With the holidays coming up, I thought I'd point out what is, in my opinion, one of the coolest gaming-related gifts I've ever seen....
NPD released sales numbers for the month of November yesterday, showing an early picture of where holiday shoppers are putting their dollars. It seems pretty clear that Sony's drubbing continues, even though the company is doing its best to paint a rosy picture.
Content isn't necessarily king -- context counts for a lot. This is certainly true for Webs.com, which had over a billion page views within 90 days of growth. The company did this by placing its casual games into Facebook's app platform. As the casual game space grows, success isn't just about having a fun and engaging game. Placement is key.
"Mass Effect" has floored me. I'm still processing the aftermath, and figuring out how high the game will fall on my "favorite games ever" list. But there is enough conversation about how it's a very serious candidate for Game of the Year. What I have found particularly compelling about "Mass Effect" is how it signifies a potential shift in the design and tone of interactive media.
Over the weekend, I completed "Assassin's Creed," which according to reports is the hottest-selling new IP in the last five years. The game, while somewhat repetitive, was a great technological achievement, modeling three medieval cities in gorgeous detail, and an engaging gameplay experience. Many, many players share that opinion. But many, many players have developed an intense hatred for the game, even without playing it.
Casual game leader Popcap tested a number of different setups for its game ads. The best ad configuration to sell games was the level lock, in which users could purchase and register the game to make the ads go away -- so there's no inventory for the advertiser.
Who has the time for casual gaming? With schedules micromanaged to the minute, many people just don't have time to sit down, relax, and play a round of "Bejewled." Oh, sure, some housewives might have the leisure time when the kids are at school, but what about the rest of humanity? How can we game when we're always on the go?
I realize it's a bit meta for media types to talk about the media giving too much attention to a particular game, so I'll keep this brief: "Manhunt 2," a mediocre, ultra-violent title for the Wii and PS2, is shaping up to be the most thoroughly covered release in the mainstream press, largely because it allows newscasters to frown significantly, and pronounce piously that they can't imagine why anyone would want to play such a violent game.
Solitaire is part of a shrinking group of games: those that are designed to be played alone. Casual gaming has lowered the barrier of entry for games, expanding the participants in the pastime significantly. In addition, networking capabilities are bringing to gaming many of the benefits Web 2.0 brought to the Internet.