What Can Trask Industries Do For You?

With X-Men: Days of Future Past set to release next summer, 20th Century Fox has already begun setting up viral ads for the sequel, which officially kicked off today with a new commercial for the fictional Sentinel-making company Trask Industries. In the ad, a female voice boasts about Trask Industries’ success over the last 50 years, leading to the appearance of a Sentinel, one of the robotic enemies from the comic book series that will be introduced in the film. A website has also opened with information about “fighting the mutant threat.”

Martian Manhunter Battles Superman

The roster for the DC Comics-based brawler Injustice: Gods Among Us just got a little bit bigger. Today, WB Games and NetherRealm Studios have released the latest downloadable character for the game, Martian Manhunter, onto the roster. You can download him for $4.99 on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network, and he’ll arrive on the Wii U eShop at a later time. Check him out in action!

‘Madden NFL 25’ Gets ‘All-25’ Dream Team

EA Sports’ latest round of Madden football is getting some All-Star quality.

The publisher announced today that a new All-25 team is being introduced for the game, featuring a number of top-notch players coached by the man himself, John Madden. The team will be available in the Play Now mode of the game, where you’ll be able to experience All-Star madness as you charge down the field for a touchdown.

Madden NFL 25 will release on August 27th for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and later in the year for Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Tootsie Pop Suckers Out On Social

Recently a man who goes by the Twitter handle @RiffRaff41 miraculously, and after much sweat and saliva, answered the age-old question of how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. The owner of the account, Mark Holland, announced his adventurous experiment on Twitter this week, and managed to draw a good amount of attention. You know who didn’t jump on the much-publicized outcome Tootsie Roll’s Twitter account.

Holland, who claimed it was all in the name of science, found it took 850 licks to get past the candy’s hard shell and reach its chewy treasure. He tweeted the evidence over the weekend to his 3,261 followers. In a move that has now shocked the social media world, of the 128 retweets and 40 favorites. Holland’s tweet managed to draw, not a single one was from the Tootsie Pop nor Tootsie Roll Twitter feed.

Perhaps Tootsie Roll didn’t want to look like they were officially standing behind Holland’s results. His 850 licks conflicts with at least three previous studies – it seems Holland needed many more licks than most people. Officially, Tootsie Pop says the number of licks “depends on a variety of factors such as the size of your mouth, the amount of saliva, etc. Basically, the world may never know.”

But seriously, haven’t brands learned from Oreo’s Super Bowl extravaganza Real-time marketing is the buzzword of our time. The possibilities for the account’s social presence were plentiful – Tootsie Roll had the chance to create entertaining, responsive content that could have even gone viral, like Holland’s post. At the very least they could have engaged in a quirky Twitter conversation with a fan, or congratulated Holland directly, or maybe given him a free year’s supply.

It also makes us wonder how many missed opportunities happen daily on social media. What are you doing to track your brand? Are you listening actively to what’s being said about you?

Source: Digiday

Are There ‘Gotchas’ In Indie Publishing On Consoles?

Microsoft’s latest Xbox 180 is a change to its indie publishing policy. Game Informer broke the news last week, saying that Microsoft will reverse its prior decision and allow independent developers to self-publish their games on Xbox Live. Microsoft is even planning to make certification similar to iTunes, with a 14-day time frame from submission to approval. Allowing indies to self-publish may even spread to the Xbox 360, according to one developer.

After the news broke, Microsoft VP Marc Whitten had this statement: “Our vision is that every person can be a creator. That every Xbox One can be used for development. That every game and experience can take advantage of all of the features of Xbox One and Xbox Live. This means self-publishing. This means Kinect, the cloud, achievements. This means great discoverability on Xbox Live. We’ll have more details on the program and the timeline at Gamescom in August.”

Predictably, the announcement has been widely lauded by fans and developers alike. Sony had announced at E3 that indies would be welcomed on the PS4, and this was a sharp contrast to Microsoft’s stance at the time. Now both Sony and Microsoft are on the same page, and it should be easy for developers to put games onto next-gen consoles, right

Not so fast. The devil really does lurk inside the details, and the details have not yet been made clear. It may not be as easy as putting a game in the App Store or Google Play. What procedures will you have to follow What are the content restrictions How easy or expensive is it to put out updates These are all important questions. Still, it’s certainly a big stride in the right direction, but this doesn’t mean that publishing games on consoles will be easy.

Let’s assume that Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo all end up with much more liberal policies and procedures that allow developers to create games for current or next-gen consoles without expensive development systems or lengthy bureaucratic procedures. Let’s even assume that business models are wide open as well, allowing free-to-play games, virtual goods, any price point for a game that a developer wants to set. Will games be easy to publish

Sure, but that doesn’t mean that games will make money. Look at the situation on mobile — only a small percentage of developers make significant money. Consoles will be harder to develop for, and the audience will be more demanding. It’s not going to be a walk in the park for developers.

The worst problem of all will be discoverability, just as it is on mobile. This means marketing is going to be extremely important, and unfortunately that’s usually the thing indie developers aren’t very good at. That’s going to have to change as more and more games are produced, and the opening of consoles to the broadest possible range of developers only underscores the problem.

