Namco Networks is investing heavily in social and mobile games

There is life beyond Pac-Man. Namco Bandai Games is famous for the quintessential video game of the 1980s. And that game has helped the Japanese game publisher break into new mobile and social game markets. But the core belief at Namco Networks, the U.S. arm of the company in San Jose, Calif., is that it can create new kinds of games that will help accelerate its growth in the hot parts of the video game market.

Victory: A ranking system for what makes a social game into a blockbuster

Alok Kejriwal, chief executive of Indian game firm Games2Win, shared a couple of interesting charts with me that describe a way to rank social games by benchmarking how they stack up in a variety of important features such as the quality of the game play, the virality of a game, which makes it spread faster, how original it is, whether it has international appeal, and how addictive or habit forming the game is.

How BioWare tries to create realistic human faces in Mass Effect 2 video game (video)

Adrien Cho was the producer in charge of the artists for BioWare’s epic Mass Effect 2 video game, which debuted on Tuesday and has sold more than 2 million copies on the Xbox 360. We interviewed him about the art style of the science fiction game, which features close-up animations of humans and aliens talking. The game tries to render human faces so the look believable, but in a stylistic way. Of course, the company that really figures out how to do realistic human faces with 3-D animation will likely make a bundle of money and sell lots of games. Here’s our video interview with Cho.

NDS shows off the next generation of TV interfaces (video)

NDS is a London-based company no one has heard about. But it has 4,200 employees, a billion dollars a year in revenue, and has made its living over the past two decades providing technology to the TV industry. Among its contributions is conditional access, the security software that governs your cable or satellite TV subscriptions, and electronic program guides to your TV channels.

Epic Games' Mark Rein thinks iPad has performance to run cool 3-D games (video)

Mark Rein, vice president at Epic Games, was at the premiere of the iPad tablet computer from Apple today. We caught up with him in a brief video interview to talk about making games for the iPad. Epic is known for its hardcore games such as Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. He thinks the iPad will be a great platform for games in the future, even more so than the current iPhone.

Electronic Arts will make games designed for the iPad (video)

Travis Boatman of Electronic Arts’ EA Mobile division is enthusiastic about making games for the iPad. EA showed off Need for Speed Shift, which was redesigned from the iPhone to run on the iPad. That process took a couple of weeks. EA already has 40 games on the iPhone and iPod Touch. Those games will work on the iPad, and they will even look decent because the iPad takes the smaller resolution game images and doubles them so they can scale up to the larger screen on the iPad. Even so, Boatman says EA Mobile will make games that are designed for the iPad.

Video of the Apple iPad, up close and personal (video)

Check out our video of the iPad tablet computer that Apple announced today. This video shows off the photo app capability of the device. You can see that the 9.7-inch screen is great at changing the screen fast when you swipe it. And the screen can accomodate multi-finger gestures. The iBook app also shows that the device is very cool at displaying books in color or black-and-white. Notice the cool animation when you change the page. Lastly, the video looks great at 720p resolution.

Steve Jobs: We call it the iPad

Here comes the “ah” moment. Apple’s Steve Jobs has taken the stage at the company’s big launch event today to talk about the much-anticipated iPad. It is very thin. You can browse the web with it, and Jobs says, “It’s the best browsing experience you ever had. Way better than a laptop. Way better than a smart phone.”

Waiting in line at the Apple event with the press horde

I’m outside the Yerba Buena Gardens theater in San Francisco, waiting to go inside for the Apple tablet press conference. I’m in line with the press mob, including folks like my former colleague MG Siegler from Techcrunch. The line formed earlier this time compared to Apple’s iPod unveil here last fall. I’ll be blogging like crazy and posting pictures. So please stand by. [Update: I'm inside, sitting next to Rob Pegoraro from the Washington Post].

The irony of Scott McNealy's goodbye note

Scott McNealy is one of the legendary characters of Silicon Valley. It is jarring to read his goodbye note to Sun Microsystems employees as Oracle is poised to complete its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun. In the email to Sun employees, McNealy said, “Thanks for a great 28 years.”

Roundup: Texas Instruments beats expectations, Bill Gates goes green

Bellwether rings in a good new year — Texas Instruments is another one of those bellwethers for the economy, as its chips are used in cell phones, TVs, and other electronic gadgets. The company beat analysts’ expectations today, reporting a profit of $655 million on sales of $3 billion in the fourth quarter. And CEO Rich Templeton predicts that growth will be up sequentially in the first quarter, not down as is typical for the season. Credit the overall tech recovery. Still, the company’s stock price fell in after-hours trading.