Friday, January 31, 2003
MechAssault Downloadable Content Update
Steve @ 5:17 PM EST
Microsoft today informed us that the new MechAssault downloadable content is still undergoing testing, and will not be ready this month. Day One Studios is busy working on giving us the best experience possible, and additional testing and preparation is required. But they assured us that the new content will be available soon.
They also provided us with several new screens of "Hell's Kitchen", "Stone Cold" and the new BattleMechs (the Raven and Corvus).
New MechAssault Screens
Phantasy Star Online: Episode I & II Coming In March
Steve @ 2:55 PM EST
Microsoft Games Studios today announced that it will distribute SEGA(R)'s "Phantasy Star Online(TM) Episode I & II" for Xbox in North America. The award-winning online role-playing series, which had more than 400,000 registered online users on the SEGA Dreamcast, arrives on store shelves this coming March and will be playable through Xbox Live(TM). In addition, the Xbox Communicator headset is fully compatible with "Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II," enabling gamers from across North America to chat with each other with ease.
To play the game online, Xbox Live subscribers will be required to buy a "hunter's license," which gives gamers the ability to travel on wild adventures with other "Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II" gamers. It also provides access to a plethora of online exclusive content such as seasonal quests, downloads and rare in-game items. The hunter's license is free of charge for the first two months, and after that will carry a service fee of $8.95 per month.
Developed by famed SEGA game designer Yuji Naka and SONICTEAM, "Phantasy Star Online Episode I and II" features two games in one: Episode I contains all of the content from "Phantasy Star Online(TM)" and "Phantasy Star Online(TM) Ver. 2," while Episode II brings gamers back for an all-new adventure on the planet of Ragol. Gamers will search unchartered areas, battle unique monsters and discover numerous items. Both episodes can be played online or offline with up to four gamers. Additional game modes include Challenge and Battle. Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound is also supported in "Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II." An Xbox Live account is required to play "Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II" both offline and online.
Xbox Live is the first comprehensive, online game arena fully dedicated to fast-action broadband gaming experiences. Xbox Live allows gamers to play multiplayer Xbox games with other gamers everywhere via a high-speed Internet connection. Xbox Live enables all gamers to find and play with their friends easily; talk to other players during gameplay through the Xbox Communicator headset; and download current statistics, new levels and characters to their Xbox hard drive. With a built-in hard drive and Ethernet port, the Xbox console was built from the ground up to be an online gaming system.
Dedicated Web site for Batman: Dark Tomorrow Launched
Steve @ 2:54 PM EST
Bellevue, WA – January 31, 2003 – Kemco U.S.A., INC., a wholly owned subsidiary of Kemco of Japan has launched a dedicated web site (http://batman.kemcogames.com) for the action/adventure thriller, Batman: Dark Tomorrow. The first modern Batman videogame based on the original DC Comics comic book, Dark Tomorrow offers both gamers and core Batman fans a darker, grittier Batman game that stays true to the American icon’s original roots.
The web site is packed full of downloadable screenshots, movie trailers and Batman-themed wallpaper. Fans are also able to download the first installment of a two part limited-edition comic book, designed by DC Comics, which serves as a prequel to the original storyline that was created specifically for the game.
The dedicated web site will allow gamers to have full access to loads of information on Batman: Dark Tomorrow. For fans that can’t wait for the game to ship they can jump on the site to find out all about the handy gadgets that Batman’s stashes in his utility belt, or even read up on the classic archenemies Batman must face in his quest to rescue Commissioner Gordon and save Gotham City.
As an added bonus for web site visitors, Kemco has included a weekly poll where visitors can vote on who would win a series of hypothetical fights between the villains in Batman: Dark Tomorrow! Dark Tomorrow will ship on March 18, 2003 on the Nintendo GameCube and Xbox video game system from Microsoft. For more information visit Kemco’s Batman: Dark Tomorrow web site at: http://batman.kemcogames.com
Indy Racing League Becomes “IndyCar Series”
Steve @ 2:51 PM EST
New York – Friday, January 31, 2003 - Codemasters confirmed that its US racing game previously known as Indy Racing League will be published under the sport’s new name “IndyCar Series.” In keeping with the recent developments in the sport, the revised title reflects the announcement by the Indy Racing League, the sanctioning body for the sport, that the championship will be known as the IndyCar Series.
The term “Indy” is recognized throughout the world because of the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (the Indy 500) and its association with the fast, low-slung, rear-engine, open-wheel cars that race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The IndyCar Series is a descendant of a 92-year sporting tradition, dating back to the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.
Codemasters’ official game, IndyCar Series, is blisteringly fast, nerve-shatteringly intense, pure professional racing and features ultra-close pack racing, with up to 33 cars racing on track. Gameplay requires total focus to handle the incredible overtaking maneuvers at speeds well over 220mph. IndyCar Series delivers a full racing season, which includes the Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (Indy 500), the greatest spectacle in US racing.
IndyCar Series is due this spring for PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, Xbox video game system from Microsoft and PC, and set to be the most accessible, exciting and entertaining open-wheel racing game designed.
To keep up to date on the game’s development, check the website at www.codemasters.com/indycarseries.
Thursday, January 30, 2003
UFC: Tapout 2 Exclusive to Xbox
Steve @ 1:21 PM EST
WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 30, 2003--Make way for the world's most challenging combat sport! TDK Mediactive, Inc. (OTCBB:TDKM), a global publisher of interactive entertainment software, announced today an exclusive long-term worldwide license to produce interactive games based upon Ultimate Fighting Championship(R) (UFC(TM)), the world's leading Mixed Martial Arts sports association. Under the new agreement, TDK Mediactive's first title, "UFC: Tapout 2(TM)," is scheduled to explode nationwide onto store shelves in March, exclusively for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.
"We are ecstatic to be associated with Ultimate Fighting Championship and Zuffa," stated Vincent Bitetti, chief executive officer, TDK Mediactive. "The excitement, authenticity and rapid growth of Mixed Martial Arts, led by the UFC, lends itself perfectly to video gaming and the fresh and innovative gameplay we will provide."
"UFC fan base demographics mirror that of the gaming industry's bleeding edge consumers," commented Michael Devine, TDK Mediactive executive vice president, sales and marketing. "They want to be pummeled by the hottest technology and pounded by great gameplay and realism. We provide all that and more, with superior mesh physiology, real-time shadow mapping and over 1,500 fighting moves and combinations."
"We've seen the new `Tapout 2' and can't believe how great it looks," said Dana White, president of Ultimate Fighting Championship. "The UFC games are as close as you can get to the actual sport without being there. We're confident TDK has a great game plan to expand the UFC gaming universe and provide our fans with an amazing fight experience."
As "UFC: Tapout 2" nears completion, the press is already singing its praises...
"We gave the original `UFC: Tapout' an Editor's Choice award and the sequel looks to have upped the ante in every major area." -- Official Xbox Magazine, February, 2003
This new licensing agreement was the result of a Zuffa, LLC approved assignment by the previous UFC licensee, Crave Entertainment, Inc., to TDK Mediactive, Inc.
About "UFC: Tapout 2"
Developed by Dream Factory, "UFC: Tapout 2" is the follow up to the wildly popular "UFC: Tapout." A major engine overhaul has resulted in a multitude of improvements, including improved artificial intelligence, expanded Career Mode, revamped interfaces and enhanced sound, plus many other features, such as:
A redesigned model and animation system, producing fighter models with more points of articulation and fluid, life-like movements.
Real-time mesh deformation, meaning when players move and flex their muscles, gamers will see their skin move and ripple.
Over 35 real UFC fighters, the most Mixed Martial Arts brawlers in any UFC game to date, including Tito Ortiz, Chuck Liddell, B.J. Penn and Murilo Bustamante.
The Sims Coming to Xbox
Steve @ 1:19 PM EST
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 30, 2003--Electronic Arts today announced that after a successful launch of The Sims(TM) on the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, The Sims is now in development for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft and Nintendo GameCube(TM). The games will be developed at the company's Maxis(TM) studio in conjunction with Edge of Reality, Ltd. Players will be able to create and control their Sims like never before with level-based game play, two-player modes, and dynamic 3D graphics. Both platforms will be available in Spring 2003.
"Bringing The Sims to the Xbox and Nintendo GameCube gives players the opportunity to play The Sims on a variety of console platforms," said Sinjin Bain, COO of EA's Maxis studio and Executive Producer of the game. "Maxis is looking forward to providing the fun and quirky gameplay of The Sims to gamers on any type of console system."
The Sims for the Xbox and Nintendo GameCube will feature a level-based mode called "Get a Life," where players can start with just one Sim and move him or her through life's big moments including moving out of Mom's house, getting a job, and having a family. Both versions will also feature the classic Sim-style open-ended game play. Now Xbox and Nintendo GameCube players can explore and create in an entirely new 3D world of The Sims.
There is a cast of wacky neighbors and creatures to interact with that can't be found in the original The Sims game for the PC, including a monkey butler that can be unlocked to serve at your Sims' every whim. Players will be able to customize the appearance of their Sim. They can create and tailor their Sims with accessories such as stylish hats, trendy glasses, cool hairstyles, and an enormous variety of clothing options. Players will also be able to make changes to their Sims appearance mid-game with the unlockable vanity mirror.
The Xbox and Nintendo GameCube will support two-player modes. Players will be able to play The Sims with or against each other. Whether it's level-based fun, two-player challenges, or classic Sim-style open-ended game play, The Sims are new for the Xbox and Nintendo GameCube.
The Sims skyrocketed to the top of the charts when it began shipping to stores in February 2000 and quickly became a universal gaming and cultural phenomenon. The Sims was the best selling PC game of both 2000 and 2001 and is now the best selling PC game of all time. Translated into 16 different languages, The Sims has inspired five expansion packs; The Sims(TM) Livin' Large, The Sims(TM) House Party, The Sims(TM) Hot Date, The Sims(TM) Vacation and The Sims(TM) Unleashed. Combined sales for the franchise have topped 20 million units life-to-date. For more information on The Sims franchise titles, visit http://www.thesims.com
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
Burnout 2: Point of Impact Info
Steve @ 1:12 PM EST
GLEN COVE, NY, January 29, 2003 - Driving into retail outlets nationwide this spring with the hottest racing game of the year, Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that its award-winning title, Burnout 2: Point of Impact, will be available for both the Xbox video game system from Microsoft and Nintendo GameCube. Developed by Criterion Games Limited, Burnout 2: Point of Impact was released in the fall of 2002 to critical acclaim on the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, and was voted the year's #1 racing video game by both IGN.com and GameSpot.com.
"Burnout 2 set the new standard for next-generation racing games in the video game industry and raised the bar of excellence in every way," said Evan Stein, Vice President of Marketing for Acclaim. "With exciting new features, incredible crashes and award-winning game play, Burnout 2 will be a 'must-have' racing experience for owners of Xbox and Nintendo GameCube."
"When we began development for Burnout 2, we focused on bringing the fastest and most exciting racing experience for the PlayStation 2, and we had no plans to develop the game for any other consoles," added Alex Ward, Creative Manager, Criterion Games. "We are a small but extremely talented team, who dedicated their time and energy on getting the absolute best out of the PlayStation 2. Since the release of the game, we were bowled over by the number of awards and fantastic reviews that Burnout 2 had received across the world. In addition, we were absolutely deluged with requests from the media and consumers alike to develop versions for Xbox and Nintendo Gamecube.
Given this overwhelming response, we're really excited to bring this gaming experience to owners of Xbox and Nintendo GameCube. We'll be putting all the resources and dedication of the Burnout team into making these the best driving games available for these systems and leverage the capabilities of each platform to deliver a gaming experience that is worthy of the Burnout name."
The sequel to Burnout, which was originally launched in November 2001 to universal acclaim from both media and consumers alike, Burnout 2: Point of Impact builds upon this strong speed-driven franchise with vastly improved game play, new game options and bigger, better and more insane crashes. Burnout 2: Point of Impact is infused with a wealth of new features and improvements, including bigger tracks, fully tuned-up custom motors, secret challenges, all-new modes of play, and an improved Burnout meter. Players can test their nerves and skills by taking to the air, sliding through corners, and swerving to avoid head-on collisions, while filling their meter to unleash a burst of speed previously exclusive to airplanes.
