Sony Online Entertainment announced today that it is now accepting applications and submissions for its 2014 Gamers In Real Life (G.I.R.L.) Game Design Competition. Through the G.I.R.L. scholarship program, SOE awards one winner with a $10,000 scholarship to be applied towards tuition, room and board, and other educational expenses at the winner's college or university.
The International Game Developers Association has named this year's recipients for the 2014 Game Developers Conference Scholars program. The program gives recipients a pass into a specific conference (in this case the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March), but they are still responsible for other costs like travel lodging, meals, etc.
Ubisoft this week revealed a new graduate program that aims to help a small number of graduate students get into the video games industry every year. The program's continuation is clearly dependent on how the first two years go and its effectiveness in picking and training candidates that will stay in the industry long-term.
Beginning in September of this year, Ubisoft will select two dozen applicants to receive paid graduate positions at its various studios around the world complete with salaries and relocation costs paid.
It's a good day to be a writer at developer Naughty Dog. The developer of the hit PS3-exclusive The Last of Us has won the Outstanding Achievement in Videogames Writing award from The Writers Guild of America.
The annual award honors what the WGA picks as the best video game script of the past year. Judges for the award are caucus members or WGA members actively working in games, which means that whoever wins the word either has to be a member of the WGA or have an application to it pending at the time the script is submitted for consideration.
The Guildford, Surrey (UK) offices of Ghost Games has been hit with layoffs, according Polygon. According to the report, EA told contractors for the Need for Speed Rivals developer that they were no longer needed and full-time staffers that they could either take a layoff with some compensation or help out at Visceral. Rumor has it that Visceral is working on a police-themed Battlefield title code-named Havana.
Zynga has invested $527 million in a buyout of Clumsy Ninja and CSR Racing maker - UK-based mobile game maker NaturalMotion - even as it lays off one in seven of its employees. The company made the announcement during the release its most recent earning report. The NaturalMotion buyout is the biggest acquisition by Zynga to date, beating out its $200 million purchase of Draw Something maker OMGPOP in 2012. And the company still has roughly $1.2 billion in cash built up from its Farmville and Cityville days.
A new white paper, "The Importance of Global Workers in Canada’s ICT and Digital Media Industries" (PDF), urges the Canadian government to do more to provide technology companies in Canada access to a larger pool of skilled workers from outside the country. The organizations argue that the Canadian ICT workforce is aging and most of the employable ICT professionals available in the country have already been hired.
Developers Scary Mostro and Section Studios have released a tech demo for their game, To The Death, in the hopes that it will drum up interest within the community to fund development of the arcade style game which blends the best of the "beat’em and shoot’em up" genres. The demo is available for Mac, Windows, and Linux. You can read more about it on the To The Death Kickstarter page.
Developer Spicy Horse recently updated its Kickstarter page for the action/RPG Akaneiro: Demon Hunters explaining that updates will be coming to the game a lot slower because they have been forced to lay off all but two developers on the game's development team. Why would they do that, you ask? Apparently the game costs $2 million to make and only a tiny portion of it was funded by the community.
The "Father of the PlayStation" will finally be honored by the Game Developers Choice Awards for his accomplishments while serving as the CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment - bringing the masses Sony's very first home console and its subsequent iterations. Former Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Ken Kutaragi will receive a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award at the 14th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards.
Ubisoft announced this week that it plans to add around 100 jobs at its Quebec City studio over the course of the next three years as part of a $25 million investment initiative. Around $460,000 of that is from the Quebec government, which the company says will allow it to "strengthen its infrastructure" and "take the lead" on development of AAA next-generation games.
While it's fun watching "Clueless Gamer," Conan O’Brien's regular segment where he plays video games and makes witty comments for his show on TBS, apparently it can cost a developer or publisher a lot of money to get air time on the show. While not everyone pays to be on the show, about a quarter of the products featured on the segment have to pay some sort of fee. The show does not disclose this fact either.
Actress and Internet personality Felicia Day and YouTube filmmaker Freddie Wong will co-host the 17th annual DICE Awards in Las Vegas on Feb. 6, the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences announced today. This year's awards will be broadcast live via the DICE Twitch channel.
Even though the alpha version of his game is selling like hotcakes through Steam's Early Access program, DayZ creator Dean Hall continues to urge people not to buy his game right now. During a Reddit AMA yesterday, Hall said that people should wait a month or longer as bugs get squashed and features are refined. Right now he see the game as twenty percent of what he imagines the final version of the game will be.
The Independent Games Festival has chosen the 2014 Student Showcase winners for 2014, with each winning team winning a cool $1,000, passes to Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this March, and the chance to win an additional $2,000 prize for Best Student Game.
