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THE MARKET FOR COMPUTER AND VIDEO GAMES
Issue 512 Friday November 7 2008 £3.25
4 Judgement Day Next Friday is shaping up to be the biggest release day in history. MCV investigates
7 Next up for games The clothes retailer tells all about its Xmas games blitz – and plans for 2009
18 Germany at war
WITH THIS ISSUE...
Both sides of the territory’s trade show battle tell their story
Your essential guide to Nintendo’s new Animal Crossing game on Wii
EVERY BUYER EVERY BRANCH EVERY INDIE EVERY WEEK
World’s newest publishing goliath sure hopes you do – as it looks to woo European retail with massive investment in games...
by Tim Ingham JAPANESE toy giant Tomy is looking to snatch market share from the biggest games suppliers in Europe – as it splashes the cash on its new standalone video games publishing business. The age-old family company has revealed its full publishing strategy to MCV, speaking candidly about its ambitions to muscle in on the world’s most lucrative industry. The firm – which already distributes its Naruto games in Europe through Nintendo – will release its first games under the Tomy label in the territory early next year. But its plans don’t stop there. Tomy has exclusively told MCV that its ambitions in the sector include:
Tomy’s biggest current toy brands – and prime contenders for the games treatment – include (clockwise from top left): Pop-Up Pirate, Screwball Scramble, Guitar Rockstar, I-SOBOT and Cella Fashion
It is a natural step for Tomy to extend its family-friendly properties to console. Thomas Nagai, Tomy
Raiding its 50-year IP catalogue to quickly help it dominate the family-friendly, casual marketplace; Bringing boxed games to Xbox 360 and PS3, as well as Wii, DS and digital distribution; Relying on its own Japanese development team to remain self-sufficient and maximise profit; Creating must-have hardware accessories for Nintendo platforms. “We’ve tried to take products that do well as toys
and take that into the gaming sphere, tapping into our 50 years of toy development,” Tomy Europe’s business development director Thomas Nagai told MCV. “In Europe specifically, we’re known as a toy manufacturer, so we’re really going to leverage our presence in the video games industry. “Our Japan HQ is investing more and more in new IP and video games. It is a natural step for Tomy in Europe to extend family-friendly toy properties
onto the next generation of video game systems. We are one of the few companies who can do this.” Tomy’s self-publishing initiative kicks off with Lovely Lisa for DS and Penny Racers Party: Turbo-Q Speedway for Wii early next year.
However, Tomy won’t be the only one to benefit from its wealth of IP. The firm told MCV that, on certain future titles, it will outsource both development and distribution duties. In 2005, Tomy merged with fellow Japanese toy firm Takara,
which became known in the mid-’90s for porting SNK Neo Geo games such as Fatal Fury to Nintendo and Sega consoles. Takara also owns the rights to toys such as Transformers and BeyBlade – which are both distributed internationally by Hasbro.
THE KING IS DEAD
The UK industry has tearfully laid the PlayStation 2’s body to rest this week, with key figures telling MCV the system has ‘virtually died overnight’. Turn to page 41 for the full story.
PERSONNEL 48 RETAIL BIZ 51 NEW RELEASES 68 HIGH STREET 70 CHARTS 72
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[LEADER] RUBBER BULLETS ONE MINUTE the games industry is bouncing like a recession-busting Super Ball, glancing off obstacles without losing any velocity. The next we’re stuck in the same gloopy economic reality as everyone else. Or are we? The thing no one knows yet, of course, is whether reports of job cuts at EA and THQ’s studios are indicative of wider market challenges or just natural realignment for a couple of companies. Realignment happens, EA has done it many times very successfully. But when EA’s share price falls 20 per cent and suppliers complain that it’s hard to get commitment from retail on anything that ain’t True Triple A (that’s TTA to you, I’ve just invented it), then we all have to be a little circumspect. This Christmas, people may not be able to pay their mortgages or fill their petrol tanks, but they’ll still buy three Xbox shooters, two new controllers and a PSP in a pear tree, right? Let’s hope so.
Will we get stuck in the economic gloop with everyone else?
In one guise or another, Activision has been around for all 26 of the previous Golden Joysticks, but I doubt it has had many more satisfying afternoons than last Friday at the Park Lane Hilton. Of course, it is the games that brought no fewer than six prizes. But, given the mess that previous management was making, huge congratulations must go to the current Activision organisation. The UK team has done a brilliant job making the most of those brilliant games. As 856,000 Future readers would no doubt say… Respect.
ACADEMY REWARD When media storms can scandalise a daft track choice on a PS3 game, it is unsurprising that some of the industry’s more notable moments sometimes get obscured. You know, like gaining huge popularity across all ages and sexes throughout the country. Others run the risk of missing out on any acknowledgement – such as EuroGamer Expo’s neat handing over of all ticket sales to GamesAid, or the raising of over £1m for the Paddington Academy. Through the work of what was the Entertainment Software Charity (ESC), driven largely by Rod Cousens and Ray Maguire, the games industry has delivered exactly what it promised three years ago. And if this industry is to be held in regard by Government, which looks pretty important right now, then it needs to keep its promises. More cash will be raised with Codemasters and Sony teaming up for a limited edition of Colin McRae DiRT on PS3. Big news? For the kids at the Academy, absolutely. firstname.lastname@example.org
Retailers ready for High Street braced for new games avalanche on November 14th by Christopher Dring RETAILERS are facing what could be the biggest release day in industry history next Friday – having hardly had chance to catch breath since the release of Gears of War 2 and LittleBigPlanet. World of Warcraft, Mirror’s Edge, Football Manager and Call of Duty are all amongst next week’s line-up, and ChartTrack director Dorian Bloch admitted to MCV that these games could completely transform the Top 40 – from top to bottom. “The November 14th week is shaping up to be one of the biggest launch weeks ever,” said Bloch. “Actually, from now until mid-December we seem to be putting 40-50 SKUs on our system week in, week out. The big difference with this week is that the titles coming out all have the potential to enter the Top 40.” Retailers, including Currys and Zavvi, have already been clearing masses of shelf space in preparation for the new release blitz. And leading High Street chains have told MCV that although they would rather see releases more evenly spaced throughout the year, the games market is now wide enough to cope with such a quantity of new software. “The amount of releases reflects the range of customers that, now want to play games,” enthused GAME product manager Alex Vines. “There’s no doubt that lots of customers want to buy games at Christmas, but 2008 has also shown how the market can enjoy massive releases away from the Q4 period.” Zavvi’s head of games Patrick Kelly added: “Overall Zavvi would prefer the release schedule to be more evenly spread over the course of the year. However, we are very excited about the line-up on November 14th as the quality
REMEMBER, REMEMBER THE 14th OF NOVEMBER... All Star Cheerleader. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . THQ Alone in the Dark: Inferno . . . . . . . . . PS3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Atari Armoured Core 4 Answers . . . . . . . . PS3, 360 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ubisoft Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts . . . . . 360 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Microsoft Bob the Builder: Festival of Fun . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blast COD: World at War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wii, PS3, 360,PC,DS. . . Acti Blizz COD: World at War Final Fronts . . . . PS2 . . . . . . . . . Activision Blizzard Casper Scare School: Capers . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blast Clever Kids: Dino Land . . . . . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Midas Clever Kids: Pony World . . . . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Midas Deal or No Deal: Banker Is Back . . . . DS, Wii. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mindscape Disney Fairies: Tinker Bell . . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Disney Disney Think Fast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PS2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Disney Dungeon Maker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . Rising Star Games EyeToy Play: Hero . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PS2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sony EyeToy Play: Pom Pom . . . . . . . . . . . . PS2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sony Facebreaker K.O. Party . . . . . . . . . . . . Wii. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EA Flower Sun and Rain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . Rising Star Games Football Manager 2009 . . . . . . . . . . . PC, PSP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sega Golden Ball . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS, Wii. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Mindscape Guitar Hero: Decades. . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS. . . . . . . . . . . Activison Blizzard Guitar Hero: World Tour (Bundle) . . PS3, 360, Wii Activision Blizzard HSM 3: Senior Year DANCE . . . . . . . . Wii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Disney
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‘biggest ever launch week’ SingStar, Call of Duty, Wii Music, World of Warcraft and more to transform Top 40 and diverse range of titles suits our wide customer base.” There are concerns that certain titles may suffer due to the quantity of new releases, however. CHIPS’ Don McCabe feels it is “inevitable” that some games won’t reach their full sales potential. Yet
14th, there is a big window of opportunity for all titles to perform. Expectations are high and we’ve dedicated extra space in-store for the biggest release day of 2008.” Play.com’s head of games Gian Luzio said November’s line-up caps what has been a
Expectations are high and we have dedicated extra space in-store for the biggest release day of 2008. Andy McFie, Asda
Asda’s Andy McFie told MCV that there is still plenty of time for these games to sell: “There is a danger of some games suffering, however, with six weeks of the key trading period left after the
stellar year for the industry: “The amount of good quality titles coming out that day is fantastic, as it gives consumers real choice. It just goes to show how this year will be the best ever for games.”
