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Archive for June, 2011

Red 5 in legal battle with Webzen over FireFall, seeking $5 million

June 30th, 2011 No comments
Firefall developer Red 5 Studios has filed for legal arbitration against Korean publisher Webzen. According to Red 5, Webzen has committed "multiple breaches" in its Asian publishing agreement, and the studio is seeking both to terminate its agreement and to "recover $5 million due to Webzen's alleged breach of its obligation and refusal to commit that money to market the game in the United States." The arbitration should not affect the United States or European release of Firefall, which will both be self-published by Red 5.

Webzen has published its own response to Red 5's claims, stating that it is "undisputable" that it has "fulfilled all of its obligations" to the studio. The publisher also mentions that Firefall has undergone numerous development delays. Webzen also references its own "disputes" with Chinese game operator The9 - majority shareholder in Red 5 - though it makes no direct allegations toward the company. The publisher states further that Red 5 Korea has "infringed Webzen's rights as the publisher in Korea," though no specifics are mentioned. Regarding the arbitration, Webzen says it will comply with the final decision, but plans to "firmly seek all of its remedies under the law."

Continue reading Red 5 in legal battle with Webzen over FireFall, seeking $5 million

JoystiqRed 5 in legal battle with Webzen over FireFall, seeking $5 million originally appeared on Joystiq on Fri, 01 Jul 2011 01:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Google+ could make Twitter the next Myspace

June 30th, 2011 No comments

Google+ projectThere are numerous comparisons between Google’s new Google+ social offering and Facebook, but most of them miss the mark. Google knows the social train has left the station and there is a very slim chance of catching up with Facebook’s 750 million active users. However, Twitter’s position as a broadcast platform for 21 million active publishers is a much more achievable goal for Google to reach.

There are two different types of social networks, private and public — each defined by its default privacy setting. Facebook is by default private and meant to connect actual friends. Twitter by default is public and anyone can follow anyone else. Google+ is decidedly in the Twitter camp — meaning you can follow anyone, including Google CEO Larry Page. Google+ lets you see Page’s posts and “like” his photos of kite surfing in Alaska. When posting on Google+, it forces users to select specific social circles they are posting to, which includes “everyone” as an option that mimics a Twitter-style broadcast. If not for the lawsuits and FTC settlement about Google Buzz automatically broadcasting posts, it is likely that Google+’s default setting would be public posts.

Although Twitter is growing (having just hit 200 million tweets a day), Twitter has left itself open to be displaced with a slow pace of adding features. Even newly returned founder Jack Dorsey has said that it was too difficult for “normal” people to use Twitter.

So, how can Google go after the 21 million people who are actively publishing on Twitter, and, more importantly, the few thousands that own the majority of Twitter followers? These types of posters are generally publishers, and Google’s core competence is serving publishers. Publishers pay a lot of attention to Google, from search engine optimization to increase the ranking on Google searches, search engine marketing keyword ads to drive traffic, and on-site advertising solutions ranging from AdSense to DoubleClick.

Publishers are interested in increasing their search rankings and improving their reach. Posting content to Google+1 increases search rankings. The black toolbar across the top of all Google services (other than YouTube), which integrates both Google+ and Google+ notifications, definitely provides reach and is now in front of as many user minutes as Facebook commands. Users commenting or liking on items from publishers will show up in their friends’ toolbars. Even if they only have a few friends, the overall traffic bump will be significant. The Google+ bar has not yet been activated on YouTube, a key publisher and celebrity channel, and likely will broadcast YouTube likes, comments and shares.

Peter YaredWhile Facebook is not sweating about Google+, the threat to Twitter is significant. Google has the opportunity to displace Twitter if it gets publishers and celebrities to encourage Google+ follows on their websites as well as pushing posts to the legions of Google users while they are in Search, Gmail and YouTube. Google was turned down when it tried to buy Twitter for $10 billion, and now it is going to try to replicate it. With Google+, the company actually has a shot.

Peter Yared is the vice president of apps at Webtrends, which acquired Transpond, a social-apps developer he founded. You can  follow him on Twitter.

Filed under: Business and Technology, social, Social Media, VentureBeat

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Independent Games Festival 2012 accepting submissions

June 30th, 2011 No comments
Independent game makers: did you know there's, like, a whole festival for you? The Independent Games Festival isn't the "funnel cakes" type of festival, but rather the "widespread recognition and cash prizes" kind of festival.

If you'd like to participate in the annual pageantry, the IGF's organizers are now accepting submissions. If you're a student, the deadline for you to submit your world-changing (or just cute!) indie game is October 31; the deadline for the main competition is October 17.

Chances are, you'll like the changes being implemented this year. According to a letter posted by IGF chair Brandon Boyer, the judge and jury system, which includes "our 150-200 judges recommending games in certain categories, and discipline-specific juries of 8-10 subject matter experts assigned to each award," will be returning from last year. But the prizes for award winners chosen by those juries have changed. They're bigger.

