Call of Duty: Black Ops III’ Earns $550 Million in First Three Days


13th Nov 2015

Activision Blizzard reported Wednesday that Call of Duty: Black Ops III earned $550 million in sales over the first three days of its release, making it the biggest entertainment debut across all media of 2015 so far.

Call of Duty: Black Ops III has now surpassed Jurassic World, which earned $524 million worldwide in its opening weekend. “Call of Duty: Black Ops III is the biggest entertainment launch this year in any medium, and bigger than any theatrical opening weekend ever,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a press release.

Black Ops III also beat out first-person shooter Halo 5: Guardians‘ $400 million in sales as reported by Microsoft in the week following its release. Halo 5 is available exclusively on the Xbox One, while Black Ops III is a multi-platform title released on the Xbox One, Xbox 360, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, and PC.

Black Ops III has seen more hours played per player than any previous Call of Duty, according to Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg, with more than 75 million hours played online in the first weekend after the game’s release. also reported that Black Ops III is both the most-streamed and the most-watched game on their service so far this year. The game also set a launch-day record for digital copies downloaded on the Playstation 4.

Black Ops III will compete for largest entertainment release of 2015 with Bethesda Softwork’s Fallout 4, released this week, and EA DICE’s Star Wars Battlefront, launching November 17.




‘Borderlands’ Videogame Movie in Works at Lionsgate

29th Aug 2015

Lionsgate is developing a tentpole movie based on the videogame “Borderlands,” with producers Avi and Ari Arad.

“Borderlands,” launched in 2009, is a role-playing first-person shooter videogame created and developed by Gearbox Software and published by Take-Two Interactive Software’s 2K label. More than 26 million copies of the game have been shipped worldwide, including 8 million during Take-Two’s 2015 fiscal year, which ended March 31.

The game is set on the frontier of a sci-fi universe — the planet of Pandora — which has been abandoned by a mega-corporation prior to the game events.

Avi Arad and his son Ari Arad have been involved in the creation of the film franchises for Iron Man, Spider Man, The Amazing Spider Man, X-Men, Ghost Rider and Blade.

Lionsgate made a major push last year into videogames when it named Nerdist Industries CEO Peter Levin as president of interactive ventures and games.

“Part of our strategy in entering the game space under Peter Levin has been to source new brands with built-in audiences that will translate into great films and television shows,” said Lionsgate Motion Picture Group Co-Chairs Rob Friedman and Patrick Wachsberger. “The ‘Borderlands’ games don’t pull any punches, and we’ll make the movie with the same in-your-face attitude that has made the series a blockbuster mega-franchise.”

Friday’s announcement comes less than three months before Lionsgate opens its fourth and final film in its highly successful “Hunger Games” franchise, which has grossed $2.3 billion at the worldwide box office. The studio’s Summit label generated $3.3 billion from its five-film “Twilight Saga.” And it has grossed more than $550 million from the first two films in its four-film “Divergent Series.”

“Lionsgate has emerged as a major creative force in the global marketplace with an incredible portfolio of brands; our partners at Gearbox have pioneered and cultivated an iconic property; and Avi and Ari Arad are two of the most successful producers of action franchises,” Take-Two Interactive Chairman and CEO Strauss Zelnick said. “This alliance is ideally positioned to create a bold, provocative, no-holds-barred motion picture phenomenon that will delight ‘Borderlands” current legions of fans and captivate moviegoers around the world.”

Avi Arad founded Marvel Studios in 1993 and resigned 13 years later to form his own production company, where Ari Arad is the president. He’s continuing to produce some of the Marvel films, such as the “Spider-Man” titles, along with videogame adaptations such as “Uncharted” and “Ghost in the Shell.”

His first feature outside Marvel was 2007’s “Bratz: The Movie,” which was released by Lionsgate.

Movies based on videogames have not yet achieved blockbuster status in Hollywood. Disney’s “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” is the highest grosser, with $337 million worldwide on a $200 million budget in 2010.

The deal was orchestrated by a Lionsgate team led by Peter Levin, Summit Entertainment President of Production Geoff Shaevitz and Lionsgate Motion Picture Group President of Business and Legal Affairs Patricia Laucella.