OPINION: THE CHRISTMAS CONTENDERS David Tyler, Marketing Manager, Activision Blizzard
Imagine Champion Rider . . . . . . . . . . DS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ubisoft Imagine Dream Wedding . . . . . . . . . . DS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ubisoft Kung Fu Panda: Legendary Warrior DS, Wii . . . . . . Activision Blizzard The Legend of Kage 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Square Enix Lola and Virginia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . V.2 Play Mirror’s Edge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PC, PS3, 360 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EA My Farm Around The World . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Atari My Horse and Me 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS, PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Atari PopStar Guitar. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wii . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Midway Rayman R. Rabbids: TV Party . . . . . . Wii, DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ubisoft Scene It? Box Office Smash . . . . . . . 360 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Microsoft Sea Monsters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PS2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Zoo Digital Shaun White Snowboarding . . . . . . . PC, PS3, 360, Wii . . . . . . . Ubisoft Shaun White: Road Trip . . . . . . . . . . . Wii. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ubisoft The Sims 2: Mansion and Garden. . . PC . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EA SingStar Vol. 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PS3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sony SingStar ABBA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PS3, PS2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sony Star Wars Clone Wars: Jedi. . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LucasArts Star Wars Clone Wars: Duels . . . . . . . Wii. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . LucasArts Tamagotchi: Cornershop 3. . . . . . . . . DS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Atari Wii Music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Wii. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nintendo World of Warcraft: Lich King . . . . . . . PC . . . . . . . . . . Activision Blizzard WSC Real 08: Snooker Champs . . . . Wii . . . . . . . . . . . Blade Interactive
“I’d say that Call of Duty: World at War is a strong contender for the Christmas No. 1 spot. We’ve had an incredible response to the Beta and scored our first 10 out of 10 review in PSW Magazine. There are some good titles launching this Q4, but we’ve built an enormous fanbase for the Call of Duty franchise and Treyarch have spent two years pulling out all the stops. There are a lot of titles launching on November 14th, but this is good for the industry, as it drives the marketplace in the lead up to Christmas. What’s great is the enormous genre and platform diversity – from the multi-platform Call of Duty, to sports titles such as Shaun White Snowboarding. There are strong kids launches as well with The Clone Wars and Kung Fu Panda.” Jon Rosenblatt, Marketing Manager, Ubisoft “We have high expectations for Shaun White and Rayman. Shaun White is our first foray into extreme sports and the feedback from our consumers has been phenomenal.
As for Rayman, this is undoubtedly the best game within the series, and has the added bonus of utilising the Wii Balance Board – a fact that’s really attracted mainstream press and consumer interest. There’s a £1m campaign behind this title and we hope for this to be the ide]]al Christmas party game. November has always been a critical month for every publisher. The sales and marketing team here have been preparing for this quarter for some time. We have great games alongside highly competitive media spends in place. All we can do is focus on our business plan.” Ben Payne, Product Manager, Sega
“Football Manager 2008 sold nearly 100,000 units last year in its opening weekend, and this year, we have the PSP version coming out the same day. In terms of marketing, we are already on TV, add to that strong, radio, online, mobile, print and newspaper press, as well as the podcast, blogs, YouTube activity and the demo, potential FM fans will not be able to escape the game. We’re confident that FM 09 will do very well on launch.”
TOP 10 LITTLEBIGPLANET PS3 SONY
2. GEARS OF WAR 2 360 ..........................................MICROSOFT
3. COD: WORLD AT WAR 360 ............................ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
4. COD: WORLD AT WAR PS3 ............................ACTIVISION BLIZZARD
5. FOOTBALL MANAGER 2009 PC ....................................................SEGA
6. GEARS OF WAR 2: LIMITED ED 360 ..........................................MICROSOFT
7. MOTORSTORM 2: PACIFIC RIFT PS3 ..................................................SONY
8. LEFT 4 DEAD 360 ......................................................EA
9. WWE SMACKDOWN VS RAW 2009 360 ....................................................THQ
10. WOW: WRATH OF THE LICH PC ..............................ACTIVISION BLIZZARD Week ending October 31st Source: SHOPTO.COM
Week Ending October 17th
Week Ending October 24th
Week Ending October 31st
Total UK Software Sales Source: ELSPA/ChartTrack and Intent Media
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Traffic light ratings are the ‘correct answer’, says ELSPA Concerns over the content of video games and child safety answered with fresh, colourful PEGI symbols by Michael French NEW, clearer PEGI-designed games content labels are the best resolution to the ratings row sparked by the Byron Review, ELSPA has told MCV. Last week the trade association unveiled a ‘traffic light’ system that could be implemented on future titles.
The graphic we have released is not necessarily the final solution but it’s indicative of the direction we are moving in. Michael Rawlinson, ELSPA
The symbols provide a colour-coded guide to target ages and game content. They will be provided as part of the materials submitted to the Government when it closes its post-Byron Review consultation period on November 20th.
“One of the elements in the Byron Review was a lack of understanding around age ratings. PEGI has looked at that and is working on a proposal to introduce the new system along with the ratings.” The new symbols also prove ELSPA is proactively offering input into the Government’s consultation period on the Review’s proposals, he said: “The industry is grateful for Tanya Byron’s recommendations in the context of child safety. “We will be making a submission on behalf of our members which sets out a clear position as to what we believe is the correct answer to the question of child safety, in the context of age ratings of content sold. As Byron suggested, this also provides a guide to the content of games including whether or not you can interact with other players.”
PEGI has put together the designs – which take inspiration from guides recently introduced to food packaging – to address Dr Tanya Byron’s concerns over issues surrounding games and child safety. The symbols could be seen on titles released across Europe alongside the alreadyestablished PEGI age ratings.
“The graphic we have released is not necessarily the final solution but it’s indicative of the direction we are moving in – and a way to introduce the traffic light concept,” explained ELSPA general manager Michael Rawlinson.
