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End to End consulting in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
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Hi,

We provide End to End marketing consulting for products and services across many countries like US, Canada, UK, Europe, Australia or any other country where you are targeting your business expansions. To know more about the business models we are proposing, send a mail to aws@kcsbpo.com providing details of your business. We shall revert with a proposal.

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Posted by kcsbpo2007 Thu Jul 24, 2008 6:48 am
UK games biz demands closer ties with academia in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
UK videogame industry leaders have demanded greater ties betweenbusiness and academia to ensure that Britain's games developers remainglobally competitive. But will any of them step forward to foster therelationship?
At games industry conference the Westminster Media Forum, held inLondon this week, Mary Matthews, Strategy and Business DevelopmentDirector at game developer Blitz, said that ineffective training isholding the industry back.
“We can’t do what we want to do because we can’t find the right people,” she said.
Yet, acording to Kate O’Connor, Executive Director of Policy andDevelopment at Skillset, an industry body for skills and training, UKuniversities already offer 80 videogame-related degree courses. Nonehave any industry recognition, however.
Paul Harris, Professor of Screen Media at the University of Abertay,Dundee, agreed that accreditation by game design firms is crucial. Hesaid it is the best way for universities to ensure that students’skills match firms’ requirements.
Matthews also called for a similar frequent refreshment of the curriculum.
Matthews has other ideas too, such as recruiting potential gamedesigners from the age of 14. In her view, this would help kidsestablish much earlier a link between enjoying games and developingthem, thus steering more designers into the industry.

However, no one appears willing to take responsibility for theproposals. Instead, both industry and academia are hoping thegovernment will do the job for them.
Margaret Hodge, Minister for Culture, Creative Industries andTourism, said at the conference: “The games industry must do more toencourage students to choose the right qualifications [for videogamedesign], such as maths and physics.”
The government, she said, also has plans in the pipeline to createof centres of excellence for videogame development where gaming brainscould unite to develop the next smash hit.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 1:02 pm
Over 160 games for the iPhone, reveals Jobs in Gaming
Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO, has revealed that over 160 games will beavailable to download for the iPhone upon launch of the devices AppStore, in a phone call with the New York Times.
Intotal 500 applications will be available when the store launches in theUS today, 25 per cent of which will be free, 90 per cent will be soldfor less than USD 9.99 and one third of the applications will be games.
Jobs also revealed that that Apple doesn't plan to make much money offof the applications, including games, by giving developers a 70 percent cut of the sales.
                   
"We are not trying to be business partners," said Jobs.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:33 pm
Valve: PC Market is Not Dying, PC Retail in America is in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
While talking to TGR, VP of Marketing and Development at Valve DougLombardi touched on the PC market in general and what Valve thinks ofthe stories regarding the fate of PC gaming. Lombardi told us:

“We have really been outspoken lately about that. There is this brokenstory about the PC being on the decline, right? And that is one ofthese things like that we are really sort of being cranky about rightnow and being outspoken about and saying, it is not the PC market thatis dying, it is the PC retail in the states that is dying.”

Doug backed up this claim with comments regarding the state of PCgaming in other countries. “If you look at the revenue that we aremaking from Steam and the revenue that Blizzard is making from World of Warcraft,"he told us, "and you look at the sales of retail products in placeslike Germany and cyber café business in Korea, etc., there is moremoney now being made from PC business then ever before and it isactually dramatically increasing. I mean our Steam year over yearrevenues are up over 190%.”

Translation: with the increasing popularity of MMO games and the hugePC growth in Korea, PC gaming is here to stay for a long time yet. Anystory claiming PC gaming is dead hasn’t researched the facts or, justlooking at the sales chart in America.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:25 pm
Virtual Policy 08: UK Government and virtual worlds in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
founder of the Virtual Policy Networkthink tank, Ren Reynolds has announced a virtual worlds-orientedconference happening in two weeks time, just before the busy DevelopConference takes off in Brighton. It's called Virtual Policy 08 and is co-sponsored by BERR, the Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (former DTI). Taking as its starting points four key legal and regulatory issues,this event aims to bring together practitioners, policy makers andpublic servants for two days to grapple with Intellectual PropertyRights, Financial Transaction, Children Online and GovernanceFrameworks.
From Ren's post on Terra Nova,

What interests me about this event is that much of the debate aboutvirtual worlds that one sees in academia, at least, has been driven bythe US. This means that North American issues, rhetoric andsensibilities have been given primacy. Hosting an event in the UKshould help to flush out those areas where Europeans either don't thinkan issue is important or have a very different framing of it.

Virtual Policy 08 takes place in London on 22nd & 23rd July. More information is here.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:49 am
HMV: Videogames "are the new rock 'n' roll" in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
HMV's head of games, Tim Ellis, has told GamesIndustry.bizthat videogames have entered a "golden period" for the retailer, and"are the new rock 'n' roll" when it comes to popularity for consumers.
"Anyone who has been following the development of our gamesoffer really shouldn't be that surprised by this level of growth," hesaid, after the company revealed that the technology and games divisionnow makes up 21 per cent of the overall revenues, up from 14 per cent ayear ago.
"We'll always love music - it's in our DNA after all, but, ifit's not too much of a cliché to say it, the truth is that games reallyare the new rock 'n' roll."
                   
And he went on to underline the company's ambition to become the leading player in the specialist videogames market.
"We've been telling the world for some time that we are veryserious about our commitment to the games market. We've been investingsubstantial resources into the format so that we can become a seriousand credible force as a leading games specialist.
"There is significantly more trading space in-store andincreased numbers of staff dedicated to it. Our level of marketing andpromotion has also gone up considerably - much of it in our 'getcloser' brand style, which aims to get players closer to the games theylove; while we've also consistently offered some great deals onbundles, pricing and points rewards - both in-store and online athmv.com.
"Obviously it also helps that the last twelve to eighteenmonths have represented a bit of a golden period for games in terms ofnext-generation console launches and fantastic software releases, butwe had to put ourselves in a position to make the most of thisopportunity, and I think we're doing that."
He also shed some light on the company's plans to launch apre-owned videogame sale service, a practice which has proven popularfor customers in other specialist outlets, but which is disliked bypublishers.
"We've regularly monitored pre-owned activity in the gamesmarket, and have periodically reviewed our own stance in this area, asany business would," he said.
"We recognise that pre-owned is important for some consumers,though not necessarily the most dominant factor for them, while it'sclearly also a key element to the business model of some gamesspecialists.
"With this in mind we think it's worth trialling pre-owned togauge what our customers expect from us and also to assess the impactnot just on HMV's own games offer, but on our wider trading operation.
"Any decisions we make will have the best interests of ourcustomers in mind, and if we can, we will look to achieve this throughpositive dialogue with our suppliers."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:44 am
50 Skills that Every Gamer Should Master in Gaming
Just being able to play games is only the beginning. If you're goingto call yourself a proper gamer (as opposed to a casual pretender)there are a few requisite skills that you must master first. 50 skills,in fact. And they're all right here...
1. Give a game a review score without ever actually playing the game
A cursory glance from 20 paces of a grainy postage stamp-sized superlo-res scanned-in screenshot pinned to the ass-feathers of a headlesschicken in a sandstorm should be all you need to confidently attributean authoritative and infallible review score to any game. It's howprofessional reviewers have been doing it for years.
2. Be able to spot whether a game is running in 720p
Just by looking at it.
3. Survive with only four hours sleep (max) a night
We all abide by the 'one more go' mantra. It demands that we are strong in the face of severe sleep deprivation.

