Posts by Chris Morris

  • Report: Smartphone and tablet gaming outpacing handheld systems

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 1 day ago

    Over the past few years, we’ve seen smartphone and tablet gaming take bigger and bigger bites out of the handheld gaming market. In 2014, it took the biggest bite yet.

    Last year, game spending on iOS and Google Play in the fourth quarter exceeded that of handheld game systems. Put another way: Even though your favorite 3DS or PS Vita game commands a premium price, more people were buying game apps, and spending cash within those games.

    The data comes from a new report from App Annie and IDC, which points to an ongoing tidal shift in how we game on the go.

    There was a little good news for handheld systems. Game spending in the fourth quarer of last year (when most of the money changes hands in the gaming industry) was up 5 percent from the same period in 2013. The insalled base dropped by over 10 million, though, meaning a big chunk of people were either getting rid of or no longer playing on the systems.

    The opposite is happening with smartphones and tablets, as the number of those devices used for gaming topped 1 billion for the first time.

  • Nintendo’s Amiibo toys are turning into serious collectibles

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 2 days ago

    Nintendo characters like Mario, Kirby, and Link have long thrilled fans. But these days, it isn’t just their games that have players rummaging through their wallets.

    It’s their figurines.

    Introduced in November to coincide with the release of   Super Smash Bros.  for the Wii U, Nintendo’s Amiibo toy line lets players access new features, abilities, and characters in various Nintendo games. And it’s ballooned into a bona fide hit, creating a hot secondary market for the company’s products.

    Nintendo has been coy about specific sales numbers, but according to their Q3 financials, the company sold   5.7 million   Amiibo figurines globally through the end of 2014.

    Related:   Review: ‘Super Smash Bros. for Wii U’ Is a Beautiful Beatdown 

    The company could also follow the path blazed by the card game Magic: The Gathering , says senior managing director and legendary game maker Shigeru Miyamoto.

  • ‘Exploding Kittens’ sets Kickstarter record

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 7 days ago

    Yes, there really is a game in the works about exploding kittens. And by one measure, it’s the most popular thing to ever hit Kickstarter.

    The upcoming card game, in which no actual kittens are blown up,   received pledges from 219,382 people   - the most ever to support a single Kickstarter campaign.

    Not surprisingly, all those supporters resulted in a cash bonanza.   Exploding Kittens   co-creator Matthew Inman, artist/author of the popular comic   The Oatmeal, was hoping to collect $10,000. 

    When all was said and done, his game walked away with pledges of nearly $8.8 million, making it the third biggest moneymaker to ever appear on the site.

    Only the Coolest Cooler and Pebble Watch have raised more, and both of those projects had under 70,000 backers each. Even the much heralded   Veronica Mars   movie only found 91,585 backers.   Reading Rainbow   came in just shy of 106,000.

    The lesson? Never underestimate the drawing power of a popular Web cartoonist. And cats.

    The creators, not surprisingly, were overjoyed.

  • Meet Steve Kleisath, 'Mario' master

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 8 days ago

    Like countless kids of the early 1980s, Steve Kleisath spent most of his free time in an arcade.

    Unlike countless kids of the early 1980's, he still does.

    "It always seemed a very good place to escape or socialize between school and home or school and work," he says. "At the time, there were so many games being pumped out that every 3-4 months, you had a new favorite to try out."

    He counted Ms. Pac Man , Joust , Galaga and Frogger among his favorites, but the one that he really took to was the original Mario Bros . Last month, his ongoing love affair with the game hit its apex, as Kleisath became the world's best Mario Bros. playerwith a staggering score of 5,424,920.

    The achievement isn't his only gaming feat. Alongside fellow old-school gamer Stephen K. Boyer, Kleisath has set two more world records in co-op Mario Bros . (Kleisath, for the record, played as Luigi.)

    He's also ranked third in the world on the Turbo edition of Ms. Pac-Man .

  • Florida pastor embraces Oculus Rift

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 9 days ago

    As the Oculus Rift and other VR headsets continue to creep towards a mainstream release, more and more organizations are expressing interest in their potential.

    But none may be more surprising than what the First Presbyterian Church of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has in mind.

    Rev. Christopher Benek envisions the technology as a way for people who are unable to attend Sunday services in person - whether due to advanced age, poor health, or an overused snooze button - to still be able to worship, albeit virtually.

    “Personally, I think that as technology like Oculus Rift becomes more developed, immersive, and available to the general public, we may soon be able to easily develop virtual worship and Christian education experiences," he says. "This would be a great asset to the church universal, as it will enable the infirm, homebound, and potentially even the poor to participate from afar regardless of their personal mobility or lack of affordable transportation.”

    It’s an odd fit, perhaps, but Benek believes the immersive nature of VR could help to change that.

  • Iconic View-Master getting a VR makeover

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 13 days ago

    One of your favorite childhood toys is getting a new lease on life.

