‘Ghosts’ Multiplayer Mode Reveal

Last week we featured an interview with Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg from Infinity Ward’s Call of Duty Ghosts multiplayer reveal in Los Angeles.  In the interview, Hirshberg seemed to stress that next-gen features such as instant social connectivity and second-screen functions are a big part of what’s going to evolve the Call of Duty experience.

Now, GamerHub.TV has an interview from the same event with Infinity Ward community manager Yale Miller, who tempers down the difference between current and next gen systems.  Miller says that, for instance, people who play Ghosts on Xbox One versus Xbox 360 might notice “tiny bells and whistles,” but the core experience remains unchanged.  That should put anyone eager to buy Ghosts but not yet prepared to pony up for a new system at ease.

Here’s the full interview.



Mobile Streaming Tech Gets Big Backers

Video streaming services are quite popular with gaming crowds these days, and mobile is no exception. A venture capital-backed start-up company called Kamcord has been working with mobile game developers to help mobile players share what they’re up to with ease – and it just got a bigger boost to help things out.

The team has managed to accrue $1.5 million in capital, with another $1 million in seed funding from the likes of Tencent and InnovationWorks, among other companies. With that, the team hopes to better suit its SKD with new social features, including profiles and commenting, in the hopes of opening up a community. Kamcord has already managed to get a number of game developers on board, and the company is hoping that streaming becomes as popular with mobile games as it is with PC games. The fact that both the Xbox One and the PS4 support streaming demonstrates the increasing popularity of the technology.

“We’ve seen what Twitch.tv and Machinima have been able to do and we’ve gotten a lot of email from users who just want to see more video content,” Zitzmann pointed out. “So we’re building a solution that’s more of a one-stop shop and rolling it out later this week.”

Source: TechCrunch

GameStop’s ‘Largest Console Launch In History’

GameStop CEO Paul Raines had no problem expressing his confidence in this fall’s game sales, with the release of Xbox One and PlayStation 4 expected to pick things up. Raines has stated that this holiday season will see “the largest console launch in history.”

Though he didn’t say which system would be dominating the market the most, he did expect both to make a huge impact. A significant increase in launch-day quantities of both machines is expected over the prior generation of machines, though no specific numbers were given.

GameStop has initiated a “first-to-know” program, where subscribers can learn more about launch availability for each system. It’s really paid off, as 1.5 million are signed up for Sony’s system, while 700,000 want to know what’s happening with Xbox One.

We’ll see how the launch goes when both systems arrive later this year.

Source: GamesIndustry International

PlayStation 4 Shortages Likely In Europe

With one million pre-orders already placed worldwide, the PlayStation 4 has already proven to be one hot piece of technology. However, its demand could soon outpace the supply, according to a PlayStation UK executive.

Speaking with Official PlayStation Magazine, Fergal Gara, boss for PlayStation UK, stated that the company knows that the possibility of a unit sell-out is very likely.

“The problem with pre-orders, which is a good problem to have, is that they’re very, very high,” stated Gara. “As an ex-retailer myself I understand this at least as well as anyone else: we need to help retailers manage the expectations of their customers and not let them down. And this is why we advise them that, from August the 5, they should not guarantee anyone they will get their unit on day one.”

We’ll see how this plays out in the months ahead. PlayStation 4 arrives on November 15 in the U.S., and November 29 in the United Kingdom.

Source: CVG

Japan Devs Sidestep GREE And Mobage

The $5.1 billion mobile game marketplace in Japan could be transformed soon, and not in a way that helps GREE or DeNA. The country’s biggest daily news source, the Nikkei, has reported that 15 Japanese mobile game makers are teaming up to jointly market their titles on smart phone and other devices. The companies plan to work together on a cross-promotion network when it comes to showing off each of its respective titles.

The goal of the companies is trying to avoid the ‘double taxation’ from paying the likes of GREE and Mobage operator DeNA for network fees, in addition to the percentage already paid to Apple or Google. According to Japanese daily The Nikkei, the companies seeking to avoid GREE and Mobage include Sega, Capcom and Taito, with the former supposedly leading this new charge. This cross-promotion effort would also avoid the increasingly popular Line and KakaoTalk networks and the double taxation inherent in working with them.

