Beyond: Two Souls Tribeca Trailer

This trailer for Beyond: Two Souls recently premiered at New York City’s Tribeca Film Festival. We get to see more glimpses of Ellen Page’s character in this trailer, how she was cast out by her parents for her supernatural powers, how the CIA took her in and trained her, and how she eventually ended up on the run.


Exclusive: Niche, Core Titles Dominate Amazon’s April Pre-Orders

By David Radd

Amazon does as much volume of game sales as any major big box retailer, and they provide statistics for their own pre-orders. In the first of what we’re hoping will be the first of an ongoing series, we brought in industry expert Scott Steinberg to give his observations on the top games.

“The bulk of the list is solidly hardcore and this comes down to Amazon’s audience being tech savvy and the pent up demand for these titles,” said Steinberg. “The easiest way to get prominence at a retailer these days is to be a military-style FPS title, so it’s obvious discerning core gamers would seek out the games they wanted via online avenues. There’s not as much originality in many AAA games and there’s still appetite for games that speak to gamers specifically.”

One of the interesting aspects of the pre-orders is that six of the top 10 games are Japanese RPGs. “These games used to be far more common and a far more prominent part of the industry. I think there’s still an audience for these games that might not be served by other channels,” noted Steinberg.

One of the year’s biggest titles on PS Vita, Soul Sacrifice, is very high on the list, showing that there must be some demand for the device. “There’s been an undersupply of good games on the Vita and I think many are looking for high quality game experiences that are outside the mainstream,” he noted. “There are many players that want to play these sorts of original games and I think PS Vita users in particular are looking for cutting edge titles and are savvy as to what’s going out there in the gaming world — it doesn’t surprise me they’re willing to step up for a game like this.”

Something that surprised this writer is, despite the large number of download sales on both PC and Xbox 360, the pre-order of the disc based version of Minecraft: Xbox 360 Edition was in the top five. “I think you would be amazed at the adults who play the game — it’s the sort of phenomenon that new people discover every day,” said Steinberg. “It’s a game that’s priced attractively – people will try it out or give it as a gift and downloading is still somewhat esoteric. Don’t forget the ease of recall. Out of all the games at Wizard Con, the majority of people in cosplay were either World of Warcraft or Minecraft.”

Another prominent feature in most of these top pre-order games is, perhaps unsurprisingly, pre-order bonuses. “If you’re going to buy a retail product, a big part is the deluxe packages, many of which are very appealing to specialist consumers. I think the collectible element is big and if you have so many choices available you’re going to buy the one with the soundtrack, map, artbook, figurine, etc.”

Breaking it down into individual lists, the top Xbox 360 pre-orders were more different than alike from the PS3 pre-orders. It seems there’s a larger difference between those two console audiences than many give them credit for. “I think there are differences; Xbox 360 has more of a generalist audience, from families to hardcore,” he said. “PS3 has that larger focus on Japanese games, and mainly because of the Japanese background, it attracts a particular audience that likes those sorts of games.”

Another aspect is Sony developed software, and The Last of Us and Beyond: Two Souls both ranked highly on Amazon. “Demand is high for games from Sony studios. If you look at Microsoft’s franchises they’re graphic and also fewer in number, but Sony has more mature storytelling content and that appeals to the gamer who enjoys that sort of nuance. The Last of Us places as much emphasis on shooting this as it does the personal interactions and Beyond: Two Souls is heavily cinematic. I think their first-party games have more character to them… though games like PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale might not have that level of sophistication.”

The most prominent Wii U exclusive to get on the list was Pikmin 3 at 27. “It’s clearly been proven time and time again the reasons most people buy a Nintendo platform is for the Nintendo software. Mario, Zelda and the like continue to be top performers and the Wii U, while it had a number of titles at launch, hasn’t seen many releases since and it’s no surprise to see Pikmin 3 being so heavily pre-ordered on the system. For a Nintendo system to appeal to Nintendo fans it has to be built on the back of Nintendo franchises. So yes, it’s high time that more Nintendo games come to Wii U. There are two reasons people buy Nintendo systems: they like family friendly games and they want Nintendo properties, and right now the Wii U doesn’t have enough of either.”

Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection Detailed

Konami has confirmed the Metal Gear Solid Legacy Collection that includes the first two MSX Metal Gear games, Metal Gear Solid + VR Missions, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and Metal Gear Solid 4: Trophy Edition. The official site also includes a layout of the collection and some neat wallpapers.


