Winners and Losers: Week of 9/23/07
Each week Game Freaks 365 compiles a list of the perceived winners and losers of the week based on news events. Since we don’t like useless (and highly controversial) gaming related Top 10 lists, we feel this fills that void for our readers. The winners and losers may be people, companies, systems, franchises – really anything. The lucky (and unlucky) ones this week are…
You can question whether or not Halo 3 is the best video game ever. You can’t question whether it’s the biggest video game launch ever. The fact is indisputable: Halo 3 is not just a AAA video game, it’s an entertainment industry blockbuster. Preliminary Halo 3 sales put it at $170 million on Day 1. That beats any game, movie, book or album before it, including Spider-Man 3 and the final Harry Potter.
“Halo 3 has become a pop-culture phenomenon,” said Neil Thomson, Senior Regional Director, Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft UK. “Not only is Halo 3 setting sales records, it’s also redefining entertainment. Within the first 24 hours alone, we’ve seen more than a million Xbox Live members worldwide come online to play Halo 3. That makes September 25 the most active Xbox Live gaming day in history.”
Microsoft lost a big gun developer this past week with the announcement that Activision bought Bizarre Creations. Activision, which currently does not have a racing franchise to compete with EA’s Need for Speed and Rockstar’s Midnight Club, is turning to the people at Bizarre to create an original racing game for them.
Why is that bad news for Microsoft? The games will be multi-platform, meaning Wii and PS3 stand to benefit from this acquisition. Previously Bizarre has developed the Dreamcast racing game MSR: Metropolis Street Racer and Project Gotham Racing 1-4. What is not clear is if Project Gotham Racing belongs to Bizarre (and now thus Activision) or Microsoft. Either way, Project Gotham racing sold 4.5 million copies throughout the franchise’s life on Xbox consoles and the development talent at the studio would continue with a new franchise on multiple platforms.
Winner: Halo 3
Halo 3 was greeted with broken sales records, fan support, Xbox Live overload and critical acclaim from review writers. In fact, in our review of Halo 3, we say that it is “quite possibly the most highly anticipated video game of all time.” We gave it a 9.5, as did IGN and GameSpot. The current average score is 94.7% on Game Rankings, .1% higher than Halo 2, but nearly a point lower than the original Halo (95.5%).
Loser: Halo 3 Limited Edition
While the game may be selling well and receiving high marks from critics, several problems have emerged with Halo 3. The first one surfaced early in the week when media sites like GamePro were reporting that the Halo 3 Limited Edition case was scratching discs. Apparently the scratches were only cosmetic, but when you pay $70, most people expect it to shine like new (not to mention it may lead to future problems).
The second problem emerged later in the week. Reportedly the game was causing disc read errors, “This disc is unreadable.” “I’m on my third copy of Halo 3,” said a user on the Bungie forums. “After my second Limited Edition copy was found to be scratched I upgraded to the Legendary Edition hoping it would yield a clean disk, and it did. The surface is perfect. … I’m still getting read errors intermittently at various points… this is happening on a spanking new Xbox 360 Elite — four days old.”
A Microsoft forum member posted that, “I had the problem all of a sudden, and it ended up breaking my 360. I can no longer play any of my games,” he said. “This is my third Xbox 360. At this point I’m debating whether it’s even worth my time to seek out a new console.”
9.5 out of 10 from Game Freaks 365. “One could immediately jump into a critique of Skate and jump back and forth between it and the Tony Hawk series, but I am going to refrain from doing that. The legendary Hawk series deserves its fame and fortune for invigorating an otherwise dead video game genre, but Skate takes a path of its own and does something completely different, something fresh and worth a good look,” Cliff Bakehorn wrote in his review.
Loser: Military recruiters
Another Halo 3 launch story unfolded this past Tuesday when military recruiters in New Hampshire decided to throw a launch party in Manchester. A local GameStop was co-sponsoring a Halo 2 tournament in the run-up to the Halo 3 launch, but a district manager informed underage gamers that they could not participate, since the game was rated Mature.
Not to be one to ruin a party, Air Force recruiters allowed the teenagers to play on the back of a pimped out military SUV in the parking lot. The middle schoolers enjoyed free pizza, Mountain Dew and of course, a chance to play some Halo 2.
Joe Turcotte, an Iraq War veteran and member of the New Hampshire chapter of Iraqi Veterans Against the War, spoke out against the use of video game launches as recruiting tactics for young kids. “The whole idea of serving your country out of patriotism gets lost. It cheapens the honor and sacrifice when you turn it into a video game,” Turcotte said. “We are proud of our service to our country, but there’s something about this that just doesn’t seem right.”