GameCenter Update Blocks Cheaters

A lot of people like taking their Apple GameCenter score earnings seriously, but that can be hard to do when cheaters tend to post fake scores on the service. Not to worry —  that will soon be a thing of the past.

Apple has posted a new update to developers, one that states they now have the ability to block out fake scores and keep cheaters from affecting the system altogether. This statement came from the update:

“You can now view and manage the top 100 scores and usernames for all of your Game Center leaderboards. Protect your legitimate players by signing in to iTunes Connect to delete fake scores or block players that post fake scores. You can also restore scores and players within the same time period.”

The announcement went into even more specifics as well:

“After you have apps available in the App Store or Mac App Store, iTunes Connect gives you access to 30 days of scores posted to your apps’ leaderboards. If you determine that players are able to generate fraudulent scores, you can remove these scores from a leaderboard or even block individual players from posting scores. You can manage active leaderboards as follows:

View the top 100 scores for a given leaderboard or grouped game leaderboard.

Delete a specific leaderboard score from a leaderboard.

Restore a specific score to a leaderboard.

Block a player from posting scores to a given leaderboard. This deletes all scores on the leaderboard for that player.

Restore a player and the player’s most recent score posted before being blocked.

iTunes Connect maintains 30 days of leaderboard entries for your review: scores older than 30 days cannot be removed from a leaderboard; scores removed or players blocked cannot be restored more than 30 days after they are removed.”

More information is available in the iTunes Connect Developer Guide. {link no longer active}

Source: 9 To 5 Mac

Titanfall PC-Xbox Lifetime Exclusive

Ever since its introduction at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this past summer, Respawn Entertainment’s multiplayer shooter Titanfall has been one hotly anticipated title. Unfortunately, it looks like PlayStation 4 owners won’t be getting a taste of it. Not yet, anyways.

Vince Zampella, head of Respawn, tweeted the following message today:

“Always MS exclusive at launch, great partner and focus is good for a startup. EA made a deal for the rest, we only found out recently”

What this essentially means is that the game won’t be headed to other platforms outside of the promised Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC ports – meaning that PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 owners are out of luck.

However, there’s always the possibility of follow-up games, as Zampella added via Tweet, “Of course we will (make PlayStation 4 games), just not the first Titanfall.” New projects, or sequels Only time will tell…

Titanfall arrives on store shelves on March 11.

Source: IGN

Samsung Preps New SDKs For Devs

Google has a huge reason to be nervous, based on Samsung’s recent announcement regarding its latest SDKs.

The company announced at its Developers Conference earlier this week that it will launch five new SDKs across the board, for various devices that include televisions, phones and tablets, among other devices. These could open up new doors for developers worldwide, with the ability to support pen, gestures, mutii-window and motion features with 800 APIs on hand. Even those making apps that are built specifically for the use of pens should be excited by this news.

These SDKs include mobile, multi-screen and others, which will support devices across the board – meaning that Google’s services are no longer the only ones in town.

“The new SDK, once adopted by developers, will make it possible to press a button on your phone to launch an online video stream, or even a game, on your TV. Sound familiar? That’s not really a coincidence — but Samsung thinks that it can one-up its competition,” said GigaOm’s Janko Roettgers.

No word yet when the SDKs will launch, but expect them sooner rather than later.

Source: GigaOm

Oculus Rift For Android

The Oculus Rift, a 3D virtual headset that was successfully funded on Kickstarter last year, is still playing around with a release date, as one hasn’t been formally announced. However, the team has confirmed that the device will be compatible with new devices – in this case, Android-based ones.

During an announcement at the GamesBeat 2013 video game conference, chief executive officer Brendan Iribe confirmed the move, stating that the company wants to launch a separate mobile headset in conjunction with the PC one, “as close as possible to” each other. It will be a smaller version that specifically utilizes the mobile device’s processor.

No word yet if the Android version of Oculus will launch as the same time as the PC one.

Source: Polygon

‘Puzzle & Dragons’ Adds Batman Characters

Holy puzzle games, Batman! The Dark Knight will soon make his way to GungHo Online Entertainment’s Puzzle & Dragons.

As part of a promotional tie-in with the recently released Batman: Arkham Origins games, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment has teamed up with the publisher to include Batman, Robin, Catwoman and The Joker as collectible characters in the popular online puzzle/role-playing game. Players will be able to collect the characters in their monster boxes, as well as through special in-game Egg Machines.

