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From Take-Two's Borderlands to Microsoft's New Avatar Programme - News Roundup 19th December

Matt Gardner
Borderlands, Microsoft, News, PlayStation Home, Sony, Take-Two

Today's news roundup sees multiplayer FPS Borderlands streak past the 2 million mark in sales figures, Sony announce that Playstation Home has reached 10 million registered users, and Microsoft outline a new keep fit programme for reaching out to a wider audience that basically consists of copying the Wii and calling gamers fat.

From Take-Two's Borderlands to Microsoft's New Avatar Programme - News Roundup 19th December

Borderlands Sells 2 Million Units To Keep Take-Two Afloat

Borderlands has now sold over 2 million copies according to publishers Take-Two Interactive. Although originally released by 2K Games - who have themselves dropped a game or two this year due to fiscal issues - Take-Two owns the long-term publishing rights and, after the game enjoyed a barnstorming performance upon release, the company has described the game as a "key franchise" in its marketing strategy.

This is hardly surprising, however, considering that Take-Two's figures for 2009 tumbled down 39% from the previous year. A dip in financial form was always going to be on the cards considering the success of GTA IV last year, though, and the company will be hoping to bounce back in 2010 with big hitters such as BioShock 2, Mafia II, Max Payne 3 and Red Dead Redemption. I must say, it's nice to see that, in the middle of a recession, it was a gamble on a new IP rather than a hurried rehash of an existing franchise that wound up boosting Take-Two's sales. [Eurogamer]

From Take-Two's Borderlands to Microsoft's New Avatar Programme - News Roundup 19th December

Playstation Home Reaches 10 Million Registered Users

Whether you perceive it as a useful networking system, an innovative hub for gamers and developers to come together, or simply as a shiny gimmick that takes up space on your hard-drive, Sony's Playstation Home is proving popular, having garnered a good 10 million users in the year or so that it's been up and running.

With the recent addition of the Uncharted 2 game space, and with a Motorstorm space due in the near future, Home's Business Manager, Dan Hill had this to say on passing the milestone:

"PlayStation Home is fast becoming the meeting place of choice between users and developers. Every new game space enhances the overall experience for consumers, offering more variety, more choice and more enjoyment from a PlayStation Home session. The more game spaces there are, the better it gets, and the number of spaces keeps on growing. For developers, there's no better way of driving interest in their titles than giving fans a hands-on, interactive experience based around the game itself. A game space in PlayStation Home ought to be a core element of every studio's marketing strategy for new titles."

It should be noted, however, that the impressive figures are for anyone and everyone who has ever logged onto Home, including those that went to check it out for the first time, and simply never came back. Although it's probably true that most people with a Playstation have checked out Home if only out of curiosity, the digital hub's retention rate is distinctly less than impressive. [1up]

From Take-Two's Borderlands to Microsoft's New Avatar Programme - News Roundup 19th December

Microsoft Patents A New Avatar System

News emerged yesterday that Microsoft have patented a new avatar system, probably to be implemented alongside the upcoming Natal, to try and encourage gamers to be fit fit, healthy, and to exercise more. The nattily titled 'Avatar Individualised By Characteristic' patent proposes "an avatar generator for a virtual environment reflects a physiological characteristic of the user, injecting a degree of reality into the capabilities or appearance." In other words, gamers can expect their avatars to mimic their own love-handles, cankles and moobs.

Microsoft proposes to obtain this information via a "third party health data collection repository, a healthcare smart card, a real-time physiological sensor (e.g., blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose, peak flow, pedometer, etc.)" which sounds s little bit like a bunch of peripherals we've seen released for the Wii. Microsoft aim to take this a step further, however, by rewarding fervent health nuts with "capabilities of a gaming avatar, an amount of time budgeted to play, or a visible indication" whereby "people are encouraged to exercise."

This all sounds a little bit nuts to me. Will we be able to switch this feature on and off? What about disabled users, how will this new avatar system affect them? What do you guys think? You can check out the patent here, sound off in the comments section below with your thoughts. [1up]

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