Monthly Archives: February 2014

How Will You Maximize Your Gaming Experience?

Maximize Your Gaming ExperienceWith thousands upon thousands of games in the iTunes App Store, there is no lack of great gameplay experiences. This is true whether you are a hardcore gamer or just looking to casually kill some time.

But the gaming experience on your iOS devices can be made a whole lot better with just a few simple tips. Maximizing battery life to keep your games going longer, providing yourself with the right hardware to make games more enjoyable, and taking advantage of all your iOS device has to offer is just a matter of knowing what’s available. Our five tips below will help you get the most out of gaming on your iPhone, iPad or iPad Touch.

1. Maximize your battery life

With a quick trip to your iPhone or iPad’s settings menu, you can make a few adjustments that will allow you to get maximum playtime out of your games in between phone recharges. Open the Settings app and find the option for brightness. There, you can adjust the brightness of your screen to a comfortable level; the lower the brightness, the more life you can get out of a single battery charge. Shutting down apps running in the background by double-clicking your device’s home button is also a good way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your battery. When you’re gaming on a battery budget, it’s best to keep your device from having to deal with any other functions or tasks so it can put all its power and battery life into playing.

2. Go for Wi-Fi

Another good way to save battery on your iPhone is to switch off your phone’s 3G data connectivity when you know you don’t need it. Games that support OpenFeint or Game Center will still function as normal in offline mode – which means you can still snag achievements and store your scores locally – without needing to waste battery or your data plan staying connected to the network. You’ll also get a much better experience in online and multiplayer games if you can find a Wi-Fi connection over a 3G one. Wi-Fi is ideal, but if you don’t have access to it and depending on the game, a 3G connection might be better than nothing.

3. Find some quality controls

Touchscreen controls can be a massive pain in some games. While plenty of App Store titles use the iPhone or iPad’s internal hardware like the accelerometer or gyroscope to make for some interesting motion-based controls, there are many more games that are much more traditional. They put virtual buttons on the screen, and those buttons control your characters’ movements and abilities, just like any video game. Touchscreen controls are often fickle and tough to play with because of the lack of a tactile response that you would get from a physical button. But there are ways to add physical buttons to your play experience. We saw tons of interesting Bluetooth gamepads that can be added to iPhones at the Consumer Electronics Show 2012 in Las Vegas this month. As well, other alternatives like the iPad arcade cabinet iCade or the Fling Joystick line for the iPhone and iPadallow you to add real controls to your device. For many gamers, the right controls can mean becoming a better player.

4. Sound matters

Though the built-in speakers on the iPhone and iPad aren’t the greatest, sound design in iOS games can often be very, very good. Titles such as Dark Meadow, Dead Space and N.O.V.A. 2 use sound to make the experience more immersive, the game spookier, and the combat more intense. Some games have console video game-caliber audio design and create a stereo experience that will have you turning left and right in the game to look for the sources of sounds. Just understand that you lose that sense of depth and immersion when you don’t have the right equipment. The ear buds that come with your iPhone or iPad will do in a pinch, but it’s recommended you get ahold of a comfortable, better-quality pair of headphones to really allow games like Groove Coaster or the Tap Tap Revenge titles reach their full potential.

5. Make some friends

Game Center, OpenFeint and other services make it possible for iOS gamers to enjoy the kinds of online communities that make console games on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 so popular. You can actually make friends online to game with, and the iOS gaming experience is a lot better for it. A good way to start: Pick your favorite Game Center titles and try to place on their leaderboards. Cruise the boards for players near your rank and shoot them a message and a challenge, because just about every game is a lot more fun when you have a little competition. There are also games that support online cooperative play, titles that let you team up with a buddy and take on other players, and plenty of games in which you can just go straight-up head-to-head with a Wi-Fi or 3G connection. Another handy way to build your friends list is to use games that integrate with Facebook. Words With Friends can get you playing against your Facebook friends on your iPhone, which is a good jumping-off point for other multiplayer games, be they casual or hardcore.

