June 30, 2008

Rock Band 2 Officially Announced


Surprise, surprise Rock Band 2 has been announced. With the "best setlist I've ever seen in a music game" Rock Band 2 is going to put some serious pressure on the Guitar Hero Franchise. The game is set to release on the Xbox 360 in September and the Playstation 2 & 3, as well as the Wii later in the year. IGN has an interview with Dan Teasdale, lead designer for RB2, and he listed quite a few impressive features aimed to help Rock band chip away at the Guitar Hero fanbase.

Some of the important features are as follows:
*Rock Band 1 DLC will be playable in Rock Band 2 and vise-versa.
*Teasdale says "we've also secured what I can easily say is the best setlist I've ever seen in a music game."
*New navigation improvements are included to make the game "party safe."
*Rock band 1's instruments are all compatible, although improvements have been made for Rock band 2's hardware.

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Playstation 3 Frimware Update 2.40 Coming July 2nd


The Playstation Blog has just announced that the latest Playstation 3 firmware update (2.40) is coming Wednesday, July 2nd. This update contains many features including in-game XMB, and the trophy system. Check out the videos below for demonstrations of both and more information on the update.

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June 29, 2008

Thank You Bill Gates


As some of you may know, Friday June 27th was Bill Gates' last day as chairman of Microsoft. We here at GamePlay Unlimited would just like to thank Bill for making the computing and gaming industries what they are today. Gates will still remain on board with Microsoft as a non-executive chairman to help guide the company. Take a look back at Gates' work over at Engadget. Again, thank you Bill for all you have done. You wanted to "put a computer on every desk, in every home" and no one really believed it could be done but look at the world today. Thank You, and have a great retirement!

We will leave you with the video of Bill Gates' last day from CES earlier this year.

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June 28, 2008

Gears of War 2 Video From Unreal Tournament 3


UPDATE: It seems the video has been removed, hang tight while we find another.

The upcoming Unreal 3 for the Xbox 360 was packaged with a special bonus, an exclusive video presenting Gears of War 2. Leave it to the internet to find the video before the game even releases. Check it out below and get ready for some new information and gameplay!

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Blizzard Announces Diablo 3


Big news this morning out of the Blizzard Worldwide Invitational event, Diablo 3 has been officially announced. A plethora of information, videos, and images have been released on the upcoming game which will ship simultaneously on the PC and Mac. The announcement trailer can be seen below and the very first gameplay footage can be seen below and an artwork video after the jump. The Diablo 3 FAQ page has all of the new information on the game, but has been working off and on since the announcement. To see the videos and more screenshots check out IGN's liveblog page of the event. Check after the jump for some new facts from the FAQ, the artwork video and new screenshots.

* There will be five classes, with the barbarian and doctor classes being the first to be revealed.
* The game will return to Sanctuary, 20 years after the events of Diablo 2
* Diablo III builds on the random environments of the previous Diablo games by introducing a host of new ways to create ran
dom scripted events throughout the game.
* Players will be able to create male and female characters for all five classes.
* Diablo III will be playable over Battle.net, and Battle.net will offer some exciting new features to enhance players' Diablo III experience.

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June 27, 2008

SOCOM Media Day - PS3 Bluetooth Headset Unveiled


Tuesday Sony held the SOCOM media day outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. While everyone was having fun shooting guns all day, there was some news that came about. The Bluetooth Playstation 3 headset was unveiled (Image after the jump) and a video flyby of the level Quarantine (below) was shown. Head to the Playstation Blog for a bit more news or SOCOM.com for the official coverage.

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June 26, 2008

Digital Rights Management Tool Now Available for Xbox Users


Those of you 360 owners who have shared the trouble of having to get a new console know how horrible it can be. Piled on to the horror of getting a new system is the fact that many of your Xbox Live Arcade games and other content would not work anymore because of errors in the Digital Rights Management (DRM). Well be happy, Microsoft has just released a tool to ensure you get back all of your content that you purchased on a previous system. All you have to do to regain access to your favorite content is visit the content license page on Xbox.com to start the DRM transfer process. Check out Major Nelson's blog or the DRM FAQ for more information or just watch the video below!

Video: Xbox 360 Content License Transfer Tool on Xbox.com

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Movie Downloads Coming to PS3 This Summer


Kaz Hirai, President and Group CEO at Sony, revealed today that movie downloads will be coming to the Playstation 3 sometime this summer. The video service is set up like the Playstation Store and will hit the US this summer with Europe and Japan following at a later date. Check out the images of the new download service and the official release after the jump, or browse through the entire Sony presentation by Hirai in PDF form.

Tokyo, Japan – Sony today presented a series of new initiatives designed to build on its previous three-year revitalization plan and to position the company as the leading global provider of networked consumer electronics and entertainment. In particular, the company will focus on strengthening core businesses, enhancing network initiatives and leveraging international growth opportunities to build for the future and drive further growth and profits. In addition, Sony announced the following key mid-term goals:

- Expand our PC, Blu-ray DiscTM-related products and component/semiconductor businesses into “trillion yen businesses**,” joining LCD TVs, digital imaging (digital cameras and camcorders), game and mobile phones and raising the total number of “trillion yen businesses” to seven.

- Ensure that 90% of our electronics product categories are network-enabled and
wireless-capable by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011 (“FY2010”).

- Roll out video services across key Sony products by FY2010, starting with the summer 2008 launch on the PLAYSTATION®Network.

