Archive for the ‘games’ tag
GamesBeat weekly roundup: Google’s game service, EA axes online passes, and a look at The Last of Us
If you follow VentureBeat but don’t regularly check our GamesBeat site, here’s a list of the best video game stories we ran over the last seven days that you may have missed.
This week, Google held its annual I/O conference in San Francisco, revealing plans for cross-platform Google Play support, Electronic Arts decides to kill its online pass initiative that forced used game players to pay for multiplayer access, and GamesBeat gets an early look at Naughty Dogs’ upcoming project The Last of Us.
You’ll also find a review for Metro Last light and previews for Scribblenauts Unmasked and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
- The DeanBeat: Maxthon offers an alternative browser that won’t crash while running multiple games
- DICE L.A. is ’100% focused on Battlefield 4?
- Crytek’s Warface invades Japan under Nexon’s management
- Twisted Metal creator collaborating on new vehicular combat game Autoduel
- EA kills its controversial Online Pass program
- Microsoft phasing out Points system — Xbox market getting real-currency payments
- PlayStation 4 getting Gaijin Entertainment’s military MMO War Thunder
- Trion Worlds’ Rift MMO goes free-to-play in June
- Pokémon X and Y trailer reveals improved visuals and battle animation
- Ace Attorney 5 is coming to the U.S. — but only as a digital download
- Puzzle & Dragons is making $3.75M a day
- 10 Android apps that already use Google Play game services
- ‘Leveling up’ on Google Play Services means enhancing quality and utilizing social networks
- Google Play game services can shut down a pirated Android game
- Why Google Play game services works on iOS
- Google Play game services is a Xbox Live-like mobile network — and offers cross-platform gaming
- Google to launch ‘Google Play Games’ platform services for game developers
- Nintendo brings E3 to the people … well, people who go to Best Buy
- Nintendo dates Platinum Games’ The Wonderful 101
- Nintendo releasing retail version of New Super Luigi U in August
- Mario & Sonic head to Sochi for the Olympics
- New Sonic game is exclusive to Nintendo hardware
- Nintendo of America started localizing Animal Crossing: New Leaf in 2010
Earnings and funding
- April 2013 NPD: Injustice tops software chart as console industry continues to shrink
- Hidden Path finds an angel to finance the final development of Defense Grid 2 (exclusive)
- Ubisoft sales up; plans 5 major games this year including something new
- ‘Video Games: The Movie’ is a feature-length documentary looking for $60K on Kickstarter
- With $1B on the line, Take-Two planning ‘innovative’ marketing for Grand Theft Auto V
- BioShock Infinite sells 3.7 million copies since March launch
- BioShock Infinite and more push Take-Two revenues up 48 percent in fiscal 2013
- Eternal Darkness successor crowdfunding campaign now on Kickstarter
- Cloud-gaming company Ubitus raises $15M to expand its streaming technology
- Japan’s Square Enix loses $134M for fiscal year
- Call of Duty’s Uprising maps storm PlayStation 3 and PC
- Electronic Arts adding amusement parks to SimCity in $10 expansion
- Razer launching Atrox fighting-game arcade stick this month
- Plantronics blesses e-sports, becomes official sponsor of League of Legends tournament
- Nvidia prices Shield handheld gaming device at $349
- Frostbite Go: EA wants console-grade graphics on your mobile devices
- Tapjoy teams with Kakao Games to provide in-game advertising
- Spair launches testing for its mobile cloud-gaming service
- The many paths of survival in The Last of Us (video interview)
- Warframe is the online co-op space ninja game you’ve been waiting for (interview)
- Why The Bureau: XCOM Declassified will be worth the wait (interview)
- Game Horizon’s Will Wright Q&A on the future of games (part two)
- Game Horizon’s Q&A with Will Wright on the future of games
- Sony reveals more tense moments in The Last of Us (preview)
- The dark, silly, and bizarre influences behind PS3?s Puppeteer (exclusive)
- Scribblenauts Unmasked contains the entire DC Universe (preview)
- The Bureau: XCOM Declassified tactical shooter game will play a lot like Mass Effect (hands-on preview)
- Ubisoft suspends development on 1666 game it acquired from THQ
- Gran Turismo 6 officially headed to PlayStation 3 (not PS4) this year
Pieces of flair
- Similarities between Injustice: Gods Among Us and the Justice League cartoon
- Mad Genius builds prototype similiar to Sony’s break-apart DualShock 3 controller idea (video)
- How Imagineers build engaging stories into Disney theme parks
- Warren Spector wants game designers to work on non-combat A.I.
Filed under: Games
Maxthon has carved out a name for itself as a reliable alternative web browser built with the cloud in mind. The company has more than 120 million monthly users for its browser, which isn’t as crash-prone as those made by its rivals.
