Amazon Launches In-App Purchasing System

Amazon has announced the launch of a new in-app purchasing option for developers and publishers backed by Amazon’s existing payment system. This API for PC, Mac, Android, and browser games allows purchases that are tied to a customer’s Amazon account.

“We’re passionate about making game developers successful, and we’ll continue to build services that make monetization easier and remove undifferentiated heavy lifting from developers,” said Mike Frazzini, Director Amazon Games. “In-App Purchasing for Mac, PC and Web-based games is our latest service that helps game developers grow their business and increase their customer-base. For years, Amazon has focused on making the online shopping experience as frictionless as possible, and we are excited to share this expertise and technology so that game developers can offer customers this same great experience.”

Source: Amazon Game Services

Microsoft’s Surface Windows 8 Pro Coming February 9

Microsoft has announced that it will be releasing the Surface Windows 8 Pro on February 9, 2013 via Best Buy, Staples, and Microsoft retail and online stores. The tablet features a 10.6-inch, 1920×1080 resolution multi-touch screen powered by Intel’s Core i5, 4GB of RAM and up to 128 GB of internal storage, costing a minimum of $899.

“The response to Surface Windows RT has been exciting to see since its launch,” said Panos Panay, General Manager of Microsoft Surface. “In the coming weeks, we are more than doubling the markets in which Surface Windows RT is available. Surface Windows RT is already available for purchase in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and this announcement will expand its availability to 13 additional markets worldwide. New markets in the coming weeks include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.”

Source: Microsoft_Blog

Skyrim DLC Confirmed For PS3

The DLC for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has long been delayed on the PS3, with developer Bethsoft citing technical issues on the system, but they’re now set for a February release. Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn will all release at an initial discount on the PS3.

“Dragonborn out Feb. 5 for PC,” tweeted Bethesda president Pete Hines. “Also out for PS3 in Feb (date TBA), followed by Hearthfire and Dawnguard (also Feb.) Each 50 percent off first week.”

Source: Twitter

Guillermo Del Toro Lines Up for Magic DC Heroes Movie

Guillermo del Toro is among the busiest men in Hollywood, and is just wrapping up his giant robot film Pacific Rim. His next project, however, might be focusing on magic heroes that will be part of a DC film continuity that includes Batman and Superman.

“Yeah I’m doing it, I’m working on it,” said del Toro. “I’m writing the outline and we already are in talks with a writer. A very, very good writer. I think people are going to be happy with who we have chosen. And he accepted. I’ve been courting this writer because I think he is the perfect guy for this job. And we’re doing it. Hopefully it will happen. We don’t know until they greenlight the movie.”

The working title of the film is Dark Universe. As for his favorite magical hero, del Toro said, “Oh my god, those are . . . you’re talking about my childhood. I mean, Swamp Thing, for me, is a rock star. You know demon, the Jack Kirby demon, Etrigan, is amazing. And then you know, you go to Constantine, who I thought was an amazing creation, and I want to do the Constantine of the comics. Deadman. You know it’s really, really a lot of work but a lot of fun,” he mentioned the Specter before hesitantly adding, “I don’t want to say because then you’ll know the plot a little bit but there’s . . . who am I gonna say I can say Zatanna, Zatara, Deadman.”

“The movements for this happened before [The Avengers]. They were already galvanized to launch Justice League and they were galvanized to make their universe cohesive,” added del Toro. “So it’s really, what I feel now is that they are really, really with Superman they feel very, very confident with what they have and they are now feeling like they can . . . they have two pillars — Batman and Superman for the DC Universe. And internally, now they are finding they are, they have a darker tone. A more urban and sophisticated tone you know So I think now they can build up, build the foundation and now they can build a building.”


Sony CEO Doubts Wisdom In ‘Going First’

There has been wild speculation over whether Sony or Microsoft will release their next generation console first, for a variety of reasons. However, Sony CEO and president Kaz Hirai has made a remark that makes it seem like being first to market isn’t high on his list of things to do.

“Why go first, when your competitors can look at your specifications and come up with something better ” said Hirai.

