Betting big on Wii U, Ubisoft hopes people understand the console

Ubisoft SVP Tony Key believes in the potential of Nintendo’s innovative new Wii U. Problem is, he’s not totally sure if the general consumer really understands the console’s potential.

With the exception of Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, no one bets more heavily on new console launches than Ubisoft.

It’s something of a video game industry tradition that the publisher rushes headlong into new system launches — and with the Wii U on the way, it plans to have six titles available on day one (with three more coming by the end of Nintendo’s extended “launch window”).

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Zynga: Is this the start of a turnaround?

Game developers may not be lining up at Zynga’s doors after a cost restructuring that resulted in approximately 150 layoffs earlier this week, but in business terms, are things finally on the upswing?

I’m about to say something that’s likely to make me unpopular around these parts: Zynga may actually know what it’s doing.

I know… I know… But after months of seemingly drifting aimlessly and taking no steps to correct its ongoing free-fall in the markets, the company has made a few intelligent moves this week that have finally turned heads – and it’s done that as its biggest partner has tried to bury it.

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Beyond shovelware: Where do social games go from here?

When Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said “consumers won’t pay for crap,” he hit the nail on the head as to why some social game companies are going through a crisis, argues Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris.John Riccitiello may not be the most popular executive in the video game industry, but when he speaks an undeniable truth, you have to give him credit. 

Riccitiello made news last week when, at a conference, he noted “consumers won’t pay for crap” when it comes to social games. And while one could argue that, ok, people do sometimes pay for crappy things in general, he absolutely hit the nail on the head as to one of the chief reasons social game companies (including his own) are going through a crisis these days.

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Opinion: Is Zynga ready to throw in the towel on Wall St?

Mark Pincus has never been someone who follows the same path as the rest of the video game industry, but his latest divergence is a particularly interesting one.

A little over a week ago, Zynga CEO Pincus retweeted an analysis piece suggesting the company should abandon its efforts as a publicly traded entity and consider going private. The suggestion comes less than a year after Zynga’s highly publicized IPO.

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EA drops the ball with NBA Live cancellation

In a year where there have been plenty of head-scratching moves by video game publishers, EA’s decision to sit out yet another NBA season is perhaps the most baffling.

It is nothing short of a colossal failure on the part of the company that has historically been the leader in sports games. The company’s inability to put together a high quality (or even remotely competitive) product in the ample time budgeted to do so has given Take-Two de facto exclusivity in a lucrative field for the third consecutive year. And barring a miracle or some extraordinarily savvy maneuvering, it may have just ceded the category forever.

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iPhone 5 could have a big impact on games

There’s no question the iPhone 5 will be a roaring success when it goes on sale Sept. 21. But the latest smart phone from Apple could also give certain game publishers a significant boost.

Gaming has increasingly been an important part of the Apple ecosystem – and while video game companies only made token appearances at Wednesday’s press event, at least one says it views the new phone’s release as a major catalyst for the industry.

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Zynga’s biggest gamble yet

With news of another pair of executives bolting from Zynga Monday, it seems time to start focusing on who’s filling those increasingly empty seats, rather than who’s left in them.

While chief technical officer Allan Leinwand and chief marketing and revenue officer Jeff Karp explore other pastures, the pressure is about tostart mounting on Maytal Ginzburg, who came on board at the end of last month to fill the chief operating officer position left vacant by John Schappert’s unceremonious departure from the company.

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Opinion: Zynga investors start to realize their predicament

As Zynga’s share prices circle the drain, Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris examines how CEO Mark Pincus’ “insistence on absolute control” has left the company’s investors in a tough position.

It’s a pretty safe assumption that anyone who shelled out for Zynga stock when the company went public — or even in the five months that followed — isn’t real happy these days.

After reaching a high of nearly $16 per share, the stock now dwells in the cellar, closing Thursday at $3.25. (And, if it weren’t for JMP Securities’ bullish words when it initiated coverage on the company Wednesday, it would almost certainly be even lower.)

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Opinion: OnLive is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma

OnLive was the first high-profile advocate of a newfangled concept called “cloud games.” With the company on the ropes, Chris Morris examines the unanswered questions surrounding OnLive’s future.

Whatever becomes of OnLive in the months and years to come, one thing is certain: Its handling of its ongoing transition (or rebirth or metamorphosis — whatever you choose to call it) is going to go down in the halls of video game infamy.

It’s a change that, in terms of confusion, has been handled about as well as the early days of the Sony hacking incident and the 2010 “shut down”/rebirth of Good Old Games. And while there is more solid information today than there was when word of the mass layoffs came about on Friday, there are still plenty on unanswered questions.

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Wall Street eyes GameStop as a takeover candidate

There’s been plenty of new chatter indicating that leading video game retailer GameStop is a prime buyout target. How likely is that scenario, and if it happened, what would it mean for publishers?

Video game consumers have something of a love-hate relationship with GameStop. So do publishers.

For that matter, so do investors. And over the past couple of days, Wall Street insiders (and the financial blogosphere) have been whispering furiously about the possibility that GameStop could find itself on the receiving end of a buyout offer at some point in the future.

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