Burnout Crash is coming to iOS later this year, the platform it arguably should have been on from the start.
Burnout Crash sounded like an exciting proposition when its name first popped up. After the absence of Crash mode in Burnout Paradise, a game dedicated to the fan-favorite mode would be most welcome. More details made their way out before its official announcement, namely that it would feature a top-down camera view — a fact that turned many people off. 1UP’s review last month pointed out how the game felt out of place on consoles — it was released as a downloadable title on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 — but would feel right at home on iPhone or iPad.
Electronic Arts apparently felt the game was a great match for iOS as well. It’s now slated for a release this “holiday season” on select iOS platforms — iPad, iPad 2, and iPhone 4 are mentioned in the press release, but we’re checking on 3GS and older models with EA. It still features three game modes, 18 traffic junctions, six locations, Autolog support, and an ’80s soundtrack with Vanilla Ice and Gloria Estefan, among others.
No price for this version of the game was announced. The console game costs $9.99, and with the gap in between releases, the iOS version may end up being a few dollars cheaper.
This week’s episode of The Simpsons (the series’ 492nd overall) featured an obvious take on the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known to most as E3. Following up on previous Surprise Dad Days like Cemetery Paintball and Go-Karts on Real Roads, Homer Simpson decided to take his kids to E4: the Expensive Electronic Entertainment Expo.
There were references all over the place, starting out with statues of the Master Chief, a Big Daddy, and a football (and chicken leg)-wielding John Madden. From there we get to see Furious Fliers, a version of Angry Birds that goes horribly wrong when an angry bird is sent into an under-construction children’s hospital (complete with direct-from-Angry-Birds sound effects).
Once inside the convention hall thanks to their VIP passes, the game references come in quick succession. There was Grand Theft Scratchy: Itchy City Stories; Cosmic Wars, a take on Star Wars; several varieties of Blocko (a take on Lego) including Cosmic Wars and Angelica Button; World of Krustcraft; Jalo; Shaun White: Time Snowboarder; Dig Dug: Revelations (a pretty funny knock on all of the games with that subtitle); Terrence Malick’s Tree of Life Online; Driver’s License 2: License to Drive; Assassin’s Creed: Summer of Love; Human Centipede; Q-Bert: Origins (another example of too-many-games-have-this-subtitle); Earthland Realms 2: The Outing of the Elves; Big Super Happy Fun Fun Game; Medal of Duty; and ZiiHop, where you sit on an exercise ball.
Systems included GameStation, ProtoVision, Ybox 360, Funtendo’s brand-new Zu Zii, and the coin-operated GameStation 3. Company names included Electronic Crafts, Chalmskinn Interactive, and Bongo Games.
Only two games were given much screen time. Guts of War II: Entrails of Intestinox was a God of War-inspired action game featuring attacks like “colon slash” and “rectum kill.” One of the developers was on hand to boast, “We’ve made a game that’ll reward the hardcore gamer with hundreds and hundreds of hours of…” before being cut off by Bart, who managed to beat the game in almost no time at all. Unfortunately the dev made no mention of whether the game is “easy to play but hard to master.”
The game we see Lisa play was Marching Band, where players stomp their feet and play either the saxophone or clarinet while trying to keep the crowd’s enthusiasm up. After clearing the first level, the second level consists of studying for a chemistry test during the twelve-hour bus ride home.
This isn’t the first time The Simpsons has parodied videogames; The Simpsons Game was overflowing with parodies, references, and homages. The aforementioned Grand Theft Scratchy was among the games that was to be in there, only Grand Theft Auto maker Rockstar was displeased and the name ended up being dropped.
If you missed the episode and want to catch it online, it won’t be available on Hulu for almost another week, unless you’re a Dish Network subscriber. For the rest of us, it’ll be up on November 21.
In a not-that-surprising-when-you-think-about-it move, Activision has just announced the existence of Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies for iOS, and its launch date: tomorrow (Activision wouldn’t confirm pricing, but it’s already available on New Zealand’s iTunes Store for $9.99 NZD, or $6.99 USD). Like its predecessor Call of Duty: World at War Zombies, this is a pretty straightforward port from Ideaworks Game Studio of the various maps, modes, and assets from its console brethren.
