Google shows off some longer term plans
At the I/O developer conference in San Francisco this week, Google announced their plans to launch an online web app store (for Chrome and Chrome OS). Undoubtedly games will feature heavily on the list, and Plants v Zombies and Lego Star Wars (are there any platforms on which those don’t run?) have already been announced.
Possibly of even more interest, Unity Technologies also announced that their 3D engine will run natively in Chrome – that is to say, with no plugin. At any rate, marketing speak aside, that means that unity based games will run smoothly and quickly in Chrome. It’s certainly good news for Unity developers, and that’s good news for gamers also.
Is Chrome shaping up to be the gamer’s browser of choice? Google certainly hope so.
And in another big announcement, Google introduced an open source royalty free video format, WebM. It will be included as part of HTML5 and, of course, will be supported by YouTube. Adobe plan to build support for the codec into Flash as well.
Farmville Devs sign a 5 year deal with Facebook
A week can be such a long time in gaming politics. Last week everyone was speculating that Zynga planned to dump Facebook and go it alone (as if!) and this week brings the announcement that actually the two companies have signed some sort of cooperation deal for the next 5 years.
Facebook’s plans to force all app developers to use their new facebook credit currency for RMT, so that Facebook can take a cut, is hardly going to be welcomed by the developers. But we can only speculate about whether Zynga was forced to the table (because they need Facebook more than vice versa), or whether they held the platform owner to a hard bargained deal.
In any case, all is smiles and flowers in the Farmville world. And expect to see facebook credits making a very real bid to become the global internet RMT transaction currency of choice. Scared yet? Well, you can always install a Farmville gamebar on your browser and let Zynga keep tabs on everything that you ever do online …
Playdom buy Acclaim, Perfectworld buys a stake in Runic
There are a couple of company related announcements. Playdom, the social gaming publisher, has acquired Acclaim. Acclaim have developed and run several F2P MMOs so it will be interesting to see what Playdom plans to do with them. I remember liking Chronicles of Spellbourne when I tried it, so let’s hope this leads to good things.
In other news, Runic Games announced that Torchlight had sold 500k copies worldwide since it’s release. Which is excellent for any game. And Perfect World Entertainment (a Chinese MMO Publisher) has acquired a majority stake in the company. We know that Runic had mentioned a MMO version of Torchlight, could Perfect World be the partner to help bring it to market?
Aion Announced Server Mergers
Aion producer released a community letter, with lots of information about forthcoming plans. They’re offering character customisation and transfer options, there are new patches coming soon and information about what’s going on with the Korean patches also even further out.
But it is the server merges that will attract most of the attention. Usually associated with a drop in population, merging servers is a way to bolster existing servers. However, it’s never really been a good sign for the health of a game.
In the same week, Everquest also announced server mergers … but they’ve been running for 10 years, as opposed to less than one.
Blizzcon Tickets to go on Sale on June 2nd and 5th
Put your lucky socks on if you want to snag a ticket to Blizzcon, even at the eye-popping price of $150 they’re bound to sell out immediately. The convention itself will take place on Oct 22/23 in Anaheim and the smart money says that Blizzard will announce their next gen MMO there. The unsmart money (ie. me) is hoping they’ll at least announce a date for Diablo 3.
In other Blizzard related news, they’re trialling a new premium service for WoW in which subscribers who pay an extra $3 per month can access the auction house remotely either from the web or from iDevices. They’re also disabling a naughty addon which made hard raid encounters much easier by allowing you to draw on other people’s screens. I never used it myself, but it does show that the lines between which addon is considered ok and which is forcibly disabled can be very unclear.
Blizzard also resolved their legal issues in Korea by agreeing to everything the Korean Govt asked for, and censoring blood, swearing and cigarettes from Star Craft 2. I imagine there will still be plenty of good, wholesome, old-fashioned genocide though. And apparently the corruption scandal in Korea’s professional Star Craft scene is looking worse the more it gets investigated.
DS to Become Biggest Selling Console of All Time
I love my DS, and it was my faithful companion on many long train journeys to and from my father’s flat when he was ill last year. So I find it heart warming to report that DS sales are likely to overtake those of the PS2 later this year.
It’s just a great little console, and the games have been pitched absolutely perfectly at a puzzle loving, brain training older audience, as well as the usual crop of pokemon (of which I still need to buy the latest sometime) and other kid pleasers. This little console has done a lot to open up the gaming market, and in my opinion, Nintendo deseves all the sales that it gets.