Crytek disappointed about possible ban

August 5, 2009 by  
Filed under News

In a recent german political discussion, the possibility of banning violent games in Germany became a fact. On one hand, a potential way of getting rid of a violent culture, on the other hand a devastating blow for german game designing company Crytek.

Crytek designed games like far cry and Crysis. Crytek-chief  Cevat Yerli stated that the company will move out of Germany if the ban will pass. In a recent reaction, Yerli stated:

“A ban on action games in Germany is concerning us because it is essentially like banning the German artists that create them. If the German creative community can’t effectively participate in one of the most important cultural mediums of our future, we will be forced to relocate to other countries.”

“The current political discussion will deprive German talent of its place on the global game development stage, and deprive German consumers of entertainment that is considered safe and fun around the world.”

EA opens an iPhone Studio

July 13, 2009 by  
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8lb Gorilla wants to develop small, niche and cheap titles for Apple’s iPhone platform. Electronic Arts has unveiled 8lb Gorilla; the newest addition to its fleet of development studios.

8lb Gorilla will strengthen EA’s push into the ever-growing iPhone and App Store scene, though the studio’s production schema – to release unique, unadulterated and particularly cheap titles on a monthly basis – will diversify EA’s focus from its high-end $4.99 offerings. EA’s current strategy is to deliver blockbuster titles on the iPhone and iPod touch using popular IPs and established franchises. High production investment and the strength of these brands often results in titles like Tiger Woods PGA Tour being charged at premium prices. EA has thus found its own product selling for far more than the 99c/99p competition. According to a TouchArcade report, 8lb Gorilla consists of young aspiring developers, many of which are in their twenties, and are said to be kept at arm’s length from EA. It is currently unknown where the outfit is based. The developer’s first title – an action/strategy hybrid known as Zombies & Me – is due for release shortly, pending Apple approvals.

ZeniMax Media Acquires id Software

June 24, 2009 by  
Filed under News

The ultimate gaming marriage.

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News broke this morning that ZeniMax Media has acquired id software.  Geoff Keighley of Spike TV announced it today via facebook, and shortly posted the press release thereafter.

To say that this acquisition is huge would be a crime to the actual event.  This is one of the largest mergers to happen since Activision and Vivendi Universal brought franchises like Call of Duty, Guitar Hero and World of Warcraft together.

With id settled firmly in the family of developers under ZeniMax, franchises like Doom and Wolfenstein will be mentioned in the same breath with The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.

The release goes on, stating, “The acquisition by ZeniMax Media joins together two of the finest, most respected videogame developers in the world, combining the first person shooter (FPS) expertise of id Software with acclaimed role playing game (RPG) developer Bethesda Game Studios”

Could this mean that a joint effort between Bethesda and id bring the fully realized FPS / RPG that Bethesda has been aiming for since the release of Fallout 3?  It most certainly looks like it, and gamers are salivating for the chance at experiencing what these two studios could come up with.

Todd Hollenshead, CEO of id Software states, “This was a unique opportunity to team with a smart, sophisticated publisher like Bethesda Softworks where the interests of the studio and the publisher will be fully aligned in the development and marketing of our titles.  In addition, we will now have financial and business resources to support the future growth of id Software, a huge advantage which will result in more and even better games for our fans.”

John Carmack, the founder of id Software will continue to be directed by him.  To Carmack, this type of acquisition gives id Software the opportunity for growth as they are now backed by a publisher that features board members like Jerry Bruikheimer and Robert Altman.  The backing of this powerhouse publisher gives id plenty of financial resources as they work on their newest IP, Rage.

In an article on, Robert Altman offers his two cents, “We, along with many others, consider id Software to be among the finest game studios in the world, with extraordinary design, artistic and technical capabilities,”

John Carmack went on to tell Kotaku about past publishing woes, “We’re really getting kind of tired competing with our own publishers in terms of how our titles will be featured. And we’ve really gotten more IPs than we’ve been able to take advantage of. And working with other companies hasn’t been working out as spectacularly as it could. So the idea of actually becoming a publisher and merging Bethesda and ZeniMax on there [is ideal],”

The best part of this deal is that id Software will remain untouched.  This news is a silver lining to the torrents of layoffs that have happened with other publishers and developers.  Usually, horrific damage is left in the wake of an acquisition, but this development shows that mergers don’t always mean layoffs and cutbacks.

