The Last Word: July 10-14

The week that was sees Microsoft get its Xbox Live Arcade act together, Sony back off of its controversial PSP ad campaign, and EA drop a bombshell with Team Fortress 2.


Sparks were flying left and right in the gaming world this week right from the word "go." On Monday, controversial publisher Take-Two Interactive announced that it was being investigated once again by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Esquire author Chuck Klosterman discussed his controversial article about the absence of a Lester Bangs figure in gaming journalism, and controversial developer John Romero unveiled his new development studio, Slipgate Ironworks. Just about the only things that didn't spark controversy on Monday were industry analyst expectations that June would turn out to be another down month for industry sales.

Tuesday was all about companies trying to cool some heads. Microsoft addressed the clamor of Xbox 360 players' ongoing demands for more Xbox Live Arcade games by announcing its Xbox Live Arcade Wednesdays program, which saw the release of Frogger this week and will see a new Arcade game made available each Wednesday from now until August 9.

Meanwhile, Sony announced that it had pulled an ad campaign in the Netherlands for its white PlayStation Portable model. One ad in the campaign featured a white woman menacingly holding a black woman and drew condemnation from a California politician and a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In ceasing the ad campaign, Sony also apologized to anyone who might have been offended by it.

Things heated up again Wednesday, as Epic Games' Mark Rein made headlines with a keynote at the UK Develop conference, wherein he called the current episodic-content trend a business model doomed to fail. Meanwhile, friction from the past came to light, as a Sega-16 interview with former Sega of America president Tom Kalinske saw the executive reveal that at one point, he was trying to get Sega and Sony to work together on a gaming console. However, his superiors at parent company Sega of Japan would not hear of such a partnership, and the rest is bitter, bitter history for Sega fans.

On Thursday, almost as if in response to Rein's assertion the day before, Valve Software dropped a bomb on the gaming world. The company announced at Electronic Arts' summer media event that the long-MIA Team Fortress 2 was alive and well and would be included in Half-Life 2: Episode Two. What's more, Episode Two would be coming to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 at the same time as the PC version of the game, and the console editions would include the entire Half-Life 2 saga to date.

In more contentious news on Thursday, GameSpot reported on a recent lawsuit brought against Sony by Agere Systems for numerous alleged patent violations. Legal action was also being considered this week by Las Vegas mayor Oscar Goodman. The mayor isn't happy about Ubisoft's upcoming tactical shooter Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Vegas, which sees his town overrun with terrorist scum who probably plunder the buffet table and scam comped drinks by working the penny slots for hours on end.

And while NPD's week-ending release of its figures for June game sales weren't intended to be contentious in any way, one couldn't help but notice how they flew in the face of Monday's analyst expectations. Where a drop of 4 percent to 16 percent in sales compared to June 2005 had been expected, NPD's figures instead put the month's take at a 25 percent year-over-year gain. While the 600,000 units of the newly released Nintendo DS Lite helped push the figure to that mark, game-software sales were up 15 percent on their own, providing a welcome bit of good news to cap a week full of friction.

Analysts predict June gloom for games
Q&A: Chuck Klosterman answers critics
Romero forges Slipgate Ironworks
Microsoft launching Argo into portable space
SEC takes on Take-Two...again

$10 Street Fighter II coming to Xbox Live August 2
Sony pulls controversial PSP ads
Call of Duty 3 debriefed
EverQuest to grow Serpent's Spine
Retail Radar: Godfather: Mob Wars, Sims 2 Glamour Life Stuff

Q&A: Mark Rein steals thunder at Develop
Confirmed: No Quake Wars in 2006
Q&A: XBL's Aaron Greenberg
Sega shot down joint Sony console
Jaffe hints at God of War 3

360, PS3 Half-Life 2 top EA's Summer Showcase
Ubisoft gets Driver's license
Sony slapped with another patent suit
Vegas mayor craps out on Rainbow Six
White Council convening on 360, PS3, and PC

Treyarch has 007's next-gen number
NPD: Sales up 25 percent in June, 4 percent in 2006
Q&A: Everybody's Tennis devs
Madden confirmed for Canton

Burton's Grim Fandango and Denzel in Halo?
Microsoft portable dubbed "Zune," won't game?
New 360s to be HDMI-compatible?

Shippin' Out July 10-14: Prey vs. Chromehounds

US console sales charts: July 2-8
US PC game charts: June 25-July 1
UK game charts: July 2-8
Japan game charts: July 3-9

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