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Two-month deadline for in-app fees

Two-month deadline for in-app fees | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Creators of mobile apps that promote in-app purchases are being given two months to comply with Office of Fair Trading guidelines.

Apps that do not reach the standards set by 1 April could face legal action.

 

The OFT is attempting to crack down on instances where children rack up huge bills without their parents' consent.

 

Earlier this month, Apple agreed to refund $32.5m (£19.9m) to customers who had made complaints about unexpected bills from games.

A large number of mobile games now offer in-app purchases - for items such as power-ups or in-game currency - as a way of making their games profitable. Prices for such items typically range from 69p to £10, but can top £100.

 

PhonepayPlus, the UK regulator for premium phone lines and related services, estimates that 90% of seven-to-15-year-olds in the UK have played mobile games in the past six months.

Up-front information

 

Last year the OFT outlined its guidelines for app makers after studying 38 popular titles.

 

The BBC's Technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones explains some of the things you can do to prevent charges from web and phone games

It concluded that app makers must:

 

provide up-front information about the costs associated with a game before consumers download itensure gamers are not misled to believe they must make a payment to proceed if that is not the case, for example if they could wait for a period of time insteadprevent the use of language or anything else that might exploit a child's inexperience, for example, implying an in-game character would be disappointed if they did not spend moneymake it clear how to contact the business if the gamer has a complaintonly take a payment if the account holder provides "informed consent", in other words a charge cannot be made because a password had recently been entered for something else

 

In addition to those guidelines, the OFT on Thursday posted advice for parents. It includes checking the in-app payment settings on their devices and trying the games themselves to better understand how they work.

 

"Many children enjoy playing these types of games," said the OFT's chief executive Clive Maxwell.

 

"This rapidly growing creative sector has also brought wider economic benefits. Our principles make clear the type of practices that games makers and platform operators should avoid.

"Parents and carers have an important role to help protect their child and their bank balance."

 

Furthermore, a series of videos explaining how to change relevant settings has been posted on Ofcom's website.

 

Not all app stores list the price of add-on purchases in their descriptions

The OFT praised games companies for co-operating with their investigation into the issue, and noted that several developers had already made moves to adhere to the guidelines.

 

However, games that do not comply could face legal action, the OFT warned, although its first course of action would be to work with the developer to make changes.

 

The video games trade body Ukie said it was happy the OFT had acknowledged that protecting consumers was a shared responsibility.

"We are pleased to see the OFT recognise that parents need to be more aware of and use parental controls that are available on devices," said the organisation's chief executive Jo Twist.

 

"Done responsibly, micro-transaction based business models give choice and value for both players and businesses."

 

In the US, action from the Federal Trade Commission earlier this month led to Apple agreeing to refund in-app payments to "thousands" of customers.

 

The FTC said consumers had been harmed by "unfair billing".

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said: "The consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather that take on a long and distracting legal fight."

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

The clampdown on in-app purchases on mobile and tablet games has finally happened, but also brings the issue regarding in-game advertising to the forefront with the new regulation regarding upfront disclosure on in-game advertising and use of personal data.

 

I personally think the initial gold rush for publishers and developers pushing in-app purchases is soon coming to a close, and should hopefully refocus the industry away from such practices, often viewed in an unpopular light amongst the gaming community.

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Insert Coin - Gaming

Insert Coin - Gaming | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Hi everyone,

 

Welcome to Insert Coin. This blog focuses on key business and media developments within the gaming industry. Feel free to rescoop any of the articles I'm tracking, or my commentary on them. Comments and polite discussion of these news articles are always welcome!

 

Your Gaming Gremlin,

- Sam Kerr

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The Last of Us' film adaptation will follow the game's storyline

The Last of Us' film adaptation will follow the game's storyline | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it
The Last of Us' creative director Neil Druckmann has confirmed that his treatment for the recently announced The Last of Us movie will in fact follow the game's storyline. 

"It's an adaptation of the story of The Last of Us," he confirmed in an interview with IGN. "As far as where we go and how we make it fit into a film, how it takes into account the unique properties of film... We're not sure yet. We're only just scratching the surface."

 

This should come as little surprise given how linear and narrative-rich The Last of Us' campaign is. Of course, the same could be said about Uncharted, but that didn't stop American Hustle and Spanking the Monkey director David O Russell from wanting to turn it into a movie about an antique dealing mafia family.

