Some of you may remember the Gizmondo, a portable gaming console announced in 2005 that was positioned as a competitor to the Sony PSP and Nintendo DS. Tiger Telematics, the company which produced it, was headed by a couple of Swedes who eventually left the firm just before it went bankrupt in early 2006. It's an incredible tale involving a crashed Ferrari Enzo, dealings with the Mafia, and millions of dollars of investor funds going down the drain.
After being in private beta for the last three months, Playyoo is opening its doors for everyone this morning. The site is aimed at casual gamers who like playing games on their mobile phones. Like Kongregate, game developers can show off their wares and interact directly with the people playing them. Better yet, anyone without programming knowledge can use Playyoo's WYSIWYG game creator tool to create one of six game presets of simple games like pairs, tic tac toe, snake, and ping-pong. While the amount of customizations on these gaming presets is fairly limited, the titles uploaded by real game developers tend to have a little more depth. Developers with existing projects can simply port them over with a Playyoo-supplied template for Flash 8 Pro or CS3.
In terms of cost, if users find a game they like, they can download it to their mobile phones free of charge. The entire service is run by advertising, which shows up both on the site and on the games when you start them up.
What I really like about Playyoo is that it supplies each user with a customized "game stream" that can be tweaked similar to Facebook's newsfeed so that certain game genres show up more or less than others (get a peek at this after the jump). It makes it easy to discover new content as it comes in. Likewise, Playyoo users can send recommendations to one another if they come across something cool or worth playing.
Playyoo currently supports a pretty massive variety of phones. It's also nice enough to let you know how many games out of the entire library your phone can handle, along with providing a bandwidth limiter you can set to automatically cut you off of after burning through a set limit of data. While the graphics of the titles may not blow your socks off (like the upcoming Vollee service) you can't beat the price, and the potential for the game creator Web app is promising for folks like me with little to no coding skills.
More screens after the jump.… Read more
There's a contradiction in our approach to kids and electronic media: we want parents to supervise their kids and guide their appropriate use of games and media, and at the same time we talk about kids being "digital natives" who understand the gaming world much better than many parents do.
Let's face it, kids can spend hours talking to each other about the latest gadget or video game, and it is a challenge for parents to catch up. Most video game reviews discuss a game from the player's point of view without giving parents the details they need to judge whether a particular game is appropriate for their child. (I frequently encounter the same problem with movie reviews for kids' films. I am usually not that concerned about how "good" a kids' movie is, but I want to know the details behind a movie's PG-13 rating. Yet that information is rarely provided.)
A new Web site called WhatTheyPlay.com fills in this information gap. The site launched in November and already features a well-populated catalog of game reviews. Now parents can get the details beyond ESRB ratings, with objective reviews and user comments, to decide for themselves whether they want to bring a game home for their family.… Read more
In the News.com offices, people have been completely hooked on Guitar Hero. Really, we haven't heard The Scorpions this much since the late '80s. We hear that in some other businesses they play a game called "golf." There's even a rumor that careers are made and broken, and millions of dollars change hands, all based on relationships forged on the "golf course."
It sounds funny to us--a grassy hillside, some sticks, a teeny ball, and plaid trousers. Well, the plaid trousers did cross over to Guitar Hero. But I digress.
Apparently, unable to … Read more
"I'll go on a hunger strike!"
So said one adamant Facebook user in the wake of the news that game manufacturers Hasbro and Mattel were trying to do something about the wildly popular, unquestionably addictive online game known as Scrabulous.
The game, which rose to fame when its creators turned it into an embeddable Facebook application, is a word game that's a whole lot like the classic board game Scrabble. It uses a playing board with "bonus" spots just like Scrabble. In fact, the rules are identical to Scrabble's.
The companies in charge … Read more
A story in The New York Times yesterday reports that the video game industry has finally woken up and realized that in order to stay strong going forward, it can't rely on 13-year-old pimple-faced kids to promote its agenda.
According to the report, Michael D. Gallagher, chief executive of the Entertainment Software Association, the industry's lobbying arm in Washington, told the Times that its political action committee (PAC) will be up and running by the end of March and will represent Electronic Arts, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo, among others.
We will be writing checks to campaigns by the end of this quarter," Mr. Gallagher said. "This is an important step in the political maturation process of the industry that we are ready to take now. This is about identifying and supporting champions for the game industry on Capitol Hill so that they support us."
Am I the only person who thinks it's about time this industry has woken up and realize that political payoffs are the only way to get somewhere in this country? If you want to finally destroy these idiots who think we should kill creativity in video games, look no further than your friendly congressman from the 10th district with his hat in hand.… Read more
This post has been updated to confirm when we should expect an official announcement from EA.As has been anticipated, Electronic Arts is set to announce Tuesday that it will be bringing its highly anticipated game Spore to the Mac sometime in 2008. It's a big deal, because PC and Mac versions of a game are often released months apart, if at all--some major game manufacturers skip the Mac platform altogether because they simply don't see the market value. EA, however, plans to bring Spore to both platforms simultaneously.
The announcement has been timed in conjunction with--you guessed … Read more
These days, "lightweight" and "compact" aren't adjectives commonly used to describe game simulators, especially if you're shopping for one at FAO Schwarz with a budget in the neighborhood of $300,000. But those are ostensibly among the selling points for the "Dreamflyer," which is being marketed as a relatively uncomplicated system--a characteristic that certainly bucks current trends.
The simulator is supposedly more sensitive to player controls than other systems, responding to "pilot-induced roll and pitch oscillation" captured by sensors under the chair and displayed on the screen, according to Pocket-Lint. … Read more
Whatever the proprietary Neanderthals may think, it's becoming clearer by the day that open source is, or will become, the natural state of software. "Nature" exerted her will yet again with the announcement that Electronic Art's SimCity has been released as open source under the GPLv3 license. The game was written back in 1983 (actually, before then) and so much of the code is too old to be useful except for research purposes.
But there's a lot of value in that, as Bill Simser notes:There's still a lot of craptastic code in there, … Read more