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GDC 2008: Can These Men Save PC Gaming?

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343w ago - It's one of the oldest songs in the catalogue but somehow it never seems to go out of style. You know the one I mean. It's the one that goes something like, "PC gaming is dead." Year after year we hear doomsayers proclaim the coming apocalypse of PC gaming and yet here we are.

News of PC gaming's ever-present demise always seems to hit an apex around the launch of a new console but with the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3 and Nintendo's Wii still dominating the sales charts perhaps now is the time to seriously consider that our past time may be in trouble.

Enter the PC Gaming Alliance: a collection of individuals representing the biggest companies in PC gaming who've charged themselves with promoting the PC as a platform to rival any console. Members of the PCGA include representatives from Intel, AMD, Microsoft, NVIDIA, Dell, Acer, Activision and Epic Games.

Their press release states that the "PCGA and its member companies will work to accelerate innovation, improve the gaming experience for consumers and serve as a collective source of market information and expertise on PC gaming."

So does PC gaming need saving? The PCGA doesn't think so. Citing statistics from leading research firm DFC Intelligence PCGA President Randy Stude - who is also the Director of Gaming Strategy at Intel...
 

Game-Ad Boom Looms as Sony Opens Up PS3

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343w ago - Sony is opening up its in-game advertising platform -- likely providing a boost to the already-burgeoning $400 million in-game-ad market and sparking a battle among the three key players who sell these ads.

The maker of the PlayStation3 system will offer an open platform, meaning in-game-ad-serving companies Double Fusion, IGA and Google-owned AdScape all will be able to sell ads in games that run on PS3, according to people familiar with Sony's plans.

The three companies will strike deals with the major game publishers creating PS3 games, such as Electronic Arts, Activision and Ubisoft. Increasingly, those who score the plum publisher deals will turn out to be the winners in the competitive and fast-growing space.

"It'll come down to games and who has the largest catalog of games," said one person familiar with Sony's plans, but who did not have authorization to speak about it publicly.

In-house sales team

Sony is just starting to sell in-game ads and has its own PlayStation Network sales force to sell dynamic ads in Sony-produced games, such as the forthcoming "Pain" title. A Sony spokesman said the company doesn't comment on unannounced initiatives or products.

The decision will ramp up the competition for prime publisher inventory in a battle not...
 

XBLA Royalty Rate Changes - Closer To The Truth?

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343w ago - So, one of the big stories from earlier this week was Kotaku's one on Microsoft apparently 'cutting XBLA royalties in half', and it's one that has caused a lot of controversy, with plenty of predictable name-calling and insistence on the death of XBLA as a viable platform.

One of the problems here, of course, is that Kotaku's report only had one side of the story - and Microsoft isn't really in a position to refute the reports, because it will not discuss original or current royalty rates in public. Which leads us to a problem to be resolved - did Microsoft really cut its XBLA royalty rates in half without _ANY_ changes to the developer package?

The answer is no, of course. How Xbox Live Arcade works is badly understood by many, but let's try to split it up. Firstly, there are two different ways you can publish your game - either via Microsoft's own XBLA producers (let's call that 'first party'), or via an existing retail publishing partner such as Electronic Arts, Sierra, THQ, and so on (let's call that 'third party').

From what I understand, third-party royalty rates - which I believe were already less than 70% - are not affected at all by any of these new royalty changes. (Of course, if you're an indie and you have to go through a third-party, you will be getting a percentage of a percentage,...
 

EA desperate to buy Take Two

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343w ago - EA is trying to buy TakeTwo. The speed with which EA management is moving hints at desperation. A cash offer of US$26 per share was rejected outright by the Take-Two board, even though that's 65% higher than what those shares are currently worth.

It was an extraordinarily generous offer, until you factor in GTA IV. EA lost money last year, and the prospect of reaping the profits from what could be the biggest video game of all time was impossible to ignore.

Since the Take-Two board rejected the offer without bothering to tell their shareholders, EA has taken the liberty of going public. In an open letter on the EA website, CEO John Riccitiello makes his case: "Development costs are rising dramatically and games that aren't big hits struggle to reach profitability. Most independent studios don't have much margin for error. The result has been consolidation - large publishers are merging and independent developers are more amenable to being acquired."

He even makes light of EA's chequered history of takeovers. "We've all heard the stories about teams that got mismanaged in a merger - I know I've got a few." Former employees of Westwood and Origin Systems would certainly have strong opinions on the matter. Yet he claims that EA has changed its ways, introducing a 'Label'...
 

Electronic Arts audacious bid to buy Take-Two

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343w ago - Electronic Arts today announced that it has proposed to acquire Take-Two in an all-cash deal valued at approximately $2.0 billion.

The news follows weeks of rumors that Take-Two would be the subject of an acquisition bid, with Viacom touted as a possible suitor at $1.5 billion. EA has, it turns out, attempted to buy Take-Two for $25 a share, and, after being rebuffed, has upped the ante by a buck. But the firm has warned shareholders that they won't get a better price.

EA's proposal of $26 per share in cash represents a premium of 64 percent over Take-Two's closing stock price prior to the company's bid.

EA Chief Executive Officer John Riccitiello said "Our all-cash proposal is a unique opportunity for Take-Two shareholders to realize immediate value at a substantial premium, while creating long-term value for EA shareholders. Take-Two's game designers would also benefit from EA's financial resources, stable, game-focused management team, and strong global publishing capabilities."

He urged Take-Two shareholders to accept the bid, "There can be no certainty that in the future EA or any other buyer would pay the same high premium we are offering today."

EA had warned Take-Two's bosses that if they refused to engage in negotiations, the company would go public with its...
 
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