RAWLINSON: ELSPA will submit the new traffic light system to the Government
ELSPA: 020 7534 0580
Wii Fit in Q4 stock boost New pre-owned boss FOLLOWING news that Nintendo is working overtime to ensure there is enough Wii and DS stock this Christmas, the platform holder has told MCV it has also upped European shipments of its smash hit Wii Fit. Wii Fit was released back in August and has been a regular sell-out at retail. Leading outlets have tipped the title to be a major seller this quarter, with new shipments of the title, along with DS and Wii units, set to arrive every week in the run-up to Christmas day. “We are making every effort to ensure that the production of Wii Fit matches the demand,” said a Nintendo
signs up with GAME
KEEPING FIT: Nintendo has increased Wii Fit shipments for Q4
spokesperson. “We have increased our shipment of Wii Fit into Europe this Christmas to help meet demand. “In terms of when the stock will hit retailers, it won’t just
suddenly arrive all in one go. Wii Fit deliveries and shipments have, are and will continue to be made weekly into the UK market.” Nintendo: 01753 483700
GAME has secured the services of retail veteran John Devon, who has signed up as product director. Devon joins the firm from Amazon, where he worked as DVD trading director. He has also held roles at Virgin, Woolworths and WH Smiths. At GAME, Devon will be responsible for buying in the pre-owned and merchandising space, and will report to
GAME MD Tricia Brennan. “John’s track record in developing strong relationships with suppliers across the DVD industry shows what an asset he will be to GAME, where he will focus on strengthening our partnerships and our customer offer, taking GAME to the next level,” commented Brennan. GAME: 01256 784000
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Games’ Next big retailer? Clothing specialist ramps up product offering for Christmas and beyond with new deals by Tim Ingham FORGET GAME, HMV or Asda: The retailer that increases its market share by the greatest margin over the next year could be High Street clothes store Next. The company began selling games in July last year, through its catalogue and online. And after a successful 18months, the firm has told MCV that it is now ready to ramp up its commitment to the category for Christmas and beyond – and has pledged to fight for a bigger share of the industry’s most sought after stock.
OUT 21st NOVEMBER PC-DVD and Mac
This Parts Pack includes over 100 new creature building components and animations themed in two distinct styles: cute/cartoon and scary/monster. Similar to The Sims 2 Stuff Pack series, the Parts pack adds new content aimed at creative users who want to further customize their creatures, and make the scariest monsters or cutest critters possible.
NEXT LEVEL: Next hopes to build strong relationships with suppliers
We want to build relationships with our suppliers and publishers to take our game offer to the next level. Jon Biddle, Next
MCV understands the company is even considering bringing games in-store in 2009. “Gaming is a very important part of Next’s product offering,” said the chain’s buyer Jon
Biddle. “It has become the biggest area in our Electricals & Leisure division and has lots of potential to grow.” Alongside Biddle, Next has recruited Steve Martin as
buying manager and David Grange as merchandiser. The trio have increased coverage of games in the Christmas Directory, implemented email promotions and introduced sales charts to Next’s website. The chain has seen particular success with Nintendo products, and has told MCV that it will fight to get as much stock from the platform holder as possible.
“We are always looking at new ways to drive our categories forward and are always looking for promotional offers and deals to benefit our customers and put Next on the gaming map,” added Biddle. “Going forward we will be looking to build relationships with our suppliers and publishers in order to take the category to the next level.” Next: 0844 844 8888
Dancing On Ice skids into view GHOSTLIGHT has snapped up celebrated ITV licence Dancing On Ice for an official Wii and DS tie-in. The title is already in development and will be released in Q1 next year. This news comes as ITV prepares to air the fourth series of the hit show, which in terms of viewing figures was one of the top three programmes in the UK last year. The show reached a weekly audience of nine million viewers, peaking at an impressive 14 million – surpassing rival programmes such as The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, The Apprentice and EastEnders.
The official Dancing On Ice game will allow players to pair up with professional skaters from the show. Their performance will be scored by
the official judging panel. Players will practise routines, enter skate-offs and compete for the coveted title of Dancing On Ice Champion.
Commercial brand director for ITV Global Entertainment Gustavo Antonioni said: “This is a truly unique proposition which will engage
the entire family. The concept combines fast-paced, competitive fun alongside interactive dress-up options to personalise your character.
“Dancing On Ice is one of the world’s most successful TV exports and the game is another superb example in how we’re providing our audience with high quality engaging brand extensions.” Head of development at Ghostlight Stephen Morgan added: “The Dancing On Ice show consistently attracts millions of viewers from the same demographic profile as our DS and Wii target audience. The strength of the licence coupled with high quality gameplay is an exciting prospect and guaranteed to establish Dancing On Ice as a leading video game in 2009”.
OUT 21st NOVEMBER PS2 and Wii
Hasbro Family Game Night features classic and party game modes of family favourites such as CONNECT FOUR, BATTLESHIP, YAHTZEE, BOGGLE, SORRY! and the all new, SORRY! Sliders.
OUT 21st NOVEMBER PC DVD
Design impressive estates and meticulous gardens for your Sims with three all-new styles. With a host of new architectural and landscaping items to choose from, your Sims homes will look more stunning than ever!
Ghostlight: 01279 858000
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Gamestation’s Fat Chris returns in bumper new festive campaign Specialist High Street chain pushes ‘gaming for less’ with extensive TV, online and print marketing campaign by Christopher Dring
“We have two months of below-the-line activity in our stores planned, with new Christmas creatives, and an integrated media campaign focusing on pushing our brand and value message through TV, press and online.” The firm has also hinted that big deals – similar to last
GAMESTATION’S festive mascot Fat Chris is set for another Christmas comeback, as the retailer pushes its new ‘gaming for less’ message. The firm’s Yuletide promotional blitz will include extensive in-store promotional
We’ll continue to offer great value to our customers, both in-store and online in the run up to Christmas. Emma Kitching, Gamestation
activities, as well as TV, press and online advertising. “This year Gamestation will be launching a high impact marketing campaign aimed at delivering ‘gaming for less’ to all of our customers, with the help of our old friend, Fat Chris,” Emma Kitching, Gamestation’s head of marketing, told MCV.
year’s half price offer on new releases – could be making a return this December. “We will continue to offer great value to our customers both in-store and online in the run-up to Christmas, with something for everyone,” added Kitching. “Everyone at Gamestation is working very hard to deliver
CHRISTMAS MARKETING: Fat Chris will once again spearhead Gamestation’s Q4 advertising campaign
gaming for less this Christmas, and we’ve spent months working with our partners throughout the gaming industry to plan and implement our entire
Christmas offer. From our high profile marketing campaign with Fat Chris and all the preparation both in-store and behind the scenes, customers will see that Gamestation is
fully geared up for a very busy Christmas period.” For MCV’s full Q&A with Gamestation, turn to page 28 Gamestation: 0845 345 0335
Microïds in search for new partners LEADING European publisher Microïds has told MCV that it is in negotiations with key publishers and distributors about bringing its IP to the UK market. Microïds began life in 1984, and is best known for the development of adventure titles Still Life and Syberia. The firm has also secured the rights to IP from the nowbankrupt Cryo Interactive, and Microïds CEO Roch Roustan hopes to bring these titles – alongside Microïds’ own legacy catalogue – into the UK. “We’re trying to find a distributor or a publisher to
handle our upcoming titles and back catalogue in the UK,” said CEO Roch Roustan. “We’re currently in discussion with key distributors, but no deal has been done yet. “The adventure market is very different because the life of these games are much longer than other genres, and so our back catalogue is still selling. So when we look for a distributor, yes we want to sell our new games through them – but we also want to sell in big quantities of our impressive back catalogue.” In addition, Microïds has been making waves in the
digital space, but Roustan does not see the sector replacing its retail business just yet. “Some of our back catalogue can’t be found at retail, so we distribute games through digital channels,” he explained. “Digital sales are growing every year, and we’re still selling games we released as far back as 1997. “Our digital business currently accounts for about five to ten per cent of our sales. Maybe in four or five years we’ll have more digital sales than retail sales.” ROUSTAN: The CEO is aiming to bring Microïds titles to the UK
Microïds: 0033 1 46 01 54 01
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Pinnacle lands huge kids’ licence PINNACLE Software will single-handedly release the official video game of hugely popular kids’ TV licence Peppa Pig later this month – and will back up the release with a sixfigure marketing spend. Peppa Pig: The Game will premier on DS on November 28th. It will retail at £19.99, with a Wii version of the title to follow next year. The Peppa Pig brand has generated over a million DVD sales and also shifted over one million Ladybird books. The game features a cast of characters from the TV show, which appears on Five. These appear across a series of 11 mini-games. Pinnacle Software will be supporting the release with an extensive six-figure marketing campaign. This will feature TV and print advertising, as well as advertorials in children’s and women’s magazines, numerous in-store promotions, plus a dedicated PR campaign covering TV, online, national and regional newspapers, radio and magazines. Pinnacle Software MD Peter Sleeman said: “I am delighted to be working with such a high profile and well-known children’s brand. Contender Entertainment Group have succeeded in making Peppa Pig a household family name through TV programmes, DVDs, toys, clothing and a host of other merchandise. “It was a logical progression for Peppa Pig to finally have her own computer game and we are proud to continue the success of this licence by releasing on both the Nintendo DS and Wii formats.” Pinnacle: 0208 309 3600
[IN BRIEF] EA: The eagerly anticipated Rock Band 2 will be arriving in the UK on November 21st. The MTV and Harmonix title will be priced at £49.99 with a standalone SKU available to UK retail at the beginning of December. BLUESIDE: Developer Blueside has revealed that its Princess and Knight title will be exclusively available on the Nintendo DS. The RPG action game will take full advantage of the DS stylus in this fantasy title.