Now the Beijing-based company hopes to transform the web experience further by releasing a WebKit core for Android browsers so they can become better foundations for web-based games. The new release of the browser, which has achieved a billion downloads, will make it work even better with web-based games, the company says.
Karl Mattson, the general manager of Maxthon International, told GamesBeat that the Maxthon cloud browser has carved out a niche among gamers because it allows them to sign into as many as five separate accounts simultaneously. That allows them to play different games at the same time. It is also more reliable since memory-management technology was built into the browser from the ground up. If you’ve ever had a browser crash on you during a game or a multi-window session, you’ll come to appreciate memory management. This is basic plumbing for the internet. And it’s something that is holding up the progress of the game industry, along with the difficulty of making games that can run across various platforms.
“We’ve grown by word of mouth in the gaming community,” Mattson said. “We’re the best browser you’ve never heard of. Now we’re offering the world’s best support for HTML5,” the lingua franca of the web. In a test running HTML5 canvas using the CanvasMark benchmark, Maxthon scored the highest of the major web browsers in running HTML5 pages.
That improved support for HTML5 will make it easier to run both 2D and 3D games in web browsers, enabling games to be written once for the web and run on a variety of platforms. Maxthon is available as an app in Apple’s iTunes App Store and the Google Play store for Android devices.
“Gamers are the canaries in the coal mine in leading support for fast browser performance,” Mattson said.
Mattson said that the browser has become the favorite of pro gamers who play web-based games in professional tournaments. It also offers a split-screen feature on the desktop. Maxthon says it can render web pages on Windows, Android, and iOS faster than any other web browser.
Maxthon is growing in a variety of regions, but its market share in browsers is still below that of rivals like Opera, Firefox, Chrome, and Internet Explorer. The company is now expanding in the U.S. market. Another rival is OnLive, which offers a cloud-based browser that loads pages really fast. But Maxthon doesn’t put quite as much of the computing task in the web-connected data centers, or cloud, itself.
“Our goal is to make the actual software faster,” Mattson said.
Jeff Chen, a student in Singapore, started the browser in 2003 when he created a browser out of frustration. He was tired of the poor performance of the big browsers and found an abandoned browser projected dubbed MyIE. He decided to craft his own browser, dubbed MyIE2. He formed the company Maxthon in 2004 and kept adding features. In 2005, Chen renamed the company Maxthon, and the browser became the first one with tabs. Then it added sandboxed tabs in 2007 for added security. In 2008, Maxthon offered cloud-based services for syncing bookmarks and history.
With memory management, Maxthon allows you to pick up where you left off, no matter what you were working on, with any of your Internet-enabled devices.
“We started with a high-performance web-browsing experience,” Mattson said. “We made a strong commitment in the last year and a half to HTML5 support. We’ve got support in the gaming community because of this. We’re making HTML5 games work really well. As a company, we believe that the browser should change the computing experience.”
That meant that users could log into their browser and access their own favorite web pages and history of browsing from any location. In 2010, Maxthon came out on Android, and it has reached more than 500 million downloads to date on that platform. In 2011, the browser came out on Android tablets. Maxthon is also getting chip makers such as Intel and Advanced Micro Devices to support its software in their hardware. The company received one round of funding from Charles River Capital and WI Harper. Today, the browser is used in more than 150 countries.
Maxthon provides HTML5 support in Android, allowing for high-quality video support and Web GL enhancements. Other new features include the ability to run 2D games at 60 frames per second on devices that can support such graphics. It can also run WebGL 3D graphics.
Maxthon has more than 220 employees and is profitable. Now that’s a company that should be on the radar of all of the major game companies and platform owners.
Google is making a big push to get game developers on board its ecosystem at its annual I/O developer conference. One of its big new products at the event for game studios is Google Play game services, which it announced during its keynote presentation earlier today.
Google Play game services is an ecosystem that developers can tap into to provide cloud saves, achievements, leaderboards, and multiplayer to mobile games. One of the most interesting aspects is that Google isn’t just enabling this technology for Android — Play game services also works on Apple’s iOS.
During a session with Google’s leaders on the project, the company explained why it wants the services to work on iOS.
“We want the whole world to play together,” Google developer advocate Todd Kerpelman said. “I know that’s a little bit touchy feely — kids holding hands around the world — but at the core level, it’s really true. All of us on the team are gamers. By that I don’t mean that we just play games — we haven’t had a lot of time lately — it’s more that we understand that games are powerful.”
Google’s intent with these new services isn’t just to allow gamers to pick up a game on their PC that they left off on an iPad. It wants to enable gamers on one platform to play against another without any hassle.
