Friday, January 15, 2016

Weekly Link Round-Up

It's been a rough week. While they may not have been known in the gaming world, among geek circles the passing of David Bowie (musician, and Goblin King!) and Alan Rickman (old farts like me remember him as Hans from 'Die Hard', you youngin's will know him as Professor Snape from 'Harry Potter') has hit us hard. Both were very unexpected. Both were diagnosed with cancer and we were unaware of. To the outside world, everything was gravy. Bowie released a new album and music video just last Friday before his death. It's a lot to absorb over the course of a week. May their families find peace during this hard time.

The Geek Spot will trudge onward with our Weekly Link Round-Up of gaming news from the depths of the internet. Here's what we got for today's selection:

- Fortune Magazine released the numbers on which games were the biggest sellers in 2015. But that's not really all that important. You can probably guess the first 5 without having to spare more then half a brain cell. If your answers included Call of Duty, Madden, and GTA5 PC, then you would be correct. What is interesting is that sales of physical games at traditional brick and mortar stores are flat. Even though sales of the PS4 and XBox One were the strongest to date over the past month, it didn't help with physical sales of games and accessories. That's typically not a good sign, as it indicates trouble with growth and potential decline over the upcoming years. More then likely people are going digital with their purchases. Which is fine, however the industry still hasn't set a standard for tracking those purchases so...good luck getting those numbers!

- Want to learn the meaning of life? Then play a video game! The Guardian has compiled a list of 10 video games that bring this question to the forefront. They mention the Civilization series which is...weird. That's more tactical then philosophical, but okay. The Sims is also listed so take the list however you see fit.

- Forbes has an article regarding a study that will tell you exactly how video games can boost learning. Hopefully the direct link will work for you - their new Welcome page requesting you to turn off all ad-blockers is quite annoying. I don't even have an ad-blocker on this machine and it still takes 3 to 4 cycles before I can get to the article. Ugh. Anyway, how did this new study determine that games improve learning? By turning a general quiz into a Wheel of Fortune type game and had children attempt to play it. Yeah. That's a definitive result right there. Super scientific. Sarcasm aside, who do I need to talk to to get useless grants? I want to study silly stuff like this and get paid for it!

- Kickstarter had a busy year with video games, raising over $46 million dollars in 2015. Tabletop over $88 million. Just...wow. That's a lot of money. With games like Shenmue and Bloodstained, it's no surprise that crowdfunding has turned into the new alternative to seeking out major developer investments. It's also cool to see the indies get a chance to make their visions come to life.

- In an interesting turn, Activision/Blizzard has brought in the producer of 'The H8tful Eight,' Stacey Sher, to help manage their new film division. The studio was formed last year and has been steadily gaining people to fill up the roster. They have been looking to turn Hollywood on their heads with gaming movies that can prove their worth to an industry that half-asses them. Sher is a frequent collaborator with Quentin Tarantino, so this will be quite the endeavor for the veteran producer.

- A French law was recently withdrawn that attempted to block games labeled as "sexist" from receiving any type of government funding. While the bill was attempting to put it's heart in the right place, it definitely infringes on creativity, speech, and a few other things that I would imagine the people of France would not be okay with. The language is quite vague with no criteria on what would be a "sexist" game. It could be argued that all Assassin's Creed games are sexist. Should that ban Ubisoft from any subsidies?

- Vivendi sold the rest of it's stakes in Activision/Blizzard, roughly 5.7% of the company. The results? $1.1 billion in profit. That's a lot of money for the few shares they still held. As to why the company sold off the rest of it's shares, it's unknown. Representatives have not commented outside of wanting to invest in more telecommunications, and bought up shares in Ubisoft and Gameloft last year. It may just be a simple numbers game. Activision's stock has been at an all time high over the past few months, and it may have been an ideal moment for Vivendi to sell. It's also proof of Activision's current powerhaul in the gaming world. They are the company to beat in numbers and sales.

- And just when you thought YouTube Gamers couldn't get any bigger, PewDiePie is getting his own TV show. Revelmode will be a digital premium channel to be launched with the help of Disney-owned Maker Studios, and will have a staple of YouTube stars as part of the channel lineup. It may sound strange, but a few up and coming actors have been making the leap from YouTube to Television. Most recently in the eyes of the public is Rachel Bloom, a YouTube star who now acts on the CW show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and won a Golden Globe for her performance. Given the popularity of gaming stars on YouTube, it doesn't seem so crazy, does it?

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