Week in Review, 3/1/2009

These days, it seems, it's all about streaming video. Those of you who make AMVs and encode them for YouTube are in luck, as the value of your skills is only going to go up in the job market.

Netflix announced it was going to offer streaming-only service plans. The Hulu vs. YouTube battle kept rolling on, and China decided it was time to come up with its own YouTube competitor.
Crunchyroll made news again, participating in Global Shinaki Day by streaming three videos. The company – which, by the way, also has a Japan branch – even attracted the attention of Editor and Publisher, trade journal of the publishing industry.

Elsewhere in anime/manga, though, things weren't so bright, as Viz announced a restructuring, including layoffs – an unfortunate effect of the bad economy, though not completely catastrophic

American comics, meanwhile, were busy having an impact in mainstream Hollywood, which seems to be going geek in a big way. The success of the Iron Man movie resulted in increased profits for Marvel, while Heath Ledger scored a posthumous Oscar for playing the Joker in The Dark Knight and the upcoming release of Watchmen continued to grab mainstream attention, including a cover story in Entertainment Weekly.
Video games attracted moviemaking attention, with 50 Cent proclaiming that he wants to do a film based on Saints Row (apparently forgetting the fact that video games rarely make good films). And even board gaming got into the act, with an annoucement of a remake of Clue, which just had people asking, "WHY?"

Elsewhere in gaming, Electronic Arts was all over the place again, saying it was going to rethink its release schedule – a smart move considering that game sales may have been hurt in the past by numerous titles coming out at once. Details also emerged about the company's much-anticipated Dante's Inferno game, which sounds kind of like EA is trying to create its own God of War. They also mulled plans to develop their own music game (the company distributes Rock Band).

Sony announced a major management restructuring that seemed to include tighter integration of its game and media departments. It also announced big plans for the PSP, including the first-ever portable version of Rock Band and a Hanna Montana bundle that suggests Sony is reaching for a piece of Nintendo's non-tranditional-gamer audience. Rumors also surfaced of a new God of War game for the device.

But the biggest news in gaming was casual games – which may be a $1 billion industry by 2013 – and online MMOs. It was noted that the average player in Perfect World's free MMO spends $10 a month anyway, and gift card maker InCom reported strong growth in game currency cards.

Funcom was the exception to the online game boom, though, losing a lot of money due to the underperformance of Age of Conan, which may have forced the company's CEO to resign. Undaunted, however, they are introducing their game in Russia and Poland.

Things continued to be tough all over in publishing, with the Rocky Mountain News of Denver closing its doors and Computer Shopper going all-digital. Digital content was hot elsewhere in the industry, with talk of a Kindle 3 starting already shortly after the release of Kindle 2 (Hearst is already bringing out its own competitor to the device).

And finally, we leave you with a word to remember for the future: Netbooks. Small and cheap means big bucks on the computer market nowadays. So keep those Linux skills polished and downsize your thinking with computer screens, because these small wonders aren't going anywhere anytime soon.