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  • GDC 2008 Breaks Attendance Record with Over 18K

    GDC 2008 Breaks Attendance Record with Over 18K

    As the Game Developers Conference swells larger each year, this year's show set a new attendance record with more than 18K industry professionals. GDC 2009 has been scheduled for March 23-27.

    GDC 2008 Breaks Attendance Record with Over 18K

    Officials for the Game Developers Conference have announced that this year's show has set yet another attendance record. More than 18,000 people attended the five-day event, which featured over 400 sessions along with an expo and career pavilion with more than 300 exhibitors and sponsors.

    The show itself was highlighted by John Schappert's Microsoft keynote, futurist Ray Kurzweil's keynote on the next 20 years of gaming, and Valve's Portal, which won Game of the Year at the Choice Awards. Other important components of the show included the 10th Annual Independent Games Festival (IGF), Game Connection, Video Games Live and the Game Career Seminar.

    "Every year, the GDC's goal is to deliver tailored learning and networking opportunities for the diverse groups of people who make games," said Jamil Moledina, executive director of the Game Developers Conference. "This year's conference not only exceeded our historical attendance record, but also surpassed expectations in terms of content quality and deal-making productivity."

    GDC 2009 has already been set to return to the Moscone Center in San Francisco for March 23-27 next year.

    via GameDaily

  • Newegg Doubles Order Processing Capacity With Dematic Order Fulfillment System

    Newegg Doubles Order Processing Capacity With Dematic Order Fulfillment System

    Newegg.com, a top online retailer of computer hardware and software, consumer electronics and communications products, has implemented an automated order fulfillment system from Dematic Corp., at Newegg's new distribution center in Edison, New Jersey.

    Newegg's growing business and focus on customer satisfaction required increased capacity and service levels for customers on the East Coast. The company invested in building the new 337,000 square foot distribution center to ensure that over 98 percent of Newegg customers' approved orders will ship within one business day of ordering.

    Dematic, a leader in logistics automation solutions, systems and service, implemented its C-L Series package conveyors, a pick to light system, as well as sortation and system management software to control, manage and monitor the entire system for Newegg.

    For Newegg, being able to see on-screen their entire system and quickly locate bottlenecks makes managing the system very easy. "Dematic's easy to use software allows us to manage our automated distribution center by exception," said Bob Zelis, Chief Planning Officer of Newegg's logistics department. If things are working well, we don't need to spend time watching a well-running system. We can see where problems might arise, and more proactively address them, instead of reacting after something happens. This has made a huge change in our operation as we have already doubled our order processing capacity."

    A majority of the new distribution center utilizes Dematic's C-L100 series conveyor products which reduce noise and maintenance requirements, as well as reliance on oils/lubricants and compressed air. This makes the conveyors more energy efficient, allowing Newegg to increase throughput, while being environmentally aware.

    The conveyor also has the functionality to automatically turn itself off when it is not needed. This is a tremendous capability for energy savings. Compared to conventional conveyor systems, it reduces power consumption up to 30 percent, reduces labor up to 20 percent, and conveys a wider variety of product.

    "Newegg is very tuned in to the comfort of the people that work in its distribution centers," said Stewart Resnick, account manager with Dematic. "Ambient noise was a concern, and the C-L100 conveyors are very quiet compared to conventional systems. Modularity, interchangeability of parts, ease of maintenance, as well as energy reduction were all features that Newegg liked."

    About Newegg
    Newegg.com is the second-largest online-only retailer in the United States, attracting more than 8.7 million registered users and earning industry-leading customer service ratings. Founded in 2001, Newegg Inc. attained approximately $1.9B in revenue in 2007. "Those who know" -- IT professionals, do-it-yourself computer enthusiasts, avid online gamers, students, small-to-midsize businesses, resellers and consumers -- consider newegg.com their top choice for computer and IT products and consumer electronics. At its award-winning Web site, www.newegg.com, shoppers can compare a comprehensive selection of the latest high-tech products, view detailed product descriptions, pictures, how-to information and customers reviews, and interact with other members of the technology and gaming community. Newegg.com is headquartered in City of Industry, Calif. For more information, visit www.newegg.com or e-mail public_relations@newegg.com.

    About Dematic Corp.
    Dematic Corp. Based on a rich tradition of over 70 years of worldwide industry expertise in creating logistics results and more than 10,000 systems installed worldwide, Dematic Corp is the world's leading supplier of logistics automation solutions, systems and service.

    Beginning with Rapistan's rich history from gravity conveyors to automated, modular conveyor and sortation solutions, Dematic now offers a full range of engineered and highly configurable system solutions that optimize warehousing and distribution operations. With Dematic, companies can reduce distribution costs, maximize overall logistics efficiencies, and increase the operating speed of their supply chain.

    Dematic is a global company with operations in 22 countries around the world. Its North American headquarters is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For genuine Rapistan conveyor system parts, or more Dematic information, visit www.dematic.us

    SOURCE: retailsolutionsonline

  • Steam To Offer Movie, Music Downloads?

