Sunday, December 2, 2007

Donate Charity, Play God of War 3?

SCE Studios Santa Monica recently posted an auction of CharityFolks to win a chance to get a hands-on with an unannounced upcoming PLAYSTATION 3 title. Can anybody say God of War III?

According to the auction, the winning package includes a tour of the Santa Monica Studio, one on one time with the Gamer Director and Key Designers, and a playtest a portion of their unannounced title!

Considering the fact that Cory Barlog & David Jaffe had revealed tidbits of God of War III, that is probably what the title will be. Right now the auction is at $425.00. If you win, make sure you let us know what they are showing you.

[Bid on CharityFolks]

Battlefield: Bad Company: Frostbite Presentation

GamerSyde got up a new Battlefield: Bad Company video today, named the Frostbite Presentation. As you know, this game is developed by Digital Illusions CE and published by Electronic Arts. It is scheduled for a 2008 release.

Breaking: Activision & Vivendi Merging to Activision Blizzard

Vivendi, the french megacorp, has bought out Activision for a whopping $1.7 billion today. Activision, which is being renamed to Activision Blizzard, will have Vivendi's games brought under it's name.

As of now, Vivendi owns Blizzard, Sierra, and Activision. They are all under the wing, making it one of the top third party publishers.

The CEO of Activision, Robert Kotick, is still going to be CEO of the new company. Vivendi Games' CEO, Bruce Hack, will become CCO of the new company and lead up the merger, finances, and human resources efforts. Vivendi will control 52% of the company when all is said and done. The overlay will cost plenty of employees their jobs, but my expectation is that will mostly be in the clerical departments, as both the companies have different focuses in their game development areas.

Is it just me, or is Activision Blizzard one of the weirdest names you've ever heard? The press release below.

SANTA MONICA, Calif. & PARIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Activision, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATVI) and Vivendi (Euronext Paris: VIV) today announced that they have signed a definitive agreement to combine Vivendi Games, Vivendi's interactive entertainment business -- which includes Blizzard Entertainments® World of Warcraft®, the worlds #1 multi-player online role-playing game franchise -- with Activision, creating the worlds largest pure-play online and console game publisher. The new company, Activision Blizzard, is expected to have approximately $3.8 billion in pro forma combined calendar 2007 revenues and the highest operating margins of any major third-party video game publisher. On closing of the transaction, Activision will be renamed Activision Blizzard and will continue to operate as a public company traded on NASDAQ under the ticker ATVI.

Activision, one of the worlds leading independent publishers of interactive entertainment, is best known for its top-selling franchises, including Guitar Hero®, Call of Duty® and the Tony Hawk series, as well as Spider-Man, X-Men, Shrek®, James Bond and TRANSFORMERS. Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Vivendi Games, has projected calendar 2007 revenues of $1.1 billion, operating margins of over 40% and approximately $520 million of operating profit. Blizzard owns the #1 multi-player online role-playing game franchise, World of Warcraft, which currently has over 9.3 million subscribers worldwide. Blizzards World of Warcraft, Warcraft®, StarCraft® and Diablo® games account for four of the top-five best-selling PC game titles of all time. Vivendi Games also owns popular franchises, including Crash Bandicoot and Spyro. Pro forma for calendar 2007, Activision Blizzard expects to generate approximately 70% of its revenues from owned franchises. As a result of the business combination, Activision Blizzard expects to have the most diversified and broadest portfolio of interactive entertainment assets in its industry, positioning the combined company to capitalize on the continued worldwide growth in interactive entertainment.

Jean-Bernard Lévy, Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi stated: This alliance is a major strategic step for Vivendi and is another illustration of our drive to extend our presence in the entertainment sector. By combining Vivendis games business with Activision, we are creating a worldwide leader in a high-growth industry. We are excited about the opportunities for Activision Blizzard as a broader entertainment software platform. We believe this transaction will create significant value for Activision Blizzard and Vivendi stockholders. In Activision, we have found a partner with a highly complementary business and strong operating team. Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly are industry pioneers, well known for creating shareholder value. The combined strength of the existing management teams at both companies will set the stage for further profitable growth of Activision Blizzard. We look forward to being an active and supportive majority stockholder in a company that is poised to lead the worldwide interactive entertainment industry in the years ahead.

René Penisson, Member of the Management Board of Vivendi and current Chairman of Vivendi Games, added: We are very confident that by combining forces, Activision Blizzard will set the highest standards in quality, reputation and profitability, and will bring together the best creative teams in the industry. The combination of this unique product portfolio with highly professional employees gives us great confidence in the growth prospects for Activision Blizzard.

