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Robert Bowling Joins Humble Bundle, Leads New Group To Help ‘Games Be Created’

Robert Bowling has announced that he has joined charity-focused game seller Humble Bundle as vice president and creative director. Bowling, who spent six years as creative strategist for Call of Duty at Infinity ward, left that position to strike out on his own.

Robotoki, the studio Bowling founded, closed in January after a change in focus for the studio’s game Human Development left the company without a publishing arrangement. Now, Bowling is building a new team that will help Humble’s mission of supporting developers and charity initiatives.

“My role as vice president, creative director is focused on the future of Humble and how we’ll be expanding in the next one to five years,” Bowling told us via email. “I have started a new vertical in the company and am currently building a creative team that will be focused on new products and projects.”

With his background in game development, we were curious about how that might come into play at Humble. While there’s nothing to announce right now, there are some hints about what Bowling might be working on.

“One of the new focuses that I’m bringing to the company is to allow games to be created that would not have, or could not have existing without our help,” Bowling explains. “So, if we did ‘dip our toes’ into original development, it would be in a capacity that helped us test and iterate on a feature or service that would be made available to all developers. At the moment however, our goals are focused on helping other developers with their original creations.”

This sounds like it could be in part related to funding, which might create new partnerships that bolster the Humble Store’s profile. Recently, Curve Digital announced a time-limited exclusive deal with Humble Bundle to bring Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones to that storefront first.

As part of that, Bowling says that Humble will be expanding its capacity to further aid its core constituents: developers and gamers. “We are investing heavily in technology and development that will allow developers to increase the accessibility of their games and for players to have more freedom in how they play and access their games,” he tells us. “I will say, that every initiative we’re currently working on holds true to the values that people know from Humble. We want players to have freedom over the content they own, we want developers to have more opportunity for their games, and we want every revenue we generate to provide for charities.”

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Opinion – We Need More Female Leads In Narrative Games

Jodie
limped along the road, avoiding helicopter wrecks and surrounding debris. A
nearby fire hydrant burst into a fountain of water, and flames erupted from the
corner gas station. Dirt was smeared across her skin like a warrior's face
paint, as she neared a dying officer on the ground. Grabbing him by the collar,
she whispered menacingly, "Tell them to leave me alone, because next time,
I'll kill everyone."

This
kind of explosive action scene is usually led by a young, male lead. In Beyond:
Two Souls, we follow the story of Jodie, the twenty-something girl with
superhuman powers. She can crush buildings, fight cops atop a train, and hurl
large objects on demand, similar to Infamous. A sense of awe and invincibility
rushed through me as I watched the sequence unfold. It showcased a rare
combination in triple-A games: a headstrong woman with supernatural abilities
as a main character. I wasn't simply struck with how epic the scene was.
Instead, I was left wondering, why can't there be more Jodies?

Female
leads in narrative triple-A games are few and far between. Rockstar Games, one
of the leading publishers in the industry, has never once had a female
protagonist. Action-oriented sandbox
franchises including Just Cause and Prototype, exclusively star superhero-like
men. There have been iconic exceptions such as Lara Croft, but
besides the obvious few, it often feels like I'm playing as another variant of
Nathan Drake or Nico Bellic. In contrast, indie games have had a prolific
amount of female protagonists, with successful titles like last year's Never
Alone and Transistor. Why are triple-A games so far behind?

Nearly
half of the current gaming population is female, making up 48 percent of the
community across all genres and platforms. Additionally, a recent study
highlighted at GDC
revealed that in a survey of 1,583 high school students, 60
percent of girls preferred to play as their own gender,
whereas only 39 percent of boys preferred playing as a male character.

Video
game enthusiasts are becoming increasingly more levelled in terms of gender,
and an older audience continues to grow. With these numbers, it might soon be
considered more of a creative risk to not
include women in games than to exclude them, in fear of alienating a core
demographic in sales. Still, for that to happen, our attitudes toward the
problem need to change.

Game
studios are choosing to not create female characters, due to supposed technical
issues with animation, or because of the widespread belief that female leads
don't sell.

With
video games exploring genres like sci-fi and action, a common misconception is
that this type of media is only for men. However, with the rise of successful
action movies like The Hunger
Games
 being a huge success
with women, and with Marvel tackling the all-female A-Force in their comics, it
is evident that this ideology is changing. These genres can be enjoyed by both
genders, and it is just a matter of time before they are marketed as such.

