Saturday, May 26, 2012

My last posting on THIS address...

Hello there my loyal readers!

This will be my last posting on THIS url...

From today on, all my postings will be placed at my blog on

It will feature RSS feeds soon (not yet) so then you can actually subscribe to my postings and of course you can respond more easily (it's been build in Wordpress).

So if you wish to stay informed about gaming, gamification, advergames, gamevertising, social media, mobile, digital branding and more stuff like that - go to

PS - the new website will integrate all the content I produce: my books, blog postings, YouTube uploads, talks during events, Slideshare presentations, Twitter feeds and projects I have done for organizations and brands.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Sorcery - 'Making of' part 3: Sound

This game looks really promising: a 3D puzzle-adventure game by PlayStation. This video shows you some 'behind the scene' footage about sound design! The music is beautiful! Be sure to check out the other parts on YouTube as well to find out more about 'technology' and the story behind the game!

Handicapped son says he wants to do the triathlon...

Don't watch this if you can't let your tears roll openly ;-) It's a FANTASTIC story about willpower. A father undertakes the adventure with his son to do the triathlon. A really amazing story to start the week with! I know it's not game-related on first look, but in the end it's about purpose, meaning and challenges, and in that sense very much related to game-design... and definitely an epic experience!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Facebook's days are OVER!

Of course Facebook's days aren't over...yet... but I do think they should watch out that they don't become a victim of their own success. An often made mistake is that brands extend their activities and innovations so widely that they estrange from their core values and core business, like Google does with Google+.
A quick example: Google is a search engine. A free providers of useful tools (gmail, Google alerts, analytics, maps, etc. - all data driven design). However Google is NOT a social platform, although it is trying to become one. They still haven't managed to do so.
Microsoft is an OS and software company. Not a social network or webbrowser builder. Does anyone remember Bing...? I don't ... mission impossible...
Facebook is a social network, a global community as I would rather call it. There are a lot of things that Facebook could do with their connections: create better understanding amongst people worldwide, becoming a global incubator, becoming a think-tank to tackle world problems, connecting countries and overcoming hunger... up to now Facebook has been interested in just a few things: adding data, making consumers more dependent on Facebook (my whole life is on it these days) and making money through advertising. But what if ...

- A new social network will emerge shortly that is easier in use and goes back to the essence why we embraced Facebook (no ads, or hardly any, just a tool to share your thoughts, experiences and photo's and follow your friends life virtually). Remember Instagram? They bought it... killing competition is sometimes more effective than fighting them.
- Apple moves into social...?
- YouTube moves into social...?
- Steam moves into social...?
- Zynga leaves Facebook...?
- Brands find out that using social media is not really all that effective as all the bullshit digital guru's (like myself) tell you...?

Zynga is responsible for about 17% of Facebook revenue. There are rumors that they will start their own social network (platform) providing free and paid casual games. Gaming takes 20% of consumers digital time these days, just like 'social networking'... and gaming is predicted to grow-and-grow-and-grow...

So... how long will consumers stay loyal to Facebook? I think just as long as they don't feel robbed and advertising doesn't take the fun out of the community... Still, I am not buying any shares...

Facebook MBA: Behind the IPO Everyone's Talking About
Created by:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Fun - New IKEA Uppleva Is A SNAP To Assemble! - CONAN on TBS

A reported about the new IKEA TV that will be available in Europe end of this year... now see how you can assemble it!

