Sony talks online future at London events

30 09 2006

Sony’s ambitious plans to drive network-based content will be pitched to the games industry in two keynote speeches at the London Games Developer Conference and the London Games Summit.
Sony Worldwide Studio VPs Jamie Macdonald (also head of London Studio and Sony Cambridge, and interviewed in the latest issue of Develop, available here) and Michael Denny will discuss what digital distribution means for developers and the rest of the games industry during the two London Games Festival conferences.

Macdonald will talk about the move from a “package-centric world to a network-centric future” at a keynote during the London Games Festival, which takes place October 2nd to 4th.

Meanwhile Denny will open the London Games Summit, with takes place October 4th to 5th, with a further look at the area of digital distribution, promising to look areas such as consumer choice and demands, content and community creation, and economic elements.

BBC and Microsoft sign agreement

29 09 2006

The BBC has signed an agreement with Microsoft to explore ways of developing its digital services.The non-exclusive memorandum of understanding sets out a framework for joint projects between the two organisations. This includes plans for next-generation web 2.0 and ways to share online content in the future.BBC director general Mark Thompson said there had been unprecedented rates of change in technology.

He said: “To ensure that the BBC is able to embrace the creative challenges of the digital future, we need to forge strategic partnerships with technology companies and distributors for the benefit of licence payers.” Mr Thompson and Ashley Highfield, director of new media and technology at the BBC, met Microsoft chairman Bill Gates on Wednesday as part of a fact-finding tour in Seattle, US.

They are also speaking to other companies, including Real Networks, IBM and the makers of the virtual world Second Life.A BBC spokeswoman said the memorandum of understanding was the beginning of a dialogue between Microsoft and the BBC.
Potential areas of collaboration include search and navigation, distribution and “content enablement”.However, any procurement of new technology with the company would be subject to regulatory approval.

Bill Gates said: “Microsoft’s strength is in driving digital innovation, and our vision is to open up rich, new consumer experiences that allow people to enjoy digital content anytime, anywhere and on any device.
“This vision fits squarely with the BBC’s charter to lead the industry in delivering content that is compelling and accessible.”

Government Videos Distributed Through YouTube

29 09 2006

Government Videos Distributed Through YouTube:
Another major institution has realized the value of video sharing sites like YouTube, as the U.S. government has started to distribute some of its anti-drug material through the cultural phenomenon, in hopes that its repurposed content will reach new audiences and be shared throughout YouTube.
The content, which consists of a vareity of commercials/public service announcements that were just repurposed into a clip to be distrubted online, has been posted to the site in hopes of reaching young people in ways that they prefer their content.
The article, by Ted Bridis with the Associated Press, focuses on the wide variety of drug-related YouTube content, including videos depicting drug use and many videos of people doing things while supposedly high, and the ways in which the government’s anti-drug content is hoped to counteract the reach of these drug-related videos.
As YouTube increasingly becomes a blend of a few corporate-driven pieces of content among a vast majority of user-generated pieces of video, the government is hoping to carve out a space out in this area.
Bridis quotes a statement from Rafael Lemaitre, spokesperson for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in which he says, “If just one teen sees this and decides illegal drug use is not the path for them, it will be a success.” Further, national drug policy advisor John Walters says that “public institution must adapt to meet the realities of these promising technologies.”
How will government content fit into the YouTube space? Will it generate a significant amount of interest? Only time will tell…
Thanks to Margaret Weigel for forwarding this article to me.

EA making games for next-gen Nokia handsets

29 09 2006

EA making games for next-gen Nokia handsets:
Electronic Arts has thrown its development weight behind Nokia’s new mobile games platform, and has a number of new games in the works for the service’s 2007 launch.

Game Bafta’s on the TV

29 09 2006

The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has announced that this year’s BAFTA awards, which will take place on 5th October at London’s Roundhouse, will be presented by Vernon Kay and filmed by E4 for a one-hour special that will air after the event.

The BAFTAs are increasingly establishing themselves as the industry’s leading awards thanks to the widespread support of the videogame industry and sponsors such as ELSPA, TIGA, Nokia N-Gage, PC World and the London Development Agency. The awards committee includes senior executives from industry heavyweights such as Microsoft, Sony, Eidos, Activision, Nintendo, Sega, EA, and Ubisoft, and this year’s nominees include Electroplankton, LocoRoco, and a whole host of others.

The one-hour special will initially be broadcast on E4, on 17th October, but will be repeated on Channel 4 as part of T4 on Sunday mornings.

“With The 2006 British Academy Video Games Awards broadcast on E4 we will be reaching the people who are most in touch with the world of videogames,” said BAFTA Games committee chairman, Paul Jackson. “This will ensure The British Academy Video Games Awards reach a widespread and relevant audience and provide the benchmark of quality for the year’s best games.”

The BAFTAs will also feature as part of the forthcoming London Games Festival. For more information visit

Peter Jackson to create Xbox 360 games

28 09 2006


Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson has praised the Xbox 360 as a new medium for storytelling, as he announced a mammoth ongoing collaboration with Microsoft.