 

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Shareholder Urges Nintendo to Develop Mobile Games

Shareholder Urges Nintendo to Develop Mobile GamesSeth Fischer, one of Asia’s best-known hedge fund managers, has written to Nintendo Co Ltd urging the Japanese console maker to develop and sell games for mobile platforms run by Apple Inc and Google Inc.

Fischer, of Hong Kong-based Oasis Management Co Ltd, sent a similar letter in June to Nintendo, in which Oasis owns shares. His latest missive adds to investor pressure for the company to move on from making games only for its propriety consoles.

Some investors want Nintendo, which recently slashed its sales forecast for the Wii U console, to capitalise on the spread of smartphones and tablets by releasing games that can be played on any mobile device.

“Nintendo needs to embrace this thematic change in consumer demand, behaviour and expectations to stay relevant,” said Fischer, Oasis’ chief investment officer, in a letter on Wednesday obtained by Reuters.

Fischer, who once managed $3.3 billion (1.9 billion pounds) for DKR Soundshore Oasis Fund, opened his own hedge fund in 2011 which manages about $200 million.

“It is readily apparent that the standard elasticity of demand principle no longer applies in the consumer entertainment market when access requires the purchase of a physical product,” Fischer said in the letter to Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata.

DIGGING IN

Nintendo has dug in its heels on a game console strategy that has dragged it into operating losses for three years in a row, ignoring calls to go mobile and promising instead to wow customers with health-related innovations.

Unlike rivals Microsoft Corp and Sony Corp, whose recently released XBox One and PlayStation 4 have seen strong sales, the creator of “Super Mario” has resisted pressure to open up game development to other firms.

“We consider individual requests separately within the company but I don’t think we would announce the results thereof,” a Nintendo spokesman said in response to Fischer’s letter.

The spokesman declined to comment directly on any consideration Nintendo may have given to Fischer’s request.

Fischer could not be reached for comment.

Nintendo relies on the popularity of its franchises, such as Mario and Zelda, to drive sales of its hardware, but investors fear Nintendo is missing out on opportunities offered by smartphones or tablets, over 1 billion of which are in use and account for a rising proportion of games played.

Mobile games developer King, for example, generated $1.9 billion in revenues in 2013, or $5 million a day, from its game Candy Crush Saga which has been downloaded more than 500 million times since its 2012 launch.

The importance of mobile platforms for technology companies was driven home last week by Facebook Inc’s $19 billion purchase of messaging app WhatsApp, which followed a similar acquisition by Rakuten Inc the week before.

“As the holder of what is arguably the largest library of casual games, Nintendo is well placed to make an immediate entry into mobile,” Fischer said.

 

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Impatient Gamers Play a Key Role in Accelerating Mobile Gaming Industry Growth

Impatient Gamers Play Key Role in Accelerating Mobile Gaming Industry GrowthThe mobile gaming industry has now become a multi-billion-dollar business thanks to the impatience of gamers who are highly addicted to games like Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and many others. Though the leading smartphone operating systems like Android and iOS offer free downloading for games, the developers may developers of the respective games may tempt gamers to pay in nominal amount to get some extra moves or obtain cheat codes to get fast to the next level. And gamers falling prey to such offers are the ones who have played a major role in expanding the mobile gaming industry at a lightening pace.

Developers like King Digital Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush, looks at the business of developing games as highly lucrative and had even filed a request to launch IPO (Initial Public Offering) amounting to  whooping $500 million. The firm is planning to get listed on NYSE (New York Stock Exchange).

According to IHS, the freebies have indeed managed to pull in more money and the overall spending on such apps in 2013 have reached $16.5 billion. This is almost 60% rise as compared to the spending in 2012. At the current pace, the industry may grow double digit in the coming 3 to 5 years.

