Published November 10, 2008
Real news from the virtual world:
— NO MORE HEROES: Does NBC's "Heroes" make sense anymore? Does anyone care?
Apparently, Ubisoft doesn't think so. The company has pulled the plug on its "Heroes" video game, which was announced more than a year ago.
Since then, the TV series has gone from a pop-culture hit to a tangle of incoherent stories, so the French publisher decided to cut its losses.
Ubisoft got burned earlier this year when "Lost: Via Domus," its tie-in to another cultish serialized TV drama, only sold about 100,000 copies.
Which raises the question: Does it make sense to produce games based on ongoing television series when characters may die and plots may shift dramatically during the development cycle?
No matter how much you love "The Sopranos," "Battlestar Galactica" or "The X-Files," you'll get more satisfaction watching old episodes than playing the games based on them.
Movie-based games aren't faring much better. Activision's "Quantum of Solace" game is out now, and it's another lackluster James Bond shooter that barely brushes against the film's plot.
The "Iron Man," "Incredible Hulk" and "Hellboy" games that came out this year were so drab, it was a relief when there was no game to accompany "The Dark Knight."
And who had time for any of these pre-sold characters this summer when most of us were busy keeping Niko Bellic alive in "Grand Theft Auto IV"?
That said, the news that Atari has picked up the in-limbo "Ghostbusters" game for publication next year has given hope to some of us. Maybe 25 years is the right amount of time between a movie and a video game.
— COMMAND & CONQUER: How will Barack Obama's presidency affect video gamers?
We know that his team is tech-savvy; the campaign's adept use of the Internet for fundraising and voter outreach has gotten much of the credit for his victory.
And the placement of Obama ads inside some of the year's hottest games proved the candidate saw the ever-growing gaming audience as a viable voting bloc.
Obama seems unlikely to get caught up in the censorship efforts we've seen across the country. His Web site doesn't specifically address games, but notes that he is against regulating media content.
"An Obama administration will give parents the tools and information they need to control what their children see on television and the Internet in ways fully consistent with the First Amendment," the site says.
In an interview this summer with Entertainment Weekly, Obama acknowledged that he hasn't played a video game since "Pong."
Given his awful performance in March in a Pennsylvania bowling alley, maybe he should start with the bowling game in "Wii Sports."
— 'TIS THE SEASON: The annual Child's Play charity drive is under way, and it's a good way for gamers to spread some holiday cheer.
Since 2003, Child's Play has collected more than $2 million in games, toys, books and cash for patients in children's hospitals around the world. Last year's drive brought in more than $1.3 million, but, given the state of the economy, organizers are shooting for $750,000 this year.
The Web site also includes links to wish lists for more than 45 hospitals. There's also information on Child's Play's annual dinner and auction, set for Dec. 9 in Seattle.
Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association Foundation, which held its annual Nite to Unite fundraising gala Oct. 22 in San Francisco, announced that the event brought in $750,000.
The ESA, which distributes that money among a variety of children's charities across the country, has raised more than $11 million over the last 10 years.
— NEW IN STORES: The year's most original game, Electronic Arts' "Mirror's Edge," leaps to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. ... Activision's military franchise goes back to the 1940s in "Call of Duty: World at War" (360, PS3, Wii, DS). ... One of gaming's most endearing animal teams returns in Microsoft's "Banjo-Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts" (360). ... The Wii gets an original "Star Wars" title, LucasArts' "The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels," and a fresh role-playing adventure, Namco Bandai's "Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World." ... The 2009 editions of Konami's "Pro Evolution Soccer" and THQ's "WWE Smackdown vs. RAW" are ready for most systems.