The news about Lionsgate acquiring the rights to “Borderlands” was first reported by The Tracking Board.





Steam Machines and official Controller out by Christmas

8th June 2015

The first wave of Steam Machines — gaming PCs designed to sit under your living room TV, much like a traditional console — have been revealed. Officially launching in November, just in time for the holiday shopping rush, they could be in eager players’ hands as soon as October.

Unlike PlayStation 4 or Xbox One, there’s no definitive version of the hardware though. While Valve has launched its own SteamOS to run on the various systems, it’s not actually producing Steam Machines of its own. What you get is essentially a regular PC in a smaller case, produced by a variety of manufacturers.

So far, two vendors have announced their Steam Machine ranges, though neither appear ready for UK consumers. Alienware’s take on the hardware only says it’s coming in November for the UK, though it’s available for pre-order through the manufacturer’s American site, via retailer GameStop. Its current “Alpha” model is available in the UK now though, in various hardware configurations, priced from £498.99 to £748.99. The Alpha differs from the “main” Steam Machine in that it comes with Windows 8.1, though it will be possible to install SteamOS on them. We await further details on Alienware’s UK Steam Machine plans.

Syber’s alternatives are equally US-centric, though its options give a good look at the tech packed in. The $499 (£326) Steam Machine I is Syber’s entry level model, with an Intel i3 processor, 4GB RAM, 500GB disk space, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX750 graphics card, but expect to pay $1419 (£927) for its X model, with an i7 chip, 16GB RAM, 1TB hard drive and a GTX 980 with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. Again, there are prototype Steam Machines from Syber available from UK retailers, but nothing firm on release dates for the real thing.

Aesthetically, Alienware’s offerings are much sleeker, with glossy casing and smooth, almost featureless facades compared to Syber’s teched-out, glowing beasts (with a fan vent that makes it look reminiscent of 16-bit consoles, oddly enough). Other manufacturers, including Asus and Zotac, are expected to announce their own versions of Steam Machines in the next few weeks — expect more from E3 at the very least.

Although PC gaming has dramatically taken off in recent years, the concept of Steam Machines does leave some nagging doubts about future proofing. The rapid evolution of components for PC gamers could render some of the planned units outdated in a short window — already, none include breakthroughs such as high bandwidth memory — though Alienware does say “the CPU, memory, hard drive and wireless cards are upgradable”.
In Your Hands

Whichever rig you might go for, you’ll need a way to play the games on it from your sofa. Having announced its unorthodox new Steam Controller way back in September 2013, Valve has also offered a closer look at the unlikely joypad with a video introduction.

Some of the unique functions outlined include dual-function triggers, with analogue pressure sensitivity (shown employing variable zoom in a shooter) yielding to a digital click to pull off a shot. It also features twin trackpads, replacing the traditional d-pad and offsetting the usual four physical face buttons, and a single analogue stick on the left. The right trackpad effectively doubles as a mouse cursor, making the likes of strategy, sim, and city building games far more playable from the couch. There are also rear grip buttons, giving an extra level of input.

All buttons can be customised for each game, and users will be able to download customised controller layouts from the Steam community. Up to four controllers can be linked to the Steam Machines announced so far, though there is the potential for more. It also offers easy web browsing, and promises quick and easy text input via an onscreen keyboard. That last part has been promised by many companies though, so we’ll remain sceptical on that point until we get

Considering the closest thing to an “official” joypad for PC games has, for years now, been an Xbox 360 controller, Valve’s offering stands to really disrupt play styles. Once developers get to grips with the Steam Controller’s original features and button layouts, there could be some really innovative games that work best on it.

Unlike the Steam Machines, the Steam Controller can be preordered in the UK now for £39.99. If your gaming PC is already up to spec or you’re not planning on getting a dedicated Steam Machine, it’s also available in a bundle with the Steam Link, a streaming module that connects to your home network and displays games from your PC on the TV using Steam’s Big Picture mode.




The first inductees into the new World Video Game Hall of Fame

6th June 2015

THE first inductees into the new World Video Game Hall of Fame include “Pong,” the game that introduced millions to electronic play, “Doom,” which triggered a debate over the role of games and violence in society, and “Super Mario Bros.,” whose mustachioed hero has migrated to everything from fruit snacks to sneakers.