Said Robert Kotick, Activision's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer: This is an outstanding transaction for Activision and our stockholders, as well as a pivotal event in the continuing transformation of the interactive entertainment industry. By combining leaders in mass-market entertainment and subscription-based online games, Activision Blizzard will be the only publisher with leading market positions across all categories of the rapidly growing interactive entertainment software industry and reach the broadest possible audiences. By joining forces with Vivendi Games, we will become the immediate leader in the highly profitable online games business and gain a large footprint in the rapidly growing Asian markets, including China and Korea, while maintaining our leading operating performance across North America and Europe. Activision stockholders will benefit from significantly increased earnings power and the recurring nature and predictability of subscription-based revenues, while also having the opportunity, if they choose, to receive $27.50 per share for a portion of their shares in the post-closing tender offer.

Kotick continued: Vivendi Games provides Activision with unique strategic and financial benefits and will allow us to leverage our franchises into emerging online opportunities as Blizzard has done so successfully. Activision has been very focused on margin expansion, and this transaction will meaningfully increase our overall operating margins as we expand our franchises online and in new geographies. Diversifying our revenue base among subscription-based online, console and PC formats, as well as wireless and casual emerging opportunities, gives us the broadest platform to capitalize on industry growth. With Blizzards successful franchises, such as World of Warcraft, StarCraft and an exciting pipeline of yet-to-be announced titles, Vivendi Games and Blizzards management team will join with Activisions strong and experienced leaders to become an even more powerful force for innovation in online and offline interactive entertainment across a wide range of platforms. This transaction also provides a unique relationship with Universal Music Group the worlds largest music company which will benefit Guitar Hero and further extend our sizable leadership position in music-based games.

Mike Morhaime, President and Chief Executive Officer of Blizzard, added: "Blizzard's industry-leading PC games business, with a track record of nine consecutive bestsellers and a global subscriber base of more than 9.3 million World of Warcraft players, is an exceptional fit for Activision's highly profitable console games business. From our interactions with the Activision team, it is clear we have much in common in terms of our approaches to game development and publishing. Above all, we are looking forward to continue creating great games for Blizzard gamers around the world, and we believe this new partnership will help us to do that even better than before.

Structure & Terms of Transaction

Under the terms of the agreement, Vivendi Games will be merged with a wholly owned subsidiary of Activision. In the merger, shares of Vivendi Games will be converted into 295.3 million new shares of Activision common stock. Based on the transaction price of $27.50 per share of Activision common stock, this implies a value of approximately $8.1 billion for Vivendi Games. Concurrently with the merger, Vivendi will purchase 62.9 million newly issued shares of Activision common stock at a price of $27.50 per share a premium of 31% to Activisions average closing price over the past 20 trading days for a total of $1.7 billion in cash. As a result of these transactions, Vivendi will own an approximate 52% ownership stake in Activision Blizzard on a fully diluted basis.

Within five business days after closing the transaction, Activision Blizzard will launch a $4 billion all-cash tender offer to purchase up to 146.5 million Activision Blizzard common shares at $27.50 per share. The tender offer will be funded by Activision Blizzards cash on hand at closing, including the $1.7 billion in cash received from the Vivendi share purchase. In addition, Vivendi has agreed to acquire from Activision Blizzard additional newly issued shares for up to an additional $700 million of Activision common stock at $27.50 per share, the proceeds of which would also be used to fund the tender offer. Any remaining funds required to complete the tender offer will be borrowed by Activision Blizzard from Vivendi or third-party lenders. If the tender offer is fully subscribed, Vivendi will own an approximate 68% ownership stake in Activision Blizzard on a fully diluted basis.

The transaction is expected to be immediately accretive in its first year post-closing for Activisions stockholders and slightly accretive for Vivendis stockholders. Activision Blizzard is targeting pro forma operating income of $1.1 billion and pro forma earnings per share (EPS) in excess of $1.20 in calendar year 2009. The transaction is expected to be at least $0.20 accretive to Activision stockholders in calendar year 2009.


