PC and tablet maker Lenevo is diversifying its business with a new gaming service for China called Lenovo Game World, Bloomberg reports. These new game services will include social networking features, software reviews, and gameplay tips.
Tithe Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to loosen some regulations related to passengers using electronic devices during flight, take-offs and landings. The current regulations require that passengers turn off all electronics during take-off and landing, usually during the climb to 10,000 feet. The rule was implemented in the 1960's because airlines and the FAA believed that certain devices interfered with equipment in the cockpit.
Austin, Texas-based mobile online game developer Spacetime Studios announced that its four online mobile games have garnered over 250 million play sessions to-date. The four games - Pocket Legends, Star legends, Dark Legends, and Arcane Legends - have also been downloaded over 20 million times collectively. Spacetime also says that its game have a high level of engagement, with players logging an average of 33.5 hours per month on Spacetime’s titles, almost 3 times as much as the average iOS player’s total monthly gameplay and four times more than Android players.
Unity Technologies announced that its basic Unity game development engine tools for mobile devices are now free to independent developers and small studios. The basic license originally cost $800 for both iOS and Android devices.
"We were able to make Unity free for the web and for desktop computers a while ago, but have been dreaming of doing the same for mobile for what seems like forever," explained David Helgason, CEO of Unity Technologies.
Mobile games publisher Gree has laid off an estimated 30 employees from its San Francisco office according to reports on Develop and GII. While the exact number of employees let go was not confirmed, the layoffs have been. According to Gree COO Anil Dharni, the staff reduction is part of re-alignment of its U.S. operations.
An investigation examining 400 apps conducted by Develop shows that there is a lack of consistency in the way in-game purchases are presented on digital stores. The investigation follows the UK government agency the Office of Fair Trading’s recent announcement that it would investigate in-app purchases in children’s games.
If the laws being proposed by politicians in the UK this week were in place when SimCity and Diablo III launched, consumers would be able to get a refund. The BBC is reporting on plans to pass new laws that will make it easier for UK consumers to get a refund or a replacement product from companies when a digitally distributed video game, mobile app, or piece of entertainment content doesn't work they way it should at launch.
Mobile and social game developer PikPok announced that its newest original mobile game, Into the Dead has managed to sail past the 10 millionth download mark. The game was released in December of last year and is available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android. The game joins another PikPok title past 10 million downloads: Flick Kick Football. That game is contributing to the Flick Kick series of games, which has seen over 20 million downloads as of April.
This week the European Commission issued a preliminary antitrust ruling against Google’s Motorola Mobility related to its heavy handed tactics against Apple in German Courts. The finding could ultimately lead to a large fine for Motorola (and by extension Google) and could lead to Motorola being forced to enter an agreement with competitors to license its patents for a reasonable royalty rate.
The Associated Press is reporting that the country's fourth largest mobile carrier T-Mobile USA has completed the acquisition of rival mobile phone carrier MetroPCS. T-Mobile will add the company's estimated 9 million customers to its own 34 million users. While T-Mobile has no plans to make any immediate changes, the company does plan on shutting down MetroPCS’s network over the next two years.
Apple has won another battle this month at the U.S. International Trade Commission. The ruling dismissed patent claims by Google's Motorola Mobility against Apple's iPhone. If Motorola had prevailed, the ITC could have instituted a ban on imports of the iPhone into the United States from Apple's manufacturers in China.
Electronic Arts has laid off a number of employees at its Montreal-based mobile game development studio, according to a Polygon report. The company says that these layoffs are part of an overall strategy to streamline operations, though the mobile studio seems to have been impacted the hardest in this latest round of job cuts. No word on whether EA is cutting jobs elsewhere.
Google has made a dramatic move in removing apps that are either non-compliant or engage in some way in the art of spam. According to Techcrunch the marketplace for Android apps has about 60,000 less titles to choose from. These titles were removed in the last couple of weeks of February, according to the tech web site.
Lodsys, a company that seems to specialize only in filing patent infringement lawsuits, has added a number of new video game industry targets in the mobile games space. According to Ars Technica, Gameloft, Gamevil, BackFlip Studios, Pocket Gems and The Walt Disney Company are now named defendants for violating a patent the company holds related to technology used for in-app purchasing.
