5 Video Game Stories to Make You Smart - and 1 to Make You Dumb

Here's Friday's run down of 5 video game news stories to make you smart - and one to make you dumb. 

1. First it was Dungeons and Dragons Online, now Lord of the Rings Online has embraced the free-to-play model. 

Why game developers should  care: not long ago, monthly subscriptions were the only game in town for MMOs but with WOW continuing to crush the competitors, under-performing online games can be resuscitated with a shift in business models. Being online gives you a second time at bat (maybe).

2. Apple has sold 2 million iPads since its debut April - and some are predicting it will sell 10 million units by the end of 2010.

Why game developers care: by way of comparison, Microsoft shipped about 1.5M Xboxes in a similar time frame (but at a lower price point). In other words, iPad as a gaming platform is loco caliente.

3. In a move to "save" traditional media that are dying like newspapers, the FTC is circulating a proposal for a broad 5% tax on all consumer electronics.

Why game developers care: besides the obvious impact on things like video games, it really demonstrates how skilled traditional media is at playing the politics games - and how bad new media is at it.

4. Zynga bought Austin based casual games studio Challenge Games. Terms weren't disclosed but Challenge had recently closed $14.5M in financing from top tier VCs and an SEC filing suggests Zynga put down $20.5 million.

Why game developers should  care: Zynga is moving into re-crafting itself into more than just Facebook's killer app - they want to be a gaming destination in their own right. They'll be moving up the gaming food chain soon enough - Popcap should watch its back. 

5. EA is debuting their online pass system for used games - if you want to play online, you're going to have to pay $10.

Why game developers should  care: the big publishers are trying to figure out how to get a piece of the used game market - the success or failure of this system will be a bellwether. 

Finally, Japan is once again pulling ahead of the world in its ability to produce large scale Gundam and general awesomeness.

Why game developers should care: Umm. Giant freaking robots. Obviously.

- Sean Dugan is The Boss Monster’s founding editor and biggest advocate of giant robots.

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