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Bobby Kotick

Game Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-Turn

Matt Gardner
Activision, BioWare, Bobby Kotick, Game Buzz, Mass Effect 3, Microsoft, Podcast, Precursor Games, PWNCAST, Shadow of the Eternals, Tali's face, Xbox One

Game Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-Turn

Game Buzz this week is stuffed with news! We have Microsoft's latest u-turn, as they pledge to bring self-publishing to the Xbox One; Shadow of the Eternals returns, with Solid Snake actor David Hayter in tow; we look at Microsoft's assertion that they'll challenge government spying; we chat about Bobby Kotick's Activision buyout; and a BioWare concept artist shows us what Tali's face might have looked like.

Game Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-Turn. Recorded 26th July, 2013.

Parental Advisory: We've tried to keep it as conversational and informal as possible, and you should be warned that there may be some instances of strong language.

Click the banner or the title link above to play the podcast, or right click and select 'Save Link As' to download the file onto your hard drive.

Want more? Check out the rest of our PWNCAST posts onsite, hit us up on iTunes, or subscribe to the PWNCAST Feed here.

Game Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-Turn Game Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-TurnGame Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-TurnGame Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-TurnGame Buzz | Episode 40 – Another Xbox One U-Turn

Kotick: EA Won't Profit From SWTOR "Economics"

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bobby Kotick, EA, MMO

Kotick: EA Won't Profit From SWTOR "Economics"

Throws Down MMO Gauntlet

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has spoken out to question whether EA stands to make a profit from upcoming BioWare MMO Star Wars: The Old Republic. Apparently the "economics" of the project benefit Lucasarts rather than the game's publisher due to royalty rights - and only a few companies have ever succeeded in the narrow RPG market. One of which, of course, is his own.

Sage advice? Or hilarious playground bluster to cover up the fact that WoW is haemorrhaging subscribers? Either way, it's got to be worth a read on this blustery Tuesday morning.

Click here to

Kotick: Guitar Hero Resurrection Underway

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bobby Kotick, DJ Hero, Guitar Hero
Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

Activision 'Pushed DJ Hero Down Our Throats'

The Guitar Hero franchise is sadly missed after Activision's shock franchise cull... but in an extraordinarily candid interview, controversial CEO Bobby Kotick has admitted that they simply stopped listening to consumers during the launch of DJ Hero. More interestingly, an unnamed studio is exploring new technology and prototypes for the series revival.

Click here to

Epic Games Would "Love" To Release Gears Of War Every Year, Shows Off New Tech

Felix Kemp
Bobby Kotick, Games news, Gears of War 3, Unreal Engine


Epic Games would "love" to annualize the Gears of War franchise, according to vice president, Mark Rein, who told the best videogame site on the net - not including us! - that if he "felt we could do it justice, who wouldn't want to have a yearly Gears of War?" Well, for starters, me; and a few million others I expect, but Rein went on to explain it's not likely such a development will occur, because Epic are "not that big a studio". Rein had just wrapped up a closed-door presentation detailing the latest iteration of his company's Unreal Engine 3, which he hopes will power the next generation of games.

And he likes Bobby Kotick? Read on for more!

Dealspwn Exclusive: Santa's Leaked Christmas List!

Jonathan Lester
Bobby Kotick, Christmas, Michael Pachter, Obsidian Entertainment, Santa

santa sleigh

I frequently come across leaked documents during my work as News Editor. My news desk overfloweth with rumours and rumblings... but now I've hit the motherlode. Santa kept this year's Christmas list on an unencrypted USB stick- so after hitting up xmasleaks.com, we can now exclusively tell you what our favourite industry figures and characters will be getting in their stockings this year!

Santa made a list. And we've checked it twice. It's time to find out who's been naughty or nice!

Obsidian: Incomplete Jigsaw

incomplete jigsaw

Santa's Notes: Oh, Obsidian. You've been a bit naughty this year. Fallout New Vegas was a cracking game- but was chock full of Ho Ho Holes! A lot of little girls and boys were disappointed when their save files, companions and quests went up in smoke.

So this Christmas, you'll be receiving a limited edition Vault Boy jigsaw puzzle... but half of the pieces aren't included. Some of them might get patched in through future updates! The ED-E piece is never going to fit properly, mind.

Gabe Newell: 2011 Calendar


Santa's Notes: I sympathise with Valve. Making over six billion toys a year means that I have to shroud my workshop in their "Valve Time" chronological dilation device... but even so, plenty of little kiddies started to cry after letting every single deadline slip through their fingers. The poor little tykes only wanted to play with portals and finally get their mitts on Episode 3.

Maybe I'll give them a 2012 calendar as well to make sure that they know the difference.

Kazunori Yamauchi: Padlocked Stocking


Santa's Notes: Polyphony Digital deserves a really nice present for Chrimbo. After all, he's been hard at work on GT5 for many years and has been a very good boy... just about. Unfortunately his decision to lock Gran Turismo 5's damage modelling was extremely disappointing, so he'll be getting his gift wrapped in a padlocked stocking that will only allow him access some time on Boxing day.

He'll need to spend over thirty hours working on it first!

Michael Pachter: Infinite Gobstopper


Little Mickey Pachter has been very naughty this year. Saying all those incorrect things about Gearbox, Red Ded Redemption and Playstation Move has caused a lot of equally naughty fanboys to have a lot of unseasonal arguments. [Note to self: remember to email Mr. Pachter about his rumours that I can't make enough presents for everyone this year.]

So maybe an infinite gobstopper would give him something to occupy his big mouth this year?

Bobby Kotick: Ghostly Visitations

ghostly visitations

Santa's Notes: I had to pull some serious supernatural strings for this one. After consulting my chief elf necromancer [note to self: never reveal existence of elvish necromancy], I've been able to guarantee that mean ol' Mr Kotick will be getting a little visit this Christmas Eve.

The Ghost Of Studios Past is going to swing by and have a little chat about Infinity Ward, and the Ghost of Developers Present is going to show him Tiny Tim Schafer's humble household. Oh, and the Ghost Of Bungie's Future is going to rough him up a bit.

