MediaFile

Penny Arcade Expo East: Nothing small here

256256696Believe it or not, there were crowds gathered on Friday doing something else besides waiting for an iPad 2.  About 60,000 people swarmed Boston for Penny Arcade East, a major  convention for video game fans on the East Coast.

PAX doesn’t garner as much media attention as industry shows like E3 in Los Angeles each summer, where major games companies announce new products. While there aren’t as many reporters or  or executives in attendance, PAX EAST is still a big event for gamers- the hoards of people who help make the $60.4 million video game industry bigger than Hollywood.

It’s for people like Andrew Hydrusko, a 23-year-old student who drove from Delaware with four friends so he could dress as his favorite Mega Man character, Protoman, at the show. He donned a poncho, bullets and a painted motorcycle helmet reminiscent of a power ranger,  as he waited to play Guild Wars 2, an upcoming MMO game from NCsoft.

The publicly-traded Korean company lured people away from the main hall to a neighboring hotel so fans could fully immerse themselves in their game. With a raffle, an open bar and hors d’oeuvres promised, the lines got just as crazy as anything on the show floor next door.

Randall Price, senior vice president of global business at ArenaNet, which develops MMOs for NCsoft, says while PAX East isn’t as high-profile as some other shows, it’s  his chance to interact one-on-one with passionate players of Guild Wars, which has sold 7 million copies since 2005.

E3: Nintendo’s Iwata says Vitality Sensor lives!


That (above) was Nintendo President Satoru Iwata at last year’s E3. Cool idea, eh? So what happened to it?

The device — a pulse reader that fit on a fingertip and aided/monitored one’s ability to relax, I guess — was the kicker of the Wii-maker’s showcase a year ago, and it was only fair to expect that this year there would be some blossoming of the plan. But at this year’s event we got nothing. Many blogs noticed its absence. Read here, here, and here.

In essence, Iwata said Vitality Sensor lives. However, a fireworks show is no place to demonstrate a state-of-the-art pillow, and that Nintendo is searching for the right pillow show. Or something like that.

Sony on the Apple challenge in games, e-books

hiraiApple is, of course, absent from this week’s video game extravaganza, the  E3 Expo in Los Angeles. The company just doesn’t do trade shows.  But its presence looms over the event.

Apple has managed to create a whole new gaming market with the iPhone since its debut in 2007. There are tens of thousands of games available for download via Apple’s App Store, and it’s an open debate as to how much the iPhone’s success has hurt the traditional hardware makers, namely Nintendo and Sony, which both make portable gaming devices.

Nintendo is making a big push to differentiate its portable gaming platform with it’s new 3D-enabled DS, which offers a glasses-free experience.

E3: Dancing with Xbox Kinect on Day 1

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Day one of the 2010 E3 video game conference was dominated by news from Microsoft, who told us a little more about Xbox 360 with Kinect, the gesture/motion system that lets users do many things on screen without the need for a controller. The system, due in November, poses a threat to top dog console the Nintendo’s Wii, and Sony’s new add-on, called Move.

But I’ll tell you who should be worried: those Dance competition video game folks. Microsoft demonstrated a pad-less, controller-less dance game that looked like a lot more fun than stomping on a giant pad with arrows. Check out the video below…

Here is the unboxing of the new factor of the Xbox 360, which is smaller, and has built in Wi-Fi. (via giantbomb.com)

THQ CEO: Don’t bet against the Wii

Remember how you couldn’t get a Nintendo Wii? Remember the long lines at retailers, and “No WIIs” signs in store windows. The Wii is still very popular, but the momentum has slowed a bit, leading some to wonder if it has lost its mojo.

And even though games like “Wii Fit Plus” and “Wii Sports Resort” are top sellers, adult action titles like Activision’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2″ and Ubisoft’s “Assassin’s Creed” have been getting all of the fanfare.

But Brian Farrell, long-time CEO of THQ, which publishes games on the Wii including “All Star Cheer Squad”  and “World of Zoo” said that its the short-sighted game publisher who thinks the Wii is dead, if only because, you know, those things are everywhere, Farrell said at the Reuters Media Summit.

Black Friday sprint begins for video game industry

Black Friday marks the beginning of the most critical time of the year for video game makers, as customers jam stores on the day after Thanksgiving to pick up games and consoles as gifts.

As a brutal 2009 winds to a close, the gaming industry is hoping that a strong six weeks of sales in the United States, the largest market, could help them salvage something from the year.

Nintendo said Monday its Wii home console — the long-time U.S. champ that has been struggling lately — sold more than 550,000 units in the U.S. during Thanksgiving week. To put that in perspective, the company sold around 500,000 Wiis in all of October, according to industry tracker NPD.

Sony cuts PS3 price, sounds confident about holidays

The long-anticipated price cut on Sony’s PlayStation 3 video game console might have come just in the nick of time, as industry sales continue to wilt in the heat of summer. Both game hardware and software sales have been flagging, but console price cuts typically spur game sales.

Sony took the PS3′s price to $299 from $399, and the company sounded bullish on its prospects for the holiday selling season.

“With this price move, we’re extremely confident,” said Jack Tretton, CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, in a interview. “I don’t think there’s anything more that we could realistically ask for in terms of putting us in a position to be successful this holiday, I really feel like everything’s lined up for us.”

Cellphone touch screens to bring drawing messages?

The traditional art of drawing could see a renaissance helped by the boom in touch-screen mobile phones following the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007, says British artist Derrick Welsh.

“The touch has tipped, and drawing messaging is where touch leads,” said Welsh.

It could also create the next money-spinner for mobile operators, for whom text messages are still the key data revenue generator in 2009.

Look out: US online advertising seen down 5 percent

From the bearish forecast department: Screen Digest, a media research firm, issued an outlook today predicting a 5 percent decline in online advertising in 2009. Folks, we’re not talking about newspapers or network television or radio here. We’re talking about the Web.

Screen Digest put out the forecast in response to the IAB’s recent report on 2008, which showed Web advertising rose 10 percent. But the number that turned heads over at Screen Digest was IAB’s fourth quarter figure, which put online growth at a mere 2.6 percent.

Here’s what Screen Digest says:

Following the fourth quarter 2008 tipping-point, Screen Digest has revised its 2009-2010 forecasts for online advertising in the US. We now predict that all categories and subcategories except video will decline in 2009. Banner advertising (-8.8 per cent) will not be fully compensated by the double digit growth of online video, so that the Display category will be down 3.6 per cent. Search will shrink by two per cent and non-Display categories such as Classifieds will experience double digit falls. Overall, the total internet advertising market will shrink by five per cent (-4.8) in 2009 and only stabilize (+0.4 per cent) in 2010.

Twitter invites all shades of green

Twitter is now free for all, but it may not be for much longer. According to co-founder Biz Stone, the micro-blogging site plans to offer commercial accounts for businesses to pay a fee to receive an enhanced version of Twitter starting some time this year.

The move is part of Twitter’s accelerated plan to start seeking revenue in 2009, despite the economic downturn and cutbacks in advertising spending online. The company recently closed a round of venture capital financing pegged at $35 million by media reports, following two earlier funding rounds totaling $20 million. The recent round valued Twitter at $255 million, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Stone says:

We think there will be opportunities to provide services to commercial entities that help them get even more value out of Twitter. If these services are valuable to companies, we think they may want to pay for them.