 

The Last of Us' movie adaptation will be a collaboration between distributor Screen Gems, Sam Raimi's Ghost House Picture and Naughty Dog, with co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra along with game director Bruce Straley joining Druckmann on creative duties.

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

I remember the backlash that came out against David O Russell's announcement for wanting to completely rewrite the script and characters for the Uncharted film. I believe he had said he wanted to cast Danny Devito as Nathan Drake's brother as part of some crime syndicate antique dealing family...which is probably why he got dropped.

 

Film studios have to face facts, if you're looking to build a successful movie franchise off a popular gaming IP, you had better respect the original IP which made it so popular in the first place. There's nothing wrong with making it identical to the game, as many gamers would be more than happy sharing their favourite story experiences with non-gamers. But leave Danny Devito out of it.

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Sony to reveal VR headset at GDC - report

Sony to reveal VR headset at GDC - report | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Sony will reveals its rumoured VR gaming headset at GDC next week and prototypes have already been sent out to developers, a new report claims.

 

Edge cites an alleged third-party developer with a prototype of the device already in hand. The source claims Sony's hardware is “far superior” to the first Oculus Rift model – though it should be noted that Oculus' Crystal Cove dev-kit will exceed the original Rift's capabilities as well.

 

The source also states that there is little in terms of software for the peripheral, but that the company's 'Driving the future of innnovation,' GDC session on March 18th is expected to produce first-party content and possibly a tech demo.

 

The report further claims that Sony isn't pressuring its internal and first-party developers to incorporate VR technology into games.

When contacted about the report, a Sony rep told Edge: “We do not comment on rumour and speculation."

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ZTE and The9 Working on 'Fun Box ' Console for China | GamePolitics

ZTE and The9 Working on 'Fun Box ' Console for China | GamePolitics | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Chinese telecomm ZTE Corp. is apparently in a joint venture with Chinese game developer The9 Ltd. to build a new console for the Chinese market, according to aBloomberg report. When grilled by Bloomberg about the new console, a representative from ZTE Corp. confirmed that its Fun Box game console will be released this month, will be powered by an Nvidia Tegra 4 chip, feature 2GB of RAM, and feature Bluetooth-enabled game controllers.

 

This story is particularly interesting because the Chinese companies have beaten Microsoft and Chinese media company BesTV New Media Co. Ltd. to create a new console-like or set-top box alongside a new streaming service for the region.

 

When the Chinese government lifted its 14-year ban on home consoles it also put stipulations in place for anyone that wanted to sell them in the country: the systems had to be manufactured in the Shanghai region. All consoles to be released in China are subject to review by various Chinese ministries that deal with cultural issues as well.

 

Given that both ZTE Corp and The9 are native sons, they will probably have an easier time getting over any regulatory hurdles. It is also unclear what kinds of games will be playable on this console. The companies have no plans on releasing the Fun Box outside of China.

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King targets $7.6 billion valuation

King targets $7.6 billion valuation | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

King Digital Entertainment today detailed its initial public offering plans in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Candy Crush Saga maker expects to sell 22.2 million shares in its IPO, with a share price between $21 and $24 per share.

 

With nearly 315 million shares outstanding after the IPO, King's valuation at the upper end of its initial share price range would be nearly $7.6 billion. In September, the IPO had been expected to put a $5 billion valuation on the company.

 

In the 2011 run up to Zynga's IPO, the FarmVille publisher had been expected to achieve a $20 billion valuation, but closed its first day of trading with a valuation of about $7 billion. As of this writing, the company's valuation is hovering around $4.98 billion.

 

King expects to raise roughly $326 million through the IPO. Last year, the company posted profits of $567.59 million on revenues of $1.88 billion.

 

The filing did not specify a date for the offering.

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

But is this going to be another Zynga situation all over again? They have a better presence on mobile, but only one major IP with no strong characters. I foresee them dropping in value a little straight after their IPO, they'll release a couple of games which won't be as successful as Candy Crush, and then they'll go the Rovio route of merchandising to kids. 

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These Nintendo toys launch in McDonald's Happy Meals next week

These Nintendo toys launch in McDonald's Happy Meals next week | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Nintendo has teamed up with McDonald's to include a range of Mario toys in Happy Meals from next week.