- Double annual revenue from BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries to 2 trillion yen*** by FY2010.

* Three-year period ending March 31, 2011

** Businesses each generating 1 trillion yen or more of annual sales to outside customers, except for Blu-ray Disc
related business which includes intersegment sales

*** Includes Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications and SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT as allocated
Sony has identified a 5% operating margin as a baseline of profitability to generate cash to continue to lead and innovate. Furthermore we will target an annual return on equity of 10% by FY2010. Sony is also planning to allocate a total of 1.8 trillion yen to invest in and build key businesses and technologies over the next three years.
Highlights are as follows:

Further Strengthen Our Core Businesses

Sony intends to maintain a leading position in its “trillion yen businesses” (LCD TVs, digital imaging, game and mobile phones) and will focus on expanding its PC, Blu-ray Disc-related products, and component/semiconductor businesses into “trillion yen businesses” by the end of FY2010. At the same time, we expect to improve the operations of our TV business significantly and implement a variety of cost reduction measures to restore that business to profitability in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009*, and strive for the global No. 1 position in LCD TVs by FY2010. This press release was lifted off Kotaku. Of the planned 1.8 trillion yen investment over the next three years, approximately 900 billion yen will be allocated towards strengthening core focus areas within components and semiconductors, such as image sensors, batteries, display devices and Blu-ray Disc-related components. 1/3 Sony is also promoting the concept of “open innovation”, whereby we are looking not only inside the company, but outside for technologies that foster innovation. By combing Sony’s inherent technological strengths with external expertise, we aim to accelerate R&D efficiency and enable the company to effectively respond to rapidly changing customer needs and preferences in the network era.

Through the creation of new user experiences, strengthening core businesses, driving innovation, and minimizing the environmental impact of its operations, Sony will strive to achieve not only sales volume, but also sustainable and profitable growth. In the Game segment, the two key drivers of new growth are non-game content and services in tandem with enhanced network capability. Sony also expects to achieve profitability in this segment in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009*, a significant year-on-year improvement due to hardware cost reductions and an enhanced line-up of software titles for PLAYSTATION®3 (“PS3”). Key Game initiatives are:

1. Expand content and services available on the network platform
2. Continue to expand the PS3 customer base through the strength of Blu-ray Disc
3. Accelerate PS3 sales through upcoming key franchise software titles
4. Continue PS3 cost reduction initiatives
* Forecast as of May 14, 2008

Network Initiatives

Sony will increase network and wireless connectivity across its family of devices and build a service platform to provide a seamless user experience across our key hardware devices and content. We are planning to expand services that will enable our customers to enjoy content such as motion pictures and television programming through the network on a variety of Sony\ products such as BRAVIATM LCD TVs, PS3, PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) and Walkman® video music players.

Sony’s unique position in electronics and entertainment allows us to offer compelling network services. As an example of our potential, this November, Sony Pictures Entertainment will offer one of the most highly anticipated films of the summer, “Hancock”, exclusively to all internet connected BRAVIA LCD TVs in the U.S. before it is available on DVD. This film will be distributed to Sony customers directly to their televisions outside conventional distributors and without the need for any set-top box. This is an industry first.

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June 25, 2008

1up Previews Gears of War 2 Multiplayer


The folks over at 1up (and subsequently GameVideos) are some lucky people. They managed to snag CliffyB, or should I say Cliff Bleszinski, away from development of Gears 2 for a multiplayer rundown. Check out the video below and fanboys, try to keep it in your pants please, no one wants to see that. :)

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June 24, 2008

Spore Galactic Edition Announced


GameStop has just opened pre-orders for the collector's edition of Spore called the "Galactic Edition." Those of you who have been tirelessly recreating your favorite characters or monsters in the recently released Spore Creature Creator may want to head to your local GameStop and put this on reserve.

The Galactic Edition contains the game, a making of DVD, "The Human toolkit" video by National Geographic, "The Art of Spore" minibook, a fold-out poster, and a 100 page galactic handbook. Running at $79.99 this edition seems a bit pricey for what you get keeping in mind the regular version is only $49.99. If you are still interested and must have every collector's edition that comes out you can reserve this at any GameStop or the game's page on GameStop.com.

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June 23, 2008

GTA:IV getting Patched


The Rockstar Social Club has news of a patch coming to Grand Theft Auto IV that will fix a majority of the multiplayer annoyances. Check out the official statement and patch details after the jump.

"Rockstar Games has released patches today for Grand Theft Auto IV for the PlayStation®3 and Xbox 360™. These patches fix the issues we have identified for each system, specifically multiplayer connectivity issues including freezes during certain modes, continuation when players leave matches, and bugs within races and race lobbies.

We sincerely apologize for any inconveniences and thank you for your continued support. For any consumer still experiencing issues, please contact support.
1. Fixed an issue where players were unable to enter or exit vehicles in GTA Race.
2. Fixed an issue where scripted vehicles were causing games to unexpectedly crash.
3. Improved reliability and frequency of PS3™ online leaderboard updates.
4. Fixed a rare hang some players encountered when moving from a Race or GTA Race lobby into gameplay.
5. Fixed a hang that would occur when players were switching teams during the countdown in the lobby.
6. Fixed an issue where players were able to get ridiculously high scores from Cops 'n Crooks matches.
7. Changed GTA Race and Race so that the last player remaining always receives a reward of $250.
8. Fixed an issue where spectating players would prevent the game from finishing.
9. Fixed an issue where players were unable to spectate in Round 2 of Cops 'n Crooks games.
10. Changed countdown timer in lobby so that it no longer resets when new players join a game.
11. Changed the kick option so that kicked players are no longer brought back to single player."

