Ubisoft Talks In-Game Ads
The promise of in-game advertising revenues is exciting to agencies, investors and, of course, publishers. But for this last group, there is a balance to be found, between grabbing the revenues, and protecting their products from over-zealous commercialization.
We've all seen movies that were ruined by overt product placement. Games can live without that sort of treatment.
But unlike the movie business, games have a limited number of revenue streams (there is no sell-through DVD market) and in an environment squeezed by rising budgets, anything that promises funds straight to the bottom line has got to be a good thing.
Ubisoft's vice president of publishing Jay Cohen is just one in this business, balancing the pros and cons of in-game advertising. Next-Gen.Biz visited Ubi's San Francisco offices to chat about the in-game advertising scene, where it's come from and where it's going...
Headed slope side
I am getting married March 11 so this weekend Brian and I along with a few of my chums are headed to Jackson Hole, WY for a little boarding and beer. It will probably be the closest thing to a bachelor party I will have before I am hitched. While I am not sure if the place we are staying has Internet access or not, I am not sure it matters either. I am looking forward to the time off, and you my friends will have to fend for yourselves for a while. I am bringing my 360
and I believe Brian is bringing his. Different people have different ideas of paradise. Mine is boarding, beer and video games. Of the five of us who are going, two do not play games, one only casually and while Brian plays a lot he also suffers from Duke Nukem
Motion Sickness Syndrome. He gets pretty ill playing FPS
games. I can typically win without ever having pulled the trigger. Twenty five frags by rifle butt. This is going to be fun. Rob will mind the shop and hopefully nothing burns down while we are gone.
Kart News: Atari Get Up Against Oz OFLC...
Feb 22, 2006
Submitted by Kartanym (10796)
Australia has come under fire from Marc Echo and Atari over the recent banning from sale of Marc Ecko's Getting Up. The OFLC originally confirmed an MA15+ rating (currently the highest rating available for video games down under) but instead have decided to revoke the classification and, in turn, disallow the game from sale.
Atari has called it the equivalent to book burning, while Marc has been quoted as saying "to blame gaming for everything that is inherently wrong in our homes, in our schools and on our streets is much easier to do than to actually figure out ways to fix the systemic problems that exist within our culture."
An appeal has been launched by Atari Australia. Meanwhile, Kart continues to ponder whether his own country will ever grow up. Ironically, Japan has recently introduced a new Adults Only category to its rating system...
In other news ... A study by ABI Research predicts that by 2011, the video gaming industry will double in profit to USD 65.9 billion, on the back of online and mobile titles ... Nintendo has confirmed the original Nintendo DS will be phased out by the NDS Lite over the coming year ... Dave Perry has resigned as head of Shiny Entertainment, on the back of news Atari may sell some of its internal development studios ...
PlayStation 3 at $800?
The same report from analysts at Merrill Lynch that predicted that the PS3 could be delayed by over six months has also suggested that the components used to build each console could cost Sony over $800.
Presenting a list of materials needed for each console, Merrill Lynch analyst Joe Osha pins the highest costs on the Blu-Ray drive used by the system, at $350, and the Cell processor, at $230.
Other components including the NVIDIA RSX chip ($70) and the system's memory ($50) stack up with smaller costs such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips to bring the total to $800 (although Osha's report miscalculates this figure as $900).
Although Osha predicts that the bill of materials cost will fall to $320 within three years, his headline figure is stark - and the report describes the situation in harsh terms, stating bluntly that "it's now clear that the box is prohibitively expensive to make."
Our own mini-Jack Thompson
Running MobyGames has its ups and downs. I have to say one of the more interesting aspects of my "job" is reading the occasional bizarre email that gets sent in. The combination of one million visitors a month and a public email address
and phone number
means that we get more than our fair share of nuttiness. Once we got a touching letter from an 8 year old boy to Dave Mirra. Another time the New Jersey Poison Control called to ask us what the active ingredients in Xenophage
are. Recently someone sent an email threatening to sue us over our Custer's Revenge
game entry. Some highlights from the email:Custer's Revenge: This game incites racial hate, genocidal murder and rape of First Nations people. Remove this game from all sales and promotion. Considering lawsuit against any promoters of this game. Requiring that you contact me with a plan of action to cease and desist immediately!
andI understand Free Speech and such- but this game is an outright violent racist rape game and I hold the makers, purveyors, and trade pimps responsible for the fact that such attitudes create the fact that 70+% of all violent crimes (including murder & rape) against Native Americans come from "Other" races- FBI statistics. So MobyGames must by default be condoning the use of the game. If it was your spouse on the game... what would you do?
and Just because it is "perfectly legal" does not mean it is moral or right i.e. slavery once was such. We can revisit slavery with proper instruction- we don't need to experience it again. We are requesting that this game be dropped from list and mentioned only as a racist relic of a more insensitive recent past.
