>I was out at the Game Developers Convention in Austin last week. I had a great time and wish I could have met more folks. I’ll have some notes and observations on trends that I gathered from the festivities that I’ll be rolling out soon, but the one thing that really caught my eye was the extreme interest in the “Free to Play (with a heaping helping of microtransactions)” business model. My personal thought is that its going to get crowded online with everyone scrambling to attract their preferred gender/age demographic, while at the same time not having minimal (or no) revenue stream. Plus, if you are one of the lucky newcomers to have That Certain Something, what steps are you taking to prevent the existing games from simply adding That Certain Something as a game mode/feature to their own game?
>On September 2, EA filed for declaratory judgment against Dillinger, LLC (the entity claiming to hold all publicity rights relating to the late and notorious John Dillinger), seeking validation of EA’s claim that its family of “Godfather”-themed games do not misappropriate any publicity or trademark rights in the Dillinger name. The Dillinger clan was originally riled over the inclusion of the “Dillinger Tommy Gun” as a weapon option in the first “Godfather” game (released in 2006) and took further exception to the updated “Modern Dillinger” firearm available in the 2009 sequel. According to EA’s complaint, Dillinger, LLC contacted EA on July 22, 2009 – the 75-year anniversary of John Dillinger’s shooting death in Chicago – and demanded “millions of dollars for the game elements purportedly covered by its publicity right[s] and trademarks.” In the compaint, EA alleges that its use of any reference to John Dillinger is transformative within the… Continue Reading
>After settling with Microsoft for an undisclosed amount, Paltalk has set it sights on Sony, alleging Sony is also infringing its patents related to online gameplay.Back in 2006, Paltalk sued Microsoft on nearly identical grounds, alleging that certain communications between game systems over the internet infringe two of its patents, 5,822,523 and 6,226,686. These two patents describe a method of increasing bandwidth efficiency between a group of computers communicating on a network. The method involves a central messaging server programmed to receive messages from each computer on the network and to maintain a list of the computers on the network. The patents also describe a method for sending “join” messages to other computers to invite them into a game. Lastly, the patents describe a method for aggregating messages received by the central messaging server in a block and then pushing the aggregated message block back to the other computers. Paltalk… Continue Reading
>My apologies on the hiatus. We’ve been caught up in a few deals, but there’s some great content in the works and we’ll be back with our regular posts, tips and updates. I hope to run into folks at the Game Developer’s Conference later this month in Austin, Texas. It looks like it should be an interesting event.
>A favorite topic of discussion for many of the authors of this blog is virtual game worlds and virtual property. According to a recent online survey, about 10% of Americans spent real world money on virtual goods last year, the average tab being about $30. Granted, the survey results may be a bit skewed, since the participants were polled online, and thus more likely to be involved in virtual worlds and more comfortable with online transactions. However, despite its limitations, this survey adds insight to consumer spending behavior that is projected to lead to about $1 billion in sales of virtual goods worldwide this year. So, why spend real money for intangible digital items that you don?ÇÖt really own? Well, the central goal of almost every player in a virtual game world is to acquire virtual assets that increase an avatar?ÇÖs abilities or status within the game world. Virtual game… Continue Reading
>The American Law Institute has issued a proposed final draft on the “Principles of Law of Software Contracts” (click here to obtain a copy). In this draft, the ALI seeks to provide (suggested) clarifications and requirements in the context of software licenses. While it is not a law or statute, it does serve as a model for States to choose to adopt, and can provide guidance to judges who seek assistance in interpreting software licenses and contracts. One of the areas of concern is that the draft creates an implied warranty of no material hidden defects AND that this warranty is non-disclaimable. The effect, if this were to become law, would be that customers would be able to bring a claim for bugs in the software. Of course, depending on whether you are a software developer or a software buyer will dictate your reaction to this new “requirement.” Looking closer… Continue Reading
>The Copyright Office continues to try and push itself into the digital age. The Office has been trying to implement an electronic filing system, but there have been a few hiccups along the way. However, as they have been ironing out the kinks, the Copyright Office has become more aggressive in pushing filers to use the electronic system. Prices for filing copyrights will be changing on August 1. The new prices will be $35 for filing an electronic application, $50 to file the scannable CO form, and the traditional paper filing will now be $65. Remember, though, whenever you are filing the copyright application (electronic or otherwise), to be very careful about your deposit materials. I have seen many copyright infringement cases go awry because of mistakes made with the deposit materials … but I’ll save that for another post.
>Are you thinking about phasing out a studio? Are you shelving a project? Sometimes that has to happen, but one thing to be careful of is how you handle the company/project name. If you announce to the world “Studio XYZ is ending development and shutting down”, do you really want someone else in the marketplace to form a new studio with the name “XYZ”?If you want to try and prevent a competitor from adopting your former project’s or studio’s name, you need to find a way to keep using that name in connection with your business. Consider keeping a description of it on your web site or other marketing materials. Avoid a broad, all-encompassing press release describing your intention to “abandon” a project. There’s a bit more detail to process to keep the name alive, but the key component is that you need to find some way to keep using… Continue Reading
>As we reported here back in February, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit confirmed a district judge’s 2007 ruling that a California law that restricts sales of “violent?Ç¥ video games to minors is unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit found the law unconstitutional because it was not narrowly tailored, because treating violence as obscenity is not permissible by the Constitution and because the state had not demonstrated that violent video games cause psychological or neurological damage. After the law was defeated at the Ninth Circuit, Governor Schwarzenegger announced the filing of a petition for certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to save the law, arguing that the same justifications for precluding sales of pornography to minors should be applied to violent video games. “By prohibiting the sale of violent video games to children under the age of 18 and requiring these games to be clearly labeled, this law… Continue Reading
>Its a crazy world out there. Fox News has a story today about how the Neopets web site is being (indirectly) used to get children to download malware to their computer. After scratching through the article, it appears that what is really happening is that the ‘bad guys’ are convincing kids to click a link, whether in an email or private message, which in turn causes the malware to install on the computer. From a vendor perspective, this is both good and bad news.The good news is that the game itself has not been compromised. This was a social engineering exploit — try and get the child to voluntariy clikc the link. There was not any hacking and user information was not stolen — its never a good thing to send your customer base a security breach notification letter. The bad news is that, unlike the hacking problem, this is… Continue Reading