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June 21, 2008

Call of Duty: World at War


UPDATE: Some new information and screenshots have been released by Treyarch, check out the new information below and the screens and video after the jump!

A few more details have emerged about the COD: WaW campaign. The game will take place both in the pacific and Europe and will also have the player fight as not only the Americans, but the Russians as well. Also, four player jump in-jump out co-op has been added to the mix.

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June 20, 2008

Guitar Hero: World Tour - The Guitar


Guitar Hero: World Tour is set to beat Rock Band in every way according to Activision. With the unveiling of the new guitar for the game, the words seem to be living up to the hype. Not only does the new guitar feature a bridge for activating star power and creating palm-muted notes in the music editor, but it also features a slider for finger slides and quick notes. Your old Guitar hero 3 guitar will work with the game (not sure about Guitar Hero 2 guitars yet) but why would you not want to buy the new guitar with all the new toys? It could be that you hate supporting companies that try to outdate their own hardware to make more money, but hey it's innovation right?

Hit the jump for the images of the new guitar, slider, and bridge.

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Bits and Pieces


Hello and happy Friday to everyone. There hasn't been much news the last few days so the site has been a bit slow. I wanted to take the time today to update you on the few bits of news that did come out over the past two days.

First, just a reminder to everyone that Call of Duty: World At War premieres tomorrow with a trailer exclusively on the Xbox Live Marketplace (and soon to YouTube).

Next up, The Playstation Experience is making its way around the country over the upcoming weeks giving people everywhere a chance to play quite a few games, including Little Big Planet, in a giant semi truck loaded with Playstations and HD Televisions. To get a bit more information including a schedule of when the truck will be around your area check out the story on the Playstation Blog.

In Playstation Store/ Xbox Live Marketplace update news we have the NCAA '09 demo available on both sides, as well as the Metal Gear Solid Database for the Playstation users. Also, the Prince of Persia trailer is now available on both stores. For our brothers and sisters in Asia and India, the Tales of Vesperia demo is now available on the Xbox Live Marketplace.

Finally, next week is a big week for game releases with launches including Battlefield: Bad Company (360, PS3), Alone in the Dark (360, PS2, Wii, PC), Command & Conquer 3: Kane's Wrath (360, PC), Rock Band (Wii), Top Spin 3 (360, Wii, PS3, DS) and Guitar Hero: On Tour (DS).

That's all for now, next week looks to be a busy gaming week so stay tuned to GamePlay Unlimited!

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June 18, 2008

Metal Gear Solid Database Coming Tomorrow


Fresh from the Playstation Blog comes interesting news regarding tomorrow's Playstation Store update. Included with the normal goodies will be the Metal gear Solid Database. What is the database?

"The MGS4 Database is a free, downloadable interactive application that contains the official knowledge base of everything that is Metal Gear, reaching all the way back to the very beginning of the franchise. Including complete storylines, character profiles, relationship diagrams, and much more! The MGS4 database is a great way to catch up for someone new to Metal Gear, as well as a useful resource for any veteran of the series, with complete official details on every aspect of the intricate Metal gear lore."

That is quite a bit of game information in one database and an excellent way for those of you new to the Metal gear series to get the almost necessary background information to better understand the story. 'What about spoilers', one may ask, 'I don't want the game to be ruined!' Don't worry, the folks at Sony and Konami have you covered, literally.

"The MGS4 Database also contains a special feature – if you want to make use of the database, but have not yet fully played through MGS4 yet and are worried about spoilers – all MGS4 spoilers are “blacked out” until you’ve beaten MGS4. Give it a try!"

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June 17, 2008

Next PS3 Update to Contain In-Game XMB, Trophies


The Playstation Blog has the latest on the upcoming firmware update with some interesting additions. Coming in the update is in-game access to the XMB and trophies, with more details coming soon on the latter. The integration of XMB and trophies seems to be Sony emulating the success of Microsoft's achievement system and in-game guide. Hit the jump for the official statement.

Here is the official word from the Playstation Blog article:
"A new PLAYSTATION 3 firmware update (v2.36) will be launching soon, improving system stability when playing select PlayStation format software titles. We’re also happy to officially report that the 2.40 system software update for PS3 will include “XMB” access in-game. The update will also include “trophies,” an exciting new feature that we’ll be providing more details on soon, as well as some other new enhancements. We’ve talked about some of this on the blog previously and know that many of you can’t wait to get your hands on these features. You can expect us to share all of the official details shortly."

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Meet the Sniper


Valve just released the latest video in the "Meet the ____" series from Team Fortress 2. Now is your chance to meet the sniper and enjoy the new video!

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Call of Duty 5 to Premiere on Xbox Live This Weekend


The world will gets its first look at Treyarch's Call of Duty 5: World at War this weekend exclusively on Xbox Live. A trailer for the upcoming CoD5 will premiere on Xbox Live only from June 21-22, so be sure to download it as soon as possible.

Call of Duty 5: World at War is set in the pacific during World War 2. Treyarch has taken a lot of heat for returning the series to World War 2 so the trailer this weekend will really show if it was a good idea or not. CoD5 is planned to release later this year.

