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Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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October 2013

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How Big Can Major League Gaming Get?

October 31, 2013

Recently, Major League Gaming's president and co-founder, Mike Sepso, offered some remarks on just how big the broadcasting property could get. Sepso's remarks may prove surprising, but one thing is quite clear: Major League Gaming is eager to fulfill the first two thirds of its name.

 

Sepso make it pretty clear when he said: “We'll be bigger than the NHL (National Hockey League) in terms of viewership and revenue in about two years.” Given that the live audience growth for Major League Gaming events has grown fully 600 percent since just 2010, and Major League Gaming holds its own streaming platform offering up 120 hours of original programming every month—about five full days's worth of it—these aren't exactly outlandish claims.

Gaming May Get A Bigger Boost From Tech Than Expected

October 30, 2013

New word out of GamesBeat 2013 is heavily into technology, as everything from augmented reality to game development is making an appearance and being hashed over as the show frantically looks for the next big trends to come in gaming. The end result, meanwhile, is that a lot of technologies will play a role in the upcoming future of gaming...if the predictions suggested come to pass.

There's no denying that augmented reality is a pretty spiffy idea by any standard. We're talking about a technology here that, under the right circumstances, can be used to allow its operator to look at a restaurant and get its menu before even walking in the door. That's the kind of thing that's going to make a lot of people interested, and if a lot of people are using a technology, it's really only a matter of time before all these people start looking for other ways to use it.

Oculus' Biggest Truth: Content Sells Hardware

October 29, 2013

While plenty of gamers out there are looking forward to the release of the Oculus Rift as a way to fundamentally redefine gaming as we know it, there's a truth lurking under the surface that some aren't quite so willing to understand. Some, however, understand it all too well, and one of those people is Brendan Iribe, the CEO of Oculus VR, the company behind the Oculus Rift.

Iribe served as the main speaker at the GamesBeat 2013 opening events, and in his remarks, he showed that both he, and by extension the company, understood that no matter how amazing the Oculus Rift was, without the games to back it up, it wouldn't be much good at all. Indeed, as Iribe described it in his remarks “...we need made-for-VR content.” Indeed, as Iribe described, while there would be plenty of ported content on hand, and plenty of titles to make the jump to a virtual reality system, there would still be lots of room for—and a genuine need for—titles that specifically take advantage of the VR format.

Iribe followed up this telling point by noting that there are some games specifically geared toward the mobile platform, and this is just what would need to be done for the Oculus Rift as well. He showed some game footage for a couple titles working in that direction, like “Eve: Valkyrie,” a game with a clearly starfighter bent.



What To Do About Horror Gaming?

October 28, 2013

It's a good time of year to cover this topic, really. Between the fact that Halloween hits in just three days—many places have already had their Halloween specials and even their Halloween parties—and the fact that this time of year in general is what many regard as prime time for horror, it's a good time to take a closer look at horror in gaming.

The simple, sad facts are that there's not much going on when it comes to horror gaming these days, and much of that which is going on is going on in the indie market. Sure, we're all familiar with Slenderman thanks to his semi-official status as the final boss of the Internet.

MediaSpike Nets Big Numbers On Social-Mobile Product Placement

October 24, 2013

Fans of eighties movies, bad movies, and bad eighties movies almost certainly remember “Return of the Killer Tomatoes”, perhaps the first and maybe even only movie ever to feature product placement as a plot device. Since then, product placement has gone from a bad joke to a serious money-making opportunity for shows and movies, and MediaSpike, a company that puts product placement into games, is showing just how valuable this concept can be in gaming.

The reports suggest that MediaSpike reaches fully 20 million unique visitors a month, meaning that MediaSpike is getting some downright top-notch numbers. By way of comparison, NBC Sunday Night Football for the week of October 7 got just over 22 million viewers, though those were all just in that night instead of over the course of a 30-day or so cycle. This doesn't seem to be the top of the heap for MediaSpike, either, adding a variety of social game and mobile game publishers like Tetris Online, Big Blue Bubble, and several others.

Selling Like Hotcakes: The Popularity of PAX East 2014

October 23, 2013

A few hours ago, three-day badges for the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) East show went on sale, at the impressive price of $75. 35 minutes later, said badges had completely sold out. Despite limits designed to get more badges into more hands, there was still a rapid sellout, and this particular sellout says something interesting about the larger gaming environment.

Back in 2013, it took most of a day for the three day badges to sell out, though single-day passes—slightly more expensive at $40 per day, or $120 for the full three-day affair—were available for months after the fact. This time, it took only minutes, sufficient for Penny Arcade to offer a note of warning to those buying: “If we determine that you are ordering under different names and multiple addresses, all of your orders will be canceled immediately.”

