The Fault in VR: Oculus Widens the Rift Between Gamers

"Huh, did you say something?"

Oculus Rift has already won the hearts and minds of geeks everywhere, without a finished product on shelves. At trade shows like CES and E3, the chance to get even a brief demo of the virtual reality headset has spawned endless, snaking lines of near-Disneyland proportions. There’s no doubt that the Rift has the potential to change entertainment as we know it, but it’s a step in the wrong direction that will further divide gamers from the mainstream.

Continue reading The Fault in VR: Oculus Widens the Rift Between Gamers

Slide to Survive: Flourishing in the Cutthroat Mobile Industry

The mobile market is still growing fast; in 2014 the number of mobile-connected devices will exceed the world’s population. With over 1 million apps available on both the iTunes App Store and Google Play, the competition facing mobile developers is fiercer than ever before. With so many app options, the sheer volume of marketing has grown to a cacophony… so where does this leave mobile app PR? The market has shifted substantially over the past year, and PR pros must adapt rapidly. Formerly bulletproof techniques have become less reliable, while new PR strategies are evolving in their place. All this upheaval is thanks to three little characters: F2P.


Continue reading Slide to Survive: Flourishing in the Cutthroat Mobile Industry

The e-Sports e-Splosion: Why Now?

eSports – a term for organized video game competitions around the world – have been gaining popularity since their humble beginnings around the turn of the century. For years, there have been dozens of articles in the most respected of mainstream and enthusiast publications suggesting that eSports are on the verge of exploding into mainstream culture, sharing the type of notoriety and fame typically reserved for pro sports and Hollywood movies. However, that’s yet to truly happen – eSports and their most popular game genre, the MOBA, both remain a relative niche even within the gaming industry, let alone the world at large. But just like the cunning strategies used to succeed in the games themselves, the eSports industry has the potential to execute a come-from-behind win of epic proportions.

The 2013 League of Legends World Championship Finals Trophy
The 2013 League of Legends World Championship Finals Trophy

So here’s the question at hand: eSports… why now? Continue reading The e-Sports e-Splosion: Why Now?

New Marketing for the Socially Digital Age – TiE CON East 2013

Can a room full of experienced VC’s learn some new tricks about digital marketing, from the perspective of video game PR? That was my hope today as I represented TriplePoint during the 7th annual TiE CON in Boston.

It’s a conference that brings together both established and startup entrepreneurs in Technology, Life Sciences, Education, and Cleantech. I lead a boot camp with help from two other marketers, on the topic of New Marketing for the Socially Digital Age. The panel touched upon everything from Facebook and YouTube to email blasts, lead-generation, and timing for advertising campaigns.

Continue reading New Marketing for the Socially Digital Age – TiE CON East 2013

South By Super Sad True Love Story By Southwest

In Gary Shteyngart’s novel Super Sad True Love Story (Random House, 2010), the schlubby protagonist clings to his old-world ways, doing his best to resist the overabundance of technology and information that barrages him in a not-too-distant-future version of New York City. He is starkly contrasted by his love interest, a younger woman who has grown up with these perpetual streams of stimulus and embraces them without question. The book tells a cautionary tale of personal connections and human relationships gone awry, replaced almost entirely by digital communication and instant, unlimited access to data. While I’m tempted to shrug off this dystopian future, a startling amount of this tech exists already and is gaining popularity. In this way, Shteyngart’s novel feels uncomfortably akin to nonfiction.

Highlight & Glancee were recently deemed the kings of South By Southwest (SXSW 2012), while peripheral nods were given to their competitors like Banjo & Sonar. These apps show you information about those around you. More specifically, they display location-based Facebook interests and Facebook friends-of-friends of people who are physically near you, in the same bar or on the same street. The impetus to browse search results, judge potential connections and act upon them is up to each individual user, but these apps provide opportunity. For more information, Robert Scoble gives a stellar rundown on The Next Web.

Info and images, social networks and video chat, newsfeeds and live-streaming, and above all the shopping, Shopping, SHOPPING – all of this is beamed to äppärät users in real-time, a userbase that includes basically everyone on Earth, minus the destitute and the elderly. While specifics are never given, the äppärät is described as a futuristic iPhone where a haze of holograms replaces the touchscreen and display real-time information on and around the user. The latest äppärät is a small pebble-like device worn like a trendy necklace, a cell phone immune to the battery woes of today. Nothing in the book is so futuristic that I can’t imagine it becoming commonplace in the next year or two.

