Wii U’s Online Will Be Free; Nintendo Wants Positive Word Of Mouth

The best way for positive press to spread is from the people using your product. This is going to be Nintendo’s prime approach for the Wii U’s online service called the Nintendo Network. In a conference meeting, Nintendo president Saito Iwata let loose a few juicy details regarding the Wii U and the upcoming services.

Andria Sang lists a few of the tidbits that came out of a conference meeting in Japan regarding key elements of the Wii U’s functionality. The most interesting thing was regarding the Nintendo Network and premium services, with commentary of Iwata’s statement saying…

“…he doesn’t necessarily reject the idea of a paid service that allows not just Wii U but various other devices to connect to Nintendo Network. However, when considering Nintendo’s users, a paid membership service is not the best approach. By having everyone use the Miiverse together, word of mouth will more easily spread. This will lead to greater hardware and software sales.”

I think this is a very fair assessment of the possible growth for the Nintendo Network. For a new service the last thing you want is to kick it off with a premium price tag and it may not be much of a hit (latency issues, poor connectivity, lack of support, etc., etc.,). There are a number of ways for a service to fail and a few windows of opportunity for a new network to succeed. Sony did it right with the PSN as they are still gaining a strong following (mostly because of the hacking that occurred last year) but Microsoft was able to get away with making Xbox Live a paid service from the get-go because it was basically the next step in the evolution of the Microsoft Gaming Zone, which was sort of the starting platform for what’s arguably the largest console gaming network available.

Nintendo laid out quite a few details for their new Network, which will launch alongside the Wii U this fall, in a detailed segment during their E3 2012 press conference. You can find out more about the Nintendo Network in our write-up right here.

Those of you still curious about pricing and exact dates for the Wii U’s release will still have to wait a bit longer, but you can read about the other details of the conference meeting over at Andria Sang.

MechWarriors Online Dev Diary Does Heavy Mech Combat Right

Adhesive Games recently released a video gameplay walkthrough for Hawken. If you’re into fast-paced FPS games then Hawken is right up your alley. However, if you like tactical paced, team-based, heavy-mech games then you’ll want to check out Piranha Games’ MechWarrior Online.

The free-to-play title is part of Infinite Game Publishing’s line-up of new free-to-play MMOs that give gamers high-quality gaming experiences without all the high-end entry costs.

The other highlight for MechWarrior Online is that the game has some really sexy visual effects, but I guess gamers wouldn’t expect anything less from the CryEngine 3. Check it out below.

I really like the pace of the game…or rather, the pace of the gameplay that was on display in the video footage. There’s really no telling exactly how the game will play out in the final form, but from what has been on display so far it looks very tactical.

With class roles playing a big part in how victory is attained, it will be fascinating to see how guilds evolve and grow based on this aspect of the gameplay.

Given all the other technical facets of the game it also makes me curious if you can still disable specific parts of a mech in combat. That was always a fascinating aspect to the older MechWarrior games.

You can learn more about MechWarrior Online by paying a visit to the game’s Official Website.

Online Gaming Is Lucrative For Organized Gold Farming Rings

So-called “gold farmers” play massive multiplayer online games, not for fun, but to accumulate virtual currency, or “gold,” which can then be sold to other players, despite the fact that most game operators explicitly ban the exchange of in-game currency for cash. Gold farming is so lucrative, people in China and other developing nations can support themselves by working full-time operating gold farming rings.

During an interview with TechRadar’s Dan Griliopoulous, Will Leverett, Senior Manager of Customer Service at South Korea-based online video game company NCsoft, explains,“We’re convinced that groups on the seedier side of the Internet run in parallel to each other, with many offenders in China and Russia. The simplest thing players could exchange for real-world cash was in-game currency, which would then hugely unbalance the in-game economy and auction systems; essentially, those people buying currency were using their real-world wealth to employ a tribe of servants to do their work for them, as opposed to their compatriots who were attempting the same thing by the sweat of their brow.”

Massively multiplayer games that are free-to-play typically feature in-game currency, which can be converted to real cash. This currency drives organized criminals to set up banks of gamers on various IP addresses, manipulating the game in order to accumulate as much currency as possible.

Many leading gaming publishers and MMOs are finding it increasingly necessary to deploy a layered defense to prevent gold farming, chargebacks, virtual asset theft, and, increasingly, account takeovers within gaming environments. By leveraging the power of device identification and device reputation technology, which examines the computers, smart phones, and tablets being used to connect to an online game, the publisher can easily detect patterns of players working together and shut down an entire ring of cheaters at once. In one case, a major gaming publisher implemented Oregon-based iovation’s fraud protection service and was able to take action against 1,000 fraudulent accounts almost immediately.

Robert Siciliano, personal security and identity theft expert contributor to iovation, discusses identity theft for the National Speakers Association. (Disclosures.)

