20th July 2011

Mazooma Unveils Micropay-in-a-Box Solution for Discover Digital Goods Merchants

mazoomaMazooma, which is an American company with an office in Toronto, has unveiled their new micropay-in-a-box solution, which has as much as a 71% reduction in merchant fees for digital content merchants.  With 25% year-over-year growth, digital content is currently the fastest-growing eCommerce sector, driving an explosion in small-ticket transaction volumes. However, merchants selling digital music, games, books, and videos are underserved by traditional payment options. Mazooma’s new micropay solution fills this void, enabling these merchants to sell their goods faster, safer, and more cost-effectively.

Mazooma’s micropay-in-a-box solution is available to Discover’s direct merchants using the Centinel® Universal Merchant Platform through CardinalCommerce Corporation. For a merchant using Centinel, it is as simple as placing the Mazooma payment button on their checkout page to support a new payment option that enables consumers to pay using their online banking account. For these merchants, there is no implementation required and no changes to existing settlement and reporting from Discover. It is a turnkey solution that makes it easy for merchants to offer the new Mazooma payment brand.

An online banking-based payment solution, Mazooma connects consumers directly to their bank account from the merchant’s checkout page, enabling secure, instant payments for online purchases. Other features of Mazooma’s micropay solution include a processing fee of 1.5% + $0.05 per transaction without the need to aggregate transactions, and a streamlined checkout in two clicks, with no offline sign-up process.

“With Mazooma’s micropay-in-a-box solution, Discover merchants selling digital content can enjoy instant, online payments, as well as ease of implementation, less technical resources and consolidated settlement and reporting,” says Farhan Ahmad, General Manager, Prepaid & Director of Emerging Payments at Discover. “At Discover, we aim to provide our merchants with more payment choices, and we believe the relationship with Mazooma will do just that.”

“We’re pleased to be able to leverage Centinel to extend the Mazooma payment option across the Discover Network of retail merchants,” said Janet Kapostasy, Vice President, Financial Institution Services, CardinalCommerce Corporation. ”The micropay solution addresses a key pain point in the digital goods vertical.”

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20th July 2011

Goldtooth Creative Jacks Up San Diego Comic-Con With Prototype 2 Trailer Debut

Goldtooth CreativeGoldtooth Creative once again proves itself a force to be reckoned with as its cutting edge trailer for the highly anticipated sequel to 2009’s top-selling game from Activision Publishing and Radical Entertainment, PROTOTYPE® 2 debuts today at San Diego Comic-Con International 2011.Radical Entertainment

The first entry in PROTOTYPE 2’s three-part CG trilogy, which are behind age-gates on the Prototype 2 site, is titled “Homecoming,” displays the slick editing and breathtaking visuals for which the Vancouver-based creative agency and full-service production studio is quickly becoming known.

Director Paul Furminger and the Goldtooth crew worked tirelessly to build a captivating trailer that introduces gamers to the post-outbreak world inhabited by James Heller, PROTOTYPE 2’s all-new protagonist, and it offers a sneak peek at what’s to come as Blackwatch Special Forces continue the struggle to contain and control the outbreak of the Blacklight virus.prototype 2

Artists at Goldtooth produced all the visuals for the trailer, including animation, lighting, effects, and compositing, and used all the latest technical tools in their arsenal—including motion capture, game capture, facial performance capture, CG and intense live action shoots—to achieve the look and feel of a feature film that hints at the epic showdown looming between Heller and Alex Mercer, the protagonist of the original game.

The sequel to Radical Entertainment’s best-selling open-world action game of 2009, PROTOTYPE 2 takes the unsurpassed carnage of the original PROTOTYPE and continues the experience of becoming the ultimate shape-shifting weapon. PROTOTYPE 2 is currently in development for Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC.

As the latest project in the ongoing collaborative relationship between Goldtooth and Activision, the first trailer for PROTOYPE 2 demonstrates Goldtooth’s continued dedication to captivating story-telling and technical excellence. For the original PROTOTYPE game, Goldtooth created multiple trailers and provided creative direction on story cinematics; Furminger directed the ‘Web of Intrigue’ in-game cinematics for the first game.

