Tag Archives: video games

My Top 5 “Earth Day-Centric” Video Games

Earth Day has inspired me to post a top 5 of games that made me think of “saving the environment”. Now I am all about being eco-friendly, so let’s take a look at the games that contributed to this mindset:

5. Metal Gear Solid 3

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Nothing like learning to appreciate the environment by blending in with it to survive. Between putting on camoflague, hunting in the jungle for food, or taking on crazy bosses surrounded by bees, MGS3 is for the tree hugger in all of us.

4. Madden 09

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Hmm, two words: Weather effects. Having the rain cost me some yards while rushing with Brandon Jacobs, or the wind disrupt Eli’s throwing (no playoff jokes, guys), made me think heavily about the effects of global climate change

3. Super Mario World

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Okay, this is a stretch. But as one of the first games that I officially became obsessed with as a kid, I appreciated the world Mario fought to protect against Bowser. This made my want to protect my own world, the Planet Earth.. Let’s move on.

2. Fallout 3

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Nothing like a nuclear wasteland to make you realize the importance of trees, lakes, breathable air….

1. Duck Hunt

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At an early age, I learned it is important to appreciate the marshlands and protect wildlife santuaries. A lesson one is never too young to learn. Thanks NES!

In all seriousness, REDUCE, REUSE, and RECYCLE folks! Earth Day FTW!

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The Wait is Over! Video Game Professional

So folks, updates to the site have been slow this week (at least you have that awesome MLB 09 review to read over and over again).  But this is all for good reason – I am no longer an intern, but a full-time video game professional!  That being said, I look forward to continuing this blog and I have big things coming up (can anyone say podcast, videos, etc.?).  Of course, a lot of these updates will occur on weekends now, because, well, I have a job 🙂 .    Oh, and all views on this site are my own!  Thanks for all those who supported me in and out of the industry as I searched for full-time work in the industry I love.

For now, enjoy some Kanye, who was a major influence in getting me through the dry spell.

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The Sound of Sports Fans: In-Game Soundtracks and Beyond

When most people review sports games, much of the focus seems to be on controls, graphics, value, sound, etc. (and rightfully so).  There is one aspect – which can be included under “sound”- that deserves more attention than it gets:  in-game soundtracks.

Sure, the soundtrack to any game is important.  In sports games, the in-game soundtrack plays an especially pivotal role in creating that ideal fan “environment” that us armchair quarterbacks desire.  For the most part, today’s sport games do a fantastic job in aligning certain genres of music with different sport franchises. Madden typically features “hip-hop” and “alternative rock” artists.  Fifa has a more eclectic, techno-fueled collection of artists.  The NBA Live and 2K series each respectively  feature a more urban collection of artists from the rap genre.  All of these games match the in-game soundtrack with the energy of the sport, which in-turn helps enhance the fan experience of and interaction with the game itself

EA Trax really got the ball rolling in 2001, when EA recognized the potential in featuring up-and-coming artists in games.  By being featured in such games, music artists have the opportunity to get exposure in a medium outside of traditional music promotional vehicles (radio, concert circuits, television).  While radio and television might be crowded with competition, artists featured in the EA Trax program and other in-game soundtracks can reach millions of listeners and further extend their own brands by aligning with those in the sports video game industry.  Cross-promotion FTW!

Today, consumers also have the opportunity to include their own music selections through custom in-game soundtracks. While I am extremely excited to have the entire Boston Red Sox lineup come up to bat to Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” in MLB 09: The Show, I still prefer having the publisher of a game provide a collection of artists for me to listen to while playing.  I guess as a marketing guy, I enjoy seeing what artists are chosen to help represent each franchise’s brand.  As a music fan, I am also interested in being exposed to artists I might not be otherwise.

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So to wrap things up, here is a list of my top 3 in-game soundtracks  in sports video games:

3. Madden 2004

Notable standouts:  Bubba Sparxxx -“Back in the Mud”, Outkast – “Church”, Yellowcard – “Way Away”

Okay, so I’m no music critic.  And Bubba Sparxxx is not one of my favorite artists.  But this song just worked on what was an excellent overall mix of hip-hop, alternative, and do i dare say, “emo”artists.  Yea, I love me some hip-hop, but I am also sensitive.

2. NBA 2K9

Notable Standouts:  The Cool Kids – “2K Pennies”, Beastie Boys – “Root Down”, N.E.R.D. – “Spaz”

Yeah it’s very contemporary and perhaps I should have gone “old school” and cite the awesome NBA JAM TE midi-inspired soundtrack.  2K9 features a collection of artists new and old here, a soundtrack I now use when warming up for my own pick-up basketball games.  And you got to love The Cool Kids title track.

1.  SSX 3

Notable Standouts: Thrice – “Stare at The Sun”, N.E.R.D. – “Rock Star (Nevins Club Blaster Edit)”, Fatboy Slim – “Don’t Let The Man Get You Down”

What???  As a huge Fifa fan, you might wonder how I could put together a top 3 without including any Fifa soundtrack.  The fact is, I have never enjoyed listening to a licensed song in a game as much as I have since playing SSX3 a few years back.  Shredding down a hill listening to Thrice’s “Stare at the Sun” made me actually feel like I was an awesome snowboarder.  I’m not.  But thanks to EA Big (R.I.P), I was able to pretend!

Honorable Mentions:  Every Fifa Soundtrack.  Honestly, overall Fifa is probably the most consistent in putting together a great range of artists to match the sport of soccer (or “football” as us footies like to call it).  Even before EA Trax was started up, I loved opening the ’98 World Cup Edition to Blur’s “Song 2”.  Wooooo-hoooo!

That’s all for now folks.  As always, if you’ve enjoyed this article, spread the word.

