News: April 2009 Archives

Entertainment Software AssociationThe Entertainment Software Association (The ESA is a game industry trade group) is drawing attention to the United States Trade Representative's action of placing Canada on a priority watch list for "failure to maintain effective intellectual property protection and enforcement. According to Michael Gallagher, CEO of the ESA, "Canada's weak laws and enforcement practices foster game piracy in the Canadian market and pave the way for unlawful imports into the U.S."
Game Developer magazine has released the results of its eighth annual salary survey of American game design professionals. The average salary for American game design jobs in 2008 was $79,000, up from $74,000 in 2007. More specific findings for 2008 salaries are as follows:
SouthPeak GamesSouthPeak Games has shipped Velvet Assassin for the Xbox 360 and PC to stores in North America. Velvet Assassin is a stealth-action game that follows Violette Summer, a British secret agent working behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany. The game is loosely based on the real story of Violette Szabo, with gamers playing through her memories as she recovers in the hospital.
JoWooDJoWooD reported certain financial results for its fiscal results for the year ended December 31, 2008:
Matrix Games has released Close Combat: The Longest Day, a remake of Close Combat: Invasion Normandy. The game allows players to engage in the World-War II D-Day Atlantic landing from either the Allied or German side.
UbisoftUbisoft reported select financial results for its fiscal year ended March 31, 2009:
Cartoon Network, part of Turner Broadcasting, has promoted Chris Waldron to Vice President of Gaming Operations for Cartoon Network. Waldron joined Cartoon Network in 2000 and will continue to serve as Executive Producer of Cartoon Network Universe: FusionFall, Cartoon Network's massively multiplayer online game.
Atlus' game Super Robot Taisen Original Generation Saga: Endless Frontier is now in stores for the DS. This role-playing game extends the Super Robot Taisen franchise with lots of fighting-game-style combat.
Developer Widescreen Games confirmed that it has stopped development on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions of The Witcher. The console versions were to be called The Witcher: Rise of the White Wolf, but according to Widescreen Games, development is being stopped as financial issues between itself, Atari and CD Projekt are resolved. Clearly the terms of the development agreement need to be resolved before the project can continue.
KoeiKoei's game Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce for the PSP is now available in stores. This tactical action game expands the Dynasty Warriors formula by allowing four players to join together (using the PSP's ad-hoc mode) to battle armies of thousands of foes. The game was developed by Omega Force for Koei.
MicrosoftThe arrival of Wednesday sees the release of three more games for the Xbox 360's Xbox Live Arcade:
AtariAtari has released the Mysteries of Westgate adventure for Neverwinter Nights 2. Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate is an expanded adventure that adds around 15 hours of play to the game and can be downloaded for $10. The adventure was developed by Ossian Studios and is an adventure set in the city of Westgate that has players seeking to rid themselves of a cursed treasure.
Sony has launched its persistent online world Free Realms for the PC. The game can be accessed for free with additional content available for a fee. Within Free Realms, players can indulge in a variety of activities, ranging from battling monsters to racing karts and raising pets. The world features lots of social networking activities and even a collectible card game. It's aiming to be all things to all people of all ages, in a vaguely casual way.
Paradox InteractiveStalin vs. Martians from Mezmer Games (Paradox Interactive's casual games label) is now available as a download through many PC game portals. The game is an arcade-style real-time-strategy game that pits the Red Army of 1942 against invading Martians. The game was developed by BWF, Dreamlore Studios and N-Game Studios.
NCsoftNCsoft's massively multiplayer online game Lineage II is five years old today, and as part of the celebration, NCsoft has launched a major content update that constitutes the conclusion of the Gracia story arc. Gracia Final is the third Gracia content update and brings a new continent and updated player-vs.-player combat (including aerial combat) to the game. Also, Lineage II is celebrating its fifth anniversary by having monsters drop engraved letters and numbers that can be combined into familiar phrases for in-game rewards.
