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Currents Top Ten I Blockbuster to Rent PSP Games I Nintendo World Opens I Joytech, Microsoft to Have Future Together I Blizzard Sees Monkeys, Acquires Them I ISM Acquires BizDev I BlueSphere Signs on for Discworld I Stock Ticker
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Issue #7 Live From Los Angeles May 17, 2005


Front Page

It's safe to say that this week's biggest video game industry news is coming straight out of the heart of Los Angeles. That's right folks, the 2005 Electronic Entertainment Expo is finally here and RPGamer is there to bring you the latest developments as they happen--which isn't any different from how we usually run things, of course. Though a lot of information has already been released, especially concerning the next-generation consoles, the real meat of E3 doesn't begin until tomorrow, so you've barely seen the tip of the iceberg. And luckily for you Currents readers, I am also reporting on site straight from E3, so you can bet you'll be getting your time's worth.

What do I think so far? I'm still a little skeptical. As far as the new consoles, I don't really think we need them yet. I mean, some of the games that are coming out for this generation have jaw-dropping graphics, in my opinion. When I play Metal Gear Solid 3 or watch the latest trailer for Grandia III, I think to myself that this generation still has plenty of breath left in its lungs. Seeing the latest screens and trailers of the new next-generation games has left me feeling that some of these games could be run on the current generation of consoles. So, overall, I'm unimpressed. I do like the look of the Xbox 360 and PS3, as well as the Nintendo Revolution, for which I was fortunate enough to attend the unveiling. And I must say that the Revolution being backwards compatible with every other Nintendo console is pretty nifty.

I suppose you could say that although I don't think we need any new consoles yet, I'm betting that Nintendo will be the one to look out for. The company has taken some dives lately, which is tough to take for a former industry-leader. Obviously, it knows what it takes to be successful and it knows it's actually at risk for going the way of Sega if it doesn't shape up. Plus, if Nintendo has shown us anything in the past, it's that it knows how to think outside the box and revolutionize gaming.

And those are my two proverbial cents. Now it's your turn. I'm really interested to hear what all of you have to say about the impending next-generation console war, so shoot me some e-mails and I'll post them in the next column. If we're lucky, I may even be able to coax some RPGamer staffers into giving us their takes on the issue, as well. And be sure to tune into RPGamer's Roundtable Shoutcast, live from Los Angeles, for the latest scoops.



 Currents Top Ten

The final chapter of the Star Wars space opera opens this week, and as such, the video game based on the movie takes the top two spots for PS2 and Xbox respectively. Popular Xbox racer, and possible Gran Turismo competition, Forza Motorsport closes in behind the Sith's revenge. Midnight Club 3 and God of War are still on the list, which is quite impressive; they have a bit of a streak going on now. Lego Star Wars is pulling up the rear along with Area 51 and Jade Empire, which for several weeks now has claimed a spot on the Top Ten list.


Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Star Wars Episode III LucasArts
2 Star Wars Episode III LucasArts
3 Forza Motorsport Microsoft Game Studios
4 Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Rockstar Games
5 God of War Sony Computer Entertainment
6 Lego Star Wars Eidos Interactive
7 Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Rockstar Games
8 Lego Star Wars Eidos Interactive
9 Area 51 Midway
10 Jade Empire Microsoft Game Studios


Source: GameSpot



 Blockbuster to Rent PSP Games

PSP

If you've been to your local Blockbuster Video lately, you may have noticed a new addition to the gaming section, albeit not an entirely unexpected one. Starting on May 17, the national movie and video game rental chain will begin offering PSP games for rent at all of its 4,400 stores.

The first titles to be offered include: Twisted Metal: Head On, Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade, and Need for Speed Underground: Rivals. It will cost $6.99 to rent one game for seven days. On a side note, my local Blockbuster has been offering PSP games for a few days now, so the May 17 date doesn't necessarily apply to all stores; it's just the official date by which all stores should begin carrying PSP games.


Source: GameSpot



 Nintendo World Opens

Nintendo

On Monday, Nintendo officially opened its first U.S.-based store, Nintendo World. The store is the first Nintendo-themed store in the nation and is located in New York City, in Rockefeller Plaza. The gaming giant celebrated the opening with a block party that lasted the entire day. The store takes up 10,000 square feet of New York real estate, is two stories tall, and is chocked full of Nintendo merchandise, including some items that are not sold anywhere else. Nintendo World also contains over 50 game stations, a multiplayer wall where gamers can play Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS systems, and a gaming lounge outfitted with surround sound and rumble seats. As an added bonus, the Pokémon Center that was originally an entire store in and of itself until it was closed and replaced with Nintendo World has been shrunk down into a department within Nintendo World.

For the opening day, Nintendo pulled out all the stops by inviting professional skateboarder Ryan Sheckler to come onto the scene. Also, exclusive Pokémon downloades and trading cards were made available. A video game tournament, contests, and give-aways were held at the block party, as well. The celebration began last week on Thursday night with a VIP sneak peek party held in the store itself. Celebrities were aplenty at the peak, with Robert Iler and Steve Schirripa from The Sopranos making appearances, as well as Danny Masterson from That 70's Show and Richard Belzer from Law and Order: SVU. In the future, Nintendo plans to have other special events for any new Nintendo products.