With these new apps, the data used for comparing and ranking your nearby peers is pretty mundane: movies and bands you like, your favorite cuisine, perhaps the schools you attended. These are things that any Facebook friend could learn about you, but when this info is automatically sent to strangers in text-message-like pings, it changes from passive to active data. You are broadcasting information about yourself to anyone who has downloaded a free app – I can wait while you go update your Facebook “likes.”

The data being sent around by apps like Highlight is rather innocuous – it’s strictly qualitative stuff. But Super Sad True Love Story takes data-sharing to the extreme, where anyone with an äppärät can see quantitative data like your credit rating, your cholesterol level and even your annual salary. In this novel, not only is privacy dead, it’s been long-forgotten.

Before apps like Highlight can gain widespread adoption, they’ll need a filter system (such as a minimum number of friends in common) to weed out the surge of false-positives. For instance, you’d be more inclined to chat up someone with 6 common Facebook friends than someone with only one third-degree connection. Similarly, you might not shy away from approaching a stranger if you had a very specific interest in common; millions of people like Radiohead, but as a New York City resident, I’d happily chat with another fan of Portland, Oregon’s DJ Copy.

In the not-too-distant-future, speaking to another person… out loud… face to face will be so uncommon that it gives rise to the term “verbal-ing.” In the novel, everyone is surrounded by three-dimensional clouds of information, images, advertisements and videos. Even today, it’s too easy to get sucked in by the distractions of a smartphone and miss the real world around you. But apps like Highlight are not as ominous as they may initially sound.  By encouraging people to socialize and meet new friends, these apps turn a few common interests into the potential for a friendship, as it was in the pre-smartphone era.

For more info, check out a video interview with Shteyngart on the äppärät via TechCrunch.

Just the Facts: the Changing Media Landscape in 2011

Last night TriplePoint NYC attended the Changing Media Landscape 2011 panel at Columbia Journalism School in New York. The series, now in its fifth year, invites senior media professionals to share their take on the ever-evolving face of journalism online, in print, and on television. With a diverse group of panelists representing outlets from Yahoo! News (with an astounding 180 million unique monthly viewers) to Facebook to the upstart Texas Tribune, the panel presented a two hour debate to a standing-room-only crowd.

The night’s sentiment was best summed up by Alfred Edmond Jr., Senior VP of Black Enterprise who observed, “There’s no such thing as old media or new media, just media. To excel, you must know and master them all.” This sentiment was echoed across the panelists; diversification of platforms is key to reaching the widest possible audience.  If one person wants an RSS feed and another wants to leave a comment on YouTube, it’s vital to provide both of these options. In short, the role of community manager will be increasingly important in the years to come.

There was one pertinent question that was posed but not necessarily answered… do these news websites and blogs fuel technological innovation for innovation’s sake?  Or do things like social media actually make readers more knowledgeable about current events? Vadim Lavrusik of Facebook commented that users are posting double the amount of content on Facebook as they did a year ago, implying that users are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and accustomed with posting on the site. While this doesn’t suggest increased comprehension, Texas Tribune’s Mark Miller noted that their site has outlawed word clouds because “they look nice and don’t actually accomplish much.”

And while Facebook may not be focused on the in-depth reporting that journalists aspire to, it’s impossible to deny the social network’s rapid growth.  Lavrusik pointed out that Facebook has 4 billion-with-a-b pieces of content posted every single day, equivalent to half the world’s population. That’s a lot of “likes.”

Above all, Leila Cobo, director of Latin programming at Billboard best summed up the current state of media. “These days, everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to be tweeting and posting, checking in and Twit Pic-ing, from the intern level up to the top. I work twice as hard as I did two years ago!” and it’s worth noting that Billboard’s website has been live for exactly two years. While today’s always-connected world may feel exhausting, it’s refreshing to hear that traditional journalism is still alive and well. Cobo closed out the panel with a statement echoed by most panelists: “Metrics and ‘likes’ and clicks do not determine our coverage. At the end of the day, we’re still committed to quality, old-fashioned reporting.”

A full video archive will be found at this link.

A big focus of the event is building up people’s Twitter networks, so I’d love to pass along everyone’s Twitter info.