    Steam To Offer Movie, Music Downloads?

    When PC owners want their games digitally delivered, they head to Valve's Steam service. But Valve don't just want your money for games. No, they want your money for music and movies as well, and will be stepping up their efforts during the year to start offering other forms of entertainment on the platform. Valve's Doug Lombardi:
    ...we're also looking at other types of content like video and music. We're definitely having those conversations and meetings, and we're reaching out to folks with other types of digital entertainment. I think before the end of the year, you'll probably see some pilot programs with other digital entertainment on Steam.
    If, by the year 2029, you're buying whitegoods, Manchester and car insurance via Steam, you can look back to today as the day it all began.
    Via Kotaku &
    Will Steam Add Movies, Music? [Tom's Games, via Shacknews]
  • EA Turns The Sims Online Into Free EA-Land, Second Life Competitor

    EA Turns The Sims Online Into Free EA-Land, Second Life Competitor

    EA is relaunching The Sims Online as a free service with a new name and new features, including UGC, commerce and land ownership.

    EA-Land is the new, free Sims Online (TSO). The 12 different cities from TSO are being moved to EA-Land and the game area is being expanded to be “100 times bigger than the previous size of any city.” Existing TSO users will be able to purchase land in EA-Land before the new (reincarnated) world is open to the public with paying TSO users becoming “EA-Land subscribers” in a similar fashion to the way Linden Lab charges for land in Second Life.

    Users of EA-Land will have the ability to upload custom content and (more importantly) buy these customizations from other players. Sounding a lot like Second Life? It gets better:

    We heard from the community that the economy was broken in TSO. That was true, too many users were billionaires, and the goal of the game was mostly about extracting money from Maxis. I can now say with satisfaction that we have fixed the economy on EA-Land. This took many features, from establishing a real estate market, where users can easily buy or sell lots to one another, and a dynamic object pricing market where the prices of objects purchased from maxis is based on supply and demand, enabling stores and entrepreneurs to earn a living. We also enabled users to buy simoleans directly from Maxis. While there is no need for users to do so in the game (we give subscribers simoleans every week), it can help new users build their dream house faster with a simple paypal transaction secured by us.

    There is one significant difference though to Second Life: EA-Land won’t become the wild west as EA will be “approving all of the content [so] this user content is safe to be viewed by everyone.”

    Second Life fans will point out that TSO/ EA-Land has a lot of difference to Second Life in terms of capabilities, and that is true. And yet really basic 2D service such as Club Penguin and Habbo Hotel have millions of users compared to Second Life’s 100-200,000 regular users over a 60 day period. As much as I hate the name, free is a great selling point and EA-Land has the potential of catering to users who want something more from their online words than the basic services, without the hassles of Second Life.

    (in part via GigaOm)

    Crunch Network: MobileCrunch Mobile Gadgets and Applications, Delivered Daily.

  • Adobe AIR Ships: Do You Care?

    Adobe AIR Ships: Do You Care?

    After an extensive beta period, Adobe’s AIR rich internet application application framework is shipping as version 1.0. You can download a copy here. Of course, Adobe isn’t the only player in the market trying to blur the lines between web and desktop applications - Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla all have their own initiatives in this space as well.

    You’d think web workers would be all over this sort of development environment, but so far we’re not seeing a lot of RIA work (using AIR or the alternatives) in the sort of personal productivity and groupware applications that we cover most often. Adobe lists a variety of applications already shipping on their Marketplace page, but what’s your experience? Have you even installed AIR on your computers? If so, what are you using it for?

    via WWD

  • Electronic Arts plays risky game in bid for Take-Two

    Electronic Arts plays risky game in bid for Take-Two

    As a devout video game player for the majority of his 28 years, Mario Perri says he does not feel completely comfortable with Electronic Arts Inc.'s (ERTS/NASDAQ) US$2-billion hostile takeover offer for Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. (TTWO/NASDAQ).

    "I don't think it's going to create better games," said Mr. Perri, owner of Xtreme Games Interactive, an independent video game retail store in Toronto. "Usually [it's better] with a little competition between developing companies, but they often get lazy once they merge."

    Mr. Perri's concerns are echoed within the investor community. In what is widely being viewed as an attempt by Electronic Arts to revitalize itself from its current status as a major video game publisher suffering from what one analyst calls "sequelitis," acquiring Take-Two and its infamous Grand Theft Auto franchise presents a number of risks that investors should be aware of.

    While the offer, valued at about US$26 a share, makes complete strategic sense for Electronic Arts, Take-Two's chief executive, Strauss Zelnick, has already rebuffed the proposal, calling it undervalued. Electronic Arts replied it would go directly to Take-Two's shareholders and launch a proxy battle to gain ownership of the publisher.