Let Others Know About This Post
These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.

  • blogmarks
  • del.icio.us
  • Digg
  • Fark
  • Ma.gnolia
  • NewsVine
  • Reddit
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook
  • Google
  • Live
  • YahooMyWeb

Zynga mines arcade games with Ruby Blast

Quirky and simple ... emRuby Blast/em.

Quirky and simple … Ruby Blast.

Zynga is set to mine the popularity of another arcade style social game with the release of Ruby Blast for play at Facebook or at the company’s online arena.

The new title builds on the success of Bubble Safari, which rocketed to popularity on Facebook after its launch in May.

Bubble Safari and Zynga virtual poker game Texas HoldEm were the most played games at Facebook on a daily basis, according to figures from industry tracker AppData.

Ruby Blast was the first collaboration between Zynga’s studios in Seattle and Beijing.

“Being here in Seattle adds to the creative vision of the game and our team comes from the core video game industry,” said Zynga Seattle design director Jonathan Grant.

“On the Beijing side they have been awesome at the execution of development and a lot of the nitty-gritty.”

Backgrounds of those on the game’s team ranged from having worked on blockbuster video games such as Halo to making casual games for mums or directing an animated film set for release later this year.

“We came up with a really great combination of ideas for an overall unique experience that has really compelling game play,” Grant said.

“Ruby is a pretty unique character with some quirks unlike any other character in social games.”

The game character is Ruby Stone, described as an “awesome international intrepid archaeologist” who travels the world digging up treasures and surmounting obstacles.

Play is tried-and-true “match-three” style where beating levels and scoring points depends on quickly clicking on clusters of three or more virtual gems of the same colour.

“We wanted the game to be simple and approachable; something my mum could play,” Grant said. “It is all about scoring points. The wrinkle is that you have 40 seconds to play.”

Drilling down shrewdly can unearth extra time or other “power-ups” such as extra seconds of play or blazing meteors or cherry bombs that blast away stones.

Social features in the game include a leader board that ranks friends according to high scores, with prizes awarded weekly to those in the top three positions.

Zynga planned to enable friends to compete against one another in real time.

Ruby Blast is the first Zynga game optimised to take advantage of graphics capabilities of Adobe Flash 11 Player to add rich animation scenes to play.

“It will feel new to players with some innovation, cool social features and a look and feel unlike anything out there on Facebook now,” Grant said.

The game was rolled out in 15 languages and could be found online at apps.facebook.com/rubyblast or at zynga.com.


Why video games are becoming too easy

Feeling invincible? ... Super Mario 3D Land.

Feeling invincible? … Super Mario 3D Land. Photo: alphagadgets@gmail.com

Recently, I was playing Nintendo’s newest Mario offering, “Super Mario 3D Land”, on the 3DS handheld system.

It was incredible, with beautifully designed levels and addictive gameplay. It’s maybe the best handheld game I’ve ever played.

At one point, I died several times on a tough stage.

Original gamester ... The Legend of Zelda.

Original gamester … The Legend of Zelda.

Then came a surprise.

When I returned to life, a pop-up box offered me an item that granted permanent invincibility. Essentially, the game was letting me stroll unimpeded through the rest of the level.

Come again?

I mean, this is Nintendo, the company that once brought us some of the most difficult games in the world – brutally tough fare like “Mega Man”, “Battletoads” and “Castlevania”. In those days, enemies were plentiful and your character had the resiliency of a newborn kitten.

And forget invincibility: Most old-school games couldn’t even save your progress. They had to be completed in one sitting (or not at all). Gamers still invoke the phrase “Nintendo Hard” as a nod to those hard-core roots.

What was going on? Had video games succumbed to the modern “everyone gets a trophy” mentality?

Nintendo declined my request for an interview. But Patrick Curry, CEO of Austin game developer Fun Machine, agreed with me.

“Games have definitely gotten a lot easier and just more forgiving,” he said.

Why is that?

“My thinking is that it’s not that people are more casual [players], it’s just that we have so many more gaming options and entertainment options,” he said. “For example, when I got a Nintendo game or a Game Boy game as a kid, it was this cherished thing that was my new game. And it was expensive, and my parents were like, ‘You’re going to play this thing.’ I had no other options. And I was happy to beat my head against the wall, because that was my one new game.”

Nowadays, of course, there are lots of free games online or available on smartphones.

“And so if a game starts getting really hard, then there’s something else I can go play that’s going to be just as rewarding, without all the head-banging on the wall,” Curry said.

Curry said he takes that short attention span into account when designing his own games.

There is software in Curry’s games that lets his team know if beta testers are getting frustrated (and more likely to quit) while playing. If that happens, they will make adjustments, such as reordering levels to ramp up the difficulty more slowly. Other games will alter the difficulty level based on a player’s skill level.

