Another Call of Duty game released, another record is set. On November 13 Call of Duty: Black Ops II came out and in 24 hours the shooter generated more than $500 million worldwide. For the fourth consecutive year, Call of Duty is the biggest entertainment launch of the year following Modern Warfare 2 (generated $310 million in 24 hours in 2009), Black Ops ($360 million in 2010), and Modern Warfare 3 ($400 million in 2011). “Life-to-date sales for the Call of Duty franchise have exceeded worldwide theatrical box office receipts for Harry Potter and Star Wars, the two most successful movie franchises of all time,” said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick in a press release.
In other video game sales news, Halo 4 released last Tuesday on November 6 and raked in over $220 million on launch day. This makes it the most successful Halo launch in the franchise’s history, narrowly beating sales of Halo: Reach which generated $200 million in 2010. It was expected that Halo 4 sales would surpass the $300 million mark during its first week on the market, but that figure has not been made official yet. Stay tuned.
This Tuesday Halo 4 releases for Xbox 360 and a new trilogy forges on. In the original trilogy developer Bungie introduced us to the iconic Master Chief and we controlled the super-solider as he discovered the Halo Array and the Ark, crippled the alien alliance known as the Covenant, and battled the parasitic Flood. After going on to release a prequel to Halo 3 designated ODST and a prequel to Halo: Combat Evolved with Halo: Reach, Bungie handed the franchise’s reigns to a new developer, 343 Industries. Halo 4 brings us back into control of the Chief, and we find him just where we left him at the end of Halo 3 in 2007; he’s aboard the UNSC ship Forward Unto Dawn, floating in space drifting toward a mysterious Forerunner planet called Requiem. Chief’s last words were delivered to Cortana, his AI companion, and they were, “Wake me, when you need me.” Halo 4, in addition to providing addicting online multiplayer modes, will delve deeper into the franchise’s mythology as Master Chief inadvertently crash lands on a Forerunner planet infested with Covenant, Forerunner technology, and, according to the game’s marketing, “an ancient evil awakens.” And on top of that, there’s something wrong with Cortana; she is going “rampant” (or insane) because she is operating beyond her natural lifespan.
Excited yet? Let me give you a boost…
Leading up to the release of Halo 4, Microsoft Studios and 343 Industries developed a five-part live-action web series set in the Halo universe. Forward Unto Dawn follows a group of freshman cadets at the UNSC’s Corbulo Academy of Military Science and places particular focus on troubled cadet Thomas Lasky. The story takes fans to the beginning of the Human/Covenant war and it seamlessly weaves into where things kick off in Halo 4. The series is a bold journey into the Halo universe and it tells a compelling story worth investing your time in, especially if you’re a fan of the franchise. The acting and special effects are surprisingly effective, and in addition to amping you up for the new game it will also make you wish a Halo miniseries a la HBO’s Band of Brothers was made. Forward Unto Dawn can be viewed online at Machinima or on your console via the Halo Waypoint app.
Halo 4 is being sold in various forms; there’s the regular copy ($60), the limited edition copy ($100), it’s bundled in a Halo-themed 320GB console package ($350), and there’s a Halo-themed wireless controller ($60). Want a read more before jumping in? IGN gives a glowing review. Watch the launch trailer after the break. (Click here for more…)
Halo 4 lands November 4, and to celebrate the start of a new trilogy from developer 343 Industries Microsoft is coming out with a limited edition Halo themed Xbox 360 console decked out in a grey-and-blue hue. $400 will net you the 320GB console, two Halo themed wireless controllers, a wired headset, a standard edition copy of Halo 4, and tokens for exclusive in-game and avatar marketplace DLC. What is typically a green glow around the console’s power button and the controller’s Xbox button is replaced by a blue glow to match the overall color scheme. Also, the console features in-game sound effects that can be heard when you turn the console on and press the disc eject button. If you want a slice of the Halo hardware without putting down four Benjamins you can opt to get the wireless controller that will sell standalone at $60 that same day. Get your preorder on at Amazon today. Soak it all up in the gallery below.
[Via Major Nelson]
With no new hardware releasing this year, Microsoft made sure to focus squarely on games and new experiences powered by Xbox 360. It was announced that this year the company’s seven year old console went from being the #1 selling game machine in North America to being the best selling console in the world. And with everything that Microsoft showed off at their E3 press conference this year, you’d be remiss to think that they’ll lose the crown anytime soon.
Before jumping into the exciting software titles Microsoft has in store for gamers in the not-so-distant future, let’s dive into the most talked about announcement coming out of their presser: Xbox SmartGlass. Leading up to E3, a rumor leaked that Microsoft was cooking up a new Xbox feature that would work similarly to AirPlay from Apple; one could wirelessly beam video content from a smartphone or tablet to the big screen TV in your living room. The leak became official at Microsoft’s briefing, but it would be proven that Xbox SmartGlass offers so much more than Apple’s AirPlay beaming. Real world examples follow. Start watching a movie on your tablet and with one click transfer it to your TV. As the movie is resumes on the big screen, your tablet doesn’t remain idle; instead it provides relavant content to what’s being played on your TV. Say you’re watching Sherlock Holmes; while it’s playing on the TV you can use your tablet to delve into the movie’s synopsis, cast, bonus features, and other content that pertains to the movie.