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

Jonathan Lester
Alan Titchmarsh, Angels, Bobby Kotick, Demons, Dr. Mick Donegan, Gabe Newell, Jack Thompson, John Carmack, John Romero, Michael Pachter, Mike Bergenstjema, Randy Pitchford

2010 has brought us our fair share of unforgettable gaming heroes and villains... but the real world has provided us with an even more exciting motley crew. Our industry is dominated by larger than life characters and epic battles of good vs evil; so before this year comes to an end, it's time to take a look at the top ten gaming industry figures. And subject them to judgement.


Angels with dirty faces: Honourable Mentions

  • Cliffy B
  • Peter Molyneux
  • Keiji Inafune

5: John Carmack

john carmack in space

It takes a big man to brag about games to the media, but it takes an absolute legend to quietly soldier on with crafting exceptional technology. id Software's omniscient savant has been hard at work creating id Tech 5 and introducing us to the glorious Megapixel... and in his spare time, managed to get it running on an iPhone 4. Just because he was bored. John Carmack is mild-mannered, polite, enthusiastic and a GOD; easily deserving his place on the list.

4: Mike "Dr Mistry" Bergenstjema

dr mistry twit badge

You don't have to be a slick executive or a multi-millionaire to be a gaming angel. Despite being a hardworking independent developer with another day job, MStar Games' Mike Bergenstjema is always willing to lend a hand and offer advice to other Xbox Live Indie developers as well as stalwartly championing the undersung service at every opportunity. I've received numerous reports of him stepping in and going the extra mile to help games pass peer review and assist with other people's coding problems- which makes him an angel in our book.

It's been a great year for XBLIG- and with developers like Mike on the scene, we've no doubt that 2011 will be an absolute blinder.

3: Gabe Newell


Good ol' Gabe was always going to make an appearance. Valve's co-founder may be a cynical emergent tycoon, but he continually demonstrates unique kindness and charm despite constantly missing release dates. Well, nobody's perfect. Hiring loads of aspiring coders and putting them to work demonstrates that he recognises and awards upcoming talent (just look at Turtle Rock)... and he's more than willing to lumber onstage and open up their wares to Sony fans and Macintosh users alike. Nice one Gabe.

Read on to discover the archangels... AND THE BIGGEST DEMONS!

From Kotick's Humanity to Sumo's Bleeding Edge - News Roundup 27th September 2010

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bobby Kotick, Codemasters, F1 2010, Games news, Nintendo, Sumo Digital, Tim Schafer, Wii Motion Plus, Wiimote Plus

Kotick Loves Games; Betrayed by Friends; Slags Off Schafer

kotick smiley

It's been a while since the last update on the Infinity Ward scandal, but Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has been merrily keeping his company in the public eye these last few weeks. However, the controversial boss has recently opened up in a series of interviews... and even shown a human side (!).

Regarding the Infinity Ward Debacle, Kotick feels that West and Zampella forced Activision to carry out the deeply unpopular shock firings. More than that, he apparently considers it a betrayal on a personal level.

"It's one of those things where you get personally disappointed in people you trust and call friends. When you're betrayed by your friends, what do you do?"

Kotick went on to confirm that Infinity Ward are vigorously rehiring from a selection of 5000 candidates, and our current intel suggests that the studio is actively engaged in creating the next Modern Warfare title.

It's not all lollipops and rainbows, though. In a subsequent interview with EDGE magazine, Kotick hit back at the vociferous Double Fine head honcho Tim Schafer.

"I never had any involvement in [Brütal Legend], other than I was in one meeting where the guys looked at it and said, 'He's late, he's missed every milestone, he's overspent the budget and it doesn't seem like a good game. We're going to cancel it.' And do you know what? That seemed like a sensible thing to do. And it turns out, he was late, he missed every milestone, the game was not a particularly good game..."

Miaow. Finally, Bobby shrugged off the "taking the fun out of game development" quip as a joke that was taken out of context- and swears that he's as passionate about games as anyone in the business. [Edge Magazine]

Remember, folks: there's always two sides to every story. Has the passing of time mellowed your opinion of the controversial corporate figure? Or do you still feel that the IW ex-employees deserve to take him to the cleaners? Have your say in the comments!

Nintendo Confirms WiiMote Plus

new wiimote

Just a bit of housekeeping, folks. Last week we reported that eagle-eyed gamers spotted a WiiMote with an integral Motion Plus gyroscope... but the listing was soon pulled and Nintendo put up a wall of silence.

Now, however, Nintendo has confirmed the new peripheral. Frankly this move ought to have been taken months ago... but at least new gamers will be able to enjoy the added precision that Motion Plus brings to the table. [Gamesindustry]

Outrun Devs Working on "Bleeding Edge" Racing Game

sumo digital logo

Sheffield-based Sumo Digital are the SEGA superstars behind the Outrun and Virtua Tennis franchises... but they're apparently working on a next-gen racing title that will have "bleeding-edge" graphical capabilities. Details are thin on the ground, but it's likely that they'll be working for SEGA once again. They've also confirmed that it won't be an Outrun reboot. [Eurogamer]

Sumo Digital have also confirmed that a second series of Dr. Who downloadable games has been commissioned by the BBC.

F1 2010 Reaches Top of UK Charts

f1 2010

Halo Reach has been sitting pretty at the peak of the UK sales charts for the last fortnight- and with the recent release of Dead Rising 2, we thought this was going to be a two horse race. However, Codemasters'  F1 2010 has surpassed both to secure pole position. In fact, it's almost outsold both games combined according to several sources.

Bravo, Codemasters Birmingham.

Game Buzz 33: Bobby Kotick's Week Of Wisdom - Cutscenes, Subscriptions and Indie Devs

Carl Phillips
Activision, Bobby Kotick, Bungie, Game Buzz, Subscriptions


Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to your heart’s delight. This week we take a look at Activision-Blizzard’s ever-popular overlord to see if there really is method to the madness following his various statements in the last seven days.

Oooooh, that Bobby Kotick.