Leila Cobo, director of Latin programming, Billboard @leilacobo

Derek Dingle, editor-in-chief, Black Enterprise @dtdingle

Mark Miller, editor of Texas Tribune, a nonprofit news site @markmillertrib

Angela Morgenstern, senior vice president, digital at Current TV @angelamedia

Jai Singh, editor-in-chief of Yahoo News, the world’s largest news site @jaijs

Moderator: Sree Sreenivasan, dean of student affairs, Columbia Journalism School @sree

It stands to reason that the representative from Facebook would prefer that you look him up on that network… Vadim Lavrusik, Journalist Program Manager, Facebook

Objects Talking Back: The Museum of Modern Art’s “Talk to Me”

We’ve come to expect today’s tools to offer us more than simple utility and function. Our personal devices must not only do the job at hand, but must also provide feedback along the way. Communication between man and machine has thus become the predominant factor in modern industrial design. This phenomenon, and the cutting-edge products and concepts that embody it, are the focus of a fascinating new MoMA exhibition called “Talk to Me, Design and the Communication between People and Objects.”

Talk To Me

While some objects like computers and cell phones inherently share information with/about their user, other devices present a more passive conversation. Some exhibits were practical, literal, and available for purchase today:  a GPS-enabled prayer mat that can precisely locate mecca or transforming plastic toys that change from a Japanese kanji character into the animal that character represents. Others were theoretical and artistic, like an animated visualization of a heated argument, represented by warping distortions of dishes and glassware at a dinner table (ed. note: check it out here, and find twelve more interesting examples).

Games are a clear fit for this project, and a variety of them were on display. Media Molecule’s Little Big Planet 2 was praised for its ability to both communicate with players and for giving them a robust toolset to clearly guide their peers through their own original in-game levels. Jason Rohrer’s Sleep is Death is a non-traditional video game where two players alternate narrating a story, improvising the twists and turns like a pixelated Choose Your Own Adventure. No two games are the same, and communication between the hero and narrator is the core of each short story.

Melding game technology with traditional art, one exhibit used a PS Eye camera to track a paraplegic  graffiti artist TEMPT1’s eye movements, feeding these digital spray can-strokes into a graphic design program. After the image was complete, it was then projected thirty feet wide onto a wall, allowing the artist to remotely tag his city from the confines of a hospital bed.  Discover his EyeWriter system at his website.

Tempt1's EyeWriter system

Non-video games were also represented, with a mind-bending card game called Helix. To play, you send a swab of your saliva to a lab, and in a few weeks you get a customized deck of cards that reflect strengths and weaknesses your real-life genetic attributes. “The deck allows players to become shadow versions of themselves, with all their genetic cards on the table, and in the game, as in reality, life depends on how the cards are played, not on which cards are dealt.” Currently in development, this game takes a literal approach to personalizing gameplay.

“Talk to Me” is a fantastic collection of modern tools, both for work and play, and the myriad ways they communicate with their users. To quote curator Paola Antonelli, “Whether openly and actively, or in subtle, subliminal ways, things talk to us, and designers help us develop and improvise the dialogue.” The gaming industry depends on a conversation between hardware, software and human beings. Innovative designers and devices are helping spread this dialoge into more aspects of daily life, creating user interfaces that are increasingly intuitive and discreet.

MIT BIG Conference Recap Part Four: The Economy of Play

Last week TriplePoint attended the 3rd annual MIT Business in Gaming conference in Boston. This series will break down some of the biggest and best ideas into tasty, digestible morsels.

Why do some games get their hooks into players and keep them reaching for their wallet every month, or even every day? Gazillion founder (Lego Universe, Marvel Superhero Squad) and veteran MMO designer (LotR Online, D&D Online) Nik Davidson spoke on the economy of play, focusing on crucial but oft-overlooked principles of online game design. His central message was this: economically equivalent does not mean emotionally equivalent. For example, I’d be happy to get a $100 check in the mail, but my brain would dole out far more pleasure-inducing serotonin if I found a $50 bill two separate times. It doesn’t make logistical sense, but science says it’s true.