4. Play Wii without using the wrist strap
Or, master the art of gripping. Even newborn babies can do it.
5. Attack the weak point for massive damage
Look for the big red/yellow/orange thing. It's normally located on anenemy's back/ass/forehead. If a sustained assault yields unsatisfactoryresults, try attacking it with the last weapon you picked up. Thatnormally works a treat.
6. Be an expert in the work of one particular developer besides Miyamoto
Support the people that make the games you love. Pick a team. Find ahero. Whether it's an entire studio or just a single creative. Getexcited about the games they make. Know their history and what they'reabout. Hunt out their gameography. Get informed. We're sure Mr Shigstuff won't mind if some of the love gets spread around.
7. Beat a really bastard hard game on any tier of difficulty higher than Normal
Real men play on MASOCHIST!
8. Estimate remaining PSP battery life and calculate device's lastability on journey
If you've gone to all the trouble of uploading an extensive selectionof softcore pornography to your PSP in advance of a business trip, itcan be hugely upsetting to run out of juice before you've even had achance to make yourself tired in the airplane convenience.
9. Play driving games without 'steering' the controller
Unless you're a girl. Then you can't help it.

10. Become unhealthily obsessed with one particular game and play only that game for six months solid
Winners don't quit. They become addicts.
11. Instantly recognise any game being played on a TV show or in a movie
Computer Space in Jaws, Asteroid Deluxe in The Thing, Galaga in Trains,Planes and Automobiles, Centipede in Never Say Never Again, thesound-fx of Pac-Man in Ferris Bueller's Day Off... plenty more here.
12. Easily spot at least 5 differences between any PS3 and 360 comparison shots, that are invisible to the normal human eye
You're looking for things like lighting, texture resolution, draw distance, anything pink or slightly gay, lumps or growths etc.
13. Expertly pick the right game for the right moment
You might think your sozzled post-pub friends are having an absoluteparty huddled around your monitor watching you level up in World ofWarcraft. But they're not.
14. Be able to navigate to the 'Invert? Yes/No' option in under 5 seconds
Pause. Controller Options. Invert Yes/No. Unpause.
15. Be fluent in l337 5934k
Bµ7 Ð0n'7 b3 4 7w47 4nÐ 3v3r µ$3 17. H3r3'$ 4 h4nÐ¥ 7r4n$£470r, jµ$7 1n (4$3.

16. Instinctively know the location of all controller buttonsand their respective numerical, alphabetical or symbol-baseddenominations
When playing, a real gamer never has to look at the controller. Unless it's to check that it's not on fire.

17. Perfectly repackage console/PC snugly back in its box, complete with Styrofoam and cable ties
Put those ninja-honed Tetris skills to good use.
18. Make in-game moral choices quickly and without flinching
Stop being such a lightweight and kill the Little Sister already. We'repretty sure God doesn't take make-believe evil into account whendeciding who gets locked out.
19. Have a selection of "I only lost because..." excuses prepared and rehearsed in the event of defeat
Here's a few for free: "...I couldn't take my eyes off your lap"; ...Ihurt my fingers when your mum sat on them"; "...Satan told me to";"...I was a victim of sexism" and so on.
20. Own non-gaming friends at absolutely anything
You've never played the game before. The pad's missing buttons. You'vegot amoebic dysentery and you can feel a hairy-ass spider crawlingacross your face. So what? When you're up against a newbie there is noexcuse for anything less than comprehensive ownership.
21. Perform tea-bagging like a pro
Don't bang away like a demented pneumatic penis. Get rhythm. Tea-bagging is an art - as our own educational video reminds us.
22. Immediately know what to dump when your inventory is full
Don't know what to drop after the Goblin's Cleaver of Apathy made youover encumbumbered? Stop being a massive tool and just relinquish someof the unused crap you've been pointlessly clinging on to for the last30 hours.
23. Engage in the 'Are games art?' debate without sounding like a pretentious twat or a moronic dumbass
Find the middle-ground between this:

"I think you'll actually find that videogames are a post-modernexpression of individualism while simultaneously collectivising itsdigital form and manifesting as abstract interactive entertainment."
And this:
"Art is for pussies. I just want to kill make-believe people."

24. Always spot the 'hidden area'
Remember: nothing screams "HIDDEN AREA!" louder than a cracked wall.
25. Gather enough tech speak to make it sound like you know how to make games better than developers themselves
"Sure, they might have nailed the anisotropic and bilinearfiltering, but you can unzip me like a banana if the Cartesiancoordinates and phong shading aren't an absolute bucket of wank." Smartsounding development speak makes you superior. This site is a good place to start.
26. Memorise enemy/item spawn points
Want to know how tHE dEfec8or is always smoking your ass withthe rocket launcher? It's because he's all over the longitude andlatitude of those maps, and he's snorting up the coordinates of everyspawn point and he knows exactly what it'll spawn and he knows exactlywhen it'll spawn it. It's called dedication and that's why tHE dEfec8oris a winner.
27. Complete unlocking/defusing mini-games first time, every time
Should be like making Einstein recite his five times table.
28. To never be suckered by game store offers pimping crappy games and shitty third party peripherals
An Hour of Victory and Turning Point: Fall of Liberty bundle for 40notes with a TatTech controller thrown in for free is not a bargain,it's a piss-take.
29. Be condescending, patronising and impatient when playing with non-gamers
Alternatively, feign kindness and offer to show them "how to do it". Once you've got the controller, never give it back.
30. Be shit-faced drunk and still be able to rock at Guitar Hero or other popular party game
Preferably be able to keep getting more drunker while playing.

31. Bluff your way through a conversation about a retro game you never actually played
Don't ever admit to having not played some geriatric, incontinent pieceof gaming history that some rose-tinted retrosexual is eulogising. Justfudge your way through. It's not hard: "Geoff Spectacles and theSubatomic Android Invaders on the Vic-20? Of course I played it! Thatwas the one with the monochrome 2D graphics and beepy sound effectswasn't it?"
32. Instantly identify enemy types by the sound they make
Don't stop with enemies. Utilise your ears as nature intended andrecognise weapons, vehicles, power-ups, score multipliers... anythingat all with the amazing power of hearing.
33. Confidently guess what a developer's secret project/unannounced title is
If all else fails, predict Shenmue 3.
34. Passionately champion at least one obscure game that nobody has ever heard of and win it some new fans
Ever heard of Warriors of Elysia? It's the long overdue sequel to Bikini Karate Babes. We're sure it's going to be awesome.
35. Get the highest possible rank/medal/award in any tutorial level
Tutorial levels are weak and pathetic. An insult to proper gamers,they're a monumental mismatch on the same scale as a bare-knucklesbrawl to the death between Chuck Norris and Barbara Bush.
36. Know which elemental attack will be most effective against an enemy
Water>Fire. It's not exactly rocket surgery.
37. Master the art of reloading
Don't ever let your gun get caught with its pants down. It's humiliating.
38. To simultaneously perform other important life tasks while playing
Multi-tasking is the cornerstone of every real gamers' brain. Youshould be able to eat pizza, guzzle coffee, fill in a jobapplication, build a house of cards AND successfully evade a six-star wanted level in GTA IV all at the same time.

