Archived News:

Thursday, Feb 09, 2012

Activision; Stems WoW Losses; Diablo III Slips

Activision's financial reporting shows lower than expected sales, though profits beat estimates. Here's the money mumbo-jumbo: "Activision's fourth-quarter sales for the three months ended December 30 fell 6 percent to $2.4 billion. Analysts were expecting sales of $2.2 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Adjusted for the deferral of revenue from digital content, Activision posted a profit of $725 million, or 62 cents per share, up from $655 million or 53 cents a year ago. This beat Wall Street estimates of 56 cents a share, according to Thomson-Reuters I/B/E/S." This notes that the company "only" lost about 100,000 World of Warcraft subscribers for the quarter, a considerable improvement over the previous reporting period when they lost closer to 800k subscribers from the MMORPG. There's also a note on IncGamers from the company's post-earnings conference call, where Mike Morhaime announced Diablo III is now due in Q2 of this year, saying: "We have implemented changes which will greatly improve the game experience and final release will live up to the highest expectations. We expect launch to be a big opportunity for Blizzard. More details will be announced in the coming weeks."

U.S. Retail Video Game Sales Down 34% in January

The AP has word from NPD group on retail video game sales in the U.S. for January:
LOS ANGELES – U.S. retail sales of video game hardware, software and accessories fell 34 percent in January from a year earlier to $751 million due to the lack of new game titles

Market researcher NPD Group says the dearth of new games likely resulted in fewer people going to stores and buying other recent releases on impulse.

Sales of console and portable software — the video games themselves — fell 38 percent to $356 million.

That's a bigger decline than the 12 percent drop forecast by Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter.
Activision's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" was the top seller for the third-consecutive month following its early November release.

Ships Ahoy - Jagged Alliance - Back in Action

Steam now offers Jagged Alliance - Back in Action, the Jagged Alliance 2 remake. Here's an overview of the game:
Designed from the ground up to offer a modern gaming experience, Back in Action showcases an updated isometric 3D look and interface, highly detailed character models and a variety of new gameplay features. Back in Action takes players to the fictitious country of Arulco, where a ruthless dictator has seized power and only a small group of rebels stand to resist him. Tasked with freeing the island from the dictator’s iron grip, players will command rebel and mercenary forces while using tactical, diplomatic and economic tools to keep troops supplied and ready for the next flight, all while commanding them directly in nail-biting battles.

Back in Action’s innovative “plan & go” combat system combines real-time strategy (RTS) with turn-based elements to guarantee that the intricacies of tactical warfare are rendered in dynamic, exciting gameplay. This challenges would-be commanders to master not only strategy and tactical combat, but also to maximize their team’s capabilities through RPG-like character advancement.

Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting & Demo Released

Corrosion: Cold Winter Waiting is now available, offering a horror-themed adventure game set on a picturesque country estate. The game is available from the web shops of both Tri Synergy and Just Adventure, and a playable demo is also available. Word is: "Set entirely underneath the idyllic country farmhouse of Cold Winter Farm, in the deserted and claustrophobic confines of a mysterious and secret underground complex, players will explore a place nobody knew existed. It is here players will uncover a twisted past that gets more and more terrifying with every corner turned, every door opened, and every note read."

Tribes Ascend Beta Patch

Hi-Rez Studios announces changes they've introduced in the Tribes Ascend Beta, which includes new suits and some lowered weapon prices. Here's a little more detail: "The latest Tribes: Ascend Closed Beta Patch arrives today, Thursday, February 9. Version 0.1.759.0 introduces new suits/visual aesthetics for the Sentinel, Infiltrator, Technician and Raider classes, lowers prices on many weapons, as well as implements a number of usability improvements and bug fixes on the front-end menu."

Firefall Video Diary

The Firefall Website offers a new video developer diary about this multiplayer first-person shooter, talking about their for beta testing and release. Word is: "Mark Kern covers Firefall's release strategy and visually shows how players will interactively expand the game world. This Dev Diary is a great intro for those who have never heard of Firefall and will also bring everyone up to speed regarding the beta rollout this year."