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.
A letter signed by 33 organizations and nine individuals asks the top ranking lawmakers in the House of Representatives (Reps. Bob Goodlatte and John Conyers) and the United States Senate (Sens. Patrick Leahy and Charles Grassley) to make an exception for unlocking electronic devices to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Recently a petition signed by over 110,000 Americans asked President Barack Obama's administration to make the same exception.
While GREE made a lot of developers upset when it discontinued the OpenFeint platform in December of last year, the co-founder of the social mobile platform will soon have something to replace it. Late last year GREE shut down the OpenFeint platform, feeling that Apple's GameCenter was dominating the space. Much to the chagrin of developers using that platform, they were not given enough time to migrate their game data to another platform and lost a lot of the user data they were storing in the OpenFeint cloud.
Sony has decided to unload its holdings in mobile game developer and publisher DeNa, according to this Reuters report. Sony has reportedly sold all of its shares in the company to Japanese-based investment firm Nomura Securities for $438 million.
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.
At a hearing yesterday US District Judge Lucy Koh told Apple and Samsung that both sides need to limit their cases to 25 patent claims each, and no more than 25 allegedly infringing products could be listed. Judge Koh threatened to put the whole case on hold unless both sides narrow the case down and accused them of overbroad accusations.
"As this case as it is currently framed, I'm refusing to go forward," Koh said.
Just take your best shots," Koh said. "I don't want a lot of sausage filler."
Earlier in the week reported on a petition over at WhiteHouse.gov asking the administration to direct the Librarian of Congress to rescind the October 2012 decision that removed unlocking mobile phones (commonly referred to as jailbreaking) as an exception to the DMCA. The petition went on to ask the White House - if it could not compel the Librarian of Congress to change that decision - to champion a bill that makes unlocking phones permanently legal.
Free-to-play mobile game Puzzle & Dragons from Japanese developer and publisher GungHo Online Entertainment supposedly generated around $65 million during January - or about $2 million dollars a day. These startling sales figures come from data collected by Japanese industry consultant Serkan Toto, who reports that the puzzle and RPG hybrid title has generated around $65 million in sales on iOS and Android in Japan last month.
Popular crowd funding platform Kickstarter has launched an app for iOS devices today that allows users to have more streamlined access to their favorite projects. The app promises the community the ability to "discover new projects, watch project videos, and get updates from projects and your friends." For project creators looking to get some funding from the community the app allows you to "stay connected with your backers, track your project’s progress, and post updates from wherever you are."
Chillingo founders Joe Wee and Chris Byatte announced jointly on EA's blog the launch of a new indie developer program that highlights quality independently developed mobile titles through the company's third party mobile publishing services. The program is called 100% Indie and its core is located at www.100percentindie.com.
Mobile game developer and publisher GREE announced details on a new $10 million fund to invest in and foster long-term relationships with "talented developers in the free-to-play mobile games industry." The fund is appropriately called the GREE Partners Fund, and will be administered by GREE International’s VP of Publishing and Partners, Jim Ying. The fund will allow GREE to invest an aggregate of $10 million through equity investments of $1 million or more.
During 2012 S2 Games, the developers behind the popular MOBA Heroes of Newerth, doubled its workforce and launched a mobile gaming division called iGames. To make room for these latest additions and continued growth of the company in 2013, S2 announced that it has relocated its headquarters to a corporate suite in the Portage Trade Centre, outside Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Hackulous closed its doors for good, according to a report from TorrentFreak. The entire community that catered to offering cracked apps for Apple's iOS devices seems to have unceremoniously died or shut down yesterday. This includes Apptrackr, the web-based partner index for cracked apps; and Installous, an app used by millions to transfer those cracked apps to iOS devices.
The Federal Trade Commission released a report on Monday that came to the conclusion that the majority of mobile apps aimed at children collect and transmit data that they shouldn't such as the device being used - and they do not disclose this fact to the parents. According to the report, around 60 percent of 400 popular kids’ apps made for phones and tablets running Android and iOS transmitted information about the device to the app’s developer or to a third party such as an ad network.