How dedicated is the core gamer?

The term “core” gamer gets thrown around a lot in this industry. It’s an easy way to describe the enthusiast audience, but statistically differentiating an avid fan of games from a regular enthusiast has been a bit trickier. Now, a newly released study from the NPD Group is shedding more light on the term. 

According to the organization, which tracks retail sales of video games, ‘extreme’ gamers (their buzzword for core) spend 48.5 hours per week playing games. (Yup. More than two consecutive days per week.) The ‘core’ audience, it says, represents 4 percent of the total gamers in the U.S.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog

Fox to air ‘Red Dead Redemption’ film

Machinima (films that are made from the graphics engines and assets of video games) isn’t exactly a household word in most of America. And, despite its critical acclaim and strong sales, “Red Dead Redemption” probably isn’t either. 

That’s not stopping Fox from taking a gamble with the new title from Take Two Interactive Software and the makers of the “Grand Theft Auto” franchise. On Saturday May 29, the network will air a 30 minute short film made from the game at midnight.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog

Bach, Allard out at Microsoft

Two of the most visible faces in Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division are leaving the company. Microsoft today announced the departure of president Robbie Bach and chief experience officer J Allard. 

Bach is retiring after 22 years with the company effective this fall. He has headed the entertainment and devices division since its inception five years ago and is a regular presence at major Microsoft press events. Allard, the driving force behind the Xbox and Zune media player, is leaving, but will remain as an advisor to CEO Steve Ballmer.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog

Or, read an extended version (with deeper analysis) at Daily Variety

Sony taking the Killzone franchise into 3D

It’s not news that Sony is leading the charge among consoles when it comes to3D, but until today the company hadn’t committed any of its titles to the technology. But with word that “Killzone 3” would offer stereoscopic 3D support, the gloves are off. 

The game, which will pick up where last year’s “Killzone 2” left off, will also reportedly boast substantially bigger levels, jetpacks and other new weapons.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene

The last hurrah of ‘Lost’ – video games?

While the fates of Jack, Sawyer, Hurley, et al were sealed in last night’s finale to “Lost,” the show may have one more trick up its sleeve.

“Rock Band” will reportedly add the biggest songs from the show’s soundtrack to its collection of downloadable titles later this week – giving you the chance to play both Driveshaft’s “You All Everybody” and Geronimo Jackon’s “Dharma Lady”. The songs are expected to come from the Rock Band Network, meaning Xbox 360 will get them first (and perhaps exclusively).

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene

Happy birthday Pac-Man!

On May 22, 1980, the video game world truly went mainstream.

“Pong” and “Space Invaders” were huge, sure, but when “Pac-Man” hit the scene, it was something completely different. 

The yellow dude with the insatiable appetite for power pellets turns 30 tomorrow, having racked up everything from sales records to a breakfast cereal. Heck, even Google is getting in on the action, dedicating its home page to the game today and tomorrow (with the Google logo – technically called the “Google Doodle” – now a playable version of the game.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene

Ubisoft CEO sees big jump coming in 3D games

3D gaming hasn’t really caught on yet, but it has certainly captured its share of headlines over the past 12 months. Now, one of the industry’s largest publishers says it expects the technology to break through into the mainstream within two years. 

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot, in a recent earnings conference call, said he expects up to 50 percent of all games published to be 3D by 2012.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog

BlizzCon hits pay-per-view

The hottest ticket in America has nothing to do with a film or touring musical group. Blizzard Entertainment holds those honors each year with its annual Blizzcon show. Tickets, which will go on sale June 2 and June 5, vanish in seconds, leaving thousands of fans out in the cold. 

This year, the company is looking to widen things a bit. Blizzard and DirecTV are once again teaming up to provide live coverage of the event. The $39.95 fee will net fans high definition coverage of the two-day show, including demos, interviews and other features.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog

April videogame sales plunge

Here’s some unwelcome – and unexpected – news. Video game sales in April took it on the chin, falling 26 percent compared to 2009 to $766 million. That’s roughly five times worse than the most pessimistic analysts were expecting and the fourth-worst year-over-year decline in the industry’s history. 

Software sales, according to NPD Group, were down plunging 22 percent to $398.5 million, while hardware fell 37 percent to just $249.3 million.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog

E3 2010: 3D influence is on the rise

We’re about a month out from E3 – the annual trade show of the video game industry – but a few trends are already taking shape.

There’s motion control, of course, with the roll out of Microsoft’s Project Natal and more details on Sony’s Move controller. But the most surprising theme is turning out to be 3D.

Read more at Variety’s The Cut Scene blog