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by Daniel Huebner and Jennifer Olsen

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News

Week of December 6- December 12, 1999

[Thursday, December 9, 1999]

Take Two Increases Credit
Take Two has increased its line of credit from $66 million to $100 million dollars, additional funding that will allow Take Two to continue its rapid expansion. A deal will Bank of America creates a line of credit allowing Take Two to borrow from $75 million to $85 million. "Our agreement with Bank of America gives the domestic divisions of Take-Two a long-term financing arrangement that will allow our Company to continue to expand its business through internal growth and acquisition," said Larry Miller, Take Two's chief financial officer. In Europe, Barclays Bank has granted the company a credit line worth up to $25 million.

Final Fantasy VIII Sells One Million
Square EA reports more than one million units of Final Fantasy VIII have sold in North America since its September release on Playstation, reinforcing the franchise as one of the most successful RPG series ever. Worldwide, Final Fantasy VIII has sold more that six million copies, and the Final Fantasy series as a whole has sold in excess of 25 million units. "Final Fantasy VIII has grossed more than $50 million in revenue in only 13 weeks of sales in North America," said Square EA's Jun Iwasaki, "With the holidays still ahead, we anticipate that Final Fantasy VIII will continue to break sales records."

Interplay Soars
Though the company isn't scheduled to release its full financials for the year until February, speculation that Interplay's has at last turned the corner caused a jump in its stock price. The stock increased by 64 percent earlier in the week on the belief that Interplay's results would put the company back on firm financial ground. Interplay insists that the jump could be attributed to speculators noting the company's stock price amid a strengthening market segment.

Sierra Studio to Publish Throne
Click Entertainment's Throne of Darkness, an upcoming RPG from Diablo veterans Doron Gartner and Ben Haas, will be published by Sierra Studio. The title had previously been scheduled to be published by Acclaim, but that company decided to back out as part of its plan to focus on console titles. "We signed with Studios because we share a common goal, to make games that are innovative, fun, extremely polished and totally accessible," said Click Entertainment President Doron Gartner. The game is slated for release in the second half of 2000.

[Wednesday, December 8, 1999]

NUON Arrives
Samsung Electronics will be the first to incorporate VM Labs's NUON technology in a retail DVD player. The game enabled DVD player is being positioned as a family fun center, and Samsung is projecting six family friendly game titles will be available in time for the DVD-N2000's launch in the first quarter of 2000. "Today's DVD players have great graphics...but with NUON, you get a total entertainment system packed with fun interactive activities and capabilities," said VM Labs CEO Richard Miller. In addition to playing games, the system contains a host of new playback features including a twenty-time zoom. Ports are available for connecting joystick and keyboard, and future NUON features should include Internet access and web enhanced movies.

Interplay Distributes Blue Byte
Interplay will handle North American distribution of at least the next four Blue Byte PC titles. A new agreement between the two companies gives Interplay exclusive North American distribution rights to Blue Byte's Settlers 4, Battle Isle 4, Dragons Lair 3D, and Stephen King's F 13. "Blue Byte is poised to grow tremendously within the coming year and with Interplay, I am convinced we have found that partner [we need] and think we have the makings of a very successful relationship," said Blue Byte's Mark Hall.

GDC 2000 Line Up
The Miller Freeman Game Group has announced the speaker line up for the Game Developers Conference 2000. Among the more than 200 lectures, seminars, roundtables and tutorials are standout sessions by Yu Suzuki and Yuji Naka from Sega of Japan, Phil Harrison of Sony Computer Entertainment America, and Randy Thom and Doug Chiang of Lucasfilm. Hasbro Interactive's Tom Dusenberry will present this year's keynote address. "The industry pioneers involved with the conference and advanced sessions are pushing the envelope with creativity and vision that will solidify games as the dominant entertainment platform of the 21st Century," says GDC Director Jennifer Pahlka. The conference runs from March 8-12.

PC Data's Top Ten
PC Data has released its list of the top ten best selling games for the week of November 21-27.

1. MP Roller Coaster Tycoon, Hasbro Interactive
2. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Disney
3. Microsoft Age of Empires II: Age Of Kings, Microsoft
4. Deer Hunter III, GT Interactive
5. Barbie Generation Girl Gotta Groove, Mattel Interactive
6. Unreal Tournament, GT Interactive
7. Sim City 3000, Electronic Arts
8. Cabela's Big Game Hunter 3, Activision
9. Microsoft Flight Simulator, Microsoft
10. Family Favorites Game Pack, Hasbro Interactive

[Tuesday, December 7, 1999]

CGDA Elections
The Computer Game Developers Association is gearing up for its annual Board of Directors elections. The non-profit group has announced a call for nominations to fill three board positions for the year 2000. To be eligible to serve, potential candidates should nominate themselves and must have been members of the association for at least one year. Those looking to nominate themselves should send contact information and a 400 word candidate statement to the CGDA by December 23.