    News of the offer pushed Take-Two's stock upward by US$9.53, to close at US$26.89, a clear indication that investors believe the offer will be raised later. Electronic Arts traded down more than 5%, to close at US$47.14.

    Indeed, the focal point of the takeover offer is Take-Two's Grand Theft Auto franchise. Developed by Rockstar Games, a development division of Take-Two, the game has drawn the ire of family-friendly organizations for its graphic depictions of crime and a lurid sex scene that was hidden within the previous version of the game.

    Mr. Zelnick said he is willing to enter discussions with Electronic Arts after the next version of the franchise is released in April, a release that is expected to see more than nine million copies sold.

    That alone might force Electronic Arts to raise its offer for Take-Two substantially, said Daniel Ernst, a New York-based equity analyst with Soleil Securities Corp.

    "This offer price is a substantial discount below publicly trading companies," Mr. Ernst said. "Our view is that this offer price undervalues the company and our own price target [on Take-Two, prior to Electronic Arts' bid] was US$30."

    Tying itself to a video game rife with negative publicity presents an enormous risk, even though the franchise has sold more than 65 million copies, said Gartner research vice-president Van Baker.

    "The groups that rally against these kind of games like GTA may bring a lot of baggage to Electronic Arts," he said, later adding that GTA's popularity could show Take-Two as a "one-trick pony," making the company worth substantially less than US$2-billion.

    Even if Electronic Arts weathers the bad PR storm that came with the release of GTA IV, it could potentially lose the franchise if the licensing agreement between the two companies is allowed to lapse next year.

    "A potential transaction would likely offer significant-scale benefits in both distribution and publishing and segment market share by aggregating an impressive array of IP [intellectual property], but also introduce a greater amount of title risk, key developer/studio risk and require a healthy level of synergies to deliver a fair return on the capital deployed," Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Wienkes said in a research note to clients yesterday.

    In an industry that has grown more than 50% in the past year, consolidation among the major video game publishers is being viewed as a troubling harbinger that may affect future titles.

    Citigroup Capital Markets equity analyst Brent Thill cautioned clients in a research note that if a merger were to take place, it might also postpone the release of some of Electronic Arts' popular and lucrative titles including Need For Speed and Madden NFL.

    via National Post

  • Ingram Micro unveils Consumer Home and Office Solutions division

    Ingram Micro unveils Consumer Home and Office Solutions division

    Ingram Micro has announced the introduction of a new consumer division focused on integrating consumer electronics (CE), networking, security and digital signage into the home and office environment.

    The new CHOS division represents a significant push into the consumer market by Ingram, preceded in June 2007 by the acquisition of consumer electronics and accessories disti DBL Distributing.

    Matthew Sanderson, director of product management and marketing, Ingram Micro said: “Due to ongoing digital convergence, IT and CE products are merging; in recognising this Ingram Micro has allocated dedicated personnel to cater for increasing demand in the area of consumer home and office solutions.”

    According to Sanderson, the newly created division will provide Australian resellers with the opportunity to expand their offerings to the consumer home and office market.

    “The launch of the CHOS Division at Ingram Micro will provide a ‘one-stop’ shop for resellers,” he said.

    Ingram claimed the recent boom in digital signage and security was a major factor in deciding to establish the division, as well as the growing trend among the disti’s vendors that has seen many expand their CE product portfolios.

    Jacqueline Bergin, business manager to head the new CHOS Division said: “Ingram Micro’s nationwide retail coverage will also assist CE vendors in entering additional IT channels and will help IT vendors who are entering CE channels. Our retail fulfilment capabilities are in line with the Ingram Micro business model of taking costs out of our resellers’ businesses.”

    Resellers will receive information on the consumer home and office market via Ingram’s web portal, TechLink. The site provides various resources to assist partners in channel sales to CHOS customers.

    “The launch of the CHOS Division will enable us to strengthen our relationship with our resellers and vendors and reinforce the current service offerings that Ingram Micro provides,” said Guy Freeland, managing director, Ingram Micro Australia.

    The distribution giant first showed signs of pursuing the consumer integration market with the acquisition Avad in July 2005, a US-based digital home integrator.

    via CRN Australia

  • Amazon planning digital game distribution

    Amazon planning digital game distribution

    A recent job posting to Gamasutra has revealed that online retailer Amazon.com is planning a digital distribution service for games and software. Amazon currently has a tentative software download service in place -- though only available for tax software -- and this news at least partly confirms that Amazon will be extending that service to games.

    The position is for a full-time software development engineer to join the "Software and Video Games Digital Technology team," who are working on the Amazon Software Download store. Up to now Amazon's digital distribution services have been limited to video, music and e-books; moving to digital distribution for games puts Amazon alongside other mainstream services like GameTap and Steam, making for some heated and (hopefully) productive competition. Let's just hope it fares better than Amazon Unbox.

    via joystiq
  • New Consortium Plans to Reinvigorate PC Gaming

    New Consortium Plans to Reinvigorate PC Gaming

    Several marquee companies are teaming up to keep the PC gaming platform alive, according to the Mercury News.

