Digital Media News (week 18)
23 April 2012
Weekly bulletin collating public sector, industry and company news for creative industries by David Hartley.
"We catch up with the Bafta Ones to Watch finalists on what the awards show means for them. The University of Abertay’s Dare to be Digital games design competition has been running since 1999, starting just two years after the institution launched the world’s first higher education games development degree. Today the contest has become hugely popular amongst aspiring industry professionals, including artists, designers and programmers."
Local industry news
From the Scotsman
"The humble T-shirt is getting a hi-tech overhaul. By pointing your smartphone at images on a T-shirt, the face of Minnie Mouse becomes a puzzle game, while Spider-Man comes swinging out from his web. Cartoon character Lightning McQueen screeches away for another lap round the circuit and a boombox logo opens up a selection of music playable on demand. The clothes-as-entertainment model is being launched in the UK by Zappar, a technology start-up company co-founded by Scots computer games veteran Kirk Ewing"
From Scotland on Sunday
"Reloaded Productions is reporting rising revenues from All Points Bulletin (APB), the online game it salvaged from the ashes of collapsed Dundee-based developer Realtime Worlds, as the new owner this week prepares to launch an upgraded version. APB has attracted three million subscribers since being relaunched as a free-to-play game in December… Michael Boniface, general manager of the Scottish office, said it would take a full year to determine the exact level of sales, the majority of which are generated by online micro-payments."
From the Guardian
"Ashley Highfield is set to raise the price of many of Johnston Press's 170 regional and local newspapers and create a series of themed digital destinations that aim to mirror the success of Mumsnet. Highfield, the chief executive of the UK's second largest regional newspaper publisher, also plans new daily iPad apps for all the company's bigger titles, revamped websites with greater use of social media, and new mobile sites for all paid-for papers. He admitted that print was becoming a smaller part of the mix and that by 2020 he expected to earn equal amounts from digital and print products, stressing the importance of mobile for reaching younger people."
From C21 Media
"Channel 4′s recently appointed games commissioner Colin Macdonald has said the UK broadcaster is looking for creative talent to take its games strategy “to the next level.” Speaking at C21′s Games For TV conference in London, Macdonald said he wants to build on the network’s previous gaming efforts, which include playalong titles for gameshows such as Million Pound Drop and a mobile app for Facejacker – starting with game extensions for existing C4 shows."
Feature article from Gamasutra on research by Raymond Usher of Euphonious with help from the University of Abertay
"In a new Gamasutra feature, developer and researcher Raymond Usher (Crackdown) determines that horror games benefit most from players hearing audio as they inhabit the game world. In the study, two groups of players -- one with the game's audio muted -- were asked to play a group of three games, including popular horror indie Amnesia: the Dark Descent. Their heart rate and breathing were monitored"
From STV Local
"Three new digital walking tours have been launched in the capital to celebrate World Heritage Day. The tours are part of a free iPhone app developed by Edinburgh World Heritage (EWH) to help residents and visitors explore every corner of the city. Created by EWH, with funding from the City of Edinburgh Council's Economic Development department as part of their strategy to Build Stronger Town Centres, the tours will focus specifically on Thistle Street, Broughton Street and the West End and West End Village."
From the Herald
"Marmalade, digital audio and bullet-proof vests are among the Scottish products showcased in the 2012 Queen's Awards for Enterprise unveiled today… One of two innovation awards is bagged by Linn Products, the Renfrewshire-based creator of 24-bit digital music players… other international winners … Edinburgh-based Skyscanner."
From Scotland on Sunday
"Digital marketing agency Bigmouthmedia is about to take on a third building in Leith as the company continues to notch up a series of big-name clients wins, including Coca-Cola, Ikea and Royal Bank of Scotland. In the past year, the company has taken on a further 50 staff in Edinburgh, swelling its headcount in the city to 130 as it took on a second office. Now the firm plans to take on a further 30 staff as part of its multi-million pound investment as it handles work for customers including car manufacturer Honda, software giant Microsoft and brewer SAB Miller."
" Zynga Inc. (ZNGA) merger chief Barry Cottle plans to step up the pace of acquisitions, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in search of a new social-gaming blockbuster on par with hits “FarmVille” and “CityVille.” The biggest maker of social games paid $180 million last month to acquire OMGPop Inc., after spending a combined $147.2 million for 22 companies in 2010 and 2011. Chief Executive Officer Mark Pincus expects to do “a few” deals the size of OMGPop or larger in the next three to five years, he said in an interview at the company’s San Francisco headquarters."
"Readers of Scandinavian crime fiction can now revel in the music, movies, art and other artefacts of the morbid genre, too. Random House has signed an agreement to be the first UK partner to Small Demons, a website that lets readers browse through artefacts found in novels… LA-based Small Demons crawls e-book text to pull out and process these nodes as explorable artefacts. Those books can be purchased through links to several off-site affiliates. It’s a pretty smart idea, and one of several new companies trying to inject a digital data layer on top of the narrative reading experience."
From the Guardian
"I can only assure you, I have all the zealotry and passion of a convert," says Dan Snow over a crackly telephone line from Rome, where the TV historian is filming his next series. The passion, in this case, is for apps. Snow is the frontman for Timeline World War 2 with Dan Snow, an iPad app that aims to provide an interactive spin on the second world war. But he was also heavily involved in its conception and production, working with publisher Ballista Media, developer Agant and British Pathé, which provided more than 100 archive videos."
"Over the past several years, Netflix has gotten really good at licensing some serious TV content from major networks. But if the company’s latest moves are any indication of its future direction, Netflix could soon become a major player not just in content licensing, but content creation. On Tuesday, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos took the stage at the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas to give a preview of the streaming service’s upcoming slate of original programming."
An infographic from The Next Web
"Mobile gaming is an industry that is valued, in aggregate, in the billions of dollars. Given its size, the players jockeying for its market share are fighting for consumer mind share, and therefore, wallet share. We know that the Great Infographic Bubble is over, but the content genre still has some highlights, and we dig the one we’ve included below. It brings together a huge number of statistics that are quite interesting, such as the point that a half trillion Angry Birds have been launched."
From from Mobile Entertainment
"P2P user base will be four times bigger than it was in 2011. Juniper Research reckons 84 million people exchanged money via their phones last year, with Africa - home of the original P2P service Safaricom’s M-PESA - leading the way. It also revealed the average size of a domestic remittance transaction via mobile was $22 in 2011."
"Driven by strong growth in the search and display sectors, U.S. digital advertising revenue expanded by 22 percent in 2011, reaching a record $31 billion according to a report prepared by Price Waterhouse Coopers U.S. and released Wednesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). The $9 billion grossed in the fourth quarter alone represented a 15 percent uptick over the third quarter and a 20 percent year-over-year expansion."
From Tech Crunch
"A new research tool that tracks usage in real-time shows that when it comes to usage, consumers, in the U.S. at least, are far more active on Apple’s devices than on any other. The numbers come from the ad network Chitika, which notes that in the last 24 hours, iOS devices, covering the iPhone, iPad and iPod models, accounted for just under 68 percent of all usage on its network. Android, meanwhile, accounted for just under 28 percent."
From The Next Web
"As you may know, Russia is already home to the two largest Internet companies in Europe, Yandex and Mail.Ru Group, both of which have gone public in recent times. Russia is also the largest Internet market in Europe, period, after overtaking Germany in terms of total amount of Internet users back in September 2011"
Compiled by David Hartley