Currents Top Ten I Microsoft Reaches Out to Women I August Sees No Industry Growth I Former World of Warcraft Staff to Develop New MMO I Sony and IGN Buddy-Up I Gaming Bill Passes in CA Legislature I Stock Ticker
Issue #20 XX September 10, 2005

Front Page

The first order of business for the week is to wish Playstation a happy tenth birthday. Everyone circle around Mr. Station, clap your hands, and sing him Happy Birthday to embarrass him in front of all his friends. Aww, look at him blush.

Great, now that that's over with we can move on to the meat of the column. This is Currents' 20th issue. A big occasion, if I may say so myself. So to commemorate it, I want everyone in the audience to look under your seats. You've all won free week-old, chewed-up bubblegum! Congrats. And you say I don't do anything for you. I think this should hold you over for another 20 issues. Here's to hoping the next 20 are as magical as the first 20 were. Go on and enjoy Currents' XXth -- it only comes around once.

 Currents Top Ten

I wonder how long this trend of having GameCube games on the Top Ten is going to continue. Well I like it, so perhaps it's best to not jinx it by giving it so much attention each week. Let's just treat these GameCube games as normal occurances from now on shall we? That being said, this week's list is a fair mix of new contenders and returning champions from previous weeks. It also looks as though Battlefront's luck has finally run out. It had an excellent second-wind while it lasted, however.

Returning titles include Madden 06 for both PS2 and Xbox, Darkwatch, and Ultimate Destruction for PS2 and Xbox. Their orders have shifted a bit since some powerful newcomers have entered the fray. Stealing the number one spot from Madden is Day of Reckoning 2 for GameCube. Also new for the 'Cube is Mario Superstar Baseball, debuting with a bronze medal. NASCAR 06 also hit store shelves last week and the PS2 and Xbox versions of the title have hit the Top Ten this week. The final newbie of the issue, MotoGP 3: Ultimate Racing Technology for Xbox, finished 9th.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 WWE Day of Reckoning 2 THQ
2 Madden NFL 06 EA Sports
3 Mario Superstar Baseball Nintendo
4 NASCAR 06: Total Team Control EA Sports
5 NASCAR 06: Total Team Control EA Sports
6 Madden NFL 06 EA Sports
7 The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction VU Games
8 The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction VU Games
9 MotoGP 3: Ultimate Racing Technology THQ
10 Darkwatch Capcom

Source: GameSpot

 Microsoft Reaches Out to Women


Microsoft is giving 10 lucky ladies quite an opportunity. The company's research division will be providing a group of female computer science majors with an opportunity, totally gratis, to attend the Women's Game Conference in Austin, Texas this October.

Women who want to be considered for the scholarship must be college students majoring in computer science with a concentration in game development and research. Winners will get to meet with a game industry leader in a luncheon to discuss issues surrounding females in the gaming industry. While in Austin attending the WGC, the young women will also have an opportunity to attend the Game Writers Conference and the Austin Game Conference, both of which will be held during the same days as the WGC. The Game Writers Conference, as its name implies, focuses on the art of game writing. And the Austin Game Conference is known for hosting mobile, MMO, and next-generation game developers.

 August Sees No Industry Growth

Despite hit titles such as Madden 06 and Nintendogs, the video game industry saw virtually no growth during the month of August. Madden, however, was the best-selling title of the month. The latest installment of EA's pro football franchise sold over 2.2 million units, giving EA a three-percent revenue boost when compared with this month last year. The company that received the largest revenue boost, though, was THQ. The success of Destroy All Humans! gave the company a 41-percent surge in revenues.

Even though it wasn't released until the end of the month, Nintendo's Nintendogs managed to sell the second-most units for the month. Nintendo had sold an impressive 210,000 copies of the DS title by the beginning of September. The game also seems to be at the helm of a surge in DS hardware sales in August. An estimated 10 percent of Nintendo DS owners own Nintendogs.


 Former World of Warcraft Staff to Develop New MMO

Three former Blizzard employees have decided to band together and start their own new game development studio in Aliso Veijo, California. The three employees, who have a combined 30 years of experience in working with MMOs, are now working on a brand new MMO out of their new office, Red5 Studios.

