Retail Game Sales Fall Again

Retail video game sales last month in the U.S. sank by 19 percent compared to July 2012, as has been widely expected. The anticipation for new consoles is strongly impacting hardware sales, to the extent that hardware sales dropped 34 percent from last year to total only $99.4 million for the month. Software sales alone dropped 19 percent, while accessories only fell 3 percent.

The only bright spot, such as it was, came with sales of Nintendo 3DS, the only platform to show growth over July of last year. The console was helped by the strong performance of Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which took the overall number five best-selling position among software titles for the period.

“July 2013 was another positive month for 3DS software sales, with strong double-digit growth in both units and dollars,” said NPD’s Liam Callahan. “Besides launches like Shin Megami Tensei IV, growth was driven by continued success from games that have launched over the past few months like Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.”

The top selling game overall for the month was NCAA Football 14, with Minecraft for the Xbox 360 in second place, and The Last of Us in third.

Source: NPD

New iOS App Guidelines

With an influx of kid-related and gambling programs making the round on Apple’s app store, many users have been wondering if there could be a loss of real-time money as a result. Fortunately, that’s not the case, as Apple recently revised its rules for both kinds of apps through a special update.

The following updates apply when it comes to gambling apps, according to the company:

“20.5 Apps that offer real money gaming (e.g. sports betting, poker, casino games, horse racing) must have necessary licensing and permissions in the locations where the App is used, must be restricted to those locations, and must be free on the App Store

20.6 Apps that use IAP to purchase credit or currency to use in conjunction with real money gaming will be rejected”

Meanwhile, when it comes to kids’ apps, these policies were put into effect to coincide with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA for short…

“17.3 Apps may ask for date of birth (or use other age-gating mechanisms) only for the purpose of complying with applicable children’s privacy statutes, but must include some useful functionality or entertainment value regardless of the user’s age

17.4 Apps that collect, transmit, or have the capability to share personal information (e.g. name, address, email, location, photos, videos, drawings, persistent identifiers, the ability to chat, or other personal data) from a minor must comply with applicable children’s privacy statutes.”

Also, all kid’s apps must now restrict behavioral advertising (which is defined as advertising shown that’s based on the user’s activities within an app), and all kid’s apps must explicitly ask for parental permission before the user can make in-app purchases. That last one will certainly affect those games that have sold in-game items to kids too young to understand they were spending money. Apple no doubt hopes to prevent such embarrassing incidents.

Source: TUAW

Xbox One Will Be Region Free

While some people enjoy ordering non-released import games for their game systems, they usually encounter region-locking. Some current-gen systems still have region-locking, including the Wii U and the Xbox 360. Thankfully, Microsoft is loosening up a bit with this next-generation of consoles.

The company announced that the Xbox One, its latest video game console, will in fact be region free, so those who wish to order the system outside of their market will find that it should work without limitations – unless they’re ordering online games and movies, that is.

“First – all games are WW signed. Not all 360 games are. Second – the console will work everywhere (keeping in mind power supplies),” said Microsoft’s Albert Penello, who handles Xbox One planning.

“You can use one of the 13 digital marketplaces corresponding to our launch markets, assuming you have a valid payment instrument for those countries. Lots of people in Europe specifically travel, move, and visit family.”

Penello suggested pre-paid cards could help avoid any problems. He also warned that certain licensed content, including music or video, and Netflix, would only work in certain countries.

Source: GamesIndustry International

‘Disney Infinity’ Gets Free Mobile App

With Disney Infinity now available in stores, the parent company is rolling out the advertising for the Skylanders-like action game. It’s launching a pair of new mobile apps to get players involved with its characters. An app called Disney Infinity: Action! is free and now available for download, and allows you to photograph characters from the game in real-life augmented reality scenarios. The second app, which ties into a Toy Box-like interface with the game, will launch later this year.

Disney Infinity reportedly cost the company more than $100 million in development costs for the game and toys, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. That cost excludes marketing expenses, which are expected to be high. In a meeting with analysts in February, Disney CEO Robert Iger said, “If Infinity does well, it bodes very well for the bottom line of this unit… If it doesn’t do well, the opposite will be the case.” If the game doesn’t do well, Disney may move to a licensing model for future game development, with only online and mobile content produced in-house.

Sony Partners With Viacom On Streaming TV

Sony has reached a deal with Viacom Inc., the media giant whose channels include MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, that could give Sony the jump on the streaming TV market. The companies are planning a pay-TV service that is likely to be streamed across Sony devices, which could very well include PlayStation 4 when it launches later this year.

This marks the first time a company has gone specifically after a pay-TV service, though it carries other streaming apps such as Netflix and Amazon, which are available on both PlayStation 3 and PS Vita now.