In my opinion the first statement is quite a stretch. I've never played the game so I am not the last opinion on the matter. The second statement is the one that cracks me up the most. The person writes, "I understand Free Speech and such"
then goes on to prove that they in fact do not understand Free Speech. Lastly they go on to state what MobyGames is doing is perfectly legal. Any possible concern over a threat of lawsuit has been greatly diminished by the statement of the writer that MobyGames is within its legal rights. Normally we just ignore these types of things. However, the writer did ask me a question. "If it was your spouse on the game... what would you do?"
Other than file for divorce for having lied to me about her violent and pornographic past? Well I would definitely email anyone and everyone who came up in a Google search. After that maybe drool on myself and talk to the underwear gnomes.
Some guy is going to try to play Q*bert for 72 hours
Kelly Tharp will be marathoning Q*bert at the Challenge Arcade in the Reading, Pennsylvania area for a three-day stint starting on February 20, 2006. His goal is to beat a video game arcade record that has stood for 22 years. If successful, his marathon will take approximately 72 hours, starting on the morning of Monday, February 20, playing on only one quarter
Q*Bert has been recognized as the most difficult game to marathon for great lengths of time. Due to its bizarre array of colorful screens, the game play is harder on the eyes than any other game of the "Golden Age" of arcade classics, and countless players have failed to beat the 22-year-old world record of 33,273,520 points set by Bob Gerhardt of Lloydminster, Alberta, Canada on November 28, 1983.
The Challenge Arcade is located at the Berkshire Mall in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. You can find out more about this nuttiness at Twin Galaxies
More updates pushed
More bug fixes and enhancements have become live. Make sure to check the ChangeLog
every now and again as to see what's been done.
Points for product codes
We kicked down the points you get for product codes such as UPC and Sony Part Numbers from 1 point to 1/4 point. The response was overwhelming. In only a few short days almost 1000 product codes were contributed. However after some discussion we felt that 1 point was a little too generous given the effort compared to say writing a review or a game description. As always comments are welcome.
A Kart News Update
Feb 13, 2006
Submitted by Kartanym (10796)
The Nintendo DS has reached 850,000 unique users of its Wi-Fi service, and over 20 million connections in total since the launch last year. This should rise even further with the soon to be released Metroid title, which will also be the first DS game to include voice support between players. But I want voice support in Tetris DS!!...
Blizzard has written an apology to the makers of a guild in World of Warcraft which welcomed those of the lesbian, gay and bisexual communities, stating it "was an unfortunate interpretation of our current policies, which are currently under review." It's a welcome decision really. The last thing we need is discrimination both in and out of a gaming world ... well, unless you're an Ork...
Sony's God of War
collected seven awards at the recent Interactive Achievement Awards, including Game of the Year. Other winners included Guild Wars and City of Villains tying for best Online title, Nintendogs, Battlefield 2 and The Movies. Sadly there was no mention of Playboy: The Video Game...
Speaking of Sony, the company will soon release DVD-UMD releases of certain big name movies. Meaning, you'll get a DVD and a UMD version of the same movie in the one package, at a competitive price. So if you haven't got all four different versions of Daredevil yet, now you can have all six! ... not that it was 'that' bad...
And finally, Microsoft has confirmed Halo 2 will be released as an exclusive for their new Vista operating system. But don't let this announcement fool you ... it may not make Vista run faster...
Accessible Webpages and Easy to Navigate Information
Feb 12, 2006
Submitted by WildKard (12186)
The Digg.com website
brought something to my attention today. Apparently the Target chain of stores is involved in a lawsuit
regarding their website and it's accessibility to the blind. I'm not sure I agree offhand with the lawsuit, but I do agree with the point behind it. Websites that are formed properly become more readable in different methods and don't rely on the web browser setup the owner expects you to be using. A lack of fancy images and flash eye candy may seem dull, but often it's much more efficient in delivering the information content to the user. Though of course when the website is designed for entertainment rather than information, these gains may not seem as important.
So I'm curious, how does the Mobygames.com website stack up? One of the goals of our website is to make it readable on Firefoxes and Internet Explorers and laptops and Blackberries and Palmpilots and iPaqs and whatever else processes HTML. But what about screen readers? What about other accessibility features that are used to process standard codes and present them in an useful manner to the visitor? Are there any areas in which Mobygames is lacking? We'd certainly like to know.
