GDC roundup: Total War, NASCAR, Wizard Ops Tactics and more

Global Gaming Initiative aims to get players into the charity game — Today at GDC, we sat down to chat with The Global Gaming Initiative, a for-profit gaming group who makes games to benefit charities. That may sound confusing, but it actually works pretty simply: The GGI partners with a charity it researches (to ensure it’s legitimate) and then creates a premium game where installs and IAP help support said charity. The example we were shown was Sidekick Cycle, a Tiny Wings-like runner on iOS benefitting World Bicycle Relief. We’re told every 387 installs of the $0.99 app will pay for a high-quality bike to be delivered to a child in need in Africa. An interesting element of the game is that there’s a graphic showing how close the game is to delivering its next bike every time an IAP is made. The GGI tells us it’s planning to release games on iOS and Google Play for now, and Sidekick Cycle will be out sometime in the coming months. If you’re interested in checking out the GGI and its message of “change in your pocket”, head over to the company’s website to learn more.

Eutechnyx bringing NASCAR games to mobile — Eutechnyx, the developer behind NASCAR’s various console games, revealed to us that it’s expanding its titles onto iOS and Android. Based on the build we saw, the mobile version of NASCAR The Game: Inside Line has some stunning graphics and will also be able to leverage all the cars and racers from NASCAR itself. According to Eutechnyx VP, Commercial Scott Jones tells us the game will play with CSR-like mechanics, with a cutscene showing how you perform. Meanwhile, the company also is working on NASCAR Draft, which will feature asynchronous strategic multiplayer mechanics. The game gives users ten moves to play each round, like choosing to pass or draft behind other cars, and will again show a cutscene updating one’s standing in the race; Jones tells us the title’s been designed off of board game ideas. These games are coming sometime later this summer, and we’re also told Eutechnyx is currently in the process of considering the possibilities of bringing NASCAR games to social platforms.

Wizard Ops Tactics brings tactical strategy to mobile and web — We spent some time checking out Phyken Media’s Wizard Ops Tactics on the floor of GDC Play today. The game is a fully 3D version of fantasy-themed tactical strategy action, with gameplay reminiscent of classics like Disgaea or Final Fantasy Tactics (there are definitely some goofy attacks and animations that certainly feel like they’d appear during the former). From what we got to see, the strategic combat — which is online only, there’s no single player mode — was pretty fun and the graphics looked truly gorgeous. The game is due out on web, Android and iOS sometime this Spring and will feature Facebook Connect, as well as other social sharing mechanics.

Creative Assembly announces free-to-play Total War: ARENA — PC strategy game developer and makes of the Total War Franchise today announced Total War: Arena, a free-to-play game mixing elements of real-time strategy and MOBA (multiplayer online battle arena) gameplay. Creative Assembly  Lead Designer James Russell announced that the game was under development in the company’s U.K. studio during its GDC 2013 session. Total War: ARENA will be the company’s first free-to-play title. It will allow players to recreate famous battles from history in large scale, team-based matches. Players can sign up for the upcoming closed beta tests here.

Playdek raises $3.8M in Series A funding — Digital tabletop games publisher Playdek announced it has raised $3.8 million in Series A funding led by Qualcomm Ventures with participation from IDG Ventures, ff Venture Capital and existing investors Deep Fork Capital, Greycroft Partners, Jari Mohn and other angel investors. — The new funds will be used to expand the company’s ability to launch more games such as the upcoming Agricola, as well its online community platform. Launching later this year, the Playdek community platform will encourage digital tabletop players to connect with special events and tournaments.