New Book Celebrates Vintage Atari Art

Although not many people get to see them these days, the Atari 2600 games had some great package artwork that captured the vivid nature of what the games had to offer. Now, Tim Lapetino wants to celebrate it with a new book called The Art of Atari: From Pixels To Paintbrush.

The goal of the book is to celebrate the 136 different artworks used for such Atari 2600 games as Defender, Warlords and Baseball, among other titles. Atari spent a lot of money attempting to make the artwork stand out from other game designs at the time, a move that paid off for several years.

Lapetino is working closely with various artists from the era, including Steve Hendricks and Cliff Spohn, to gather the art for the book. He currently runs a graphic design agency, but is still fond of the Atari era. “I remember being five or six, when we first would get Atari games at home, I wanted to save all the boxes,” he said. “My dad through that was ridiculous. Why would you save the box that it came in You just want to play the game. But I just loved the look of them.

“When you lined them up on the shelf, they were all these different colors. I didn’t have a word for it, but they had this uniform typography. They all had a similar look. And then the illustrations were just these really amazing worlds.”

Lapetino hopes to release the book by the end of the year.

Source: Polygon

King’s IPO Not So Sweet

King Digital, the developer of such hit mobile games as Candy Crush Saga and Farm Heroes Saga, was really hoping for its public IPO to take off when it launched on the New York Stock Exchange this week. Unfortunately, things didn’t turn out as sweet as planned.

The stock, trading under the name KING and opening at $22.50, ended its first day of trading down 15.56 percent to $19, with a total of 40.66 million shares changing hands.

For the first game-related public listing since Zynga made its debut in 2011, King was expecting a bigger impact. Instead the stock was one of the worst IPOs of 2014, with investors clearly concerned that King might be a one-hit wonder with Candy Crush Saga being responsible for more than 80 percent of the companys revenues.

Source: GamesIndustry International

Lego ‘Simpsons’ Coming In May

Heads up, Lego fans – you’re about to get a dose of Springfield goodness.

The Lego Group has announced that it will release its first licensed mini figure set based on the popular Fox animated TV show The Simpsons. The 16 figurines will be released on May 4th, with each one going for $3.99.

The figures will be “blind-bagged,” meaning they’ll be random characters instead of easily identified ones in packaging, and include such favorites as Ned Flanders (pictured above), Itchy and Scratchy, and, of course, The Simpsons clan.

This set will coincide with a special Lego-animated episode of the show, which is also airing on May 4th.

Source: Kotaku

MLB.TV Now On Xbox One

Baseball season is almost upon us once more, and MLB.TV is gearing up for some great game coverage. Now, Xbox One subscribers will be able to join the party.

Microsoft has announced that Major League Baseball’s broadcast service is now available through a new application on the Xbox One, providing users with the ability to view live baseball games and replays through the convenience of their console.

In order to take advantage of the app, users need to have an MLB.TV subscription, as well as an Xbox Live Gold subscription. Also, keep in mind that certain blackout rules still apply, in case a game is being broadcast on live television.

Source: GigaOm

Facebook Buys Oculus: ‘Out of Left Field’

No one expected the deal that occurred yesterday, when Facebook announced it is buying Oculus in an estimated $2 billion deal. Well, perhaps The Oatmeal was there first, as the comic below shows. But the very fact that this was chosen as a humorous technology shows the absurdity at the core of this deal. A social network buys a VR company What is going on

Examining the deal from Oculus’ point of view, it’s hard to see why you’d say no. Assuming that Facebook tells Oculus they get to keep doing what they’re doing, full speed ahead but with far more resources, there’s no downside in terms of bringing the technology to market. On the financial side, Oculus gets a huge pot of money now versus an unknown amount of money (and possibly none if something goes wrong) in an unknown future. What’s not to like

The deal is harder to understand from Facebook’s point of view. Maybe virtual reality will be an important technology in the future, but it’s going to be years before it pays out a $2 billion investment — if ever. It’s a long-term bet in a very different direction for Facebook, as much as they try to find connections with their current business. Investors apparently agree, pushing down Facebook stock in after-hours trading. Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, when queried about the deal by the [a]list daily, responded succinctly: “You and I clearly lack the vision to see what Zuckerberg sees.”