This also gets me wondering about the different experience game players have with different disabilities and abilities. Certainly many games are pushed on the visual effects alone, but "videogames" are a multiple sensory experience and what games are better than others for people who don't fall into enjoying them the way everybody else is expected to? Blindness, Deafness, Shaky Hands... there are different aliments to alter the experience. Are there any games that are better than dealing with some of these than others?
Forums are now live.
If you look in the top nav bar you will see new Forums
links. You can now contribute news items
and news items can have discussion threads.
New update to the site finally here...
If you haven't visited the site yet it is time to. There is a lot of new things to add to the site. Here is a list
of all the major changes and updates that were recently added.
We also have a lot of new platforms and should hopefully have Mac added soon.
For whom the bell tolls
Are PC games finally dead? I don't want to sound cynical, but when some high powered exec promises, "We will never abandon the Zyercrom 2000." usually the opposite is true. Peter Moore, Microsoft Games head whosawhatsit, pledges a PC Games Renaissance
I am more than a little skeptical. The PC platform has two major problems. First, the hardware configuration is all over the place. It is incredibly challenging to make a piece of software that will behave and perform on a diverse set of systems. Microsoft has done great things with DirectX, but the problem for developers is very real. On the other hand if your game works and looks good on a Xbox you are guaranteed it will work and look good on every Xbox out there. The other problem is that piracy is rampant. People do mod up their PS2 and Xbox consoles, but they are definitely in the minority. In the PC world it is trivial to steal games. Yes, that's right I said steal. Piracy is real bad for the PC. It used to be that the personal computer could offer features and functionality not to be found on its console brethren. With Xbox 360 I find this to be less true than ever before. I love PC games and will morn its passing.
Evil Ryu reaches 10,000 pts.
Feb 08, 2006
Submitted by Freeman (16305)
MobyUser Evil Ryu
just became the 16th contributor in the history of MobyGames to reach 10,000 contribution points. Congratulations and keep submitting those credits.
Profiting in the Video Game Economy
I live in New York City. Outside of a few exceptions New York is not known for game development. I think there are a few reasons for this. It is difficult and expensive to successfully start a small business here. Rent and taxes are high. There are a lot of silly regulations. Game development studios have to compete for talent with both Wall Street ( which can afford to pay programmers a lot of money ) and the large media companies like Viacom and Time Warner. Starting a new studio is so risky having these extra challenges means there is little game development in New York City. Needless to say I was pleasantly surprised to find out about Profiting in the Video Game Economy
. It is a one day conference on the industry at the Harvard Club
February 16. Typically I find smaller venues far more productive than the big monster expos. Also the co-authors of Smart Bomb
will be there. If you are in NYC and are attending the conference definitely say hi.
We've added the CD-i to the site. We are one step closer to documenting every game, ever made on every platform.
GDC update of sorts
Brian, Rob and I are going to the Game Developer's Conference
March 20 - March 24 in San Jose, California. Usually we just attend, but this year MobyGames will also be exhibiting. Mostly trying to get the word out about the project and get more involvement in the project from the developer community. We will be giving away a few t-shirts, talking games and just basically hanging out. I really like the conference. It is way more laid back and intimate than the craziness of E3
. The developers themselves are way more accessible and the environment is far more collegiate. If you've experienced E3 then you know anyone worth talking to or anything worth looking at ( women without much in the way of clothing aside ) is guarded by a phalanx of PR and marketing shills. At GDC you will get a pretty candid opinion of games, gaming and the industry in general. It is also not uncommon to being standing in line right behind one of your heroes, if you are so inclined to game developer hero worship. The conference is a bit pricey. Our friends at Mary Margaret
are giving away a full conference pass and a whole bunch of other stuff. You can check out the contest here
So I downloaded the update for my Xbox 360
last night. Now the varfing screen freezes
when I play Call of Duty 2
for a few minutes. I thought it may have been a munged disk, but through some poor holiday gift coordination I own two copies. They both carp out. Totally lame. I really do like the 360. I am impressed with Xbox Live Arcade. I am a total Geometry Wars addict. Between the massive shortages ( I mean come on the thing was launched in November and you still can't get one ), hardware problems
and now this. Microsoft is really blowing what could of been a great lead.
