Cool! Today I received a code for the Battlefield Play4Free Beta. Last year I had a blast with Battlefield Bad Company 2, and really looking forward to Battlefield 3 later this year. In the meantime I will checkout the Free2Play version. Currently installing, and have hopes that its better than Battlefield Heroes.
Now 2010 have come to an end, and its time to summarize 2010 when it comes to Games, movies and music. I am quite happy with 2010 in some areas, less in some.
- Castlevania: Lords of Shadow
- God of War 3
- Mass Effect 2
- Starcraft 2 Wings of Liberty
Comment: Like last year the favourite was a game that came and took me by surprise. God of War 3 was excellent, but Castlevania Lords of Shadows just came and took my breath away. Therefore Castlevania, like Batman last year, is the game of the year for me. Mass Effect 2 was way better than the first one, and I really enjoyed it. StarCraft 2 was better than expected for me, had a blast with the biggest PC title of the year. Both Vanquish and Bayonetta, both from the same studio, just came and was really fun and excellent.
- Equilibrium – Rekreatur
- Heaven Shall Burn – Invictus
- Swedish House Mafia – Unit One
- Parkway Drive – Deep Blue
- Raunchy – A Discord Electric
Comment: Here we find a couple of surprises as well! First the release of a new Equilibrium album, which just appeared! If not as classic as the last album its definitely the most played this year. Heaven Shall Burn also just released a new album, and man what energy! Then we have Swedish House Mafia… House music. After our Ibiza vacation were there were SHM merchandise all over the place and getting back to Sweden their were everywhere.
- The Social Network
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- The A-Team
Comment: Not a very impressive year when it comes to movies. Don’t really recall any extraordinary movies, but hope for the end of Harry Potter next year.
2010 for me have been quite much about work and traveling. E3, GamesCom and Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. It seems 2011 won’t be less work though. I am very excited what 2011 have to offer. The big thing I look forward to is for Anna to move here (Stockholm) and we will move to a bigger apartment, hopefully.
Also, one of the big thing for me in 2010 is how my interested in Stocks and the Finance world really have increased. I started already in 2009, but this year its starts to become even more important. All the money I save I try to invest in a smart way in stocks. Following the stock market is also a way for me to learn about corporation, business ideas and generally how business works. Hope for better investments in 2011!
In the US, the worlds biggest Search Engine have taken the step (outside the mobile platform) to start selling applications. And not just any applications, web browser applications (apps)! Throught the newly opened Google Chrome Web Store you have the ability to purchase web browser apps. At the moment its only available for in the US territory. People with mobile phones or other devices running Google’s own operating system Android have had access to apps before. But this is a new direction, but in line with their plan for their upcoming PC operating system to compete with Windows.
And among the first publishers to release games on the Web Store we find Electronic Arts, Zynga, Digital Chocolate, Jagex, Spryfox, Bigpoint and Namco. They will inially start with just over 200 games. But most of those partners are probably already signed thanks to the help of the Android Marketplace for Andriod Mobile decides. Here Google have sort of taken the position were Mircosoft could have been, having the dominant Mobile OS for none-Apple mobile phones. Microsoft’s answer is the new Windows Moblie 7, but the question is if it will be dead on arrival.
It will be interesting to see the potential of the games and other applications they will release going forward. Will it be yet another platform for games, similar to GamersGate and our competitors? It seems Googles focusing more on building platforms and offer services than its core business, search. Well, its all business right to expand and develop its portfolio. And looking at the success of both Apple’s iTunes and digital distribution stores for PC/Mac games, this is a very lucrative market. Owning the distribution channel and the customer. And customers, or rather users is key for Google. Knowing as much as possible to display better directed Ads, which generate more revenue. So taking the step into distribution is something else from their core business. But hey, its Google! Would could they possible fail? Oh wait… Google Wave. But stop! They still rethinking that project.
