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680 results for developers
GAMES@LARGE industry survey - participation wanted! in Gaming

Games and related industries professionals (games developers,publishers and industry experts/ISPs/content agglomerators/set top boxmanufacturers...): if you canspare a few minutes, your opinion on an EU-funded digital gamingplatform project would be very much appreciated. Our research team inthe Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, iscurrently working on an EU-funded digital gaming platform projectcalled Games@Large. As part of an industry consultation process we haveset up a short online survey. Any help in completing the survey and/or getting it out to other industry professionals would be great.
The survey (and links to project brochure) is at:

http://homepages.gold.ac.uk/ps-tec/galic


THANKS!
Dr Richard Carmichael
Goldsmiths, University of London
Posted by R Carmichael Wed Jul 30, 2008 12:35 pm
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
A Look Back at Nordic Game 08 in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
The Nordic Game conference feels a little like a family gathering.Despite taking place in a giant corrugated box on an industrial estatein Malmö, Sweden, it’s a considerably more informal and intimate affairthan GDC, with a sense of easy familiarity between delegates – at thisyear’s event, there was even a bit of a singalong.

Ofcourse, this convivial atmosphere partly comes from a sense of sharedpurpose: the conference’s remit is to encourage a unified regionalstand on the international stage, and a good portion of this year’sschedule was given over to worrying about – and celebrating – the stateof Nordic gaming. You might not have known it from the keynotespeeches, however, which were dominated by names from beyond theregion.

UK developer Traveller’s Tales opened theproceedings with an entertaining retrospective on the Lego Star Warsseries. Lego may be a Scandinavian icon, but the story was largely aBritish one – and it was perhaps surprising that this should have led aconference dedicated to Nordic games.

The closing keynoteof the first day similarly strained its relationship with the Nordic,but seemed well received by the audience nonetheless. Zoë Mode’screative director Ste Curran was joined by friends to deliver a seriesof stories about gaming and the videogame industry – climaxing whenTraveller’s Tales’ Jonathan Smith led the audience in a song lamentingthe tedium of so many videogame plots.



Thistheme was more explicitly laid out in the following Q&A session:the best stories about games aren’t those that emerge from their plotsbut one that gamers construct – often with other players. Curran andSmith voiced frustration at gaming’s tendency to ape other linear mediawhen interaction should be the focus. Perhaps this argument was alittle diluted by the fact that so many of the stories related tomultiplayer games; much of their value was clearly a phenomenon ofsocialization, rather than being unarguably the result of interactivemedia itself.

The UK wasn’t the only non-Nordic countryto receive a fair amount of stage time. A rare appearance by FumitoUeda outlined the idiosyncratic production of Ico and Shadow Of TheColossus, while Keiichiro Toyama, creator of Silent Hill, showed Siren:New Translation, the latest game in the franchise.

Despitea greater global influence on the line-up, there remained a largeamount of Scandinavian material – an awards ceremony doled out gongs toThe Darkness and World In Conflict, while another event issued grantsto promising developers – sparking discussion over what the Nordicgovernments should be doing to ensure the region retains creatorsdespite rising costs. It was an issue raised in the conference’sclosing discussion, which brought together representatives from Nordicheavyweights CCP, Remedy and DICE. Even if the conference’s headlineacts strayed from the message of Nordic ascendancy, one thing wasclear: whatever the difficulties that lie ahead for Nordic developers,there’s a resolution to face them together – that’s what families arefor.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 10:12 am
The Hardcore Niche - The changing Videogame market in Gaming
The video game market is changing incrediblyquickly right now, probably at the fastest rate since the big crash ofthe mid-1980s.
Not only is the market expanding to include women and casual gamersonce again, the definition of what constitutes a game is expanding. Iwouldn't say it’s expanding within the minds of game developers, but itis expanding in the context of the mass media and mass consumers, andthat’s who drives the market in the first place.
As sick to death as we all are of talking about microtransactions,free-to-play MMOs, and casual online spaces, the advent of these thingsis changing the game landscape for good, whether we like it or not.
    
Interactive Media - At Face Value
The lines between an online community portal and an MMO are blurredto the point of being indistinguishable. Consider the numbers — Audition Online has tens of millions of users worldwide, and a dedicated TV show in Vietnam. Kart Rider has tens of millions of users. Ditto Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin.
Traditional games - like most people reading this are developingtoday - may never be able to reach that large of an audience. Our gamesare too focused, too hardcore, and bear too much of the stereotype of“gamer.”
                         
