MMO devs will lose the fight against content churn, says SOE’s Smedley

Sony smedleyOnline Entertainment has become largely pseudonymous with the free-to-play movement, offering triple-A titles like PlanetSide 2 for no cost from day one, and converting legacy games like EverQuest to the model.

It’s fairly seamless these days, but when Smedley and his team decided to embrace free-to-play, it was a big leap of faith.

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Do video games have a future at CES?

The cescircus has left town here in Las Vegas. The 100-inch Ultra high definition sets have been packed up. The tens of thousands of unread show dailies have been recycled. And the folks at Razer are back at their headquarters gleefully polishing their Best of CES award.

As the hangovers dim and perspective starts to set in, though, it’s worth taking one look back at CES and seeing what it means – and could mean – for the video game industry as a whole.

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Looking back on what video game CEOs said about violence

The splintercellblacklisttragic school shooting in Newtown, CT has once again revived the debate about the impact of violent video games in the media. Senators are calling for hearings. Groups like the NRA are pointing a finger of blame at the industry. And parents are confused and scared.

Aside from a couple of statements from the Entertainment Software Association and Entertainment Consumers Association, the industry has kept its mouth shut about the shooting — and it’s likely to do so for some time. There is, after all, no upside in walking into the fray.

But December wasn’t the first time the issue of video game violence came up. At E3 in June, show goers debated whether the level of violence in demos was over the top. I had a chance to discuss the issue with several CEOs of major publishers.

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Majesco shares enter dangerous territory

Zumba zumbafitFitness publisher Majesco is in danger of having its stock delisted. Editor-at-large Chris Morris examines the 26-year-old company’s precarious place on the stock market.

For the second time this year, a video game publisher is in danger of having its stock delisted.

Following THQ’s rocky start to the year, Zumba Fitness publisher Majesco’s stock is entering the red zone. For the past 25 days, the company’s stock has traded below $1. And unless things change by Dec. 12, that’s going to trigger a response by Nasdaq.

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Zynga and Facebook: Are the naysayers wrong?

In farmville2this op-ed, Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris tries to figure out why investors are so down on what could be a good thing for Zynga.

So Zynga and Facebook have agreed to see other people — and Wall Street is freaking out about that.

Zynga shares were down 8 percent in early trading Friday after the companies restructured their working agreement. And while those investors certainly have a right to be mad at Zynga in general, I think they might be getting it wrong this time.

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Xbox TV could soften the blow of an expensive Durango

Microsoft is rumored to be readying a low-cost “Xbox TV” console focused more on entertainment than games, but will the move confuse customers? Or will it ease the transition to a likely-expensive Durango?

Six years ago, when Microsoft launched the Xbox 360, people scratched their heads at the company’s strategy. Two notably different SKUs? Wouldn’t that confuse people? Surely this was a stumble by Microsoft, which would hurt it at retail.

Of course, it wasn’t long before Sony announced plans for a similar strategy — and Nintendo eventually followed suit with the Wii U. And you don’t have to look further than Microsoft’s 20-month run as the country’s best selling console to see the strategy worked — and worked well.

Now there are whispers that Microsoft is preparing to do it all over again, only this time instead of differentiating its systems by the size of their hard drives, it’s rumored to be preparing a low-cost alternative, dubbed “Xbox TV,” to its next-generation console, which will focus on “core entertainment services” (aka, the kind you don’t play with) and cater to a casual audience.

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Ubisoft dips its toes into Hollywood’s waters

Ubisoft may first and foremost be a video game studio, but as the industry continues to shift, it’s looking to expand its footprint.

The biggest shift these days is the publisher’s growing interest in the world of cinema. After seeing Hollywood fumble one of its valuable franchises with Prince of Persia, Ubisoft has started to take things into its own hands, overseeing production on films tied to the Assassin’s Creed and Splinter Cell franchises.

And Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot says the company doesn’t plan to cede control this time around.

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Analysts chime in on Wii U’s mid-term forecast

The Wii U is going to be a big seller this holiday season. That’s about as bold a prediction as saying Black Ops II will top the November NPD charts.

But what happens when Santa returns to the North Pole and the first wave of consumer fanaticism has started to calm down? That’s when Nintendo’s new system will really be put to the test.

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How Redbox determines which games to offer

Redbox players won’t be joining you in a game of Halo 4 this year. Redbox kiosks are only equipped to rent one disc per rental fee, hence games spanning two or three discs are complicating things for Redbox officials.

Don’t look for players who rely on Redbox as their preferred game rental service to join you in a multiplayer game of Halo 4 this year. You won’t find them playing Assassin’s Creed III online either.

And Medal of Honor: Warfighter? For the most part, they won’t be playing that at all.

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THQ: Is this the beginning of the end?

With most of its games delayed, and with the company pulling all financial guidance, looking desperately for more money, and refusing questions from analysts, Gamasutra analyst Chris Morris wonders if there’s a future left.

It’s starting to look like THQ is entering the end game.

The company beat the forecasts of financial analysts Monday, but tempered that good news with a lot of bad. Earnings guidance was suspended. The guidance for the rest of this fiscal year? Just forget about that, said the company. Big games? Delayed – with the biggest being pushed into the next fiscal year. And the money? Running short.

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