 

Figurines featuring Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Toad and Yoshi will be available from 19th March until 29th April, Nintendo UK revealed today.

Several of the toys will be interactive, including Mario's Hovering Coin, the Donkey Kong Barrel Projector, a Super Sound Mushroom and Mario's Warp Pipe Embosser.

 

There's a healthy message behind the range, too - a "Run, Jump and Power-Up with Super Mario" promotion that will encourage children to be active as well as eat fries.

 

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently announced a new push to be more open in licensing the company's characters in order to maximise their exposure. Take a look at the full range of toys below:

 

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Raptr now adding 1.5 million users per month

Raptr now adding 1.5 million users per month | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Online gaming platform Raptr today announced that it now has 22 million members in over 100 countries. The growth has accelerated in the last five months, as the community grew from 18 million, adding roughly 1.5 million new registered users per month. Raptr's latest growth, according to CEO Dennis Fong, stems from the company's enhanced focus on PC optimization for gamers - the new client seeks to optimize a player's rig, even on older PCs. Raptr also landed a partnership with AMD to bring the optimization tech to gamers.

 

"We are excited to help make the PC gaming experience better in a meaningful way," said Fong. "Some of the most popular games in the world, like League of Legends, are actually several years old and are being played on older PCs. We are unlocking the power of PCs people already own and turning them into capable gaming machines. The response has been overwhelming as our growth rate has practically doubled every month."

 

In speaking with GamesIndustry International, Fong also noted that Raptr is now bolstering its business with ads on the platform.

"We honestly didn't expect the massive adoption we've seen of Raptr since we rolled out the optimization platform. When our growth six-folds over five months due to the launch of the new PC-gaming focused features, we have to take notice. The other benefit of focusing on PC gaming is that we can build things that we can release directly to our audience. We aren't beholden to other platforms giving us access to their data, nor do we have to scramble every time one of those platforms make a change," he said.

 

"We've always been primarily an ad-support business model; the primary difference is we're actually now acting on it with the launch of ads on the service. Our goal has always been to find ways to surface relevant content to our users in a non-intrusive, intelligent way. We recently launched a free-to-play store that finds games that you might be interested in based on your profile."

 

While the PC is Raptr's bread-and-butter, Fong said that the company hasn't forgotten about the console market. "We're not done with consoles. We simply see a bigger opportunity to focus on the PC gaming renaissance that's been going on for the past few years now -- and the growth results we've seen are a direct reflection of that... Consoles will remain a major component in capturing the gaming lives of our members, so we'll continue to enable them to attach their XBL and PSN accounts so that their playtime and achievement history can be included in their gamer profiles," he said.

 

Fong added that Raptr's PC focus also makes sense for its business since PCs are still more prevalent. "Most people own a PC, so they have a capable gaming machine sitting right in front of them. As cutting-edge tech becomes less of a requirement to play modern games, more gamers are making do with what they've got rather than shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to keep upgrading. Our service helps gamers unlock the potential of the rigs they already own. So from a business standpoint that's a big market that offers huge growth potential for us," he said.

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Tetris played against a skyscraper will set new world record

Tetris played against a skyscraper will set new world record | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Last year during Philly Tech Week, Drexel Game Design Program co-founder Frank Lee made history by setting up a game of Pong played on a skyscraper in Philadelphia. This set a Guinness World Record for "Largest Architectural Video Game Display."

 

This year Lee is going to expand upon his previous world record by setting up two games of Tetris, each portrayed on different sides of the same building. Sometimes the players will play against each other, while other times they'll join forces.

 

The skyscraper in question is Brandywine Realty Trust's 437-foot tall Cira Centre, a 29-story tower equipped with 1500 programmable LEDs. Lee and company previously set the world record by displaying Pong with 460 LEDs along the building's exterior occupying over 59,800 square feet. This year he's upping it to over 100,000.

 

"My goal for creating Pong on the Cira Centre last year, was for people in Philadelphia to have a unique, shared experience," Lee explained in the announcement on Drexel's news page. "It wasn't just for the several hundred people who got to play, but thousands of others - from people walking along Schuylkill River to people driving on I-76, for those couple of hours, we were all sharing in that experience."

