Investment banker predicts big investments, mergers in game market

Tim Merel sees lots of action coming in the video game industry as it expands to become one of the biggest entertainment industries in the world. Merel is corporate finance director for games and other sectors at IBIS Capital in London. He just released a 60-slide review of the global opportunities for investing in video games. He looks at everything from funding to merger opportunities throughout the industry, from console games to social games. Here are his thoughts on various sectors and trends in video games. Check out his complete slide deck at the bottom of the post.

GameStop rolls out Jolt as it moves into digital distribution of games

The nation’s biggest game retailer GameStop, which opens some 400 retail video game stores a year, launched its first free-to-play online game today. This move, together with the company’s acquisition of Jolt Online Gaming last year, shows that GameStop isn’t blind to the fact that digital distribution of online games could threaten its physical store business.

Sixteen years in the making, Trip Hawkins' latest game for Facebook is "best idea I've ever had"

Trip Hawkins, chief executive of Digital Chocolate, isn’t shy about describing his company’s latest Facebook game, NanoStar Castles. He first conceived the game, which you could summarize as Pokemon for grown-ups, more than 16 years ago. He boldly says it is “the best idea I’ve ever had” and personally oversaw its design and production.

The sights, scenes, schticks and stunts of DEMO Spring 2010 (photo gallery)

The DEMO Spring 2010 conference ended today after three balmy days in Palm Desert, Calif. A total of 65 companies competed for the $1 million prize that was awarded tonight to eXaudios, which created call center software that could detect the emotional state of a caller based on the sound of the caller’s voice. But the conference wasn’t just about a Darwinian contest. Here’s a photo gallery that shows off some of the best sights and scenes of the event. The opening photo above captures Matt Marshall, editor-in-chief of VentureBeat and executive producer of DEMO, as he greeted the crowd on Monday morning on the big stage.