Activision Make Bizarre Acquisition

27 09 2007

Bizarre Creations

In a press release and a decidedly breezy blog post, Bizarre Creations have just revealed that the’ve been purchased by Activision, who it seems have been wanting to acquire some racing genre talent. Bizarre are quick to downplay anticipated fan concerns:

* Bizarre Creations continues to exist as is. We won’t become Activision Liverpool or anything like that.
* We will have absolutely no redundancies.
* All of our teams continue to exist exactly how they are at the moment. Amax team (PGR4) and Shitstorm team (The Club) will move onto new games, whilst our Shared Technology team will use this opportunity to take our experience and tech to new levels and new formats.
* The Activision way of running things is “hands off”. Bizarre continue to have creative control over what we do, we still run the studio how we see fit, and we still get to run our own web site and do all sorts of fun community things! 🙂

The full press release is available at the bottom of their blog post.





NCSoft to Expand With Massive Grant

26 09 2007

NCSoft Logo

NCSoft have received a grant from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), and are aiming to double their headcount in the next 3 years. The size of the grant is unclear, with this Gameindustry article offering conflicting figures of £950,000 and £195,000:

The company has received GBP 195,000 (EUR 278,589) grant from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) and plans to double headcount and move to a new location by 2010.

A lot of places are reporting 950K, but it must be the lower figure. 250K is the maximum for UK state grants.





Emote Games Gets £4M VC Funding

19 09 2007

Emote Games

Derby-based Emote Games have just won £4 million of funding from VC investors Electra Quoted Management. News about it is here on GameDaily.biz.

Like Areae, they’re a very forward-looking company looking at digital distribution and the web.





Competition Commission: Game-Gamestation Merger Concerns

19 09 2007

The Competition Commission have given out more details on their concerns over the merger between Game and Gamestation that we blogged earlier this year. This is their website, and here are direct links to the PDFs of the news release and issues statement.





Areae Reveals Plans

19 09 2007

Areae

Raph Koster and co. at Area have been keeping quiet about what they’re doing, though the logo and Raph’s general talk of “game meets web” has been pretty revealing. Today, they announced Metaplace, which allows many virtual worlds to be connected up. From CNet:

“We are re-inventing virtual worlds that stop working like AOL,” Koster said, “and start working the way the Web does….You can build a massive multiplayer game in minutes there are style sheets to make building easier.

Koster said that Metaplace would allow users to employ Web 2.0 tools like tags, wikis and forums in the pursuit of quickly and easily making usable, fun virtual worlds.

It’s 2D only so far, but they’re working on a 3D client too.

Viewed from the games industry, it’s an incredible idea. Viewed from the web, it just seems sensible.

(via Wonderland)





European €1.5m game fund for prototypes

12 09 2007

Studios can get up to €100,000 each from EU media program supporting games development. The European Commission has created a fund worth a total of €1.5m (close to £1m) specifically to support games developers.

The funds are direct aid and not repayable loans – it’s the first time the EU’s games developers have received such widespread financial backing, and comes as the EC’s Media 2007 program puts a special focus on games development projects.

In a statement backing the move, the European Games Developer Federation (EGDF) said the games industry has finally “been recognized as increasingly economic and culturally important factor, whose special needs must be considered”.

EGDF members include UK’s Tiga, France’s APOM, Sweden’s Spelplan-ASGD, and a number of other local trade associations for games development – all of which have lobbied for government support of the industry.

The general secretary of the EGDF, Malte Behrmann, commented:

“This is the first visible sign of the success of our political work with the European Commission. We hope now, as the European Union has acknowledged the importance of our industry, that the developer community will harvest the fruits of our work and make their submissions for prototype funding.We would like to be informed about any experiences and problems any members have with the funding system, so that we can propose amendments if necessary.”

