Looks like Joost is in Beta. If you haven’t heard of Joost, it’s a potential cable TV killer from the founders of Kazaa and Skype. Like Skype, this is legit on the copyright front, and could pose a serious threat to cable and satellite TV, because this time they are catering to the desires of content providers. There was an article in the February issue of Wired, which is a pretty good read. With this new content delivery system, it will be interesting to see if they build in the capability for episodic delivery of video games as well. We’ll all just have to wait and see, unless,… if you have a Joost beta token, send one my way to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Video-game sales a record $12.5B in ’06
By BARBARA ORTUTAY, Associated Press, Business Writer, January 12, 2007
Read full article here.
There have been quite a few distributed computing projects over the years. Sony’s plan is perhaps the most ambitious yet. The PS3 has a Cell Broadband Engine (CBE) chip, the same used in IBM’s new supercomputer. PS3 owners will be able to download a small program to their PS3 to allow scientists to use the PS3’s downtime for scientific research, turning what would previously have taken years to calculate into mere months, or less! Don’t worry though, if the PS3 is running a game, the distributed computing process is suspended so you don’t get any lag, thereby causing you to get fragged.
As you may recall, we took quite a bit of flack from the software developer community on Slashdot for our previous article published by Gamasutra. Some of the comments had to deal with the patent system in general, but many of the comments were directed to patent quality, or the alleged lack thereof. Yes, many people claim that the video game patents we mention are a bunch of hogwash, invalid as can be, etc., etc., etc.,
The USPTO has made overtures regarding farming out patent searches, and opening up prior art for public commentary in the hopes of improving patent quality. One web site has beat them to the punch, so it appears. WikiPatents.com aims to provide “public patent clarity” and claims to contribute to the US patent system by commenting on issued patents and (soon) published U.S. applications. The website appears to operate similarly to previous proposals, as a public sounding board for the relevance of prior art cited against a patent, and a venue to comment on the alleged validity of a patent. WikiPatents.com posts information about issued patents, and expects members of the public to provide commentary on the relevance of the prior art as it may or may not apply to the validity of the patent.
Now the question is: will the public respond? Do enough people care AND have the time to review prior art and comment on issued claims and published applications? Will members of the public even appreciate that what is described is not necessarily what a patent claims? Will patent examiners begin to use this as a resource during their examination procedures, even if informally? Will WikiPatents.com (or other sites like it) improve patent quality? There will certainly be the extremists on both sides that chime in one way or the other, but only time will tell if the site is a success…
Not even having time to revel in its recent victory in the C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing v. Major League Baseball Advanced Media lawsuit (No. 4:05-CV-00252 (E.D. Mo.)) regarding the use of player names and statistics in fantasy sports games, the Fantasy Sports industry is under attack again. This time, for gambling.
The controversial question: Are these pretend sports just another form of gambling? That’s what a man claims in a lawsuit that alleges that media including the ESPN cable network, CBS and The Sporting News are getting away with illegal gambling by hosting pay-to-play fantasy leagues, complete with big cash prizes and wide-screen TVs.
At the heart of his complaint is that fantasy sports — a $1.5 billion industry with more than 15 million players — are games of chance, not skill, and therefore qualify as gambling. Read more here.
An interesting twist, for sure.
It appears the Sony/Immersion dispute is not over. As you may know, Immersion makes vibration technology for game controllers. The Northern District of California held that Sony infringed Immersion’s patents, and awarded Immersion $82 million as a reasonable royalty. Sony has appealed the case to the Federal Circuit, making only one argument–that Immersion hid evidence. Sony’s appeal brief contains its allegations. I’m working on compressing it so I can upload it, but in the meantime you’ll have to get it from the court, or send me an email and I will forward it along. Interesting reading…
Mountain View, Calif.-based Ageia Technologies Inc., is the first to offer a specialized computer chip — called “PhysX” — designed to give video games a better sense of reality, as dictated by Newtonian physics. How will this affect games? For example, carve a wrong turn in the deep powder of the video game “Stoked Rider: Big Mountain Snowboarding” and you’d better brace for an avalanche of swirling white snow engulfing everything as it crashes down the mountainside.