GamesCampus has officially launched its game MLB Dugout Heroes. That means the game has been running in one form or another for some time, but as a free-to-play persistent online game, it has launched the cash shop so that players can pay to "enhance" their fun. The game features the Major League Baseball license and allows players to play online baseball, complete with "baseball missions."
Mobile publisher Gameloft confirmed its financial results for the first quarter of its financial year and announced that the company has acquired the license to make a Sherlock Holmes game.
NCsoftNCsoft's massively multiplayer online game City of Heroes is five years old today. The game will be featuring a variety of live events and a party in the "Pocket D" nightclub to celebrate the occasion.
Aspyr Media, together with Russian Publisher 1C, has released Cryostasis for the PC in North America. The first-person shooter has players discovering a Russian nuclear ice-breaker stuck in the Arctic, and exploring how the crew perished.
Entertainment Software AssociationThe Entertainment Software Association, a trade group that represents video and computer game companies, has acquired new members. Publishers Koei, Crave and Playlogic have all joined the ESA. Presumably, all have decided to do so to be a part of the Electronic Entertainment Expo that will occur in June.
Developer Realtime Worlds (who worked on Crackdown) has hired Gary Dale as its new Chief Executive Officer. Prior to his hire by Realtime Worlds, Dale has worked as Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President at Take-Two Interactive (and Chief Operating Officer of Rockstar Games). At Realtime Worlds, Dale will oversee the company and its work on the upcoming online game All Points Bulletin.
NintendoOnce again, Nintendo has released a slew of downloadable games to celebrate the arrival of another Monday. This week's games are:
Russian publisher 1C, together with Battlefront.com, has released Theater of War 2: Africa 1943. The strategy game for the PC is available as a download or can be ordered as a physical copyfrom Battlefront.com. This sequel to the original Theater of War takes the action to Tunisia, with the German Afrika Korps facing off against the allies following their defeat at Al-Alamein.
TurbineTurbine is celebrating the second anniversary of its massively multiplayer online game The Lord of the Rings Online by offering a reduced-rate subscription plan (of $10 per month) to the game, as well as in-game rewards such as rare loot drops for the duration of the anniversary celebration (that will last through June 30).
NCsoftNCsoft wants everyone to know that the Guild Wars franchise, developed by ArenaNet, has now sold more than six million copies. To celebrate, Guild Wars is receiving new quest content.
Every Thursday, Sony releases new downloadable content, and this week's full game is Ratchet & Clank: Size Matters. Previously released for the PSP, this game can now be downloaded for the PSP for $16.
MicrosoftMicrosoft announced the financial results for its fiscal third quarter ended March 31, 2009:
Acclaim has officially launched the massively multiplayer online game The Chronicles of Spellborn developed by Spellborn NV. While the game has been downloadable and playable for weeks, premium subscriptions are now available by credit card. As with many such games, it appears that the ability to pay for the "free-to-play" game marks its official launch.
Electronic Arts, together with Sony, has launched the "EA Sports Complex" within the PlayStation Home social space for the PlayStation 3. While the Sports Complex space does offer casual games, it is primarily a space for PlayStation 3 owners to interact, chat and have EA Sports game marketed to them.
Developer Winter Wolves has released Spirited Heart as a download for the PC. The game is a simple "life simulator" in which players take on the role of one of three fantasy-themed and anime-styled women, and make life and dialog choices for 10 in-game years to explore that character's life and find her a romantic partner.
Got Game Entertainment's adventure game compilation, Adventure: Collector's Edition (Volume 1), already available as a download, has now reached retail stores. This compilation includes three PC adventure games: Penumbra: Overture, RHEM 2 and Scratches: Director's Cut.
TurbineTurbine has launched versions of its massively multiplayer online game The Lord of the Rings Online in both Russia and Korea. NHN is hosting the Korean version and ITT is hosting the Russian version.
This week's new release on Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 is Lode Runner. This classic puzzling platformer is being released with updated 3D graphics and can be downloaded for 1,200 points ($15).
