Marvel Launches Creativity Studio Stylus, App for iPad


Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus

With Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. tearing up the airwaves and a new Thor movie headed to theaters early next month, what better time to unleash a comic book-themed stylus for drawing on the iPad?

Disney Consumer Products and Marvel Entertainment have announced the launch of Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus and a companion app for the iPad, which allows kids to draw and even animate their favorite comic book superheroes.

Priced at $34.99, the Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus is available at retailers everywhere, while a deluxe version sold at Apple.com and Apple retail stores includes a limited edition zippered carrying case. Both versions include unlimited access to all content and future updates, and the Marvel Creativity Studio app for iPad is available free from the App Store.

Created by eKids, the app allows users to learn how to draw, color and animate a wide range of Marvel superheroes and villains from the company’s latest animated adventures: Avengers Assemble, The Ultimate Spider-Man and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.

“Leveraging the comic drawing history of the Marvel brand with the innovation that eKids brings to the table — or in this case, tablet — this product delivers a fun experience with endless play value,” said Josh Silverman, executive vice president of global franchise licensing and commercialization at Disney Consumer Products.

The Marvel Creativity Studio Stylus also works with the free Disney Creativity Studio app, which features beloved Disney and Pixar characters, also available from the App Store.

 

[source]

Game devs ditching mobile in favor of PC, console?


“I wouldn’t touch mobile with a ten foot pole” – we chat with several devs about the challenging mobile market.

The mobile and tablet market has grown tremendously in the last several years. The number of apps on Apple’s App Store and Google Play is downright mind boggling, and if you’re an app developer… well, best of luck to you. As the new survey from App Developer Conference organizers revealed this week, piracy and discoverability are making it incredibly hard to succeed. Nearly half of the app developers surveyed made no profit at all.

So the question has to be asked: after years of flocking to mobile, are developers actually retreating to the PC and console space? Devs GamesIndustry International spoke with were torn on this, but none would deny the massive challenges of developing apps today.

“I speak with lots of mobile devs regularly and most are moving away or at least thinking of it, either to other platforms or out of the trade completely,” Paul Johnson, managing director and co-founder of Rubicon, told us. “Having to give your game away for 69 cents a throw (after Apple’s and Google’s cut) and then competing with 1000 new apps each day is hardly a draw for anybody. We’ve reached a point now where even those slow on the uptake have realized the goldrush is over. It’s actually been over for a few years.”

Jeffrey Lim, producer, Wicked Dog Games, agreed: “The mobile space offers certain advantages, like having the largest customer base and relatively low development costs. However, there’s no doubt it is getting harder to be profitable with the ongoing piracy and discoverability issues.”

“We do think developers (especially indies) are considering going back to develop for the PC – and even game consoles”

Jeffrey Lim

“So yes, we do think developers (especially indies) are considering going back to develop for the PC – and even game consoles. The cost of self-publishing on these platforms has dropped significantly, and console makers are also making their platforms more indie-friendly now,” he added, alluding to efforts on next-gen systems like Sony’s PS4.

Chillingo COO Ed Rumley isn’t quite of the same mind as Johnson and Lim, but as a publisher, Chillingo has noticed that too many developers simply are failing to make high quality games, so it’s no wonder that their titles are being ignored.

“The number of games being submitted is growing, as is the number of developers contacting us. I’m not sure if some are being scared away, but we know from experience that some developers underestimate the time and quality it takes to make it in mobile now. Consumers are a savvy bunch and spot second rate games a mile off. You can’t just knock something together in your spare time, upload it and wait for the money to roll in anymore,” he warned.

Michael Schade, CEO, Fishlabs Entertainment, acknowledged the big challenge in mobile, but he doesn’t think developers are going to have to look elsewhere.

“Sure, mobile’s not an easy market to breach into, but then again, which market really is? No matter what business you’re in or what product you’re trying to sell, you’ll always have to work hard to gain your ground and make a name for yourself,” he noted. “So that alone shouldn’t scare you away from mobile, especially when you keep in mind that no other platform in the history of digital entertainment has ever evolved faster and born more potential than mobile! With more than a billion smart connected devices in use and hardware capabilities on par with current-gen gaming consoles, today’s smartphones and tablets constitute by far the most widespread, frequently used and innovative gaming platform the world has ever seen.”

