1）据Gamasutra报道，英国发行商Chillingo联合创始人Chris Byatte最近就App Store开发者是否还需要发行商这一问题发表了自己的看法，他称Chillingo已走在手机游戏行业的前沿，他们并不只是想因发行《愤怒的小鸟》而得名，Chillingo一共推出12款冠军游戏，《愤怒的小鸟》是其中的第6款热作。
2）据venturebeat报道，《美女餐厅》开发商PlayFirst最近正开发基于索尼动画电影《怪物酒店》的iOS游戏《Hotel Transylvania Dash》，该游戏将于9月20日登陆iOS平台。
3）据pocketgamer报道，发布于Mobage平台英文版的社交卡牌战斗游戏《Rage of Bahamut》最近在海外市场下载量突破200万次，曾在美国iPhone营收榜单登顶，目前位居第三，并连续14周称冠美国Google Play营收榜单。
4）手机游戏开发商NaturalMotion Games所推出的前6款iOS游戏都曾跻身App Store榜单前10名，该公司首席执行官Torsten Reil在最近采访中表示，他认为休闲玩家与硬核玩家一样都追求高质量的游戏画面，NaturalMotion推出的《My Horse》就可以证明这一点。
6）据pocketgamer报道，一批前Ensemble Studio成员最近成立新手机游戏工作室BonusXP，其成员还包括前Zynga设计师Dave Pottinger、前Robot Entertainment高级程序员John Evanson及前id Software高级角色美术师Jason Sallenbach（游戏邦注：这三者原先都在Ensemble共同开发过《帝国时代3》和《光环战争》等游戏）。
8）据usatoday报道，微软近日的更新版Xbox Live应用支持用户通过iPad导航并操控Xbox 360设备上的内容。
1）The hit makers: Chillingo goes beyond Angry Birds
by Christian Nutt
Chillingo is best known as the publisher of Angry Birds — but once that game became an App Store success, developer Rovio decided to go its own way. That opens up some questions: does a developer really need a publisher on the App Store? And if so, why?
“We’re actually at the forefront of the mobile gaming industry. We’re always moving ahead. We don’t want to just be known for the publisher of Angry Birds,” co-founder Chris Byatte tells Gamasutra.
“We have 12 number ones. Angry Birds was our sixth.”
Though they lost their biggest game, it clearly doesn’t seem to bother Byatte and Joe Wee, the company’s co-general managers and co-founders. Though acquired by EA in 2010, the company is still “autonomous as can be,” says Byatte.
Certainly, Chillingo gives that impression at events like GDC and E3. While it does join up with the rest of EA’s mobile lineup, there’s a clear division of what’s Chillingo and what’s not, and Wee and Byatte clearly see themselves as helming a boutique brand within the EA mothership.
But if developers can go straight to consumers, why work with Chillingo at all? The pair also see themselves as additive to the development process.
“We do see ourselves as a developer’s publisher,” says Wee. “We strive to meet the needs of developers. We explore them in ways that they can’t really do themselves, be it lack of time, resources, knowhow, or knowledge.”
It’s not just about taking the reins when it comes to things like marketing, which many developers aren’t interested in to begin with. It’s also pushing the developer to make the game everything it can be, Wee says.
“We strive to help developers turn their games from seven to 10. … Actually, we’re deeply engrained in the whole production process. We have producers that we assign to games,” he says.
Still, he recognizes that not all developers want the same level of publisher involvement. “We know that when we sign a game it’s the developer’s baby. And the level of support we provide is flexible,” says Wee.
“It really depends on what state the game is in when we sign it. Sometimes it’s a concept. Sometimes it’s just a sandbox engine, and sometimes it’s in a state where the developer thinks it’s ready and we say, ‘No, no, let’s nudge it up to a 10.’ It’s about the last mile that really makes a difference.”
“We’re absolute perfectionists,” says Byatte.
The questions the two ask themselves when they’re about to release a game is “Is it ready? Would we buy that game? That’s our benchmark. Can we hit that again?”
