Hackers take down Sony PSN and XBox Live on Christmas Day

playstation network down

Sony has had a rough time for the past week or so. First North Korea (apparently – but unconfirmed) takes their site down then a group of thugs takes down Playstation Network.  The fallout from the latter attack on Sony affected me and my family personally on Christmas Day as we were unable to play games delivered by Santa. The message from the Sony website claimed that engineers were looking into things, while a group called Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for the attacks. Lizard Squad also claimed to have taken down Xbox Live.

As you may be aware, the game Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare requires a connection to the Playstation Network as its a server based game. So for all of Christmas Day we were presented with the error “Unable to connect to server.” Fortunately on Boxing Day we successfully connected to the service.

 

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Now why would a group proclaim to have broken down security for both the Xbox Live and Playstation Networks? To me this is the same as posting on Facebook that you’ve lit some cars on fire and looted some stores. You’re only setting yourself up to be caught. 

The problem is these guys think they’re smarter than everyone else. This will be their downfall. There’s always somebody smarter out there. This group isn’t any different than graffiti vandals. 

If you’re a big time criminal you certainly aren’t going to brag about what you’re doing on social media. You’re going to keep your trap shut and go about your business. I wouldn’t be surprised if these petty thugs are dragged from their parents’ basement within a few days.

 

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The Daily Dot reported that, “[the] attacks against Microsoft and Sony maxed out at 1.2 terabits per second.” This was the claim made by Lizard Squad. If true, this was one of the largest distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks ever. We are still waiting for confirmation however. The previous record for a DDoS was the Cloudflare Content Delivery Network back in February 2014 according to reports at Ars Technica.

Anyways, all this being said, if I was an executive at either Sony or Microsoft heads would be rolling come Monday morning. Especially at Sony, these outages are becoming all too frequent. How can you run a business when it’s frequently being taken down with DDoS attacks or account information literally being stolen in other attacks. This is just not reasonable. Recall the 2011 hack of 77 million registered PlayStation Network accounts, it was one of the largest data security breaches in history according to Wikipedia contributors.

“The PlayStation Network outage was the result of an “external intrusion” on Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity services, in which personal details from approximately 77 million accounts were stolen and prevented users of PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable consoles from playing online through the service. The attack occurred between April 17 and April 19, 2011, forcing Sony to turn off the PlayStation Network on April 20. On May 4 Sony confirmed that personally identifiable information from each of the 77 million accounts have been stolen. The outage lasted 23 days.”

These are just not the kind of records you want associated with your company. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s drastic staffing changes made at both Sony and Microsoft after these incidents.

 

What’s the deal with Club Penguin?

club penguin

So my son and daughter both have memberships to Club Penguin, at quite a steep cost mind you, and I’m starting to feel a little taken by the policies of this children’s social network. My daughter’s account cost $20 for a three month membership and my son’s cost $40 for a six month membership. Now why you would need to continuously pay for a social network is beyond me but it seems to be the rage amongst the elementary school set.

In comparison to other popular games out there, specifically for consoles, you buy the game once and you own it; rarely are there additional fees. For other popular online games like Minecraft the one-time fee is currently $27. For others like League of Legends it appears there are ongoing charges associated with participating in the games and social aspects of the platform ranging $10 to $25 to $50 for prepaid cards.

Now the thing the really got me this morning was my daughter telling me that she STILL cannot access some features of Club Penguin! I practically jumped out of my shorts! “What do you mean you can’t access features? We just paid 20 bucks!” Well my son proceeded to explain to me that “coins” are required to buy objects in Club Penguin. When I asked about acquiring coins he said you need to play mini-games to acquire coins.

The problem I found however was that coins are few and far between and take a considerable amount of time to acquire. Plus some objects in the game cost upwards of 5000 coins! So in other words my daughter will have to continue playing for a large amount of time to acquire one object. This sounds like ransom to me. If we pay to play we should be able to unlock all the features of the software. Come on Disney lighten up. This is a little ridiculous don’t you think?

 

Marvel launches X-Men: Battle of the Atom

Marvel Entertainment has teamed up with developer Aeria Mobile to launch X-Men: Battle of the Atom for iPhone. Featuring gorgeous original art by Marvel artists and stories adapted by prolific X-Men writer James Asmus, the new free-to-play card battle game (CBG) stars everyone’s favorite Uncanny X-Men in a battle across time and space.

Find Marvel Products at Amazon

Relive 50 years of X-Men as they call on past and future allies to combat some of the most dangerous villains ever known. Building a roster from a staggering amount of characters including Wolverine, Storm, Iceman, Beast, Kitty Pryde, and many more, players will tackle more than 45 missions and experience upcoming events based on landmark stories like Schism, Messiah Complex, Age of Apocalypse, and of course, Battle of the Atom!

