Take Two

After the flash of E3 comes the fizzle of May’s US video game sales, which were the lowest for nearly five years, according to figures just released by the NPD research firm. There were plenty of titles for the holiday season to get excited about at the annual trade show last week in LA, but LA Noire, set on the mean streets of 1940s Los Angeles, took the fall for poorer than expected sales in May. Read more

In the annals of video game history, Duke Nukem Forever stands alone as the title that never fails to disappoint. Disappoint in the sense that, 14 years after development began on the sequel to 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D, the game has still not appeared. This despite countless tentative release dates and its developer 3D Realms being reduced to saying in 2001 that it would be released simply “when it’s done”. Read more

A new, slimmer Xbox boosted sales of the Microsoft console by 88 per cent in June, but video game software sales slumped 15 per cent.

The latest figures from the NPD research group on Thursday continued a disappointing trend for the industry in 2010, with overall sales down 9 per cent so far this year compared to 2009. Read more

The US video game industry remains in Dead Man’s Gulch despite the success of a spaghetti Western title in May.

The latest figures from the NPD research firm show Take-Two shifted more than 1.5m copies of Red Dead Redemption as the best-selling game of the month, but overall industry sales fell 5 per cent on a year ago to $823m, with console sales down 20 per cent at $241m. Read more

THQ received a bloody nose recently with the timing of the release of its mixed martial arts UFC Undisputed 2010 game.

Brian Farrell, chief executive of the video game publisher, is hoping for a better outcome by holding fire with Homefront, a new first-person shooter that faces formidable opposition from Activision, Electronic Arts and Halo-maker Bungie. Read more

Carl Icahn , the billionaire activist investor, is upping his stake in another troubled company – revealing on Thursday in a regulatory filing  that he holds more than 9m shares in the video game publisher Take-Two .

Wedbush Morgan analysts speculated today that Mr Icahn taking an 11.3 per cent stake in a company he has long held an interest in could be an attempt to force a sale. Mr Icahn “acquired the shares in the belief that the shares were undervalued,” says the filing, and he may “seek to have conversations” with management. Read more

  • Digital Sky Technologies, the Russian internet group that has invested $200m in Facebook, will purchase up to $100m in common stock from existing shareholders in the social network. The deal clarifies Facebook’s valuation, giving its common stock a value of about $6.5bn. This is higher than the rumoured valuations last autumn when a similar deal was considered, but lower than the value of Facebook’s preferred stock.
  • Microsoft escalated its battle with arch rival Google, reacting to an assault on one of its core businesses with the announcement of a free online version of its widely used Office software, to be launched next year. While likely to take only a small bite out of Office revenues in the short term, the move represents one of the most radical steps yet by Microsoft as it tries to refocus its software business around the internet, according to analysts.

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  • Facebook accepted a $200m investment from Digital Sky Technologies, a private Russian internet investment group, valuing the fast-growing social network’s preferred stock at $10bn. The unlikely union gives Facebook an additional cash cushion, but the $10bn valuation is a come down. Just a year and a half ago, Microsoft invested $240m on similar terms, but valued Facebook’s preferred stock at $15bn.
  • Psystar, the Florida company that was making unauthorised clones of Apple computers, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The move puts at least a temporary end to Apple’s lawsuit against the company, and could indicate that Psystar’s backers have pulled out, anticipating a victory by Apple in court.

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