Casual and mobile game publisher I-play, part of Oberon Media, has launched Paradise Quest as a downloadable game for the PC. This casual, match-three-style puzzle game varies from the typical formula by having the nature of the matches made by the player affect where the player wanders around the Galapagos, and the success of efforts to rehabilitate the Galapagos archipelago.
Merscom, in conjunction with National Geographic, has released Plan It Green as a download for the PC. The game has players taking on the role of a town's mayor and converting eight neighborhoods to more ecologically friendly and attractive areas.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts is pleased to gloat that since June of 2009, gamers have played 500 million sessions of its online-enabled sports games. EA also noted that Madden NFL '09 and FIFA '09 each have around 2.4 million registered players.
Developer Last Day of Work has released its game Virtual Families as a download for the PC. This casual game has players taking on the role of a character and then simulating that character's life, through decisions such as marriage, career and raising children.
EidosThe previously planned acquisition of Eidos by Square Enix has been approved and is now effective. All shareholders (on record as of 6:00 PM London time) will receive 32 pence cash for each Eidos share from Square Enix and the shares will be delisted on the morning of April 23. Square Enix currently intends to maintain Eidos as its own brand, with Phil Rogers continuing as the Chief Executive Officer of Eidos.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment confirmed that it is working with TT Games and Harmonix (part of MTV Games) to develop Lego Rock Band for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and DS (Backbone Entertainment is working on the DS version). The game should be released in time for the holiday season this year and combines the usual Rock Band style of play in which gamers play along to music with simulated instruments with the family-friendly character of Lego games and products. Players will take on the role of Lego band members playing popular music through a series of venues set in the Lego world.
PSPSony has released the V5.50 system update for the PSP. This latest update introduces improvements to the management of memory sticks and tweaks to the internet search function, as well as adding an Information Board to the XrossMediaBar similar to that available on the PlayStation 3.
Ascaron, developer of the Sacred games (published by CDV Entertainment), posted a notice on its official site that on April 14, the company went into administration in Germany. That's bankruptcy in more American terminology. Ascaron noted that development on the console versions of Sacred 2 is complete and those games will still ship next month.
NintendoThis week's downloadable releases from Nintendo include two games for the Wii and two games for the recently released DSi:
NintendoNintendo's Excitebots: Trick Racing is now in stores for the Wii. The game continues the Excite Truck franchise, this time having players race animal- and insect-like vehicles through crazy trick races.
UbisoftUbisoft announced that Shadowbane will be shuttered on May 1, 2009. The PvP-focused massively multiplayer online game was straggling long before developer Wolfpack Studios was shut down in 2006. Finally, the servers will be no more.
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive has launched Sword of the Stars: Ultimate Collection as a download for the PC through its GamersGate portal. This compilation includes the original Sword of the Stars strategy game, along with the two expansions, Born of Blood and A Murder of Crows.
Yesterday, Interplay filed its annual report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While Interplay has been nearly defunct for years, the company secured some cash by selling the Fallout franchise to Bethesda Softworks (ultimately resulting in Fallout 3). As part of that transaction, Interplay retained the right to make a massively multiplayer online game based on the Fallout franchise (presumably the project Interplay dubs "V13"). Unfortunately, for Interplay, it looks like they will lose the right to make V13, the company's only hope for salvation. Furthermore, Interplay's financial results were as awful as expected:
Activision BlizzardActivision Blizzard issued an update today, noting that sales of its games, particularly its World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Guitar Hero games, has been higher than forecast, such that the company's quarterly performance will be better than expected. While that's good news, the fact that Activision Blizzard didn't provide an update on the numbers it gave in early February made the announcement seem like an effort to distract investors from the announcement today that Activision Blizzard is changing the company to whom it licenses World of Warcraft in China:

SCEE CEO to Retire

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Sony Computer Entertainment confirmed that David Reeves will retire from his post as President, Chief Executive Officer and co-Chief Operating Officer of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe at the end of this month. Reeves has been with the company since 1995. Andrew House, currently Sony Computer Entertainment International's Chief Marketing Officer, will take over the post of managing SCEE's business as President, CEO and co-COO.