Burnout 2: Point of Impact will be available for Xbox(tm) and Nintendo Gamecube(tm) in the spring at suggested retail prices to be determined. The game is currently available for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system at a suggested retail price of $39.99. For more information on Burnout 2: Point of Impact, please visit http://www.acclaim.com
All-Star Baseball 2004 Website Launched
Steve @ 1:08 PM EST
With only one month left until the release of All-Star Baseball 2004, Acclaim Entertainment has just launched their new web site for the #1 selling baseball franchise. Loaded with exclusive content, including a list of this year's 81 new features (that's right, more than Bonds' 75!), screenshots, movies, player bios and an in-depth tour of every feature - you'll see why it's time to step up to the plate with the "must have" baseball game of the season.
To get the lowdown on the all-new scenario mode, official Negro League license, enhanced franchise mode, online downloadable rosters and more, just go to www.allstarbaseball04.com and see why this game is hotter than a Randy Johnson fastball in the Arizona sun.
Tuesday, January 28, 2003
Microsoft Has the Best Reputation
Steve @ 5:05 PM EST
NORWALK, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 28, 2003--With its legal obstacles largely behind it and buoyed by the successful product introduction of Xbox, Microsoft Corp. has the best reputation among the largest American companies according to the results of the second annual Media Reputation Index released today.
Media Reputation Index, the annual assessment of how news coverage affects corporate reputation, is conducted by Delahaye, the communications research division of Medialink Worldwide Incorporated (Nasdaq: MDLK), a global leader in providing news and media services to professional communicators, and The Reputation Institute, a New York-based research group.
The 2002 results, based on an analysis of more than 350,000 news items, also found that a company can overcome past difficulties to achieve excellence. Ford Motor Company demonstrated the most positive shift having climbed 47 spots to number 33, as compared to last year's ranking.
"Reputation is not static; it changes as individual opinions change," stated Mark Weiner, Delahaye's chief executive officer. "We believe there are two key drivers of change: direct experience and indirect experience. Employees, customers and investors all have direct experience with a company and each experience either enhances or tarnishes their perception of that company. Since direct experience with a specific company is limited or non-existent, most perceptions are formed based on indirect experience - the most common of which is exposure to media coverage."
To determine which companies are most highly respected in the nation's news pages and airwaves, Delahaye conducted an analysis of print and broadcast news appearing from Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2002. Delahaye classified media content about companies into the six categories of the Reputation Quotient developed by the Reputation Institute with Harris Interactive: products and services, emotional appeal, financial performance, social responsibility, vision and leadership, and workplace environment.
"It's important to monitor how companies are featured in the media because any change in a company's media coverage can influence how people perceive the company, thereby affecting its reputation," offered Reputation Institute founder Dr. Charles Fombrun. "In turn, a change in reputation is likely to affect how likely investors are to want to invest in the company's shares, which in turn changes a company's market value. Reputation has been repeatedly linked to multiple measures of value including better access to capital, higher market-to-book ratios, premium pricing, and attracting and retaining the best employees."
Several companies demonstrated the durability of their good media reputations despite a turbulent news year. Joining Microsoft among the top ten for the second consecutive year are Wal-Mart, Walt Disney, General Motors, IBM, Intel and General Electric.
Technology was the strongest of all sectors in 2002, with Microsoft, IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Dell claiming five of the top ten spots. Energy companies tended towards the bottom of the rankings with Enron, Dynegy, PG&E, Mirant, El Paso and Duke occupying six of the bottom ten places.
Monday, January 27, 2003
Atari Ships Battle Engine Aquila
Steve @ 11:33 PM EST
Atari shipped the eagerly-anticipated "Battle Engine Aquila" to retail stores nationwide this week for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system and the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft. Developed by Lost Toys and published by Atari, "Battle Engine Aquila" is a fierce and frenetic shooter that puts players at the helm of the most advanced war machine ever created -- the "Battle Engine Aquila." Tasked with protecting a world from hostile rebel forces, players will utilize an impressive and visually stunning arsenal of pulse cannons, micro missiles, spread bombs and much more, each critical to prevailing in the game's continuously evolving war zone.
"`Battle Engine Aquila' represents an incredibly fresh and modern approach to the classic shooters of the past -- overwhelming odds, incredible weapons, and, of course, gigantic mega-bosses. The comparison really stops there, however, as `Battle Engine Aquila' breaks new ground on nearly every game play front," said Jean-Philippe Agati, senior vice president and general manager of Infogrames' Los Angeles studio. "Epic battles featuring hundreds of land, air and sea units on screen at any given moment, a first person perspective, open-ended primary and secondary mission objectives, selectable wingmen, modifiable weapon load outs and resupply ships are just a few of the many game play features that are sure to make `Battle Engine Aquila' a necessary addition to any gamer's library."
The battle begins on the planet Allium where climactic changes have caused sea levels to rise creating a significant reduction in habitable land. As a result, tensions have escalated to the breaking point between the two major planetary factions, the Forseti and Muspell. As Hawk Winter, players are thrust into the rapidly escalating conflict as the pilot of the "Battle Engine Aquila" -- the most powerful weapon in the war. Modified to player specifications, and operated from a first person perspective, the "Battle Engine Aquila" is capable of unleashing its considerable might in a variety of ways. By ground, in Walker Mode, players will take advantage of the Battle Engine's most powerful weaponry, including the Pulse Cannon, Rail Gun and Flux Missile. By air, in Jet Mode, players can more effectively dispatch enemy fighters and landing craft, using Micro Missiles and the Vulcan Cannon, or move quickly to critical points in the conflict to lend a helping hand.
Featuring modifiable weapon load outs, selectable wingmen and a host of allied troop, tank, air and sea craft support, "Battle Engine Aquila" presents players with a near endless variety of options with which to overcome opposing forces. However, the Battle Engine cannot accomplish the game's increasingly difficult missions alone and thus must both seek and provide support to its allied forces. Mission objectives vary significantly from surgical search and destroy strikes to minimalizing allied troop losses to escorting bomber and aircraft carrier convoys. Players who successfully complete primary and secondary objectives are graded on their performance and have an opportunity to unlock "EVO" versions of every mission in the game. "EVO" missions are significantly harder and present new challenges, such as enemy forces with more entrenched positions, greater numbers of enemy forces as well as night and daytime variations. In all, "Battle Engine Aquila" features more than 40 missions in a branching storyline with multiple endings.
In addition to the single-player campaign, "Battle Engine Aquila" features several additional modes of play, including Co-Op Mode allowing two players to team up and battle through several missions together; Skirmish Mode, which pits two players and their entire armies against each other in a fight to the finish; and, Versus Mode, a one-on-one fight between two Battle Engines in deadly arenas.
"Battle Engine Aquila" is now available for the PlayStation(R)2 and Xbox at retail stores nationwide with an estimated retail price of $49.95 and an ESRB rating of "T" for Teen. Additional information about "Battle Engine Aquila" can be found online at http://www.battleengine.com , which features downloadable and streaming game play movies, screenshots, character bios, weapon and vehicle statistics and much more.
2002 Video Game Sales Break Record
Steve @ 11:27 PM EST
PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 27, 2003--According to the latest sales figures from The NPD Group, a leading market information company, total U.S. retail sales of video game hardware, software and accessories grew 10 percent in 2002 over 2001.
The video game industry generated $10.3 billion in record-breaking sales, surpassing the previous record high of $9.4 billion in 2001.
The category of video game software, consisting of both console and portable software, experienced sales gains of 21 percent in dollar volume and sold 15 percent more units in 2002 than in 2001. The healthy increase in sales was driven by the success of key franchises such as: Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Madden NFL 2003, Super Mario Sunshine, Spider-Man: The Movie, Halo and Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell.
Annual 2002 video game hardware sales showed a slight decline of four percent in revenue, earning $3.5 billion versus $3.7 billion in 2001. However, the category did post a 10 percent increase in unit volume. The decline in dollar and increase in unit volume were attributed to price reductions of all hardware systems. Prices of GameBoy Advance, GameCube, Sony Playstation 2, and Xbox dropped to almost one-third of their original price in first half 2002. The new price points opened the doors to the mass market, which in turn led to the dramatic increase in unit sales.
In 2002, the category of console and portable accessories posted a nine percent increase in dollar volume versus 2001. Console accessories include items such as DVD remotes and Internet adapters that lend themselves to the whole multi-media concept. These particular accessories were very important drivers to the video game industry in 2002, as they represented 18 percent of the next generation accessory dollars in August through December 2002. Online playable games represented 15 percent of next generation software dollars in the same time period. This new format will become much more important for the duration of the next generation life cycle and beyond.
"In 2003, the video game industry should expect unit volume growth to outpace dollar volume growth in the hardware category," said Richard Ow, senior account executive with The NPD Group. "Dollar volume will struggle for continued growth throughout 2003. The majority of the growth will come primarily from software sales, capitalizing on the hardware sold to date. The full power of the current generation of hardware is still unrealized. There is a barrage of new game software launches that will appeal widely to new video gamers, both old and young, expanding the software-to-hardware tie ratios of the previous generation," added Ow.
Acclaim Announces Alias
Steve @ 1:11 PM EST
GLEN COVE, NY, January 27, 2003 -Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that it has signed an agreement with Disney Interactive for the rights to publish video games based on ABC Television's hit drama series, "Alias." Currently in its second season, "Alias" is one of television's most critically acclaimed series. The "Alias" video game is currently being developed by Acclaim's Cheltenham studio and is scheduled to be released in the fall of 2003 across all of the next-generation gaming platforms.
"Alias" will be a third-person action adventure video game that allows players to step into the role of the series' lead character, Sydney Bristow, an agent for the CIA. Bristow must use her cunning, extensive knowledge of martial arts and array of high-tech gadgetry to accomplish dangerous missions. "Alias" will encompass all of the key elements behind the series' success, including high-action combat, stealth missions and time-based objectives, espionage, intriguing plot twists, high-tech weaponry and stunning gameplay locations that span the globe.
"Alias is one of the strongest new TV entertainment properties and is filled with great characters, rich storylines and incredible action that lends itself perfectly to interactive entertainment," said Evan Stein, Vice President of Marketing for Acclaim. "We are thrilled to have "Alias" join our portfolio of world-renowned licenses. "
"With the strength of the storylines in Alias, we couldn't imagine a better venue of expression then through the world of video games," says Bruce Gersh, Vice President of Business Development at ABC. "We are excited about the prospect of a great game that will bring all the elements of the show to a new fan base in the gaming world."
"Alias" was created by J.J. Abrams, who executive-produces the series along with John Eisendrath, Ken Olin, Alex Kurtzman-Counter, and Roberto Orci. The series, which is filmed in Los Angeles and premiered on September 30, 2001, is from Touchstone Television.
Friday, January 24, 2003
Xbox Sales Data from Around the Globe
Steve @ 8:14 PM EST
We missed this the other day--our apologies.
REDMOND, Wash. - Jan. 22, 2003 - One year ago, the XboxTM video game system was the new kid on the block. Today, Microsoft Corp. confirmed that Xbox was a top holiday seller and is now firmly entrenched in the No. 2 market position in the United States and Europe. According to the NPD Funworld TRSTS December 2002, Xbox significantly widened the gap between the competition, established itself as the clear No. 2 video game platform and brought the overall next-generation market share for Xbox to 24 percent. Xbox console sales in December had a year-over-year growth of 48 percent, which was the highest among all next-generation platforms for the month according to the NPD data. On the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Xbox also won additional market share, bringing the European share of Xbox to 19 percent (ChartTrack and GfK, November 2002).
"We are very pleased by the holiday results. Xbox is the next-generation video game system of choice and the clear No. 2 across the United States, Canada and throughout Europe," said Robbie Bach, senior vice president of Microsoft and chief Xbox officer. "With the popularity of Xbox Live, more than 300 games in development and more than 200 titles on the market, we expect to continue to gain market share from long-time console makers."
