MediaFile

“Modern Warfare 3″ vs “Battlefield 3″ fight turns ugly

The showdown between next fall’s biggest first-person shooters escalated at E3 this week, with EA’s and Activision Blizzard’s top brass exchanging some vitriol. Bobby Kotick, Activision Blizzard’s CEO first went on CNBC on Monday claiming that EA’s “Battlefield 3″ was just a PC title with only a ”small audience.” In response, EA’s CEO, John Riccitiello, told Reuters that Kotick was spreading misinformation about “Battlefield 3″ and that contrary to what Kotick said, it would be widely available on consoles.

Here’s what both CEOs told me:

BOBBY KOTICK, CEO, ACTIVISION BLIZZARD

“We just want to stay true to the interest of the Call of Duty fans and we try to not get distracted by what people are doing. I can’t objectively tell you what I think of other products until I see them. Battlefield I’ve only seen on a PC and nobody’s seen it on a console yet. Most of our consumers play games on a console. Until I see it on a console, I wouldn’t be objective on commenting on it.”

JOHN RICCITIELLO, CEO ELECTRONIC ARTS

“It’s the beginning of the war and (Kotick) recognizes they’re going to be threatened. We’re going to have a clash of the titans this fall. The very fact that he’s trying to cast doubt on our game is a perfect example of how we got his goat. In terms of where this goes, we think our PS3 game is better than their Xbox game and our PC game is better than their PC game. If that’s all he’s got to say, it’s obviously going to evaporate as we launch all three. If you went to our press conference, you saw the PS3 footage and the Xbox footage. If Bobby thinks that is PC footage, he’s in real trouble.”

EA cuts out middleman, launches video game download service

It might be a few days before a stampede of people will storm into the LA convention center to catch the video game industry’s latest wares but EA wasted no time in getting out the word about its new digital download service, dubbed “Origin.”

“Origin”, which EA announced on Friday, lets consumers buy and download PC games directly from the publisher online, as well as track all of their games across different platforms.

Publishers like digital delivery of games to consumers because they offer higher margins than games sold in brick and mortar stores like GameStop.  EA has been pushing its digital strategy hard to investors and its digital business is now growing faster than the company’s overall business.

Penny Arcade Expo East: Nothing small here

256256696Believe it or not, there were crowds gathered on Friday doing something else besides waiting for an iPad 2.  About 60,000 people swarmed Boston for Penny Arcade East, a major  convention for video game fans on the East Coast.

PAX doesn’t garner as much media attention as industry shows like E3 in Los Angeles each summer, where major games companies announce new products. While there aren’t as many reporters or  or executives in attendance, PAX EAST is still a big event for gamers- the hoards of people who help make the $60.4 million video game industry bigger than Hollywood.

It’s for people like Andrew Hydrusko, a 23-year-old student who drove from Delaware with four friends so he could dress as his favorite Mega Man character, Protoman, at the show. He donned a poncho, bullets and a painted motorcycle helmet reminiscent of a power ranger,  as he waited to play Guild Wars 2, an upcoming MMO game from NCsoft.

GlobalMedia-Ghosts of Atari haunt gaming sector dealmakers

MEDIA-SUMMIT/The video game sector is often seen as being particularly ripe for consolidation, with some expecting old line media giants such as Time Warner to swoop in and scoop up a publisher to diversify their entertainment rosters.

But Strauss Zelnick, chairman of “Grand Theft Auto” publisher Take-Two Interactive, remains surprised by the lack of action on the consolidation front. “I think the legacy media companies have not been especially aggressive about interactive entertainment,” he said at the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York on Wednesday. His company, of course, fought off Electronic Arts’ hostile takeover bid in 2008.

“I have to admit there are times when I’m surprised they’re not more exposed.”

GlobalMedia-Gaming giants differ on mobile, social games

kotickMuch of the buzz in gaming these days revolves around two small but fast-growing areas: social games and mobile ones played on smartphones. But two titans of the video game industry have decidedly different takes on those markets.