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Capcom to provide Lost Planet 2′s game engine to its external studios

June 18, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Capcom’s practices haven’t changed much over the years. The company has been using MT Framework — an internal engine designed for multiplatform use — for quite some time now. It’s powered many games over the years, including Dead Rising, Devil May Cry 4, and Resident Evil 5. With the release of Lost Planet 2, however, the company is poised to introduce the next evolution of its multiplatform engine, MT Framework 2.0. Capcom has high hopes for 2.0, and is actually going to provide the engine to its external contract studios, RE5 producer Jun Takeuchi told Game Watch. This is a first for the company, which used the first engine as its be-all, end-all means for making games.

Framework 2.0

Framework 2.0

MT Framework 1 was always designed to be an internal engine; Capcom saw MT Framework 1 as an essential tool of its own to create games. After having great success with the engine over many years, however, folks started asking about using it. So, Capcom kept that in mind when creating the new engine, which the company said won’t be outsourced as part of its business (like Epic does with its Unreal Engine, for example), but, again, will be provided to its external contract studios for use.

Analyst Pachter predicts a price drop on the Wii and PS3.

June 14, 2009 by  
Filed under News

Analyst Michael Pachter Often hits the worlds news site’s about price cuts that are coming or ones he finds necessary. Last week he was really upset about the high retail price of the PSP-go. He corrected his comment shortly after, so again it seems he was convinced it wasn’t that much after all.

Pacher now finds it necessary for Nintendo to lower the price of the Nintendo Wii to 199,- € this will result according to him that Nintendo will reach the sale goals for the Wii. Since this is just a prediction this doesn’t mean the price will drop or even will reach this price tag that Pachter has in mind.

Also the PS3 would be cheaper before the end of 2009 according to him. And it won’t be a small price cut either. This will also mean that the 360 will drop the price even more or will come with more bundled systems.

If Pachter is right about this all is still to be seen. More analysts have been wrong in the past and present. Developers also never react to these predictions and shortly before Pachter’s predictions Nintendo-president Satoru Iwata stated that even with the decreased sales of the Wii Nintendo will not fight it by lowering the price of the Wii but will fight it by releasing a stronger and better lineup of new software.

Sony’s Jack Tretton says me can’t remember the day that people dint call for a price cut for the PS3. “Every one, but ourselves would love to see a free PS3″ In the meanwhile Sony tries to keep the prices as relevant as possible. And cheap doesn’t always mean successful. What matters is the amount of profit you get out of it, Tretton says.

NPD: Still Plagued By Tough Comparisons, Game Biz Falls 23 Percent In May

June 12, 2009 by  
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Although analysts had warned of a spring slump in NPD U.S. console video game hardware and software sales numbers, due to challenging year-over-year comparisons, May’s results were even worse than forecasted, as the industry overall fell 23 percent.

The retail game business as a whole saw $863.3 million in sales during the month, as it continues to be challenged by last Spring’s blockbuster launches of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Grand Theft Auto IV and Wii Fit, which launched in March, April and May 2008, respectively.

Analysts had predicted declines in software sales of around 17 percent, and they were precisely on the money; video game software sales fell to $448.9 million during the month.

Since major software launches generally correlate to strong hardware sales, the game hardware segment was also hard-hit, falling 30 percent to $302.5 million. Accessories also slipped 25 percent to $112 million.

The NPD’s Anita Frazier puts the numbers in context: “The video games industry continues to struggle with difficult comparisons to last year, and this is the first month that industry sales have dipped below $1 billion since August 2007,” she says — adding that it’s common for May to be one of the industry’s weakest months in any given year.