If you win the Seumas McNally Grand Prize, you'll receive $30,000, with which you could certainly fund the development of a small game, or get part of the way through the title screen of the AAA shooter you've suddenly decided to make.

JoystiqIndependent Games Festival 2012 accepting submissions originally appeared on Joystiq on Fri, 01 Jul 2011 00:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Why Microsoft’s Office 365 will clobber Google Apps

June 30th, 2011 No comments

Office 365Yes, Microsoft is a slow, lumbering giant. It has been working on cloud for years, with numerous iterations, that took so long cloud proponent Ray Ozzie got fed up and left. Microsoft had to work through cannibalizing reseller arrangements, reconciling how to reach consumers versus businesses and a host of other issues. With Office 365, Microsoft has finally delivered an end-to-end cloud platform for businesses that encompass not only its desktop Office software, but also its server software, such as Exchange and SharePoint.

Contrary to Google’s narrative, cloud based office software is still a wide open market. The three million businesses that have “Gone Google” — proclaimed on billboards in San Francisco airport’s new Terminal 2 — are for the most part Gmail users, who are still happily using Microsoft Office and even Microsoft Outlook. Gmail is a fast, cheap, spam-free and great solution for business email, especially relative to the expensive, lumbering email service providers. Google Apps has definitely found a niche for online collaboration, but generally for low-end project management types of spreadsheets and small documents. The presentation and drawing Google Apps are barely used.

Yes, there are definitely Google Apps wins, since it seems cheap. On implementation, businesses find that switching to Gmail is one thing, but switching their entire business infrastructure to Google Apps is a completely different animal that goes far beyond simply changing how employees are writing memos.

Imagine you are a 25-person law firm in Kansas City running Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange for email and calendaring, Windows Server for file sharing, SharePoint for wiki/collaboration, and have a custom billing application written in .Net and running on Microsoft SQL Server. Like the majority of small to medium-sized businesses, you are an all-Microsoft shop.

Google comes in and presents: Google Apps looks primitive and doesn’t have all the features of Word and especially Excel and PowerPoint. It also doesn’t work offline. Email and calendar is sort of the same, but you should really use a browser instead of Outlook to get full functionality. Plus, you have to manually move all of your SharePoint content over to Google Sites, the file server isn’t integrated with the Windows or Mac desktops, and you have to keep your .Net app the way it is or rewrite it into Google AppEngine.

Compare this experience to the Microsoft value prop: go home on Friday, and on Monday when you come back everything will look the same, except now we are hosting it all and you can lay off your IT staff. There’s no training required. Employees can run apps on the desktop or in the browser, whichever they like, and the browser version looks like the desktop version, only cheaper. For a regular business where technology really is just a pain and an expense item — not a mission in life —  it’s really a no-brainer. In addition, Microsoft has historically been very smart about seeding nonprofits and educational institutions with copies of software that are virtually free, which it will likely also do with Office 365.

The thing about Microsoft Office 365 is that it looks really good, and look and act just like the well-known native Office apps. The ribbon interface is intuitive and the apps are fast and responsive. Google Apps, conversely, looks like it was made by college students from a weekend project. I don’t understand how Marissa Mayer loves fashion like Oscar de la Renta at night, but goes to work during the day and insists on data-driven web sites that look like crap. Google hasn’t shipped a good user interface since Google Maps. The different between Office 365 and Google Apps is glaring.

Microsoft definitely has a few issues to work out. As Google pointed out, collaboration is not very simple, since you have to be a Microsoft Office 365 subscriber in order to collaborate. However, Microsoft already launched Docs.com, a free Office offering with free collaboration. Microsoft will likely integrate Skype into Office 365, which will offer chat, audio and video conferencing, screen sharing and (probably) free document collaboration based on Docs.com.

Google’s claim that Office 365 doesn’t support many platforms is moot. It works fine on my Mac OS X with Chrome, and officially supports Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox. Office definitely has numerous pricing tiers. The lowest tier is on par with Google Apps and the higher tiers include subscriptions to the desktop software, which help to transition Microsoft from feature-driven bloatware to subscriptions —  a model that has worked for Adobe.

Peter Yared

Google Apps will definitely have a place for new businesses and small businesses with younger employees that aren’t tied to the Office user interface. Google App Engine is a hidden jewel within Google Apps and its hands down the fastest solution for programmers to create and deploy a comprehensive web app. However, with Office 365, Microsoft is clearly on a trajectory to continue its Office hegemony. Microsoft is much more concerned about Apple than Google at this point, and insuring that it monetizes Apple devices like it used to make more per Mac than Apple did in the early 1990s. Conversely, Google should be much more concerned about Microsoft, which now has almost 30% marketshare in search.

Peter Yared is the vice president of apps at Webtrends, which acquired Transpond, a social-apps developer he founded. You can  follow him on Twitter.

