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Gaming Round Up for 8/4/06

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Ubisoft finalizes acquisitions of two licenses

Ubisoft recently announced a few bits of news on its official website, detailing the acquisition of Reflections Interactive Limited as well as spilling the beans on current Nintendo Wii projects.

Ubisoft said it had completed the previously announced acquisition of both the intellectual property and technology rights to the Driver series. Along with the Driver franchise, Ubisoft acquired nearly all of the company’s assets and personnel at the cost of $24 million. Publisher Atari will hold a three-month sell-off right to all games in the franchise except for the recent Parallel lines, which it will hold through 2006.

The release noted Ubisoft looks forward to continuing the series, which has now spanned four console games and sold more than 14 million units worldwide.

The company also revealed it has obtained the rights to distribute GT Pro Series through an agreement with MTO Co., Ltd., outside the Japanese market. GT Pro Series will be exclusive to the Wii console and will feature 80 licensed cars, tuning customization, and drift-style controls and physics. Ubisoft states the game will be available at launch and promises to take full advantage of the Wii remote controller.

GT Pro Series ups the company’s scheduled Wii launch lineup to seven – it joins the previously announced Red Steel and Rayman Raving Rabbits, as well as Monster 4X4 World Circuit, Open Season, an unrevealed Far Cry title, and Blazing Angels: Squadrons of WW II.

Midway, Activision detail fiscal results

Midway and Activision posted quarterly fiscal results this week, both reporting a loss for the period.

Yesterday, Midway provided its results for the second quarter of operation in 2006, reporting a loss in net revenues from the previous year.

The Chicago-based software developer reported net revenues for the 2006 second quarter at $25.9 million, compared with 2005 second quarter net revenues of $36.9 million. The 2006 second quarter loss applicable to common stock was $31 million. The company’s third quarter will elapse at the end of September, to which Midway anticipates a net revenue loss of approximately $23 million.

The company provided anticipated highlights of the remainder of 2006, including ports of the PS2/Xbox best-selling Blitz: The League to the Xbox 360 and Sony PSP this fall, the announcement of two titles to hit the Wii this fall (The Ant Bully and Happy Feet), and release of Spy Hunter: Nowhere to Run (Xbox, PS2), Mortal Kombat: Armageddon (Xbox, PS2), and Happy Feet (multi-system).

The company expects to report a full year net loss of $70 million at the end of 2006.

Meanwhile, Activision posted “better than expected” results for its first quarter of operation in 2006-07.

Net revenues for the company were $188 million for 2006 as compared to $241 million reported for the first quarter last fiscal year. For the first quarter, the company reported a net loss of $18 million.

The company noted sales of Over the Hedge, X-Men: The Official Game, and Call of Duty 2, which Activision labeled as the number one selling game for the Xbox 360, according to the NPD Group, helped drive sales for the quarter, ending June 30. The company also listed key acquisitions for the quarter including the licenses for Barbie, James Bond, and video game publisher RedOctane of Guitar Hero fame.

For the next quarter, Activision is anticipating net revenues of $130 million.

Nintendo announces guest celebrity for Pokemon party

Those in the New York area will get to experience Hulkamania run wild at the “Pokemon Party of the Decade” Aug. 8.

Pokemon.com recently announced Hulk Hogan as the special mystery celebrity guest for the upcoming event, which celebrates the 10th anniversary of Pokemon. As part of the event, the Hulkster will be on hand to crown the winner of the party’s Pokemon Video Game National Championship.

Gamers will also be able to try the upcoming Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, obtain a top-20 fan-voted Pokemon on their Game Boy Advance Pokemon games (including an exclusive flying Pikachu), and more.

Bryant Park will host the event from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

MTV recognizes video game soundtracks with nominations

Earlier this week, MTV announced its nominees for the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards Best Video Game Score and Best Video Game Soundtrack.

Given the nod for best video game score were Hitman: Blood Money, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Dreamfall: The Longest Journey, Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, and Electroplankton. Nominated for best video game soundtrack were Fight Night Round 3, Burnout Revenge, NBA 2K6, Driver: Parallel Lines, and Mark Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure.

The awards will be held on Aug. 31.

FIFA 07 to sport new online mode, EA continues deal with PGA

EA made a couple announcements recently regarding long-running sports franchises.

FIFA 07 will be shipped to North American stores Oct. 3 for the Xbox, PS2, GameCube, PSP, Game Boy Advance, PC, mobile, and DS. The ‘07 edition will feature a new online mode labeled the EA Sports Interactive League.

Players will choose a club based on a number of leagues and play online according to the official club’s real time schedule. The league acts as an online season, where players of opposing clubs will be matched with your squad based on real-life schedules.

The game is also slated to feature more intelligent A.I., signature moves, authentic playing styles, topspin and backspin shots, and an improved manager mode. There are also plans for the manager mode, which will allow PS2 gamers to take their manager campaign on the road with PSP connectivity.

EA also recently announced a contract renewal allowing the company’s Tiger Woods series to continue carrying the PGA Tour license for another six years.

The partnership began more than 15 years ago and with the extension, will continue through 2012. Tiger Woods 07 is currently set to release in the U.S. in October.

New Trek games to feature the work of Fontana


Bethesda Softworks announced today Star Trek writer Dorothy “D.C.” Fontana and partner Derek Chester have collaborated to write scripts for two upcoming games using the Star Trek license.

Fontana wrote for the series since its inception in the 1960s and will continue to do so for Star Trek: Legacy, in development for the Xbox 360 and PC, and Star Trek: Tactical Assault for the DS and PSP. Both titles are scheduled to ship this fall from CBS Consumer Products.

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