December was the largest selling month for Xbox consoles ever, beating the previous record month, November 2001, by 43 percent (NPD TRSTS, December 2002). Also according to the data, December was the largest month ever for Xbox software sales, beating the previous record month, December 2001, by 80 percent. Xbox also enjoyed a nearly 4.8 attach rate, the highest for any next-generation console after 14 months in the market. Moreover, Xbox sold the most software of any next-generation system after 14 months in the market. Finally, the Xbox Live TM service continued to be a major hit at retail in December, selling 70 percent more Xbox Live Starter Kits in the first two months than the PlayStation 2 network adaptor sold in its first two months.
Clearly popular with consumers, the Xbox game portfolio has been a huge success both for Microsoft-published games as well as third-party publishing partners. Game titles are selling best on Xbox. Of the top 20 multiplatform titles, the Xbox versions are attaching on an average of 70 percent more than those for PlayStation 2. In addition, third-party publishers continue to fare much better on Xbox. Life-to-date, these partners have sold 56 percent more units on Xbox than they have for GameCube. "Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell," from Ubi Soft, is not only the No. 1 Xbox title and No. 4 title overall in the U.S. market, it is now the second-highest selling Xbox title ever in the United States. "Splinter Cell" outsold GameCube's "Metroid" by 19 percent in the first two months of sales.
"'Splinter Cell' for Xbox continues to fly off retailers' shelves across North America and Europe," said Tony Kee, vice president of marketing, Ubi Soft Entertainment. "It's been a phenomenal holiday for us on Xbox, and we are eager to replicate the great success of 'Splinter Cell' with more Ubi Soft games on Xbox."
"It was admittedly a challenging retail environment for the entire game industry this holiday, but Xbox overdelivered in every way. It was all we could do to keep our shelves stocked with the Xbox Live Starter Kit and copies of games like 'Splinter Cell,' 'MechAssault TM ' and 'Ghost Recon,'" said Dan Dematteo, president of GameStop Inc. "What's even more exciting is that the demand for Xbox has remained strong even after the decorations have all been packed away."
Additional highlights from around the world include the following:
During the key retail month of December, Xbox outsold GameCube by 100 percent in the United Kingdom. (Source: ChartTrack, December 2002)
Xbox has passed the million-console mark in the United Kingdom, France and Germany. (Source: ChartTrack, GfK; December 2002)
European gamers showed their support for Xbox in huge numbers, with near-sellout sales during the console's first European Christmas season. The "Sega Christmas Pack From Xbox," a limited edition Xbox Christmas offer that included 120 euros' (£80) worth of free triple-A games from Sega, also proved a winner with gamers across Europe. Many stores sold out of stock before Christmas.
The Xbox Live Consumer Beta and Test Drive programs have been a great success, and momentum continues to build for the European retail launch of Xbox Live, which is on track for March 14, 2003.
After a very successful beta test, Xbox Live launched on Jan. 16 in Japan. Beta users, partners and several famous game creators comprised the guests at the Xbox Live launch party in Tokyo. Early response to Xbox Live in Japan has been enthusiastic, and many gamers are excited to play "Phantasy Star Online" on the Xbox Live service.
Xbox achieved significant momentum over the critical holiday period in Canada, selling faster than ever before. According to ACNielsen market data for November 2002, Xbox captured more than 32 percent of the Canadian next-generation console market - its best month since launching in Canada in November 2001.
Xbox market share grew dramatically in Australia in the key months of November and December to nearly 40 percent and 35 percent respectively. Xbox market share growth was mostly at the expense of PlayStation 2, which dropped from just over 70 percent to 60 percent. (Source: Inform, November and December 2002)
During those same two months, GameCube's market share plunged to just over 5 percent, and that trend is continuing in 2003. (Source: Inform, November and December 2002)
Xbox can now be found in more than 500 selected retail outlets throughout Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Korea. The excitement of the recent Xbox launches in Asia has been fueled by the launch of the "Dead or Alive 3" (DOA3) offer to usher in the Chinese New Year beginning next month as well as the online preorder campaign for the localized version of "HaloTM" for Korean gamers that started last week.
Xbox Gamer Magazine Launches in Europe
Steve @ 8:10 PM EST
FXM International Limited, a sister company to Future Publishing Limited and a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Future Network plc, is pleased to announce the release of Xbox Gamer.
Formerly known as XGamer, Xbox Gamer launches this week priced at £3.49 and covermounted with an official guidebook to smash hit action game, Splinter Cell, worth £12.99.
Aimed at both core and mainstream gamers, Xbox Gamer has a print-run of 80,000 and is backed by a £50,000 promotional spend.
Covermounts for issue 2 (on sale 19th February) and subsequent issues of Xbox Gamer include a covermounted DVD in an amaray case, featuring Xbox game videos, walkthroughs, reviews and tips.
Editor of Xbox Gamer is Simon Clays, previously editor of Stuff magazine and the Official Nintendo Magazine. During his tenure on those magazines, both were market-leaders in their respective sectors. Commenting on the launch of Xbox Gamer, Clays says: "The original XGamer was the market-leading non-official magazine during Xbox's first year. As the market has evolved into its second year, Xbox Gamer is building on that success by delivering compelling and challenging content both in the magazine and on the covermounted DVD."
Dom Beaven is publishing director of FXM International Limited. Talking about the release of Xbox Gamer, he adds: "With 600,000* Xbox users in the UK alone, we're delighted to be publishing a magazine that is aimed not only at a specialist gaming audience, but also at mainstream users. Xbox Gamer is a magazine for the entire Xbox audience that boasts high-quality production values, an innovative style, as well as covermounted media. And we're offering all of this at an extremely affordable cover price."
Mad Catz Acquires GameShark Brand
Steve @ 8:06 PM EST
SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 23, 2003--Mad Catz Interactive, Inc., the world's leading third party video game accessory manufacturer, announced today that, effective immediately, it has acquired the rights to the GameShark brand and the www.gameshark.com web site URL from InterAct, a subsidiary of Recoton Corporation (Nasdaq: RCOT) for $5 million (U.S. dollars).
GameShark is the industry leader in video game enhancement software, which enables players to take full advantage of the secret codes, short cuts, hints and cheats incorporated by video game publishers into their game offerings. In the twelve month period ended December 31, 2002, GameShark generated revenues in excess of $30 million.
Mad Catz anticipates shipping GameShark products powered by an extensive range of software cheats and hints in March, ensuring continuity of supply at retail locations. The Company has also assumed the management of the highly popular GameShark web site, one of the highest traffic gaming sites on the Internet.
Commenting on the acquisition, Morris Perlis, Mad Catz Interactive, President and CEO, noted, "The GameShark acquisition is attractive and significant to Mad Catz for several reasons. First, it enables us to increase the breadth of high-quality offerings available to leading retailers and the gaming community. Second, it further strengthens our position as the leading third party accessories provider in the world, as GameShark is one of the most popular interactive entertainment accessories among consumers. Finally, we believe the acquisition supports our goals for margin enhancement and financial growth. We are delighted to welcome GameShark to the Mad Catz family of products."
Darren Richardson, President and COO of Mad Catz Inc., added, "GameShark is an excellent strategic fit with Mad Catz as it is the undisputed brand leader in video game enhancements and will benefit from our position as the leading third party designer, manufacturer and distributor of video game accessories. In addition, the GameShark.com web site provides Mad Catz with a significant marketing vehicle which reaches a highly targeted gaming audience. We look forward to developing and offering new GameShark products which extend the solid reputation of the brand while incorporating the same level of innovation, value, design, and quality to our new video game enhancement offerings, that have made Mad Catz the category leader in third party accessories."
Thursday, January 23, 2003
Urban Freestyle Soccer Announced
Steve @ 3:44 PM EST
NO RULES, NO BOUNDARIES! FOUR ON FOUR EXTREME FOOTBALL TO LAUNCH AUTUMN 2003
LONDON, UK, 23 January 2003 – Aggressive tackling, mesmerising flicks and scorching goals are guaranteed as Acclaim Entertainment Ltd announces the launch of Urban Freestyle Soccer. Developed by Silicon Dreams, this action-packed four-on-four football feast encompasses everything that's great about the beautiful game by taking it back to the streets and combining silky skills with hard-edged extreme rules to deliver end-to-end, arcade-style action. Urban Freestyle Soccer will be released in Autumn 2003 on PlayStation®2, XboxTM and Nintendo GameCubeTM.
Urban Freestyle Soccer returns to grass roots and allows rival gangs to gain respect and supremacy in urban environments. Jumpers and oil drums replace goalposts and rules are well and truly left on the sidelines as the pitch is transformed into a battleground for the duration of the match. No offsides and limited boundaries ensure flowing gameplay and fierce, frantic competitive matches.
"Urban Freestyle Soccer will offer a great alternative to the traditional football game and will appeal to a much wider audience," commented Ned Browning, Brand Manager, Acclaim International. "There has never been a football game which takes the best from park soccer and combines it with the raw energy and skill which is seen every day on the streets around the world. Urban Freestyle Soccer will deliver the ultimate arcade football experience ever – with innovation which will revitalise the genre."
Urban Freestyle Soccer features an intuitive control system which will enable players to perform the ultimate 'showboat' tricks, flicks and volleys the likes of which are only ever witnessed by the world's elite players. By mastering the combo system, back-heels, juggling and scissor kicks can be added to the players' repertoire offering precision control and deadly accuracy in front of goal. Newcomers will instantly feel at home with a perfected control system which responds immediately and accurately to the players' commands.
Urban Freestyle Soccer features five gameplay modes including Turf Wars, Home Turf and Street Challenge Cup and allows gamers to choose from 16 teams from around the world. Urban Freestyle Soccer offers many exciting features, including a combo system which earns skill points for team upgrades, mini games and hidden rewards to increase longevity. The game provides an intuitive control system, allowing players to develop their skills as they progress through the game.
Raiders Triumph Over Buccaneers in Super Bowl Fever
Steve @ 12:39 AM EST
RAIDERS TRIUMPH OVER BUCCANEERS 28-17 IN SUPER BOWL FEVER
NFL FEVER 2003 LOOKS TO PROVIDE GAME WINNER AND EXACT SCORE FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR
Nineteen years after its last Super Bowl victory, the Raiders will become champions again by topping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their former coach 28-17 in the Super Bowl. That's the prediction from "NFL Fever 2003" on Xbox.
This week, Xbox.com features Super Bowl XXXVII just one year after predicting the EXACT SCORE of last year's Super Bowl. (New England 20 - St. Louis 17)
Today, Microsoft announced the results of Super Bowl XXXVII as part of Playoff Fever on Xbox.com. Playoff Fever is a simulated highlight reel, game summary and statistics, which appears every Friday on www.xbox.com that previews the upcoming NFL playoff games. All games are played in incredibly realistic replicas of NFL stadiums, using Microsoft Game Studios' "NFL Fever 2003" for Xbox.
This past weekend Playoff Fever correctly predicted the Oakland Raiders over Tennessee Titans, but failed to predict Tampa Bay Bucs over Philadelphia Eagles, posting a 1-1 record.
After an entire Monday Night season and three weeks of playoff action, Fever's record stands at an impressive 18-9. Dating back to last season, Fever holds an overall record of 35-16.
Oakland Raiders 28, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17
After ending their 0-7 mark of losing road playoff games by finally defeating the Eagles, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers advanced to their first Super Bowl in franchise history. First-year coach, Jon Gruden leads his team to a unique showdown with the team he coached just a year ago, the Oakland Raiders. The game being dubbed the "Gruden Bowl" matches the NFL's No. 1 ranked defense (Tampa Bay) versus the NFL's No. 1 ranked offense (Oakland).
On the first possession of the game, Oakland QB Rich Gannon exploited Tampa's secondary, completing five of six passes and hitting future Hall-of-Famer Jerry Rice on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Bucs answered shortly thereafter when Brad Johnson found big-play receiver Joe Jurevicius on an 82-yard TD pass. With the score knotted at 7-7, and both offenses firing on all cylinders, the scoreboard operator seemed to have a busy night ahead of him.