Deep SilverDeep Silver, part of Koch Media, has shipped its game Professor Heinz Wolff's Gravity for the Wii and DS to stores in North America. This puzzle game bears the name of a man who has served as scientific advisor for the European Space Agency and has players using physics to place objects and solve puzzles.
MicrosoftMicrosoft confirmed that it will be covering the repairs to Xbox 360 units that report the E74 error message as part of the limited three-year warranty program the company announced to cover the "red ring of death" problem.
Atlus has shipped its game The Dark Spire for the DS to stores in North America. The game is a classic, dungeon-crawl-style role-playing game in which players can lead a party through a 3D dungeon in either wire-frame or modern-looking modes.
Atlus has launched its game Dokapon Journey for the DS, a game that combines elements of board games, party games and role-playing games as multiple players race each other to win the Dokapon crown.
Stardock's game Demigod, developed by Gas Powered Games, is now in stores for the PC and available as a download. The real-time strategy game allows players to take control of an enormous and powerful being working to ascend to godhood through battle.
Activision BlizzardActivision, part of Activision Blizzard, shipped its game Guitar Hero: Metallica to stores last month for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Today, that game is also available for the PlayStation 2. This stand-alone game in the Guitar Hero franchise includes 45 songs, mixing famous Metallica tracks with those from 20 other bands.
NCsoftNCsoft NorCal, the NCsoft development studio that maintains City of Heroes (and Villains), has renamed itself "Paragon Studios," taking a cue from Paragon City, the setting of its game.
NintendoWelcome to another Monday! To celebrate its arrival, Nintendo has released a slew of downloadable games for the Wii and DSi:
Aksys Games' title Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus is now in stores for the PSP and PlayStation 2. Developed by Arc System Works, this fighting game continues the tradition of exceptionally long Guilty Gear game names, with a total of 25 characters to battle it out in 2D combat.
Abandon Interactive has launched Freaky Creatures, a virtual world in which players battle customizable online creatures based on physical creatures purchased in stores. A $20 purchase gets players two creatures, a flash drive needed to access the game and a variety of creature parts and powers to customize your battling monsters. The game further requires a premium pass to allow people to battle their creatures online.
NCsoftNCsoft has launched the major content update it dubs "Issue 14: Architect" for its massively multiplayer online game City of Heroes (and Villains). The update, now available, allows the game's players to create their own missions using the game's existing assets.
THQTHQ has shipped Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor for the PC to stores in North America. While a stand-alone game, Company of Heroes: Tales of Valor extends the action of Company of Heroes with three new single-player campaigns for the real-time strategy franchise set in World War II.
Square EnixSquare Enix is offering a downloadable expansion for the massively multiplayer online game Final Fantasy XI alongside the game's April Update. A Crystalline Prophecy - Ode of Life Bestowing is an expansion that can be downloaded for $10, adding new quests, systems and other content.
Stupid Fun ClubWill Wright is finally departing Electronic Arts to explore a new venture, the Stupid Fun Club. But Wright isn't entirely parting with Electronic Arts. EA and Wright will both be the principal shareholders of the Stupid Fun Club and will own equal percentages of the company. Stupid Fun Club "is an entertainment think tank developing new Intellectual Properties to be deployed across multiple fronts including video games, movies, television, the internet, and toys." EA will retain the right of first refusal to develop game concepts that stem from Stupid Fun Club Projects.
Today sees two more games available for download through Xbox Live Arcade:
THQAs part of its joint venture with Chinese Game Operator Ice Entertainment, THQ plans to publish Dragonica Online in North America. Dragonica Online will be a localized version of the game that recently launched in China as Dream Dragon and is a "free-to-play" microtransaction-based side-scrolling massively multiplayer online game.
