News Blips: PSN profits for Sony, XCOM’s new genre, THQ on next-gen density, and more

My finger hovered briefly over the button that would send the "download" command for Sony's offering of free games — until I realized my hat collection in Team Fortress 2 needed fleshing out. Time for some more Payload Race!

News Blips:

Sony's Welcome Back Program, offered to customers after the PlayStation Network outage fiasco earlier this year, apparently made Sony money. The program provided free-of-charge downloads of Infamous and LittleBigPlanet among other titles, but market research firm Electronic Entertainment Design and Research (EEDAR) claims that sales of Infamous 2 and LittleBigPlanet 2 climbed as a result. "If a game that once sold 2 million units in the market is currently available digitally and physically, it is likely producing gross receipts of about $500,000 a month," EEDAR's report stated. "Assuming that gross receipts reduce to $0 during a 30-day period where a title is free (-$500,000), as long as the free offering boost sales of the next iteration by 8,500 units (at $59 ASP), then it would produce a net/net benefit to the publisher." EEDAR concluded that "the publicity generated from the free offering, in addition to new consumers being introduced to the series, would make the 8,500 unit mark easily achievable."

2K Games President Christoph Hartmann says the strategy genre is "just not contemporary" anymore. In an interview with MCV, Hartmann explained his company's decision to reimagine venerated turn-based strategy game X-Com into a shooter…cleverly called XCOM. "The '90s generation of gamers all love X-Com and we own the IP, so we thought OK, what do we do with it," he said. "Every studio we had wanted to do it, and each one had its own spin on it. But the problem was that turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth. But this is not just a commercial thing — strategy games are just not contemporary." Hartmann elaborated that 2K desires XCOM falling "in line with what this generation of gamers want," saying, "It's not a case of cashing in on the name. We just need to renew it because times are changing."

THQ President Brian Farrell thinks the impending wave of next-gen console hardware might get a little more crowded. "We believe Apple is going to be there, Google is going to be there," Farrell told attendees of the GamesBeat conference in San Francisco. "Our view is that the next generation of consoles, if there are consoles, are going to be less about technology and more about service orientation of the gamer." Farrell also predicted that the handheld market will also see a boost in competition, saying, "The dedicated handheld market is going to find an audience, but it isn't going to be as broad because of the competition from other operating systems." []

EA calls just-acquired developer PopCap the Pixar of mobile and social gaming. "We're playing a much bigger game [than Zynga]," EA Executive VP Barry Cottle explained to IndustryGamers. "We're going after the $40 billion dollar digital market, where Facebook is just a segment. If you look at the way we're set up, our digital revenues range across MMOs, free-to-play, social, mobile, DLC, and PopCap now adds greater franchises." Cottle said that EA's lack of a "really strong casual IP" influenced its $750 million purchase of PopCap, as "these guys are the Pixar of that [market]."

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