At least mobile platforms have a number of tools for discovering new games, and there a large numbers of ad networks to tap into. That sort of ecosystem doesn’t exist on consoles, and it may never appear, making discovery a much more difficult prospect on consoles than it is on mobile or online platforms. Some discovery can happen through the Internet, but without a direct download connection, that will not be terribly useful. It remains to be seen what tools platform holders will provide to help gamers find new games on consoles.

Certainly it’s great for developers to have easier access to markets. If you’re a developer with a game that sells pretty well on one platform, you’re probably going to do well by putting it on every platform you can. The loosening of console publishing restrictions is a good step forward for the entire industry, but it’s not going to be easy.

Legendary Pokémon Characters Storming Retail

As part of the marketing promotion behind Nintendo’s upcoming Pokémon X and Y games for Nintendo 3DS, the Pokémon Company has announced that it will be offering special Legendary Pokémon characters through various retailers starting next month. The Pokémon characters in question, Dialga, Palkia and Giratina, will be available for a short time only, and once they’re gone, they’re gone.

Players will be required to bring their Nintendo DS or 3DS system, along with a copy of Pokémon Black/White or Black 2/White 2, and access the Pokédex in order to obtain the creatures. They’ll also be required to have no more than 11 Wonder Cards.  That may sound like gibberish to some of you, but it is a great action point that will have consumers making their way to stores, even if they’re purchasing the game digitally or through an online retailer.

Pokémon X and Y will be available on October 12 for Nintendo 3DS.

Source: Polygon

NY Games Conference Zeroes In On Digital

Digital Media Wire is organizing the East Coast version of its now seventh-annual DMW Games Conference, gathering industry pundits and up-and-coming game makers this September in New York to look at how digital distribution continues to alter the face of the game industry. Headlining the event is keynote speaker Kristian Segerstrale, co-founder of Playfish who now sits on the board of directors of super successful mobile game maker Supercell.

Much of the conference agenda is broken into two tracks looking at distribution and monetization. Panels within each track gather representatives from large and small game companies to look at strategies for success in every digital game category, from mobile and social games to free-to-play games and digitally released content on consoles. One standout panel features Bethesda founder Christopher Weaver, DDM founder Jeff Hilbert and CiiNOW marketing VP Chris Donahue covering how digital distribution and cloud gaming are evolving on consoles.

Outside of the tracks, a panel titled “View from the Top” looks at the state of the industry with Michael Pachter, Peter Blacklow, president of WorldWinner and EVP of Digital at GSN, and Anthony Borquez, CEO of Grab. There’s also a “Game Marketing Leadership” roundtable with speakers yet to be announced. Whoever this group may be, it’s safe to say the industry’s fits and starts in figuring out how to consistently build and maintain audiences for digital games should give them plenty of fodder for discussion. The conference closes with a session featuring five startup pitches to investors Sunny Dhillon from Signia Venture Partners and Janet Tsai Dargan from Siemer Ventures.

DMW NY Games Conference is scheduled for September 17.  The full agenda and event details are available on the conference web site.

Next-Gen Hands-On At GameStop Expo

GameStop Expo 2013 is just one month away from happening at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. To help get attendees ready for it, the company has listed all the publishers that will be in attendance, bringing their latest games along with them.

Microsoft and Sony have both been confirmed, bringing their respective next-generation consoles, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.  This marks the first time GameStop Expo will be home to a next-generation hands-on demo, giving many attendees their first chance to try these systems.  Other companies confirming for the show include 2K Games/2K Sports, EA, Disney, Nintendo, Square Enix, Activision/Blizzard, Namco Bandai, Ubisoft and Warner Bros.

To learn more about highlights from the show – as well as how to get tickets – visit the official GameStop page.

GungHo Sales Zoom 945 Percent

If you haven’t heard of Puzzle & Dragons, there are over 700 million reasons to learn more about it.

The numbers from GungHo Entertainment’s game continue to astound, generating $763 million with a net income of $287 million.  This represents an eye-popping climb of 945 percent from January to June 2013.  That also means the game generated sales of $4.9 million every day  throughout the second quarter.

Despite that acceleration in sales and profits, there are signs that the Puzzle & Dragons phenomenon is slowing down. Even though the game hit 17 million registered users last week, GungHo acknowledged that its July sales were “just” $138 million, about $4.5 million a day. The company is picking up its efforts with Puzzle & Dragons, looking to release it in several European countries this year. It is also planning to bring it to the 3DS, and we’ll have more on its astounding success soon.

Source: GI.biz


StarCraft II Adds New ESports Features

Fans of Blizzard Entertainment’s real-time strategy game StarCraft II will have plenty to celebrate this week as the company is adding a downloadable patch that adds new features to the game. The patch, version 2.0.10, will include a series of tweaks and bug fixes to the game, along with a new Observer Interface that eSports enthusiasts will want to make note of.

It will now come with two Blizzard-design UI’s that players can choose from – either Split 1vs1, where information is moved to the top of the screen, or Streamlined, with information tucked away into the upper right corner of the screen.  In addition, a “Units Lost” overlay will be included so players can see what’s missing from their arsenal, as well as two new zoom levels to get a wider view of the land. Fans of the replay feature will also be able to find highlights much quicker than before.

Finally, new UI options will allow color-blind players to take part in the action, relying less on color-switching and more on conveying information — yet another example of how Blizzard and other companies take advantage of adding features to new patches, allowing new audiences to enjoy their games.

Source: Blizzard