Namco Bandai Talks Marketing Ni No Kuni In The West

Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is a hit with critics, though it certainly faces some marketing challenges in the West with both its gameplay elements and style. Lee Kirton, U.K. marketing and PR director at Namco Bandai Partners, admits this is an issue but still thinks there’s plenty for a Western audience to like.

“Our games are very fan focused the majority of the time, so working closely with the fans is important to us,” explains Lee Kirton, UK marketing and PR director at Namco Bandai Partners. “We don’t just throw hundreds of thousands of pounds at TV or cinema [advertising], but we truly evaluate who are market is, how to engage with our markets effectively and how to really push word of mouth. We are very used to not marketing the ‘obvious’ western title so we focus heavily on PR, video content, fan engagement, community, targeted spend online, special editions, competitions, events and debates.”

“Many fans in Europe appreciate Japanese development, Japanese titles, and RPGs, and we are working hard to build this market in the U.K.” he added. “But you’re always going to get a gamer that just wants to shoot things, and many that want to play action adventures. Ni No Kuni (putting the name and studio aside) is actually a very western RPG action-adventure which has had some amazing localization. I believe it’s a market that will grow over time as the industry changes, however it’s always going to be tougher to convince some gamers to try something new, and that’s just the way it is.”

Source: GamesIndustry International

Nintendo Apologizes For Game Delays In Early 2013

The Nintendo Wii U is suffering from a bit of a drought of titles, with many “launch window” releases like Pikmin 3, Wii Fit U, The Wonderful 101, and Game & Wario being pushed back from their original expected release times. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata apologized for this circumstance, as it was something that he’d hoped the company would avoid with the Wii U.

“Nintendo takes seriously its responsibility to offer a steady stream of new titles in the very early days of a new platform to establish a good lineup of software,” Iwata said. “On the other hand, we also firmly believe we have to offer quality experiences when we release new titles. Based on our software development schedules at the end of last year, we concluded we should spend a little more time to satisfy our Nintendo standard of quality. I apologize to those supporting Wii U about the lack of titles in January and February.”

After having said that, he laid out some unannounced titles from Nintendo, including a new Mario 3D and Mario Kart game for Wii U that will be playable at E3 2013. He also announced a Yarn Yoshi in the style of Kirby Epic Yarn, and said that a Wind Waker HD remake is in the works for Wii U, though an original Zelda installment on the system is a ways off.

Source: Nintendo Direct

ESA Welcomes DeNA Into Ranks

The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) announced that DeNA has joined as the organization’s 36th full member. This marks the continued emergence of the Japanese social and mobile gaming company on the world’s stage.

“It’s very important for us to be part of an association that is dedicated to protecting the policy and business interests of the gaming industry in the US,” said DeNA CEO Isao Moriyasu. “ESA provides valuable counsel and support as we expand our social game offerings and undertake new ventures to grow our business and our customer base in the West.”

Apple Sells Record Numbers Of IPhones, IPads For 2012 Holiday Quarter

Apple recently reported that they sold 47.8 million iPhone smartphones in the latest period, up 29 percent from a year earlier and a new record. The company also revealed that it sold a record 22.9 million iPads (including the iPad Mini) in the most recent quarter, a 49 percent year-over-year increase.

The company’s first-quarter earnings were $13.08 billion, up from 0.1 percent from $13.06 billion a year earlier, though margins have gotten worse over the past year. As a result, Apple shares fell to $463 after hours, the latest in a series of setbacks for the stock after reaching record highs.

“It’s going to call into question Apple’s dominance in the space. It’s still one of the strong players, the others being Samsung and Google. It’s still a two-horse race, but Android continues to grow rapidly,” said Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. “If you step back a bit, it’s clear they shipped a lot of phones. But the problem is the high expectations that investors have. Apple’s conservative guidance highlights the concerns over production cuts coming out of Asia recently.”


Apple’s revenue increased 18 percent to $54.5 billion, with 61 percent of the top line coming from international sales. Earnings per share fell to $13.81 a share from $13.87 a share as the latest period had slightly more shares outstanding.

“These results were OK, but they definitely raised a few questions,” said Shannon Cross, analyst with Cross Research. “Gross margin trajectory looks fine so that’s a positive and cash continues to grow. But I think investors are going to want to know what Apple plans to do with growing cash balance. And other questions are going to be around innovation and where the next products are coming from and what does Tim Cook see in the next 12 to 18 months.”

Meanwhile, the company sold 4.1 million Macintosh computers, down 21 percent from a year ago. It also sold 12.7 million iPods, an 18 percent decline, something the company and analysts predicted.


Cliff Bleszinski Contemplates His Return To Games

The former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski has still not announced his future plans after leaving the company he worked at for two decades. While he seems reluctant to head up a big studio due to the weight of responsibilities, it doesn’t sound like he’s ready to move on from triple-A gaming.

“Indie has its strengths, but it also has its weaknesses. It’s a tough area. You’re sleeping under your desk and doing 16-hour days. You sink or swim of your own volition, which is beautiful, but at the same time you’re not getting the Times Square billboards and all that,” said Bleszinski. “I’m not gonna lie. Doing Gears of War, I loved the large-scale aspect of it. We could leverage Microsoft to get the American Chopper TV special and have big launch events and see our ads on TV during Monday Night Football. That level of relevance comes with being triple-A.”