Key Learnings about Serious Game projects

After writing the Dutch version of ‘A Brand New Playground (Laat met je merk spelen) in 2009 I was fortunate enough to get involved in some pretty cool and prestigious serious game projects and I never left the scene ever-since. 
Projects I was involved in (together with IJsfontein - I was merely just a consultant) involved challenges like change management, internal branding (ABN Amro) and giving companies insight in the logistic consequences of both air- and waterfreight (Air Cargo Netherlands / Schiphol Airport and Port of Amsterdam). Now, three years later I found that the hardest part is not just translating the essence of the problem into a cool and effective game concept, but to get all parties involved, determine the Decision Making Unit within the organization and actually ‘getting the job done’! 
One of the recent projects I have done involve an organization of 2.500 people and I started this project about a year ago. Their challenge is to teach all their employees the potential consequences of their actions and behavior induced by the recently released ‘code of conduct’. In banking terms this is called ‘compliance’. We’ve proposed multiple concepts to the Decision Making Unit that exists of 8 different people from 5 different departments (Finance, Communication, Legal, Human Resources, Risk & Control Management) and after 7 months we still haven’t started production. Why? Mostly fear and too many people involved I guess. A serious game has so many aspects that on one hand you want to involve enough people to get the right information and the right clearance.
On the other hand, you don’t want to make them feel that they can actually determine what’s going to be leading in the gameplay. This is a sensitive and challenging task for the ‘producer’ of the game. 
The key learnings in this project were the following: 
  1. Downsize the DMU to the smallest possible group, preferably a maximum of three people, including the budget owner and / or CFO. 
  2. Don’t let your client get involved creatively. It is not their expertise to come up with a good game concept, it’s yours - so fight them off your turf or it will become too complex. 
  3. Keep the pace going and force decision making during milestone meetings. Employees of big companies tend to involve loads and loads of collegues and every person has his own opinion about all sorts of stuff (and expertise). Manage this well and you will be happy ;-) 
To give you an insight in the concepts we have proposed, it varied from playing the ‘mean manager’ giving you the opportunity to use every trick in the book to become the biggest and best company of the country serving you scenario’s and dilemma’s in which you have to choose between the ‘easy way’ that would make more profit for the company and becoming filthy rich, and ‘the hard’ way that involved more tenderness (devil versus angel). In this way we wanted to challenge employees to explore multiple roads towards the same goal and let them experience how this would effect their sense of ‘righteousness’ and ‘fairness’ scoring points for ‘revenue’ and ‘reputation’ (integrity). Unfortuntely this proposal was canned out of fear. Another idea was to build a ‘TV show’ with all sorts of dilemma’s and questions to focus more on ‘knowledge’. A fairly one-dimensional concept, comparable to the current e-learning stuff that we hate. ;-) 
Eventually we’ve created a quiz-kind-of-game where your goal is to become a ‘Zuperhero’ setting the right example for the company and co-workers. It will be a mix of knowledge based questions and dilemma-based scenario’s with specific mechanics. It should be cool! 
I expect this game to go live in September this year and then it has been 18 months since we pitched the idea to our client, but believe me: I will be very happy let you know what we’ve done by then! 
Concluding I can say from my experience that running serious gaming projects is mostly about managing expectations, involving experts from within the company, making them feel important enough to share their expertise as well as keeping them distant enough by showing yours... ;-)  

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Visiting Silicon Valley in May & LA in June!

To all my followers on this blog:

I will be in Silicon Valley from May 26th until June 2nd if you want to meet up.

After that I will be in L.A. (Los Angeles) for the E3 and meetings from June 3rd until June 5th.

Send me a TWEET @BartHufen or email at barthufen at brandnewgame dot nl

Then (if I am still alive after 7 days of gaming shizzle) - I will drive my (rented) Dodge Challenger to Vegas with my best friend Lorence - so join me then if you want to get drunk ;-)

Let me know!

Monday, May 7, 2012

IKEA UPPLEVA: a Sony Killer?

Although I am not a great fan of IKEA - I think they just invented a BRILLIANT proposition for households world wide... well done! As long as the sound is good and I can hook up all my apple shizzle and PlayStation 3 ... I'm sold!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Essence of Playing a Game

In my new book - I will be writing about how games are used in a business context, like playing at work for training purposes. The funny thing is that people in a work-environment are not used (and likely) to change. It's remarkable that in games actually - we tend to try to reach the same objective in different ways even if it means losing a few lives (die trying). So in games we are very 'open to change' and eager to learn.

A friend of mine is graduating at the University of Utrecht on a thesis about the effectiveness of games as a tool for internal communication and her opening quote is striking, because it defines exactly why I think using games in business environments is so effective. The words have been said by Henry Ford and goes as follows:

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. 

I am going to read the thesis now and I promise you will soon see a post here including the summary of the effects of games as an internal communications tool.

 'Laat op je werk spelen' (A Business Playground / playatwork / workinplay)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Mobile Gaming in USA, UK and Germany

Thanks to Newzoo and Distimo research. 

