Here at Live Gamer, our staff works really hard on a daily basis interfacing with publishers and developers in the social gaming arena, making sure that we can always surpass their expectations and provide them with the latest and greatest e-commerce and payment features.
However, we also love to have fun with the games themselves, and we are lucky enough to have some in-house top talent when it comes to recommending new games. One of them is Richard Rodriguez, who recently delivered a stunning presentation on the evolution of story telling throughout gaming history at our NYC headquarters.
As a start, Richard highlighted how game story telling can be categorized in four different categories: basic, complex, refined and DIY (do it yourself). This closely tracks the history of video game development in the past 25 years, as most games can be labeled using one of these four categories.
A great example of basic story telling is the classic Super Mario Bros (see Figure 1). The story here is pretty simple: to rescue the princess is the game main’s goal, and the rest follows. Despite being quite a long game and having many levels (players were quite concerned about this at the time), the game itself was the main focus, and the story development was kept to a minimum.
Final Fantasy IV (originally released in 1991 for Super Nintendo with no voice acting, only text) is instead a great example of complex story telling. In fact, it is very hard for anyone who plays the game for the first time to get interested in the story of the game, as it does not look particularly entertaining nor makes a lot of sense. In Richard’s own words: “This is a classic example of why older generations tend to look down on gaming: the first time you look at it, you ask yourself, what is this? Only my kids could ever play anything like this”. That is why, in Richard’s opinion, video games started off badly in terms of story telling: good, renowned writers and game developers were not working together yet, with the former always busy writing books and movie plots.
Fast forward 16 years, and we have Bioshock, released in 2007 for PlayStation, and a great example of refined story telling. The game itself has a quite linear plot: the main goal is to stop the underwater city of Rapture’s founder and dictator Andrew Ryan, and the choices that a player can make to do so are somehow limited. However, this is not a casual choice but a sophisticated one from the game’s creator, Ken Levine, and his development team: aware of the linearity of most games, they decided to use Ayn Rand’s objectivism (or rational self-interest) principles as an explanation of why the game is linear. Indeed, in Bioshock the player is forced to follow a linear path since his mind is being controlled in the controlled, artificial reality of Rapture (with the phrase “Would you kindly” representing the dystopian view of objectivism – here is a short clip). This is quite remarkable, and it is something that movie and books cannot render as well, if not at all. This also implies that it takes much more than simply taking a great Hollywood director and making him write a game to ensure that the game is successful, i.e. games and movies are two very different animals, with games being much more dynamic than a static, forced sequence of images stacked together.
As refined story telling elements have become more sophisticated, along with game graphics (with lots of money poured into development), characters have started to resemble more and more real world animations, although there is a caveat: the Uncanny Valley Hypothesis (see Figure 2).
In a nutshell, the closer we get to make something look human-like, the less we believe it is actually human, as small differences make a big impact on the final result and our reaction to it. As an example, Mass Effect 2 (released in 2010 for Windows and Xbox 360) is a game with a very advanced and detailed graphical engine and fantastic animations, but unfortunately, showing a very small range in facial expressions: the characters emotions are not portrayed well, causing a negative reaction in the players. So sometimes, advanced graphics does not enhance the game story’s experience, creating the opposite effect instead.
This brings us to Do-It-Yourself story telling, a great example of which is represented by Passage, created by Jason Rohrer in 2007. A uber-minimalistic PC game (5 minutes total, around 1MB in size, minimal input controls, i.e. the arrow keys), the game theme is the passage of time and the character’s own mortality, including the costs and benefits of marriage. Without the need of a lot of graphics, “Passage” offers a lot of story telling per unit of time, and gives users a lot of freedom to decide by themselves what is the meaning of the story and what to make of it.
Lastly, as an example of a modern game offering a very rich story despite its appearance, here is Flower, released in 2009 for PlayStation 3. The game received awards for outstanding visual and audio design, and without trying to attempt realism, it succeeds to entertain players with its rich visuals and interactive music (each flower that blooms makes a distinctive sound).
One final recommendation from Richard: do not expect, at least in the short term, story-rich mobile games, as the playing dynamics is still different from desktop and consoles, i.e. users tend to play in 5-10 minutes intervals, and generally do not expect a very complex story plot. However, things could change in the future, and we’re all looking forward to original mobile games with engrossing stories.