Midway’s PopStar plays into the music market Publisher predicts Wii title PopStar Guitar will be a hit at retail genre was a logical step for Midway, according to Minter: “Looking at how successful MIDWAY believes the spacethe music genre has become saving qualities of its new and the unique opportunity music game give it a major that PopStar Guitar offered us advantage over rival titles. we thought that the product PopStar Guitar, which was a perfect fit for Midway. releases November 14th on “The product has huge gift Wii. And the fact that it potential due to the fact doesn’t include any bulky everything you need is peripherals – instead coming in included in a standard Wii the box box – will be a Had we made a product that which is no godsend to bigger than a overstocked needed a large bulky standard Wii retailers, Midway peripheral then retail would box. It doesn’t has told MCV. have been less enthusiastic. require any “PopStar Aidan Minter, Midway other Guitar offers up a peripheral or guitar-like music add on and the AirG one million copies worldwide experience without the need makes it totally unique.” which has meant retail has for a guitar peripheral. The PopStar Guitar will be been very receptive to our AirG, which is included in the marketed through music TV catalogue of Wii titles. box, simply snaps on to the channels including 4 Music, “This product also Wii remote and Smash Hits and Magic TV as offers a pop music slant turns it into a part of a four week-long over the more darker, guitar,” Midway’s promotion. Promotion will also edgier rock music senior European appear in the women’s lifestyle products already out.” brand manager press and online. The move into the Aidan Minter increasingly popular enthused to MCV. Midway: 0207 382 7720
by Jonathon Harker
“I think had we approached the market with a product that needed a large bulky peripheral then retail would have been less enthusiastic about it.” The publisher is hoping that PopStar Guitar will follow in the successful footsteps of its other Wii games. Minter added: “GameParty has sold
LGF: Last week’s London Games Festival managed to crack the record for hosting the largest gathering of people dressed as video game characters. At an event based in the MCM Expo at Excel at the start of the London Games Festival, a total of 342 game fans surpassed the official Guinness World Record. IGNITION: The developer and publisher is bringing King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match to the PS2 later this year. The title will feature an impressive 64 fighters and classic two-dimensional fighting action. VALVE: Awareness for Valve’s forthcoming Left4Dead will be boosted by a zombie photo contest. The competition, which launched last week, forms part of a $10 million global marketing campaign for the title, which is releasing on 360 and PC.
LATEST NEWS STRAIGHT TO YOUR MOBILE Bookmark us in your phone:
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The Hut plots games expansion to capitalise on market growth Online retailer delighted as games category grows 350 per cent Value offerings critical to sales success by Christopher Dring FLEDGLING online retailer The Hut has seen its games business grow 350 per cent this year – and the firm has told MCV that gaming is now of ‘major importance’ to the company’s future.
over 40 per cent of our business during 2008. “We are constantly looking at ways we can improve our games offering, both in range and content, as this will continue to be of major importance over the next couple of years.”
Video games is the biggest growth area in our business, with sales up over 350 per cent year-on-year. Caroline Austen, The Hut
The Hut was set up in 2004 by Matthew Moulding and John Gallemore to sell books, DVDs, CDs and video games – and the retailer has become notorious for aggressive price promotions and a high-level of customer service. “Video games is the biggest growth area in our business, with sales up over 350 per cent year-on-year,” enthused head of marketing Caroline Austen. “It has grown to be
She continued: “It’s a fact that both High Street brands and supermarket chains have really embraced the internet over the last few years and now aggressively compete in the online arena. “These brands really are gaining market share from the major online players, so it is now paramount that we increase our service levels and value proposition in order to be one step ahead.
GAMING GROWTH: Online retailer The Hut has seen its games offering go from strength to strength
“TheHut.com offers additional value through initiatives such as exclusive discounts and voucher codes.
“It also goes without saying that customers expect unsurpassed quality in terms of delivery and service, so we are
constantly monitoring and developing our capabilities in this area.” The Hut: 08702 408 956
Industry recruiters buck economic trend GAMES recruitment is weathering the current economic storm, the industry’s job firms told MCV this week. Despite the world seemingly headed for an economic recession, three of the trade’s top UK recruiters revealed that they’ve not seen any downturn in the industry’s demand for new personnel. “If anything it’s got busier, particularly for this time of the year,” OPM Response’s MD Kim Adcock told MCV. “There are people out there signing new games, there are new markets to go into and there’s
lots of different genres too, so recruitment in games is still very much a growing industry.”
has remained very good,” he said. “It was been our most successful six-month period
There are new games, new markets and lots of different genres, so it’s still very much a growing industry. Kim Adcock, OPM
Handle Recruitment’s head of sales, marketing and HR Dominic Warman also believes gaming is bearing up under the economic strain. “The market
ever up until September this year, and we’ve been going for 30 years.” He added: “We’ve found that the number of sales roles
we’ve recruited for has increased particularly, which reflects what is happening in the DVD and music markets that we also deal in. “Some of our film contracts have switched permanent contracts to temporary contracts, but we’ve not seen that happen in gaming.” Aardvark Swift director Ian Goodall told MCV that he believes gaming’s continued success sets it apart from the economic troubles: “To be honest, the games industry is almost in its own little bubble. Changes within the industry –
like new platforms – have more of an affect on recruitment. At the moment the economic situation isn’t really having an impact on recruitment in the industry.” But these job firms did sound a note of caution – indicating that salaries are becoming tighter and employee relocation is more difficult due to a troubled mortgage market. One firm also felt that if the tough economic situation proved to be a long-term phenomenon, the situation could eventually impact on the games trade.
