Links of the Day, 12/15/2008

Video Games

Time Warner has purchased 10 million more shares of Eidos and now owns about 20% of the company. This looks like a win-win on both sides. Tomb Raider company has been through some bumpy financial times as of late, and this new move should shore them up considerably. Meanwhile, Time Warner gets a big stake in the Lara Croft franchise, a proven cross-media success.

Is Electronic Arts headed in a more highbrow direction to help save itself? The company may have canceled its Need for Speed franchise, which focuses on auto racing, and has announced it is developing a game based on Dante's Inferno. The Dante project could be a game-changer for the company in either direction, and is worth keeping an eye on. 

Activision Blizzard has sold Chilean subsidiary Wanako Games to Montreal-based Artificial Mind and Movement. As Wanako's specialty is the up-and-coming field of downloadable games for consoles, this is definitely a forward-looking move on Artificial Mind's part. (Plus, it may mean more games jobs opening up in the Montreal area!)

Is the industry truly recession-proof? Bloomberg seems to think that Nintendo is, but the rest of the gaming business, not so much. The report especially cited the price of Sony's Playstation 3 as a factor in making the device undesirable in this economic climate. More bad news for Sony, which has fallen twice as far behind the Xbox as it was when the systems launch, according to an analysis by the Gamasutra blog. Furthermore, CNN says the PS3 is dying on the shelves. Sony's story is definitely a cautionary tale of corporate hubris – just because you had one massive success, that doesn't mean people will automatically buy your followup at any price.  

Sports games continue to be among the most popular on all consoles, and 505 games is throwing a new competitive arena in with all the football and baseball titles – swimming. The company is developing multiple titles in conjunction with Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, for both console and handheld devices. And in a piece of good news for West Coast game industry types, the British company is opening a new studio in Los Angeles to work on the titles.

Apple is now touting the iPhone as a gaming console, saying it may even be a threat to the DS. This is to be taken with a major grain of salt – in fact, the entire shaker, given that the device has yet to really prove its mettle in the gaming arena (although it did score the latest release in thKatamari Damacy franchise)  - but at least it shows that the company will very much be open to game development for its handheld. 


Google just can't seem to stay out of the news. The company is taking heat from the Wall Street Journal , which is accusing it of abandoning its support of network neutrality by approaching major internet service providers "with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content," making sites like YouTube run faster than their competition. Google is loudly denying this, but the inevitable further investigation of the claims should prove interesting, especially in light of how close they came to antitrust claims in the failed Yahoo ad deal. Meanwhile, it seems to consider its Chrome browser much more of a level playing field, allowing a company outsider to add code to the project.

Palm, which is still trying to stay alive in an iPhone world, is planning a massive product launch next month, featuring a new Linux-based OS called Nova. This is the latest appearance of the suddenly-hot Linux, which is rapidly looking like a must in the toolbox of software developers for all sorts of platforms.

Ways to Monetize Twitter: Industry experts offer suggestions on how the infuentual but unprofitable microblogging tool can be turned into a money-spinner, including merchandising, selling ads within tweets and offering a "Twitter Pro" version. Some of the suggestions are good advice for anyone planning to build a social networking system.

BitTorrent's initial $17 million funding round may have been reduced, which could be very bad news for the file-sharing service, which has had a bumpy ride of it lately. It's interesting that a lot of people perceive BitTorrent to be a massive success (especially considering the extent of its use in the anime community), but this proves a sobering reality – you can have a ton of users for your product, but you can't make a living of it without the funding. 


Investors may be too optimistic about consumer recovery: A caution that even if the holiday shopping season tuns out to be more successful than expected, that doesn't necessarily mean the economy is recovering.