Friday, April 11, 2008

Big News from Novint!

One of the biggest pieces of NM Media News this week was Novint's announcement that they'd landed a deal with EA (game industry titan Electronic Arts).

This is, um, huge, and a great example of the commitment, perseverance and passion it takes to take a start-up into the big time. Congrats to Tom and the team on their well-deserved success!

More at the Novint Falcon blog

In Gamasutra:

And here in arstechnica:

An expensive product in an unproven market

New peripherals always have an uphill battle in the market; those on both the PC and the gaming consoles that have managed to take off always have strong games attached. Dance mats are inseparable from Dance Dance Revolution, the guitars and drums for Rock Band had one of the most hyped rhythm games and a proven track record to bank on, while expensive flight sticks bring the promise of a more realistic experience with a variety of different flight simulations. So what do you do when your main product is a $190+ haptic device? The first step is getting people to try it, and the second step is making enough great games available for it to get people to bite. The best peripheral is worthless without a solid software library.

Novint was aware that this was the challenge with the Falcon; as we pointed out in our review of the product, the hardware and effects were amazing, but outside of one or two games, there just wasn't much worth your time to play on the hardware. We spoke to Tom Anderson, the CEO of Novint, and he was blunt about this issue. "When you look at reviews, and you guys did a really great, really fair [job], I thought it was [a] really well done review of the Falcon," Anderson told me. "We get that type of review a lot; we get a lot of really positive reviews, but towards the end of the review, typically it says 'But how is Novint going to do without game support?'"

He also points out that he reads the comments on various message boards, where consumers are interested in the product, but simply don't see the game support being worth the investment.

When you kill the whale, the fish look easy

The company's response? Sign up EA for Falcon support. Novint will soon be selling some of the EA's largest franchises through its online store, complete with the high-end haptics effects that Falcon integration brings. Games like Tiger Woods PGA Tour '08, Madden '08, NBA Live '08, Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142, and Need For Street ProStreet will be coming to the NVeNT front end. This is a huge step up from the somewhat generic golf and racing games available for the hardware now, and it shows the caliber of support Falcon owners can expect in the future. So how does a small company like Novint convince one of the biggest publishers to give its PC peripheral so much support? The answer lies in an innovative business idea called 3D Touch Rights.

More at: An expensive product in an unproven market

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