Frazier says that price reductions at retail exacerbated the damage. “Unit sales declined less than dollar sales did,” she says. “The dollar sales decline was exacerbated by a decline in average retail prices for almost all of the categories.”

As has been the norm for many months now, Nintendo platforms led hardware sales, with DS selling 633,500 units — doubtless supported by the early April launch of the new download-enabled DSi. Wii came in second with 289,500 units.

“Every category declined versus a year ago with the exception of portable hardware sales which was bolstered by the continued strong sales of the Nintendo DS including both the DSi and the Lite,” Frazier observes.

Hardware sales in units for each platform during May 2009 were as follows:

Nintendo DS: 633,500

Wii: 289,500

Xbox 360: 175,000

PlayStation 3: 131,000

PlayStation 2: 117,000

PSP: 100,400

Nintendo also dominates the software charts, with half of the top ten being its own first-party titles. But the brightest spot is THQ’s UFC 2009 Undisputed. It’s enjoying breakout success for both SKUs, topping the list with 679,600 units on Xbox 360, despite launching more than halfway through the month — on May 19 in the U.S.

Unsurprisingly, Wii Fit continues to hold on to a high position as it has without interruption since it launched, coming in second.

The full top ten list is as follows:

1. UFC 2009 Undisputed (THQ) Xbox 360 – 679,600

2. Wii Fit (Nintendo) Wii – 352,800

3. EA Sports Active (EA) Wii – 345,800

4. UFC 2009 Undisputed (THQ) PS3 – 334,400

5. Infamous (Sony) PS3 – 175,900

6. Pokemon Platinum (Nintendo) DS – 168,900

7. Mario Kart (Nintendo) Wii – 158,300

8. Punch Out!! (Nintendo) Wii – 156,900

9. X-Men Origins: Wolverine Uncaged (Activision) Xbox 360 – 120,700

10. Wii Play (Nintendo) Wii – 109,800

Says Frazier, “While there were some very strong new releases this month along with continued strong sales of evergreen games, this month’s top 10 games sold 2.6 million units combined, whereas last year the top 10 sold 3.7 million units. Again, this illustrates how tough the comparisons are to last year.”

Of course, NPD only deals with revenues created via console retail sales, meaning that any growth in online gaming (from PC World Of Warcraft subscription revenues to Club Penguin and beyond), increasingly an important part of the market, cannot be easily tracked. One analyst recently estimated that 2009′s online game revenues might be as high as $11 billion of a total worldwide yearly market of $44 billion.

Be shure to check out this topic on our forums to: here

Interview: Secret Exit On The Rise Of iPhone, Why Cellphone Games Don’t Work For Indies

June 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Reviews & Interviews

Secret Exit is a Finnish indie game developer known for the iPhone game Zen Bound, which won the Best Mobile Game and Audio Achievement awards at this year’s IGF Mobile Game Awards.Fathammer, a Finnish game publisher and tech firm that ended up being an allegory for the high-end mobile game industry at large.

The company was formed out of the ashes of Fathammer games, a 3D-focused mobile game developer and engine provider, formed by Samuli Syvahuoko, who was formerly a Remedy (Max Payne) co-founder and subsequently set up Recoil Games (Earth No More).

Here, we spoke with Secret Exit head of studio Jani Kahrama, as well as co-founder and technical lead Jetro Lauha, both of whom worked together at Fathammer. Read more

Patrick: Interview with Kevin Kolack

September 11, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews & Interviews

By: Patrick J. Traynor

If you’re curious about Kevin or his wacky and eclectic modern-day Renaissance man background as a voice actor for videogames and anime’s. Then you’re in the right place.I interviewed Kevin Kolack, the voice actor of Tokkori from Kirby Right Back At Ya! And Peppers from the One Piece Anime and Game.

Me: How long have you been working in the industry?
Kevin: I worked since 1998 in this industry.

Me: What was your favourite show or movie to work on?
Kevin: Tokkori from Kirby was probably my favourite, I had a lot of freedom with his voice.

