5th October 2009

Catching up with Ubisoft

UbisoftMontreal – Hot off the news desk today is the announcement that Ubisoft has acquired development studio Nadeo, creator of TrackMania®, the cult multiplayer car racing video game.

Set up in 2000 in Paris and comprising a highly talented team of developers, the Nadeo studio has won Trackmaniaacclaim for the quality of its multiplayer technology which offers one of the best available on-line gaming experiences and has already notched up 10 million registered players. Its flagship game – TrackMania® – has 700,000 unique players a month and is a pioneer in the sharing of creations (almost 15 million custom tracks created since 2008). It is also the first eSport franchise for racing games.

“The acquisition of Nadeo is an important step in our expansion within the on-line gaming sector”, said Yves Guillemot, Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft. “Through Nadeo, Ubisoft will gain an expert team, one of the best on-line technologies around as well as a flagship multiplayer game that enjoys an unrivalled reputation among a loyal and committed community. We are excited about the idea of introducing TrackMania® to an ever-wider audience and sharing the expertise of Nadeo’s teams with our Group’s other developers”.

“Joining Ubisoft is a huge opportunity for us to develop and innovate and take Nadeo to new horizons”, said Florent Castelnérac, Chief Executive Officer of Nadeo. “Nadeo’s team was keen for this acquisition to happen. Like players in a community, we see ourselves as being a complementary fit with Ubisoft and believe that we can share and quickly move ahead together”.

On the home front,  Ubisoft Montreal has released a question and answer session with Avatar game script writer Kevin Shortt.

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5th October 2009

XNA Game Studio Concept Project City Rain Now Available

City RainMontrealOvolo Corporation, Inc., a newly formed interactive game publishing company that brings ‘games-with-purpose’ to market, today announced the availability of “City Rain”. Created as an initial student concept project, City Rain is a puzzle and simulation game based on urban planning and sustainability. Players must rescue cities that are being ‘black listed’ from the World Environment Protection Agency (WEPA) by quickly making decisions to establish and re-organize urban developments that will make cities more sustainable and ‘green’. City Rain is available now as a free trial and for purchase on Ovolo’s web site. The game sells for US $9.95 as a PC download, and is expected to be available soon for Xbox Live Indie Games.

City Rain was originally a concept game, built on the Microsoft XNA Game Studio platform by Mother Gaia Studio, Brazil. The strategic urban-planning game quickly captured the attention of game developers and players, winning the Microsoft Imagine Cup 2008 (Paris), and becoming a finalist in the 2009 Independent Games Festival at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2009 in San Francisco, Calif.

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“As a fan of both SimCity™ and Tetris®, I immediately fell in love with City Rain based on its fun reference to those two classic games, but also because it introduces a meaningful and relevant purpose that educates players on how to think about creating ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ cities and communities,” said Alexandre Renaud, founder of Ovolo Corporation and executive producer for City Rain. “The entrepreneurial and creative spirit I witnessed when I visited Brazil convinced me that City Rain was the first game I wanted to produce,” added Renaud.

City Rain Synopsis

Best described as “SimCity-meets-Tetris”, City Rain produces buildings that fall from the sky, which must be quickly place on a grid. Players are challenged to master the art of urban planning on the fly, requiring quick reflexes and a logical building placement that ultimately helps the community thrive and the ecology survive.

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5th October 2009

Army of Two and Dragon Age Comics from EA and IDW

EA GamesElectronic Arts Inc. has signed a deal with IDW Publishing to expand two of its intellectual properties, Army of Two™ and Dragon Age™, into comics under a new EA™ Comics imprint with IDW beginning in January. EA and IDW will launch monthly, ongoing series for both Army of Two and Dragon Age. Each issue will be published in print and distributed nationally at comic book outlets, with digital versions released for iPhone™ and iPod® Army of TwoTouch and other emerging digital platforms.

“We’ve seen an increasing number of video game tie-ins with comics over the last few years. This marks another step in our strategy for extending EA’s wholly-owned game properties to new media. It is exhilarating to be working with the comic book creators directly,” said Mike Quigley, Group Vice President, Global Marketing, EA Games Label.

Under terms of the agreement, EA will fund and manage the creative aspect of the comic book series, while IDW will be responsible for printing and distribution. IDW is the leader in digital comic book distribution and the nation’s third largest comic book publisher overall.

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5th October 2009

Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey Ships To Stores

LudiaMontrealUbisoft has announced the retail availability of a new interactive adventure video game titled “Where’s Waldo?® The Fantastic Journey.” Created by Ludia Inc., “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” is the ultimate search-and-find adventure for the entire family, as players explore the unique and wondrous lands in search of Waldo, his friends and other hidden objects.The game is now available for the Wii™ system from Nintendo, the Nintendo DS™ system, Windows-based PC and Mac at North Where's Waldo?American retailers.

In the game, players look for Waldo and friends, in addition to hundreds of hidden items in twelve different magical worlds that unlock via a central map that becomes increasingly animated as players progress. “Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey” can be played in single- or multiplayer mode, in Easy and Normal challenges to suit players of all ages and skill levels. Gameplay is enhanced through a variety of power-up features where players unleash different special effects to gain an advantage over opponents or enhance their own search capabilities.

Power-ups include:

* Wacky Paint: Splatter colorful paint onto your opponent’s screen to obscure the view.
* Thunder Clap: Cast thunder onto your opponent and make the screen shake.
* Frosty: Freeze the search window by encasing it in ice.
* Sparkly: Keep your eyes on the twinkle and glitter effects to detect items.
* And many more!

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5th October 2009

The Other Side of the Coin Part One

The first installment of a multi-part editorial look at gaming.

The world of video gaming has seen a mass exodus over the past few years, leaving the darkened Canadabasements and exclusive realms of the geeks to become a primary form of personal entertainment around the globe and across generations. The industry has also seen a big shift in demographics, one which many of the big boys in the industry barely gave a second thought to just a few short years ago. What has caused this big change? The answer is simple – girls game too. Guys who game know this, and many developers know it, yet girl gamers remain somewhat of an anomaly in the industry, and while the majority of game developers have been focusing on the young adult male audience, the girls have been moving in on the flank and kicking boy butt.

Over the past year we have seen the game industry redefine the long-standing terms of casual and hardcore play. There has been a distinct blurring of the lines between these definitions, and it is no longer a stretch to say that even those who play games in the casual genre can be considered hardcore gamers. Personally, I think that if there must be definitions and lines, then it is far easier to label gamers as either casual or pro, because even those who play games which fall into the “Casual” genre can be considered hardcore.

GamerchiXSome will argue that putting this focus on girl – or women – gamers will do more harm than good. There have been many, many features written about female gamers in general, some arguing that clans and groups are purely in it for the attention and the money. Certainly there are some companies who may, to some extent, be considered to be exploiting the whole female gamer/sex sells marketing aspect with such groups as the Ubisoft sponsored American clan Frag Dolls.  Using female appeal to sell products is not a new concept, and it was well established long before the formation of Frag Dolls, The CaveGirls, Team Foxy, DSO, or even the PMS (Pandora’s Mighty Soldiers) clan. The point is not exploitation of females and their marketing value. The point is that we are gamers, and just like the males who are the primary target audience of many game developers, we spend our hard earned dollars on the games we like to play – and at least in my focus group, these don’t include Barbie Princess or Charm Girls.

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