News from the video game industry for the week of November 16
Every Sunday, Electronista and MacNN offer up a one-stop article for some of the happenings in the video game industry over the past week. In this week's edition of Weekly Game Replay, we look at Double Fine layoffs, Call of Duty reaching $10 billion in sales for the franchise, World of Warcraft recapturing 10 million active subscriptions, Sweden considering a sexism label for video games, Activision settling its shareholder lawsuit, and more.
Group invaded networks, stole more than $100 million worth of software
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) released a statement today in regard to a group of hackers charged with a string of computer breaches related to the theft of software from several large game companies. More than $100 million in software was stolen as a result of their activities, including a US Army helicopter training program developed by Zombie Studios, developer of America's Army: Special Forces.
Next iteration of the Call of Duty franchise skipping the Wii U, last two games on console
Call of Duty fans hoping to play the newest title in the series on the Wii U this year appear to be out of luck. Michael Condrey, co-founder of Sledgehammer Games, said on Thursday that Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare wouldn't be coming to the Nintendo console. He added that it "was an Activision decision," with the studio focusing on PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
Teaser video turns ends up more than a rerelease of old titles, Sierra to be a publisher again
After some stirring on its website, and a new video popping up last week with a revived logo, adventure game studio and publisher Sierra is indeed witnessing a rebirth. At Gamescom, it was announced that new entries in the King's Quest series and a new Geometry Wars game would be handled by Sierra Entertainment.
Focus is on console launch, team discussing a possible PC release in the future
During the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Polygon's Ben Kuchera spoke with Activision Publishing CEO Erik Hirshberg about the future of Bungie's upcoming Destiny. While the focus was on the development of the title for multiple consoles, Hirshberg did confirm that the company is mulling over the idea of porting the game to personal computers.
Spiritual successor to Halo most expensive game produced yet
Reuters reports that Activision Blizzard will drop a total of $500 million on the development of Bungie's upcoming game Destiny. The investment makes the game the most expensive video game production to date, surpassing previous cost leaders such as Grand Theft Auto V and Star Wars: Knights of The Old Republic. Activision CEO Bobby Kotick announced the record-setting investment at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles at the end of April.
Activision to publish mobile phone and tablet version of skateboarding game
In an interview with Bloomberg last week, skateboarder and entrepreneur Tony Hawk revealed that the next iteration of his skateboarding game franchise would be released on mobile platforms. This marks the first time the series has headed directly to mobile devices, and the first game to be released since Tony Hawk's Pro Skater HD in 2012.
Suit claims Blizzard made $26 million on extra security
Blizzard is facing a class-action lawsuit over its sale of authenticators. Benjamin Bell is suing both Blizzard and corporate parent Activision Blizzard for making $26 million by "deceptively and unfairly" charging for the $6.50 keychain, which gives the entire Battle.net system a second layer of security, and to stop the company from requiring its users to sign up for a Battle.net account in order to play games such as World of Warcraft and Diablo II.
Activision-Blizzard also addresses security concerns
Diablo III will get its first patch next week, according to Activision-Blizzard community manager 'Nethaera'. The incoming client-side patch will fix a number of bugs, including one that breaks the game, as well as a number of alterations to class skills to balance gameplay. Security concerns and the real-money auction house were also discussed in the forum post.
COD MW3 sells more in one day than any format
Activision managed to stay out in front for all-time entertainment records as it confirmed Friday that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 had become the best-selling entertainment launch ever. With about 6.5 million copies trading on the November 8 intro, the game will have made about $400 million in revenue just on the first day, passing by any other form of entertainment. The launch was topping a record Activision had set itself, when Black Ops launched and made $360 million in one day.
Turtle Beach, Activision to ship new headsets
Gaming accessory maker Turtle Beach teamed with publisher Activision on upcoming, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3-themed gaming headsets for Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PS3, and PCs. They include the virtual 7.1-channel, programmable XP500-based Ear Force Delta that adds the custom paint, travel case and unique sound presets. The Ear Force Bravo uses the PX3 as the base design and has the same settings as the Delta, but only brings wireless stereo support.
MySpace now settling on 35m sale to Specific
(Update: Justin Timberlake is involved) MySpace's imminent sale has now been finalized as a new leak confirmed a deal has been struck. Ad producer Specific Media has agreed to buy the social network for $35 million. Under the terms seen by AllThingsD, current owner News Corp would have a "less than five percent" stake but cut the 400-person staff count in half.
Sale also expected this week
Myspace is rumored to be cutting up to 300 employees from its workforce over the next few weeks. TechCrunch reports that 150 employees will receive pink slips tomorrow and probably another 150 will be shown the door over the next few weeks. This comes as the struggling company could have a new owner as soon as tomorrow.
Owner teaches tricks, shapes toy's personality
Activision announced that it has partnered with Sega Toys to develop Wappy Dog, a robotic toy puppy that "learns" from interactions with its owner. Wappy has touch sensors and responds to commands entered using the Nintendo DS. How the player interacts with the toy affects the toy's responses - what the company calls its "personality and happiness" - as well as how quickly new tricks are unlocked.
Rob Saunders and Nick Grange said to be new hires
Apple is reportedly hiring several PR executives from several gaming companies, including Nintendo and Activision. Unnamed sources have told MCV that Rob Saunders, Nintendo UK's former head of PR, departed his position to fill a newly created position at Apple. The executive is said to be coming on board to work with PR for gaming content on the iOS platform.
