These Top 20 Game Publishers Will Disappear – Unless…

Game Developer Magazine just published its Top 20 Publishers of 2008.

How many augmented reality games have these formidable companies published?

Sweet Fanny Adams. Diddly squat. Zilch.

Here’s a summary of the Top 20, with links to individual profile pages:

20. Midway
19. Eidos Interactive
18. Codemasters
17. LucasArts
16. Disney Interactive Studios
15. NCSoft
14. Capcom
13. Namco Bandai Games
12. Vivendi Games
11. Konami
10. Square Enix
9. Microsoft Game Studios
8. THQ
7. Sega of America
6. Take Two
5. Sony Computer Entertainment
4. Ubisoft
3. Activision
2. Electronic Arts
1. Nintendo

The article recaps the publishing landscape:

This year’s list seems to have been influenced somewhat by which companies could adapt with the times…most of the publishers in our top 20 have a decided console focus, demonstrating that the adaptation of new forms of games into the existing model will take some time.

Sure. When a game title costs upwards of $20M to develop (not including marketing) you got to sell a whole load of it. You can’t take risks.

Darvin said that if you can’t adapt, you’ll die. I will argue that in 10 years these publishers (and affiliated studios) will disappear from the list. That is unless they open their minds and wallets to reality games.

I have raved this month about a flood of augmented reality games coming to the iPhone, Google’s Android, and Nokia mobile devices. So what am I ranting about today?

Well, these mind-blowing games are not coming from the above top publishers; they are emerging from the fringe. Tiny boutique studios aren’t trying to predict the future; they are bringing it forward by pushing the envelop of game experiences.

If I were a betting man, I’d say these risk-taking-tiny-boutique-studios will top the charts in the future.

Nokia’s MGIC: Augment Reality – the Nokia Way

Forget the iPhone. Forget Google’s Android. Today is Nokia’s day.

As of Today, Nokia is playing in the big leagues of Augmented Reality. It just announced the top 10 finalists in its Mobile Game Innovation Challenge.

Guess what type of games made it to the top?

Augmented, augmented, and more augmented.

To make my point, I have filtered out the “traditional” games and put on the list only games that smell like augmented reality spirit. Here they are:

1. Active Tecnologia e Consultoria Ltda. (Brazil) with Cinemarena – set in a movie theatre, controlling avatars on the big screen

Sounds pretty augmented to me.

2. CreatePlayShare (India) with Ball – play any ball game on your mobile or even create your own new game

Reminds me the legendary SymBall, one of the first augmented reality games on a phone.

3. Different Game (Sweden) with Ghost Wire – use your mobile device to communicate with ghosts

Blurring the line between real and virtual couldn’t be more spooky.

4. Eclipse Interactive (UK) with Watchers – conspiracy adventure game that uses Nokia Maps and other real world tools to find locations

Sounds more like a mixed reality game, but hey – let it benefit from the doubt. Today, we are celebrating.

5. Int13 (France) with Kweekies – augmented reality virtual pet game

We were expecting Stephan and the Int13 team to come up with great augmented reality games on the iPhone. Well, they have first delivered for Nokia. Wish them success.

6. TechnoBubble (Spain) with Fun Cam – a mixed reality game that connects your camera on your mobile device to the TV

I don’t really get it – but since it’s a self-proclaimed mixed reality game, we’ll include it.

There you have it: 6 out of the 10 top games in Nokia’s “Mobile Innovation Challenge” fit in the augmented reality category. That’s a landslide victory!

And it’s not all: the three most innovative game concepts will be offered by Nokia Publishing pre-production contracts. The first winner will be awarded 40,000 EUR, the second 20,000 EUR, and the third 10,000 EUR.

Congratulations to the top 10 finalists (including the non augmented reality games…). The winners will be unveiled at Nokia’s Game Summit in Rome next week. May the best win.


It’s been a good month for AR games; news have been embracing the iPhone, Google’s Android, and Today – Nokia.

