Why Video Games Are The New Blockbusters

With recent high-profile launches of video games such as Bungie studio’s Destiny, video games have completed their transformation from niche market to a burgeoning billion-dollar industry that could rival Hollywood. By emulating Hollywood’s more-is-more formula for box-office success, today’s hit video games blast into the scene with bombastic visuals, cinematic camerawork, and A-list celebrity cameos, all supported by their astronomical budgets. As the next generation of game consoles looks to take realism, immersion and interactivity in gaming up to new levels, the video game industry is set to bust more blocks.

XBox One Patch Released Today Improves TV Function

Microsoft is launching its first XBox One system update today, less than a month after the console’s release on November 22. This patch comes in response to a number of glitches found early on, and is said to be the first in a long series of updates set to come early in 2014. This update also updates the exciting TV feature of the One, which should become a progressively larger part of the XBox ecosystem over time.  This update showcases the console’s automatic update process, and devices that are on standby will likely get the patch without owners intervening at all.  All system owners not on standby today will be required to install the update after the grace period ends on Thursday, December 12.

Microsoft Launches Xbox Music

Microsoft quietly announced Xbox Music Web client – simply by activating the service at music.xbox.com. The web client bears similarities to the recently rennovated web app for Windows 8.1, but is less feature-dense than its native version. The service is currently ad-free, and it grabs a user’s music and puts it into playlists and collections that are pre-arranged online. Users can then edit, add, and alter their collections and playlists – with the results synced across clients. One thing missing is a radio-mode, which sets its competitors apart for the time being. But it’s easy to see this service coming in the near future. 

Xbox Partners With Time Warner

Microsoft has notched a landmark deal with Time Warner Cable to offer Xbox 360 owners live access for up to 300 channels. Viewers will need an existing Time Warner Cable subscription as well as an Xbox Live Gold membership to access the service, which will launch later this summer. The TWC TV app is to include AMC, BBC World News, CNN, and others; it will be available to download from the Xbox Live Marketplace and will support voice commands using the Kinect. Given that Microsoft is pushing its new console, the Xbox One as the best solution for TV-watchers and gamers alike, this partnership has vast potential for TV programming and advertising in the upcoming months. 

Microsoft Backs Indie Xbox One Developers

Reports initially suggested that the new Xbox One would mean the end of independent, self-publishing game developers, but Microsoft’s Xbox chief says that the One will have an indie-friendly program. Thus far there are more details that need to be released before the extent of the program can be determined, but Don Mattrick insists that Xbox will foster an independent creator program. In his interview with Kotaku, Mattrick praised the success of games like Minecraft, and insisted that he remembers his days as an indie developer, and wants to foster that type of community at Xbox. For now, it’s all talk, but we will soon see how seriously Microsoft takes Mattrick’s words of support. 

Applifier Wants to See You While You Play

Video content speaks volumes, and is great for jump starting social interaction online.  Applifier, the online mobile gaming network, has launched a new feature for its product, Everyplay, which uses the iPhone’s front-facing camera to record the player’s reactions while playing a range of mobile games.  The idea behind Everyplay is to give gamers the opportunity to share their best (and worst) gaming moments with friends, or demonstrate tips and tricks.  Everyplay is currently compatible with 8 games, but given its promising click through numbers, it certainly has the potential to benefit a wide range of game developers…and produce some entertaining viral videos.

Google’s ‘Ingress’ Mobile Game Turns Duane Reade Into Your Next Adventure

Google took social gaming to the next level with its Augmented Reality adventure game, “Ingress,” and it recently partnered with Duane Reade to expand its boundaries inside of the pharmacy’s locations throughout New York. In brief, Ingress is a sci-fi AR game for Android handsets where the player collects exotic matter (XM) to be spent at other locations, known as portals – which can be found at accessible public locations like libraries or subway stations – to unlock missions. Now, players can pick up that XM or start new missions in Duane Reade stores. Each Duane Reade location will have a participation sticker outside, alerting gamers that game items are hidden inside. Once gathered, players can scan the asset for one-time use codes or in-game weapons, adding a live-action scavenger hunt aspect to the game. Zipcar and Jamba Juice were already ahead of the NYC-based Pharmacy chain in partnering on Ingress, creating an advertising strategy for Google that’s specifically designed to combat in-game banner ads. The game is currently in closed beta, but when it goes public it has the potential to bring AR to Android users in a very tangible manner. 

Mobile gaming revenues exploding

Games figured heavily in the (official) introduction of the iPhone 4G and according to industry research, it’s easy to see why. A recent Nielsen study found games are the most frequently used apps, ahead of more utilitarian categories such as social networking, news and navigation. Games are also at the top of the entertainment app heap, with more usage than anything having to do with either music or movies. Current projections see global mobile gaming revenues surpassing $5.6 billion in 2010.

Here are a few of the new iPhone’s gaming-relevant updates. A new chipset and the promise of faster processing could improve the speed and graphic quality of games. Promises of better networking speeds could eventually allow better multiplayer or even eventually streaming experiences. A better camera on the back and a new camera on the front might allow iPhone developer to take creative cues from existing game platforms and eventually yield some interesting changes in the way players can control the experience. The new iPhone also has a built-in gyroscope, promising more refined game control. The near-term implications are obvious: better mobile games and competition against the mobile games platforms from Nintendo or Sony. The potential long-term ramifications are far more compelling. Continue reading “Mobile gaming revenues exploding”