Grand Theft Auto V Crushes It With $800M Sold First Day (VentureBeat.com)

Selling $800 million in the first 24 hours, GTA5 sets a massive new record for best selling game of all-time at launch. Kinda makes the huge budget of $260 million seem paltry by comparison!

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Grand Theft Auto V bags a record $800 million in first-day sales

Grand Theft Auto V’s main characters, Michael, Franklin, and Trevor.

Grand Theft Auto V sales added up to more than $800 million during its first 24 hours, making it the best-selling video game of all time for first-day sales.

Take-Two Interactive Software, parent of game developer Rockstar Games, said today that the title achieved first-day sell-through sales that beat those of any previous Grand Theft Auto game and any other title the company has sold.

Launched on Sept. 17 for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the title is an open-world game with a narrative that focuses on three urban criminals. It was developed over five years with a budget estimated at $260 million.

GTA V is launching soon in Japan and Brazil.

“All of us at Take-Two are thrilled with the initial response to Grand Theft Auto V. Once again, the team at Rockstar Games have outdone themselves, setting the entertainment industry’s new standard for creativity, innovation and excellence,” said Strauss Zelnick, chairman and CEO of Take-Two. “Beginning at midnight on Monday, consumers around the world gathered in anticipation to be among the first to experience the evolution of this remarkable series. In North America alone, more than 8,300 stores opened their doors at midnight to welcome fans whose loyalty and enthusiasm were rewarded with what the New York Times called ‘the most immersive spectacle in interactive entertainment.’ We are incredibly proud of Rockstar Games’ creative achievement and could not be more pleased with the success of this launch.”

The game is both a critical and a commercial success. It has a 98/100 rating on review aggregator Metacritic for the Xbox 360, based on reviews from 38 critics. Our own Giancarlo Valdes gave it a stingy 95 out of 100, making it our highest-rated game in a long while. It’s rated Mature by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.

RIFT: F2P Model Finds Major Success, Thanks to Raptr (VentureBeat.com)

For folks who continue to think that “going F2P” means a game has completely failed, RIFT is a stellar example of how changing a subscription model can instigate a massive success. RIFT saw an over 300% increase in daily active players after the F2P announcement. I hope they have learned a ton from this and deal with upcoming ArcheAge appropriately!

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A screenshot from the Grim Awakening content in MMORPG Rift

Here’s a fact that will surprise no one: People like getting free stuff.

Video game publisher Trion Worlds and gaming community Raptr recently joined forces to promote the free-to-play (F2P) relaunch of the struggling massively multiplayer online role-playing game Rift. Using the Raptr Rewards loyalty program, Trion gave away free copies of Rift and in-game items to the social network’s more than 18 million players. The two companies then worked together to analyze player data collected since first announcing the F2P transition in mid-May.

Not surprisingly, these numbers are pretty great.

Trion Worlds says the number of daily active players jumped 300 percent after announcing Rift’s free-to-play transition, a 133 percent increase over several other major online titles at the time. Once the F2P transition completed in June, players who had been inactive for more than 14 days came back at a rate of 900 percent. Trion also says the game’s overall revenue increased more than five times.

A MMO finding success after going free-to-play is nothing new. Back in May, Electronic Arts president of labels Frank Gibeau revealed during an earnings call that Star Wars: The Old Republic more than doubled its monthly revenue after making the switch. But what is unusual is a publisher teaming up with a social networking site to promote such a transition. Jim Butler, Trion Worlds’ senior director of global marketing, says the partnership was invaluable.

“I think the one thing that it’s helped is just in visibility,” he said. “You know, instead of Trion going out there and saying, ‘Hey, look at all the cool stuff Rift is doing.’ Now we’ve got Trion and Raptr going out there and saying, ‘Oh, my god, look at all this cool stuff that Rift and Trion are doing.’ It just increases our reach for everything that we’re doing.”

The Senbora Raid Boss in MMORPG Rift.

