Sony Moving Closer to Making Inroads into China

SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT AMERICA LLC LOGODuring the past week, it was widely reported that Sony Corp. is moving closer to shipping video game consoles in China, where devices such as its PlayStation had long been banned.

According to a filing reported on by Bloomberg News this past Thursday, a Sony-affiliated factory in Shanghai’s free-trade zone will start packaging consoles this December. The filing—an environmental assessment posted by a Sony local partner on the free-trade zone’s official website—stated that the factory has the capacity to package 200,000 consoles a year.

The exact type of console was not specified. “Though it is true the filing was made and approved, some parts of the document such as the amount of shipment, number of staff, production start timing, were only tentative and do not represent the actual business plan. We have yet to announce which system will be available in China, price for the system, and the launch date,” said a representative of Sony Computer Entertainment in a statement.

Sony signed a deal earlier this year with Shanghai Oriental Pearl Group Co. to make and sell PlayStation game consoles in China. The move came after the Chinese government in September lifted a 14-year ban on the sale of video game consoles, which had been in place due to concerns about violent content.

Sony video game competitor Microsoft began selling its Xbox One through the free-trade zone late last month, with restrictions on the titles approved for sale.

Minecraft Will Join Microsoft Studios

Minecraft-gamesMicrosoft Corp. has reached an agreement to acquire Mojang, the Stockholm-based game developer behind the popular Minecraft franchise.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Mojang team will join Microsoft Studios. Microsoft will acquire Mojang for $2.5 billion, and expects the acquisition to be break-even in fiscal year 2015 on a GAAP basis. Subject to customary closing conditions and any regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close later this year.

Available across multiple platforms, players have downloaded Minecraft more than 100 million times, on PC alone, since its launch in 2009. Minecraft is also the most popular online game on Xbox, and the game’s community is among the most active in the industry, with more than 2 billion hours played on Xbox 360 alone in the past two years. [Read more...]

With DreamWorks Dragons Adventure World Explorer, Berk Goes Where You Go!

PowerPoint PresentationWe’ve all taken rides in cars, but honestly, haven’t we all found ourselves wishing we could be soaring on the wings of dragons instead?

That’s now a possibility, thanks to DreamWorks Dragons Adventure World Explorer, a new mobile game from Microsoft and DreamWorks Animation, and inspired by the animated film, How to Train Your Dragon 2. It uses Here Maps to pull in GPS info, turning the real world into the user’s very own fictional Isle of Berk.

During a recent demo, we took the game on a tour of midtown Manhattan. In Train mode, many of the city’s mighty edifices appeared in the game as huge stones, landmarks such as Grand Central Station became a wagon repair shop, and Chelsea Market was besieged by Vikings (They correspond to check-ins for the popular app Foursquare). Meanwhile, players engage in missions as part of their dragon training, such as picking up and dropping off sheep at home base–the device, represented in the game map by a cart. [Read more...]

Ubisoft Takes Players on an Unpredictable Journey with Far Cry 4

june10 FarCry4,jpgAt the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, Ubisoft showcased Far Cry 4, the sequel to the No. 1 rated shooter of 2012. The sequel features co-op Guns for Hire, which allows players to invite friends to liberate towers, take over outposts, and share in the spoils–even if their friend does not own the game.

Customers who pre-order Far Cry 4 will receive a free upgrade to the limited edition, which includes Hurk’s Redemption, a series of three action-packed, single-player missions featuring the popular character, Hurk, and his harpoon gun The Impaler, from Far Cry 3. Pre-orders are now available at all major retailers.

The game will be available worldwide on November 18 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Windows PC.

Warner Bros. Interactive Launches New Batman: Arkham Origins Games

Batman.ArkhamWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and DC Entertainment have released Batman: Arkham Origins. Developed by WB Games Montréal, the game is based on DC Comics’ core Batman license, and introduces an original prequel storyline in which a young, unrefined Batman faces the defining moment of his early career, and sets his path to becoming the famous Dark Knight.

Batman: Arkham Origins, in which Batman is hunted by eight of the deadliest assassins from the DC Comics Universe, is available for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and Windows PC. New to the franchise is a multiplayer mode, developed by Splash Damage, which allows friends and foes to engage in online play that blends traditional Arkham gameplay with those of third-person shooter mechanics.

Also available now is Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, a companion game developed by Armature Studio, which brings core Batman Arkham pillars to the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS handheld formats. It allows players to continue the storyline of the console game.

Players looking to extend their gameplay experience can buy the Batman: Arkham Origins Season Pass, comprised of five of the game’s upcoming downloadable content packs. The Season Pass is available on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live online entertainment network from Microsoft, Nintendo eShop, and Steam.

Build-A-Bear Workshop Opens New Store at FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue

BABW_NewCircleLogoBuild-A-Bear Workshop has announced plans to open a shop within the FAO Schwarz Fifth Avenue flagship store. Opening in early November, the new location is the first Build-A-Bear Workshop store-within-a-store in the U.S.