Though there are already some wondering about the potential of scalpers afoot—somewhat augmented by the fact that hotel registration websites seemed to be down for extended periods—it showed quite clearly that PAX East, and by extension the original PAX Prime event that takes place on the opposite coast (PAX East takes place in Boston), are catastrophically popular events.



Oculus Rift, CastAR, and Friends: Virtual Reality Hardware Becoming A Full Market

October 22, 2013

The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. That's not just a partial Bible quote turned pithy saying any more, but rather a fair description of the virtual reality market. While there was software and to spare ready to take advantage of the virtual reality concept by giving us the perfect perspective for virtual reality--the behind-the-gun stance of the first person shooter--the hardware simply just wasn't there to give us that full experience the way "Dactyl Nightmare" did back in the 1990s. That, however, is changing, and in pretty rapid fashion.

While easily the biggest name in the field right now, at least the one that's on the most lips when it comes to virtual reality technology, is the Oculus Rift, it may not be the main one for long.

Monetizing Online Gaming: All About Value

October 21, 2013

The other day I spotted an article on Cracked that really made me stop and think about the larger gaming market as we know it. The article in question wasn't exactly complimentary to a large swath of online gaming, but then I got to wondering, how much of this was applicable to the wider market? Was this just one disgruntled gamer? Or was this a trend in the making that developers could stand taking a response toward?

We all know that free to play gaming is taking off, but the issue of monetizing that content is still something of a thorny one.

A Golden Age of Gaming Afoot?

October 17, 2013

It's hard to remember a time before gaming was ubiquitous, but it was there. The console market was just getting started, and about the only place you could reliably find video games were at arcades that may have been miles away from your house. The idea that we're in a golden age of gaming is the stuff that could fuel a hundred arguments, but it's hard to deny that, at the very least, gaming is enjoying widespread popularity. The DICE Summit is already talking up such a phenomenon, to the point where the organizers are using the idea of a "golden age of gaming" as a theme for the 2014 conference.

So is it a "golden age of gaming" or not?

Is The Mobile Gaming Market Seizing Gamers On Time Constraints?

October 16, 2013

You might have noticed that, recently, I wasn't posting for a little while. I was enjoying a couple days off, a four-day weekend that not only let me get a lot done, but also let me enjoy some quiet time and a chance to stretch my wrists a bit from their standard position, hovering over a keyboard. But I also got some game time in, and had a wild time with "Saints Row 4", running around the alien simulation of Steelport and blasting whatever happened. But with this rare slice of time off, I also got a lot of stuff done around the house that I'd been meaning to do, and after catching up on gaming news I saw a bit on VentureBeat about how being an adult means that there's a lot less time for gaming than there used to be.

How the Sunflex Unu Reflects the "Battle for the Living Room"

October 10, 2013

Earlier today, the German device maker Sunflex announced the Unu tablet, a tablet with a surprising variety of features that comes in at a surprising price for a device that can do so much. This entertainment Swiss army knife offers not only an Android tablet, but also a tiny console and a smart TV system all in one package, and poses an interesting question about the “battle for the living room.”

The Sunflex tablet is said to be just $20 more than Google's powerful new small tablet the Nexus 7. The tablet itself runs Android 4.2, and runs it on a quad-core processor running at 1.6 GHz. It includes a docking station, and throws in a proprietary remote and a gamepad for a total of $250 all told. The tablet version works much in the same fashion as most any other tablet, though it's where the system switches to console mode and smart TV mode that things get interesting.

Oculus Calls Together The Biggest Names In Virtual Reality

October 9, 2013

Conferences aren't exactly new; there are conferences for just about every industry out there, and commonly, conferences are regarded as valuable tools to show off new products and services, as well as network with others in that particular field. Sometimes even speeches are delivered that provide particular insight into a field. Oculus, meanwhile, is bringing out some of its senior engineers to set up its own conference, this time around virtual reality.

Oculus' Chief Operating Officer, Laird Malamed, will be joined by other Oculus staffers to put on a one day event on November 2 called “Future of Virtual Reality with OculusVR.” The event is set to take place at Cambridge, Massachusetts' Microsoft Nerd Center, and will include not only a variety of demonstrations in the field, developer workshops, employment workshops, and a set of technical Q&A sessions along with a chance to get hands-on with the company's flagship technology, the Oculus Rift headset. The event will be free to attend, though the company is encouraging attendees to offer up a donation to the Boston Children's Hospital., as the event is set to take place the same day as Boston Extra Life, which serves as a gaming event with that particular charity in mind.

Interestingly, it won't be just about the hardware, either, as “multiple Boston-based game studios” are set to present a set of topics about implementing games on the Oculus Rift thanks to exposure to the developer kit.