The first six games to enter the hall of fame cross decades and platforms, but all have impacted the video game industry, popular culture and society at large, according to the new hall at The Strong museum in Rochester, where the games were enshrined Thursday.

Joining “Pong,” launched in 1972, “Doom,” from 1993, and 1985’s “Super Mario Bros.” are arcade draw “Pac-Man” (1980); Russian import “Tetris” (1984); and “World of Warcraft” (2004), which has swallowed millions of players into its online virtual universe.

The newly created World Video Game Hall of Fame pays homage to an industry that rivals Hollywood in the entertainment pecking order.

The Strong, which bills itself as the national museum of play and also houses the National Toy Hall of Fame, has been preserving and collecting games and artefacts for years through its International Center for the History of Electronic Games.

“Electronic game play is increasingly influential and important,” Strong President and Chief Executive G. Rollie Adams said.

“It’s changing how we play, how we learn and how we connect with each other across boundaries of geography and culture.”

The inaugural hall of fame class was recommended by a panel of judges made up of journalists, scholars and other experts on the history and impact of video games.

They chose from among 15 finalists that also included: “Angry Birds,” “FIFA,” “The Legend of Zelda,” “Minecraft,” “The Oregon Trail,” “Pokemon,” “The Sims,” “Sonic the Hedgehog” and “Space Invaders.”

Nominations for the hall can come from anyone and be from any platform — arcade, console, computer, handheld or mobile.

But they must have had a long stretch of popularity and left a mark on the video game industry or pop culture.

“Doom,” for example, introduced the idea of a game “engine” that separated the game’s basic functions from its artwork and other aspects, but even more significantly was one of the early games cited in the debate that continues today over whether violent games inspire real-life aggression.

As of February, it had more than 10 million subscribers, represented by avatars they create, according to The Strong.

Sixteen-year-old gamer Shaun Corbett, of Rochester, said after the induction ceremony that he was expecting “Doom,” “Super Mario Bros.” and “Pac-Man” to get in.

“‘Tetris’ I wasn’t expecting but I can see where they’re coming from. It made puzzle games popular,” Corbett said.

He said his fascination with video games started with Pokemon.

“I enjoyed watching the show. I enjoyed playing the card game,” he said.

“I got the video game on the Game Boy Advance for Christmas when I was 7 and I just have a lot of good memories of playing it with my cousins, my parents showing me how it worked.”

More than 150 million Americans play video games, according to the Entertainment Software Association, and 42 per cent play for at least three hours a week.

In 2014, the industry sold more than 135 million games and generated more than $22 billion in revenue, according to the ESA.

Nominations for the hall of fame’s class of 2016 are open from now through the end of March.




Nintendo NX ‘not a replacement for 3DS or Wii U’


18th May 2015

The Nintendo NX, the Haus of Mario’s next dedicated gaming platform, remains shrouded in mystery. It’s set to remain that way until 2016, but we now at least know what it’s not: a replacement for either of the company’s current consoles.

Following a Nintendo investor briefing, officially translated here, president Satoru Iwata says that although the NX will be “a dedicated video game platform with a brand new concept,” he does not “intend it to become a simple “replacement” for Nintendo 3DS or Wii U.”

Talking further on how consoles and handhelds are currently seen, Iwata added “When it comes to how dedicated game systems are being played, the situations have become rather different, especially between Japan and overseas.”

“Since we are always thinking about how to create a new platform that will be accepted by as many people around the world as possible, we would like to offer to them [a new concept] by taking into consideration various factors, including the playing environments that differ by country. This is all that I can confirm.”

Nintendo has history in claiming new hardware isn’t a replacement for old. Prior to the release of the original Nintendo DS in 2004, the company claimed the untested, radically different hardware was planned as a “third pillar” to stand alongside its home console business and the Game Boy handheld family. The success of the DS rapidly saw it supplant the Game Boy Advance (backwards compatibility with GBA cartridges helped), so Iwata’s claims that the NX isn’t a replacement should perhaps be taken with a pinch of sodium crystals.