But the second quarter wasn't nearly as crisp offensively for either team. Buccaneers' linebacker and NFL Defensive Player of the Year Derrick Brooks nailed Gannon and forced a fumble, which Shelton Quarles recovered. Looking to capitalize on the very next play, Johnson hastily threw an ill-advised ball that DeLawrence Grant batted into the hands of Raider cornerback Tory James for an interception. Unfortunately, Oakland couldn't capitalize on the turnover and punted after three and out.
Gruden went back to the drawing board and ordered Johnson to spread the field. Johnson orchestrated a seven-minute, 79-yard drive culminating with a Ken Dilger 1-yard touchdown grab that put Tampa Bay up, 14-7. Oakland had a just over a minute to retaliate before the half, but Bucs' cornerback Ronde Barber picked Gannon's pass for the Raiders' second turnover, ending the drive.
In the third quarter, Oakland found new life, as James picked Johnson for the second time, putting the Raiders in prime field position. Gannon didn't relinquish the opportunity, hitting his other future Hall-of-Fame receiver Tim Brown on a 12-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 14-14. Bill Romanowski and the Raiders' defense held the Bucs, and forced a punt on their next possession. Gannon, the NFL MVP, went back to work, completing passes of 14 and 19 yards to Brown and one pass for 28 yards to Charlie Garner. Gannon then found his tight end Doug Jolley for the 11-yard, go-ahead touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, the relentless Bucs unleashed a flurry of first down completions, moving them deep into Raiders' territory. But Tampa would have to settle for a 25-yard Martin Gramatica field goal after failing to reach the end zone on three consecutive incomplete passes by Johnson. With a little over five minutes to go, Oakland led, 21-17.
The Raiders plan was simple ... run the ball to eat the clock and win owner Al Davis another Super Bowl. Garner picked up key first downs on runs of 14 and 18 yards and forced Tampa to use their supply of timeouts. Adding to the drama, though, Garner was stopped on the following first and second down from the Raiders' own 45-yard line, and Gannon was forced to throw on third and long. With possibly the game's most important play, Tim Brown pulled down a leaping grab for 27 yards and a key Oakland first down. Going back to ball control and the ground game, Zack Crockett put the exclamation point on the game as he crossed the goal line on a 4-yard touchdown run to seal a Super Bowl win for the Raiders, 28-17.
Oakland had succeeded in defeating their former coach and gave their rookie coach Bill Callahan his first NFL Championship. Tim Brown was named Super Bowl MVP finishing with six receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown. The Super Bowl win was Oakland's first since 1984 when the then-Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Redskins 38-9 in Super Bowl XVIII.
To see Super Bowl XXXVII's simulated highlights, game summary, and statistics, visit www.xbox.com. Be sure to join us next year for the third season of "NFL Fever on Monday Night," "Playoff Fever" and "Super Bowl Fever."
Wednesday, January 22, 2003
AKA Acclaim Ships ATV: Quad Power Racing 2
Steve @ 1:30 PM EST
Sequel to Top-Selling Franchise Makes Its Cross-Platform Debut with 10 Pro Riders; More Than 40 In-Game Sponsors, Vast Array of Freestyle Tricks and Multiplayer Modes
Driving into retail outlets nationwide with an action-packed sequel to its 700,000 unit-selling off-road racing franchise, AKA Acclaim, a division of Acclaim Entertainment, Inc., today announced that it has shipped ATV: Quad Power Racing(TM) 2(TM) for the Microsoft Xbox(TM) and Nintendo GameCube(TM). Developed by Climax Studios, ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 contains new features and an entirely new game engine that delivers rich graphics and incredible four-wheel arcade racing action for the first and only ATV experience available for the Microsoft Xbox(TM) and Nintendo GameCube(TM).
"ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 is a strong sequel that harnesses the power of the next-generation systems, and is a perfect arcade title for the masses," said Ben Fischbach, Brand Director for AKA Acclaim. "Now all of the next-gen system owners can get their hands on an ATV game infused with insane stunts, big air jumps and high speed combat."
ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 includes many exciting new features:
20 insane riders, including the top professional riders from all over the world such as Dana Creech and Kory Ellis;
15 massive tracks and five environments, spanning countries throughout the world;
Get dirty and physically battle with opponents to the finish line;
Over-the-top controls and game physics, allowing players to pull huge air and amazingly fun power slides;
More than 20 freestyle tricks to let riders express their wild side while tearing up the competition;
Multi-player modes of play, brings the action to players and their friends;
4-way split screen action on Xbox(TM) and 2-way on Nintendo GameCube(TM);
More than 40 real-life in-game sponsors, including O'Neal, EVA and Alpine Stars;
Great in-game soundtrack featuring today's top artists such as The Rollins Band, Godsmack and Box Car Racer.
ATV: Quad Power Racing 2 is currently available for the Microsoft Xbox(TM) and Nintendo GameCube(TM) at suggested retail prices of $39.99. The game is also currently available for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system at a suggested retail price of $29.99. For more information on this title, please visit http://www.acclaim.com
Godzilla Coming to Xbox
Steve @ 1:25 PM EST
New Monster, New Arenas, Improved Gameplay and Graphics Highlight Xbox Version of Smash Monster-on-Monster Fighting Game
Atari is bringing "Godzilla(R): Destroy All Monsters Melee," a one-to-four player monster-on-monster fighting game, to the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft in Spring 2003. Based on the classic movie characters created by Toho Co., Ltd., the game recreates the look and feel of the titanic film legends and challenges players to punch, kick, stomp, throw and blast each other in massive, city-wide arenas. "Godzilla(R): Destroy All Monsters Melee," developed by Pipeworks Software, is currently available on the Nintendo GameCube.
"Bringing the biggest and baddest monsters to the biggest and baddest console was a natural fit," said Jean-Philippe Agati, senior vice president and general manager of Infogrames' Los Angeles studio. "With the power of the Xbox, 'Godzilla(R): Destroy All Monsters Melee' captures the epic look and scale that is the promise of the landmark movies and the nuclear-powered goliaths have never seemed so real. Four player slugfests with buildings, gas tankers and cargo ships flying through the air create the ultimate party game on the Xbox!"
"Godzilla(R): Destroy All Monsters Melee" pits gamers as their favorite giant monster against other escapees from Monster Island. The game was awarded "Runner-up" as the Best Fighting Game of the 2002 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
In addition to the single-player Adventure Mode, the game includes four additional play styles: Versus Mode, a one on one epic battle royal; Destruction Mode, a timed challenge to see which player can destroy more of a city in a given amount of time; Survival Mode, the ultimate test of a player's skill, pitting him against monster after monster with the score based on the number of enemies defeated before losing a match; and Melee Mode, a one-to-four player points-based multiplayer slugfest.
The game features an epic sense of scope and scale, with 10 massive real-world and fantasy fighting arenas, including San Francisco, Tokyo and the notorious Monster Island, that are fully 3D and totally interactive. Players can pick up and throw buildings and landmarks like Big Ben, toss enemies into vast fuel tank farms and stomp on baseball stadiums. "Godzilla(R): Destroy All Monsters Melee" also features additional hidden, unlockable areas only found on the Xbox(TM). Each city has been created with amazing attention to detail, including working traffic lights, blinking neon signs and moving cars, buses and tanker trucks.
More than 10 licensed monsters, each carefully modeled from the record-setting movie franchise, appear in the game including Godzilla(R) 90's, Mechagodzilla(TM), Megalon(TM), Destoroyah(TM), King Ghidorah(TM), Mothra(TM) and many more. Each character is equipped with basic fighting maneuvers like kicks, punches, jumps, projectile attacks and blocks. For more hardcore fighting fans, "Godzilla(R): Destroy All Monsters Melee" includes a robust combo system and special attacks that are unique to each creature's abilities from the original movies. Power-ups are dropped into the arena by alien ships and hidden within city buildings, providing health and other enhanced abilities.
New features for Xbox include:
New monster: Mechagodzilla(TM) 3 (from the latest Godzilla(R) film release in Japan) joins the cast.
New arenas: Vortaak Home World. The alien's home world, features new challenges like volcanoes, spaceship launchers, installation-protection missiles, and plenty of alien buildings to throw. Boxing Ring, the largest boxing ring in the world constructed for monster battles complete with ropes, bells and blimps.
New Computer AI: One gamer can now play a four-player melee or team game against the Xbox Artificial Intelligence.
Single-player Destruction Mode: Players can rip up a city -- all by themselves.
Soundtrack support: Rip tunes to the Xbox hard drive and play your own tracks while you're fighting as your favorite giant monsters.
Xbox Advantage Controls: The extra buttons on the Xbox make it easier to grab monsters and buildings. In addition, the Xbox features improved responsiveness, combos and collision detection.
Better visuals: The unmatched graphical prowess of the Xbox hardware allows for better visuals treats, like reflection maps on buildings, true bump mapping, improved animations, smokestacks that emit smoke, better impact effects, specular highlights, bright high-resolution skies, improved lighting model, improved terrain, high resolution city selection movies and high resolution textures.
Improved Speed: Solid frame-rate and faster loading times.
Multiple Saved Games: Up to four players can save their progress on the Xbox hard drive.
For more information on "Godzilla(R): Destroy All Monsters Melee," please visit the official Web site at http://www.godzillagame.com
Monday, January 20, 2003
Peter Moore (formerly Sega) Now With Microsoft
Steve @ 6:43 PM EST
Microsoft Announces Appointment of Peter Moore As Corporate Vice President of Retail Sales and Marketing
Video Game Industry Veteran to Oversee Home and Entertainment Retail Business, Including Xbox, in Europe and Japan
REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft Corp. today announced that Peter Moore, video game industry veteran and former president and chief operating officer of SEGA® of America Inc., has joined Microsoft as corporate vice president of retail sales and marketing. In this newly created position, Moore will oversee retail business in the Home and Entertainment Division, including the Xbox™ video game console, Xbox and PC games from Microsoft Game Studios, and home software and hardware products sold at retail, in Europe and Japan.
Moore brings to Microsoft more than 20 years of global management, marketing and sales experience. At SEGA, Moore played a critical role in repositioning the SEGA brand and product suite to achieve a leadership position in the industry. Before serving as president and chief operating officer, Moore was the senior vice president of marketing and was responsible for the successful launch of the SEGA Dreamcast™ video game console. Before joining SEGA, Moore was with Reebok International Ltd., where he held senior management positions including vice president of global sports and senior vice president of Reebok Footwear.
In his new role as vice president of retail sales and marketing at Microsoft, Moore will report directly to Robbie Bach, senior vice president of the Home and Entertainment Division and chief Xbox officer.
“Peter has an outstanding track record of success in the consumer market and video game industries. In addition, we look forward to utilizing his deep knowledge of foreign markets to continue to grow our retail business in Europe and Japan,” Bach said. “In Europe, where we have made enormous progress, particularly with the Xbox business gaining the No. 2 position there, Peter will be working to maintain and accelerate that good standing. In Japan, we expect that he will contribute greatly to the work already being done there to advance the business.”
“I am excited to be joining Microsoft at a time when the company’s drive toward innovation and creativity is at the forefront of its retail and in-home strategy,” Moore said. “In particular, I look forward to applying my combined experience in global consumer sales and marketing and the interactive entertainment industry to enhance the global reach of the Xbox product line.”
Additional Management Changes in Europe
Microsoft also today announced the retirement of Sandy Duncan, regional vice president of Home and Entertainment in Europe. Duncan retires after 17 years with Microsoft, three of which were spent overseeing the retail business, including Xbox, in Europe. “Sandy leaves Microsoft on an incredibly high note,” Bach said. “Having worked with a fantastic team of people on one of the most exciting launches in history, in addition to the success of the first Xbox holiday in Europe, he can retire knowing that he helped establish Microsoft firmly as a serious player in the games industry.”
Eduardo Rosini, a 10-year Microsoft veteran currently driving product development projects at Microsoft Game Studios, has been appointed the new regional vice president managing the day-to-day activities of the division in Europe. Rosini and Duncan will work together during the next few months’ transition period. Rosini will report to directly to Moore.