Kiip Wants To Know: Who's The Best Mobile Gamer Around?

October 8, 2013

Mobile gaming; it's changed minds and attitudes all the way along the ecosystem from developers to gamers, and more and more people are starting to take this concept a lot more seriously. But one of the most recent efforts that's revealed itself in recent days is showing us how serious this field is starting to get, as Kiip and Guinness World Records is coming together for what is said to be a first-of-its-kind event: a bid to find the best mobile gamer on the face of the Earth.

 

Kiip dropped the word on this one earlier today, detailing how a three-day competition comprised of several Kiip Swarms—their term for large-scale tournaments—will decide the best mobile gamer on Earth.

The Asylum Jam: Rethinking Horror Gaming

October 7, 2013

For many people, mental illness is a scary thing. In general and in particular, it's not hard to see why mental illness is both a theme and a setting in horror movies and horror gaming alike. The Asylum Jam, meanwhile, wants to change some perceptions and turn a few standards of horror upside down, as game programmers look to make games without turning to mental health.

The Asylum Jam, which runs from October 11 through October 13, requires game developers to produce a scary game without the use of, as Asylum Jam puts it: “...asylums, psychiatric institutes, medical professionals or violent / antipathic / insane patients as settings or triggers.” Asylum Jam further elaborates that “This jam is to show that you can still create a great horror experience without using inaccurate stereotypes of those who suffer from mental illness or the institutions that support them in diagnosis and recovery.”

It's easy to be of two minds about this. For many, evil and insanity go hand in hand; it's hard to explain some horror movie behaviors—particularly the more sadistic behaviors—without pulling out the more conventional explanation of sociopathy.



The Mobile Gaming Market: Changing Minds

October 3, 2013

A recent interesting fact cropped up earlier today, as facts have a tendency to do, that showed that—in a survey staged by Goo Technologies—more users were turning to browser gaming than were turning to console gaming. The majority's margin here was narrow, as just 52 percent of gamers in that survey of 2,046 adults over the age of 18 preferred browser, but it was still a point that was worth paying attention to.
 
There were plenty of reasons for the shift—costs, ease of use, interactivity with friends and several others—but it's the fact that more users were looking to play games on Web browsers than were looking for consoles that was especially noteworthy, particularly with two major new console launches about to hit in the form of Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4. The increasing move to browser gaming—and mobile gaming in general—wasn't lost on Sony, however, as Shuhei Yoshida, president of Sony Worldwide Studios, had some remarks in line about mobile gaming.
 
Mobile gaming, according to Yoshida, had “totally shifted our way of thinking,” as Yoshida gave an interview to GamesIndustry International, talking about some of Sony's cross-promotion plans. One set of plans for the PS4 launch title “Knack” included a themed puzzle game that would be not only be available at no charge, but playing the game would provide items that could be used within the wider game itself.



For JumpCore, Zombies & Real Time Strategy Pair Up Well

October 2, 2013

Two great tastes that taste great together; it's an old description of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, but it's also an exciting way to look at games. An upcoming title from JumpCore, “Undead Overlord”, looks to put that principle to work, bringing zombies and a real-time strategy game together in one handy package.

“Undead Overlord” is something of an unusual concept when it comes to gaming. Instead of sending out people into the midst of a zombie apocalypse to permanently kill the walking dead, this time, we instead take control of said walking dead to go forth and feast on humanity. The overriding goal here seems to be exactly what a zombie's goal should be: to eat the flesh of the living.

Can MOBA Game Schools Perk Up The E-Sports Concept?

October 1, 2013


One of the more popular breeds of game that becomes an e-sports standard is the MOBA, or Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, game. Games like “League of Legends” and “Defense of the Ancients” fall into this category, and the play mechanics are often quite a bit different from what a player may expect going in. But this new world, so different from what many gamers are used to, may get a bit of a boost from “schools” of sorts opening up to accommodate newcomers to the field, and with it, potentially a whole new shot in the arm for e-sports.
 
Out at VentureBeat, contributor Stephanie Carmichael went through the LOLGuides.com “League of Legends” course, a five-day affair that offers newcomers—like Carmichael, at last report—a basic primer on the mechanics, tactics and goings-on contained within the larger picture of “League of Legends.” A more complete course, the Summoner School program, lasts eight weeks—though it can be completed at any pace—and costs $67. It's recommended that users be acquainted with the basics—a month's practice beforehand is recommended to get down the basics of the controls and whatnot—though apparently even a week can make sufficient difference.
 
Anyway, Carmichael charted her experiences in the program, and discovered that the program is a sound one for those who already know what they're doing when it comes to gaming in “League of Legends” and the like, something of a master-class to improve a player's performance, as opposed to a complete ground-up boot camp for new League players.