There, I felt that needed to be a paragraph all by itself. Those that follow the news of the Games Industry will most likely have voiced those four words in one form or another this week (probably with a few additional curse words) into a fully-fleshed paragraph of your own, for better or worse (probably worse), and are sick of the sight of him this week (more than probably.) Robert Kotick (or Bobby as he likes to be known to us little folk), the current CEO of Activision-Blizzard Entertainment, with an annual salary incomprehensibly beyond anything us mere mortals will earn in a lifetime, has for the best part of 18 months provided views on ActiBlizz’s products and on consumer behaviour which have caused, to put it bluntly, outrage in both the media and the voices of the gamers.


In doing so he's managed to elevate the company to the role of “the bad guys” along the way stealing the title “Evil Publisher” from wholesome-by-comparison Electronic Arts' grip. Sometimes you have to wonder if he believes his comments are only broadcast to the business elite or that us common folk don’t have the capacity to hear or understand anything he’s saying (assuming we could tear ourselves away from World of Warfare or Modern Warcraft 2 long enough to take them in, of course. We’re easily entertained minions after all!).

Click here to read the rest of Carl's article....

From Indie Trolls to Itagaki's Unknown Hardware - News Roundup 21st September 2010

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bobby Kotick, Bungie, D3, Devil's Third, Earth Defence Force: Insect Armageddon, News

Kotick Trolls Entire Indie Scene

haloreach kotick banner

Independent developers come in all shapes and sizes; from giants like Valve, Gearbox and Epic to small boutique developers like Mommy's Best Games. However, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick has decided to lump them all together and soundly take the piss... at least vicariously. When asked about their partnership with Bungie at a recent Comms and Entertainment conference, Kotick calmly responded that they represent the only decent Independent developer out there.

"They're probably the last remaining high quality independent developer. It's very hard to [pauses]... that has sort of has institutional skills and capabilities. And they're a real company."

Halo Reach is currently topping the UK charts and there's no doubt that Bungie are an excellent studio with one of the best community support elements in the business. However, I'm not going to patronise you by pointing out everything that's wrong with the above comment. Discuss.

Kotick went on to state that Activision's "CRM" (Customer Relationship Management) services were key in swinging Bungie's decision... but by threatening to sell cutscenes to gamers less than a week ago, I'm not sure that the current state of our "relationship" is entirely rosy at the moment. A little more trust wouldn't go amiss. [CVG]

Itagaki Making Devil's Third For "Unknown" Next Gen Hardware


Valhalla Entertainment is currently working on Devil's Third, a bloodthirsty and brutal brawler that's set to release in 2012. It's still a while away and is slated for both PS3 and Xbox 360, but Valhalla founder Tomonobu Itagaki has stated that it's being developed with mysterious currently unknown hardware in mind.

“We’re developing [Devil's Third] so that it can be brought to as yet unknown hardware as well. Specifically, the various areas of technology are scalable.”

This, in itself, is a laudable piece of future-proofing insurance that guarantees Devil's Third ought to look good two years down the line. However, you might be surprised by the choice of hardware that Itagaki's dreaming about. Since the Xbox 360 and PS3 are ostensibly still well within their projected lifespans, you might expect that this "unknown hardware" refers to the 3DS or PSP2... but Itagaki's talking about the next iteration of the Ninendo Wii.

"I can’t say this easily because I don’t have any information, it’s possible that Nintendo could release a higher end console."

So, is this an out of context quip or a prophetic vision of things to come? Well, Metroid creator Yoshio Yakamoto reckons that the next Ninty console will "leave our mouths open"... so there might well be something to it. [Andriasang via VG247]

D3 Teases Earth Defence Force: Insect Armageddon


One of the smaller announcements of this year's Tokyo Game Show was that D3 Publisher will be releasing another Earth Defence Force title. Insect Armageddon promises to continue the proud tradition of insane cheesy arcade thrills at a bargain price, but unfortunately assets have been very thin on the ground. Thankfully D3 have now released a teaser trailer that nicely sets the B Movie-esque tone. The bugs are back, baby.


EDF2017 is an exceptional budget game that more than deserves a second look. It may be ugly and broken; but it delivers 50 levels, hundreds of weapons and ludicrously fun arcade gameplay. Unfortunately Sandlot Games won't be at the helm this time around... and considering that Vicious Cycle Software has taken the reigns, we're a little worried about how it might potentially turn out.

From Legal Brawling to Sony's Firmware Apology - News Roundup 3rd August 2010

Jonathan Lester
Battle.net, Bobby Kotick, EA, Firmware 3.41, Games news, lawsuit, Phishing, PS3, PSN, Sony apology, Top Gun

Sony Apologises for Firmware Failure; Releases Fix

ps3 slim

Firmware update 3.41 hit last week, but a number of PS3 owners have reported a disturbing tendency for the patch to freeze mid-download and effectively brick their consoles. Sony has now released a fix for the download and apologised for the inconvenience.

"If you are experiencing such symptoms when replacing the HDD of your PS3 system, we kindly ask you to use the latest data and try again. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused, and appreciate your understanding and continued support"- James Gallagher, Sony Blog Manager

The update was intended to bring video recommendations to the PSN- and seems like a tiny upgrade to have warranted its own firmware patch. With any luck, Sony will revert to larger, more worthwhile firmware updates with improved quality control. [EU Playstation Blog]

Did you fall victim to these firmware woes? Let us know how Sony's customer service treated you and share your stories in the comments!

Warning: Battle.net Accounts Being Stolen


MMORPGs tend to attract an undesirable element of fraudsters, phishers, scammers and shills: and Blizzard's Battle.net is a common target for these filthy scum. According to numerous reports, a new phishing scam is capitalising on Starcraft II hype in order to steal account information.

Here's how it's going down. Battle.net users are receiving emails purporting to be from Blizzard offering free Starcraft II CD keys for either "loyalty" or providing a fake shopping receipt. These emails link to a fairly impressive Battle.net mockup with space to enter your account details for the free game- which of course results in identity theft and a fair amount of embarrassment. To counter this, simply remember that Blizzard very rarely contact their members directly by email- and only do so from an @blizzard.com or @battle.net account. They're certainly not in the habit of giving out free games.