Activision and Radical have also confirmed the release date for PROTOTYPE 2. The shape-shifting title will be on stores shelves April 24, 2012 for Xbox 360, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system and Windows PC. You can get your pre-orders in at several retailers – I already have mine in.

“We know our fans have been clamoring to find out when they would be able to get their hands-on PROTOTYPE 2, and the whole studio is excited that we can finally reveal the timing,” said Ken Rosman, Studio Head, Radical Entertainment.  “We’re also thrilled to be at the point where we can show the game directly to our fans.  It’s always rewarding to see those first time reactions to what we’ve been working on for the past couple years, and we can’t wait for them to see some of Sgt. James Heller’s amazing new shape-shifting abilities at San Diego Comic-Con.”

Show goers attending ‘The Con’ will have the opportunity to check out PROTOTYPE 2′s signature crazy, over-the-top, shape-shifting action during 15-minute live stage presentations held throughout each day.  Fans who come by the Activision booth to check out the game can enter a raffle for a chance to win a limited edition, custom leather jacket modeled after the one Sgt. James Heller wears in the game; or a Alex Mercer one of a kind, custom skinned Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft.  Additionally, the team from Radical will be on-site handing out assorted PROTOTYPE 2 themed goodies, including t-shirts, posters, giant foam Heller Blade Arms and more! < not fair! :(

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20th July 2011

Participate In The Canadian Digital Marketing Outlook Study for 2011

Pixel to ProductPixel to Product has launched its final wave for the Canadian Digital Marketing Outlook for 2011. This portion of the Pixel to Product research wave is an introspective look at how brands are using social media, mobile and email marketing. Through this research, Pixel to Product aims to understand how organizations are using social media, mobile and email marketing to promote their products and services, engage their customers and drive brand awareness.

I fully concur with Justin Kozuch, Pixel to Product’s Lead Researcher, who stated that “too often, we’ve been forced to rely on US numbers to make informed decisions for our Canadian clients or rely on outdated, expensive and inaccessible data to help us better understand the trends in social media.”

The company’s goal is to survey 1000 of the world’s biggest brands. They are aiming to better understand how Starbucks is using mobile to engage and inform their customers, and Pixel to Product is interested in better understanding how Dell is using social media to provide customer support over Twitter.

While this survey is focused primarily on Canadian companies, Pixel to Product is also interested in gathering data from American and international companies. To make this process as easy as possible, they’ve written copy to support that communication. If you’d like to use this copy in your communications, don’t hesitate to send Justin an email and he’ll be happy to provide it to you.

Finally, if you’re responsible for your organizations digital marketing efforts and a have deep understanding of how your organization uses social media, mobile platforms and email marketing, please take a few moments to complete the survey.

As with the recently issued report on the Canadian digital media economy, Pixel to Product will be making the report available free of charge. This report will be made available for download from their website in Q4 2011. In addition to the final report, Pixel to Product will be releasing the raw, anonymized data sets in a variety of open data formats. For an example of what the final report will look like, take a look at their report on the Canadian digital media economy.

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20th July 2011

Commanders Needed For Supreme Ruler Cold War by Battlegoat Studios

battlegoat studiosSupreme Ruler: Cold War from Battlegoat Studios has been released, and the future of the world is at stake. The Korean War looms, the Arms Race intensifies, the Berlin Crisis leads to the formation of NATO, and the world anticipates a new World War. The tension and uncertainty of the Cold War is unbearable.

Now is the time to choose which faction you will control and which strategies you will employ to safeguard your way of life and that of your country’s. As leader of the United States or the Soviet Union, you must make the correct decisions to successfully navigate your country through this dangerous historical era.

Supreme Ruler: Cold War is now available on all major digital download portals with the suggested retail price of $29.99 USD. Take a peek beyond the iron curtain and the wealth of strategy features available to ambitious world leaders, in the release trailer for Supreme Ruler: Cold War.