 

"One regret that I had was that we only used one side of the building. So it was only visible to half of the city," he added. "This year, I wanted to find a way to use all sides of the building and truly created an aesthetic of a unique and fleeting moment shared by all the people in Philadelphia."


President and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust, Gerard H. Sweeney, added "this project will perpetuate the city of Philadelphia's longstanding reputation for inspiring the imagination and fostering the power of creativity."

 

The Tetris event will be going down on 4th April during the "Arcade at the Oval" party that kicks off Philly Tech Week. If you're lucky enough to be in the area and want a chance to partake in the physically largest game ever played, you can sign up at Technical.ly Philly to have your name entered into the lottery of contestants.

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Machinima raises $18m in Warner Bros funding round

Machinima raises $18m in Warner Bros funding round | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Following news of lay-offs last week, video network Machinima has raised $18 million in funding led by Warner Bros. Entertainment.

"Machinima has been a pioneer and category leader in the YouTube MCN space, with thousands of channel partners and a premium brand that reaches millions of daily users," said Warner Bros. Entertainment's Thomas Gewecke.

 

"We've been impressed with Machinima as a distribution partner, and by their focus on creators and commitment to high quality, exciting original digital content."

 

MK Capital, Redpoint Ventures, and Google Capital, all existing investors, took part in the funding. Machinima currently exclusively distributes Mortal Kombat: Legacy, a web series published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

 

"We are thrilled to be partnering with Warner Bros., the leading producer of exactly the type of content that resonates with our global audience of videogamers and millennial males," said said Machinima CEO Allen DeBevoise.

"There are myriad opportunities to connect Warner Bros.' content to our audience across YouTube and our highly successful apps, and similarly to maximize the value of our content by utilizing Warner Bros.' expertise in global distribution beyond YouTube."

 

Last week Machinima cut 42 jobs, its third round of layoffs in 18 months. It describe the lay offs as "restructuring in and around its sales organization in an effort to create greater focus internally on selling creative ad solutions and branded entertainment, while better leveraging its longstanding partnership with YouTube to drive media sales."

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Microsoft promotes Xbox Live data as source for political ads - report

Microsoft promotes Xbox Live data as source for political ads - report | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

US Xbox 360 and Xbox One owners could soon see political advertisements appearing on the Xbox Live dashboard, according to a new report.

 

The Washington Post reports Microsoft representatives were spotted handing out promo materials during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this month in Washington DC.

 

The distributed documents boasted the firm’s Xbox Live, Skype, and MSN services as a new source – beyond Internet, television and radio – for candidates to place campaign ads.

 

The materials state targeted political advertisements would show up on Xbox Live users consoles based on an individual's state of residence and what demographic they fall under.

 

Microsoft has so far yet to issue any comment on the report.

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HMV is ditching pre-owned video game sales

HMV is ditching pre-owned video game sales | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it
Iconic saved-from-the-brink UK entertainment retailer HMV is phasing out pre-owned video game sales.

The shop no longer buys second-hand video games and is clearing out - discounting - the pre-owned stock it does have in order to make room for other things, a branch of HMV told me this morning.

 

A UK industry source backed that up, telling me HMV no longer considered the games business as core - its money was in music and film.

 

A separate source contacted Eurogamer at the weekend to alert us to the situation.

 

Whether HMV intends to ditch pre-owned game sales for good is unclear.

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The Last of Us hits the big screen

The Last of Us hits the big screen | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Naughty Dog's The Last of Us, which swept the D.I.C.E. Awards in Las Vegas last month, is getting the Hollywood treatment. According to Variety, Sony Pictures is looking to its Screen Gems label to bring the critically acclaimed adventure to the silver screen, but to maintain the IP's integrity, the game's creators will be heavily involved.

 

Neil Druckmann, the creative director on The Last of Us, will write the script for the film, while Naughty Dog co-presidents Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra will produce. They will also collaborate with game director Bruce Straley and Spider-Man director Sam Raimi.

 

"Our partnership with Sam Raimi, Ghost House Pictures, and Screen Gems to develop a film based on 'The Last of Us' universe is a perfect fit," said Evan Wells, Naughty Dog's co-president. "Since our game released last June, we've talked with many companies about making a film, but we couldn't have found better partners who share our creative vision and high standards. We look forward to collaborating with Sam, his team, and Screen Gems, to make a movie that will thrill fans of The Last of Us and general audiences worldwide."