Source: GameSpot



 Joytech, Microsoft to Have Future Together
Microsoft

Joytech, a video game peripheral manufacturer based in Europe, announced that has signed a third-party licensing agreement with Microsoft. The deal specifically gives Joytech the rights to sell third-party peripherals for Microsoft's recently unveiled Xbox 360 in North America and Europe. No next-generation peripheral plans were announced, but Joytech is best known for producing controllers, LCD screens, and cables for the current generation of consoles.


Source: GameSpot



 Blizzard Sees Monkeys, Acquires Them

Blizzard

Blizzard Entertainment, best known for developing such game series as WarCraft, StarCraft, and Diablo, announced this week that it has acquired Swingin' Ape Studios, a console game development company. The terms of the acquisition state that Blizzard will retain the 40 people currently employed at Swingin' Ape as well as obtain the studio's proprietary development technology.

Mike Morhaime, president of Blizzard, said the following in a statement regarding the deal: "The acquisition of Swingin' Ape Studios takes us one step closer to realizing our goal of becoming a top-tier console developer...With Swingin' Ape's talented designers, programmers, and artists, we're confident we'll be able to create console games that meet the quality standards we've established for every Blizzard title."

The president of Swingin' Ape Studios, Steve Ranck, had something to say as well: "We've long admired the quality and attention to detail that Blizzard puts into each of its PC titles...Our approach to game design is very similar, so we expect this to be a seamless transition for us."

Steve Ranck, the former president of Swinin' Ape, will become the vice president of console development for Blizzard's new console team. The former company also has no plans to move from the current location of its offices in Southern California, just a few miles from Blizzard's offices in Irvine.

Blizzard plans to transform the company that was once Swingin' Ape into the foundation for the its new console team. It also plan to continue development on StarCraft: Ghost, though no other plans for any other console titles have been made public


Source: GameSpy



 ISM Acquires BizDev

Gaming industry representation agency, Interactive Studio Management, or ISM, has acquired another representation agency, BizDev, Inc. Last week, ISM said that it had entered into a deal to acquire the interactive business agency.

As ISM also acquired Digital Development Management last year, so the acquiring of BizDev now makes ISM "the larget representation agency devoted to interactive entertainment clients."

Bob Jacob, the co-founder of ISM said, "BizDev's strength in negotiations and acquisitions combined with ISM's strength in sales and reputation allow us to provide our clients with the highest level of representation available today."

Furthermore, Lee Jacobson, vice president of business development at Midway Games added, "With publishers mandating that developers run their studios as real businesses, the acquisition of BizDev further enhances ISM's leadership position in representing top quality development studios."

As for the future, the plan is for the CEO of BizDev, Dan Lee Rogers, will become an operating principal for ISM.


Source: GameSpy



 BlueSphere Signs on for Discworld

According to an E3 press release, Blue Sphere Games, a developer of mobile games and content, has signed a license agreement with Terry Pratchett, a fantasy fiction author. What this means, essentially, is that they will be creating new mobile phone games bearing the Discworld name.

Details surrounding the deal claim that it grants a three-year, worldwide license to Blue Sphere Games for creation and distribution of games that will use Rincewind, Twoflower, the Luggage, and other characters from Pratchett's Discworld book series.

Cole Smythe, a representative of Terry Pratchett, says, "This is uncharted territory for us, and we are much looking forward to seeing how this first game, involving Rincewind and the Discworld, is enjoyed by mobile phone users."

David Bozward, the Blue Sphere Games chairman, added, "The Discworld Novels are some of the most widely read fantasy books in existence. Through development skills and widespread distribution channels, we can bring this fantasy world successfully to the mobile gaming user globally.





 Stock Ticker

As far as the market looks, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are all taking dives this week, despite having their big next-generation console unveilings at E3. Electronic Arts has the biggest lift in the market of $1.60. Square Enix takes a very small dip of a cent today and Konami and Sega also dipped down. On the other hand, Activision, Midway, and Ubi Soft have all had good days.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market close 05.17.2005


Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 36.87 (0.34)
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 25.46 (0.03)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 13.40 (0.15)
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 54.11 1.60
ENIXF Square Enix PNK 31.92 (0.01)
KNM Konami NYSE 19.95 (0.46)
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 15.78 0.42
MWY Midway NYSE 8.69 0.07
SGAMY Sega PNK 13.35 (0.45)
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 41.15 0.89

Source: CNN Money




 Back Page

Hopefully I don't die this week from being trampled by crazy mobs of E3 people or by getting worked to death. In fact, I can't believe I'm even doing this right now, but I'm a devoted guy. Yes, I know, it's a curse, but you all benefit, so it's all good. If the fact that I'm getting harassed by my bosses means anything, I should wrap this up. So good night, and happy reading.


Elliot "Here's to Nintendo" Guisinger


Carlisle@RPGamer.com

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