A neat feature, it still might not stimulate your appetite for SmartGlass. This will. Hop onto HBO GO and watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Through the power of SmartGlass you can follow the story that unfolds on the TV using your tablet as a guide through Westeros. In real time SmartGlass will help you keep up with the large cast of characters and goings-on with an expansive interactive map of Westeros. Microsoft is working close with content providers to bring these kind of experiences to Xbox, so this is only the tip of the iceberg.
In additional to expanding the world of movies and TV, SmartGlass will serve as a gaming controller of sorts to enhance gameplay for compatible titles. In Madden, for example, SmartGlass transforms your tablet into a playbook and allows you to create and execute routes using an innovative, touch-based interface. Will you be able to take control of Master Chief in Halo 4? Definitely not, but Microsoft showed off another way SmartGlass can enhance even the most hardcore games they offer. In Halo 4, Halo Waypoint data can be unlocked in-game and later accessed on your smartphone. Stuff like that. Again, Microsoft is spearheading the SmartGlass initiative, and soon we’ll see what game developers can think up to enhance their experiences by making them more interactive across multiple screens.
Movies, TV, games. What else will SmartGlass affect on Xbox? It will (at long last) enable Internet browsing on the console. Internet Explorer is coming to Xbox, and SmartGlass allows you to scroll and pinch-to-zoom on-screen content. Using Kinect you’ll also be able to control the web browser with your voice. SmartGlass also gives you the ability to navigate the Xbox dashboard using your fingers, in addition to your voice (Kinect) and a traditional controller.
Xbox’s Marc Whitten summed it up best when he closed the segment like this: SmartGlass is ”when devices work together to immerse you in entertainment.” He also went on to make a great point. You already own the devices that will make SmartGlass a possibility: smartphones, tablets, PCs. There is no need to purchase an additional controller, peripheral or console (looking at you, Nintendo) to make a second screen experience a reality. The SmartGlass companion app will be compatible with Windows 8 PCs, tablets and phones, as well as devices powered by iOS and Android. There is one catch, however. If you’re planning on beaming content from portable devices to the TV, said content must be purchased and rented from within Microsoft’s ecosystem, i.e. the Xbox Video storefront. With that said, Xbox SmartGlass is coming to Xbox, Windows 8, and the other aforementioned mobile platforms this fall.
Other announcements made at Microsoft’s press conference include: (Click here for more…)
The long-awaited return of Master Chief is almost here. Halo 4 is so close you can
taste it preorder it. This week Microsoft fleshed out the $100 “Limited Edition” package that will go on sale alongside the standard $60 version of Halo 4 when it hits shelves November 6. Forty extra bucks will get you the following: War Games Map Pack (early access to “three future competitive multiplayer map packs, each including three locations”); Specializations (early access to “six Specializations to achieve higher ranks in your Spartan career and new unlockable customization options”); UNSC Infinity Briefing Packet (“includes an armor customization schematic, a blueprint of the massive ship itself, and insight into what it means to be one of humanity’s finest warriors: the Spartan-IVs”); and bonus digital content available through Xbox Live including unique armor and weapon skins, an exclusive in-game emblem, Avatar props, and an extended 90-minute version of the live-action digital series Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn (it provides “an enthralling backstory leading up to the events of Halo 4). Preorder your UNSC-engraved Halo 4 Limited Edition package today. Image of the LE case and PR after the break.
Oh, and how awesome is the official Halo 4 game box art that’s pasted above? Watch it come alive after the break.
At last, Microsoft has set a date for the return of Xbox’s hero Master Chief. Halo 4 drops November 6, 2012. In a press release (in full after the break) Microsoft and new game developer 343 Industries spilled some details on franchise’s long-awaited comeback. “Set four years after the events in “Halo 3,” Master Chief returns to confront his destiny and face an ancient evil that threatens the fate of the entire universe,” reads the release. “”Halo 3,” the biggest consumer product launch of all time when it released in 2007, concluded the original game trilogy, but left many unanswered questions around the fates of the series’ beloved hero, the Master Chief, and his artificial intelligence companion, Cortana. On Nov. 6, fans will experience the next chapter of the iconic franchise.”
Microsoft’s Phil Spencer is quoted: “We are beginning a new saga with ‘Halo 4′ and embarking on a journey that will encompass the next decade of ‘Halo’ games and experiences. Millions of fans worldwide have been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to step back into the boots of Master Chief, and, with ‘Halo 4′ leading the charge, we’re confident 2012 will be the most successful year in Xbox history.”
It still hasn’t been determined what or who exactly John-117 will battle against in the next-gen first person shooter, but whatever it is I’m amped. Unless it’s The Flood again, cuz that would suck. Other Halo factoids… orignal game composer Marty O’Donnell is out (what a bummer!) and former Massive Attack member Neil Davidge has taken over the important role. Orchestrator Matt Dunkley explained to Edge: “We respect absolutely what [O'Donnell] did, and obviously these iconic themes are very close to gamers’ hearts. So we all listened to what he’d done, and I think you’ll always be on a hiding to nothing if you’re trying to pastiche that. Instead, we wanted to take that to another level. Hopefully the Halo fans will see that we’re being respectful, but we’ve also taken it somewhere else, and maybe onto a higher plane. If you’re always trying to reference back, you’re not creating new things.”
Jump after the break to get a behind the scenes look at the audio composition behind the game as well as soundtrack samples. In somewhat related news, 343 Industries invited late-night talk show host Conan O’Brien to their studio; watch the fun unfold after the break. Below, concept art.
November 6, are you here yet?