However, Iwata did clarify that the unusually early announcement for the NX, made at the same time its partnership with DeNA on mobile games was revealed, was to re-affirm the company’s commitment to dedicated games machines. “I intentionally chose to announce the development of NX so early because I wanted to confirm the fact that we are developing a new dedicated video game platform, that we have never lost passion regarding the future for dedicated video game systems and that we have bright prospects for them.”

One bright note regarding the NX though is that it may not be region locked. In a later question asking Nintendo’s stance on the practise, which restricts players from importing games from other regions, Iwata reponded “My understanding is that it is not realistic on the existing video game systems because unlocking them after they are already on the market poses a number of hurdles.”

He continued, “On the other hand, regarding NX, we understand that many consumers hold such opinions and such suggestions exist in the market, and although we have nothing concrete at the moment, we are internally analyzing what hurdles exist to lifting region locks. That is the situation right now. We acknowledge your request, and I personally want to give it positive consideration.”

Considering region locking portable consoles in particular — as the 3DS — is in WIRED’s opinion ridiculous, this is potentially very good news. Even if the NX isn’t a handheld, the opportunity for players to get their hands on niche titles that may not see a release in their own region would likely be warmly received.

Iwata last week hinted that Nintendo’s planned new membership service may finally allow players access to their digital purchases on more than one console. Speaking on the replacement for the current Club Nintendo, he said “with this new service, our members will be able to visit Nintendo’s website and log in with one ID, and they will receive various services including the ones based on their past purchases and gameplay records as well as services that will be an improved version of the current loyalty program.”

Whatever the Nintendo NX actually is, be it home console or handheld or some hybrid of the two, it’s sounding like a positive step forward for the company, with potential for a far better end user experience.





Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Silent Hills’ game canned

27th April 2015

Bad news, horror fans — the much anticipated Silent Hills, a reboot of Konami’s terrifying gaming franchise, is seemingly as dead as the disturbing creatures that haunt the infernal town itself.

Silent Hills was a labour of love from Metal Gear Solid’s Hideo Kojima and auteur movie director Guillermo del Toro, the mind behind the macabre Pan’s Labyrinth. The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, who plays survivalist Daryl Dixon on the hit show, was set to appear as the game’s lead.

It was del Toro who brought the bad news to light, telling audiences at a San Francisco Film Society event that the project was no longer in the works. His exact words, according to one reporter in attendance, were “It’s not gonna happen and that breaks my greasy heart.”

Reedus followed up, tweeting “Super bummed about this was really looking forward to it. Hopefully it’ll come back around. Sorry everyone.”
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The game was aiming to reinvigorate the series, with Kojima saying he and del Toro wanted to ignore the “rules” of horror games, where scares have to be limited otherwise people stop playing. His ambition was to create a “game that will make you shit your pants.”

Konami has yet to issue a statement confirming del Toro’s claim that the game has been cancelled. Even if the game does go ahead in some form, it appears at least two of the major creative forces are no longer involved. Konami is also in the midst of a tumultuous relationship with Kojima, having dissolved the in-house Kojima Productions team and removed the tagline “A Hideo Kojima Game” from September’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. If all three are no longer involved, how many players would be interested in whatever Silent Hills becomes in their absence?

An interactive “trailer” for the game P.T. — a mortifying experience in its own right — is also being removed from PSN, another clue that Silent Hills has been canned . If you want to see a slice of what the game might have been, download the free P.T. while it’s still available.




UK schools threaten to report parents who let their kids play 18+ games

31st march 2015

If your child is playing 18-rated games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, you could be reported to the police and social services. That’s the message being sent to parents by a group of primary and secondary schools in Cheshire. In a letter, the Nantwich Education Partnership has warned parents about the levels of violence and sexual content that are prevalent in mature games.

It says regular exposure could lead to “early sexualised behaviour” and leave children “vulnerable to sexual exploitation or extreme violence.” Some parents have already voiced their disapproval, but headteachers say they’re merely following the guidance set by their local authority: “If your child is allowed to have inappropriate access to any game or associated product that is designated 18+, we are advised to contact the police and children’s social care as this is deemed neglectful.”

Is the policy a step too far? Video game ratings exist to help consumers (especially parents and relatives) decide whether certain media is suitable for them or the person they’re buying it for.