  • Always whales in the sea – Regardless of how expensive the highest priced (virtual) item is, someone will be willing to buy it, while more conservative spenders may be swayed to spend more than they originally intended by choosing the second- or third-costliest item. The best way to sell more $32 swordfish? Offer a $49 filet mignon.
  • Anchoring is key – Our brains like to categorize and catalog information efficiently. I know that most XBLA games are $15 today, even though two years ago they usually cost $10. So when a title goes on sale to $10 today, the great deal I’m getting is actually yesterday’s average, unremarkable deal. This occurs often, and it occurs subconsciously; Davidson noted a massive spike in Xbox sales when the price of the console was reduced to $349, a figure smaller than the 360 in the system’s title. The number of consoles sold bested the predicted number resulting from a $50 price break. “I’m getting 360 things for only 349 other things?  Sold!”
  • Hazy value – Microsoft, in a move that echoes Walt’s Disney Dollars, cleverly obfuscates the value of their virtual currency. With an exchange rate of 80 points per dollar, our minds cannot readily determine the actual cost of a download. In the same way casinos require the use of chips, if it doesn’t look like money, I won’t treat it as carefully as money.
  • Paying feels good – We derive utility from spending in online games just like we do in real life. But in MMOs, we can buy items that deliver the instant gratification of accelerating your progression. At school or work, there’s nothing we can trade in for a level-up promotion, but in free-to-play games (F2P), impatience and a few bucks let us leapfrog ahead.
  • Workin’ for the weekend – Americans show a very strong flat rate bias; if given an option, we will choose the all-you-can-eat subscription option for our cable TV, our cell phones and our MMOs. Not so in Southeast Asia, where pay-per-text message and the microtransaction nickel and diming of F2P games are widely embraced. It’s been shown that Americans have an aversion to being “on the clock.” Price schemes like those of taxi cabs make us anxious because they’re reminiscent of our daily grind at school or the office.

Human beings behave in a predictably irrational manner. If online game developers use intelligent, metrics-driven designs in their games, they can avoid user fatigue and their biggest enemy of all: churn.

MIT BIG Conference Recap Part Three: Where are Mobile Games… Going?

Last week TriplePoint attended the 3rd annual MIT Business in Gaming conference in Boston. This series will break down some of the biggest and best ideas into tasty, digestible morsels.

Diehard gamers are eagerly awaiting the Nintendo 3DS and Sony’s next PSP, but in the past few years, portable gaming has undergone a huge shift towards the mainstream via cell phones. While mobile gaming technically can refer to tablet PCs, handheld consoles and wild cards like the Kindle and Blackberry, this panel focused on the two game systems most likely to be in your pocket at this very moment: Android phones and iOS devices. Here are the key takeaways.

  • State of Mobile Gaming – The iPhone and Android markets are diametrically opposed. While Apple is master of media attention, Android is larger (thanks to the wide range of handsets) and is a bigger global player, due in part to the lower cost of their phones. Industry veteran Tom Dussenberry bluntly stated, “iPhone users are bound to buy more apps; they were already willing to spend hundreds of dollars on their phone.” While Apple maintains strict control over their app store, Android development is like the Wild West. It’s every developer for themselves in this open-source world with dozens of phone models, each with their own hardware capabilities, screen size and operating system version.
  • Life’s a Game! – Gamification, arguably the industry’s biggest buzzword today, is creeping into more apps and websites every day. The term simply connotes game mechanics like points, achievements and leaderboards in non-game applications. While apps like FourSquare are a fun distraction, developers are seeking ways to keep them from plateauing. Devs are streamling check-ins to minimize the antisocial nature of fussing around with your phone while out with friends. Strategies include group check-ins; tagging everyone in your party at once can reduce user frustration. This cuts engagement time but also encourages repeat check-ins. For more on gamification, view Jesse Shell’s DICE presentation.
  • Where you at? –Location services like GPS, once reserved for the military and adventurous hikers, are now in most mobile devices. Location is a growing factor in mobile games like MyTown and SCVNGR, but serious technology hurdles prevent them from entering the mainstream (and making that FarmVille money). The approximate nature of GPS is great for identifying a highway exit for a favorite fast food joint, and sufficient to get party-goers from one bar to the next. But in the US, the technology may never reach South Korean levels, forcing developers to design location-appropriate apps that know more or less where you are.
  • Going global – Affluent consumers enjoy AAA mobile titles like Infinity Blade, but simpler games like those built around text messaging are big in other parts of the world. As a result, systems are in motion for players to spend fractions of a cent on freemium games – these are truly “micro” transactions, but can add up quickly at scale. Other issues affect the global marketplace like the aforementioned variety of handsets and service providers.
  • More bumps in the road –The panel sited a wide range of potential problems for mobile gaming. Small screens make it difficult to display a lot of information at once, and require new input methods. Flat glass touchscreens lack tactile feedback, and while there have been attempts at innovative solutions for text input, some game genres just don’t work with a virtual d-pad.