There are already tens of thousands of game apps available for the iPhone and competing Android smartphones, and tens of millions of people playing free games on Facebook.

Still, Activision CEO Bobby Kotick (pictured) sounded less than enthusiastic about those markets when he spoke to the Reuters Global Media Summit in New York on Tuesday. And that represented a stark contrast from what Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello said just a day earlier

GlobalMedia: EA nabs triple word Scrabble score from Oprah

oprah Forget sports tournaments or new movie releases as boosters for game demand. Electronic Arts’ latest hero is America’s most famous chat show host.

Chief Executive John Riccitiello,  at the Reuters Media summit, went out of his way to praise Oprah Winfrey, whose recent shout-out of Scrabble  gave a new lease of life to the not-so-new word game.

“We’re very thankful to Oprah for mentioning Scrabble on iPad as one of her ultimate favorite gifts. There was a 400 percent pop … on her word.” He said. “I think there’s different grades of favorite so we were happy to be among her ultimate favorites.”

Social gaming — what the real players say

FacebookSocial gaming is just barely old enough to be called an industry, but already the battle lines are emerging between major players Zynga, Playdom and Playfish.

Playdom and Playfish, since their acquisitions by the Walt Disney Co and Electronic Arts Inc respectively, have focused on bringing their branded intellectual property to the social gaming world. That could include a possible Playdom game with Marvel superhero characters, or the Playfish version of Monopoly now in the works (EA owns the digital rights to the board game). 

Zynga is by far the industry leader in revenue and size, but it lacks the deep vaults of intellectual property that come with being part of a conglomerate such as Disney.  So it has taken a different tack by focusing on marketing tie-ins with the likes of McDonald’s and convenience store chain 7-11. “One of the things that we really believe is going to happen is we think there is going to be much more connection between the virtual world and the real world,” Cadir Lee, chief technology officer for Zynga, told Reuters.

E3 gameshow + NBA finals = traffic headache

e31As if the world’s most important video game trade show weren’t enough to snarl the already migraine-inducing traffic conditions that Los Angeles is famous for, the NBA Finals intruded on Tuesday to make things just a little bit more aggravating.

The E3 Expo brings all the leading lights of the gaming world, plus thousands of media types and fanboys, into downtown LA for a week of revelry. The event takes up residence at the LA Convention Center, and the show floor opened to predictable excitement at noon on Tuesday

Right next door to the LACC is the Staples Center, site of Game 6 in the series between the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics, which drew an additional 19,000 or so purple-and-gold clad fans into the area ahead of the 6 PM start.

from Summit Notebook:

More or less fun in a recession? It’s a tough call

EA_Jens_Uwe_Intat_SVP_Reuters_Summit_Paris_2010_17_May_30pctStill unsure whether economic recession is good or bad for video-games sales, more than a year in? If so, you're in good company -- neither does the world's biggest games publisher. Electronic Arts' head of European publishing says the company still hasn't figured out whether people cut spending on big items like housing and cars first, or whether those kinds of decisions are just too hard.

"We really wonder, hmm, in economically difficult times would people in order to have SOME fun actually play more games or less games, and then, would they spend more or less?  It's really, it's impossible to say," Jens-Uwe Intat told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in Paris.

In the early days of the downturn, the industry was widely thought to be recession-proof as people chose cheap stay-at-home entertainment over pricey nights out. That assumption was later turned on its head.

Saints over Colts, says EA’s “Madden”

maddenIf Electronic Arts’ recent track record on Super Bowl predictions is any guide, it looks like New Orleans may well bring home the Lombardi Trophy on Sunday.

EA ran a simulation of the Super Bowl XLIV matchup through its popular “Madden NFL 10” game on the Xbox 360, and the Saints edged the Indianapolis Colts 35-31.

A little taste of play-by-play from the world of make-believe sports:

“With the game hanging in the balance, Drew Brees hits David Thomas for an 11-yard touchdown and the game winning score. Drew Brees takes home MVP honors as the Saints earn their first Super Bowl Championship title in the franchise’s 46 year history.”