New additions to this version include: Voice Chat (it can use either the iPhone’s headphones or a Bluetooth headset), four-player co-op via local Wi-fi or online network matchmaking, point multipliers (and online ranking, which will provide a motivation to use said multipliers) and a revamped interface. Now there are three control schemes: an accelerometer-based one where you use one thumb to move, one to shoot, and move the unit around to look-and-aim; a traditional dual-thumb scheme where one moves while the other looks-and-aims; and the “control touch” where you use one thumb to move, but you use the right side of your device for looking and shooting (I’m told, “treat the right side of the screen like a mouse”). A welcome gameplay tweak is the fact that you can just tap once on a barricade to build it; as long as you’re still in front of it, you can defend yourself without having to turn and tap on it rapidly. It has been optimized down to the third generation of iOS devices — essentially, any hardware that can run iOS 4 and upward can play Black Ops Zombies.
Click the image above to check out all Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies screens.
Black Ops Zombies iOS will initially launch with the “Kino der Toten” and “Dead Ops Arcade” levels — the next Zombies map for free download will be “Ascension.” Activision personnel commented that the publisher has learned its lesson on pricing — how pricing the base app and new maps individually didn’t gain much traction, but once they bundled some maps together and cut the price, sales shot up. They didn’t detail any more (such as launch price or exact plan beyond having Ascension as a free map update soon after launch), but we wouldn’t be surprised if, like in Activision’s experiment with World at War Zombies, that map packs go live with a five-dollar price tag.
What’s interesting is that so far, only the Zombies mode has made the jump from console to mobile when it comes to Call of Duty. It will be interesting to see if Activision continues this trend (assuming that the 2012 COD title is from Treyarch, and that they bring a new zombies mode), or if other modes like Spec Ops Survival from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 will also be coming to the platform.
As had been expected for some time now, Zynga has filed for an initial public offering today. A form S-1 was filed with the Security and Exchange Commission in the hopes of raising $1 billion that will be used for things like game development, marketing, and possibly further acquisitions.
Zynga, founded in 2007, has been believed to be a massive success for some time now. A report last year suggested its value had surpassed that of Electronic Arts, and word this week was that a valuation of the company could see it be worth upwards of $20 billion.
As of May 31, 2011, it had 2,268 full-time employees and currently operates the top four games on Facebook: CityVille, FarmVille, Empires & Allies, and Zynga Poker. It’s proven that it isn’t a one-hit wonder, and its financials reflect that. It saw $36 million from the sale of virtual items and advertising in 2008. That number jumped up to $328 million in 2009, and all the way up to $839 million in 2010.
Sparing you things like non-GAAP revenue and other such business, there are some interesting facts to be found within the SEC filing. In a message to potential Zynga shareholders, founder and CEO Mark Pincus reveals that its games see 148 million monthly unique users from 166 countries. A total of 232 million monthly active users play its games (this number accounts for individuals who play more than one Zynga game) and 2 billion minutes are spent playing them each day. Every second, 38,000 virtual items are sold, which is mind blowing. Zynga’s data warehouse, which Pincus calls the “greatest” in the games industry, processes 15 terabytes of “game data” on a daily basis.
Pincus also outlined the company’s operating philosophies: games should be accessible to everyone, anywhere, any time; games should be social; games should be free; games should be data driven; and games should be good. He went on to say that Zynga “will continue to make big investments in servers, data centers and other infrastructure so players’ farms, cities, islands, airplanes, triple words and empires can be available on all their devices in an instant. We will also continue to fund the best teams around the world to build the most accessible, social and fun games.”
According to All Things Digital, Zynga will be the first publicly-held company to make its money mostly by selling virtual items.
