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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
Checking in in iVirtua Members Introductions
*obligatory I'm new here line

I didn't get an email or anything but I was looking for some gaming forums and this seemed like a good one, so I decided to join.

Anyway, I'm Lexie, I like bananas and pancakes,
playing online games and reading (although not at the same time!)

Well, that's about it Hi everyone!
Posted by OhSnap! Tue Jul 29, 2008 5:46 am
E3 2008 Coverage and Events in Business and Industry in Gaming, Media, Web, IT and Computing
Monday, July 14th:
9:30am (PST): Microsoft Press Conference (LIVE blogging)
2:00pm (PST): Electronic Arts Press Conference (LIVE blogging)
Tuesday, July 15th:
9:00am (PST): Nintendo Press Conference (LIVE Blogging)
11:00am (PST): Sony Press Conference (LIVE Blogging)
2:30pm (PST): Ubisoft Press Conference (LIVE Blogging)
4:30pm (PST): Capcom Press Conference (LIVE Blogging)
E3 Showcase floor and developer meetups throughout the day. Publisher meetings include:
Warner Bros. Interactive
Atari
SEGA
Wednesday, July 16th:
9:00am (PST): E3 Keynote
2:30pm (PST): Konami Press Conference
E3 Showcase floor and developer meetups throughout the day. Publisher meetings include:
SouthPeak Interactive
Harmonix/MTV Games
Sony Online Entertainment
Gamecock
Thursday, July 17th:
E3 Showcase floor and developer meetups throughout the day. Publisher meetings include:
Midway Games
Bethesda
LucasArts
Capcom
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:15 pm
1.8GHz SSD MacBook Air Drops $500 in Apple
Apple has quietly dropped the price of the high end MacBook Air by $500.

The high end MacBook Air comes equipped with a 1.8GHz upgrade (from1.6GHz) and a 64GB Solid State Drive (SSD). The total price for thehigh end laptop is $2598. Compare this to the original price of the1.8GHz/SSD MacBook Air at $3098 just last week (Google Cache).

The base price for the 1.6GHz 80GB Hard Drive MacBook Air remains at$1799. The difference in price appears to be a combination of pricedrops in both the processor upgrade ($200 vs $300) and SSD ($599 vs$999).

Apple has emailed customers who have outstanding orders that are affected by the price drop:
To Our Valued Apple Customer:

Apple has announced a price drop for a component(s) of the MacBookAir that you recently ordered. We have automatically adjusted yourorder to reflect the new lower price.

For up-to-date information on your order, please visit our Order Status website at <http: www.apple.com="" orderstatus="">. After your order is shipped, you can also obtain tracking information on this site.

Thank you for your shopping at the Apple Store.

Sincerely,
Apple Online Store Support</http:>
Posted by Editorial Team Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:11 pm
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
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
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
war-peace.com in Gaming
Attention citizens!

You are ordered to arrive to your point of general mobilization at http://war-peace.com Take with you only necessary belongings such as patriotism, passion to online gaming, and sense of humor

The game is in beta stage, so be the first to discover world domination experience! And hurry, countries do get perished in the new order …

Yours,
WAR-PEACE.COM team
Posted by denchik Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:39 am
The multiplayer future of The Sims, MMO Style? in Gaming
Weeks after the closing of EA-land, formerly known as The Sims Online (TSO), the head of the Sims Division at EA is hinting at a multiplayer future for this popular life-simulating strategy game. Isn’t she, like Merlin, getting the timeline backwards?
Surely the bestselling computer game of all time would haveexperienced a smoother transition from single- to multiplayer,especially a game with a social needs bar; friendless Sims end upmoping around on the couch and experiencing Social Bunny hallucinations. Yet TSO was poorly received.

The fact that EA had nixed user-createdcontent and turned a multitude of flexible worlds into one persistentworld did not help. Most disappointingly, the necessities of eating,sleeping, and acquiring career skills ended up overshadowing whatshould have been the central aspect of TSO: socialization. After fiveyears of stagnation, TSO was demoted to EA-land in February, then closed down altogether last month.
Mere emoticons and asterisk-enclosed actions don’t cut it for everyone. Fellow conversationalists seem more real if their avatars can visibly laugh, shrug, weep, grin, or even just sit there.
At the same time, there’s a necessary element of unreality invirtual worlds. Although the real world doesn’t allow you to walk up tosomeone and click “flirt” over and over, reach the “propose” optionhalf an hour later, and start a new family over the course of anevening that strikes me as a little too close to home for many players.The life-simulating MMORPG presents a paradox of the real and theunreal.

Why does World of Warcraft have 10 million active playerswhile Second Life has only about thirty thousand? My guess: peopleprefer to visualize themselves as powerful conjurers rather than ashuman beings. When we interact in human form, the corresponding humanfantasies pushing themselves out into the open—the sudden significanceof sexual preference, the out-of-the-blue professions of love—might beharder to deal with than any challenge a WoW raid could present.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:19 am
Neopets Ambitious New MMO in Gaming
It's so early in development that it doesn'thave a name yet, but I'm already quite intrigued by the new MMO fromthe creators of Neopets.
Adam Powell and Donna Williams struck it rich with Neopets,an online virtual-pet site that grew so popular with kids and femalegamers that the pair sold their creation to Viacom in 2005 for $160million. Now, as founders of a startup called Meteor Games,they're working on something markedly different for an encore: A newMMO game that blurs the lines between traditional massively-multiplayergames, social networking, and casual gaming.
"We're World of Warcraft players ourselves," says Powell, "and wewouldn't want to compete with them. The game is really more casual --we want players to be able to play it for five, ten minutes at a time."
Imagine sitting down for a game of chess inside the 3-D virtualworld of the MMO. Your opponent is a real live person, but they'replaying the game in a simple Flash browser window, without all of thefluff around it. Or imagine playing a version of the classic cell phonegame Snake, but at the end of the game, the snake comes to life in theMMO and starts attacking enemies for you.
                                                      
