PLUS MORE GAMING SECRETS AND RUMORS: 2K Games' documentary about gamers? | A remake of the original Alone in the Dark | A new racing game from the developers of the Sonic racing game?
A publicly accessible "Samsung Confidential" presentation Alan Queen, a senior director at the company's Innovation Lab, gave at last October's Samsung Developers Conference offers a bit of insight into the electronic giant's home console plans.
Several slides on Queen's presentation indicate Samsung's gaming ambitions are targeting a consumer group called "Console Skeptics," who are current console owners not necessarily interested in upgrading to the next-generation consoles. Queen cites a September 2012 survey of more than 1,000 American "video game consumers," and claims 57 percent of those surveyed fell into the so-called "Console Skeptics," dwarfing the 42 percent divided evenly between the "Casual Gamers" and "Next-gen console buyers" segments. Queen believes Console Skeptics are "poorly served by consoles," listing the "cost of games" and "inconvenience" as impediments to console gaming for Console Skeptics.
Queen's presentation focuses on two home gaming offerings from Samsung: the Samsung Mobile Console and Samsung Multi-Screen. The Samsung Mobile Console—a centralized smartphone game launcher and storefront launched in December in conjunction with the release of Samsung's smartphone gamepad—supports television play with a controller through AirPlay-style mirroring or an HDMI connection. The target audience for the Samsung Mobile Console are "above mid-core gamers" who are "console skeptical" and own a Samsung smartphone, according to the presentation. Queen says this offering—which turns a Samsung mobile device into a console-of-sorts—belongs in the microconsole product category alongside the Ouya and Nvidia Shield.
Queen's presentation claims the Samsung Multi-Screen offering, which was sort of announced at CES last month to absolutely no fanfare, will be released in the fourth quarter of this year. Samsung Multi-Screen allows a "Samsung TV [to become] an equivalent of a game console," and players will be able to control games with either a physical or virtual gamepad, the presentation says. Queen says Samsung televisions will have "native development support" for Unity, and a unified development pipeline will allow developers (who are using Unity) to release the same project for both Samsung mobile devices and Smart TVs. Also, pairing a controller with a Samsung smartphone will enable a Wii U-type multiscreen experience in which the smartphone screen can serve as a map or inventory.
At the heart of both of Samsung's gaming offerings is a platform and storefront dubbed Samsung Gaming Service, which Queen pitches to developers as an "open TV gaming platform" with "low cost development" and freedom for developers to set prices and monetize as they see fit. Queen's value proposition towards consumers is a simple-to-use, curated platform with access to "Exclusive TV games" (whatever that means) at a "range of price-points, including free-to-play." Tied to Samsung's account and payment system, the company's angle is obvious—it makes money from digital purchases. Another slide hints at the possibility for supporting cross-platform play and cloud progress syncing.
In any case, Samsung's renewed push for smart TV gaming seems to be an evolution beyond the current collection of qualitatively questionable titles designed to be played on a remote control. Whether it will gain any traction is another question entirely, and very possibly doubtful if rumors of Apple and Amazon set-top box devices with controller and native game support come to fruition.
Area 5's Outerlands is apparently not the only warmhearted video game culture documentary in the works. According to the November newsletter of the Sullivan Senior Center in Torrington, Connecticut, 2K Games "is producing a documentary about people who play video games" with the aim of "documenting the depth and beauty of video games while solidifying its increasingly substantial role as a medium in our culture." 2K Games—or the documentarians—chose members of the Sullivan Senior Center's Wii Bowling team, who have won the National Senior League Wii Bowling Championship four times, "to [serve as representatives] for the senior population in [the] documentary."
Production on the documentary began last March, and the documentary was slated for a release last December, which did not happen. The project sounds more interesting than your average behind-the-scenes promotional video, so hopefully we will see the fruits of it sometime soon.
Tucked in the portfolio of a former designer at one-time Atari subsidiary Eden Games is this walkthrough video of an unreleased HD remake of the original Alone in the Dark game. The designer says that the remake, which had a team of five people behind it, was targeting digital console and PC platforms, and entered development for a brief amount of time following the release of the lukewarmly received Alone in the Dark 5. Unfortunately, the remake eventually fell victim to Atari's financial troubles.
Finally, it appears developer Sumo Digital is tackling another racing game after 2012's well-received Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. The British developer recently put up an opening for a vehicle handling designer for a title in "one of the most successful driving franchises of all time," which doesn't quite sound like another Sonic game. Rather, I would guess Sumo is working on SKUs of Codemasters next Formula 1 racing sim; the studio previously handled portable versions of F1 2009 and F1 2011.
superannuation is a self-described "internet extraordinaire" residing somewhere in the Pacific Time Zone. Follow him on Twitter.