Hirai was also blunt about the way he’s reorganized the executive structure of Sony, saying, “When I took the job back in April, with the exception of two senior management folks . . . everybody was either moved out, with new people moved in, or reassigned. Where I come from, either you play under my rules or you’re not playing. That’s why reassignments happen. Everybody plays nicely together now because they all understand what the rules are.”

Source: The Times

Chris Taylor Details Gas Powered Games Situation

Chris Taylor, CEO of Gas Powered Games, detailed his studio’s Kickstarter campaign and large amount of recent layoffs in an Ask Me Anything open interview. Ultimately, he said the decision of the layoffs was doing what was right for people who wanted to stay and those who wanted to move on, noting that the attention has been a net positive for the project.

“GPG is in a very interesting situation as we had enough money to get us through to the end of the campaign,” Taylor wrote. “What became obvious by day 4, is that the campaign was going so poorly, there was no way it was going to happen. People argued this with me in the media a bit, saying it was too early to judge, but consider this, even with this weekend’s surge, we’re still not doing very well…Can you imagine what it would have looked like without the big push from the media covering the layoff ”

“I chose to lay folks off instead of gamble with their severance. Today some folks have come in, and completed paperwork, and have said they don’t want to stay and gamble it, so they are gone now. It’s an eyes wide open situation now . . . it’s their choice, and I feel good about that decision,” he added. “Technically (legally) we weren’t allowed to take on volunteers, so what folks have done this week, is go back on payroll, and then forego their severance. It’s a good compromise because it’s their decision.”


Blizzard’s Pardo Defends Departing Diablo III Director

Diablo III director Jay Wilson recently announced he was departing, resulting in a backlash of criticism over his decisions relating to the design of the game. Blizzard CCO Rob Pardo went on the Blizzard forums to issue a statement on the matter, defending Wilson while noting that work is ongoing for Diablo III.

“I’m the only person in this thread who has actually worked with Jay. I hired Jay to head up the Diablo project and had the pleasure of getting to work with him, both in building the team and designing the game,” wrote Pardo. “He has great design instincts and has added so much to the franchise with his feel for visceral combat, boss battles, and an unparalleled knack for making it fun to smash bad guys. I’ve worked with many, many designers at Blizzard and Jay is one of the best. He has a great career at Blizzard ahead of him and I guarantee that you will enjoy Jay’s game designs in future Blizzard games.”

“If you love Diablo as much as we do, then please continue to let us know how you feel we can improve the game,” he added. “If you still feel the need to dish out blame, then I would prefer you direct it at me. I was the executive producer on the project; I hired Jay and I gave him advice and direction throughout the development process. I was ultimately responsible for the game we released and take full responsibility for the quality of the result.”


Instagram Reports Bump In Users

Instagram released traffic analytics for the first time in the service’s history last week, showing that in contrast to reports that its user base declined over the holidays it actually saw a ten percent bump between December and January.

Back in December the photo-sharing site left many users disgruntled when it altered its terms of services insinuating the Facebook-owned platform could sell photos to third-party advertising without permission. The backlash from the move was followed by a report from research firm AppData announcing the service may have lost up to 25 percent of its user base after the terms of service change. Shortly afterwards, Facebook announced that it was replacing unfettered access to app data information with internally generated reports.

But the hoopla over App Data’s reported Instagram user decline was never a solid indicator of how many people use the service at a given time. The analytics service measured Instagram activity connected to users’ Facebook accounts, which many Instagram users do not currently use.

Now, Instagram has released its own statistics reporting that it actually experienced growth rather than a decline during the holiday period. The social platform brings in 90 million monthly active users (MAU) and sees an average of 40 million photo uploads per day. It also reports having 8,500 Facebook “Likes” per second and over 1,000 photo comments per second.

One thing absent to note from the numbers is a daily active user count, which was the data AppData had pulled from Facebook. That raises the question whether there is some credibility to reports of a decline in day to day users.

Source: AllThingsD

Killer Is Dead Debuts

Killer is Dead is Suda51’s latest creation, and it wears its similarities to No More Heroes (playing an assassin seeking out other assassins) and Killer7 (working for a covert hitman agency in a highly stylized world) on its sleeve. The trailer is subtitled, and the original Japanese voices give the trailer its own panache.