Mark Kern, William Petras, and Taewon Yun are all former Blizzard employees who worked extensively on Blizzard's own MMO, World of Warcraft. Kern was WoW's team leader, Petras was the game's art director, and Yun co-founded Blizzard's Korean office and helped launch WoW in Asia.

A blurb at Red5 Studios' homepage states simply, "We're working on something a little different from most MMOs out there, and we are excited about where our passion for games will lead us." No other information on this title has been made public.


 Sony and IGN Buddy-Up


Sony has partnered with IGN to improve the PSP's online multiplayer capabilites using IGN's own Gamespy technology. Since Gamespy is already being used in countless PC and PlayStation 2 titles, developers should already be quite familiar with how the technology works. This should help to shorten development times for online-enabled PSP titles. Furthermore, this could also make the porting of games from other platforms to the PSP much easier.

Using the handheld's wireless connection, gamers will be able to play each other in their favorite PSP titles without distance being a factor. The vice president and general manager of IGN's publisher services commented: "New online elements in console and PC games like Battlefield 2 are increasing hours of game play and attracting more players... Now we are able to help add functions such as persistence and team play to the online game titles for PSP."

Earlier this year, Nintendo released a statement naming Gamespy technology as the provider of wireless connectivity for its upcoming next-generation console, Revolution. Perhaps this potential conflict of interests on IGN's part won't hinder any future gaming experiences.


 Gaming Bill Passes in CA Legislature

Just before the California legislature closed for the rest of the year, it passed a number of last-minute bills. One of these bills happens to be Leland Yee's infamous violent games bill that bans the sale of mature games to minors within state lines. The punishment for breaking this provision is no less than a $1000 fine.

The bill was passed yesterday by the California state senate by a 22-9 vote. Then the bill went to the state Assembly only to be approved by a 65-7 vote. The bill is now headed toward its final destination: Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk. The Governor has until October 9 to either sign or veto the bill. If the bill is signed, it will be slated to go into full effect on January 1, 2006.

Yee said in a statement, "Governor Schwarzenegger is no longer an action star but an elected representative of all Californians; I am hopeful that he will consider our children's best interests by signing this commonsense legislation into law and giving parents a necessary tool to raise healthy kids."

The law would require game retailers to label all M-rated games with a 2" x 2" sticker depicting the number "18" in large bold font. Consider that Gameboy Advance boxes are roughly 5" x 5" to get a good picture of the size of these stickers. The bill has received criticism because it makes no mention of and utterly bypasses the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and its duties. The bill, oddly enough, does not require games containing consensual sex, like the San Andreas Hot Coffee scene that started the controversy and this bill, to be labeled.

Source: GameSpot

 Stock Ticker

It's been a relatively good week for companies' stock prices. All but two are in the green, the two being Microsoft and EA. It seems that EA is still recovering from its NCAA and Madden summer high and Microsoft just seems to be steadily declining for no single, apparent concrete reason. There are even more Xbox games on the Top Ten than PS2 games, yet Sony's up and MS is down. A fickle thing this market is.

Sony is taking the crown for having the largest increase at $0.81. Conversely, Electronic Arts takes the dunce cap for largest decrease at $0.73. The remaining companies, except Nintendo and Sega, saw increases of $0.40 or more. The two exceptions only saw increases of $0.10 and $0.15, respectively.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 09.09.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 36.31 0.81
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 26.58 (0.03)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 13.75 0.10
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 56.12 (0.73)
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 27.57 0.42
KNM Konami NYSE 23.20 0.40
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 22.10 0.47
MWY Midway NYSE 16.06 0.58
SGAMY Sega PNK 18.15 0.15
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 52.27 0.75

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

Since the last issue, I've cancelled my Final Fantasy XI account and then decided to reactivate it. I also spent some time looking at other MMOs to play. Perhaps I should discuss this matter with RPGamer's resident MMO expert, but so far Guild Wars looks nice. I'll probably end up just sticking with FFXI in the end, though.

I also bought Advance Wars: Dual Strike last night. I haven't spent a lot of time on it yet, but it's pretty fun from what I've played. I wasn't going to buy it at first, but then everyone on the 'net praised it as the next messiah so I had to see what all the hubbub was about. I'll keep you posted on how that works out in the meantime. Until then, keep it fake.

Elliot "Buying too many games and not beating them fast enough" Guisinger

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