News: August 2010 Archives

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This is another light week for the PlayStation Store. While more downloadable games are now available for the PlayStation 3 and PSP, the big name item is Castle Crashers, filling a hole in the PlayStation 3 console's line-up. Read on for the total list of additions:
MicrosoftMicrosoft confirmed rumors that it will release a new version of the Xbox 360 controller. On November 9, Microsoft will release the "Xbox 360 Wireless Controller with Transforming D-pad" packed with a "Play and Charge" kit for $65. The new controller will come in a matte silver color and will feature a D-pad that can be rotated to serve either as a conventional four-way "plus" pad, or as a disc, allowing owners to select the preferred configuration depending on the active game.
Disney's game Guilty Party for the Wii is now in stores in North America. The game has up to four players engaging in a series of minigames to solve bizarre mysteries. Players can work together or compete to solve the mystery by using the Wii Remote as a lockpick, flashlight or other devices.
Namco Bandai GamesNamco Bandai's game Ace Combat: Joint Assault for the PSP is now in stores in North America. This flight combat game has players battling over familiar cities, including Tokyo, London and San Francisco. Ace Combat: Joint Assault supports co-operative battles with up to four players or competitive multiplayer with up to eight players online.
Mobile and casual publisher Gameloft announced selected financial results for the first half of its 2010 fiscal year:
Disney's game Camp Rock: The Final Jam for the DS is now available in stores. The game follows the events of the film Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam and lets players use the DS stylus to play along to songs from both the first Camp Rock film and Camp Rock 2. The title also includes puzzles, minigames, dancing and customizable avatars.
CapcomCapcom's game Dead Rising 2: Case Zero for the Xbox 360 is now available as a download for 400 points ($5). This downloadable game is hard to characterize. It is both a prequel to Dead Rising 2 (exploring the link between Dead Rising 2 and the original Dead Rising) and a paid demo for Dead Rising 2. Character attributes and some in-game extras will carry over from this downloadable game to the full release of Dead Rising 2 late next month.
THQTHQ's ValuSoft label has released Ghost Pirate of Vooju Island for the PC. In this adventure game, a "Vooju" priest, gorgeous pirate and ship's cook have all been separated from their bodies by a curse. Players must use Vooju magic to solve puzzles and return them to their bodies.
Telltale Games has released Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse - The City That Dares Not Sleep, the final episode in Season Three of The Adventures of Sam & Max, as a download for the PC and Mac from Telltale Games' official site. The game will be available as a download for the PlayStation 3 through the PlayStation Store later today. The season finale has Doggie detective Sam trying to return his lagomorphic buddy Max to normal after Max is transformed into a gigantic Cthulhoid monstrosity laying waste to the city.
NintendoNintendo's game Metroid: Other M for the Wii is now on stores shelves in North America. Set between the events of Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion, this game mixes first- and third-person perspective for a more modern take on the traditional Metroid style of platforming. Also, this game (developed by Team Ninja) finally tells more of Samus Aran's personal story, including narration by Aran herself.
Activision BlizzardBlizzard, part of Activision Blizzard, has worked with NetEase to launch World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King today in China. Yes, the expansion has been out for a good, long time in other territories, but Chinese players finally have a chance to enjoy (and farm) the same content.
NintendoEffective September 12, Nintendo is dropping the price on its DSi and DSi XL systems to pave the way for its 3DS (the upcoming 3D-capable system in the DS family). The DSi will soon retail for $150, while the DSi XL will retail for $170. How much for one of the clunky DS launch systems with the dim screen?
MicrosoftIf you're still one of the folks that subscribe to television, you understand the dilemma. You have to subscribe to bundles of channels so that your cable provider can pay the licensing fees for all the channels it offers. Perhaps you love sports programming, but can't stand the fact that you also have to get cooking and classic movie channels. Or perhaps you love science fiction (oops... we mean "Sy"ence "Fy"ction) and comedy but hate sports. You don't have a choice but to pay for the whole shebang. Starting November 1, Xbox Live will cost you an additional $10 annually (more if you purchase shorter subscription periods), and in return you can watch ESPN content if you could already watch it on your PC with your broadband connection. Frankly, this sucks. Even if you've never played a Madden game or watched a hockey game, you'll be paying extra for content you don't want.
NintendoNintendo has a light downloadable release this week, with one downloadable game for the Wii and three downloadable titles for the DSi:

Acclaim Dies Yet Again

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Back in May, social game developer Playdom acquired privately-held Acclaim games (not the same company as the original Acclaim). The official Acclaim site simply notes that all games were shut down as of yesterday, and attempts to redirect players to check out Playdom's titles. Acclaim is dead. For the second time.
Reverb Communications, a public relations firm that works with video game companies, has settled with the Federal Trade Commission after facing accusations that Reverb Communications posted product reviews in the iTunes store to boost sales of Reverb's clients' games posing as ordinary consumers and not disclosing their financial relationship. Reverb denies wrongdoing, but chose to settle rather than continue to battle charges of misrepresentation. FI won't comment on the alleged guilt of Reverb, but can only hope that this step will help reduce the rampant practice of marketing professionals posing as ordinary consumers on forum boards and user review compilations.
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive, together with developer Vstep, has released Ship Simulator Extremes as a download for the PC. This ship simulation game (you probably figured that out from the title) features and missions located all over the world, including Coast Guard interceptors and Greenpeace missions.
Team 17 has released Worms Reloaded as a downloadable game through Valve's Steam service. This turn-based strategy game featuring angry annelids returns to the classic Worms formula of 2D battlefields still packed with wacky weaponry. The game includes a single-player campaign and supports up to four players battling competitively.
Publisher Burda:ic has officially launched Land of Chaos Online (LOCO), a free-to-play massively multiplayer online game. Yes, the game has been running in an open beta test state that is substantially similar to the game's current state, but today the game is officially "live." Mostly, this means that the item shop for the game is now open.
Matrix Games, together with VR Designs, has released Decisive Campaigns: The Blitzkrieg from Warsaw to Paris for the PC. The game is available as a download or a physical shipment from Matrix Games, and is a strategy game that covers early battles in Europe during World War II.
SegaSega's compilation for the Wii, Gunblade NY: Special Air Assault Force and L.A. Machine Guns: Rage of the Machines - Arcade Hits Pack, is now in stores. The pack includes two arcade shooters, (not surprisingly) Gunblade NY: Special Air Assault Force L.A. Machine Guns: Rage of the Machines.
This week's downloadable games for the Xbox 360 include Shank and Scott Pilgrim. Read on for more details on this week's Xbox Live Arcade Releases:

Lineage II Encounters Freya

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NCsoftNCsoft has launched the Freya: The 2nd Throne expansion for its massively multiplayer online game Lineage II. The expansion adds Freya the Ice Queen, revamps the game's Hunting Grounds and adds plenty of new quests and storylines.
Take-Two Interactive2K Sports, Take-Two Interactive's sports label, has made NHL 2K11 for the Wii available in stores. 2K Sports claims that by supporting the Wii MotionPlus controller, players can have stick-like control over the puck in this latest hockey game.
Sony is offering a variety of downloadable games for the PSP and PlayStation 3 through the PlayStation Store, including:
Publisher and developer Stardock has released Elemental: War of Magic for the PC, available both in retail stores and as a download through Stardock's Impulse platform. This fantasy-themed 4x-style strategy game clearly (but unofficially) derives its inspiration from Master of Magic.
Xseed GamesXseed Games has shipped Ivy the Kiwi? for the Wii and DS to stores in North America. Developed by Prope, this platformer follows a baby bird in search of her mother.
Sanrio has "commercially" launched its free-to-play massively multiplayer online game Hello Kitty Online by selling the Hello Kitty Online Premium Edition in retail stores in North America. This retail pack includes the game client software, a printed manual, Hello Kitty Online postcards, $15 in Sanrio Cash Points and a selection of virtual pets to choose from.
NatsumeNatsume's game Harvest Moon: Grand Bazaar is now available for the DS. Like other Harvest Moon games, Grand Bazaar combines farming simulation elements with role-playing game-style play as DS owners attempt to restore Zephyr Town's market to its former glory.
Her Interactive's remake of its adventure game Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill is available today for both the PC and Mac in retail stores and online. Nancy Drew: Secrets Can Kill - Remastered features updated graphics and a new ending to celebrate Nancy Drew's 80th anniversary.
505 Games' latest title, Grease: The Game is now available for the Wii and DS. Based on the 1978 film, the game has players singing and dancing along to the movie's music.