Schade also remarked that the last few years of veteran developers getting into the mobile scene has made things more difficult. “The fact that more and more established PC and console veterans open new mobile gaming studios and more and more traditional publishers port their titles to iOS and Android, doesn’t make it easier for one particular company or product to stick out. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it clearly shows that the trend goes towards mobile, rather than away from it,” he said.

For every developer we spoke with, the discoverability issue reared its ugly head. There’s no doubt that this is a major concern. While building a high quality game can help, it’s simply not enough. In the world of apps, you cannot let the game do the talking for you.

“I think many developers have the misconception that it’s simply enough to release the game and let it speak for itself. They underestimate the importance of a marketing/PR campaign leading up to the game’s launch,” Lim stressed. “As a result their games fail commercially; not because of the quality, but due to lack of visibility. Hence the marketing/PR campaign should be seen as an integral part of the game’s development. An appropriate portion of the overall budget and effort should be allocated to increasing the game’s visibility, and if developers do not have the experience or time in marketing/PR they should consider hiring professionals in this area to lend a hand.”

Gree vice president of marketing Sho Masuda concurred that marketing is becoming crucial to mobile success. “They have to spend more time thinking about marketing and post-launch efforts in addition to building the the games. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools and services available for devs of all sizes to ensure that they can get the direction and support they need in these areas. Additionally, the mobile dev community is a very, very tight knit community and there is an amazing level of information sharing and support,” he said. “We encourage mobile devs of all sizes to talk to their peers, take advantage of all the meet-ups and events, and get to know all the services available to help get eyeballs on their games.”

A number of devs also believe that platform holders have a larger responsibility that they’ve been shirking so far. “For platform holders (e.g. Apple’s App Store), they can start to curate apps released on their store because there are too many clones of existing games that are taking up the traffic. They could attempt something like Steam Greenlight; although it is still an imperfect system, it’s better than not having any curation at all,” Lim commented.

Paul Johnson agreed, telling us that he’d really like platform holders to have a much more active role, as the discoverability issue has “about reached terminal” for unknown devs.

“If Apple don’t pick your game out for a feature, and you can’t drum up enough interest before launch yourself, then I’d say you’re pretty much screwed. It doesn’t matter how good your game is if nobody ever sees it and downloads it. They can’t tell their friends about something they themselves don’t know about!” he stated.

If Apple spotlights your game, you’re golden

“The only thing I think the platform holders could do to help is stop allowing crap to be released. There’s only so much space for features and the end users only have so much effort in them to look under all the categories all the time, so I really don’t think adding more of them would help much. Maybe more apps for shorter times, but this is all a drop in the ocean really.”

“The one thing I’ve come up with that would make a real difference is for the platform owners to charge five grand for a developer license. All the utter crap would disappear and there’d be less apps fighting for space,” he continued. “And the end-users wouldn’t have to waste time downloading the crap as nobody who makes stuff they don’t believe in would dream of fronting that license fee. It’s Draconian but it’s really the only thing I can see having any noticeable effect. Anything else is just lip service.”

Discoverability issues aside, another major – and possibly growing – problem for devs to contend with is piracy. The App Developer Conference survey showed that 26 percent of devs had their apps pirated and a similar amount even had in-app purchases stolen.

James Vaughan told us, “Plague Inc. has a piracy rate of about 30-35 percent, which equals millions and millions of copies, but I don’t consider piracy to be a problem; it is simply a fact of life and I don’t get too worked up about it. Piracy is a byproduct of success and I choose to focus on the success which has resulted in piracy rather than the piracy itself. (The best way to stop your game from being pirated is to make a crap game!) I focus on continually improving and updating Plague Inc. which makes the game even more valuable to the people who have brought it (and encourages pirates to buy it as well).”

For those devs who actually do lose sleep over piracy, there are some ways to combat it, Lim said.

“If I was starting again now from a blank slate, without an existing fan base, I wouldn’t touch mobile with a ten foot pole”

Paul Johnson

“There’s no question that piracy is prevalent, and I think it will continue to be so for a long time to come. In fact, with high-speed Internet access and the wide spread use of file-sharing software nowadays I think this problem is going to get worse,” he observed.

