Articles of Interest

Foreign game companies have been prohibited from investing in Chinese game operators as sole owners, joint venture partners or cooperative partners.

The U.S. virtual goods market is estimated to exceed $1B in 2009, more than doubling from 2008.
For comparison, the virtual goods market in Asia is currently estimated at $7B. (I haven’t had time to personally drill into this… if you think these are gross overestimates, feel free to chime in!)

Yet another prominent iPhone developer has spoken up about piracy; this time, it’s Ngmoco complaining about 50%-90% piracy rates in the first week a game is released. As I’ve said myself, Ngmoco now speculates that free (presumably cross-platform) games supported by microtransactions may be the best way for established developers to succeed on the iPhone. The latter was only permitted by Apple very recently.

Kudos to the IGDA for doing something unambiguously helpful and positive for its members: providing access to group health insurance.

Retailer Game Crazy shares that, for those between the ages of 10 and 19, the four most desired games this holiday are: Guitar Hero 5 (48%), Wii Sports Resort (44%), New Super Mario Bros Wii (41%) and Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games (33%). Looks like rumors of the Wii’s death are greatly exaggerated…

Apple grew its PC market share to a 15-year high last quarter; macs made up somewhere between 8.8% and 9.4% of PC shipments. iPhone sales climbed 7% to a record 7.4m.

Nabeel Hyatt suggests that for social games, the ratio of “daily active users” to “monthly active users” (DAU/MAU) is often sufficient to predict the success of a game (higher is better.) In other words, and unsurprisingly, games that keep players coming back frequently tend to grow bigger.

Interesting anecdote about indie developer Unknown Worlds Entertainment, which has directly pre-sold $220k units-worth of its game to consumers (vs $500k raised via investors.) More interestingly, Unknown Worlds offers a $20 standard version, and a $40 version with nothing more than cosmetic in-game additions, but 95% of preorders have been for the $40 version. If you’re loyal enough to pre-order, it seems that you’re loyal enough to pay double (as long as you’re offered something small in return.)

For those who appreciated my recent post on Lucidity, check out this useful Gamasutra article which broadly address the subject of how to make games less unforgiving and frustrating.

A Chinese developer’s perspective on success in the F2P space. Lots of interesting, blunt quotes in there:

  • “Keep the gamers for at least two weeks, they will stay, and if they’ll stay, they’ll stay for years.”
  • “It’s impossible to create content for a year or two years of gameplay; you have to create an environment or a setting in which a lot of people can interact with each other. Ultimately it’s not the content that keeps the people playing, but the people.”
  • “A lot of game designers believe fairness is not a goal, just a means — the goal is to create a highly dynamic environment and community where a lot of conflict and drama can happen; if it helps to create conflict, fairness and unfairness can be used as tools to create those conflicts and add tension to the game world.”
  • “If you think about who [rich players] were in the real world, they were business owners, used to managing hundreds of people… we let rich people fight with rich people with the help of poor people.”
  • “There’s an item in one social game that is a gift — of flowers. No simple bouquet, when the item is given, flowers fall from the sky and everyone can see them. Just as importantly, the game rewards the girl who gets the most flowers with a unique dress that can’t be bought, and it will give her a special user title for chat. [Girls] want to feel important, and being spoiled.”

There’s more to life than games:

In New York City, it takes years of legal maneuvering and costs nearly half a million dollars to dismiss a teacher for incompetence. Consequently, out of the city’s 80,000 teachers, only two have been dismissed in the past couple years. That’s 0.0025% of the total.

Research shows that praising children for their intelligence can make them less likely to persist in the face of challenges, while praising children for their effort has the opposite effect.

Advertising via the common fly. Whoever came up with this is incredibly creative and incredibly bizarre. 🙂

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