Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk are the medical doctors who found a second career in video games. They’re the co-chief executives of BioWare, the division of Electronic Arts that is known for its outstanding role-playing games. BioWare’s pattern is to create a universe first and then build a game around that fiction. If it’s a hit, then they do more games in the same universe. Their latest project is Dragon Age Origins, a new fantasy game in a brand new universe that uses much of the same technology of BioWare’s recent big hit, Mass Effect. This game is a spiritual successor to BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate series and it will debut this fall on the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. We caught up with them at the recent Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
stories by Dean Takahashi
The chip industry, long a bellwether for the rest of the technology economy because chips are used in almost every device, is in a bigger funk than ever.
The Nintendo DS has sold more than 100 million units, more than twice the amount of its rival, Sony PlayStation Portable. The Nintendo DSi debuting this week in the U.S. will likely further cement the Japanese company’s hold on the handheld gaming market because it makes portable gaming more social and personal. The DSi launches on April 5, with lots of midnight store openings across the country.
When you have a legendary programmer working for you, surprises come with the territory. Todd Hollenshead, chief executive of ID Software, wasn’t even aware that his technical director, John Carmack, was working on an iPhone version of the company’s classic first-person shooting game, Wolfenstein 3D Classic. But Carmack sprung the surprise, and the game quickly shot to the top ranks of iPhone games. That was just one of many new projects underway at the Mesquite, Texas-based game company, which has been making violent hit games for a couple of decades. I caught up with Hollenshead (pictured right) last week at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco for an interview.
Anssi Vanjoki wants the technorati to know that there is more to mobile phones than the iPhone. The executive vice president of the new markets group with Nokia, the world’s biggest cell phone maker, gave a talk at the Web 2.0 Expo today in San Francisco in which he outlined the Finnish company’s plans to blanket the world in mobile applications. He showed off a bunch of research ideas we recently saw at Nokia Research in Palo Alto, Calif. We sat down for an interview with Vanjoki after his speech.
Will Wright believes that successful games depend on a feedback cycle where designers create games and incorporate the feedback and content generated by users. As such, the best games evolve after they ship and game companies should do a lot more to reap benefits from game usage data.
The Sunlight Foundation‘s chief, Ellen Miller, took the stage at the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco today to ask technical people to help with the nonprofit’s goal of making government more transparent and open.
Intel and General Electric announced today that they have teamed up to deliver personal health care products and services to patients in their homes. Both companies will invest $250 million in the products and research over the next five years.
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Tim O’Reilly, head of O’Reilly Media, kicked off the Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco with mixture of optimism about the web’s future and sober recognition of the weak economy.
Graham Hopper, executive vice president and general manager of Disney Interactive Studios, gets to see a broad swatch of the video game business, since his video game titles range from hardcore titles such as the upcoming racing game Split/Second to the Toy Story game for the Wii that will accompany the release of Pixar’s next big film. Disney is in the midst of tripling its investments in video games and Hopper now oversees 1,200 employees — a bigger internal team working on games than Microsoft has. We last talked to him six months ago and interviewed him again a day after he spoke about mass market games at the GamesBeat 09 conference last week.
Hal Halpin is the founder and president of the Entertainment Consumers Association. Halpin formed the nonprofit association to be an advocate for the interests of gamers. The group’s priorities include: First Amendment rights, universal broadband, network neutrality, and consumer protection. The latter issue flared up when Electronic Arts tried to place limits on the number of times consumers could install the game Spore on computers. He recently testified at the Federal Trade Commission’s Town Hall meeting on digital rights management. We caught up with him last week at the Game Developers Conference to talk about how to protect consumers’ rights in relation to DRM and the legal agreements included with games (dubbed end user license agreements).
Research in Motion is planning to show off its own rival to the Apple App Store today at the CTIA trade show in Las Vegas today.
InXpo hopes to draw big brands to its virtual trade shows by hooking up with a well-known experience-marketing firm, George P. Johnson. Experience marketing involves staging live events for clients who want to make a big impression.
In a move that could spur demand at the low end of the video game market, Sony cut the price of its PlayStation 2 console from $129 to $99.
It’s been about six months since we last interviewed Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America. in the meantime, Nintendo has lined up the launch of its new DSi handheld console and has made it much easier to buy downloadable WiiWare games. Despite the recession, the Japanese company continues to outsell its rivals two-to-one in both the home console and handheld game player markets. We spoke with Fils-Aime shortly after Satoru Iwata, chief executive of Nintendo, gave the opening keynote speech at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week.