    Dubbed the PC Gaming Alliance, the group is made up of several companies with an interest in sustaining PC gaming, including Intel, Microsoft, Nvidia and AMD. The alliance aims to keep PCs competitive with consoles in drawing game developers to the platform.

    The consortium hopes to expand the efforts of Microsoft's Games for Windows program, which sought to standardize the platform and improve consumer experience. The PC Gaming Alliance is expected to be formally announced in advance of next week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

    via shacknews

  • Protexis to Participate at Game Developers Conference

    Protexis to Participate at Game Developers Conference

    Protexis, the leader in digital content distribution for retailers, today announced that the company will exhibit at and sponsor the upcoming Game Developers Conference.

    read more | digg story
  • NPD: Game Industry Sales Total $1.18 Billion in January; PS3 Almost Ties Wii

    NPD: Game Industry Sales Total $1.18 Billion in January; PS3 Almost Ties Wii

    The industry put up yet another solid performance in a typically slower month following the holidays, and for the first time PS3 beat Xbox 360, almost matching Wii sales.

    Posted by James Brightman on Thursday, February 14, 2008

    NPD: Game Industry Sales Total $1.18 Billion in January; PS3 Almost Ties Wii

    We've just received the latest NPD video game sales data covering the month of January. On a strictly year-over-year basis total industry sales were down six percent to $1.18 billion. However, it's important to note that this year's January reporting period for NPD covered four weeks (as opposed to five last Jan.), so purely on a weekly basis sales were actually up 18 percent – and that likely would have been reflected had there been a fifth week.

    That said, even with the one-week discrepancy, software sales actually rose 11 percent to $610.6 million. NPD's Anita Frazier commented, "Pricing again plays into the great performance of software. The average retail price of games is up 19% from last January and much of that can be attributed to Rock Band and Guitar Hero. In fact, 360 Rock Band was the top-selling game in dollar terms, bringing in $30 million in sales for the month."

    Hardware sales were down 25 percent to $377.8 million and accessory sales were down four percent to $191 million. NPD said the best-selling single accessory for the month was the Wii Nunchuk Controller, which sold 375K units.

    Interestingly, on the hardware front all the talk lately of the PS3 coming on strong seems to be true. The console sold 269K units for the month, just slightly behind the Wii which was the best selling system with 274K units. The PS2 also continues to do remarkably well, selling 264K units. As for Microsoft, the Xbox 360 sold 230K units, perhaps slightly hurt by the shortage problem the company has made everyone aware of. In terms of portables, Nintendo's DS sold 251K units compared to 230K for the PSP.

    "Based on this month's results, software sales are off to a fantastic start [in '08]. Accessories are also very hot, so the industry looks to be pretty healthy out the gate. "

    The software chart was dominated by the usual suspects. Activision's Call of Duty 4, which won Game of the Year at D.I.C.E. and took the top spot on NPD's top 10 in both November and December, has for the third consecutive month earned a first place finish with 330.9K units. Wii Play, which has probably become an automatic purchase with every new Wii, took second place with 298.1K units. It's also worth noting that after going toe-to-toe, vying for the top spot with Call of Duty in November and December, Nintendo's Super Mario Galaxy has fallen to sixth place with 172K units.

    Here are the top 10 games for January (ranked by units):

    1. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare—Activision—Xbox 360—330.9K*
    2. Wii Play w/ remote—Nintendo—Wii—298.1K
    3. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock w/ guitar—Activision—Wii—239.6K
    4. Rock Band special edition bundle—MTV/EA—Xbox 360—183.8K*
    5. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock w/ guitar—Activision—Xbox 360—182.7K*
    6. Super Mario Galaxy—Nintendo—Wii—172K
    7. Burnout Paradise—EA—Xbox 360—144.1K
    8. Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare—Activision—PS3—140K
    9. Mario Party—Nintendo—NDS—138.5K
    10. Mario and Sonic: Olympic Games—Sega—NDS—133K

    * denotes unbundled versions, bundled versions, and any special editions (e.g. collector's editions)

    Page two: exclusive commentary from NPD analyst Anita Frazier


  • KnowboForm Site Submitter v1.6.4 beta Released!

    KnowboForm Site Submitter v1.6.4 beta Released!

    KnowboForm is a general purpose semi automatic website submission and promotion tool. It's built in database contains hundreds and thousands of directories, search engines, press release distribution networks, software distribution and download sites. Most of the sites allow free submission. KnowboForm allows you to submit, manage, and monitor your submissions from a single interface.

    Unlike any other submission tool, which usually allow you to submit for a specific purpose, you can use KnowboForm for directory submission, search engine submission, article submission, software submission, pad submission, press release submission, classified submission, blog auto-pinging, and automatic registration and sign-in. You can in fact configure it for any kind of submission purpose.