Under the scheme, developers can claim €100,000 to support the production of PC, handheld and console prototypes. Projects already under way can claim from a minimum of €10,000 (£6,840) to €60,000 (£41,000). The grant can cover up to half of the budget, with 60 per cent of the fund reserved for games that focus on the cultural heritage and diversity of Europe. To qualify, studios must have developed at least one successful game since the start of 2005 and the submission process is now open, with the first application round ending in November.

Detailed information including how to apply can be found at the EC site here and the EGDF site here.





Brown Weighs In On Games

7 09 2007

Starting on Monday, Gordon Brown joined the political discussion of video-games. Here’s a run down of what’s been happening since.

In response to David Cameron’s recent comments on “fighting back” against violence in media, Brown first talked about looking at the effects of violent media, but the comments were first misinterpreted as meaning a ban by the Daily Mirror.

Brown was quick to clarify he “has no interest in censorship”:

“This is not the government telling people what they should do … this is society reaching a conclusion with all those people involved about what are the legitimate boundaries.”

The DCMS also spoke to MCV to clarify the proposed review:

“We already have strict controls for video games but we must investigate what more we can do to stop children seeing inappropriate content. The review and our work with both the industry and public will look at how we can better help parents manage their children’s access to unsuitable games.”

A week on from David Cameron’s manifesto against media violence, I’m quite relieved that everything is getting so tempered. Still, how to get parents to take age ratings on games seriously is a very important question. There’s quite a cheesy suggestion in the comments on that MCV piece, but I can’t help thinking it might have a profound effect:

ALL publishers/developers/stores should get together and for a month give away a pack of [condom]s a pack of cigs and a [porn]o mag with EVERY 18 game. See if that drives home to the dumb parents what an 18 rating means when they look at you like your [sic] satan for handing that lot to their kid along with his game and a polite “If he likes that maybe he’d like these”.





Warner Interactive London Expands

3 09 2007

Warner Interactive are recruiting/headhunting sales, marketing and PR people for their new London office, and Ron Scott, VP of worldwide sales and distribution, has been interviewed by MCV. A couple of tidbits:

This move into games isn’t going to preclude us from licensing products – we have a broader portfolio of IP than we have development capability at the moment. So our partners like EA, Midway and Eidos will continue to be actively licensing IP, but I think you’ll see a larger percentage of Warner properties come on board as we develop the extra teams.

We’ve chosen to let other people take the risk and now we feel that we can take a bigger share of that overall entertainment dollar with games.

It is vital to be a fully functional publisher. We are not just an arm of a business that is simply going to leverage the movie properties that Warner has – we are going to be a creative force as well.





Cameron Fallout

3 09 2007

Here’s a collection of the fallout over David Cameron’s recent comments on violent games.

In July, ELSPA were full of praise for his stance on IP and copyright. They’ve made some very reserved comments on Cameron’s latest about games though:

“Summer is well known for mixed and confusing political messages. Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt MP showed a good understanding of the threats to our industry as published in MCV on August 17th. David Cameron’s comments require clarification.”

The BBFC are also getting involved, understandably defensive:

The dossier calls for an examination of the BBFC’s ‘regulatory framework’, in order ‘to ensure that violence and misogyny are not directly promoted to young people’.

But BBFC spokesperson Sue Clark told MCV: “BBFC classification is based on what the public deems acceptable. We feel confident that we have public consent on how we deal with issues such as gun and knife crime.”

It bothers me a little that assumptions about the effects of media get thrown around so readily by politicians and other influential people, but they are fairly easy to counter. It bothers me a lot more that, when informed dialogue should be having a bigger effect on culture, the people putting up a good defense are rarely in the public eye. The widely seen response is often incredibly tepid.

There is a decent one at Wonderland though:

I’m not the sort to jump on a soapbox and declare that violent media doesn’t have an effect on people who play, view, read or listen to it, especially on underage kids: I have no data either way on that subject. But violent media is a form of expression, and there are high forms and low forms. Both should be consumed with care and consideration