OnLive created a big stir last week as it announced a video-games-on-demand service set to launch this fall. The service promises to let gamers play high-end games on low-end hardware and would mean you’ll never have to upgrade to a new game console again. Created over seven years, the service has the support of nine game publishers and backers such as Autodesk and Warner Bros. Interactive Studios. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is building its service around a new server-based game technology. Do you think it will work?
Steve Perlman’s OnLive video games on demand service was the talk of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last week. Every person I interviewed had an opinion about the story, which broke on Monday night.
Intel introduced its Xeon 5500 Series family of server chips today — chips it hopes will be the standard for data centers of the future.
Pliant Technology has raised $15 million in a third round of funding to continue making enterprise flash drives.
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Intel will be launching its Larrabee chip next year — a chip that will live or die depending on how popular it is with game developers. Which is why it saw some serious discussion at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco today.
Nvidia filed a countersuit against Intel today, alleging that Intel broke contract when it refused to grant Nvidia a chip set license on future Intel microprocessors.
Flagship Studios was one of the most ambitious game development studios started in recent years. It launched a critically acclaimed game, Hellgate: London, in November, 2007 that had garnered more than 60 game review magazine covers.
Thousands of people packed the giant auditorium at the Moscone Center’s Esplanade Ballroom in San Francisco tonight for the annual Independent Games Festival and Game Developers Choice awards.
Satoru Iwata, chief executive of Nintendo, said today that the Wii game console has now sold more than 50 million units, making it the fastest selling console in history. That puts it on track to surpass Sony’s PlayStation 2, which has sold more than 140 million units since 1994.
OnLive‘s announcement of a ground-breaking video-on-demand service has become the buzz of the game industry this week at GamesBeat 09 and the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. But it has also shaken loose a competitor.
World Golf Tour is announcing today it has struck a deal with the United States Golf Association to host the first Virtual U.S. Open Championship on the golf association’s web site.
Game hardware maker Razer has been around for more than a decade but has built a big gaming peripherals business in the past four years. Yet the Carlsbad, Calif. company wants to be much more than a high-end gaming mouse company. It wants to make everything associated with the gamer’s lifestyle. I caught up today with Min-Liang Tan, the company’s chief executive, today at our GamesBeat 09 conference, where he spoke on the gaming hardware panel.
A popular graphics standard is getting an upgrade today as Khronos Group unveils Open GL 3.1 as well as an open standard for 3-D positional audio for mobile devices.
IBM isn’t a company you’d expect to see at the Game Developers Conference. But Big Blue has been making games for a while now and is showing off Innov8 v.2, a new version of a business simulation game that helps students and professionals hone their business skills.
Everybody has blurry, unfocused, and motion-sickness inspiring home videos. But Silicon Valley company MotionDSP is launching a video restoration software program today that could help fix that.
LimeLife, which makes mobile games and other media for women, said today it has acquired mobile media company Tapatap for an undisclosed price.
Few startups have a chance to revolutionize an industry. But if entrepreneur Steve Perlman’s OnLive lives up to its goals, the company will disrupt the entire video game industry — to the delight of both game publishers and gamers.
Curt Schilling said today he’s retiring from Major League Baseball with four World Series and three World Championships under his belt. Baseball’s loss is gaming’s gain. Schilling is the founder and chairman of 38 Studios , a startup creating a massively multiplayer online role-playing game code-named Copernicus.
MyGameMug started out as one of a bunch of social networks for gamers . Now it’s launching WoW Headhunter , which is a tool to recruit players for World of Warcraft guilds.
Apple’s iPhone will be the games industry’s favorite platform going forward, according to a survey just conducted of industry executives and interested readers.
GCube Ventures drew a lot of attention when we wrote about them last August as an investment fund that would focus on the game industry. Many observers saw it as a sign of financial maturity for the game industry, which had long struggled to gain favor among venture capitalists. And, in fact, 2008 was probably the best year in history for VC investments in game companies and virtual worlds, with at least $885 million raised. But now two of the three founding partners have left GCube and the remaining partner, Jawad Ansari, is refocusing the venture capital firm as a merchant bank.
Digital River and Playxpert are pitching a tool for game developers to build e-commerce solutions inside their game worlds.