Category:  Industry

By Andrew Martins, April 16, 2014 1 Industry, News

[UPDATE: Bungie has published a terse statement on its company blog. The statement can be found below.]

If a recent tweet is to be believed, then Bungie’s audio director and in-house composer Martin O’Donnell no longer holds that position after working approximately 15 years with the company.

Known for creating the music for the Halo series with fellow composer Michael Salvatore, O’Donnell was hired by Bungie just days before Microsoft bought the development studio in 1999. Since then, his music has been intrinsically linked to the iconic first-person shooter series, as well as other titles like Oni.

O’Donnell was originally tapped to compose the score behind Bungie’s upcoming release, Destiny. At this time, there’s no word as to how his termination will affect the game moving forward.

In response to O’Donnell’s termination from the company, Bungie released the following statement:

“For more than a decade, Marty O’Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans. Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future.
We wish him luck in all his future endeavors.”
By Patrick Kulikowski, April 15, 2014 0 Industry, News

Having worked on major game soundtracks like Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and God Eater 2, Video Game Orchestra has made a name for itself in the industry in recent years.

Less than an hour ago, the group’s Berklee-trained frontman Shota Nakama announced the creation of SoundtRec Boston, a production company that he reportedly hopes will advance creativity in film, games and other mediums moving forward.

According to Nakama, who made the announcement less than an hour ago, the new company will work to provide musical accompaniment for future projects on a contractual basis. He also cited a need to bridge the perceived gap between Eastern and Western composers.

“We can coordinate any instrumentation from a soloist, string quartet to full orchestra, choir, rhythm section or even big band in any style of music with the most highly acclaimed musicians,” Nakama wrote on VGO’s Facebook page. “Upon your request, we can also provide supervisors, composers, arrangers, orchestrators, engineers and lyricists to help accomplish your projects.”

Nakama went on to say that he hopes to facilitate collaborations between as many musical talents as possible and to heighten the presence of recording opportunities in Boston.

Ultimately, SoundtRec Boston would provide a more accessible way for would-be filmmakers and game creators to combine their talents with composers, according to Nakama.

Combining the sensibilities of both Eastern and Western game composers has worked out exceptionally well in the past. Brave Wave, a Tokyo-based production company, has already released several albums featuring the likes of Manami Matsumae (Mega ManMighty No. 9), Keiji Yamagishi (Ninja Gaiden), Grant Henry (Metroid MetalLONELYROLLINGSTARS) and Eirik Surhke (Spelunky).

At the moment, SoundtRec Boston is accepting contact information for prospective clients.

By Andrew Martins, March 10, 2014 0 Industry, News

If you’re excited for Telltale Games and Gearbox Software’s co-developed game Tales from the Borderlands and weren’t not one of the lucky few to get out to South by Southwest in Austin, Tex. this year, fear not. Though you may have missed witnessing the panel regarding the game, you can watch it through the wonder that is the internet.

Consisting of Telltale Games’ Harrison Pink (lead designer for Tales from the Borderlands) and Kevin Bruner (president/CEO of Telltale), as well as Gearbox’s Mathew Armstrong (Borderlands creator/director) and Anthony Burch (lead writer for Borderlands 2), the panel is the first time further details on the episodic game have been revealed.

Slated for release later this year, Tales of the Borderlands is reportedly considered canon, according to Pink. Other major details discussed during the panel include how the two studios joined forces and some of the game’s major story beats.

If you’ve got roughly 50 minutes to spare, you can check out the video after the break.

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By Allain Richard, March 8, 2014 0 Industry, News

Disney’s game development sector let go 700 of their employees, totaling 26 percent of Disney’s global staff. That’s a lot of sad faces.

These cuts comes from various internal changes. Disney’s mobile and social game sectors are coming together, combining the stronger and weaker sectors together. Disney also made the choice of outsourcing more videogame development to other companies.

Disney Interactive President James A. Pitaro explained in an interview that while they’re cutting down their videogame output by as much as 50 percent, these changes will bring in positive results for the company.

“These are large-scale changes as we focus not just on getting to profitability but sustained profitability and scalability. We’re not exiting any businesses, and we will pursue licensing partnerships in which we retain a lot of creative input.”

Disney Interactive only makes up a smaller fraction of Disney’s whole operation, bringing in $55 million of the conglomerate’s 1.84 billion profit during the last quarter. They have however constantly been hemorrhaging money, losing more than $1.3 billion for the company since 2008. Disney’s acquisition of the social game company Playdom in 2010 has especially shown to have been a $563 million dollar bust as they were unable to compete against the then rapidly growing popularity of FarmVille.

For generations, Disney has been a part of many childhoods. Keeping up with the times and the technology is crucial for them to keep their crown. Disney Infinity has especially shown to be profitable for the company with its blend of videogame and toys, selling more than three million copies since last August.

While it’s unfortunate we’ll never see another Split/Second, it looks like they could strive in the videogame and toy hybrid that Activision began with Skylanders.

Source: The New York Times

By Allain Richard, March 2, 2014 0 Industry, News

Free-to-play titles may be convenient and can offer some fun experiences when you don’t have cash to spend, but it seems like the complaints from thousands of players unknowingly purchasing in-game items have reached the European Commission.

Members of the Commission and the Consumer Protection Cooperation have taken actions to stop misleading advertising and are conducting meetings with tech companies and national enforcement authorities in the hopes of putting a stop to financial harm to consumers.