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ELSPA’s new warning to modders Trade body cautions retailers that it will ‘make example’ of dodgy retailing – as shamed Mr Modchips returns by Jonathon Harker ELSPA has warned retailers considering whether to make a quick buck selling ‘modded’ consoles that its vigilant antipiracy team is keener than ever to make an example of law-breaking stores. The news comes as a businessman convicted of console chipping in 2007
ELSPA continues to minimise the impact of piracy. We have a simple mantra: ‘Stop chipping, stop piracy’. John Hillier, ELSPA
announces he is back in business – a year after being found guilty of running his last illegitimate operation, which netted him £1 million. Mr Modchips, aka Neil Higgs, was convicted at the Crown Court for chipping offences in October last year. He became the second person
from large suppliers of chips and so on, does send out a strong deterrent message, especially if and when there is an application for forfeiture of assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act. “Defendants have to prove they have acquired all their goods or property legitimately during the previous six years and not just any criminal gain arising from the chipping charges. Conviction for chipping offences can really open a can of worms for the criminal.” Hillier warned that piracy is still a pressing problem for the industry: “ELSPA’s IP Crime Unit continues to work on behalf of its members to minimise the impact of commercial piracy in all forms, online and offline. Whether it is exponential or not is unclear. But what is clear is that the IPCU continues to see results through the increased resources it has for fighting criminals working online.”
in the UK to be found guilty for the crime, after being busted by a joint operation between ELSPA and Bristol City Council’s Trading Standards. This week, ELSPA told MCV that it has made four further ‘chipping’ raids since that case – and that the fight against piracy is more important than ever, with the number of cases on the rise.
“The number of chipping cases has increased because ELSPA has been actively encouraging and supplying evidence to enforcement agencies as a matter of priority. We have a simple mantra: ‘Stop chipping, Stop piracy’,” John Hillier, ELSPA’s IP crime unit manager told MCV.
HILLIER: ELSPA’ crime boss has warned retailers to stay above board
“We at ELSPA certainly believe that the full publication of results of successful high profile court cases and seizures
ELSPA: 0207 534 0580
EEK W E H T F O N CAMPAIG
2009 W A R S V N W DO WWE SMACK
This week, wrestling fans will finally be able to get their mitts on the latest iteration of the big and muscly series Smackdown vs Raw. THQ is backing its bodyslammin’ franchise with a punchy campaign…
In the nine short years since the franchise was first launched, the Smackdown vs Raw series has shifted more than a whopping 37 million units worldwide. With impressive figures like that THQ could have been content to let the game sell itself, but needless to say the publisher has a big campaign in place with major marketing and PR activity before and after the wrestling title’s release: MARKETING A heavyweight four-week TV campaign will cover terrestrial and satellite channels; The title will also sponsor all WWE TV programming on
both Sky Sports and Sky One; A three-month print campaign will hit specialist and lifestyle magazines; A huge online campaign will support the title; The title will also be the official sponsor of the Survivor Series Tour in November.
PR A specialist gaming media onslaught will include multiple front covers, an exclusive review programme and online initiatives; The mainstream media sector will be targeted via featuredriven editorial, along with competitions and reviews.
In September, THQ held the European Superstar Challenge event in Madrid, where WWE superstars met to get involved in a spot of fisticuffs. The huge event proved a massive success and has been a key coverage driver in both the specialist gaming press and also in men’s and lifestyle media. RELEASED: NOVEMBER 7 FORMAT: DS, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, 360 PUBLISHER: THQ DEVELOPER: YUKE’S (DS – TOSE) PRICE: VARIOUS DISTRIBUTOR: ADVANTAGE CONTACT: 0121 506 9590
14.11.08 THERE’S NO LOOKING BACK “The Future of PS3 starts here”
mirrorsedge.com © 2008 EA Digital Illusions CE AB. Mirror’s Edge and the DICE logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of EA Digital Illusions CE AB. All Rights Reserved. EA and the EA logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. “PlayStation”, “PLAYSTATION” and “ ” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.
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GERMAN TRADE SHOWS OLIVER P. KUHRT, KOELNMESSE “THE NEW date for Gamescom in August is much more convenient, especially for the trade. We’ve decided on the new timing after internal discussions with the industry and the members of the BIU. A good number of people had a problem with the September date, so we have simply moved it. It is merely an accident that we clash with Leipzig as no other dates were available. Nobody wanted to create problems with Leipzig. Of course it now looks like we wanted to act against Leipzig, but this is not the case. Because we are here, absolutely sure that there will be no show in Leipzig any more – if you put it on the same day or six months later there will be no one there. The video games industry has decided to move to
Cologne. There is not more space for another show in Germany. Gamescom will be a huge, huge show – we already have our partners here checking out all the space we have for their stands. All the members of the BIU are backing Cologne – they represent over 80 per cent of the market. They are the premieres of the games industry and development. For the trade, the developer conference has been an important addition to Gamescom’s programme for us, and we were very keen to attract Frank Sliwka [former Games Convention Developers Conference organiser] to join us. Although to be honest, he didn’t need much convincing, because like everyone else he knew that the train was running in the direction of Cologne.
A tale of two As we revealed last week, plans are afoot for August 2009 to see two games industry consumer and trade going head-to-head. Michael French speaks to organisers from both Leipziger Messe and Koelmesse, as they
WOLFGAN MARZIN, LEIPZIGER MESSE “LEIPZIG has been an established event for the last eight years. To me, Gamescom’s decision to move its date to the same time as ours proves that it is the right date. With Cologne there is always these adjustments, be it to dates or figures. This is not the last adjustment they will make and I don’t think it’s professional to keep changing the details. Our focus now is simply on the preparation for our next show. Leipzig is the competent and reliable partner for the games community. Gamescom’s first show is ‘a vision’ – their show hasn’t happened yet, it only exists as a brand. It says it has the support of the German games industry. But who is this? Sure, important companies, but just the German subsidiaries of them.
Games Convention, however, is an international event open to the British, Americans and people around the world. The BIU is just a German association with 13 members – we had over 500 exhibitors at GC 2008. They claim to have 80 per cent, but this is just for the German market. We are very confident. We have international support and many organisations around the world are backing us. We still know that we have to prove that it will be a great event in 2009 – and we are working on that very closely. The consumer element for Games Convention is also very important for us. According to our research 95 per cent of 2008’s attendees said that they preferred Leipzig over any other place.
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I am absolutely sure that in two or three months time Leipzig will announce that it is to withdraw its show from the market – because nobody is going to be there. There is no chance to do something next to Gamescom because the entire industry
MCV 07/11/08 19
they can print as many folders, application forms and brochures as they like, but I am sure they will give up in a few months’ time. The mood in favour of Gamescom has definitely changed in the last two or three months. The surprising thing for
Everyone is convinced that a show in Cologne is the right decision for the trade.
has committed itself to come to Cologne. You have to accept that the industry has decided to move elsewhere – it makes no sense to do something parallel to the event. You’d be throwing money out of the window otherwise;
me is that people thought it would be a tsunami given there are two shows, but the reaction has actually been quite smooth. Everyone is convinced that a show in Cologne is the right decision for the trade.”
cities events in Germany, with Cologne and Leipzig expos argue the case for their respective shows…
So we could move Games Convention to another city but no one really wants us to do that. Leipzig has plenty of affordable hotels for the thousands that come here every year and good transport links. We have links to Germany’s two international airports in
we have championed and hold a good show. I would never make the kind of claims Koelnmesse has about Leipzig – it will be the market that will decide what happens to the trade shows. For us, this is not a fight between
I am sure that the best concept will survive and that the best concept is Games Convention.
Frankfurt and Berlin as good as those with Cologne. We know that we will always have to work hard, but I see Games Convention on the market for the next five years. We have already proved that
shows – we will just prove once again that Games Convention is the best show in Europe. I am sure that the best concept will survive and that the best concept is Games Convention.”
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MCV INTERVIEW: ARWED RALF-GRENZBACH, VP, INTERACTIVE GAMES, NICKELODEON & VIACOM CONSUMER PRODUCTS
In the Nick of time Nickelodeon’s presence in boxed publishing is growing all the time, with secure licensing deals in place with publishers such as THQ, 2K and Capcom. Tim Ingham talks to the man in charge of its strategy, Arwed Ralf-Grenzbach… What makes a Nickelodeon television show have the potential to come to video games? It’s all the about emotional involvement of the audience. It’s the interactivity that makes Nickelodeon stories become big news in kindergarten, in schools and in homes. Whenever Nickelodeon is developing a new show, interactivity is a key element that must be considered. It’s something that has to be thought about at every stage of its lifecycle. It’s all about the strong emotional bond of consumers to our brand. In the games category we can do that fantastically, how our licensees – particularly THQ with Avatar at the moment – can translate these into fantastic gameplay.