Filed under: Business and Technology, dev, DevBeat, enterprise, VentureBeat

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It’s OG vs. HD in this Resident Evil: Revival Selection trailer

June 30th, 2011 No comments
You've seen screens comparing the original Resident Evil 4 and Code Veronica to their HD-ified remakes, but we've got something better today: moving pictures. Make with the clicking above to see some side-by-side comparisons in real-time.

Continue reading It's OG vs. HD in this Resident Evil: Revival Selection trailer

JoystiqIt's OG vs. HD in this Resident Evil: Revival Selection trailer originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 30 Jun 2011 23:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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New Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, Dragon Ball games coming from Namco Bandai

June 30th, 2011 No comments
Two new games in longtime Namco Bandai anime franchise series are on the way. People who either love Naruto or love CyberConnect2's brand of cinematic fighting will be delighted to hear that a new Naruto Shippuden Ultimate Ninja Storm game is on the way next year, called Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations. The PS3/Xbox 360 game includes a "number of playable and support characters far beyond any Naruto game" and promises some kind of updated online functionality.

In other Namco anime license news, the game formerly known as "Dragon Ball Game Project Age 2011" has been named by fan feedback. Proving that they fear change, the community decided upon "Dragon Ball Z Ultimate Tenkaichi" for the new fighter, which is coming out on Xbox 360 and PS3 October 25.

Continue reading New Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, Dragon Ball games coming from Namco Bandai

JoystiqNew Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm, Dragon Ball games coming from Namco Bandai originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 30 Jun 2011 22:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Puzzle Agent 2 now cracking cases on iPhone and iPad

June 30th, 2011 No comments
It's time once again to strap on your cold-resistant rabbit fur cap, and then, atop that, your thinking cap. You're going to look awfully silly with your tower of headwear, but it's what's expected if you're going to take on the arctic riddles of Puzzle Agent 2, Telltale's latest iOS opus. The sequel to last year's Telltale pilot experiment (which was apparently a success!) is available now for $4.99 on iPhone, and $6.99 on iPad.

JoystiqPuzzle Agent 2 now cracking cases on iPhone and iPad originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 30 Jun 2011 22:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Discover Prope’s Unreal-powered iPhone game

June 30th, 2011 No comments
Yuji Naka's company Prope, developer of Ivy the Kiwi? and Let's Tap, has been quietly populating the iOS App Store with Let's Tap minigames and other assorted bite-sized apps, but its latest release is something of a surprise.

PD - prope discoverer is an Unreal Engine-based game for iPhone and iPad that has players exploring a 3D castle environment to find three hidden cards in each area to unlock doors. It's sort of a hidden-object game, but with first-person movement and a fully rendered 3D world.

Prope Discoverer is definitely a mellower experience than Infinity Blade, but it's interesting to see a small Japanese company developing a first-person Unreal-based experience on iPhone. If you want to walk around the "idyllic sunlit gardens" and "eerie and bewildering castle cellars," you can download it for $3. Wander past the break for a trailer.

Continue reading Discover Prope's Unreal-powered iPhone game

JoystiqDiscover Prope's Unreal-powered iPhone game originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 30 Jun 2011 21:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Halo: Glasslands novel arrives this October

June 30th, 2011 No comments
Announced last year, the sequel to the Halo novel Ghosts of Onyx has been given both a name and a release date. Halo: Glasslands, penned by Star Wars and Gears of War novelist Karen Traviss, will hit bookshelves later this year on October 25. Glasslands marks the first in a new trilogy -- separate from the Forerunner trilogy by Greg Bear -- and will "explore the Halo Universe in the wake of the final events of Halo 3."

In addition to the release date, publisher Tor Books has also revealed the cover for Glasslands. You might have noticed that the image is dripping with subtext. It's clear there's something going on between this Spartan and Elite, but what is it? What are they thinking? We've taken a few liberties and created our own version of the cover to fill in some of the missing pieces. Find high resolution versions of both images in the gallery below.

Continue reading Halo: Glasslands novel arrives this October

JoystiqHalo: Glasslands novel arrives this October originally appeared on Joystiq on Thu, 30 Jun 2011 21:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Dungeon Siege 3 Review

June 30th, 2011 No comments

One of the reasons I always enjoyed the Dungeon Siege series is because long, drawn-out plot explanations aren't necessary when beating the crap out of people and collecting loot. That, or I have distorted and fond memories of Dungeon Siege 2: walking up to my character's destroyed farm, and immediately being told to pick up a weapon and kill anything that attacks me. Beat up a bunch of people? Sure, I can do that. Combat has always been the best part of these games for me. This time around, an overarching storyline gets half-heartily forced down your throat.

Dungeon Siege 3 borrows the conversation-driven storytelling approach from Mass Effect, without having as much of an influence on what occurs. Sure, there are moments where you can choose what sort of response is merited, or what action to take on, say, a prisoner of war, but these options are limited. To be frank, the fruition of your choices aren't made apparent until the very end of the game -- and with lifeless storyboard cut-scenes no less. Because of this strange disconnect (from realizing the impact of your decisions until the end), the story seems easily dismissable.


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