Join 20-player X-Teams to participate in epic 20 vs. 20 battles in real time. Multi-month story arcs will also feature raid events in which these X-Teams can square off against the most iconic and powerful villains in X-Men history, including Magneto, the Hellfire Club, Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix. The real-time ranking system also stirs up all-out competition as players vie for recognition as the top Super Hero teams. Regular content updates will consistently introduce new characters, stories, and art; giving players an ever-expanding universe in which to play.

“It’s an honor for us to develop a game for such a storied and beloved franchise, one that is a personal favorite of mine,” said Lan Hoang, founder and CEO of Aeria Games. “X-Men: Battle of the Atom captures the amazing artwork and drama of the greatest comic book storylines, bringing them to life with exciting, dynamic battles between dozens of players in real time.”

“With the release of X-Men: Battle of the Atom, Aeria Games has done a tremendous job of celebrating 50 years of X-Men,” said Andreea Enache-Thune, Senior Vice President, Games and Digital Distribution at Marvel Entertainment. “We’re especially excited that the game will include hundreds of characters who have populated the X-Men universe over the years, spanning limitless timelines and alternate realities. Fans will be hard pressed to think of any characters not in the game – and if the characters are not there now, they likely will be eventually via one of the numerous classic story adaptations in store for players. It’s a great time to be an X-Men fan.”

Find Marvel Products at Amazon

marvel xmenX-Men: Battle of the Atom is available as a free download for iPhone. For more information, find the game on the App Store.

About Marvel Entertainment
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years.  Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.  For more information, visit marvel.com.

About Aeria Mobile
Aeria Mobile is a subsidiary of Aeria Games & Entertainment, Inc., focusing on fun and engaging free-to-play multiplayer games for mid- and hard-core mobile gamers. Aeria Mobile delivers games that busy players can enjoy for a few minutes at a time, while also providing high quality, extensive experiences to those who invest significant time playing mobile games. Aeria Mobile is rapidly expanding through both internal development and the acquisition of new titles through strategic global partnerships. Learn more about Aeria Mobile’s current and upcoming mobile and tablet offerings at http://www.aeriagames.com/games/mobile.

Sony Announces Digital Entertainment Apps Available on PlayStation 4 at Launch

playstation 4

Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) today announced a line-up of digital entertainment apps that will be available on the PlayStation 4 (PS4) computer entertainment system in the U.S. beginning November 15, 2013. Leveraging the power of PSN, PS4 gamers will have access to a rich portfolio of services starting on day one that feature the hottest movies and television shows, unique specialized content, and live sports programming. All entertainment apps can be found in PlayStation Store.

PlayStationis deeply committed to providing the most immersive gaming and entertainment experiences to gamers,” said Phil Rosenberg, senior vice president, business development and publisher relations at SCEA. “The PS4 is the most powerful gaming system ever created, which enables us, along with our partners to add amazing entertainment options to the platform that we know PlayStation fans are going to love.”

Launched alongside the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) computer entertainment system on November 11, 2006, PSN is a comprehensive digital platform and a central part of the greater PlayStation ecosystem.  A part of the larger Sony Entertainment Network, PSN delivers superior entertainment offerings catered to gamers at home and on the go. Content offered on the platform has grown significantly since its foundation with new digital entertainment options being added frequently.

In addition to Sony’s own Music Unlimited, a global cloud-based, digital streaming music service with a global catalog of over 22 million songs, and Video Unlimited, an on demand entertainment service that provides access to Hollywood’s latest hit movies, select classics and TV shows from hundreds of studios and networks across nine countries, there will be a variety of digital entertainment from popular services available starting at launch.

Entertainment apps available on November 15 include:

  • Amazon Instant Video— Amazon Instant Video offers two great ways to watch movies and TV shows instantly, anywhere. Buy or rent from a selection of more than 150,000 titles or subscribe to Prime Instant Video and get unlimited streaming of tens of thousands of movies and TV episodes.
  • Crackle— A part of Sony Pictures Television, Crackle is a freely accessible multi-platform television network delivering original series such as Emmy®Award nominated Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and hit movies and television programs in a variety of genres.
  • Crunchyroll— Watch the latest and best selection of Anime right from Japan such as Naruto Shippuden, Attack on Titan, Bleach and more up to one-hour after Japanese broadcast!
  • EPIX®— Authenticated subscribers on the PS4 system can instantly access and stream more than 3,000 titles on-demand, including top blockbusters such as The Avengers and The Hunger Games in HD, classic Hollywood franchises, award-winning original documentaries plus music and comedy specials.
  • Hulu Plus— Hulu Plus offers unlimited instant streaming of current hit shows like Family Guy, The Simpsons, and South Park as well as original series including The Awesomes and The Wrong Mans.
  • NBA Game Time— Stay connected to live out-of-market NBA game action on the PS4™ system with NBA LEAGUE PASS Broadband on an authenticated basis for subscribers. Get access to real time stats, complete scores, stats and schedules for every game, and video highlights and recaps.
  • Netflix— Netflix members can instantly watch a wide variety of TV shows and movies, including exclusive series such as House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, on the PS4™ system.
  • NHL GameCenter LIVE™— Instantly stream live out-of-market games* in HD quality with your NHL GameCenter LIVE™ subscription.
  • Redbox Instant™ by Verizon—Subscribers can stream from a library of hit movies on the PS4™ system and receive 4 DVD or Blu-Ray rental nights every month for new releases at the Redbox® kiosk. Everyone can purchase and rent the latest movies on-demand.
  • VUDU— Watch the world’s largest selection of HD movies and TV shows, including thousands of blockbusters, Hollywood classics and indies. Stream new releases before they¹re available on DVD, or build a collection of favorites without ever paying for a subscription.
  • YuppTV— YuppTV offers over 150 Indian TV channels Live and on demand, including a selection of over 600 Movies to watch anytime, anywhere.

* User responsible for applicable subscription fees.

Shop now for the Sony PlayStation 4

About Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC

Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC (SCEA) has revolutionized home entertainment since the first PlayStation® system launched in 1995 in the United States, followed by the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system launch in 2000. SCEA continues to redefine the entertainment lifestyle with the PlayStation®Portable (PSP™) handheld entertainment system, the PlayStation®3 (PS3™) computer entertainment system, PSN℠, PlayStation®Vita (PS Vita) portable entertainment system, and the soon to be launched PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system. SCEA also recently launched PlayStation®Mobile, a cross device mobile platform using Android-based PlayStation™Certified devices. Recognized as an undisputed industry leader, SCEA markets the PlayStation® family of products and develops, publishes, markets and distributes software for PSP, PS3 and PS Vita systems in North andSouth America. Based in San Mateo, California, SCEA serves as headquarters for all North American and South American operations.

PlayStation, PS3 are registered trademarks, PS4 is a trademark and PSN is a service mark of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. The Sony Computer Entertainment logo is a registered trademark of Sony Corporation.

SOURCE Sony Computer Entertainment America LLC

The 10 most anticipated video games of 2013

Grand Theft Auto 5

The release of Grand Theft Auto 5 (GTA5) heralded the beginning of video game season. This is the time of year that developers like to release the video game blockbusters in the months leading up to Christmas. Video Games are becoming so big these days they are surpassing movies in revenue and GTA5 made $800 million on launch day stealing the record from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 set in 2012. These numbers are huge and the demand for these blockbusters hits new records every year. So what other video games can we look forward to in 2013?

Buy Grand Theft Auto 5

Watch DogsUbisoft Watch Dogs

Ubisoft’s Watch Dogs due to release on November 19th is a “Person of Interest” type of game.  According to the developer, “you play as Aiden Pearce, a brilliant hacker and former thug, whose criminal past led to a violent family tragedy. While seeking justice for those events, you’ll monitor and hack those around you by manipulating the ctOS from the palm of your hand. You’ll access omnipresent security cameras, download personal information to locate a target, control traffic lights and public transportation to stop the enemy… and more.”

Buy Watch Dogs

Pokemon X and Y

Pokemon X and Y

Nintendo’s Pokemon X and Y is going to be a ton of fun! According to the press release courtesy of our friends at Games Press, “… Mega Evolution is a new, awe-inspiring transformation certain Pokémon can undergo during battle in the highly anticipated Pokémon X and Pokémon Y video games. Pokémon that Mega Evolve will tap into hidden reserves of strength and power that have never been realised in their regular Evolutions, giving players battling with a Mega-Evolved Pokémon a dominant advantage. Mega Evolutions will revolutionise Pokémon battles and usher in a new Pokémon transformation never-before-seen in the Pokémon world.”

Buy Pokemon X and Y

Beyond: Two Souls

Beyond: Two Souls
From the Sony Playstation site,

From the visionary mind of David Cage, director of the award-winning Heavy Rain™ game, comes the most powerfully emotional experience on the PlayStation®3 system. A singularly unique psychological action thriller delivered by A-list Hollywood performances, Beyond: Two Souls™ takes you on a thrilling journey across the globe as you play out the remarkable life of Jodie Holmes.

Born with a connection to a mysterious entity with incredible powers, Jodie was different. In an adventure spanning 15 years of her life, your actions will determine Jodie’s fate as she faces extraordinary challenges, danger, and heartwrenching loss on a journey to discover the truth of who she is. Beyond: Two Souls promises an emotionally-charged journey unlike any video game before.