What level of success are you seeing with THQ – and what do they bring to your business? Generally speaking, THQ is the number one global publisher for kids’ entertainment software. We are very proud that we have a global deal for many years in place. In their latest annual report, they said they had taken $1 billion on net sales from licensed Nickelodeon titles, since we signed our global partnership. They have a fantastic track record – and we have great relationship on a US level, a regional level here in Europe and in
THQ has a fantastic record with kids’ licences. We’ve enjoyed a great relationship since signing together.
Arwed Ralf-Grenzbach, Nickelodeon
What are the challenges of producing a game like Avatar with THQ, which appeals to both a family audience and a more hardcore set of gamers? The big challenge is to translate the great story and concept of this fantastic Nickelodeon brand into a game environment. To me, the expectations of the teen and the family are put into this brand. The DNA of Avatar must translate into some gameplay. If you go to the basics of Avatar, the story is about mastering the art of the world and the environment of Aang, the main character. Manipulating air, wind, earth and fire is a very important key element of this brand – and this can be perfected translated into gameplay, especially on the Wii. It’s amazing to see how THQ Australia has funnelled this great franchise into a gameplay mechanic that really makes a difference.
Asia-Pacific. They clearly know how to live and breathe a Nickelodeon brand in terms of product development, marketing and execution. Is THQ every bit as beneficial to you as you are to it? Absolutely. It’s a great win-win partnership for both parties. From my perspective, they are doing a tremendous job in translating the brand exposure in all key markets into solid sales, on both new releases and catalogue business. In key markets like UK, Germany, France, Australia and Canada, any publisher we work with has to generate a business on the strong install base on Wii and DS, PS2. In all those key markets, we have a very strong presence and distribution because of THQ. Spongebob is the No.1 consumer product outside US, the THQ
LOOKING AHEAD: RalfGrenzbach says Nickelodeon is keeping a close eye on the progress of Xbox 360
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MCV INTERVIEW: ARWED RALF-GRENZBACH, VP, INTERACTIVE GAMES, NICKELODEON & VIACOM CONSUMER PRODUCTS AVATAR VERY MUCH Nickelodeon’s latest foray onto consoles is via long-term partner THQ, with Avatar The Legend of Aang: Into the Inferno. The game was released on PS2, Wii and DS last week (October 31st). The title is just one of many very successful games Nickelodeon has released via THQ, including its massively popular Spongebob SquarePants DS games.
sales reflects that. Interestingly, there is a big upside on back catalogue sales. The key message is definitely they are in tune it our brands performance. Why does Nickelodeon IP work so well on DS, Wii and PS2 – and how far into the future before Nick games coming to Xbox 360 or PS3? If we take the target audience of Nick brands, it’s pre-school. All in all we are reaching kids up to 12 years-old. Due to the strong growth of Wii and DS we can reach out to the families – the mums and the dads – and for us, the Nintendo platforms are the No.1 for that purpose. As we speak, global installed base of DS is approximately 81 million. Take the example of Spongebob: Drawn To Life – a release by THQ and a perfect example how a brand can be translated into a DS game. The Nintendo DS platform offers so many opportunities to lift the brand statement and the brand story. Even though PS2 offers technically a great kind of gameplay, it can’t compare to Nintendo Wii. Looking at PS3 and 360, we are in conversations with our partners when it makes sense to develop games for these platforms. If you see what’s happening on Xbox 360, long term the install base will grow and grow and it will tap more into the causal gamer audience. I think we’ll see the shift from hardcore to family gamers and let’s say those ‘sleepers’ who are not actively playing, but who will play. Even in the mid-term, Xbox 360 can really have a totally different relevance
our brand very carefully and incredibly well. Their studios made unique, innovative products. We don’t have a studio that develops console games, so we work with those companies who have great teams in the studio. That’s a priority for us. But these companies are also excellent at marketing to our audience – they seem to know them like we do.
for us – and for the premium publishers we work with. How quickly will that transformation take place? It could happen. We are in a discussion with THQ on the strategy. But on this subject, Nickelodeon’s statement is clearly about our commitment to the Nintendo DS platform. Is PlayStation 2 becoming less relevant for you? Within the upcoming year, the PlayStation 2 format will fade out. The industry is starting to acknowledge that now. In key markets, where Nintendo
presence, the platform remains attractive. Because of that, PlayStation 2 is a format that still makes sense for some of our properties – for now, at least. Do Nickelodeon’s licences give you access to audiences other companies cannot reach? In any kind of licensed partnership, the Nickelodeon role is to build up the brand across all platforms, and the role of the licensee is to develop a game in their studios that is a unique, innovate and great title on console. It’s a win-win situation for both, and for us it works perfectly.
Long term, Xbox 360’s installed base will grow and grow – and will tap more into the casual consumer.
Arwed Ralf-Grenzbach, Nickelodeon
installed base with Wii and DS is dominating, PS2 is shrinking. But we shouldn’t forget it has a huge installed base for catalogue products. And in Asia-Pacific and other markets where Nintendo doesn’t have the same
Why did you pick THQ, 2K and Capcom – and what do they offer you haven’t found elsewhere? All of the companies we work with really do handle game development of
Would you ever want to work with more partners? We have very solid and loyal partnerships to THQ, 2K and Capcom, but we’re also looking for others in order to identify the best distributor for certain Nickelodeon properties. The most important criteria for any company we work with is understanding how to translate a Nickelodeon brand into a unique video game. We work with people who live and breathe the brands like we do – and we’d be looking for that level of passion. As well as that brand marketingrelated aspect of this business, we’d also need someone with a financial commitment, and the understanding that longevity is needed in order to grow a brand. Will Nickelodeon have a presence at E3, Gamescom etc.? Basically, we are leaving the discussion about what gets shown to our licensees. However, I can say that we are definitely attending all of those shows: E3, Games Convention and TGS. We will meet all of our business friends at these places, but when it comes to displaying our products, we follow the advice of our partners.
BOND IS BACK… 31 OCTOBER 2008
High-octane combat, chaotic gun ﬁghts and precise stealth takedowns First person shooting with third person cover combat Go online with 12-player multiplayer modes
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The pre-owned boom With falling prices on new releases plus a growing economic crisis, used games have become a saviour for the High Street. Christopher Dring reports on a thriving pre-owned market for both the indies and the chains… LONG GONE are the days when the used games market was confined to indies, bargain bins and cash converters. Today pre-owned games have become a leading form of business for the likes of GAME and Blockbuster, with a growing number of independents ditching new games altogether to focus on trade-in sales. With Christmas fast approaching, the second-hand sector has become even more important. Increasingly, major supermarkets have been cutting the price of new games to below £30, forcing their High Street rivals to seek other ways to compete. Although the arrival of HMV to the pre-owned sector has seen competition grow exponentially, the big concern for the second-hand specialist comes from the aggressive promotions on offer at Blockbuster and Gamestation. In major stores, both retailers have dedicated more shelf space to used games than new titles, and are promoting the ‘best prices’ for consumers selling or buying previously played stock. “Pre-owned is part of our heritage, we’ve been doing it for 15 years,” explains Gamestation’s head of marketing Emma Kitching. “We’ll be doing everything we can to deliver gaming for less this Christmas – with excellent deals and offers throughout our stores.” A Blockbuster store manager comments: “The pre-owned market will lead the way for us. It means we can offer better value than the supermarkets, and customers are able to get rid of games they no longer want for the best High Street price.” However, not everyone is convinced by Blockbuster and Gamestation’s price
BOOM OR BUST: HMV’s entrance into the pre-owned market has caused ripples throughout the industry
promises. Many leading independents have told MCV that these claims cannot be proved. And our Cambridge price check (see below) only goes to show that, although competitive, Gamestation and Blockbuster are far from the cheapest on the High Street.