One thing the pair are clear on is that what makes a great game is different every single time. “You try to pin it down and it escapes you,” says Byatte.
“People ask us: ‘How do you define what is going to be a hit?’ … We look at the competitive landscape. Has it been done before? What’s the potential of even the developer? Do we think we can work with them? Are they open-minded to take our feedback onboard? It’s an indefinable X factor that we’ve got, and we continue to foster that.” （source:gamasutra）
2）Diner Dash maker runs with Sony to make Hotel Transylvania Dash
by Joe Osborne
Don’t worry, the movie-themed-mobile-game train ain’t stoppin’ any time soon. VentureBeat reports that Diner Dash and Hotel Dash creator PlayFirst is working on Hotel Transylvania Dash, a mobile game based on the upcoming animated flick of (almost) the same name in cahoots with Sony Pictures. For all intents and purposes, this sounds like a branded version of Hotel Dash.
“For the Hotel Transylvania mobile game, we wanted a licensee who could uniquely deliver the high-quality game experience and fun on par with our movie,” Sony Pictures Entertainment VP Mark Caplan told VentureBeat. “PlayFirst delivers a proven, immersive game mechanic and a worldwide recognized brand with both the ability to develop a great game and market it globally to an existing and growing fan base.”
VentureBeat points out the fact that Sony joined hands with PlayFirst based on the mechanics of its Hotel Dash game, which is an interesting trend in the space that seemingly started with games like Angry Birds Rio and Temple Run: Brave. No need to rush out a hobbled-together original game that plays like junk, right? Hotel Transylvania Dash lands on iOS Sept. 20.（source:games）
3）Mobage-powered Rage of Bahamut does 2 million downloads outside Japan
by Jon Jordan
Despite what some commentators – me included – think about card battling games, DeNA argues it’s made Rage of Bahamut stick.
The English language version of Cygames’ online card battler, which is published on DeNA’s Mobage platform outside Japan, has now been installed over two million times.
Nevertheless, its position in the US top grossing iPhone chart – peaking at #1, currently #3 – means it’s found a fanbase prepared to lay down cash.
It’s also been #1 over 14 consecutive weeks in the top grossing chart on US Google Play.
“Cygames is delighted to see US Mobage users enjoying Rage of Bahamut,” said Koichi Watanabe, president and CEO of Cygames, Inc.
“We will continue to bring the best entertainment experiences that exceed the expectations of people around the world.”（source:pocketgamer）
4）My Horse maker: Casual games are destined for 3D greatness [Interview]
by Joe Osborne
What’s the first game that comes to mind when you think “beautiful, realistic 3D graphics?” If it wasn’t something along the lines of Halo, Grand Theft Auto or about any hardcore simulator out there, then please do tell what hot new kind of game you’re jamming on. But that won’t necessarily be the case for much longer–not as far as Torsten Reil is concerned.
His mobile game development firm, NaturalMotion Games, has made a name for itself crafting casual-focused mobile games packing visuals that rival the most attractive games on consoles. And if the graphics don’t do the trick, Reil lets the numbers speak for his cause: The first six iOS games NaturalMotion has released reached the top 10 on App Store charts globally.
“If you look at animated movies–Snow White and The Lion King–in ’95 there was a big transition with Toy Story and that changed everything. Ever since then, obviously, animated movies pretty much have been 3D,” the CEO points out, “and that’s because people want to be wowed–the casual audience just as much as a hardcore audience.”
According to Reil, NaturalMotion’s My Horse does a fine job of demonstrating that. “My Horse was the first example to show that, actually, if you go really high end on graphics with the reason being a believable character, it makes a huge difference, and it resonates really well with a very wide audience.”
But when you put a traditional 3D game in front of a casual player, his hands fumble over the multitude of joysticks, triggers and buttons and he asks, “How do I move?” At that point, is it really the 3D graphics that have been scaring casual gamers away? No. It’s the controls.