Mobile analyst Jack Kent of Britain said that, “The way the games are set up is that there is no real limit on how much someone will spend within a single game. You are encouraged to keep going back and spend more.”

Gartner’s consumer technology analyst Brian Blau said, “You either get the app for free or you pay a very low price. Then, the app hooks you, gets you interested. There is a certain amount of that addictive gambling type psychology about it but for the most part people just want to play the game. They like it.”

He added, “The surprise is that developers have figured out a way for some users to get that kind of money out of mobile apps. There is nothing tricky about it. The thing is that you want to play the game. There is a quality of the game that you like and that is what is causing you to do it. Are people impatient? Yes, I have to say that. Do they love playing games? The fact is, yes.”

 

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Thief is 900p on Xbox One, but Eidos Montreal explains why that’s OK

xboxThief will run at a native resolution of 900p on Xbox One, Square Enix has confirmed to GameSpot. The PlayStation 4 version will run at a native resolution of 1080p.

Thief is the latest in what is becoming an increasingly long line of third-party titles that feature a lower native resolution on Microsoft’s platform. At 900p, Thief has the same resolution on Xbox One as Ryse: Son of Rome and Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Other titles, such as Call of Duty: Ghosts and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, run at a native resolution of 720p.

Both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions of Thief will run at 30fps.

“We can’t really see the difference,” says Thief game director Nicolas Cantin to GameSpot when talking about the two versions. Many of the developers at Eidos Montreal maintain that the two versions are almost identical when running side-by-side.

The developers also insist that a lower resolution has no detrimental effect on the gameplay of Garret’s adventure. “For me, in my mind, the PS4 and the Xbox One experience: it is the same thing,” says Cantin.

“I think it’s becoming too big,” said Cantin when asked if the ongoing argument over native resolution is becoming a bigger issue than it should be. “To see it as a big topic? I really wonder why at some point.”

Cantin maintains that working hardware specifications is a “limit” but that it’s more of an engineering problem–and that the creative team did not find developing for Xbox One or PlayStation 4 a constraint. “The Xbox [One] version is really good, it’s really looking great, as is the PlayStation 4,” he adds.

Ultimately, resolution will “never degrade the game experience,” Cantin says. “I can assure you that.”

Thief will be released for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC on February 25.

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Candy Crush Maker Files for an I.P.O.

candyThe company that brought the world the addictive puzzle game Candy Crush Saga is hoping that investors will line up for a piece of its stock as well.

King Digital Entertainment, which has headquarters in Dublin but has offices across Europe and in San Francisco, filed on Tuesday for an initial public offering in the United States. But prospective investors may be wary that players may be tiring of paying to line up shiny virtual pieces of sugar.

While King’s preliminary prospectus gave a preliminary $500 million fund-raising target to determine registration fees, the company is expected to seek a multibillion-dollar valuation. It confidentially filed for an I.P.O. last year.

King is the latest in a growing number of European social gaming companies that have become global champions.

Supercell, the Finnish tech start-up behind the Clash of Clans and Hay Day franchises, raised $1.5 billion last year from the Japanese telecommunications company Softbank, in a deal that valued Supercell at around $3 billion.

Other European gaming companies include Wooga, a Berlin-based start-up that has created a series of social gaming hits like Jelly Splash that continue to top the charts on both Apple’s iTunes and Google Play’s stores.

The rise of the nearly 11-year-old King, built largely on the huge success of Candy Crush, has had many analysts and prospective investors eagerly await an I.P.O. The company said that its profit surged more than 7,000 percent last year, to $567.6 million from $7.8 million. Revenues climbed tenfold, to nearly $1.9 billion.
Candy Crush, in which players try to line up three or more matching types of candy, has an average of 93 million users a day.Candy Crush, via Associated Press Candy Crush, in which players try to line up three or more matching types of candy, has an average of 93 million users a day.

In its filing, the game maker disclosed that it has 128 million daily active users, some of whom spend big amounts of money to buy lives or special tools.