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Supreme Ruler: Cold War Features:

  • Play as the United States or Soviet Union in Campaign Mode
  • Control any Nation in Post-World War II Era in Sandbox Mode
  • Use Diplomacy, Trade and Espionage to influence the policies of other nations
  • Research new Technologies to give your nation an edge
  • Grow and Modernize your Economy
  • Control Military production and deployment, or let your Ministers take care of the details
  • Experience the redesigned GUI with improved On-Map feedback and streamlined controls
  • And when Diplomacy Fails… Sophisticated Real-Time Strategic and Tactical Control of your Military Forces!
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20th July 2011

School 26 Summer of Secrets Now on iTunes

Silicon Sisters InteractiveSilicon Sisters Interactive would like to let you know that School 26: Summer of Secrets is now available for iPhone, iPod touch ($2.99), and iPad ($4.99). This is the second installment in the School 26 series of social mastery games designed for teen and tween girls.

In School 26: Summer of Secrets, the gossip is flying faster than ever as high schooler Kate and her friends get ready for the hottest concert of the summer. (Road trip!) Use emotional intelligence and social savvy to draw School 26 Summer of Secretsout your friends’ secrets — then tactfully share what you’ve learned. If you succeed, you’ll help sparring friends make peace, establish love connections, and get the whole crew psyched for the big Battle of the Bands competition. Dish the dirt with the wrong people and you might gain a rep as the school blabbermouth.

“Our first School 26 game was about fitting in at a new school. Now that Kate has a network of friends, Summer of Secrets is more about being yourself and seeing the impact of your choices,” says Silicon Sisters co-founder Kirsten Forbes. “As you play, the game tracks your decisions and presents you with a personality profile based on your playing style. So while you’re helping Kate sort out all of these secrets, you’ll also learn something about yourself.”

To learn more about the School 26 games and become part of the growing fan community, visit School 26 on Facebook or follow along on Twitter.

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20th July 2011

Arkadium Expands Into Toronto

I wish I’d known this yesterday morning when I was at Casual Connect, because I could have had a chat with the Arkadium booth representatives. Apparently it may be time for me to start a serious contemplation of acquiring either a smartphone or a tablet with web access – in the not-too-distant future, budget permitting.

arkadiumArkadium, one of the largest providers of game solutions for some of the biggest brands in the world, is opening the doors to its first Canadian office in Toronto.  With offices already established in New York, Los Angeles and Ukraine, the new Toronto office will focus on HTML5 and iOS development – with the goal of bringing ten new games to market in the next 12 months.  Arkadium will be drawing from the extensive local talent pool in Toronto to staff the office and will be actively hiring in the next few months.

“With mobile game market sales anticipated to grow to $11.7 billion by 2014, it’s the perfect time for us to have a dedicated team focused on our mobile efforts,” said Kenny Rosenblatt, CEO of Arkadium.”  We’re excited to bring new IP to the iPad and Android and to port our library of 300+ games to HTML5, insuring their continued enjoyment for the foreseeable future.”

Arkadium has been creating online casual games for over ten years, and recently expanded and found success with social game development.  As new channels emerge and gain wide market penetration, this mobile initiative aligns with the company’s goal to bring the best of casual online games to consumers wherever they are.

The Toronto expansion is a result of a collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade in partnership with the Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance (GTMA).  The financial support offered by the Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit (OIDMTC) administered by Ontario Media Development Corporation (OMDC) were key factors.

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18th July 2011

Orby Is Going To SIGGRAPH 2011

Orby Is Going To SIGGRAPHVillage Gamer will be at SIGGRAPH 2011 in Vancouver, and in keeping with our mandate of promoting Canadian digital interactive media, technology, film and TV to the masses we invite you to take part. We will be situated in Booth 1018, please see the map below to see where Orby is camping his spot.

We are looking for sizzle pieces and trailers that we can show in the booth, along with products and swag to put in gift baskets that we’ll be offering as prizes in business card draws. If you have postcards promoting your “Made In Canada” game, software, product, studio, association or services we are offering our booth as a point of distribution. If you would like to provide bags, pens or other swag to hand out, that is welcome too.