Buy Beyond: Two Souls

Batman: Arkham Origins

Batman: Arkham Origins
Batman: Arkham Origins

Looking to be another great play, Batman: Arkham Origins is bound to be a top seller. The developer’s site explains the premise,

“Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline occurring several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City’s most dangerous villains and assassins, the game showcases a young, raw, unrefined Batman as he faces a defining moment in his early career as a crime fighter that sets his path to becoming the Dark Knight. As the story unfolds, witness identities being formed and key relationships being forged.”

Buy Batman: Arkham Origins

Battlefield 4

For those of you that like all out chaos and warfare Battlefield 4 might be the best place to land for the holiday season. This one looks intense and you may suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after playing this one.

Here’s the blurb from the manufacturer, “Battlefield 4™ is the genre-defining action blockbuster made from moments that blur the line between game and glory — moments found only in Battlefield. With dynamic destructible environments, epic vehicular combat, and the chaos of all-out war, Battlefield 4 gives you the freedom to do more and be more for an unrivaled entertainment experience. Immerse yourself in the chaos of all-out war, in a series of unscripted controller-dropping moments, made possible by the power of Frostbite 3. Available on XBOX 360, PlayStation 3, PC, and the next-generation consoles.”

Buy Battlefield 4

 

FIFA Soccer 14

For you soccer (football) fans out there, FIFA Soccer 14 is always anticipated. Here’s the description from Amazon.

“Experience the emotion of scoring great goals in FIFA 14. The game plays the way great soccer matches are contested, with innovations to the award-winning gameplay that inspire fans to build play through midfield, dictating the tempo of a match. Feel the tension as chances are created, and experience the thrill of hitting the back of the net. A new feature called Pure Shot and a brand-new ball physics system will transform shooting, making every shot attempt feel real, and when players connect with the perfect strike, feel exhilarating. FIFA 14 delivers engaging online features and live services that connect fans to the heartbeat of the sport – and to each other – through EA SPORTS Football Club. FIFA 14 is soccer’s social network, where fans connect, compete and share with millions of others around the world.”

Buy FIFA 14

Killzone: Shadow Fall

Courtesy of Sony Entertainment, Killzone Shadow Fall takes place 30 years after the events of Killzone 3. Set in an era of interplanetary colonization, it focuses on the conflict between the Vektans and the Helghast, two rival colonist factions inhabiting a distant planet. For three decades, both factions have lived side by side, separated by an enormous security wall – but now their cold war is about to go hot.

It’s up to Lucas Kellan, a member of the military intelligence unit known as the Shadow Marshals, to try to protect the fragile peace that exists. A new warrior for a new era of war, Kellan ‘s missions will range from quiet infiltrations to all-out combat. Lucas will need to be methodical and ready to adapt, as any misstep could lead to mutually assured destruction!

Buy Killzone:Shadow Fall

The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

For the Nintendo Wii U fans out there, The Legend of Zelda has been around since they beginning of the Nintendo consoles. This franchise has built up to a cult like status and this next release is definitely one you won’t want to miss.

Buy The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD

 

 

 

We’re at Unite 2013 today

unityfeature

Unite 2013Vancouver Gadgets is at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre today for Unite 2013, Unity’s premier developer’s conference.

We’ll be onsite today along with developers, publishers and enthusiasts to learn how top company’s such as Blackberry, Microsoft, Sony and others use Unity’s market-leading middleware for video games, training simulations and other interactive 3D content.

The complete lineup of speakers is here.

Unite 2013 offers three days of learning, including advanced hands-on class tutorials, technical sessions, previews of upcoming technology to game developers and Unity Technologies, a game development company runs this conference every year.

Unity is all about technology that’s both uniquely usable and extremely powerful. Focusing on clear interplay of features and functionality – from your perspective. As a company we are all about building that technology, driving it forwards, and supporting it.

Pokemon World Championships at Vancouver Convention Centre August 9-11

pokemon

The Pokemon World Championships is now on at Vancouver Convention Centre and free to view! In case you haven’t heard we have posted the full schedule here courtesy of the Pokemon World Championships website. The competition runs Saturday August 10th from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM and Sunday August 11 from 9:00 AM to 5:30 PM. If you’ve got time this weekend go check out the action and enjoy the festival like environment at no charge.

With more than 500 competitors the Pokemon Championships is the premier event for Pokemon trainers vying for the title of master. The event is now in its 10th year and this is the first time it will be hosted outside of the US.