The parties made no comment, but more may be unveiled this week during the company’s press conference leading into Gamescom in Germany.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Fans Empower Brands On YouTube

The struggle to increase brand engagement and sell products through online and digital marketing can make for a murky pursuit. A recent infographic from ZEFR illustrates how user-generated content {link no longer active} is as good an asset for some brands as the slick ads and video content produced by marketers.

The logic is simple: While branded content is capable of making an impact (shout out to Oreo), the power of YouTube trends is much stronger. For instance, makeup tutorials are a common video type for beauty channels, and the thousands of videos in that category featuring specific products gets a brand’s name mentioned more than the brand itself could ever get away with in a clever ad.

Genres like product unboxing videos, how-to videos, and fan versions of popular commercials also easily outpace official branded efforts. Just take a look at the stats below:



Top Players In Mobile For July 2013

Editor’s note: Newzoo and Distimo have released monthly mobile game data for July 2013, listing top grossing worldwide games and publishers for iOS App Store and Google Play. 

Newzoo founder and CEO Peter Warman contributes his analysis.

Looking at top grossing game publishers on iOS for July, the top three publishers in terms of revenues remained unchanged. Supercell is still at the top spot followed by King and Electronic Arts. GungHo Online Entertainment dropped three spots from June to seventh, replaced by Kabam as the fourth top grosser. Gameloft climbed to number five.

GREE is the only new entry in the list, entering at number 17. Meanwhile Pocket Gems made the biggest leap month-over-month, going from number 17 in June to 13 in July. Social Quantum fell six places during the same period to barely make the top 20 list at number 19.

Gameloft now has 49 titles in the top 1,000 games on iOS. The company’s newly released game based on the hit film Despicable Me 2 is their most successful title. Mojang is the only publisher with just one game to feature in the top 1,000.

Source: Newzoo and Distimo. Rankings based on gross sales.

Candy Crush Saga from King retained its top position as the highest grossing game in the App Store in July, ahead of Supercell’s Clash of Clans. Hayday, which is also from Finland-based game maker Supercell, moved into number three, pushing Puzzle and Dragons to fourth. The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-Earth from Kabam moved up two positions between June and July to number five.

Kingdoms of Camelot: Battle for the North, also from Kabam, is making its way back up the charts, climbing three spots to number six.

There were two new entries this month. Pet Rescue Saga from King debuted at number 16, while the film-based Despicable Me: Minion Rush from Gameloft is at number 18.

Source: Newzoo and Distimo. Rankings based on gross sales.

Google Play Store top grossing publishers saw another shake up in July. LINE Corporation is now number one, swapping the top position with CJ E&M Corp. Mobage remains at number three, with COLOPL moving up one spot to number four. King has climbed two spots to number five.

There are two new entries on the top Play Store publishers list. Klab entered the top 20 at number 18, and GMO Game Center came in at number 20.

It’s worth noting that there is one company in the top 20 that has only one game in the top 1,000 grossing games, WeMade Entertainment at number six, and its game is strictly for Asian markets. Meanwhile the number one publisher on the chart, LINE Corporation, has 26 games in the top 1,000. 

Source: Newzoo and Distimo. Rankings based on gross sales.

Just like June, the top five best performing mobile games have dramatically changed. Puzzle & Dragons has dropped to number two and Candy Crush Saga is now the best performing game in terms of revenues. This is the first time a Western game has topped the Google Play charts.

Finn’s game, another title targeted to Asian markets only, jumped from number 13 to number three. Last month’s number three hit from Devsisters is now at spot four.  LINE Pokopang has made an impressive debut at number seven in the chart, one of five entries from from LINE Corporation. 

Source: Newzoo and Distimo. Rankings based on gross sales.

For full reports, visit Newzoo Global Game Markets Reports.

‘Grand Theft Auto V Online’ Unveiled

With Grand Theft Auto V just over a month away from release, the game is getting huge buzz.   That buzz continues today with the introduction of a new mode called Grand Theft Auto Online, which Rockstar Games unveiled for the first time today. There are limitless activities throughout the game, from leisure sports to races to full-on shootouts against rival crews. This portion of the game will launch October 1, while Grand Theft Auto V releases on September 17 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. That game will come with a code that allows you to download the Online portion for free.


Nintendo’s Newest Heroes Head To Wii U

The Wonderful 101 aren’t too far off from their debut on the Wii U, and to celebrate Nintendo has released a new trailer featuring the seven unique Wonder Heroes in action, and showing off what they bring to the overall world-saving picture. The game, developed by Platinum Games, features a wonderful play system where you work as a team to save citizens, battle enemies and overcome the odds to keep the city safe. The Wonderful 101 releases on September 15 for the Wii U.

Viva El Presidente

The return of El Presidente is imminent. Just ask Kalypso. The publisher announced the latest game in its simulation Tropico series, Tropico 5, which will release on Xbox 360, PC and Mac next year. The game will feature new cooperative and competitive multiplayer, along with other refinements to make building an empire easier – yet more compelling – than ever.