The group has a combined player base of 20 million and seeks to add another 15 companies, which would bring the total network to 40 million players – about the same count as the GREE and Mobage subscriber base. The first site in this program is expected to go live this fall, and the cross-promotion network will likely be in place around that time.

It’s unlikely that any of these companies will pull their apps from GREE or Mobage in the near term, or at least until such time as this new cross-promotion network proves its value. Even then, why lose the incremental revenue from apps on GREE and Mobage, even if it is lower margin GREE and DeNA may take steps in response as well. The long-term effect is unclear, but as the amount of money in the market increases competition is sure to intensify.

Source: Dr. Serkan Toto

LinkedIn Revamps Group Pages

LinkedIn Group Pages are getting a complete overhaul, bringing the popular product into line with its redesigned profile and company pages. That means a more streamlined look, with an oversized image at the top above a group’s stream of updates, almost mimicking Facebook’s cover photo reality.

Yesterday in their blog, the company noted that now the right column will feature “top influencers” in a given group and a link to see all members – a functionality that could improve engagement within a group. It also shows a snapshot of the latest activity (another page from Facebook), like someone starting a new discussion or posting a comment, as well as listing any subgroups.

Mashable reporter Kurt Wagner made a solid point on why the change will affect almost everyone who uses the site, “Redesigning LinkedIn Groups is a noticeable change for the platform {link no longer active}, considering how many users utilize the feature,” he wrote. ‘The average user belongs to seven Groups on the site, and those who post or engage in group conversations receive four times as many profile views as those who don’t.”

While the redesign is an impactful one, others, like The Next Web’s Ken Yeung argues that there is still room for change.

“Hopping around from group to group trying to keep themselves up-to-date could be a difficult thing.” LinkedIn needs to make it so that when you arrive, you know what’s going on and in a more efficient manner,” he wrote.

LinkedIn’s blog states that there have been more than 2 million Groups created around almost every topic imaginable,  from entrepreneurship, philanthropy and careers to social and digital marketing. And that today, more than 200 conversations are happening each minute across and more than 8,000 Groups are created each week.

The revamped pages will initially roll out to English-speaking members before extending to other languages.

On another note, LinkedIn this week also rolled out an update of the Pulse newsreader app  {link no longer active} (on iOS and Android) that it acquired earlier this year for $90 million. The redesign is aimed at making easier to find new publications, categories and Linkedin “Influencers” to read as well as speeding up its search tool. Users can now also search by interest, as well as source title, to pull up relevant material.

New to LinkedIn Groups? The company has created a visual to help you learn more about Groups and what they can offer, whether you’re thinking about starting your own or joining ours today  {link no longer active}. See below:



I Share, Therefore I Am

How can a vehicle that drives constant conversation and connectivity actually make us lonelier A recent animated video from Shimi Cohen called The Innovation of Loneliness illustrates points from author Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together and Dr. Yair Amichai-Hamburgers Hebrew article The Invention of Being Lonely into a lively commentary on the parallels between loneliness and increase usage of social media.

The video plays out like a moving infographic (it’s quite pretty), slowly building momentum to suggest how social networks have increasingly made us less connected and more, self-promotional, self-indulgent, delusional, depressed and ultimately, lonely.

Upworthy writer Ray Flores describes his reaction to the short film, “At 0:40, my jaw hits the floor when creator Shimi Cohen outlines the capacity of our social circles. And when at 2:20 he gets into the mind-blowing reason hitting delete is a crutch…Yup, my brains were pretty much leaking out my ears.”

Elite Daily says, “We, as human beings, think that through social networks, we’ve somehow become more social creatures. The problem with this theory is, the more we ‘connect’ online, the less actual human interactions we have, making us actually fairly unsocial.”

The video escalates into borderline preachy, but does possess some undeniable points –  like, “presenting the best self to peers” and “withholding information that is less attractive” or meticulously “choosing the best possible profile picture” to put out into the wild.

Cohen might not show “exactly what’s wrong with our social structure now, and how we manipulate how we want to be presented to peers, family members, and potential mates on social media, rather than having vulnerable and genuine conversations in real time” like Elite Daily suggests, but the video is something to think about over the weekend.

The short is so beautiful, you’ll want to tell someone. And while you’re at it, give us your gut reaction in the comments below!