In
recent years, games have adapted a wider use of character creation, giving
players more freedom to shape their avatar's appearance and gender. But in
narrative games, we are often forced to play as one gender, and it is almost always male, from Watch Dogs to Grand
Theft Auto.

What if Alice Wake was searching for her lost
husband? What if The Boss was a lead character in a
new Metal Gear Solid game, as Hideo Kojima hinted he wanted to pursue years
ago? Bioshock Infinite's Elizabeth and
Ellie from The Last of Us were empowering women, and excelled as strong
protagonists in DLC content. If I could play more video games as my own gender,
it would only add to the immersion, not take away from it. The diversity could
prove to be refreshing and rewarding for male players as well.

In
narrative games, the main character is intertwined with the story: their
decisions, perspective, and interactions can change not only who they are, but
the people and environments around them. For example, in The Walking Dead,
Clementine's innocence diminishes with every lethal strike she makes, shifting
her away from the naïve, trustworthy child she once was.

Playing
through a game as a woman could change not just how the games are played, but
how that character responds to the game world. Would Jane Brody react to the
Rook Islands with the same brute force as Jason did? If one of the three
protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V was female, would she offer a different perspective on the world of Los Santos?

More
women means more opportunities to explore engrossing stories and cultures.
Narrative games with historical settings could profit from exploring women's
rights in history. Imagine playing Red Dead Redemption as a female gunslinger
in the Wild West – Rockstar could mold their character off of the real-life
Belle Starr, a notorious American Outlaw from the 1800s.

Similarly,
with Assassin's Creed's rich historical stories, the franchise could benefit
from more female leads. While Assassin's Creed III: Liberation starred Aveline,
its initial release was on handheld and is considered a smaller-scale title.
Ubisoft could take this a step further by adding a female protagonist in their
main line of successful console games. Assassin's Creed could explore Feudal
Japan in the shoes of a character like Tomoe Gozen, the historical figure and
female samurai warrior from the 1100s, who survived the Genpei War and saw the
rise of a new empire.

Representing
more social minorities in games gives the player more insight into unique
perspectives. It offers a richer, more complex, and deeper storyline, and that can affect gameplay in a variety of ways.

Developing
video games is a difficult and long process – it can take years to complete a
game from start to finish. Games are becoming increasingly more expensive, with
Bungie investing $ 500 million into the Destiny franchise. Risks are uncommon
and franchises are milked more often than we see new IPs. Still, I don't think
these hurdles should stop the industry from tackling new ideas and becoming
more progressive.

In
the end, the developer has the last word, and they shouldn't include women just
to satisfy a social quota or feel like they have to justify their creative
choices. They are free to pursue their vision and artistic direction,
implementing characters and lifestyles they believe fit their game
appropriately.

However, the industry is short-handed on women as
programmers and developers. If a development team is entirely male,
they may overlook the possibility of adding a female lead. Often, this isn't
meant to be discriminatory. Most games are phenomenal as they are, with male
leads shining in the spotlight. I just wonder, with games becoming more complex
and advanced every year, wouldn't it be refreshing to share more of that
spotlight with women?

www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

Never Alone leads the 2015 Games for Change award nominees

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Gamasutra News

December 2014 NPD – Call Of Duty: Advanced Warfare Leads The Month And Year

The NPD group has released its report for the final month of 2014 and the entire year. The industry saw a modest uptick of 1 percent for the full year, however the category sales paint a more complex picture.

Hardware sales increased from $ 4.24 billion in 2013 to $ 5.07 billion in 2014 (an $ 838 million increase, or 20 percent). Software sales fared much worse, dropping from $ 6.11 billion to $ 5.30 billion ($ 808 million dollars, or 13 percent). It's important to note that since NPD only tracks retail, this does not necessarily indicate a true decline in software sales, but rather a growing transition from retail to digital.

Software sales for current generation hardware are up 70 percent, with last-gen games dropping 33 percent. Handheld software is also down, with a 16 percent drop. 2014 was a year filled with delays, which led to a significant drop in new SKUs (a 10 percent year-over-year decrease). 

Earlier today, Microsoft announced that it had come out on top for the second month in a row. The company's decision to aggressively bundle and temporarily lower the price during the holiday season to $ 349 paid off. After two weeks back at the regular $ 399 price point, Microsoft has decided to renew the promotion. Sony also bundled for the holidays, and across platforms, packaged hardware and software represented 71 percent of sales. In 2013, bundles only represented 32 percent.

