Articles of Interest

LeapFrog has unveiled the $50 “Tag”, a plastic stylus that turns paper books into interactive playthings. It will be available this summer with an 18-volume library of children’s classics. Seems to me like a really neat learning tool for kids! And hopefully, more successful than its predecessor — the $100 “Fly.”

Valve has introduced Steamworks, a suite of (free) publishing and development tools. It includes real-time sales tracking, an encryption system, auto-updating, territory control, voice chat, multiplayer matchmaking, social networking, and development tools. Notably, it can even be used with games released through digital distribution services other than Steam.

Kim writes about the DRM-free tactics of Stardock Games, which recently published Sins of a Solar Empire, and Galactic Civilizations II before that. Both are big-budget retail titles, the latter of which apparently sold quite well. Key quote: “if you provide reasonable after-release support in the form of free updates that add new content and features that are painless for customers to get, you create a real incentive to be a customer.” Speaking of piracy, check out this interesting debate. Piracy may be rampant in Asia, but Nexon Director Min Kim is right to point out that used game sales in the US play a similar role in the market.

Three cheers for Seattle, my current home and, apparently, the new Silicon Valley. Maybe this will prevent my house’s value from dropping 25%+

I like occasionally playing the part of Second Life cynic. I also like pointing out when something really cool pops up in there… like a detailed replication of Yosemite Valley in 1883. Or a giant, floating 1790 World Globe.

Moviestorm is a free machinima development tool that will generate revenue by offering $10 asset packs. It will focus on offering better camera controls and significantly more character animations than found in typical game engines.

Brenda Brathwaite takes a hatchet to the H&R block advergames on Facebook. In particular, I agree with her criticisms of “The Financial Match Quiz.” Who could think that a “compatibility quiz” based on questions like “how do you feel about debt” and “do you know what tax deductions you qualify for” would be fun? One lesson for advertisers: get a reasonable number of people to test your game before launching it… preferably in a context that encourages them to behave naturally, not tell you what you want to hear.

I just discovered I’, a vaguely game-like online dating site that enables you to potentially meet people by answering their random questions, which you can only do if you’re willing to bid more points than the previous person who answered the same question.

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