Battlestar Galactica goes online?[xbox360]
In recent weeks, internet denizens noticed a now-removed product page on EBGames.com/GameStop for an Xbox 360 game entitled Battlestar Galactica Online--likely a working title--published by Vivendi Games. Based on that title, as well as the current popularity of the massively multiplayer genre among publishers, many speculated the game is an MMO. Multiple sites have reported the product listing, though definitive details, or even confirmation, from Vivendi seems to be lacking.
Shacknews contacted Vivendi for comment on the matter, and received neither a confirmation nor a denial. A company representative referred to the product page as "not accurate" and stated that Vivendi has nothing to announce at this time, but stopped short of denouncing the rumor. Vivendi is known to have a Battlestar Galactica game in development for Xbox Live Arcade, so it is quite likely that the company's video game rights to the property extend to full retail releases. Presumably, the company is working with the rights to the current Sci-Fi remake of the series rather than the original 1978 series, but as Vivendi has yet to officially comment on the matter, that has not been confirmed.
According to the removed retail page, Battlestar Galactica Online is set for release in October 2007, but it should be noted that retailer release dates are very rarely accurate months in advance.
Stamper bros. take leave of Rare[xbox] [xbox360] [gamecube] [ds] [gba]
In a move that is becoming less rare by the week, two more well known industry figures have left their long time development studio. Chris and Tim Stamper, the fraternal founders of legendary UK-based Rare, have left the company they founded in the age-old pursuit of "other opportunities" and "future endeavors." According to a 1UP report, the pair left Rare late last year. They will be succeeded by long time Rare veterans Mark Betteridge and Gregg Mayles, who will assume the respective roles of Studio Director and Creative Director.
The Stampers are not the first notable departures from Rare; during development of Perfect Dark, key members of the Perfect Dark team left to found Free Radical Design, best known for its TimeSplitters series of first person shooters.
Rare--which has also gone by monikers such as Ultimate Play the Game and Ashy Computer Graphics over the years--was founded by the Stampers in 1982, and after a few years of developing for computer systems such as the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, the company began focusing on the Nintendo Entertainment System. It produced dozens of games for the system, but hit its stride on the Super NES with its well known Donkey Kong Country series. Soon after, Nintendo invested significantly in the studio, and it became an exclusive second-party developer for Nintendo consoles. On Nintendo 64, Rare developed acclaimed games such as GoldenEye, Perfect Dark, Jet Force Gemini, Blast Corps, and Conker's Bad Fur Day. About a year into the life of the GameCube, on which Rare had released Star Fox Adventures, it was revealed that Microsoft had acquired Rare and Nintendo had divested its stock in the company. Microsoft was reported to have paid some $377M in the deal, a record sum for a game development studio. On Xbox, Rare released Grabbed by the Ghoulies and the Bad Fur Day remake Conker: Live & Reloaded. It delivered two launch titles for Xbox 360, Perfect Dark Zero and Kameo: Elements of Power, and recently released Viva Pinata. Since its acquisition by Microsoft, Rare has continued to develop games for Nintendo portable systems, which have been published by THQ. The company is known to be working on a new entry in its Banjo-Kazooie series of platformers.
According to 1UP's report, the departures are unrelated to Viva Pinatas' sales performance, which has been lackluster despite the game's strong critical reception. "Chris and Tim have helped shape Rare into the world-renowned development studio that is it today and their impact on the videogame industry as a whole is well known," said a Microsoft representative. "They are simply leaving to pursue other opportunities and we wish them luck in their future endeavors." It is unclear if the Stampers plan to continue working within the games industry.
Crackdown to contain Halo 3 beta invite[xbox360]
According to GamePro.com, the February 2007 issue of the GamePro print publication contains an advertisement for Real Time Worlds' upcoming Crackdown informing readers that "specially marked boxes" of the upcoming game "[include] invitation to Halo 3 multiplayer beta." Last year, Microsoft announced the beta program, which is still accepting applications at Halo3.com and which is said not to be operating on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Microsoft-published Crackdown is set for release in February 2007.
US holiday current-gen sales released[ps3] [xbox360] [wii]
Though the latest full sales data has not yet been released, CNBC has reported on market research firm IDC's preliminary numbers for United States sales of the three current generation consoles over the 2006 holiday season.
Xbox 360 took the lead, undoubtedly due to a fleshed out game lineup and plentiful supply, selling 2 million units in November and December. Somewhat surprisingly, Nintendo's Wii was close behind, moving 1.8 million units in that same time frame despite not being released until November 19. Supply constraints continue to plague the console, however. Finally, PlayStation 3, which was known to be the most supply limited of the three machines, sold 750,000 units. Like Wii, only about five weeks of sales are represented, as the machine launched on November 17.
Madden tops charts for 2006[ps2] [xbox360] [ds]
Along with today's holiday season home console sales figures, the top ten selling games of 2006 were revealed courtesy of USA Today. The games were spread across only three platforms--PlayStation 2, Xbox 360, and Nintendo DS--with PS2 titles making up fully half of the chart. Two editions of EA Tiburon's Madden 07 (and one of NCAA Football 07) made the list, with Madden 07 for PS2 taking #1, giving Electronic Arts the biggest presence. EA was followed by Square Enix with two games--Kingdom Hearts II (PS2) at #3 and Final Fantasy XII (PS2) at #6--and Nintendo also with two games--New Super Mario Bros. (NDS) at #2 and Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (NDS) at #10. Other notable entries included Epic's Gears of War at #4 and Ubisoft's Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (X360) at #5. The list is as follows, with developer and publisher included after game titles:
#1: Madden NFL 07 (PS2), EA Tiburon/EA Sports
#2: New Super Mario Bros. (NDS), Nintendo/Nintendo
#3: Kingdom Hearts II (PS2), Square Enix/Square Enix
#4: Gears of War (X360), Epic/Microsoft
#5: Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter (X360), Ubisoft Paris/Ubisoft
#6: Final Fantasy XII (PS2), Square Enix/Square Enix
#7: Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories (PS2), Rockstar Leeds/Rockstar Games
#8: NCAA Football 07 (PS2), EA Tiburon/EA Sports
#9: Madden NFL 07 (X360), EA Tiburon/EA Sports
#10: Brain Age: Train Your Brain in Minutes a Day! (NDS), Nintendo/Nintendo
Screenshots: Halo 3 (X360).
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
California Games for the NES. "One of my proudest early gaming moments was finally achieving the high score in every event in this game. The surfing judges were harsh, my flying disc partner was a nitwit, but i loved hitting that seagull with the footbag." (submitted by burgertime)