39. Skip every cut-scene and still understand what's going on
No matter how convoluted the machinations and exposition, when it boilsdown to it you're basically just trying to beat the baddies.
40. Identify boss battle attack patterns in under 20 seconds
Lunge. Lunge. Guard. Burrow into ground/disappear/become temporarilyinvincible. Emerge from ground/reappear/stop being invincible. Chargespecial attack. Release special attack. Expose weak spot in atactically foolish and totally unnecessary manner <Playerstrikes&gt; Repeat until dead.
41. To know everything about the game without ever having to consult instruction manuals
Apart from a few semantics and trivialities, once you've read one instruction manual, you've pretty much read them all.
42. Argue effectively in a gaming Internet forum
At the most basic level this entails typing "HAVE YOU ACTUALLYPLAYED THE GAME!?" over and over and over until the foul dealer ofscurrilous mistruths slinks away like the miserable dog that he is.
43. Well developed bladder control
You're not going to get to level 70 by taking a piss break every three hours.

44. Condense even the most convoluted control system into easy-to-manage verbal instructions
"Basically, move the sticks and press X"
45. Always know the best spots for camping
So you can root them out or dig in deep, depending on your mood.
46. Memorise important cheat codes for fast fingered employment at a moments notice
If you can't remember Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A then you weren't there.
47. Have at least one game that you are unbeatable at
Take the time to master a game. Play it with your eyes closed. Learnevery pattern, every combo, every counter, every weak-spot. But don'tbrag about it. Just casually lure people into your virtual domain. Toywith them. Give them false hope. Maybe even let them win a couple oftimes and say something all humble and wimpy like: "Gee, you really gotme. Well played." Then bring the real noise and let the shuntingcommence. Their humiliation will feel rudely satisfying.
48. Be like Rainman when converting Microsoft/Wii points
It's the ultimate geek party trick. If you can calculate that 190,608Microsoft points is $2,381.65 without even flinching then you will get chicks. Believe us. Mental arithmetic makes ladies hot.
49. Read the back-of-box blurb and decipher it into 'What It Actually Means'
"State-of-the-art 3D environments and characters" = "We done some graphics". More here.
50. Know when NOT to talk about gaming
"Sure, as maps go if you've got a competent team together thenCrossfire can be pretty badass, but Wetworks is off-the-hook whenyou're gunning solo. Oh yeah, sorry to hear about your entire familygetting killed with the bird flu. Must be a real bummer. So... youwanna play some COD?"
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:41 am
Rethinking Traditional Advertising Methods in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
You see, for all the talk of monthly periodicals' demise, SEO'simpending reign, the downfall of FM stations and television'sinevitable implosion, we, err, sort of forgot to mention one thing:essentially that, despite posting up ratings far from the halcyon daysof the pre-TMZ.com era, mass media outlets such as ABC, CBS, CNN andNBC; Time, Newsweek and USA Today;and even regional Cineplex chains still generate the kind of audiencenumbers most interactive entertainment execs would give their last USBcable to connect with. Tactics may be changing, with custom tradeshows,advertorials, movie-type trailers and cover wraps replacing simple pageads and product giveaways. But as an industry, we're far from preparedto divorce ourselves completely from traditional advertisingplacements, or shift marketing dollars exclusively onto the Internet.

"Something most gamemarketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keep messagingpointed and simple" - Steven Roberts, DIRECTV

To wit, column after news brief after investigative report may continueto bemoan the death of old-world media. However, as any marketingdirector can attest, its core vehicles still remain one of the bestways to rapidly generate mass awareness amongst PC- or console-owningaudiences. Hence, although blogs and video aggregators deliver greatbang for the buck and generate tremendous street-level buzz, theycontinue to be promotional outlets that most core publishers have yetto wholly embrace, let alone fully commit to. Thus the reign ofhigh-profile primetime spots for titles like Grand Theft Auto, Madden and Halo rolls on.
And so, just as I humble myself before my new daughter, who hasn't meta pair of slacks she hasn't enjoyed redecorating yet, I willinglyprostrate myself before the industry-at-large and beg forgiveness. Asthe following executives – representing the television, motion pictureand direct marketing industries, respectively – are quick to remind, weshould all think twice before acting so rashly and completely writingthese businesses off.
Suffice it to say that they may not generate the same kind of headlinesin 2008 as rich media providers, online networks or widget creators,but thanks to new technology, changing tastes and increasing audiencefragmentation, let's just say they're far from out of the game.
Steven Roberts
Vice President & General Manager, Games and StrategicInitiatives for DIRECTV, overseeing broadcast ventures like 24/7interactive games channel Game Lounge and the internationally televisedChampionship Gaming Series professional league.
"Broadcast TV is absolutely not dead – just changing. Popular as gamingis, you can't look at entertainment in a vacuum... you have to considerthe overall mass-market. There are 120 million television homes outthere, with millions of people who just want to be entertained in thesame way they have for the last 50 years. NFL football still puts uphuge ratings every Sunday, and millions still tune in to watch livemusic and sports – you don't see that on an Xbox 360 console.
"True, television has to evolve, and will become more interactive toengage subscribers... if that's what users want. But what we're reallylooking at here in the immediate is developers/publishers grapplingwith a question of increasing audience segmentation. Something mostgame marketers miss about the broadcast space is the need to keepmessaging pointed and simple. That doesn't mean downplaying keyelements or features that you want understood: Just presenting them ina straightforward, easily comprehensible way that speaks to a specificaudience. Implementing better virtual cameras into games would be awelcome start... For broadcasters, it's very difficult to showdifferent elements of a title in ways instantly conducive to helpingpeople understand what it's all about.
"It's also important to look beyond the 30-second spot. There's plentyof room for advertisers to tap into broadcast vehicles, whether throughtelevised competitions, interactive online program extensions orproduct integration. Placing games front and center by showing ahalf-hour of screens, video footage and people playing these titlesmakes sense. But what you really need for effective campaigns here isto build elements of user interaction into your advertising and pair itwith programming that's consistent with the demographics of the gameitself.
"It all comes back to basics. People won't skip an ad on a DVR or turnaway to get a glass of milk if it's compelling, the message is clearand it's telling you something that you want to hear. Creative doesn'tjust have to wow either: It also has to make sense for the audiencesegment. While marketing can be fun and have an edge to it, ultimately,for on-air placements, it's vital to make sure the message is verytargeted, specific and simple."
"For all the uproar surrounding the movie business lately, gamemarketers shouldn't underestimate in-cinema advertising's power. Mostmedia features a device (remote control, mouse click, radio dial, etc.)that lets audiences tune unwanted messaging out. But at the theater,you've paid to be there, are a captive audience and want to beentertained. This receptivity begets results if the creative is good:Recall scores average around 60%, with categories like gaming actuallysoaring into the 80-90% range.
"Definitely, the big screen's sexy. Via streaming media, you canliterally send ads for M-rated games to all R-rated movie screenings inany given city; appear alongside only specific types of films; ordeliver different messages to different geographic markets on-demand.But publishers need to look beyond the most obvious opportunities –lobbies can also be a marketing wonderland. Standees, banners,concession items... From 20-minute pre-shows packed with original,exclusive and entertaining content to game posters disguised to looklike cinematic counterparts, options for building brand equity areendless.
"Hollywood is far from dead. Are gamers going to see Shrek, The Matrix and Pirates of the Caribbean?Of course... it's common sense. Research also shows emotions aremagnified at the theater – and the same holds for audience reactions tocommercials as well as films. It's hard to argue with a dark room, agiant screen and a group of people who've willingly paid to be thereand want to see what's in store.
"Also note – 80% of tickets are sold on weekends, a time when peoplewant to go shopping, and theaters are generally located in shoppingdistricts. Stick a retail discount on a box office handout, and youdon't just achieve grassroots interaction, or present a clear call toaction. It's also conceivably the last message a consumer sees beforehaving to drive home past a Best Buy or Wal-Mart where your game'sconveniently stocked."