Ideally we would like to put together promo packs to give out encouraging businesses to Outsource to Canada. Please contact me with this special event address if you would like to help us help you. Your trailers must be available for us to download in the highest playable quality possible, preferably in 1080p – our screen is a 42″ HDTV, and we want to show your trailers in their best possible light.

For Vancouver area companies – if any of you have trade show equipment such as collapsible chairs,  TV stand, portable tables (like those tall, round, bar style), etc. that we could borrow for SIGGRAPH, we would be most grateful and of course acknowledge your contribution with promotional considerations. All equipment must be easily movable, as we have to move everything in by hand without the benefit of type of dolly cart unless we hire convention centre staff to move everything in from the loading dock, which we don’t have a budget for.

In keeping with our community theme, we’re trying for a “fireside chat” type of feel to the booth, so that our “on the spot at SIGGRAPH” interviewees can site comfortably while being interviewed on camera. If you are feeling generous and would like to help us purchase our own trade show equipment, we would also be eternally grateful – at the least we  will place your logo on our site as a supporter.

As mentioned above, we will be conducting in-booth interviews with Canadian attendees, so if you would like to represent, stop by and take a seat in front of the camera. Of course, we will also be covering as much of SIGGRAPH as we possibly can, and will have a roving video camera or two so don’t be surprised if you get recognized and hi-jacked while wandering the convention hall.

Also to be officially unveiled at SIGGRAPH will be our new project. We don’t want to reveal too many details just yet, but we can tell you that it will involve community, marketing and the creative Canadian spirit that has made this industry great. We will also be introducing our new collaborative partner, Code-name Alex  – and devs, Alex has an iPad – so, if you would like people to be able to play your game or try your app while visiting our booth and have a download code to spare, please send it via the contact link above, along with the game title, studio name and info page link, with the subject line SIGGRAPH iPad. Please note – this is only for games and iPad apps  made in Canada. Each of the games or apps loaded for SIGGRAPH will be included in our table-top info catalogue for attendees to browse through.
We also have need of two or three more volunteers to work alongside Alex and our lovely booth hostess Megan and the infamous CaveChild and assist in promoting the Canadian interactive industry. Ideally, we are looking for students, recent graduates or those already working in the creative development sector – this would include game designers, entertainment business managers, project management, marketing, or film students (a stationary video cam with an external mic for the in-booth interviews would be most awesome too).  You would need to be available for expo floor hours, which are as follows:

Tuesday, 9 August 9:30 am – 6 pm
Wednesday, 10 August 9:30 am – 6 pm
Thursday, 11 August 9:30 am – 3:30 pm

If you are interested in this volunteer position, which will include a SIGGRAPH expo pass, please contact me with your information and reason for wanting to help out with the show, with SIGGRAPH volunteer as the subject line.

Orby Marks The Spot

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18th July 2011

Sarbakan Moves Into Mobile Game Development

Sarbakan Game StudioSarbakan is ramping upits  efforts to further develop strikingly innovative mobile games in the instant gaming market. Combining sophisticated platform action and casual controls, Sarbakan is trailblazing the path to offering both dedicated and casual gamers premium, freemium, and full-featured games—on a variety of mobile devices, including Android and iOS phones and tablets.

While other developers usually rely on one specific type of feature, Sarbakan offers the unique blend of sophisticated combo moves, true-to-life rag doll physics, and powerful finger-swipe controls for continuously fresh, rich, and deep gameplay experiences.  Sarbakan compacts more technology, more compelling designs, and more complete 3D animations within Android- and iOS-based mobile devices than any “traditional” games currently found on the Android Market or App Store.

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Sarbakan’s newest release, Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty is available now on iTunes for $4.99 and is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices running iOS 4.0 or later. The game is rated 9+ for Frequent/Intense Cartoon or Fantasy Violence.


