Nintendo Eyes Unusual Screen

Nintendo is no stranger to innovating with its game systems. The 3DS handheld provides glasses-free 3D (though the feature hasn’t seen much use); the Wii introduced effective motion-based gaming to the masses; and the Wii U utilizes a tablet-like GamePad that works in conjunction with a system. Now Nintendo could very well take gaming to a new level with an unusual screen technology..

Polygon has reported that the video game giant is looking into purchasing “free-form” LCD-based screens from Sharp for use with a future device (possibly a new console), based on a previous report from the Japan Times. This technology allows displays in unusual shapes beyond the usual rectanges we’ve come to expect from smartphone and television screens. With that technology, the displays could be used in a number of unique places, including car dashboards, as the illustration from Sharp shows.

The technology was introduced earlier this year, and since that time has been making waves, despite not having a specific release date for the market. With Nintendo’s involvement, we may see Sharp’s free-form display technology come to market in a consumer device sometime next year.

Nintendo hasn’t confirmed any plans yet, although it’s certainly been on the move with the introduction of new gadgets this year that would be in line with what Sharp is putting together. The company revealed a modified version of its 3DS handheld back in August with a second analog stick, more refined 3D movement (based on the location of the player) and a stronger processor. Nintendo also discussed a sleep monitoring device in October, a part of its new “Quality of Life” initiative.

More confirmation is likely to come next year, perhaps even as soon as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Sharp is likely to be in attendance. For now, though, one can’t help but wonder what Nintendo could do with technology like this – and how effectively it would work for a Mario game. It’s not obvious how a non-rectangular display could affect game play, though it could help make a device more ergonomic or at least more unusual in its form factor.

Virtual Reality To Take Over Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival is usually known for showing high-profile projects before public release, giving critics and fans the opportunity to indulge in new experiences well before their release. Now, though, it appears to be opening a door to a new medium with its forthcoming festival – virtual reality.

According to PSFK, the event, which will take place in Utah next month, will introduce a number of new pieces based around virtual reality. As part of a new category called New Frontier, the virtual reality set-ups will be placed with nine different films, each presenting their own innovative take on VR-based adaptation. The line-up, which includes these and other films, can be found here.

Through a press release Shari Frillot, Sundance Film Festival senior programmer and curator for the New Frontier exhibit, stated, “The content creators in the 2015 edition of New Frontier radically challenge the very notion of storytelling. Working with virtual reality and new gaming technologies, these artists, filmmakers, journalists, media scientists, game designers and creative technologists present a peek at the dawn of a bold new cinematic world, through an unprecedented exploration of the most basic state of being.”

Although last year’s Sundance festival had its share of virtual reality-based showcases based on Oculus’ Rift technology, “(this) is the year that we’re really going to get wired into this hardware in a major way,” said Frillot. She feels that virtual reality is “really relevant” to audiences these days, and “really has the potential to shift the (filmmaking) terrain quite a bit in a very significant and deep way.”

One of the examples of how this tech is being used involves Francois Quevillon’s Derive, which provides an interactive installation based on audience members’ body positions and motions. With it, they can “explore 3-D reconstructions of urban and natural spaces that are transformed according to live environmental data, including meteorological and astronomical phenomena.”

Another example, 1979 Revolution Game by Navid Khonsari and Vassiliki Khonsari, will show first-person perspective as players follow a rebel through the Iranian Revolution.

Another project that’s likely to turn a few heads is Rose Troche’s Perspective: Chapter I: The Party, audience members will “be” at a college party, where they’ll get to experience a young man and a woman as they “meet *and) drink, and misinterpreted signals turn into things that cannot be undone.” Needless to say, it won’t be for everyone, but involvement in VR technology will certainly drive the point home even further.

“Last year people were putting on the DK1 [Oculus Rift headset] and the first thing filmmakers are looking for is image quality, and that’s where filmmakers wondered, ‘This is really cool, but what about what it looks like ‘” Frilot said. “But now the technology has ramped up to a stage where it’ll be wholly embraced by filmmakers.”

Microsoft May Stream Xbox Games

With streaming video games becoming more common these days, especially with OnLive’s services and Sony’s PlayStation Now up and running on consoles, it’s pretty likely we’re going to see more companies jumping on board. And who’s up next? Perhaps Microsoft.