Rosini has worked on Xbox since its inception, initially as a business manager working directly for Bach. He joined Microsoft in 1992 and spent seven years managing key Microsoft subsidiaries overseas, moving to Redmond, Wash., in 1999 as general manager of the Worldwide Enterprise Group. “I’m very excited for Eduardo to join the European team,” Bach said. “Building on the success of holiday 2002, he will work closely with Peter Moore to continue to fulfill our mission of bringing value to consumers through the strength of our products.”
Xbox #2 in Europe; Fastest Growing Debut Console Ever
Steve @ 4:10 PM EST
Xbox Outsold GameCube By 2:1 Over Festive Season
LONDON, 20th January 2003 — Based on industry-standard, independent statistics from research firms Chart-Track (1) and GfK (2) XboxTM, the future generation video game system from Microsoft, has established itself as the clear number two player in the region (3). This makes Xbox the fastest growing debut console ever, against some well-equipped, long-standing competition with a great heritage in this market.
Chart-Track and GfK numbers for the 2002 calendar year indicate that Xbox has well exceeded the million-console mark in the UK, France, and Germany alone. This, combined with strong sales in the rest of the region, places Xbox well ahead of Nintendo's GameCube. Based on the figures from Chart-Track and GfK during the key retail month of December, Xbox outsold GameCube by a factor of 2:1. This phenomenal result clearly established Xbox as the number-two player in the region heading into 2003.
European gamers showed their support for Xbox in huge numbers with near sell-out sales of the console in the region. The Sega Christmas Pack from Xbox, a limited edition Xbox Christmas offer that included €120/£80 worth of triple-A games from Sega for free, also proved a winner with gamers across Europe. Many stores sold out of stock before Christmas.
"We are pleased that this Christmas was the Xbox-green we predicted," said Neil Thompson, Director of Marketing, Xbox Europe. "Our increasing market share is great news for us. The steady increase in Xbox gamers over the year proves our strategy of offering consumers exactly what they wanted has paid off - a well-priced console, with more power than any other console on the market, a killer games portfolio and a built-in broadband adapter for instant online gaming with Xbox LiveTM. The choice gamers had to make at Christmas was a tough one but the numbers show that Xbox was the first choice for a significant number of people. We are looking forward to seeing our number two position in the market going from strength to strength."
An Xbox-Green Christmas
"Xbox launched in Europe less than a year ago and our first Christmas in the region has seen us clearly emerge as the number two player. Xbox-only games such as Splinter Cell clearly demonstrate the advanced hardware features on the Xbox and have sold incredibly well," said Thompson. "Other games that have fired the imagination of gamers include cross-platform games such as Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, FIFA 2003, and Colin McRae Rally 3 – these titles have proved the Xbox Difference and enjoyed remarkable sales. Over 250 new titles will be available this year, so 2003 will bring even more must-have titles for Xbox.
"Consumers know that when they buy Xbox they are buying something that is offering amazing features and abilities that really sets Xbox apart from the competition," said Thompson. "A built-in hard disc, together with unrivalled graphics and Dolby 5.1 surround sound, revolutionary gameplay, and top-quality DVD playback, lets gamers get even more from their Xbox"
The Xbox Difference is further amplified by the advent of Xbox Live, launching in eight countries across Europe on 14th March, Xbox owners can look forward to the future of gaming, both online and off. The Live Test Drive currently taking place in France, Germany and the UK has been a huge success, with literally thousands of gamers signed up to participate and enjoying a unique experience.
Yves Guillemot, President, UbiSoft Entertainment, added, "We believe that this Christmas has really established Xbox in the minds of European gamers as a powerful and strong-selling console, able to bring to market some of the best games around, such as Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell. As a developer we believe that gamers can only benefit from this kind of healthy competition and the sales over Christmas indicate that gamers believe that too."
Friday, January 17, 2003
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc Details
Steve @ 2:54 PM EST
Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc pits Rayman, everyone’s favorite limb-free super hero, against some of his fiercest enemies ever. And the Knaaren are perhaps the scariest of the bunch. Smart, strong, and deadly, these terrifying creatures can’t be beaten with strength alone – Rayman will have to use his brains as well as his brawn and his host of new superpowers to vanquish these savages. What’s more, Rayman needs to do more than just beat the Knaaren in battle. He must win their allegiance in order to save the world.
Dark, funny, and utterly engrossing, Rayman’s compelling narrative and movie-like production values deliver surprises around every corner and create an unparalleled, immersive gameplay experience.
Rich, Zany Characters
Upgraded character design maximizes the potential of next-generation hardware – Rayman himself enjoys 200 animations, while John Leguizamo (Globox) and Billy West (Murfy) bring Rayman’s pals to life.
Blast into battle with the fanatic Hoodlum Army, hordes of outlandish creatures, and huge transforming bosses. With advanced AI, specific strengths, and merciless group fighting tactics, these villains are trained to demolish – Rayman will need killer strategies to survive the chaos.
With a blazing arsenal of brand new time-based powers and Double-Fist fighting action, Rayman’s ready to rip the Hoodlum Army a new one.
Bizarre Cartoon Fantasy
Experience the extravagant imagination of Rayman’s world, a living universe filled with trippy, eye-popping visuals, intense 3D vertigo platforming action, and hyper-stylized environments.
Dark and Uncharted Underlands
Travel across treacherous terrain and never-before-seen, magical worlds, each with its own personality – including the Swamp, the Moor, and the Deadlands.
Rayman 3 Hoodlum Havoc is scheduled to ship in MARCH 2003, for all platforms.
Thursday, January 16, 2003
Bloody Roar Announced in Konami's 2003 Line-up
Steve @ 5:15 PM EST
January 16, 2003 - Konami of America, Inc. today announced 16 new titles for 2003 including all-new versions of blockbuster franchises Castlevania®, Dance Dance RevolutionTM, Gradius®, Silent Hill®, Winning ElevenTM, Yu-Gi-Oh!TM and Zone of the EndersTM. Focusing on powerful brands, Konami's broad 2003 line-up includes titles for all genres, age groups and skill levels. Brand new properties that are scheduled to debut in 2003 include Casino Manager (working title), Cy Girls, K1 World Grand Prix, McFarlane's Monsters, Ninja Five-OTM and Street Kings (working title).
Out of the 16 titles announced today, one of them is for Xbox:
Release date: Summer 2003
Platform: Microsoft Xbox
Bloody Roar makes its debut on the Microsoft Xbox in a 3D brawler that's as ferocious as they come. Sixteen fighters, interactive 3D environments, incredible graphics and the ability to transform into Hyper-beast forms make Bloody Roar an instant classic.
EA Reveals Details on NBA Street Vol. 2
Steve @ 3:07 AM EST
REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 15, 2003--Electronic Arts, reveals details for NBA STREET Vol. 2, the follow-up to the hit title NBA STREET, to be released under the EA SPORTS BIG(TM) brand. NBA STREET Vol. 2 lets players bring their act to the street show and face off against the greatest basketball players of all-time on blacktop courts throughout North America. First team to "21" wins, but in NBA STREET Vol. 2, style and attitude are as important as putting the ball in the basket. Currently under development, NBA STREET Vol. 2 will be available this spring for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Nintendo GameCube(TM) and Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.
NBA STREET Vol. 2 allows players to choose from a roster of more than 150 NBA stars past and present including Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Walton, Jerry West, George "Iceman" Gervin,"Pistol" Pete Maravich and Magic Johnson, complete with their signature moves, in there quest for street ball dominance...alone, with a friend or in the new four-player multi-player mode.
With new moves like "Pass Out" and "Off the Heezay", players can pass the ball off the backboard or even off the opponents' head. Now you can even "Be the Oop". Just use the right analog to pass the ball to another player, take control of the man without the ball and call for the monster alley-oop. Choose from authentic urban worlds that re-create the feel and grit of the true street game, including Soul in the Hole, NY, and Mosswood in Oakland.
School your opponent big time with the show-stopping Second Level Gamebreaker. The more you pour on the highlights the bigger the boost. Make your own history in the new Create-a-Baller mode and earn new moves to show of your street style.
NBA STREET Vol. 2 is developed by NuFX, Inc./EA Canada.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
First Xbox Soul Calibur 2 Screens & Release Date!
Eric @ 5:23 AM EST
Namco has released some new info on the console versions of SC2 today, as well as the first ever screens taken from the Xbox version. The home versions of SC2 will have this RPG-like mode. Much like the first one that was ported to DC, you complete various missions to unlock new levels, costumes and so on. Each of the console versions will have 2 exclusive characters that the arcade version didn't. Each system will have one system exclusive character, with the 2nd one appearing on all 3 systems. The Xbox exclusive character will be none other than Spawn. While the GameCube version will include Link from Zelda and the PS2 version will have Heihachi Mishima from Tekken. Necrid is the other character that will be on every version. Both Necrid and Spawn have been based from work by Todd McFarlane Productions. All 3 console versions of Soul Calibur 2 will be released in Japan on March 27th, with US and UK release dates to follow, but no word on when yet. Below is a link to the first pictures of the Xbox version, and the Xbox exclusive character Spawn as well as the brand new character Necrid. We hope to get some more pictures and info soon as the release date comes near.
Soul Calibur 2 Screen Gallery
Acclaim Entertainment Releases its up Coming 2003 Line up
Eric @ 1:53 AM EST
GLEN COVE, NY, January 13, 2003 - Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. (NASDAQ.SC: AKLM) today announced its results for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003 ended December 1, 2002. Net revenue for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003 was $63.1 million, as compared to $81.0 million or 22% lower than the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. For the first quarter of fiscal 2003, the Company reported a net loss of $13.9 million, or $0.15 per diluted share, as compared to net earnings of $17.4 million, or $0.21 per diluted share for the same period of the prior year.
First Quarter Fiscal Year 2003 Operating Results
Contributing to the Company's operating results was the strong performance of its international division, which is overseen by Rod Cousens, President and Chief Operating Officer of Acclaim International. This division's contributions to the organization's first quarter were due to such top-selling titles in the European market as Burnout 2: Point of Impact, Legends of Wrestling 2 and other back catalogue titles. Offsetting the positive European results was the weak performance of the Company's titles in the North American retail market. Accordingly, based on the Company's review of its poor domestic retail sell-through activity in the holiday season, the Company increased its allowance provisions for returns and price concessions in the first quarter of fiscal year 2003. The increased allowances are the principal reason for the decline in the Company's gross margin to 48% during the first quarter of fiscal year 2003 from 64% in the first quarter of the fiscal year 2002.
Operating expenses for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003 were $42.5 million as compared to $31.6 million for the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. The increased expenses for the first quarter of fiscal 2003 over the comparable period for the prior year were primarily due to increased marketing and selling expenses and product development expenses.
Revised Operating Plan
The Company's has developed a revised operating plan which targets the following key areas: reducing operating expenses in order to align them with projected revenues; maintaining the Company's positive cash flow; an ongoing review of its product release schedule to meet market demand; and meeting the Company's projected profitability. The Company intends to rapidly implement this plan once it has been presented to and approved by its Board of Directors, and will announce details of this plan once it has been ratified and approved.
As of December 1, 2002, the Company reported a cash position of $10.1 million. Based on the Company's revised operating plan, the Company expects to generate sufficient cash flow from operations to meet its currently projected cash and operating requirements for the next twelve months. The projections assume that the Company meets its sales forecasts by successfully achieving its planned product release schedule, while simultaneously enjoying the support of its lead lender and vendors.
Gross Revenue By Platform
Gross revenue by platform during the first quarter of fiscal year 2003, consisted of 128-bit software (92%); portable cartridges (4%); 32-bit software (3%) and other (1%). On a geographic basis, North American and International operations generated 45% and 55% of gross revenue, respectively, for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003. In addition, Acclaim's internal studios generated 30% of the Company's gross revenue during the first quarter of fiscal 2003, of which Legends of Wrestling 2 accounted for approximately 9.5% of total revenue.
