Articles of Interest

If you’ve ever been curious about the Xbox and G4W certification process (what it entails and why it matters), the XNA team has published a detailed article on the subject via Gamasutra.

Interesting article that explores the flaws inherent to annual performance reviews, and proposes an alternative way of giving feedback to employees.

Sandy Pentland, one of the MIT Media Lab’s most well-known professors, was recently interviewed on the subject of nonverbal communication (and what it means for businesses.) Fascinating stuff.

In the “didn’t see that one coming” category, PC game distributor and developer Reflexive Entertainment was recently acquired by Amazon.com. Reflexive is the developer of the XBLA game Wik & The Fable Of Souls, among others. It’s unclear to me how, of all the online game distributors, Reflexive managed to woo Amazon, but my very serious props to them!

Wagner brings our attention to a notable debate: people who make a living selling virtual goods within Second Life are complaining about the great many freebie items that are depressing all item values and hurting their profitability. But really, this shouldn’t be surprising. In a free-for-all market with no barriers to entry, the price of most goods will quickly be competed down to their variable cost of production… and the variable cost of a virtual item is zero. Inevitably, only those goods associated with strong IP (and/or having extremely high development budgets, which set them apart from other goods) prove saleable. Sound familiar? It should, because it applies to many video game ecosystems.

Gamasutra has posted an article about missing gamers, aka those 25 to 35 year olds who used to play video games but no longer do. Most of the article won’t surprise you, but I appreciated this one bit: When we introduced one group to Xbox Live and its community features (with something of a twinkle in our eye) we were surprised at the lack of enthusiasm. “How do I update my status, though? And how about adding pictures and links?” The bottom line here seems to be that most games platforms have a “come join our community” ethic, but members of this group of would-be gamers already have well-established, functioning networks of their own. They respond much better to services that enhance and amend these existing groups, both online and in real life. When they discover that games can “come to their community” they are much more willing to invest some time and money.

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