Live Gamer (www.livegamer.com), the world’s first combined digital commerce and advertising platform for the interactive entertainment industry, announced today that 20-year ad industry veteran Bob Lonigro has joined the company as EVP of Media Sales. Mr. Lonigro will help Live Gamer lead sales across its new advertising business unit, Live Gamer Media, for both the adElements video engagement platform and gamerDNA Media advertising network.
Mr. Lonigro most recently served as vice president of media sales at NeoEdge Networks, where he was responsible for leading advertising sales efforts and formed a new casual games business model for the company. Prior to NeoEdge, he held senior sales executive positions with Electronic Arts’ Pogo.com, Future Media, IAC and GeoCities.com, where he was instrumental in the company’s $4.6b acquisition by Yahoo! in 1999.
Additionally, Lonigro has extensive experience in media planning, including a senior position at Ogilvy & Mather, where he oversaw 12 Kraft Foods brands and planned and implemented over $160 million in annual media spending. He has also served as the General Manager of Advertising Sales at Future Media, and as Senior Director of National Advertising Sales at Electronic Arts where he led the industry’s first video game deals and led the charge in online casual games advertising.
“Bob Lonigro has a rare combination of deep advertising experience and thorough knowledge of the games space,” said Andrew Schneider, president and co-founder of Live Gamer. “It’s an honor to have a veteran of his caliber join the Live Gamer Media team to help us grow this exciting new side of our business. He’ll be instrumental in working with publishers and advertisers alike.”
“Live Gamer has become a true leader in games monetization, and has filled the gap with its addition of the Live Gamer Media advertising unit,” said Bob Lonigro, EVP of Media Sales for Live Gamer Media, “I’m very much looking forward to helping Live Gamer reach more customers, and help advertisers and games publishers fulfill all of their online monetization needs.”
Last Wednesday, President of Live Gamer Andrew Schneider attended the Social TV Summit in Los Angeles. The purpose of the Social TV Summit was to offer engaging panels, case studies, discussions, and networking opportunities with creative producers, ad agency executives, social TV experts and high-level executives from other related industries. Industry leaders and media economists weighed in on how social media is entering and enhancing the television, media, and advertising space and discussed where the future of social media lies.
Click here to watch Andrew Schneider’s speech at the Social TV Summit!
LIVE GAMER TO POWER MONETIZATION FOR 2K’S SID MEIER’S CIVILIZATION® WORLD FOR FACEBOOK
E-Commerce Platform Leader Powers 2K’s First Social Games Endeavor
NEW YORK, June 30, 2011 – Live Gamer (www.livegamer.com), the trusted total revenue solution for the interactive entertainment industry, today announced that it has been selected by 2K to power its first foray into Facebook social games with its highly anticipated title Sid Meier’s Civilization® World. Sid Meier’s Civilization is recognized as one of the greatest strategy franchises of all-time, with more than 10 million units sold worldwide and unprecedented critical acclaim from fans and the media alike.
2K has integrated the Live Gamer Elements platform, for access to the only end-to-end virtual goods and economy management service available. This complete monetization engine includes earned and bought currency e-wallet, virtual goods catalog management and merchandising, item storefronts, deep analytics, integration with Facebook Credits for payments and much more.
“Civilization is one of the most successful and beloved game franchises in history, made by one of the most acclaimed game designers ever,” said Andrew Schneider, President and Co-Founder, Live Gamer. “It’s an honor to be a part of 2K’s first endeavor into the social games world with their debut Facebook application, Civilization World.”
To learn more about Live Gamer’s total monetization solutions, visit http://livegamer.com/products/.
2K is a wholly owned publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. (NASDAQ: TTWO).
All trademarks and copyrights contained herein are the property of their respective holders.
Join Live Gamer’s Co-founder and CEO, Mitch Davis at the Business Insider’s IGNITION Event as he discusses the impact of Farmville and other casual games on housewives.
3:35pm – December 2, 2010
Time Warner Center, NYC
Sony, Warner Bros. Drop Subscription Fees and Move into Selling Virtual Goods
Today, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled, First, Give Away the Game which focused on the growing adoption of the free-to-play business model in the Western market with major companies like Sony and Warner Bros. The model not only removes barriers to entry for gamers, but also provides them with the ability to self-select into an optimal price point resulting in a compelling high-margin business for game publishers and developers.