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June 16, 2008

E3 2008 Rumor Mill


There have been some rumblings around the internet with leaks of news from next month's E3. Mainly from the Microsoft front we have four news items that are still rumored at this point so don't get your hopes too far up. Check out the following for what has been heard so far.

First, X3F reports that Forza 3 development is in full swing and the game is going to require two discs. Why two discs? Well the rumor is that F3 will contain over 400 cars and 100 tracks. The game is also rumored to have some sort of an assist system and car deformation.

Next, according to NeoGAF, Guitar Hero World Tour is set to have a touch sensitive guitar.
"New touch-sensitive guitar Neck Slide opens up the entire guitar neck for unbound solos - shred how you want."
The story also has the bundle with instruments priced at $179.99 and lists a few artists already signed on, "
Jimi Hendrix, The Doors, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Korn, System of a Down, Ozzy Osbourne, Interpol, Muse "and dozens more."

NeoGAF is also reporting that "Lips" from Microsoft is a singing game (think Singstar) and includes "30 songs, 2 wireless interactive microphones, the ability to use and sing your own music or downloaded songs from an online service." The interesting part of the story is where it mentions "Take songs from a CD or your ipod, and upload them into the game. The game will reduce the vocals so you can sing along and be heard, and score on whether you're in tune. Lyrics can also be added directly into the song to sing along." This would be a step forward past games like Singstar and could help Microsoft gain market share in the Karaoke side of gaming.

Finally, the last rumor shows Microsoft's answer to the Wii's Mii. Details given to Joystiq state that ""Avatars", mentioned in an independent survey for Microsoft (as taken by an X3F tipster), will supposedly be used in place of gamer pictures, and will give Xbox Live subscribers an animated, customizable online persona." It seems Microsoft does believe that Sony's Home and the Nintendo Miis are posing a threat to their online service.

Remember, take all of this news lightly so far. Until E3 actually hits these are nothing more than rumors. Hit the jump for an image of the Avatars from Microsoft.

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June 15, 2008

Screens From the Wii's Next FPS "The Conduit"


UPDATE: A developer Q&A is up over at The Conduit Information Center and offers a bit more insight to the game. Check out IGN's gallery for a few new screens of the game as well.

Wii Fanboy managed to get their hands on some new screenshots from High Voltage Software's upcoming first person shooter for the Wii entitled "The Conduit." The game, releasing in Q1 2009, sets players in Washington D.C. after an extraterrestrial attack where they must investigate the happenings and find the truth. The screens look quite amazing for the Wii, which is not surprising being that the engine the game is running on (Quantum 3) has been built from the ground up for the console with the goal of making Wii games look more next-gen. Hit the jump for a screen and link to the gallery!

Find the entire gallery from The Conduit at Wii Fanboy

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Bungie Unveils Cold Storage Map at MLG San Diego


Bungie's Lukems and Shishka were on hand at MLG's latest event in San Diego to show support and give a special surprise. The Halo 3 map Cold Storage was unveiled as a successor to Halo 1's Chill Out. No information was given on a release date or any other maps pending completion. Check out the first screens of Cold Storage at MLGPro.com. Stay tuned to GPU for any pending announcements of the next Halo 3 map pack.

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June 13, 2008

Coldplay to Debut New Single Through Guitar Hero 3 DLC


Activision announced today that the multi-platinum selling rock band Coldplay is to release their newest single "Violet Hill" in a Guitar Hero 3 download pack to help promote their new album. The album is entitled "Viva la Vida" is set to release worldwide on June 17th, you can also see Coldplay on the latest Apple commercials. The track pack will also contain two older Coldplay songs, "Yellow" and "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face." The songs will be available to download on the Xbox Live Marketplace and Playstation Network Store starting June 19th. Hit the jump for the entire press release.

Multi-Platinum Alternative Rockers Coldplay Debut New Single as Part of Downloadable Songpack for Guitar Hero(R) III: Legends of Rock

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jun 13, 2008 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- The reflective and emotional chords of multi-award winning band Coldplay are making their debut on Activision, Inc.'s (Nasdaq:ATVI) Guitar Hero(R) III: Legends of Rock with the release of a three-track downloadable song pack.

Included in the song pack is the hit single "Violet Hill," from the band's highly anticipated new album, Viva la Vida, which is set for release on June 17, 2008. The pack also features Coldplay's first smash hit "Yellow" that earned them a legion of fans worldwide, as well as the upbeat and melodic tune "God Put a Smile Upon Your Face" from the Grammy(R) Award-winning album, A Rush of Blood to the Head. The Coldplay track pack will be available on June 19, 2008 for download on Xbox LIVE(R) Marketplace for Xbox 360(R) video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and in the PLAYSTATION(R)Store for the PLAYSTATION(R)3 computer entertainment system.

Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock offers the ultimate rock experience with new wireless guitars, freshly added content and features including a multiplayer action-inspired battle mode, grueling boss battles, a host of exclusive unlockable content and visually stunning rock venues. Expanded online multiplayer modes allow axe-shredders worldwide to compete head-to-head for true rock status as they riff through a star-studded soundtrack including master tracks by legendary artists such as Aerosmith, Guns 'N' Roses, The Rolling Stones, Beastie Boys, Rage Against the Machine and Pearl Jam, as well as original songs by guitar icons Slash and Tom Morello. Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock is now available and is rated "T" for Teen by the ESRB. For more information visit www.guitarhero.com.

About Activision, Inc.

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision, Inc. is a leading worldwide developer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment and leisure products. Founded in 1979, Activision posted net revenues of $2.9 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2008.

