PlayHaven Hires Former Rovio Marketing Executive

PlayHaven announced that it has brought on Ville Heijari as its new general manager of Europe. The former Rovio Entertainment senior vice president of marketing will focus on expanding the company’s presence in Europe and assisting developers in the region.

“2013 will be the year of international expansion for PlayHaven,” said PlayHaven CEO Andy Yang. “With our network currently reaching over 115 million monthly active users in more than 200 countries and territories, we’re thrilled to bring Ville on board to help us better serve our mobile game developers worldwide. His experience at the heart of the mobile gaming industry will be incredibly valuable to both our partners and our team.”

“I’ve seen first-hand the challenges that mobile developers face uncovering valuable user insights,” said Heijari. “I’m excited to join PlayHaven as we are uniquely positioned to help developers both draw these insights and take smart actions that move key performance metrics for mobile games.”

Serious Games Tackling Travel Concerns

Serious games are becoming more often used for employees headed overseas. These pieces of software give business travelers the chance to acclimatize themselves prior to visiting a foreign location.

“The biggest failure of traditional (training) techniques is that they are not engaging enough for learners to stick with,” notes Mike Emonts, the senior business development specialist at Alelo, a software company that specializes in Virtual Cultural-Awareness Trainers.

Originally, Alelo’s products were created to train military and government personnel to operate abroad. The first pieces of software helped users deal with realistic scenarios like managing a crowd in Iraqi Arabic or direct rebuilding measures in Pashto, but now the company is working to adapt their model to fit with enterprises doing business internationally.

“We believe the effectiveness of our solution would apply to the travel market,” says Emonts. “The bottom line is that travelers are not looking to simply learn a language. They want to order at restaurants, and ask people directions. They have specific tasks they want to be able to accomplish. Our training solutions are specifically developed for this purpose.”

While serious games have penetrated many fields, business travel is a new, untapped sector. Louis Bernard, who has recently developed Mr Travel believes his is the only travel security game on the market.

“I’ve done my homework, and there’s nothing else out there that does what we do,” says Bernard. “Travel security presentations can be boring. That’s why I developed Mr Travel; I wanted to come up with a way to engage employees, and ensure they actually retain the appropriate information.”

Ian Bogost, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology and a founding partner of Persuasive Games, thinks that diminished profits have made some companies reluctant to invest in serious games.

“The idea of using a medium like games, or anything else that’s new and slightly unproven, or unfamiliar, always puts it at a disadvantage,” says Bogost.

Bogost developed Jetset, a tongue-and-cheek game about airport security aimed at business travelers, back in 2007, though he didn’t find much market for it at the time. “If you travel a lot, and watch what folks are doing on airplanes, you’ll find them playing Solitaire or Bejeweled on their iPhones,” notes Bogost. “They’re [playing] games that don’t have anything to do with the travel experience, because really, when you’re traveling, you just want it all to go away; you don’t want to think about the fact that you’re on a plane.”

Still, Bogost sees tremendous opportunity for more advanced games in the travel industry. “Business travel seems like a great audience for this type of media,” he notes. “They always have (personal electronic devices) on their person, they’re stuck in one place for long periods of time, and stuck in one place where they have internet access. On the surface, it makes sense.”


Microsoft Focusing All Email Accounts Into

Microsoft has announced that it will be converting Hotmail and other email services operating under different domains such as to the banner of Email is an important way for companies to connect with consumers, allowing the providers to track their activities, and the personalized nature makes it appealing to advertisers.

Microsoft is pushing this new move with what it claims will be the biggest marketing blitz in the history of email. Expect to see ads for running on primetime TV, radio stations, websites, billboards and buses, with the spend estimated between $30 million to $90 million for the three month campaign.

These ads for Outlook will coincide with an anti-Gmail marketing campaign that Microsoft launched earlier this month called “Scroogled,” which depicts Gmail as intrusive by delivering ads related to topics being discussed.  While the Gmail ads are meant to be educational, the Outlook campaign is motivational, according to Dharmesh Mehta,’s senior director.

“We are trying to push people who have gotten lazy and comfortable with an email service that may not be all that great and help show them what email can really do for them,” said Mehta.