During the first quarter of fiscal year 2003, the Company released Burnout 2: Point of Impact, BMX XXX, Legends of Wrestling 2 and Mary-Kate & Ashley Sweet 16 for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system; BMX XXX and Legends of Wrestling 2 for the Microsoft XBOXTM, BMX XXX, Legends of Wrestling 2 and Mary-Kate & Ashley Sweet 16 for the Nintendo GameCubeTM; and Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 3, Legends of Wrestling 2 and Mary-Kate & Ashley Sweet 16 for Game Boy Advance'. Furthermore, the continued sale of catalog products and the ongoing success of All-Star Baseball 2003, Crazy Taxi, ATV: Quad Power Racing and the Mary-Kate and Ashley brands across multiple formats, as well as distribution releases in the international markets continued to contribute to net revenues.
During the second quarter of fiscal year 2003, Acclaim intends to release 12 SKU's:
All-Star BaseballTM 2004 February
ATV Quad Power RacingTM 2 January
Dakar 2TM * February
All-Star BaseballTM 2004 February
ATV Quad Power RacingTM 2 January
Dakar 2TM * February
All-Star BaseballTM 2004 February
ATV Quad Power RacingTM 2 January
Game Boy Advance:
All-Star BaseballTM 2004 February
*Denotes European release only.
During the third quarter of fiscal year 2003, the Company intends upon releasing approximately 12 SKU's:
Burnout 2: Point of Impact
Burnout 2: Point of Impact
All-Star Baseball 2004
*Denotes European release only.
During second half of calendar year 2003, the Company intends upon releasing approximately 25 SKU's, including several titles which will be announced soon:
AFL Live 2004*
Legends of Wrestling 3
NBA JAM 2004
Urban Freestyle Street Soccer
AFL Live 2004*
Legends of Wrestling 3
NBA JAM 2004
Urban Freestyle Street Soccer
Legends of Wrestling 3
NBA JAM 2004
Urban Freestyle Street Soccer
Urban Freestyle Street Soccer
*Denotes Australian release only.
ATI Powering Xbox 2?
Eric @ 1:24 AM EST
According to Dundee Securities Corporation that is. This is pretty interesting since Nvidia is set to release its new groundbreaking card GeforceFX in late Feb or March. But theres no doubt ATI will follow right along and have something new right around the same time. MS still has not decided yet, but its good to see their looking at ATI this time around. ATI has managed to really build a name for itself with its 9700, and has proven it knows how to make a extremly powerful card. Regardless if its ATI or Nvidia, you can rest assure that Xbox 2 will have a very advanced, groundbreaking card when it's released.
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Indy Racing League Info
Steve @ 12:43 PM EST
New York – January 14, 2003 - It’s not just driving – it’s blisteringly fast, nerve-shatteringly intense, pure professional racing and it’s unlike any racing video game to date. This is Indy Racing League, the official video game of the grueling US open-wheel championship, features real drivers, cars and tracks. Published by Codemasters, Indy Racing League will ship in spring 2003 for PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox video game system from Microsoft and PC.
Set to be the most exciting and entertaining open-wheel racing game ever designed, Indy Racing League features adrenaline-fuelled, ultra-close pack racing, with up to 33 cars racing on a track at one time. Requiring total focus to handle the incredible overtaking maneuvers, players will be racing at speeds well over 200mph.
Indy Racing League delivers the Indy Racing season, including the Indianapolis 500 (Indy 500) race, "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing." The season is an open-wheeled championship on short ovals and super speedways throughout the US, including California and Texas, with the Indy 500 as the highlight of its racing calendar. Indy cars are similar to F1 but are powered by 3.5-litre V8 engines, used by all teams. Fast and furious, the 650 bhp cars reach 0-100 mph in less than three seconds.
As a game, Indy Racing League provides immediate lightening-paced action, authentic yet intuitive handling, spectacular collisions and a dynamically adjusted level of difficulty to keep the challenges on the circuits coming thick and fast. To succeed in this intense sport, it’s all about racing using real Indy Racing tactics, making for a fresh racing game challenge. Players must continuously overtake other drivers, defend positions, perform close maneuvers at high speeds, utilize drafting techniques and switch fuel settings to take advantage of either speed or economy.
Codemasters’ Indy Racing League is the only game that features the official cars, tracks, teams and drivers, totaling 14 tracks, 27 cars and 15 action-packed races all in US TV-style presentation. A fully authentic Indy 500 mode features the spectacle and excitement of the most attended single-day sporting event in the world. Brilliant detailing makes it a hugely realistic racing challenge, with all the Indy Racing League rules and flags, right down to a dynamic track surface in which track temperature affects tire grip. Accurate in-game recreations of the racing speedways even include fully animated pit crews, field marshals, clean-up crews and vehicles.
For updates on the game’s continuing development, see the dedicated web site at http://www.codemasters.com/indyracingleague
Panzer Dragoon Orta Released Today
Steve @ 12:42 PM EST
SAN FRANCISCO - (January 14, 2003) - SEGA(R) of America, Inc. today
announced the release of the highly-anticipated "Panzer Dragoon ORTA(TM)" exclusively for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft. Set in a surreal apocalyptic future, "Panzer Dragoon ORTA" delivers a deep sci-fi storyline and intense, cinematic aerial combat, challenging gamers to take control of a giant dragon and fight to save humanity from the brink of extinction.
"Panzer Dragoon ORTA" features mind-blowing 360-degree aerial combat onboard a powerful dragon as players battle through more than 10 stunning environments, including chaotic burning villages, a nightmarish dragon incubator facility and the kaleidoscopic heart of the planet's network infrastructure. With the ability to unleash devastating "berserk" attacks and morph between three offensive and defensive dragon forms in real time, gamers will need speed, strategy and skill to save the world.
The fourth game in the legendary Panzer Dragoon series, "Panzer Dragoon ORTA" continues the epic story from the previous games and introduces a new heroine, Orta. Enslaved by a shadowy force that rules over humanity with a sinister arsenal of bio-mechanical weapons, Orta is freed from her cell by a dragon that takes her on a quest to discover her mysterious past and save mankind.
"SEGA's Panzer Dragoon series has long been one of video games' most revered franchises, thrilling fans with it's cinematic blend of fast action, surreal artistry and grand scale," said Mike Fischer, vice president entertainment marketing, SEGA of America, Inc. "The power of Xbox has enabled SEGA to create the most fully-realized Panzer Dragoon game yet. Long-time fans of the series and newcomers alike will be blown away."
Developed by SEGA's Smilebit studio, "Panzer Dragoon ORTA" expands upon the characters and story of the first three games in the series, "Panzer Dragoon(TM)," "Panzer Dragoon Zwei" and "Panzer Dragoon Saga" originally released for the SEGA Saturn(TM). The game also features its own in-game language, "Panzereese" which blends Greek, Latin, German, Japanese and English to round out a completely immersive game world.
"SEGA has produced another successful follow-up to the Panzer Dragoon
series," said Ed Fries, vice president, Microsoft Games. "When coupled with the powerful capabilities of Xbox, "Panzer Dragoon ORTA" is far superior to its competition. The graphical advantage is evident in every combat scenario, from aerial coverage to detailed animation."
The game includes dozens of branching paths and unlockable surprises,
including the complete original version of "Panzer Dragoon," hidden
characters, sub-scenarios, concept art and a full encyclopedia of the Panzer Dragoon universe, with detailed information about characters, enemies and the game's rich mythology.
Atari Launches Official D&D Heroes Web Site
Steve @ 12:40 PM EST
Heralding in the arrival of one of the most anticipated four-person
multiplayer co-op games of 2003, Atari today announced that the official web site for its new Dungeons & Dragons Heroes video game has launched. Located at http://www.dandheroes.com , the site boasts an array of exclusive features and will act as the online epicenter for the game.
First Info On UC Patch Announced
Eric @ 4:31 AM EST
J.P.Eekels, the lead Designer over at Digital Extremes, has released info on a patch that is in the works for UC via the UC forums at Infogrames. Here is the post:
" Hi folks,
I just wanted to drop you guys a note on the planned update (fixes for exploits) and thereby opening an option for other fixes as well that we have for you.
Although Unreal Championship can be patched to fix exploits, this is not by all means an easy task. I will not go into detail here other then saying that it is not the same situation like updates for PC based games. I will also go on and say that we do listen to our public and are in fact working hard to make sure that you have an awesome time playing our games.
So, I will have you know that there is some substantial work put into the upcoming patch that will fix some exploits that people have listed on this board. Some things were known (stats for instance) and some things just came up through the woodwork.
I will list the things that we are looking at right now.
- Exploit: Stats. Yes we know that it was a flimsy solution and that people would of course take advantage of it. Time constraints worked against us here.
With the upcoming patch, first time players against bots will give get a certain amount of points (fairly low). As your skill improves bots will start to give you less and less points. See it as you're leveling up in the game. So at first the bots will give you points so that you're at least ranked enough that you don't have to be ashamed of your skills, later on this will become a very very small amount. At this point you can play all you want against bots instead of real players in an attempt to get your rank higher but that will be an utter waste of time.
- Exploit: Balancing of teams. Again coming from the PC where split screen does not exist which means this code had to be written from scratch over top of the Unreal code, these issues of teams not being balanced in certain situations fell in-between the cracks. This is being worked on as we speak. This has proven to be somewhat hairy but we are cutting it neatly for you guys.
- Exploit: Crazy moves like getting outside of boundaries of maps (you have no idea how long we tried getting out of maps in our attempt to close all holes) and TAG Rifle exploits. These seem logical and do not require further explanation other then these things do suck and will be fixed.
Here is the adjustment list that we are working on. In fixing the exploits, we also got presented with the opportunity to adjust some of the other issues that people had.
- Adjustment: Frame rate issues. Even though we went to great pains to give you the best frame rate possible by redesigning the levels that were shared with UT2003 (not dumbed down!!) among many other things, when there are intense battles with lots of bots on screen things do get a bit hot under the hood. These are consequences that come with a high detailed worlds and stem from the problem that a) the bots are using a fair amount of CPU time. Hey if you want them to be smart they need some CPU time. I see you walking around with just 3 neurons... b) overdraw. This happens when many many particle effects/decals get drawn over and over and over top of each other. Even 2gig machines will bog down when this happens. Together with Anti Aliasing where the scene gets a special treatment to reduce the jagged edges this works even less in your favour. We are planning for players to have an option (a controller key combination) to turn AA off. Plus there are also smaller (but they do help!) optimizations that together will give you a fair amount of boost in your performance.
- Adjustment. Real-time voice control. We are looking into it. Remember that we will not allow the game to be lagging because some guy is spamming the pipe with useless info. If 16 players talk at the same to each other time the bandwidth usage is just massive, hence the implementation of the channels. Again, I am not going into the nightmare technical detail of this problem.
So here you go, I hope that these things will ease your mind although I am sure you are just as impatient as me and can’t wait to get this stuff to get in there. "
This is great news for all of you UC fans out there. In its current state the game is a blast, but the frame rate does take a dive and starts to affect gameplay. If any of you have tried hosting a server, you most likely have noticed that the frame rate is much much much better. This is because when you host a server the game disables Anti Aliasing. It's great to see DE listen to the fans and work to make a fix to allow us to disable this if we want to. Also, don't forget that DE still has 4 new maps in the pipeline that are also coming soon. There has been no date announced for either the patch or the new maps, but we here at XBE will let you guys know as soon is that info is released.
Monday, January 13, 2003
Kung Fu Chaos Site Redesigned
Steve @ 7:59 PM EST
Step aside Jackie Chan, the characters from "Kung Fu Chaos" are kicking butt at their newly redesigned site. Microsoft Game Studios today announced that the "Kung Fu Chaos" website has received a martial arts makeover, just in time for the game's February 25, 2003 release date. Whether you prefer to smack your opponents over the head or taunt them until they cry, "Kung Fu Chaos" is sure to please the brawler in anyone. Head over to the "Kung Fu Chaos" website at http://www.kungfuchaos.com and get in on the action!