Activision maintains operations in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan and South Korea. More information about Activision and its products can be found on the company's website, www.activision.com.

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June 12, 2008

Corporate Shuffling Takes Place at Microsoft


In a press release today Microsoft confirmed that Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of Global Marketing for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business (or simply head of Xbox Marketing), has decided to leave Microsoft to pursue opportunities outside of the company. Bell will remain with the company throughout the summer to help transfer his duties.

“The time is right for me to pursue my life’s passion of consumer brand marketing and the creative and services that drive it.” Bell said “Coming from automotive, and now technology and entertainment, I am excited to expand to new industries and categories.”

Also, Shane Kim, formerly head of Microsoft Game Studios has received a promotion to the role of corporate vice president of Strategy and Business Development. Taking over for Kim will be Phil Spencer who has been on board at Microsoft Game Studios for six years and is the head of Microsoft Game Studios Europe.

“We’re strategically positioning the leadership team to drive every aspect of the Xbox business to new heights,” Don Mattrick,head of Microsoft's Interactive Entertainment business, said. “I firmly believe that Microsoft will lead the next great innovations in games and entertainment. Today’s organizational announcements align us to accelerate this expansive growth.”

Read the entire press release after the jump.

REDMOND, Wash. — June 12, 2008 — Microsoft Corp. today announced a new leadership structure in its Interactive Entertainment Business, assembled to align with future business development opportunities.

Shane Kim will assume the role of corporate vice president of Strategy and Business Development, a newly established role in Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business. In addition, Phil Spencer, a Microsoft Game Studios veteran for six years, will assume leadership of all first-party development and publishing efforts worldwide. Both leaders will report directly to Don Mattrick, senior vice president of the Interactive Entertainment Business.

After spending four and a half years leading the transformation of Microsoft Game Studios into a world-class entertainment publisher, Kim will now explore new growth opportunities with partners across all parts of the global Interactive Entertainment Business. His focus will be on future external relationships and partnerships, as well as developing growth strategies for the entire business.

Formerly the general manager of Microsoft Game Studios Europe, Spencer will return to Redmond from the U.K.to take on his new role as general manager of the global Microsoft Game Studios business. Spencer will oversee the creation of new, unannounced franchises that aim to attract new audiences. His teams will foster some of today’s most beloved entertainment franchises, including “Halo,” “Gears of War” and “Fable,” by continuing to partner with the industry’s best developers to deliver the best games for the Windows and Xbox platforms.

“We’re strategically positioning the leadership team to drive every aspect of the Xbox business to new heights,” Mattrick said. “I firmly believe that Microsoft will lead the next great innovations in games and entertainment. Today’s organizational announcements align us to accelerate this expansive growth.”

After two years of driving a cultural change in the way Microsoft markets its entertainment brands, Jeff Bell, current corporate vice president of Global Marketing for Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment Business, has decided to pursue other opportunities outside Microsoft. Bell will remain at Microsoft through the summer, working with Mattrick to ensure a smooth transition of his responsibilities. In the interim while Microsoft searches for Bell’s replacement, Matt Barlow, Charlotte Stuyvenberg and Jim Merrick, all day-to-day product marketing and marketing communications leaders in the Interactive Entertainment Business, will carry forward global marketing initiatives for the business group.

“The time is right for me to pursue my life’s passion of consumer brand marketing and the creative and services that drive it,” Bell said. “Coming from automotive, and now technology and entertainment, I am excited to expand to new industries and categories.”

“We thank Jeff for his achievements and contributions to Microsoft and the Xbox business. His innovative marketing programs included award-winning Xbox brand marketing campaigns, as well as world-renowned creative for ‘Gears of War’ and ‘Halo 3,’” Mattrick said. “We wish Jeff nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”

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Guitar Hero: On Tour Bundle Launches June 22


For those of you who have not quite gotten into the Guitar Hero/music game genre you now have yet another chance. Guitar Hero: On Tour is the Nintendo DS installment to the rapidly growing Guitar Hero franchise. The bundle for the game is set for a June 22nd release along side the game. 

“This one-of-a-kind bundle makes Nintendo DS even more appealing to our ever-growing audience of players,” said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “Like Nintendo DS itself, the Guitar Hero franchise has attracted millions of new players to the world of video games.”
“We are thrilled to be the first third-party publisher to partner with Nintendo on this unique offering,” said Dusty Welch, Head of Publishing for RedOctane. “With the Guitar Hero-branded Nintendo DS and our Guitar Hero: On Tour game and peripheral, this amazing bundle delivers gamers a complete Guitar Hero experience they can enjoy anytime, anywhere.”

Hit the jump for the entire press release and an image of the bundle.