Jackson and his team at Wingnut Studios, in partnership with Microsoft Game Studios, is set to co-write, co-design and co-produce an original chapter of the Halo franchise with developer Bungie Studios.

The director is also working on a second un-named original title for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, with the intention to “captivate new audiences that have yet to discover the power of interactive entertainment.”

“Microsoft has built an amazing living canvas with Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, which allows the storytellers of our time to express themselves in a new medium,” said Jackson.

“They have fundamentally changed how people think about games.”

“My vision, together with Microsoft Game Studios, is to push the boundaries of game development and the future of interactive entertainment. From a movie-maker’s point of view, it is clear to me that the Xbox 360 platform is the stage where storytellers can work their craft in the same way they do today with movies and books but taking it further with interactivity,””he added.

Jackson is also creating Wingnut Interactive, a new entertainment studio combining the creative talent of Jackson’s movie team and the technology and experience from Microsoft’s gaming division.

Another Uk Independent Bought – Climax Racing

28 09 2006

via Gamesindustry

Buena Vista Games is to acquire UK development team Climax Racing, becoming the publishers third internal studio alongside Avalanche Software and Propaganda Games.

Climax Racing, known for its best-selling franchises MotoGP and ATV Offroad Fury, will work on what the publisher describes as triple-A racing titles for the next-generation of games consoles.

“The acquisition of Climax Racing aligns perfectly with our strategic and geographic goals by allowing us to both reach into new genres and new markets for creative talent,” said Graham Hopper, senior vice president and general manager, Buena Vista Games.

“Adding Climax Racing to our creative family will provide an additional catalyst for our continued growth in the video games market,” he added.

Tony Beckwith, co-founder of the development studio, will take on the role of vice president and general manager of Climax Racing, as it continues under the direction of the Disney-affiliated publisher.

MTV buy Harmonix – for how much ?

28 09 2006

MTV have just spent $175 million on Harmonix, a small developer with 2 games and 6 patents under their belt.

Jon Jordan at gamasutra writes:

“Apparently, I appear to be the only person in the world who’s flabbergasted. I mean $175 million for a small independent developer. That’s $25 million more than Francisco Partners has promised to invest in the seven studios that make up Foundation 9 Entertainment, and a pretty favourable comparison to the $300 million Elevation Partners dropped to merge Pandemic and BioWare. Which isn’t to say Harmonix hasn’t had success, but in the case of Guitar Hero, publisher RedOctane approached it to develop the concept, not the other way around. And the main reason for the game’s success was the bundled guitar; again RedOctane’s smarts. Perhaps the most striking contrast then is that Harmonix was valued at $75 million more than RedOctane, which was bought by Activision earlier in the year for around $100 million.

A victory for developers everywhere you might think, but behind the scenes, it’s more symbolic of the powerful workings of the US investment community.

Because, for all its focus on creating software for the tone-deaf to make beautiful music with, Harmonix is an incredibly well run and managed company. The two founders come from MIT’s Media Laboratory and the company holds six patents relating to real-time music creation systems, collaborative music making over a network and the three dimensional display of musical data. Most importantly, in terms of valuation, it was backed by venture groups such as Acer Technology Ventures and Softbank Investment Corp, which, in these situations, are always determined to secure multiple returns on their investment.

Add into the mix something of feeding frenzy among media giants such as MTV’s parent Viacom and News Corporation, when it comes to acquiring new media companies, and the result was $175 million on the dotted line. Overpriced? No deal is overpriced at the time it’s signed, but it will be interesting in future to work out how the addition of Harmonix’s undoubtedly talented staff has boosted MTV’s bottom line.

Rockstar goes noire

27 09 2006

Rockstar goes noire:
Rockstar has officially announced its latest project, L.A. Noire, an interactive detective story developed by Australian codeshop, Team Bondi. Set in the late forties, it’s an attempt to capture the look and spirit of the Film Noire genre.

Eidos/SCI return healthy results

26 09 2006

Eidos’ parent SCi Entertainment has posted a healthy set of financials for the year.
Image Sales were up to 180 million UK pounds ($340 million), a ten-fold increase on 2005’s figures. The UK outfit also turned around a small loss to post profits of $56 million.

The firm’s major earners have been Tomb Raider Legend (3 million units worldwide) and Hitman Blood Money (1.4 million) with a total haul of 12 million units. It’s all the more impressive coming off the back of major restructuring of the Eidos brand and company, bought in mid-2005.

“SCi’s results for the 2006 financial year demonstrate the success of the Eidos acquisition,” said chief executive Jane Cavanagh. “In twelve months, through strong management action we have made it profitable, reversing its previous losses.

She added, “We have successfully relaunched key brands and built a comprehensive and high-quality product portfolio to underpin future profitable growth. SCi is financially robust and ideally positioned to take advantage of the growth in Next Generation consoles and the growing demand for mobile and on-line content.”

colin campbell