    Download KnowboForm Site Submitter v1.6.4 beta
  • CliffyB: PC Gaming Market in 'Disarray'

    CliffyB: PC Gaming Market in 'Disarray'

    While Epic got its start on PCs, and primarily the Unreal franchise, right now they're focused on consoles primarily, and the creator of Gears of Wars has said, "PC is kind of the secondary part of what we're doing."

    CliffyB: PC Gaming Market in 'Disarray'

    The subject of core retail sales slowly fading in the PC market is one that has been talked about for years. Recently, Epic's Mark Rein commented about how consoles are "stealing" gamers from PC in a discussion involving Call of Duty 4. Now Cliff Bleszinski, the lead designer for Gears of War, has also come out and publicly lamented the state of the PC gaming industry in an interview with MTV's Mutliplayer.

    "I think people would rather make a game that sells 4.5 million copies than a million and Gears is at 4.5 million right now on the 360," said Bleszinski. "I think the PC is just in disarray... what's driving the PC right now is Sims-type games and WoW and a lot of stuff that's in a web-based interface. You just click on it and play it. That's the direction PC is evolving into. So for me, the PC is kind of the secondary part of what we're doing. It's important for us, but right now making AAA games on consoles is where we're at." via gamedaily

  • Yahoo, eBay Payment Partnership Said Growing Faster Than Expected

    Yahoo, eBay Payment Partnership Said Growing Faster Than Expected

    Feb. 13, 2008 (Investor's Business Daily delivered by Newstex) --

    Yahoo and eBay's (NASDAQ:EBAY) PayPal unit are shrugging off recent moves by Google to tie its online payment service more closely into its massive Web search business.

    The service, which serves as a sort of online wallet, will remain free of charge for nine months to merchants that buy ads on Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) YHOO, the Web's most visited portal.

    But the service will eventually begin charging, regardless of what Google does, says Stephanie Tilenius, senior vice president of eBay marketplaces, which overseas PayPal operations.

    "We are not going to have it free forever," she said. "We implemented the program to see if it would work and we have had so much success with it we will probably continue it for a while longer."

    Google GOOG, the Web's No. 1 search service, has offered its Checkout service free to any merchant for more than a year. But this month, Google began charging nonadvertisers for it -- putting the service roughly on par with Yahoo PayPal. (See related story, this page.)

    Yahoo and PayPal, owned by eBay EBAY, launched Checkout in April 2007, about a year after forming a "strategic partnership."

    PayPal has long offered payment services to outside retailers, though most customers use it to send payments for items purchased on eBay's auction site. Yahoo hopes to expand its e-commerce offerings, while PayPal wants to expand its reach to non-eBay sites.

    Like Google Checkout, Yahoo PayPal Checkout aims to make it easier and safer to make purchase on a wide range of retail sites. The services store personal information such as name, address, credit cards and bank account numbers so users don't have to provide that info to an unfamiliar merchant.

    Users no longer have to type in personal information each time they make a purchase online. The service provides a buffer between retailers and customers to protect consumers' personal information.

    Tilenius sees huge potential in online merchant payment systems.

    "(Google is) trying to experiment with merging search and payments; we in our Yahoo partnership are doing the exact same thing," she said, adding that linking ads to online payments makes sense.

    PayPal won't say how many consumers or merchants have signed up. But the turnout is better than expected, Tilenius says.

    "We have seen great traction," she said. "We have signed up thousands of merchants."

    Advertisers that sign up for Yahoo PayPal Checkout get a special label attached to their ads. According to Tilenius, merchants who have signed on to the Checkout service have reached more customers and improved sales.

    "Our conversion rate through our Checkout service is 40% higher than the average conversion rate on the Web, so there is a very strong value proposition for those merchants," she said.

    Google reports a similar increase for advertisers that use its Checkout service.

    One way the Yahoo PayPal version has stood out is by offering consumers a wider variety of payment options, including debit cards and bank transfers through PayPal, says Bruce Cundiff, research director for Javelin Strategy & Research, a research firm. Google Checkout, by contrast, is not an alternative form of payment -- just an alternative process for traditional methods of payment, he says.

    Yahoo is likely pairing with PayPal to attract more advertisers while avoiding having to build a third wheel, says Sameer Mithal, senior principal for IBB Consulting.

    "Yahoo has a lot of e-commerce transactions (from their advertisers) and they don't want to build their own payment system because PayPal and Google Checkout already exist," he said.

    Yahoo closed its own payment service, called PayDirect, about four years after launching it in 2000. PayDirect was set up mostly to serve Yahoo's online auction service, which Yahoo shut down in June.

    Google's Checkout service, meanwhile, has grown to more than 100,000 merchants since its debut in June 2006.

    It ended December with 1.5 million visitors, down from 1.7 million in December 2006, says market tracker Nielsen Online.

    Yahoo PayPal Checkout finished December with slightly more than 1 million visitors in December, up from 843,000 in November.