The eight winners, picked from 346 entries, are listed below along with a number of honorable mentions.
Museum of Simulation Technology (Albert Shih - Carnegie Mellon University, Entertainment Technology Center)
Engare (Mahdi Bahrami & Moslem Rasouli - NHTV University of Applied Science)
Chris Roberts and his studio Cloud Imperium Games continue to generate ridiculous sums of money from ongoing crowd-funding efforts for his latest space simulation game Star Citizen. As of this writing, the game has managed to raise an impressive $37 million dollars through a combination of the original Kickstarter campaign for the game and subsequent efforts through the game's official web site.
According to a Games Industry International report, Candy Crush Saga makers King (who are trying to get a trademark for the word "Candy") are apparently opposing a trademark filed by The Banner Saga developer Stoic.
Military-focused gaming charity Operation Supply Drop is kicking off 2014 with a nifty new initiative called Indies for Courage, which hopes to get independently developed video games into the hands of Armed Forces. The initiative created by respected Indie gamer and critic "Indie Gamer Chick" has rallied a team of indie developers to donate $15,000 in Steam and Desura codes.
Ubisoft is the first major publisher to launch a major game via Steam's early access program. Is this the beginning of a trend where developers and publishers who make PC games take their games to Steam and let players play early alphas to shape the game before it officially launches? We're not sure but if it is, it looks like Ubisoft will be on the ground floor of the trend embraced by indies.
Take This founder and president Russ Pitts (who also happens to be the Features Editor at Polygon) will give a talk at the 2014 Game Developers Conference entitled "How to Depression-Proof Your Studio Culture." The one-hour talk is part of this year's "advocacy" track, and offers some perspective on issues related to depression in the workplace and how both employees and employers can best deal with it.
The United States Court of Appeals has denied Canadian game developer Silicon Knights' attempt to overturn the verdict in its long-running legal battle with Epic Games over its Unreal Engine technology. In a decision last week, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's ruling that Silicon Knights has to pay Epic $4.5 million in damages - plus legal costs - and destroy all code and products created using the Unreal Engine.
Eurogamer has confirmed with 2K Games that the headquarters of 2K Czech in Prague (where Mafia 3 was rumored to be in development) has been closed and some of the staff has been moved to its offices in Brno. Some staff were laid off as well.
The Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) and the Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) have announced the nominations for outstanding achievement in writing for videogames during 2013. Winners in the videogame and other writing categories will be honored at the 2014 Writers Guild Awards to be held on Saturday, February 1, 2014, at simultaneous ceremonies in Los Angeles and New York. The nominees include the scribes of such hits as Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Batman: Arkham Origins, God of War: Ascension, The Last of Us, and Lost Planet 3.
The Last of Us, Tearaway, and Gone Home are the front runners when it comes to nominations for the 2014 Game Developers Choice Awards. Leading the pack with five nominations each are Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic PS3 action-adventure game The Last of Us and Media Molecule's PS Vita-exclusive platformer Tearaway. The Fullbright Company's PC environmental storytelling game Gone Home also had five nominations. Rockstar's open-world crime game Grand Theft Auto V and Galactic Café's first-person game The Stanley Parable, each had nominations in four categories.
Former Call of Duty series Creative Strategist Robert Bowling has had some interesting moments since leaving Infinity Ward and joining game developer Robotoki, but some of them have often involved the LAPD.
In a recent tweet Bowling detailed his latest late-night fun at the LA-based offices of game developer Robotoki: while working late the other night someone decided to break in and rob the place. They didn't realize that someone was still in the office but were shocked to see Bowling get up from his desk and bolt towards the door they had just knocked the glass out of.
Dutch game studio Two Tribes has hit the reset button on the studio, saying that it will - at the very least temporarily - close its doors and lay off all of its staff. The studio, which is best known for creating the Toki Tori series of games, said that it failed due to a switch from making work-to-hire games to building and developing its own intellectual properties.
Finalists for this year's Independent Games Festival have been announced. The list of nominees for the biggest prize of the show - Seumas McNally Grand Prize - include such notable indie games as The Stanley Parable (Galactic Cafe); Papers, Please (Lucas Pope); Don't Starve (Klei); Device 6 (Simogo); Jazzpunk (Necrophone); and Dominique Pamplemousse in "It's All Over Once the Fat Lady Sings!" (Deirdra Kiai Productions).
Far Cry 2 and Splinter Cell designer Clint Hocking has left Valve, as confirmed by Gamasutra and Hocking's personal website.
According to Hocking's web site, he left the company at the end of 2013. Hocking was supposedly working on Left 4 Dead 3, which Valve has yet to officially announce.