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GDC looks to Canada in 2009


As our neighbor to the North continues to grow in size and scale within the games industry the group responsible for the Game Developers Conference has taken notice.

Think Services' Game Group has announced a partnership with Reboot Communications to bring GDC to Canada in association with New Media BC's Vancouver Digital Week in May 2009, according to GamesIndustry.biz.

After breaking attendance records at the recent Austin GDC, organizers hope to bring its popular networking and learning conference to the North with a similar level of success.

*Yes, we're aware of the irony in this post considering it was written by a Canadian.

Xbox 360 tops PS3 in Japan, again


According to weekly sales figures from Media Create in Japan, Microsoft has beat Sony on its home turf for the second week in a row. Reduced to nearly half of its console sales last week Microsoft was still able to inch out the PlayStation 3 in the Land of the Rising Sun. Of course, Nintendo's DS and Wii one-two-combo remained at the top with Sony's PSP landing comfortably in third. Sales figures, according to Media Create for last week look like this:
  • Nintendo DS - 61,242
  • Wii - 29,921
  • PSP - 28,674
  • Xbox 360 - 13,777
  • PlayStation 3 - 8,156
  • PlayStation 2 - 7,720
On the software side, the Xbox 360 exclusive Infinite Undiscovery fell to #13 in its second-ish week of release with timed-exclusive Tales of Vesperia down to #28. Along with the two recently released titles the Xbox 360 received a price drop that is assumed to be a huge factor in the figures. Or Japanese gamers now love the Xbox. Yeah, that has to be it.

Microsoft slips to 3rd on "Top 100 Brands" list


Interbrand, the organization who rates and compares brand value, has released its Top 100 Brands of 2008 which included appearances from each of the hardware manufacturers. Microsoft has slipped to number three this year from second place in 2007 while gaming industry competitors Sony and Nintendo landed at 25 and 40 respectively.

Of course Microsoft and Sony's brand value is spearheaded by other divisions within each company that is not related to the gaming industry. Microsoft's overall brand value is based primarily on software as well as its other divisions (including the entertainment division), Sony is based on electronic devices and its film/music holdings while Nintendo is based purely on its gaming divisions and license holdings (such as Pokemon).

A few things to note when examining the list: Interbrand rates each company based on how valuable the brand is itself. The listings are not based on the financial worth of each company but on the strength of the brand name and loyalty.

Molyneux: the PS3 is waiting for a defining title


Game designer - and Microsoft employee - Peter Molyneux said in an interview with GamesIndustryBiz that the PlayStation 3 is still waiting for a game that defines the platform and sets it apart from its competitors.

"Nintendo did a brilliant job of doing that at launch with games like Wii Sports and Wii Play - maybe Fable 2 is a defining title," said the proud father of the upcoming Lionhead RPG who admitted to not being tremendously objective when referring to Fable 2.

Molyneux then stated the PS3-exclusive LittleBigPlanet, which launches a week after Fable 2, has the potential to be a defining title. "I'm incredibly proud of what they've done, and it's just an amazing experience to see how their game has progressed," he said of the Media Molecule developers who are mostly made up of former Lionhead staff.

Sorry flame war lovers, Molyneux just ended classy on y'all!

Hell has thawed, Xbox 360 didn't win Japan afterall


Quick. Someone call the caterer, the petting zoo and the guys behind the three hundred and sixty pounds of confetti we ordered for the party to celebrate Xbox 360's win in Japan. VideoGamer.com is reporting new sales data from MediaCreate that contradicts figures released by Famitsu publisher Enterbrain which claimed the Xbox 360 had outsold the PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii in the Land of the Rising Sun.

MediaCreate have released figures which now put the Xbox 360 about 1,500 units behind the Nintendo Wii with 28,188 units sold versus Nintendo's 29,686. While numbers for the PlayStation 3 were not detailed it was verified that the Xbox 360 outsold Sony's console in the period of September 8 to 14.

Uh oh. Was that the doorbell? Quick, turn off the lights! Maybe the delivery guys will leave and take the life-sized J. Allard funnel cake with them.

360 breaks 5 million, nabs lead in Europe, says MS


Remember last month when Sony claimed that the PS3 had surpassed the Xbox 360 in Europe? The battle of the numbers continues today as European VP of strategic marketing for interactive entertainment at Microsoft EMEA (say that three times fast) David Gosen let it be known that the Xbox 360 has sold more than 5 million units in Europe, "well over" 5 million in fact. He also puts a stop to Sony's shenanigans -- assuming his word is better than Sony's anyway -- by noting that the Xbox 360 is actually "at least, if not more than, three quarters of a million ahead of PS3." Gosen also takes issue with analysts' claims that 360 sales have slowed in Europe saying, "If we look at the momentum in the business in the last few months, the trajectory has changed significantly," adding that analysts should "check their numbers."

