Posts tagged with "games"

YouTube Gaming Officially Launches

YouTube Gaming, the company's dedicated platform for all things videogames, has officially launched today. From the YouTube blog:

YouTube Gaming is your go-to destination for anything and everything gaming because it automatically pulls in all gaming-related videos and live streams from YouTube.

Viewers get personalized gaming recommendations based on the games and channels they collect. With over 25,000 game pages and even more gaming channels, it’s never been easier to connect with your gaming community.

We’ve also made it easier to create a live stream — check out the beta version of our new way to go live at youtube.com/stream today.

I took the app for a spin this evening on my iPad, and it's well done. There's a lot going on in the front page – live streams, reviews, channels, game pages, but the YouTube team has done a good job at figuring out ways to automatically categorize content. When watching a game review, for instance, a link to that game's page is available in the video description; tap it, and on the game page you can find more videos of different types such as Let's Plays, reviews, popular videos, past live streams, and more. It's a busy interface, but there's also a lot to watch and go through.

YouTube Gaming is going to be compared to Twitch a lot, and for good reason. The big advantage of YouTube Gaming is its direct integration with a vast archive of YouTube videos and video creators that produce new content just for YouTube every day (this includes trailers, reviews, how-tos, and lots more non-live stream content). The decision to create game pages with automatic categorization of videos seems like a smart one to me, and the entire app feels lively and fun (try to search for games, for example).

I wouldn't be surprised if this becomes effectively the default way of finding gaming content on YouTube in the future, with the main YouTube app as a fallback for everything else. You can download the iOS app (US and UK only for now) here.

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Threes’ Free Version Doubles Developers’ Profits

The free version of popular puzzle game Threes has doubled its developers' profits, as reported by Eurogamer and as Threes developer Asher Vollmer shared in a series of tweets (full collection here).

It's interesting to look at the stats for the platform split of iOS vs. Android. The majority of free users also comes from iOS.

Making a free version of a paid game with ads may not be the most elegant decision, but it's a practical one when you want to attract an audience that doesn't have disposable income to spend on games.

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‘I’ve Been Texting With an Astronaut’

Laura Hudson writes about Lifeline, an ingenious text-based adventure game for iOS that uses a messaging-like interface and actionable notifications to build a story and a relationship with the main character.

As counterintuitive as it sounds, there’s something about interacting with Taylor through text messages that can feel very intimate, perhaps because we’ve grown so accustomed to communicating our most personal thoughts with our friends through bursts of text—and waiting for their responses with bated breath.

While some mobile games intentionally frustrate players with waiting periods to compel them into spending money, waiting isn’t a coercion tactic in Lifelife, but rather a crucial part of the experience. If you die several times—or win the game—you can unlock an optional “fast mode” that allows you to skip the waiting periods, although I wouldn’t recommend it. While it might offer instant gratification, it also shatters the sense of immersion you feel, flattening the urgency and anticipation of those intermediate moments.

I love mobile games that try to do something out of the ordinary, and I'm intrigued by this idea. Lifeline is $2.99 on the App Store and you can also play it on your Apple Watch.

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Accessibility in iOS Games

Shaun Musgrave's story at TouchArcade about Accessibility in iOS games is a great one. Thanks to VoiceOver and the work of developers who implement accessible iOS technologies, blind and visually impaired users have been able to play games and be part of an active community.

In talking to the developers who have been able to make their games accessible, their feelings about the response from players are almost universally positive, in fact. In the case of King Of Dragon Pass, David Dunham actually implemented some code so that he could track how many players make use of the VoiceOver function. It varies over time, but in the last month or so, he reported that 7% of players loading up the app are doing so in VoiceOver mode, a very significant number. From a purely financial view, Dunham informed me, the investment was worth it. He went on, “But that’s not the only viewpoint. Not long after we released with VoiceOver support, we got email from a player who said he was a blind teenager from the Netherlands. He thanked us for making a game that finally let him feel like part of the world gaming community, because he could play on an equal level with everyone else.” Amir Rajan told a similar story about A Dark Room. “It's worth it to get a thank you email from a father with a blind daughter than can enjoy a popular game that her seeing friends play too,” said Rajan.