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Me: Who or what influenced you to become a voice actor?
Kevin: I came to New york to be a regular actor and people really liked my voice and encouraged me to do some voice acting.

Me: What is your favourite band and song?
Kevin: In High school, during the 80′s, I listened to most of the songs popular at the time.

Me: Were you a big gamer as a child?
Kevin: the first game we had was pong, then I got one of the newest computers at the time. Then I got the Atari 2600 and played that.

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Me: What do you think of the current game consoles?
Kevin: I have not played the Wii, but that seems like the direction gaming is going.

Me: Do you have any actors who dislike you?
Kevin: Actors don’t really tell you if they dislike you, they just say “Nice job you did great” and they don’t really talk to you after that.

Me: Do you like being a voice actor?
Kevin: I love being a voice actor, it is really fun, but I don’t suggest it to everyone.

Me: Is it easier than being a regular actor?
Kevin: I disagree, voice acting is one of the hardest thing to do, you need to get your voice across, there is no emotion or eye contact to get across with.

Me: Who is your idol?
Kevin: I love Robin Williams, Daniel Day Lewis, RIchard Dreyfuss, Billy Bob Thornton and my favourite, Bill Murray

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Me:Do you like voice acting for anime and games?
Kevin: Yes, I love it, Can’t believe I get paid to do it.

Me: What do you think of 4Kids?
Kevin: They make the animes suitable for kids, they in no way intentionally ruin the script. I have no say in which way they edit it, I just voice act for it.

Me: If you had to work on any movie or TV show or movie, which one?
Kevin: The Simpsons.

Me: What other movie or TV Shows will you be working on in the near future?
Kevin: I applied for a voice on the upcoming show Yu-Gi-Oh 4d or 5d, I forgot which one it is called.

Me:Are you getting nuts from all your friends and family asking everything about your job all the time?
Kevin: I love talking about my job, but I don’t really like doing the voices all the time.

Me: Who has the most talent when you voice act? (leaving yourself out of course.)
Kevin: Hank Azaria, he does a load of voices on the Simpsons,

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Me: What do you suggest to people who want to voice act?
Kevin: You need to really want to do it to be come one.

Me: You make a lot of money voice acting?
Kevin: You can, if you do a union commercial, you could make $20,000 to $100,000 from just that one commercial, I once got payed $2,000 just to throw voices out and do the commercial.

Me: How did you get the part of Tokkori
Kevin: For Tokkori, his current voice was actually the 7th one I threw out. They sent all my voice ideas over to Japan to Hal and they picked which one suited him, I am not even sure if they spoke any english.

Me: what is your favourite anime or cartoon?
Kevin: I love The Simpsons, Family Guy, and South Park.

Me: Well thank you for that interview, I really enjoyed it.
Kevin: Me too, have a great weekend!

It was a really fun interview, he was very nice and I enjoyed the time we chatted, be sure to check out all his work at

Dech2410: Numbers, Ratings and Medications…

November 25, 2007 by  
Filed under Reviews & Interviews

By: Dennis Chafia

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“Student kills himself by gaming 80 hours non-stop”. “More people getting serious injuries by gaming too long”. “Gamers forget they have a real life too”. As the gaming industry grows, so will the negativity about it. But in reality all these stories are just a little part of what gaming really is. Gaming should get a positive sound in the media. That’s what the NVPI (The Dutch branch organization of the Dutch gaming industry) thought too. That’s why they started a new campaign; “Vitamin G: Gaming is Good!” a campaign that will show the positive aspects of gaming to different people.

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At the Gamplay 2007 at the Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, we had the opportunity to actually witness the work of the NVPI in a presentation. They tried to explain the positive aspects of gaming. For example, Gaming is good for your hand-eye-coordination, will power and even your social life. So why do we read different things in the news? The media is a strange thing; they will always try to make a skyscraper out of a doghouse. It’s a pity though, since –for example- not even 5% of the games have violence, and even if they had, a great new system shows which games will have violence, drug abuse, porn or horror.

