Play Diablo III for free this weekend!

Blizzard has announced that a stress test of Diablo III on Battle.net will take place from April 20 to April 23. For this weekend only, players can download the Diablo III client, log onto Battle.net and play the Act I of the much awaited game (which is due to be released on May 15) .

This not only helps Blizzard to test the capacity of their servers, but also helps increase the buzz around the game! Download the client here.

We’re pleased to announce the Diablo III open beta weekend, which offers open access to all players with a valid Battle.net account! Beginning this Friday everyone is invited to log in and help us put the game and servers through their paces in this three day stress test as we march toward the game’s release on May 15.

Diablo® III Open Beta Weekend

Image via Blizzard

via Diablo® III Open Beta Weekend – Diablo III.

Harry Potter ebook model a success?

Pottermore‘s experiment of bypassing the distributors seems to a be a success.

Is this a peek into the future, where successful authors (or their publishers) will bypass platform owners (Amazon, Apple, and others) and directly offer e-versions of their top sellers to customers?

British versions of the Harry Potter series My...

Image via Wikipedia

Despite the wide availability of pirated copies, the ebook versions of the books have been widely successful.

During an interview with Radio Litopia’s “The Naked Book” Wednesday afternoon, Redmayne said Pottermore sold more than $1.5 million worth of Harry Potter books in the store’s first three days online.

via Pottermore Sells $1.5 Million Worth of Harry Potter E-Books in 3 Days – John Paczkowski – Media – AllThingsD.

What is to be seen is if JK Rowling will follow a similar strategy for the sales of her new novel. Though ebook prices have been announced, it is still not clear if the publisher of this book will bypass the Amazon, Google and Apple platforms. A Kindle version is currently available for pre-purchase, but eventually, this link might forward buyers to the publisher’s website.

The Casual Vacancy

480 pages (approximately)

ISBN  9781408704202   (hardback) price £20.00

ISBN  9781405519229   (ebook) price £11.99

ISBN  9781405519212   (audio download) £20.00

ISBN  9781405519205   (CD) price £30.00

via THE CASUAL VACANCY – Little, Brown Book Group.

Harry Potter eBooks augur changes in digital publishing strategies?

The Harry Potter books are now available for purchase in ebook formats at pottermore.com. Though Amazon lists them as available, clicking on the purchase links redirects users to the pottermore site. Is this a peek into the future, where successful authors (or their publishers) will bypass platform owners (Amazon, Apple, and others) and directly offer e-versions of their top sellers to customers? By avoiding these platforms, will authors / publishers be able to charge more (or less) than the platform driven price tags of $9.99 per book? (The Harry Potter books are available for $7.99 for the first three, and $9.99 for the other four. There is also a bundle price of $57.54 for the whole collection.)

This move comes on the heels of JK Rowling‘s announcement her website that she is working on a new novel, targeted at adults.

Diablo III Launch and Pricing

Blizzard Entertainment is to launch Diablo III on May 15. Digital pre-ordering is already available directly from Blizzard. The pricing strategy being employed by Blizzard for this release is interesting – both the digital and physical media (DVD) versions will retail at the same price of $59.99. This contrasts with other pricing schemes that pass on the zero marginal cost of production to consumers by providing discounts for digital content. Other options that Blizzard can employ include providing incentives for its digital version by giving additional in-game benefits to users, or increasing the ‘hassle factor’ for its DVD version by deploying DRM on its physical media.

 

Diablo III Launching May 15 – Digital Pre-Sales NOW OPEN

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

 

Below is the teaser that was revealed four years ago.

 

 

Read more at Blizzard Entertainment:Press Releases.

Video game market to reach $82 billion

The Economist reports that the video game market was $56 billion last year, and will reach $82 billion by 2015.

English: Arcade Video Game

Image via Wikipedia

The current market has grown by 60% in the past 5 years, and is now twice the size of the music industry and is quickly catching up with the film industry. Much of this growth is due to emerging markets in China and demographic shifts in the US.

The biggest market is America, whose consumers this year are expected to spend $14.1 billion on games, mostly on the console variety.

Read more at Daily chart: Shoot ‘em up | The Economist.