Players will find brand new screenshots of the characters busting out their moves on various Hollywood-inspired movie sets. Those who visit the new site can also delve deeper into the psyche of the wacky fighters by checking out the character biographies and taking a gander at their individual taunts. Need advice? Head over to the fortune cookie section and let martial arts master Shao Ting tell you how to live your life. Or, write your own fortune and send them to your friends!
Inspired by the '70's Kung Fu movie era, "Kung Fu Chaos" is a quirky brawler game that offers non-stop, side-splitting, kung fu action. With the outrageous cast of characters in "Kung Fu Chaos," gamers can go head-to-head with up to four of their friends, battling it out on interactive movie sets that add an element of challenge to the mayhem. Players will become completely immersed in the game as they engage in Hong-Kong-style combat with over-the-top gigantic leaps, suicidal stunts and multiple-opponent action -- all while unleashing humiliating insults that can be as damaging as the karate kicks themselves. Featuring appropriately themed music tracks, including "Kung Fu Fighting" and the theme from "Enter the Dragon," "Kung Fu Chaos" will hit gamers with a brawler experience packed with fun, competition, and glory -- as well as humiliation, insults and back-stabbing!
Developed by Just Add Monsters, "Kung Fu Chaos" will be available in stores on February 25, 2003 for an estimated retail price of $49.99 (U.S.). "Kung Fu Chaos" has an ESRB rating of "T" for Teen.
Ubi Soft Acquires Nightmare Creatures Brand
Steve @ 3:49 PM EST
San Francisco, CA - January 13, 2003 - Ubi Soft® Entertainment, one of the world's largest video game publishers, announced today that it has acquired all developing and publishing rights related to the Nightmare Creatures 3, Angel of Darkness (working title) video game as well as the Nightmare Creatures trademark. As a result, the development for Nightmare Creatures 3, started by Kalisto Entertainment, is now being handled by Ubi Soft. The game is slated for release on the latest generation of consoles in 2004.
This new agreement allows Ubi Soft to extend its original and innovative approach to the Nightmare Creatures video games and any related developments. It demonstrates Ubi Soft's long-term vision for its games and furthers the company's strategy to build a diverse catalogue of titles.
"With the rights to the Nightmare Creatures name now secured, we are making sure that players remain as enthusiastic about the series as they have been up until now," said Alain Corre, Ubi Soft's Managing Director for Europe, Asia-Pacific and South America. "The action-packed gameplay and fascinating story of Nightmare Creatures 3 promise to take the fright factor of the genre to new highs."
Set in 19th-Century Central Europe, Nightmare Creatures 3 lets players slip into the role of an agile heroine who works to solve a mystery in Prague during the day. At night, she merges with her accompanying raven to become a formidable fighting creature. The artful use of suspense and tension offers a new and sophisticated gaming experience for horror fans and gamers.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance Sells 1 Million
Steve @ 2:33 PM EST
CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 13, 2003--Midway Games Inc., a leading software industry publisher and developer, announced today that Mortal Kombat(R): Deadly Alliance(TM) has sold through more than one million units across all platforms between its November 22 launch and the end of 2002. The game is currently available for the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft, Nintendo GameCube(TM)and Game Boy(R) Advance. Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance is scheduled to launch in Europe in February 2003.
"We are thrilled the gaming community fully embraced the latest edition of the Mortal Kombat franchise," said Helene Sheeler, vice president of marketing, Midway. "Mortal Kombat titles have always been top sellers in the fighting game genre and the successful sales of Deadly Alliance reinforce that Midway is giving gamers exactly what they want."
The leading gaming sites have also recognized Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance as a top choice. GameSpot declared the game "Best fighting game of 2002" for Xbox and Nintendo GameCube and IGN included it among its "Editor's Choice Awards" for Xbox, Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance delivers the highly acclaimed series to the next-generation consoles with a lethal dose of unparalleled brutality, supernatural mystique and a reinvented fighting system, all powered by a new engine that rewards longtime fans of the franchise as well as next-generation game lovers. Beginning the next chapter in the battle of good versus evil, two powerful sorcerers -- Shang Tsung(R) and Quan Chi(TM) -- join forces to deliver unrivaled fighting action in their quest for supreme immortality. Historically, the Mortal Kombat series is one of the best-selling franchises in videogame history with more than 19 million home games sold.
In the game, players engage in hand-to-hand and special-weapon combat, executing secret moves and combinations with new fatalities and deadly body blows. Lethal new warriors are added to the mix along with the return of Mortal Kombat classics -- Scorpion(TM), Raiden(TM), Sub-Zero(R) and Sonya Blade(R). Hyper-realistic, Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance features progressive physical damage that allows players to view the inevitable demise of their opponents while utilizing three unique fighting styles for each warrior, creating nearly unlimited fighting possibilities.
Players are also able to enter the Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance "Krypt," which is comprised of more than 600 "koffins" that players can purchase with "kurrency" earned in the game. The "koffins" are filled with new characters, new arenas, alternate costumes, photos and other hidden surprises.
Adding to the punishing action in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance is Arista Records' Adema, which has recorded a hard-driving, heavy, yet melodic, modern rock theme song titled "Immortal," done exclusively for this new Mortal Kombat videogame and featured as the lead track in the follow-up EP to its self-titled debut album. The album is in stores now. "Immortal" was made available on radio on Oct. 14, 2002, while the music video for the track began airing on MTV2's Extreme Rock on the same date and is currently live on http://www.MTV.com.
Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance's DVD content includes the "Immortal" song and music video. Also featured in the DVD section is the history of Mortal Kombat and behind-the-scenes interviews with the game's development team.
Midway Games Inc. is a leading developer, publisher and marketer of interactive entertainment software. Midway videogames are available for play on all major videogame platforms including the PlayStation(R)2 computer entertainment system, Xbox, Nintendo GameCube(TM) and Game Boy(R) Advance.
THQ Announces Red Faction II
Steve @ 2:28 PM EST
CALABASAS HILLS, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 13, 2003--THQ(R) Inc. today announced that its critically acclaimed action game "Red Faction(R) II" will be coming to Nintendo(R) Gamecube(TM), the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft and PC in March. Featuring an enhanced Geo-Mod(TM) engine that allows players to strategically alter and destroy the game environment in real-time, "Red Faction II" expands and builds upon the experience and technology of the original game with blistering action, an engaging storyline, highly detailed graphics and a number of multi-player options.
Originally developed for the PlayStation(R) 2 computer entertainment system by THQ's Volition(R) studio, these new versions of "Red Faction II" will feature a number of enhancements and improvements. The Gamecube version, being developed by THQ's Cranky Pants Games(TM) studio, will feature custom animations, improved texture resolution and color as well as enhanced lighting specific to the Gamecube hardware. The Xbox and PC versions, being developed by THQ's Outrage(R) Games studio, will include increased texture resolution, and exclusive multiplayer maps and character models.
"We are very pleased to be bringing an original, internally developed brand like `Red Faction II' to Gamecube, Xbox and PC," said Alison Locke, executive vice president, North American publishing, THQ. "In addition to groundbreaking Geo-Mod technology, `Red Faction II' offers gamers a complete entertainment experience with new enhancements and improvements that take advantage of each system's respective hardware."
Friday, January 10, 2003
Headliners for MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch Announced
Steve @ 4:33 PM EST
THE STARS COMES OUT TO SHINE – AND BLEED – AS GOTHAM GAMES ANNOUNCES THE HEADLINERS FOR THE MUST-HAVE VIDEO GAME OF 2003
MTV’S CELEBRITY DEATHMATCH™
*NSYNC®, Anna Nicole Smith, Jerry Springer, Among Superstars To "Pour Their Guts Out"
New York – The stars are coming together for a great cause – TO BEAT THE HELL OUT OF EACH OTHER! Gotham Games, a subsidiary of Take Two Interactive Software, Inc., has released the list of sacrificial celebs who have signed on to lend their likeness to MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch™, a new game coming later this year to the PlayStation®2 Computer Entertainment System, Xbox™, PlayStation® Game Console and Nintendo GameCube™. Based on the gore-filled, MTV claymation hit, MTV’s Celebrity Deathmatch™ will feature digitally rendered versions of teeny-boppers, tabloid princesses and other notorious superstars including…
Lance Bass *NYSNC
Joshua "JC" Chasez *NYSNC
Cleo Shannon Doherty
Joey Fatone, Jr. *NYSNC
Chris Kirkpatrick *NYSNC
Anna Nicole Smith
Justin Timberlake *NYSNC
"We are thrilled that so many stars have decided to become a part of what is sure to be a mind-blowing and truly unique gaming experience," said Jamie Leece, President of Gotham Games. "The inclusion of real-life celebrities will make MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch™ a game that all players, from hard-core gamers to casual fans, will enjoy." Added hip-hop superstar Busta Rhymes "The game is hot. I'm a big fan of the TV show, but the video game takes it to another level."
"I can't wait for the game to come out," said Anna Nicole Smith, current E! TV star and former Playboy Playmate of the Year. "Catch me if you can, but watch yourself because I've got some secret weapons."
"I can't tell you how excited I am to be a part of Celebrity Deathmatch" said cyber-babe Cindy Margolis. "This game has heart-pounding action from start to finish. My days of being a nice girl are over so you better watch your back!"
Ron Jeremy added, "MTV’s Celebrity Death Match is the most fun you can have in front of your television!"
Thursday, January 9, 2003
First Xbox Live Tournament Underway with NFL Fever 2003
Steve @ 4:28 PM EST
Since the launch of Xbox Live on November 15th, pigskin fans across North America have been battling it out on what has become the world’s largest and most competitive football arena. After months of blood, sweat, tears and trash talking, it’s put up or shut up time for “NFL Fever 2003”’s elite online players.
Beginning January 10th, the top 64 “NFL Fever 2003” ranked players on Xbox Live will test their skills in the first ever Xbox Live tournament. This head-to-head single-elimination tournament will determine the ultimate “NFL Fever 2003” Champion. At stake is ultimate gridiron acclaim and legend status amongst Xbox Live football players.
The winner of the Gridiron Showdown will receive a football autographed by NFL Fever spokesperson and cover athlete, Peyton Manning, a one-year subscription to Xbox Live and a copy of “NFL Fever 2004” (when available). The runner-up will receive a one-year subscription to Xbox Live and a copy of “NFL Fever 2004” (when available) autographed by Peyton Manning. All participants in the “NFL Fever 2003” Gridiron Showdown will receive an Xbox Live tournament T-shirt.
On January 7th, tournament invites were sent out to the top 1,500 Xbox Live ranked NFL Fever players. The top 64 ranked players who accepted the invite have met the following eligibility requirements: at least 18 years of age, owns “NFL Fever 2003”, possesses a valid Xbox Live account and Xbox.com account.
For up to the minute tournament updates, in-depth tournament rankings, brackets, forums and news reports visit http://www.xbox.com
“NFL Fever 2003”, which features cover athlete and spokesperson Peyton Manning, is available in stores for the suggested retail price of $39.99 exclusively for Xbox.
Wednesday, January 8, 2003
Xicat Sets the Stage for Lotus Challenge
Steve @ 6:21 PM EST
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – January 8, 2003 – Xicat Interactive, Inc. has given the green light to the new video game Motor Trend Presents - Lotus Challenge. The game is set to pull out of the pits on January 28, for the Xbox(TM) video game system from Microsoft.
Motor Trend Presents - Lotus Challenge is nearing its gold master date and previews are garnering high marks (copies are available for preview/review). For race fans looking for a closer trackside view, producer Lenny Kohs and the entire team at Kuju are ready to put you in the drivers seat and answer your interview questions.
Lotus Challenge is truly the most complete racing game to date. By mixing different gaming styles, camera angles, story lines and even a hint of role playing, players can choose multiple paths through the game. Five huge modes offer players a complete tour of the world of Lotus. Stunt mode takes you to the set of a Hollywood blockbuster run by a hotshot director who gives you the play-by-play of the scene he wants you to execute. A multi-player option is available for those who want to challenge others through a championship or single race. Upon winning specific challenges, hidden tracks and cars are unlocked, so if you have already won a race you can go back and test your skills in a faster car.
