The US operations of Atari have filed for bankruptcy protection.The maker of the ground breaking video game Pong is seeking to separate from its loss making French parent Atari SA.
Atari Inc, together with Atari Interactive Inc, Humongous Inc. and California US Holdings Inc. want to secure independent funding to develop digital and mobile games.
Atari’s Pong was an arcade game credited with helping to create the multi billion pound video games industry but it’s more recent titles which include ‘Centipede’, ‘Missile Command’ and Rollercoaster Tycoon’ have been less successful.
Atari said in December it was looking to raise cash and was talking to investors.
It is believed Atari US hopes to find a buyer to take the firm private, subsequently allowing it to focus on mobile and digital games.
Atari’s revenue dropped by 34% in 2012 and 43% the year before. Profits, meanwhile, have also been relatively small, while Atari SA share prices are now worth less than a single euro.
The company is also said to be reliant on London’s BlueBay Asset management for cash, which has left Atari US unable to release a number of games currently in development.
Atari Inc has since secured financing worth $5.25 million to continue operations, and will emerge from bankruptcy with little or no debt should it find a buyer.
In a statement, the companies said, “with this move the US based Atari operations seek to separate from the structural financial encumbrances of their French parent holding company, Atari SA”.
Atari SA, formerly known as Infogrames SA has been struggling financially for years.
The US operations of Atari have shifted their business from retail games to digital games in recent times and have become a growth engine for Atari SA.
“The Chapter 11 process constitutes the most strategic option for Atari’s US operations as they look to preserve their inherent value and unlock revenue potential unrealized while under the control of Atari SA,” the statement said.
Neither Atari SA or Atari Inc. were available for comment.
YouTube set a new record for live streaming as the skydiver Felix Baumgartner smashed a number of records with his “edge of space” freefall.More than eight million people worldwidse watched on their devices the skydiver break the speed of sound live on Google’s YouTube site.
It is the largest number of concurrent live streams in the website’s history Google claimed.
Mr Baumgartner broke the record for the highest freefall.
He jumped from a capsule taken to 128,100ft (24 miles) above New Mexico in the USA by a giant helium balloon.
It took nine minutes for him to reach the ground.
The adventurer plummeted at an estimated 833.9mph, hitting Mach 1.24 in the process.
The capsule from which the skydiver fell was equipped with cameras to provide a live internet feed to millions of people around the world.
The Red Bull Stratos scientists said the stunt had provided invaluable data for the development of high performance, high altitude parachute systems, and that the lessons learned would inform the development of new ideas for emergency evacuation from vehicles, such as spacecraft passing through the stratosphere.
“Part of this programme was to show high altitude egress, passing through Mach and a successful re-entry back to subsonic speed, because our belief scientifically is that’s going to benefit future private space programmes or high-altitude pilots, and Felix proved that today,” said Art Thompson, the team principal.
The organiser of the UK’s biggest video games show- the Eurogamer Expo, is confident smartphone gaming won’t kill off traditional gaming.Rupert Loman thinks that people will always want the experience of playing a game on a big screen with friends or taking on other players online.
The Eurogamer Expo was held last week at London’s Earls Court.
It gives fans first hand gaming experience of about 50 upcoming titles, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin’s Creed 3.
“I just think it’s testament to how far the games industry has come, that there’s so many different ways you can play,” says Rupert.
He believes that the “huge” popularity of console gaming, and the massive numbers shifted by the likes of the Call of Duty series, means it’s as strong as ever.
” Gaming now offers something for everyone. There’s all sorts of ways of playing – online games, massively multi-player universes, social games.”
“With the Wii U you’ve got games that are great for kids and families. Anyone can game these days – there are so many ways of doing it.”
However he does admit that, while console gaming will always be around, mobile gaming could eventually overtake it in terms of popularity.
“It could well end up being a bigger industry,” he says.
“But I don’t think it will replace that situation where you want to play Fifa or something like that in your front room with your friends. That’s one experience. You’re on the train and you want to play a game on your 3DS or your Vita or on your mobile – that’s another”.
Rupert Loman says he expects Microsoft and Sony to start making moves very soon: “As far as I’m aware, their plans for next generation consoles are pretty far advanced.
“I’d expect them to be revealed mid-next year and be in the shops next Christmas, or soon after that.”