Google Music for Artists

The public launch of Google Music for consumers has been accompanied by a truly disruptive move by Google – Google Music for Artists. This offers artists a means to bypass traditional music publishers and go directly to the consumer. Google will take a one time setup fee of $25 and 30% of sales proceeds. Other key features include the ability to set album and track prices, create an artist page on the Android Market, sell music via Youtube, and close integration with Google+. This move hammers the last nails into the coffins of the purveyors of non-digital music distribution models and shrinking platforms like MySpace.

Image via Google

With Google Music you set your own retail prices for albums and tracks. You can quickly make your own promotions, like limited time price reductions, or make some tracks available as album-only purchases. The choices are yours.

You keep 70% of what you take in, paid to you monthly.

Every artist or band has a page within Android Market to help Google Music users find out more about you. The artist page includes your bio, photo, links and the original music you have available for sale.

Our integration with YouTube helps you sell your songs with a buy link in your music videos.

Google Music

With the launch of Google Music, the war for digital content is very much on. Amazon and Google present two formidable competitors to Apple’s iTunes hegemony. Key features of Google Music are:

  • Cloud-based auto syncing music library
  • Sharing of purchased music on Google+
  • Exclusive content
  • Free upload of existing music library (to a maximum of 20,000 songs) to the cloud
Music Beta by Google logo

Image via Google

A feature by feature comparison with iTunes and Amazon Music offers insight into the two critical value drivers behind Google Music – deep integration with Google+ (thus leveraging the social aspects of music consumption) and an almost unlimited capacity to transfer existing music libraries (thus reducing lock-in costs and encouraging users of other platforms to shift).

Read more at Official Google Blog: Google Music is open for business.

Amazon’s ‘Netflix for Books’ is here

Amazon has launched its long rumored ‘Netflix for Books’. The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library allows Kindle owners having an annual Amazon Prime membership to borrow 1 book per month – free and with no due dates. While this is short of the expected ‘eat as much as you can’ plan, it certainly increases the attractiveness of the Prime service, which adds free books to its existing 2 day shipping and free movie streaming benefits.

 

Image via Amazon

This also seems to be a test of sorts for a much larger launch – perhaps an eventual ‘read as much as you can’ book rental service.

For the vast majority of titles, Amazon has reached agreement with publishers to include titles for a fixed fee. In some cases, Amazon is purchasing a title each time it is borrowed by a reader under standard wholesale terms as a no-risk trial to demonstrate to publishers the incremental growth and revenue opportunity that this new service presents.

Read more at Introducing The Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Giving an eBook free for a limited time: A new business model?

Scott Berkun, who worked with Microsoft on Internet Explorer till 2003, now works for Automattic on WordPress.com, and is the author of three previous books, Confessions of a Public Speaker, Making Things Happen and The Myths of Innovation, is giving away his latest book, Mindfire, for free. Only for 48 hours.

This is an interesting mix of the Freemium model and sampling strategy. Most of the content in the book is curated from the author’s blog and hence is already accessible for free, albeit in piecemeal form. The hard copy of the book sells for $8.69 on Amazon and the eBook would also have a price after the free giveaway is over. By giving away the book for free, the author would benefit from word-of-mouth publicity and resultant sales. This would also increase the number and quality of reviews available for the book on Amazon, thereby positively impacting future sales of this and other books. Finally, people who like the free sample may be driven to purchase a copy of the author’s previous works.

Read more and get the book at Mindfire: Download free for 48 hours « Scott Berkun.

Digitizing Paper Books

1DollarScan.com offers to digitize any book @1$ per 100 pages. Ship your  books to them and they send you PDFs in return. To avoid copyright issues, the firm scans each book, destroys it and does not maintain master digital copies on their servers.

Implications of this service are huge – publishers will gain by the removal of books from the huge second-hand book market. However, they may argue that they are loosing potential digital books sales they could have made to the users of 1DollarScan.

There are also several grey areas – it is not clear which rights apply to the PDFs of hard copy books – owners have greater rights over analogue books as compared to digital books. For example, can one borrow a PDF of an analogue book without breaking the TOS of the digital version of the book? Also, when someone buys an analogue copy of a book, do they get the right to digitize it? Or would copyright law require them to buy a separate digital copy?

Read more at Media digitisation: Book transubstantiation | The Economist.