Consumer Policy Commissioner Neven Mimica explained in a statement why this move is necessary.

“Consumers and in particular children need better protection against unexpected costs from in-app purchases. National enforcement authorities and the European Commission are discussing with industry how to address this issue which not only causes financial harm to consumers but can also put at stake the credibility of this very promising market. Coming up with concrete solutions as soon as possible will be a win-win for all.”

“The use of the word ‘free’ (or similar unequivocal terms) as such, and without any appropriate qualifications, should only be allowed for games which are indeed free in their entirety, or in other words which contain no possibility of making in-app purchases, not even on an optional basis”

Advertising to children is a touchy subject and can lead companies into trouble if handled wrong. The CPC and EC are looking to developers to cut out key selling words such “Buy Now” in games and apps that appeal to children.

Overall, the EC’s goal is to get a level playing field between authorities and game companies on consumer rights. This move will hopefully bolster Europe’s game development sector with less frequent legal actions and better consumer understanding.

Here’s to hoping this move comes to North America as well.

Source: GamesIndustry

By Allain Richard, February 22, 2014 0 Industry, News

The long running skateboarding series is back for more. That’s right, we’ll be seeing more of digital Tony Hawk and gang ollieing into digital half-pipes.

Tony announced it himself while talking on his Demolition Radio show on SiriusXM. Details weren’t specified outside of his confirmation that a new game was being developed. His co-host also mentioned that they had to wear a whole suit, likely in reference to the motion capture for the unannounced title’s in-game animations.

Activision later confirmed that they are involved with the development of a new Tony Hawk project. More information about the project will be announced soon.

Source: IGN via NeoGAF

By Karen Rivera, February 18, 2014 0 Industry, News

Ken Levine, the head of Irrational Games studio behind the blockbuster BioShock franchise, has announced that the studio will be shutting down.

In a message posted today on the studio’s website, Levine said that the studio will be “winding down” so that Levine could work with a “smaller team with a flatter structure and a more direct relationship with gamers.” He is slimming down his team to about 15 people to focus on digitally delivered, narrative structured games.

While the announcement was abrupt, Levine does mention that Irrational Games will be helping out as best as possible to soften the blow and help find jobs for their approximately 100 developers. Industry folks are already circulating a Google document online with a list of studios that are hiring.

No comments have been made yet about the future of the BioShock franchise, but the studio will dissolve after the last DLC for BioShock Infinite: Burial At Sea comes out next month.

We’ll be updating this story as more details come out.

By Andrew Martins, February 9, 2014 0 Android, Industry, iOS, News

Say what you will about Flappy Bird creator Dong Nyguen, but he is a man of his word. Nearly a day after he announced via Twitter that he was pulling his incredibly addicting game from Google Play and the App Store, the controversial title is no more.

Even though the game is (arguably) his creation and he can do with it what he wants, that didn’t stop the internet from showing just how ugly it really can be. Without fail, people took to Twitter to threaten the Vietnamese indie game developer with his life.

The threats came after Nguyen said that he “could not keep [the game] anymore,” saying that legal issues weren’t the reason behind his decision. Many called the game into question, as assets within it, like the green Super Mario-esque pipes, resembled other games wholesale.

The decision to remove the game came days after word spread that Flappy Bird was making Nyguen around $50,000 a day in ad revenue. Prior to its demise, the game was downloaded over 50 million times since its release last May.

By Andrew Martins, February 1, 2014 0 Industry, News

The first issue in a new line of comic books starring Lara Croft simply titled Tomb Raider #1 will be hitting store shelves next month, bringing a new story line featuring the latest iteration of the famous British archaeologist.

As you’ll see in the preview after the break, the series takes place after the events of the 2013 sleeper hit Tomb Raider and it seems the events that transpired on Yamatai haven’t quite let Ms. Croft just yet.

Though Square Enix’s reimagining of Lara Croft and Tomb Raider is just about to turn a year old, this isn’t the first time she’s graced the pages of Dark Horse’s comic books.

To commemorate the release of Tomb Raider last March, Crystal Dynamics and Dark Horse released the first issue of a six-part series titled Tomb Raider: The Beginning. The story of the series closely followed aspects of last year’s Tomb Raider, with Lara and the crew of the Endurance marooned on the island of Yamatai.

Tomb Raider #1 will be available at retailers on Feb. 26.

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By Allain Richard, January 26, 2014 0 Industry, Multiplatform, News

At one point, MMOs had zero emphasis in voice acting, but adding voices to characters has evolved over the years. Voice actors have now become as integral to videogames as story lines are to the biggest AAA games out there.

And of course, Bethesda has spared no expenses this time around, announcing a cast of big named actors for The Elder Scrolls Online.

John Cleese of Monty Python fame joins the crew as Sir Cadwell, a character that plays on the comedian’s funny bone. Bill Nighy and Kate Beckinsale are playing the roles of nobility, while Alfred Molina, Michael Gambon, Peter Stormare, Jim Ward, Jennifer Hale and Kevin Michael Richardson play other various big roles in the upcoming title.

On the side of the Daedra, we have Lynda Carter playing as the not-so-evil Azura and Malcolm McDowell doing what he does best, voicing the the antagonistic Molag Bal. For those who played Fallout 3, you may remember McDowell as the voice of President Eden.

It’s great to see so much talent giving their voice for a big title such as The Elder Scrolls Online, but there is such a thing as overkill.

Check out the voice cast reveal video.  (more…)