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18th July 2011

Wantsa Announces Request a Deal for Search and Directory Companies

wantsaDeal Exchange company Wantsa has introduced its “Request a Deal” button for search and directory companies looking to provide consumers with deals they are interested in. This is the first “Deal Exchange” that connects consumers and merchants in a mutually beneficial exchange that delivers what each group wants.

The Merchant – wants a customer, sale or hot lead
The Publisher – wants a significant source of new ad revenue
The Consumer – wants a relevant deal from specific merchants and services providers

Until now the deal industry has centered around outbound email marketing where consumers receive random daily deals from local merchants offering deep discounts in exchange for pre-purchasing consumers walking through their doors with personalized vouchers.

To deliver what everyone wants, Wantsa created a simple button called “Request a Deal” for any online or mobile publisher that displays Directory Listings for local merchants. When this “Request a Deal” button is added to the publisher’s directory of business listings, consumers can simply click the button next to the listing of the business they are interested in to register their “request” for a deal.wantsa-screen

Through its automated process, Wantsa delivers to the publisher the aggregated consumer demand for the deal. The publisher, in turn, shares this information with the merchant, showing a proven “demand” for the deal. Through this unique process, publishers and sales agencies are able to deliver relevant offers to consumers anxiously awaiting deals from specific local merchants. In addition to connecting merchants directly to qualified consumers, Wantsa also has the capability to administer quick surveys to capture market research or leads.

To help publishers solve the problem of deal inventory, Wantsa has created a “Deal Exchange” where any company who has deal inventory can simply submit their supply into the “Deal Repository” and, conversely, publishers seeking deal inventory can access deals from various sources.

“Think of Wantsa as a major evolution of Ad networks. The only difference is that instead of creating an Ad that results in a click, companies are creating offers that result in real consumer transactions,” said Atif Hussein, Head of Product and Engineering for Wantsa.

Wantsa “Request a Deal” creates a win, win, win for all parties: Read the rest of this entry »

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18th July 2011

RewardLoop Expands Transaction-Based Restaurant and Retail Loyalty Programs

RewardLoopVancouver’s RewardLoop has announced a universal Point of Sale (POS) adaptor that enables restaurants and retailers of any size to simply and cost-efficiently deploy a secure, transaction-based mobile loyalty program. The patent-pending RewardLoop Connect adaptor connects easily to merchants’ existing Point of Sale (POS) systems and can be set up in minutes.

RewardLoop is also pleased to announce it has recently closed a seed financing round led by Canadian angel investor Boris Wertz (W Media Ventures) with the participation of prominent executives from leading online and offline retailers.

RewardLoop’s turnkey mobile loyalty programs are ideal for independent and chain merchants alike, including coffee shops, restaurants, retailers, local service providers, and other high purchase volume – frequency categories. RewardLoop differentiates itself from an ever-growing number of mobile ‘check-in’ -based loyalty programs by offering a first-of-its-kind transaction-based mobile loyalty platform that offers a level of security comparable to traditional card-based programs.

“For a mobile loyalty program to deliver value and be successful in our business, it needs to be transactional and secure. RewardLoop is the only solution we’ve seen that meets these criteria,” said Tim Kraus, Interactive Marketing Manager at Quiznos USA.

Through its RewardLoop Connect device, RewardLoop prints transaction-identifying QR codes on merchant bills and receipts. Consumers scan these secure, one-time-use QR codes with their mobile phones to earn and redeem merchant-defined loyalty rewards through RewardLoop’s cloud hosted platform. RewardLoop’s mobile-rendered stamp cards show users their earning progress towards each reward.

With its groundbreaking innovation, RewardLoop Connect is a device that sits between the merchant’s POS system and receipt printer. It intercepts the print data stream, adds a RewardLoop QR code, and then passes the print command to the printer. The printer prints the receipt exactly as delivered from the POS system, but inserts an extra footer that includes the merchant’s secure, one-time-use, RewardLoop QR codes. The device also prints QR codes for secure reward validation and redemption. When these codes are scanned by a customer the customer is delivered to a hosted, merchant-branded mobile application optimized for the user’s mobile phone. Read the rest of this entry »

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