Gaming update: Playstation Mobile, Blezinski leaves Epic, Wii U's killer app, and abusing interns

Credit: Source: Neo-Pangea

Gaming is everywhere these days. People play games on the web, on their tablets, their phones and of course on their PCs and consoles. Even platforms like smart TVs are starting to dabble with adding gaming to their dashboards. Games aren't just for Gamers any more, so starting this week I'm going to devote my Friday column to the very broad topic that is gaming.

Let's get started.

Sony finally launched Playstation Mobile, its Android/Vita cross-system gaming initiative. I don't have a Playstation Certified Android device, so for me Playstation Mobile means one more way to get new games onto the Vita.

I bought 4 of the initial 20 or so titles: Samurai Beatdown, Super Crate Box, Beats Sliders and Beats Trellis (that last one is a music creation app rather than a game). All told I spent about $6. None of three games in my initial purchase is super original but they're all pretty fun and worth the cost of entry. What I really like about them is that they finally give me truly bite-sized entertainment on my Vita. Before Playstation Mobile, if I had 5-10 minutes to kill I'd grab a tablet for a quick gaming fix because nothing I had on the Vita would get me into the gameplay fast enough to make playing for such a short time worthwhile.

The downside is that I found myself wishing for Vita-specific controls in at least one case. Samurai Beatdown is one of those simple 'tap the screen at the right time' games. It works fine on the Vita but my immediate thought was that I wish I could tap the Vita's rear touch-panel and so keep my hands out of the way of the action; something that of course wouldn't work on an Android device.

But generally I think Playstation Mobile is a nice addition to the Vita. One really smart decision they made is to release new titles on Wednesdays. The Playstation Store updates on Tuesday, meaning that Vita owners have two events every week to look forward to. I know that sounds trivial but for me at least, I need some incentive to go grab my Vita from its charging stand rather than whipping my phone out of my pocket. I've used my Vita more this week (and not just for Playstation Mobile titles) than I have in quite a while.

That said, what I'm not sure about is how much Playstation Mobile adds to Playstation Certified Android devices; when you've got Google Play and and the Amazon App Store on your device, what's the real benefit of adding the Playstation Mobile Store as well? The exception might be owners of the Xperia Play with its physical controls (or Wikipad owners, when that device ships). I'm sure they'll enjoy the games designed around actual buttons.

The press seems to have mixed feelings about Playstation Mobile as well. For instance Digital Trends called it "another confused corner of Sony's fractured brand" while Gamasutra opined that PlayStation Mobile is just what the PS Vita needs. It'll be interesting to see how the service does in the weeks to come.

In other news this week, Epic Games co-founder Cliff Blezinski shocked the gaming world earlier this week when he announced he was leaving the company. Blezinski has long been the 'face' of Epic, appearing on trade show stages and on TV and web videos to show off Epic's latest titles (lately that seems to mean "Gears of War"). It's unclear what's next for Blezinski; maybe just some R&R for a while? He's been at Epic for all his adult life, after all.

First the Bioware doctors, now Cliff B? Who's next?

Ever since we got the launch date and pricing info for Nintendo's Wii U, the company has been pretty quiet. Earlier this week, though, AllThingsD got hold of Reggie Fils-Amie (Nintendo North America's President) for an interview. So why does Reggie think you're going to love your Wii U? Is it the tablet controller? The HD graphics? Nintendo TVii? Nope, it's MiiVerse:

“I think that it will pleasantly surprise people,” he said. “As the network grows and the installed base grows, it will prove to be a true killer application for the system, and I say this loving what we have done with Nintendo TVii and loving all the games. Until you try it and experience it, you may not totally understand it.”

FIls-Amie is always an interesting interview so I urge you to read the whole thing, but his enthusiasm for MiiVerse makes it even more curious that we've seen so little of the system in the run-up to launch.

Last for this week, I got a chance to abuse an intern yesterday, and I liked it. Best of all, it wasn't even my intern! OK maybe I should back up. Neo-Pangea, a "digital boutique agency" has this proof of concept project called Intern Abuser. The idea is that you'll log into their site and take remote control of a dart gun. Before you is a room full of all kinds of gadgets designed to abuse (and before anyone gets upset, this is pretty harmless abuse) a volunteer intern, Frank Marsters, who is sitting there minding his own business. By shooting a dart at a number of targets you can cause various bad things to happen to Frank, dunk-tank style. Why? I have no idea! I think it's basically a way for Neo-Pangea to get people thinking 'out of the box' for marketing stunts and adding game-like elements to campaigns.

There's a website, where you can learn more, and come October 11th and 12th, you can take your own turn at abusing Frank the Intern. And if you feel a little guilty afterwards, you can contribute a few bucks to his education. After all, he doesn't get paid for all this abuse...

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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