigor and it’s playing well out for us.

[a]list: Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation had a prominent, live action ad for its PS Vita bundle. Was there a feeling at Ubisoft that they could help “lead” on PS Vita with Liberation?

Tony Key: Those ads were made by Sony because they’re advertising the hardware bundle; they loved the game and the bundle is selling very well. It’s an exclusive title for the Vita and it’s something that we believe in. Liberation interacts with the PS3 version of Assassin’s Creed III and they saw it as a prominent selling point and it’s been leading on that platform.


[a]list: What can you tell me about the now award winning “Rise” spot and how that plays into the greater narrative for the game?

Tony Key: Well, that was a European thing and European award, that wasn’t something we technically used. I think the Assassin’s Creed III marketing campaign is raising eyebrows and I would hope that at the Game Marketing Summit that we’ll be recognized.

[a]list: Well, speaking about that, talk to me about the differences between the Assassin’s Creed III marketing in the U.S. and Europe and whether that was planned from the beginning or evolved as a response to fan reactions?

Tony Key: There were definite tonal differences between the ads for Assassin’s Creed 3 in Europe as opposed to America. Ultimately we’re just trying to tell our story that’s relevant to the audience. To people in Europe, you’ll get a different response than in America. Our idea is to act locally and make a relevant message for the consumer; we’re not trying to be mislead and are presenting a message that’s relevant to the audience. I don’t want to shove a Founding Fathers ad in the face of an Italian consumer and that’s the conclusion our Italian counterparts came to.

One of the things to realize is the American Revolution is not something that’s been explored extensively [in games], so there’s a difference between that and World War II. Without all those pop culture references, it gave us a clean slate to not to have to deal with perceptions of what it was. Our goal was to make it cool and part of pop culture. We made people think about a war that’s exploited in the media. Again, we did people see saying, “why is the marketing different here in Europe?” but we need to keep the message simple and relevant you can’t talk to every culture the same way, not in the way that makes them want to play the game. You have to consider a different message for a person in another country and it’s not unique to Ubisoft or even this industry.

Stay tuned for part 3!

Here’s My (Anonymous) Number

Burner is an iOS app that allows for user anonymity when today it seems nearly impossible? Create a temporary telephone number for private or public use through an app. Exclusive to iOS, “Burner” is a privacy layer that can provide alias phone numbers to a user.

This number can be used for SMS or voice calls on both sending and receiving ends, and may be used as long as needed. Once the number is no longer needed or if necessity calls for a new number combination, the user may choose to “burn” it.

The app is seen best used for dating, job searches, short-term projects, craigslist transactions, and social networking, among many others. Burner is available on iTunes for $1.99 and comes with enough credits to create 1 mini-burner that will expire after 20 minutes of voice time and/or 60 text messages, or after 7 days, whichever comes first.