The best defence is common sense. Remember: there's no such thing as a free lunch, and it's usually impossible to get something for nothing. Oh, unless it's one of our awesome deals, that is (quoth Jon, modestly). [Siliconera]

Top Gun is Too Close For Missiles, Switching to August 17th

top gun psn

Paramount has announced that the official downloadable Top Gun game will be hitting PSN on the 17th of August. Expect 16-player online dogmatches, a script penned by Jack Epps Jr. (who wrote the original film) and a whole mess of suspiciously macho adrenaline-fueled flight action.

Oh, and Kenny Loggins' Danger Zone has been licensed for the soundtrack... thus making this a thing that we want. Take my breath away!

EA Sued by 6000 Retirees, Kotick Loses Legal Battle


Lawsuits are great fun... provided that we get to observe them as a cynical outsider. They provide a much-needed dose of controversy, drama and scandal into an industry dominated by bland press releases and PR speak- and we've got a couple to bring to your attention.

6000 retired American Football players have filed a suit against EA for using their likenesses Madden NFL 09 without permission. Whilst they don't explicitly appear in the game (different names, natch), the veterans are arguing that their likenesses and uniforms were aped while they were still active sportsmen. They're seeking reparations for "blatant and prolific infringement," though they haven't mentioned a number yet. [Gamesindustry]

Oh, and just in case you didn't know, Activision boss Bobby Kotick has had to shell out over 1 million dollars in unpaid legal fees after a failed appeals court bid to reduce the amount. Following a juicy sexual harassment scandal in Kotick's shared private jet that resulted in a successful case against a number of parties, the controversial publishing mogul has been involved in a fierce legal battle against one of the States' toughest attorneys. You can read up on the sexual harassment case and subsequent knock-down legal brawl at LA Times, but many gamers may be pleased to see the controversial boss taken down a peg or two.

From Stuart Black's Bodycount Backout to Outed CoD Subscriptions? - News Roundup 19th July 2010

Jonathan Lester
Bobby Kotick, Bodycount, Call Of Duty, Codemasters, Dragon Age Origins, Games news, Modern Warfare 2, Rumour control, Stuart Black, Subscriptions

Stuart Black Leaves Bodycount Team


Stuart Black, the developer behind Black and the foulmouthed spokesman for upcoming beautifully-vulgar FPS Bodycount will be leaving the Codemasters team.

“Having created a great vision and direction for Bodycount, Stuart has decided to move on after three years with us.”

“He will see out his design role until October and, through the transition period, will continue to work with the talented development team that will take the game through to completion.”- Codemasters studio manager Adrian Bolton

No specific reason has been given for Black's decision to quit- but we're genuinely surprised to see it confirmed. Stuart has been a mainstay of the FPS headlines in recent months; issuing a constant stream of expletives, hyperbole and updates about Bodycount's development cycle. Considering his undeniable passion and position as as official Bodycount mascot, we can only assume that the dev team shouted down one of his ridiculous (or brilliant, or both) design decisions. Maybe a Lady Gaga-themed level? [via VG247]

Dragon Age Origins Gets a Big Fat Patch


Bioware has dropped the bomb on a massive patch for Dragon Age Origins that fixes a huge number of glitches, bugs and flagrant little coding issues across the board. Rogues will have special reason to rejoice, since daggers will now actually grant them the dexterity damage modifier they deserve. Oh, and memory leaks and corrupted save games should hopefully be a thing of the past.

Check out the full (and significantly long) list of tweaks and updates here. The patch will hit for the PC later today, though the console versions are currently awaiting testing and accreditation. [Bioware Forums]

Rumour Control: CoD Subscriptions Outed in Leaked Video?


Uh-oh. Bobby Kotick's been breathlessly fantasizing about instigating a membership subscription system for playing Call of Duty online for some time... and if a recent gameplay video is to be believed, the software and platform to do so may have already sneaked into Modern Warfare 2. For your delectation:

Hmm. Even if this video isn't doctored (considering it would be fairly easy to overlay a grey screen onto MW2 gameplay footage), there are any number of things that this video could be. Note, however, the Modern Warfare 2 Membersh... title hanging ominously over the menu like the sword of Damocles.

Personally I'd be very surprised if Activision is trying to sneak subscriptions into Modern Warfare 2 (considering that Black Ops is just around the corner)- but I'd be interested to see what you all make of it. I'd personally file this one under "Unlikely but plausible." [via TheSixthAxis]

Plants vs Zombies XBLA Confirmed and Dated for XBLA


Popcap fans and gardening aficionados will be delighted to hear that Plants vs Zombies will be dropping onto XBLA in September. According to leaked achievements discovered over the weekend, it will also contain a couple of new modes including multiplayer bowling.

According to the press release, this new version of Plants vs Zombies will boast "seven game modes, including two all-new multiplayer modes, 12 unique achievements and 21 mini-games," enhanced resolution and a quirky leaderboard system that involves creating a virtual clubhouse for your friends to visit! It will retail for 1200 Microsoft Points.

Game Buzz 24: Schafer and the Storm of Sensationalism

Matt Gardner
Bobby Kotick, Double Fine, Eurogamer Expo, Features, Game Buzz, Tim Schafer


Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to you heart’s delight. This week, we look at Tim Schafer's controversial recent comments to Eurogamer and the nature of press sensationalism.

Back in 2005, Kieron Gillen made a speech to a room full of indie developers at the Free Play Conference down under in Melbourne, Australia.  It was titled How To Use And Abuse The Gaming Press (And How The Gaming Press Wants To Use and Abuse You) and made some utterly fantastic points on the nature of the relationship between games journalists and industry creatives. In it, Gillen outlines seven lessons for the ambitious developer looking to raise the profile of their game, the last of which is headlined 'Be Good Copy'. Gillen stated that one of the questions he's most often asked is why the games presses always seem to quote the same people, Peter Molyneux in particular, and his eventual answer was four-fold:

  • He's enthusiastic, intelligent and extremely talkative
  • He's terribly indiscrete
  • He'll play games with ludicrous concepts
  • He'll get back to us

Image, you see is everything. This is an industry saturated with PR companies and marketing whizzkids, people desperate to place their products in the best possible light for those of us whose roles incorporate cultural mediation and critical discourse. With that in mind, it's easy to see why so many interviews and preview pieces are all essentially the same when it comes down to it.