Saturday, August 10th, 2013
Late Competitor Check-In 8:00 A.M.
Opening Ceremony 9:00 A.M.
Retail Hours 9:00 A.M.–5:00 P.M.
World Championships Players’ Meetings 9:30 A.M.
Pokémon World Championships 10:00 A.M.
Side Events 10:00 A.M.–7:00 P.M.
Mini-League 10:30 A.M.–7:00 P.M.
Special Character Distribution 12:00 P.M.–8:00 P.M.
Sunday, August 11th, 2013
VG Final Matches Begin 9:00 A.M.
TCG Prerelease Tournaments 9:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M.
Retail Hours 10:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M.
Side Events & Mini-League 9:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M.
Autograph Signing — Mr. Ishihara 10:30A.M-12:00P.M
Autograph Signing — Mr. Masuda & Mr. Unno 12:30P.M-2:00 P.M
TCG Finals Begin 12:30 P.M.
Special Character Distribution 9:00 A.M.–4:00 P.M.
Closing Ceremony 5:30 P.M.

 

pokemon
image courtesy of http://www.pokemonworldchampionships.com/2013/photos/gallery/day1/world-class-fun-from-vancouver

If you’d like to know more about the event and who’s qualified for the competition please check out this link from Pokemon World Championships 2013.

Open source gaming console OUYA hits shelves today!

OUYA open source gaming

Ever since I heard about OUYA, the open source gaming console via Kickstarter I have been waiting in anticipation of this very day. Finally we have ourselves the first open source gaming console. No longer are we walled in by the major gaming vendors Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo. Now we have another option that is community driven. I know what I’m giving myself for my birthday now 🙂

With over 170 games at launch and 17,000 registered game developers, OUYA is poised to take on the major vendors and it means business. OUYA has built a new kind of video game experience for the television. Created in 2012 by video game industry veteran Julie UhrmanOUYA enables any game developer to bring their most exciting, creative, and inventive game play experiences to life – in 1080p HD.  A big plus is that all games are free-to-try. Uhrman and an initial team of game developers and industry advisors brought the concept to life with the help of award-winning designer Yves Behar. OUYA is now available in the U.S., U.K., and Canada for $99.

With OUYA all games are digitally delivered or streamed. In other words there are no more discs to buy. This is built on the same concept as Netflix. It’s hard to say at this point whether going full on into the streaming realm is going to good for business and marketing however. Since there are no physical games per se word of mouth will be extremely important to spread the news about this new platform; that and a lot of PPC or banner adverts!

Whether racing in Flashout 3D, answering trivia in You Don’t know Jack, exploring an otherworldly RPG in Chronoblade (an OUYA exclusive from the creator of the Grand Theft Auto franchise), testing patience and agility in The Little Crane That Could, or inviting friends over to compete in couch gaming fun with games like Towerfall or Hidden In Plain Sight, OUYA has something unique for every gamer, at every age. Plus, with streaming services such as Twitch.tv, TuneIn, and Plex loaded on, this little box will answer every digital entertainment need.

 

OUYA features:

  • Console: A sleek 3″ x 3″ cube of brushed aluminum, OUYA features an open OS with custom interface built on an NVIDIA Tegra 3 chipset that delivers fast performance, amazing graphics, and surround sound in 1080p HD.

  • Controller: Designed specifically for OUYA, the controller features all the button combinations for a truly immersive game play experience, including two analog sticks, D-Pad, eight action buttons, a system button, touchpad, and Bluetooth connectivity.

  • Games: With more than 170+ games already available for download on the system, OUYA’s ever-growing game library covers every game experience imaginable, including Chronoblade, Beast Boxing, Final Fantasy III, Saturday Morning RPG, No Brakes Valet, and Sega’s Sonic games. All games are free-to-try. No more discs, and you own your games forever.

  • Apps: OUYA fans can access their favorite streaming video and music apps including content directly from Twitch.tv, Plex, XBMC, TuneIn, Crunchyroll, iHeartRadio, and many others.

  • DISCOVER Store: OUYA focuses on discovering the most fun games. Games are organized by player engagement, plus an ongoing roster of guest curators share their favorite game picks.

  • MAKE Channel: An evolving channel that uses OUYA’s built-in software development kit to enable creators to build and test games, later allowing a direct relationship with OUYA gamers through the system.

I’ve seen the new XBOX One and its Forza racing which is absolutely incredible. The graphics are so close to lifelike; I’ve never seen this kind of resolution. I’ve also seen the PS4 and been absolutely amazed as well. In addition I am eagerly anticipating games like Watch_Dogs by Ubisoft which will be released this fall. In fact everything for me is hinging on Watch_Dogs since I love games like that.  OUYA is going to have some stiff competition this upcoming holiday season. Perhaps they should have waited for a different year to launch the product? What do you think? Would you still buy a OUYA even though the other major gaming vendors are releasing new platforms for Christmas 2013?

 

 

“Halo 4” for Microsoft Xbox360 launches worldwide today

The highly anticipated first chapter of a brand-new “Halo” saga is poised to surpass “The Avengers” as the biggest entertainment launch of 2012 to date.

