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MMOG Trends: Subscriptions are Out, Micropayments are In

It’s something that Apple has known for some time: In increasing numbers, consumers are more willing to pay for digital objects in incremental payments rather than shell out large sums for subscriptions.

Take, for example, MMOGs (massively multi-player online games). A report on MMOG trends by IHS Inc. released this past week revealed games that have adopted micropayment systems for virtual items have fared well against games that are only offered in subscription form, and those same games with micropayment systems are expected to do much better in the years ahead.


Micropayments will represent almost half the revenue for online games in 2015. 

Game Changer
Online games like Facebook’s Farmville have helped publisher Zynga bank more than $830 milion from microtransactions in 2010 (that according to the San Francisco company’s SEC filing in anticipation of going public later this year). On the console gaming front, Xbox Live and Nintendo have already adopted micropayment strategies.

It’s no surprise, really. Gamers buy virtual items as a short cut to empowering their character instead of spending hours grinding away on a quest. Smart game publishers like Zynga also realize that users typically spend more (in some cases, hundreds of dollars) buying virtual goods, than signing up for a $10 to $15 a month subscription fee. Gamers’ tastes are fickle; why commit to a game when you can hop into (and hop onto) something else a few months later?


Zynga recently promoted its games with convenience-store chain 7-Eleven.

Subscriptions and revenue for online games like World of Warcraft dipped in 2010 and are expected to fall more over the next few years. IHS senior analyst Piers Harding-Rolls called it, “an inflection point for the industry.” Microtransactions in general are a hot topic for both current and future online and video game developers. Revenues for 2010 micropayments totalled $1.13 billion. That’s a 24 percent increase from 2009 when micropayments made up $909 million in revenue. And those dollars really add up. As a former U.S. Senator was once quoted during budget negotiations: “A billion here. A billion there. Pretty soon, you’re talking real money.”

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posted by DMA Phill in 3D Game Development,News Blog and have Comment (1)

Nintendo Drops the Price of Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo’s latest game machine may be cutting-edge videogame technology, but it hasn’t received the attention that Nintendo had hoped. As a result, Nintendo has announced that it’s dropping the price of the Nintendo 3DS.

Starting August 12, Nintendo’s 3D handheld machine will drop by $80…from $249.99 to $169.99.


Nintendo President Satoru Iwata shows of the Nintendo 3DS…which now features a lower price.

Nintendo has sold more than 4 million 3DS systems worldwide, but only about 830,000 units in the U.S. since its release. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, though, considering that previous 3D-less versions of the machine (such as the DS, DS Lite, DS XL and DSi) already saturate the market. Sure, the tech is cool – the 3DS doesn’t require 3D glasses to play games or watch movies in 3D – but the machine has failed to impress gamers and other electronics consumers.

Nintendo’s 3DS Ambassador Program: Free Games for Early Adopters 
If you already bought a 3DS and are a bit upset at news of the price drop – less than a year after its release – you’ll be happy to know Nintendo will be making up for the price drop with a gift.

“Early adopters represent some of Nintendo’s most loyal customers, and Nintendo is rewarding them for getting in on the action early with 20 free downloadable games from the Nintendo eShop,” Nintendo said in a statement. But wait just a second before you go running to download your free games…


Nintendo’s eShop allows gamers to download games on the go. 

To get your free games you have to use a wireless Internet connection to connect to the Nintendo eShop at least once before 11:59 PM Eastern time on Aug. 11 to get your free games. Gamers who buy the 3DS prior to August 12 will get half of their free games in September and the rest before the end of the year.

More of the Same: In 3D!
Does the Nintendo 3DS have great games? Yes, but the handheld device is also dogged by re-make syndrome. Games like The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time have gotten the 3D treatment, but is this really what gamers want? The 3DS uses Sharp’s parallax barrier LCD to display 3D without glasses. But just like the movies, making the next generation of video games will be about the content, and not the gimmick, and that’s what will get consumers motivated to buy your product.

How about you? Are you ready to buy a Nintendo 3DS now?

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posted by Vince Matthews in 3D Game Development,News Blog and have No Comments

Adventures in 2D & 3D Video Game Creation

Course: Adventures in 2D & 3D Video Game Creation & Game Modding

DMA Instructor: Katy Mayer

Education: Montclair State University; Montclair, NJ (Major: Family & Child Studies, w/ Concentration in Elementary Education). Certified to teach Early Education and recently received her certification to teach Gifted & Talented students, from the University of California San Diego.

Professional Portrait: A versatile instructor with a wide range of technological and educational interests, Katy Mayer has spent the last two years teaching 4th Grade at La Jolla Elementary in San Diego, CA. During this time, she has shown her passion for the digital arts by teaching the Seminar class “Multimedia Fusion 2,” and by serving on the Technology Committee at her school. (She also attended the California Computing Educators or “CUE” Conference this year for Digital Media Academy.) Katy matches her classroom excellence with a variety of vigorous athletic pursuits, she’s a surf instructor of five years and also operated a surf clinic. She has also coached a high school varsity lacrosse team sports and served for two years as the head coach of a lacrosse camp.

DMA Campus: UCSD

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Katy is just one of Digital Media Academy’s instructors who not only possess outstanding educational credentials, but also have backgrounds that reflect their diverse training and personal creativity. When Katy’s not teaching during the regular school year, she spends her summers with DMA at the University of California at San Diego.


As a local 4th Grade teacher, Katy Mayer knows how to bring out the best and brightest in kids.