               
Right now, Halo 3, Grand Theft Auto IV, and World of Warcraftare considered our blockbuster titles, and flagships for the industryin popular culture. But when you think about it, it’s still justshooting aliens, playing gang banger, and swinging your sword in theforest.
Boiled down to their essentials those things appeal to a verylimited group of people, and the complexity of game controls preventseven blockbuster movie attendees, whom we should be attracting, fromplaying these things.
At least, that’s the common line. But is that really the case? Doaliens, wizards, and soldiers really make a piece of entertainmentinaccessible? Many millions of people went to see the Iron Man movieover the past two months, and a large percentage of them have probablynever picked up a comic book in their lives.
Why is it that people will go see The Lord of the Rings' movies, but many of them will not play the games?
The Real Mass Market
It’s common knowledge that game controllers are intimidating, thatconsoles have a certain stigma to them, and that most mass marketconsumers consider games to be either a waste of time, or activelydetrimental.
These can all be debated until the end of time, but the perceptionexists, and either that has to change (Nintendo is doing good workthere), or we have to change. Otherwise we’ll end up with acomparatively small fraction of a growing market.
Will it be possible to make a game like Assassin’s Creed or BioShockin 2015? It’s already becoming difficult to justify large budgets forsingle-player experiences, and it stands to reason that it will getmore difficult as time goes on. What does that mean for developers ofthese games? What happens to the concept of a game auteur?
One possibility is for these hardcore games to essentially becomethe art-house cinema of the video game world, which would be odd, asthat’s a role currently filled by indie titles.
Interestingly, never has the film/game analogy worked less well than it does currently. In the PS2 era, you could correlate Grand Theft Auto III with a movie blockbuster, and Ico with an art-house film.
But now, in terms of scope, money, and global social impact, Kart Rider or Club Penguin would be that blockbuster, and Call of Duty 4 would be the art-house equivalent, though content- and budget-wise Call of Duty 4 is much more your traditional blockbuster material. Something seems awry there.
The fact is, these simple-to-play social experiences are here.They’re growing in popularity, they’re dwarfing our multi-milliondollar projects that sell through to 5 million people at max, and theycost a fraction of the price to make.
With the market expanding as it is, and the dollars going wherethey’re going, the $20 million budget bestselling console title oftoday is going to be the hardcore niche title of tomorrow, art-house ornot. Unless development costs get significantly lower, it seems we havean online future to look forward to.
New Things Are Stupid
To wit: online games are taking over, and I, curmudgeon that I am, don’t really like it.
Certainly there will always be the hardcore players that will wantthat deeper experience. There’s no doubt about that. But the questionis: in an industry where we’re getting our asses kicked financially byweb developers, of all people, who will pay us to make it?
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:55 am
30 Most Anticipated Games of E3 in Gaming
30. Rise of the Argonauts (PS3, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Codemasters
Developer: Liquid Entertainment
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Anaction RPG that promises to be way more action than RPG, Rise of theArgonauts has a winning mythological premise and lots of little designtouches that keep the game looking fresh. Take the Argo—the ship oflegend will act as a seafaring headquarters from which your recruitedArgonauts will provide support. There is also a “deed” system that willincrease Jason’s abilities via the acquisition of Xbox LiveAchievement-like trophies. So it’s bursting with interesting ideas, andit’s all running on the reliable Unreal Engine 3—this could be thesleeper hit of the year.


29. High School Musical 3: Senior Year Dance (PC, Wii, PS2, NDS, X360)
Publisher: Disney Interactive
Developer: TBA
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Considerthis your representative sample of licensed games that promise to sellgangbusters regardless of quality or media reaction. And High SchoolMusical 3 is likely to be the biggest game of its breed this year: themovie of the same name is the first time this children’s blockbusterfranchise will see a theatrical release, meaning the marketing for theproperty is likely to be even more inescapable than usual. Beyond theusual niceties of rhythm games—coop and competitive modes, mechanicsspecific to each system’s control scheme—it will have the songs fromHigh School Musical movies past and present. That last one is almostcertainly the only feature the game needs to add another million insales to the franchise’s life-to-date count.