“So, as soon as you have a control system that is kind of dual stick that every hardcore user is used to, the casual user will switch off because it feels very gamey, it feels very indirect,” Reil admits. “So, I think a touch screen makes a huge difference because you don’t have to use a dual stick system anymore.”
“That doesn’t mean that you can’t give them a 3D space to navigate, you just have to use a different way of navigation,” Reil elaborates. “If you again look at My Horse for example, we don’t necessarily let people use a dual stick controller to wander through the paddock, we let them stand at the fence and then call the horse over, for example. Then they interact with the horse in a 3D manner using a touch screen that they’re already used to.”
Eureka! Could intuitively-designed touchscreen controls be the key to bringing visually impressive games to the masses of casual game fans? If you ask Reil, he’d probably reply with an emphatic “yes”. Just look at NaturalMotion’s Jenga for iOS.
“[Jenga] was the first time that game was brought to mobile devices, in particular with touchscreens, with full 3D environments, pretty advanced shaders and with a full physics simulation. So, it was pretty much as complex as a game could get,” Reil says. “Yet, it resonated most with the casual audience.”
NaturalMotion’s most recent game, CSR Racing for iOS, is a more casual approach to the racing genre on iOS aimed at roping in even more racing fans. With that, it’s clear that NaturalMotion is aimed square at making its vision par for the course.
“The casual market will automatically gravitate towards high-end visuals and whether it’s necessary to call it 3D or not, I’m not really sure. It’s high-end visuals that create believable worlds, believable characters and this will not be a sub-genre, this will be the dominant way of creative content for the casual market. I’m pretty convinced of that.”（source:games）
5）Bigpoint calls time on mobile development
by Keith Andrew
German free-to-play specialist Bigpoint is to close down its mobile development business, with a total of 29 employees set to lose their jobs.
In a statement delivered to GamesIndustry.biz, the company revealed the majority of its mobile projects already in development are set to be cancelled.
The closure comes after MDs Philip and Tobias Reisberger also announced that they are to leave the firm.
Right market, wrong time
“I’m a big believer in mobile, it’s going to change many things in the games industry,” said CEO Heiko Hubertz of the news.
“But I also think it’s not the right time at the moment to be in this market because to generate revenues in this market is very tough.
“For that reason we decided also to close our internal mobile games development. We will not continue to create mobile games internally.”
Hubertz said Bigpoint has a total of 10 mobile games currently in development.
Some of them are ready to go and will launch within the next few weeks, while the rest will be “completely closed and shut down.”
Moving on from mobile, Bigpoint will now focus its business on opening new offices to support bases already established in Paris, London, Rome, San Francisco and Sao Paulo.
The Reisberger brothers, however, are to stay within the mobile space.
The former Bigpoint men have reportedly told LinkedIn contacts that they are to form a new development outfit called AppFlag, as well as a business focusing on analytics for the free-to-play market.
Indeed, back in December, Philip Reisberger told PocketGamer.biz that success in the mobile market was “very important” to him.
“We’re currently in the process of understanding the market,” he said, adding that the tablet would be the “next big competitor to the console.”（source:pocketgamer）
6）Ex-Ensemble men make mobile move with BonusXP
by Keith Andrew
A collective of ex-Ensemble Studio employees have come together to launch a new mobile-focused outfit, BonusXP.
On board are former Zynga lead designer Dave Pottinger, Robot Entertainment senior programmer John Evanson and former senior character artist at id Software Jason Sallenbach.
All three men previously met at the now defunct Ensemble, working on the likes of Age of Empires III and Halo Wars.
The idea behind BonusXP is to use the experience all three have gained at their respective former employers to deliver a “high standard for games that will bear the BonusXP name.”
“We’re creating something really unique with our overall approach to art,” said Sallenbach, who will serve as BonusXP’s art director.
“I think it will set our games apart. I can’t wait until we announce our first title later this summer.”