Sony plans to release a F2P version of “Everquest II” and Warner plans to release “Lord of the Rings Online” by the fall abandoning a $15 dollar a month subscription fee. Players will now buy virtual goods and items upgrades incrementally through micro-transactions.
Although the price point on many virtual items often seem small—$1 or $2 for many items— publishers are discovering they can really add up. Across the 145+ titles we power e-commerce for we see an average of 10% of players purchasing virtual goods spending at an average of $28 a month. “There’s no cap on what the user will spend on micro-transactions, unlike a traditional subscription model,” says Andrew Schneider, Live Gamer’s president and co-founder.
This published story follows last week announcements of new partnerships with EA, THQ, and Real Networks’ Gamehouse only solidifying that major Western publishers and IP holders are rapidly adopting this model. Total virtual goods sales this year are expected to reach $1.7 billion in the U.S., up from $278 million in 2008, according to ThinkEquity LLC.
Contact us to learn how Live Gamer can help accelerate your micro-transaction strategy.
To read the Wall Street Journal article in full click here
Live Gamer’s CEO and Co-founder, Mitch Davis will join ThinkTomorrow ~ Today: A Private Company & Venture Capital Summit (TTT) hosted by Think Equity. Mitch will participate on the “Monetizing Generation Y” panel, which will take place on May 11th at 3:15 PM moderated by Atul Bagga.
About Think Tomorrow ~ Today
ThinkTomorrow ~ Today brings together the leaders of the growth economy and offers an opportunity to meet face-to-face with visionary company executives, interact with leading growth strategists and technologists, and witness firsthand the state-of-the-art products and services that will shape the future. In this one-of-a-kind forum, our presenting companies will outline their latest developments while key influencers and industry luminaries debate the future of the growth economy.
To learn more about monetizing the next generation of consumers, please contact us
Live Gamer’s Senior Director of Business Development and video game icon, Stevie Case hosts a brand new radio show, Stevie FTW (For The Win). The new show focuses on the high tech lifestyle, exploring the latest in online gaming, web culture, digital media, and the gadgets that transform them
This past week Stevie and Dan are talkin’ iPads, Blizzard woes, and competitive gaming around the world. eSport Media, Inc.’s CEO Jeff Hunter also sat down to talk about the future of eSports Media. The show has already featured Doug Dyer from AFK Interactive, Dave Rohrl from Playdom, Jonathan Carroll from Alamofire, and Cliff Bleszinski from Epic Games.
Stevie FTW is co-hosted and edited by Dan Taylor and produced by Angel Munoz.
The show airs every Wednesday and you can tune in by visiting www.stevieftw.com
Today, Sony Online Entertainment launched the Agency: Covert Ops on Facebook utilizing Live Gamer Elements platform.
The Agency: Covert Ops is a secret agent spy game with a rich stylized look and deep storyline that takes Facebook games to another level with customizable clothing, skill-based combat, and involved missions. Through our platform players can accumulate in-game cash and Sony Station members can opt to spend real money on in-game items via Station Points.
Check out the agency on Facebook
Contact Us to learn how to use micro-transactions for you business
Live Gamer’s president and co-founder, Andrew Schneider will be joining a social gaming panel at the upcoming Digital Hollywood Conference. They will discuss the latest trends of social gaming design, distribution, and monetization across online and mobile platforms.
Monday, May 3rd
2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
Track I – DMny-1, HGmz-2, NuVIS-2
Social Gaming: Online and Mobile – Design, Distribution, Virality, Cross-Promotion & Monetization
Michael Pole, Founder, President, Trilogy Studios
Andrew Schneider, Co-founder & President, LiverGamer
Mike Goslin, Vice President Product Development, Hangout, former VP Disney Online
Mikael Gummerus, CEO and founder, Frosmo
Kyle Laughlin, Head of Yahoo! Sports and Yahoo! Games
DreamWorks Animation, tba
Steve Poehlein, Director, Media & Entertainment Solutions, Hewlett-Packard, Moderator
To schedule a meeting with Live Gamer, contact us
- Live Gamer Goes to (Digital) Hollywood
- New Upgrades to Elements™ Analytics: Fraud, Virtual Item Promotions and Sales Reporting
- Live Gamer Expands Its Business Development Team To Meet Increased Market Demand
- Clayton Foster Joins Live Gamer As GM of Global Payments
- A Brief History of Story Telling in Video Games
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