Neopets,Williams and Powell readily admit, is often seen now as a child'spastime. But that game's original target audience was an older set --teens and young adults. But after the pair launched Neopetsin 1999, the game took on a life of its own and became so popular withthe younger audience that the twosome didn't want to sacrifice theintensely lucrative younger market.
The goal of their unnamed new project is to capture the traditionalgamers. The art style is going to be cartoonish, certainly, but unlike Neopets,it won't trade realism for saccharine sweetness. Instead, Williams andPowell are drawing inspiration from a litany of sources near and dearto children of the 1980's.
"It's sort of traditional high fantasy with a little bit of sci-fi,"says Powell. "It's like a lot of 80's films that we love, like Labyrinth or Legend."
"Or The Dark Crystal," adds Williams.
So then, is this game merely lifting ideas from the lucrative well of collective nostalgia to compete with World of Warcraft?Apparently not. The game itself seeks to target a demographic somewherein between the hardcore MMO fan and his 7-year-old younger sister. Theword "tween" was mentioned, though I picked up on an obvious distastefor the term.
Key to attracting this audience, say the designers, is the game'sreliance on a hybrid financing plan. Players will be required to payfor a subscription, though Powell was very quick to point out that itwon't be nearly as expensive as those of traditional MMOs, whichgenerally run in the neighborhood of $15 per month.
Instead, the stated goal is to offer players a monthly fee of under$10, making up the difference and more with the ability to buy in-gameitems with small microtransactions. But kids with more pocket moneywon't be able to power up for cash.
"We are strongly against letting players buy an advantage," saysPowell. All of the microtransactions, he says, will augment theplayer's looks, not powers: New houses, new clothes, new pets.
And yet neither subscriptions nor microtransactions are anything newin the world of online gaming, so what sets this unnamed MMO apart fromthe rest of the pack? Synergy. Don't worry, they didn't actually dropthat buzzword during our conversation, but after describing the way thegame would span several different platforms in real time, there simplyisn't a better word for it.
As an example, Powell detailed one possibility, involving a simplegame of chess. At launch, the game itself will span both a traditionalMMO client as well as a social-networking website, and that simple gameof chess can be accessed through either, he explained.
Let's say one player is sitting inside the MMO. He's at a table inhis own fully 3-D virtual house and in front of him is a chessboard. Hemoves a pawn, waits, and the opposing side moves against him. Onlyinstead of challenging another player within the MMO, he's playingagainst someone who is playing chess via a simple Flash applicationembedded into the website. Each of their moves is relayed to oneanother in real-time, and both receive certain levels of virtual rewardfor the activity.
To explain how the reward system would work for someone interactingwith the MMO from the outside, Powell offered another example the grouphas planned for the title.
Remember Snake? That game where you maneuver a squigglyline around a board to collect pellets in the hopes of extending yourline's length? If you don't recall, check your cell phone. I guaranteeit's on there. The new MMO's website will have a Flash game similar to Snakebuilt into it. Instead of simply hoping for a high score, playersmaneuver the snake around the board in a hunt for pellets with theultimate goal of making the snake come to life.
Once you've collected enough points in the Flash game, your snakewould spawn within the 3-D MMO world and start attacking foes on yourbehalf, earning experience points for you whenever it successfullykills something.
Besides the basic versions of the mini-games, the social networkingsite will also contain your standard sort of Facebook-styled features.It's unclear how in-depth the system will be, but expect messaging,friends lists and everything you've come to love and/or loathe from theMySpaces of the world.
At launch the game's technology blending will only stretch as far asthe MMO itself and its official site, but the duo also plans toeventually roll out cell phone software that works with the system.Powell and Williams said that they have not yet decided how the phoneswould be implemented into the overall world, but giving players thechance to interact with the game while away from a computer is the sortof idea that could result in unforeseen levels of MMO addiction anddevotion.
Normally I'd be very cynical about a game relying so heavily on thissort of technological confluence -- particularly given thehyper-adorable, kid-centric current state of Neopets -- but assuming that these creators can actually deliver on the ideas they have for this game, it could be huge.
Of course, since the game is extremely early in development, no oneoutside of the 40 people on the development team will be playing it anytime soon. Powell and Williams say that they hope to publicly demo thetitle for the first time at Penny Arcade Expoin Seattle this August. If things go well, they plan on releasingsomething playable, whether it be the final game or a public beta, inearly 2009.




Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:14 am
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
Valve hacker of Steam Cyber cafes caught by police in Gaming
A man who hacked into a third partyValve file server and stole the credit card numbers of Steam Cyber Caféusers has been caught by Dutch police.


The hacker, who went by the onlinehandle MaddoxX, managed to break into a server containing credit cardinformation, transaction amounts, Valve's bank balance and data thatallowed the creation of counterfeit Cyber Café websites.

MaddoxX posted the information on a website, but didn't use the information for personal gain. According to ShackNews, he posted a message that said: "We also don't want money from VALVe, we want a simple message on their site."

Despite making a moral standing on that occasion, the Dutch Ministry ofthe Interior said that the 20 year old hacker had managed to "burn 13million Euros playing poker online and shopping for notebooks, flatscreens and MP3 players." Based on that, we're guessing he wasn't asmorally resolute every time he came across personal data.

Inaddition to the Valve incident, he is also being charged with hackinghis way into an Activision server and downloading an unfinished copy ofEnemy Territory: Quake Wars. Which, if nothing else, is not the gameyou want to get caught hacking for.
Posted by Editorial Team Tue Jul 01, 2008 7:06 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
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