check, and used selling prices vary widely, in some cases up to a £20 difference. So a claim stating ‘we offer the best prices on trade-ins’ is almost impossible to prove.” HMV and GAME have avoided similar aggressive price promises, and have adopted other methods to entice game We shouldn’t forget that traders. GAME promotes whilst price is an important its range using special factor, the shopping trade-in bags and, more experience is also relevent. recently, the firm has launched a trade-in card. Martin Baxter, HMV Meanwhile, HMV’s “I am not sure how Blockbuster and unique offer is that consumers can use Gamestation can make the claim unless trade-in credit against anything else in they know exactly what every local store, be it DVD, CD or even concert trader is offering,” says The Game tickets, further sweetening the appeal. Guide editor Chris Ratcliff. “At The “From a marketing point of view a Game Guide we do an extensive price price promise can be seen as a
reasonably strong message to give,” says HMV Re/Play manager Martin Baxter. “However, we shouldn’t forget that whilst price is an important factor, the shopping experience is also relevant. At HMV customers have the option of trading in against all the products that we sell, not just games titles. This is a real benefit that goes beyond just price.” With consumers increasingly concerned about the credit crunch, the pre-owned games sector could be a potential lifesaver for the High Street. And with each outlet fine-tuning its second-hand strategy, everyone is sure to get the most out of this potentially lucrative sector. That is, at least until the supermarkets get involved...
THE PRE-OWNED MYSTERY SHOPPER MCV VISITED Cambridge to see what the High Street had to offer. HMV’s Re/Play offer was competitive — there was even a member of staff dedicated to the Re/Play cause, who was keen to point out promotions. GAME and Gamestation featured the most posters and special offers, and
there were trade-in guides available in both stores. Blockbuster’s offer was slightly better, with impressive deals and bundle offers, but the real winner of the day was indie Gametron – with low prices and keen staff proving that indies can stay ahead of the pack.
STORE GAME Gamestation HMV Blockbuster GameTron
Soul Calibur IV PS3
Force Unleashed PS3
Mercenaries 2 Too Human 360 360
£34.99 £27.99 £29.98 £22.99 £28
£34.99 £34.99 £29.98 £34.99 £25
£34.99 £32.99 £29.98 £29.99 £25
£29.99 £24.99 £28.98 £22.99 £20
SHRED ALONG WITH YOUR FAVOURITE TRACKS ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. Massive all new track list - Rock out to 28 all new songs with some of the greatest hits from each decade including Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Oasis, Bon Jovi, Queen Share the Music - Stream over 50 songs between Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades and Guitar Hero: On Tour using local wireless play
Nintendo DS™ Lite
Unique, portable gaming experience for Nintendo DS™ - Rock Out to Guitar Hero on the DS with the innovative Guitar Grip
Nintendo DS sold separately
Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades © 2008 Activision Publishing, Inc. Guitar Hero, Activision and RedOctane are registered trademarks and Guitar Hero On Tour and Decades are trademarks of Activision Publishing, Inc. Patents pending. NINTENDO DS IS A TRADEMARK OF NINTENDO. All other trademarks and trade names are the properties of their respective owners. All rights rese rved.
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GAMESTATION: FAT CHRIS IS BACK CHRISTMAS PLANS: Gamestation’s head of marketing Emma Kitching is bringing back Fat Chris in time for the busy Q4 period
Gamestation gets festive Gamestation’s iconic Fat Chris is back in the retailer’s latest Q4 marketing campaign. Christopher Dring speaks to head of marketing Emma Kitching about the firm’s Christmas strategy for 2008...
What are are your marketing plans There is a large amount of games for this Christmas? coming out this Q4. What challenges This year Gamestation is launching a does this present Gamestation? high impact marketing campaign aimed There are some great new titles coming at delivering ‘gaming for less’ to all our out to sit alongside some old favourites, customers, with the help of our old so this simply offers more choice for the friend Fat Chris. We have two months widening gaming audience, which is of below-the-line activity in our stores, great for retail. with new Christmas creatives, and an With our marketing and in integrated media store preperation, customers campaign focusing on will see that Gamestation is pushing our brand and value message through ready for a busy Christmas. TV, press and online. Emma Kitching, Gamestation
Who are you targeting with this marketing campaign? Our core customer base of hardcore and casual gamers remains at the heart of all our marketing communications, but we recognise that at this time of year the market welcomes a much broader audience, and as such we have tailored our unique campaign to suit all our potential customers. It’s a campaign that will target everyone.
Last year you ran major half price offers on new titles; are you going to run similar promotions this year? We’ll continue to offer great value to our customers both in-store and online in the run-up to Christmas. There will be something for everyone, regardless of their gaming needs, or whether they’re a hardcore gamer, a casual gamer, or buying a gift for someone else.
What do you think will be this year’s Christmas number one? There’s just so much to choose from this year, so it’s going to be difficult to predict a number one. It could be a new release that everyone’s excited about like Quantum of Solace or Call of Duty, or maybe the much sought after Wii Fit… who knows? There’s a lot of increased competition this year, especially from the likes of Asda and HMV. Are you worried about this competition? Everyone at Gamestation is working very hard to deliver gaming for less this Christmas, and we’ve spent months working with our partners throughout the industry to plan and implement our entire Christmas offer. With our high profile marketing campaign and all the preparation in-store and behind the scenes, customers will see that Gamestation is fully geared up for a busy Christmas period.
TAKE FLIGHT AND FULFIL YOUR DESTINY. Free from his imprisonment, the Dark Master unleashes his wrath upon the world, determined to bring forth a new age of darkness. As evil spreads over the world like a plague, Spyro must discover abilities beyond that of the elements and unlock the true power of the purple dragon within him if he is to stop the Dark Master and fulﬁl his destiny.
© 2008 Sierra Entertainment, Inc. Spyro, Sierra and the Sierra logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Sierra Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries and Activision is a registered trademark of Activision Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. “” , ”PlayStation” and “PLAYSTATION” are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE and the Xbox logos are trademarks of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft. NINTENDO DS, Wii AND THE Wii LOGO ARE TRADEMARKS OF NINTENDO. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
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FANTASY PUBLISHER: PART ONE
MCV’s dream team We’ve carefully mulled over which individuals our perfect publishing house would employ – on a global, European and UK level. In the first of three features, we present MCV’s ‘fantasy team’ for our worldwide HQ… CHAIRMAN: KEN KUTARGI A surprising choice? Get out of it. Who better to take the reigns of our entire operation than the true ‘father’ of the most successful series of consoles in history? Just on the software side, this is a man who oversaw the biggest boom in Sony’s first-party games, launching classic franchises like Wipeout, Gran Turismo and God Of War. And his vision didn’t stop there. Kutaragi steered Sony to ‘discover’ casual gaming on console – with the likes of SingStar, EyeToy and Buzz – when Nintendo was still pushing cartoons to the core. And that little genre never went anywhere, did it? Then, of course, there’s his knowledge of the hardware market: When to pull out of support for a format, what stage in a lifecycle to release your big hitters, that sort of thing. You know, the stuff that makes or breaks publishers. Sony has politely just pushed him out the door – with whispers that it was personal relationships as much as PlayStation 3’s slow start, that saw him ousted. He may well feel he has something left to prove. In for a second interview: Kaz Hirai, Saturo Iwata, Hayao Nakayama
CEO: JOHN RICCITIELLO
CFO: THOMAS TIPPL
Fierce, smart, aggressive. Riccitiello would be a perfect angry foil to Kutaragi’s worldwide reputation as a Jolly Good Fellow. This ‘good cop/bad cop’ one-two would see Riccitiello’s ruthless thirst for success sit snugly with Kutaragi: one of the few people the notoriously strong-headed boss might bow down to. Riccitiello’s true talent is spotting a company’s weakness and turning it around – witness the marked difference in EA’s review scores recently. Also, he’s no stranger to getting what he wants, whatever the cost – as Bioware and Pandemic know all too well.