Google says Gmail has more than 425 million account holders, including those that only visit on mobile devices, making it by far the most popular. The latest data from research firm comScore, which doesn’t include mobile traffic, says Gmail has 306 million worldwide users through December, up 21 percent from the previous year, while Yahoo’s email ranked second with 293 million users, a 2 percent decrease from the previous year, followed by Hotmail at 267 million users, a 16 percent decline from the previous year.

Microsoft wants to use to assume control over email again. During the preview period for, it attracted 60 million account holders, including about 20 million that defected from Gmail, according to Microsoft; comScore listed Outlook with 38 million users through December.

The new features being introduced in Outlook include the ability to send massive files, including hundreds of photos at a time, address books that automatically update new contact information via connections on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and about 60 percent fewer ads than Hotmail. Many of these features are in a new edition of Gmail, which Google hopes to incorporate into all accounts over the next few months.

Source: New York Daily News

Wooga Sees First Profit After Shifting To Mobile

Wooga has announced that it has become profitable four years after being founded. The company now splits revenue between web and mobile, only 14 months after launching its first mobile title.

“In the past two years what we have seen is developers, like Wooga, making the move to mobile,” said founder and CEO Jens Begemann. “Over those two years we’ve focused on bringing our web games to an even broader audience while making the very best social games for mobile. We’re happy that we made the move to mobile as early as we did because the lessons we’ve learnt have helped us to make even better games.”

Ultimate Cosplay Display

Beat Down Boogie put together this mesmerizing cosplay montage from Katsucon 2013.  It’s hard to stop watching it.  There are moments where despite the get-up, the makeup, poses and role play, the video is really capturing the cosplayers’ personalities underneath.


What’s Your PlayStation Memory?

In the buildup to the PlayStation 4 announcement yesterday, Sony released a series of videos looking back at each previous console. That ignited a stream of nostalgic tweets and the hashtag #Playstationmemory.

The reminiscing started with a tweet by PlayStation Community Moderator Bear Parker in the UK. By yesterday morning it was trending globally.

The Twitter community burst with nods to earlier PlayStation systems, especially the mighty PS2. Even Sony’s now dormant mascot Crash Bandicoot got some love. Organizers at E3 stepped into it, and stepped things up, surfacing footage of the original PlayStation debut at the 1995 expo.

So far it seems Sony’s nostalgia marketing to mark the launch of PS4 is a brilliant move. Fond memories {Twitter content no longer active} have definitely drowned out the snarky gamers and even a few unflattering parody Twitter accounts. It has been a reminder that despite the PS3’s third place finish in this last console generation, Sony did command the lion’s share of time and money from many a console gamer for nearly a decade.



Source ABC News

BioShock Infinite – ‘Lamb Of Columbia’

The crux of BioShock Infinite is Elizabeth, the so-called ‘Lamb of Columbia’ shown off in this trailer highlighted by Blues Saraceno play Save My Soul. The Songbird wants to keep here in Columbia, some mysterious party is willing to pay a high price to Booker DeWitt to steal her away… but why are all these parties to desperate to secure her


Matchbox Turns Sixty

Matchbox is celebrating its 60th anniversary.  The tiny cars have a fascinating history, growing from a UK toy line named for packaging that resembled actual matchboxes into a global brand. To mark the anniversary, Mattel enlisted Ayzenberg to create this video, reminding us how the detailed little cars capture the imagination and have touched multiple generations.

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Sony Details PlayStation 4 Hardware, Controller, Extras

Sony announced during an extensive two-hour presentation that their PlayStation 4 (which will be called the PlayStation 4) will release before 2013. The company said that the system will have an architecture friendly to developers with an 8-core x86 processor, “enhanced GPU”, 8 GB of unified GDDR5 memory, hard drive, and a secondary custom chip to handle social features and uploads/downloads.

While the console itself was not shown, they did have the DualShock 4 on display. This newly redesigned DualShock will feature enhanced rumble, reduced controller latency, a touchpad, share button, headphone jack, a speaker, and lightbar to identify players.

The system will also ship with an updated PlayStation Eye that will include two cameras and four microphones. Additionally, there will be complete integration with Gaikai, allowing friends to play remotely with you, PS4 streaming to the PS Vita, and backwards compatibility for PS3 titles (something David Perry says will eventually come to “every device.”)