Activision Blizzards board of directors will be comprised of eleven members: six directors designated by Vivendi, two Activision management directors and three independent directors who currently serve on Activisions board of directors. René Penisson, currently a member of the Management Board of Vivendi and Chairman of Vivendi Games, will serve as Chairman of Activision Blizzard. Brian Kelly, currently Co-Chairman of Activision, will serve as Co-Chairman of Activision Blizzard. The three independent directors will be Richard Sarnoff, Robert J. Corti and Robert Morgado. Other Activision Blizzard directors will be Robert Kotick (President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard), Bruce Hack (Vice-Chairman and Chief Corporate Officer of Activision Blizzard), Jean-Bernard Lévy (Chairman of the Management Board and Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi), Doug Morris (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Universal Music Group), Philippe Capron (Member of the Management Board and Chief Financial Officer of Vivendi), and Frédéric Crépin (Senior Vice President, Head of Legal, Vivendi).


Following the completion of the transaction, Robert Kotick will be President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. Bruce Hack, current Chief Executive Officer of Vivendi Games, will serve as Vice-Chairman and Chief Corporate Officer of Activision Blizzard, accountable for leading the merger integration and the finance, human resources and legal functions. Mike Griffith will serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of Activision Publishing, which after closing will include the Sierra Entertainment, Sierra Online and Vivendi Games Mobile divisions in addition to the Activision business. Mike Morhaime will continue to serve as President and Chief Executive Officer of Blizzard Entertainment. Thomas Tippl, currently Chief Financial Officer of Activision, will be appointed Chief Financial Officer of Activision Blizzard and Jean-François Grollemund, currently Chief Financial Officer of Vivendi Games, will be appointed Chief Accounting Officer of Activision Blizzard.

Conditions to Closing

The transaction has been approved by the boards of directors of Vivendi, Vivendi Games and Activision. The transaction is subject to the approval of Activision's stockholders and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals, including expiration of applicable waiting periods and receipt of applicable approvals under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and European Union merger control regulations. Pending regulatory and stockholder approval, the companies expect the transaction to be completed in the first half of calendar year 2008.

Financial and Legal Advisors

Activisions financial advisor on the transaction is Allen & Company LLC and its legal counsel is Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP. Vivendis financial advisor is Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is acting as legal counsel to Vivendi.

Conference Call and Webcast Information

The management of both companies will host a joint conference call and live webcast on Monday, December 3, 2007 at 8:30 a.m. ET, 2:30 p.m. Paris time, 1:30 p.m. London time to discuss this announcement. The companies welcome all members of the investment community to listen to the call live by dialing into (888) 765-5554 in the U.S. or (913) 312-1235 outside the U.S. The live webcast of the call can be accessed at and

For those unable to listen to the live conference call, an audio replay of the call will be available through December 17, 2007, approximately two hours after the calls conclusion and can be accessed by calling (888) 203-1112 in the U.S. or (719) 457-0820 outside the U.S. and entering the pass-code: 5648597. In addition, a webcast replay also will be archived on the Investor Relations section of each companys website.

GameSpot Controversy Update: GAFers Block, Official Word Tuesday?

Time for an update on the situation that is GameSpot. If your new to the situation, Jeff Gerstmann, reviewer for about a decade, has been fired over his Kane & Lynch: Dead Men review. No official word on the firing was ever given. Lets see whats new today.

- NeoGAF is blocking out anything related to GameSpot and CNET in protest and support for Jeff Gerstmann.
- In response to a Gamespot forum thread, the new Gamespot Manager of Community Development said he is "eagerly anticipating the official word to be released on Tuesday."
- Gamespot has stoped user reviews of Kane & Lynch after a flood of 1.0 ratings lowered the game's user score to a 2.6/10.
- Destructoid, who seems to be pretty pissed at GameSpot as well, registed the site, which leads to their site with the CashWhore banner.
- Aaron Thomas, a GameSpot employee, explains why more employees aren't speaking up on this situation: "This isn't GameSpot suddenly clamping down on me or any of us here--this is how it is for anyone with a job."
- Gamespot freelancer Frank Provo spoke his feelings: "Personally, my respect for CNet is shot, and writing for GameSpot is going to feel like a chore for quite some time going forward."
- GameSpot users are reportedly canceling paid subscriptions left and right, starting threads with every cancelled subscription, and planning boycotts of Gamespot and its advertisers.
- The main discussion thread on the GameSpot forums for the Gerstmann firing has reached over 11, 225 posts.
- GameSpot has removed it's "Most Popular Tags" box, which contained things such as "cnet, bullshit, integrity, fired, jeff gerstmann, corruption, credibility, etc."
Could this be the breakdown of the GameSpot we once knew and loved?

[Thanks JoyStiq!]

