Daily News Spin — April 6, 2001 (Friday)

Conquering the galaxy in 60 Seconds...

...and Europe too! We have new 60 Second Reviews of the game with a name worth 137 points in Scrabble, Europa Universalis, and Starships Unlimited.

The cost of developing games

IDevGames has an article that breaks down the cost of developing a game and gives examples of potential profits at different sales levels. It's dry stuff with lots of charts, but if you've ever wondered about the dollars and cents side of the development process, it's worth a look.

Red Herring on games and Lord of the Rings Online?

Red Herring has a multi-part article that looks at the gaming industry's push for a larger audience. There's also mention of a Lord of the Rings online game from EA in the article. The articles include the following:

Nintendo builds a better monster

In five years, Nintendo's (OTC: NTDOY) Pokemon business has exploded from a modest pair of Game Boy titles into a multimedia monster. A collectible card game and a TV show soon followed, and since the critters landed in the United States in 1998, Pokemon-branded movies, comic books, and merchandise have also joined the Pokemon games atop their respective sales charts. All told, the world of Pokemon has generated an eye-popping $14 billion in revenues for Nintendo and its partners.

Seeing next-gen games in black and white

Of course, if a game can engage the soul of the customer, the pocketbook is sure to follow, and this equation has not been lost on Black and White's various backers. "Black and White will be a staggering, monumental release for the games business," says Ed Fries, vice president of game publishing at Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), which has struck a deal to do future console games with Mr. Molyneux. "It's going to bring us mainstream attention."

Can games make money online?

EA pay-to-play titles include Motor City Online and online versions of Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and the Sims. Sony is working on Star Wars Galaxies for LucasArts, and Activision is creating Star Trek Online.

Doh! We don't think Lord of the Rings Online was supposed to be announced. This was interesting also.

Sony subsidiary Verant Interactive created Everquest, the most popular, massively multiplayer online game with about 330,000 users paying $9.89 a month in subscriptions. That generates about twice what Sony spends to administer the game, a nice little profit center that has encouraged it to develop several other online titles, including titles for consoles that can connect to the Internet. Sony expects to add one massively multiplayer game a year; upcoming are the Planetside sci-fi game and Star Wars Galaxies.

"We're investigating online console games," says Everquest producer Brad McQuade. "We want to be ready and poised to take advantage of it. It's not if there will be a market, it's when."

Double doh! They misspelled Brad McQuaid's name. This also implies that Verant makes about $5 profit each month on each account, which would mean that 330,000 subscribers are producing about $1.65 million in profit each month. That's just a little bit more than we make from this website.

Indrema's mission impossible

John Gildred would rather fight than quit.

Even as his cash-poor startup faces its finish. "We'll know in the next 30 days," says 30-year-old Mr. Gildred. His Alameda, California-based gaming company, Indrema, desperately needs money. But, as he acknowledges, "the institutional venture capital market is looking grim."

We think this one deserves a doh! too. What were these guys smoking?

Get your hands off our games, you bastards!

They want Duke Nukem to sell Coke and Lara Croft to sell Pepsi, if places like Global Product Placement have their way, according to this story Inside.com story reposted at Yahoo.

In an August 2000 report, Forrester Research identified product placement as an important new income stream for game publishers, and predicted, perhaps a tad optimistically, that placement revenues will grow to $705 million by 2005. ''Bottom line,'' notes Sean Wargo, a senior analyst with NPD Intelect, ''gamers are a focused and dedicated consumer segment that is ripe for the picking.''

Is nothing sacred? We guess at some point they're going to insert microscopic LCDs into the underside of our eyelids so we can watch commercials while we sleep.


More Japanese Xbox skepticism. MSNBC reports that some Japanese developers think the console has "a slight chance, but it is a very tiny opportunity" to succeed in Japan. Interesting article.

Gamespot's reporting that Datel is making a Game Boy Color emulator for the PS2. Is there really demand for something like this?

There's a new Tomb Raider movie trailer at the official site. We haven't seen it yet, so we can't report on how bad the movie and how good Angelina Jolie may look.

Starcraft has topped the two million mark in sales in Korea, according to the Korean Herald. What's more amazing is that it only sold 140,000 copies in its first year over there. The boom in the Korean "Internet game rooms" is one of the chief reasons for its success.

Who says video games aren't innovative? Ok, no one, really. Konami's Shadow of Destiny for the PS2 is reviewed on Yahoo. It's got a fascinating premise. You're knifed and killed, but you're given an opportunity to cheat death by travelling back in time to prevent your assassination. Each time you're successful, it turns out you'll die a little later in the same day by a different method. You may have to travel hundreds of years back in time to prevent a tree from being planted, for example, to thwart your death in the 20th century.

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