Below you can find the graphs that give you key insigths into the mobile gaming in the US, the UK, and Germany.
Mobile Gaming | USA | 2012
  • Share of paying players has grown 35% to 37 million Americans
  • iOS takes 54% of the revenues from mobile games, iOS games gross 5 times more and Android games in the US
  • The majority of money is spent in-game: 91% of revenues for both iOS and Android
  • 68% of Americans plays games on a smartphone, of which 19 million (28%) plays on an iPhone
  • iPad dominates the tablet space and is used to play games on by 60% of tablet users
Mobile Gaming | UK | 2012

  • Share of paying players has grown 24% to 9.2 million Brits
  • iOS takes 61% of the revenues from mobile games, iOS games gross 16 times more and Android games in the US
  • The majority of money is spent in-game: 91% of revenues for Android and 85% for iOS
  • 75% of Brits plays games on a smartphone, of which 4.9 million (27%) plays on an iPhone
  • iPad dominates the tablet space and is used to play games on by 71% of tablet users
Mobile Gaming | Germany | 2012
  • Share of paying players has grown 29% to 7.8 million Germans
  • iOS takes 61% of the revenues from mobile games, iOS games gross 8 times more and Android games in the US
  • The majority of money is spent in-game: 73% of revenues for Android and 78% for iOS
  • 69% of Germans plays games on a smartphone, of which 4.1 million (25%) plays on an iPhone
  • iPad dominates the tablet space and is used to play games on by 64% of tablet users

Monday, April 23, 2012

Project Glass: One day...

As I wrote in 'A Brand New Playground' this just MIGHT be the future of glasses and technology...

5th Ave Frogger by Tyler Deangelo, Renee Lee & Ranjit Bhatnagar

Frogger... who didn't play it when (s)he was young? Now you can play the 'real-life' version in a fusion with the original arcade classic! Check out the video!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Guy from Method (WoW-guild) on World Series of Dating

Look at the reaction of these two lovely people when they find out they used to be playing the same game and the guy was actually member of the legendary 'Method' guild... brilliant!

Coolest music videoclip EVER! - It's interactive! Red Hot and Chilli!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Drawsomething sells 50 million 'copies' - an update...

Drawsome is Awesome! 

But still, could be improved...

I just advised the guys at Drawsome to add some game-mechanics to their app to make it more fun.. Let's see if they incorperate it...

1. Add 'time'. This will work two ways and will increase the points you get for drawing and guessing a word. The quicker you draw, the more points you (both) receive when guessing. The quicker on guesses a drawing - again - the more points (you both) receive.

You could even add a challenge mode: draw THIS WORD within 100 seconds (amateur-mode), 60 seconds (designer-mode), 30 seconds (Bob Ross-mode)

2. Limited Ink... the less ink you use the higher your score.

3. Draw with 1 strike... the less 'strikes' you use on the canvas, the more points you get! In challenge mode you can have: 30 strikes (amateur), 15 strikes (pro) 5 strikes (Mondriaan mode) ...

What do YOU think?

Friday Fun: I'm an Art Director

This is why Art Directors SHOULD NOT develop game concepts...

Touch Code System...

Impressive enough to share, but I have NO IDEA what you should do with this technology... Just like Augmented Reality in many cases. It's a stunning technology, but applications are most of the time badly thought-through and useless.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Facebook and Google: Disrupting Gaming Platforms

I wrote about this two years ago, when I started writing the Dutch version of my book 'A Brand New Playground' in 2009. In my book I wanted to described the available gaming platforms like Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 as well as handhelds Nintendo DS and PSP. But when I dove into 'PC platforms I noticed that a 'PC' as such was not the just one platform or 'a platform in itself'. You would have 'multiple platforms' you could access by using a PC (or rather ... the internet). Within the platform 'PC' I defined three segments:

1. Client based (DVD Roms)
2. Server based (DVD combined or downloadable code that you need to install combined with Server based prescriptions - paid or free)
3. Browser based (casual games on websites)

Since mobile phones and tablets can go online so easily through Wifi you have to redefine how you describe gaming platforms... now (from April on) all the new television sets will be 100% online as well offering all sorts of content, varying from the weather on demand (like an app), through YouTube-channels, Google-channels, Gaming channels, etc. etc.