YouTube’s ownsers Google has revealed that it removed about 640 videos that allegedly promoted terrorism over the second half of 2011 after complaints from the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers.The news was contained in its latest Transparency Report which discloses requests by international authorities to remove or hand over material.
The firm said it terminated five accounts linked to the suspect videos.
However, the firm said it had rejected many other state’s requests for action.
Canada’s Passport Office was among the organisations rebuffed. It had asked for a video of a Canadian citizen urinating on his passport and then flushing it down the toilet be removed.
Google also refused to delete six YouTube videos that satirised Pakistan’s army and senior politicians. The order had come from the government of Pakistan’s Ministry of Information Technology.
But Google did act in hundreds of cases, including:
requests to block more than 100 YouTube videos in Thailand that allegedly insulted its monarchy – a crime in the country;
the removal of a YouTube video that contained hate speech that had been posted in Turkey;
the termination of four YouTube accounts responsible for videos that allegedly contained threatening and harassing content after complaints by different US law enforcement agencies.
Overall, the firm said it had received 461 court orders covering a total of 6,989 items between July and December 2011. It said it had complied with 68% of the orders.
It added that it had received a further 546 informal requests covering 4,925 items, of which it had agreed to 43% of the cases.
Google’s senior policy analyst, Dorothy Chou, said the company was concerned by the amount of requests that had been linked to political speech.
“It’s alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – Western democracies not typically associated with censorship,” she said.
“For example, in the second half of last year, Spanish regulators asked us to remove 270 search results that linked to blogs and articles in newspapers referencing individuals and public figures, including mayors and public prosecutors.
“In Poland, we received a request from the Agency for Enterprise Development to remove links to a site that criticised it.
“We didn’t comply with either of these requests.”
The real suprise is that Google have reacted at all.
A few years ago they tried to argue that as they were the recipients of so many videos they could not possibly police and delete videos. Now as they are becoming more corporate they are slowly realising that yes they too have to accept governmental requests.
YouTube and Google could face a huge bill for royalties after it lost a court battle in Germany over music videos.A court in Hamburg ruled that YouTube is responsible for the content that users post to the video sharing site.
It wants the video site to install filters that spot when users try to post music clips whose rights are held by royalty collection group,
The German industry group said in court that YouTube had not done enough to stop copyrighted clips being posted.
YouTube said it took no responsibility for what users did, but responded when told of copyright violations.
Gema’s court case was based on 12 separate music clips posted to the website. The ruling concerns seven of the 12 clips.
If YouTube is forced to pay royalties for all the clips used on the site it will face a huge bill.
Gema represents about 60,000 German song writers and musicians.
If enforced, the ruling could also slow the rate at which video is posted to the site as any music clip would have to be cleared for copyright before being used.
Currently, it is estimated that about 60 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube worldwide every minute.
The court case began in 2010 and came after talks between YouTube and Gema about royalties broke down. In 2009, the stalemate meant that videos from German recording firms were briefly blocked on the site.
Gema has rung up several victories against sites it has claimed are using music without paying royalties.
In 2009, file-sharing site Rapidshare was told to start filtering songs users were uploading following action by Gema. In March, 2012 a second judgement told Rapidshare to be more proactive when hunting down content pirated by users.
Music streaming site Grooveshark pulled out of Germany claiming licencing rates set by Gema made it impossible to run a profitable business in the country.
Sales of computer games in the UK have surpassed those of videos for the first time according to new research.The Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA) said sales of £1.93 billion in 2011 made the gaming industry the country’s biggest entertainment sector.
By contrast, sales of DVDs and other video formats totalled £1.80 billion, while music sales came only third with only £1.07 billion in UK sales.
However, in the first 11 weeks of this year, the ERA said video sales were worth more than two times those of games.
By comparison over the whole of last year games accounted for 40.2% of the entertainment market, video for 37.6% and music for 22.2%.
Total sales in 2011 for games, video and music fell year-on-year by 3.3% to £4.80bn.
“This is a dramatic time for the entertainment market,” said Kim Bayley, director general of the ERA.
“It is an historic development for the games sector to have overtaken video last year. Video has long been the biggest entertainment sector. Sales so far this year, however, suggest video is not going down without a fight.”