Which begs to say: ready or not – here comes a groundswell of games to a reality near you.

Would You Kill for These Android Augmented Reality Apps?

Tom Spring from PC World put together a nice collection of Android apps for T-Mobile’s G1.

The lion’s share of these apps is compelling thanks to their novel use of camera, GPS, communication capabilities – or all combined.

Tom listed 15 Android “killer apps”. I pick 4 apps which could inspire the augmented reality world.

You will judge if they “kill”, Bill.

1. BreadCrumbz

First step towards user generated Geo tags

BreadCrumbz is a different kind of navigation application.

Navigate-by-Pictures: Navigate your route using pictures instead of a map (there’s also a map, if you like).

Users Create Routes: Easily record routes using your smartphone. Share them with your friends, share them with the world.

2. CitySlikkers

Attempting a real-world social network

City Slikkers is a Pervasive Game (alternatively Location Based Game) which takes place in the real-existing city. It is designed to connect a large number of players through-out the world and change the way the surroundings are seen. The central idea behind the concept is to give people the opportunity to symbolically interfere with the everyday urban environment and come into contact with previously unknown people.

3. ShopSavvy

Using the oldest Marker technology: barcode

ShopSavvy™ is a shopping assistant developed exclusively for Google’s Android mobile phone platform and is one of T-Mobile’s featured applications in their 2008 US and UK launch. Users can scan the bar code of any product using their phone’s built-in camera. ShopSavvy will then search for the best prices online and through the inventories of nearby, local stores using the phone’s built-in GPS. ShopSavvy won Google’s Android Developer Challenge and is available in Google’s Android Market.

4. Get a Life

Getting folks out of the house is a good thing

Locate your friends and family– LifeAware gives you the ability to create your own network of friends and family members and locate them. Unlike other location services, LifeAware will provide you with their last known location, providing insight even if their phone is off or out of range.

Establish safety zones for family members – Create geographical zones and setup notifications for when a family member enters or leaves the defined zone. Setup a zone to be notified when Johnny arrives or leaves school, or when a loved one arrives at their destination when taking a trip.

Tag locations for yourself or for sharing– Tag locations you visit, or find on the map and share with the members of your network.

Send locations– Send your current location or location of your choosing to friends in your network, or to any email address. Send the favorite meeting place to friend and have them meet you.

Now, you be the judge!

Can Google’s G1 do augmented reality better then the iPhone?

The iPhone hype still rules the augmented reality devices charts, but as Walter Mossberg claims in his in-depth test drive:

that will all change on Oct. 22, when T-Mobile and Google bring out the G1, the first hand-held computer that’s in the same class as Apple’s iPhone.

Google's G1


TechCrunch has its own view on the comparison.

Here’s my quick comparison of the two devices through an augmented reality lens:

They both have similar screen quality (480×320 65K color), a nice touch screen, similar CPU speed, GPU for graphics acceleration, accelerometers for sensing movement, and are both in the under $200 price category.

G1’s Screen size is reportedly narrower than the iPhone (3.2” compared with 3.5”) yet is bulkier (weighs 5.6 ounces to 4.7) and is much thicker; but it has a better camera resolution (3.1 mp compared with 2mp), though similar to iPhone – it can’t record video.

A downside for developers is the very low memory allocated for third party apps (128 megabytes) and the 1G storage space (expandable up to 8GB) which would seriously limit/irritate developers.

On the positive side it has 5 buttons, a real keyboard (you care?), a compass… and most importantly it’s built on Android, an open (yet unproven) Operating System  – which means easier to adapt for the specific needs of augmented reality applications. On the flip side, some developers hate the restriction that comes with Android: program in Java.

Bottom line, these are worthy competitors – each with its own advantages and caveats.  The real winner will be determined, as always, based on whoever offers the best content and the best reality experiences.

Remember WIFI ARMY? It was a very promising AR game for Android (made it to the #7 spot in my top 10 AR demos). But they went silent…their website is down. If you see something – say something.