In my book I mentioned that gaming consoles like the PlayStation 3 are not just gaming consoles, but portals to all the internet content there is: music, film, photo, etc. LA Times recently posted an article claiming that the Xbox is actually used more to watch other content than just games. Microsoft reports that families are spending over 80 hours monthly on content like movies (through the HBO-portal for instance) and music!

At the end of writing my book I got frustrated about offline versus online, above the line versus below the line and such and concluded: THERE ARE NO LINES ! The internet is based on one thing and one thing only: Content! This 'content' can be textual, visual (static or dynamic, audible or software (fun or functional). If you want to build a brand around 'content' it is wise to first come up with a good concept and content strategie, but that is all (largely) explained in the presentation below. And of course I would be happy to help you with developing a good concept for your brand anytime. 
The point I wish to make here is that platforms and hardware are no longer connected in the traditional sense. Both 'hardware' as well as 'software' platforms (like Facebook) can be gaming platforms... Facebook was the best example up to now, but Google Play will be a fierce competitor to Facebook and might actually be the key driver to make Google+ successful (as I believe Google+ is not really successful in terms of active users year to date). 

So keep your eyes open for Google Play and Smart TV and stay tuned to my blog! ;-) 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Social Gaming Trend Report 2012 by Newzoo

An interesting outlook from my friends at Newzoo on social gaming or casual gaming as it was called since the social media hype exploded into our faces... ;-) Check it out and let me know if you have any questions through Twitter. Newzoo Trend Report: Casual Social Games - February 2012
View more presentations from Newzoo

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Man (60+) playing flight simulator

A great example that not only young people are playing games... This man plays his flight sim every day since he got his pension. He actually talks with friends over 'Skype'. Great to see how old boys still keep their game going on!

Funny also that his wife is actually scanning stamps for her collection... !

PS - Yes ... I need a new television, but I seldom watch TV hahaha. Will buy a Smart TV soon...

Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday Fun: K-Swiss Blades by Kenny Powers ... FOR ADULTS ONLY....!

Don't watch this if you hate swearing and stuff...

Friday Fun: Build a calculator in Minecraft - the game

I heard there was a guy that build a giant living calculator in Little Big Planet from Niels Roodenburg (Publisher of the biggest gaming magazine in the Netherlands), but this is even more impressive! A guy that build a WORKING calculator in Minecraft... how many hours of work have gone into this project do you recon...? It probably contains more than 500.000 building blocks!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Re-mission Revisited: Fighting Cancer

By Morton Geertsen 
Reading a book can be like following a path of unique field knowledge and insights. I remember discovering the strange fields of math, or learning about the rules of creation in 3d programs. However, although a book interacts with you in terms of its ideas, which challenges you, you remain a relatively passive participant. This affects the learning process, which are at the risk of being weakened, as the participant quickly and easily can lose motivation. After all, the initial motivation that makes a person open a book, watch a TV program or listen to the radio, might change: Leaving the participant with no reasons for continuing the learning process.
A Brand New Playground gives life to the idea that the best games succeed in creating a highly beneficial learning curve by making the participant engage in the process – and thus “wake up”! A Brand New Playground proposes: “Where watching a movie is a relaxing activity where you can lean back or even slump on the couch, you are a passive participant; a game generally requires active consumer participation and generates a high level of involvement – stronger yet: the person playing the game even dictates the course and outcome of the game!”
The above quote meets further scientific backup, stating that indeed game offers a unique way of learning, which potential is hidden in its ability to involve players: "Active involvement in video game play sparks positive motivation in a way that watching and hearing information does not," says Steve Cole, Ph.D., Vice President of Research and Development at HopeLab, professor of medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, and co-author of the article. He continues: "All participants in the study received the same information. It was the active participation in gameplay that made the big difference in motivation. This study helps refine our 'recipe for success' in harnessing the power of play in the service of health."
This statement is part of a study, investigating the effect of a new serious game called Re-Mission, targeted young cancer patients. In Re-Mission players pilot a nanobot named Roxxi as she travels through the bodies of fictional cancer patients destroying cancer cells, battling bacterial infections, and managing side effects associated with cancer and cancer treatment.
As the most essential finding, this study shows how reward-related activation is associated with a shift in attitudes and emotions that has helped boost players' adherence to prescribed chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments in a previous study. Check out the video below to get a first-hand impression and initial opinion on how well the concept has been carried out.

