Train2Game News: Games Industry News – 29.03.13

Pokemon It is the end of the week so it is time for the Train2Game games industry news round up!

In exciting news for Pokémon video game players across Europe, The Pokémon Company International announced the long-awaited dates and locations for the Pokémon European Video Game Championships. The English competition will be held in Birmingham on June 2. Players will battle for the chance to earn a Travel Award to the 2013 Pokémon World Championships in Vancouver, Canada, this August. Visit www.pokemon.co.uk for more information.

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment today announced Infinite Crisis, an all-new multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game developed by Turbine, the award winning studio behind free-to-play online games including The Lord of the Rings Online. Infinite Crisis is a free-to-play game that features a deep roster of DC Comics characters and is scheduled for release in 2013 for the PC.

In further news from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, they announced two of its biggest mobile games, Batman: Arkham City Lockdown and Scribblenauts Remix, are coming to Android, exclusively in the Amazon Appstore for Android. Expanded to and completely optimized for the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD offers gamers with new ways to connect to their favorite franchises.

Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network have started their Spring Sales. Xbox Live’s sale runs from March 26 – April 2, and includes such titles as Dead Rising 2, Walking Dead, LA Noire, Max Payne 3, Resident Evil 6 and some of their movie offerings. The PSN kicked off its spring sale yesterday and it is running until April 9. In addition to the sale, it’s going to have a number of limited time offers, the first of which is Killzone HD, available till the April 29. Some of its games up for sale are Rayman 3 and Trine 2.

Electronic Arts, Sega, Sony, Codemasters and more have pledged support for the first Game QA & Localisation forum, taking place June 25-26 in London. The event will focus on best practices for test plans, QA budgeting and strategy with a mix of keynotes, sessions, panels and workgroups. Paradox, Outplay, Ganz, Plarium and Abertay University are also involved with the event. Full details can be found at the official site.

Train2Game News: Mid-week round up – 06.12.12

The Train2Game team has searched around and found some of the exciting news from this week.

343 Industries, who recently released Halo 4, have said that they are in early stages of developing a new Halo. Frank O’Connor, the franchise development director for Halo, said that “a lot of people at 343 are already prototyping ideas and software and art for future Halo products”. Many within the 343 Industries studio are still working on post launch content for Halo 4.

Sega has revealed a new partnership with Games Workshop which will see Total War developer Creative Assembly making multiple titles set in the Warhammer fantasy universe. Creative Assembly studio director Tim Heaton said: “With this year being our 25th anniversary, it seems fitting for us to embark on such a dream project with such a well-established partner. The incredibly rich and detailed Warhammer world is something we grew up with, and has left an indelible imprint on us as both designers and gamers.”

Sony Pictures Consumer Products has teamed up with Capcom-owned developer Beeline Interactive to produce an Android and iOS Ghostbusters game, targeting an ‘early 2013’ release. The new Ghostbusters will be a ‘freemium’ title based on the popular eighties movies. The players will play the role of “a fledgling Ghostbuster. Who ya gunna call?

UK celebrity, chat show host and film critic Jonathan Ross has opened a new game development studio named Hotsauce Interactive, based in Candem, North London. The outfit is part of Ross’ TV production company Hotsauce, and has already released its debut game, Cacha Cacha Aliens for iOS. It is understood that Hotsauce Interactive is staffed by a number of experienced developers and the studio may look into releasing games on hand-held and console in the future.

Customers of Valve’s Steam digital distribution service can now play their PC games on a TV. The much anticipated Big Picture mode has been in beta for some time, but has only now seen public release. Big Picture is designed to be compatible with gamepads, but also supports the use of a Mouse and Keyboard. To celebrate, Valve has placed over thirty “controller-friendly” games on sale.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 made $1 billion a day quicker than Modern Warfare 3, Activision has announced. That’s $1 billion in worldwide retail sales in 15 days since launch, based on Chart-Track and internal figures. Modern Warfare 3 took 16 days to cross the $1 billion mark. For comparison, James Cameron’s Avatar made $1 billion in 17 days. Since launch, more than 150 million hours have been logged online playing the game on Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.

Kickstarter’s United Kingdom operation has reached £2,069,164 in pledges since its launch late in October. 45,799 backers contributed to the £2 million, with 30 projects having successfully ended their funding drive out of 407 launched. Of those backers, 39 percent came from the UK.

Microsoft announce Xbox Live price increase

Microsoft has confirmed that subscription prices for Xbox Live will be going up from November 1st.  The price increase for Xbox Live was confirmed by Major Nelson in a blog titled Price change for Xbox LIVE Gold subscription

The good news (sort of) for UK Xbox Live subscribers is that the price will only be increasing if you pay for your Xbox Live membership on a monthly basis. Does anyone actually pay for Xbox Live every month?