 

The Last of Us has sold well over 4 million units on the PS3, and the folks at Naughty Dog are currently considering a sequel. GamesIndustry International has reached out to Sony for further comment on the movie. We'll update this story with any new information.

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

Fantastic news, as The Last of Us is a really strong IP and I'd like to see more movies based of great games BUT with the original game director and creative director involved (ahem ahem Uwe Boll).

 

If you're of the opinion that gaming is just for kids, or that as a medium, it's unable to reach people on the same emotional level as films or books, I urge you to play this game through to the end and see how far the industry has come.

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Jack Tretton leaving PlayStation

Jack Tretton leaving PlayStation | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Sony Computer Entertainment America has confirmed that CEO Jack Tretton is leaving the company, effective March 31, 2014. The two parties mutually agreed to not renew his contract. Shawn Layden, who's currently serving as executive vice president and COO of Sony Network Entertainment International, will become President and CEO of SCEA, effective April 1, 2014.

 

A reason for Tretton's departure or what he's planning next was not mentioned. Tretton is a longstanding PlayStation veteran, having served with Sony since the inception of SCEA in 1995 and having overseen (or played a major role in) just about every platform launch at the company.

 

"Working at SCEA for the past 19 years has been the most rewarding experience of my career," said Tretton. "Although I will deeply miss the talented team at SCEA and the passion demonstrated every day by our fans, I'm very excited about starting the next chapter of my career. I want to thank the employees, partners and customers for their tireless commitment to the PlayStation brand and, of course, to our fans who have pushed us to new heights of innovation and entertainment over the past two decades. I leave PlayStation in a position of considerable strength and the future will only get brighter for PlayStation Nation."

 

Layden has 15 years of PlayStation experience under his belt, and he was also one of the founding members of SNEI in 2010, joining the company directly from Sony Computer Entertainment, where he had been serving as president, Sony Computer Entertainment Japan. Prior to that, Layden also spent eight years at SCE Worldwide Studios in London where he directed international software development.

 

"It's an honor and privilege to join Sony Computer Entertainment America and be a part of the team that is leading the next generation of gaming and entertainment," said Layden. "SCEA is committed to delivering breakthrough gaming experiences that inspire fans and exceed their wildest expectations. As PS4 shows us every day, there has never been a better time to be part of the PlayStation community and I look forward to working with our retail, development, publishing and network partners to further demonstrate why PlayStation is the best place to play."

 

"I've worked with Jack for nearly two decades and I want to personally thank him for his leadership and the considerable contributions he's made to the SCEA business and PlayStation brand over the years. I wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors," added Andrew House, President and Group CEO, Sony Computer Entertainment. "I also want to welcome Shawn to the Sony Computer Entertainment America team. I have the utmost confidence in Shawn's leadership capabilities, and his deep knowledge of the gaming industry and commitment to gamers, will help keep PlayStation at the forefront of entertainment and innovative gameplay."

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

Jack Tretton has been one of the pillars of the Playstation brand for years, and has adeptly guided the company through all their major console releases. With the PS4 safely launched, I see this as being the perfect time to finish his career with Sony before moving onto pastures new.

 

All the best Jack!

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Angry Birds Epic is a turn-based RPG

Angry Birds Epic is a turn-based RPG | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Angry Birds developer Rovio is switching things up a bit with the next entry in its fowl-flinging franchise by making its upcoming game, Angry Birds Epic, a turn-based RPG.

 

As reported by Kotaku, this spin-off will feature an "extensive crafting system" in which weapons, armour and potions can be made from resources either earned in-game or purchased with microtransactions.

An early form of Angry Birds Epic will launch in Canada and Australia this week on iOS, while the final version will come out worldwide on iOS, Android and Windows Phone 8.

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Apple adds in-app-purchase warnings to App Store listings

Apple adds in-app-purchase warnings to App Store listings | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Apple's App Store now displays in-app purchase warnings in its search results.

 

Following the iOS 7.1 update, a message appears next to the game's title to state it "offers in-app purchases". Previously this text had only been displayed on the app page.

 

The intensifying focus on free-to-play and in-app purchases could lead to a tightening of the laws governing the sector if it is ultimately deemed developers and platform holders are not being up front about the nature of 'free' and in-app purchases.