The study compared brain scans in 57 people who were randomly assigned to actively play Re-Mission or to passively watch the same recorded game play (similar to watching a movie, with the exact same information, but no direct participation in the game play events). Results of functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) showed that neural circuits implicated in reward activated strongly while players were actively playing Re-Mission, but not when they were resting, or when other players passively observed the same game play events.
The article on, despite its slightly exaggerated nature, gives some relevant insights: This and other recent studies could prove a change in how both game developers and health care professionals think of games as a learning tool. As a growing body of research data shows that digital games can positively alter the players’ attitude and behavior, the interest and realized potential of "serious games" and "games for health" is gradually increasing. Although the main idea has existed for a long time – the idea that games’ ability to involve players improves motivation and thus learning – the added scientific value of such studies should not be underestimated, when health care institutions and governments consider games as a way of reaching their goals.

In A Brand New Playground there is a reference to the work of Gordon Calleja analyzing the aspects of involvement. These aspects are affective involvement, spatial involvement, narrative involvement, tactical involvement, performative involvement and shared Involvement. Looking at the game through the lenses of these various terms, can help us understand the effect of Re-Mission.
Spatial and tactical involvement is particularly important, because the rules that required you to win and the tactical understanding of the game, is inevitably related to the way the treatment of the patients/players works. Furthermore the similarity between the game story and the real-life situation of patients/players, makes narrative involvement especially strong, as participants can identify with the feelings of fighting cancer. It is not an option to interact with other players/patients in-game – however shared involvement can be expected to happen outside of the frames of the game, as patients most likely will discuss the game with other friends, who are in a similar situation as themselves.
Re-Mission was developed by non-profit organization HopeLab, specialized in the improving the health of young people through new technology. The game has distributed more than 185,000 free copies of Re-Mission in 81 countries worldwide since its release in April 2006.

Remember a game called FarmVille?

The game launched in 2009 and is still one of the most popular games on Facebook, let alone all the clones that have followed like CityVille, CastleVille and TrashVille (a non Zynga game)...

Below some useful and useless facts in a good old info graphic...


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

SmartGate - The Game E-Learning Award Nomination

Cool! We have been nominated for an e-learning award for the games IJsfontein developed for Air Cargo Netherlands, Dutch Customs and Schiphol airport. The games where developed to get 'smart-working and e-freight' across within the Airfreight sector around Schiphol Airport.

We already won an award in the United States in 2011, but now apparently we have been nominated for an e-learning award in our homeland - which is great as well of course!

Check the game trailer of the first game below and the presentation underneath! We can finally share some results in terms of gameplay, high score development, amount of plays (3 on average per visitor) and some other stuff. Go check it out and let me know what you think @BartHufen on Twitter!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rooted - a short story about love & life

Produced by students from the School of Arts Utrecht (The Netherlands).

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

JOURNEY - Official Trailer HD 720p

Breathtaking and evokes my curiousity!

Available in the PlayStation store now...

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Fun: If Games Had Super-Easy Mode

Thanks to my silly (and super intelligent) co-worker @Ziggo: Robin ;-)

Bart Hufen in the Top 20 Global Gamification Guru's!!!

It's fun to Google your name from time to time, especially when you have a rather unique name like 'Hufen'... since there's just one 'Bart Hufen' (up to now) - you tend to get a fair idea of how you mutualized your 'online privacy' in the past ten years.

I googled my name yesterday and 181.000 hits came up. Of course they're not just exclusively about me, but I estimate 90% of all hits are.

I killed some time reading through the results and found out I am in a 'Top 20 -list' of 'Global Gamification Guru's' ! Of course I was honored, because it's fuel for my ego! ;-) I'm currently holding position 12 (coming from place 50) and I will make it my goal to hold the first position any week soon in the upcoming year!

