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.
There not only is money in making video games, but as is quickly becoming more evident, there is also money in PLAYING video games. The two most popular methods are item farming in MMOGs, and professional video game tournaments.
For those who thought anyone who just played video games would never amount to anythiny, talk to Jonathan Wendel, aka Fatal1ty. On November 23, 2005, Jon won the Cyberathlete Professional League World Tour Grand Finals and the $150,000 payday that goes with it. Being that the Xbox 360 just launched a few days ago, I will keep this short, as I have practicing to do…
Read CNN news story.
Today marks the launch of Microsoft’s new Xbox360 game console and upgraded Xbox Live online gaming service. Interesting is the inclusion of Gotham TV on Project Gotham Racing 3, where anyone can spectate live races. Unlike previous games that allow spectating, you don’t have to be in the game session to watch it. That means anyone can watch it, not just the 8 or 16 people in the game. I would hesitate to call these “public” broadcasts, since you have to pay to play, but there is undoubtably IP in these broadcasts. What steps are being taken to protect it? It raises some interesting new questions on which I suspect people will start commentary very shortly.
Is the price of virtual property getting out of hand? Jon Jacobs, a Miami resident, has bought a virtual space station in the game Project Entropia for $100,000 and wants to turn it into a cross between Jurassic Park and a disco. Mr. Jacobs plans to hire famous DJs to entertain visitors one a week or so at the “resort” space station (which he calls Club Neverdie), and thinks he can net $20,000/month (real money) from the “hunting tax and other income.”
In an interesting twist, Mr. Jacobs bought the space station from the game developer itself, MindArk PE AB. This raises some interesting legal implications regarding the developer’s ability to shut the game down. If the game goes under tomorrow, does Mr. Jacobs get his money back. I sure hope he didn’t mortgage his house for that purchase… oh wait, he did! The deal was brokered by IGE, a broker of game property.
In a major video game IP licensing deal, Atari has licensed the Unreal 3 game engine and related development tools from Epic Games to develop games for next-generation platforms. With the Unreal and Doom engines being the only two FPS engine families out there, licensing of source code and development tools can be a tidy little income stream for Epic Games and id Software.