Flying Lab software is launching a new division called Flying Lab Casual to develop casual-style persistent online games. The team will use the expertise and technology that Flying Lab has developed for its massively multiplayer online game Pirates of the Burning Sea to "create original games that feature expansive universes to explore, brilliant graphics and fun gameplay."
Mobile Publisher Gameloft reported its sales figures for its fiscal fourth quarter and financial year ended December 31, 2008.
Casual publisher Big Fish Games has signed a deal with Harlequin Enterprises Limited to make games inspired by Harlequin's line of romance novels. The games should start to be released this summer. In 2010, Harlequin will begin to publish a series of books inspired by the Mystery Case Files series of games. Just think – by September, people will be able to play match-three-style jewel games in which someone's manhood stirs. FI is eager for the first-person shooter spin-offs.
Sony has dramatically reduced its financial expectations for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2009. Previously, Sony estimated net income for the year of ¥150 billion (approximately $1.7 billion), but now expects a net loss of ¥150 billion. Sony also confirmed certain restructuring plans, involving substantial reductions to its electronics manufacturing business (not its game business).
Interactive Gaming Software (IGS) has launched its game Commander in Chief for the PC. Developed by Eversim, the game is a geo-political simulation in which players assume control of any country in the world, using data modeled off our own real-life existence.
Sony Online Entertainment purchased PoxNora (an online collectible strategy game) and most of the assets and staff of Tucson-based Octopi studios on Friday, January 16. While SOE did not, technically, purchase Octopi, the substance of the transaction is the same. SOE says that Octopi (probably soon to be renamed SOE Tucson) will work with SOE Denver to maintain and develop SOE's online strategy games.
Three new games are available as downloads for Sony's platforms, with two games for the PlayStation 3 and one for the PSP:
Most hardcore gamers forget that no matter which company may be in the lead in the war for the latest generation of consoles, there are still more PlayStation 2 units in American homes than any other console. Sony declared that in December, the PlayStation 2 surpassed 50 million consoles sold.
Lots of browser-based, persistent, online games get announced, and we tend to ignore such announcements until the games themselves materialize. However, the staff at FI are all great fans of the Zork series, and Jolt Online Gaming says that it plans to publish Legends of Zork, a persistent online adventure set in the Zork universe. A launch date is not yet set.
Developer MindFuse Games has hired Isa Anne Stamos as its Game Studio Director where Stamos will oversee the production and design of Gatheryn. Prior to joining MindFuse, Stamos served as a producer at LucasArts working on the Star Wars franchise.
Ordinarily, FI refrains from updates on downloadable content, particularly the near-constant stream of new songs released for music games such as Rock Band. But it is noteworthy that today, Harmonix (part of MTV Games) launched the music store for the Wii version of Rock Band. Wii Rock Band owners can now download 20 free tracks and 30 premium tracks at 200 points ($2) apiece. Harmonix hopes to continue releasing additional downloadable content for the Wii, weekly.
Vir2L Studios, owned by ZeniMax Media and sister company of Bethesda Softworks, is developing Medieval Games for the Wii with the help of developer N-Fusion Interactive. When released, Medieval Games will allow up to four players to participate in medieval-themed casual party games.
In the typical sort of financial maneuvering that goes on in troubled times, Ian Bell the former director of developer Blimey!, has formed a new company called Slightly Mad Studios to acquire the profitable-looking projects of Blimey!. Blimey! was owned by 10tacle Studios, and when 10tacle became insolvent last summer, Blimey went into Administration (a more refined-sounding British way of saying bankruptcy). Assuming the administrators agree, Bell will have managed to keep his company going while shedding certain financial troubles.
Gameloft has entered into a licensing agreement with Fox Mobile Entertainment that will allow it to release a mobile game based on the upcoming film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian. The game should be released when the film reaches theaters on May 22.
On January 7, Representatives Joe Baca (D, CA) and Frank Wolf (R, VA) introduced "The Video Game Health Labeling Act of 2009." The bill was referred to the House Energy & Commerce Committee and would require that games with a "T" rating or higher from the Electronics Software Ratings Board (ESRB) receive a warning label. "The warning label... shall be placed in a clear and conspicuous location on the packaging of the applicable video game and shall state: 'WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.'"
Two more downloadable games have been released for the PlayStation 3 through the PlayStation Network:
CCP Games plans to release its next major content update for its massively multiplayer online game Eve Online, called Apocrypha on March 10. The new content will see wormholes opening up throughout space that will connect new areas of the universe to the game. Apocrypha will also introduce new epic mission arcs granted by NPCs. On the same day, a new boxed release of Eve Online, distributed by Atari, will reach stores.
Major League Gaming, one of the various groups formed to promote (and profit from) professional gaming competitions, has received an additional $7.5 million investment from Oak Investment Partners. Major League Gaming points out that it has had an average of 15,000 attendees at its live competitions. Now, if only gaming can reach the level of acceptance curling has managed as a sport.
ELSPA (the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association – a U.K. industry tradegroup) declared that the total sales of videogame hardware and software in the U.K. in 2008 came to £4.034 billion (around $6 billion). This represents a 23% increase from 2007.