Batman Fights For His Life In Arkham City E3 Trailer

The newest trailer for Arkham Origins gives some much needed insight into the story of the game. A new enemy offers a hefty price for Batman’s death, and many faces show up to answer the call including the likes of Bane, Deathstroke and even The Joker. The game will be released on October 25 this year.

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ESPN Decision Could Spell Demise Of 3DTV

How do you spell the end of 3DTV? Try ESPN.  The cable sports giant is pulling the plug on its 3D channel due to what it calls limited demand.  Where the channel was once hailed as a milestone in driving broad consumer adoption of 3DTV, its demise is now being called a foot in the grave for the format.

“Many in the industry have said over the last few years that if ESPN ever pulled the plug on 3-D TV, that would be the format’s final chapter,” wrote TV blogger Phillip Swann.

ESPN aired nearly 400 sports events in 3D since launching the network in 2010.  It billed college football’s BCS championship games and major tennis events as among the most popular ESPN-3D broadcasts.  Yet none of the programming drew big enough audiences to warrant rating by Nielsen.  One research firm, SNL Kagan, estimated that the channel had under one million subscribers.

One 3D headache for ESPN – 3D cameras had to be close to the field

The 3DTV format met hurdles almost instantly at launch, among them people wary of purchasing yet another pricey TV set when many households had recently upgraded to HDTVs.  They also required costly 3D glasses, with manufacturers only willing to include a pair with set purchases.  That left families and anyone who enjoys watching TV with friends doing social graphing and wallet math at the point of purchase.

For sports fans, the death knell might have been more than limiting game day invites to how many pairs of glasses were available.  The glasses worked better in captive programming such as movies.  With sports, a room full of dark-goggled fans interacting around a game was just plain awkward.  So awkward in fact that ESPN’s own 3DTV ads mocked it.

The reprieve for 3D adopters is that there’s no sign Hollywood is going to stop supporting 3D Blu-Ray.  It certainly needs disc sales where it can get them.  But ESPN’s decision is a major setback for televised 3D programming.  At least one other 3D network, DirecTV’s n3D, has already reduced its programming from 24 hours a day due to limited content.

ESPN has said it will resume 3D programming if the demand is ever there.  The network also said the experiment with 3D had its upsides, such as learning how to deal with having to place 3D cameras closer to the action than regular cameras at sports events.

Source: New York Times

What Role Will GameStop Play In A Digital Future?

Both next-gen consoles have finally been revealed, and all of the cards for this upcoming generation have been laid on the table. One of the more important points of this upcoming console generation was the point of used game sales and how they will pan out on both systems. Sony was very adamant in saying at their press conference that used games will act as they always have, while Microsoft’s Xbox One was very unclear in the months leading up to E3 as it moves toward a purely digital future. One company in particular has a lot to gain or lose on the subject of used game sales: GameStop.

One of the main services the video game retailer provides is the sale of used games. Upon a walk into any GameStop retailer, walls are lined with used games sold to the company by gamers in exchange for store credit. GameStop derives a substantial part of its revenue, as well as the majority of its profits, from used games. While it seems that used games haven’t been completely nixed by the next gen systems, the DRM and services provided by the Xbox One bring into question exactly how important used games are to retailers and to stores like GameStop.

Sony generated a positive reaction at its E3 press event when the company announced that the PlayStation 4 would play used games, and that gamers would retain ownership of the games they buy with no restrictions on sale, trade, or lending of their games.

“That was certainly an impressive moment,” said GameStop’s president Tony Bartel. “The deafening roar that arose from the crowd spoke volumes about the type of functionality gamers find important in next generation consoles. Our PowerUp Rewards surveys suggest gamers’ interest in next generation systems will be negatively impacted if they are limited to digital games or unable to play traded or pre-owned games. Ultimately, the end decision lies with the consumer and GameStop will be there to help them along the way.”

Bartel pointed out that games already in the hands of consumers represent a vast amount of potential game-buying power — if customers are allowed to sell their old games, or trade them in for store credit. GameStop estimated in its last earnings call that the total amount of consumer credit available from games and hardware was over $2 billion. Analysts have said that used games drive up to 17 percent of new game sales.