REDMOND, Wash., Nov. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — The Master Chief is back. Poised to become the biggest entertainment launch of the year so far, “Halo 4” is the first chapter of a brand-new saga in the genre-defining, $3 billion franchise that has shaped entertainment history and sold a staggering 46 million games worldwide. Hailed by NBC News as “breathtaking, heart-breaking and awe-inspiring,”1 “Halo 4” has garnered universal acclaim as one of the top-rated video games of 2012, according to Metacritic.2 In a year jam-packed with record-breaking Hollywood movies and games, “Halo 4” is expected to break all previous day-one entertainment sales records in 2012, cementing its status as the must-have blockbuster of the year.

Excitement for the return of the Master Chief has swept the globe. In London, a massive illuminated glyph soared over the River Thames, a symbol of the new threat that has awakened in “Halo 4.” The glyph, which measures 50 feet in diameter and weighs 3.2 tons, was illuminated by 113,096 LED lights and represents one of the largest objects ever to be flown by helicopter as a lighting art performance. On Oct. 30, the European country of Liechtenstein was reimagined into a real-life replica of the “Halo” universe, marking the first time a brand has taken over an entire country for an entertainment launch. For one day only, Xbox 360 transformed some of the country’s most iconic landmarks, including a 13th-century castle and a working mine, to create a mysterious alternate universe in the heart of Europe — all inspired by “Halo.”

Around the world, midnight madness swept more than 10,000 stores in more than 40 countries, as hundreds of thousands of fans lined up around city blocks to count down to the game’s release. At marquee launch events in Seattle, Paris, London, Berlin, Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Dubai, Sydney and other major cities, throngs of fans, celebrities and athletes flocked to be among the first to play “Halo 4” and participate in other launch activities, such as meeting the creators of the game, viewing private screenings of the live-action digital series “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn,” and taking photos with the Master Chief.

“‘Halo 4’ marks a rebirth and a new beginning for one of the most beloved and iconic franchises in the modern history of entertainment,” said Phil Spencer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Studios. “Over the past decade, the ‘Halo’ franchise has become a bona fide pop culture phenomenon, and ‘Halo 4’ promises to take the franchise to a new level and set the stage for the next decade of ‘Halo.'”

With the launch of “Halo 4” coinciding with Election Day, Microsoft Corp. is amplifying its get-out-the-vote campaign, which kicked off earlier this year in collaboration with Rock the Vote, to encourage “Halo” and Xbox LIVE fans to exercise their civic duty before jumping into “Halo 4.” The campaign began with voter recruitment efforts at major consumer events as well as a voter registration program on Xbox LIVE and expanded to major launch events and more than 100 college campuses nationwide yesterday.

Developed by Microsoft Studios’ 343 Industries exclusively for the Xbox 360, “Halo 4” is set nearly five years after the events of “Halo 3” and follows the Master Chief and his faithful artificial intelligence (AI) companion Cortana as they venture into a mysterious new world and discover an overpowering ancient evil that threatens to annihilate mankind. “Halo 4” takes the series in a bold new direction by delivering its most epic and explorative campaign yet, alongside a groundbreaking multiplayer offering unlike anything before it, known as Spartan Ops. This story-driven, Halo 4 for Microsoft Xbox 360episodic, cooperative adventure blends immersive storytelling, stunning cinematics and action-packed gameplay to deliver an unprecedented serialized experience. Through a weekly series of cinematic episodes, Spartan Ops continues the story beyond the main campaign by introducing new characters, storylines and gameplay missions over a 10-week season, akin to a high-quality, interactive TV show.3

Coupled with breathtaking visuals, heart-pounding audio, emotionally cinematic performances and a sweeping musical score by acclaimed composer Neil Davidge of Massive Attack fame, “Halo 4” delivers a riveting experience that resonates as powerfully as an epic Hollywood blockbuster. Some of entertainment’s best and brightest have joined the effort to make the launch of “Halo 4” a landmark pop culture moment, including legendary Hollywood director David Fincher (“Fight Club,” “The Social Network,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) and acclaimed visual effects lead Tim Miller (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”), who produced and directed the live-action launch trailer for the game, respectively.

The Standard Edition of “Halo 4” is available for US$59.99 ERP4, and the Limited Edition, which includes an extended 90-minute version of the live-action digital series “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn” and additional bonus content, is available for US$99.99 ERP. Fans can also pick up the Xbox 360 Limited Edition “Halo 4” Console Bundle for US$399.99 ERP and a standalone Xbox 360 Limited Edition “Halo 4” Wireless Controller for US$59.99 ERP. In addition, the “Halo 4” Original Soundtrack, which broke the record for the highest-charting video game soundtrack ever on the Billboard 200 chart the week of Oct. 29 5, is available for purchase for US$13.98 ERP. A special limited edition and individually numbered three-disc box set, which includes the original soundtrack, a remix album featuring remixes from 14 of the world’s most renowned electronica producers, a 70-minute DVD called “Composing a Universe” and additional exclusive content, is available for purchase for US$74.99 ERP starting today at http://www.halo4soundtrack.com.

