MediaFile

iPhone apps: Gaming and advertising paradise?

This may seem obvious to anybody who’s sat beside an iPhone user on the subway but ComScore’s latest research confirms it anyway. Games are one of the hottest iTunes Apps downloaded, and those who download them are well-paid social-site viewers ripe for some kind of new advertsing scheme.

According to the research firm twelve of the 25 most popular mobile apps were games including oldies like Hangman and Pac-man, and newer titles like “Cube Runner”, ”Crazy Penguin Catapult“, and (the top game) Tapulous’s “Tap Tap Revenge”. 

It cited Stylem Media’s “Backgrounds” applications as most downloaded of non-games, just ahead of social network apps like Facebook and MySpace. 

ComScore did not measure how much advertising already comes along with Apple apps, but did offer stats that seemed to say: “psst… there’s lots of advertising opportunity right here. “  

Among the facts about Apps Store shoppers:

    Apple app users are a “particularly desirable audience” for advertising with a higher-than-average income and a fondness for online media.  About 35 percent of app users are part of a household with an annual income of $100,000 or more while 54 percent make $75,000 or more, according to the research.  They are also at least three times more likely to visit entertainment, social networking and communications sites than the average Internet user, ComScore said. It named online destinations such as AOL Instant Messenger, Hulu, Twitter, Digg.com, iMeem MTV.com.

ComScore analyst Mark Donovan said the Apps store could become an even more effective place to sell adds after Apple starts to support new payment models such as subscriptions and the sale of add-on modules for existing applications, such as the addition of new destinations for a travel guide. But he said that advertisers will have to be careful not to be too intrusive on the app users.  

Army to release latest version of video game

The Game Developers Conference is not necessarily the place one would most expect to see a presence from the U.S. military. But video games are so enmeshed in popular culture – particularly for young males – that the Army has for years been using them to appeal to potential recruits.

The Army will release the latest version of its free, downloadable first-person shooter game, “America’s Army 3,” this summer.

In an interview, Maj. Michael Marty emphasized the game’s realism. “It’s not Rambo.”

Facebook game chief sees rebirth of social games

Gareth Davis, games chief at social networking giant Facebook, says we’re in the middle of a “renaissance” in casual video games, as users transform a once solitary activity into a social one.

“Game play is an essentially human activity, a social activity,” Davis said in an interview at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

Facebook, which has 175 million active monthly users, has seen an explosion in application development since it opened its platform to third-party developers nearly two years ago. The site now boasts 50,000 applications, the largest category of which is games, with more than 5,000.

iPhone Apps mean money for game publisher ngmoco

Given the popularity of downloadable apps for Apple’s iPhone and iPod Touch, many folks — namely some prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalists — are confident there’s plenty of money to be made from app developers as well.******Ngmoco, which makes games exclusively for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, said Monday it has closed $10 million in Series B financing led by Norwest Venture Partners. The company’s previous investors –- Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Maples Investments — also participated in the funding. Ngmoco received $5.6 million in its first round of financing.******Ngmoco — which stands for “next generation mobile company” — was born last year along with Apple’s App Store, and the company’s profile has risen in tandem with the store’s popularity. Users have downloaded more than 800 million apps in total and the store now features more than 25,000 offerings.******Ngmoco’s games have been installed more than 7 million times. The company currently has seven titles –- its most popular is the $9.95 “Rolando Orlando” -– and 12 in development.******Neil Young, ngmoco’s chief executive and one of its co-founders, said in an interview that he was surprised by the “voracious” appetite for games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Although he wouldn’t rule out making games for other platforms, he said the devices provide a unique opportunity for game makers.***

It’s just a blend of amazing capability with this awesome usability. And its clearly those two things that are enabling this new type of usage patterns both in terms of how people are consuming games and how much they’re consuming. And also the ease at which they’re able to get them. Until there are any other platforms that come close to that I think we’ll certainly remain focused on these devices.