Then we have Apple, which is its own success story! Not only do they own and control their own distribution platform (iTunes), they are also hardware manufactures. So the Apps build for Apple product will ONLY work on Apple product. One manufacture, one platform. But its still it makes millions both for Apple and its third-party developer. And they have their own web browser as well! Wouldn’t surprise if they start selling Web browser Apps as well, through iTunes of cause.
They are truly trying to take over the internet, and at the moment they are also battling Facebook for the time, attention and clicks from the worlds billions web users. Facebook have done what Google did to Microsoft, “steeling” good workers/programmers. And to lock-in users as much as possible. Which is really good from a business perspective but not away’s from a customers/user perspective. For exmple this is happening in the PC/Mac games industry at the moment with our biggest competitor, Steam. They are locking in customers in their service and make developers and publishers reliant of them. Will write another post on this later.
But the battle of the web giant is about to begin.
Today at work we published the first episode in of our Holiday Show, in connection with the December Holiday GiftGuide we currently have live. Me and Angelica recorded this yesterday, and I can’t deny that I was nervous. Don’t know if that shows Now we will make a new episode each week for December. Sharing tips from the Gift Guide and more. Then we have to see if there is an interested in continuing producing those shows. Now that its done, it is kinda fun.
Finally, after much wait I received my package at the office! And today it came, fron my friends at Ubisoft Nordic I received my copy of one of the biggest game this year, Assassins Creed Brotherhood for Playstation 3. And they sent the Special Codex Edition. Packed with extra content, soundtrack, behind the scene movies, a map over Rome and much more. All in really cool box! Now I only need to find place for the box.
My co-workers wanted me to open it right away. So while doing this Angelica filmed my Unboxsing (seen below, Swedish talk). Now I only need to find the time to play it. Probably this weekend. Have really looked forward to this third instalment as the two previous games was great.
Today Apple had a little announcement, they will start selling Beatles songs on iTunes. Its among the few Apple announcement that only focusing on adding new content, instead of new features or technology. And it raises the question on content versus distribution.
The ultimate is to have the best content on the best distribution channel(s). But the news of Beatles on iTunes shows how long it can take before adding the best content. Apple is the leading digital distribution platform for music in the world! Every record label, artist and group do everything they can to be selling on iTunes. Specially when you take into consideration how dominant the iPod is for mobile music players, and buy music on iTunes might be the only way to have your favourite artist on your iPod.
And its the same by looking at Spotify for example. Spotify is at its core a free distribution platform, that tries to acquire as much content as possible to attract new listeners (accounts). Which in terms increase the potential for advertisers, potentials subscribing paying premium accounts and finally getting songs sold through the service. A basic but interesting business model:
Expanding content catalog = Attracts more users
The more users = More content owner should want to have their content for new/potential consumers.
Improved reaching to potential customers/consumers = Better chance to turn into paying users.
Still its in some way contradicting. A content service is mostly attractive if the user base it huge. But to get a huge customer base, you need to have great content to attract new users.
It’s the same for us at GamersGate. To attrach new customers we need to have the latest games. But in order to get the latest game we need to constantly increase the user base, so all our partners and potential partners wants to sell their new games at our store. We see a lot of new competitors poping up all around us, but I can only imagine the difficulties for them to build a customer base from scratch. We started with a lot customers from the Paradox Interactive community as our best customers.
One interesting blog post discussing this is from GamesBrief, about Electronic Arts acquisition of mobile publisher Chillingo, the publisher behind Angry Birds. Read this great piece, discussing EAs shifting focus on acquiring user installbase/new distribution instead of new IPs/Development Studios. How EA got the installbase from the great success of Angry Bird through the Crystal system.
Its the same if we look at valuation of sites / companies like Facebook or Zynga. The increadible high valuation of those companies have nothing to do with technology, ONLY numbers of accounts/users. Without Facebooks 500 milion users, then the core service is only okey. Here the content (features/applications) isn’t the big USP attracting new users. When it comes to social medias, (most of the time) the amount of active users is what attracts new users!