“The thing is, I would want to get back to the triple-A space eventually, but the last thing I would want to do — and no offense meant to Curt Schilling [38 Studios] and John Romero [Ion Storm] — is to do what those guys did. ‘Let’s throw 300 bodies at it! Sure, we’ll just make it work!’ That’s the equivalent of taking a garage band and having them play Wembley Stadium on day one,” he added. “You have to learn how to work with people. You find that some people don’t work out and then you get a new drummer, so to speak. You iterate, and you find the voice of the team. It’s very similar to building a sports club or building a rock band.”


Dead Island Riptide Rigor Mortis Edition Emerges

Deep Silver has announced the details to the Dead Island Riptide Rigor Mortis Edition. This collector’s edition for North America, unlike the controversial Zombie Bait edition announced for other territories, has no decapitated bikini zombie statue in it.

The $79.99 Rigor Mortis Edition will include a zombie hula girl bobble figurine, a bloody zombie arm bottle opener magnet, a bungalow key with a branded wood keychain along with a copy of the Dead Island Riptide Special Edition featuring extra DLC content and a digital strategy map wrapped up in a Dead Island replica suitcase.


THQ Sold In Pieces To Sega, Koch, Ubisoft And Others

The THQ auction has happened and it is confirmed that many of its studios and IP will be split up among various different companies. The bids combined to surpass the $60 million deal that Clearlake Capital Group offered to acquire the whole of the company.

Sega acquired Relic Entertainment, creators of THQ’s Company of Heroes and Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War series, which is certain to compliment their strategy studio The Creative Assembly already working on a Warhammer game. Koch Media (parent company of Deep Silver) picked up Saints Row developer Volition and the rights to Metro, though Ukrainian developer 4A Games remains independent while it works on Metro: Last Light.

Ubisoft will pick up THQ Montreal and the rights to South Park: The Stick of Truth, despite some objections to the sale by South Park Studios. Take-Two acquired the next-gen title Evolve while Crytek acquired the rights to the Homefront sequel they have been developing.

“While we had hoped that the restructuring process would allow the company to remain intact, I am heartened that the majority of our studios and games will continue under new ownership. It has been my pleasure to work alongside this great group of people, and I am proud of the imaginative and artistic games that our team has created,” said THQ CEO Brian Farrell. “Although we will no longer be able to work together with a unified mission, I am confident that the talent we have assembled will continue to make an impression on the video game industry. For those whose positions are not likely to continue, I sincerely regret this outcome and we will be meeting with you over the next few days to discuss the transition.”

“I was brought in eight months ago to help turn this ship around, and while I’m disappointed that we could not effect a sale for the entire operating business, I am pleased that the new buyers will be providing jobs to many of our very talented personnel,” added THQ president Jason Rubin. “When we first announced the sale process, I said I would be happy if the company’s games and people had a bright future, even if it meant I did not have a job at the end of it. And I still feel that way.”

Vigil Games Was Working On ‘Crawler’ Project

Ben Cureton, Lead Combat Designer at Vigil Games, posted on NeoGAF about his experiences at the Darksiders developer after it was announced the studio did not find a buyer at the THQ auction. There, he confirmed a new project the developer was working on (codenamed: Crawler), though it may never see the light of day.

“Did I like coming to work Yes. Was I proud of the work that I did Yes. More importantly, was I proud of the work that WE did Absolutely. I knew, without a shadow of the doubt, that the project we were working on was going to blow people away,” posted Cureton. “In fact, it DID blow people away. We did, in TWO months, what many companies haven’t done in a year. The pride of knowing that no one was doing anything like us was so satisfying, it kept us coming to work and giving 100 percent every single day, even through the dark times.”

Platinum Games executive director Atsushi Inaba did tweet, “In THQ studio and IP selling off auction, Darksiders is unsold [We] wanna buy it . . . on the cheap” according to Kotaku. However, such acquisition would likely not involve Vigil itself, putting the developer in the exact same position it is in right now.

GameStick Offers Developer Tier

PlayJam has announced that it will introduce a $249 tier for its GameStick Kickstarter, giving developers 100 percent revenue share from their first game for the system for the first six months. The GameStick is designed to bring Android games to the television, not unlike Ouya and Project Shield.

“In the few short weeks following the campaign launch, we have had hundreds of developers sign up for access to our SDK, from established games studios to smaller Indie developers,” says PlayJam head of games Sameer Baroova. “What better way to repay this incredible support and to accelerate the big screen gaming revolution than with an offer that directly rewards those who were first to support us ”


To Infinity And Beyond

Disney recently pulled the veil off of Disney Infinity, its move into the hybrid toy-game category. Activision introduced the category two years ago with Skylanders, a console game that required physical toys – an entire line of them – to play. Skylanders has since had a game sequel with a new toy line released, as well as extension of the IP into areas such as mobile. Just las week, Activision said the franchise has generated more than $500 million in revenue in the US alone.

Disney’s variation is looking to leverage the popularity of its IP, although for now it’s not dipping into its library of classics or iconic characters. The company is instead focusing on more recent film properties such as Toy Story, Cars, Pirates of the Caribbean, Monsters Inc. and Wreck It Ralph.

In this video interview, Disney chief creative officer John Lasseter talks about the new product line as well as the overall importance of games in enhancing the connection fans have to Disney characters.

This video is being featured as part of a syndication partnership between [a]list daily and for an upcoming exclusive interview on the launch of with co-founder John Gaudiosi.