Also worth noting is that Zynga very heavily relies upon Facebook to drive users to its games. Buried within the filing is a note that reads, “A substantial majority of our 2008, 2009 and 2010 revenue was generated from players who accessed our games through Facebook.” As of December 31, 2010, 69% of accounts received were owed to Zynga by Facebook, while that figure reached 82% as of March 31, 2011. Elsewhere, it’s stated, “To date, we have derived substantially all of our revenue and acquired substantially all of our players through Facebook. We expect to continue to derive a substantial portion of our revenue and to acquire a substantial portion of our players from the Facebook platform for the foreseeable future.”
Zynga has a deal with Facebook that will see it use Facebook Credits until 2015. It gets paid 70% of the value of credits spent on any of its games; that’s a big chunk it surrenders to Facebook.
The company has already made it clear that it’s unlikely to bring its games to consoles. There is the chance Zynga’s games will expand to the newly-launched Google+, which appears to be preparing itself to support games.
After acquiring Impulse and Spawn Labs earlier this year, GameStop indicated it was looking into the possibility of launching its own gaming-focused tablet. Beginning next year, it’ll do just that.
“If we can work with our partners and the OEMs and they come up with a great table that is enabled with a great gaming experience and coupled with a bluetooth controller, then there’s no need to go out and develop our own,” GameStop president Tony Bartel said back in April. “But if we can’t find one that’s great for gaming, then we will create our own.”
The videogame retailer has now decided to go with a third-party tablet running Android. Claiming that there are already about 300 on the market, Bartel told GamesIndustry.biz he didn’t “see any need to create a new one.”
“We definitely have selected one. We’re in test phase right now. But we’re excited at the prospect of coming out with this tablet. I would call it a ‘GameStop certified gaming platform.’ We looked at all the tablets and these are the ones that really worked for gaming and we’re going to give you a few benefits that you’re not going to get elsewhere.”
This news coincides with GameStop’s announcement that, beginning today, you can trade in your iPod, iPhone, or iPad at its stores.
The new tablet will feature more than a GameStop logo on the hardware. It plans on having preloaded games and will eventually offer streaming console games through its Spawn Labs service. And, as indicated earlier this year, it will offer a wireless controller that will make it easier to play those sorts of games, as a touchscreen interface just won’t do.
“There’s not a lot of tablet/Android based games for the consumer that are designed to use an external controller,” Bartel explained. “There are a few games out there and more that are coming, but our thought is that the tablet is a great immersive gaming device so it’s hard for us to envision how that tablet will really function as such without some sort of controller.
“So we’ve created a controller that we’re testing to really allow for immersive gameplay. It’s hard to imagine how to stream a game — let’ say Modern Warfare 3 — onto a tablet and then play it with your finger.”
GameStop has already begun testing the device in the Dallas, Texas area, just as it recently did with its game-streaming service.
Bartel didn’t offer specifics on which tablet it’s chosen or its manufacturer. He also avoided talking about price, but that will be a critical issue. A number of companies have attempted to enter the same price range as the iPad (which is pictured above) and found little success, as indicated by HP withdrawing from the market and initiating a fire sale by dropping its price to $99 and $149. A recent report from TechCrunch revealed Amazon has a Kindle tablet in development, and that may be one of the few such devices that’s capable of challenging Apple.
As it stands, there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of success to be had in this space for Apple’s competitors, although GameStop positioning its system as being so gaming-focused could allow it to stand out from the pack. After all, gaming has been shown to be the most popular activity on tablets.
Following MTV’s purchase of Harmonix in 2006, the music genre became a huge business and subsequently crashed, resulting in the developer being sold earlier this year. In the midst of all this, there has been a dispute between MTV parent company Viacom and the former shareholders of Harmonix regarding whether a $150 million bonus is indeed owed to the shareholders. A new lawsuit filed by Viacom indicates how serious it is about getting much of that money back.
Early last year, Viacom stated that it was seeking a partial refund of the money it paid out. Later in the year, Harmonix’s former shareholders filed a lawsuit against Viacom alleging that the company was not properly handling bonus payments and that they were in fact owed even more money. Viacom denied this was the case before moving on to to sell the company to investment group Columbus Nova for virtually no money; doing so netted it a substantial tax deduction.