"People are more distracted than ever – advertisers need to cut throughthe clutter. You have to find ways to surprise and entertainaudiences... It's important to design options that let you really spendtime with consumers in a meaningful way.
"Consider core gamers. You can look at where they're hanging out – atfraternity houses, sports bars, military bases, wherever – thendiscover ways to be there. It's even possible to reach players atschool and weave gaming properties into an educational message. Theseinstitutions appreciate it when game companies can provide them withbranded book covers, locker calendars or workshops that incorporatethese titles to teach lessons, just to name a few possible choices.
"Basically, you have to create options that make sense for the contentand target demographic, then craft a vehicle that fits. This could be abranded video game tournament, for example, or involve catching fans ata sporting event and giving them things they can wear to the game.There are alternative ways to reach virtually any shopper.
"It's crucial for publishers to connect with fans on a one-on-onelevel, because as excited as TV/film imagery can make them, people wantto go hands-on and try your games. To do so, you have to interface withthem on the street. Demos at malls, movie theaters, health clubs, etc.are essential to building buzz: There's a direct link between samplersconverting into purchasers. Experience is everything, and consumers aregoing to be the strongest ambassadors for your brand – word-of-mouth isincredibly powerful in the enthusiast gaming community.
"A holistic strategy is important, though: Alternative marketing shouldjust be one part of a diversified tactical plan. If I can see an ad foryour game during Lost or American Idol, then it happens to be at a barwhere I can try it, it'll pique my interest... Suddenly, brand andbuyer are making a meaningful connection. Remember though, that theseplacements have to be unobtrusive. You can't invade someone's space –you have to make kiosks, stands, booths, etc. – something that adds to,not takes away from, the entertainment value of any activity or event."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:40 am
Microsoft Bans ‘Ben Dover’ from Xbox live in General Discussion, including Off Topic, Current Affairs
I say MS needs to stay out of everyone's business until someone complains, and from what I hear, people complain often on XBL.  I know someone who has been banned from a server just for his username, he didn't actually do anything.  Some people in this world make too much of a big deal about nothing.  No one gives a shit if you swear in a game, especially if single player contains swearing.
Posted by schmidtbag Sat Jul 05, 2008 11:12 pm
Spore Creature Creator tops US charts - have you got it? in Gaming
The NPD Group has released US PC software sales datafor the week ending June 21, with EA's Spore Creature Creator comingout on top.
Maxis reported that one millionSpore creatures were created and shared during the stand-aloneprogram's first week of availability. The full Spore game will bereleased in September.
Sales of Spore Creature Creator werestrong enough to place the game at number six on the All Categorieslist - the only game to appear alongside business, education andutility software.
                   
The Top Ten best-selling PC games in the US for the week ending June 21 were:

  • 1      Spore Creature Creator (EA)
  • 2 The Sims 2 Double Deluxe (EA)
  • 3 Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures (Eidos)
  • 4 World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack (Vivendi&gt;
  • 5 World Of Warcraft (Vivendi)
  • 6 World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest (Vivendi)
  • 7 The Sims 2 FreeTime Expansion Pack (EA)
  • 8 The Sims 2 Kitchen & Bath Interior Design Stuff Expansion Pack     (EA)
  • 9      Call Of Duty 4: Modern Warfare     (Activision)
  • 10 Lego Indiana Jones: The Original Adventures (LucasArts)


The Spore Creature Creator was software that allowed players to create their own creatures with a standalone version of the Creature Editor from Spore; the software was one of the first aspects of the game to receive focused development, and had undergone ten rewrites since the start of development. It was rated E by the ESRB in early March 2008, indicating that the editor would be released separately well before the game's release as a utility program. Electronic Arts told MTV Asia that "EA Screen will provide visitors a chance to interact with EA's game producers hailing from the studios, and unveil the hugely anticipated SPORE Creature Creator demo version to gamers for the first time in Asia." Electronic Arts VP Mark Buechner stated on the Spore Facebook page that the editor would be released in June or July 2008, saying, "We are looking at releasing it two to three months before the launch of the full game."

The SimCity Box artwork showed a blurb stating that the creature editor would be included with it. IGN revealed that the Spore Creature Creator utility will be available in two different versions on June 18, 2008. There was a paid version (for $9.95) and a free demo that was downloadable from Spore.com and included for free, bundled with The SimCity Box. The free version of the editor only contained 25% of the available creature parts that were found within the full version.

The utility included a test environment for players to see their creatures go through animations and allow the player to import other user-created creatures through the Sporepedia at Spore.com. The utility included screen capture and video tools as well, including YouTube functionality.

The editor also gave the user the ability to create animated avatars,and output in RSS and embeddable HTML code to facilitate easy incorporation into such sites as MySpace and Facebook.

Shortly after its introduction, the Creature Creator was used to create creatures with oversized genitalia, either stand-alone or engaged in coitus (a phenomenon quickly dubbed 'sporn'). EA responded with e-mails sent to those who made pornographic machinima from its demo, and has flagged certain on-line accounts for "TOS violations". Furthermore, YouTube has pulled several such videos for violations of its own TOS.

By June 24, 2008, users had already created over one million creatures.

It has been noted by those using the Spore Creature Creator, that while the Social and Attack categories can reach a max score of 20 with enough parts on the creature, the Abilities category does not achieve a max in the Creature Creator. This has led to speculation from it being the brain levels to advanced sensory abilities to telekinesis.


Electronic Arts confirmed that Spore will be receiving post-release expansion packs. No other information is available as to what sort of content the packs will feature, but EA has hinted it will be similar to The Sims expansions.


In the news
Spore Creature Creator free in the UK Videogamer.com

A Wii spinoff of the game has been mentioned by Will Wright several times, such as in his October 26, 2007 interview with the Guardian.Buechner confirmed it, revealing that plans for a Wii version were underway, and that the game would be built from the ground up and would take advantage of the Wii Remote, stating, "We're not porting it over. You know, we're still so early in design and prototyping that I don't know where we're going to end up, so I don't want to lead you down one path. But suffice to say that it's being developed with the Wii controls and technology in mind."The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of Spore are still under consideration.

