Courthouse News reports that Apple's plan to settle with parents over its failure to get parental consent before minors made purchases in various apps has been approved by a federal court. Apple's settlement would provide all class members with a minimum $5 iTunes store credit (or cash payment for those who no longer have an iTunes account), according to court documents.
Earlier in the week we learned that UK regulatory agency the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) had begun investigating free-to-play models in mobile and online games that used questionable practices to highlight (to children) buying upgrades in-games. Today we have learned the contents of the public survey that the agency is using to get information from UK consumers.
Responding to news that the UK regulatory agency the Office of Fair Trading is investigating free-to-play game practices, the UK video games trade body UKIE issued a statement saying that it would assist the OFT in find the truth.
The OFT announced that it would investigate how companies offer in-app purchases in games and if they use strong marketing techniques against children.
UK agency the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has begun contacting game developers and publishers as part of an investigation to determine if any free-to-play games are acting within the law. While the OFT won't name names at this point, it says that it is contacting companies who have games with micro-transactions in them currently on the market.
Finland-based free-to-play game studio Supercell is valued at around $800 million after its latest funding round. The developer behind the hit F2P mobile titles Clash of Clans and Hay Day sold off between 16 - 20 percent of its common shares for an estimated $100 - $150 million. The word on the street is that the company's latest investors include Institutional Venture Partners, Atomico and Index Ventures. The company allegedly got close to being valued at an even $1 billion, but fell just short of the mark.
Blizzard's first foray into free-to-play isn't an MMO, or an online action or strategy game - it's a collectible card game based on the popular Warcraft universe. Today at PAX East (even as it was showing off a special build of Diablo III for PS3), Blizzard revealed a free-to-play strategy card game for Windows, Mac, and iPad called Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft.
En Masse Entertainment’s MMO TERA: Rising has seen a dramatic increase in registered users after the game went free-to-play in February. TERA: Rising now has over 1.4 million users following its February launch as a subscription-free game with new content. Player participation also jumped sharply, with a 10-fold increase of maximum concurrent users compared to before TERA’s subscription-free evolution - according to En Masse Entertainment
Ridiculous Fishing and Serious Sam: Random Encounter developer Vlambeer says that "non-evil" free-to-play game design is almost impossible and that game developers should not be afraid to price their games at $3. Vlambeer's Ridiculous Fishing, which almost saw the studio go under during development, went live last week on Apple's App Store and garnered strong sales and critical acclaim from fans and critics.
Microsoft, who is not all that good at adding free-to-play games to its Xbox Live service for Xbox 360 (there are only a couple at this point), is probably happy that it allowed the free-to-play and kid-friendly MOBA game Happy Wars to launch on the platform in October of last year. As of today the game has been downloaded over 2 million times, according to maker Toylogic. While the game is completely free to download and play, players can purchase "Happy tickets" with real money to upgrade equipment and buy vanity items.
Former Square Enix and Taito executive Keiji Fujita has joined Japanese mobile ad network and game publisher Adways, the company announced today. Fujita will take the reins of the company's San Francisco office, which will serve as the home of the U.S. subsidiary, Adways Interactive. Keiji Fujita will serve as the Vice President of Game Business. The company also announced that it is looking for non-Japanese free-to-play mobile games to launch in the Japanese market. It will be on the hunt for such properties at Game Connection America 2013, where it will be present as an exhibitor.
PocketGamer is reporting that EA-owned studio Firemint has given in to pressure by consumers and removed "freemium features" to its latest game Real Racing 3. Earlier this week developer Firemint announced that the game would be available as part of a soft launch in some territories February 28.
Indie games portal Kongregate says that "core gamers" tend to spend way more money than casual gamers on its popular gaming destination (which is owned by retailer GameStop). Speaking to Develop, Kongregate CEO Jim Greer said that while the free-to-play titles it offers had a similar conversion rate to other platforms (two-to-three percent) paying core gamers were spending an average of approximately $60 a month.
Sony Online Entertainment and Major League Gaming announced that they have teamed up to bring PlanetSide to the MLG's competitive gaming audience.