The promotion was undoubtedly beneficial to Raptr as well. Director of marketing Donnie Wang says the site’s Rift community more than doubled in size after the rewards program launched.

“It was definitely interesting to really try to help Rift not only engage both their existing and lapsed players but also trying to reach out and getting new players to come into their game before they were ultimately going to make that switch to free-to-play,” he said.

Acquiring new players and reacquiring old ones is a constant battle for MMOs. There’s a natural ebb and flow to subscriber numbers, Butler says. Every disruptive event, whether it’s a new console launch or a rival’s content patch, impacts it.

“One of the things about MMO gaming is that a lot of gamers play multiple games,” Butler says. ”What happens is there’s kind of a cycle, a method to their madness, where they’ll come back and they’ll play Rift and then suddenly they’ll go off and play their other MMO, the one that is their deep, dark secret, and they’ll play that because that game had a new content update or whatever else. Then they’re waiting for something else to happen to bring them back to Rift or yet another MMO that they play. So, you know, acquiring and then reacquiring is just part of the natural process by which the MMO business goes.”

A couple show off their vanity Gothic clothing in Rift.

While Butler believes Trion would’ve had great success with Rift’s relaunch with or without Raptr, he says their partnership made everything better, and the publisher plans to keep working with Raptr to expand the rewards program to more of its games.

Wang also believes the partnership is a natural fit. The two companies share a similar philosophy, he says, a player-first approach to community building. “Developers shouldn’t necessarily think first about how to monetize off of their players,” he says. “Think about what’s best for the player first and then the money will come later.”

“That’s the big secret in getting players back,” Butler says. “Listening to the community, giving them what they need, giving them what they want. And starting the cycle all over again.”

3D Hubs’ Crowdsource Project Backed By London VC Firm (VentureBeat.com)

In case 3D printing wasn’t heading to the mainstream soon enough, high-end estimates have the industry generating a half-trillion dollars in revenue in the next decade or so. In an effort to capitalize on the early entrance to the already booming market, Balderton Capitol has just backed 3D Hubs’ crowdsourcing effort to create a worldwide network of 3D printers. The project would allow folks to find and use a local printer, send their request to print, pay a small additional fee for the service, then pick up the items instead of waiting for shipping. (This would also keep the “little guys” viable as Staples and UPS Stores have also tossed their hats into the 3D printing ring.)

I think far more people would be interested in 3D printing if they had a local resource to answer questions directly and build a rapport with. Plus, that substantially lowers the cost of an initial investment into the marketplace. “Try before you buy.”

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Balderton Capital backs crowdsourced 3D printing network 3D Hubs

Balderton Capital backs crowdsourced 3D printing network 3D Hubs

London-headquartered VC firm Balderton Capital is betting on popular demand for 3D printing with a seed-stage investment in 3D printing network 3D Hubs.

The rate of growth for 3D printing is tremendous. About 23,000 printers were sold in 2011, according to a recent McKinsey report, which is up 300% in average annual growth since 2007. The industry as a whole could have an economic impact of $230-$550 billion per year by 2025.

3D Hubs, a six-person team based in Amsterdam, is building a global network that connects people who want to print with 3D printer owners. Here’s how it works: 3D printer owners sign up to be listed on their local “Hub”, which sets its own price per print plus material used. 3D Hubs performs a quality check for each uploaded digital model, delivers the order and processes the payment. It adds a 15% charge on top of the quoted price for each print.

The community aspect is a big part of 3D Hubs’ offer — unlike centralized services, customers know they’re supporting local makers and can pick up prints rather than wait for them to be shipped. Expansion follows supply and demand, with cities “unlocked” once a certain number of printers become available. The network currently spans over 500 printer locations in cities including London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Antwerp and Copenhagen.

Other options for those without a 3D printer to call their own include Shapeways, an online marketplace for making, buying and selling 3D printed products that ships anywhere in the world. Staples in the Netherlands and UPS in the US, also plan to offer on-demand 3D printing services.

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