    PayPal, meanwhile, received nearly 20 million visitors in December vs. 19.1 million a year ago.

    In 2012, PayPal will handle 11% of online retail transactions, up from 5% last year, Javelin's Cundiff says.

    via CNN $

  • Protexis to exhibit and sponsor Game Developpers Conference

    Protexis to exhibit and sponsor Game Developpers Conference

    Protexis will show how software publishers can quickly and efficiently reach tens of millions of new customers through online retail; gain retail exposure for their games without the use of paper or plastic boxes; and enjoy a high margin without paying to participate in the exploding market for digital content distribution.

    read more | digg story
  • NPD to Track Online Subscriptions Data

    NPD to Track Online Subscriptions Data

    [Updated] The data trackers at The NPD Group are finally taking a look at online subscriptions in addition to PC game sales at retail. The company will issue quarterly reports.

    NPD to Track Online Subscriptions Data

    The NPD Group announced today that it has begun tracking software subscription data – one of the key revenue generators left out of its previous PC game sales report. The firm plans to issue quarterly reports that are based on consumer information from NPD's online panel of over three million consumers who agreed to complete online surveys.

    The Video Game & PC Game Subscriptions Report specifically will provide some insight into the market size for paid online subscriptions to video games and MMO/PC games, gaming Web sites, and video game console services (e.g. Xbox Live). The data will be based on thousands of gamers ages 13 and older (members of the same online panel of three million consumers).

    "These products are an important step towards NPD's ultimate goal of providing a truly complete view of the North American PC game and video game markets, including all of the different ways consumers pay for and play video games, PC games, and related products," said Martin Zagorsek, vice president, The NPD Group.

    In addition to games, the subscription tracking will also examine consumer software subscription spending in the Security, Tax, Personal Finance and Online Storage markets. "These new additions to NPD's portfolio of products provide manufacturers, retailers, licensors, publishers, developers, and financial services companies with the ability to track the size, growth and demographics of the U.S. market for subscription-based games and software" added Zagorsek.

    [UPDATE] Zagorsek told us that although they can't provide data points today, they'll likely be coming out with some headline numbers in a week or two. He confirmed to us that, as we suspected, MMOs have been the biggest revenue driver of online subscriptions. In addition, he said that NPD will be planning to track downloadable games as well, "which we believe is a smaller market than subscriptions right now but probably growing more quickly." He added, "It'll take us a little longer to get the methodology worked out for that though, most likely launching later in the year." via GameDaily

  • Steam Hits 15 Million Accounts

    Steam Hits 15 Million Accounts

    Service celebrates massive growth and speeds up development of Steamworks.

    Steam Hits 15 Million Accounts

    Steam, the game delivery service from Valve, announced that it has surpassed 15 million accounts. The company says that its year-over-year sales increased 158 percent, helped in large part by the digital releases of hit games, The Orange Box, BioShock and Call of Duty 4.

    Valve's future outlook shows promise with Left 4 Dead and the introduction of Steamworks, which gives developers options to add auto-updates, social networking, product key authentication, matchmaking and copy protection for free.

    "PC gaming is thriving, and has evolved into an era of constant connectivity," said Gabe Newell, president of Valve. "That connectivity gives us the ability to have a much better relationship with customers, not just for delivering our games, but across all aspects of our business - including the design, development, and support of our games. Features like Guest Passes, Free Weekends, Gifting, and the Steam Community have been very well received both by customers and the developers who are using Steam. We are accelerating our release of new functionality in the next year as well as finding new ways to work with our partners such as the release of Steamworks, which allows them to bring the many benefits of Steam to their packaged products." via GameDaily

  • Joel Watson - droppin some alliteration science

    Joel Watson - droppin some alliteration science

    When you think pirates these days, you conjure images of flamboyantly foppish fellows, beards beaded and doo-ragged domes. I comment today not on those sea fairing swashbuckling skalewags, but rather the dastardly digital do-bads downloading documents, data, dance music and DVD dupes.

    I just dropped some alliteration science on your asses. Brain mouth words tired have now.


    The Jolly Roger waivers at the Pirate Bay are in some hot meatball sauce with the Swedish Government. Sweden, often known as the land of lawlessness and cheap, ready-to-assemble furniture has finally decided that creating an online portal for the sole purpose of allowing users to take and use software and media they haven’t paid for is somehow morally ambiguous. Possibly illegal!

    The eyepatchers and pegleggers claim:

    1. They aren’t making the gigantic stacks of cash (what do the Swedish use for currency? Carp? Slacks? Children? Tufts of hair?) and
    2. They can never be stopped for their reach extends beyond the four corners of the (round) earth and into the very internets we breath.
    more @ HijiNKS ENSUE
  • ShopLocal Adds New Features to Industry-Leading SmartCircular Ad Service

    ShopLocal Adds New Features to Industry-Leading SmartCircular Ad Service

    Next Generation Web Platform Extends Reach and Increases Usability of Online Promotions

    CHICAGO, Jan. 28 -- ShopLocal(TM), the leader in multi-channel shopping and marketing services, today announced the next generation of the retail industry's leading online circular platform, SmartCircular(TM) 4.0. SmartCircular technology converts versioned print circular ads into an online, dynamic, searchable and multi-language format, providing a unique and connected brand experience for advertisers. The new SmartCircular 4.0 platform, a rich media Internet application, includes a highly customizable interface that enables a more powerful user experience, a robust technology platform to handle high volumes of traffic and viral and social syndication tools to allow user re-distribution of promotional content.

