Grand Theft Auto III on the iPad feels unreal to this gamer

Grand Theft Auto III, the 10 Year Anniversary edition, officially hit the iOS App Store and Android Market late Wednesday. It will only run on relatively recent devices, but even so, it’s an experience that truly shows just how far mobile gaming has come.

Adaptive Meter: Playing the Energy Conservation Game

Saving energy may not sound as fun as, say, stealing cars, shooting zombies or becoming a Guitar Hero. But Adaptive Meter, a startup that presented at our Green:Net conference last week, thinks it can make energy conservation an engaging game.

Courtesy of Adaptive Meter

Courtesy of Adaptive Meter

The company, which makes web applications such as Stickychicken and Twitterlike, is developing an interactive gaming platform in which players bet on others’ energy usage. The stock-market style game, called Lost Joules, will use smart-meter data from consenting players, and other participants — including those without smart meters — will be able to stake virtual cash on whether those players can reduce their energy use or not. Players will be able to trade virtual money for real rewards (and buy more virtual cash with real money), say co-founders Richard Dorsey and Danny Hu.
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10 Potentially Game-Changing Games for 2009

beatlesWhat games stand the best chance of changing the broader industry in 2009, either by dramatically influencing what consumers play and purchase, or by demonstrating the commercial viability of new revenue models and genres? Below is a list of the 10 most likely candidates, culled from several experts in the field and myself. Keep an eye on these titles to see how well they perform — and whether they really do impact the future business of games. All are scheduled for 2009 release, but of course, dates are always subject to change. Read More about 10 Potentially Game-Changing Games for 2009

Wii Fit on Track to Outsell GTA IV This Year

The market for video games is changing profoundly, and a comparison of two prominent titles’ recent sales figures shows just how much: Wii Fit, a game largely marketed to women, is outpacing the latest installment of one of the industry’s biggest franchises, Grand Theft Auto.

Can Grand Theft Auto IV Defeat “Iron Man”?

Update, May 4: Can Grand Theft Auto IV defeat “Iron Man”? The weekend box office results are in, and as I predicted yesterday, the answer to that question is a resounding “No”. In its first weekend, “Iron Man” grossed $100 million, far more than industry expectations (and mine), which pegged it at $70-80 million. But the notion that GTA IV (or for that matter, any other hardcore game) would hurt a major Hollywood movie never made sense. Read why below.

Many are predicting that the latest release of the video game franchise is so popular that it will hurt this weekend’s launch of Paramount Pictures/Marvel Entertainment’s latest superhero movie. This theory is everywhere, not just on game sites like Gamepro and Next Gen, but even reputable mainstream sites like CNN. [digg=]

The argument is silliness on stilts. It is proof, however, that far too many gamers and industry executives are trapped in an echo chamber of self-regard. That’s a bad thing for the industry, so it’s worth addressing. In absolute numbers, the reality is that hardcore gamers who comprise GTA IV’s main audience are minuscule compared to the audience of a typical Hollywood blockbuster. Read More about Can Grand Theft Auto IV Defeat “Iron Man”?

Grand Theft Auto IV: A Review of the Reviews

I’ve been reading a fair number of print reviews for Grand Theft Auto IV over the past few days, because when a game has a Metacritic rating of 99 and the New York Times says that it “sets a new standard for what is possible in interactive arts,” I try to pay attention. But it’s been a while since I was really into video games, and the print reviews haven’t really sold me on this one. So I thought I’d see if video reviews could change my mind.

Most of the coverage has a fawning quality (which is understandable, given that tomorrow is like Gamer Christmas 2.0), offering few specifics. IGN’s rave review stitches together scenes from the gameplay with an unstructured, but friendly and engaging voice-over — the star of the video isn’t reviewer Hilary Goldstein, but the game itself. After a few minutes the game footage begins to blend together into a visual assault of violence, juxtaposing commentary on the new and improved game A.I. with footage of the protagonist mowing down passive bystanders with an Uzi. Still, Goldstein’s enthusiasm is infectious.

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How Casual Games Can Become Money Machines?

On the heels of ECD Systems CEO Jack Hart’s article exploring the methods of growing revenue for casual games, IGA Worldwide said it has signed an in-game advertising deal with casual games publisher Merscom. Chapel Hill, N.C.-based Merscom makes downloadable titles for the PC, as well as Nintendo DS games — the kinds of games that might experience pressure to grow ever more polished (much like the giant console games did) as competitors try to one-up each other with better graphics and better sound design, thus necessitating higher budgets and schemes like in-game advertising.

How casual games will deal with advertising content is still up in the air. In-game advertising has worked beautifully for some titles, but of course it’s all about context — seeing Best Buy (BBY) signs in the world of GTA III makes sense; seeing them in World of Warcraft, not so much.

There is a reluctance to repeat the mistakes of others. At Casual Connect conference in Amsterdam earlier this year, Microsoft (MSFT) Casual Games’ studio manager Chris Early cautioned against going crazy with in-game ads. “If we get to the point of getting like commercial television on cable channels where ads are so intrusive of the experience,” he said, “then people won’t play anymore.”
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