Editorial tackles web gaming
With E3 just finished, it's time for the market to start evaluating game companies. But as EA, Ubisoft, Activision, and others continue to get all the headlines, social-gaming companies don't get the kind of respect their bigger competitors do. This may have to change with larger platform supporters, including non-traditional Apple, as they may be ignoring an untapped market.
DJ Hero 2 adds MC element
Activision today unveiled the first details of DJ Hero 2 in the run-up to E3 and included new controller options in the mix. The game now has a microphone to handle vocals for relevant tracks. Two-player mode is more important and includes DJ battles among other modes; to match, Activision is creating a Party Bundle pack that carries two turntables and a microphone.
New Guitar Hero game gets new controllers
Activision's upcoming Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock will get a new set of guitar controllers with replaceable bodies. Unlike the current designs, where some of the circuitry is in the body and impossible to replace, all of the electronics are now in the fretboard and neck. The decision lets Activision offer replaceable bodies, including an exclusive to GameStop, without having to sell a completely new and more expensive instrument.
DJ Hero Renegade Turntable
Activision today provided more details of its controller and bundle for the limited-run version of DJ Hero, now called the Renegade Edition. The special version will have a black turntable with special gold-effect sliders and other trim. A special hard case doubles as a stand for the turntable itself, bringing up the controller to standing height. CDs from Eminem and Jay-Z will also come with the bundle and offer some tracks that haven't been released before.
Guitar Hero 5 controller
This new guitar controller for the latest in the popular series will be bundled with Guitar Hero 5. The changes compared to current guitars range from subtle visual ones such as a red faceplate and white pick guard to fake chrome on the tuning pegs, to more substantial and functional ones that canít be seen, such as a new digital touch pad. Compared to the slider of the guitar that shipped with Guitar Hero World Tour, the new one sends digital versus analog values for better accuracy and quicker response.
Sony Downs PS3 Price Talk
Sony chief Sir Howard Stringer on Wednesday dismissed pressure on his company to drop the price of the PlayStation 3 when the subject was presented at the Allen & Co conference. Responding to implications by Activision CEO Bobby Kotick that his game development firm might stop developing for the PS3 if its price remains too high, Stringer said it was simply the "nature of business" for companies to put pressure on each other and that it wouldn't necessarily push Sony to cut prices.
Acti Details TH Ride Board
Activision today provided fuller details of the Tony Hawk Ride controller. The board sits on the floor and is fully aware both of pressure on the board as well as movement on its sides; users can lean on the board for manuals and other such moves while using a free foot to "push" the board or assist in tricks. It can further recognize spins on the board itself for reverts or other rotation-based moves.
Limited edition DJ Hero
A limited edition version of the upcoming DJ Hero video game will include exclusive greatest hits CDs from rappers Jay-Z and Eminem, along with an advanced version of the turntable controller, USA Today said on Friday. How the controller differs from the standard unit was not detailed, however. An offshoot of the highly popular Guitar Hero franchise from developer Activision, the limited edition game will also have a DJ stand and metal traveling case for the turntable.
Tony Hawk Ride Controller
Activision today teased that one of its central non-music games at E3, Tony Hawk Ride, will have its own controller. The game will center on a skateboard-shaped foot controller that, much like a Wii Balance Board, will have players lean as they would on a real board for at least basic control. Although the full controls haven't been explained, a set of side buttons will ease navigating through regular menus and may ultimately be used on combination with balancing to perform tricks.
DJ Hero, Band Hero coming
Video game publisher Activision announced on Thursday it will launch three new music games, with the turntable controller pictured designed to work with DJ Hero. That title, along with Guitar Hero and Band Hero, are due for a release sometime this fall. DJ Hero will include hip-hop, R&B, Motown, electronica and dance music genres and, as Activision calls it, feature some of the "world's most exciting artists and DJs." It's not clear whether the DJ controller will allow scratching in addition to its button controls.
Court rejects Gibson suit
A California court has dismissed Gibson Guitar's lawsuit against Activision over the input devices used in the Guitar Hero game. The gaming company was sued for violating the "'405 Patent" which covers a system for generating and controlling a simulated musical concert experience, although the claims are geared for using real guitars as input for applications such as in-store demos. The court's strongly worded filing claims that Gibson's arguments "border on the frivolous."
Logitech does Guitar Hero
Software publisher Activision and peripheral maker Logitech today announced a joint venture to make premium controllers shaped like instruments for the next installment in the popular video game franchise, dubbed Guitar Hero World Tour. The game is expected to debut this fall, and will be available for the all the popular gaming consoles, including Xbox 360, PlayStation 2 and 3, as well as the Nintendo Wii.
Beatles Guitar Hero Rumor
The Beatles are close to securing a deal that would see their first digital music releases through music games rather than direct downloads from iTunes or or similar stores, says the Financial Times. The UK business paper claims sources who say that the pop rock group may have deals "in a matter of weeks" that bring songs to Guitar Hero maker Activision as well as to Rock Band co-creator MTV Games. While no specifics are mentioned, the deal suggests a Beatles-themed title and alludes to the possibility of making Beatles songs available as downloadable content.
Gibson vs. Guitar Hero
Activision's popular Guitar Hero rhythm games are breaking the law, charges legendary guitar maker Gibson. The company has publicly accused Activision of infringing on a patent from 1999, which involves technology simulating a musical performance; in Guitar Hero, one or two players strum along on a simplified guitar, in time to on-screen notes. Reuters notes that Activision denies any wrongdoing, and is in fact asking the US District Court for Central California to render Gibson's patent invalid.