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GDC Impressions So Far…

So, having the awesome opportunity to attend this year’s GDC, here are a few quick things I’ve noticed so far.

1. A lot of business goes down outside the actual conference. Sure, the floor at the Moscone Center is filled with many companies in a variety of different areas in the gaming industry (publishers, developers, etc.). But for the marketers, business is being talked up at company parties, surrounding hotels, restaurants, and even on the streets directly outside the Moscone Center. Pretty interesting to observe.

2. Twitter has a huge role in GDC ’09. People are exchanging Twitter names left and right. Tweets from people attending keynotes have become frequent. You do not even have to be on the show floor to know exactly what is going on – the Twitterverse has you covered.

3. The economy is still a factor. For as many companies that are here, there are a lot of companies missing. Booths are not huge, parties somewhat scaled back (from what I have heard- as this is my first year at GDC).

All in all, this is still a very exciting event, and an amazing way to see how the gaming industry all converges and comes together for a week in San Francisco.

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AndyTheGiant.com is LIVE!

If I can get a site up and running, ANYTHING IS POSS-UHHH-BULLLL!!! Finally settled on “AndyTheGiant.com”  Yeah, it is my GamerTag as well… 360 marketing all the way!

AndyTheGiant is up just in time for some live blogging from GDC ’09 next week.  Hope your brackets are doing well!

Stay tuned!

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Shaq Twitters and So Should You!

I’ve recently become addicted to Twitter.  It is a great way to network with people across all industries.  For me personally (@AndyTheGiant), I have been able to connect with many people across the video game industry that I would not have been able to had it not been for Twitter.   shaq-hed

I also can follow the latest updates from my favorite athletes, including Shaq (@THE_REAL_SHAQ).  The big man does a great job at extending his personal brand and connecting himself with fans through Twitter updates.

When I was an intern at the NBA, I pitched that more athletes needs to have blogs  (such as Gilbert Arenas’s Agent Zero blog).  Activities such as blogging humanize athletes and stars alike.  Twitter takes it to the next level.

When using Twitter, athletes, celebrities, and up-and-coming video game marketing superstars like myself have a chance to connect with one another on an equal level.  We all are limited to 140 characters.  We all have the same tools at our disposal to talk to one another.  Ahh, it is almost an Internet utopia.

Video game developers have taken advantage of Twitter as a way to give updates to the community, and also receive feedback on products.  Twitter can be an extremely effective marketing tool, one that goes beyond sending out messages, encouraging dialogue between consumers and a product.

Sure, this could all fade as soon as advertising and spammers creep their way into the Twitterverse.  But for now, I am enjoying the benefits of “tweeting” and you should too!

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Fair Play or Out of Bounds? DLC and Microtransactions in Sports Video Games

At my current internship, many of the clients I work with are those in the MMO and virtual worlds business. I have been involved in multiple discussions and brainstorming sessions regarding how such companies can profit off of featuring downloadable content (DLC) and microtransactions (in-game actions that generate currency for the developer- such as buying a level 50-billion sword for your Super Elf- hmmm.) One does not have to go far to see that DLC and microtransactions are very profitable in the MMO world- just look at the sales figures for World of Warcraft. But this form of revenue stream has branched out. Console gaming is now subject to DLC and microtransactions.

Perfect examples of the successful implementation of DLC in console gaming are Activision’s enormously cash-money franchise “Guitar Hero” series and Harmonix’s “Rock Band”. Consumers are more than willing to pay for new tracks which they can download onto their home consoles. New tracks add “legs” to the already purchased game, and allow fans to “jam” to their favorite bands. I’m all for DLC in this sense.

But there is a dark and ugly side to DLC, and one needs to look no further than the recent news that Capcom will charge $4.99 for a multiplayer mode in Resident Evil 5 that most will argue, should have been in included in the release of the game in the first place.

So where does DLC belong in the sports genre? EA is currently releasing two forms of DLC that I am all in favor for. For its NCAA College Basketball ’09 title, an expansion pack for the upcoming “March Madness” tournament has been released. For $15, fans can play through the excitement of the NCAA tournament, and do so through the ease of downloading, never having to leave the couch. EA easily could have released and profited off of releasing a separate version of NCAA in retail and charge $40 for it – fans would have bought it. But going the route of a game add-on, and charging a reasonable price for it, EA recognizes how to properly implement DLC into console gaming.

Similarly, EA is releasing an “Ultimate Team” expansion for FIFA ’09. This mode will allows players to collect and trade card packs of players, ultimately giving them the chance to take the pitch with an ultimate and superior collection of superstars. Anyone who has played FIFA this year knows it is packed with enough content to last year well into 2010. The franchise has already experimented this year with game add-ons in the form of “Adidas Live Season”, a feature that allows you to update your favorite players stats and performance through their performances on field in the real world. A feature that caters to die-hards, it is not a necessary feature,but one well-appreciated by those who really care for the sport of soccer. Both expansions in Fifa do not take away from the “out-of-the-box” experience for consumers not wanting to spend any more money, those who are satisfied with the original product. But they do give a whole lot more to those who desire it.

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So, is there a golden rule for the inclusion of DLC and microtransactions in sports games? No, it is too early to determine what will work and what is necessary. In South Korea, EA offered up FIFA as a free-to- play title, charging players to buy new kits and more (the model seemed to work, generating over $1 million (US currency). I’m not sure if this will work for all titles, nor am I convinced that I would want it to. If free-to-play becomes standard somewhere in the future, I worry that developers may strip down games upon release and charge more through add-on features.

If a company can release content that will add onto the fan experience, while not scaling back on the amount of substance and depth in the original release, I say, DO IT! Sports gaming is a business,but the fans always need to be kept in mind. Anything that can “add-on” to my own “fandom” is fair play to me.

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