Every so often, though, someone will say something that makes the hairs on the back of your neck tingle with excitement and force you to scribble it down as fast as humanely possible, eagerly anticipating the headline it might make or the reaction it might provoke. Not because it's necessarily sensationalist, not because it's anything particularly outlandish even, simply because it's a brutally honest opinion that gives us a little bit of insight into the hearts and minds of those talented individuals working behind the scenes.

Something like that happened this week.

Jump the break to find out what went down....

From The Xbox XMB to Tim Schafer's Big Mouth - News Roundup 15th July 2010

Jonathan Lester
Atari, Bobby Kotick, Dashboard, Games news, Haunted House, Tim Schafer, Total Prick, Xbox 360

Xbox 360 Dashboard Redesign to Hit This November?

xbox xmb

Leaked images of a redesigned Xbox 360 dashboard sneaked onto the internet last night, prompting speculation that a new GUI will hit this November to coincide with the new Family Plan Xbox Live Gold Membership package.

The new menus feature a smaller text font and drop down menus that are accessed from a horizontal bar. If that sounds familiar, this might be because it rips off bears a striking resemblance to Sony's XMB (Xross Media Bar). The displayed avatars also appear to be proportioned more realistically as compared to the current caricatured offerings- which is likely to allow them to better mimic full body motion when twinned with Kinect.

This is still a rumour at this stage since Microsoft have yet to make a formal announcement on the subject. However, I'd file this one under very plausible. [Thanks, Kotaku]

Tim Schafer: "I need to Keep My Mouth Shut"


Yesterday, Double Fine head honcho Tim Schafer publicly called Bobby Kotick a "total prick" and threw down on the Activision CEO's lack of respect and dogged devotion to the bottom line. After a terse (but fairly restrained) Activision reply, he's decided to tactically reign in his big mouth.

"I need to keep my mouth shut. It is shocking how you really burn bridges in the industry. You start your own company and you don't have to work for that jerky boss any more. Not naming names."

Schafer went on to explain that, regardless of his feelings about the controversial boss, the games industry is too small to make enemies over a throwaway comment. It's a shame, really, as it's great to see developers actually speak their minds every once in a while rather than hide behind standard noncommittal non-denials. [Eurogamer]

In other Double Fine news, apparently they now have four new games in the pipeline. Details are scarce at the moment, but apparently they will be smaller-scale parallel projects with lower budgets, dev teams and associated costs. Personally I think this could be a great fit for the company.

Atari to Revive Haunted House Franchise


XBLA and PSN provide the perfect marketplace (and the perfect excuse) to dredge up and reboot some classic gaming franchises for a new generation... and it looks like we're nearing the very bottom of the barrel. Atari has announced that the 30 year old Haunted House will be getting a next-gen revival, allowing us to return to the Graves mansion after a 29 year absence. Apparently it'll revolve around battling beasties, exploring the rambling mansion and some simple puzzle elements.

Haunted House has been dated for November for XBLA and PSN.... though I can think of a few more deserving franchises off the top of my head. I'm not sure that Haunted House quite has the nostalgia factor to be a major player- but why not have a gander at the trailer and see what you think? [1UP]

From the "Total Pr*ck" to Milo's Dark Adventures - News Roundup 14th July 2010

Jonathan Lester
3D, BioWare, Bobby Kotick, Dark Adventures, Games news, Lionhead, Milo, Peter Molyneux, Tim Schafer, Total Prick

Tim Schafer: Bobby Kotick is a "Total Prick"

kotick toon

Mean ol' Bobby Kotick is has been sitting pretty as the most hated industry figure of all time (though he's probably on Bungie's Christmas card list), and legendary developer Tim Schafer has joined the public hate parade to call him out as a... very nasty man. Strong language ahead, folks.

"His obligation is to his shareholders. Well, he doesn't have to be as much of a dick about it, does he? I think there is a way he can do it without being a total prick. It seems like it would be possible. It's not something he's interested in."

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. While Kotick is patently motivated by the bottom line rather than a genuine sense of diabolical evil, there's no doubt that respect and trust are an equally important part of business dealings. I appreciate that publishers have to prioritise their profits and shareholders above anything else (games have to make money, after all)... but as Schafer says, there has to be a better way.

Schafer went on to name Mario 64 and Casablanca as his favourite game and film of all time. Read the full interview here courtesy of Eurogamer.

We never miss an opportunity to call out Bobby Kotick's business practises... and neither do you guys. Drop us a line in the comments!

Milo has Dark Adventures... but No Release Plans


As we foretold last week, Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux has spilled the beans on his virtual child simulator at the TED Talk. It's actually a very impressive piece of coding.

According to the tech demo and presentation, Milo uses a number of psychological tricks to get you to buy into his its humanity. Full facial expression control makes the 'player' start to genuinely care about the character (with blushing, watery eyes and even flared nostrils creating an unconscious feeling that Milo's stressed or upset)- and plays upon the latent paternal and maternal feelings that we all feel (to some extent) when faced with a child in distress. Apparently, full facial recognition also takes around 45 minutes to set in- which we hope can be integrated into other games.

Most worryingly, Molyneux also stated that Milo can engage in a number of adventures... some of which are "pretty dark." We dread to think, but we've already postulated that Milo's potential capacity to feel pain could cause an interesting ethical grey area down the line. As soon as he's classified as a living organism, it might be time to call the NSPCC... bad Molyneux. [VG247]

Bioware Snubs AAA Titles and Gimmicky 3D


A double threat from Bioware today. The disputed kings of the Western RPG have stated that the games industry has started to chase big blockbusters rather than champion innovation, and that there's more money to be made with smaller teams and smaller games in the long run. Apparently, the age of Triple-A titles are coming to an end. This does seem an odd thing to say considering Bioware's reliance on big games and small DLC, however... [Gamesindustry]

In other Canadian RPG developer news, Bioware's Greg Zeschuk has heaped both praise and scorn on Sony's push towards 3D gaming, stating that the effect is gimmicky but offers some serious long term potential if developers stick with the concept.

