NPD October: Gaming Sales Hold Up

THQ is trimming staff and focusing on a smaller slate of titlesEA announced layoffs too and forecast caution.   Activision showed results that were stellar.  Sony got crushed with currency issues.  Nintendo raised sales expectations for the Wii.   Depending on where you looked, this earnings season was filled with mixed messages from gaming companies. These, stacked on top of stalling retail foot traffic and surprisingly weak retail sales data in August and September, have made it very difficult to gauge the health of the gaming industry heading into the pivotal holiday shopping season. 

Is the industry recession resistant?  Are negative results merely the result of delayed purchases, or single company management choices?  Or is the industry feeling the weight of the greater economy?  It’s been so tough to tell.

Today, NPD Group released their U.S. sales data for October.  The new information adds some much needed additional perspective.

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Ubisoft Takes Massive Off Activision Blizzards Hands

When a couple moves in to live together, the old wagon-wheel coffee table or never worn clothes get tossed.  Some things just don’t fit together. Others have to go to make room for the new.   The same process applies to corporate mergers.  Overlapping jobs or assets that don’t match the new coupling get discarded.

Last July,  when Activision and Vivendi Games combined to form Activision Blizzard there was no doubt some Vivendi Games properties would meet this unpleasant end.  Reviews were already being conducted.  Staff “realignments” were in the works.  “Options being explored.”

The questions were what would go, when and, for the lucky few to find new homes – where.

Today, the fate of Vivendi’s Sweden based Massive Entertainment studio was finally revealed.  It will be let go, but saved. Subject to terms not disclosed, Ubisoft has agreed to buy the critically acclaimed studio.

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EA Faces Two More SecuROM Lawsuits

spore suitsIn early September, EA began selling the hotly anticipated PC game title, Spore, around the globe.  The ambition was huge, the hype enormous.  Spore was to be a “sure thing” hit.  So far, it’s lived up to that expectation.  The game is a top seller in Amazon’s PC and Mac games categories (#1 in PC and Mac simulation games, #6 in PC games overall) and according to EA, near two million copies sold in the first three weeks of sales.  Unfortunately, with the sales and  high visibility have come another less desirable achievement: Spore has become a lightning rod for complaints over the SecuROM embedded digital rights management system EA is using to thwart piracy. 

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Poll: Beatles Song Requests for the New Video Game?

vote beatlesHave a favorite Beatles song? Is it something you’d like to play along with in a video game?

In response to MTV Games’ (Harmonix) announcement last week that they’re working to create a new game built entirely around the band’s history and songbook, we’re testing out a poll on Metue to offer fans a chance to vote their favorite songs.

If you’re a fan, take a minute and share your perspective. You can only vote once but you can pick more than one song.

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Say You Want A Revolution: Beatles and Harmonix in Game Pact

gh-beatles-ndering-2-sm.jpgIt’s been the ungettable get, the top of the wish list, the digital archive that every vendor has wanted but nobody could have.  iTunes was rumored close, more than once.  Members of the band suggested it would happen this year (it hasn’t).   Activision’s Guitar Hero was the subject of more whispers but nobody could seem to get the complex mix of license holders to reach a joint agreement.  Somehow, over the course of seventeen months, Viacom’s Harmonix found a way.   Ahead of Apple and Activision, the pioneers behind Rock Band and Guitar Hero, will launch a video game built entirely around the catalog of The Beatles.

Because the game is in development, details have largely been held back but here’s what we know:

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Wii Report: Demand Up but Profits Impacted by Currency

Since the beginning of August, the Japanese Yen has risen almost 35% against the Euro and about ten percent against the dollar.  For Japanese businesses that rely heavily on overseas sales, companies like Sony and Canon, these fluctuations are wreaking havoc on net income as they convert revenues across to their native Yen.  The pain was obvious in Sony’s earnings announcement yesterday.  Today, Nintendo, though on much stronger footing, showed a hint of the same ailment.

In earnings news, Nintendo raised sales targets for the Wii console heading into the holiday period  but simultaneously lowered net profit forecast for the fiscal year ending in March by 16% (about 65,000m Yen).  

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DJ Hero Officially in Development

dj heroOn February 8th, Activision (now Activision Blizzard) trademarked the name “DJ Hero” with the US Patent and Trademark office.  The name was reserved for “game software” and “interactive video game programs; computer game discs; downloadable software for use in connection with computer games; video game controllers; interactive video game comprised of a CD or DVD sold as a unit with a video game controller.”

In the months since, rumors about the possible game have run rampant but there’s been no official confirmation a title was even in development.  Now there is.

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