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Game Spending for iOS Outpaced 3DS, Vita in Early 2013

On the off chance that you need further evidence of mobile gaming’s rapidly changing landscape, IDC and App Annie recently released the results of a study demonstrating that revenues for iOS and Google Play gaming rose sharply in 2013′s first quarter. Revenues for the handheld gaming devices made by Nintendo fell during the same period. Google’s still behind Sony and Nintendo’s overall revenue for the time being, but with the rate of growth they reported during their recent I/O, it’s expected that Google Play, too, will overtake traditional handheld gaming devices sometime during the next quarter.

Keep in mind that the study isn’t skewed by non-gaming apps. Games account for nearly 40 percent of all downloads for both the App Store and Google Play, according to the study. The study also reveals that games account for almost 70 percent of consumer spending on the App Store and over 80 percent for Google Play. In some ways, as IDC and App Annie point out, such numbers might seem unfair to Nintendo and Sony. Both companies tend to experience explosive growth during the holiday season, which occurs directly before the first quarter.

 

But the study reveals that such seasonal cycles mean little to nothing in the world of mobile games for the iPhone and Android systems, particularly when you factor in cost and the availability of almost every game whenever and (depending on connection) wherever you want it. AllThingsD also reported that Nintendo and Sony are also simply against a staggering wall of numbers. The global install base for devices like Nintendo’s 3DS and Sony’s PlayStation Vita amounted to a “mere” 200 million, whereas research firm Gartner reports that more than 2 billion phones and tablets will ship out in 2013 alone.

There’s still time for Nintendo and Vita to reverse their fortunes. One of the most touted features of Sony’s upcoming PlayStation 4 is its ability to support gameplay through its Vita device, and in a more dubious move, Nintendo’s been working with developers of phone games to create versions for its Wii U. Both companies also have a substantial list of releases planned for the coming months.

But such measures may only delay the inevitable. At least there’s a silver lining–if this keeps up, maybe we’ll finally see Super Mario Bros. or The Legend of Zelda on the iPhone after all.

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Game Bits: Borderlands 2 Adds Ultimate Vault Hunter, Xbox Event Rumored

Borderlands 2 for MacThere’s nothing gamers like better than updates to their favorite titles — especially when it’s new cross-platform support for Borderlands 2 for Mac, or rumors of a possible Xbox event being held next month.

Over the weekend, Aspyr Media announced the release of the “Ultimate Vault Hunter” update for Borderlands 2, finally bringing multiplayer support between Mac and PC gamers on the popular gaming title.

Along with cross-platform support, the update also features a new mode reserved only for players who have reached level 50 or higher on their second play through, with plenty of new black market items, updated storage and more. If that’s not enough, a .99 “Ultimate Vault Hunters Pack” DLC raises the level cap to 61, adding a “super rare” line of weapons called “Pearlescent.”

If your gaming leans more toward the classic console type, The Verge is reporting that Microsoft may be planning an Xbox event for May 21 — an event that was originally scheduled to happen on April 24, but was pushed back for reasons unknown.

The reportedly intimate event is where Microsoft plans to divulge the first tidbits about its next-generation Xbox, as well as laying out the company’s plans for the current-generation hardware for the rest of the calendar year.

If you want to just cut to the chase, Microsoft is expected to preview the next Xbox in early June at the E3 conference, with an official release to follow later in the year. Software for the new console is reportedly built around Windows 8, which wouldn’t surprise anyone given how the touch-friendly OS has already permeated every other corner of Microsoft’s world.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

 

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Weekend Recap: iRadio Rumors, No iOS Game Controller, Pogoplug 5.0

Pogoplug for iOS 5.0Happy April Fool’s Day, readers! Google has already been hard at work over the weekend with pranks such as Gmail Blue and news that YouTube will be shutting down, but if you’re sick of all the practical jokes, you’ve come to the right place. There are no pranks here, unless you count the one being pulled on a handful of iOS developers getting bombed via iMessage. So sit back, relax and bask in the glow of some non-foolish news…

Apple “iRadio” Appears Likely for Summer Release

The Verge published an interesting article on how music labels continue to hold back services like Spotify and Pandora, which racked up a total of billion in the pockets of the music industry last year alone. But the most interesting tidbit was tucked away near the end, which quoted one industry source who appears confident that Apple will take on Pandora as early as this sunny summer. “iRadio is coming,” the unnamed source remarked. “There’s no doubt about it anymore.” As proof of Cupertino’s plans, the report cites “multiple music industry insiders” who claim Universal and Warner are already on board. Can the others be far behind…?