There’s one connection that’s clear enough. An industry veteran suggested it’s always instructive to look at the boards of directors of the companeis involved in a deal, and that’s certainly the case this time. Oculus just received its Series B investment round a few months ago, which was a $75 million investment led by venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz. And, not at all coincidentally, Marc Andreesen is on the board of directors for Facebook. He did recuse himself from the negotiations with Oculus, but obviously Andreesen saw lots of potential in Oculus. And a nice early exit for Andreesen Horowitz, too.

Cartoon courtesy of The Oatmeal

John Taylor, analyst for Arcadia Investments, when asked about the surprising deal said “Yes, it’s out of left field for me too.” He feels that VR “still has a ways to go in terms of tech and mass consumer appeal” despite generating a lot of interest. “Although it is embraced by many gamers, this tech still produces discomfort for many users,” Taylor noted. “If applied to less motion intensive social activities, it may provide an enhanced experience for users. My guess is that Facebook is interested in this technology as a platform for some kind of really new future experience, not as a gateway to get into the games business as we know it today.”

Taylor feels it’s more about communication and virtual interaction than it is about action. “Perhaps it’s a way of changing the visual dimension as handsets and mobile devices get increasingly powerful,” Taylor said. “I’m tempted to compare the move as similar to Microsoft’s purchase of Skype or WebTV, which have had completely different outcomes in terms of commercialization.”

Industry veteran Don Daglow looked at the deal in a different way. “First of all, this deal certainly surprised me,” Daglow admitted. But he focused on what the outcomes of the deal might be. “How the personalities of the vision-drivers on each team interact is vital to the downstream impact of this deal,” Daglow said. “At its best it may create synergies that bridge across the divide that separates Facebook game audiences and console players. It may be the least distracting and most enabling way for Oculus to both lock in its value and gain financial and strategic resources to broaden its audience.”

There is also a dark side to this deal. “At its worst the deal could trigger the downstream post-incentives departure of key Oculus visionaries and rob the system of its true potential,” Daglow warned. “This is a phenomenon we have seen repeatedly in games, starting with Commodore’s acquisition of the Amiga system over a quarter century ago.”

Overall, Daglow looked for the silver lining. “As a designer I always like focusing on the upside, so my hope is that this unlocks the opportunity for creatives to combine tech and different kinds of audiences in new and innovative ways that did not seem as likely or available 24 hours ago. My guess is that the mainstream Facebook audience is going to see VR entertainment — and not just games — a lot sooner because of this deal, and that alone may accelerate adoption.”

Given all of the VR technology that’s been popping up recently (some of it on display at the GDC last week), it certainly seems that Facebook could have acquired VR technology for a lot less than $2 billion. Oculus has momentum, though, and a great team, and clearly Facebook put a lot of weight on to those factors.

Where will this all end up In the near term, Oculus will probably keep doing what it’s been doing and continue to get the Oculus Rift ready for market. In the long term . . .  that’s anybody’s guess right now.

It’s a Bad Place

While Irrational Games may be dismantled, the BioShock series continues with BioShock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode Two. The launch trailer lets you know you’re in for some trouble!


You’ve Paid Your Dues

Comedian Ricky Gervais bookends this new Audi A3 commercial that showcases ordinary folks – and extraordinary ones – saying why they’re ready for an A3, to the driving beat of Queen’s We Are the Champions.


Pinterest Preps For Brands

Pinterest has been doing much in a way to prepare for the demand for ads on its platform in the way of Rich Pins, which are essentially promoted posts and creating a site in which advertising could be virtually seamless. For a site which is essentially a large community of curated wishlists, it’s no wonder that brands are eager to get on board.

CEO of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann has said that these paid pins will be marked to distinguish the placement and will be relevant to the interests of its users. This will allow Pinterest to continue to not use banners or pop-up ads.

The roll-out is coming out this 2nd quarter which will entail either a cost-per-thousand impressions model or a cost-per-click.

Source: Pinterest

Source: Adweek