Children mature at different rates, and so it should arguably be the parent or guardian — the person that knows them best — that ultimately decides whether they’re ready for adult content. Nevertheless, the headteachers that sent this letter clearly believe that they have a responsibility to report parents whose children have “inappropriate access,” or are being negatively affected by mature games. Mary Hennessy Jones, the head who drafted the letter, told The Times it was useful for parents to have “very clear guidelines” about the issue. But in this instance, is such a stance the right approach?





Nintendo is bringing Mario, Pokemon and more to smartphones

19th March 2015

GAMERS have been begging Nintendo for years now. Finally they’ve listened, and you’ll be able to play Super Mario on your phone.

The gaming giant has partnered with mobile game maker DeNA, meaning characters such as Super Mario and Pokemon could find their place on your tablet or smartphone.

The characters have been fiercely protected by Nintendo, and until now have appeared only on Nintendo platforms such as the Wii home console and 3DS mobile machines.

Both the gaming giant and the mobile game maker say they will build a global membership service for various devices including personal computers, smartphones and Nintendo machines. The service is set to launch sometime in Spring.

They said the mobile games won’t be mere adaptations of the games already out for the Nintendo machines but developed especially for the smartphone experience.

In the past, Nintendo has said it has no interest in getting into the smartphone gaming arena, fearing it would cannibalise its currently mobile device, the 3DS.

That all has changed now, with CEO Satoru Iwata saying, “now that smart devices have grown to become the window for so many people to personally connect with society, it would be a waste not to use these devices.”

If you were expecting Nintendo to just port some old classics to mobile, you’d be wrong. Mr Iwata has promised that they won’t be doing that, but instead will be developing brand new titles specifically for mobile. So while we won’t be getting Pokemon Blue officially on our phones, we could be getting something even better.






Mortal Kombat X #3 Review: Warming Up

20th Jan 2015

After a disappointing second issue that featured little action and left plot threads from the first issue dangling, Mortal Kombat X had yet to live up to its namesake.

Thankfully at least one of those concerns are addressed with issue three. While the plot is still as silly and disjointed as ever, Mortal Kombat X # 3 makes up for it by giving fans what they’ve wanted all along — over-the-top action.

In that department issue three delivers. Hanzo wakes up to find himself chained and hanging upside down from the ceiling by a demon-possessed Fox. Kenshi’s son, Takeda, is there against his will as well, watching in horror. Fox urges Takeda to strike Hanzo down for being such a cruel master. He refuses, which then leads Fox to reveal the demon’s true purpose, drawing out the dormant Scorpion persona lying within Hanzo. By butchering Hanzo’s new clan, he forces Hanzo to relive painful memories from his past and go into a rage.

Fox is successful in his task. The spirit of Scorpion once again consumes Hanzo’s body, leading to a fiery battle and a bloody fatality as Scorpion and Takeda team up to take down the demon. Hanzo then sets out with Takeda to find Raiden, who we get a glimpse of at the end of this issue as he uses the magic dagger in an attempt to find the demon roaming Earth, in the process teasing events to come in future issues.

This is what a Mortal Kombat comic should be all about: severed limbs, brutal fatalities and more blood than a butcher shop. That formula makes for an entertaining third issue with some strong artwork from Dexter Soy, even if the overarching story leaves much to be desired. While it was somewhat unclear in previous issues, it appears that there are multiple magic daggers floating around. Raiden uses one, Scorpion possesses another and we saw a hint at the end of the first issue that Kano may own a third. Or maybe Kano obtained the dagger for Raiden? But Raiden also gave a dagger to Scorpion?

Who knows at this point. What is this building towards? What do the daggers have to do with anything other than being “evil”, and why are there so many of them? None of this is even remotely explained. A simple tournament plot featuring the game’s cast of characters beating the tar out of each would be much preferred to this.

Issue three is definitely an improvement over past issues. Fans of Mortal Kombat who can’t wait to dive into the storyline of the new game will find some enjoyment here, as will fans of gory fights. Everybody else should acknowledge the series for what it is — a 99-cent tie-in comic that isn’t going convert those who aren’t already a fan.