According to Microsoft, discs only act as a method of installing games on their system, while the games themselves are stored on the cloud. While Microsoft didn’t get its message across very well at E3, there are benefits to its approach. For one thing, not having to worry about putting your disc in the console in order to play a game is an advantage, as is not having to worry about damaging the disc or finding it. Microsoft is probably trying to encourage more digital downloading of games, which could be seen as a threat to GameStop’s business.

However, GameStop has been able to turn the increasing popularity of DLC to its advantage by selling digital value cards in its stores. GameStop has also been training its store personnel to push DLC to game buyers, with positive results. It’s possible that GameStop can find additional ways to work with Microsoft and Sony in order to participate more in the digital sales of full games. While Microsoft has gone on record as saying that all games will be available digitally as well as on disc, Sony hasn’t yet made that clear. Analyst Michael Pachter believes Sony will do that for the PS4, though.

In the near term, GameStop will have a very busy time as a wave of old consoles and games comes flooding into stores from customers seeking to purchase new consoles. The company will be busy with that process for months, and sales will have a substantial boost. It’s the longer term that’s unclear; when the initial wave of enthusiasm recedes, how well will these new consoles sell? Will customers begin downloading new titles in substantial numbers, or will they still be buying discs in stores? There are plenty of unknowns to keep GameStop busy.

In a world where games can be downloaded straight to the system, the importance of games retailers like GameStop is still an open question. GameStop needs to find ways to participate in the changing marketplace, and substantial marketing to make sure everyone is aware of GameStop’s value. It’s a big challenge, and we’ll be watching closely to see how well GameStop meets that challenge.

NPD Reports Grim Game Sales In May

NPD Group, the firm that has been tracking game industry sales for many years, would normally have reported the May sales figures last Thursday. Because of E3, NPD delayed release of the numbers until Monday, which was a good idea given the grim numbers. NPD reported that game software sales (the combined sales of console, portable, and PC software) at U.S. retail stores dropped 44 percent in May compared to May 2012. Last year, May saw $517 million in total sales, and this year the amount dropped to $386.3 million.

The news was somewhat better for hardware, since sales of video game hardware only dropped 31 percent (from $139 million to $96 million), while accessories turned in a stellar showing by only dropping 6 percent over last year (from $122.5 million to $115.3 million). Notably, this May accessories were outselling consoles.

The top 10 games (counting only physical copies sold at retail) were led by Injustice: Gods Among Us from Warner Brothers Interactive, while Call of Duty: Black Ops II was in second place. Donkey Kong Country Returns was number 3, showing the strength of 3DS software. “Nintendo 3DS software unit sales were up sixty percent versus May ’12, and when looking at the game ranking based on SKUs, there were three 3DS SKUs in the top 10,” noted NPD.

NPD added some additional information in their remarks, noting that these sales numbers were roughly 50 percent of the total consumer spend on games. “When taking into account our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in May such as used and rentals at $91 million, and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including micro-transactions, subscriptions, mobile apps and the consumer spend on social network games at $339 million, the total consumer spend in May is $787 million,” said The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan.

The explanation for the decline was, according to NPD, is a lower neumber of new titles and the comparison with Diablo III last year, which was selling strongly in May. “Softness in new physical entertainment software sales stemmed from a decline in the number of new launches, with over 30 percent fewer new SKUs, as well as poor performance of the new SKUs that were released. New SKUs generated over seventy percent less units on a per-SKU basis, and a decrease of over eighty percent revenue per SKU,” noted Callahan.

It is important to note that NPD’s estimates of non-physical game sales do not have the same degree of certainty found in the retail numbers. A handful of companies account for almost all the physical retail sales. By contrast, the number of companies selling digital games is vast, and most of them are not public companies — hence not likely to reveal confidential sales information.

Still, it’s perfectly clear that retail sales of boxed games are in decline, and have been since the high point of 2008. The industry is looking to new consoles, as well as price cuts on old ones, to revive sales of consoles and games to the previous high point. Certainly that would be great for many companies, but most analysts seem to agree that consoles sales are unlikely to reach the previous heights. They are now too many alternative ways for gamers to get their gaming fix, whether it’s on a PC, mobile or online. There are also a growing number of free-to-play games, and tablets at reasonable prices (comparable to consoles) that can be used for a variety of functions besides game playing.