“The UK is the most competitive retail games market in Europe – as such I don’t believe gaps in the market will be left unplugged for any length of time.”
However it not all profits for gaming companies. The Game Group has today gone into administration.
The business has been hit by competition from online only retailers.
Game Group employs 385 staff at its headquarters in Basingstoke in Hampshire, and about 5,100 in its stores in the UK and Ireland.
Visits to video sharing websites by UK users have gone up by more than a third in the last year.The biggest driver of traffic to those sites is music videos (33%), followed by TV shows (17%), film (11%), gaming (10%) and news (9%).
The figures, from internet research company Experian Hitwise, show YouTube accounts for nearly 70% of all video website hits.
It’s now the third most popular site in the UK after Google and Facebook.
Lady Gaga was the most in demand for artist within music searches.
The research was gathered between September 2010 and September 2011.
During that time 240 million hours every month were spent by British internet users watching videos online.
UK’s top 10 websites:
Windows Live Mail
Yahoo! UK & Ireland
Online video content creators are now making significant amounts of money from a range of ways.
Since the explosion of streaming video several years ago, hosting sites have become home to a growing numberof video makers attracting devoted followings for everything from music and sketch comedy to make-up tips.
Meanwhile, online video has become a career for thousands of video creators, with some making hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
As online video viewership has grown – YouTube draws 500 million unique visitors each month – marketers hope to take advantage of the dedicated audiences and low barriers to entry.
Video creators in turn are making money from hosting sites such as YouTube, DailyMotion and Blip.tv, which share a portion of the profits derived from video and banner advertisements.
YouTube, for one, has distributed millions of dollars in advertising revenue to its 20,000 most popular amateur producers since 2007.
A still from an episode of Annoying Orange on Blip.tv Blip.tv, which hosts the Annoying Orange comedy show describes its content as “the best in original web series”
“We share millions of dollars with our partners every year,” said Tom Sly, the site’s head of strategic partner development.
The amount advertisers pay varies with the popularity and quality of the videos, with creators receiving as much as $20 (£12.70) per thousand views.
“Across the board we’re seeing those numbers increase as we see higher quality content and the ability to target users so that advertisers have more fine-grained control,” Mr Sly said.
In 2010, the number of YouTube partners making over $1,000 (£600) per month from advertising revenue went up 300%, the company said.
The company declined to release specific figures, but Mr Sly said “hundreds” of video creators make more than $100,000 a year and “thousands” make more than $10,000 a year.
The top performing web shows on Blip.tv are on target to take in more than $1m in advert revenue each, said Eric Mortensen, senior director of programming.
“There are certain class of people, and it’s not that they are rejecting TV, they never even thought to be like TV in the first place,” he said. “And because of that they are doing new and different things and that’s how they end up making money.”
Industry analysts say that online video audiences are loyal and attentive and feel a connection to the creators.
In addition to advert revenue sharing, some video creators make as much as $150,000 a year by cutting sponsorship deals with major companies, said former YouTube executive George Strompolos, founder of Fullscreen, a start-up that aims to facilitate connections between corporate sponsors and video creators.
Aware of the power of recommendations from such seemingly personal relationships, companies like Ford, GE, and Lancome are directly reaching out to video makers to hawk their products.
Online video creators work without the need for teams of agents, managers, markets and developers, Mr Strompolos said.
“Online video tends to be a one-stop shop solution,” Mr Strompolos said. “You get not only the creative development and the authenticity of voice you’re looking for, but you also get distribution and reach.”
As the online video advertising and merchandising infrastructures become more sophisticated, analysts say more and more people are likely to strike out on their own in web video.
This is becoming the new television- a place where the average person has a much better chance of getting noticed and making money than if they were to go the traditional route via Hollywood.
Alan Lastufka, author of YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts, said: “The money may not always be headline-worthy, but it’s enough to quit your day job, stay in the basement on your computer and spend your time connecting with fans.”
A quarter of UK Smartphone users see mobile advertising and nearly two thirds see online video ads according to new research.Among its findings, the analysis shows mobile and video advertising gaining traction in reaching a sizeable percentage of the total audience.
In June 2011, 63.1 percent (or nearly 2 out of 3 online video viewers in the UK) were exposed to video ads.
