Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Reveal

As if you didn’t know that this was coming out.

It looks like the new Black Ops is going to take place in 2025, the world having survived past 2012 to live in a future wonderland filled with drones and walking tanks.

It’s due out November 13th of this year, just in time to put the crunch on your holiday wallet and dominate your online fun. And that’s also a week after Halo 4 is supposed to come out which will make things very interesting on the Xbox 360. Which side will you pick in this battle? Call of Duty? Master Chief? Or both at the same time?

No more Guitar Hero; Call of Duty still really, really popular

(Updated 2/10)

Activision/Blizzard will stop publishing the once-proud Guitar Hero franchise, a development that led to “RIP Guitar Hero” being one today’s lead topics on Twitter.

The game publisher announced the news today while releasing financial disclosures for 2010. Activision/Blizzard will also cancel development of “True Crime: Hong Kong.”

But Activision/Blizzard is not exactly hurting for business. The Call of Duty and World of Warcraft franchises continue to be big money makers. The company reported 2010 net revenues of $4.45 billion.

Santa Monica-based Activision/Blizzard reported a $418 year-end profit, although the firm experienced a $233 million loss during the Fourth Quarter.

The new figures were better than Activision/Blizzard’s 2009 numbers. In 2009, the firm earned a $113 million profit for the year and endured a $286 million loss in the Fourth Quarter.

How did they get there? In addition to the numbers, Activision/Blizzard also bragged that the firm is the Number One game publisher in North America and Europe. Selling 3.3 million units of “World of Warcraft: Catclysm” since its December didn’t hurt. Neither did selling more than $650 million worth of “Call of Duty: Black Ops” in the game’s first five days of release.

Activision also reports that 27 million players have clocked more than 2
billion hours – more than 229,000 years – playing Call of Duty games. That figure only requires those players to play an average of about 74 hours.

Gaming website IGN took part in Activision’s conference call and noted that the publisher now views the games business as “blockbuster or bust.” Within that context, IGN is able to report that last year’s “Transformers: War for Cybertron” was a sales dud for Activision.

Despite positive reviews, the Transformers title missed out on being on of the industry’s Top Ten selling games when it was released in June, IGN reported at the time.

Despite the demise of Guitar Hero, the game was still featured prominently on Activision/Blizzard’s corporate homepage Wednesday. Loading the homepage was more likely to produce an image of digital Slash or another rock star than one of Call of Duty’s many soldiers.

But Call of Duty is the future of Activision. The Los Angeles Times reports company’s plans include “BeachHead,” an online service for the Call of Duty franchise. Activision released few details on what exactly BeachHead will be.

The Times’ report observes that the end of Guitar Hero is a major factor in the ending of some 500 employees’ jobs and Activision/Blizzard’s business reflecting the “hit-driven nature of the video-game industry in which consumers flitter from one fad to another.”

Thus the LAT reports that investors are less excited about Call of Duty than the franchises fans:

Activision said it expected 2011 revenue to hit $3.95 billion,
substantially less than its 2010 revenue of $4.45 billion. The forecast
came in lower than most Wall Street analysts had been expecting,
triggering an 8% slide in the company’s stock price.

Activision’s shares were also depressed by investor concern over the
concentration of the company’s revenue in just two franchises, Call of
Duty and World of Warcraft, said John Taylor, an analyst with Arcadia
Investment Corp. in Portland, Ore.

Nonetheless It was not so long ago when Guitar Hero was practically everywhere, especially displays in stores like Best Buy or the now vanished Circuit City, where customers would take a break from shopping to pretend to be on stage somewhere. It’s now easy to find Guitar Hero and rival Rock Band titles in used bins at low, low prices.

I have no idea if Call of Duty will ever mirror Guitar Hero’s rise and fall or remain a perennial big seller like EA’s Madden NFL series. What I do know is that many real musicians won’t weep for Guitar Hero.


Review: Call of Duty – Black Ops


If there’s one thing Call of Duty: Black Ops keeps trying to tell me, I think it’s this: War is awesome.

