Articles of Interest

Gamasutra estimates that July was the biggest month in XBLA history (and August seems likely to match or even exceed July, thanks to Summer of Arcade.) Some notables: Secret of Monkey Island: SE is estimated to have sold more units than Telltale’s Wallace & Gromit Episode 1 and Sam & Max Season 1 combined. N+ picked up approximately 30k players when it was deal of the week. Castle Crashers added another 80k players despite being a year old and despite heavy competition (another case of the hits get bigger.) And as mentioned in my previous AoI, Battlefield 1943 destroyed every record, putting a big fat smile on EA’s face.

Neat prototype: strap a Wiimote to an exercise ball (the giant kind you sit on) and get a whole new way to interact with a game.

Microsoft’s getting questioned about Games on Demand pricing, as game prices vary dramatically from region to region. Microsoft’s response: “No one retailer has the lowest pricing for every product, and our program is about giving people 24 x 7 convenience and selection…” That’s Microsoft’s tortured way of saying: “we are deathly afraid of offending our retail partners by undercutting them. So, for example, if retailers in Australia are selling a game for $60, we will offer that game to Australian LIVE users for $60 even if the same game sells for $40 in the US.” It really is that simple, folks.

Nice game design article about “the perfectly executed mini-mechanic.” Summary: reinforces the main character; is brief and infrequent, but not unique; is optional; is tightly integrated into the main game; should never be a “game-ender” but rather a pleasant diversion.

Nice summary of the issues facing companies in (and entering) the booming social gaming space.

This site supposedly describes every game in use or in development by the US military. Unfortunately, it feels out of date to me, but there’s some interesting stuff in there.

The DSi has sold almost 7m units worldwide, and is thus far outpacing early sales of the original DS, the DS Lite, and the Wii. Not bad…

Redbox, the DVD-rental juggernaut, is pilot-testing game rentals in two US markets. Games cost $2 a day; no word on whether there’s a “rent to own” option (which would be brilliant for Redbox). When a distribution system with over 15,000 locations turns its eye towards games, it merits attention.

Nice article about positive and negative reinforcement in MMOGs.

Danc’s latest article on making money with Flash is excellent, as always. Don’t be scared by the length — it’s good stuff, especially if you’re a small indie developer.

The DS functionality in the Wii version of Band Hero sounds very cool; lots of modes that broaden what spectators can do while watching friends play (in fact, they’re no longer spectators.) It almost makes me sorry that I’m married to Rock Band on the 360. Almost, but not quite. ;-)

Over 2.5m users have downloaded 1 vs. 100 on Xbox LIVE, and “as many as” 200k users tune in daily. Not bad at all. (Note that 1 vs. 100 is free *and* benefits from constant and tremendous visibility in the LIVE dash.)

There’s more to life than games:

Another lament about the pace of modern digital life, but I liked this line: “Bumped and jostled, queasy from the constant ocular and muscular adjust¬≠ments our body must make to keep up, we will live in a constant state of digital jet lag.” True.

This will make you want to change your Facebook password immediately. :P

Neat suggestion by Seth Godin for improving the effectiveness of presentations to very small, private audiences (i.e. a couple people). Summary: strip some of the info from your slides, print the presentation, then sit next to the person you’re meeting with and go through the booklet page by page, writing directly on each page (taking advantage of the space you cleared earlier.) Leave the booklet as a takeaway.

A truly fantastic presentation on Netflix’s management culture. 128 slides, every one of them worth reading. Check it out.

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