Ooh, did you hear that analysts? Burn!

Michael Delman to replace Jeff Bell at MS


Microsoft today announced that replacing Jeff Bell as vice president of global marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business will be Michael Delman. Bell recently announced he was leaving the company, though not our hearts. Delman is currently the corporate vice president of the Global Marketing Communications Group at Microsoft and will be assuming his new role (and presumably donning his new Xbox branded boxer shorts) in August. Conversely, we're guessing that Jeff Bell will officially call it quits in August. We're eager (very eager) to see if Delman will be able to fill Jeff Bell's loud, well-spoken shoes.

Analyst: PS3 sales boost to cause 360 price drop


The news is out. The Playstation 3 managed to best the Xbox 360 in sales during the month of May. Grab your favorite pillow and get ready for a shock, because EEDAR analyst Jesse Divinich expects last month's results to be the beginning of a new trend. On the sales victory, Divinich notes that the trend "will likely continue in June as we expect Metal Gear Solid 4 [to] act as a bigger catalyst in terms of driving PS3 hardware sales than did Grand Theft Auto IV." He adds further that exclusives on the Playstation 3 platform tend to drive console sales more than exclusives on the Xbox 360 (or the Wii).

With his PS3 prediction in tow, Divinich believes that Microsoft will respond by announcing a price cut for the Xbox 360 during next month's E3. Furthermore, Divinich believes Microsoft may also announce a new Xbox 360 model with new features (Blu-Ray, perhaps?). Should the price cut take place, Divinich expects Sony to follow suit within two months of the announcement.

[Via Joystiq]

Shane Kim promoted, Phil Spencer takes on Microsoft Game Studios leadership


Alright, now that the shock of Jeff Bell's departure has worked its way out of our system, we can report that other positions in Microsoft's leadership are a' changin'. Specifically, Shane Kim has been promoted from his role as the head of Microsoft Game Studios to corporate vice president of Strategy and Business Development. Under this newly created role, Kim will "explore new growth opportunities with partners across all parts of the global Interactive Entertainment Business." Kim will concentrate on "future external relationships and partnerships" and develop "growth strategies for the entire business." While we're not sure exactly what all that means, it sounds like Kim will be dealing with third parties, possibly trying to secure exclusives (or at least making sure exclusive games on other consoles don't remain exclusive).

Taking Kim's place at the head of Microsoft Game Studios will be Phil Spencer, previously the general manager of Microsoft Game Studios Europe. Spencer will be returning to Redmond from the U.K. and will "oversee the creation of new, unannounced franchises that aim to attract new audiences" as well as well-known franchises like Halo and Gears of War.

Marketing exec Jeff Bell is leaving MS

Some things are just so shocking that there are no words to describe them. You can add to that list the following words: Jeff Bell is leaving Microsoft. It wasn't even a year ago that Jeff Bell appeared on the stage at E3, leaving everyone asking, "who is this guy?" Not long after that, we were befuddled by his attempts to spoil Harry Potter for millions of innocent children (and those who are young at heart). Truly, a strange inroduction (followed by other strangeness). And yet, somehow, at the end of the day, you can't help but love the guy.

Bell has decided to leave his role as the vice president of Global Marketing for Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment Business saying, "The time is right for me to pursue my life's passion of consumer brand marketing and the creative and services that drive it." Exactly which industry he will befuddle and subsequently enchant remains unknown.

While Joystiq has chosen to use a video of Jeff Bell's performance of Tom Sawyer as a gesture of farewell, we have chosen something we think is more appropriate. Find our heartfelt goodbye after the break.

Continue reading Marketing exec Jeff Bell is leaving MS

Gamers sue EA over football exclusivity


Football gamers will remember 2004 as a dark year in video game football history. 2004, you see, was the year that EA acquired the exclusive rights to publish NFL licensed football games. Gamers will also remember that the reason why EA acquired the license is because Sega's ESPN NFL 2K5 released that year for a paltry $19.99, which resulted in a huge sales boost and in EA lowering the price of Madden 2005 to $29.95 in response. Once EA acquired the NFL license and effectively eliminated all football competition, it released Madden 2006 for the price of $49.95 the following year.