This will be done through an Origins themed event that will kick off today and run through November 12. The mobile game is available for download now via the App Store and Google Play {links no longer active}.

Meanwhile, Bat-fans can also pick up Origins for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and PC, in stores now.

Source: GungHo Online

How Sony Can Win The Next-Gen War

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-article series looking at how Microsoft and Sony can find success with their next-generation consoles. To see our analysis of Microsoft’s position, read “Making Xbox One Number One.”

Sony was the undisputed leader of the Big Three Console makers when the PlayStation 2 was the dominant console. That was many years ago, and soon it will be two entire console generations. While Sony and Microsoft had roughly similar numbers for the total consoles sold between the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, both were handily outpaced by Nintendo’s Wii. The Xbox 360 has outsold the PS3 in the U.S. for years, despite Sony’s best efforts.

The battle is shaping up very differently for the next generation, because it’s not just a console battle any more. Sony and Microsoft are competing in a global multiplatform battle for gaming hardware dominance, between consoles (current and next-gen), smartphones, tablets, streaming, VR headsets, and beyond.

Sony starts with some distinct advantages. First, Sony CEO Kaz Hirai understands the game industry very well, since he led Sony Computer Entertainment for many years. Microsoft doesn’t even know who its next CEO will be at this point — and that CEO may not feel that games are an important part of Microsoft’s future. Second, Sony has 20 years of game creation to draw on, with a solid library of games and deep experience in game making. Third, Sony has large and successful divisions creating music and movies, with an enviable content library in those areas. Finally, Sony is now producing an array of excellent smartphones and tablets that can work well with its overall gaming strategy.

You shouldn’t minimize Sony’s challenges, though. The company has struggled in recent years through major losses and restructuring, and while the picture is looking better right now this does not leave Sony with the sort of financial reserves enjoyed by Microsoft (with cash in the bank of around $80 billion). Sony’s content divisions have historically been loath to work together with each other or with Sony’s hardware divisions.

Sony does have the early lead in pre-orders for next-generation consoles, at least according to reports so far. The price of the PlayStation 4, at $399, gives them a $100 advantage over the Xbox One. And Sony launches a week ahead of the Xbox One… OK, that’s not much of an advantage in the long term, but it will help in securing bragging rights over who sells the most next-gen consoles in 2013.

Here’s some strategy suggestions for Sony as it strives to once again be the clear leader in console sales, and to become the undisputed #1 brand in gaming.  

Get it Together
That is, get the separate divisions working together, from hardware to content. Let’s not have the music division resisting having its music sold online through gaming devices, or movies being unavailable for downloading. The PSP could have been an incredible sales machine, if it had possessed a comprehensive content store where you could buy movies, music and games. Sadly, factional fighting within Sony kept that from happening. Kaz has to make sure that won’t happen again. Beyond that, make sure the smartphones and tablets all work well with the PlayStation Suite, the new PlayStation app, and everything related to gaming. Oh, and whatever new TVs you create, make sure they have great lag-free connections for the PlayStation 4, and gaming devices comfortably fit into the onscreen menus. Make Sony TVs the very first choice for gamers looking for a new HDTV.

Get Streaming
Take advantage of your purchase of Gaikai and get that high-quality, low-latency streaming going everywhere, soon. This has many important ramifications, such as full PlayStation 3 compatibility on the PlayStation 4. More than that, it means you could have any PlayStation game from any era playing on any PlayStation console — or any computer, smartphone or tablet, for that matter. Microsoft is working on cloud gaming, but it’s behind Gaikai’s technology. Don’t give Microsoft a chance to catch up.

Get PlayStation Everywhere
Using that Gaikai technology is just a means to an end, and the end is getting Playstation games everywhere. Sony has another initiative for that – PlayStation Suite, which brings old PlayStation games to Android smartphones and tablets that have been qualified. It’s a great plan, but it’s still limited to a handful of Android devices. Push this harder, and get PlayStation Suite on all major Android devices, and make more PlayStation games available. Upgrade the graphics where you can on these old games. Make sure there’s a properly resourced, dedicated team that can crank out PlayStation classics. While you’re at it, make a run at getting the PlayStation Suite on iOS and even Microsoft Windows. Why not All parties would benefit from having high-quality games handy.