Don’t expect sales at retail to turn around any time soon. When Grand Theft Auto V ships in September, then you can logically expect a good sales month. The rest of the year from that point will be loaded with new consoles, a dizzying array of software, and a tremendous marketing spend aimed at driving people into stores to buy all these marvelous things. There will be a solid lineup of exciting things to buy; the only downside appears to be more competition for the game buyer’s dollar, and the purchase of a $400 or $500 console may leave them with less to spend on games.

Rumor Has It Facebook May Add Video To Instagram

Facebook invited members of the press to its Menlo Park headquarters to “learn about a new product” this upcoming Thursday. The rumor is that this new product might be a video feature for its photo-sharing platform Instagram.

According to the social network’s invitation, a “small team has been working on a big idea,” and TechCrunch reports that video support on Instagram, which Facebook acquired for a cool billion dollars last year, just might be that “big idea.” It’s no surprise the largest social space would move in this direction given the ever growing popularity of Twitter’s Vine.

Brands are increasingly seeing the value in using the app to send out short and sweet six-second messages associated with their products to a broad audience.  An even bigger incentive comes from Topsy Analytics, who recently reported that Vine has surpassed Instagram in total Twitter shares. Additionally, fun fact, this milestone occurred just one day after an Android version of the Vine application was released.

A slightly less-likely rumor connected to the press event on Thursday is that Facebook has been working on a news reader to fill the void created once Google Reader closes its doors early next month. “It could be a sort of ‘trending articles on Facebook’ feature, or a more full-blown RSS reader-style product,” TechCrunch explains. The news outlet also adds that it’s possible that this Facebook product won’t be announced until further in the future, well after Thursday’s press event.

For the big Instagram rumor users and advertisers will have to wait until 10 a.m. Pacific this Thursday to find out what Facebook’s really cooking up.

What do you think Is a video feature the right move for the filtered app Would this clutter the platform or enhance the user experience Let us know in the comments below.

Source: TechCrunch

Companies Growing Faster On Twitter Than Facebook

According to social analytics startup Optimal, large brands are growing in popularity faster on Twitter than they are on Facebook. The site’s data followed 4,330 brands over the course of a week. When the week started, the companies had 3.49 billion collective Facebook likes and 595 million Twitter followers, and by the end of the week they had gained 18.5 million new likes and 4.5 million new followers. These numbers represented a higher growth percentage in Twitter than Facebook for these brands.

While the growth by percentage was much higher on Twitter, the actual number of likes on Facebook is still much higher than followers on Twitter. There are some brands that do better on Twitter than Facebook, but they are the exception. That said, both Facebook and Twitter have become very important tools for social advertising. It was recently reported the the benefit from Twitter alone could be up to 2 percent of a brand’s revenue. It is quickly becoming apparent that Twitter has etched a place in marketing.

Source: TechCrunch

Oculus Rift Gains $12 Million In Funding For Consumer Release

Oculus Rift, the designer of the Oculus VR device, have raise another $16 million from venture capitalist firms Spark Capital and Matrix Partners. This new funding will help to bring the VR device to the hands of consumers, as the company begins to transform working prototypes into production-ready devices. One year ago, the Kickstarter campaign for the Oculus Rift raised $2.4 million to bring the device to game developers so they could begin to design games for the device. Today, through showings at PAX and E3, the device has garnered tremendous support and buzz from gamers. Even at E3 last week the device made a successful showing.

With this new $16 million funding, hopefully the device has begun to make the approach to consumers’ eyes instead of just the eyes of developers. Developer units for the device were shipped earlier this year. There is no set release date for the device yet, but the developers are aiming for a 2014 release with this new funding supporting it. No retail price has been set as yet, but Oculus Rift is aware that the lower the price the broader the potential market.

Source: Polygon

Game Developers Of Thrones

Now that the third season of Game of Thrones is over, we need something to keep us going until next year. How about our own industry, cleverly re-imagined as Houses from the hit series The parallels are closer than you might think.  Here’s a selection of them from the clever infographic put together by


Digital Game Sales For May 2013

SuperData released data for top digital game sales in May 2013, which we’re running as part of a monthly column on [a]list daily.