“The first way to deal with piracy is to implement the appropriate business model, and I think free-to-download with micro-transactions is the right way to go. Making the game free for download can work to our advantage; it allows us to reach out a larger customer base. And if players are hooked by the game, they can be enticed to buy additional high-quality content for a minimal price.”

“The second way would be to build a strong rapport with our customers – e.g. through frequent interactions on social media, events or even email. Developers of notable games (e.g. Hotline Miami and Game Dev Tycoon) have addressed piracy in this manner. By having a loyal customer base which is appreciative of our efforts in delivering quality content, they would empathize with us and be more willing to pay for the games in support of our development efforts.”

The good news for iOS devs, at least according to Schade, is that Apple’s store is less prone to piracy. “Having lived through the ‘dark ages’ of Java and made it out of there with two black eyes rather than one, piracy has been a very delicate topic for us at Fishlabs ever since. Based on our own experience, however, it is not as much of an issue on the App Store as it is on other platforms,” he noted. “I guess that’s mostly because Apple still has a lot of ‘premium’ customers willing to pay for high-quality content. Of course, we’re well aware of the fact that neither the closed iOS environment nor the Free-2-Play model will ever be able to eradicate software piracy entirely, but at least they are doing a comparatively good job at containing it as good as possible.”

If developers can effectively navigate the problems of discoverability and piracy, there’s no doubt that the potential is massive. One look at the overwhelming success of Angry Birds, Temple Run, Clash of Clans and others proves what’s possible. But for the vast, vast majority of devs, that’s a pipe dream.

“From the consumer angle, it’s a golden age. The amount of good quality games that can be bought for laughable prices is fantastic and there’s a ton of money being spent on this platform as a result. The problem for developers is that each individual cut is tiny. This isn’t even remotely sustainable and I don’t know what the future is going to look like. If I was starting again now from a blank slate, without an existing fan base, I wouldn’t touch mobile with a ten foot pole,” said Johnson.

 

[source]

Neil Gaiman is creating a video game


Neil Gaiman

Author, graphic novelist, Doctor Who writer – and now video games developer; It seems Neil Gaiman wants to sample every form of creative medium.

The author of Stardust and Amercian Gods has lifted the lid on his first video game project, a puzzle game entitled Wayward Manor.

Gaiman will work with US-based developer The Odd Gentleman, the firm behind XBLA puzzler The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom, according to CVG.

Players take on the role of Wayward Manor’s deceased owner, who must haunt his way around the mansion and scare the current occupants away.

The game will be released this autumn for PC, Mac and Tablets. The official website calls for fans to help fund further development of the franchise, offering crowd-funding stretch goal rewards such as artbooks, soundtracks, invites to the launch, dinner with Gaiman and the chance to be a character in the game.

 

[source]

Mobile vs Handheld vs Console: Can’t we all just get along?


Mobile vs Handheld vs Console: Can't we all just get along?

My last post was about a very interesting topic: “Mobile Gaming”. Where it is, where it is going and how “we” the gamer fit into all this. While I do agree that mobile gaming has taken off in the past 4-5 years and will continue, I do not see an end to console gaming anytime soon either and I believe both mediums can indeed coexist. It is not a competition, but rather a balance.

Most of us gamers have been playing mobile games since the early 90’s with handhelds like the Sega Gamegear and Nintendo’s Gameboy. When I say mobile, I do not mean on a phone but rather as using the term mobility in mind, you know ‘portable’. These handhelds were and are to this day a little expensive and so are the games when compared to iOS and Android games. They are however less expensive than tablets and smart phones and are dedicated gaming machines at their core, although they are now coming with options to access the web, play online through WI-Fi etc, like Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita, sporting all the fun cool bells and whistles like, 3D, touch screen and motion control. They also have the ability now to download games from their respective online stores and you are now able to watch movies on them with services like Netflix. They are great devices.

The reason Tablet and smartphone gaming is blasting ahead is mainly the fact that more people have tablets and phones which are used for well, talking and everything else. The fact that they are getting powerful graphics processors means better games, but I really do not think the majority of consumers are buying smartphones and tablets just for gaming, it’s just a great extra feature and at $.99 to $4.99 a pop for games ( alot are free) , I see it as a win win for the mobile community.