28. Borderlands (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: 2K Games
Developer: Gearbox Software
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Capabledeveloper Gearbox has never swung for the fences with quite as muchgusto as with Borderlands. The fact that the game is original IP isn’teven the half of it—it also promises a procedural item creation systemthat will provide this sci-fi first-person shooter over half a millionweapons. If that’s not enough, Borderlands also shares some ambitionswith big-budget role playing games: the world will be expansive,character growth and classes comes standard, and missions and sidequests will populate the landscape. Borderlands has all the earmarks ofa breakout hit, and its scope should easily take the breath away fromboth shooter and science fiction fans.

27. Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Midway
Developer: Midway
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Goingon the title alone, Mortal Kombat Vs DC Universe feels a decade late,like it should have been slugging it out with Marvel Vs Capcom for thequarters of 90s teenagers. But it’s actually a better idea,commercially, in 2008—now the game can ride the tide of successfulcomic book film blockbusters. It can pull from the years of soliddesign work and franchise reputation rebuilding that culminated inMortal Kombat: Armageddon. And with an anticipated ESRB rating of T forTeen, there’re no retail hurdles to keep the adolescent maledemographic from eating this up with a spoon.

26. S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Clear Sky (PC)
Publisher: Deep Silver
Developer: GSC Game World
Est. Release Date: Aug 29, 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

S.T.A.L.K.E.R.:Shadow of Chernobyl was hardly the biggest first-person shooter of 2007in the west. But it posted platinum-level sales in Eastern Europe,where its freeform gameplay and mythos steeped in Russia’s uniquescience fiction struck a strong chord. With little similar competitionin the region, its sequel Clear Sky should do well for itself therealso. Which isn’t to say the rest of the world shouldn’t (or won’t)give it a go as well—Clear Sky will add a tactical, squad-based turfwar to the already eccentric proceedings, and should be just as curiousand interesting a beast as its predecessor.

25. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (PS3, X360, Wii, PS2, PSP, NDS)
Publisher: LucasArts
Developer: LucasArts
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No, but it might as well be

TheForce Unleashed could well be the biggest project to bear the Star Warsfranchise name since Episode III ended the franchise’s non-animatedtheatrical run. Every Star Wars fan has been curious about the periodright before the Original Trilogy when Darth Vader had his run of thegalaxy; Force Unleashed promises to capture this period from theperspective of the Dark Side, using exciting new technologies torealistically render bot the AI and the Force itself. If the persistentrumors are true, this could well be the last project completely builtby LucasArts’ internal studio—but in that case, it will be one heck ofa send-off that a lot of Star Wars fans will experience.


24. Beyond Good and Evil 2 (PS3, X360)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montpellier (likely)
Est. Release Date: TBA
Officially Announced for E3: No

Allthat’s known about Beyond Good and Evil 2 is that it’s currently beingworked on by Ubisoft premier designer Michel Ancel. But in this case,that’s more than enough—Ancel’s resume does include perennial hitRayman and (naturally) the first Beyond Good and Evil, after all. Andthe first Beyond Good and Evil is particularly beloved. The smallaudience that played it has been talking about it ever since, praisingits varied gameplay and realistic, strong female protagonist Jade. Sothe sequel is exciting, and though its commercial success is by nomeans assured it’s possible that maybe the adult gaming audience isfinally ready for this franchise.


23. Lock’s Quest (NDS)
Publisher: THQ
Developer: 5th Cell
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

2007’sbiggest surprise sales blockbuster was a little DS game called Drawn toLife, built by a little mobile developer called 5th Cell. That gamegave the independent studio a reputation for creating innovations withstrong market appeal, and it could cement that reputation with Lock’sQuest, a curious RTS/Action/RPG/minigame hybrid with cute graphics,quick thrills and a world that can be completely remodeled by theplayer. In other words, it has a lot of elements that appeal across awide variety of gaming demographics, as well as a lot of ambition. Ifthis one lives up to its potential, it would be great to see it succeed.


22. Puzzle Quest: Galactrix (PC, X360, NDS)
Publisher: D3 Publisher of America
Developer: Infinite Interactive
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Lastyear’s Puzzle Quest combined the most addictive parts of the casual“match three” puzzle game with the most addictive parts of RPGcharacter development, a powerful cocktail that murdered productivityand sold in huge numbers. There’s no reason this follow-up shouldn’tcontinue in that trend—it’s still a match three puzzle game (this timemore Collapse than Bejeweled), it still has those all-important RPGelements, and it’s being built by the same studio. The only differences(besides the science fiction setting) all look like improvements.There’s an element of strategy gaming. Players can enhance not justtheir character, but also their spacecraft. Downloadable content willabound. It all sounds like a game that players will itch to play afterthe first hit.