Harmonix, part of MTV Games, plans to release a Rock Band game for the PSP this summer. Rock Band Unplugged is being developed in conjunction with Backbone Entertainment (part of Foundation 9 Entertainment) and is scheduled to be released on June 9 in both North America and Europe. The game will include around 40 songs and will use the PSP rather than additional instruments. It will also support additional downloadable content after the game's launch to expand the available song list. The game will be distributed by Electronic Arts.
Responding to persistent rumors that the massively multiplayer online game Stargate Worlds, currently in development at FireSky (part of Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment), is defunct, the developers have responded that the game is still underway:
Performance Designed Products has shipped its Rock Band Kick Pedal with Double Bass Adaptor to retail stores. The pedal is officially licensed, and therefore guaranteed to work with Rock Band and Rock Band II, and is compatible with drum kits for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and PlayStation 2 versions of the game.
Atlus has shipped its game Hammerin' Hero for the PSP to stores in North America. The game has players stepping into the role of Gen-san as he battles corporate evil in Japan... with a hammer.
The SFuncom recently announced that it is currently developing The Secret World, a massively multiplayer online game in which fantasy overlaps with modern, real-world locations. The game is clearly in its early concept stage, but promises to be a skill-based (rather than level- or class-based) game in which players deal with facets of unreality like voodoo and fantastic creatures inhabiting the modern world. The game is clearly a long way from release, but is planned for the PC and the Xbox 360.
Graffiti Entertainment, part of Signature Devices, has shipped its game for the PSP, Air Conflicts: Aces of World War II, to stores in North America. The game is a WWII-era arcade-style flight combat simulation in which players can participate in 13 campaigns, flying for the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Soviet Union.
Egosoft's game X3: Terran Conflict 2.0 - The Aldrin Missions is now available for the PC in stores in North America. Published by IGS Interactive, this is another free-form space simulator set in the X3 Universe in which players explore space on the fringes of the Terran frontier.
CapcomCapcom's game Flock! is now available for download on the PC. The game will be available to download for the Xbox 360 tomorrow and on Thursday for the PlayStation 3. The puzzle game developed by Proper Games uses platformer-style action using a UFO to herd animals to safety.
AtariAtari and Stardock have dispatched their game The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC to stores in North America. Developed by Starbreeze Studios and Tigon Studios, the game featuring Vin Diesel's science-fiction superman expands on the game originally released as The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay Review, improving the graphics and significantly extending the campaign.
Square EnixSquare Enix is now offering Security Tokens for its PlayOnline service that supports games such as the massively multiplayer online game Final Fantasy XI. The tokens can be purchased for $10, and are a physical number generator that can be linked to a PlayOnline account to make account theft considerably more difficult.
Legacy Interactive, together with Paramount Digital Entertainment has released the OMG! High School Triple Play Pack for the PC as a download and as a package available in stores. The compilation includes the movie-based games Pretty in Pink, Clueless and Mean Girls.
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive has released Elven Legacy both as a download through its Gamer's Gate service and as a retail package in stores. This turn-based strategy game for the PC has players leading elves and other races to victory in battle in this sequel to Fantasy Wars.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts's game The Godfather II is now in stores for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The game should reach stores in Europe on Friday. Sequel to the original The Godfather game, this title has players developing an overall strategy to control the city while sending members of an organized crime family to dominate businesses and locations.
NintendoNintendo's game Rhythm Heaven is now available for the DS. The game has players moving the DS stylus around to the beat in "50 rhythm-based mini-games" that involve activities such as making monkeys dance or keeping a three person chorus singing properly.

McGowan Joins Playlogic

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PlaylogicPlaylogic Entertainment has hired Adam McGowan as the company's Marketing Director. Prior to joining Playlogic, McGowan has worked with a variety of publishers, including Koch and Codemasters.