Said first title is already in full development, the studio claims, with BonusXP CEO Pottinger claiming the company is looking to deliver the kind of “team-based feel” he previously enjoyed during his stint as director of technology at Ensemble Studios.
“Our mission is to make really fun, polished games that leave you wondering ‘How’d it get so late already?’ when your battery finally runs out,” added director of technology John Evanson.
The nature of BonusXP’s output is currently unclear, however, though all three claim their experience leads towards delivering games
“Our mission is to build a tight team and focus on crafting highly polished mobile games with the trademark deep replay value that we’ve always put into our creations,” added Pottinger via BonusXP’s blog.
“If you’re a total nerd – not that there’s anything wrong with that – you can probably figure out the connection between our goal and our BonusXP name.”
The studio is also currently hiring, on the look out for a senior programmer, a senior animator and a senior concept artist.（source:pocketgamer）
7）Nokia smartphone sales fall 39 per cent to 10.2 million units
by Tim Green
Lumia sales now stand at four million as Nokia losses widen.
Shares actually rose in the stricken handset firm, which announced its Q2 results today. Why? Because the figures weren’t as abysmal as some thought.
The firm’s second-quarter net loss widened to 1.41 billion euros from 368 million euros in Q1, although sales actually increased a tiny amount to 7.5 billion euros, up from 7.4 billion euros.
But the core handset operation is still stuck in a rut. Lumia volumes increased but Nokia has still only sold 4m of them – a blip compared to sales of iPhone and Galaxy for example.
Interestingly, Nokia’s feature phone business rose by 2.4 per cent to 73.5 million units while smartphone sales fell 39 per cent to 10.2 million units.
Of course, Nokia and its CEO Stephen Elop are in the midst of a re-structuring programme to deal with the rut. The firm has made thousands redundant and sold off subsidiaries such as Nokia Money and Vertu.
But its big play is going with Windows Phone – and that’s not really paying off so far.
Look around you: how many people are using WinPho 7 handsets?
And the current Lumia generation won’t run Windows Phone 8, when the upgraded OS is launched in October. Presumably, Nokia will have a new range ready to showcase the platform later this year.
Stephen Elop, Nokia CEO, said: “Nokia is taking action to manage through this transition period. While Q2 was a difficult quarter, Nokia employees are demonstrating their determination to strengthen our competitiveness, improve our operating model and carefully manage our financial resources.
Here are the key stats:
* Nokia net sales in Q2 2012 were 7.5 billion euros, up from 7.4 billion euros in Q1 2012
- Net sales from the device division decreased 5 per cent quarter-on-quarter
- Lumia Q2 volumes increased quarter-on-quarter to four million units
- Mobile Phones volumes increased both sequentially and year on year to 73 million units（source:mobile-ent）
8）Xbox Live app adds console control to iPad
By Brett Molina
Peter Orullian, senior global marketing manager for Xbox Live, demonstrates Xbox SmartGlass with a Nokia Lumia 900 and Samsung tablets at E3 2012 in Los Angeles.CAPTIONDamian Dovarganes, APXbox 360 owners have a new way to navigate content on their console: Apple’s iPad.
An update to Microsoft’s Xbox Live app now allows users to connect to the device through an iPad and search for content.
“Connect your iPad for access to a quick list of your most recent console activity. Control your content with play, pause, fast forward and rewind media controls. Find fresh entertainment to play in the new Discover section,” reads a description of the features on the app’s iTunes page.
The functionality is part of Microsoft’s bigger plan to incorporate mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets into the Xbox 360 experience.
At June’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, the company unveiled SmartGlass, an app that provides a different way for users to interact with games or other entertainment.
Examples included Web browsing on a TV screen using a smartphone as a mouse, interactive family trees for the HBO series Game of Thrones, and a detailed map while playing the game Ascend: New Gods.
“It’s not adding something new in the equation,” says Xbox Live’s Marc Whitten during an interview at E3. “It’s making what I already do just work simply and more easily.”（source:usatoday）