Merchandising

There will be an iTunes-style "Spore Store" built into the game, allowing players to purchase external Spore licensed merchandise, such as t-shirts, posters, and future Spore expansion packs.There are also plans for the creation of a type of Spore collectible card game based on the Sporepedia cards of the creatures, buildings, vehicles, and planets that have been created by the players.There are also indications of plans for the creation of customized creature figurines; some of those who designed their own creatures at E3 2006 later received 3D printed models of the creatures they created. The Spore Store also allows people to put their creatures on such items as T-shirts, mugs and stickers.

The Spore team is working on a partnership with a comic creation software company to offer comic book versions of your own Spore story. Comic books with stylized pictures of various creatures, some whose creation has been shown in various presentations, can be seen on the walls of the Spore team's office.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:13 am
BBFC hits back at UK games industry and MS - 'we can cope' in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
"We are disappointed and concernedabout attempts by one or two video games publishers to pre-empt,through recent press statements, the forthcoming public consultation onvideo games classification. Their statements are misleading in severalrespects," says BBFC director David Cooke.





Full report
   BBFC Rejects Criticism Of Byron Games Classification Proposals
The BBFC says itsaverage turnaround time for games classifications is eight calendardays and there should be no reason why the increased role for the BBFCenvisaged by Dr Byron should lead to delays.

A statement frothe BBFC reads: "BBFC classifications are already cheaper for manygames than those under the Pan European Games Information System(PEGI). Because the BBFC currently deals mainly with the mostproblematic games, BBFC costs will fall if, as Dr Byron recommended, wetake on all games, physical and online, rated '12' and above.

"It is absurd to imply that the BBFCcould not cope, or would need 'a building the size of Milton Keynes'.The BBFC is a larger and better resourced organisation than PEGI, andis well used to gearing up, and to providing fast-track services whereappropriate.

BBFC Statement




"We reject any suggestions that the Byronproposals for dealing with online games are not future-proof. Countriessuch as the USA and Germany already classify such games in a way whichreflects national cultural sensibilities. The BBFC has made clear thatwe are prepared to work through PEGI Online, which already recognizesBBFC symbols. But, with online games, the real need is not apan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundly based andindependent initial classification, full information provision, andresponsible self-regulation of online game-play backed by properlyresourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms.
Quote:

"The games industry really does have nothing to fear from a set ofproposals which would provide more robust, and fully independent,decisions, and detailed content advice, for the British public, andespecially parents. The Byron proposals, far from envisaging thecollapse of PEGI, specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presencein UK games classification. They also provide significant opportunitiesto reduce duplication of effort and costs. And they would make wideruse of a system, the BBFC's, which British parents recognize, trust andhave confidence in."


"TheBBFC has made clear that we are prepared to work through PEGI Online,which already recognises BBFC symbols. But, with online games, the realneed is not a pan-national grouping of markets, but rather soundlybased and independent initial classification, full informationprovision, and responsible self-regulation of online game-play backedby properly resourced independent monitoring and complaints mechanisms."

Games industry fear
Cookewants to reassure games publishers and developers alike, claiming: "Thegames industry really does have nothing to fear from a set of proposalswhich would provide more robust, and fully independent decisions, anddetailed content advice for the British public, and especially parents.
"The Byron proposals, far from envisaging the collapse of PEGI,specifically provide for a continuing PEGI presence in UK gamesclassification. They also provide significant opportunities to reduceduplication of effort and costs. And they would make wider use of asystem, the BBFC's, which British parents recognise, trust and haveconfidence in."


Plans to introduce cinema-style ratings for computer games aimed at theover-12s came under criticism as the world's largest games developer voicedits opposition to the proposals.
Electronic Arts (EA), maker of the Battlefields and Command & Conquertitles, said that the new scheme would confuse parents, be unworkable andlead to games being released later in Britain than in the rest of the world.
Computer games for the under-18s are rated under the self-regulatory, PEGI[Pan European Game Information age-rating system] scheme. The 18-plus titlesare examined by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC).
Tanya Byron, parenting guru and columnist for The Times, has said in agovernment-commissioned report that parents do not understand the PEGIsystem and proposed that the BBFC rate all games that would attract a 12certificate and above.