Real war, of course, is far from that, but Treyarch’s latest work isn’t interested in painting any solemn pictures of the realities of battle. Instead, it uses American war history as the canvas for a wild experience that warms itself in the fires of explosive action-movie theatrics.

Continue reading

Review: Singularity


Raven Software’s mix of Soviet super science and time travel have cooked up a Cold War surprise that effectively blends both into a fun romp with a healthy dose of sundered limbs. If you’ve seen their work with Wolfenstein, this will feel like a return engagement. You’ll probably also remember that the single player was the best part about the Nazi buster.
Continue reading

Review: Transformers – War for Cybertron


If you grew up in the ’80s, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve heard of Optimus Prime. And if you did, you probably thought he was awesome.

Prime is the first name who usually comes to mind when there’s talk of the Transformers, the famed “robots in disguise” who transformed into vehicles and captured the imaginations of kids everywhere decades ago, well before movie audiences saw Megan Fox straddling motorcycles and Shia LeBeouf running for his life.

They remain one of the lasting symbols of 1980s pop culture, and were responsible for kitchen floors, dinner tables and living rooms becoming battlefields.

Transformers: War for Cybertron resonates with those kids, who are much older now and have replaced those household surfaces with a 360 or PS3.

For them, High Moon Studios has crafted a fun trek through an intriguing piece of franchise lore, echoing good action shooters of the past while capturing enough of that ’80s-child joy to mask some of its flaws. It’s not so much a groundbreaking title as it is a dream update of beloved cultural icons.

Continue reading

E3: A look back on Day Two


Day Two started off earlier, mainly due to the first day starting at noon. A few appointments were penciled in including another one with Activision who had given us a chance to check out the new True Crime. My brother was ready to hit most of those leaving me to wander the floor to take a look at what else was being shown. The first day was a brief tour in the West Hall. Now it was time to hit the South Hall where the third parties, and Microsoft, was lurking.
Continue reading

Bungie and Activision: The Alliance


Do you hear that? If you listen very closely, it’s the sound of Bobby Kotick rubbing his hands together with glee.

Halo developer, Bungie, has announced via its blog that they’ve just signed a ten year alliance with Activision. It might not be as astounding to some as the NFL’s deal with EA over Madden, but to Halo fans, it’s just as huge.

It’s certainly a bold step considering the exodus bleeding Infinity Ward’s ranks at the moment, but the announcement makes it sound as if they will remain as independent as they are by making it clear that they will own their own IPs. There’s also no mention of Activision buying a stake in the development house, although the announcement did also mention that there were undisclosed terms.

I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the details were hammered out over seeing what is going on with Infinity Ward, but there you have it. Halo’s developers have found a new port for their fleet of ideas to depart from. The next few years will tell us the rest of the story.

UPDATED: Kotaku has the scoop on just what Bungie has planned with Activision and not surprisingly, leaves us wanting for more. Some highlights:

  • brand new IP will be an action game set in a new universe
  • will leverage their experience with Halo, but the game won’t be based on any of their past properties
  • Bungie’s alliance with Activision will allow them to reach multiple platforms
  • probably won’t hear anything on just what the game will be about or what genre it will take place in until AFTER 2010. Ouch.

Kotaku also has a few other speculative guesses, one of which suggests that Bungie’s next big thing might have a subscription. Activision acknowledges that an online component “should be expected to be a big part of their next game.”.

Bungie’s work with Halo Waypoint had given their fans a closer connection to Halo’s world, so their next game may already have something similar planned to bring players closer together, or in how they intend to share content, short of making it an MMO.

Let the waiting begin.

Transformers: War for Cybertron Multiplayer trailer

I’m not someone who goes bonkers over multiplayer features, but it’s Transformers. From the looks of it, this finally – finally– could be the Transformers game experience that actually nails the essence of the legend. If Activision makes good on blending the atmosphere of war with all of the goodness that comes with being an Autobot or Decepticon, the results could be scary good. I plan to crank “You’ve Got the Touch” while online and see how it feels. That’s my test. The game comes out June 22.