Axe Shredders Hit the Road with New Nintendo DS/Guitar Hero: On Tour Bundle
First Portable Edition in the Guitar Hero Franchise Lets Players Unleash Their Inner Rock Star Anytime, Anywhere

REDMOND, Wash.—(BUSINESS WIRE)— Most musicians dream of one day reaching platinum success. A new Nintendo DS™ bundle lets aspiring axe shredders claim that coveted status right from day one. The new Silver/Black Nintendo DS branded with the Guitar Hero® logo will be available exclusively as part of a limited-time bundle with Guitar Hero®: On Tour. For the first time, this smash-hit franchise is playable on a portable video game system using the revolutionary Guitar Hero™ Guitar Grip™ peripheral and fully tapping into the distinctive abilities of the Nintendo DS hardware.
Available on June 22, 2008, at North American retailers nationwide, the bundle provides a cool combo package for grads about to head off to college as well as summertime, road-tripping rockers of all ages.
“This one-of-a-kind bundle makes Nintendo DS even more appealing to our ever-growing audience of players,” said Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing. “Like Nintendo DS itself, the Guitar Hero franchise has attracted millions of new players to the world of video games.”
“We are thrilled to be the first third-party publisher to partner with Nintendo on this unique offering,” said Dusty Welch, Head of Publishing for RedOctane. “With the Guitar Hero-branded Nintendo DS and our Guitar Hero: On Tour game and peripheral, this amazing bundle delivers gamers a complete Guitar Hero experience they can enjoy anytime, anywhere.”
Using the revolutionary Guitar Hero Guitar Grip peripheral and a custom-designed Guitar Hero pick-stylus, Guitar Hero: On Tour leverages the 
unique abilities of Nintendo DS to bring a new dimension to hand-held gaming. Featuring a wide variety of music, including tracks from blink-182, No Doubt, Jet, Nirvana, Bloc Party and many others, players can rock out in career mode, join together in co-op or go head-to-head in a “Guitar D
uel” using Battle Items unique to the DS platform.
For more information about Nintendo DS, visit www.NintendoDS.com. For more information about Guitar Hero: On Tour, visit www.GuitarHeroOnTour.com.

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Happy Metal Gear Thursday!


No, I do not have the game yet. The GameStop in our central Iowa town decided not to have a midnight launch on the basis that there weren't even 100 reservations. Crazy right? Those of you who did manage to get your hands on the game are probably already too involved in running away from cow-sounding Metal Gears to read this, so to everyone else happy Metal Gear launch! Look for impressions, and maybe even a review, in the near future from GPU.

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June 10, 2008

EndWar Beta Registration Live


UPDATE: Kotaku is reporting that the beta invitations are now being sent out. Good luck to all, hope to see you online in EndWar.

Registration is up for the private Xbox 360 beta of Tom Clancy's EndWar. EndWar is set to redefine the RTS genre on consoles and features characters from many popular Tom Clancy games. The game looks to be coming along nicely and a beta will be a good way to see how gamers respond EndWar. Check out the official site to sign up for the beta. No word on a PS3 beta as of yet. Good luck, and don't steal my spot in the beta!

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Microsoft Showcases RPGs at Premiere 2008


While most of you readers were sleeping, Microsoft, Square Enix, and Namco Bandai unveiled their lineup of RPGs in Japan. The games were unveiled by Takashi Sensui, general manager of the home and entertainment division at Microsoft. Among the games discussed were Infinite Undiscovery, Star Ocean: The Last Hope, The Last Remnant, Tales of Vesperia, Fable 2, and Mass Effect in Japan. Will this be the year the Xbox takes off in Japan? Only time will tell.

The highlights of the event were the announcement that Square Enix's Last Remnant will be releasing on the Xbox 360 first this winter, with the PS3 to follow some time later. Also Enix's Infinite Undiscovery got a lunch date, United States on September 2, 2008, in Europe on September 5, 2008, and in Japan and Asia on September 11, 2008. A system bundle for Tales of Vesperia was announced for ¥37,800 (US $356) in Japan only. The game and bundle is set to release August 7th with a demo coming sometime this month, no word on whether the demo will be Japan only or not. Finally, Star Ocean: The Last Hope was officially announced for 2009. Hit the jump for the full press release along with a few screens and a video of Star Ocean.

Star Ocean: The Last Hope

Tales of Vesperia Bundle (Japan Only)

Stellar RPG Title Lineup Announced at Xbox 360 RPG Premiere 2008

Microsoft Co. Ltd., NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. and SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. announce shelf dates for Xbox 360 RPG franchises

Microsoft Co. Ltd., SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. and NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. announced details about their epic RPG titles coming to Xbox 360® at the Xbox 360 RPG Premiere 2008 event which took place in Shibuya, Tokyo on June 10, 2008. Takashi Sensui, general manager of the Home and Entertainment Division at Microsoft Co. Ltd., took the stage to introduce the title lineup of upcoming role playing games (RPG) for Xbox 360.

SQUARE ENIX announced “INFINITE UNDISCOVERY™” which is an exclusive Xbox 360 title and will be launched in the United States on September 2, 2008, in Europe on September 5, 2008, and in Japan and Asia on September 11, 2008. In addition “STAR OCEAN® : THE LAST HOPE™,” the latest popular RPG title for Xbox 360, will be coming in 2009. “THE LAST REMNANT™,” will be launched worldwide this winter, with the Xbox 360 version hitting the shelves before other platforms.

Microsoft announced that “Fable® 2,“ the highly-anticipated action RPG title from Microsoft Game Studios, is coming to Japan by the end of 2008. “Mass Effect™” will also be coming to Japan.

NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. announced that “Tales of Vesperia,” the latest addition to the renowned “Tales” RPG series will be released exclusively on Xbox 360 in Japan on August 7, 2008, in the United States August 2008, in Europe in 2009, and in Asia in Summer 2008. Additionally, only in Japan, a bundle, “Xbox 360 Tales of Vesperia Premium Pack" will go on sale on August 7.
NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. also announced that the free trial game demo of this title will be distributed through Xbox LIVE® Marketplace by the end of June, 2008.

