USC Taps Industry Vet Danny Bilson to Chair Games Division

USC just brought on Danny Bilson as the new chair of its School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media & Games Division (IMGD), reporting to the School of Cinematic Arts dean Elizabeth M. Daley. Bilson, who has held senior executive positions at THQ and Electronic Arts, is a writer, film director, producer and game developer. Since 2005, he has also been on the faculty of the USC School of Cinematic Arts, teaching screenwriting and narrative design, and, currently, leading the Advanced Games Project. Continue reading USC Taps Industry Vet Danny Bilson to Chair Games Division

EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

Electronic Arts, with the debut of “Star Wars Battlefront II” at E3 in Los Angeles this week, plans to abandon the sales of “expansion packs,” which are the maps, quests and other content sold separately for videogames. Instead, it will send customers smaller packs for free, as a way to keep them playing the game, and use microtransactions to sell less expensive virtual goods. The company is basing this switch of sales pipelines on the fact that microtransactions, even in free-to-play mobile games, have garnered billions of dollars. Continue reading EA Switches to Microtransactions for New ‘Star Wars’ Sequel

Electronic Arts Scores Record Year With Games-As-Services

Electronic Arts is apparently doing a better job at engaging players over a longer period of time. That’s the conclusion of the company’s chief executive Andrew Wilson, who said that its record-breaking fiscal year is due to live operations of games that run as services, rather than one-time purchases. The goal, he says, is to increase gamers’ engagement, thus growing an audience over time and preventing them from defecting to rival products. Proof that the strategy is working is in the numbers, he adds. Continue reading Electronic Arts Scores Record Year With Games-As-Services

Unity CEO Reframes XR Discussion, Re-Energizes the Flock

Unity Technologies CEO John Riccitiello drew a fresh picture of the XR industry in his keynote address at the Vision VR/AR Summit 2017 in Hollywood this week (extended reality — or XR — is an umbrella term that includes VR, AR and MR). Riccitiello admonished analysts for their overly exuberant prognostications and reactionary pessimism about the VR market. He projected that XR adoption and value calculations will exceed expectations in 2023 if three conditions are met: a price point below $1,000 for all the necessary hardware; truly mobile technology; and content that can be monetized across 100,000,000 devices, at minimum. Continue reading Unity CEO Reframes XR Discussion, Re-Energizes the Flock

Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Bolstered by last summer’s breakout popularity of “Pokémon Go,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has shifted focus from VR to AR, which combines the real and digital worlds. At the annual F8 conference, he stated that Facebook will make its AR tools available to developers to create everything from custom masks to filters. Partners already include Nike, Electronic Arts and Warner Bros. The shift to AR puts Facebook in competition with its rival Snap’s Snapchat and Microsoft HoloLens. Continue reading Facebook Pursues App Ecosystem: AR Powered by Cameras

Twitch Moves to Digital Delivery, Microsoft Game Site to Debut

Amazon’s live streaming video platform Twitch plans to begin delivering computer games digitally. Starting this spring, the user will see a “buy” button on website broadcasts of computer games from 20 companies; players can download the game and other goods, such as expansion packs, directly from the site. According to comScore, in the U.S., Twitch is now No. 8 among the top 500 visited websites in terms of average time spent per visitor. Also this spring, Microsoft will debut subscription-based Xbox Game Pass. Continue reading Twitch Moves to Digital Delivery, Microsoft Game Site to Debut

Jam City Invests in Mobile Gaming Future with Two New Hires

Los Angeles-based mobile game company Jam City (formerly SGN Games) has hired AI expert Rami Safadi and experimental psychologist Lisa Spano to lead a new research and development team. Both hires will be focused on consumer insights and leveraging data to create new gaming experiences. Safadi believes artificial intelligence will play an integral role in gaming innovation. Jam City’s hires are part of a new phase of development after its initial success, including six of the highest-grossing games in the U.S. Continue reading Jam City Invests in Mobile Gaming Future with Two New Hires