    SmartCircular 4.0 sites will work to preserve the retailer's branding of both their Web site and printed promotions by incorporating the advertisers' look and feel but with enhanced interactive navigation tools and special online-only circular functionality that help achieve strong and consistent multi-channel messaging.

    Retailers who have beta tested SmartCircular 4.0, have seen on average a 46 percent increase in returning visitors, a 24 percent increase in the number of page views per visit and a 30 percent increase in the average number of circular pages viewed.

    "SmartCircular 4.0 brings an engaging and well designed user experience that converts Web site visitors into store shoppers," said Bill McCarthy, COO at ShopLocal. "Our retail clients want to offer their customers engaging, interactive, timely and easy-to-use presentations of their localized store promotions and this new solution delivers on all dimensions."

    Key SmartCircular 4.0 platform features include:
    -- Dynamic real-time content distribution options via localized RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0 feeds by category, brand and keyword search term(s).
    -- Inclusion and special presentation of "Bonus Pages" which are exclusive, online-only circular pages that appear nowhere else except within the SmartCircular site.
    -- Designed and built on rich media technologies, including Adobe Flash and Flex, providing an unmatched user experience.
    -- Option to use email or mobile phone (via SMS) to send a shopping list or sales item to a friend.
    -- Featured (or hero) items can now be given special prominence.
    -- Many integration points are now available to help better connect a SmartCircular 4.0 site with the advertiser's dot com site such as maps and directions, alternative choices in response to null searches and analytics.
    -- Ability to easily manage a number of content areas within the SmartCircular 4.0 sites via a flexible and geocentric content management system.
    -- One centralized location for all marketing print promotions such as FSI, ROP, multi-page circulars, flyers, buying guides and catalogs.
    -- Flexible underlying framework that allows uniquely tailored and customizable circulars for each retailer.
    -- Multi-language, Cross-OS and multi-browser compatibility are fully supported and accessibility compliant.
    -- Multi-channel options such as buy online, pick up in store, one-click add to cart and in-store inventory availability are now supported.

    To view a live example of the Home Depot SmartCircular 4.0 site, please go to: homedepot.shoplocal.com/homedepot/new_user_entry.aspx?CityStateZip=10022.

    About ShopLocal

    ShopLocal, the leader in multi-channel shopping services, offers a complete suite of solutions connecting advertisers and consumers online and in-store. The company's consumer Web site, ShopLocal.com, provides users with choice and control in their shopping experience by offering the most comprehensive selection of timely online and in-store offers on one easy-to-use site. With ShopLocal.com, consumers can find millions of products and up-to-date weekly sales, deals, and coupons for consumer electronics, apparel, groceries and more.

    ShopLocal's industry leading SmartCircular, SmartMedia and SmartCatalog solutions are used by more than one hundred of the nation's top retailers, including Target, Best Buy, Home Depot, CVS and Sears. ShopLocal powers multi-channel shopping for hundreds of newspaper Web sites and other leading local and shopping sites, such as Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Arizona Republic, Google and SuperPages.com. ShopLocal is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE:GCI), Tribune Company and The McClatchy Company (NYSE:MNI). For more information, visit http://www.aboutshoplocal.com/.

    ShopLocal, ShopLocal.com, SmartCircular, SmartCatalog, SmartMedia, SmartDelivery and ShopLocal Index are trademarks of ShopLocal. Other company and product names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

    CONTACT: Marcy Dockery of ShopLocal, +1-312-768-7523, mdockery@shoplocal.com

    General Information:
    Marcy Dockery
    Phone: 312-768-7523
    Send email E-mail this person
    via ThomasNet
  • Linkbait: by Seth Godin

    Linkbait: by Seth Godin

    Insiders know what it is, but it's a new term to many.

    Here's what you do:
    Put a picture on your website.
    Something novel but still recognizable.Or something really useful.Then, put lots of links to various websites within the image.Or, if you want, make it something remarkably honest or confessional or provocative.
    Or make it a top 10 or top 41 list.
    Then, tell the people you're linking to about it.
    They link back to you because it's funny or new or makes them seem smart or just feels sharable.
    It gets ranked up high on Digg and the other social networking sites.You get a TON of visits. Like 250,000 new people.
    Sure, only a few will actually click around and interact with you, but still, it's neat to have it happen and it might very well have ancillary benefits in your search results.
    But mostly, do it because you can.
    The web has been doing this forever, and it's likely we still will.
    It's a fine hobby, but I sure wouldn't want to build a business around it.