The even-tempered Austrian knows how to make tough decisions well: look no further than his super-cool handling of the merger between Vivendi and Activision. Tippl has overseen one of the most successful fiscal periods in Activision history. Under his stewardship, Activision – a company that was slipping in the publishing charts just two years ago, don’t forget – reported a $344.9 million net profit for the 12 months to March 31st this year, up from $85.8 million in FY 2006-2007. And it’s aiming even higher this year. Sounds like the man for the job to us.
In for a second interview: Bobby Kotick, Brian Farrell, Simon Jeffery
In for a second interview: Warren Jenson, Alain Martinez, Yoshihiro Mori
GLOBAL SALES DIRECTOR: IAN CURRAN Who better to look after the tough job of getting our product into stores than the man who’s ensured that THQ’s annual revenues top $1bn in recent years? A former sales director at Acclaim, we’re sure that it would cost us a pretty penny to get Curran – a homegrown talent who now has worldwide responsibility at THQ – to ‘lower’ himself back down to a ‘mere’ sales director role. But as a man who’s never backed away from a challenge, we reckon we might just be able to tempt him. In for a second interview: Gary Dale, Alain Corre, Bernie Stolar
GLOBAL MARKETING DIRECTOR: REGGIE FILS-AIME Even more so than Ian Curran, Nintendo’s US boss (the ‘Regginator’) would take some coaxing to come back to a marketing director role. But this is our fantasy publisher list, right? So ya boo sucks and all that. He’s enjoyed huge success with the unfancied DS – which has gone on to sell around 80 million units worldwide. And when he took over the big role, he faced the ridicule of rivals for the (then) laughably named Wii. Who’s laughing now, hey Reg? Welcome aboard. In for a second interview: Peter Moore, Scott Steinberg, David Gardner
HEAD OF INTERNAL DEVELOPMENT: PHIL HARRISON The tall genius pulled the strings in the backrooms in Sony’s glory years, and teaming him back together with Ken Kutaragi would be sure to produce some fireworks. He also doubles up as a nifty PR man, assisting the communications team and quickly becoming a ‘face’ of the company. As well as all of his first-party software success, Harrison’s move to Atari indicates he’s really got his eye on the future of digital and online product. Of course, Atari hasn’t exactly announced anything concrete in this area yet – but we’re inclined to believe that if Phil says it’s cutting edge… it’s cutting edge. In for a second interview: Hideo Kojima, Dan Houser, Seabass
HEAD OF EXTERNAL DEVELOPMENT: DAVID DEMARTINI The man who heads up EA Partners has done a sterling job of turning John Riccitiello’s new caring, sharing approach to external studios into a reality. The EA that was blamed for ‘crushing’ the likes of Bullfrog has gone under an amazing PR turnaround, and DeMartini’s track record suggests he’d be able to coax the world’s best on board. He’s attracted the likes of Crytek, Valve, Harmonix, Epic Games, iD and Grasshopper to have a relationship with the Redwood publisher, leaving EA in an enviable position. In for a second interview: Tom Stone, Michael Denny, Shane Kim,
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: SHIGERU MIYAMOTO As every publisher in the world looks to crack a new IP that can pull in both the hardcore and family audiences, why not turn to the man who’s been doing just that for decades? From Mario to Wii Fit, Donkey Kong to Zelda, ‘Shigsy’ has proved time and time again he has the ability to create quirky characters that wheedle their way into the hearts of gamers (and non-gamers) everywhere. He also plays a mean banjo, which would be a must at every Christmas party. In for a second interview: Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Suda 51, Will Wright
28th Nove mber 2008
plore and adventure through n! levels of action-pack
Play as all your favourite Madagascar characters!
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friends in Compete against your
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MCV 07/11/08 32
GMA WINNERS: EUROGAMER
Strength of the Euro Eurogamer was the big winner at the GMAs, picking up the award for best games website, with deputy editor Ellie Gibson hailed as the best specialist writer. Christopher Dring speaks to editor Tom Bramwell… Were you surprised by your win? I genuinely don’t remember because I was exhausted from jumping around in the Electric Ballroom all day playing Guitar Hero, and I was still congratulating Ellie about her win. I was pleased though. I do think we deserved it, because we all worked very hard this year, but I know we will have to keep improving if we’re to hold onto that kind of accolade. What’s the secret to Eurogamer’s continued success? The stock answer is that we employ the best consumer games journalists, which is true. Ellie has her award to prove the point, but we also have Oli Welsh, Rob Purchese and Kristan Reed, and a contributor list that reads like a Who’s Who of British Games Journalism – Christian Donlan, Dan Whitehead, Jon Blyth, Kieron Gillen, Rob Fahey. I think Eurogamer holds people’s attention and has a personality that our readers can identify and relate to. How do you plan to develop the website moving forward? That would probably be telling! But obviously we plan to continue expanding in Europe – Eurogamer is now published in six languages by local teams in each region, and we will be in eight by the end of the year. What new developments this year have been a particular hit? This year we tried to stay on top of the biggest games, which keep people streaming to the site, and use the bumper traffic to justify going off and
BRAMWELL: The Eurogamer supremo picks up the Games Media Award for the Best Games Website
writing about whatever else took our fancy – crystallising that blend of necessity and personal interest at the heart of our editorial. We also launched Eurogamer MMO, edited by Oli Welsh, which is a channel dedicated to massively multiplayer games. And, if I do say so myself, promoting me to editor in January seems to have gone okay.
I think we deserved it, because we all worked very hard this year, but we’ll have to keep improving if we’re to hold onto the accolade. Tom Bramwell, Eurogamer
How would you like to see the games media evolve? I’d like to see games journos given free mansions and inflation-busting wages.
ELLIE GIBSON: SPECIALIST GAMES WRITER OF THE YEAR EUROGAMER’S other GMA winner was deputy editor Ellie Gibson, who claimed the award for best specialist games writer. And the talented wordsmith confessed that her win came as a bit of a surprise. “I was nominated alongside some extremely talented people, so it was a shock to learn I’d won,” explained Gibson. “I’ve never previously won anything in my life apart from a
Rockstar Table Tennis tournament, and that was playing against lifestyle journalists anyway. “Hopefully they voted for me because they think I’m alright at writing about video games. Either that or they were worried that I’d cry if I didn’t win.” Gibson also paid tribute to her coworkers and fellow GMA nominees for helping her throughout her career:
As for what might actually happen, I think the magazine market will continue to shrink, with websites – conveniently for me – attracting readers in larger quantities. I also think we’ll have to grow thicker skin. There was a cessation of hostilities between PR and editors following Jeff Gerstmann’s ousting from GameSpot, but that’s practically ancient history now. And with Metacritic such an integral part of every publishing executive’s plans – and critical to their companies’ reputations – I expect more publisher interference at every level.
“Apart from Oprah, Princess Diana and Rachel Stevens, my biggest influences have been the other writers I have worked with,” she said. “Videogaming247’s Patrick Garratt trained me to be a news journalist and helped me develop my feature-writing skills, which I’ll always be grateful for. I’m also a great admirer of Eurogamer’s Tom Bramwell and Oli Welsh. I’m not even just saying that.”
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