Starting tomorrow, January 16, the Xbox One will be priced at $ 349 once more. Microsoft says this is a temporary drop, but has not specified when the offer will end. 

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare led the month of December and 2014 at retail. Destiny was the number three title at retail for the year. Not that these rankings do not include digital or bundle copies. They do, however, include all different versions of a game, including collector and game of the year editions.

  1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (360, XBO, PS4, PS3, PC)
  2. Grand Theft Auto V (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3)
  3. Madden NFL 15 (360, XBO, PS4, PS3)
  4. Super Smash Bros.(NWU, 3DS)
  5. NBA 2K15 (360, XBO, PS4, PS3, PC)
  6. Minecraft (360, XBO, PS3, PS4)
  7. Far Cry 4 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  8. Just Dance 2015 (Wii, 360, NWU, XBO, PS4, PS3)
  9. Destiny (XBO, 360, PS4, PS3)
  10. FIFA 15 (360, XBO, PS4, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSV)

Here are the best selling retail games for 2014 in the United States:

  1. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (360, XBO, PS4, PS3, PC)
  2. Madden NFL 15 (360, PS4, XBO, PS3)
  3. Destiny (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3)
  4. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  5. Minecraft (360, PS3, XBO, PS4)
  6. Super Smash Bros.(3DS, NWU)
  7. NBA 2K15 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  8. Watch Dogs (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC, NWU)
  9. FIFA 15 (360, PS4, XBO, PS3, Wii, 3DS, PSV)
  10. Call Of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS3, XBO, PS4, NWU, PC)

 

                  Our Take
                  I don't believe the Xbox One (without Kinect) will ever be priced at $ 399 again. With this extended period at the lower price, Microsoft will have a hard time convincing consumers that the true value is $ 399. I expect that price drop to become permanent in the coming months.

                  Please keep in mind that until NPD reports digital sales, the software numbers are going  to become harder to interpret. The trending digital adoption is clear, but having a better picture of those sales would be most helpful.

                  www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

                  December NPD: Xbox One leads consoles in December, hardware sales surge in 2014

                  Video game hardware sales saw a significant uptick last year in comparison to 2013, but software sales at retail continue to chart a decline, the NPD Group’s latest report states.

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                  Shadow of Mordor leads nominations for this year’s AIAS awards

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                  Gamasutra News

                  The Last Of Us Leads Geek Out Over Creators Of Ico And Resident Evil

                  When visiting game studios during our cover story visits, one constant refrain is developers citing the influence of Ico on their concept of game design. We've spoken with David Cage about it in the past, and Naughty Dog's game director Bruce Straley and creative director Neil Druckmann discussed the importance of Team Ico's work during our last cover story trip to the studio for The Last of Us. In the middle of our larger interview discussing the transition from The Last of Us to Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, I spoke to Straley and Druckmann about what it was like to meet the creator of Ico Fumito Ueda and the influence of Resident Evil's creator Shinji Mikami.

                  Watch the video below to learn why some game developers make even the most-renowned game developers at Naughty Dog geek out.

                  (Please visit the site to view this media)

                  Click on the banner below to enter our content hub for Uncharted 4: A Thief's End and learn more about Naughty Dog's next game.

                  www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

                  Ex-DICE leads found Fugitive Games, build space survival sim

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                  Star Citizen’s Chris Roberts Leads First BAFTA LA Masterclass

                  BAFTA Los Angeles – the LA branch of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts – has announced it's holding a Games Masterclass series in 2015, and Star Citizen's Chris Roberts is its first presenter.

                  The masterclass is free and will be held at the Silver Screen Theatre, Pacific Design Center in Los Angeles on January 20 starting at 7:30. It's a 90-minute presentation followed by a Q&A session. The masterclass covers Roberts' experience developing Star Citizen and is open to the public, but you have to register in advance. For more info, head here.

                  Star Citizen has famously raised many millions past its crowdfunding goal, and follow the link to take a look at a trailer for its Arena Commander mode.

                  www.GameInformer.com – The Feed

                  November NPD: Xbox One leads consoles, Call of Duty tops software

                  Overall retail sales for new hardware, software and accessories saw an 11 percent drop in November 2014, versus the same reported period last year. For most of 2014, software sale declines have offset year-over-year hardware spending, however, this N…
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