This will pose interesteding gaming possibilities as developers strive to create more realistic games, and hopefully we will see a new wave of video game innovation along with it.
WARNING: Shameless plug to follow!
While not technically video game related, I have been quoted in an article on ABC News regarding the litigation/issue in Norway regarding Apple’s iTunes/iPod tie. While, as with any quote, it is a little misstated by the reporter (not me!), it nonetheless gets the point across. Is there a solution that Norway can forge, or does it face losing iTunes altogether? On the other hand, would Norwegians rather have iTunes, but be restricted to playing songs downloaded from iTunes only on an iPod?
This is an issue that Apple is facing more and more, and one that certainly will take some time to resolve. We’ll keep you posted.
A co-owner of a Hollywood video game store that caters to celebrity clients on Wednesday pleaded guilty to participating in a conspiracy to violate federal copyright laws by selling Xbox video game consoles modified to play pirated games.
Interesting sound bite: “We’re like the Heidi Fleiss of video games,” said Jones, referring to the famed “Hollywood Madam.” He added that his supporters have stood by throughout the ordeal and that he plans to open a bigger, better store in another Los Angeles location.
Read more here.
In a logical extension of the MMO genre, a young Company, Electric Sheep, is helping big customers create a presence inside “Second Life,” the popular virtual world in which people can do or build just about anything they can imagine and socialize with others anywhere in the real world.
Electric Sheep can help you out to customize an island, or what in Second Life is called a “sim”–a 16-acre piece of land that users can buy and do with what they like. Now there is a new party in the fight over who owns this virtual IP: Linden Labs (creator or Second Life), Electric Sheep (or some other third party developer), or you. Better read those contracts closely…
The Red Cross has begun to take it a little more seriously that game developers’ use of the Red Cross emblem has been rampant in years past. The Red Cross recently wrote an open letter to the video game industry, requesting a dialogue to discuss the proper and legal uses of the Red Cross emblem (if any). The letter was addressed to a law firm, but no specific games were mentioned. Rather, the letter mentions that the practice of illegally using the Red Cross emblem has been widespread, and the Red Cross is seeking to curtail such use in the future.
MarketWatch reports that the video game industry grew 6% in 2005, weighing in at $10.5 billion. That’s quite a sum of money, given that as reported by Fox, box office receipts for the movie industry were below $9 billion in 2005. Ironically, the market for flagship game consoles and related software shrank, allegedly due in part to the supply shortages of the new Xbox 360.
Other random industry samples for 2005:
- Father’s day gifts – $8.23 billion
- Used books – $2 billion
- Aerospace industry – $170 billion
- U.S. beef industry – $78 billion
- Live Auctions – $217.2 billion
- Halloween – $3.3 billion
- Residential water treatment – $2.6 billion
- U.S. sales of generic drugs – $28 billion
- Search engine marketing – $5.75 billion
- Hot tea – $6.8 billion
- Hot Coffee – Well, that’s another IP issue entirely.
I can’t wait for next year…
Following up on a previous post, two Hollywood video game store owners and a third man who were charged in December for allegedly pirating video games and installing them on modified Microsoft Corp. Xbox consoles were indicted on Thursday, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors have charged three men with copyright infringement for selling modified Xbox consoles that enabled the original video game machine from Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT – news) to play pirated games.
Jones and Bryant demonstrated the modified Xbox game consoles in their Melrose Avenue store. They charged from $225 to more than $500 for the modifications, depending on the extent of the modifications and the number of games preloaded onto the hard drive, according to a statement from prosecutors and the complaint affidavit obtained by Reuters.
Ever want to own a video game? Now’s your chance. The bankruptcy trustee for Acclaim is auctioning off their portfolio, around 200 games! Some have bids, but some are just waiting for a bidder. Who knows what the IP includes, so do your due diligence, or else you’ll get what you pay for. There are a number of interesting titles in there, and more that its share of duds.