You can help me by Twittering and Sharing all my upcoming articles! ;-)

Thanks so much!!!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

BRIC Games - Some Number Crunching for you

Another article by Morten Geertsen 
Cutting to the core: Numbers across emerging gaming countries
Previously, markets such as social gaming in Brazil and gambling in Mexico have been covered to give some perspective on the global gaming market – and to inspire readers from the established gaming markets, Europe and America, with stories and reports from emerging markets. Today we’re hitting some hard facts, drawing comparisons and highlighting differences between some of the world’s emerging gaming markets, when referring some of the statistics presented in last summer’s report, Monetizing Emerging Games’ Markets. These will be America, Spain, Russia, Brazil and Mexico.
Which platforms are the most popular?
Anyone wondered what the most popular platform is right now – console games, mobile devices or casual websites? We see that overall mobile is in fact the 'biggest' platform. In most countries it is among the top three in terms of number of gamers per platform. Although for many readers this might of no surprise, this means that the number of players on the move has leveled to a very impressive height. However the different between casual website gamers, mobile device gamers and console gamers rarely differs much between the five countries, America, Spain, Russia, Brazil and Mexico.
Who plays vs. who pays?
When looking at the payers vs. players ratio for massive multiplayer role playing games (MMO), it becomes clear that the US not only has the highest number of MMO payers but also by far the highest percentage of MMO payers compared to Spain and emerging markets. 43% of all MMO players in the US pay for MMO games. In emerging markets, the average percentage of MMO payers is about 35% of all MMO players.
Zooming in on social game payers vs. players ratios, it can be said that the percentage of payers amongst social players is on average (almost) equal when comparing the US with emerging markets. Social payer’s percentages vary between 25 and 27% in these countries. With only 16% of social players actually paying for social games in Spain, it becomes clear that Spanish social gamers are not keen on paying for it. However, when looking at the actual social payers, Spaniards are in fact spending the most on average per month on social games (€7,62 per month).
What is the business models used?
There’s model of subscription payments, where players as an example for a month at a time, and there is the virtual item payment method. Only in Spain, subscription based payments are used more often than buying virtual items within social games. The difference between paying via subscription or virtual item is more significant when looking at Russia, Brazil, and Mexico. For MMOs this is different, where subscriptions are in higher demand than virtual items for the US and Spain. For emerging markets, the difference between the two payment methods is less for MMO games than for Social games. These numbers do not indicate the amount of money spent but the absolute number of paying gamers via subscriptions or virtual items.
How do they pay?
When asked how social and MMO players pay for their games, it becomes clear that credit cards are the number one payment method in the US and Brazil. As much as 42% of the Brazilian MMO payers state that credit cards are one of their preferred payment methods. Overall, credit cards and online payment services are the most popular payment methods amongst social and MMO followed by text messaging. Whereas credit cards perform best in the US and Brazil, online payment methods are more popular in Russia, Mexico, and Spain.
Is there other significant payment methods?
Yes, even if cards are dominating most markets, each country shows quite specific local payment preferences (as illustrated above). Brazilian players have less access to credit cards and PayPal than American ones, which have resulted in some monetization problems for foreign companies as stated in . Consequently, they rely on cash-based payments like Boleto (21% local market share overall; up to 40% market share for fully localized online gaming merchants). Russia is all about local eWallets and terminal payments like Qiwi.
What are the transactions across the countries?
It should come as no surprise that players from emerging countries have a lower purchasing power which is reflected in their average spent per purchase (25% less than American players on average). This explains why localized offers are usually set at a lower price point for both game clients and services in these countries - sometimes with Western pricing strategies sustained via multiple monthly installments (such as 1/6 of the price per month over six months).

All data derived from Newzoo - thanks guys!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Pigs in Spaaaaace: NASA announcement about Angry Birds

I think I need to rethink the facts I mentioned in my book 'A Brand New Playground'...

In the book I said that about 50% of all people on earth play games.

What I didn't foresee is that people would be playing games in space...

WTF???? - Check out the video...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Back to the Start

Cool animation to make us more aware of how our pigs and other livestock are treated and what the food chain from land to plate looks like. Maybe it's better to buy more 'organic' beef, wholesome pigs and free running chicken! It's up to you!


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Not a sure bet yet: A story of the Mexican gambling industry

Because I expect gaming and gambling will merge more and more in the future and we have a lot of readers in Latin-America, we decided to write a small outline about the Mexican Gambling industry. The article was written by our friend Morten Geertsen 

Pointing towards the clouds of the night, these and other lights come from the many casinos placed around Monterrey. Six months ago, I first realized the popularity of gambling in Mexico, when a friendly family took me home, after I had rented a room in one of Monterrey’s most dangerous areas. Several days a week, in the afternoon they would leave the house to go gamble, and come home late at night. Euphoric, noisy and with the tequila still hosting after-parties in their blood.
This family was neither poor or out of balance – but it belonged to the fortunate group of Mexican families, who found joy in gambling, appreciated its social aspects and functions in Mexico, and had the necessary resources to cultivate such a hobby. 