21. Crysis: Warhead (PC)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Crysis
Est. Release Date: Fall 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Allegedlythe last PC exclusive from the bastion of PC gaming high technology,Crytek’s side story to 2007’s Crysis looks every bit as graphicallydazzling as its predecessor. It also promises to be a moremarket-friendly title (a tall order considering Crysis’ million-sellingstatus); Warhead provides a less strategic, more bombastic run-and-gunaffair compared to the original Crysis. And with a year of hardwareadvancements in between Crysis and Crysis: Warhead, that more widelyappealing design will find that a lot more people have the rigs toactually run it well. And who knows? If Warhead does manage to findthat perfect balance, perhaps Crytek will stick to their PC-exclusivestomping grounds for a while longer.

20. Tomb Raider Underworld (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360, PC, NDS)
Publisher: Eidos
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

It’sbeen a few years since Crystal Dynamics took the Tomb Raider franchiseand reinvigorated it with Legend. But it’s really with Underworld thatthe series’ previous mistakes have been taken to heart. Rather thanrest the game on its laurels again, Underworld is a creation that lookstoward with the new; the game engine is all new, the way the worldinteracts with Lara is more realistic, combat now has melee and willflow fluidly into the puzzle mechanics. And if that wasn’t enough toguarantee sales, Lara has a motorcycle now too.


19. Sonic Unleashed (Wii, PS2, PS3, X360)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team/Dimps
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

Thesedays it feels like SEGA promises the moon with every Sonic title, tothe point where it’s hard to fall for it anymore. Take Sonic Unleashed;it’s promise of a revamped, re-invented Sonic echoes the promises SEGAmade before this generation’s first Sonic the Hedgehog hit the Xbox 360with a sad plop. And yet, franchise sales have never followed the samecurve as the blue blur’s review scores. This is mostly because ofSonic’s strong appeal to the child market, but on some level thegraying Genesis owner wants to believe what we’re told, that this nextSonic really will reclaim the glory days. Anyway, Sonic Unleashed. It’srunning on a new engine and has some 2D environments. It’ll sell, andas for the rest of it? Here’s hoping.


18. MadWorld (Wii)
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Platinum Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: No

PlatinumGames, formerly Seeds, formerly Clover Studios, isn’t known for makingcommercial hits. No, that team is known more for making instant,beloved classics. Okami certainly, but Viewtiful Joe is in there aswell, and the only people who remember God Hand these days love it toabsolute death. MadWorld, a blood-soaked black and white Wii exclusive,feels like a return to the playful, experimentation that made this teamfamous. Will it sell? Well, it’s nice to think that just maybe, thistime, the market has caught up to what Platinum is doing.


17. Animal Crossing Wii (Wii)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Est. Release Date: TBA
Officially Announced for E3: No

Asof this writing, Animal Crossing Wii still exists as a hopeful glimmerin the eye of the gaming public. Nintendo hasn’t said anything at allabout it yet, though almost all speculation says that it exists andwill be announced soon—and if that’s the case, E3 is as good a place toshowcase it as any. It’s a completely believable theory. Nintendo’sChristmas lineup is currently a complete mystery, and Animal Crossing,already a surprise hit on GameCube and DS, is such a good fit for thecasual Wii-loving audience it’s startling it’s not on the systemalready.


16. Left 4 Dead (PC, X360)
Publisher: Valve Software
Developer: Turtle Rock Studios
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Valvedoesn’t release duds, and it doesn’t buy teams that can’t deliver. Sothe fact that it purchased Turtle Rock Studios and have put a greatdeal of PR muscle behind Left 4 Dead speaks volumes as to how good thisgame could be. The game has a completely innovative, yet highly marketfriendly hook in its “four survivors must cooperate to survive thezombie horde” premise, though players of a less polite persuasion canalso take up the role of a super-powered zombie. This could very wellbe the next major online phenomenon, like Team Fortress 2 before it.


15. Resistance 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Insomniac Games
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Thefirst Resistance was the big win for the PlayStation 3 at launch, butResistance 2 looks set to spin that good first impression into anempire. Resistance 2 pushes the game out of London to the morerelatable (in the US, anyway) environs of the United States. A goodmove, but not as good as the massive 60-man multiplayer that the gamepromises. That’s fantastic scale for an online console game; add onsome more focused, objective-oriented teamplay and Resistance 2 is agood contender for gamer’s next networked obsession.


