Posts made in May, 2011

What Other Publishers Can Learn from EA

What Other Publishers Can Learn from EA

No one can accuse Electronic Arts (EA) of dragging its heels on adapting to the digital landscape. Eager to seize online opportunities, the publishing giant is now bent on presenting itself as a “software platform” and “a fully integrated digital entertainment company” instead of a behemoth with a sports label. Earlier in May, EA CEO John Riccitiello explained the company’s new strategy through a conference call. He referenced...

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Hardware vs Software Innovation: Which Wins?

Hardware vs Software Innovation: Which Wins?

Let’s ask a semi-philosophical question based around the games industry: What use is hardware innovation if software does not innovate alongside it? Ex-Microsoft executive Ed Fries shared his concerns about potential video game software stagnation in a May interview with GamesIndustry. While game hardware is evolving in exciting new ways–controller-free game interaction, 3D, touch-screens–developers of big budget games are in danger of relying too...

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Video Game is Not a Bad Word

Video Game is Not a Bad Word

It used to happen all the time. I’d be at a party or other social setting with my wife, an attorney who advocates for the rights of foster youth, and the conversation inevitably would turn to our careers. And what do you, Johner? “I work in the video game industry.” I would always get one of two reactions to the v-word. Every so often I’d see a twinkle in the husband’s eye (or sometimes the wife’s), and they’d immediately want to know if I could tell...

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Wii 2: Can it Win the Console War?

Wii 2: Can it Win the Console War?

Wii 2, Project Cafe, Stream… regardless of the name, Nintendo’s new video game system will soon make an appearance this June at the E3 2011 tradeshow. But does it have what it takes to win the next-generation console war against the PlayStation 4, Xbox 720 or whatever systems Sony and Microsoft choose to next introduce? As part of Gear Up, our running technology video series for Rolling Stone magazine, we take a closer look at whether or not the Wii 2...

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Big Game Studios: Headed for Extinction?

Big Game Studios: Headed for Extinction?

At the dawn of 2011, Disney Interactive Studios initiated a round of layoffs. Then another round in March. Even now, as spring shakes off the cruel chill of the post-Christmas season, Disney Interactive Studio’s problems mount: The Mouse has taken the axe to 100 employees (how’s that for a mental image?) at Black Rock Studios, the developers behind the 2010 racing title Split/Second. Sometimes it seems like we hear more about the cuts and layoffs coming...

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Enhancing Gameplay: Adding Stickiness

Enhancing Gameplay: Adding Stickiness

A good adjective for describing Call of Duty: Black Ops would be “sticky.” That doesn’t mean the game has a tendency to fall into the grasp of some kid with jammy fingers: It means the game has a way of hanging around inside a game console and is revisited often by its owner. Activision CEO Eric Hirshberg is well-pleased by the stickiness each Call of Duty title has demonstrated since 2007’s Modern Warfare, and he talked about the...

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Wii 2’s Project Cafe: Is it the Next Dreamcast?

Wii 2’s Project Cafe: Is it the Next Dreamcast?

It’s been a long console generation, so news of a new system–from Nintendo, no less–has ignited a lot of buzz about what this new console, codenamed “Project Cafe” (possibly Wii 2) will be capable of. There’s also been a lot of speculation as to how Project Cafe will influence Nintendo’s fortunes. The company has seen its profits decline 66% through the fiscal year ending on March 31 2011. A bad year for Nintendo is more...

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New Video Show: Vs. Mode – Two Can Play

New Video Show: Vs. Mode – Two Can Play

Ever wonder how video game TV shows get made? Guess no more: It typically starts with an original concept, script and test episode known as a “pilot.” But on occasion, the brave captains at our in-house video production arm, Game Industry TV, aren’t afraid to roll like their brethren at Southwest Airlines. Which is to say that they’re not afraid to fly blissfully unawares, and by the seat of their pants, just to see how exhilarating and/or horrific an...

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Western Studios and Nintendo: Good Match?

Western Studios and Nintendo: Good Match?

At a recent investors Q&A, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata revealed that the company will be soliciting the aid of western game developers for future installments of some of its core titles, not unlike Retro’s past involvement with Metroid Prime and Donkey Kong Country Returns. Coming soon: Super Mario FPS. Kidding. Even so, Iwata believes that a game’s graphical style can project a certain image, and attract or drive away audiences accordingly,...

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Microsoft Kinect: Will Hardcore Games Work?

Microsoft Kinect: Will Hardcore Games Work?

Microsoft’s Kinect has captured the hearts and flailing limbs of casual players, but hardcore gamers still need to be sold on the wonders of controller-free gaming. There’s a bit of cynicism surrounding the idea that Kinect and the PlayStation Move can possibly appeal to traditionalists, but there’s also a way to budge that cynicism: Develop a must-have core game that utilizes motion controls. As it so happens, Microsoft might be at work on that....

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