Midway, Epic expanding Unreal Tournament 3

Gears of War maker VP Mark Rein shoots down speculation of publisher-developer rift, reveals "major expansion" for shooter <i>en route</i>; worldwide sales now top 1 million.


Last week, Midway announced that it had come to an agreement with two licensors to cease publishing games based on their IP. Pending an early-November earnings report, the financially strapped publisher couldn't confirm the identity of the two canceled licenses, one of which was externally developed, the other internally. Possible victims included the NBA Ballers series and several games based on Cartoon Network television shows.

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Now, one franchise can be stricken from the list of potential victims. This morning, Epic Games vice president Mark Rein told GameSpot that Midway will indeed continue to distribute the Unreal Tournament series for the foreseeable future.

"Our arrangement with Midway isn't a license but rather a straight publishing agreement and Midway is still very much the publisher of Unreal Tournament 3," he said. "In fact, we're working together on a major expansion that we expect will excite and grow our UT3 customer base."

Rein declined to elaborate on whether the expansion was a stand-alone retail product, downloadable content, or a map pack. Regardless, it will be the first "major" add-on to the game since it shipped for the PC and PlayStation 3 last winter and for the Xbox 360 in July. UT3 is currently the top PC franchise from the increasingly console-focused Gears of War developer, which is also readying an Electronic Arts-published PC, PS3, and 360 title at its People Can Fly subsidiary.

The executive also revealed that to date, Unreal Tournament 3 has sold over 1 million units worldwide. As of August 31, the game had sold just over 476,000 units at US retailers, according to industry-research firm the NPD Group. While solid, the figure is only a fraction of Gears of War's total, which is nearly 3 million units in the US on the 360 and PC, according to NPD.

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