EA, which makes about one in five of the games sold in the UK, wants legalenforcement of the PEGI system. Keith Ramsdale, who runs EA's business inthe UK, said: “What we need is a single system. "There are somegames that are already rated at 18 on the current system but would be at 15on the new cinema model. What we do need is legal enforcement of the PEGIstandard, because now if a child of 12 wants to buy a 16-plus game, theretailer has to sell it to them.”
His comments came as ministers begin consultations on how best to implement DrByron's proposals. She said that she sympathised with industry concernsabout the cost of compliance but did not accept EA's complaints. “Parentsdon't understand PEGI, and while adults don't buy Texas Chainsaw Massacrefor their children, they might still buy a [violent] game like Grand TheftAuto,” she said. Dr Byron said that legal enforcement of the PEGIregulations would be “a good compromise” between a statutory scheme andself-regulation. She added that her wish to have the BBFC rate all games“may be changed slightly as a result of the consultation”.
EA argues that the BBFC proposal is also unworkable because games increasinglyinclude extra levels or components downloaded from the internet. Mr Ramsdalesaid that the BBFC would need “a building with the size of Milton Keynes” tohouse all the censors needed to handle the thousands of game components andelements that companies like his hope to sell. The games industry has saidthat the proposed system could collapse because the BBFC could not cope.
Concerns about the need to regulate online games were overstated, Dr Byronsaid. “The majority of people buy games in the shops - that's where themarket is today,” she said.
EA asserted that the UK release of games would be delayed by “weeks, notdays”, while games released globally were made to comply with Britishratings. The pan-European PEGI system could be undermined if the UK, thebiggest single games market in Europe, walked away from it. Germany is theonly other big country in Europe to have its own ratings system. Last yearBritons bought £1.7 billion of video games.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:04 am
Laptop pricing continues to fall in the UK in Hardware, Internet, Networking, Comms and Security
Costs of PCs in the UK are set to continue to fall, according to the latest market reports from analysts at IDC.
Thenew IDC report states: "The UK PC market demonstrated solid performancein 1Q08, as overall PC shipments for the quarter reached more than 3.25million units, an increase of 14.3 per cent year-on-year."
Thenotebook market continues to grow at a healthy rate, growing "by a veryhealthy 41.8 per cent, thanks to renewals, further expansion of theinstalled base to new buyers, and multiple-equipment purchases."
The end of the Desktop?
Many users are now choosing to replace their old desktop PCs with new, affordable laptops.
"Demandfor notebooks, stimulated by fierce vendor competition and aggressivepricing, will remain a key engine for growth throughout the year," saidLucie Jichova, research analyst for IDC's EMEA PC research group.
"Economicpressure will continue to drive cautious spending behavior, but thearrival of low-cost ultraportables, increasing traction of telcobundles, and mobile solutions in the business space, will maintainstrong momentum in the notebook market in the second half of the year."
Cheap laptops for all
Thereallly promising news for UK consumers is that the price of laptops isgoing to continue heading in the right direction – downwards.
"Consumersare going to benefit from attractive notebook offers as competitionamong vendors in the retail channel intensifies," states the IDC report.
"Recently,we have seen an introduction of affordable ultraportable PCs, whichhave been very well received by consumers. IDC expects that these basicsurfing devices will continue to sell extremely well throughout 2008."
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:04 am
Games Industry Movers: Trion, 38 Studios, Kongregate & M in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
his past week, 38 Studios (the developer founded by Red Sox pitcherCurt Schilling) announced that Thom Ang was appointed Director of Art.He will oversee the direction and management of 38 Studios' artisticdevelopment, including the MMOG codenamed Copernicus, whileworking closely with Todd McFarlane and R. A. Salvatore. Ang willreport to Vice President of Creative Development, Scott Cuthbertson.
"38 Studios' creative teams have been meticulously crafting thesignature look and feel for our upcoming MMOG over the past 18 months,"said Brett Close, CEO and president. "Thom's extraordinary talent andexperience will be key in driving the vision and quality of our OnlineEntertainment Experience."
Ang has been working as a director for notable franchises and brandsfor over 15 years. He's worked as a senior artist at DisneyInteractive, working on titles like Toy Story II and Tarzan. Ang also created illustrations for TV shows, including The X-Files and was a storyboard artist for Sony/Columbia/Tri-Star TV Animation programs, which include Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles and Max Steel.He then moved on to be art director at EA LA, where he headed up artproduction, team management and visual concept development for the Medal of Honor franchise. In his last position, Ang was art director at THQ, managing more than 25 titles.
"38 Studios is absolutely committed to the next evolution of MMOGs, andevery team member has great pride in the value of what they do,"remarked Ang. "I am excited to contribute to this vision and become apart of an extraordinary team."
Lisa Jablonsky - Kongregate
Kongregate announced this past Friday that Lisa Jablonsky will open thecompany's New York ad sales office. She will work with Kongregate'sChief Revenue Officer Lee Uniacke to secure high-profile advertisingpartnerships based on the site's reach and appeal to young men, ages 13- 34.
"With high user engagement and a growth rate of over 25 percent monthover month, Kongregate provides the ideal medium for advertisers tryingto reach this hard-to-pin-down demographic," stated Uniacke. "As webuild our sales force to address these opportunities, Lisa's proventrack record in developing successful partnerships across a range ofyouth-driven digital consumer brands will add tremendously to theexpertise of our team."
Jablonsky has worked in the New York advertising scene for 21 years andshe was as an early proponent of the digital advertising arena. Amongher projects, she has conceptualized and implemented ground-breakingfilm contests for Intel and Kohl's, and created one of the first mobilecontests for Alltel. Jablonsky helped create games for McAfee Softwareand the National Guard, as well as construct an editorial integrationprogram for Coke's NBA March Madness Flash game. She was most recentlyan account executive with MTV Networks, where she successfully droveadvertising and integrated sponsorships for Comedy Central,AddictingGames.com, Shockwave.com, and AtomFilms.
"Kongregate is an advertiser's dream as it attracts young men betterthan virtually any other site on the Web and puts them in a cool, edgyenvironment where our audience can really interact with their brand,"commented Jablonsky. "At over 3 million unique users today, a highgrowth rate, and just being named one of Time Magazine's Top 50 sitesfor 2008, we're on track to give advertisers the big reach that theyneed to effectively target the young male demographic this fall."
Trion World Network - Glen Van Datta
Trion World Network announced recently that Glen Van Datta has beenhired as Vice President of Engineering and General Manager of TrionWorld Network Austin. He will oversee day to day operations at Trion'sAustin studio and supervise all customer service, quality assurance,operations and other support activities with relation to the Trionplatform.
"Glen is a tremendous hire for Trion and an excellent addition to ourworld class technical organization", said Nicholas Beliaeff, VicePresident of Product Development & Head of Trion World Network SanDiego. "Glen's vision, leadership, and deep history maturing andproductizing compelling online game technology will help Trion take ourserver based game technology to the highest levels while helping us andour partners get to market more quickly."
Notably, Van Datta has worked for over 22 years in softwaredevelopment, including the past dozen in game development. He wasco-founder and Vice President of Engineering at RTIME, where he oversawthe development, design and testing of the RTIME SDK online, in-gameand player matching platform. Van Datta most recently worked at SCEA asDirector of Online Technology, where he oversaw a team of more than 80employees that developed SCE-RT SDK to enable online games for PS2, PS3and PSP games, including Singstar, Warhawk, Resistance, Home and GT5 Prologue.
"For more than 12 years I've believed that online games, online socialnetworks and online media distribution were the future ofentertainment," said Van Datta. "Trion's innovative, dynamic platformand content are the next generation in the online entertainment space."
IGN Entertainment – Jamie Berger
IGN Entertainment announced recently that senior vice president ofconsumer products and technology Jamie Berger will start overseeingbusiness development for the company. He will continue managing IGN'ssubscriptions, digital distribution, and e-commerce portfolio includingIGN's Direct2Drive and GameSpy Technologies.
Berger has over 16 years of professional brand management and marketingexperience from within the online gaming industry. He began hisprofessional career as an Account Manager with the NCR Corporation.Berger spent six years in the consumer products division of The WaltDisney Company before joining IGN Entertainment. He currently helpsextend the IGN brand by creating and leading partnerships thatdistribute content and drive revenue.
AMD - Emilio Ghilardi
AMD, which runs the ATI graphics card business, announced this pastweek that Emilio Ghilardi has been appointed senior vice president andgeneral manager of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA). He will beresponsible for all sales and marketing operations within EMEA,starting in mid-August 2008. Ghilardi will report to AMD chief salesofficer Gustavo Arenas.
"Emilio adds tremendous global sales and marketing leadership to AMD inEMEA which we expect to help strengthen and grow relationships with ourend-user customers, OEMs and distribution partners," said Arenas.
Ghilardi comes to AMD from HP, where he started as vice president ofConsumer PC Clients in EMEA. He then moved on to be vice president andgeneral manager of Commercial Hardware within the Imaging and PrintingGroup. Ghilardi was most recently vice president and general manager ofHP's EMEA Consumer Business Unit, managing the business for consumerPCs and Imaging and Printing products.
AMD added that Alberto Macchi, corporate vice president of Sales andMarketing for EMEA, is departing the company "to pursue newopportunities."
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution - Jacqueline Jourdain Hayes
Warner Bros. Digital Distribution (WBDD) recently announced thatJacqueline Jourdain Hayes has been named Senior Vice President Businessand Legal Affairs. She will manage legal issues around new digitalbusiness models (such as distribution of Warner properties on Xbox Liveand elsewhere) globally, oversee the negotiation of Warner Bros.video-on-demand and electronic sell-through licenses across multipledigital platforms, and provide legal counsel to the Company's seniormanagement on the acquisition, distribution and protection of contentfor digital platforms and other digital initiatives.
"Jackie has been working on our digital business for quite some time,her expertise in this area is unparalleled," said Clarissa Weirick,General Counsel, WBDD. "The digital business is still one of thoseareas where you are often making the rules as you go along, whichrequires someone like Jackie who is confident and creative innegotiating this new terrain. We are extremely fortunate to have hercontinued expertise as our digital business moves ahead."
Hayes has worked as an Associate in the Corporate Departments of TroopMeisinger Steuber & Pasich in Los Angeles, of Goulston and Storrs,P.C. in Boston, and of Moses & Singer in New York City. She joinedWarner Home Video in 1998 as Counsel, and was promoted to VicePresident Business and Legal Affairs of WHV in 2000. Hayes joined theWarner Bros. Digital Distribution division in July 2006.
TC Digital Games – Andi Smithers
Recently, TC Digital Games announced that it appointed Andi Smithers tothe new position of Director of Technical Development. He will overseedevelopment of the company's digital services, including mediatechnology and format strategy as well as interoperability of digitalservices and devices.
"Andi joins our team at a pivotal moment in the evolution of Chaoticand TC Digital," said Bryan C. Gannon, President and CEO of TC DigitalGames. "He will become an integral part of our efforts to enhance theChaotic online experience and further develop our digital services.Andi's expertise in developing technology, his extensive background increating computer game software and his vision for emerging technologymake him a perfect fit to lead this innovative game play convergence."
Smithers has held several executive roles and technical positionsthroughout his 20-year career, having worked for Microsoft, Activision,Psygnosis, LucasArts, and Midway. He was most recently with Sony OnlineEntertainment where he served as Senior Engineer in the Research andDevelopment group. Smithers pushed advanced physics and graphicstechnologies forward to ensure their quality and was responsible foroverseeing the strategy and development for a cloth simulator.
Microsoft – Michael Delman
As we previously reported, Microsoft this past week appointed MichaelDelman to the position of corporate vice president of global marketingfor the Interactive Entertainment Business (IEB) in the Entertainmentand Devices Division. He takes over the role for Jeff Bell who left thecompany earlier this month. Read more about the move here.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:42 am
Revealed: Sony's future plans for PS3, PSP and TV in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
"This is not your father's Sony", sums up what Howard Stringer has done at Sony since taking over the reins in 2005.
TheWales-born CEO was underlining the challenge that the company now facesin the digital age, as he led the Japanese giant's corporate strategybriefing in Tokyo today.
In the absence of any attention-grabbingnew hardware announcements, most headlines are likely to go to Sony'spledge to increase revenues in the PC, Blu-ray-related and componentsbusinesses.
Game plan
Stringer said thatSony would build these into "trillion-yen businesses" by FY2010,putting them alongside the core business units of TVs, digital imaging,gaming and mobile phones. One trillion yen is currently worth around£4.7 billion.
Although gaming is a traditional Sony strength, thedivision is mired in red ink after the costly development and launch ofthe PlayStation 3. Addressing that, the CEO promised to bring it toprofit by March next year.
Stringer also outlined plans to investclose to £9 billion in new technology in a concerted drive to becomethe world leader in LCD televisions within three years. Beyond that,the assembled execs wouldn't be drawn on precise numbers or revenuetargets.
Mobile content
Although he didn't address recent speculation about the possibility of a PSP phone or the stability of the Sony Ericsson joint venturethat produces mobile phones, Stringer did emphasise that such handsetswould continue to be sold and that "Sony music and pictures content[would be] embedded in all key Sony Ericsson product lines."
As expected, there was no discussion on life after Blu-ray– the so-called 'death of disk'. However, a hint of how quickly onlinedistribution will move centre-stage came in the news that SonyPictures' summer blockbuster, Hancock, will be made available exclusively to all internet-connect Bravia televisions in the US before its DVD release.
Movie download service
The movie theme resurfaced in a presentation from Kaz Hirai, the president of Sony Computer Entertainment, with the news that the long-anticipated film download service would finally reach the online PlayStation Network this year.
Hiraiconfirmed that US users would get first crack at PS3 movie downloads inlate summer, with Europe and Japan to follow by year's end. He addedthat full details would be announced at E3 in LA next month and thatboth standard- and high-definition titles would be available.
       
