Will GameStop’s digital ventures be enough to ward off online threats? (interview)

Chris Petrovic (pictured above) is the general manager of GameStop Digital Ventures. His job is to make sure that the world’s largest video game retailer crosses over into the digital era, when gamers are as likely to download a digital game to their computers or phones as they are to walk into a store and buy a disk. GameStop still has 6,614 stores and annual revenues of $49.5 billion. Within a couple of years, the company wants to grow its digital revenues to $1.5 billion a year. The retailer grew its downloadable content sales by 315 percent last year, and it has acquired digital game startups Kongregate, Spawn Labs, and Impulse. Will that be enough for the company to “cross over” to the digital age?

With 1.3B tanks obliterated and 30M players, Wargaming.net plans to conquer the online gaming world (interview)

Let’s Battle. That’s a particularly apt slogan for Wargaming.net. The  has scored big with its World of Tanks game, a hardcore massively multiplayer online game that lets you battle your friends in World War II tanks. Since it launched in April 2011, the game has gotten more than 30 million players worldwide.Those players are so engaged in the realistic 3D game that they have obliterated 1.3 billion tanks to date.

Microsoft’s Yusuf Mehdi says Xbox SmartGlass takes an open view of mobile-console integration (interview)

Naturally, Yusuf Mehdi, chief marketing officer for Microsoft’s game business, thinks that his company won the battle of the press conferences at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). But it remains to be seen whether fans will opt for Microsoft’s view of the future of gaming and how tablets and smartphones fit into it. The company introduced its Xbox SmartGlass app, where users can tap mobile devices and use them to control a game console and queue up their entertainment. It’s a unique vision now, but Mehdi believes it will be a shot in the arm for Microsoft’s ambitions in the home. Microsoft’s SmartGlass will work not only with Windows tablets and phones, but it will also support usage based on Apple iPad or iPhone. We caught up with Mehdi at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

Nintendo’s Scott Moffitt has to create mass lust for the Wii U game console (interview)

Scott Moffitt is the executive vice president of sales and marketing at Nintendo. He’s got a tough job because video game marketing is changing. Nintendo is trying to sell its 3DS gaming handheld in the face of huge competition from Apple. And he had to create desire in the mass market to purchase the upcoming Wii U video game console. We caught up with him at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) video game trade show yesterday. Here’s an edited transcript.

Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot embraces disruption, new business models and new platforms (interview)

Yves Guillemot, the chief executive of French game publisher Ubisoft, belives that traditional game companies will be able to meet the challenge of the changing game business, which is being disrupted with new business models and platforms. Ubisoft’s position is to create as many games as it can at the beginning of new platforms, establish a foothold, and then monetize the market with sequels after the new platform becomes established. We caught up with Guillemot on Sunday for an interview. Here’s an edited transcript.

Ubisoft’s creative director on why hooded assassins still fit in the American Revolution (interview)

Alex Hutchinson is the creative director on Assassin’s Creed III. The game is one of the biggest video games of the year, and Hutchinson’s job is to make sure that the creative vision of the game captures the imagination of gamers, who are getting new Assassin’s Creed games every year. We talked to him about everything from why the assassin, Connor, will still be wearing a hooded costume in We caught up with him on Sunday for an interview. Here’s an edited trancript of our chat.

Smash, grab, and steal from your friends in Fable Heroes (review)

But like Juliet once said, what’s in a name? Fun is fun no matter what they call it, and Fable Heroes is a pretty good time. It’s a cooperative game but only up to a point. A lot of players will recall The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures, another “co-op” experience that cheerfully rewards the selfish, greedy, and mean. Four friends can get their ten bucks worth of fun here so long as they don’t end up at each other’s throats before it’s over.

Newbs and pros can all find useful roles in Ghost Recon: Future Soldier’s multiplayer (preview)

The beta test version of Ubisoft’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier dropped late last week. Offering a taste of what’s coming up in the full edition’s multiplayer mode about a month from now, it has two basic maps and three different character classes (the Scout, the Rifleman, and the Engineer) who each provide gamers of different skill levels with complimentary play styles.

IGN Pro League viewers highlight the rise of eSports online

The numbers are in from this month’s IGN Pro League (IPL) gaming competition, and they’re record-breakers of a kind. IGN boasts of drawing 346,000 streaming spectators at the tournament’s peak and more than 3 million unique viewers over all three days of the event, described as “the largest-ever online viewership for an eSports event held outside of Korea.”

Sine Mora, a side-scrolling shooter for the masses (review)

Sine Mora inspires a certain amount of wondering about what a 2D shooter really needs in the way of production values. Does it need an original soundtrack by a big-name composer? Does it need an extensive, otherworldly backstory? Does it need an elaborate time-travel plotline about saving someone’s life in the past and avenging his death in the present? Does it need poetically-written cutscenes and voice-overs delivered in Hungarian?

The Simpsons Arcade takes us back to the bowling alley (review)

1991 was a good year for The Simpsons. Some all-time classic episodes aired, the series won a couple of Emmy awards, Bart Simpson t-shirts were still in fashion, and the family starred in an A-list arcade game. It was a better year than 2011, where the series closed in on its 500th episode while a few fans kept up the old argument over when the exact shark-jumping moment happened.

Review: Sonic Generations reminds us that Sonic used to be cool

Sonic the Hedgehog has seen better days. After instant icon status and four classic Sega Genesis games in the early 1990s, he’s been steadily running downhill. The Saturn console never gave him a worthwhile showing. The Dreamcast suddenly died out from under him. Since then…well, it’s only gotten worse. Sonic has become synonymous with terrible 3D camera control and the strange fascination he holds for certain breeds of Internet crazy people.

Thousands of orcs die — along with our patience — in Lord of the Rings: War in the North (review)

Lord of the Rings fans have been waiting a while for their beloved stories to meet a great game. So far, that hasn’t happened, at least not in some time. Electronic Arts had care of the franchise during the heyday of Peter Jackson’s movies, but not much came of it beyond a bad role-playing game and even worse 3D action games.