This new lawsuit was filed by Viacom on Friday, September 16, in a Delaware court. Claiming that the bonus payments were previously calculated incorrectly, it’s looking to get a refund of $131,827,980 of the $149,770,149 it paid when it acquired Harmonix, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Experts indicated it’s an unusual thing for a company to do; it apparently really wants that money.
It’ll likely take some time to work things out given how much money is at stake. Meanwhile, last year’s lawsuit filed against Viacom has yet to be resolved.
Harmonix is the Cambridge, Massachusetts developer originally responsible for the Guitar Hero series, as well as the creator of Rock Band. It just recently released iOS app VidRhythm and is currently working on games for both Vita and 3DS while the Rock Band series takes a breather.
Independent game developers have at their disposal a wide variety of methods for trying to boost sales. Some of these include banding together with other indie titles to generate publicity, as seen time after time with the Humble Indie Bundle and its many imitators. The latest such scheme doesn’t actually package unrelated games together or sell them at any price the buyer decides (as is the case with the HIB), but it is eye-catching in that there are a ton of indie games available right this very moment at heavily discounted prices.
The promotion, Because We May, runs for the last week of May (May 24 through June 1) and features games from Steam, iOS, Google Play, the Mac App Store, and the official websites of computer game developers. There is a wide array of titles available with more still being added, and none of this accounts for games that are on sale right now outside of the promotion (like Infinity Blade II, Grand Theft Auto III, and many of EA’s titles).
It’s always nice to see indie developers supporting each other, even if doing so also helps to attract attention to their own games. Some developers have gone so far as to make their games free during Because We May, and while that may be closer to a more appropriate price for some, there are some quality, standout titles.
Gravonaut is one such game. It’s an old-school platformer very reminiscent of VVVVVV and is well-suited to iOS. It gets around the usual problems with touchscreen buttons in a platformer by functioning like an auto-runner, leaving the player to only flip the gravity back and forth to make it through levels. The music becomes tiresome over time and I never like it when platformers don’t allow you to see where you’re supposed to be jumping to, but anyone who is a fan of grinding through difficult platformers would be well-served to check it out.
Anodia is another free game more than deserving of your attention. It may appear to be a fairly standard Breakout-style game, albeit a nice-looking one, but to leave it at that would be doing it a major disservice. Aside from the inordinately satisfying sound effects (there’s something about the ball bouncing around that just sounds so much better than most other brickbreaker games), the levels are much more inventive than other games’. Rather than finding different ways to arrange standard bricks, each level offers something different — light bulbs rotating around in a circle, brightly-colored circles that slowly move around the level (including into your paddle), colored targets that can only be taken out when a switch is turned to the corresponding color, and so on keep things fresh from level to level.
Invader Zurp also fits into this category of freebies demanding to be checked out. Imagine Boom Blox on rails and you’ll be on your way to understanding this game, which has you shooting missiles at various buildings and structures made out of bricks. This becomes a challenge because each structure has turrets which will shoot back at you, forcing you to find a balance between protecting yourself by shooting down incoming missiles and going for hidden blocks. The game isn’t without its faults, as I wish the structures collapsing provided some sense of feedback (there’s no crashing noise or anything) and at times I feel like I’m shooting at whatever the game wants, not what I’m actually tapping, but the way the game is structured — you seamlessly move from one structure to the next — makes for an addictive experience.
You’re not taking much of a risk by downloading any of these free games; bandwidth and time aside, there’s nothing to stop you from checking them all out for yourself. Doing the same with all of the games that still cost money would prove to be somewhat costly. While it would be impossible to evaluate them all, below are some of my favorites (outside of the big-name titles like Braid and Super Meat Boy) that are worth checking out at their original prices, let alone at their Because We May prices.
Anomaly Warzone Earth (iOS, Steam, Android, Mac): What started out as a unique take on tower defense on PC — you’re in charge of managing the units moving along the path, not the towers — is an even better game on iOS. The removal of a physical character you control takes care of the only potential issue with playing the game on a touchscreen, and it looks great, especially on the new iPad. There is enough content here to justify the original $10 price on Steam; now for $4 (or $.99/$1.99 for the iPhone/iPad and Android versions) it would be a mistake to skip it.