About “Halo”

The “Halo” franchise is an award-winning collection of properties that has grown into a global entertainment phenomenon. Beginning with the original “Halo: Combat Evolved” (2001), the critically acclaimed and record-shattering series of games has since inspired multiple New York Times bestselling novels, comic books, action figures, apparel and more. Published by Microsoft Studios, the “Halo” franchise of games is exclusive to the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system and the Xbox LIVE online entertainment network. To date, more than 46 million copies of “Halo” games have been sold worldwide, driving more than 5 billion hours of gameplay by people connected to Xbox LIVE.

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About 343 Industries

343 Industries is the publisher and developer of the blockbuster “Halo” series of videogames and, as part of Microsoft Studios, oversees the “Halo” franchise, including novels, comics, licensed collectibles, apparel and more. 343 Industries is home to world-class developers working on the Reclaimer Saga, which commences with the arrival of “Halo 4” on Nov. 6, 2012, exclusively on Xbox 360.

About Xbox 360

Xbox 360 is a premier home entertainment and video game system. Thanks to the addition of Kinect, Xbox 360 will forever transform social gaming and entertainment with a whole new way to play — no controller required. Xbox 360 is also home to the best and broadest games as well as one of the world’s largest on-demand libraries of music, standard- and high-definition movies, TV shows and digital games, all in one place. The entertainment center of the living room, Xbox 360 blends unbeatable content with a leading social entertainment network of more than 40 million Xbox LIVE members to create a limitless entertainment experience that can be shared at home or across the globe. More information about Xbox 360 can be found online at http://www.xbox.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

1 Source: NBC News: “Halo 4” makes the Halo series even more epic
2 As of Nov. 1, 2012. Source: http://www.metacritic.com/game/xbox-360/halo-4/critic-reviews
3 Spartan Ops also requires Xbox LIVE Gold Membership and an Xbox 360 hard drive or an 8GB USB drive (sold separately).
4 Estimated retail price. Actual retail prices may vary.
5 Source: Billboard: Chart Moves: “Halo 4” Sets Record as Highest-Charting Video Game Soundtrack Ever

SOURCE Microsoft Corp.

For photos and b-roll footage of “Halo 4” and the global launch events, please visit: http://press.xbox360.com/products/p51/halo-4Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://www.microsoft.com/news. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://www.microsoft.com/news/contactpr.mspx.

CONTACT: Joe DiMiero, Edelman, (310) 259-1482, joe.dimiero@edelman.com, Ken Zhang, Edelman, (206) 331-0392, ken.zhang@edelman.com

Web Site: http://www.microsoft.com

Assassins Creed III breaks Ubisoft pre-order record

ubisoft's assassins creed 3

LONDON, UK  — October 25, 2012 —Today, Ubisoft® announced that Assassin’s Creed® III is the most pre-ordered game in the company’s history. Global pre-orders of Assassin’s Creed III already have more than doubled those of last year’s Assassin’s Creed Revelations®, Ubisoft’s previous pre-order record holder. 

With a development cycle of more than three years and twice the production capacity of any previous Ubisoft game, Assassin’s Creed III will be available on October 31 on Playstation 3 and Xbox 360, November 23 on Windows® PC and during the launch window for the Wii U.

“Pre-orders for Assassin’s Creed III at GameStop are 100% higher than last year, putting the game on track to be one of the top titles of 2012,” said Michael van den Berg, Vice-President International Merchandising, Marketing & Digital at GameStop. “In addition, Ubisoft is offering a Season Pass and high quality DLC available at launch to bring even more excitement to this title.”
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Assassin’s Creed® III is the next installment in the Assassin’s Creed franchise, which has already sold more than 40 million copies worldwide. Players will step into the boots of a new hero, Connor. Set during the American Revolution in the late 18th century the Assassin will battle for liberty against ruthless tyranny in the most stylized and fluid combat experiences in the franchise to date.

ubisoft's assassins creed 3
image courtesy http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/ac3/en-GB/pre-order/index.aspx

“Assassin’s Creed III is one of the most anticipated games of the year, and this impressive pre-order mark is just a hint of the game’s potential,” said Geoffroy Sardin. “When players discover the new features, historical period, characters and gaming experience that the development team has worked so hard to create, we’re confident that they will agree that this is the biggest, best Assassin’s Creed game yet.”

