FORTUNE -- Remember bookstores? Those adorable little places of curated and whimsy and fanciful stories? The place where we purchased books?
They're gone, mostly, and you can blame Amazon (AMZN). The $157 billion company got its start selling books online, happy to lose money while driving prices down, waiting for its brick-and-mortar competitors, with their thin margins and high overhead, to starve. They did, and Amazon won. The company has repeated this process for a number of other categories, to varying degrees of success. (Electronics, yes. Fashion, not so much.)
With Amazon Fire TV, announced yesterday, Amazon has its sights set on the gaming industry. The company's new Fire TV streaming system costs $99 and features, alongside ample video content, a suite of 100 games. That includes popular casual gaming titles like Minecraft and Monsters University, and other "high-quality, low-cost" hardcore games from Sega, EA (EA), Ubisoft, Telltale Games, and Gamelot. Users have the option to play games with the standard Fire TV remote, a smartphone app, or Amazon's newly revealed Fire game controller, which will retail for $39.99 starting in a month.
More meaningful than an inexpensive controller, or a game section in its service, is Amazon's new gaming studio. Amazon Game Studios is developing games exclusively for Fire TV, with a growing team: In February the company acquired a gaming studio with 75 employees called Double Helix. Today reports revealed Amazon hired Kim Swift, a designer of Portal, and Clint Hocking, a designer of Far Cry 2. Amazon Game Studios' first release is a game called Sev Zero, a third-person shooter game with the ability to go multiplayer. It looks and plays like the hardcore games from EA or Sega.
But in typical Amazon style, Sev Zero is a steal. The game only costs $6.99, and users who purchase the Fire game controller get it for free. Beyond that, the average price of paid games on Fire TV is just $1.85.
Compare that to the average price of videogames for Xbox (MSFT) or PlayStation (SNE). The latest World of Warcraft edition costs $49.99, or $69.99 if you upgrade to the digital deluxe edition. Grand Theft Auto V costs $54.99 for PlayStation 3. It's not clear if Amazon would convince those studios to include their games on Fire TV. Hardcore gamers will remain loyal to their systems and titles. But with Sev Zero and the host of low-cost games on Fire TV, Amazon is making a statement: The price of games will come down.
Compared with any other piece of digital media, from music, movies, and TV to news and books, games haven't taken a price hit with the shift to digital. With its entrance into the category, Amazon is likely to change that. Your move, game studios.
In four years, Kabam went from San Francisco startup to major global player. (Must have been something in the dumplings.)
FORTUNE -- Kabam, the San Francisco mobile gaming company, has all the wrong things going for it.
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However, the company's about-face on policies users found unbearable will help.
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FORTUNE -- Anyone who questions the power of the crowd need only talk to Microsoft.
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Riccitiello steps down as video game publisher Electronic Arts has been struggling to adapt to a changing games market. Revenue and earnings per share will be at the low end of or below January guidance.
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FORTUNE -- Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello will step down on March 30, the video game publisher announced today.
In a statement to the press, EA (EA) said it was naming Larry Probst as MOREMar 18, 2013 4:51 PM ET
Sony's high-octane presentation of its next-generation PlayStation 4 gaming system mostly impressed observers.
FORTUNE -- On Wednesday night, Sony launched the latest version of the Playstation to thumping music, lasers, and a giant screen that wrapped around the audience. The company hopes the super-charged PS4 will help it retake the top spot among console makers and prove its relevance in the changing games market. The games maker touted slick graphics and MOREFeb 21, 2013 10:51 AM ET
Sony's vastly improved PlayStation 4 game system is set to launch later this year. The company hopes it can help it regain lost momentum.
By Matt Vella, deputy technology editor
FORTUNE -- Sony Corp. unveiled its PlayStation 4 video game console Wednesday, introducing a machine with dramatically improved technical abilities, crisp graphics, and a slew of social networking features. The new console is a major bid by the company to regain momentum MOREFeb 20, 2013 9:35 PM ET
This week, Sony will likely take the wraps off its new game console. Here's what it must be able to do in order to have a chance of succeeding.
FORTUNE -- Can Sony deliver a jolt to the ailing video game console market? The Japanese electronics company will certainly try this week if, as expected, it unveils its next-generation PlayStation 4.
Sales of the PlayStation 4 will be scrutinized from day one. MOREJP Mangalindan, Writer - Feb 20, 2013 8:58 AM ET
True Office aims to turn compliance testing into a videogame-like experience. Will firms pay for their employees to play?
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