Candy Crush, in which players try to line up three or more matching types of candy, contributed the vast majority of that number with an average of 93 million users a day. It remains the second-highest-grossing app on Apple’s App Store as of Tuesday, behind Clash of Clans.

Other popular games include Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga.

Despite the rapid successes of these European companies, analysts and investors fret that the gaming start-ups remain reliant on a small number of hits.

Share prices have slumped at American rivals like Zynga, which went public in 2011, as investors raise concerns that they will not be able to create new gaming franchises that will keep consumers entertained.

Some investors may be concerned that King could suffer the same fate. The company said that its top three games comprised 95 percent of its total gross bookings.

The company’s gross bookings and revenue declined in the fourth quarter of 2013, in part because of a decline in the Candy Crush business. King emphasized that it expected its blockbuster hit to contribute less to its overall sales over time.

JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse and Bank of America Merrill Lynch are leading the underwriting of the I.P.O.

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Don’t Type “Flappy” on Android’s Play Store and iOS’s App Store

Don't Type Flappy on Android's Play Store and iOS’s App StoreDong Nguyen’s sudden decision to take down his immensely popular mobile game ‘Flappy Bird’ is likely to create a few problems for the existing and upcoming games on Android’s Play Store and iOS’s App Store. The main problem will be for the games or apps that contain the word ‘flappy’. As per the reports, both Apple and Google are simply rejecting any new games which use ‘flappy’ word in their titles. The two companies have said that the move will help them to restrict clones of the popular game from coming up on their store.

The Cupertino giant denied upfront to add a game called Flappy Dragon to its app store. The game was developed by Ken Carpenter of Canada. He works for Mind Juice Media in Vancouver. He said that the reason company gave for such rejection was his app dishonored the section 22.2 of the App Store Review Guidelines.

As per the guideline, Mr. Carpenter got a warning, “Apps that contain false, fraudulent or misleading representations will be rejected. We found that your app, and/or its metadata, contains content that could be misleading to users, which is not in compliance with the App Store Review Guidelines. We found your app name attempts to leverage a popular app”. Mr. Carpenter said that he will resubmit his game under a different title Dwerpy Dragon.

Google Android’s Playstore too reacted in somewhat similar fashion when it came across the word ‘flappy’. It simply treated the entries using the word as spam. Mr. Carpenter said that he did not receive a detailed and fair warning from Google as he received from Apple. He added that the search engine giant did not give a detailed warning on why his entry was rejected. The company simply referred his entry as spam and was not very specific in its reasons for such denial.

Another source said that both the companies are denying such requests so that they can fight clones of the highly popular game quite effectively. Some of the games that may be affected by the move include Splashy Fish, Flappy Pig etc. another app called Flappy Bee recently changed its name to Jumpy Bee.

Only future will tell how the developments take place on the complications arouse out of the sudden taking down of Flappy Bird.

 

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Smartphone Users Playing More Games on Valentine’s Day than Christmas

Smartphone Users Playing More Games on Valentine’s Day than ChristmasMany gamers are spending Valentine’s Day with their true loves: their smartphones.

It looks like Feb. 14 is the new king of mobile-gaming holidays. Consumers are spending more time with mobile games on Valentine’s Day than they do on Christmas, according to Animal Voyage and Campus Life developer Pocket Gems. The studio found that fans played around 9 percent more than the average on Feb. 14. That’s compared to Christmas, which was up only around 2 percent.

Holidays are traditionally big events for the mobile-gaming industry, but most publishers assume that Christmas is the time to strike. People get new devices during that gift-giving holiday, and that encourages gamers to hop on the Apple App Store or Google Play to find something to play.

“People are coming back more times on Valentine’s Day,” Pocket Gems head of analytics Michael Fedor told GamesBeat. “That’s a critical metric in the measurement of engagement.”