Among the total number of smartphone users in the same time period, 25.4 percent recalled seeing an ad while browsing the Internet or using an application on their devices. In comparison, 95.3 percent of fixed line Internet users were exposed to online display advertising.
Advertising Expands Reach among UK Mobile and Video Populations
Over the past two quarters, mobile advertising has seen a steady increase in reach. 5.4 million UK smartphone subscribers (25 percent overall) recalled having seen ads through a mobile browser or app in the quarter ending June 2011, representing a 28-percent increase from three months prior. In addition, nearly 8 percent of smartphone users recalled seeing ads at least once a week (up 28 percent), and 7.5 percent recalled seeing them almost every day (up 52 percent).
Of the 33.7 million online video viewers in June, 21.2 million (63.1 percent) were exposed to ad videos. While the total number of online video viewers remained constant from quarter-to-quarter, the number of unique viewers exposed to video ads rose 15 percent. Meanwhile, the online display market continued to show a high rate of penetration in the UK, with 40.0 million unique visitors exposed to online display ads in June 2011, accounting for 95.3 percent of the total UK online audience.
Fixed Line Internet Audience: Exposed to Display Ads
Online Video Audience: Exposed to Video Ads
Smartphone Audience: Recall Seeing Web/App Ads
15-24 year olds most likely to be exposed to online video ads and smartphone Ads
A demographic analysis of people exposed to online advertising revealed that 15- 24 year olds were the most heavily exposed to online ad videos. Nearly 70 percent of 15-24 year olds were exposed to at least one online ad video in June 2011 – approximately 7 percentage points higher than the total Internet audience.
15-24 year olds were also 10 percent more likely than the average video viewer to be exposed to video ads, while 25-34 year olds have the second highest penetration and were 4 percent more likely than average to be exposed.
Online Video Advertising Reach in UK by Demographics June 2011 Total Audience: Age 6+ – Home & Work Locations Source: comScore Video Metrix
Online Video Ad Audience
Total Unique Viewers (000)
% Reach Among Online Video Population
Index to Online Video Audience*
Total Online Video Audience Exposed to Video Ads: 6+ yrs old
*An index of 100 indicates average representation relative to the base audience.
15-24 year olds see an even more pronounced relative skew when it comes to exposure to mobile advertising. In June 2011, 31.6 percent of UK smartphone users age 15-24 recalled having seen ads on an app or browser, the highest penetration among age groups. With an index of 125, 15-24 year olds were 25 percent more likely than the average smartphone user to recall exposure to mobile advertising. Meanwhile, 45-54 year olds and those 55 and older showed a significantly lower likelihood than average of recalling mobile ad exposure.
Mobile Advertising Reach Among Smartphone Users in UK by Demographics June 2011 Total Audience: Age 13+ Source: comScore MobiLens
Recall Seeing Web/App Ads
Total Audience (000)
% Reach Among Smartphone Audience
Index to Smartphone Audience*
Total Smartphone Audience Who Recall Seeing Web/App Ads: 13+ yrs old
*An index of 100 indicates average representation relative to the base audience.
Plans that would make it legal for individuals to make digital copies of their CDs and DVDs have been announced by the Government in a shake up of copyright law predicted to boost the economy by £8 billion.The plans would make it legal for people to copy CDs on to their computers- which is already legal in many other countries.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, gave his “broad backing” to a review by Professor Ian Hargreaves of copyright law, claiming it would stimulate innovation.
“We are removing the barriers to the intellectual property system to encourage innovation. We need a legal framework that supports consumer use rather than one that sees it as regrettable,” he said.
The changes are expected to pave the way for Google and Amazon to launch “cloud” music storage systems for UK consumers – although there was still some confusion over whether this could run into conflict with European law.
A government spokesman said any conflicts would be dealt with during the consultation period, but Mr Cable said he was “confident” there would not be problems.
The shake-up will also allow anyone to apply data-mining technology to published journals, making it easier for the scientific community to access research.
However, the move was met with hostility by publishers, who see data-mining as a major source of growth.
Richard Mollett, chief executive of the Publishers Association, described the changes as an “unwarranted blunt instrument” that would damage a £1.5 billion industry.
He added that 90pc of research is made available for mining on request, despite claims by research charity the Wellcome Trust that 87 pc is unavailable.