ZDNet has reported that Microsoft is hard at work on a new cloud-based streaming service called “Arcadia,” which would enable users to stream both video games and applications through a number of devices. The system would be based upon the company’s own Azure infrastructure, and is being worked on by a technological team within the company’s Operating Systems Group. The Arcadia codename may refer a United Earth Government colony in the Halo game, which perhaps hints at how this technology might be used.

This would replace the previously announced “Rio” technology, which the company hinted at during a meeting earlier this year. At that time, the company was about to get a demonstration of its Xbox 360 game Halo 4 up and running smoothly on a Windows device, while interacting with an Xbox 360 controller with very little problem.

With the service, Microsoft could effectively introduce the opportunity to provide backwards compatibility with the Xbox One console, similar to what Sony is doing now with its Gaikai-based PlayStation Now technology on the PlayStation 4. However, according to ZDNet, it’s capable of more than that.

Along with games, Arcadia could also make use of applications as well, enabling Windows and Windows Phone consumers to run Android apps and games without needing to download them physically to their devices. This would bring Android compatibility to Windows mobile devices, but it’s not known whether this will move forward even if it’s technically possible.

Microsoft hinted at a full-fledged cloud-based service long ago with a recent job posting in its Microsoft Careers section {link no longer active}, indicating that it was looking for a senior software engineer savvy in “non-MS platform (Android, iOS) experience.” No word yet on if a hire was made, but it appears that Microsoft is making progress. This raises the interesting possibility that game (or app) streaming could occur on iOS or Android devices as well as on Xbox consoles and Windows mobile devices and PCs. This appears to be more of a strategic business decision that Microsoft has to make, rather than one constrained by technology.

More information is likely to come next year sometime – perhaps even at E3, when Microsoft might surprise its growing Xbox One consumer audience with the announcement of the service, aimed primarily at games. We’ll see what the future holds over the next few months…

CREATIVE: Get Behind The Wheel Of Honda’s Civic Type R With Xbox One

Honda has teamed up with Microsoft Advertising to create a lap trial around the world famous Nürburgring through Microsoft’s Xbox One as a track in the game Forza Motorsport 5. The whole thing is to promote the Civic Type R, which Honda recently showcased in a beautiful campaign on their YouTube page.

Users record and share their fastest times using Xbox Upload. The whole competition runs until the end of the month where 10 winners will be chosen and featured in the next video.

 

Trends In Chinese Game Market Revealed

The Chinese gaming market has certainly seen a huge increase over the past year, between the announcement of console launches for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the growth in the mobile gaming market and the potential to expand the market even further. That said, there’s still some things that can be learned from the six trends that have emerged from the market, according to Tech In Asia. We’ve broken them down in brief below, including both positives and negatives.

There was a growth in mobile gaming, but not profits

Although it slowed down a bit leading into the second half of the year, the country’s mobile market did show an increasing growth rate, and should expand even further with the introduction of new companies, products and services next year.

That said, the market still has room in terms of trying to increase its revenue. According to the report, a number of China’s most popular mobile games actually saw lower profits (92 percent), and PC games continue to make a higher revenue, despite the smaller audience. That’s not to say the market is in trouble by any means, but some developers may need to find a way to turn around their misfortunes.

Console releases have come, but didn’t make too big an impact

The Xbox One has officially launched in China, and the PlayStation 4 isn’t too far behind, ready to arrive in early next year.

While this does introduce the potential of a new audience, most gamers “don’t care about consoles,” according to the report. This is mainly due to restrictive software (based on Chinese government censors) as well as troublesome region locking, preventing the importing of more popular titles like Grand Theft Auto V. So far, only 100,000 Xbox Ones have been pre-ordered, and the numbers aren’t showing any increase that price point, despite a recent drop of $80. It appears the PC continues to dominate on this front.

eSports growth is here, but without a winning streak

eSports continue to bloom in China, as both viewership and attendance for events were on the rise. In addition, teams are starting to show dominance in certain games, such as winning the Dota 2 International championship in Seattle earlier this year.

However, there is still progress to be made when it comes to winning other games. Chinese tournament players still can’t win at its most popular game League of Legends. As a result, some teams have gone as far as trying to woo better Korean players to their squads, in an effort to try and turn things around.