Fedor says that the team at Pocket Gems is split on explaining this trend. Some think that it’s couples playing games together. Others more pessimistically believe this is a sign that single gamers turn to their mobile games as a way to shut out all that gooey romance crap when they’re alone.

“It’s funny because it’s open to interpretation,” said Fedor. “It gives you insight into the person interpreting the data.”

Regardless of why people play more on Valentine’s Day, Pocket Gems is looking to capitalize. Last year, the company introduced a new dating mechanic in its Campus Life social-life simulator in February. This tied in with with the holiday, and it was was very popular with gamers.

The studio thinks other developers could benefit from this as well by releasing Valentine’s Day content or creating quests that incorporates love and dating.

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Hay Day and Clash of Clans Brings in Millions of Dollars Every day for Supercell

Hay Day and Clash of Clans Brings in Millions of Dollars Every day for SupercellFinnish games firm Supercell has published its financial results for 2013, revealing that its two mobile games, Clash of Clans and Hay Day, generated $892m of revenues last year.

That’s up from $101m in 2012 – both games launched in the summer of that year – with the company’s earnings before interest, tax and amortisation rising from $51m in 2012 to $464m in 2013.

Supercell had 132 staff at the end of 2013 according to the Wall Street Journal, which picked up on the financial results. That’s a startling $6.75m of revenues per employee for the company, which started life making Facebook games before pivoting to focus on tablets and smartphones.

Together, Clash of Clans and Hay Day averaged $2.44m of daily revenues in 2013, although that figure is likely much higher now. This week, a hacker gained access to Supercell’s internal systems, and published screenshots suggesting that on 7 February 2014 alone, the developer pulled in $5.15m of revenue.

Supercell has been testing its third game, Boom Beach, in a few countries for several months, but the Wall Street Journal claims it will launch commercially in March on Apple’s iOS, with Android to follow, in a similar release pattern to the previous games.

Mobile analytics firm Distimo estimates that Clash of Clans was the world’s most lucrative iOS game in 2013, with Hay Day in third place behind rival King’s Candy Crush Saga. Supercell’s two games also featured high in Apple’s end-of-2013 top grossing charts on its App Store.

2013 was quite a year for Supercell, beyond the performance of its games. In April, the company raised $130m of venture capital funding valuing it at $770m, but six months later, two Japanese companies – telco SoftBank and games publisher GungHo Online – made a strategic investment of $1.5bn in Supercell to help fuel its growth.

“Our growth speaks a lot about the platform that we’re on, and how quickly games can spread organically,” chief executive Ilkka Paananen told The Guardian in July 2013, while laying out Supercell’s plans for global expansion.

“If you think five years ahead about what the most valuable games companies will look like, they’ll need to have a strong foothold not only in the Western markets, but in one or two of the big Asian markets: Japan, Korea and China,” said Paananen.

“One of our goals is to create the first fully-global games company, which has players both in the West and in the big Asian markets. We still have a very long way to go, but the signs have been very promising.”

 

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7 Alternatives now that you can’t Download Flappy Bird

7 alternatives now that you can't download Flappy BirdNumerous developers have rushed in to plug the void left by frustrating mobile sensation Flappy Bird, which was removed from the iOS App Store and Google Play over the weekend.

While users who already downloaded Flappy Bird can still play it on their devices, many of these copycats are rocketing up the charts on both mobile storefronts–Clumsy Bird is number one on the “top new free” section of Google Play Store at time of writing, while Ironpants is at the top of the free charts on iOS.

Who, exactly, is downloading these Flappy Bird clones in such vast quantities? Have you been tempted? If you’re jonesing for a Flappy Bird fix, here are seven of the most popular alternatives right now:

Ironpants is free on both iOS and Android, and replaces the bird with a caped superhero. The controls are even twitchier than Flappy Bird, if such a thing is possible, but the relatively slick presentation ensures it’s likely to do well. Does have a habit of bombarding your screen with ads that you have to click to remove, however.

