Video game companies have bet big on 3-D, putting vast resources into developing games that jump out at players. But they’ve been waiting for the consoles to catch up.

“We could make all the 3-D games we want but if they don’t have the hardware, it’s useless,” said Brian Farrell, chief executive for Agoura Hills-based publisher THQ. He was speaking during a meeting with the Business Journal at the E3 video game conference last week at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

And there’s evidence that the time has come, judging by the long lines at E3 outside Nintendo’s 3DS, the first three dimensional console.

“From the buzz around the announcements here, it looks like 3-D is going to be a really big hit,” said Patrick Sweeny, video game attorney for Reed Smith LLC.

While 3-D was buzzing, mobile game application publishing wasn’t. Big companies displayed their wares, but small companies that make their own games weren’t represented. They were given the option of exhibiting at the Mobile Games Pavilion, but only two were present on the second day of the show.

Edward Woo, video game analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities Inc. in Los Angeles, predicted before the start of E3 that mobile games would have a large presence at the expo this year in response to the success of the iPhone and iPad. That forecast wasn’t vindicated.

“There’s not enough mobile for me,” complained one attendee as he scanned the crowd of costumed characters and scantily clad booth babes for sight of a mobile app exhibitor.

Mobile games were present at E3, but only established titles by the biggest companies, which were showing off mobile versions of their most popular games, said Joseph Olin, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences.

“The number of titles and formats being shown by the major stakeholders is just overwhelming,” Olin said.

The E3 conference remains a must-stop for smaller companies trying to get their name out there.

Venice Beach-based IndieCade, an independent game festival held in October, provided small computer stations where attendees could try out some of the games that will be featured at the festival.

Farrell said the smaller exhibitors have to make their presence known somehow.

“This industry, a lot of it is based on word of mouth,” he said.

Done Deal

Done Ventures LLC, a Manhattan Beach Internet publishing firm, has sued NBC Universal for backing out of a domain name sale agreement.

In the complaint filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on June 3, Done Chief Executive Ben Padnos claims that NBC agreed to sell the domain names Women.com and Women.net. Done made an offer of $1 million for the domain names on May 21 and NBC accepted on May 24. But three days later, NBC Chief Executive Jeff Zucker halted the deal, telling Done that the domain names were no longer for sale.

Padnos is asking the court to require NBC to move forward with the sale.

“We’re not looking for damages,” he said. “We’re looking to close the transaction.”

Padnos, who also created voicemail-sharing website Audioo and co-founded BetterPPC, a pay-per-click advertising platform, founded Done in 2001 as an incubator for startup Internet and technology companies. Done plans to use the domain names to build an online network for women. Padnos said the name Women.com is critical to the branding of the website.

Currently, the domain names are not attached to active websites.

Drunk Acquisition

Ebook website Wowio recently announced the acquisition of DrunkDuck, a social networking website for the comic book community.

The June 8 announcement marked the second recent acquisition for Wowio. On June 3, the company announced the purchase of WEvolt, a website that allows people to create and monetize online comic books.

Both acquisitions come after a small funding round where Wowio raised $1.7 million. Wowio Chief Executive Brian Altounian led the funding.

Altounian said he plans to integrate the three websites to allow a comic book creator to design, share and sell an online comic.

Wowio was founded in 2006 as an online ebook distributor, but Altounian said the purchase of WEvolt and DrunkDuck is another step in moving the company toward the goal of distributing a wide range of digital content, including multimedia comic books.

“While Wowio was initially in the ebook space, I don’t have any dreams of going up against Amazon or Apple that are offering the top catalog titles for digital download,” he said.

Staff reporter Natalie Jarvey can be reached at njarvey@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225 ext. 230.

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