From bringing a television production schedule to the video game industry to turning preservation into a noble and profitable business, these are the world’s top 10 most innovative companies in gaming. Read more>
While games like Grand Theft Auto continue to break record high sales, Allison Huynh, CEO of MyDream, an ambitious 3-D multiplayer sandbox game (For PC, Mac, and Linux), hopes to create a first-person shooter game, as she openly refers to it, that doesn’t relying on actually shooting anyone.
Facebook is purchasing Oculus VR, maker of virtual reality gaming headset Oculus Rift, for $2 billion. Oculus has an enthusiastic developer community of engineers working to push the Rift—a piece of technology that isn’t even on the market yet—to its limits and to redefine what an entertainment experience can be. As Zuckerberg notes in his statement, “The Rift is highly anticipated by the gaming community, and there’s a lot of interest from developers in building for this platform.” Vibrant external developer communities can’t be purchased directly in cash or in stock options; they can only be bought by acquiring the technology ecosystems to which they are attracted. By acquiring Oculus, Facebook did just that. Developers working on Oculus through platforms like Unity are using it for everything from massively complicated adventure games to fully immersive journeys through Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment.
Code.org is putting the incredible popularity of Flappy Bird to good use. It just released a new initiative to help young people (or whoever, really) learn how to code by building their own customized version of the absurdly simple yet highly addicting game.
"I started making mobile games 14 years ago. A long time before it was a good idea to make mobile games." —Tommy Palm, Games Guru for King Digital, the company behind the massive mobile gaming hit Candy Crush Saga.
Earlier this week, King filed for an IPO. But just as Zynga rode the massive success of a single game—FarmVille, if you’ll recall—all the way to Nasdaq, so now King must contend with the frightening possibility of being a one-hit wonder. Can the king of candy keep its throne?
Gamers and developers are scrambling to fill the void left by Flappy Bird…
In early January, a Reddit user posted an emotional story about waking up on a beach and befriending a fellow lost soldier. But the soldier’s health began to deteriorate. And the author was eventually forced to kill his friend with the other man’s own gun to end his suffering. “His voice gone, I sat there staring at my monitor and began to cry,” the Redditor wrote. “I’ll never see that friend again and I miss him very much.”
"God damn," wrote a commenter. "Alright I’m getting this game."
The writer was playing DayZ, a zombie apocalypse multiplayer PC game that sold its 1-millionth download last week, less than a month after its Dec. 16 release. That release is only the game’s early-access alpha version, which developer Dean Hall will be enhancing and improving for most of the next year before launching it in beta. But even at this stage, the reason for DayZ’s enormous success is becoming clear—the game play leads to a degree of psychological tension and emotional response that players report never before experiencing in a computer game.
Before there was a FarmVille or Words With Friends, gaming socially meant two people in a basement playing on a split screen—perhaps on two TVs, side by side, depending how old-school they were. Since then, video games have come a long way to connect players emotionally and socially with each other. The Internet, for example, opened up the doors to massive multiplayer games that can span thousands of people. For its next-generation console, PlayStation has put social front and center in an effort to “celebritize the gamer.”
Take for example, its DualShock controllers. A hallmark of PlayStation gaming, the vibrating feedback gives gamers a more visceral experience. In its evolution, among the changes the new DualShock 4 sports is a share button next to the directional pad.
The emphasis on social is also very evident with the console’s embedded services, including Facebook, Ustream, and most notably Twitch, a gaming-focused live-streaming service. Twitch, an offshoot of Justin.tv, is expected to penetrate more than half of American households with integration in the new PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles launching next month, said Matthew DiPietro, Twitch’s vice president of marketing and communications.
"The demand and desire on the part of the gamer is clearly there. What we wanted to do was remove all of those technological barriers," he said. Traditionally, broadcasting live game play has been what Koller considers a "janky" experience that involved a capture card, third-party software, a PC hooked up to the game console, and a lot of know-how. By removing all that friction and building live streaming into the PlayStation 4 on a system architecture level, it’s banking on Twitch—and to a lesser degree Ustream, which has a broader focus—to engage gamers, help them discover new experiences and titles, explore commerce opportunities with downloadable content packs—and most importantly, celebrate the gamer, Koller notes.