The PEGI-system started in April 2003 and was created by the gaming industry. Their goal was to give parents the opportunity to buy the game their child could play without doing them any harm with anything. The system works in all Europe except for Germany, since they have their own system they won’t give up. More then 200 publishers use the system and the games rated by PEGI are over 8000. And whoever says that games are becoming too violent: 48% of the games is rated 3+, while 18+ only 5%. The rating is based on 2 important aspects: The type of character (varying from cartoonish, to fantasy, to human) and the type of violence (cartoonish, unrealistic, realistic or gore). Combine that with the other general aspects (Violence, horror, language, drugs, discrimination, sex and gambling) and your rating is done. For online gaming, a “PEGI ONLINE” logo will appear on your game, which says the game is safe and secure to play online. On the Gameplay, the ratings were even attached to all playable screens, just to ensure you know what you are playing.

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Also note that in the booklets, people are always warned about the risks they have by playing games. I even read an article a year ago about a boy who died due to an epileptic attack while gaming. His mother sued Nintendo for that. Nintendo won of course, since it is placed in booklets for years that people with Epileptic appearances should be careful about playing games. It even led to the fact that Nintendo places a warning on the beginning of each game.

The gaming industry is growing wild, mainly because of interactive, all-age gaming technology, mainly the Wii and the DS. Almost 50% of all households in The Netherlands own one or even more consoles, and this number will grow even larger. This will also lead to the fact that more news will be spread about it? The new campaign doesn’t want to make promotion for gaming, but wants the negativity of gaming to be gone. Why even be negative, about something that people enjoy just like reading a book. The consoles we have now went far behind our expectations, and we should enjoy that. Not too much of course, since too much of something is never good.

And if you are planning to game for 80 hours non-stop… Please take some Vitamin G before you start…

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What is a game design student to do?

September 9, 2007 by  
Filed under News

Just last week, i entered the fourth and last year in what would be considered college in the US; my game design study. This year will prove to be over really fast, with 6 months of work experience, 3 months of prepping for a fictive final project, and 3 actually executing it. But then what?

I mean, over here we have SAE, running Quantm in Amsterdam which is offering a degree in game programming or one in game artist and animation, then there’s one in Utrecht, which is more the designer side of things, mostly theoretical, they go deeper into how you come up with a good game. But there are near to no jobs in this, so that’s not too interesting. Finally there’s the one in Breda, which is run by a bunch of pros, so i’ve heard, but i also heard a bunch of negative things. But SAE, for instance charges like 12k in euros..

And if that wasn’t enough, it seems that the industry isn’t too keen on the new game students, EA being a big one, that has so far hired only 2 students in the last 3 years, at least thats what develop is reporting.

Me and the people in my class who are serious about making games are trying to team up and go to one school together, and we might just set up our own studio if things end up right, but still, as a game design student, you can really go nearly all possible directions within the ICT sector, you can opt to move to design, multimedia, 3d animation, graphics, etc, or move more towards the programming, multimedia, web design, application developer, and others, there are so many interesting things out there that seem soo cool, so what do you do, when it’s that time again to go look for a new school?

Interesting enough, it seems that the school that i will be leaving in a year or so, if in fact one of the best, but with us being the fist to attend and shape it, we obviously had the crappiest education, since school still had to try certain things out. Being the first was definitely a disadvantage.

Personally, i have, and have had a whole range of interrests, including webdesign, graphical design, 3d modeling, game and application programming, but also anything that’s related to making film and video, god so many choices!

Right now i have like 3 assignments that have to get done really soon ( asap to be honest ) before i can even start my 4th year, which, as i said, started this week. So im working overtime on as many projects at once as i can to get things done in time. Funny how you get inspired to write a little at the strangest moments!

Oh well, i’ll just let it all happen and see what things turn out like, but if you have a business, know that the students of game design at the ROC A12 in Ede, the Netherlands are looking for game projects to take on for our final, might want to send me a mail if interrested.

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