14. Killzone 2 (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Guerilla Games
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Threeyears on and Killzone 2 is still trying to shake off its disastrous“showing” at E3 2005. Admittedly the team at Guerilla has done a finejob of actually approaching the target in that first badly marketed“target render,” with more recent previews showing the game asappropriately attractive and bombastic for its high position in Sony’sportfolio. But it still needs a big floor to show off, and it needs aman to say “in-game graphics” about one thousand times in front of somehuge HD Killzone if it wants to really nail the market. E3 historicallyhas had some very big floors.


13. Fable 2 (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Lionhead Studios
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Alot on Fable 2 is already known, and most of it is interesting on avariety of levels. There’s the in-game dog, a character ofunconditional love that will act as the player’s anchor to the game’sworld. There’s the Pub Games, a series of Xbox Live Arcade titles thatwill act as both encapsulated products and previews for the bigrelease. Then there’s the gay marriage, pregnant adventuring, and allmanner of family matters to deal with in the game as well. It’s a gamethat promises to push boundaries and break some of the medium’s moreridiculous unnecessary taboos. Considering the success of the originalGable, it’s likely many people will choose to experience this moveforward—surely a good thing.


12. Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3 (PC, X360)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: EA Los Angeles
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

RedAlert’s Cold War gone hot is one of the most beloved scenarios is allof strategy gaming, and the franchise’s long seven year absence makesthis game even more exciting and desirable. And by adding thepseudo-Japanese Empire of the Rising Sun faction the festivities geteven more campy and strange, complete with towering mecha, psychicschoolgirls and parachuting bears. So it’s got a lot of hooks for boththe longtime fan and sugar-crazed newcomer alike.


11. Far Cry 2 (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

FarCry 2 has found a unique gaming setting in the jungles, savannahs andtowns of Africa, and it plans on giving the player a lot of thatsetting – 50 square kilometers, to be precise. Plenty of new gameplayelements will make themselves known as the player crosses that expanse:some wounds have to be treated with field medicine (ie. fishing abullet out with a knife) and brush fires can be started, only to bewhipped up realistically by wind. Far Cry 2 is an underutilized brandmoving to an underutilized setting while adding multiple newinnovations, making it an extremely strong contender in the hardcoreshooter market.
10. Prince of Persia (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Est. Release Date: Holiday 2008
Officially Announced for E3: No

Princeof Persia: The Sands of Time was one of the last generation’s definingmoments, so it would have been easy for Ubisoft to just build astandard sequel on the successes of its previous trilogy. The fact thatthis is not the case, that the series is instead being rebooted with anincredible hand-painted aesthetic and open world, show a strongdedication to making the Prince one of the most lasting and importantfranchises in gaming (though the big budget movie helps on that scoreas well). While previous PoP titles did sell well, after theblockbuster success of Assassin’s Creed, the timing is perfect for thePrince to really make it big.


9. Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
Publisher: Square Enix
Developer: Square Enix
Est. Release Date: TBD
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Sinceclosing the door on the last console genre, Square Enix has relied onhandheld games and Wii side stories alone. If the publisher’s lastfiscal statement said anything, it was that’s no way for a company tolive—so while Square Enix has some other interesting console games inthe pipe, it needs to bring its megaton franchise back into the publiceye. It’s not surprising that Final Fantasy XIII will show up in someform at E3—and regardless of what form it takes or what the game lookslike now, it could certainly steal the show if it tried.


8. Street Fighter IV (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom/Dimps
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Atworst, this is a surprise come back of one of gaming’s most iconicfranchises. At best, this could be the surprise come back of agenre—certainly if anything could revive a flagging fighting gamefield, a new numbered entry in its greatest series would be the thingto do it. Perhaps the best sign that this game knows what it will taketo succeed is its reverence to Street Fighter II—all of the charactersfrom that game will return, and the gameplay mirrors the measured paceof that early entry. Considering versions of SFII still sell in strongnumbers, it’s easy to see how this strategy could succeed on the market.


7. Rock Band 2 (X360, PS3, PS2, Wii)
Publisher: MTV Games
Developer: Harmonix
Est. Release Date: Sep 2008 (X360 timed exclusive, with other versions to follow)
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Nomatter what other companies say, the fast-paced game of catch-up thathas gripped the music genre says one thing louder: the four-piece RockBand is the standard for the field. And while little is known about itat this point, what is known proves that Harmonix hasn’t lost the plotwith Rock Band 2. Sticking to its “platform” guns, the game will befully backwards compatible—with old DLC, with old instruments, theworks. And while user-created content is not a go this time, there arecertainly things about the game yet to be announced—you don’t want tomiss this one at the show.