Sometimes I’d join them. Follow them in their quest for fun and newfound gambling skills. Share the adventurous feeling of “going all in” on trying your luck! The loud sounds of living in that one moment – the present, where many Mexicans love to be – echoed days after each visit.
Then there was a recent article, backing up my experiences with facts – reading across this tiny 10” screen:
“In 2004, the Mexican Government liberalized gaming laws and issued 200 licenses to betting parlors, bingo halls and a few casinos. Most of these licenses were grabbed up by Mexican television behemoth Televisa. Online gaming was added to the roster of legalized Mexican gambling in 2007. Today, the Mexican market is second only to Brazil in Central/South American gaming revenues and is believed to be around the $3.5-$4 billion range.”
Some years ago my “new Mexican family” would not have been able to perform their now accustomed night activities. Despite its reputation as a “loose to rules” nation, in many aspects Mexico should be considered a highly conservative country. Therefore, thanks to a pressure of the Catholic Church and a fence of old traditions, gambling was kept on safe distance of the Mexican citizens for more than 50 years.
However, that ban has eroded slowly over the years and many forms of lotteries and sports betting have been tolerated for decades. In 2004 the on-ground gambling ban was removed, and in 2007 ban for online gambling suffered the same destiny.
Since then the Mexican market of gambling has followed a path of growth. It is now second only to Brazil. Casinos worth more than $500 million are believed to open Acapulco and Mazatlan. A minimum of four new services are planned along the Texas-Mexico border. Over 35 gaming sites are expected to come up within the countries boundaries. Many gambling companies of Las Vegas will be willing and keen to open up their casinos in the promising light of the future Mexican gambling market.
Online gambling should not be overlooked. American gambling enthusiasts will swear loudly and clench their fist towards the sky, if you ask them about the situation of online poker in America. That’s because it is illegal there. And this Mexican online gambling has benefited enormously from for several years.
Sometimes when looking closer at a situation, you notice some “but”s. These are apparent in this article as well.
There are still law restrictions in Mexico. Nowadays fewer licenses to run casinos are issued by the government. Also, though leading players of this industry want to set up their casinos in beautiful tourist locations like Acapulco and Cancun, the government of Mexico has to explicitly mention the exact locations where casinos would be given the required license to continue such activities.
This means that the Mexican gambling market does not actually reach its potential: “Mexico should be one of the top ranking countries in the gaming industry within Latin America and it is estimated that if it removed its ban on casinos the gambling industry could generate revenues of US$80 - US $120 billion. As a contrast the current estimated income based on the real gaming activities allowed is a comparatively meager US$4.6 billion,” a report reads.
Another restriction comes when we take a look at the American market again. A legalization of Internet poker in the United States would send earthquakes of bad economy predictions across the Mexican gambling market. As mentioned, the neighbor country provides the industry with huge earnings, and should legal American online poker become a reality, it will lose most, if not all, of their U.S. poker customers.
Finally, what should not be overlooked nor underestimated is the security situation. It’s no secret that Mexico is right now undergoing its most severe security crisis in living memory. During my time in Monterrey, my study buddies and I experienced this in many forms – robberies, threats and corruption is daily life. The reason for this can be traced back to decision of president, Filipe Calderón, who initiated a violent war on the drug cartels. As a result the fights have gotten out of control, and the country’s image, people and economy is now shaken. The many illegal casinos are believed to be vulnerable to corruption, money laundering and extortion.
In the end, in the instability of the government and the corrupted dark corners of the illegal casinos, makes believing in Mexican gambling a “not sure bet”. However, despite some serious problems, Mexico shows signs of emerging as one of the world’s major gaming market. After all, with all the changes around the world restricting gambling, Mexico presents growing opportunities for investors, operators and equipment and technology suppliers within the gambling industry.

Assassin's Creed 3 - Reveal Trailer [NL]

One of my favorite game-franchises of the past five years...

Conceptual gems in my opinion!