For Next-Gen, Marketing Is The Differentiator

The history of the console business is one of major differences between the competition. The Super Nintendo and the Genesis had very different controllers, graphics, and basic architecture. The PlayStation was vastly different than the N64, with a CD providing a very different experience from a cartridge. The Xbox 360 and the PS3 have completely different internal architectures, with programmers specializing in one or the other.

Fast-forward to the next-gen rivalry between Sony’s PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Both use AMD’s unified CPU/GPU architecture with minor variations, and this is so similar to the standard PC architecture that putting a game on all three platforms is trivial. Well, trivial compared to the process of putting a game out for both the PS3 and the Xbox 360, that is. In any case, this is the first time in the history of the console business that the two leading consoles are so very similar. (Nintendo’s Wii U is very different still, both in terms of horsepower and in architecture.)

For a brief time after the unveiling of Microsoft’s Xbox One, it looked as though the two consoles might be strongly differentiated by their policies regarding used games, Internet access, and approach to indie developers. However, that’s no longer the case.

Microsoft has been rapidly changing its policies to resemble Sony’s policies, whether it’s on used games or on working with indie developers. Just as the Xbox One and the PS4 share the same basic architecture, so too will the consoles share similar business models. Free games monthly with your premium subscription on PlayStation That’s done very well for Sony, so Microsoft has added that. Requiring a premium subscription to player multi-player online games Microsoft has made billions doing that, so now Sony’s added that little feature to its premium subscription. Neither company is likely to get too far ahead of the other in terms of business models. Microsoft saw what happened when it tried to push too rapidly into the digital future.

Ultimately both Sony and Microsoft realize the need for next-gen consoles to have a broader range of content than traditional publishers can provide, in order to compete with PC, online and mobile platforms’ enormous array of choices. Both companies still have a long way to go. Sony’s been trying to get indie developers on the PS Vita for a while, with some success — yet that hasn’t turned into big sales for the handheld. Regardless, both Sony and Microsoft will be indie-friendly for next-gen consoles.

There will be some exclusive games for each console, but no major genre will be left unfilled. Those exclusives will be significant to gamers who are fans of a particular brand. Given the hardware similarities, the software differences will be more important than ever. Beyond the exclusives, it’s important to note that all the biggest third-party games will be on both consoles. We may see some exclusive content differences, or a short window where a title is only available on one next-gen console, but for the most part you can count on seeing every title from major publishers on both platforms.

Even the quantities of games available for both platforms will be about the same on a practical level. Both the PS 4 and the Xbox One will have at least a couple of dozen titles available by the end of the year, far more than most gamers could play or afford. There are a number of top titles in a variety of genres on both platforms at launch.

The cool advanced features of next-gen consoles, like easy streaming of games or integration of smartphones and tablets, are available on both next-gen consoles. Motion control Standard on Xbox One, optional on PS 4. Lots of video content, music, social network integration Check, check, and check.

The biggest difference between the Xbox One and the PS 4 is really the $100 premium that the Xbox One is charging, which can be attributed to the inclusion of the Kinect. Microsoft will certainly be putting effort into convincing customers the added functionality is well worth the price, and that process has already begun.

Marketing will need to come to the rescue for both Sony and Microsoft. While both companies will be showing gorgeous graphics and amazing action, marketing’s challenge will be to take the small differences between the two consoles and enlarge them into actionable selling points. Customers need to be convinced that some feature or game only found on one console is the reason to make them buy that console. TV ads and viral videos will probably be focusing on such points, and look for social media being used to amplify that.

In the end, the two consoles are in the same market chasing the same customers with the same basic hardware, and their policies will be very similar. If you want something really different in a console, try Nintendo or Ouya.

Fear The Reaper

Blizzard is teasing the return of Diablo in this trailer for Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, an expansion for Diablo III. The expansion will add a new class of character, the Crusader, and raise the level cap to 70 while making new spells and abilities available to existing character classes. New quests, new monsters and two new game modes round out the offerings.

The release date hasn’t been revealed yet, but the trailer will have you hoping it’s sometime soon.


Adding Drama To Next-Gen Soccer

One of the bigger highlights from EA’S Gamescom press conference this week was the unveiling of a new trailer for FIFA 14, one that focuses primarily on the next-gen versions of the game. You’ll see plenty of fantastic player models and realistic soccer action in the video, and you’ll also be treated to some fantastic narration by Sir Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: The Next Generation and X-Men fame. If only he could narrate the full game.

{video link no longer active}