6. LittleBigPlanet (PS3)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Media Molecule
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Despiteseemingly constant delays, LittleBigPlanet remains one of the mostunique products in Sony’s first-party arsenal. The idea of a game thatlives and dies by the content created by its users has been triedbefore in first-person shooters, but LittleBigPlanet, with its lovelytextured graphics and universal, non-violent charm wants to be muchmore—the YouTube of games perhaps, or the Legos of the 21st century. Ofall the games that could bring PlayStation 3 to the mass market, thisremains the best hope.


5. Halo Wars (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Ensemble Studios/Bungie
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

HaloWars is more than just the next title from Microsoft to have the Haloname. It’s also more than the first Halo project not spearheaded byBungie. Halo Wars wants to be a revolution in real-time strategy, aconsole exclusive built from the ground up for a console controller—inother words, Halo Wars wants to do for real-time strategy what Halo didfor first-person shooters. If it succeeds, it could crack wide open thenascent console RTS market as gamers try it based on the franchisealone. It’s been reported that the game will be playable by the mediaat E3, so the show should give a much better idea as to how itssucceeding.


4. Spore (PC, Mac)
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: Maxis
Est. Release Date: Sep 7, 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

It’scertainly something that even after the seemingly endless amount ofwords typed about Spore, even though it’s appeared in publications asnon-game centric as The New Yorker, even though the wait for the gamehas been years long and interminable, almost everyone who knows aboutit is still excited at its promise. And after the success of therecently released Creature Creator, that excitement is still mounting.Will Wright’s SimEverything could very well the next big thing, tossingaside silly ideas like “demographics” and just appealing to everyoneeverywhere. In other words, the next Sims.


3. Gears of War 2 (X360)
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Epic Games
Est. Release Date: Nov 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Gearsof War 2 is a lot of things. To the gamer, it is epic, the sequel tothe game that dominated man hours spent on Xbox Live for most of 2007.To developers, it’s the new baseline, as every new Epic game has cometo represent the state of the art for the now industry standard UnrealEngine 3. In both regards Gears of War 2 looks great. A fewimprovements to the constantly evolving engine have already been shown,and most gamers agree that new mechanics like martyrdom and the “meatshield” look like fantastic fun. Gears of War is already one of thisgeneration’s emblematic franchises, so it will be great to see how thesequel goes about cementing that status.


2. Resident Evil 5 (X360, PS3)
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Est. Release Date: 2009
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

RE5is not even close to a retail release, and yet it’s already one of themost interesting topics in the industry. It brings with it the highlyrespected pedigree of Resident Evil 4, hands-down one of the best gamesof the last generation, and will probably sell strongly to the audiencethat loved, or even heard about, that game. Yet it’s also mired incontroversy over some concerns regarding racism. So it’s a projectthat’s walking many tightropes of expectation, and there’s potentialfor huge success or massive failure here. As a result this E3 could bethe most important public showing for RE5 until its release—it shouldbe fascinating.


1. Fallout 3 (PC, X360, PS3)
Publisher: Bethesda Softworks
Developer: Bethesda Softworks
Est. Release Date: Oct 2008
Officially Announced for E3: Yes

Fallout3 shows great evolutionary leaps every time it’s displayed for publicviewing, with recent revelations—the childhood simulating charactercreator, the 500 endings—being particularly fascinating. Now that it’scoming precariously close to its announced release date, this E3 shouldrepresent the game’s biggest showing yet. If there are any surprisesleft in the title to announce, expect them to get announced at somepoint during the week. But even if there aren’t, Fallout 3 has alreadyproven itself to be a sprawling, ambitious project that anyone in thegaming audience would wait to spend more time with.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:55 am
Has the PC sports market has declined? in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
Consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 have lured sports gamersaway from a PC market already moving towards a download model and underthreat from piracy, forcing developers to prioritise other formats.
That's the view of Peter Moore, boss of EA Sports, who outlined his views on Peter Moore's Official Blog this week.
Next-generation consoles "with their high definition graphicsand 5.1 sound capabilities have attracted millions of consumers toeschew the 'lean in' PC sports gaming experience for the 'lean back'full room console experience," Moore wrote.
                   