Streaming picks up, but only for a select few

Game streaming definitely picked up this year, and eCommerce with it, as a number of professional players managed to rake in the cash based on their consistent game sessions. For instance, recently retired League of Legends player Misaya actually managed to make $1.5 million per year based on both his streaming and tie-in shops.

That said, it’s a service that doesn’t quite benefit everyone, but rather those who are savvy in the streaming game and know how to market themselves properly. This could possibly change with 2015, especially with Twitch teaming up with streamers to offer their own specialty shops, but for now, it appears to be restricted to a lucky few.

Virtual Reality taking off, but when is it releasing

Virtual reality made a huge impact this year with the introduction of such gear as Samsung’s VR headset, Oculus’ Rift headset and Sony’s forthcoming Project Morpheus. In addition, a company called ANTVR, among others, are looking to get into the virtual reality game in China as well.

However, there’s a catch – none of them have been released yet. With only a few prototypes available and a handful of impressive tech demos, it hasn’t caught fire like many people thought it would. This, again, could change next year with some mainstream releases, but, for now, it seems more like a “hardcore” interest than a general market.

PC Games are on the rise, but still not quite best-sellers

Finally, with the market pre-determined based upon “freemium” releases or Blizzard titles to make a profit, many titles managed to break the mold this year with their own set-ups. Guild Wars 2 is a shining example of this, using pay-up-front-based monetization, and it managed to sell half a million pre-orders before its release. In addition, Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV made a dent as well, even though it’s based on a subscription service.

That said, China’s mainstream PC hits remained that way, with League of Legends, CrossFire and Dungeon Fighter continuing to dominate in the market, all based on a free-to-play system. This is mainly due to the marketing savvy of Tencent, although their content certainly attracted a huge audience as well.

Could this change in 2015 Perhaps, depending on PC content. For now, though, it’s still business as usual.

This Week’s [a]list Jobs – December 17

[a]listdaily is your source for the hottest job openings for senior management and marketing in games, entertainment and social media. Check here every Wednesday for the latest openings.

Procrastination is the bane of productivity. Here’s the easiest way to get back on track.

Here are this week’s [a]list jobs:

For last week’s [a]list jobs, click here. Have a position you’d like to place with us Email us at pr@ayzenberg.com.

Niantic Labs Teams With James Frey On Transmedia Project

With controversial author James Frey turning heads with his first of a series of three new books in the Endgame series, which came out this past October, Google’s Niantic Labs are looking to do the same thing, as the company is making progress on its tie-in Endgame mobile release.

The team is looking to release the game before the second book in the Endgame series comes out, according to VentureBeat. The game will have a lot in common with the geo-location-based title Ingress, as it will take place inside an alternate reality using real-world locales for fights with 12 unique factions, all of whom will be battling for control.

So how will this tie in with the Endgame books? Players will be able to create factions based on its Ancient Societies, which combat one another in the hopes of being the last remaining surviving one before the pending apocalypse.

What’s interesting about the game, though, is that it can actually change the events that occur within the books, based upon the actions of players and factions. Frey and co-author Nils Johnson-Shelton have worked very closely on the stories so that they’ll interact with the second and third books. This is according to Niantic Labs’ Jim Stewartson, talking with GamesBeat. “The plotlines of the game, movie and novel will merge into one story,” he said, also mentioning the Fox-based film trilogy that’s currently in the works.

As a result, this project will create one of the biggest “transmedia” projects around, one that interlaces events from a game release with those from both the books and the films. “Google has the online gaming rights to this franchise, and Niantic is extending this intellectual property into mobile,” said Stewartson.

In addition, an interesting promotion involves the books, where players have to solve a puzzle that’s actually embedded within the pages. The first person to do so will win $500,000 in actual gold, which is currently on display at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“We’ve been building a story that turns the novel into an alternate reality game, and, by next year, becomes a mobile game,” said Stewartson. “To me, this is the most exciting thing I’ve ever done.”

Considering the popularity of Ingress – with over seven million players since its release – Endgame is likely to be a much more complex project, involving 12 factions fighting for the sake of survival. “At its core, Endgame will have the same core DNA as a geolocation game like Ingress,” said Stewartson. “But it also has player versus player action, and that is a very different mechanic. The interesting thing is that the real players will be incorporated into subsequent novels. That might be the first time that has ever happened.”

The year of Endgame is upon us. Players should probably be ready to make the next move.