 

Develop has plenty more details.

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Google acquires Green Throttle Games

Google acquires Green Throttle Games | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Green Throttle Games closed four months ago, and now Google has confirmed that it has stepped in and added former Green Throttle staff and assets to its team.

 

The internet mega-company confirmed the deal, but not its specific terms, to PandoDaily.

 

Green Throttle Games was founded by Guitar Hero co-creator Charles Huang, Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend, and was focused on building an Android controller and app. In December 2012 the company received $6 million in Series A funding led by Trinity Ventures.


Crowley and Townsend have reportedly joined the Google team.

 

Last year Huang also founded Blue Goji Corp, a new company that aims to gamify its users' fitness routines, and last November launched a $299 karaoke machine called Singtrix.

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Future bringing Kotaku to the UK

Future bringing Kotaku to the UK | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Future Publishing has formed a partnership with Gawker Media to bring Kotaku to the UK.

 

While Kotaku already reached 1.1 million unique users in the UK each month, the new site will feature localised content, "created and curated by Future." That existing traffic will immediately boost Future's UK online footprint by 50 per cent to 3.3 million uniques - including both CVG and GamesRadar.

 

Kotaku UK will be edited by Keza MacDonald, who was previously the UK games editor at IGN.

 

The partnership will also see Lifehacker, the popular tech website, receive a dedicated UK presence. Future previously launched a UK version of Gizmodo, another Gawker Media site, in 2011.

 

"Future has been expert in navigating the UK's blue chip advertising landscape and in growing a highly engaged audience in partnership with our brand," said Gawker Media's VP of business development, Erin Pettigrew. "As we expand our partnership to include more brands, Gawker Media sees Future's local expertise and premium approach as a real strength in growing our international presence in a key market outside the US."

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Epic and Mozilla Show Off Unreal Engine 4 Running in Firefox | GamePolitics

Epic and Mozilla Show Off Unreal Engine 4 Running in Firefox | GamePolitics | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

As a tease for what it will be showcasing later this month at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Epic Games and Firefox browser maker Mozilla have released a demo reel video showcasing Unreal Engine 4 game content playing at top speed within Firefox.

 

Epic and Mozilla claim that this video showcases Unreal Engine 4 games playing within Firefox without the need of any additional plug-ins. The video shows off the Epic Soul tech demo, which will likely get a bit more attention when GDC gets underway.

 

Epic and Mozilla will show off more UE4 in browsers at GDC next week, but in the interim you can check out the video to your left. For more details on how this technology works and what other technology it utilizes, check out this post on the Mozilla blog.

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

That's an amazing development to be able to run this graphics engine in a browser, and one which may well change the way we play PC games in the future. Definitely something to keep in mind.

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Facebook: We're vital to mobile gaming success

Facebook: We're vital to mobile gaming success | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Facebook's director of EMEA platform has, unsurprisingly, suggested that the social network is vital to finding success on mobile platforms.

"There is a new pattern in the world of gaming, which is that if you want to be big on mobile, you have to start on Facebook," Julien Codorniou told The Telegraph.

 

"People want to play games all the time. They want to play on PC when they are at work or at home; they want to play on the phone when they are commuting or waiting in a line at Starbucks; they want to play on an iPad when they are watching TV. That cross-platform scenario that Facebook makes possible is what defines the next generation of gaming companies."

 

During the interview, Codorniou, who worked with Microsoft before joining Facebook in 2011, pointed to Soho start-up Space Ape. He said Facebook helped the company with the development of its first title, which, three weeks after launch, was making £50,000 a day in revenue from payments.

 

"This shows that when you have good IP, good games, good content, putting it on the Facebook platform gives you worldwide availability."

He also revealed that 260 million people play games on Facebook every month, and 600,000 people a day pay for games. Currently, 55 per cent of the top 100 grossing apps have used Facebook mobile app ads.

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

To a certain extent I agree that Facebook and their mobile app ad offering can potentially help solve a major issue of visibility for mobile games struggling to reach the top 10 list on the various app stores, but I would probably draw the line at saying that the Facebook platform as a whole is vital for success on mobile. 

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Oculus Rift recruits Valve's VR project lead as chief architect

Oculus Rift recruits Valve's VR project lead as chief architect | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Valve's VR project lead Atman Binstock has joined Oculus Rift as the company's chief architect.