While visiting the store, guests can participate in the hands-on Build-A-Bear Workshop stuffed animal-making experience, which has been enhanced with digital technology. The company worked with Microsoft, Samsung, and other leading technology companies to create the store design, which includes:

  • A touchscreen storefront display that allows guests to interact with the brand by playing and exploring the latest Build-A-Bear Workshop furry friend collections.
  • An interactive Love Me station that enables guests to customize their stuffed animals by giving personality traits to the red satin heart, which is added to their animal at the Stuff Me station.
  • A Hear Me station where popular music and special sounds can be added. Guests can also record their own voice to further personalize their stuffed animal.
  • The Fluff Me station where customers can play with a sensory effects digital bath tub with virtual bubbles.
  • The Name Me station, which allows guests to reveal the personality traits and customized features that were added to their stuffed animal throughout the bear-making process. At Name Me, guests also create a one-of-a-kind birth certificate.

Hastings Entertainment to Host Midnight Release Parties for Halo 4

Hastings Entertainment, Inc., a leading multimedia entertainment superstore retailer, will host midnight release parties for the Microsoft Xbox 360 game Halo 4. Fans are encouraged to join their local Hastings for a midnight release party on Monday, November 5. Festivities for the night will begin at 9 p.m. local time and will end after the game goes on sale at midnight.

Fans enjoying the party and awaiting the release of the game will be able to take advantage of special promotions during the release party, including 30 percent off all barware ; 30 percent off used music CD’s, books, video games, and video game accessories;  25 percent off all action figures; and more. In addition, with the purchase of the Halo 4 game, customers get 50 percent off the Halo Strategy Guide during the midnight release party.

To find out more about the Halo 4 midnight release party in your area, visit or contact your local Hastings superstore or visit www.goHastings.com.

Microsoft Announces Release of New Games for Xbox 360

Microsoft is releasing new video games, including Halo 4 and Dance Central 3, just in time for back-to-school shopping.

Dance central 3 is back with new features, including a multiplayer party mode allowing up to eight players. Dance central 3 features a soundtrack with more than 40 new tracks, taking players back in time to the 70s, 80s, 90s with chart-toppers. Users can also import song libraries from Dance Central and Dance Central 2. The in-game music store lets players build their dance library, using more than 140 songs and routines. Available in October, Dance Central 3 requires an Xbox 360 with Kinect sensor.

Ancient evil awakens in Halo 4, and The Master Chief returns to battle an ancient evil that seeks vengeance and annihilation. Shipwrecked in a mysterious world, gamers are faced with new enemies and deadly technology. Enlist aboard the Infinity to experience Halo’s original multiplayer and Spartan Ops innovative, episodic fiction-based co-op missions.

With three different game modes, game types, and gameplay in store for Halo, the Limited Edition Halo 4 Console may come in handy. The console includes a customized Halo 4 Xbox 360 console complete with a 320GB hard drive, exclusive on-off and eject sound effects, two customized controllers, a standard edition Halo 4 game and downloadable Halo 4 content.

This post was originally written by Lindsay Gordon and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Baby Genius Mobile App Series to Open New Windows of Learning for Children Around the Globe this Summer

Genius Brands International, Inc., announced that, in partnership with Nokia Corporation, it will bring exclusive mobile apps that run on Microsoft Corp.’s Windows Phone platform to the Nokia Lumia range of devices, including the Lumia 900 on AT&T.  The Ready, Play, Learn line is being developed to offer learning opportunities by bringing education to mobile technology. It creates a new way to help prepare children for the preschool-to-kindergarten transition by empowering parents with state-of-the-art tools to help them. Genius Brands’ Sing ‘n Play Pals are the first apps in the Ready, Play, Learn kindergarten readiness program using music to educate and entertain the youngest app users.

The first two apps in the Sing ‘n Play Pals series are in development and are scheduled for launch this summer. The try and buy Baby Genius apps will feature free and premium content available at the option of the parent unlocking additional content. The next apps in the Ready, Play, Learn line of educational apps are scheduled for launch in the 4th quarter.

Rexi the Dinosaur and Bubbles the Bear will be the first Baby Genius characters to star in the Sing n’ Play Pals  line of apps designed to bring the Baby Genius characters to life, with entertaining animated movements that let children interact with the characters, learn, and play games. Children will be able to interact and talk to Rexi or Bubbles, and the Baby Genius characters will repeat anything they hear said. Kids will be able to make them giggle, wiggle, play an instrument, kick a soccer ball, and eat a sandwich.  Users will be able to video record their experiences and send the videos to friends via email, or share the videos on social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook.

This post was originally written by Sierra McCleary-Harris and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

New Microsoft Platforms to Thrust Kids in Popular TV Shows Via Kinect

At a press conference earlier this week, Microsoft announced two new platforms that will take kids into the world of Sesame Street and National Geographic via the company’s Kinect for Xbox 360.

Launching next spring, Kinect Sesame Street TV invites children to experience the world of Sesame Street alongside their favorite characters, such as Big Bird, Grover, Cookie Monster, and Elmo. The Kinect for Xbox 360 will allow preschoolers to visually and physically interact with Sesame Street characters on screen while watching Sesame Street episodes. Kids can help characters with tasks, such as finding shapes and counting objects, while playing in areas unique to Sesame Street, such as Elmo’s World. Soho Productions is the developer for Kinect Sesame Street TV.

[Read more...]