So right now we are smack in the middle of the widely anticipated transition. Sales are down because there is not a lot of interest in the last generation systems and there are definitely not enough Xbox 360s out there for people to be buying games for. The publishers profits are in a slide which was to be expected. What was not expected was how severe this shortage is. It is estimated that Microsoft has shipped only about 1 million units after two month. To put it in comparison when the PS2 launched Sony sold roughly that number over the weekend. The problem isn't a lack of demand. People want them. Heck the thing is great when it's working. However unless Microsoft get its supply chain issues in line the publishers are going to really suffer.
The Other Side
In response to complaints about their copy protection software, StarForce held a contest
offering $10,000 (up from an initial $1000, later $5000) to anyone who could replicate the reported malfunctions caused to their drives by the StarForce software. The contest ran for a few months and ended on January 1, 2006 with no applicants.
From StarForce's web site, "we now have proof that such issues with StarForce protected applications are pure fiction and all of these rumors are false and probably initiated by frustrated pirates." Although another possible explanation for the lack of applicants could be StarForce's contest guidelines which required applicants to travel to the company's Russian office at their expense.
May the Starforce be with you.....or maybe not.
What is Starforce
? To some, its sounds like an old B-grade sci-fi movie. But to others, its pure Hell. Starforce is a new copyright protection program which comes with some select new games that prevents you from burning games onto other CD's. Starforce is installed onto the hard drive without the user's agreement and acts as a background program, preventing you from burning their game onto another CD/DVD ROM.
However, similar to Sony's copyright protection fiasco
, multiple computer owners have complained of problems related with this hidden program. The most common symptom is the burn speed of CD and DVD burners slowing down to a crawling pace. However, some gamers have claimed extensive damage to their systems. This new controversy has gamers stirred up quite a bit.
An organized boycott
has been set up and it also includes important information on how to detect and remove Starforce, as well as an extensive list of games that currently use it.Ed note: Video game publishers assert that piracy is killing the PC video game market. Unlike similar claims by the film and music industry there seems to be some evidence to back up their claim.
A little introspection goes a long way
There was a bit of a running debate
as to whether it was OK to link to MobyGames from Wikipedia
. Those opposed had two very legitimate concerns. The first was the quality of the game descriptions in MobyGames. Our motto since we started has always been, "Quality over quantity."
To this end we try to ensure that all game descriptions are objective and written in the contributors own words. We will not accept game descriptions taken from other sources. Many other websites freely crib the marketing copy provided by the publisher. Even other websites do not even bother to provide a description. However quality itself is subjective and the standard by which quality is measured tends to increase over time. While many of MobyGames game descriptions are excellent there are far too many that are poorly written or just plain too brief. Brian and I have really taken this criticism to heart. We have been working on borrowing some wiki like elements for MobyGames with the goal to improve the over all quality of the content you read. This will allow game descriptions, biographies, company overviews to live and breath. The idea of a living document is that we will better be able to live up to our motto which we take very seriously. With the next release, which is coming out shortly, people will be able to edit and modify existing descriptions. We are not getting rid of the approval system. The idea of trying to live with the chaos that is Wikipedia is not very attractive to me. Democracy is a good thing provided there is that council of wise elders to help guide the tribe.
The other concern was that MobyGames was a commercial, for profit entity. There are ads on MobyGames and each game summary page has a "Buy Now!" link. I know I speak for both Brian and myself when I say we would love to dump all advertising all together, including those "Buy Now!" links. We are video game lovers first, technologists second and business people a very distant third. We would love it if we could raise over a million dollars in donations like Wikipedia and work for the betterment of mankind. The truth is the donations
you send help but they do not come close to covering our bandwidth and server costs. For the time being we are stuck with ads. We are very cognizant every time we try out a new thing that may make some money for MobyGames. We are constantly asking ourselves, "Will this piss people off? Are we doing the right thing?". I wouldn't say our mission statement includes Google's
famous "Don't be Evil"
. Maybe it is something closer to, "Don't be assholes."
The Atari 8-bit
platform is now live. There were a ton of games developed for the Atari 400/800/XE personal computer. Fire up those keyboards and scanners and let's get going. Adding a platform takes a fair amount of research. We typically need to figure out and create a data model of all the various technical requirements and supported attributes of the system. Console systems like PlayStation, Dreamcast etc are pretty easy since the platform is very much standardized and there were a limited number of supported devices and attributes. Personal computers are always much harder. The platform changes over time with different versions and configurations of hardware and software. Servo
are pretty much the ones responsible for getting the Atari 8-bit personal computer into MobyGames. We are also pretty close to supporting the Macintosh. There is some debate among the approvers as to whether we represent the Mac as three different systems or just one platform. We do think we are nearly complete researching and modeling all the various technical attributes of that wonderful personal computer. Exciting things ahead.