Global Gaming News: Nov 1 – Nov 6
Activision posted revenue of $703 million for the third quarter, compared to $711 million last year. While revenue was down from 2008 quarter figures, the company had net earnings of $15 million compared to a loss of $108 million for the same quarter.
In separate news, Activision announced that World of Warcraft has started support of microtransactions, selling pets for $10 each. Initial reaction has had customers up in arms about the additional costs.
ngmoco made its first acquisition acquiring Miraphonic, developer of the mobile MMO game Epic Pet Wars. This follows the company’s news at GDC China that they were going to be expanding into social gaming.
NCSoft reported an operating profit of $48 million for Q3, a seven times increase from 2008. Overall company sales more than doubled from for the same period. International sales outpaced NCSoft’s domestic sales for the first time, accounting for 52% of total quarterly revenue.
Having only launched a year ago in Korea and not until September in North America and Europe,
Aion’s total sales were impressive reaching $67 million for the third quarter alone.
On Monday NetEase was ordered by the Chinese General Administration of Press and Publication to shut down its World of Warcraft servers. Then by Wednesday the Ministry of Culture announced that the General Administration of Press and Publication had clearly overstepped its authority. The fight over
Shanda’s CEO Diana Li stated that the Chinese online game industry surged 76.6% in 2008, reaching $2.7 billion. 2009 figures are expected to grow up to 50%, reaching $3.9 billion. While the company’s international revenue this year will only be $20m – $30m, Li is planning to focus on expanding the company’s business overseas.
According to data released from an integrated report from The NPD Group, GfK Chart and Enterbrain, the UK had the biggest drop in video game sales in Q3. In Q3 sales dropped 19%, while sales declined 12% in Q1 and Q1. Portable game sales plummeted 34% for the quarter and console sales declined 12%. The US had a 9% decline for the period while Japan actually had a 15% increase.
The Venezuelan government approved a law that bans the import, production and sale of videogames and toy guns of any kind. The ban which is scheduled to go into effect in 3 months, imposes strict penalties and imprisonment of 3 – 5 years for each offence. I’m sure there will be much more news on this over the coming months.
Zeebo starts selling in Mexico to over 2000 retail outlets. Priced at about $189 it comes with a game controller, keyboard, and a number of games pre-installed. Some of the partners supporting the platform include Activision, THQ, Gameloft, Capcom and EA Mobile. Zeebo has been shipping in Brazil since June.
Tools and Technology
Umbra licenses their Umbra occlusion culling technology to BioWare. BioWare will be using Umbra’s technology for Mass Effect, Dragon Age and still-to-be-announced titles.
Epic’s Unreal Development Kit
Epic has announced the launch of the Unreal Development Kit – UDK, a free edition of their Unreal Engine 3. The open access will enable anyone to use UE3 for no cost. There is increasing pressure to compete with free game engines and Epic’s move, while good, might be a little too late.