A truly console-like mobile experience is still on the horizon. In the meantime, cell phone gaming has some key strengths; location data can define each player’s competitive landscape. I may never be the world’s best Orbital player, but I stand a chance of breaking the Top 100 in southern Manhattan. The infrastructure does not yet exist for my iPhone to know which isle of a supermarket I’m browsing. And that’s just fine by me  = ]

Speakers included:

Eric Goldberg – Crossover Technologies

Nick Herbold – SCVNGR

David Bisceglia – The Tap Lab

Mike Oldham – Infared 5/Brass Monkey

Tom Dusenberry – Dusenberry Entertainment

MIT BIG Conference Recap Part Two: Gaming in Boston

Last week TriplePoint attended the 3rd annual MIT Business in Gaming conference in Boston. This series will break down some of the biggest and best ideas into tasty, digestible morsels.

Gaming has but a few celebrities, and Ken Levine is certainly among their top ranks. The BioShock creator and Irrational Games founder joined a panel of fellow Bostonians to discuss the highs and lows of the Massachusetts video game industry. While it still lags behind the California juggernaut and other top gaming states like Texas, Washington and New York, Boston and surrounding areas have seen major growth in the last year; this comes without state tax incentives that are now available to developers in approximately 20 states, from Hawaii to Maine.

  • Recognition is Key – Levine opened by describing the public’s view of the industry shifting from “hostility to benign ignorance.” It’s our job, as citizens of the gaming world, to help improve this perception by taking ourselves and the business more seriously. This includes everything from legislation to financing. Levine observed that when Ben Affleck shoots a movie in Boston, the entire town is at his beck and call, but gaming revenue is growing rapidly and recognition is soon to follow.
  • Games are Made by People – Other entertainment industries like music and film do a great job spotlighting their talented artists. Big stars are the backbone of both industries, but even the most passionate gamer would be hard-pressed to name gaming celebrities beyond Shigeru Miyamoto. IGDA President Gordon Bellamy points out that “games are a performance craft.” Mainstream celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and pitcher Curt Schilling (38 Studios) help to deliver some much-needed star power.
  • City Hall is Listening – While it’s not there yet, legislation is in motion to support the Boston games industry. One example is the proposed “Made in MASS” bill, where locally-developed games (that sport the Made in Mass logo on their splash screen) stand to receive a 2.5% additional kickback on sales from the state.

While the panelists had mixed opinions overall, it’s hard to argue Boston’s foothold in the industry. Besides big studios, they are also home to the Princeton Review’s fourth highest-rated school for game design, Becker College.

Outside of the states, Canada is another huge draw for gaming talent, and an obstacle for local studios. Provinces like Vancouver and Ontario are fast-rising stars, but Boston won’t go down without a fight.

Boston Globe tech reporter and local industry hero Hiawatha Bray (@GloveTechLab), also covered the event.

Speakers included:

Ken Levine – Irrational Games
Bob Ferrari – Sanrio Digital
Tim Loew – Becker College
Jon Radoff – Disruptor Beam
Gordon Bellamy – IGDA

MIT BiG Recap, Part One: Social vs. Hardcore

Last week TriplePoint attended the 3rd annual MIT Business in Gaming conference in Boston. This series will break down some of the biggest and best ideas into tasty, digestible morsels.

Are you a hardcore gamer or a casual player? With each passing year, more and more people fall into at least one of these categories. To some extent, the console wars still rage on as players debate graphical prowess and the price of getting online. However, the fanboyism of the last two decades has fallen to the wayside as gamers take up arms in an even larger battle, one that pits Volvo-driving soccer moms against Mountain Dew-swilling video game fanatics. There’s been a great deal of discussion surrounding social vs. hardcore gaming, and this panel put forth some lofty ideas.

