Keep Your Secrets Close


As the premiere of the fourth season of Game of Thrones draws close, we get more trailers hinting at the storylines to come. Some flounder in the confusion and fires consuming Westeros while others clearly flourish.


Become A Champion

Kinect Sports Rivals quietly might be one of the most important titles for the Xbox One to appeal to a larger audience and it’s easy to see why. With the ability to insert yourself in the game by just standing in front of the Kinect, the game could reach a huge mainstream audience.


Dare To Feel Good

Activia has switched over from Jamie Lee Curtis to Shakira as their new spokesperson, clearly hoping to appeal to a younger crowd of health conscious individuals. The above ad (which is in Portuguese) will be running worldwide to promote the yogurt and will feature the song “Dare (La La La)“, which will debut in Shakira’s new album next month.



ChangYou: $600 Million For Mobile Games

Publicly traded online game company ChangYou is about to become a big mover and shaker in the mobile game industry.

The Chinese company has announced that it will invest $600 million in mobile game developers over the next few years. Titled the CYOU Win Plan, the program will help catapult the company up the mobile game charts, with billions of dollars for the taking.

The investment will take place across marketing, distribution and business operations, with $200 million put into acquiring projects, $200 million for marketing and $200 million revenue share for game developers.

“2014 will be an exciting year for ChangYou,” said Joey Jia, the general manager of ChangYou’s U.S. division. “The $600 million developer’s program offers a tremendous opportunity for independent gaming developers to publish their games worldwide leveraging our expertise in both the PC and mobile space.”

The announcement comes on the heels of next week’s Game Developers Conference, which will take place in San Francisco.

Source: VentureBeat

Amazon Prime Is Now Pricier

Since Amazon’s Prime was launched 9 years ago, the $79 price tag has not risen even though order and shipping costs have increased by quite a bit– shifting the profit from $65 to $34 per user per year. This has all changed with the announcement that Amazon is increasing the cost of the program by $20, or 25 percent, to $99.

Amazon has been recently bulking up their entertainment offerings to become a more direct competitor to Netflix, securing exclusive streaming rights to major TV shows and films. CFO of Amazon,Tom Szkutak denies however that the costs of licensing were a reason why the price would increase.

“Certainly video, Prime Instant Video we are investing [in] very heavily, and so those are certainly costly. Those aren’t the reasons for the price increases that we’re contemplating,” said Szkutak in a January earnings call.

Prime users are big spenders, shelling out an average of $1500 a year as compared to non-Prime users who spend $500. Analyst Carlos Kirjner of Bernstein Research sees the price increase as a positive move for Amazon and doesn’t expect too many Prime memberships to fall off the wagon.

“Amazon would come out ahead if a price increase led to a defection of fewer than 50 percent of Prime users,” said Kirjner.

Kirjner could very well be right. We crunched the numbers to find out the sentiment on Twitter, blogs, news and forums about Amazon’s initiative to find that only 5 percent of folks talking about this change are upset. Even more surprising, 45 percent were actually happy about the price increase. If this directly translates into membership retention, the future bodes very well for Amazon and their shareholders.

Prime members are receiving an email notifying them of their renewal date, when the price amps up to the full $99 but in the meantime, Prime offerings remain the same. Non-Prime members have a week to join before paying the higher price. Students will pay just $49 and Amazon’s new Prime Fresh will continue to charge $299.
Source: Variety

China Tops 700 Million Smartphones

China’e mobile phone audience has reached all new heights this past year. A report from Umeng indicates that over 700 million smartphones have gone active in the country. Out of the devices that were activated, 41 percent of them were from first-time buyers, while the remaining 59 percent consists of upgrades.

That continues China’s leadership in he worldwide smartphone market, an achievement it’s held since November 2011, despite slowing sales.

Games are a very important category for smartphone users in China, as it is in the rest of the world, and Chinese mobile gamers are getting more dedicated. “The term ‘casual games’ is becoming a misnomer as users are spending large blocks of time playing these games rather than dipping in and out as was once the case,” said Umeng in the report. Games are increasingly licensed rather than pirated. By December 2013, 20 percent of the top 100 games in China licensed third-party intellectual property, compared to just 13 percent in June 2013. Popular titles included “Dad Where Are We Going” and “Despicable Me.”

Out of the phones sold, most were budget models, with 57 percent consisting of Android devices that retail for less than $350 in U.S. funds. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t demand for higher-priced headsets, however, as 27 percent of the market belonged to models costing over $500. 80 percent of those sold were iPhone models.

Social media plays a huge part when it comes to smartphone usage. A number of social-related apps grew in numbers last year, including WeChat, which grew a whopping 8,600 percent between March and November.

55 percent of the top 1,000 apps have some sort of linkage to social media, including programs like MomentCam and Crazy Guess Figure.

Source: TechCrunch

Naughty Dog Cleans Up At BAFTAs

Things were coming up aces for Naughty Dog at the British Academy of Film and Television Awards, or BAFTAs. The developer behind the popular action/survival game for the PlayStation 3 The Last of Us took home five awards from the show earlier this week.