Dave Brevik of Gazillion, the developer behind the upcoming Marvel Heroes free-to-play MMO action game, is defending a pricey content pack for the game that costs well over $100. The pack, the Marvel Heroes Ultimate Pack, gives players every hero and costume the game, as well as in-game currency and early access prior to the game's launch. Being that this is a free-to-play title some have scoffed at the huge price tag for the package, but Brevik doesn't think it's that big of a deal.
En Masse Entertainment and Bluehole Studios announced that their massively multiplayer online role-playing game Tera soon be switching from a monthly subscription plan to free-to-play. While the exact date for this switch from paid subscription to free has not been revealed, the companies say it will happen sometime in February.
In an update this week to the official blog for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Executive Producer Jeff Hickman detailed some of the changes that the next big update to the Star Wars themed free-to-play MMO will bring. Besides delivering changes to a special PvP area, the 1.7 update also sees the return of the Gree Enclave area, and details on why the inclusion of same-sex relationships has been pushed back slightly.
Funcom has decided to ditch the $15 a month subscription fee for its MMO The Secret World. The company announced today that players can now enjoy the game for free, though they'll still have to drop $30 to buy the game. After that players can opt for a special monthly membership or play for free and buy items from an in-game store as they see fit.
Brian Schneider and Steve Desilets, two former senior staff members at Zynga have assumed senior roles at free-to-play studio Rumble Entertainment. Brian Schneider will take on a role in Rumble’s executive team, where he will focus on retention and monetization strategies. Former Zynga design director Steve Desilets will serve as creative partner with Rumble co-founder and design director John Yoo. His goal will be to build new Rumble-developed games.
World of Tanks, World of Airplanes, and World of Warships creators Wargaming announced this morning that they are "fully underwriting" aircraft enthusiast David Cundall's efforts to recover British Spitfires reportedly buried in Burma at the end of World War II. The company's investment in Mr. Cundall's will allow him and the Burmese authorities to pursue the long-standing mystery of the Pacific theater.
Riot Games has released an infographic that illustrates why its MOBA title, League of Legends, is the most played game in the entire world.
According to data on that colorful infographic, League of Legends has a total of 70 million registered Summoner names, 32 million active monthly users, and 12 million daily active users. The infographic also claims that over 1 billion game hours are logged every month in League of Legends.
Free-to-play online games are non-existent on Xbox Live Arcade, but one of the very first is about to make its debut on Microsoft's platform next week. This is an important milestone because Sony - mostly through its subsidiary Sony Online Entertainment - has been offering several free-to-play games via the PlayStation Network.
That first Xbox Live Arcade free-to-play title is called Happy Wars and is being developed by Tokyo, Japan-based game developer Toylogic. The game will be available to all Xbox Live Gold member account holders for free beginning October 12.
BioWare Austin has begun consolidating Star Wars: The Old Republic servers together, leaving players with fewer world server choices, but providing a large population of gamers.
"By centralizing our player populations on these higher population destination servers, we feel that we can offer our players the best possible Star Wars: The Old Republic experience," wrote the SWTOR team on the game's website.
Cryptic Studios transitioned Star Trek Online to a free-to-play game recently and Perfect World Entertainment's wholly owned development studio revealed a little more on why they shifted the game from a subscription-based model to free-to-play in an exclusive interview with [A]ListDaily. Star Trek Online executive producer Dan Stahl and Perfect World vice president of business development and corporate communications John Young said the following:
In a recent interview with Develop, Wargaming CEO Victor Kislyi said that most game publishers just don't understand how to create a successful free-to-play game. He also points out that most of those traditional publishers dipping their toes into the market have no idea how the free-to-play business model works.
Following up on a story from earlier this week about Gotham City Imposters going free-to-play, we can now confirm that it was more than just a rumor. This morning Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment officially announced that the online multiplayer action game is now available for free through Steam.
Is Gotham City Imposters going free-to-play? According to data on the Open Steamworks Content Description Record Database (by way of NeoGAF), signs point to "yes." The Open Steamworks Content Description Record Database is an unofficial record of games and their descriptions provided by Valve.