Slack’s Workplace Messaging App Targets Large Companies

Slack Technologies, launched in 2014, just introduced a new version of its workplace-centric messaging app, with the goal of gaining large corporate contracts. The new Slack Enterprise Grid is built to handle the group messaging needs of very large companies, with thousands or more employees, and includes security tools and regulatory compliance required for such companies’ IT departments to sign off. The original group messaging app is already in play at a few big companies, including Electronic Arts and Samsung Electronics. Continue reading Slack’s Workplace Messaging App Targets Large Companies

Global Game Industry Earned $91 Billion in Revenues in 2016

According to SuperData Research, games were a $91 billion global market in 2016, with mobile games accounting for $41 billion (about 18 percent). In second and third place, retail games were valued at $26 billion, and free online games at $19 billion. SuperData also noted virtual reality, e-sports and gaming video content, all of which were characterized as small but growing fast, thus promising for 2017. “Monster Strike,” “Pokémon Go” and “Clash Royale” were among the blockbuster hits that made mobile games a winning category. Continue reading Global Game Industry Earned $91 Billion in Revenues in 2016

Activision Blizzard Plans E-Sports League Around ‘Overwatch’

Activision Blizzard, the biggest videogame company in the U.S. by market value, is taking steps to create an e-sports league that more closely resembles a traditional sports league. The company is in conversation with more than 100 e-sports and traditional sports teams to drum up interest in a league for its game “Overwatch” that would function like the National Football League. Competitive videogaming has gained in popularity and viewership, heading towards an estimated 10 percent of all U.S. sports viewing by 2020. Continue reading Activision Blizzard Plans E-Sports League Around ‘Overwatch’

Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Nintendo just debuted Switch, a console/handheld hybrid that is the company’s next videogame platform. The system, which has been in development since March 2015 and will be available for sale March 2017, can be used for TV gaming or as a portable gaming system, depending on the configuration of its tablet-like device and dock. Minus the tablet, the system becomes portable, with mini joysticks that can be wireless or attached to the sides. Nintendo also says it will soon reveal titles, game demos, and prices. Continue reading Nintendo Rolls Out Switch, its New Hybrid Videogame System

Game Engines Are Now Entrée to Better Titles, Faster Delivery

With its game engine, Electronic Arts can apply code created for one game to another new game. EA has evolved its engine, now integrating the features of a dozen into a single game engine, dubbed Frostbite, which was used most recently to create the title “FIFA 17.” Now, Facebook, Amazon and other tech companies are also interested in game engines, which can handle graphics and physics as well as save time and money on R&D, and open doors to development in new media markets such as virtual reality. Continue reading Game Engines Are Now Entrée to Better Titles, Faster Delivery

Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Having exited beta, Google’s VR platform Daydream is now available to developers who can use the VR SDK to build virtual reality experiences for Daydream-capable phones and headsets. Daydream is already baked into Android 7.0 (Nougat) and can also integrate with Unity and Unreal game engines. Apps to be available at launch include CNN, HBO, Hulu, IMAX, MLB, NBA, Netflix, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as Ubisoft and Electronic Arts games. Daydream was first introduced at Google I/O in May. Continue reading Google Offers Daydream SDK and Unity Support to Developers

Sony to Unveil Two PlayStation 4s: 4K Pro and Smaller Version

Sony plans to debut a high-end console, PlayStation 4 Pro (formerly “Neo”). Set to ship November 10 for $399, PlayStation 4 Pro will boast a faster processor, more storage, and 4K graphics. Sony will also release a more energy-efficient, 30 percent smaller PlayStation 4, to go on sale September 15 for $299. This console replaces the original PlayStation 4, which debuted November 2013 at $399. All PlayStation 4 consoles will be able to play back high dynamic range images, including, via a software update, older PlayStations. Continue reading Sony to Unveil Two PlayStation 4s: 4K Pro and Smaller Version

RadicalMedia and Uncorporeal Develop Hologram Experience

RadicalMedia has been working on a project to present “great people” as holograms in venues optimized for augmented reality. Although much of the project is under wraps, more became clear recently when RadicalMedia partnered with Uncorporeal, a volumetric capture startup developing technology to create human holograms that can be used in VR or AR content. Headed by Sebastian Marino, formerly visual effects supervisor on “Avatar,” Uncorporeal’s eight staffers are veterans of Lucasfilm, Weta Digital and Electronic Arts. Continue reading RadicalMedia and Uncorporeal Develop Hologram Experience

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