“There are a lot of people who own and play games on Android devices. Likewise, there are a lot of people who own and play games on other types of devices,” Android lead engineer Steve Martin said. “Our goal is to enable everyone to play with who they want and not just with people who own a certain type of device. “
This technology is powered by a special kind of API that is accessible by any connected device. Martin said they don’t want to exclude any piece of hardware. That means phones and tablets but also Macs and PCs.
“Games can push technology forward,” said Kerpelman. “They drive platform adoption. They fulfill human needs in a way a spreadsheet just can’t.”
Likewise Google is probably hoping that Play game services fulfills developer needs in a way that Apple’s GameCenter competition just can’t.
I don’t have many skills, but I could always convert Microsoft Points into U.S. dollars without thinking. A game costs 800 Microsoft Points? Well, that’s $10 in Earth currency. Unfortunately for me, that skill is heading toward obsolescence.
Microsoft is finally ending its Points payment system for the Xbox Live Marketplace, according to The Verge. The company is replacing it with a real-money currency option. It will sell gift cards with dollar values at retail, but it will also accept direct payments with credit and debit cards through its online store.
This new system will work the same across the Windows Stores, the Windows Phone Store, and the Xbox Live Marketplace. Expect to hear more about around the time of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) trade show in early June.
The new system may launch with the next Xbox, which Microsoft will reveal next week. We’ve reached out to ask if it will also replace Microsoft Points on the current console. We will update with any new information.
Filed under: Games
Android finally has its answer to iOS’s Game Center.
At the Google I/O conference today in San Francisco, the company announced Google Play game services, a new set of features that expands what developers can do with their games.
The most notable feature of Google Play game services is that it’s cross-platform, which means it also works on both iOS and the web. Apple (and maybe even console makers such as Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony) should take note.
Another major feature is support for cloud saves. You can save progress on one device — say, a tablet — and pick up where you left on completely different one.
Google Play game services also supports matchmaking and multiplayer games. But Google’s demo of this functionality failed, so we couldn’t get the best idea of how it looks in action.
This also touts achievements and leaderboards, which are mandatory features for any gaming service these days. Players can see how they rank compared to both friends and the rest of the world. (This, as you might expect, links to back Google+.)
We’ll have more as Google announces it.
Just running a quick test. Please ignore.
Filed under: Games
Nvidia is announcing today that it will debut its Shield portable gaming system in June for $349. Preorders will be live on May 20 on Nvidia’s site.
The new game system will play Android titles on a 5-inch high-resolution screen that sits atop a game controller. Shield is the first game system ever deployed by graphics chip maker Nvidia. Its aim is a dual one: Shield can take Android games into the living room (connected via a HDMI cable) and take PC-based Steam games from the computer display to the big-screen TV.
Shield features a console-grade controller, a high-definition, 720p display, Tegra 4-based graphics, and Android games that are available on Nvidia’s TegraZone web site. You can connect your Google Play account to Shield to enjoy your favorite movies, music, and apps on the Shield device.
The system will be available on Newegg, GameStop, Micro Center, and Canada Computers. Shield will be able to tap a PC with an Nvidia GeForce GTX GPU and play the Steam games on that computer on a big-screen TV. The PC will stream the device to Shield, where the gamer can play on the 5-inch screen or play on a HDMI-cable-connected TV.
The system features Tegra 4, which Nvidia calls the world’s fastest mobile processor with 72 graphics cores, four central processing unit (CPU) cores, and 2 gigabytes of main memory. Shield has integrated speakers, 802.11n WiFi, Android’s Jelly Bean version, 16 gigabytes of flash memory for storage, global positioning system navigation, Bluetooth 3.0, mini-HDMI output, micro-USB 2.0, a microSD storage slot, and a 3.5 millimeter stereo headphone jack.
“I like Nvidia’s sub-segmented approach to the market, as $349 works for both rabid GTX fans and hardcore Android gamers,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “That price won’t drive casual gamers, that is, unless Shield becomes the device every kid needs for the holidays. One thing that big-time gamers will appreciate about Shield that no other handheld or game console can do is leverage those awesome PC gaming titles. As Nvidia grows their supported list of Stream PC games, I expect that to generate a lot of buzz. Nvidia needs to microscopically manage the experience for this to work well for them and Shield users.”
Filed under: Games
Well, we can once again thank Google for ruining our productivity. This time, the famous search engine celebrates the 37-year-old classic Breakout, which tasked players to destroy a bunch of blocks by bouncing a small ball around the screen. Yeah, it was a simpler time.
You can play the Google version by searching for images of “Atari Breakout.” This clever take on the breakout (ha) arcade hit uses the image search results as its blocks. Clear them all and you’ll move on to new levels that use more random pictures, like adorable chinchillas or pancakes.
Thanks to Reddit user Techchris, whose post originally alerted us to this awesome Easter egg.