"Businesses have to make hard trade offs for where toinvest for the best return, thus creating capital to make even moregames," he explained. "I know this concept touches a nerve with some ofyou, but our industry is founded on publishers that have driven forfinancially-successful games and then re-invested the proceeds indevelopment of even more content for gamers to enjoy.
"It's a simple financial premise, and an obligation forpublically-traded companies who answer to their shareholders. We arenot making games in garages or bedrooms any more."
But Moore reserved his harshest criticism for the people who steal games off the Internet. "Piracy is an issue," he wrote.
"Sorry, I know many of you disagree with me on this, but thenumbers don't lie. Companies spend millions developing content, anddeserve to see a return on investment for their risk. The employeesdeveloping the game design, writing code and creating art deserve toget paid for their work. Period."
Moore's comments are particularly interesting as they come just days after Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime told Eurogamer.netthat suggestions the PC games market is in decline are "just completelydead wrong". "PC is the gaming platform with the largest installed basearound the world. It's also the platform with the best margins,"Morhaime had said.
Morhaime was reacting somewhat to similarsentiments from Valve boss Gabe Newell, whose company flew journaliststo Seattle in May from around the world to evangelise the PC as aplatform.
Quote:
"We think the number of connected PC gamers we areselling our products to dwarf the current generation of consoles puttogether," Newell had told the press on that occasion. "There aretremendous opportunities in figuring out how to reach out to thosecustomers."

For his part, Moore added that EA Sports is stillexploring options on the PC. "In order to make fundamental shifts in anecosystem, you sometimes have to hit the reset button. That's what wehave done this year at EA Sports as regards some of our franchises onthe PC," he wrote.
"That does not mean that we aren't coming backnext year with new, innovative, maybe even less-expensive ways to playall of our franchises on the PC, but for right now we are assessing allof the options open to us to shift the current paradigm for our gameson this platform," he wrote.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:52 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
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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
The Independent Games Festival: A History In Press Clippings in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
So, we just launchedthe 11th Annual Independent Games Festival a few days back, as you mayrecall - with some of the topline additions including some neat newjudges and a new Innovation Award.
Anyhow, yesterday I spent much of my lazy Sunday, as Chairman of the Independent Games Festival, improving the official IGF website - and one of the neat things now fully fleshed out is a semi-canonical history of IGF press clippings on IGF.com, linking to the major press coverage of the show over the previous few years.
There's a surprisingly large amount of stuff in here, some of which you probably haven't seen - from this year's excellent 1UP.com video coverage, through Wired News covering the indies to watch, to Veronica Belmont (nowadays at Sony's Qore) chatting to IGF folks at the IGF Pavilion for Mahalo.
I also took some time to go through the Gamasutra 'Road To The IGF'features written by folks such as myself and Alistair Wallis inprevious years - there's a gigantic amount of interviews with IGFfinalists or just plain entrants to read through. And of non-associatedwebsites, GameDev.net's IGF interview coverage is the most canonical - it goes all the way back to 2002, blimey.
Anyhow, browse the giganto set of links at your pleasure, and final reminders, then - the deadline to enter the competition is November 2008, and the IGF Pavilion and Awards itself will be taking place in March 2009 at Game Developers Conference 2009 in San Francisco.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 08, 2008 7:39 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
The death of computer science grads is hitting us hard in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
David Braben has slammed British gaming degrees, claiming thatdevelopers are finding it increasingly hard to find UK graduateslooking to enter the industry.


"95% of video gaming degrees are simplynot fit for purpose," Braben told the BBC. "Without some sort of commonstandard, like Skillset accreditation, these degrees are a waste oftime for all concerned."

Braben's comments are highlighted in an article claimingthat a number of industry jobs are moving from Britain to Canada, whichhas recently taken over from the UK as the third leading country forgames development.


Quote:
"We are facing a serious decline in thequality of graduates looking to enter the industry," said Braben. "Thedeath of maths, physics and computer science graduates is hitting ushard."