Sorry, Gamers: No iOS Gaming Controller Coming from Apple

A curious rumor spread like wildfire on Friday that seemed to indicate Apple is working on a gaming controller for iOS devices. The rumor started at the Game Developer Conference, where Cupertino was reportedly inquiring about such plans with those in attendance. But as noted by MacRumors, the rumor appears to have no basis in reality after Jim Dalrymple at The Loop posted one of his infamous “nope” posts in response to the possibility. Dalrymple last uttered that fateful word in response to rumors that Apple would hold a media event in March to unveil its long-awaited HDTV, which needless to say, didn’t pan out.

Pogoplug for iOS 5.0 Adds Slide-Out Navigation, New Look

Cloud Engines, Inc. released a swanky new version 5.0 update to their free, universal Pogoplug app over the weekend, offering a fresh new look for the main menu, complete with the type of slide-out navigation first popularized by apps such as Facebook. The app is also better about saving your previous position or activity and introduces a new way to view photos and movies, both of which have been rewritten from scratch to offer a speed boost. The same also applies to the file browser, which is now touted as being faster and “more responsive and robust,” and that’s something we can all get excited about — well, those of us who use Pogoplug, anyway. The free update is now available from the App Store.

Developers Hit with iMessage Denial of Service Style Attack

The Next Web is reporting that a number of iOS developers have found themselves the target of unwelcome missives via text message, which appear to be coming from the OS X Messages app by way of an AppleScript that bombards a user with the same message over and over again. Thus far the denial of service-like attack has only affected a handful of developers and iOS hackers and is considered more of an annoying prank than anything else, but does point to a shortcoming in Apple’s iMessage system, which doesn’t appear to limit the speed at which messages can be sent in the first place — nor block a specific sender. More troubling is that the sender doesn’t even need the phone number, since iMessage works just fine with a linked email address. Apple has remained silent on the issue for now.

Macworld Weighs In on iTunes Store Frustrations

Apple tends to do so many things right that it’s maddening when they miss obvious little things — such as the ability to buy something on the iTunes Store and not actually download it right away. If you’ve been frustrated by the same thing, Macworld has a gem of a report on how Apple could improve the situation, which has become particularly thorny for multi-gigabyte HD movies and TV shows. While it’s great that Apple still allows users to download such content at all — competitors such as Amazon Instant Video no longer do, except on their Kindle Fire — the solution appears to be some kind of “purchase and download later” option, which could also come in handy for apps and music as well. There’s always hope for iOS 7 later this year…

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

 

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Overnight Recap: OUYA June 4, Iron Man 3 Game Teaser, Find My Friends 2.1

Iron Man 3: The Official GameFriday marks the end of the March business month, which means Apple has yet to release any significant new products for the entire first calendar quarter of this year. We’re pretty sure the folks in Cupertino aren’t just taking naps at their desk, however, and we fully expect to see them unleash a lineup of new stuff soon enough. Until then, here’s what you might have missed on Thursday…

OUYA Game Console Hits Retail on June 4

Engadget reported Thursday that the Kickstarter crowdfunded OUYA game console finally appears to have a solid retail release date: June 4, 2013. The company announced the news at this week’s Game Developers Conference, which means those who missed out on buying the Android-powered game box on Kickstarter won’t have much longer to wait to buy one. The company is already accepting online preorders for , but the “official” June 4 release date will add major retailers including Target, Best Buy and Amazon.com to the mix.

