Showing posts from 2011

Check it Out: Facebook Games Get Deeper Edition

I am not one to argue Farmville is not a game. I love Zynga's ability to show over 100 million people they really like to play games on line. But what about people who play other games and quickly grow bored? This market has been rumbling for a while and they seem to have found one of the first games. After receiving great reviews and feedback at E3, Liquid Entertainment and Atari's D&D: Heroes of Neverwinter made it to Facebook.

Go ahead, jump in and play. Almost 300k other people did in the first week or so . . . . .

Publisher Trash Talk: The Cadillac of Game Publishers Edition

EA and Activision's back and forth banter is making a lot of press - and is certainly fun to watch - but it is sadly nothing new. Those of us enjoying our formative beer imprinting years during the rise of Corona may remember the workers are pissing in Corona rumors started by US Heineken distributors and there are many other similar stories over the years. While at a car show in Pebble Beach over the weekend I came across an old Cadillac ad providing the best way to address these campaigns. In those days they did not use the press, they did not use a whisper campaign, they just talked about themselves.

In 1915, when Cadillac was establishing its reputation as the "Cadillac" of cars, it was the first to market with a V8 Engine. Packard, the major competitor, did not like this and responded by spreading rumors about reliability. The lead copywriter was frustrated by all of the misinformation in the market and tried to figure out the root of the problem. After muc…

Gamestop: Used Games, We Just Can't Quit You Edition

After realizing my call for the destruction of Gamestop was for naught, I had to come to terms with the need to accept their business model as a fact of life - even though they are killing the geese who so lovingly innovate, fund, develop and so lovingly deliver golden eggs into their grubby, cold, clammy, unappreciative hands. I even moderated a panel with Gamestop's CEO, and kept my opinion to myself . . . mostly. But do I really have to accept their repeated efforts to persuade us their actions are good for the business. Does the crack dealer stand on the corner and say he is enhancing the junkie's lives, or does he just take their money? Gamestop senior executives do understand that if they have to keep repeating that their actions are good for the industry, they are probably not good and constant repetition will not make it so.

In a recent interview in Edge, Mike Mauler, EVP of Gamestop International said:

"I can understand the feelings," he tells us, &qu…

Privacy 2.0: Google and Facebook's New Definition Edition

A while back ago I wrote a big, long rant about the lack of privacy on line. I was, and continue to be, frustrated by the non-consensual insertion of Google and Facebook’s appendages into the most personal crevices of our lives. The growth engine of Web 2.0 - are we on 3.0 yet? - is the aggregation, analysis and leverage of personal information. Web sites are able to passively collect the very same information people used to have request in person. While this collection is the most significant invasion of our privacy since the Spanish Inquisition, We are not able to use the word “privacy” to describe the action because the major benefactors of our ignorant largesse co opted the word. Kind of like when liberals rebranded “progressives.” The current rebranding campaign was launched a while back and continued in earnest at panel discussion on social media sponsored by Marie Claire magazine. Ms. Zuckerberg, sitting with Eric Schmidt and Erin Andrews, victim of cyber harassment, t…

Check it Out: The Start of Something Big Edition

Incinerator Studios launched their new Playdek venture with Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer - much more to come soon. Don't listen to me though, I am biased, check out the five star average from the 77 ratings that came in during the first 24 hours of the launch and read the reviews in the store.

Here is a better description than I could write:

Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer, is the first officially licensed deck building card game for iOS. Play alone or with friends to battle against the Fallen One for honor and victory. Conceived and designed by three Magic: The Gathering tournament players, Ascension will provide hours of engaging and strategic game play for enthusiast and experienced gamers alike.
For millennia, the world of Vigil has been isolated and protected from other realms. Now, the barrier between dimensions is failing, and Samael, the Fallen God, has returned with his army of Monsters from the beyond! You are one of the few warriors capable of facing thi…

Microsoft Goes Hollywood: Sequels Are Never As Good As The Original Edition

Our business is growing more like Hollywood every day. Budgets go up and publishers, like studio executives before them, rely more and more on established franchises to hedge their bets. We are just as used to seeing things like Transformers 2 and 3 or Hangover 2 as we are to the ensuing debate over whether the sequel is as good as the original. But this time Microsoft has gone just too far. In fact, so far, there is no need for a debate.

For those of you who do not remember, just before the launch of the 360, Microsoft invented J Allard

and he was good.

I can't help watching the interview and wanting to buy a 360 all over again. But J left and Microsoft decided to make the sequel.

C'mon guys . . . J worked, but can't you come up with something new?

THQ Defends the Homefront: Life Imitating Art Edition

Despite massive investments on the front end, most publishers abandon recently released boxed titles, leaving to fend for themselves like orphans in Dickens' London. Can anyone point to support for Ride from Activision, or Saboteur from EA after launch. Even Mercenaries 2 was left flapping in the wind. But THQ either picked something up during the development of Homefront - thank you John Milius - or chose this time to display the massive set of balls tucked away in the closet for so many years.