"Games, when they are done well in 3D, are absolutely better. Part of the problem is the perception that’s it’s super gimmicky...That’s the entirely wrong way to do it, this big gimmicky construction.

“Once we get past that, once we get past the adoption and the costs, the glasses… but that’s a long way away.”

Zeschuk believes that Nintendo has "trumped everyone" with the 3DS thanks to the fact that glasses are definitely not required. [Gamesindustry]

3D Gaming has been recently receiving a battering in the recent press and on our current poll. Want to have your say? Drop us a line in the comments!

From Activision's PC Dreams to the Heroic DS - News Roundup 6th July 2010

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bobby Kotick, DS, Games news, Hero, Legend, Nintendo, PC, Playstation Move, Sony

Kotick Wants Consoles Replaced by TV-linked PCs


I genuinely shudder when I imagine Bobby Kotick's dream of an Activision-friendly future. Nightmarish visions of  lava pits, hellgates and public executions of unfaithful creative developers all flash before my eyes... but apparently, the first thing he'd like is for the PC development scene to start flourishing again.

Comparing the console market to a "walled garden", the reviled industry figure surprised many pundits (including this one) by stating that Activision would make a lot more money by backing PC developers and developing for open platforms. Kotick suggests that streamlined gaming rigs with direct HDMI output for televisual use would revolutionise the industry... and, of course, make him even more money. To this end, he's even promised to financially back any manufacturer wiling to give it a go.

You know, this actually makes a lot of sense. Whilst my gut's telling me that this is some sort of diabolical Activision trap, I can see the benefits of TV-linked gaming PCs over consoles in the long run. What about you guys? [1UP]

Japanese Playstation Move Launch Lineup Revealed


Sony has unveiled their Japanese Playstation Move launch lineup- as well as the forthcoming titles that will utilise the motion control peripheral. We've been given a September 15th release date for the controller itself here in the UK and can expect a similar selection of games.

  • EyePet
  • Sports Champion
  • Beat Sketch
  • High Velocity Bowling
  • Kung Fu Rider
  • Time Crisis Razing Storm
  • Resident Evil 5 Gold Edition (Move compatibility patch)

Following the launch, we can expect several more titles to drop over the forthcoming months. These titles include Echochrome (November), The Fight: Lights Out (November), Motion Party (November) followed by Sorcery and Heroes on The Move in 2011.

Killzone 3, Hustle Kings, Heavy Rain and SOCOM 4 are also going to support Playstation move, though there's no official word on release/patch dates yet. [andriasang]

Looking forward to any of these titles in particular? Want to sing the praises of one we omitted? Or fancy ragging on the peripheral in general? Drop us a line in the comments!

Hero Child Saves Family With DS


You know that videogames don't cause violence and turn our rosy-cheeked youth into slavering cannibalistic serial killers. I know that. In fact, almost everybody does- but there's an extremely vocal idiot minority that simply refuse to do their homework or accept responsibility themselves. If confronted by one of these idiots, might I suggest shoehorning the following news story into your argument?

According to the Bendigo Advertiser, a seven year old Australian child named Christopher was able to rescue his family from an overturned car by using his Nintendo DS as a torch, finding his mother's mobile phone and calling for help. The heroic kid subsequently helped one of his brothers out of the car and has been awarded a medal for bravery.

Sure, you could argue that the phone saved the family rather than the handheld... but then again, you can't use a book or a football as an emergency flashlight, can you?

Casting all videogame discussion and pointscoring aside, though, we applaud young Christopher and his quick thinking. Way to go, kid.

From Kotick's British Threats to Kinect's Specs - News Roundup 30th June 2010

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bobby Kotick, Fable 3, Games news, Great Britain, Kinect, Microsoft, Milo, Molyneux
Fable III

Kotick To Declare War on British Game Development?


In response to the Coalition Government's retraction of gaming tax break legislation, Activision Force of Darkness head honcho Bobby Kotick has issued an ultimatum: Tax Breaks or Die! Or words to that effect.

“For us to continue to invest in the UK there needs to be an incentive provided for us to do so,” he said. “The talent pool in the UK is among the best in the world for what we do. But we really need to see some more incentives."

Kotick went on to strongly hint that Canada, Singapore and the Eastern Bloc countries offer similar incentives... and considering that Activision owns Bizarre Creations and FreeStyleGames, they're technically in a position to bargain. However, since we've been revealed to be a gaming nation at heart, this is almost certainly a negotiation gambit rather than a genuine threat. On one hand: this is pretty low from a man who, by all rights, ought to be cultivating ever last shred of positive public image he can. On the other, the removal of gaming tax breaks from the government's agenda is a controversial issue that may damage our tech markets and economy and markets. [Financial Times]

Is Kotick a money-grabbing devil or a champion of Bristish Developers' Financial Rights? What side are you on?

Molyneux Defends Milo Tech; Reveals Episodic Fable III Release


Yesterday brought us the (fairly predictable) news that 'virtual children' Milo and Kate will be a tech demo for a larger game experieice rather than a game in their own right- but Peter Molyneux has taken the time to defend the technology as well as deliver a few choice words to Aaron Greenberg.

“All that technology that we showed at E3 last year actually does work. Milo has been a really hard thing to do and a really hard thing to describe. Poor Aaron Greenberg – he’s on the PR team, he hasn’t seen it since last year, so he came up with this stock answer that Milo is alive and well and living in Guildford but it’s still a tech demo.”

So there, Aaron. We'll fill you in on all the Milo updates after Molyneux's TEDGlobal talk next month. [VG247]

In other news, Molyneux also revealed that Fable III will be available in bite-sized downloadable episodic chunks from Xbox Live Marketplace.

Kinect Specs Revealed...Only Two Active Players?


Play.com has revealed Kinect's Technical Specifications- and for your delectation (especially for any tech fanatics out there), we've published the full details below. Many of these specifications won't come as a surprise to anyone, but there are a couple of interesting and worrying points that I'd like to shine some light on (in red).