Find My Friends 2.1 Improves Notification UI

Apple pushed out an update to the free, universal Find My Friends app on Thursday — sorry, the faux leather look is still there, but version 2.1 does offer one user interface improvement for users on iOS 6.1 or later. Searching for and setting location-based notifications now has a few subtle tweaks, allowing users to better establish how far away from a specific location you need to be before a notification is triggered — perfect for differentiating between different buildings on the same property, for example. Find My Friends 2.1 is now available as a free update from the App Store.

Gameloft Teases Iron Man 3 for iOS, Android

Marvel Comics fans still have more than a month of waiting before Iron Man 3 wings its way into movie theaters, but Gameloft is gearing up to unleash the official mobile game a bit sooner than that. The company has posted the first teaser trailer for Iron Man 3: The Official Game to YouTube, which promises a “fast-paced, endless runner” as players become Tony Stark and “suit up for an awesome run.” The game will touch down on iOS and Android devices on April 25, giving players just over a week before they’ll need to clean up and head to the theater to see the real thing.

Amazon Announces Goodreads Acquisition

E-tailer Amazon announced an agreement to acquire Goodreads, a popular website that connects readers with book recommendations. Goodreads has racked up more than 16 million members since launching in 2007, and counts more than 30,000 book clubs on its website. Amazon hasn’t detailed their plans for Goodreads as yet, with Kindle Content Vice-President Russ Grandinetti teasing that “together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.” Neither company disclosed the terms of the acquisition, which is expected to close in Q2 2013.

Google Begins Testing Same-Day Shopping Express Delivery

The Google Commerce Blog announced Thursday that the recently-rumored, same-day Google Shopping Express delivery service is indeed real and is now live in the San Francisco Bay area. Together with retail partners Target, Walgreens, Staples, American Eagle and Toys ‘R Us/Babies ‘R Us, the web-based service allows local residents to order online and receive your merchandise the very same day. Google has also partnered with a number of locally-owned retailers including Blue Bottle Coffee, Palo Alto Toy & Shop and Nob Hill Foods. Interested San Franciscans will need to sign up for Google Shopping Express online, but will receive six months of free, unlimited same-day delivery for their trouble.

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

 

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GDC: Apple Talking to Game Developers About iOS Controller

The iPad and iPhone have changed the games industry in more than a few ways, but the ubiquitousness of touch controls is probably the iOS platform’s biggest contribution to modern game hardware. And while there’s plenty to love about screen-taps and accelerometer controlled tilt, some games just play better with a controller. According to one report, it sounds like Apple may have finally given in to the idea.

Speaking to PocketGamer.biz, unnamed game developers say they have spoken to representatives from Apple during this week’s Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco. And rather than just reiterate relationships with mobile developers, keeping the never-ending flow of titles to the App Store, Cupertino wants feedback on the concept of a first-party gamepad.

8-Bitty

Pictured: iCade 8-Bitty Controller

Apparently, the meetings were conducted in secret, with Apple registering a meeting room under a fake company name; how very covert. As you might have imagined, Apple wants to make sure the developers are on board with the new hardware.

Frankly, if this is true, this is fantastic news. And if Apple can work a proprietary gamepad into an annual April press announcement regarding a full App Store for the Apple TV, then all will be right with the world. The Apple TV could function perfectly as a small iOS console.

After all, Android is already beating Cupertino to the punch. The Ouya, a open console, has already started shipping to Kickstarter backers. And competing Android game device GameStick — which packs a simple USB dongle right into the controller — is shipping soon. 

Third-party hardware makers have attempted to create iOS controllers with varying results. ThinkGeek’s iCade line, including a fantastically retro cabinet and the Nintendo-inspired 8-bitty, are both wonderful devices. But without official Apple support, third-party iOS controllers have faced an uphill battle in finding widespread adoption from developers. An official controller could be Apple’s next big step into the games market.

 

Follow this article’s author, Matt Clark, on Twitter.

Image Source: ThinkGeek

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