Filed under: Games
The company announced that quarterly iTunes revenues topped $4 billion — including $2.4 billion in content alone — in its latest earnings report. Based on historical numbers alone, that’s a $16 billion annual run rate, thanks to Apple’s 500 million iTunes users. But since it also has grown at a fairly steady 29 percent per quarter for the past six years, it’s also an underestimate of the annual value of the iTunes ecosystem.
And it gets better as users have more Apple devices.
“Apple users spend about $1/day for each Apple device in use,” Dediu says.
All of which means that Apple is still king of the mobile ecosystem, at least as far as monetization is concerned. Users have currently downloaded 49.9 billion apps, and Apple is currently running a contest which will see the downloader of the 50th billion app win $10,000 in iTunes cash. While Google Play is growing faster than Apple’s app store, Apple still leads in downloads, and it holds a 2.6-times revenue advantage.
It’s also an interesting metric for Amazon to evaluate itself by.
Amazon sells Kindle devices at or near cost in part because it hopes to make extra revenue on digital content — perhaps $3 per user per month – via its own app store and its digital media offerings, such as TV shows and movies. Its newly launched virtual currency Amazon Coins should help with that mission, and with 11 million to 12.5 million Kindles sold through Christmas 2012, and perhaps 15 million sold to date, that would translate into just over half a billion dollars in revenue.
And at Apple-like numbers of $40/user/year, it would be $600 million dollars.
All of which could help explain why Amazon is hitting digital media hard and buying technology to make all of its Kindles full-color, with responsive screens.
And why Apple, Amazon, and Google are increasingly hard-core competitors in their three-way battle to own your devices … and your wallet.
Image credit: 401(K) 2013/Flickr
Ohio-Based Entrepreneur’s SketchParty TV Shows AirPlay’s Gaming Power, But The Tech Needs A Spotlight
SketchParty TV is a game that essentially allows a group of people to play a version of Draw Something on a big screen in a party setting, usually with between four and six players. The AirPlay component works by allowing AirPlay Mirroring to turn your Apple TV-connected television or display into the easel for the game. A player gets the word they’re supposed to draw on their iPhone or iPad, and as they draw on the screen, that image appears (without the clue words) on the TV, allowing others to join in and guess.
The app earned high praise from tech bloggers including Federico Viticci and Jim Dalrymple of the Loop nearer to its original launch back in July last year, but overall the response from the general public has been more muted. SketchParty TV’s Braun explained in an interview that to date, SketchParty TV has seen only around 5,000 total downloads, which he says still has probably put the game in front of between 20,000 and 30,000 people, given that it’s meant to be used in a group setting.
Those “aren’t breathtaking numbers,” admits Braun, but the reviews have been positive and this seems to be more an issue of consumer education and getting the feature out there than any limitation of the AirPlay tech itself, Braun suggests.
“Apple has a lot of technology in their platform to encourage developers to support, and AirPlay Mirroring is a smaller piece of the equation than something like, say, iCloud,” he explained. “There’s also a consumer education component involved – right now it seems to be up to the savvy to disseminate the wonders of AirPlay to their friends by word of mouth. Or by showing off games like SketchParty TV.”
Others like Real Racing have embraced the two-screen Mirroring experience, but even the support of a major publisher like EA hasn’t pushed it into the spotlight, and Apple isn’t exactly crowing about the feature either. They advertised that AirPlay Mirroring made it possible to see the same thing on your TV as you’re watching on the iPhone or iPad, but there’s been no formal campaign to promote the fact that gamers can get a true, Wii U style dual-screen gaming experience from current apps with the tools available now.
“It’s been surprising to me that there are many people who have an Apple TV and an iOS device and are aware of the ability to send a video stream over AirPlay, or mirror the device display, but not of the ability to do second-screen to the television and show different content on each,” Braun said about the conspicuous absence of hype around the feature. “Personally, I’d love for Apple to give more love to the Apple TV – whether that means improvements to the current offering or some bold new direction like an actual HDTV set.”
Rumors still prevail that Apple is planning its own HDTV set, despite the fact that this has been rumored for years now. But if it does come true, that would provide a big reason for Apple to push more of its features. The other big question mark that remains centers around whether Apple might just open the Apple TV platform to third-party apps, which might minimize, though not eliminate, the benefits of having an AirPlay-connected game.
Braun says that the addressable market is large for this type of experience, ranging between 10 to 12 million by his calculations, and with plenty of growth potential thanks to the more than 300 million strong iOS user pool. It’s a bigger potential market than that represented by the current combined sales of all major home gaming consoles, in fact, with the provision that Apple needs to blanket more of those with the AirPlay component. One way or another, that’s a market that won’t go ignored for long.