It seems some have taken exception to Electronic Arts' actions, as Gamespot reports that a pair of gamers in Washington, DC and California have filed suit against the company for "blatantly anticompetitive conduct." The suit mentions the company's acquisition of the NFL license as well as the price hike of Madden 2006 the year following the acquisition. Furthermore, the suit notes EA's ongoing attempt to acquire of Take Two, which would "remove one of the few companies with the ability and expertise to compete in the market for interactive football software." That's assuming EA ever lost its hold on the NFL license, of course.

The plaintiffs seek "restitution and damages" for anyone that purchased an EA football game since August 2005 and "disgorgement of all profits made as a result of anticompetitive actions, and that the infringing agreements be declared null and void."

Update: The suit also makes note of EA's licensing agreements with NCAA Football and the Arena Football League. Along with the NFL, this gives EA the exclusive rights to "the only viable sports football associations in the United States."

[Via Joystiq]

Tecmo stock down on loss of Itagaki

It looks like the departure of Tomonobu Itagaki from Tecmo is doing more than upsetting fans of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive. It seems as though Itagaki's exit has worried Tecmo stockholders on the Tokyo Stock Exchange as well. According to GameSpot, shares in the company fell sharply on Wednesday upon the news. Upon closing on Tuesday, Tecmo's shares stood at ¥1,102 ($10.40). Shares fell to ¥985 ($9.30) upon opening Wednesday. The stock rose and fell throughout the day today, closing at ¥982 ($9.27). Ouch.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues without Itagaki at the helm of Team Ninja.

GTAIV boosts UK 360 sales over PS3


Having already announced that the Xbox 360 version of Grand Theft Auto IV was the week one sales winner in the UK, Chart-Track has now told Eurogamer that the game also heavily boosted sales of the Xbox 360 console. Since Grand Theft Auto IV's launch last month, sales of the Xbox 360 are up 18% over the Playstation 3 in the UK. ChartTrack also notes that sales of the Xbox 360 have increased 47% over the month prior to GTAIV's launch, whereas PS3 sales have seen an increase of only 8%. Furthermore, a full 57% of all copies of GTAIV sold in the UK were sold for the Xbox 360, leaving 43% for the Playstation 3.

It's not all sunshine and roses for the Xbox 360 though, as the Playstation 3 still holds the lead in overall UK sales for 2008 thus far. As it stands, there still remains a 10% gap between the consoles, though it's worth noting that the gap stood at 20% before the launch of GTAIV.

[Via Joystiq]

Update: Ahem, the numbers are for the UK, not all of Europe.

No more big budget games for Atari


Phil Harrison, recently appointed president of Infogrames (parent company of Atari), has gone on record stating that Atari isn't likely to pursue any more big budget, single-player games after Alone in the Dark. Harrison told Gamasutra, "I don't see that we're going to be making huge-budget, single-player games in the future." Harrison did add that the company will still pursue "really incredible games that have high quality, high execution, and high innovation, but they won't be one-player, narrative-driven, start-middle-end games." Harrison sees online, socially driven games as the future for Atari and places emphasis on episodic content.

So, while a direct sequel to Alone in the Dark sounds unlikely, it's possible we might see similar games released in an episodic manner instead (as was the original plan for Alone in the Dark, which still incorporates an episodic structure). Harrison sees episodic games with integrated community features as a new direction for Atari and the games industry in general, giving video games the kind of "water cooler" effect that television shows enjoy. Sounds interesting to us.

[Via Joystiq]

Analyst: PS3 to outsell 360 by more than 2:1 by 2012


It is always so much fun to post the thoughts of industry analysts. No matter what the topic, there are guaranteed to be comments regarding A) what an easy job analysts have and B) how nothing analysts say comes true. Honestly, analyst posts are fun for all ages. The latest analytical blatherskite holds that the Playstation 3 will have won the console war by 2012. Specifically, according to CNET, IDC analyst Billy Pidgeon claims that by 2012 the PS3 will have moved a whopping 107 million units. The Xbox 360? By 2012, Pidgeon predicts Microsoft will have sold just over 40 million units. In other words, the PS3 will grow exponentially year over year, whereas the 360 will grow at a much more tepid pace.

The reason: market perception. Analyst extraordinaire Michael Pachter gave his two cents, noting that Microsoft has "an image issue." Essentially, the 360, according to Pachter, is perceived as a console for hardcore gamers only, whereas the PS3 (and more specifically Sony) is perceived as family friendly. Aaron Greenberg, 360 product manager, naturally disagrees, noting that the Xbox 360 has more million-selling titles than either the Wii or PS3 and that the 360 has "the largest game lineup, and the most exclusive titles."

Continue reading Analyst: PS3 to outsell 360 by more than 2:1 by 2012

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