Archive for the ‘Games’ Category
Looks like the rumor we broke back in January that Hollywood was flirting with the BioShock license was dead-on. Variety reports that Universal has signed a deal to turn BioShock into a movie. Director Gore Verbinski (Pirates of the Caribbean) will head the project and Aviator writer John Logan may write the screenplay. Take-Two executive chairman Strauss Zelnick, who was in charge of Fox in the ’90s, handled the deal for his company and says the project will actually get made … unlike the Halo movie.
To prevent infamous director Uwe Boll from creating more video game-based films, the makers of Stride gum today announced that it will provide free packs of gum to those who sign the Stop Uwe Boll internet petition, provided that it reaches a million signatures.
The oft-hated filmmaker had previously claimed that he would stop directing films if a petition reached one million signatures. Should the milestone be reached by May 23, the release date of Boll’s latest adaptation Postal, Stride promises to offer signatories a downloadable coupon for a free pack of gum.
“Grand Theft Auto IV” raked in more than $500 million (324.04 million) in its first week in stores, selling more than 6 million units worldwide, the video game’s publisher said Wednesday.
The highly anticipated title from Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. has received stellar ratings along with criticism for its violent content. The game follows Eastern European immigrant-turned-gangster Niko Bellic on crime missions around a fictional Liberty City.
The title sold about 3.6 million units on April 29, its opening day, bringing in roughly $310 million (200.91 million). This is $10 million (6.48 million) more than what Microsoft Corp.’s “Halo 3,” another blockbuster game, took in during its first week last fall.
The game has also lifted sales of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3, the two consoles for which it is available.
Without giving numbers, Microsoft said Xbox 360 sales jumped 54 percent in the week following the title’s launch, compared with the prior week, and more than 2.3 million people played it on its Xbox Live online service.
“Retailers say roughly four out of every 10 Xbox 360 consoles sold also included the sale of a copy of ‘Grand Theft Auto IV,'” said Aaron Greenberg, director of product management at Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.
Sony spokeswoman Laura Bakken said the company’s 10 largest retailers have “all seen a pretty substantial lift” in PS3 sales, but she did not give specifics.
The game is generating controversy as previous versions have.
Take-Two sued the Chicago Transit Authority on Monday after the organization removed ads for the game because of its “Mature” rating, which means it is not suitable for people under 17. The game also caught the ire of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which seeks an adults-only rating because it lets players drive after imbibing in virtual liquor.
Previous versions of the game generated controversy over hidden sex scenes, sharp criticism from Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton and a 2006 lawsuit that blames the game for three New Mexico murders committed by a 14-year-old.
An analyst with Wedbush Morgan, Michael Pachter, said he expects the game to sell 12 million copies by the end of 2008. Previous versions of Grand Theft Auto have sold more than 70 million copies worldwide.
New York-based Take-Two is the subject of a $2 billion (1.3 billion) hostile buyout from larger rival Electronic Arts Inc., whose offer Take-Two has repeatedly rebuffed as too low.
Take-Two’s shares were recently trading at $26.39, which is above EA’s tender offer of $25.74 (16.68) per share; the offer expires May 16. Unless EA is willing to offer more, it seems “increasingly possible” the acquisition attempt could unravel, Janco Partners analyst Mike Hickey said in a note to investors.
World of WarCraft is a game made of many parts: resource gathering, combat, item-creation… and some of those parts are more fun than others. A company called MDY wanted to help with the dull bits of the game, and maybe assist gold farmers a little bit, by releasing a program called Glider that allows your character to continue collecting gold and leveling while you’re not at your computer. In 2006, Blizzard and Vivendi showed up at an MDY employee’s home and threatened legal action against the company, claiming Glider violates the Terms of Service of World of Warcraft as well as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. MDY then sued to establish its right to sell its software, causing Blizzard to file its own suit to stop MDY from selling the program. The issue is whether or not Glider is breaking any laws, and Blizzard is hoping that by stretching the boundaries of what constitutes copyright infringement, it can get MDY shut down. If Blizzard succeeds, it could set a very dangerous precedent.
The question is, how is installing a third-party tool copyright infringement if it doesn’t use Blizzard’s code? This is where things get dicey. In a filing, Blizzard quotes a section from its EULA that says that “All connections to the Game and/or the Service, whether created by the Game Client or by other tools and utilities, may only be made through methods and means expressly approved by Blizzard.” In other words, you’re only allowed to play WoW using Blizzard-approved software.
By scrolling through the EULA and clicking okay, you agree, and can then play the game. Here’s where Blizzard’s logic gets slippery. To play the game, certain parts of the code have to loaded into your computer’s RAM. In effect, Blizzard says you’re making a copy of the game. Since Glider breaks the EULA, you no longer have a license to make that copy in your system’s RAM, and now you’re infringing on Blizzard’s copyright.
So you see, any program which creates a “copy” of itself in your system’s RAM—and that’s every program on your computer—makes you guilty of copyright infringement unless you have a license allowing you to do so. Public Knowledge, a DC-based public interest group defending the rights of users in “the emerging digital culture” has filed an amicus brief with the court explaining why these claims are so preposterous. PK’s arguments are sound and easy to understand. “Defendant Blizzard insists that users of its software must rely upon a license from Blizzard to make RAM copies, and users infringe copyright when they use the software in a way not permitted by the license agreement,” the amicus stated. “But the license agreement cannot govern users’ rights to make RAM copies, because that right is already reserved to users under 17 U.S.C. § 117. Therefore, Blizzard cannot claim any infringement of its copyrights based upon the creation of RAM copies…”
The law cited by PK states that “it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided… that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner.” It’s going to be hard to argue that using your RAM to run World of Warcraft isn’t an essential step in playing the game.
Public Knowledge doesn’t seem to want to side with either party in these suits. “This is a case pitting distasteful gaming behavior against an unsavory over-assertion of copyrights,” Sherwin Siy, Public Knowledge staff attorney stated. Blizzard is trying to stop a company from profiting from cheaters, but in doing so it may alter EULAs and TOS agreements, to the detriment of users.
“Under Blizzard’s theory, a copyright owner could not only contractually impose the most onerous restrictions on its customers—restrictions that undermine rights guaranteed by copyright and First Amendment law—but could also enforce those conditions with the threat of copyright law’s high statutory damages,” argues Public Knowledge in its brief. “Blizzard’s attempt to use contract to alter and displace those aspects of copyright law it does not like, while using copyright penalties to construe and enforce the terms of that alteration, is untenable, and the Court should not endorse it.”