Eve Online TV Series, Comic In The Works

CCP Games has announced that it will be developing a television show based on Eve Online in partnership with director Baltasar Kormakur (Contraband, The Deep). Users of the MMO can submit their own stories that will be the basis of the TV show and a comic book from Dark Horse.

“The inhabitants of the notorious and beloved Eve Universe have ten years’ worth of dramatic stories to tell,” said CCP chief executive officer Hilmar Veigar Petursson. “Our close collaboration with Baltasar and his creative team gives me confidence that we will capture Eve’s essence, inspiring millions of TV viewers with visions of humanity’s future.”

“It’s going to take everything we’ve got to capture the amazing visuals and rich history of the Eve Universe in a single volume,” said Dark Horse editor Dave Marshall. “As we fill it with material from Eve Online‘s stellar space combat to the ‘boots on the ground’ action of Dust 514’s planetary conflicts, Eve: Source is shaping up to be one of the most stunning books we’ve ever published.”

Eve Online players are encouraged to submit their own tales at

Metro 2033 Not Marketed Enough, Says Developer 4A Games

4A Games indicates that THQ did not market Metro 2033 enough, which the publisher admitted to them after the game’s release. The first-person shooter, made in the Ukraine, will be handled differently by Metro: Last Light‘s new publisher, Deep Silver.

“THQ admitted at the time that they didn’t realize until too late that they had this kind of gem in their portfolio that no one had paid any attention to,” said creative strategist Huw Benyun. “They didn’t put any kind of marketing campaign into it and yet through word of mouth it’s gone on and you look now at the number of players over Xbox Live or PC sales, we’re around the 4 million mark which is a pretty good.

“I think we have that kind of ‘buzz’ around it,'” he added. “THQ had already put their hands up and said ‘we made a mistake, but we’re not making it this time around’ and you already saw with the live action trailer that came out last year that there’s a lot of promotion around it.”

“There was a much more serious marketing effort in place already and with Deep Silver now it looks like that the torch is being picked up and carried,” he concluded.


Smartphones Selling More Than Feature Phones: IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) reported in their Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker study that mobile phone sales increased to 418.6 million mobile phones in the first quarter of 2013 compared to 402.4 million the same quarter last year. Smartphones sold 216.2 million units during the first quarter, making up 51.6 percent of the market and surpassing the sales of feature phones for the first time in history.

“Phone users want computers in their pockets. The days where phones are used primarily to make phone calls and send text messages are quickly fading away,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. “As a result, the balance of smartphone power has shifted to phone makers that are most dependent on smartphones.”

“In addition to smartphones displacing feature phones, the other major trend in the industry is the emergence of Chinese companies among the leading smartphone vendors,” noted Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC’s Mobile Phone team. “A year ago, it was common to see previous market leaders Nokia, BlackBerry (then Research In Motion), and HTC among the top five. While those companies have been in various stages of transformation since, Chinese vendors, including Huawei and ZTE as well as Coolpad and Lenovo, have made significant strides to capture new users with their respective Android smartphones.”

Nokia sold 70 million smartphones, but that represented a drop off of more than a quarter compared to last year. Apple sold 37 million smartphones during the first quarter, and while it’s a record, it was not double-digit growth for the first time since 2009.


Pain & Gain Wants To Pump You Up

Paramount Pictures Pain & Gain debuted at #1 over the weekend.  Part of the launch strategy included a robust animated GIF creator.  Fans on Facebook and at the official website can upload an image of themselves, crop their face and insert it into a scene from the film.  After selecting a scene, an animated GIF is rendered with the option to share across multiple types of networks.

Nordic Games Details Its THQ IP Acquisitions

Nordic Games acquired Darksiders, Red Faction, and other THQ IPs for $4.9 million. While the company indicates it would like to do something with the larger properties it picked up, that’s years out and would be predicated on finding the right partner — the real benefit is the sale of the games that already exist that they now own.

“Most of the titles are already available online, but a lot of the assets aren’t available. That’s one of our first goals: to bring these games to online retailers,” said Nordic CEO Lars Wingefors. “I know the millions of gamers that bought them. I know the math of the commercial side of it. Most of the titles that are producing income generate revenue every minute.”

“I wanted the smaller assets,” he added. “Pretty much everything that was left after the February auction. We were part of the auction in December, but we decided not to go for one of the big IPs because it was just too much money. I don’t want to own a studio. I’d rather own the rights to the IP.”

Source: VentureBeat