******Young, who left game publishing giant Electronics Arts to launch ngmoco, declined to disclose a revenue figure for the company, which has 26 employees.******The App Store is estimated to offer some 6,000 games. Many see the iPhone and iPod Touch as legitimate competitors to Nintendo’s DS and Sony’s PSP handheld gaming consoles, and that battle should play out over the coming months and years. IPhone games are expected to be much on display at this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.******Keep an eye on:***

    *** EBay’s Skype plans to announce on Monday a version of its Internet calling software for small and medium-sized businesses (WSJ)

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    *** Former Yahoo Chief Operating Officer Dan Rosensweig will take over Activision Blizzard’s Guitar Hero franchise (All Things Digital)

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from Fan Fare:

California battle over video game violence rages on

MEDIA TAKETWOThe video game industry may have won another battle over whether violent games should be labeled as such and kept away from minors, but the author of a California video game labeling law that was struck down on Friday by a federal appeals court says the war is far from over.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the controversial law violated free speech protections that prevent the government from forcing its opinions on citizens -- in this case by requiring video game makers to label games the state describes as violent. The court said lawmakers also failed to show a link between virtual violence and real acts among children who play the ultra-violent games.

The judges sided with the video game industry in finding that  the industry's voluntary ratings system and stepped up parental controls were the best way to keep inappropriate games from kids.

Disney breaks out interactive results

The Walt Disney Co drew kudos from analysts in an otherwise dismal earnings report for breaking out results for its Interactive Media Group for the first time.

The unit, made up of its console, mobile and online gaming operations and Disney.com, turned in an 18 percent revenue increase but operating profit dropped after the soft retail environment, competition for consumers’ time and Disney’s “substantial” investment in the product lines were factored in.

The decision to break out the unit’s results — it comprises just 3 percent of Disney’s total revenue, according to one analyst — came in the same quarter in which Disney CEO Bob Iger warned investors that its older media businesses — DVD sales and broadcast television — face “secular changes” from which they may never recover.

Video games defy economic gloom

U.S. shoppers are still spending in a big way — they are just not buying cars, plane tickets, clothing, etc. But they are buying video games.

While most media segments try to maintain stability during today’s economic turmoil, the video game industry keeps on growing, with U.S. video game hardware and software sales up 10 percent last month according to NPD, fueled by record sales of Nintendo’s Wii console and DS hand-held system.

Nintendo’s Wii console sold over 2 million units in November, up from over 800,000 in the previous month.

$60 video games? Do the math, says Zelnick

How do entertainment retailers come up with the prices they charge? Why is a movie theater ticket $10, a music CD $15, a rental DVD $3-$5 and a top video game $60?

We asked Strauss Zelnick, executive chairman of game publisher Take-Two. He says it’s simple math, based upon the value of that experience.

Prices are determined by the marketplace — if folks stopped buying stuff, prices would fall, etc. (Think gasoline). Balance that with cost. A game like Halo or Grand Theft Auto takes years to develop and costs as much to make as a Hollywood film.

from Summit Notebook:

Zelnick: Welcome to the emergency room

Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take Two Interactive, has a bone to pick with the media: He doesn't like the two words "Financial" and "Crisis." At least not when they are used to describe the current state of economic affairs.

"I don't think we're in a financial crisis," Zelnick said at the Reuters Media Summit. "The use of the word crisis -- I'm loathe to be critical of the media since I'm every bit a part of the media -- but I don't think the word has been especially helpful. We're obviously in a recession and these are very very trying times."

If not a financial crisis, then what? Well, Zelnick offers up a hospital metaphor. 

from DealZone:

Shane Kim’s crystal ball: videogame deals, new content

Microsoft's videogame chief Shane Kim came by our New York office this morning for the Reuters Media Summit and shared his thoughts on XBox 360 sales ("cautiously optimistic") and the outlook for the gaming industry amid the economic doom-and-gloom ("Who knows, maybe flat performance will be considered a remarkable achievement").

He also gazed into his crystal ball and served up some insights on the trends shaping the gaming business.

Consolidation is going to continue, he thinks, especially among the smaller videogame publishers as they search for hit games while keeping costs in check.