 

"Atman and the Valve VR team helped prove simulator sickness could be overcome and a true sense of 'presence' could be delivered," stated the VR company is itsannouncement about Binstock joining up. "He helped set the bar for consumer virtual reality and is dedicated to making sure Oculus delivers the highest quality VR experience."

 

Binstock was only with Valve for a year, but he seamed to have accomplished a lot in that time. "We've solved some of the basic problems, proven great VR is not only possible but truly magical, and now I want to bring it to the world," the new recruit said. "We're just scratching the surface of what's possible, and I can't wait to discover what's next!"

 

Binstock isn't the first Valve R&D person to jump ship to Oculus, as Valve's former Team Fortress 2 VR specialist Tom Forsyth made a similar move last May.

 

In other Oculus news, the VR headset manufacturer is temporarily going to be shutting down sales of Oculus Rift dev kits because it's running out of stock after selling 60,000 units. The company noted that some of the hardware components from the original dev kits are no longer being manufactured, so their production will cease for the time being. Inevitably a new version will replace these, but if you were planning to develop something on Oculus Rift anytime soon, you might want to look into getting one pronto, if you still can.

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Capcom partners with Twitch for year-round Street Fighter league

Capcom partners with Twitch for year-round Street Fighter league | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Capcom and Twitch have joined together to present a Street Fighter eSports league called Capcom Pro Tour.

 

The tour will run year-round and hold worldwide events to determine spots on the tour and eventually crown champions. Street Fighter IV will be the title of choice, at least on this first go round.

 

"The fighting community has always been a huge part of the world of competitive gaming, but has lacked global leagues and structure, which other eSports communities have benefited greatly from," Twitch fighting game community specialist Victor Denchartphan said.

 

"What Capcom is setting out to achieve by organizing a year-long pro tour in tandem with leveraging the Twitch community is definitely going to change the face of the fighting game scene.”

 

A total of 16 spots will be up for grabs in the Capcom Pro Tour; after winners are determined in the premier events (listed below), the remaining six qualifiers will be determined by a points system. The top 16 finishers at premier and ranking events (also listed below) will earn points toward those last available spots.

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EA investigating virtual reality development

EA investigating virtual reality development | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

New Electronic Arts CEO talked virtual reality on a recent panel, and suggested the company is currently considering its options when it comes to new devices like the Oculus Rift.

 

"The thing I challenge my team to right now is - 'Listen, there's clearly a desire to add a modality of play to the three we're currently focused on,'" he said at SXSW Gaming, as reported byPolygon.

 

"I don't know who the technology partner is that's going to deliver that modality for us, but let's start thinking now about the experiences [...] so that we can deliver experiences that make sense for you; experiences that deliver on the promise and the fantasy of being inside a video game."

 

Wilson suggested that understanding how players interact with games now is key to those future platforms, rather than focusing on the specifics of the hardware.

 

"When we think about making games today, we think less about the technology or the means of experiencing the game, and we think more about the modality of play," he said.

 

"When I look at any of the VR devices, I look at that not in terms of 'What is that device going to deliver,' but a desire for gamers to have a different type of modality - the 'Get In' type of modality, right. That might be delivered to you through a headset, or through some hologram that evolves out of your living room floor."

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Rovio reveals new medieval-themed Angry Birds

Rovio reveals new medieval-themed Angry Birds | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Rovio has unveiled a new addition to the Angry Birds franchise, releasing a short medieval-themed video teasing the new effort.

 

The video (embedded below) shows one of the birds in a full suit of armor, with the YouTube description adding:

“Perhaps the most Epic soft launch ever – whatever that means!? Starting in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Other countries to follow!”

 

Beyond that, there's not much info to work off. Rovio did announce in February that Angry Birds Stella will see release this fall, but it's remains unclear if it has any relation with this most recent tease – or if the two items in question are entirely separate products.

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Oculus Rift rugby training headed to O2 stores

Oculus Rift rugby training headed to O2 stores | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

UK phone network O2 will let you try Oculus Rift in select high street stores from June, as part of its sponsorship of England Rugby.

 

Slip on the virtual reality headset and you'll be able to test out Wear the Rose, O2's 360 degree rugby training experience which was created by London-based developer Unit9.

