May 2011 video game sales hit four-year low
The video game industry hit the pause button on sales in May, posting its lowest monthly revenue from U.S. retail stores such as Best Buy and Gamestop since October 2006.
Sales of games, consoles and game accessories, such as extra controllers, dropped 14% last month to $743.1 million, down from $866.8 million in May 2010, according to a report released Monday from the NPD Group, a market research firm.
“A light slate of new releases is at the heart of last month’s performance,” said NPD analyst Anita Frazier. Just 42 titles were released in May, compared with 58 in 2010. As a result, only 28% of the month’s game sales came from new releases, down from 41% a year ago.
With fewer new games out, foot traffic in retail stores declined and, along with it, impulse purchases, Frazier said.
The release of a digital add-on level for Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops, which was sold via download from Internet connected game consoles, also likely diverted consumer dollars on games away from traditional retail stores, Frazier suggested.
NPD’s monthly game reports currently do not include digital downloads or online spending, which analysts have estimated account for a quarter to one-third of total spending on games.
MLG Columbus breaks records
Major League Gaming announced today that the recent MLG event at Columbus received a record-breaking 22.5 million stream views throughout the weekend of competition. To put this accomplishment in perspective, the 2011 NFL Draft received just 11.4 million stream views. According to the official press release, viewers from 164 countries around the world watched over 2.2 million hours of video. It’s a good thing Major League Gaming recently partnered with Streamworks to deliver their content!
In addition to those watching from home online, more than 16,000 fans attended over the course of the weekend including more than 1,300 competitors from around the world making it the largest Pro Circuit competition in MLG history. With blockbuster games such as Halo: Reach, StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, and Call of Duty: Black Ops on the Pro Circuit this season, it is easy to see why viewership is at an all-time high.
Hackers target Bethesda, may have gained access to account info
Bethesda was the target this past weekend, as a hacker group tried to infiltrate the studios’ sites. A post on the Bethesda Blog warns that these hackers may have accessed “user names, email addresses, and/or passwords.”
If you frequent any Bethesda forum or have taken advantage of Brink’s stat-tracking site, Bethesda says you should change your login info and be on the lookout for suspicious emails. Of course, it goes without saying that if your Bethesda login info mirrors your account name and password on other sites, be cognizant of the danger posed and change your info there, as well.
According to these mystics, the mode is a “standalone” feature with “competitive elements,” meaning the supposed co-op affair will be separate from the single-player experience. The mode is rumored to be a Gears of War-styled horde mode, where players are tasked with killing of waves and waves of enemies. Another sage of knowledge had previously reported to Eurogamer that BioWare Montreal was developing a multiplayer Mass Effect game, but it was unknown if it would be a separate title or included in Mass Effect 3.
Microsoft Releases Kinect For Windows SDK Beta
Third parties have been adapting Kinect for use with Windows for months now, and Microsoft has finally launched official support for using the Xbox 360 peripheral with the PC.
Today the company released a beta of the Kinect for Windows SDK, which will allow developers to create games, UIs and apps utilizing Kinect’s 3D sensing technology.
The beta SDK currently includes the following features:
- Raw sensor streams – Access to raw data streams from the depth sensor, color camera sensor, and four-element microphone array enables developers to build upon the low-level streams that are generated by the Kinect sensor.
- Skeletal tracking – The capability to track the skeleton image of one or two people moving within the Kinect field of view make it easy to create gesture-driven applications.
- Advanced audio capabilities – Audio processing capabilities include sophisticated acoustic noise suppression and echo cancellation, beam formation to identify the current sound source, and integration with the Windows speech recognition API.
- Sample code and documentation – The SDK includes more than 100 pages of technical documentation. In addition to built-in help files, the documentation includes detailed walkthroughs for most samples provided with the SDK.
- Easy installation – The SDK installs quickly, requires no complex configuration, and the complete installer size is less than 100 MB. Developers can get up and running in just a few minutes with a standard standalone Kinect sensor unit (widely available at retail outlets).
The requirements are fairly low, so even novice developers will be able to download the SDK and give it a go. On the software end, you’ll need Windows 7, any flavor of Visual Studio 2010 and Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0.
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