Currents Top Ten I MTV Confirms Xbox 360 Release Date I California House to Vote on Game Bill I Activision Nets Huge Profits I EA Wants Female Game Designers I Nokia Employee Goes to LucasArts I Turbine Secures Funding I Stock Ticker
Issue #6 A Jet All the Way May 9, 2005

Front Page

"When you're a Jet, you're a Jet all the way--from your first cigarette to your last dyin' day." What a fine song. If only all street gangs sang and danced at each other, the world would be a much happier, more musical place, think you not? Aside from the preceding sentences, this column has nothing to do with its title, so you can expect the unexpected this week.

The first unexpected event is the unprecedented lateness of the column, yet again--or maybe you've gotten used to late columns, in which case there's nothing abnormal going on here. I know I've probably totally lost your trust with me promising a column by a certain date and then not delivering until several days after, but please believe me when I say that we just got started during the busiest part of my life. It was a terrible first impression, I know, but that's all it was. I will make this up to you; you'll get every column you deserve. Don't let the fact that there was no column last last week fool you. I'm counting this column as last week's and you'll have another one coming this week and next week and so on and so forth. The columns may be late and come out sporadically and chaotically, but as Buddha/Allah/God/Sephiroth as my witness, you'll get them. Hopefully before long, we can return to a more regulated schedule.

For this issue's first order of business, allow me to thank you for putting up with me. Secondly, let's get rolling. This week you'll get a broad glimpse at an official Xbox 360 release date, EA hunting for young ladies, Activision seeing green, a story about yet another mature games bill, and so much more juicy goodness that you'll need a bib.

 Currents Top Ten

Topping the list this week is Midnight Club 3 for PS2, which is a step up from last week when the game claimed the number two spot. Splinter Cell is still going strong as far as sales, as is the list's sole RPG, Jade Empire. Doom 3 for Xbox has finally dropped off of the list this week and has been replaced by newer titles such as Resident Evil Outbreak 2 and Area 51. SCEA's God of War also jumps up to the five spot from last week's six. It sure has been a long time since we've seen a GameCube game make this list. Come on, Nintendo. What's the hold up?

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Rockstar Games
2 Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Ubi Soft
3 Area 51 Midway
4 Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Rockstar Games
5 God of War Sony Computer Entertainment
6 Jade Empire Microsoft Game Studios
7 Resident Evil Outbreak File #2 Capcom
8 Area 51 Midway
9 WWE WrestleMania XXI THQ
10 MVP Baseball 2005 EA Sports

Source: GameSpot

 MTV Confirms Xbox 360 Release Date


At the convention of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers held last week in Seattle, Microsoft chairman Bill Gates inadvertently spilled the beans on the release date that the company had planned for its next-generation Xbox console. This date was actually more of a broad hint of "sometime this year," but it was still more than had ever been previously mentioned on the subject. Just a few days later, though, MTV confirmed that the console, which will almost certainly be called Xbox 360, will hit store shelves sometime this November.

Just a of couple days ago, MTV began airing a listing for the special that will showcase the Xbox 360 to the public this week, called MTV Presents: The Next Generation Xbox Revealed. The listing advertises that the special will feature "tours of the design labs, interviews with the designers, behind-the-scenes, and inside scoop." The strongest evidence for the release date of the console comes when the same listing also promises that the special will feature "trailers of the newest games that are due out in November for the new Xbox."

According to the listing, the Xbox 360 will likely launch on the fourth anniversary of the launch of the original Xbox, which was in mid-November, 2001. Despite the obvious implications of the MTV listing, Microsoft is mum on the topic.

The MTV Xbox special is scheduled to air this Thursday at 9:30 pm est and pst. After the special, look to RPGamer for any new details regarding the Xbox 360.

Source: GameSpot

 California House to Vote on Game Bill

Last week's story about North Carolina getting set to ban the sale of violent video games to minors mentioned a similar bill in California, if you recall. As mentioned in that story, the California bill had only been introduced to the state legislature, but no action had been taken yet--that is, until now. This bill, which would "restrict the sale of 'violent and sexually explicit' games to minors," is getting closer to becoming a full California law. An assemblyman has recently added his vote to the committee tally, which means that the bill, CA AB450, can now proceed to the floor of the state House of Representatives for a full vote. If the bill passes in the House, it will then go on to the Senate to be voted on. Assuming it also passes in the Senate, the bill would only require Governer Schwarzenegger's signature for it to be ratified into law.

Last week, the bill was stalled in the California House Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism, and Internet Media. In order to move a bill into the House for voting, six "yes" votes are required. When voting took place last week, the results were five-yes and four-no, with one absent assemblyman. Now that he has returned, the assemblyman cast his ballot in favor of the bill, which will move it to the House floor.

This bill proposes a $1000 fine to be administered to retailers who have been found to have sold M-rated games to children under 17. The bill was originally written last year, but was greatly opposed, initially. It was revised in February and has now been reintroduced and approved for House-voting.