Big news this Sunday that Good Old Games. com , a competitor to us (GamersGate) have shut down. Everyone on Twitter and game websites are talking about it. This just came out of the blue. While the website (GOG.com) is claiming that the service is down now, it hints that it might not be permanent. Its been hinted that the service will come back in some form, but this is only speculations.
If we analyse GOG, their business model is the same as ours, but they only focus on older games, as the name suggest. Older games, selling for just a couple of bucks, while the margin is quite low is probably something you can’t ONLY build your business on. For us back catalog titles are a good piece of our sales, but new release titles are the biggest by far.
Also some of their unique selling points always promoted is that all games are DRM free and compatible with newer operation systems. They had a lot older titles we have had problems getting and they have surely spent quite a lot of time making them work for new systems. This process take time and a lot of works, we know!
Somehow its sad if they were to shut the service down, specially for all the customers who have purchased games there. But for us (GG) its an opportunity.
Scott Steinberg is one of the leading Video Game / Technology journalist. With many news/review sites and a couple of book published, his record speaks for it self. Recently he launched a new great website called Game Theory with Scott Steinberg. Were he and many other industry veterans post analysis, comments and news what is happen in our interesting business. Along with the editorial text he also produces videos were he interview some of the biggest names, from developers to high executives. And in the latest video entry he discussed the changes in the digital distribution / social game market. A really good summary on the state of this part, were I my self work in. Go here and have a look and read.
By far, the biggest PC release of the year is now at hand and out. Starcraft 2 is all over the web right now, everyones talking about it and even better, are playing it. I picked up my copy yesterday, and have been playing now for two evenings. Its a blast, but takes time. I can’t recall how long its been since I played the first Starcraft. And I am also ashamed to admit I didn’t finish the expansion, Brood War. But I got both now on a cool looking USB stick.
One thing I really must point out is the incredible package that is the Collectors Edition. I really feel I got value for my money. Not only the most cool looking Collectors box, but it included:
- Art Book
- Soundtrack CD
- Comic book
- USB with Starcraft 1 + BroodWar
- And Starcraft 2 of cause!
So far I have only had time to play about 4-5 missions, and I thing they won’t be getting any shorter going forward. But what I have played so far is really impressive. Of cause its like Starcraft 1 with some new units, graphic and story. But some new features is here as well. Will probably spend many hours playing Starcraft 2. But only Single player, don’t have the time or patience to play multiplayer for a title like this. Althoug I must say that one neat feature for the social part was how the game can create a Friends list for you by simply scaning your Facebook account. Maybe a bit scary, but I believe it works great and we will probably see more similar features in not only games but other softwares and sites.
Its finally here! The biggest release of 2010 for me, so far… Kratos came, he fought, he conquered!
Since the second instalment in 2007 I have been pumped for the third and final one in this trilogy.
Starting playing the third game it picks up right were the second ends. The beginning was the most intenced moment in the whole serie. Fighting poseidon was not only a great intro, but also felt like a tech demo on what the PS3 can perfrom. Well, can probably say that for the whole game! Some times during my play through my PS3 literary screamed from working so hard. But as with God of War, graphic isn’t everything.
The combat is definitely God of War. As stated before, the guys behind Dantes Inferno copied the control scheme from God of War, but it wasn’t even near as good. Dantes Inferno was hard but only frustrating. God of War 3 is as always hard, but it feels more like a challenge. The controls are tight and responsive.
One of the biggest improvements on the third instalment was the weapons. In the previous games I tended to just stick with the first blades. The new weapons was similar to the Chaos blades and more fun to play with. For the first time I frequently switches weapons. Specially the The Nemean Cestus was fun to play with.
This was the biggest release for me this year, and the wait was well worth! I am happy but feel a bit sad that the series have ended. Definitely the game of the year so far!
As for the story it was okey, part from the end. God of War is mainly about slaughtering hordes of enemy’s and big monsters. Towards the end the story start to pick up. It felt like a worthy end for one of the biggest game series in my library. Will miss Kratos but hope they will continue to make God of War games, even if this trilogy has ended.