  • Sensor
    • Colour and depth-sensing lenses
    • Voice microphone array
    • Tilt motor for sensor adjustment
    • Fully compatible with existing Xbox 360 consoles
  • Field of View
    • Horizontal field of view: 57 degrees
    • Vertical field of view: 43 degrees
    • Physical tilt range: ± 27 degrees
    • Depth sensor range: 1.2m - 3.5m
  • Data Streams
    • 320x240 16-bit depth @ 30 frames/sec
    • 640x480 32-bit colour @ 30 frames/sec
    • 16-bit audio @ 16 kHz
  • Skeletal Tracking System
    • Tracks up to 6 people, including 2 active players
    • Tracks 20 joints per active player
    • Ability to map active players to LIVE Avatars

So, where to start? Whilst the field of view seems a little too narrow for my liking, the eye is instantly drawn to the respective resolutions of the two cameras. 640x480 seems to be a ludicrously low resolution for a c. £120 piece of kit- especially considering that you could easily pick up two VGA webcams of the same resolution with change from £30.

Perhaps more vexingly, however, the specs indicate that only 2 active players can be supported at once... with 4 inactive players waiting in the wings. We assume that this means that 6 players can compete in a tournament with 2 players competiting head-to-head at any one time... but considering that the Wii supports up to 4 players at once, this could be a seriously tough sell. [Play.com via Kotaku]

Spotted something that we've missed? Still psyched for Kinect? Drop us a line in the comments!

From Kotick's Deepest Desire to The Red Eye of Doom - News Roundup 21st June 2010

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bobby Kotick, Call Of Duty, David Jaffe, Games news, Microsoft, Sony, Twisted Metal, Xbox 360

Kotick's Deepest Desire: To Charge CoD Subscriptions


In a rare moment of candour and honesty, Activision Archdemon CEO Bobby Kotick was quizzed by the Wall Street Post... and asked a remarkable question. What would he do if if he could have a single wish granted at the click of his fingers? Place your bets, folks. West and Zempella's heads on a pike? A Scrooge McDuck money vault? A lava pit built directly into the newly gutted Infinity Ward offices?

Well, it turns out that he'd charge us monthly subscriptions to play Call of Duty online... and is deeply annoyed that he didn't think of it sooner.

“I would have Call of Duty be an online subscription service tomorrow. I think we could do a lot more to really satisfy the interests of the customers. I think we could create so many things, and make the game even more fun to play. We haven’t really had a chance to do that yet, so that would be my snap of the fingers.”

When asked whether this was in the pipeline, Kotick replied: "hopefully." Remember, folks: sometimes dreams do come true... [Wall Street Post via NEOGAF]

Let's turn this around. What would you do to the games industry if you could have a single wish granted? Drop us a line in the comments!

360 S Introduces Red Eye of Impending Doom!


Many gamers were amused by the fact that the new Xbox 360S will no longer be able to succumb to the Red Ring of Death... not because the problem has necessarily been rectified, but because the 'ring of light' has literally been removed! However, the 360S still has a way of telling you that something seriously bad is going down- and it's even more sinister than before.

Say hello to the Red Eye of Impending Doom.

The REID lights up when the console senses that it's running too hot- and then it literally shuts itself down after flashing up a warning. Basically, it will give us a few seconds to say a prayer and grab our ankles! One question though... can this auto shutdown occur in the middle of an autosave? This could lead to some serious file corruption without relevant safeguards. [via Kotaku]

Twisted Metal Has Been in Development For 18 Months


We have mixed feelings about captain obvious Michael Pachter here at Dealspwn, but his prediction of a new Twisted Metal game was admittedly a good shout. David Jaffe's unveiling of the new Twisted Metal title was one of the few main "surprises" at this year's E3, and we've finally got a few details about his oft-denied offering.

Jaffe has been staunchly and violently denying that a new TM title was in the pipeline, but according to his Twitter feed, he's actually been working on it for 18 months. That's an awfully long time to be caught with your pants on fire, Dave! The reknowned developer has also stated that the last year and a half have been the most fun he's ever had.

Twisted Metal is clearly going to be very special indeed, though it's far too soon to make any value judgements just yet. Why not check out the recent (and crazy) gameplay trailer and see what you think? [VG247]

Game Buzz 11: Kotick's Folly - To Infinity Ward And Beyond

Matt Gardner
Activision, Bobby Kotick, EA, Features, Game Buzz, Games deals, Infinity Ward, Modern Warfare, Wempella


Game Buzz is a weekly opinion column designed to take an irreverent look at one of the biggest news stories to break in the past week. Every Friday we’ll be bringing you another slice of reaction to topical gaming news, and inviting you to agree, disagree, shout assent, vent rage, scream and complain to you heart’s delight. This week, we return to the Infinity Ward controversy and ask how come EA are now the good guys.

There will probably be a movie version of the events that have unfolded over the past couple of months between Activision and Infinity Ward. It’s a classic tale after all: a big bad corporation led by a CEO (I personally envisage Kotick being played by either Christopher Lee in a fat suit, or by Will Ferrell/Danny McBride for laughs) who is alternately pantomime villain and corporate fat pie squeezes and grinds down its blockbuster producing development subsidiary.

There is talk of contractual re-negotiation, of bonuses not being paid, internal shakedowns and policies designed to bathe the workspace in a pervasive cloud of perpetual fear. The corporation fears that its award-winning development team is becoming too self-aware and so, to reassert the chain of command, it is decided that rebellion must be crushed with a pre-emptive strike – before insubordination can rear its ugly head, it’s time to cut off the head completely. But all is not well, and this only serves to further alienate the creatives from their financially minded, suited and booted progenitors.

A vid courtesy of PC Gamer that puts IW's losses into perspective

The above is pretty much the state of affairs as seen through the eyes of online media, and it’s certainly an attractive narrative. But just like the Wolf on hit Nineties Saturday television staple Gladiators, Kotick has styled himself as ‘the man we love to hate’ and it is a persona that we, both as an expectant media-savvy audience and, indeed, as gamers ourselves, have welcomed and accepted virtually without question.

With that in mind, much like a game of Chinese whispers or adolescent playground gossip, it’s virtually impossible to tell exactly what happened and we shall probably never know for certain. Both sides’ legal documents have more than a grain of truth in them, but are also couched in terms of barely concealed seething antagonism and no doubt exaggerated accusation.

