Articles of Interest

My “Changing the Game” co-author, Ethan, was one of several individuals who worked on Celebrity Calamity, a casual game that teaches important personal financial lessons through roleplay as the business manager of a virtual celebrity. Testers who played Celebrity Calamity showed a 55% to 70% improvement in knowledge of concepts like credit limits, finance charges, etc. A video about the game and people’s experiences with it can be found here.

Trip Hawkins on the iPhone: “We make as much money with [iPhone games] as we do putting a game on 100 different cell phone platforms.”

Gamasutra has attempted to estimate the sales of those XBLA games released in March.

Nintendo will release Wii MotionPlus on June 8th. Finally, the Wiimote will not suck, and it will only cost you $20 (per device!) to rectify that suckiness… or more, if you want the Wii Sports Resort bundle. I plan to be one of those people dutifully enriching Nintendo, though I will mutter an evil curse while I do so.

Thoughtful article by James Portnow on “faux choices” in games: “Many games attach rewards that effect gameplay problems to choices, thus reducing the choice to a simple equation. For example: how many times have you been offered a choice to be nice to an old man or to ignore him and had the reward for being nice to him be X experience (or ammo or money) and the reward for ignoring him be Y experience (where Y is less then X, and often zero)?”

NCsoft has launched a mission creation tool available to all users of City of Heroes. Of course, it allows users to rate one another’s submissions and stories, and players can earn in-game rewards for highly-rated content. Certainly cheaper than attempting to replicate WoW’s army of designers; I wonder how long it will be before a popular, big-budget MMORPG launches with this kind of functionality? (Update: Kotaku reports that within 24 hours, CoH players created more content than had ever been created by the devs, and that ~14% of that content was rated 5 stars.)

Metaboli (now owner of GameTap) discusses its business models, both subscription and download to own. Subscription, unsurprisingly, is higher margin. I always thought XBLA should create a subscription or rent-to-own offer, though I worried that either (if very successful) might skew developers away from short-but-sweet games, which are under-appreciated enough as-is.

Doug Creutz shares his take on the current developer value proposition for PS3/360 vs Wii in the US: “There is a 19m unit installed base for the Wii versus 22m units combined for the 360 and PS3. Assuming some overlap in the 360/PS3 installed bases, they’re roughly equivalent. In addition, Nintendo is the dominant publisher on the Wii with over one-third of software market share on its platform. Guitar Hero and Rock Band account for one-sixth of sales. So the addressable market for third-party Wii titles is only about half of what the installed base would imply. The situation on the 360/PS3 is less daunting, with less than a quarter of software dollar share going to first-party publishers and Guitar Hero/Rock Band.”

There’s more to life than games:

Researchers at DePauw University have found that people who frowned frequently in photos taken when they were children are five times more likely to get divorced later in life. Interesting way to evaluate the people who are hoping to marry your kids, siblings, etc. 😉

Nice article by Tom Brokaw exploring how the US could save untold billions by consolidating local government entities. Example: “It’s estimated that New York State has about 10,500 local government entities, from townships to counties to special districts. A year ago a bipartisan state commission said that New Yorkers could save more than a billion dollars a year by consolidating and sharing local government responsibilities like public security, health, roads and education.”

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