Canabalt (iOS, Android): It may lack the depth of other auto-runners like Jetpack Joyride, which remains my personal favorite, but there is something to be said for how straightforward it is. There is no fluff whatsoever, only tight controls (it still counts as “controls” even if you only tap to jump, right?) and a great soundtrack. With new features possibly on the way, this is a perfect opportunity to start practicing for some multiplayer action.
Edge (iOS, Steam, Android, Mac): Another platformer that works well on iOS by not resorting to a virtual d-pad or joystick. Edge has a very minimalist look to it and is easy to pick up and get right away, although what I appreciate about it most is the replayability of each stage. Having prisms to collect and shortcuts to find gives you a reason to go back and play a level over even when you think you’ve managed to make it to the end in good time. Plus, any time you can play a game that makes you think about Tim Langdell and giggle, you have to do it.
Jamestown (Steam): A gorgeous top-down shooter, Jamestown’s graphics and soundtrack would be its most noteworthy features if not for how good the game itself plays. Cooperative play makes for an even more entertaining experience than playing solo; my only complaint is that multiplayer is local-only, though that should not stop shoot-em-up fans from checking it out.
Trainyard (iOS): While directing trains to their destination initially seems like a far-too-easy task, the difficulty in Trainyard quickly ramps up. The ability to have two pieces of track on each tile adds a great deal of complexity, as it opens up the door for requirements like not allowing two trains to touch one another. It also requires you to pay attention to the order in which trains will go, as the tile will swap between tracks as a train drives over it. The rules are slowly taught to you over time and are not difficult to comprehend, although that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself scratching your head as you search for a solution.
It may have cut it close, but Camouflaj’s debut title, Republique, managed to reach its Kickstarter goal in the final hours before its deadline today. The project kicked off a month ago seeking $500,000 and, after an initial surge of pledges, found itself struggling to attract backers. Rather than accept the fact that there was not half a million dollars out there to fund a hardcore iOS title like this, Camouflaj adapted and now finds itself padding that $500,000 with additional pledges ahead of its 3pm Pacific deadline.
Republique was initially pitched as an iOS game combining stealth and survival horror in the style of a game from the PlayStation era. With an estimated budget of over $1 million, Camouflaj turned to Kickstarter to come up with $500,000 to help ensure it would not have to compromise creative control or hand over ownership of the IP.
It was a difficult sell for more reason than one. People who play iOS games are used to paying $0.99 or less. Rarely is there a game which exceeds the premium price point of $6.99 established by Infinity Blade and its sequel. Republique’s Kickstarter asked for $10 in order to be rewarded with a free copy of the game — a game slated for release during June 2013. Knowing that $10 (or more) could be spent on games available right this very second — and, despite what some people say, there are many quality experiences to be had on the App Store — would only make it more difficult to convince people to pledge money to a product from a brand new developer, even if it is one with a fairly well-known name attached to it in former 343 Industries and Kojima Productions employee Ryan Payton.
In one of the most recent updates, Payton remembered the project bringing in only $700 a day at one point. At that rate it would have taken two years to reach $500,000, but Camouflaj had a hard deadline as Kickstarter will only hand over pledged funds if the target is reached by the project’s end date. (If it does not, the money never leaves backers’ pockets.) The graph below shows what a crawl pledges came to in the two weeks following the initial flood coinciding with the project’s launch. Just over two weeks in, Camouflaj made its first attempt to lure in new backers by doing what many potential backers were asking for: It announced PC and Mac versions. It was made clear they would be designed with those platforms in mind, complete with new gameplay, controls, and story elements, as opposed to them being simple ports with mouse clicks in place of screen taps. This announcement resulted in the biggest jump in pledges since the first day up until that point, but there was still a long way to go.
While continuing to interact with fans and provide video updates, including footage of development team meetings, Camouflaj announced two voice actors working on the game that were sure to get gamers excited. David Hayter, best known as the voice of Metal Gear Solid’s Solid Snake, and Jennifer Hale, the voice of the female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, will both be playing roles in Republique and signing the posters being sent to backers pledging at least $500. Word of this development on May 3 resulted in the biggest single-day jump at the time as fans of two huge franchises had been given reason to take more than a cursory glance at Republique.
