25 billion App Store downloads comes closer, Apple offers $10,000 prize

Apple's App Store is fast approaching its 25 billionth download, no mean feat for something which only started out in 2008. To celebrate, the company is offering a $10,000 gift card for its various online stores.
Since launching on iOS devices in 2008, the App Store has become a huge success, enabling users to spend countless hours browsing its virtual shelves for games, books, news apps, health and fitness ideas, navigational aids, lifestyle suggestions….the list goes on. Countless software companies have sprung up along the way, creating a whole new industry and enabling anyone with an original idea to grab a piece of the app pie.
Less than four years down the road, Apple’s App Store is about to see its 25 billionth download. To celebrate the milestone, the Cupertino-based company is offering a $10,000 gift card redeemable in the iTunes Store, App Store and iBook Store.
On a countdown page, Apple says, “Download the 25 billionth app and you could win a US$10,000 App Store Gift Card.” All well and good, but look a little closer and you discover that actually anyone can enter, downloader or not.
That’s right, to have a chance of picking up the gift card, you don’t actually have to buy or download an app, but you will have to hand over some personal information to Apple, including your name, address, birth date, phone number and email address. A maximum of 25 entries per person per day is allowed.
“The prize will be awarded for the entry (either through an app download or through the non-purchase online entry) sent immediately following the download of the 24,999,999,999th app,” the rules explain.
“The potential winner will be determined by the order of the entries received.“ In other words, if you do enter using the online form, you’ll need to do it around the time the app counter hits 25 billion, which is expected to happen in the next couple of days. Oh, and the counter is “for illustrative purposes only” so you needn’t sit staring at it for the next three days waiting for it to reach the magic number.
A UK woman bagged a $10,000 App Store gift card in January last year after downloading the 10 billionth app, which was, for the curious among you, the free Paper Glider game.
In the period between January 2010 and January 2011, Apple said seven billion apps had been downloaded. Since then, another 15 billion apps have found their way onto iOS devices. At this rate, we can expect the 50 billionth download well before year end.

Blizzard announces 600 layoffs, game development staff spared

Blizzard, developer of WoW, Starcraft and Diablo has announced that it has cut 600 global jobs, though its game development staff remains largely untouched
Video game developer Blizzard Entertainment, Inc announced a sizable cut in its global workforce on Wednesday. 600 employees were stripped of their positions; nearly a tenth of Activision’s 2011 reported 7,300 employees.
Blizzard is the development studio best known for its World of Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diabloseries. In a statement, the company said that 90 percent of the lay offs would come from departments not related to game development. Blizzard stressed that World of Warcraft’s development team would not be touched.
“Over the last several years, we’ve grown our organization tremendously and made large investments in our infrastructure in order to better serve our global community. However as Blizzard and the industry have evolved we’ve also had to make some difficult decisions in order to address the changing needs of our company,”said Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime. The CEO also said that laid off employees would be entitled to a severance package and benefits
Though there weren’t any specifics on which jobs were affected, The Verge reports that its sources say customer service took the biggest hit thanks to increased automation. The Blizzard wow-funeralstatement points out that the company “remains committed to mainlining its high standards of quality for customer service delivery.” In a December 2007 piece on an Activision deal with Vivendi games,The Telegraph quotes Blizzard as having more than 2,000 people doing customer relations globally. Interestingly, while 600 employees have been let go, the development studio is actively recruiting qualified developers.
Morhaime took the Battle.net forums to elaborate on the layoffs saying: “In order to keep making epic game content while serving players effectively, we have to be smart about how we manage our resources. This means we sometimes have to make difficult decisions about how to best maintain the health of the company. We’re in the process of making some of those hard decisions now.”
Morhaime stressed that, while overstaffed departments needed to be scaled down in order to further the company’s growth, development teams were largely unscathed and Blizzard remained committed to shipping multiple games in 2012. The company will soon be beta testing for World of Warcraft: Mists of PandariaBlizzard DOTA and Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, and has other “unannounced projects” up its sleeves. Morhaime also commented on the long-awaited Diablo III, saying that there would release date news revealed in the coming weeks for the game.
With phrases such as “changing needs” and “health of the company,” the decline of World of Warcraft could possibly be the reason for the cuts. The seven years old MMORPG’s subscriber-base dropped 12 million players in 2010 to 10.3 million subscribers in November 2011. Free-to-play games such as League of Legends, as well as EA’s popular Star Wars: The Old Republic have been to blame by analysts for Blizzard’s ailing franchise. While Blizzard is cutting back, the company is stressing that it isn’t dying and has much planned for the future. As far as the “unannounced projects” Morhaime mentions, Develop’s sources have said that Blizzard will expanding in to the free-to-play realm.

Scream 4 gameplay for iphone 4

The Weinstein Company owns a lot of lucrative properties. Like many other companies who've come before them, they realized that these franchises could be developed into other forms of entertainment. Previously, though, the investment to get into doing so was considerable, often resulting in awful, expensive games that suckers ended up buying and taking home to their consoles and then raging about as they realized they'd been had.

Weinstein hopes to avoid this trend by focusing on the wireless market. The goal? Make small, downloadable games that can back up their properties, and can be made by established developers who know how to develop quality titles. Next week, coinciding with the April 14th release of the Scream 4 film, iPhone and iPad owners will be able to get in some kills themselves with Scream 4 for iOS.
It's a great idea, and a potentially lucrative promotional tool for the film, but I'm not sure their first attempt is all that fun. The crux of Scream 4 iOS is this: you play as the infamous killer, guiding them from above through a small environment where you try and kill all the people in the map without being stopped. To kill people, you simply drag or tap on them, watching as the killer runs up to them. Once he's in proximity, a knife appears on screen and you have to drag it in the indicated direction across the screen. 

It works, and it's easy to pick up and play, but the levels I played were kind of repetitive (despite being only a few minutes long). Additional points are awarded based on how you kill the victims -- killing the "jock" and the "cheerleader" one after the other is a bonus, for instance -- but the kills were all the same. You never hang someone up for someone else to find, catch someone in a garage door, or do any of the other more gruesome and recognizable kills from the films. You simply walk up, slash, then they fall down dead and you hide from a cop. It feels like a rush job to coincide with the film's release, rather than a thoughtful game that takes advantage of the themes and imagery that made the films so famous. It might not be as expensive as the licensed games we've all been suckered into buying before, but Scream 4 isn't that much of a departure from what you'd expect so far. 

Scream has always been about spoofing other horror movies, or taking advantage of the themes they've developed, but the only place where Scream 4 iOS really does this is in the achievements. Almost every achievement is named after a video game, with such zingers as "Dead Spaces." I appreciate the effort, but it's another weird choice. I mean, how many iOS owners are going to get the video game puns? Are the iOS users all gamers, or are they more interested in picking this up because they love the films? I just can't figure out exactly who the intended audience of the game is supposed to be at this point. 

Scream 4 iOS releases next week with four levels and more "on the way." If it starts at the 99 cent price that they think it will it might be worth checking out, but for now I'm just not sold. If nothing else, though, I'm excited to see how The Weinstein Company uses the mobile marketplace to its advantage. Who says the games have to be limited to the movies that are coming out in the future? This is the company that owns properties like Rambo, The Fighter, and Inglorious Basterds, after all. .

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