The games industry has claimed that the migration toCanada is due to its government allowing its industry to flourish,whilst our own is still reviewing whether tax breaks for desperate UK developers is something it could consider.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:42 am
Top 10 most vital people-powered technologies - FEATURE in General Discussion, including Off Topic, Current Affairs
Linux
Thedaddy of people power, this open source operating system owes prettymuch everything to the massive community of users and developers who'vebuilt it, broken it, put it back together again and added all sorts ofgoodies.
The penguin logo unites a truly incredible group oftalented people, from driver developers to desktop designers, advocatesto application builders.
Firefox
Even people who think that Linux is a character in the Peanutscartoon know about Firefox. What makes it special isn't the open sourcecommunity that created and maintain it, however; It's the efforts ofthe developer community whose extensions make Firefox the Swiss ArmyKnife of the internet.
Whether you want to block annoying ads,keep track of interesting sites or just stay up to date with footieresults from around the world, if you can imagine it, there's almostcertainly an extension that does it.
Half-Life 2
This month we've mostly been playing Minerva, Adam Foster's excellent mod for Half-Life 2 (http://developer.valvesoftware.com/wiki/MINERVA). Modders have been creating new stories since the days of Doom, and a quick look around Moddb (www.moddb.com) uncovers stacks of mods for your favourite PC games.
Smartdevelopers - such as Half-Life's Valve - know that mods make theirgames even more attractive, so the firms make modding as easy andaccessible as possible.
Xbox
Is your original Xbox gathering dust in the loft? Why not dust it down and turn it into a fully-fledged media centre?
While Microsoft blabs about the 360's multimedia features, the talented team at the Xbox Media Center project (www.xboxmediacenter.com)can turn an ageing original Xbox into a multimedia marvel (although ifyou don't fancy modding your console, steer clear - XBMC only works onhacked machines).
Job done, they're turning their attention to other platforms: a Linux version of the software is in development.
TiVo
Thecommunity that's sprung up around the TiVo digital video recorder(www.tivocommunity.com) is a thing of wonder, with users offering eachother advice, commenting on the company and fiddling with its products- often in ways that would give film and TV studios heart attacks.


       
While TiVo claims not to encourageor discourage the hacking community, it's pretty obvious that thehacking community makes the product even more attractive to tech-heads- and hackers' ideas often turn up in the official product, such aswhen the community found and fixed a date problem in older TiVo boxes.
iPhone
iPhonehackers aren't just trying to free the phone for use on any network.They've found ways to turn your existing tunes into ringtones withoutpaying for them all over again, created all kinds of add-onapplications and best of all, found a way to change the truly horriblefont on the Notes screen.
PlayStation Portable
Sonydoesn't like it - recent firmware updates mean that unless you've gotan older PSP, your options are limited - but thanks to Homebrew (www.psp-homebrew.eu)you can add all kinds of goodies to the device. There are loads,including customisers, emulators, chat programs and GPS software.
Overclocking
Changingchips' clock speeds and hoping they wouldn't set your house on fireused to be a shadowy pursuit that tech firms frowned upon. Thenhardware firms realised that overclockers had money as well as PCs toburn.
Now, motherboard makers often provide everything a speeddemon needs, either in the motherboard BIOS or on the driver CD, andgraphics card firms are keen too. For example, ATI actively encouragesoverclockers to ramp up their Radeons.
Windows Media Center
Microsoft'smedia system is pretty nifty, but it's niftier still when you tweak ituntil it squeaks. Microsoft knows this, which is why it happily linksto two independent community sites: the Media Center-specific GreenButton (thegreenbutton.com), and the general audio-visual AVS Forum(www.avsforum.com/avs-vb).
The software giant also has its own community site (www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/expertzone/communities/mediacenter.mspx), where media center experts share their top tips.
Web apps
Firms who make it easy to interact with their online apps have createda massive community of developers. Google Maps has been adapted toprovide maps of speed cameras (http://spod.cx/speedcameras.shtml) and to create flight simulators (http://www.isoma.net/games/goggles.html), while keen developers have created software for apps such as Google Mail and Flickr.
You'll also find useful and useless apps alike on social networks such as Facebook.
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 30, 2008 6:31 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
Call of Duty 6 goes sci-fi? in Gaming
Ahead of this weekend's Call of Duty:World at War reveal, via Xbox Live Marketplace, comes a tasty littlerumour hinting that the COD4 developer's next game will be a bit on thescience fiction side.


Take it with a pinch of salt for the time being but an insider from Infinity Ward is reported to have said,"we are currently working on a new sci-fi title, we cannot release anymore information as of yet, we may or may not announce it at E3."

We're not sure how much into the future we're talking here and we hopewe're not going to be shooting little green men or vampires on Mars.We've done a little digging only to be greeted by blank looks, whichdoesn't actually rule anything out in our experience. But it doesn'tconfirm anything either.

Usually we wouldn't go for such randomness, but we've got a funny feeling about this one. More soon maybe...?
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jun 23, 2008 6:07 pm
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