On Sale

  • Plants vs. Zombies GOTY Edition on Steam. Save 80%.
  • RAGE on Steam. Save 50%.
  • Stronghold 3 on Steam. Save 50%.

Into the Black

Link of the Day: World's Largest Coffee Cup. Thanks Ant. Wonder what Starbucks would name that one?

R.I.P.: Night of the Living Dead's #1 zombie.

Ghost Recon Online Beta Next Month; GRO & Future Soldier Trailers

We have a new "Premiere Gameplay Trailer" from Ghost Recon Future Soldier offering the first look at in-game action from the next installment in the Tom Clancy tactical shooter series. On a related note, Ubisoft also announces that closed beta testing for Ghost Recon Online will commence on March 5, so players should head over to the game's website to sign up if they are interested in testing the free-to-play multiplayer installment in the series. This news is accompanied by a trailer showing off the classes from the game. Our vigilant (but trusting) bouncer can provide you access to both of the new trailers after checking your self-reported bona fides. Continue here to read the full story.

BAFTA Audience Award Voting

BAFTA GAME Award 2011 Website announces the short list for the 2011 BAFTA Audience award, and is now accepting voting on this honor that's decided by the fans. Call of Duty: Black Ops won this last year, and here are this year's nominees:

  • Batman: Arkham City
  • Battlefield 3
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • FIFA 12
  • L.A. Noire
  • Minecraft
  • Portal 2
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception

Ships Ahoy - Men of War: Assault Squad GotY Edition

1C Publishing announces the release of Men of War: Assault Squad Game of the Year Edition, though we're not sure any of the reviews for the well-received military RTS sequel actually accorded it such an honor. Be that as it may, as is usually the case with such releases, this bundles the original game with all its DLC, creating a package that includes 25 skirmishes, over 50 multiplayer maps, 5 playable nations, over 100 infantry weapons, and over 200 vehicles. In addition to the base game, the bundle includes:

  • MP Supply Pack Alpha
  • MP Supply Pack Bravo
  • MP Supply Pack Charlie
  • Skirmish Pack
  • Skirmish Pack 2, i.e. the original game and every DLC released so far.

Double Fine Crowdsourcing

A Kickstarter campaign to fund development of a new adventure game from Double Fine has immediately taken off, following recent indications from Minecraft creator Notch that he was willing to help fund Psychonauts 2, though the Psychonauts IP is not mentioned by name. This has already raised considerably more than its $400K target, with a single $10K spot sold out, seven out of ten $5K pledges sold, and more than a half-million dollars already in the budget. Here's a explanation:
Keeping the scale of the project this small accomplishes two things. First and foremost, Double Fine gets to make the game they want to make, promote it in whatever manner they deem appropriate, and release the finished product on their own terms. Secondly, since they’re only accountable to themselves, there’s an unprecedented opportunity to show the public what game development of this caliber looks like from the inside. Not the sanitized commercials-posing-as-interviews that marketing teams only value for their ability to boost sales, but an honest, in-depth insight into a modern art form that will both entertain and educate gamers and non-gamers alike.

Ships Ahoy - Cannon Fodder 3

GamersGate now features Cannon Fodder 3 via digital distribution, offering the newest installment in this tactical action series. This comes as a surprise, since when the game was announced by GFI last year, indications were that it would only be released in Russia. The change in plans is not explained by the extremely short announcement: "On the 9th of February the greatest tactical action game starts! Exclusively, only on, capture enemy vehicles and bases, save hostages and rescue convicts, hold the line and shoot back from the turrets, search for data discs and spare parts, repair broken robots and bypass minefields."