RPG games are by far the most popular game genre in Japan, and with these title announcements, Xbox 360 demonstrates it has an unparalleled lineup of RPGs for any current-generation gaming console in Japan as well as worldwide.

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June 9, 2008

Apple Announces the iPhone 3G and the App Store


Today at the WWDC developer event, Apple revealed a new iPhone, the 3G iPhone. It will be available in two models, the $199 8GB model and the $299 16GB. The new iPhone will be available on July 11. You can watch the new ad here. Apple also announced the opening of the App Store in early July. Want games on the iPhone? Well, you're in luck. Sega's Super Monkey Ball will be available upon the stores launch as well as two games from Pangea Software, Enigmo and Cro-Mag Rally. These titles can be yours for $9.99 each.

What if you already own an iPhone? No worries, a free update will make the App Store available to you. Unfortunately, iTouch users must pay $9.95 for the update.

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Call of Duty 5 Back to WW2


UPDATE: The scans at MaximumFear have been taken down for legal reasons.

GamesTM magazine and the latest Official Xbox Magazine (with strategyinformer.com and Videogame247.com reporting) have the first details of the next game in the Call of Duty franchise being developed by Treyarch. Call of Duty 5 will head back to the 1940's and World War 2, but this time will be set somewhere in the Pacific region. The game will support co-op and is also being developed for the Nintendo Wii with Wii Zapper support.

“There will be co-op for the first time in a Call of Duty. Also there will be vehicles and squad-based elements to the multiplayer. Formats: PC, PS3, 360 and Wii. The Wii version is being worked on by a separate team within Treyarch. (The mag) reckons it’ll be a much closer comparison between the next-gen and Wii versions than any other Wii game on the market."

The game is also to have a darker overall tone, which suits World War 2 overall.

“Also, this is how gritty it is: ‘The opening scene of the first level we are shown is a Japanese commander stubbing a cigarette out in the eye of a prisoner before slitting his throat - the blood splatters and dribbles down the side of the tent you are being held in. He turns towards you to deal out the same treatment but help arrives just in time. Cue a daring level-long escape.’”

MaximumFear has scans of the latest OXM for your viewing pleasure. It is yet to be seen if Treyarch can make WW2 interesting again with so many games having already treaded the first and second world wars (including the CoD franchise).

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June 8, 2008

Sunday Special: Stunning Metal Gear Artwork


GamePlay Unlimited is proud to present a new segment to our story lineup, the Sunday Special. What exactly is the Sunday Special? Well it is a segment where we will post stories that are a bit more laid back and artistically oriented. The weekdays are filled with gaming news and information important to the working gaming world but weekends are meant to be relaxing. With that, here is the first edition of the Sunday Special. Enjoy!

While browsing Digg I came across an article from Racketboy.com entitled "The Most Stunning Metal Gear Artwork." The story shows off some seriously amazing fan art from the Metal Gear series. With the fourth game in the series coming out this Thursday we at GPU thought some fan art would be a great way to gear up (no pun intended) for the launch. Check out the link below to the whole page of art. We will leave you with the first image from the story after the jump.

The Most Stunning Metal gear Artwork - Racketboy

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June 6, 2008

Bethesda & Amazon Team Up for Fallout 3 Survival Edition


Taking one big step above the normal collector editions (e.g. Halo 3: Legendary Edition) Bethesda has announced a deal with Amazon.com today to offer an exclusive "Survival Edition" of Fallout 3 for the PC, PS3, and Xbox 360. The survival edition not only contains the same goodies from the collector's edition (Vault boy bobble-head, Art book, making of DVD, lunch box) but also a full-size replica of the Pip-Boy 3000. The Pip-Boy is the device worn on the wrist of characters in the game. In real life it will function as a full digital clock for all of your waking needs. Hit the jump for a bit more information and an image of the Survival Edition which weighs in at a whopping $129.

“We’re thrilled to be working with Amazon.com on this exclusive edition,” said Vlatko Andonov, president of Bethesda Softworks. “The Survival Edition offers gamers the unique opportunity to own a piece of video game history along with a collection of limited edition items – it’s the definitive Fallout 3 package.”

“This is an exciting day for Amazon customers and Fallout fans,” said Greg Hart vice president of video games and software at Amazon. “We’re delighted to be the exclusive destination for Fallout 3 Survival Edition; this is a great example of the continually expanding selection we offer to gamers.”

Fallout 3 is in production for release this fall on the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC. To see more information about the game including screenshots and videos head over to the Official Site.

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June 5, 2008

Duke Nukem Forever In-Game Footage


The newest video game web show, Jace Hall, has its first episode out. The contents? Duke Nukem Forever gameplay footage. Yes, you read that correctly, the game that has been in production for 12 years finally has gameplay and it looks good. Hit the jump for the FIRST EVER Duke Nukem Forever gameplay footage!

Here is the episode, it is a good show even without Duke Nukem. Although if you are running short on time, the gameplay starts around 4:21.

Source: Crackle

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Kojima Productions Responds to MGS4 Review Restrictions


Kotaku just received word from Kojima Productions' Assistant Producer Ryan Payton on a number of subjects dealing with the reviews of Metal Gear Solid 4. As you may (or may not) know, there has been a few major complaints about the restrictions Konami and Kojima Productions imposed on those reviewing the game. Electronic Gaming Monthly even went as far as to not publish a review of the game based on said restrictions. The basic complaints were that reviewers could not discuss things such as loading times, install times, cutscene length, number of environments, intro movie, etc.

