Internet Explorer – Child Of The ’90s

Remember the ’90s Microsoft does, back when they dominated the PC landscape and things like tablet computers and smartphones were nothing but a science fiction concept.

Now Microsoft wants you to know, that just like you, Internet Explorer has grown up since the ’90s. This sentimental ad hopes that that you will reconnect with Microsoft’s latest web browser.

China Reviewing Game Console Ban

Reports are that the Chinese ministry of culture is considering overturning a ban on video game consoles being sold in the region. The ban was created in 2000 over the fears that games would negatively influence Chinese youth. Free-to-play titles on PC and mobile have risen anyway, though an increasingly affluent middle class could mean that a market for console games also exists.

“We are reviewing the policy and have conducted some surveys and held discussions with other ministries on the possibility of opening up the game console market,” said a source.

“China [is] a promising market for our business, and we are always considering and preparing business opportunities and possibilities,” noted Sony Computer Entertainment spokeswoman Yoshiko Uchiyaman.

Source: Reuters

Online Sales Materially Affecting Retail Salespeople

Online shopping is clearly winning over customers with prices and convenience. It’s even affected large retailers like Macy’s, which saw saw same-store sales increase by 2.5 percent by contrast to online which were up more than 50 percent.

There is a net loss for people like Nelson Springer, a shoe salesman at Macy’s who works on commission. While he made $20,000 in sales each week during the 2011 holiday season, it took him an entire month to hit the $20,000 mark dropping his net sales $60,000 from the year before and decreasing his paycheck $5,000.

“Shoppers are a lot more conscientious,” he said. “People know what they want, and they want it for as cheap as possible, and they think the place to get that is online.”

Springer noted that many only want to find the right size and fit before ordering online. “I had a guy come in six months ago. I spent a half an hour with him, trying on four pairs of shoes before getting up and saying, ‘Thanks, now I know what to get when I buy them online,'” he said.

Some retail experts say stores aren’t sure how to respond. “Companies can’t figure out what to do,” said Robert Passikoff, founder and president of brand research consultancy Brand Keys.

Craig Johnson, president of independent consulting firm Customer Growth Partners, notes that online retailers like Zappos offering free shipping both ways makes online even more appealing. “They take away any downside of ordering something that’s not right,” he said.

A result of these trends has some companies cutting salespeople’s commissions. “We’ve seen workers see their commission drop from 4 percent to 1 percent,” said Yana Walton, communications director at Retail Action Project, an advocacy group for retail workers. “That’s the way this is going, if shoppers continue to [browse in stores but shop online].”

Macy’s has tried compensating by allowing salespeople complete online transactions for shoppers in stores so that the customer gets the online price and the salesperson gets the commission. This does not make up for the slower sales, however, sending workers like Springer picking up extra shifts.

Springer is in a better position than most: as a member of Local 1-S, a branch of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, his hours and compensation are locked in under contract. “I know I’m one of the lucky ones, but everyone is going to have to adapt to the changes if we want to compete,” he said.


Funcom Enacts Restructuring Plans

Funcom has announced that it is planning to close the company’s Beijing studio, which had been providing art assets for The Secret World. Additionally, the company is consolidating development of new content for The Secret World, Age of Conan, and Anarchy Online in its Raleigh, North Carolina offices.

In another shift, Funcom’s Montreal studio will now work on new projects for tablets and mobile platforms, in addition to working on the proprietary Dreamworld game engine. These moves are all part of a larger restructuring at the MMO company so that, rather than focus on a single large project, it will work on multiple smaller online games, the first of which is the Lego Minifigures game.

MLG To Feature PlanetSide 2

Sony Online Entertainment and (SOE) and Major League Gaming (MLG) announced the signing of a “robust partnership” where PlanetSide 2 will come to MLG’s ever increasing gaming audience. The developers of PlanetSide 2 will look to develop features to highlight the competitive qualities of the MMOFPS, while MLG highlights the game with its original programming and online competitions.

“PlanetSide 2 players are extremely loyal to their chosen Empires and when it comes to battling, they are beyond competitive and truly enjoy the in-game rivalries, so it was the natural next step for us to bring PlanetSide 2 to the most competitive eSports organization,” said John Smedley, President, Sony Online Entertainment. “We’re excited for this opportunity to work with MLG and are confident that their competitive gaming expertise can turn PlanetSide 2 into a premiere eSports platform, allowing us to extend the game experience and deliver new ways for players to interact with other players and the broader community, while helping to further diversify and grow our audience.”

“From the first time I played PlanetSide 2, I knew that it made sense for the MLG community,” said Sundance DiGiovanni, CEO and co-founder of Major League Gaming. “I am excited to introduce the game to our audience and to see how it evolves along with the growing and evolving eSports landscape.”

PlanetSide 2 gaming stations will be featured at MLG’s first Pro Circuit event of 2013: the Winter Championship in Dallas, Texas, from March 15-17.

J. J. Abrams Joining Gabe Newell For D.I.C.E. Summit Keynote

J. J. Abrams will join Gabe Newell during the opening keynote of the 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit. The pair will also co-host a session called, “Storytelling Across Platforms: Who Benefits Most, the Audience or the Player ” on February 6, while Newell will give the keynote address on February 7 called “A View on Next Steps” to discuss Steam and Big Picture in the context of the industry’s future.

“There’s no question that J.J. has his finger on the pulse of the entertainment industry, and we’re thrilled to welcome him and our 2013 Hall of Fame inductee, Gabe Newell, to the D.I.C.E. stage,” said Martin Rae, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences. “Each year, the D.I.C.E. Summit sets the tone for the year ahead in games and adding J.J. and Gabe’s shared insights is a natural fit as we see all forms of entertainment converge.”

Abrams is a veteran writer, director and producer, having worked on Alias and Star Trek, with Star Wars: Episode VII as his next big project. The 2013 D.I.C.E. Summit will be held at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas from February 5 to 8.

Cliff Bleszinski Tweets Advice Over Saints Row

Cliff Bleszinski recently started thinking out loud in the form of tweets about the Saints Row franchise. The series and its developer, Volition, are now owned by Koch Media, acquired at auction after the bankruptcy of THQ.

“Keep the crazy action and game mechanics. Lose the gimps and dildos and purple suits,” tweeted Bleszinski. “If your average guy is embarrassed to be playing a sequence in a game when his wife walks in that’s a bad sign. The SR team is amazing. Dildo holds them back. It’s immature. Make an open world game that’s more Michael Mann/HEAT/Collateral/Training Day.”

“The SR team is one of the few that could actually give GTA a run for their money. BF didn’t go after COD by putting dicks on their guns. Game mechanic wise I found SR3 to be more fun than many recent GTA games. Controls, pacing, etc . . . are all great. “ he continued. “Yes, I think the dildo is hilarious. (I also had a big dildo as a prop in our wedding’s photo booth.) It doesn’t help industry perceptions. Once you put a dildo in your game it doesn’t matter if your controls, pacing, graphics are all great. You’re ‘that game with the dildo.’

Some may wonder if the advice on “industry perceptions” is hypocritical, given Bleszinski’s track record with violent games like Gears of War and Bulletstorm, though he had a tweet for that too, writing playfully, “If you throw my mistakes in my career in my face as a way of saying I can’t make suggestions about other games I will block you.”

“I wish the best of luck to all of the amazing talent that’s been on the crazy ride that was THQ and hope they all land on their feet,” he concluded.