Customers still have time to place their pre-orders and benefit from a number of exciting deals, for further information please visit: http://assassinscreed.ubi.com/ac3/en-GB/pre-order/index.aspx

Activision’s Skylanders Giants available October 21, 2012

If you’ve got kids you’ll know that this is one of the most anticipated game releases of 2012.

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Oct. 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Portal Masters everywhere will once again face the evil Portal Master Kaos in a brand new adventure in Skylanders Giants, which is poised to prove that bigger really is better when the game hits store shelves in North America on October 21, 2012 for Nintendo’s Wii™ system, Nintendo 3DS™, the Xbox 360™ game and entertainment system, and the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system.
http://www.multivu.com/swf/jwplayer-2011-09-01/player.swf?job=58555
The sequel to the best-selling kids title in 2011* and best-selling game of 2012 year to date**, Skylanders Giants, from Activision Publishing, Inc., a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI), has already received endorsements from the Toys”R”Us® Holiday Hot Toy List, the Toy Insider “Hot 20 Toys for the Holidays” and Time To Play’s “Holiday 2012 Most Wanted List.”

Skylanders Giants builds on the success of its predecessor by dramatically enhancing the magic of bringing toys to life in an exciting virtual experience as first introduced in Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure. The game features 16 new characters, led by eight Giant Skylanders, who are twice the size of their comrades.  The Giants each have exciting new powers and abilities to match their size.  Joining the Giants are eight new Skylanders, who also feature never-before-seen powers.  Additionally, Skylanders Giants introduces new LightCore™ Skylanders that glow when on or near the Portal of Power®—no batteries required.  Fan-favorites from Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure return as Series 2 characters featuring an all new “Wow Pow” upgrade power as well as the choice of more than one upgrade path. And all your favorite characters from Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure are 100% compatible with Skylanders Giants—stats and customizations intact.

“It’s really gratifying that in less than a year, we’ve seen Skylanders go from being an intriguing untested new IP to becoming one of the hottest kids franchises in the world.  And it has been universally acclaimed by parents, kids and critics alike,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. “Skylanders is more than just a new piece of interactive entertainment, but a genuinely new kind of thinking in interactive entertainment. The response of the fans has been incredible, and the only way we can return the favor is with a sequel like Skylanders Giants. This game is all about big:  big creatures, big worlds, bigger ideas. We’re very excited to see Skylanders Giants finally hit the shelves.”

Skylanders Giants will leap to Wii U™ day and date with the launch of Nintendo’s new console on November 18, 2012.  In the Wii U version, the game takes clever advantage of the system’s motion and touchscreen controls. Meanwhile, Nintendo 3DS owners will experience a new adventure exclusive to this version.  The storyline features fan-favorites Flynn, Hugo and Cali, and introduces the villainous Captain Frightbeard.

Skylanders Giants is rated E+10 by the ESRB.  The game, technology, and Wii, Xbox 360, and PlayStation3 platforms were developed by Activision’s Novato, California studio, Toys for Bob, led by creative director and studio head Paul Reiche.  The Nintendo 3DS platform was developed by n-Space and the Wii U platform was developed by Vicarious Visions.  For more information, visit www.skylanders.com

Activision Publishing Broadcast Media Center

Members of the media can visit Activision Publishing’s Broadcast Media Center to download broadcast quality video, web-ready video and high-resolution images.  Broadcast Media Center:  http://activisionvideo.com

About Activision Publishing, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Publishing, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products.

Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Australia, mainland China and the region of Taiwan. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company’s website, www.activision.com.

Cautionary Note Regarding Forward-looking Statements: Information in this press release that involves Activision Publishing’s expectations, plans, intentions or strategies regarding the future, including statements about the expected release date of SKYLANDERS GIANTS, are forward-looking statements that are not facts and involve a number of risks and uncertainties. Factors that could cause Activision Publishing’s actual future results to differ materially from those expressed in the forward-looking statements set forth in this release include unanticipated product delays and other factors identified in the risk factors sections of Activision Blizzard’s most recent annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon information available to Activision Publishing and Activision Blizzard as of the date of this release, and neither Activision Publishing nor Activision Blizzard assumes any obligation to update any such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements believed to be true when made may ultimately prove to be incorrect. These statements are not guarantees of the future performance of Activision Publishing or Activision Blizzard and are subject to risks, uncertainties and other factors, some of which are beyond its control and may cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations.

SKYLANDERS UNIVERSE is a service mark, SKYLANDERS GIANTS and LIGHTCORE are trademarks, and SKYLANDERS SPYRO’S ADVENTURE, PORTAL OF POWER, and ACTIVISION are registered trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc.

*Source: According to NPD, Gfk data

**Source: According to NPD, Gfk, and internal estimates, based on revenue from January to September, 2012, including sales from accessory packs and figures.

SOURCE Activision Publishing

News Provided by Acquire Media

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