Source: GameSpot

 Activision Nets Huge Profits

Activision, publisher of such hit titles as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, Doom 3, and X-Men Legends examined its results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2005. The company reported net revenues at a record $1.404 billion, which is 48 percent higher than last year's revenues. This also resulted in a profit of $138.3 million, which is a record-shattering 78 percent higher than last year's profits, which totaled $77.7 million.

Excited, Activision chairman and CEO Rober Kotick, responded, "Fiscal 2005 was another record year for Activision. We delivered the highest net revenues, operating margin and earnings in the company's history." He also opened a conference call with financial analysts and is quoted as saying, "This year we significantly strengthened our financial position. As a company we have never been stronger. Financially, fiscal 2005 marked our 13th consecutive year of revenue growth, a testament to the dedication of our employees and the commitment we have as a company to value creation over the long term."

Kotick also gave some vague comments regarding Activision's support of the upcoming Xbox 360. "Although I can't share the specifics with you today, I can tell you we've been investing against next-generation technology for some time now, and our new title launch plans are the most significant in our history," he said.

Source: GameSpot

 EA Wants Female Game Designers

Electronic Arts

It has only been a few days since video game publishing giant Electronic Arts announced that it was offering an internship with Maxis Studios at the EA headquarters facility, and already there is a new offer on the table. As with the last deal, EA will be joining forces with the University of Southern California once again. This time around, though, the company is planning to offer young women aspiring to be game designers a scholarship to USC's Interactive Entertainment Camp.

The scholarship is only available to high school junior and senior girls who some day hope to work in the game industry. EA is hoping that this scholarship will help to highlight game design as a viable option for a career choice for women.

Source: GameSpot

 Nokia Employee Goes to LucasArts


LucasArts, the company known best for publishing Star Wars video games, has added a new asset to its team. The San Rafael, California-based game publisher has hired the former director and head of U.S. sales and channel development at Nokia, Kevin Kebodeaux, as its new director of global sales. Nokia is best known for providing wireless phone service in North America and as the makers of the N-Gage QD game phone. Kebodeaux also previously worked at Sega of America, where his job consisted of supervising Dreamcast sales in the southern United States, Mexico, and South America.

Source: GameSpot

 Turbine Secures Funding

Asheron's Call 2

Turbine Entertainment, known best as a developer of popular MMORPGs such as Asheron's Call, announced that it has raised $30 million in second-round venture capital--according to the Boston Globe. This newly-raised money has been planed for use in two upcoming games on the company's production roster: Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings: Middle-Earth Online.

As mentioned above, this is Turbine's second-round venture capital. The first round, worth $18 million, was used to buy back the Asheron's Call license from Microsoft, allowing Turbine to become the sole owner of the video game franchise that it created. This second round of venture capital is mostly coming from Columbia capital and Tudor Ventures, as well as from previous investors Polaris Venture Partners and Highland Capital Partners. Recently, Turbine removed Vivendi Universal Games from its plans for its Middle-Earth Online and became the publisher for the game, which is on schedule for a 2006 release.

Source: GameSpot

 Stock Ticker

The first thing I'd like to point out about this week's ticker is a small change. Namco is no longer with us because its data hadn't changed once throughout the history of the ticker on Currents. Furthermore, I have decided to replace Namco with Activision in light of its recent butt-kicking. So this is the new list.

Today's market results show the usual ups and downs as far as the companies we're following. Half have gone up in price, whereas half have gone done. Overall, things look pretty stable; none of the numbers in the change column are too big, so there's nothing drastic going on here. Activision, despite its recent, huge profit report, is taking the second-largest dive. Ubisoft has the largest decrease at nearly 60 cents. Square Enix tops the list with a three-dollar increase, and its former publishing partner, Electronic Arts, trails behind by a couple dollars.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market close 05.09.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 38.30 0.05
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 25.11 (0.11)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 14.25 (0.10)
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 52.03 1.06
ENIXF Square Enix PNK 33.50 3.00
KNM Konami NYSE 22.01 0.36
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 15.48 (0.43)
MWY Midway NYSE 9.38 0.13
SGAMY Sega PNK 14.45 (0.05)
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 40.45 (0.59)

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

Probably the only thing that might be affected by trying to squeeze out more than one column in a seven-day period is the Top Ten list, since those results are weekly. If this is a problem, I'll either temporarily remove the section for only that column or just keep in the repeat data from the previous column.

I received an e-mail several days ago regarding the next Close-Up feature, suggesting that the feature be written about Nintendo's recently-retired former president, Hiroshi Yamauchi. I think this is good idea, as even I don't know much about the guy. So, as of now, that's what it'll be about. Things change, though, so if there's someone in the game industry you've been dying to learn about, but you're too lazy to do the research yourself, let those suggestions fly my way.

I'm really anxious to get this column back onto a set schedule. I'm starting to get used to throwing this thing together whenever I have time, and that's not good. E3 is next week and I'll be going to that along with my co-workers here at the site. I know I'm probably drastically underestimating how busy I'll be then, so instead of making a promise I think I can keep, but probably won't, I'll just say to look for stability after E3. Until next week (or probably later this week), have fun.

Elliot "Sucks at making deadlines" Guisinger

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