    Here's today's example.

    read more | digg story
  • Microsoft Makes $44.6 Billion Offer for Yahoo!

    Microsoft Makes $44.6 Billion Offer for Yahoo!

    Microsoft has made a huge bid for Yahoo!, which could give the company a significant lift in the web search and online advertising fields as it competes with Google.

    According to Reuters, software behemoth Microsoft has made a $44.6 billion offer to buy Yahoo! in an effort to combat competitor Google. Microsoft apparently offered $31 per share for Yahoo, representing a 62 percent premium over the company's closing stock price on Nasdaq Thursday. Yahoo! said it's currently evaluating the bid.

    If the deal goes through, it would be the biggest Internet merger since the Time Warner-AOL combination. Currently comScore estimates Google's share of the Internet search market is around 77 percent compared to just 16 percent for Yahoo! and 3.7 percent for Microsoft. Furthermore, Microsoft, which owns in-game advertising specialist Massive Inc., has said that online advertising is "increasingly dominated by one player," meaning Google – which bought in-game ad firm Adscape Media last February for $23 million.

    "We have great respect for Yahoo, and together we can offer an increasingly exciting set of solutions for consumers, publishers and advertisers while becoming better positioned to compete in the online services market," said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer.

    If the deal goes through, Yahoo! shareholders would be able to choose to get $31 cash, or 0.9509 of a share of Microsoft common stock. Also, the deal in aggregate must consist of one-half cash and one-half Microsoft common stock.

    Analysts aren't so sure about the deal. "To me, the premium seems exorbitant, for what is a dwindling business. I personally don't see how the synergies of Microsoft-Yahoo is going to take on Google," said Tim Smalls, head of U.S. stock trading at brokerage firm Execution LLC.

    Mark May, analyst at Needham & Co., commented that the price might not actually be high enough. "I would not be surprised to see this bid have to be raised over time," he said. "I think there are companies out there like Comcast (Corp) and Viacom (Inc) and others that still need to address the emergence of online media and haven't. So there are clearly other strategic companies out there."

    If Microsoft ever does launch a web browser for the Xbox 360, a Yahoo! purchase could certainly be leveraged to enhance the service. Even without a browser, there could be ways in which Yahoo! functionality could be integrated into the popular Xbox Live service.

    via GameDaily

  • "Blu-Ray versus HD: Well maybe Blu-Ray won, but it's a meaningless victory. ... Because guess what: People are going to download everything."

    "Blu-Ray versus HD: Well maybe Blu-Ray won, but it's a meaningless victory. ... Because guess what: People are going to download everything."

    Seagate CEO Bill Watkins Discusses Blu-Ray, January 25, 2008, Wired Magazine (http://blog.wired.com/business/2008/01/wired-video-sea.html) . .

    read more | digg story
  • Without wires, you’re free to go anywhere.

    Without wires, you’re free to go anywhere.

    “In redefining thin, MacBook Air has shed something you no longer need: the optical drive.”

    Another prime indicator of the changes coming in the next two years. I don’t think there is any doubt that there the majority of physical media (software, music etc) will disappear over the next couple of years and this creates a huge opportunity for companies like xxxxxx to establish themselves early on.

  • Amazon to Buy Audible for $300M

    Amazon to Buy Audible for $300M

    Online retailer Amazon.com on Thursday said it has agreed to acquire audio books seller Audible.com for approximately $300 million in cash and short-term investment.

    The move lends added distribution and format flexibility to Seattle-based Amazon which is best known as a book seller. It also comes on the heels on a series of moves Amazon has made with the major music labels to free its music download business of copy protection restrictions.

    "Amazon understands that we are moving into a world where both content and distribution are digitized," said Michael Goodman, an analyst with Yankee Group. "Although Amazon is an online vendor it still primarily sells hard-copy books, CDs, and DVDs by mail, so it has to adapt."

    Two months ago Amazon launched Kindle, an electronic book that allows users to download and read digital books and newspaper articles over cellular networks. And in September 2006, Amazon also launched Unbox, a movie download service.

    "Amazon is attempting to cover its bases in terms of content distribution in music, books, and movies," said Dave Card, an analyst with JupiterResearch. "Amazon understands that it is in both the retail and delivery businesses."

    Earlier this week Amazon said will begin selling its digital music without digital rights management (DRM) protection, a technology overlay that limits the number or nature of the devices on which downloaded songs can be copied.

    Amazon has gotten the major music labels to drop their insistence on DRM protection.

    Ironically Newark, New Jersey-based Audible sells audio books, audio magazines, and radio and TV programs with DRM protection. And like the major labels, the nine-year-old firm has come under fire for its use of DRM.

    The acquisition of Audible is subject to regulatory approvals, and is expected to close by the second quarter of 2008.

    via Red Herring


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