Rumor: Mass Effect Confirmed for PLAYSTATION 3?

GameKult, a french gaming site, recently posted an article on their site about BioWare's Mass Effect. The article, however, is no longer on the site. We have no idea why it was removed, possibly due to NDA violations. We have the translation of the article below.

"Bioware Confirms Mass Effect PS3

By Yukishiro,
Work in progress, posted Friday, November 30, 2007 at 11h 13

The developers Bioware come to put an end to rumors and leaks in recent days, confirming that they were actually at work on a port of the inevitable Mass Effect for the PS3 Sony. The studio, who were willing excellent performance on Xbox (Jade Empire, Kotor), has also given that the possibilities of Sixaxis would include solicited for the use of grenades."
So Mass Effect is coming with SIXAXIS integration. We still have no idea if this is true, but GameKult is a very respected gaming site. When we find out more, we will let you know.

Remember, this is listed as a RUMOR.

[Via GT Forums]

PLAYSTATION 3 Downloadable Media Coming Next Year

According to a Nikkei report, Sony will begin to offer downloadable media content for the PLAYSTATION 3 on a worldwide basis early next year.

The site didn't get much into detail. They did mention high definition game footage and related documentary clips as being ready for the service. No mention of anything being non-gaming related.

Only catch is for you to save your cash, because the Nikkei report mentioned it won't be free.

[Via IGN]

Mark Rein on Content: "This is why we've made the game for the PS3 first."

In a new interview with Epic VP Mark Rein, he explains how the legendary Unreal Tournament came to be on the PLAYSTATION 3. It's all about the freedom.

"This is the full power of the Unreal Editor. The same editor we used to create the games is now available to you," he says. "You want to import your objects you made in 3D Studio Max or Maya? Bring them in! You want to code an UnrealScript? Code an UnrealScript! All those things you can do. If they fit on our map, you can stick them on the PlayStation 3 and they'll run!"

The main thing is, no approval is need from either Epic or Sony, you just grab it, put it on a memory stick, and play it. "When they embrace user-created content, that's what it means to be an open system. That's why we're on PlayStation 3 first—because they are embracing user-created content. It's not just moving the deck chairs around the boat. They are embracing real art," Rein told Gamasutra. This type of open experience may be more of a challenge with Microsoft. "...we will sit down with Microsoft and have a dialog with them and say, 'Here is what we want to do. How can we do it?' They may or may not embrace it. We don't know. That's why we've made the game for the PlayStation 3 first, because we knew exactly what the boundaries were going to be."

This is what makes the PLAYSTATION 3 version of the game great, and with possible Home support on the way, you never know the possibilities.

[Via Opposable Thumbs]

Hellboy: The Science Of Evil PLAYSTATION 3 Screenshots

GameInfoWire has obtained some new screenshots for Konami's upcoming title, Hellboy: The Science of Evil. The screenshots are from the PLAYSTATION 3 version of the game.

You can enjoy them at the link below.

[View: Hellboy Screenshots]

HAZE GamerTV Special

If you were one to miss the HAZE Gamer.TV special, no worries, you can watch it right now. In this new special, the team takes a behind the scenes trip to Free Radical's studio to see the work that is going into the development of PLAYSTATION 3 shooter.

Night Note: The Sickness Is Rising

To: onAXIS Readers
From: onAXIS Administrative
Subject: A Choo

Whats up readers? How have you been this weekend? Oh, good to hear. You know how I've been? I've been sick since Thusday, with a 104.4 fever. It's not really that bad, it's lowered to a 99.4 by today. The thing I can't stand is the constant sneezing, coughing, and nose drippings. Yeah, it can get annoying.

Anyway, about the new site, it may take a bit longer than earlier said, we found some bugs in the site we need to fix, and I still need to send out for my hosting. We will keep you updated.

I've said this before, and it's kind of odd. We never get any news flow on the weekend, nothing ever happens, you know? Its a pattern too, check our archives, weekend have at most 15 articles. It's weird.

Anyway, lets take a look at the hot stories for December 1, 2007. Happy December by the way, it's the season of joy.

Winter Warmth Stories for December 1, 2007
Afrika Mixtape Trailer
Army of Two Aggro Trailer
Tekken 6 Cusomization Scans
Uncharted Goes Submarine & Jeep
Assassin's Creed PLAYSTATION 3 Problems Still Exist
NY Times Makes Major PS3 Mistake
Peter Dille Talks About The PLAYSTATION 3