Brian Ashcraft of Kotaku received a reply back from Payton in a letter detailing that many restrictions are now void, and the topics may be discussed in reviews. In the letter he discusses concerns on install times by stating that there is one eight minute install time prior to playing, as well as a few short installs between acts. Also he mentions that reviewers can comment on the length of cutscenes, just not which cutscenes are of which length as to not ruin the experience. Finally he revokes the ban on discussing length of cutscenes and install times, but keeps the ban on discussing the intro movie and number of environments as to not spoil any details to gamers. He also mentions that Kojima Productions would still like to keep the product placement discussions quiet based on contractual obligations.

It seems that Kojima Prod. is just trying to keep the mystery in Metal Gear Solid 4 for the gamers. The letter from Payton is now available after the jump.

Hey Brian,

Believe it or not, I've been so busy working on a special surprise for MGS4 buyers (that not even those who have leaked copies of the game can spoil! Haha!), that I haven't had time to catch up on most of the pre-launch excitement.

Scanning the net today, I came across that 90-minute cutscene rumor, and a red-faced Adam Sessler, who was obviously very upset about the restrictions placed on MGS4 reviews.

Adam asks at the end of his Soapbox clip if he was rambling. On the contrary, I think he voiced some really important concerns about the restrictions placed on MGS4 reviewers.

In light of this, I took a look at the list of restrictions and found that some items are outdated and require more explanation.

We asked reviewers to avoid the following topics:

-Install times
-Length of cutscenes (the ending in particular)
-Number of environments
-Opening "movie"
-Product placement
-(Plus a half dozen story-specific items)

The game requires an eight minute install, as well as a number of two to three-minute installs between acts.

As for the cutscenes, reviewers are more than happy to comment on whether they're too long or short. We simply want reviewers to refrain from describing which scenes are long, thus spoiling some of the experience because players will know what to expect when a scene is unfolding.

I want to make it clear that, from today, reviewers are welcome to discuss the length of the cutscenes and install times, but we ask that they not get too specific about the cinematic times and what happens in later install sequences...

But as for the next three items, we are still asking reviewers to avoid these topics. We want the opening to be a huge surprise for gamers, and knowing how many environments there are in the game, obviously, is a spoiler. These restrictions will remain in place.

Finally, we've asked reviewers to not write about some of the product placement because of some contractual agreements we have with third parties.

I hope this helps clear up some of the controversy.

As a former writer, I'm proud of the discussion this topic has sparked. I hope Adam, Patrick Klepek, and everybody else who covered this issue continue to be diligent about restrictions placed on media outlets. (That's honestly why I'm such a fan of Kotaku — it keeps publishers on their toes.)

I do, however, hope gamers can appreciate the efforts we go through to keep them protected from reviewers that could spoil some of the MGS4 experience.


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June 4, 2008

Playstation News Brief


I have two Playstation-related stories for your Wednesday morning. First, Sony has stopped production on the games "Eight Days" and "The Getaway 3." The official statement is as follows:
"It has been agreed that production of both Eight Days and The Getaway will cease immediately due to the redistribution of resources and budget. This decision was made following an internal review of all games and it was deemed that with the incredibly strong list of exclusive first party titles coming up both this year and in the near future, resource should be reallocated to enhance those projects closer to completion." There is no word of whether the projects may be re-started at a later date.

Secondly, Sony has partnered with IGA for in-game advertisements on the Playstation 3. This comes a few months after Sony opened their own advertising platform for the system which allows companies like IGA and Google to sell ads in games. As for the state of in-game advertising, it is yet to be seen what the consumer thinks about ad placement in their games. There have been arguments stating that it ruins games, as well as arguments stating that it makes games fell more realistic depending on the type. Obviously in-game ads in a game such as Oblivion just don't fit, but when placed in games taking place in this time period it may bring realism if not overdone. Microsoft took similar steps last year when they purchased the ad agency Massive to work with advertising in their games. Hit the jump for the official press release from Sony.

FOSTER CITY, Calif. and LONDON, June 4 /PRNewswire/ — Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) and Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) today announced the introduction of dynamic in-game advertising on PLAYSTATION(R)3 (PS3). Marketers interested in placing advertisements in games for PS3 or publishers with available in-game space for advertisements are able to engage through advertisement distribution partners, with IGA Worldwide selected as PS3's first partner. This partnership will serve to bolster the already rapidly growing worldwide in-game advertising industry, which is expected to grow 1,150 percent to $971.3 million between 2006 and 2011 according to the Yankee Group.

"The PS3 platform is primed to leverage the high growth potential of the in-game advertising market," said Phil Rosenberg, Senior Vice President, SCEA. "Ads that are organic to the environment not only benefit developers and advertisers, but also create a richer experience for gamers."

"PLAYSTATION 3 is undoubtedly the prime opportunity for the in-game advertising industry," said Justin Townsend, CEO, IGA Worldwide. "Through this partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment, IGA can provide advertisers with a large and valuable global user base of 16-35 year old consumers with disposable income. With our standardized awareness-building advertising formats being delivered directly into people's living rooms while they play, there are great opportunities for advertisers looking to engage through an entertainment medium outside of the traditional TV spot."

PS3 provides advertisers with a direct avenue to reach the highly targeted, sought after gaming demographic, and has sold more than 12.5M units worldwide. DFC Intelligence forecasts that sales for the current generation of game systems will pass the 180 million mark by 2011, therefore, reiterating the potential for the in-game advertising market.

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