Cane-shaking aside, I’ve definitely noticed a gradual shift toward easier games, especially over the past decade.

A turning point was the 2006 debut of the Nintendo Wii, the first major console system with motion controls, said David Kaelin, who owns the a chain of used-game stores.

The Wii “is the console that turned the tide away from the 18- to 21-year-old male gamers and what really opened it up to people who are younger, kids, and people who are older – parents, grandparents – just people with jobs over the age of 21,” he said. “In order to make something accessible for more people, you essentially have to kind of water it down.”

Back in the day (meaning the 1970s and ’80s), games had simpler controls, with only one or two buttons to keep track of, Kaelin said.

“You just run and jump,” he said. “Sounds easy, but they’re actually really hard, and they require a lot of repetition because it takes a lot of attempts to get through a lot of those levels and the bosses on the older games.”

Anyone who has played “Donkey Kong” knows this. But newer games are the opposite, Kaelin said.

“They’re harder to figure out. There’s a much higher learning curve on just learning how to hold and use the controller and all the buttons, you have about 10 different buttons to figure out … and so just getting the hang of it takes quite awhile.”

The Texas gaming godfather Warren Spector, who runs Junction Point studio, agreed games have gotten easier. In the ’80s and ’90s, developers could count on a dedicated audience of early adopters, he said.

“The difficulty associated with playing a game, defeating a game, set them … apart from non-gamers,” he wrote in an email. “They – we – were much more forgiving then. We didn’t mind taking notes, drawing maps by hand, dealing with interfaces that proudly used every key on an Apple or PC keyboard. We certainly didn’t mind having to solve problems and puzzles without a lot in the way of clues!”

That doesn’t fly anymore, Spector said. That’s because players have been exposed to more sophisticated games, which have attracted a more mainstream and less forgiving audience. But that isn’t a bad thing, he said.

“I think it’s only natural that games would get easier as time went on,” he said. “I mean, developers are better at this now than we were back in the day – we were totally making it up as we went along – and certain kinds of games just started selling better while others (harder, less elegant ones, mostly) started selling worse.”

Lots of other technology gets easier over time – think of photography, he said.

Spector said he recently tried replaying the original “The Legend of Zelda”, a 1986 Nintendo classic that’s basically the Citizen Kane of video games.

His reaction?

“All I kept thinking … was, ‘Man, how did I ever get through this when it first came out ?”‘ he said.

Cox Newspapers

Brooke wins Games blogspot

THE Olympics. David Beckham. Jamie Oliver. It doesn't get much better than that for Peregian Springs resident Brooke Lowther.

Brooke Lowther, from Peregian Springs, will be a Samsung Global Blogger at the Olympics.

THE Olympics. David Beckham. Jamie Oliver.

It doesn’t get much better than that for Peregian Springs resident Brooke Lowther.

The 30-year-old marketing director is jetting off to London next month for the opportunity of a lifetime.

She was one of only a handful selected from thousands of entrants from 14 countries to be a Samsung Global Blogger at the 2012 Games.

Ms Lowther will be behind the scenes interviewing Australia’s Olympians, as well as rubbing shoulders with Samsung ambassadors, including soccer superstar Beckham and kitchen king Oliver.

“They’re probably the ones I’m looking forward to talking with the most,” she said.

“I haven’t even thought about what to ask them, but I want to do something a bit ridiculous and crazy to draw something out of them.”

She has already received her first assignment from Samsung – an interview with Olympic-bound basketball player Lauren Jackson in Sydney on Friday.

Ms Lowther will share the Games with the world via daily video, photos and blogs.

“I’m just looking forward to getting in amongst the action behind the scenes,” she said. “Having that access-to-all-areas pass is such an amazing thing.

“I’ve never been to the Olympics or London for that matter. It’s a dream come true.”

The competition seemed tailor-made for Ms Lowther.

As part of her work with social media and marketing business Stiletto Marketing, she’s blogged for dozens of other businesses.

She has also had experience in broadcast journalism, having worked for Seven and Nine, and has dabbled in radio.

“Samsung certainly put us through our paces. We had two challenge videos and a written entry,” she said.

Ms Lowther’s second video, on the BANFF Mountain Film Festival World Tour, earned more than 30,000 votes from the public online.

The competition was judged by six-time world swimming champion and television presenter Mark Foster, Olympic Winter Games winner Amy Williams, online travel writer Paul Steele and Globe Trekker presenter Zoe Palmer.