Writer Neil Druckmann and his team earned awards for Best Game, Action & Adventure, Audio Achievement, Story and Performer, with Ashley Johnson picking up an award for her performance as young Ellie.

Johnson blogged about her win, stating, “I feel so lucky that I got to play Ellie. To play a female character in a game that for once isn’t sexualized and is a real 14 year old girl. A 14 year old girl that has insecurities and emotional ups and downs but can also hold her own in a fight if she needs to. Ellie is a complete badass to me and I’m proud of who and what she represents as a woman.”

Other notable winners from the awards show include Gone Home, which won Debut Game, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, which earned Game Innovation; and Bioshock Infinite, which won in the Music category.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Director Scott Waugh On ‘Need For Speed’

Scott Waugh isn’t your typical Hollywood director. On the set of the DreamWorks Pictures movie in Detroit last year, he could be found hanging off the side of a helicopter as it chased the Ford Mustang driven by Aaron Paul around the Comerica Park. The stuntman-turned director likes to do all of his own shooting, regardless of how dangerous it might be. It’s that perspective that turned his $12 million first feature film, Act of Valor, into an $81 million hit.

With Need for Speed, Waugh is going retro with an old school (think 60s and 70s) racing movie that puts the cars front and center. It’s this unique angle — and the fact that the majority of the Need for Speed games have no plot — that could help the Steven Spielberg-produced movie break the box office curse that has plagued most video game flicks. The director talks about gaming and wrecking super cars in this exclusive interview.

How did you end up directing a video game movie?

I had finished up Act of Valor when I personally just wanted to do a car movie. It was just serendipitous how I had that energy out there in the world and then Stacy (Snider) and Steven (Spielberg) called me and said, ‘Hey, we would love for you to direct Need for Speed.’ I was like, ‘This is perfect timing. Yeah.’

What are the challenges of taking something that started as a video game and bringing it to the big screen?

Live up to the video game. The video game is one of the greatest car racing games out there and we just wanting to pay homage to that game, but also make sure that the film has its respect for that game and that it really lives up to the expectations of the audience. So for me that’s the biggest challenge of all. All those gamers have such an expectation for the film that I’m hoping I can bring my training and background to the big screen, so that they get the thrill ride that they’re looking for.

What was it that attracted you to the Need for Speed game franchise?

I personally have always wanted to do a car racing movie. I’m a motocross racer, myself. We still quote Bullitt and French Connection. Those movies were made in the ’70s. We should be able to outdo that nowadays, and I just feel like I want to be the guy that makes the next authentic racing film. That’s my goal. It’s so great to be part of that Need for Speed franchise, because I think they do a great job on authentic racing.

Is there a specific game you focused on?

No, because they’ve done so many games, it’s going to be a mesh of all of them. We’re going to try to pay a tribute and respect to a lot of the games they’ve done.

It seems like Aaron Paul is channeling Steve McQueen a bit in this film.

Oh, yeah. Because it’s not like here comes the music montage; right Those old movies barely had any music in them. It was just motor noise and dialogue. If you watch Bullitt, it’s just awesome because there’s a very ambient score underneath it, but there’s just loud motor noise and stuff. And that’s what we’re bringing back, so it’s not here comes the new song and we go into a Baywatch montage. 

How are you connecting with younger gamers who never saw Bullitt?

It’s interesting because a lot of these movies are targeted towards older people, and obviously the video game generation is younger. One thing that we really paid particular attention to — because I personally love great love stories — was how do we ingest a great love story into this visceral action movie so that the women want to come see this movie as well. And I think there is a beautiful love story in this film that’s a wonderful arc to the movie.

How did the video game relationship help with working with the European car manufacturers on this film?

With the video games, which are wonderful, they have such a great relationship with all the super car manufacturers because the game wants to get it authentic and right and so do the manufacturers. They want to make sure that their cars in the game look exactly the way they do in real life. So with that came a great relationship. When we had to go to these manufactures and ask for their CAD (computer-aided design) files, which are like the Holy Grail for each car because it’s exactly how they build these cars, you just don’t hand that over to anybody. But because they knew it was for the movie based on the game, they knew that we wanted to do it accurately. There were a lot of NDAs that had to be signed and everything, and we worked with a great company that was able to build the super cars that we wanted. Because these are super cars that I didn’t want to wreck.

We had one of three Lamborghini Elementos in the world and I didn’t want to narrow that down to two! It’s disrespectful. They’re art pieces. Those cars are not designed to flip and wreck. They’re designed to go fast and stay upright. We wanted to make sure that they were extremely safe for our stuntmen that were going to wreck them, so we needed to get those CAD files to build a race car that we’d put them on top of and build the proper roll cage and the flipping devices — whether it was a cannon roll or a flipper to get these cars to flip the way we needed. With filmmaking you don’t want to be foolish. Why wreck a $2.5 million Bugatti That’s stupid when you can build something a lot cheaper that looks just like it.