As I wrote a couple days ago, the company took an unfair valuation hit due to the compounding effect of a low Metashitic score coupled with an overzealous gaming press. The press ignored the downward trend of the entire industry for the days leading up to the decline and slammed THQ, leading to uncertainty in the financial market. Those guys in mainstream somehow believe the game journalists are experts and use their drivel to provide advice to their clients. The problem is exacerb…

Metacritic Attacks on the Homefront: Call to Arms Edition

Metacritic is an intrinsically flawed concept based on a corrupt ecosystem. It would not be an issue of the game business, like film, music, television and everything else tracked by Metacritic ignored the numbers. I have never seen a film’s failure supported by a headline pointing to Metacritic. Nor have I seen the film press trumpeting the unthinkable number one position at the US box office of Battle: Los Angeles despite its score of 37 – a number which would get any game development executive fired. Why then, do all of the major game news outlets report THQ’s lost 26% of its market value yesterday because Homefront got a 71 – unless you look at the sidebar which says it got a 72, or PS3 which got a 75. Using this logic, we must also conclude the most recent add on DLC for Call of Duty: Black Ops did not sell well because it scored an anemic 78. and we should be stumped by Take Two’s decline despite the 88 achieved by Top Spin 4 on the same day as Homefront. Maybe this i…

In Defense of Console?: The Sky Is Not Falling Edition

Before I get started I have to say a word about priorities The first quarter is always a tough one. Products, trade shows and return to work always conspire to make this period a difficult time to prioritize our lives. Last week I was smacked in the face by the deaths of two people well before they were done living. They both spent extended periods of time fighting disease, so the deaths were not a surprise, but nothing can prepare kids who are still kids bury their parents, or parents to bury their child. It is the wrong order of things. I hope no one reading this has to see these things around you, and especially not coming in pairs in a single week. Then we were all struck by the incomprehensible tragedy in Japan. With all of our friends and colleagues in our business tragedies that seem so distant when they happen in other parts of the world, suddenly strike very close to home. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I must put down in text that as much as we get wo…

Googles Pimp Hand is Strong: The Dirty Little Secret Behind App Revenue

I wrote this about a year ago because I did not like the commoditization of content going on in the iTunes store. As games creators started to build for the store, I saw the train and I saw the wall. I just did not know how much track was in between. There seems to be a false sense of creator liberation, leaving the indentured servitude of the evil publishing overlords for a life of rainbows, unicorns and green fields of "direct" publishing and direct contact with the audience . However, as I pointed out over a year ago, the iTunes store is not the haven for creator profitability, it is really an aggregation of stuff large enough to create a compelling argument for the purchase of a high margin piece of hardware. This picture is not so pretty, but it looks like the work of Ansel Adams relative to Google's impact. Through Google's admob's division's domination of the app market on both iOS and Android systems, Google has turned game developers from i…

The Stupidity of Crowds and The Wisdom of Aspergers: Death of Innovation in America

A few posts ago I promised to write about metrics based design. The kind of stuff going on inside the social game companies who like to listen to the crowds over the designers. I was thinking and thinking and then I realized that even though it just does not feel right to me, I am a “suit,” not a game designer and I am not going to figure it out. But it led to me to think about a bigger issue. The power of the Internet and growth of social network brings an increased focus to the "Wisdom of Crowds." I've fallen for it too, writing about the hive mind and how quickly a group can come together to solve a given problem. It is easy to be seduced by the aggregated brilliance. I mean after all, how can you question the resource responsible for contributions like Metacritic, Cheez Whiz and Abba?

The crowd wisdom concept did not start inside Zynga. It is attributed to Sir Francis Galton who held a contest at a county fair to guess the weight of a cow. While the guesses…

Egyptian Uprising, The Game: The Gamification of a Revolution Edition

This morning we woke to news of President Obama heading to San Francisco to meet with these guys:

*John Doerr, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

*Carol Bartz, President and CEO, Yahoo!

*John Chambers, CEO and Chairman, Cisco Systems

*Dick Costolo, CEO, Twitter

*Larry Ellison, Co-Founder and CEO, Oracle

*Reed Hastings, CEO, NetFlix

*John Hennessy, President, Stanford University

*Steve Jobs, Chairman and CEO, Apple

*Art Levinson, Chairman and former CEO, Genentech

*Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO, Google

*Steve Westly, Managing Partner and Founder, The Westly Group

*Mark Zuckerberg, Founder, President, and CEO, Facebook

They say he is going to talk about spurring innovation and the economy, but coming on the heels of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprising and with growing unrest throughout the Middle East, I would hope he is talking about something else. These are the leaders of the tools used to bring down the Egyptian Government. On the one hand let's hope he is trying to figure out…

Jeetil Patel Say Sell EA: Time to Buy ERTS Edition

I owned EA stock for a while. It happened to be wrong while for profit but a very good while for someone looking for a very good way to offset gains in the rapidly rising market. The stock flatlined since I sold it and I did not pay attention to it until I saw the "sell" articulated by Jeetil Patel of Deutsche Bank. Based on his past performance, this rating is a stronger buy indicator than the company's balance sheet could ever be. Forget the forecast he issued the day before the earnings release which was way off, and excuse him for not knowing EA would announce a USD 600 million stock repurchase - no one could anticipate that. These are only embarrassing. Focus on his reasoning. It is bordering on - I would really like to use the "R" word but it is so politically incorrect now and I do not want to say criminal because it really is not - fraud to hold oneself out as an expert and provide an analysis as stupid as Baron's reported him to provide.

Patel’s …

A Brave New World: DLD Conference Edition

I am sitting in a Munich hotel room for the first time in 27 years and the only thing that’s changed is me. On the train from the airport I realized I am old enough to measure time between actions in decades. Not so long ago 27 years was a reasonable age for a person and now it’s the time in between two trips I took as an adult. The area around the tube exit in Marianplatz is the same, the Glockenspiel looms overhead and the crowd is standing in the same place I left them 27 years ago. In Europe, where “old” describes increments of hundreds of years this is normal, but in America, “old” is measured in single digits so it is unusual. Other than a 275 Euro a night difference, even my room is indistinguishable from the youth hostel I stayed in as a newly minted high school graduate.

I naively booked the hotel because it had “four seasons” in the name. I say “na├»ve because I thought four seasons referred to hotel chain when it reality, it can only refer to the number seasons it i…