 

If you're an O2 customer, you can try Oculus sooner via your Priority rewards app - and book it to come to you from April.

Eurogamer tried Wear the Rose last week - it feels immersive thanks to the Oculus' head-tracking technology, but sadly lacks any kind of interactivity.

 

The experience sees you surrounded by members of the England team during a training session. Rugby balls are thrown at you to catch, charging players run at you to teach you tackles, and at one point you find yourself in the middle of a scrum.

But the demo is meant as a starting point - more advanced versions are already in the works.

 

"Kinect, treadmill, VR suits... they are the next level for this experience," producer Michelle Craig told us. "We're playing with that all the time."

Other entertainment possibilities for the kit include placing users on stage at a gig or concert, surrounded by musicians and in front of a crowd of thousands.

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

Great partnership idea from the 02 team, one of the first brands to make such a headlining use out of the Oculus Rift VR technology. It'd be interesting to see if there's any other opportunities for fans to experience more traditional sports from the perspective of the players! (F1 racing anyone?)

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Machinima lays off 42

Machinima lays off 42 | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Machinima today instituted its third round of layoffs in a year and a half, laying off 42 people.

 

According to the company's statement, "Machinima, Inc., the number one global video entertainment network for young males, today announced a restructuring in and around its sales organization in an effort to create greater focus internally on selling creative ad solutions and branded entertainment, while better leveraging its longstanding partnership with YouTube to drive media sales. In connection with this, the company is releasing 42 employees."

 

These cuts run a bit deeper than the company's most recent staff reductions. In December of 2012, Machinima laid off 23 employees from its programming and production departments. The most recent round of layoffs happened last September, with 22 people released from the company. At the time, Machinima said the cuts were necessary as it increased its investment in premium programming, its YouTube affiliate network, and multiplatform distribution.

 

It's not clear how many people remain at the company. At the time of September's cuts, Machinima said the 22 people let go represented 10 percent of the workforce, putting the remaining headcount around 200.

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

Worrying news, as I've got some friends at Machinima. They've not been doing particularly well recently, although still creating great premium video content on their channels. Perhaps they've not adapted to the shift in game streaming culture in the wake of the stellar rise of Twitch these past two years. I feel their focus on high  budget video content might have made them miss taking advantage of the rising eSports trend.

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EU takes on “misleading” free-to-play games

EU takes on “misleading” free-to-play games | Insert Coin - Gaming | Scoop.it

Apple, Google and the UK's Office of Fair Trading are meeting with the European Commission to discuss complaints and issues surrounding free-to-play games.

 

The meeting addresses concerns from "all over Europe" regarding games which are free to download but which press the user to make in-app purchases.

 

"Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases," said Commissioner Neven Mimica, responsible for consumer policy, in a statement.

 

The main concerns being tackled during the meeting are:

 

That games should not mislead consumers as to their true costThat games should not contain direct exhortations to children to make purchases or get adults to do so for themThat purchases should not be debited through default settings without explicit consent from the consumerThat traders need to be contactable by email in order to resolve queries and complaints

 

The discussion comes only a month after the Office of Fair Trade published its own principles for online and app-based games, which have a lot to say about in-app purchases. For example, the principles state that consumers should be told upfront about the true costs of a game or about the presence of in-game advertising, as well as offering guidance on microtransactions in child-friendly apps and advice to parents.

 

"Europe's app industry has enormous potential, both to generate jobs and growth, and to improve our daily lives through innovative technology," says EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. "For the sector to deliver on its potential consumers must have confidence in new products.

 

"Misleading consumers is clearly the wrong business model and also goes against the spirit of EU rules on consumer protection. The European Commission will expect very concrete answers from the app industry to the concerns raised by citizens and national consumer organisations."

Chung-wei Kerr - Sam's insight:

Although some in the gaming industry are up in arms about the direction this is taking, I believe overall it will benefit the gaming industry. The reason being that for every ethical developer or publisher out there, who doesn't restrict content or core mechanics behind an artificial paywall, there's a line of rather less ethically-minded individuals who seek their fortunes from gaming "whales".

Hopefully these restrictions should help tackle the issue of maintaining a standard of quality for mobiles games, something which has been a problem for many app store environments.

 

However, one thing to watch out is how this might affect in-game advertising, as it seems to be targeted under the OFT and European Commission's reticule. 

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