Microsoft has agreed to acquire a home entertainment startup–id8 Group R2 Studios Inc.–in an effort to bolster its Xbox unit, sources have told The Wall Street Journal.
The company was formed by entrepreneur Blake Krikorian, who created the Sling Box technology alongside his brother, Jason.
Blake Krikorian will join Microsoft with a “small team” of developers. Microsoft’s acquisition of the company also includes some of the startup’s patents, which are related to controlling electronic devices.
A price for the deal was not divulged and a Microsoft representative told GameSpot, “We do not comment on rumors or speculation.”
According to the report, R2 Studios has been developing technology related to “distributing and displaying digital media on TVs.” What’s more, Apple and Google were also reportedly interested in acquiring the company, but Microsoft ended up winning out.
Microsoft has rapidly expanded its Xbox platform from a game-specific system to a hub for on-demand, live, and streaming video content. Microsoft has recently partnered with the likes of HBO, Comcast, Netflix, and YouTube for streaming services through the Xbox platform.
Microsoft announced in March last year that gamers in the United States spend more time with Xbox Live entertainment applications than they do playing multiplayer games over the service.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/microsoft-beats-apple-google-to-acquire-media-startup-report-6401987
Black Isle Studios is trying to make a comeback. The Interplay subsidiary, which returned to life this summer, has launched a crowdfunding initiative to revive Project V13. This game was previously known as Fallout Online until Bethesda retained the rights to the Fallout universe earlier this year.
The crowdfunding drive for Project V13 does not mirror similar fan-supported initiatives. Those who back the project with at least $10 will not receive a copy of the game, but instead access to the Black Isle forums (which will only go online if enough support is raised and not before the end of January). Money pledged is not going towards the final product, but rather a “proof of concept” prototype that Black Isle will pitch to raise additional capital needed to finish the game.
According to the Black Isle website, Project V13, in its latest iteration, is a post-apocalyptic strategy role-playing game. Players will create a character from a variety of backgrounds (humans, mutants, advanced cyborg) and set forth.
“Explore the world, meet friends, and fight your neighbors for control of resources. PV13 will be your chance to rebuild a devastated world,” a statement reads.
All mentions of “Fallout” have been removed from the game, and a video detailing Black Isle’s work on the project (below) bleeps out every utterance of the word. It is not clear how similar Project V13 is to Fallout Online, though developers said “major changes” have been made.
“PV13 has been in development for years, but we’ve had to make some major changes recently,” the statement reads. “We believe the changes are for the better and we’re excited about working on this new iteration of PV13.”
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/black-isle-seeks-crowdfunding-to-revive-pv13-6401830
Disney Interactive will unveil its “new gaming initiative” Disney Infinity next month at an event in Hollywood, California. The news comes by way of an invitation GameSpot received this week.
On hand for the game’s unveiling will be Disney Interactive co-president John Pleasants, as well as John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios. Lasseter directed Toy Story and A Bug’s Life and is a key executive at Pixar. Both will give speeches at the event.
Few official details on Disney Infinity are available, but a report at Disney fansite Stitch Kingdom last month suggested the game will boast similar functionality to Activision’s Skylanders franchise. It will reportedly allow users to “beam” Disney/Pixar characters and worlds to the game through physical “game tokens.”
The game will supposedly utilize a “Disney Infinity reader” to achieve this. The technology is described as a “flat device upon which the game tokens are physically placed, connected to the device via USB or infrared in the case of the 3DS.” Disney Infinity, formerly “Toy Box,” is said to be in development for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Wii, and 3DS.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/disney-infinity-to-be-revealed-next-month-6401752
Melbourne-based game development studio Big Ant (Rugby League Live, Rugby League Live 2) has entered administration, with S Z Insolvency appointed as liquidators.
According to a Australian Securities Exchange Index filing, the studio filed for voluntary liquidation on November 28, 2012. A meeting of creditors will be held on December 21 to decide on the future of the studio.
Kotaku Australia reported that Big Ant is declaring debts of over $6.7 million, including a $4.2 million debt that is reportedly owed to the studio that could not be recouped.
Despite the news, Big Ant CEO Ross Symons told GameSpot AU that all the studio’s staff are secure, and that the liquidation is part of an internal restructure.
“There has been a restructure of a business that was not profitable. The vast majority of the debts are to the shareholders of the company, including myself,” Symons said via email.
“All staff are securely employed and we continue to make games.”
Big Ant specialises in sports, and racing games for consoles and PC, and recently released Rugby League Live 2. The studio’s previous titles include Rugby League Live and AFL Live Game of the Year Edition.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/big-ant-studios-enters-liquidation-6401724
With Santa getting ready to delivery his bag full of gaming goodies, the new release line-up is beginning to slow. Disney Interactive Studios’ movie tie-in game Wreck-It Ralph will be out this week for the 3DS, DS and Wii. Described as an extension of the feature film of the same name, it picks up up where the movie leaves off.
Wreck-It Ralph, the video game based on the movie based on video games.
Players assume the role of main character Ralph as he defends the Sugar Rush realm against a Cy-Bug invasion.
Throughout the game, players will use Ralph’s strength to defeat enemies, while also taking on the role of Fix-It Felix to repair damage in order to overcome obstacles.