    Mattel and Google have announced a partnership that hopes to transform the View-Master from a stereoscopic image projector to a kid-friendly virtual reality device - which will let children explore everything from fictional worlds to outer space in 360 degrees.

    Available this fall, the device will sell for $30 and will include a sample "experience reel" -- as the new drop-ins are called -- that will feature a gallery of "classic" View-Master images, a tour of the inside of the space shuttle, and a 360-degree view of an unannounced destination.

    There's a slight catch, though. You know how your kids are always asking to borrow your phone? Yeah, that's not going to stop with View-Master. To get the full VR experience, the device will need to be paired with an app and smartphone.

    Future experience reel packs will run $15 each, and will each contain four themed experiences (such as nature or science).

    Google's contribution to this is its Google Cardboard VR platform - a cardboard smartphone mount that can easily be converted into a headset.

  • Vote your hometown onto the Monopoly board

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 14 days ago

    Forget Park Place and Boardwalk. How'd you like to visit your hometown on a Monopoly board?

    As part of the ongoing 80th anniversary celebration of the classic board game, Hasbro is inviting fans to choose the cities that will be included as property spaces on this fall's version of the Monopoly Here & Now game.

    The game publisher is letting people vote from a list of top global destinations (including usual suspects New York, London and Chicago), but they're also welcoming write-in candidates, meaning a motivated city could find its way onto the map - er, game board.

    Players can head to a Buzzfeed-hosted page to select their favorite. (Providence, RI was the early leader, but that's likely to change quickly.) All totaled, there are 60 pre-selected choices. Voting will run through March 4.

    It's not just big cities on the list, either. While most major metro areas are covered, voters can also chose from smaller but beloved burgs like Vail, CO, Charleston, SC and Vineyard Haven, MA.

  • Games business: Software sales lead the charge into 2015

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 14 days ago

    The sales pace of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 is vastly exceeding that of their predecessors, but every road has bumps - and the video game industry hit a notable one in January.

    Hardware sales, which have been reliably positive for the past year, dipped 23 percent last month, according to newly released sales data from The NPD Group. In raw dollars, that's a $54 million shortfall. But the analytical firm noted there's no reason for concern at this point.

    “The combined hardware install base of PS4 and Xbox One is close to 60 percent higher than the cumulative hardware totals for Xbox 360 and PS3 at the same point in their lifecycles (after 15 months),” said NPD analyst Liam Callahan.

    The shortfall in the hardware numbers didn't carry over to game sales, though. While more and more players are buying their games digitally, brick and mortar retailers still managed to post a 6 percent increase in sales in January compared to the 2014 numbers.

    Here's a look at the month's overall top 10:

    Rank

    Title

     

    Publisher

    1

    Dying Light

     

    Warner Bros. Interactive

    2

    Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

     

    Activision Blizzard

    3

    Grand Theft Auto V

     

    Take 2 Interactive

    4

    Minecraft

     

    5

  • Sony brings Ghostbusters board game to Kickstarter

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 16 days ago

    Sony Pictures has teamed with Cryptozoic Entertainment to launch a crowdfunded board game based on the classic franchise - and it's quickly finding a fan base.

    Launched today - and running through March 11 - the campaign has already raised more than $130,000 of its $250,000 goal, despite a steep entry pledge level of $80.

    The game (which is completely different from the 1986 Milton Bradley Real Ghostbusters game) blends the existing Ghostbusters movies, animated series, comic books and toys. While you can play solo, it's really envisioned as a four-person cooperative venture. It's set to launch in October, though Kickstarter ship dates often turn out to be flexible.

    You'll play as one of the original four Ghostbusters (don't forget Winston!), battling a variety of spirits and ghouls and eventually taking on a familiar face - either Slimer, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man or Idulnas (a creature from the Ghostbusters comic book series, who can travel through mirrored surfaces).

  • Hasbro hides real-world cash in 80 Monopoly game boxes

    Chris Morris at Plugged In 22 days ago

    Go to France. Go directly to France. Do not pass go. But you could collect more than $20,000.

    To celebrate the 80th anniversary of Monopoly , Hasbro has embedded actual cash in 80 copies of the game in France. One copy in particular contains €20,580 (roughly $23,600.)

    It's something of an odd move, seeing as Monopoly is the ultimate game of capitalism, but it turns out the French are crazy about the game. Over 500,000 copies are sold in France every year. Plus, fans did something we lazy Americans neglected to do: they asked the company to do it.

    "We wanted to do something unique," brand manager Florence Gaillard told The Guardian. "When we asked our French customers, they told us they wanted to find real money in their Monopoly boxes."

    It then sent out the cash-laden games (no, not via Reading Railroad) in a batch of 30,000 boxes. The money's said to be spread out among the Classic, Junior, Electronic and Vintage versions of the game.