Virtual world
Warmingto the theme, Hirai added, "Please expect more from our evolvingPlayStation business." That evolution will also include themuch-delayed PlayStation Home virtual world, which Hirai demonstrated,along with new dynamic in-game advertisements that change according tothe context.
The littlest PlayStation also featured prominently,with the PSP being positioned as an interactive extension of the PS3console, as well as a tool for accessing the PlayStation Store for gamedownloads and, possibly, feature films at some undisclosed point.
Hirai's presentation concluded with something of a surprise in a new network service called Life With PlayStation.The rough demo showed a view of the Earth from space, which rotated toreveal location-related news items, reminiscent of similar services onNintendo's Wii.
Innovator and creator
Returningto the podium to sum up, Stringer emphasised his firm's creative skillsand took aim at a company many see as having inherited the Sony mantleas innovator supreme.
"We have products to get excited about [including] OLED TVs, Rolly, CyberShot smile detection and the new Bravias.
"Appleis a boutique company, but we're a large conglomerate. We recently cameout number one in a poll by Incite on innovative companies, just aheadof Apple. I rest my case."
Whether or not that's overstating thecase, Stringer's confidence in the once-troubled company is almosttangible, leaving little room for doubt that Sony is back and that itmeans business.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:41 am
Why the PC is the future (from VALVE) [FEATURE] in Gaming
When Valve summoned a handful of US and UK journalists to itsSeattle headquarters at the end of last month, it promised to talkabout the future of Steam, its digital distribution system. That itdid, revealing the ambitious Steam Cloud service for remote storage of game data, and boasting that it would soon be making more money selling games digitally, all the while remaining untroubled by piracy.
Valvemastermind Gabe Newell and his cohorts had an ulterior motive forbringing reporters together, however, and unusually for an ulteriormotive, it wasn't a wholly self-interested one. It was this: toevangelise the PC as the games platform of the future.
"Thisreally should be done by a company like Intel or Microsoft, somebodywho's a lot more central to the PC," says Newell, pointing out thatcompanies like Blizzard, PopCap and GameTap would have just as much tosay as Valve about how PC gaming is leading innovation in technology,business models, and community-building. But, notwithstandingMicrosoft's occasional promotionof Games For Windows - an initiative Newell refrains from attackingdirectly, but exudes disdain for - that support has not beenforthcoming.
Where console platforms have merciless andwell-funded PR armies poised to combat any criticism, negative storiesabout the PC - mostly publishers, or developers like Crtyek,complaining of rampant piracy and flat sales - run unimpeded. Salesdata that focuses solely on boxed copies sold at retail appear to backthem up. Valve has had enough. "There's a perception problem," saysNewell. "The stories that are getting written are not reflecting whatis really going on."



You want figures? There are 260 million online PC gamers, a marketthat dwarfs the install base of any console platform, online oroffline. Each year, 255 million new PCs are made; not all of them forgaming, it's true, but Newell argues that the enormous capitalinvestment and economies of scale involved in this huge market ensurethat PCs remain at the cutting edge of hardware development, andconsoles their "stepchildren", in connectivity and graphics technologyespecially. Meanwhile, Valve's business development guru, JasonHoltman, notes that without the pressure of cyclical hardware cycles,PC gaming projects - he points to Steam as an example - can groworganically, over long periods of time, and with no ceiling whatsoeverto their potential audiences.