Now, about those games, sure, some have beautiful rendered graphics and are really fun but most are bogged down with in-app purchases to be able to even have a fun time or advance faster just because you are on the go and not on a sofa, so that $.99 cent game is not  so inexpensive anymore is it?

Mobile vs Handheld vs Console: Can't we all just get along?

Those who enjoy a full blown, long game at home (like me) will still need their console and  $60 game or buy it used like I do. That is ok also. I need a controller in my hands after a while on a touch screen playing Vice City, Injustice or Infinity Blade on my iPhone 5 and if the game has a ton of options and actions, you do need physical buttons to accomplish many movements and combo’s or anything else a good game requires. Games like Gears of War, Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, Resident Evil, Metal Gear and God of War will just not be the same on a mobile device. I did not say they will not work, but the experience will not be the same and will be dumbed down for a mobile platform. Yes there are controller add on’s available for your iPad and other tablets, but then that means the cost goes up to play games on your mobile device, controllers come standard with a console of course. See what I mean?  Even on a keyboard for PC/ Mac gaming, Finger swipes up and down will just not cut it.

So, maybe there will be a majority of consumers gaming on mobile devices for their quick gaming fix on a tablet or phone during their commute or simply because the casual market is not interested in buying a $400 console. Hey!  I bet more people talk on their cell phones than on their home phones too and …guess what? People still own and use ground lines.

The debate between Mobile VS Handhelds VS Consoles will rage on,

Give us your thoughts and opinions.

Star Wars Brings Out the Very Best in Angry Birds


 

Everything is better with Star Wars. Anyone that’s ever cut a graceful arc through the air with a vaguely saber-shaped object while making whooshing noises knows this. Dogsknow this. Pizza lovers know this. EvenDisney know this.

Anyone can toss a tan robe on their pet or Photoshop a lightsaber into their prom photo, adding significant value to otherwise useless things, but the most successful Star Wars crossover creations incorporate distinctive elements of the science fiction fantasy epic in a more mechanical fashion.Eating utensils that require the focus of a Jedi lest one’s meal give in to hate and fear.Camping gear that simulates the warm innards of a recently-deceased riding beast. And yes, Angry Birds Star Wars.

 

Angry Birds Star Wars takes the best elements of the original physics flinger and the gravity-powered gameplay of Angry Birds Space and transports them to a long, long time ago in a galaxy far away. The game opens on Tatooine, where the young nephew-bird of moisture farming birds dreams of adventure among the stars. Instead of sitting about whining about it, he throws himself at some pigs wrapped in mummy bandages. In a way it almost transcends the original work.

Luke begins life (lives, really) as a simple red bird, stumbling blindly through dangerous situations. He has no special powers, just raw potential that remains untapped until he meets good old Ben Kenobi. The introduction of his Jedi mentor triggers an evolution in Luke’s bird-persona, granting him the power to swing his newly-acquired lightsaber in a destructive arc, destroying objects and any unfortunate Imperial forces that stand in his way.

This evolution is an extremely clever way to translate the character development from the firstStar Wars movie into Angry Birds form. Remember Ben Kenobi’s line from the film during his confrontation with Darth Vader on the Death Star? “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine”, he warns his former pupil. After the first Vader level in the Death Star portion of the game, the Ben bird’s force push ability doubles in strength. More powerful indeed!

The Star Wars connection strengthens the traditional Angry Birds formula in unexpected ways. On certain levels angry red blaster bolts fire at regular intervals, adding a dodging element. Luke’s lightsaber can deflect these bolts, sending them shooting off destructively in random directions. Latter levels see Darth Vader’s avian counterpart suspending objects above the playfield via the Dark Side of the Force. Taking him out sends them plummeting to the ground, killing any hapless Snouttroopers in their path.

With 40 Tatooine levels, 40 Death Star levels, the promise of a free set of Hoth levels in a future update and a handful of secret Golden Droid stages, Angry Birds Star Wars continues Rovio’s trend of delivering ridiculous amounts of content for a tiny price—Android gamers don’t even have to pay, leaving them free to drop $1.99 on the 40 Dagobah-themed “Path of the Jedi” levels available for in-game purchase.

Angry Birds Star Wars is more than a Star Wars-themed Angry Birds game—it’s a Star Wars-enhanced Angry Birds game, the two elements combining into something greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Source: Kotaku