Related: The American Foundation for the Blind awarded Apple for their work on VoiceOver and Accessibility features.

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Snake Coming Back Next Week with ‘Snake Rewind’ for iOS

Snake, the iconic '90s game that came pre-loaded on Nokia phones, is coming back with a new mobile version developed by its original creator. Stuart Dredge, writing at The Guardian:

Long before Candy Crush Saga, Clash of Clans and Angry Birds, Nokia’s Snake was the king of the mobile gaming world – not least because it was installed on every single mobile phone the company sold.

Now the game is returning for modern smartphones courtesy of that mobile version’s creator Taneli Armanto and developer Rumilus Design, who will release Snake Rewind on 14 May.

As you can imagine, it sounds the new Snake Rewind will implement various In-App Purchases to buy items and continue playing even after your snake crashes. I played hundreds of hours with the original Snake 15 years ago, and I'm more concerned about the control scheme. Snake could be played well with the number pad on a Nokia phone. How will this translate to touch controls?

Snake Rewind launches next week, on May 14th. You can read the official blog post here.

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The Return of a Macintosh Shareware Classic

In the heady days of Macintosh shareware gaming, Ray Dunakin was a star. His 1990 world-hopping adventure title Ray's Maze puzzled and delighted Mac gamers the world over, despite it having been made with an early black-and-white Mac program called World Builder, and his later games Another Fine Mess, A Mess O' Trouble, and Twisted! only added to his reputation. But fate conspired to force the games into oblivion as Apple moved the Mac into OS X and then over to Intel processors.

Until now. Marc Khadpe is Ray's biggest fan. He's been the proprietor of the Ray's Maze Page since he created it in 1996. And he's spent the past decade, on and off, rewriting the World Builder engine for OS X.

Over at US Gamer, Richard Moss tells the story of Ray Dunakin's games, icons of Macintosh gaming in the early '90s recently re-released with OS X compatibility on the Mac App Store.

Make sure to check out the original and restored games here, and if you're into classic Macintosh gaming grab A Mess O’ Trouble from the Mac App Store at $4.99.

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The Story of Crossy Road

Dave Tach, writing for Polygon on the story of Crossy Road:

Crossy Road is the rare story of success at the intersection of art, commerce, design and marketing. It's about lessons learned in hard times and a games maker who thought he might never go back to GDC after one terrible year. It's about a pair of developers who, in fact, did set out to create a video gaming phenomenon — and succeeded.

An inspiring tale of success, especially because the developers purposefully tried a different free-to-play model and didn't simply experiment without consideration. A good lesson.

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Apple Promoting “Great Games with No In-App Purchases” on App Store Front Page

Apple has started promoting games that don't have any In-App Purchases on the front page of the App Store. Currently featured in the UK App Store and likely expanding to the U.S. store later today as part of the App Store's weekly refresh, the section is called 'Pay Once & Play' and it showcases “great games” that don't require users to pay for extra content through IAPs.

The section is organized in Recent Releases, Blockbuster Games, and App Store Originals. The games included vary in terms of popularity and developer: Apple is promoting indie hit Thomas Was Alone under Blockbuster Games alongside Minecraft, but they're also showcasing award-winning Threes, Leo's Fortune, and Blek.

Over the past few years, Apple has dealt with numerous complaints and investigations over the nature of freemium games and how they were advertised as free downloads while effectively hiding major gameplay features behind In-App Purchases. The company brought a series of changes to the way freemium games were displayed on the App Store – it added a specific label to indicate IAPs, and then changed the button to download freemium games from “Free” to “Get”.

It's unclear whether the new section will be regularly updated or become a permanent fixture of the App Store's front page, but it's a good sign as it shows an interest in promoting quality game experiences that don't follow typical (and lucrative but potentially confusing) freemium trends.