Gaming's a BiG deal.
Gaming's a BiG deal.
  • Social gaming is dead …or at least the term “social” is becoming increasingly irrelevant. As social elements such as matchmaking, leaderboards and the automatic “I just trumped your score” pings from Geometry Wars 2 work their way into more hardcore games, their presence will be less notable. Features like the Autolog competition-between-friends system in Need for Speed: Hot Pursuit is destined for all upcoming Criterion releases. These are both clever ways to make that million-player leaderboard relevant to you and your gamer buddies. So even when you’re alone, you’re still playing (asynchronous) multiplayer.
  • Play with your buddies, not just their scores. Synchronous gaming is on the rise; this occurs any time players are all participating at once, rather than just watering one another’s crops whenever it’s convenient. Gazillion’s Nik Davidson went so far as to say that synchronous gaming is “fetishized” by the industry, and that a hybrid of the two makes the most sense. Letting players take their character on the go means the game is always in mind and close at hand. More engaged = more likely to spend.
  • Whatever you call it, it’s growing fast. Casual games that make money hand over fist, like Ravenwood Fair, are popping up like weeds. IGDA NY President Wade Tinney points out, “With each passing month comes a new MMO or casual title that changes all the rules.” This ongoing evolution is drastically outpacing all other entertainment markets.

The boys and girls of the NES Generation are now becoming parents, and the game industry’s growth will continue to accelerate. As more and more of the populous understands game mechanics and is willing to invest in gaming entertainment, this social/hardcore/whatever industry has quite a sunny future.

Speakers included:

  • Nik Davidson – Gazillion/The Amazing Society
  • Nabeel Hyatt – Zynga Boston
  • Daniel Witenberg – Lego Universe
  • Wade Tinney – Large Animal Games & President IGDA NY

NY Videogame Critics Invade NY Gaming Meetup, GotY Still at Large

Last night, over one hundred video game players, journalists and scholars braved freezing temperatures to convene in downtown Manhattan and discuss their hobby of choice. December’s NY Gaming Meetup hosted the NY Videogame Critics Circle, a group of journalists committed to establishing an East Coast presence on the global gaming map. Moderated by industry veteran (and group leader) Harold Goldberg, the critics waxed philosophical on the highs, lows, and gooey centers of the 2010 year in gaming. Rising above the ranks of petty fanboyism, the critics touched on a wide range of topics:

  • While 2010 was a good year for gaming, it may not have qualified as a “great” one. With an abundance of sequels, many developers played it safe. Blame the struggling economy for the dearth of new IP’s.
  • The battle between indies and majors rages on. AAA titles like Call of Duty are reliable earners, but rarely grab the attention of this particular crowd, who often favor smaller games with shoestring budgets, games that have not been “developed by a focus group.” One glowing exception was Mass Effect 2, a blockbuster which is sure to get a lot of attention in the annual Game of the Year debates.
  • Some independent games like Super Meat Boy and TriplePoint client LIMBO got love from the critics, illustrating the fact that the burden of proof differs greatly between indie games and titles from major studios. This also scraped the surface of the “rigidity in video game pricing” debate, a complex topic that deserves its own post.
  • Red Dead Redemption was a great game, no contest. It was also responsible for Alan Wake’s disappointing sales. Chock this up to a marketing failure; for future reference, literally no other games should be pitted against a release from Rockstar Games.
  • Red Dead was also a sterling example of the ways that DLC can not only bolster a game’s staying power, but also explore an entirely unique timeline or reality. Undead Nightmare was far more than just a bandwagon-inspired cash-in. Mass Effect 2 was similarly praised for giving players a complete disk-based experience, with DLC that provided a unique spin on familiar characters and settings. If nothing else, 2010 was the year that cemented downloadable content as an unavoidable part of a game’s development and marketing lifecycle.
  • Borrowing the microtransaction model wasn’t the only way that 2010’s console releases were inspired by their social brethren. Players are becoming just as accustomed to in-game payments as they are to maintaining and upgrading virtual real estate. Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood offered gamers a chance to rebuild Rome, just as they’d expand an online farm or browser-based pet shop. Expect to see even more cross-promotional games like Gunslingers, the free (hype-generating) Facebook game that lead up to Red Dead’s proper release.
  • Minecraft was considered the year’s Cinderella story. The baffling title came out of left field to build a userbase over 2 million strong. More importantly, over a quarter of those gamers actually paid $13 to play a game that’s still in its alpha stage infancy.