More pertinent, perhaps, are thefigures directly relating to games revenue that the retail charts -admittedly a stale procession of Sims expansions and under-performingconsole ports - don't pick up. "If you look into the future, there's animportant transition that's about to happen, and it's going to happenon the PC first," says Newell.

At its heart, he explains, is a shift from viewing games as aphysical product, to viewing them as a service - something that is alsohappening in other entertainment media. Digital distribution is part ofthat; more fluid and varied forms of game development, with games thatchange and engage their communities of players over time, are another;as is, naturally, the persistence and subscription (or otherwise)revenues of MMO games. None of this is reflected in the sales chartsanalysts, executives - and gamers - obsess over.
Valve sees 200per cent growth in these alternative channels - not just Steam, butincluding the likes of cyber-cafes as well - versus less than 10 percent in bricks-and-mortar shop sales. Steam has a 15 million-strongplayer-base with 1.25 million peak concurrent users, and 191 per centannual growth; none too far off a console platform in itself. The PCcasual games market, driven by the likes of PopCap, has gone from nextto nothing to USD 1.5 billion dollar industry in under ten years, andhas doubled in size in just three. Perhaps most surprisingly, Valve hasfound that digital distribution doesn't cannibalise retail sales - infact, a free Day of Defeat weekend on Steam created more new retailsales than online ones.


And then there is the game that many claim has been the death of PCgaming, but that Valve sees as its greatest success story, and itsfuture. "Until recently, the fact that World of Warcraft was generating120 million dollars in gross revenue on a monthly basis was completelyoff the books," Newell says. "Essentially, [Blizzard is] creating a newIron Man every month, in terms of the gross revenue they're generatingas a studio. Any movie studio would be shouting about that from therooftops. But it was essentially invisible."
Newell thinks thatWOW is "arguably the most valuable entertainment franchise in any mediaright now", and also believes, rightly, that it could only ever havehappened on the PC. He also tips his hat to South Korea's Nexxon forits enormous success with free-to-play, microtransaction-driven gameslike Kart Rider and Maple Story, soon to be aped by EA's BattlefieldHeroes.

There is another reason for the gulf between theperception and the reality of the games market, Valve thinks, and it'sa geographical and linguistic one. The dominance of the Englishlanguage gives the US and UK games markets, where the PC is weakest,undue prominence. In several major Western markets - notably Germanyand the Nordic countries - the PC performs much better. What's more, inthe emerging markets of China, Korea and Russia, where gaming is seeingunprecedented, explosive growth, console install bases are negligible,and the PC is king. Valve thinks that there's a silent majority ofglobal gamers who are skipping the console era entirely, the way thesedeveloping nations already skipped dial-up internet.

Steam isavailable in 21 languages for this reason, and Valve reckons that itsspeedy localisation and lack of physical distribution is an effectivecounter to the piracy common in these markets. It's also allowing Valveto get games to players in regions traditional channels don't support."PC's are everywhere in the world," says Holtman simply. "PC's are thesame all over the world. All of sudden, if you can open up emergingmarkets and go somewhere like Russia or South East Asia, you've goneway further than you can go with a closed console. There are 17 millionPC gaming customers in Russia alone."

A key shift in this brave new world of games as services rather thanproducts - and one that runs contrary to the traditional image of PCgaming - is a move away from graphical fidelity being the yardstick ofprogress. "As a company that's really proud of the job we do withgraphics it's funny to say this," Newell says, "but we get a betterreturn right now by focusing on those features and technologies thatare about community, about connecting people together."
He citeseasy uploading of gameplay videos to YouTube as a bigger source ofentertainment value than marginal improvements in graphics. "I thinkthat people thinking about how to generate web hits on their serversare a lot closer to the right mentality for what's going to besuccessful in entertainment going forward, than somebody that's used tohaving conversations about how to get end caps at Best Buy."
Therevolution in distribution and business models also offers a major newopportunity for smaller games - and smaller games developers - tothrive. The demands of retail - the logistical problems of gettingboxes to shops, and the budgetary drain of huge marketing campaigns -mean that bigger is necessarily better in the traditional games market.
Notso on Steam and its equivalents, says Valve, pointing to the hugesuccess of indie darling Audiosurf, as well as its own Portal. "As youmove away from that huge first weekend, big blockbuster mentality,"says Newell, "you're getting back to an area where smaller and smallergroups can connect with customers. I think you're going to find thatthe enjoyment of being in the game industry as a developer on the PC isa lot greater than outside of it."

He's backed up by an actual indie, Audiosurf creator Dylan Fitterer.This one-man development, created without financial backing -impossible on consoles, due to the cost of development kits - was thebest-selling game on Steam full-stop at its release, outclassing manybig-budget titles. "I didn't have to ask anybody if I could release it,except for my wife," Fitterer says. "It took a few years, and I waspretty darn tired by the time it was ready. Something likecertifications? No thanks." He also points out the tight limitations ofconsole servers versus PC servers for online gaming; Audiosurf'sscoreboard for every song ever recorded would be out of the question ona closed platform.
Holtman argues that Steam and Steamworks - thesuite of free tools it offers - revolutionise the environment fordevelopers and publishers. The auto-updating system means that a gamecan be developed right up to release and beyond. It eases painfulcrunch times, and allows game makers to respond to their audiences,publishers to develop their titles as continuously evolving franchisesrather than finite products.
"All of a sudden, PC games becomethis thing that's reliable and up-to-date," says Holtman. Team Fortress2 designer Robin Walker weighs in, noting that the PC version of theshooter has had no less than 53 updates since its release last year -something that certification cost and time have prohibited for onconsole - and that this "ship continuously" ethos is a key component tothe success of the best multiplayer titles. Steam, he says, makes thatprocess fast and transparent.
"I don't want anyone between me andmy customers," says Walker. "I want to write code today and I want allmy customers running it tomorrow." Possible on the PC - Steam inparticular, naturally. Not possible on consoles. For his part, Fittereradded achievements to Audiosurf in a total of two days. This constantiteration creates a feedback loop between developer and customer that,reckons Walker, can only improve the quality of the game. "The more Italk to my customers, the better my decisions will be. Without a systemof talking to my customers, I will make bad decisions."

The implication is a striking one: sporadic, excessively controlledupdating means that console multiplayer games will never reach theheights of their PC counterparts. There is a counter-argument - that PCgames descend into a poorly-defined, indistinct mess of constantpatching - but it is effectively squashed by the fact that, if you lookfor a multiplayer game with the longevity and massive popularity of aWOW or a Counter-Strike on console, you won't find one (with the veryarguable exception of Halo).
Auto-updating is the reason Valvecreated Steam in the first place. It's the reason it now finds itselfin an odd position for a developer: semi-publisher, leadingdistributor, market analyst, agony uncle and technocrat - not tomention defender of a platform that's still being proclaimed dead, whenall signs point to the very opposite.
At the end of the day, PCgaming's health - and its trickiest challenge - comes down to a bottomline that even the format's detractors can't refute: there are just somany of the damn things. "We think the number of connected PC gamers weare selling our products to dwarf the current generation of consolesput together," states Newell. "There are tremendous opportunities infiguring out how to reach out to those customers.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:22 am
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