AirBuccaneers HD Pre-Alpha; Preorders

LudoCraft announces AirBuccaneers HD, an upcoming standalone multiplayer game using the Unity engine based on AirBuccaneers, their popular Unreal Tournament 2004 modification. The game will feature aerial warfare in hot air balloons using cannon fire and daring boarding attempts, and while the original modification featured battles against Peasants, the new game will feature more formidable opposition from Vikings. A version 0.3 pre-alpha build is available on this page as a free download for anyone to test out, though obviously some things are broken in this early stage of development. The "full" alpha version is expected on February 28th in honor of Finland's Kalevala Day, as it is influenced by Kalevala and other northern mythologies. The alpha version will be available to those who preorder from this page, which will get them the game at a discounted price along with several bonuses. The AirBuccaneers HD Website has info, images, and this trailer.

Telepath RPG: Servants of God Next Week

The Sinister Design Blog announces we can expect the release of Telepath RPG: Servants of God next week, offering the chance to check out the game with this unusual overview: "A hybrid western RPG / strategy RPG set in a unique Middle Eastern steampunk fantasy setting." A playable demo for the Adobe AIR game is available.

Skyrim Sizzle Reel

A skyRimGameJam video features Bethesda's Todd Howard showing off a "sizzle reel" created for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. The pop-up video-style clip shows a number of features proposed for the game before they took arrows to the knees, and though they did not make it into the release version of the role-playing sequel, Todd enigmatically notes that it is possible some of what it shown will make its way into the game through DLC releases or other updates. Thanks WTF_Man via Voodoo Extreme.

Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage Trailer now offers a new trailer from Gas Guzzlers: Combat Carnage, the combat racing game gearing up for release "soon" for Windows PC.

Unity Voxel Deformation Video

This trailer shows off Voxelform 2.0, a scripting package in the Unity Asset Store that supports real-time deformable Voxel terrain. We're told this may be picked up as an exclusive by a major studio soon, at which point it may not be available to the public. The demonstration of deformable terrain begins at around the 1:09 mark. Thanks Michael.

Time Warner Financials

Time Warner's 2011 Fourth Quarter & Full Year financial report is now available, showing increased revenue, some growth, and stock buyback plans. Word is: "Full-year Revenues increased 8% from 2010 to $29.0 billion, reflecting growth at the Networks and Filmed Entertainment segments. Adjusted Operating Income rose 9% to $5.9 billion, due to strong results at all of the Company’s segments. Operating Income increased 7% to $5.8 billion. Adjusted Operating Income and Operating Income margins were each 20% in 2011, the same as in 2010." They note this sunny news is thanks in part to the dark knight: "In 2011, Batman: Arkham City shipped more than 6 million units worldwide and was one of the top 10 best-selling games in North America."

Morning Screenshots

Hardware Reviews


Thanks Ant.

Out of the Blue

I usually allow the cold weather to inspire me to fire up a batch of my infamous Texas-style chili, but if I keep waiting for the temps to hit the breaking point, it may never happen. And I still have a batch of dried Ghost Naga peppers that aren't going to endanger anyone's wellbeing by themselves, so I guess I'll have to enable the manual override and get to cooking soon. Maybe I'll take the advance notice to finally work out the finer details of home canning so I can preserve some properly this time, as it's something I keep wanting to do, but have never gotten around to.

Canned Links: Thanks Ant and Mike Martinez and Acleacius.
Play: Mr. Mullet.
Catapult Round Trip.
The Suspense.
Stories: House's Current Season Will Be Its Last.
New advance in gene therapy for blindness.
Science: Mice study shows fasting weakens cancer.
Images: Cardboard Dreams.
What Advice Would You Give To a Couple That’s About To Give Birth To Venom?
Media: Space Station Earth Videos Released By NASA Show Aurora Borealis In Time-Lapse.
Follow the TV Reference.
Bender Proposes in Binary.
The Funnies: The Video Game Entertainment Curve.
SoulCalibur Writers Room.
Visor Prototypes Cartoon - Savage Chickens.
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