If you were among the select few that signed up for NVIDIA’s Shield newsletter then you’ve been able to pre-order the company’s curious handset for a few days now. The remainder of the gaming masses originally had to wait until Monday for their own turn, but that’s no longer the case — NVIDIA’s retail partners have jumped on the pre-order bandwagon too so you can now stake your claim on a Shield from Newegg, Gamestop, and Canada Computer starting today.
MicroCenter will also sell the Shield in June but it hasn’t yet gotten its pre-order page set up. Get yourself together, MicroCenter.
I’m still not convinced that the Shield will find a foothold outside of the geekiest mobile gamers, but our own Darrell Etherington recently took the thing for a spin and came away rather impressed. He even went as far as calling it “the way Android games should be played,” a sentiment I don’t completely disagree with — we’ve seen the quality of mobile games surge by leaps and bounds these past few years, to the point where they easily eclipse consoles of years past. While those mobile games have slowly come into their own, the control schemes that are forced upon us thanks to the advent of the touchscreen leave much to be desired. There’s still something limiting and unsatisfying about effetely pawing at a piece of glass (or worse, a resistive display — yuck), a sentiment that others have championed, too. Early reactions to the Shield are generally positive, at least where the hardware and control layout is concerned, so at least there’s that to look forward to.
But in the end, will the Shield sell? And what does NVIDIA hope to get out of it? As it happens, NVIDIA may not care all that much about pure sales volume anyway. Time’s Jared Newman spoke to NVIDIA GM of mobile games Bill Rehbock at I/O, who pointed out that the Shield was designed to highlight the sorts of high-end gaming experiences developers have crafted for Android, not to mention the power of the company’s Tegra 4 chipset. There’s little question that NVIDIA’s newest system-on-a-chip has got plenty of horsepower to play with, but it’s still hard to see the Shield as much more than an incredibly niche device that raises more questions than answers.
Launched in 2007, Justin.tv is one of the stalwarts of Web-based video streaming, which is why we were particularly interested when it branched out a gaming-focused offshoot called Twitch back in the summer of 2011.
Just to recap, Twitch is a video-streaming platform-cum-social community for gamers, claiming more than 34 million visitors per month. It lets users broadcast their games, watch others and chat about, well, gaming.
Earlier this year, we asked how Twitch was going to retain its livestreaming ascendance, with both the DailyMotion and YouTube turning up the pressure. And it seems that one of those ways is via your living room and its new Xbox 360 app.
The new Twitch app is only available to Xbox Live Gold subscribers in the US for now. And it’s worth noting here, users can only watch live-streams – they won’t be able to broadcast themselves playing games. But nonetheless, this launch signifies a significant step for Twitch, as it looks to cement itself firmly in living rooms across the land.
The Xbox 360 app app lets gamers watch the top 300 live Twitch channels, allowing them to browse by channel, game or featured content.
“The app will let every Xbox Live gamer find and watch streams of their favorite games from their couch,” says Emmett Shear, Twitch CEO. “Given the huge number Xbox owners and how many of them love gaming spectatorship, it’s a natural fit to bring the Twitch experience to the 360.”
The app is available for download from the Xbox Live marketplace in the US now.
OpenKit, an open-source social platform for mobile games, is now open to all developers, according to co-founder Peter Relan. The service, first announced in December, has been in private beta since earlier this year. There are apparently 1,500 developers already testing the service.
Relan previously told me that he started OpenKit in response to the shutdown of OpenFeint, the GREE-acquired social platform for mobile games that he co-founded. Developers still need something like this, Relan said, and he wants to build it in a way that’s both “good business and developer friendly.”
OpenKit’s current features include cloud storage (allowing a player to save their game on one device and load it on another), leaderboards and achievements, user authentication (for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter), and plug-ins that connect games with the Unity engine. Plus, it works on both iOS and Android, and it’s being developed as an open-source project, so developers can always take their data elsewhere or use the code to build their own backend service.
OpenKit isn’t live for players yet. Relan told me today that that’s coming in a couple of months. There are more social features planned, but he said he’s specifically waiting to integrate with the Google Games service that’s rumored for the Google I/O conference next week.
Here is the original post: Mobile Gaming Backend OpenKit Now Available To All Developers
Angry Birds maker Rovio today finally introduced a way for users to save their gameplay and progress in the cloud, and then resume play on any device. Called simply “Rovio Accounts,” it’s a feature which has been in such huge demand that fan communities like the officially sanctioned Angry Birds Nest had previously drummed up complicated, multi-step workarounds to solve the problem.
In a brief announcement on Rovio’s site, the company reports that the Accounts feature is first arriving in the new The Croods game worldwide, and in the classic version of Angry Birds on iOS in Finland and Poland. The continued worldwide rollout to other titles and markets will happen “gradually,” explains the post.
Registering for a Rovio Account will be an optional feature, and it will support transferring progress to new devices, such as when you upgrade your phone, or to enable continued gameplay on other devices you may currently own. In addition, the feature will also allow several users to share a device, each with their own saved game.
If you’re already playing multiple games on several devices, upon first sign in on each, you’ll be asked if you want to merge the scores, stars and feathers into your current account. However, power-ups will continue to be stored per device, explains a Rovio FAQ.
To get started, after registering, you’ll need to verify your email within 48 hours to confirm your account.
Rovio didn’t offer any details as to when it expects the Accounts feature rollout to complete worldwide, but it’s no small undertaking given the size and scope of its current lineup. In the past year, the company launched Amazing Alex, Bad Piggies and Angry Birds Star Wars, which in addition to Angry Birds Classic, Friends, Space, Seasons, Rio, and The Croods, accounts for 263 million active monthly users.
In more recent months, the company has been shifting towards making some games free, such as when it offered the original Angry Birds game for free this March. The new Accounts feature will now help with these efforts to draw in both new lapsed users who have since moved on from the device where they had first installed the paid Rovio titles.
I have a Stinky under my desk right now. Much to my surprise, the controller earned a place in my life. I reviewed the unit several weeks ago and doubted it was more than a novelty. But it’s still there and I’m starting to really enjoy using it.
The controller gets your foot into the gaming action. It’s a large, four-way controller. It’s not complicated. I have mine set to throw a grenade when I press forward and to crouch when pressing down. There are left and right commands as well if you’re more coordinated than me.
The Montreal, Canada-based company was looking for $75,000 on Kickstarter. They just hit that goal with $79,562 pledged. Over 440 units were pre-ordered.
Kickstarter is the perfect venue for an item like the Stinky. Before online crowdfunding went mainstream in 2012, a startup would have to raise crazy cash to fill a warehouse with their items with the hope they will sell. At best the startup would ink a deal with Best Buy or RadioShack. At worst the founders would drain the life savings of their friends and families.
But no more! Now, thanks to Kickstarter, Indiegogo and the rest of the Internet, startups can hedge their future on a successful video and viral marketing. The future!