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Lucky's Tale, and the untapped potential of third-person virtual reality games

Entering a new world as someone else is a very attractive thing for many people, and most games that are being built for the Oculus Rift and Sony's Project Morpheus take that approach. I spent 10 minutes or so playing Lucky’s Tale during E3. The game is a sort of virtual reality take on 3D, third-person platformers like Super Mario 64. The game doesn’t allow you to see out of the eyes of the character as much as your eyes become the game's camera. You can look around the world, and peek around corners using the hardware’s positional tracking to see what’s coming next. During one section where Lucky has to run over a bridge and avoid swinging logs I placed my head down and on the side, as if I was resting my head on a virtual pillow, in order to get the best view of the action and...

News
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Why 'the majority' of Zynga's management team left after Mattrick arrived

Since Don Mattrick became CEO in July 2013, most of Zynga's management team has left the company, Mattrick said during an interview at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Technology Conference. "The majority of our team has turned over," Mattrick said of the developer best known for Ville games FarmVille and Words with Friends. The CEO and former Electronic Arts and Xbox executive said that he spent his early days at Zynga meeting his new employees. They spoke about what they did, how they feel about the company and more. From his earliest days at the company, he spoke about how the company's need to "break some bad habits" and conduct "top-to-bottom business reviews" at the developer. Must Read How Don Mattrick plans to turn Zynga around "And we've...

News
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Zynga launches Riches of Olympus in growing casino category

Social and mobile game developer Zynga announced today the launch of a new slots game in its growing casino category, Riches of Olympus, which is now available for iOS devices. While the company has experienced a series of financial losses over the past few quarters, the casino category has recently regained ground, with an eight percent growth in daily active users. Speaking to Polygon, Zynga's executive vice president of games Barry Cottle said the company's casino category has been growing quarter on quarter because of a strategy it implemented 18 months ago, which now shapes titles like Riches of Olympus. The strategy involved addressing fraud issues in the casino category and regaining the trust of players by containing and managing the problem. It also focused on migrating...

Report
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The Rise of Nations game that might have saved 38 Studios

38 Studios was long gone. There wasn't much left to do with the remains of the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning developer other than litigate its former executives and sell what was left behind after it declared bankruptcy in June 2012, and developers working on all sorts of projects, including the never released massively multiplayer online game codenamed Project Copernicus, lost their jobs. But the jobs weren't the only things lost in developer's inglorious fall. On the same day the studio became officially insolvent, the U.S. Attorney's office and the FBI declared a formal investigation into former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's video game company. By November 2012, Rhode Island filed suit against Schilling, former executives and advisors over the $75 million loan guarantee...

News
20 Comments

Zynga sues developers of Bang With Friends (updated)

Social games developer Zynga sued the creator of the casual sex networking iOS and Android app Bang With Friends for infringing upon Zynga's trademark of "with friends" games, Bloomberg reports. "Zynga filed a lawsuit to stop blatant infringement of its valuable 'With Friends' brand," Renée Lawson, Zynga deputy general counsel said in a prepared statement. "A company calling itself 'Bang with Friends' — whose own founders played Zynga's 'With Friends' games — decided to gain attention for its sex-related app by leveraging Zynga's well-known mark. Zynga is compelled to file suit to prevent further consumer confusion and protect its intellectual property rights against infringement." The complaint filed in federal court in San Francisco yesterday, and obtained by Polygon, states that B...

News
2 Comments

Hasbro's video game revenue increases 19 percent

Hasbro, Inc.'s investment in video games is doing well for the company, which reported a 19 percent percent increase in games revenues in the second quarter of 2013 today. The growth represents the third consecutive quarter of growth in the video game category, and Hasbro called out games in the Magic: The Gathering, Monopoly, Twister, Jenga and the Elfun & Friends as growing brands. Overall, net revenues for the company were $766.3 million, down 6 percent from $811.5 million in the same quarter last year. President and CEO Brian Goldner commented on "important initiatives" coming up for the company, where video games and related merchandise featured prominently. "We have expanded our digital gaming capabilities with the acquisition of 70 percent of Backflip Studios, a profitable...

News
20 Comments

Xbox One slide lists Words with Friends for the next-gen console

A slide on the Xbox 360 touting the Xbox One's multitasking and app pinning features seems to indicate that Words with Friends, Zynga's popular tile-based word game, is headed to the next-gen console. Navigating to the Xbox One tile that appears on the Xbox 360 home screen launches an app filled with information about Microsoft's upcoming console. Selecting the "What it does" tab loads a handful of slides highlighting features like Skype, TV viewing and multitasking. The "Multitasking is a Snap" slide (pictured above and below) shows a series of apps pinned in the console's user interface, including Words with Friends. Zynga's game has yet to be announced for the Xbox One. During the presentation in which Microsoft revealed the console, Electronic Arts showed off next-gen versions...

News
3 Comments

Apple reveals top 50 apps of all time, counting down to 50 billion downloads

Nearly 50 billion apps have been download from Apple's App Store, the company announced today. To commemorate the approaching milestone, Apple revealed the 25 most downloaded apps in both the paid and free categories. Topping the paid apps list is the original Angry Birds, followed by Halfbrick Studios' Fruit Ninja, Lima Sky's Doodle Jump, Cut the Rope and Angry Birds Seasons. Words With Friends sits at number eight, while Angry Birds Space is tenth and PopCap's Plants vs. Zombies is number 12. Angry Birds Star Wars also makes the list at number 18, and Minecraft Pocket Edition takes the twenty-third spot. Facebook sits at number one on the free apps list, followed directly by Pandora Radio, Instagram, YouTube, Skype and Words With Friends Free. Twitter's application is eighth with T...

News
1 Comment

Zynga reports first-quarter fiscal 2013 revenue down 18 percent, net income up

Zynga brought in $263.6 million of revenue, an 18 percent year-over-year drop, during the first quarter of its 2013 fiscal year, the company announced today in an earnings report. Zynga's fiscal year runs alongside the calendar year, so today's financial report covers the three-month period that ended March 31. The financial breakdown listed revenue from online games at $229.6 million, a 22 percent year-over-year drop, and advertising revenue at $34 million, a 21 percent jump. The decrease in online game revenue is likely tied to the shrinking user base for Zynga's games — daily active users were down 21 percent from the same period in 2012, monthly active users dropped 13 percent and monthly unique payers decreased 30 percent. Based on daily active users, Zynga still had three of...

News
19 Comments

Oculus Rift creator and other industry experts brainstorm about movement in virtual reality

During a SXSW Interactive panel titled Virtual Reality: The Holy Grail of Gaming, Oculus Rift creator Palmer Luckey and a handful of industry veterans tackled an interesting issue: How do you simulate actual movement in a virtual reality space? Luckey outlined a few possible solutions, which ranged from possible to wildly unreasonable. The most likely solution would be an omnidirectional treadmill, upon which players could walk to move themselves in-game without the use of a traditional controller. There are psychological solutions, including redirected walking — a method of tricking your brain into thinking your body is turning and redirecting itself when it is, in fact, moving in a straight line. Using that method, Luckey said, the simulation could make a 20-foot room seem more or...

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