Joost van Dreunen, co-founder and CEO of SuperData, provides insight for the report.

Consistent with seasonal spending on interactive entertainment, gross revenues for digital games bottomed out in May and totaled $808 million across all categories. Consumer spending continued its overall downward trend as the industry readies itself for major announcements on both the hardware and software side of the business.

The two segments that performed best in May were social games, which gained four percent [month over month] and totaled $124 million, and subscription-based MMOs, which increased seven percent [month over month] and totaled $88 million. Both categories are least affected by seasonal changes, unlike the DLC segment which saw a drop of eight percent to $270 million.

Social Games

After several months of decline the social games category experienced a slight increase as revenues reached $124 million in May. While the addressable audience, expressed in monthly unique users, continued its decline, both the overall conversion rate and spending were up month-over-month.

King’s Candy Crush Saga maintained its lead with an estimated 36.7 million monthly actives throughout the month of May. The average revenue per paying user for social games (across all categories) was $34 in May.

Free-to-Play MMO

With conversion rates now consistently above 15 percent across all categories (browser- and client-based), the free-to-play MMO segment is showing its resilience and strength as a growing market. Overall F2P MMO revenues totalled $181 million in May.

The decision by Trion Worlds to have RIFT make the switch to free-to-play suggests growing faith among key publishers in this monetization scheme, and offers a wider audience of gamers access to top quality content.

Pay-to-Play MMO

After last month’s widely published decline of the subscription-based MMO market, May showed welcome signs of recovery. Overall player numbers stabilized at 6.6 million and gross revenues climbed back to $88 million for the month.

Whether this uptick means a reversal of the pay-to-play segment remains to be seen. Especially titles using a hybrid monetization method, offering a combination of subscription and micro-transactions, increasingly carry the overall segment.


The mobile games segment showed a slight contraction after last month’s record-breaking ARPPU of $12. Fortunately, conversion rates were up and reached 5.36 percent across all game categories in May. Overall, the mobile games segment is starting to show signs of becoming a saturated market as overall audience growth levels out.

There were no new surprises at the top of the market, as Candy Crush Saga (King), Clash of Clans (Supercell) and Marvel: War of Heroes (Mobage) continue to dominate. Title-level revenues, however, have clearly declined since their initial heyday. We expect that the ongoing dominance of only a handful of titles may, especially on the long term, reduce publishers’ willingness to invest in innovative game design.

Downloadable (PC + console)

Consumer spending on DLC content contracted by more than eight percent. This is unsurprising as the market generally slows right before major announcements. More so than any other console cycle, publishers are entering a year in which the release of expansion packs is closely tied to the launch of major titles and platforms.

Overall DLC generated $270 million in monthly sales with Metro: Last Light (Deep Silver) and Resident Evil: Revelations (Capcom) leading the charge in May.


About the Author

Joost van Dreunen, Ph.D., is CEO SuperData Research, a market intelligence provider specialized in online games. He has written extensively on online audiences, monetization strategies, virtual goods, social games, free-to-play, online gaming and entertainment.

Animal Crossing Sets eShop Sales Records In Japan, U.S.

Sales records for Nintendo’s digital eShop were broken last week with the release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. More than 4 million copies in Japan alone were sold over Nintendo’s eShop service. Nintendo has increasingly been pushing consumers to begin using the service to purchase games more often, as some of Nintendo’s games like Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem: Awakening were difficult to find in retailers at release in the U.S.

The game allows players to become mayor of their own virtual town and live life in this new world, playing the game and interacting with their townsfolk as they see fit. Players can also interact with other players by exchanging Friend Codes. Upon Animal Crossing’s release in the U.S., eShop sales had increased by 4 times from the previous week, selling 40,000 units a week.

As Nintendo’s digital distribution service gains more popularity, the 3DS may be seeing an increasingly digital future that helps drive hardware sales. Nintendo is discovering the value of never being out of stock with a product, though users are having to worry about the amount of space available in their 3DS for downloaded games. The game has even inspired a special edition of the 3DS XL, as Nintendo uses the game’s popularity to help sales of the more profitable version of the 3DS.