Game features include:
• 5 game modes: Collection, Championship, Single Play, Multi-player and Challenge, which features a story line with races, stunts and missions.
• 38 licensed Lotus cars including new models, famous classics and race and concept cars
• 28 different races, 22 different stunts/challenges
• Stunning new controller system for a more realistic driving experience – tested and approved by the actual Lotus test drivers
• The first driving game with officially licensed vehicles to feature realistic vehicle damage
• Soundtrack by cutting edge electronica/breakbeat artist Hybrid
The soundtrack for the game was created by UK electronica/breakbeat artist Hybrid and includes a brand new track Joyride as well as four new remixes of songs from their critically acclaimed album Wider Angle tweaked specifically for Lotus Challenge.
Lotus Tested, Lotus Approved:
Lotus Challenge features a new controller system that makes for a more realistic driving experience, and not insanely harder to master. The system was tested and endorsed by Lotus development drivers and Lotus designers created two unique concept cars especially for the game. Lotus Challenge is the first auto racing video game to bear the prestigious Motor Trend name.
Motor Trend Presents - Lotus Challenge embodies cutting edge simulation racing with the excitement of an arcade thriller. The game is rated E for Everyone and will be released for Xbox(TM) January 28, 2003, with releases for Nintendo® Gamecube(TM) and PC CD-Rom coming in Spring 2003.
New Tao Feng Trailer Available
Steve @ 3:54 AM EST
"Tao Feng" Smashes Through Windows: New Trailer Available Today Through Media Player 9
Microsoft Game Studios today released a new trailer for their upcoming fighter, “Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus,” to coincide with the release of Windows Media Player 9. Gamers can witness the next generation of brutality at http://www.xbox.com “Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus” features incredibly detailed characters in ruthless hand-to-hand combat. Fully interactive environments and bone-breaking sound effects in 5.1 surround sound provide unmatched gameplay. "Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus" is slated for a March 2003 release, exclusively for Xbox.
From John Tobias, co-creator of the “Mortal Kombat” series, comes “Tao Feng,” the most brutal and lifelike fighting game ever created. On the vicious streets and back alleyways of New China, two fierce fighting sects battle in a race to uncover the ultimate prize. Clothes will tear, blood will spill and bones will break. To the victor, honor and immortality await. Players experience the visceral brutality of furiously intense hand-to-hand combat. The crippling physical damage players inflict appears in real time. Huge interactive arenas are incredibly detailed and fully destructible. When the fight ends, players can witness the devastation of battle.
“Tao Feng: Fist of the Lotus” is being developed by Studio Gigante, which was established by John Tobias in 2000.
Tuesday, January 7, 2003
Sega's Yu Suzuki Wins AIAS Award
Steve @ 4:59 PM EST
ACADEMY OF INTERACTIVE ARTS AND SCIENCES (AIAS) NAMES SEGA's YU SUZUKI WINNER OF THE PRESTIGIOUS HALL OF FAME AWARD
Suzuki will accept award from 2002's winner Will Wright at the Interactive Achievement Awards in Las Vegas, February 27, 2003
LOS ANGELES, CA - [January 7, 2003] - The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences today announced that SEGA(R)'s Yu Suzuki will receive its coveted Hall of Fame award. The award will be presented as part of the Interactive Achievement Awards at the 2003 D.I.C.E. Summit (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain), at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, February 27, 2003.
"Yu Suzuki joins an impressive roster of game creators who have won this award for their leadership and innovation," said Paul Provenzano, President of AIAS. "He has not only created some of the best video games in the world, but he has also helped enhance awareness and appreciation of this interactive art form."
"I am greatly honored to receive the Academy of Interactive Arts and
Sciences Hall of Fame Award," said Yu Suzuki, executive officer and leading video game developer, SEGA Corporation. "I am pleased to be highly commended by the AIAS as a Hall of Fame Inductee along with many industry visionaries."
Mr. Suzuki will receive the award from the 2002 winner, Will Wright of Maxis (SimCity, The Sims, The Sims Online). Other past winners include 2001's winner John Carmack (DOOM, Quake); 2000's winner Hironobu Sakaguchi (Final Fantasy); 1999's winner Sid Meier (Civilization, Railroad Tycoon); and 1998's winner Shigeru Miyamoto (Pikman, Donkey Kong, Legend of Zelda, Mario).
Mr. Suzuki is widely recognized as one of the forefathers of console video gaming. He is best known for his many industry firsts and genre breaking games including "Outrun(TM)," "Space Harrier(TM)," "Shenmue(TM)," and the "Virtua Fighter(TM)" series. The "Virtua Fighter" series is recognized for its contributions in the fields of Art & Entertainment and is the only video game on permanent display in the Smithsonian Institution's Permanent Research Collection on Information Technology Innovation, at the Smithsonian's Natural Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
The standards for consideration of a Hall of Fame Award are very high. Criteria considered by the Academy Board include: pioneering a new genre or redefining an existing genre with a significant advance (i.e. changing the face of the art form); influencing other designers and products; demonstrating the highest level of creativity and innovation which results in ongoing cultural significance and influence; and consistent product success of a scale that expands the scope of the industry.
In addition to receiving the Hall of Fame Award, Mr. Suzuki will participate in a workshop at the 2003 D.I.C.E. Summit with fellow Hall of Fame winner, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto. "An Audience with the Masters" is a rare opportunity for attendees to pose questions directly to game design masters.
The Academy will present Interactive Achievement Awards in 30 craft,
console, computer, and online categories. Aside from the Hall of Fame
Award, highlights include an overall Game of the Year as Innovation in
Splinter Cell Sells Over 1 Million; Coming to other Consoles
Steve @ 4:47 PM EST
TOM CLANCY'S SPLINTER CELL PREPARES TO INFILTRATE OTHER PLATFORMS
Already available for Microsoft's Xbox TM, the internationally acclaimed espionage game is set for launch on other consoles this spring.
San Francisco, CA - January 7, 2003 - Ubi Soft® Entertainment, one of the world's largest video game publishers, announced today that it will release Tom Clancy's Splinter CellTM for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system as well as for Nintendo's GameCubeTM and Game Boy® Advance by spring 2003. Impatient fans will be treated to a PC-version of the blockbuster game earlier this year.
Since its initial release for the XboxTM video game system in November 2002, Splinter Cell has gone on to sell 1 million units in North America alone and 600, 000 units in Europe. It boasts an average rating of 94.4 (out of a possible 100), based on a sample of 54 reviews, and was most recently awarded GameSpy's Xbox Game of the Year 2002 title.
Splinter Cell on the Xbox(tm) has already been one of the most talked about games in the industry during this holiday season and the game is now anticipated to be very popular on the other platforms this spring. By expanding the game's release, Ubi Soft confirms its commitment to offer outstanding moments of entertainment to all players as well as its long-term ambition for the Splinter Cell brand.
"With its all-around stupendous reviews and now its record sales, Splinter Cell is blazing a trail the likes of which the industry has rarely seen. We are eager to take the run-away success of this game to an even wider audience," said Yves Guillemot, President and CEO of Ubi Soft Entertainment.
Matrix Games to Increase Publishing and Distribution Power
Steve @ 4:20 AM EST
STATEN ISLAND, NY – December 17th, 2002 – Matrix Games (http://www.matrixgames.com) is pleased to announce a new strategic partnership involving Tri Synergy Inc. (http://www.trisynergy.com), a major North American co-publisher with extensive retail distribution experience.
“Our strong relationships and expertise in retail sales, distribution and co-publishing are an excellent match with Matrix Games’ outstanding product line,” said Tri Synergy Inc. Executive Vice President Shane Nestler. “We look forward to a long-term partnership.”
David Heath, Director of Operations at Matrix Games said, “Matrix Games’ future growth depends on better placement and exposure for our products. Our experience with Tri Synergy convinced us that they are the perfect partners to help us achieve that goal.”
The first benefits of this new alliance can be seen in the recent release of updated versions of Matrix Games’ two best-selling titles, Uncommon Valor and Starships Unlimited: Divided Galaxies to retail stores throughout North America. Upcoming titles will be marketed and distributed in full cooperation with Tri Synergy and discussions are underway regarding co-publishing several exciting new games.
ABOUT MATRIX GAMES
Matrix Games produces, markets and publishes historical wargames as well as other computer gaming products. We are based in Staten Island, New York. For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.matrixgames.com/
ABOUT TRI SYNERGY INC.
Founded in Dallas, TX in 1996, Tri Synergy is a computer and video game co-publishing company. Tri Synergy coordinates every key step for its clients including sales services, distribution, vendor relations, marketing, public relations, manufacturing, packaging, inventory management, fulfillment and more. For more information, visit the company’s website at http://www.trisynergy.com/
AlienPants Online Gaming
Steve @ 4:18 AM EST
AlienPants Ltd today announces the creation of an Online and Multiplayer Game and Community Management Consultancy Division.
The new division will draw on the experience of Tom Gordon, Michael Large and Charlotte McCarron, who collectively have more than twenty years experience in the Online and Multiplayer Games industry. AlienPants has in the past focussed its efforts on the Telecoms market, primarily being involved in the creation of Game Service Providers, places that provide collections of game servers as well as organised competitions to support Online Games after they are published. Now AlienPants is offering their depth of experience, market knowledge and Community Support expertise in Online Games and Community Management to Games Developers and Publishers.
This service aims to provide Publishers and Developers with immediate access to specific expertise in relation to online games and ways games can be targeted towards the growing market for online games players. Drawing on the vast experience available, as well as being able to call on an enormous array of talent from across Europe and the USA, AlienPants can provide an insight directly into the way online games players perceive games, and can assist in ensuring that new games get their message across properly. The members of the AlienPants Consultancy team are active members of the Online Games and MMORPG communities, and so can draw on not only their own experience but the opinions of community leaders to help avoid the problems companies have fallen prey to during the development, marketing and ongoing management of online games and their customer base.
"We are probably the only independent company in the world that has this much experience in the creation and management of very large communities of multi-platform and multi-game online games players." Said AlienPants CEO Tom Gordon. "We've been involved in online games almost since their inception, and we have worked quietly in the background driving many of the innovations in community management for online games taken for granted these days. We pioneered the use of IRC as a Community Management and Support medium, and continue to rely on this experience to provide a high level of Customer Support."
"We've now decided to offer our expertise directly to Publishers and Developers, to assist them in ensuring their online games will be well received, and provide the necessary flexibility and interactivity to allow for the natural growth of online communities." Tom continued. "In recent years there have been a number of promising online games that have unfortunately fallen by the wayside due to their complexity when trying to play them online, or because of the lack of information available to potential purchasers. Our experience in running Game Service Providers and knowing what online games players are interested in places us in a unique position to be able to help Publishers and Developers when it comes to positioning and marketing new online titles. And with the recent announcements regarding Xbox Live and PS2 Online, the online games market, along with the number of people getting online, is set to explode."
Friday, January 3, 2003
First XBOX Live Tournament
Rob @ 3:11 AM EST
Microsoft will hold its very first XBOX Live tournament on January 10th. Around the 7th of January, Microsoft will send out 1,500 invitations to the top-ranked NFL Fever 2003 players. Out of the 1,500, Microsoft will select the top 64 players who have accepted the invitations to compete in the tournament. Eligibility requirements are: over 18 years of age, valid Xbox.com and Xbox live accounts, you cannot work for Microsoft or know anyone who does, and finally you cannot live in Maryland or Quebec or Vermont. As you can see, it will be pretty tough to make it into the tournament. So best of luck to all that enter, and maybe we'll see you out there.
Dino Crisis 3
Rob @ 2:52 AM EST
A series that originally began on the first Playstation will make an appearence on the XBOX in the game of Dino Crisis 3. Details are sketchy at best, but here are a few tidbits of information Capcom has provided so far. A once missing spaceship suddenly reappears orbiting the planet. You will play as Patrick who is a member of Special Forces, and are armed with a jetpack and sent to investigate. And, as one would assume, the ship has been overtaken by dinosaurs. The release date for Dino Crisis 3 is unknown.