The film follows the namesake character, a villain in a retro arcade game. After decades of coming out on the losing end, Ralph decides he’s fed up with being hated for doing his job and quits. He takes off to explore other game worlds, coming across a variety of gaming icons along the way.
Also out this week is Kinect Party on Xbox LIVE. The motion-based game serves as the sequel to Double Fine Happy Action Theater from developer Double Fine Productions, and published by Microsoft Game Studios. For more details on games out this week, see below.
December 19, 2012
Wreck-It Ralph (3DS, DS, Wii)
Kinect Party (360)
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/au-shippino-out-december-17-21-wreck-it-ralph-6401501
Blacklight: Tango Down and Blacklight: Retribution developer Zombie Studios is the second publicly known licensee for Unreal Engine 4. The company today announced that it is licensing Epic Games’ next-generation game engine to power a new PC “psychological thriller” due for release during the second quarter of 2013 (April-June).
No further details on the project are available.
Zombie Studios follows Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider publisher Square Enix in signing a deal with Epic Games to license Unreal Engine 4. That deal was described as “long-term” and “sweeping,” noting it will span multiple games from Square Enix.
Epic Games’ own Fortnite was the first game to be confirmed to run on Unreal Engine 4. It is due out sometime in 2013 exclusively for the PC.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/zombie-studios-making-thriller-with-unreal-4-6401700
Social game studio Kabam has secured investments from a pair of high-profile companies. The company announced today (via Reuters) that Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. and MGM Studios have invested an undisclosed amount in the San Francisco, California-based company.
As part of the deal, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment president Kevin Tsujihara will join Kabam’s board of directors, with MGM CEO Gary Barber coming aboard as an “observer.”
Kabam recently released The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth, a free-to-play strategy game for iOS and Android devices. It is based on Peter Jackson’s three-part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the first installment of which is due to theaters on Friday.
Kabam is also working on a second game based on The Hobbit. Currently in beta for PC, The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age has players commanding an army of Elves, Dwarves, or Orcs while controlling Hobbit heroes Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey.
Kabam was founded in 2006 as Watercooler. The company’s breakout title was Kingdoms of Camelot, a strategy game for Facebook. In August 2010, Watercooler rebranded itself Kabam and has since expanded from a staff of 25 in one office to an outfit that employs more than 400 across offices around the world.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/warner-bros-mgm-invest-in-hobbit-dev-6401381
There has been much talk of what kind of power the next generation of consoles could hold, with GameStop CEO Paul Raines predicting these machines will provide “unbelievable new capabilities” for rendering and speed, among other things. Now, former Mafia developer Daniel Vavra has given a glimpse into what these new machines may be capable of.
Vavra heads up the Czech Republic-based Warhorse Studios and recently provided a video demonstration of what the company’s unannounced medieval role-playing game is capable of. The video is embedded below and the game is due in either 2014 or 2015.
Vavra clarified on Twitter that the demo was running on an “old notebook” with a Nvidia 555M graphics card.
According to Eurogamer (via Eurogamer Czech), the environments in the demo were built on a modified version of CryEngine 3, with the rest of the scenery only a small example of what the technology can achieve.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/ex-mafia-dev-shows-off-next-gen-rpg-6401327
Fable II has returned to availability on Xbox Live following its unexplained disappearance earlier this week. A Microsoft representative told GameSpot that an “isolated issue” affected the availability of Lionhead Studios’ role-playing game on Games on Demand.
“We have resolved the issue and the game is once again available. We apologize for any inconvenience this caused,” the statement reads.
A GameSpot reader initially tipped the news yesterday, saying Fable II had mysteriously vanished. This person also said those who had previously purchased the game but deleted it, were not able to re-download it. This is no longer the case.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/fable-ii-returns-to-xbox-live-6401029
Peter Molyneux gave an interview earlier this month in which he said his next game may be his last. It doesn’t appear this will be the case, as the former Microsoft executive and founder of independent studio 22Cans has called the idea of retirement “abhorrent.”
“I wasn’t in any way announcing my retirement or saying I’m going to throw myself off the nearest bridge after my next game,” Molyneux told GamesIndustry International. “I’m either going to stop making games when everyone in the world just hates the games I make or the day when I die. I feel more passionate, more engaged, more energetic about making games now than I ever have. The thought of retirement is abhorrent to me. I would have to be in some vegetative state to consider retirement.”
Molyneux also responded to outcry over 22Cans’ Kickstarter fund for a Populous “reinvention” called Godus, specifically claims that he is well off enough to not need to ask for fan support in the first place.
“Everyone kind of thinks I’m loaded with money and live in Versailles or something, and drive around in a gold Rolls-Royce,” Molyneux said. “None of that is true. I’m not starving by any means, but I haven’t got unlimited wealth. I used a lot of money to found 22 Cans, to release Curiosity, and to build a team of 20 people.”
Prior to establishing 22Cans in March this year, Molyneux simultaneously served as creative director at Microsoft Game Studios Europe and general manager of Lionhead Studios, which he cofounded. Before that, Molyneux held the position of vice president at Electronic Arts and was the founder and manager of Bullfrog Productions.
Article source: http://www.gamespot.com/news/molyneux-not-retiring-anytime-soon-6400940