NintendoAnother Monday has arrived, so Nintendo has released a variety of downloadable games for its platforms. Five of the recent downloadable releases launched yesterday for the newly launched DSi. Today, Nintendo adds two more downloadable games for the Wii:
In February, Publisher Crave Entertainment and its sister distribution company SVG Distribution, were sold to Fillpoint. Nima Taghavi, the former CEO of Crave and SVG Distribution, has created a new distribution company in the United States called "Solutions 2 Go" to do the same business. Taghavi's U.S. operations of Solutions 2 Go will rely on the already existing Canadian business of the same name and will distribute video games, consoles and peripherals.
NintendoNintendo has launched the latest hardware for the DS, dubbed the DSi, today. Similar to the DS Lite, the DSi comes in a thin clamshell in either blue or black and is available for $170. The DSi is similar in function to the DS Lite, but has two cameras to allow users to take and modify photos. Also launching today is the DSi Shop and a variety of downloadable titles:
This week, two additional games are now available for download through the PlayStation store:
Nearly-defunct publisher Interplay has signed a letter of intent with Masthead Studios that means Interplay intends to license Masthead's engine technology to develop its massively multiplayer online game currently dubbed "V13." While this might appear to be a positive step towards Interplay developing the (almost-certainly Fallout themed) MMOG it claims has been in development since November of 2007, this is more likely to be a simple effort to keep "V13" in the forefront of your mind. There has been an exodus of the few staff working on V13, and a letter of intent is still a long way from actually paying to license a technology, let alone implementing it.
PlaylogicPublisher Playlogic announced its financial results for the full year ended December 31, 2008.
THQTHQ previously announced plans to reduce its annual expenditures by $220 million, and the company reports that it has now (largely) put into place the measures to do so for its 2010 fiscal year. To do so, THQ expects that it will incur $45 million in "non-GAAP business realignment expenses," including cash costs of $4 million and $41 million of non-cash impairments including title cancellations and studio closures.
JoWooDPublisher JoWooD has appointed Klemens Kreuzer as the Chief Financial Officer of the JoWooD Group to take over responsibility of the Group's overall financial operations.

April Fools Run Rampant

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It's April 1, and few people seem to be able to resist the temptation to try a game-related prank. Here are a few of the pranks that have graced the internet today:
Take-Two InteractiveTake-Two Interactive has entered into agreements with both the Securities and Exchange Commission and the District Attorney of New York County, New York related to the company's stock option granting practices. Take-Two will pay the SEC $3 million and $300,000 to New York. Assuming that the company receives court approval of these settlements, the two entities will conclude investigation of past illegal behaviors.
Jolt Online Gaming has launched its browser-based adventure game, Legends of Zork. The game casts adventurers as out-of-work salespeople for the Frobozz Company venturing forth into the Great Underground Empire of the Zork games. The game is technically free to play, but is filled with plenty of advertising and requires a modest (but regular) investment of cash to be enjoyable.
CraveCrave Entertainment has shipped Crayola Colorful Journey for the Wii to stores in North America. This title is a puzzle game in which players use crayons (by way of the Wii Remote) to solve puzzles by creating new objects in the style of an interactive coloring book.
KonamiKonami Digital Entertainment, together with Disney Interactive Studios, has shipped Dance Dance Revolution: Disney Grooves for the Wii to stores in North America. This DDR game not only allows players to dance along to Disney songs, it allows players to dress their Mii avatars in Disney costumes. The game comes both as stand-alone software or bundled with dance mats.
MajescoMajesco has shipped Major Minor's Majestic March for the Wii to stores in North America. The game, developed by NanaOn-Sha, has players using the Wii Remote as a baton to lead a whimsical marching band in parade.
This week's new downloadable game through Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 is The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai, created by Ska Studios. The full game can be downloaded for 800 points ($10) and is an action game with 14 story levels in which a dishwasher can brutally dismember hordes of zombies, cyborgs and robots.

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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from April 2009.

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