Mafia II Reaches Stores

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Take-Two Interactive2K Games, a label of Take-Two Interactive, has released Mafia II to stores. Available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC, the game explores organized crime in America during the 1940s and 1950s.
CapcomCapcom has promoted Kazuhiko Abe to be Chief Executive Officer and President of Capcom U.S.A. and CE Europe. Abe joined Capcom in 2003 and has served as Chief Financial Officer for Capcom in Japan since 2006. He will oversee all European and U.S. operations.
Cryptic StudiosAtari and Cryptic Studios made an interesting announcement today. The two companies confirmed the long-rumored project that will result in a Dungeons & Dragons-based game in late 2011. Read on to learn why you (and Turbine) might be curious about this Neverwinter announcement:
NintendoThis week's downloadable games for the Wii and DSi include some of the more unusual titles to be released as downloads through Nintendo's various shop channels:
Sony Online Entertainment has launched EverQuest II Extended, the "free-to-play" game that operates in parallel with EverQuest II. Ordinarily, FI tries to only note when these games "officially" launch, but this particular launch is even vaguer than most. The game is available for play today, and it appears that people will be able to pay for premium subscriptions at the end of the month, which usually constitutes the official launch.
TurbineTurbine (now part of Warner Bros.) has launched the sixth major update for Dungeons & Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. The update includes new dungeons, new store items and a new adventure pack called "Red Fens" that has players fighting swamp and underwater creatures using the game's newly added ability to support underwater combat.
GameStopRetailer GameStop announced its financial results for its fiscal second quarter ended July 31, 2010:
Mad CatzMad Catz has begun shipping its Wireless Racing Wheel for the Xbox 360 to stores in Europe, and the wheel should begin shipping in North America soon. Retailing for €130/$130, the wheel connects wirelessly to the Xbox 360 without the need of a dongle or adaptor.
This week's Xbox Live Arcade downloadable game is Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. Xbox 360 owners can download the game for 1,200 points ($15) and enjoy a more isometric take on the usual Tomb Raider-style adventures of Lara Croft, with platforming and shooting from a third-person viewpoint well up and behind the heroine. The game supports co-operative play, but online co-op is still awaiting a patch.
UbisoftUbisoft has shipped Gold's Gym Dance Workout for the Wii to stores. The game has players dancing to burn calories and playing mini-games to strengthen muscles.
Sony has released a new slate of downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP, through the PlayStation store, including:

Realtime Worlds is Bankrupt

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Following rumors of layoffs at Realtime Worlds, the developer of recently released APB, Realtime Worlds has gone into administration (the U.K. equivalent of a U.S. bankruptcy). If Realtime Worlds can find additional investment soon enough, the company may yet survive. However, previous investors are unlikely to recoup their investment, and the fate of the company is decidedly precarious, with the likely outcome the closure of offices and loss of staff.
PlayStation 3Sony is upping the available storage in the models of PlayStation 3 units it sells by roughly one-third. Sony will now sell 160 GB and 320 GB model PlayStation 3 units, with the 160 GB model selling for $300. The 320 GB model will be bundled with the PlayStation Move when it goes on sale on September 19.
Xseed GamesXseed Games' Ys Seven is now available for the PSP both in retail stores and as a download from the PlayStation Store. Developed by Nihon Falcom, the game has players awakening ancient dragons to save their kingdom from destruction.
Square EnixIO Interactive, part of Square Enix, has shipped its game Kane & Lynch 2: Dog Days to stores. The game is currently available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. The single-player campaign follows the latest criminal exploits of Kane and Lynch, while the multiplayer components of the game allow players to perform heists in a style that is both cooperative and competitive.
MicrosoftMicrosoft announced that it will launch its first wave of Xbox Live games on the Windows Phone 7 platform this holiday season. Microsoft plans to include features typical of games found on the Xbox 360 on Windows Phone 7 games, including multiplayer, demos, leaderboards, and (most important of all) achievements. For gamers with an interest in Gamerscore, this will serve as a serious incentive to go with Windows Phone 7 rather than trying to play these games on an iPhone.
Cryptic StudiosIn late 2008, Bill Roper joined Cryptic Studios, the developer behind Champions Online and Star Trek Online as the company's Design Director. Today, Roper announced that he is departing Cryptic Studios. While the departure is clearly on good terms, Roper did not indicate his plans for the future.
NCsoftNCsoft's official plan was to launch City of Heroes: Going Rogue, the newest expansion for its superhero-themed massively multiplayer online game City of Heroes, tomorrow. The large patch (Issue 18) that coincides with the expansion has been released, so those who have pre-purchased the expansion can already begin playing Going Rogue. The expansion opens a mirror universe and allows players to switch from Hero to Villain (and from Villain to Hero).
Viva Media has shipped the Natalie Brooks: Triple Trouble Collection for the PC to stores in North America. This compilation includes three Natalie Brooks mysteries: The Secrets of Treasure House, The Treasures of the Lost Kingdom and The Mystery of Hillcrest High. All three feature Natalie, a teenage detective, investigating mysteries that foiled adults.
NintendoWith the arrival of another Monday, Nintendo has released a new selection of downloadable games for the Wii and DSi, including:
Paradox InteractiveParadox Interactive has released Victoria II, sequel to Victoria, as a download through most portals. Like its predecessor, Victoria II is a political simulation in which players can control around 200 nations from 1835 to World War II.
Despite previously selling its game client for its launch in December 2009 and its relaunch in April 2010 by folks including Derek Smart's 3000AD, Alganon is now officially free-to-play. The game client can be downloaded directly from Alganon's site, allowing players to indulge in this fantasy-themed massively mutliplayer online game without paying upfront cash (although cash can still be paid for premium features).
ZeniMax MediaZeniMax Media, parent of Bethesda Softworks, announced that it has completed the acquisition of developer Arkane Studios. Arkane has worked on a variety of projects, including Arx Fatalis, and has offices in Lyon, France and Austin Texas. Arkane's current leadership will continue to manage the studio for ZeniMax. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
P2 Games, together with developer Doublesix, have released Burn Zombie Burn as a download for the PC through Steam. Previously released on the PlayStation 3, this game has players destroying hordes of the undead when zombies ruin his Saturday night date.
SplitFish Gameware (the folks behind controllers such as the FragFX controller) asked for an injunction against Bannco for selling controllers that incorporated code from SplitFish's line of FragFX controllers. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled that recently enjoined Bannco from selling its "Fragnstein" and "Scorch" controllers, ruling that Bannco is likely to be found guilty of copyright infringement.
Disney has fully launched its child-friendly massively multiplayer online game The World of Cars Online. Players can join in for free and drive cars based on the film Cars around Radiator Springs, but a subscription is required to reach advanced elements of the game.
This week's Xbox Live Arcade downloadable game for the Xbox 360 is Monday Night Combat, available for 1,200 points ($15). This is a class-based third-person shooter in which players can battle against one another or fight armies of robots.
Sony has released more downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store. This week's releases include Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, among others:
The Entertainment Software AssociationAccording to research done by the Entertainment Software Association (The ESA – a game industry trade group), "The computer and video game industry added nearly $5 billion to the U.S. economy in 2009." The ESA is, obviously, biased; eager to demonstrate the importance of the game industry, but that doesn't mean their information is wrong. The ESA highlighted that the game industry directly employs around 32,000 people with an average annual compensation of $89,781. Their point simply being, games are important to the U.S. economy, and are not to be ignored.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts' latest entrant from its Madden football franchise, Madden NFL '11 is now in stores for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PlayStation 2 and PSP. This version of the game purports to streamline the game, minimizing the time spent in the huddle and maximizing the time playing football.
Retailer Blockbuster previously launched a "By Mail" service for watchers to rent DVDs from home (in a service similar to that of Netflix) in an effort to stave off further bankruptcies. Today, Blockbuster formally added games to its service (in a manner similar to GameFly). Members of the Blockbuster by Mail service can now get games by mail through the same queue that provides games.
THQTHQ announced its financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2010:
Please bear with us, if we at FI sound a little old fogey-ish, but it's truly amazing how free, browser-based games often have far better production values (and provide a better gaming experience) than classic top titles. Never mind the vast array of free-to-play massively multiplayer online games. Check out this (Beta) offering from Channel 4 in the UK. The Curfew is a point-and-click adventure game with live actors, and brings back (at no cost to you) what makes adventure games so compelling. Authored by Kieron Gillen, the game presents life in the year 2027 in a totalitarian security state, from the perspective of a few folks who've dodged the curfew.
In a letter posted yesterday, Matt Mihaly (CEO "not for much longer" of Sparkplay Media reported that the free-to-play massively multiplayer online game Earth Eternal is probably on its last legs. According to his letter, "Sparkplay has hit hard times and is not going to survive. I've had to lay off all of our staff except for two people... The simple fact is that we've run out of money." While the fate of Earth Eternal is uncertain, unless the game finds a financial savior, it will be shut down soon. Until then, Sparkplay has made all the non-permanent items in the cash shop free.
NintendoNintendo has released another slate of downloadable games for the Wii and DSi, and while there's no Virtual Console release this week, there is a game about massage. Wow. This week's releases include:
id Software, part of ZeniMax Media (parent of Bethesda Softworks) has officially launched Quake Live, a free, browser-based, competitive, first-person shooter. While Quake Live has been playable for quite some time, but is now officially live and offering two premium subscription levels. Players can still play for free, but for $2 per month, players get 20 extra maps and an extra game mode. For $4 per month, players get that, plus the ability to start servers and clans.
Square EnixSquare Enix reported select financial results for its fiscal first quarter ended June 30, 2010:
Activision BlizzardActivision Blizzard announced its financial results for its second fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2010:
Matrix Games and Slitherine have released Battlefield Academy as a download for the PC. Available through the Matrix Games and Slitherine sites, this turn-based strategy game features a variety of World War II-themed battles and a script-driven game engine that allows players to create their own missions.
Mad CatzPeripheral manufacturer Mad Catz announced its fiscal results for its first quarter ended June 30, 2010:
Namco Bandai GamesNamco Bandai Holdings announced certain financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2010:
Market research firm Nielsen released a note earlier this week breaking down the amount of time that people spend online by activity. While the focus was on the growth of time spent on social networking, online games edged its way up to the #2 spot, taking up 10.2% of U.S. Internet time in June of 2010, compared to 9.3% in June of 2010. By contrast, social networks took up 22.7% of U.S. Internet time with e-mail coming in third at 8.3%.
PopCapCasual game publisher PopCap has added Rick Fox as an independent member of PopCap's board of directors. Fox is a board member of many corporations, and spent 30 years at consulting firm Ernst & Young.
This week's addition to Xbox Live Arcade is Konami's Castlevania: Harmony of Despair, a 2D platformer that can be downloaded to the Xbox 360 for 1,200 points ($15). Up to six players can work together in this game battle Dracula across massive levels.
Gameforge, a German company that primarily publishes free-to-play and casual titles, has acquired a majority stake in game publisher Frogster (responsible for games such as The Chronicles of Spellborn and Runes of Magic) and plans to acquire the remainder of the company. Read on for more details:
Sony has released yet more downloadable games for the PlayStation 3 and PSP through the PlayStation Store, including:

Nexon Names New CFO

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NexonNexon announced that it has appointed Owen Mahoney as the company's Chief Financial Officer. Mahoney most recently served as Outspark's Chief Executive Officer, and will be working out of Nexon's offices in both Tokyo and Los Angeles.
Electronic ArtsElectronic Arts announced preliminary financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2010:

Monster Rancher DS Ships

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UFO Interactive has shipped Monster Rancher DS to stores in North America. Bringing the Monster Rancher franchise to the DS, this game has players creating, raising and battling monsters in an effort to become the preeminent monster rancher in the land.
Take-Two Interactive2K Play, a label of Take-Two Interactive, has launched its game Dora the Explorer: Dora's Big Birthday Adventure for the DS. The game celebrates ten years of Dora the Explorer on television (yet she's still a tiny girl) with exploration and mini-games featuring characters from the series.
Disney's game Disney Sing It: Family Hits is in stores for the PlayStation 3 and Wii. The game includes 30 songs from Disney films that players can sing along to, karaoke-style, and is available both as stand-alone software and as a bundle with a microphone.
Activision BlizzardBlizzard Entertainment, part of Activision Blizzard, gleefully announced that StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty sold around 1.5 million copies within the first 48 hours of its availability.
Titan Gaming has acquired Xfire (according to a posting on the Xfire site), will be changing its name to Xfire and focusing on further developing the Xfire service. The transition, however, has been anything but clean. A notice posted on the site earlier said "Most of the team that has brought you Xfire for the last 6 years is leaving..." Titan gaming has focused on "skill-based" gaming competitions, and the shenanigans on the site indicate this is anything but a friendly transition. Obviously, with the team that has brought Xfire (a service for connecting gamers) pushed out the door, users can expect some sort of sea change in the service.
NexonNexon America, the North American subsidiary of the Nexon Group, reported selected financial data for its second fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2010:
NintendoNintendo has released even more downloadable games for the Wii and DSi, including:

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This page is an archive of entries in the News category from August 2010.

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