Smiletime Could Be The Future Of Broadcast Content

Could the future of broadcast content look something like a Skype call? Former Hulu head of content acquisition Alex Kruglov thinks so.

Kruglov is the founder of Smiletime, a startup seeking to create a “social, multi-camera, interactive, live experience” — “S.M.I.L.E.” for short — to drive original shows as we know them towards the crossroads of broadcast and social.

Smiletime operates through a sort of broadcast called a “Smilecast”, where two or more people appear on a videoconference-esque screen and interact with one another. On-screen graphics and text allow audiences to interact with a broadcast through polls and messaging, providing for an experience far more participatory in theory than television or popular online streaming services like YouTube and Hulu.

Critics are quick to point out Smilecast’s similarity to Google Hangouts, among others; Kruglov, anticipating a “wait-I’ve-seen-this-before” reaction, says he doesn’t want Smilecast adherents to be overwhelmed by technology so new and unfamiliar, they refuse to latch onto it.

Kruglov says a batch of features decidedly closer to the innovative side of things will come along once consumers have familiarized themselves with Smilecast.

“We’re really thinking of Smilecasts as a place for broadcasters to innovate, and for viewers to connect,” Kruglov said in an interview with Re/code.

Kruglov is fond of reminding skeptics that early television was the domain of radio plays, as broadcasters didn’t yet know how to craft a message to fit the new medium. Indeed, in the age of Snapchat billionaires, it would appear that anything — including television and online streaming as we know them being supplanted by videoconference-based technology — is possible.

Five Mobile Gaming Trends To Watch In 2015

As we get ready to bid a fond farewell to 2014, it’s time to prepare for what lies ahead in 2015. Prophecy is a chancy business at best – and as Cassandra found out, it can be especially frustrating when you’re correct in your visions but nobody listens. Still, the [a]listdaily is ready to take a risk and make some educated guesses about what will be the major trends in mobile gaming for 2015.

What follows are some of the important trends that are sweeping the fast-growing mobile gaming market.

Strong Growth of Mobile Gaming Continues
This predictions not much of a stretch. The analysts who study the gaming market may disagree about the precise numbers, but there’s one common thing they all agree on: Mobile gaming is growing strongly. Mobile gaming has already become the largest segment of the gaming industry, and with an annual growth rate for next year predicted to be somewhere in the neighborhood of 20% that will be even more true at the end of 2015.

What’s propelling this growth Several factors, but the most important one is continued strong sales of smartphones and tablets. While Apple’s iPad sale may have leveled off this year, the company still sells more iPads in one quarter than the total number of PlayStation 4 consoles sold in a year. Android tablets are gaining share, and with more power and lower prices, the latest generation of Android tablets will be used more and more for game playing. Smartphones continue to get more powerful and more popular around the world. While the Western markets are becoming more of a replacement market for smartphones rather than new users, there is still substantial growth in countries like India and China. This year saw the sales of 1.2 billion smartphones worldwide, and that’s an amazing number of game-playing devices.

The revenue possible from the top mobile games continues to grow. Supercell is predicted to generate $1.8 billion in revenue this year, the majority of that from Clash of Clans – making that game comparable to the leading game moneymakers on any platform. We’ll likely be seeing mobile games that make $5 million a day or more in 2015.

Console and PC Games Come to Mobile
That means more than just a mobile game based on the same brand as a successful console or PC game – we’ll be seeing the same gameplay as the console or PC version on a mobile platform. Yes, we’ve seen most major new console titles accompanied by mobile games that act to extend the gammeplay experience, or even give you a separate experience from the console game. FIFA Ultimate Team, for example, has been a huge success for Electronic Arts, and certainly helps sell more copies of the conole and PC versions of FIFA as well as generating substantial revenue in its own right.

What we’ll see more of in 2015 are mobile games that are nearly pure ports of PC or console games. One of the first ones this year is Skylanders: Trap Team, which has taken the unprecedented step of including a Bluetooth console-like controller with the basic set for tablets – at the exact same price as the console version of the base set. “Brilliant,” said analyst Michael Pachter about this move by Activision. This effectively makes a family’s tablet into a console as far as the Skylander’s player is concerned, and not incidentally freeing up the TV for other uses.

