Articles of Interest

Penny Arcade highlights SquawkBox, a free plug-in for Microsoft Flight Simulator, which connects virtual pilots with virtual air traffic controllers. Basically a free MMO for aviation addicts, run entirely by volunteers. (Random thought: Flight Simulator may possibly be the least well-monetized of all Microsoft entertainment properties, in that it sells to a cult following that goes on to spend hundreds of hours and hundreds of dollars on after-market products not created by or associated with Microsoft. While commercial and volunteer after-market support is absolutely a good thing, there’s no law that says you can’t play a part in it! The entertainment industry has so much to learn about tapping niche markets…)

Microsoft announced that Bungie is becoming an independent company, but will continue its Microsoft publishing agreement for Halo and other properties. An unusual situation; I’m very curious to see how it works out.

And speaking of Bungie, Halo 3 has dropped to fourth place on the GameFly charts for the Xbox 360 after three weeks at #1. Some have interpreted this as bad news, but I think this is actually a remarkable signal of great franchise health. That is, I’m speculating that the vast majority of 360 owners consider Halo 3 a “must own” and therefore aren’t bothering to rent, even if renting is an option.

Yankee Group issued a report on extremely low Second Life usage, then withdrew the report as questions about its validity arose. As regular readers know, I’m somewhat skeptical about the current incarnation of SL, but it’s only fair to help highlight the report’s withdrawal, since so many popular sites reported on its “findings.” In general, I’ve been pretty unimpressed with Yankee Group coverage of the game industry.

MIT has announced the second annual Futures of Entertainment Conference. This year’s speaker lineup is fabulous: it includes Jesse Alexander (Heroes), Danny Bilson (The Rocketeer), Marc Davis (Yahoo!), Mark Deuze (Indiana U), Raph Koster (Areae), and Tina Wells (Buzz Marketing Group). Check it out!

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