Click here to find out why Activision might still shed a tear or two...

From Master Chief Mystery to Bizarre Bioware Bazaar - News Roundup 31st March 2010

Jonathan Lester
Activision, Bazaar, BioWare, Bobby Kotick, Bungie, GAME, Halo Reach, Kot, Master Chief, News
Halo: Reach

Bungie: Something "Big" is Coming... Chief?


Bungie's Twitter feed has been promising us that "something big" is heading our way, and a mysterious picture of a Mjolnir armour helmet has sent the community into fevered speculation. Specifically, a familiar green Mjonlnir helmet. Could Master Chief be coming to Halo Reach? It's plausible; after all, the Chief was stationed at Reach during the game's timeframe (according to the official canon).

This is still a rumour until Bungie confirms it, but I'm excited nonetheless. However, it's perfectly possible that they'll simply be giving away some armour as a Beta reward and just want to drum up some extra publicity. My personal guess would be that our favourite Spartan will be playable in certain missions to document the Sigma Octanus campaign. Yeah, I'm a Halo geek. [Bungietweets]

Update: April Fool! You got me, Bungie.

Bioware Apologises for "Epic" Bazaar Countdown


Bioware has finally unveiled the purpose behind the mysterious "epic" countdown that has been whipping their global fanbase into a frenzy. A sequel announcement, perhaps? A brand new IP? A new singleplayer KOTOR? No such luck, folks.

It's just a competition that's only open to American audiences. Called the "Bazaar", this event resembles an online auction that offers a range of prizes from laptops to collectible figurines... but we can't get involved. Naturally, Bioware's European fans are more than a little peeved about getting excited over nothing; especially from a traditionally classy company like Bioware. Their bosses have been quick to apologise.

"We recognize that BioWare has a global community, and the Bazaar this week was originally intended to be an international event to reflect our truly global fanbase. Unfortunately, we encountered some last-minute legal complications." - Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk

"Where we went wrong is in how we marketed it to you and for that I apologise. We used the word 'Epic' before we had proven that it was. Sorry. We also used the Countdown timer to generate interest. In hindsight, this allowed rampant speculation which caused disappointment." Bioware Community forum post

Apparently Bioware will be holding a similar competition just for the excluded regions. [via Joystiq]

Activision Confirm UK Job Losses


Activision announced their proposed restructuring during the West/Zampella debacle, and it's finally been put into motion. Unfortunately, it's going to cost a fair few British jobs. Activision UK is currently culling their marketing and IT departments; and we'll bring you the exact numbers as soon as we know.

Here's the condescending corporate bullsh*t official line:

"We are realigning our structure to better reflect our slate and the market opportunities in Europe as well as directing our resources against the largest and most profitable business segments. Like any successful business, Activision Publishing consistently works to align its costs with its revenues - this is on ongoing process."

Looks like a fair few employees are going to be aligned with the exit door, but I'm a little worried by the phrase "ongoing process." We wish these former employees the best of luck finding new opportunities.

Activision's reorganisation has split the company into four distinct units, each responsible for a single key Activision product. CEO Mike Griffith has been promoted to Vice Chairman, and CFO Thomas Tippl to Chief Operating Officer. [Gamesindustry.biz]

From James Bond To Modern Warfare: News Roundup 7th August

Activision, Bobby Kotick, Brutal Legend, Call Of Duty, James Bond, News

Activision dominate today’s roundup with CEO Bobby Kotick revealing how he wants more of your money. Also, Brutal Legend is still on the road for an October release following the dispute with Activision. A new James Bond is confirmed by Activision, and finally, Robert Bowling reveals Infinity Ward's plan for the prestige edition of Modern Warfare 2 to be an actual limited edition.

Brutal Legend Still Set For October Release


A Judge’s decision regarding the Brutal Legend lawsuit filed by Activision was expected to be made by today. Activision, the games former publisher, hoped to block release of the game, claiming the games release would damage them immensely. In the build up to the trial, the Judge implied he was more likely to rule in favour of current developer Double Fine. However this decision never had to be made, as the hearing has been cancelled thanks to an out of court agreement between Activision and Double Fine. The game is now set for its already late October release, with no apparent obstructions in the way.  [Gamespot]

Activision Want More Of Your Money


Much outrage was caused by Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’s price tag of £55, but for Activision’s CEO Bobby Kotick, the price couldn’t be lower. A conference allowing some of these price issues to be addressed revealed Kotick’s money hungry attitude.

Analyst Tony Gikas questioned Activision's ‘comfort level’ regarding peripheral-based and expensive games. Company president and CEO of publishing Michael Griffith responded commenting on “very strong retailer acceptance and support for all parts of our plan, including ... our price points”. Kotick however sees things differently, answering “And Tony, you know if it was left to me, I would raise the prices even further”. It seems Bobby isn’t happy with £99.99 for Tony Hawk Ride, or £55 for Modern Warfare 2, no way, he wants the clothes off our back. What’s next? Our soul[Spong]

Modern Warfare 2 Prestige Edition Very Limited


Infinity Ward community manager Robert Bowling is excited about the fact that the Prestige edition of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will actually be limited. “We've already been asked by retailers to up the production numbers due to demand, which we immediately denied” said Bowling. “We decided from the beginning that we want this to be for the hardcore fans and early adopters. The fact that it is actually limited is one of the coolest parts, which is why we've individually numbered every copy”.

Bowling comments on how “cool” he believes the night vision googles are, pointing out how the idea progressed simply from a limited edition containing a stylized case, a fake flashbang and dog-tags. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a night owl then you have to be quick, as the Prestige edition will only be on sale once, and as previously stated ‘limited’.  [IGN]

New James Bond Game Confirmed


A new James Bond game is currently in the works according to Activision. The Quarterly earnings call from Activision indicated a 007 title is in the works, with a release date of next year. Activision president Mike Griffith confirmed this, but didn’t elaborate further, only saying that development was in line with the “company's commitment to proven franchises”. The last James Bond title along with most received lukewarm reviews (the obvious exception being Goldeneye), so hopefully Activision can give James Bond the game he deserves this time around.  [VG247]