Clumsy Bird on Android takes Flappy Bird and, well, basically changes the bird to look like a cruder version of red bird from Angry Birds, and also is loosely based around the Rovio-esque premise of nasty dragons stealing the eggs of Clumsy Bird. It allows users to buy overpriced packs of crystals to save themselves from death.

Fly Birdie – Flappy Bird Flyer on iOS is one of the more brazen (and currently successful) Flappy Bird alternatives, but swoops low enough to charge $0.99/£0.69 for pack of three lives.

Flappy Wings (not Flappy Bird) on Android does its best to attract those searching for Flappy Bird by even mentioning it in its own title. It’s absolutely riddled with advertisements and the hitboxes feel like they’re completely out of whack.

Fluffy vs Flappy Birds on iOS is another of the most unashamed clones right now, and features an extensive suite of in-app purchases: ranging from 10,000 coins for $0.99, removing ads for $1.99, or unlocking the “Ruller [sic] of the skies” for $4.99.

Tired of birds? Flappy Bee, which is out on both iOS and Android, gives you the chance to play the exact same game but with a bee. To be fair, the artwork in Flappy Bee is much nicer than many of the other Flappy Bird clones.

But what if you don’t have an iPhone, iPad, or Android device? There’s always browser game FlappyDoge, which is a self-explanatory blend of the two topical icons. Many flaps.

The developer of mobile sensation Flappy Bird, Dong Nguyen, removed his lucrative application over the weekend after saying it ruining his simple life, despite the game bringing its owner $50,000 a day from advertising revenue.

“I am sorry Flappy Bird users,” said Nguyen, “22 hours from now, I will take Flappy Bird down. I cannot take this anymore.”

“I can call Flappy Bird is a success of mine. But it also ruins my simple life. So now I hate it.”

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GameOn Pairs Up With Dutch Govt. to Finance Mobile-game Startups

GameOn Pairs Up With Dutch Govt. to Finance Mobile-game StartupsGameOn has decided to pair up with Dutch Government to finance mobile-game startups in Netherlands. The move came as an initiative to use early-stage investment as a ladder for the startups to grow fast and stable. The company has decided to pour in an investment fund of approximately $13.6 million or €10 million.

The funding clearly indicates the importance mobile gaming industry has gained in the recent times and its potential to help a country to grow economically. Finland has come up as an excellent example of how government’s funding to gaming industry can help the economy of the country. The Finnish Government has been investing in the industry since 1990s and has now succeeded in building around 180 game companies of its own. This has also generated as much as 3000 jobs for the country. Some of the leading companies here include Rovio, the developer of highly popular game Angry Birds, and Supercell, the developer of Clash of Clans. Netherlands too now wants to create such an example.

GameOn will be making a debut at a conference in Amsterdam called Casual Connect Europe. The main objective of the company is to boost gaming industry growth in Netherlands by investing in startup groups. It will invest primarily in the companies that have unique business plans and models. It wishes to work with companies in Netherlands who are into developmental stage and the ones who wish to establish their business in Holland.

Reinout te Brake, the founder member of GameOn, said, “The games industry is evolving rapidly, with games companies and infrastructure providers constantly tweaking their content and business models to get an edge in the grab of the elusive consumers. The industry is highly democratized, and the current distribution models and game development tools make it relatively easy and inexpensive for developers to launch games.”

He further said, “But as ‘free-to-play’ becomes the primary business model, developers also need a strong understanding of how first to get their games discovered and then how to monetize them successfully. We have a tremendous pool of talented and creative designers in the Netherlands, but they are mostly working for hire, and so, we need to learn and build on our games monetization knowledge.”

Mark Rutte, the Prime Minister of Netherlands, said, “Entertainment games are serious business and opportunity is knocking at our door. I’m therefore please to support the GameOn initiative, which reaffirms our country’s position as a pioneer in creativity and innovation.”

 

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