  • Ambassador at Artisan Cosmetic and Rejuvenation Clinic
  • Owner and director at Stiletto Marketing
  • TVC presenter at Southern Cross Ten
  • Producer, presenter at The Virgin Traveller
  • TVC presenter at Channel 7 Sunshine Coast
  • Web presenter at iPresenters
  • Ambassador at Lorna Jane
  • Advertorial TV presenter at Channel Nine Sydney
  • Corporate DVD presenter at 3 Degrees Creative
  • Presenter at Instinct India
  • TV show host at TVNZ
  • TV show host at Southern Cross Ten
  • Television presenter at Fashion TV
  • Owner at Brooke Lowther Industries
  • TV presenter at TVNZ
  • Reporter at Foxtel

Rise from the Ashes in Aeria Games? Shayia Phoenix

Classic MMORPG Blazes Back into the Spotlight with a Host of New Features

Santa Clara, CA – June 14, 2012 – Take flight anew with the spectacular
Shaiya Phoenix from Aeria Games, a leading global publisher of free-to-play
online games. Shaiya Phoenix is the newest addition to the Aeria Games catalog,
offering the core features and amazing gameplay that made Shaiya a rousing
success in 2008, but reimagined with rebalanced game systems and a fresh economy

“Our effort to revitalize a truly beloved IP is one that we’re confident our
fans will appreciate,” said Executive Producer Spencer Tucker. “In Shaiya
Phoenix, players will engage with a plethora of familiar characters and
environments that are seamlessly integrated with a host of new elements. This
new epic experience truly carries the legacy set by the original game.”

The fresh, unconquered territories in Shaiya Phoenix give players the ability to
start from the ground up and play at their own pace. Both old and new players
alike will be able to make their mark on even footing in a new Shaiya world
brimming with endless possibilities.

Key features of the exciting new world in Shaiya Phoenix:

  • Relive the Glory Days: Experience the world of Shaiya from the beginning
    alongside your peers
  • Newly Rebalanced: Exciting gameplay and thrilling PvP on equal terms
  • Fresh Economy: No gold inflation or market imbalance
  • Playat Your Own Pace:Battle casually, or grind for real power

As an added bonus, the first 25,000 players to enter the game will receive a
special exclusive welcome package that includes a free mount and powerful items
to assist players early on.

Like all titles published by Aeria Games, Shaiya Phoenix is free to download and
play. For more information on Shaiya Phoenix, please visit


About Aeria Games
With a rapidly growing community of over 40 million core players and a deep
portfolio of development partners, Aeria Games is a leading destination for
free-to-play online multiplayer games. Founded in 2006 and with offices in the
US, Germany, and Brazil, Aeria Games publishes and develops high quality online
games in nine languages – English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish,
Italian, Turkish and Russian – covering more than 30 countries. The company’s
proprietary technology offers strong benefits to both players and developers.
Players gain access to a universal gaming destination providing deep, immersive
online games accessible from PC, browser, tablet, and smart phones. Developers
get a blazingly fast point of entry to the global gaming market via Aeria Games’
specialized platform that enables quick and easy game integration. The company’s
diverse portfolio includes highly engaging fantasy MMORPGs, action shooters,
anime-style social games, and multiplayer mobile titles. For more information,
visit http://www.aeriagames.com.

Funcom Joins Hands With LEGO To Make Minifigures MMO

Funcom signs license agreement with the LEGO Group to develop MMO game based on the hugely popular LEGO® Minifigures line of collectible play materials

Durham, USA – June 28th, 2012 –  Funcom, a world leading independent developer and publisher of online games, is excited to announce that the company has signed a license agreement with the LEGO Group, one of the world’s most successful manufacturers of play materials, to develop a massively multiplayer online game based on the hugely popular LEGO® Minifigures franchise.

LEGO® Minifigures are the inhabitants of an unimaginable number of spectacular creations put together by both kids and grown-ups over the past several decades. Whether it is a knight in shining armor, a brave firefighter or just an oddball in a gorilla suit, these figures breath life into elaborately constructed cities, castles and even space stations around the world. The LEGO Group estimates that 340 million minifigures will be produced in 2012 (including minifigures not part of the LEGO® Minifigures collectibles).

The massively multiplayer online game that Funcom will develop based on the LEGO® Minifigures franchise will focus on maximum accessibility. Funcom and the LEGO Group will work together to make the game available to consumers in their online channels and will be coordinating activities to provide a broad and enhanced experience for the product line. The game will be a prominent part of the LEGO® Minifigures online experience which already has millions of unique visitors per month.

“The market for family-friendly online experiences intended for children and youngsters is brimming with potential,” says Funcom CEO Trond Arne Aas. “Being able to work with a world-renowned brand such as the LEGO® brand to develop an MMO for this audience is incredibly exciting to us as game developers and for Funcom as a company. This is source material we all know and love and we simply cannot wait to get started working with the LEGO Group on realizing this exciting project.”

For more information about Funcom please visit http://www.funcom.com. More information about LEGO® Minifigures can be found on the official website.