That’s not the only move to take PC and console games more directly to tablets. Blizzard has had remarkable success with Hearthstone, its digital card game, which plays exactly the same way on a tablet as it does on a PC. That, in turn, is helping hardcore gamers see tablets as a useful, inexpensive portable gaming device – especially when compared to a laptop. Wargaming has also done a very creditable job of taking World of Tanks to tablets with World of Tanks Blitz, bringing the essence of the PC gameplay to the tablet environment. Expect to see more console and PC titles heading to mobile in 2015, bringing the same gameplay along.

Core Gaming on Mobile Grows
Up until now casual games have dominated mobile game revenues, but this is beginning to change. We’re already seeing deeper strategy and RPG games appearing in the Top Ten lists, like Clash of Clans, Game of War: Fire Age, and Puzzle & Dragons. Publishers realize that while a purely casual game like Candy Crush Saga can reach an amazingly large audience, it tends to do so without much monetization. Deeper games tend to bring higher monetization rates as players get more engaged for a longer period of time.

Even Apple is noticing this, featuring the unabashedly hardcore MOBA Vainglory in its latest iPhone ads. Publishers are going to be bringing other genres to mobile devices, and generally deeper gameplay, in the hopes of keeping players engaged longer and spending more. The real trick will be to attract the broadest possible audience into a game that has the depth of the best core games. We’ll see some attempts by major publishers to do just that in 2015.

The Return of Premium
Mobile games were initially sold for prices ranging upwards of $10 or more in some cases, but as the market became more crowded we saw prices driven downwards. Many games had a free Light version that served to entice you into buying the Premium version that cos a few dollars. When in-app purchases were enabled, the free-to-play games started to take off, and now dominate mobile gaming.

But that’s not the only way to make money on mobile games, nor even the best one for types of games. Many indie developers have done much beter with paid games, such as Monument Valley. Certain game types, such as strongly story-based games, don’t make sense as a free-to-play game, but are perfectly suited to a small up-front fee.

In 2015 we’ll see more games with an up-front cost, and more experimentation by publishers with variations on monetization schemes. Free-to-play games are great moneymakers when they work properly, but it seems odd to leave 95 percent or more of your audience paying nothing whatsoever to play your game. Advertising, subscriptions, sponsorships and other methods of monetization will get more chances in 2015 to see if there’s more than one path into a gamer’s wallet.

More Creativity
Finally, this trend is an important one in the ever more competitive mobile game market. There are more than enough me-too games out there, and it’s very hard to connect with an audience and keep it engaged when there are so many other games to play. The biggest players can do all right without being too creative, because they already have a huge audience or a huge warchest – they can coast along on those advantages for a while without the need to be too creative. But publishers and developers, especially smaller ones, are realizing that creativity is an inexpensive way to be successful, though risky.

Creativity in game design is where it starts, but for real success you need creativity in marketing, monetization, community, and every aspect of the business. This is a golden age for games, but the gold is going to go to the most creative developers and publishers in the long run as the global compatitions heats up. Why is a tiny developer like Supercell generating more revenue from a handful of mobile games than massive Electronic Arts with hundreds of mobile games Perhaps there’s some luck in there, but there’s certainly a lot of creativity.

Look for the interesting, unusual, and creative ideas in game design, marketing, and other parts of the mobile game business to see more success in 2015. That’s where you’ll find the new entries in the top-grossing game lists.

Hulu Nabs Exclusive Rights To More TV Shows From Disney/ABC

by Sahil Patel

Hulu might be spending more on high-profile original series, but it’s certainly not at the expense of beefing up its TV library.

The company has signed a new licensing deal with Disney/ABC Television, which will give Hulu exclusive SVOD rights to all episodes of ABC’s “Resurrection” and “Mistresses,” as well as previous episodes of Lifetime’s “Devious Maids.”

For “Mistresses,” Hulu Plus users currently have access to all episodes of season one. Season two will become available ahead of the season three premiere, which is scheduled for summer 2015. Following that, new episodes of the show will be streamable on Hulu the day after they air.

Read more…

This article was originally posted on VideoInk and is reposted on [a]listdaily via a partnership with the news publication, which is the online video industry’s go-to source for breaking news, features, and industry analysis. Follow VideoInk on Twitter @VideoInkNews, or subscribe via thevideoink.com for the latest news and stories, delivered right to your inbox.