PS Vita TV is a vital part of the strategy, with a great shot at taking the low end of the market by storm. If the price is less than $100, as seems likely, it will be very hard to beat. Get this hardware out to all markets as soon as possible, and build a broad audience for PlayStation content by securing the market share at the low end. Microsoft doesn’t have a device there yet, so make sure you are first to market in that area. Get a jump on Amazon’s Kindle set-top box, too, and any other low-price-point competition in the streaming content category.

Get the Right Business Model
Craft a winning business model across multiple devices and a wide variety of content. Why not a version of PlayStation Plus that gives you a rotating supply of free games not just on your PS3 or PS4, but on your Android tablet or your Smart TV Find the right pricing through experimentation; the great thing about digital content you own is you have complete freedom to price it any way you want, and you can try out all kinds of pricing schemes and change them instantly. In this era of big data, you can analyze your way to greatness – or at least, to the best-performing pricing mdoel, which will lead you to greatness. You’ve seen how well the PlayStation Plus concept does, now bring it to the widest possible audience. There’s where your PS Vita TV can really be a killer piece of hardware, but becoming a low-cost gateway to the best game library around.

In Conclusion
Sony’s got all the pieces necessary to win, and from the moves the company has been making it’s well aware of what it needs to do. Now it will come down to how well Sony can execute this game plan, and how fast it can move. Microsoft and other competitors aren’t standing still, and there are companies bigger than Sony (with much deeper pockets) eyeing the same territory. Can Sony be more nimble than its size and age would seem to indicate It will need to be, for the next-gen race will be won by a combination of speed and strength and smarts. We’ll be watching to see how well Sony can execute their game plan.

Is Facebook Letting Marketers Down?

Who has access to the largest audience in media history, to the largest amount of volunteered data from users and yet has made little headway in using these resources to revolutionize marketing According to Forrester Research, Facebook fits this bill.

This past year has already been a banner year for Facebook advertising with $4 billion in advertising revenue. According to reports from Adobe and Kenshoo Social {link no longer active}, Facebook ads were clicked 29 percent more often, cost-per-click is lower than ever before and ROI is increasing by estimates of at least 40 percent. With such stellar numbers as these, it is also interesting to note that of the 131 billion Facebook ad impressions and ensuing 4.3 billion engagements, Facebook probably isn’t even getting the credit for all the purchases. Facebook has remained top dog when it comes to referral traffic to retail sites, although Twitter and Pinterest have been gaining some ground.

Nevermind all of this, however. A report from Forrester Research’s vice president and principal analyst, Nate Elliott, surveyed 395 marketers and executives in the United States, Canada and and United Kingdom and showed that when it comes to satisfaction and the creation of business value, Facebook ranks the lowest of all digital marketing opportunities.

How can this be Forrester posits that although marketers continue to flock to the advertising gold rush that Facebook claims to offer, only a small number of them actually find success. The reasons they provide in coming to this conclusion are particularly troublesome. It all boils down to Facebook “abandoning its promise” to revolutionize marketing and becoming overly reliant on traditional advertising. Facebook is simply not leveraging its goldmine of social affinity data.

Forrester claims that Facebook is no longer focused on driving genuine engagement. “Everyone who clicks the like button on a brand’s Facebook page volunteers to receive that brand’s messages — but on average, you only show each brand’s posts to 16 percent of its fans,” said Elliott.

Although Facebook makes updates to its advertising tools frequently, the branded page format remains unchanged as do the tools to manage and measure those pages. Of the tens of billions of daily page views on the site, a meager 15 percent are actually leveraging the social data.

Make no mistake, Facebook has immense potential for increasing marketers’ satisfaction. With such a compendium of data on consumers worldwide, the ability to make bigger, stronger, more data-driven ads is there. With more marketers signing on, Facebook appears to be improving their ad delivery by leaps and bounds.

Source: Forrester Research

Ryse To The Path Of Vengeance

Marius Titus, hero of Ryse, is on a quest for vengeance after this family was killed. This TV spot muses that he might be the savior of the Roman Empire… or its destroyer.

Check out the follow up video, detailing the construction of the arms and armor used in the ad.

{video link no longer active}