Articles of Interest

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I’ve had time to post anything of substance!! Get ready for a big heaping pile of articles-of-interest, some fresh, some not-so-fresh:

Some statistics about F2P game Domain of Heroes. Interesting to see that traditional ad revenue is just ~4% of total, and that the game is having success with really high microtransaction price points (I’ve frequently argued more F2P games need to explore adding higher priced options/items to their menus.)

More rumors about Apple’s 10 inch touch-screen device (like a big iPod Touch) — this article claims the price will be $800 and that it will double as a game console. It sure *better* be a whole lot more than just another cool console at a price of $800…

Quote: “Human memory is not an accurate, faithful image of the past. It is an active reconstruction subject to many possible distortions. As a result, anything that reminds one of the positive aspects of the experience, such as mementos and other reminders, can modify the memory. Photographs, for example, remind us of the positive moments. With each viewing of the pictures, positive memories are enhanced without reawakening negative ones.” Games clearly take advantage of this with Achievements and screen captures of key victories in games. Can they do more?

Innovation alert: Treasure World for the DS compels you to collect “star dust” which you exchange for 2500+ treasures. You collect dust by hunting for stars — aka Wi-Fi signals! — in the real world. You then decorate a virtual garden with your treasure. The kicker? Each treasure piece is a distinct musical note, and your garden is a 32-note music tracker — so the act of decorating your garden is also the act of creating your own songs. Man, I need to play this game…

Battlefield 1943 has sold over 600k units at $15 on XBLA and PSN since its launch on July 8th. You really can’t understate the significance of this event. Battlefield will be the game that finally convinces EA (and other major publishers not already onboard) to take XBLA and PSN seriously — or at least, much more seriously — this console generation (as opposed to the next generation, when digital is a given.)

According to NPD, Apple controls 91% of the revenue market for computers costing $1,000 and up. So much for the Windows gaming PC?

Lots of buzz around Booyah Society, which essentially lets you win achievements for a wide variety of real-life activities. I wonder to what extent, if any, the lack of a central authority for progress (i.e. a game system that dictates exactly when you do/don’t win an Achievement) might hamper player enthusiasm for Booyah? There are certainly more than enough people who already quite happily measure their own progress in a variety of activities… it will be interesting to see if they embrace this.

Combined game industry hardware and software revenues are down 31% year-over-year. On the other hand, online games are doing great. The article notes that online gaming is growing at “ten times the rate of the total US internet population and reaching nearly one out of every two internet users.” Of the traditional portals, Yahoo! Games is still top dog.

One iPhone developer claims that for every copy of his game that was sold, 24 were pirated. Quote: “Very quickly after the release of ‘the little tank that could’ the game got cracked, and distributed via torrents. Those crackers are a weird bunch, even taking pride in their work. Proudly tagging my game with ‘cracked by Hexhammer’. Well screw you Hexhammer.” I didn’t realize the iPhone was so similar to the PC…

This rough transcript of the Casual Connect session “Designing, Balancing and Managing Virtual Economies” is full of interesting quotes. I was particularly interested in the comments on inflation control, multiple currencies, “barrier pricing”, and chargeback avoidance.

A friend of mine is a co-founder of TrialPay, so I’m very excited to see them finally making a splash in the video game industry. (For those of you who aren’t aware, TrialPay enables consumers to receive a product or service for free in exchange for accepting an offer from advertisers such as magazine and credit card companies. Non-game companies such as Netflix and McAfee have been using TrialPay for a long time.) IMO, TrialPay is a great way to squeeze some extra revenue out of an online game.

Mark Pincus revealed that Zynga regularly spends large sums on advertising when launching new titles, like a “couple million dollars” promoting the launch of Farmville. The article speculates that Zynga is likely one of Facebook’s largest advertising customers. If Facebook ever creates a “featured games” page, I wonder to what extent (if at all) those ad dollars will influence the curators of that page…

Via Kim, Rock Band will enable users to author playable tracks, submit them for review to the community, and ultimately to sell approved tracks via the Rock Band Store and Xbox LIVE. Pure awesome.

James Gwertzman’s presentation, Lessons learned from SNS games at PopCap“, is full of interesting notes on the evolution of social features within Bejeweled Blitz (such as team scores for prize competition), on dealing with cheaters, etc.

There’s more to life than games:

Quote of the week: “There was a telling incident at a town hall held by Representative Gene Green, D-Tex. An activist turned to his fellow attendees and asked if they ‘oppose any form of socialized or government-run health care.’ Nearly all did. Then Representative Green asked how many of those present were on Medicare. Almost half raised their hands.”

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