By this point nearly half of the $500,000 had been pledged, but with only a week left there was still reason to doubt the game would be funded. Other, smaller steps were taken to bring in more money like introducing a $40 tier on May 9 which includes the game on iOS and PC/Mac, as well as the digital soundtrack and documentary. Besides simply giving fans what they want and potentially bringing in those still sitting on the sidelines, it was an intelligent way of encouraging those who had already pledged to bump up the amount they were willing to part with.
All of this combined with the groundswell of support from fans (helping to push a ‘Keep Hope Alive’ campaign named after the game’s protagonist, Hope) and the media — raising questions of what role the press should play in a case such as this — resulted in Republique surpassing its $500,000 goal earlier today with only seven hours to go.
A portion of the money coming in during the final days (more than half of the $500,000 was pledged in the past week) may have been from individuals like myself who chose to see how things would play out before pledging, yet Camouflaj did an admirable job in adapting and listening to what fans wanted as it attempted to reach its goal. Besides the fact that many people were counting it out weeks ago and continued to doubt $200,000 could be raised in the last three days, it’s also a testament to what Kickstarter remains capable of even amidst claims it has already outlived its viability as a method for funding videogames.
Set for release in Japan in February next year, the Ace Attorney movie is gearing up for a three month marketing blitz. Directed by Takashi Miike (Dead or Alive; Ichi the Killer) Gyakuten Saiban as it’s called in Japan is, according to the trailer, set in a dystopian near-future Japan where a stressed criminal justice system has limited trials to three days with a presumption of guilt unless proven otherwise.
The trailer is filled with scenery and words that fans of the series will instantly recognize. It features multiple screams of igi ari (objection) and kurae (Take that!) as well as what looks like most of the cast and clients from the first Ace Attorney game. It’s clear that in typical Miike fashion, the movie is leaving reality behind with clairvoyance, ghosts, and all the other trappings of the series.
Characters from the fourth and final case of the original GBA game (later ported to DS with an extra case) seem to dominate the last half of the trailer, and it includes the tagline “A fifteen-year-old murder case will cause a new crime,” seemingly alluding to the events of the first game’s finale.
By 1UP Staff
Nicole Polizzi, better known as Snooki on Jersey Shore, has agreed to a deal with a developer to release a number of apps and games starting next month.
The deal is with Apps Genius Corp, a company whose lone game on iOS is Slap a Friend, an app where you can plaster someone’s face onto a character and proceed to beat them around with a bat, drop bowling balls on them, and so on. It’s an appropriate partnership as I can imagine Snooki’s face has been used in this game a number of times.
The other iOS release from Apps Genius is Bed Bug Alert, an app that allows you to keep track and report bed bug infestations. (No, it’s not a game.) Its website lists some of its Facebook projects, which include Bruisers (a “turn based strategy war game” with pirates and ninjas), Drama Llama (“Now you can track who causes the most drama among your friends and family”), and My Mad Millions (a game where you must spend $300 million and have nothing left over at the end).
The deal allows Apps Genius to develop and distribute as many as eight social games and mobile apps featuring Snooki. These are planned for release on iOS, Android, Facebook, and Google+. Four apps or games will be released within the next year, with the first coming up at the end of November.
“These games and applications are my new favorite accessories, and I love them to death,” Snooki said in today’s press release. “Having worked on these from the beginning, I know Jersey Shore viewers and my other fans will love them. I can’t wait to release the first one that we have been working on with Apps Genius.”
Snooki made it big on Jersey Shore, an MTV reality show that debuted in 2009 and is just wrapping up its fourth season this week. She released a book, A Shore Thing, earlier this year, which today’s press release reminds us of by referring to her as a New York Times bestselling author. The book initially sold quite poorly but did make the the Times’ extended bestseller list in January.
While the idea of a Snooki game of some sort sounds disastrous, it’s not as if the iOS App Store doesn’t already have its fair share of junk on it.