That was the year in games, summed up (and hotly debated) in 90 minutes. Let’s hope that 2011 delivers even more unique gaming experiences and spreads them out across the entire twelve month calendar.

To keep up with the motley crew of Gaming Critics, follow them on Twitter.

Harold Goldberg –  Russ FrushtickEvan NarcisseTracey JohnAndrew Yoon – Not pictured: Stu Horvath Host: Brad Hargreaves

Sonic spin-dashes through Manhattan for the SEGA New York Editor’s Day

This week, TriplePoint teamed up with SEGA for an invite-only showcase of all their exciting new games. Journalists who dropped by the event, in Manhattan’s Shoreham hotel penthouse, got hands-on play time with a wide range of titles before they launch this holiday season and Q1 2011.

Everyone loves Sonic 4!

Digital games:

  • Sonic  the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 – the blue blur is back! This long-awaited 2D follow up is out now for iPhone, and coming to WiiWare, PSN and XBLA next week.
  • Crazy Taxi – time to make some crrrrrrrazy money! The arcade/Dreamcast favorite is bringing wacky driving action to PSN and XBLA this Fall.
  • ChuChu Rocket – ten years after the Dreamcast action puzzler’s debut, the unassuming cats and mice are set to invade the iTunes app store this Fall.
Even Ladies Home Journal hitched a ride with Crazy Taxi.

There were also a slew of new console games on display, including hot new Kinect and Move titles.

  • Sonic Free Riders
  • Virtua Tennis 4
  • Conduit 2
  • Shogun 2
  • Vanquish
  • Sonic Colors
  • Yakuza 4
Kotaku's Stephen Totilo shares the ChuChu love.

With an entire floor of big screen gaming, a retro arcade and snacks aplenty, this showcase let New York journalists get out of the rain and into SEGA’s best new games.  For more SEGA fun, be sure to visit their blog.

The Story of Facebook: “It’s Complicated”

Last night TriplePoint New York attended a sneak preview of The Social Network, aka That Movie About Facebook. The Mashable-sponsored event drew a full house despite torrential rains, giving the media industry a chance to watch the “movie based on a book about a website.” Despite some speculation about premature nostalgia (“too soon!”), every aspect of the film was polished and precise, from casting to editing to the ominous score, helmed by Trent Reznor. Indie favorite Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland, Adventureland) does an excellent job in the complex role of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, making him relatable, driven and ultimately more sympathetic than the film’s source material.  “The Accidental Billionaires,” Ben Mezrich’s book about the murky origins of Facebook, casts Zuckerberg in a harsh light, while the film portrays him as flawed but ultimately well-intentioned. Justin Timberlake adds to the drama in his impressive portrayal of Napster founder and dot-com veteran Sean Parker.

While it’s nearly impossible to give an unbiased account of Facebook’s creation, David Fincher’s film is an exceptionally entertaining look at the birth, development and mainstream-ing of one very good idea.

If you haven’t already, check out the trailer here. While Peter Travers’ claim that it “brilliantly defines a decade” may be difficult to swallow, the film earns its rave reviews. After all, you don’t have to be a tech savvy twenty-something to “Like” a good story.

The Social Network opens everywhere October 1st.

2010 TriplePoint Holiday Showcase, Great Job!

Last week, the TriplePoint New York office hosted the First Annual Holiday Showcase – the two day event had a wide variety of clients on display, with everything from video games to comics to wearable tech.  Journalists were invited to stop by, have a snack and check out the latest offerings from many of our clients, including SEGA, Nyko, Gunnar, PlayOn, NextSport, Livio and more.

The showcase was a big success with great turnout. People came through the office from a variety of outlets including Good Housekeeping, PC Magazine, CBS News, Joystiq, Men’s Health, Worth Magazine, The Street, CNET, MTV Networks, and more. Many of the journalists came by with specific items in mind to see, but stuck around and checked other things outside of their beat.

It’s great to provide a showcase for TriplePoint’s clients in a relaxed environment where the media can feel like they’re hanging out in their living room, not getting a “hard sell.” The attendees all seemed to appreciate the laid-back environment and variety of items. We were able to show each journalist what interested them most, letting them have a good time in a more relaxed environment than the average convention. The next showcase is scheduled for early 2011 – more details will be posted here as they become available.