“I was hired for the instructor’s position after working for DMA as a teacher’s assistant,” she recalls. The teacher’s assistant position was for DMA’s Jr. Adventures program in Game Creation. That same year, she was also serving as a TA for the Adventures in Surfing and Filmmaking Summer Camp. In that summer camp program, students shoot surf video using state-of-the-art video gear and then edit the footage into their own extreme surf film. Katy was also a TA for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures in Robotics program. At last year’s UCSD session, Katy taught Jr. Adventures in Art & Digital Photography and Adventures in 2D & 3D Game Design and Game Modding.

As part of her school’s Technology Committee, Katy keeps current on the latest software breakthroughs and emerging teaching methods. Katy is very excited to be gearing up for her third summer with DMA, and the prospect of working even more intensely with the technology she loves.


Katy’s passions are technology and helping children use it to tap into their natural creativity.

“I look forward to the four weeks when I’m able to work with students hands-on with a project-based curriculum and state-of-the-art technology,” she says. When asked about one of her most memorable experiences at DMA, Katy mentions last year’s 2D & 3D Video Game Creation class. Students started the program by learning how to make their own basic version of “Breakout” (the timeless 70s Pong-like classic where you hit a white dot across a screen to literally “break out” a playfield of bricks). That was just the first step though.

Campers then developed increasingly more sophisticated games as the week-long summer computer camp for kids continues (that’s right, kids aren’t making leather and beaded bracelets anymore). The interaction during camp – between the student and instructor, as well as between students – helped spark ideas that refined the games even further. By the end of the week, students had tangible proof of their expanded skill set.

“Not only do the students learn how to make a video game, but they are able to bring that game home to show their friends and family.”

This summer, Katy anticipates that aspiring game designers will again start the week of camp making a “Breakout”-like game. It’s a guided process that teaches kids the basics of game creation. Students will then add their own images and create a game theme. “After we build the complex and exciting parts of the game,” says Katy, “Students are given the freedom to independently create their own game using what they’ve learned. Many students are able to create three or more games by the end of the week. Not only do the students learn how to make a video game, but they are able to bring that game home to show their friends and family.”

The camp quickly brings students up to speed on game design basics, help them develop problem solving techniques and gets them on the path to creating their own ideas. Students test and play each other’s projects, sharing ideas along the way. The finishing touch is adding sound effects and then standing back and watching campers being blown away by what they’ve created.


Katy and the next generation of game makers – DMA’s 2D & 3D Game Designers, Class of 2010.

Katy enjoys DMA’s total approach to the digital media camp experience. When not in the classroom instructing this summer, chances are you will find her helping another Jr. Adventures class as a teacher’s assistant, or outside enjoying some recreational fun with Jr. Adventure campers. She’s delighted to welcome each summer’s new game designers to DMA, but Katy’s really overjoyed when she sees students coming back for more. “This will be my third year at the UCSD campus and it’s a thrill to see students return year after year to advance their skills or to take another course.”

Digital Media Academy offers one-week and two-week-long summer computer camps for kids ages 6-12. DMA is also a Certified Apple Training Center and offers one-on-one training for budding game designers of all age groups, in a wide range of creative areas. DMA instructors are industry and educational professionals with quality credentials that count. Like Katy Mayer.

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posted by Phill Powell in 3D Game Development,News Blog and have No Comments

Get Government Money to Design Video Games

Video game geeks unite, the U.S. Government has officially recognized video games as a legitimate art form. The Smithsonian Institution (America’s national museum) and the National Endowment for the Arts are introducing programs that honor and even fund the creation of video games – as art!

For its part, the Smithsonian is busy planning a huge exhibition devoted to video games. Meanwhile, the NEA will be offering an avenue for aspiring game designers who are dying to make great video games and ready to get started once they find some working capital.

Video Games as Art?
The whole debate about video games as an art form kicked off in 2006 after movie critic Roger Ebert served on a discussion panel considering the question, “Can video games be art?”


Video games as art? The National Endowment for the Arts thinks so and will soon award funding grants to video game creators. There could $200K waiting for your video game masterpiece.

The famous critic voted “thumbs-down,” prompting a firestorm of reaction from video game fans – most notably Clive Barker, British horror novelist and writer/director of “Hellraiser.” Since then, the question just won’t die. The issue keeps haunting Ebert, who has addressed reader comments repeatedly at his web site, usually defending his original position while being absolutely swamped with responses that disagree with him. Now important new voices have entered the debate, and they side squarely with video gamers.

From March 2012 through September 2012, the Smithsonian Institution will host an exhibition – the first ever Smithsonian event to pay tribute to video games – “The Art of Video Games,” will showcase 80 classic games, including such gems as the NES classics, “The Legend of Zelda” and “Super Mario Bros. 3.”


Mario in Racoon Suit, circa 1988. “Super Mario Bros. 3″

Meanwhile, the NEA has confirmed that would-be video game makers will be eligible to apply for government grants in order to make their art, in the same way a painter or sculptor (or any artist) would apply for an NEA grant. This could be a real breakthrough development for anyone aspiring to become a video game designer. It means that in addition to finding a creative path through the established video game industry, now game-making hopefuls have yet another shot at finding the funding to help them make their dreams come true.

So what kind of money are we talking about here? Grants range from $10,000 all the way up to $200,000, but there are eligibility requirements so be prepared to work for it.

Of course, funding is only one of the factors that go into making a great game. It takes talent and training. Computer and tech summer camps like Digital Media Academy offer professional courses or summer camp options that can help develop your talent. DMA’s 3D Academy for 3D Game Design gives you hands-on experience with software used by industry game creators and one-on-one contact with leading industry innovators – video game designers and developers for companies like Electronic Arts, Midway, Activision and others.

World-class instruction from professionals can help you learn the art of video game development. Are video games your passion today?  Then make them your profession tomorrow and start raising your skills to a whole new level – and turn your video game ideas into art!

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posted by Phill Powell in 3D Game Development,News Blog and have No Comments