Zynga Co-Founder Invests In Sokikom

Sokikom has raised $2 million led by Zynga co-founder Steve Schoettler. The educational gaming start-up received half of the money from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences.

“Sokikom’s effectiveness is embedded into its games at every stage of their development,” says the company. “Initially funded through grants by the U.S. Department of Education, Sokikom has designed the games using the principles of guided, discovery-based, social, and situated learning. Our games contain learning objectives aligned with the latest National Council of Teachers of Mathematics curriculum focal points and the Common Core State Standards.”

Source: Techcrunch

Google Reveals Chromebook Pixel

Google has announced the Chromebook Pixel, a high-end laptop with a 2560 x 1700 12-inch touchscreen that will start at $1,300. Featuring Core i5 processor, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of solid-state storage space, there will also be an LTE version of the laptop for $1,449.

“With the Pixel, we set out to rethink all elements of a computer in order to design the best laptop possible, especially for power users who have fully embraced the cloud,” wrote Linus Upson, Google’s Vice President of Engineering. “The philosophy of Chrome has always been to minimize the ‘chrome’ of the browser. In much the same way, the goal of the Pixel is to make the pixels disappear, giving people the best web experience.”

Source: Chrome.Blogspot.com

Arkedo Studio Spun Down By Developers

Arkedo Studio has announced that they will be disbanded, giving severance to their employees. Creative director Aurelien Regard explained that the company’s Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit was too big for the developer and that he and co-founder Camille Guermonprez wanted to work on different projects.

“Arkedo, the company, is still here. But no one’s employed anymore. No more games are produced either,” said creative director Aurelien Regard on his personal blog. “Arkedo hasn’t closed down and is not bankrupt, going into administration or whatever big word, as it is managed properly. It is interesting for the structure to still be here as after Hell Yeah!, we’ve made two small games which are finished but you’re not aware of them yet. We hope to release them soon and it should be fine on this side.”

“The game has a lot of things we love, but also things we regret. Because we didn’t have enough time, or experience, and we reached our limits. It’s no big deal, but one needs to learn something out of it,” said Regard of Hell Yeah!, adding, “Knowing that our long-term objectives would both drive us away from Arkedo, it didn’t make sense to take financial risks again. Within a less hostile economical context, Arkedo would probably still be here, but this context just [sped up] the end of the studio by a couple of years.”

Source: Polygon.com

Firefox Mobile OS Announced By Mozilla

Mozilla will look to launch its own mobile OS based on HTML5, with the first devices carrying the OS released by Alcatel, LG and ZTE this year, followed by Huawei devices. All of the devices will be powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile processors and will target Latin America, Eastern Europe and emerging Asian countries like Malaysia, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

“Firefox OS will break down the walls between apps and the Web because Firefox OS apps are built using Web technologies, like HTML5,” said Mozilla’s senior VP of products, Jay Sullivan. “We expect to see lots of amazing apps people love built for Firefox OS because more developers are already creating for the Web than for any other platform. Firefox OS delivers a rich, delightful and personalized experience for users and people can search for anything that is on their mind to discover relevant apps that can be used instantly, even apps they’ve never installed or used before.”

First Person Mario: Endgame

A small group of visual effects artists released a 3D, first person recreation of Super Mario Bros. 3 from the end of World 8 up until the final battle with Bowser. It took over 50 days to produce and involved hundreds of hours of rendering time, not to mention work by a music composer and a special character animator.

U.S. Joins Lance Armstrong Fraud Suit

The U.S. Justice Department joined a lawsuit Friday against disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong over his use of performance-enhancing drugs during the Tour de France. They say that that by doing so, he defrauded his longtime sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service.

“Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30 million from the U.S. Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules — including the rules against doping,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen, whose office is handling the case. “The Postal Service has now seen its sponsorship unfairly associated with what has been described as ‘the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.'”

While Armstrong has sought to settle his differences with the Justice Department, they are reportedly millions of dollars apart. In announcing it is joining the case, the Justice Department emphasized Armstrong’s concealment of his activities and said the cover-up went back to at least 1998.

“The U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team was run as a fraudulent enterprise and individuals both inside and outside of sport aided and abetted this scheme and profited greatly,” said Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “USADA applauds today’s action by the U.S. Department of Justice which holds promise for returning the many millions of federal dollars in ill-gotten gains generated by this fraud.”

“We disagree about whether the postal service was damaged,” said Armstrong lawyer Robert Luskin. “The postal service’s own studies show that the service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship — benefits totaling more than $100 million.”

Source: ABCnews.com

Marketing Awards Final Extension

The deadline to enter Game Connection Marketing Awards has been extended to this Wednesday, February 27.  The online forms will remain open until 11:59 p.m. PST.

Submissions require brief descriptions and, in the case of creative categories, assets that can be uploaded digitally.

Enter now!

Winners will be announced at a ceremony on March 25 at Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco.

The awards are sponsored by [a]list and include three categories exclusive to the U.S. – Best Overall Campaign, Best Original Content and Marketer of the Year.  The full list of categories follows.

Source: Game Connection

Final Fantasy XIV Director Argues For Subscription Only Model

Naoki Yoshida was essentially brought in to fix Final Fantasy XIV after the game was not well received at launch. He’s extremely candid over what he regards as the two main flaws the development team had going into making and launching the second Final Fantasy MMO.

“What I found were two things,” said Yoshida. “The first one was us as a company being too comfortable in the Final Fantasy franchise. We took it for granted. We thought, ‘Whatever game we make, players will play it.’ I think that was a very big mistake we made. The second was lack of knowledge of the current MMO. We really should have studied more about the competitors in order to make a game that could win the competition in the MMO market.”

While Yoshida was willing to criticize many decisions surrounding the launch of Final Fantasy XIV, the subscription-only model adoption was not one of them. He argued that the game needed the financial stability of subscriptions.

“With the free-to-play model, you’ll get huge income one month, but the next month it depletes,” said Yoshida. “Most MMOs have investors in the background, and the company uses the profit and splits the profit with the investors. But, if the game’s not successful, and it doesn’t reach the target, then they have to switch to free-to-play to try and get just a little profit from it. Among the MMOs in the market, only Blizzard and Square Enix are making money without investors in the background.”

“I don’t think there’s a right or wrong for having a monthly subscription model or free-to-play model. Games like The Old Republic and The Secret World, I don’t say those games would’ve been more successful if they had been free-to-play, for example,” Yoshida added. “The subscription model was unrelated to the success of the game.”

Source: Penny Arcade Report

Apple Hit With Injunction Over Stock Vote

A federal court judge granted a request by hedge fund Greenlight Capital to block Apple from including a measure on its shareholder ballot that would limit the iPhone maker’s ability to issue preferred stock. Green light Capital’s David Einhorn made a complaint saying that Apple was hurting shareholder value by holding too much of its $137 billion cash hoard.

U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan granted the preliminary injunction stopping the vote on that proposal, set for Februay 27 at the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting. He ordered the two sides to submit briefs outlining the next steps in the case.

Source: ABCnews.com