GOD is Great
An article in the multimedia section of Entertainment Weekly's December 10 issue names Gathering of Developers as one of the top ten electronic entertainment companies of the next millenium. The article recognized the Gather for it unique approach to game publishing and for its artist dominated board. "Entertainment Weekly always has its finger on the pulse of the Entertainment world. Its recognition of The Gathering as a visionary for the new millennium is an incredible validation of our progressive business model," said GOD president Henry Miller.

Hasbro Restructures
With profits from games and interactive toys outpacing returns from traditional toys, the world's second largest toy makers has announced restructuring plans aimed at expanding it's technology potential. Hasbro will cut over 2000 jobs as part of the restructuring, most of them in manufacturing as the company shutters factories in Mexico and the United Kingdom. Also closing are facilities in Alameda and Chapel Hill as the company cancel the Falcon series and moves out of the flight simulator market. "Falcon 4 has done reasonably well for us, but it's a niche market," said Habro Interactive PR director Laura Tomasetti. The moves are expected to save the company $16 million next year and $23 million in subsequent years. Hasbro is also launching and $500 million stock repurchasing program.

IEMA Board Named
The Interactive Entertainment Merchants Association has named its first board of directors. Founding board members include Jeff Griffiths of Electronics Boutique, Mike Gimlett of eToys.com, John Sullivan of Toys R Us, Bill Kerr of Wal-Mart, Ed Sturr of Fry's Electronics, Jim Mackenzie of Kay Bee Toys, Steve Boyea of Shopko Stores, and Robert DeVere of Wherehouse Entertainment. The IEMA represents 28 of the top 30 game retailers in the North America. "Prior to the formation of the IEMA, the manufacturers had to speak on our behalf, and while our goals and challenges remain similar, they are also different. The growth and maturing of the interactive entertainment industry necessitated this move," said EB's Jeff Griffiths.

iEN Provides For WB
iEntertainment has entered into a deal to provide interactive entertainment content for Warner Brothers Online's Entertaindom website. The agreement has iEN providing contests and promotions as well as a series of exclusive original games. The deal gives iEntertainment access to Warner's Entertaindom members for promotion to iEN content and allows iEN to link to premiums service games like Warbirds and Dawn of Aces. Warner Brothers Online will also promote iEntertainments services on it other sites.

[Monday, December 6, 1999]

3dfx Opens Glide
In an effort to secure its place with Linux users, 3dfx has decided to make its Glide API open source. The company is also releasing the hardware specifications for all of its currently available 3D hardware accelerators. The company hopes that making Glide open source will lead to improved drivers and increased user base on non-windows platforms. "The release of the API and the hardware specifications allows for rapid tailoring of drivers and applications for 3dfx products to suit a variety of platform needs. This leadership move substantially enhances our ability to become the standard for cross-platform 3D hardware," said 3dfx vice president and CTO Scott Sellers. Linux developers welcomed the news, "With the Open Source release of FXT1 texture compression in August followed by today's announcement of Open Source Glide and hardware specifications, Red Hat sees a real commitment from 3dfx to become the leading 3D hardware platform for Linux-based Oses," said Red Hat director of engineering Erik Troan.

70 Million Playstations
Sony Computer Entertainment announced that Playstation has reached an impressive new milestone. World wide, the Playstation has shipped an astounding 70 million machines. In the five years since its birth the Playstation has shipped nearly 17 million units in Japan, 26 million in the North America, and an additional 27 million in Europe.

Sega Helps
Desperate parents in search of a new Dreamcast for under the Christmas tree are getting a little help this year. Sega and AT&T Worldnet, Dreamcast's online provider of choice, have teamed up to create a toll free number that will direct potential purchasers to their nearest Dreamcast retailer. Called the Sega Dreamcast Parents Helpline, the service also dispenses tips on buying Dreamcast games and peripherals. "New shipments of Sega Dreamcast are arriving in North America every day to try to meet the massive demand. With the holiday rush upon us, we felt it was best to offer some assistance to help consumers find those Sega Dreamcast systems," said Sega's Chris Gilbert.

PC Data's Top Selling Game Websites
PC Data has released its list of top selling online gaming websites for the week of November 21-27. Percentages reflect the share of the total web audience reached by the site.

1 . uproar.com 5.59%
2 . gamesville.com 5.47%
3 . prizecentral.com 4.89%
4 . zone.com 2.78%
5 . virtualvegas.com 2.54%
6 . ign.com 2.31%
7 . gamespot.com 2.02%
8 . gamecenter.com 1.52%
9 . won.net 1.33%
10 . cheatcc.com 1.22%

Past News


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