From November 1st, Xbox Live members who buy pay buy their Xbox Live Gold subscriptions monthly will see the price increase from £4.99 a month to £5.99 a month. That’s a whole £1 people. Does anyone actually pay for their Xbox Live membership on a monthly basis?

The good news for every other Xbox Live subscriber in the UK is that Xbox Live membership costs for 3 month Live subscriptions and yearly subscriptions won’t be changing and remain unchanged.

If you’re an Xbox Live subscriber in the United States, you’ll see the biggest price rises with monthly Xbox Live subscription costs rising from $7.99 to $9.99, Three month Xbox Live Gold membership fees rising from $19.99 to $24.99, while the yearly cost for Xbox Live Gold membership goes up from $49.99 to $59.99.

The increase in Xbox Live  Gold membership fees is the first price increase since Xbox Live was introduced onto the original Xbox all the way back in 2002.

So Train2Game students, how do you feel about the increase in price of a subscription to Xbox Live? If you’re paying a monthly fee, will this encourage you to pay for a yearly membership? Or do you think this is a money making ploy by Microsoft?

Could it push you towards the free PlayStation Network?

Leave your thoughts about the increase in Xbox Live subscription costs here on the Train2Game blog or on the Train2Game forum.

Xbox Live & PSN the ‘perfect platform’ for risky games

The PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are the ideal platforms for publishing creative or risky games, according to Another World creator Eric Chahi.  Speaking  to GamesIndustry.biz about the decision to release upcoming game Project Dust by digital means only, he said:

“There’s no distribution or retail to worry about – no manufacture or production costs, so it’s less risky for a publisher to sign an original game. I think it’s the perfect platform for this kind of game that’s not really mainstream.”

Chaci also added that the lower price of digitally distributed games is also an advantage “At retail games are more expensive, whereas on XBLA and PSN they’re cheaper, so you can reach more people.”

Recent Indie hits such as Joe Danger and Limbo seem to support the theory that the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live are great platforms for smaller developers – like Train2Game students – to publish games. This is even if a recent report suggests that most games are bought on discs.

So Train2Game, do you think it releasing a game on the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live is the way forward? Or are you looking at other ways to publish games? Also, what do you think of Project Dust? The trailer is below.

As usual, leave your thoughts here or on the Train2Game forums.

Digital distribution – The Train2Game students best friend?

Digital and pre-owned games constituted one third of the United States market last year, with US consumers spending over $4.5 billion dollars on them according to research by the NPD Group.

It wasn’t so long ago that discs, or cartridges, were the only way for the consumer to purchase a video game. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, it’s now so easy to buy games without even leaving the house.

Of course, there’s the standard online shopping which allows consumers to buy the latest Call of Duty or FIFA through just a few clicks, but even then they’ll have to wait a few days for the postman to deliver what they want. So the gamer might be happy about not having to leave the house – because let’s face it, if we can avoid moving we will – but less pleased about not instantly receiving the game.

Digital downloads almost entirely bypass this issue. When purchasing a game, then downloading it, the consumer doesn’t have to wait long at all before they can play it. Of course, Train2Game has previously examined the discs vs. digital debate, but over the weekend I saw for myself just how easy it is for us download games – games that we may have had no intention of actually buying in the first place!

I like to relax – if relaxing can be defined as bellowing instructions to teammates down a microphone – by playing Team Fortress 2. Now, in order to play Team Fortress 2 I need to log into Steam, Valve’s content delivery system. When I logged in, a special offer popped up saying the Mass Effect games were on offer over the weekend only, with a whopping 75% off the RRP. Having never played a Mass Effect game, and having heard how great they are, I decided to buy the first Mass Effect title for the grand total of £3.24. If I could have afforded to, I would have bought Mass Effect 2 for £12.99 too.

So, having signed into Steam to play Team Fortress 2, I find that I’ve parted with my hard earned cash and soon have a shiny digital copy of Mass Effect installed on my hard drive.

This is why digital downloads are ever-increasing their share of the consumer games market – it’s just so easy to download a game! The thought of buying Mass Effect hadn’t even crossed my mind before I logged into Steam on Sunday afternoon, but a few hours later the game had been added to my collection.

Of course, the knock down price played a massive part in my decision to make the purchase – which is probably why pre-owned games are doing so well too – but the fact is I parted with my cash and bought a game that is two years old through digital distribution.

Train2Game students should take heed of how powerful the digital market has become in recent years, and strive to take advantage of it. A Games Developer, Games Designer and Games Artist & Animator can get together and make a game yes, but ultimately in order to become successful in the industry their creations will have to sell. For Train2Game graduates just starting out in the industry, digital distribution would be by far the easiest way to do this, be it through a standard PC download, Steam, the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live.

There’s a consumer market out there, who with the right incentives will buy new games at the drop of a hat. What will you do to market yours? As usual, freel free to leave your comments here or on the Train2Game forum.