Would you shock your brain to improve your gaming high score? If so, Foc.us might be for you. The headset is supposed to help gamers “overclock” their brains by passing an electrical current through the prefrontal cortex. “Excite your prefrontal cortex and get the edge in online gaming,” says the Foc.us website.
Engadget’s Nicole Lee said she experienced a burning and tingling sensation with Foc.us:
“We strapped the headset on for ourselves at a recent event, and we found it to be a weird experience. There was a strange, almost burning, sensation on the right part of our forehead, while the rest merely tingled. Oxley told us that it was normal for some people to feel it more on one side than the other, and that tDCS does take some getting used to. After about eight minutes, the tingling sensation remained even after we removed the headset. We didn’t really feel our powers of concentration improve that much afterward, but it’s hard to say after such a limited time.”
The news that former Xbox chief Don Mattrick was leaving Microsoft to help revive the social gaming company Zynga has people wondering if Steven Spielberg will stick with Microsoft’s planned TV series based on the video game Halo.
The Halo series will, of course, proceed without Mattrick, but given that Mattrick’s close relationship with Spielberg was key in signing the deal, one has to wonder whether new snags might arise now that he’s gone.
[Image courtesy of 343 Industries]
Who is Don Mattrick, the guy who’s leaving Microsoft to join Zynga as CEO? Here, a few things you might want to know about him:
- He is currently president of the company’s Interactive Entertainment unit
- He was formerly at EA, where he was the force behind The Sims
- He discovered a motion-control technology that had been kicking around the company but going nowhere. When Kinect launched in the fall of 2010, it became the fastest-selling consumer-electronics gadget of all time
- He was the force behind the new Xbox One
- He wears rainbow-stripe Paul Smith socks and once hired Cirque du Soleil to kick off a Microsoft event
- His house is 25,000 square feet and is the largest in British Columbia
- He has a 10-car garage
- He’s worth $27 million
The annual Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, begins today in Los Angeles.
E3 is the gaming industry’s biggest event of the year, when game developers, hardware makers, and enthusiasts alike converge on LA for the weeklong conference.
Today’s opening briefings include presentations from Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Sony.
Fast Company has everything you need to stay on top of E3’s happenings.
A nationally representative scientific sample of over 19,000 married and divorced people found that almost 35% of couples who married between 2005 and 2012 originally met each other online. The couples who met online were less likely to divorce, even after controlling for age, education, income, and race. Meeting over the web was also independently correlated with higher levels of marital satisfaction.
Interestingly, it matters where a couple first meets: in the wholesome, well-lit hotel ballrooms of Match.com and eHarmony? The banal, crowded corridors of Facebook?
This study says a lot about the different kinds of “neighborhoods” that people frequent online. Read more
[Image: Flickr user Patrik Jones]
The maker of Angry Birds is #1 for making apps the new source for big entertainment franchises.
2. Tencent Games
For leveraging its online distribution network and moving into content.
For elevating physical and digital play with its Skylanders series. Spyro’s Adventure and its sequel, Giants, feature dozens of chip-embedded action figures that interact with whatever happens on the screen, whether it’s a TV, computer, or handheld.
For revolutionizing home entertainment. Microsoft has assembled a digital living room. The system connects Windows, Xbox, and Kinect via SmartGlass, a free app that debuted last fall, which turns a portable device into a remote control and second screen.
For making the controller just as crucial to the gaming experience as the console and the Wii U.
For electrifying gamers with a hackable console that features both a compelling design and an affordable device.
7. Telltale Games
For creating affordable appointment gaming. With The Walking Dead, Telltale has given gamers a way to play that’s amenable to busy schedules and with minimal upfront buy-in.
For pushing gaming into the hands of everyone. In 2012, it released its Source Filmmaker moviemaking tool to gamers for free, enabling just about anybody to produce Pixar-quality animation.
9. Imangi Studios
For pivoting into a freemium phenomenon. When sales started to slump (it was originally a 99-cent download), they made the game free to play and reaped about five times as much revenue.
For turning hardcore gamers into a gold mine. Kabam puts out games that are long, complex, and appeal to players who are willing to devote lots of time to them…
[Image: Flickr user WastedButReady]