I love the spin that executives give their topics to illustrate their perspective, it’s always less about actual verifiable data and more about pushing agenda. John Riccitiello (EA’s CEO) recently discussed both advertising of games and advertising in games at an advertising conference.

The fact that the world is promised to be bombarded by adverts for Battlefield 3 and the next Call of Duty to the tune of $100 million dollars plus shouldn’t really surprise any observant gamer. Almost every company in NZ has been seen advertising on TV, Radio, Billboard and Bus… and I don’t mean my brother’s childhood Dutch friend, for a number of years.

While some parts of his speech ring true, as they should for someone in his position of both immense experience in the industry, and as a person holding the keys to one of gamings’ largest kingdoms. There are also some points that raise my eyebrow.

Primarily the fact that John (and perhaps most other industry suits) seems to immensely overestimate how captive his audience is. My ability to block out everything unrelated to what I am doing in a game is prodigious. If I can ignore my children pestering me about playing with Ben 10 action figures and a Barbie pool party, then overlooking that ‘Axe’ billboard in Ghost Recon isn’t really a stretch for me. At this point in time it seems like the benefit in advertising in games is that it generates interest in the online gaming communities talking about the advertising more so than by actually reaching a passive gamer glimpsing at something in passing as they explode an NPC’s head. Most of us will have recognised ads in the past that didn’t work, and others that seemed to fit in and add to the experience.

There is a rather bold statement that while a person is playing a game they aren’t doing anything else. So no forum browsing, no social network checking, no talking to family/friends, while gaming, and obviously the drinking of alcoholic beverages while shooting the breeze with your E-Buddies isn’t even a possibility. Gaming can be an incredibly immersive activity that sees you engrossed in an experience, but it can also be something very casual that you do between other more essential life activities. @6:06 John also doesn’t seem to be familiar about the activity universally enjoyed while waiting for an game install.

For those interested in hearing more from John about marketing in and for games you can view the entire video here. Beware though. most of the speech comes across as John regurgitating pro gaming industry propaganda as if he’s worried about the audience taking him seriously.

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With possibly the most well-stocked list in ButtonMasher Podcast history, our intrepid podcastronauts need to move at a fair clip to finish up in a mere hour and a half. It’s a fantastic journey, smoothly segueing through subjects of lawsuits, the correct spelling of the word “cartridge”, in-game advertising, and eunuchs. Join us!

Love it or hate it, anime seems to be gaining even more mainstream ground, and on the backs of that Halo: Legends thing, that Dead Space special edition anime movie thing, and whatever else I’ve missed is coming a Mass Effect anime slated for mid next year. I can understand this cross-media synergy makes a lot of sense from a business perspective, but from a consumer perspective, it’s making me jaded. However, there is one thing that would make me get behind this project in full force, and that’s if it was a feature length movie called Blasto The Jellyfish Stings. Yeah, all the hardcore Mass Effect fans are nodding with me right now.

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Following on from the successful Dragon Age: Origins and it’s plethora of DLC comes Bioware’s next foray into classic Role Playing Games, or is it? Much to my disappointment I will have to stamp a dirty big Action in front of Role Playing Game. Dragon Age 2 is far more action orientated that it’s predecessor, to the point where, until an auto-attack option is implemented, I would call it a button masher. Not all is lost though, there are still plenty of NPC’s, quests, and loot in barrels to be had. But even these age old RPG elements have some failings in Dragon Age 2. Is there enough role playing left in this game to satisfy all those who live with 12 sided dice in their pockets?

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Have you ever considered what impact your gaming has on the environment? Don’t get me wrong. I’m no “Greenie”. I personally disagree with the Emission Trading Scheme (won’t make a jot of difference), and think Earth Hour is a waste of time. But I do recycle, and do make modest efforts to minimise waste and my “environmental footprint”.

So when I opened the 1500 Microsoft Points for Xbox LIVE that I purchased at a retail store, I was a little irked by the continued wasteful packaging that has plagued the Xbox 360 from the outset.

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Top Spin 4 is the latest iteration in a tennis franchise that has always impressed me. Not content with resting on the laurels of being the only genuine tennis “sim” game for gaming consoles, the 2K team has refined the already brilliant Top Spin 3 and created a truly superb game that should cater for serious tennis gamers as well as casual players.

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We all remember the untimely closure of Bizarre Creations. Well, I’m hoping you can cast your minds back to mid-February. The folks at Eurogamer interview three new indie studios, all of which were started up in Liverpool by Bizarre Creations employees.

In the mini-documentary, the developers from each new studio talk about the failures of working on AAA games, and their dreams of working in smaller teams again. The Lucid Games team is shown amid construction, inside what is soon to be their new studio. Curly Rocket is run by one man, while HogRocket is a three-musketeers operation. All three studios promise to deliver smaller downloadable titles.

The studio in Liverpool which used to house Bizarre Games, is still occupied, with a few developers left behind now simply working on tech for Activision. A depressing end, but hopefully some good will come out of these new indie studios.

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The best of luck to Lucid GamesCurly Rocket and Hogrocket. May you create games that we cherish, and of course, spend money on.

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Well folks, this is another long one. So strap yourself in, get yourself a beverage (probably before the strapping, now that I think about it,) and settle in. Your podcast homework for this episode is to play GIRP, and make it at least to the seagull that I made it to.

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Being a relatively small country on a global scale, it’s always nice to see the occasional NZ developed iOS app appear on the App Store. Even more so when when it was coded by our very own ButtonMasher community member Aaron Koolen-Bourke. That’s right – in a ButtonMasher first, a “Masher” has created his own iOS game and put it out there in the massive App Store marketplace for the bargain price of $1.29 (NZD).

It’s called Trapit, and really does have all the elements required to make a great game. Original gameplay, simple premise that is wonderfully easy to get into, excellent risk/reward balance, sadistic ramping up of difficulty, and a great soundtrack, all make of an addictive game that will leave you cursing the game as you lose your last life just short of a new OpenFeint high score.

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