Parks Associates Blog

Monday, January 14, 2008

Blu-ray Game: Aliens vs. Predator vs. You

Many of my colleagues have written about their impressions on CES last week. For me, CES served two purposes: 1, to expand my horizon and see the cool, new gadgets and talk to knowledgeable people; 2, to test how many miles I can go in a day, as it takes both brain and brawn to be an analyst here at Parks. In preparation for the first purpose, I meticulously planned my schedules and read related industry articles. In preparation for the second, for the first time in my life, I attended a Pilates class in a local 24-Hour fitness club to prompt myself for the upcoming hardship. But it was almost embarrassing to find out that I was the only male in the class. Anyway, I found the CES show to be great. Many trends struck me during the three days such as gigantic flat-panel TVs and wireless HD content transmissions, but as gaming is more of my focus, I want to share some new things happening in the gaming industry.


It is not news anymore that games consoles such as XBox 360 and PS3 are able to provide on-demand videos and even serve as TV Set-Top Boxes. Now, new-generation DVD players are jumping into the role of game consoles too. Studios are able to combine the power of Blu-ray video with its interactive features to provide innovative gaming services. The first example I saw during the show was the Blu-ray version of the Aliens vs. Predator movie, with an add-on interactive game titled Alien vs. Predator vs. You. In order to play the game, players first have to upload a picture of theirs to create their avatars. Then, they can choose and wield weapons to fight the monsters in the movie. Players are awarded points based on how hard they hit the opponents. The whole experience was exciting at first but sort of awkward afterwards as it was not a real game per se but nothing more than a game interface slapped on the movie videos. Plus, players access the game through a remote control. The company providing technology behind the scenes is called RCDB (Related Content Database) based in San Francisco. So far, they are working with Panasonic and Fox on interactive initiatives. I talked to the staff from RCDB. They told me interactive games of this sort will be provided free of charge as extras to Blu-ray movies. As Blu-ray machines will be connected to the network, users can enter their profiles, get game updates and game statistics easily. In addition to that, game players can post comments and form game communities.


This exhibition shows that technically Blu-ray gaming is a viable gaming channel. But does this mean new-generation DVD gaming will be exploding anytime soon? I don't really think so, at least not in 2008. A few conditions have to be met before it goes mainstream. First, format war has to end to accelerate consumers' adoption of next-generation DVD. My colleague Chris Roden has written about this below and he thinks we may see the end of the tunnel in2008. Secondly, the design of new-generation DVD games has to improve. A game interface slapped on movie videos is far from optimal. A trivial casual game testing viewers' knowledge on the movie they just saw or the stars in the movie, anyone? Studios can set up a leader board or gaming center to reward those who score high on these mini-games. Or, if they are using PS3 to watch the Tomb Raider on their Blu-ray DVD, maybe they can download a free demo version of the Tomb Raider video game or purchase a full-blown version?

To end this entry, I found myself feeling more flexible just after one class of Pilates. So I found a good website on
Pilates for anyone who might be interested. Maybe that's what we should add to our New Year's resolutions: work hard, play games hard, and don't forget to exercise. (Picture Courtesy of http://www.1up.com)

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