Analysis: What Lies Ahead For Call of Duty?

[Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris looks forward from the tumultuous midnight launch of Call Of Duty: Black Ops to ask where Activision’s franchise goes from here, examining what Infinity Ward’s shifts mean for 2011’s CoD installment and beyond.]

As bleary eyed GameStop employees recover from last night’s midnight launches and fans begin tearing through Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Activision’s phenomenally successful franchise stands at something of a crossroads.

The fate of Black Ops is hardly in doubt, of course. Pre-orders are already telling us that it will dominate software industry sales this year. And while Activision is publicly saying it doesn’t expect the game to meet Modern Warfare 2’s numbers, several analysts feel that’s just the company taking a conservative stand to protect itself against investor backlash if the numbers really do fall short.

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Opinion: Despite Flaws, Kinect May Be Just The Thing For Microsoft

[Gamasutra’s Chris Morris looks at the factors that will dictate Kinect’s market prospects at launch and down the line, opining that Microsoft’s holiday season looks secured — but that it “might have screwed some of its partners in the process.”]

Two months ago, when Sony’s PlayStation Move hit shelves, I wondered whether Sony had lost its mind. The device, I mentioned, wasn’t intuitive and had some alarming aesthetic issues – a combination that could hurt its chances with the mainstream audience.

Now Kinect has arrived – and while it has just as many problems as Move, it seems poised to thoroughly trounce its competitor this holiday season.

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Analysis from the Supreme Court: Schwarzenegger v. EMA

Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris offers analysis and highlights of Tuesday’s Supreme Court hearing over the California violent game bill, explaining why it’s “still much too early to start celebrating.”

The video game industry might be able to release some of that deep breath it has been holding since the Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in Schwarzenegger v. EMA – but it’s still much too early to start celebrating.

While Justices did seem to side with the video game industry in their questions, by no means did they give EMA attorney Paul Smith a free pass – peppering him with questions about the harmful effects of video game violence and scolding the industry for seemingly shrugging off reports from organizations that indicate there is an effect on children.

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Analysis: Consoles And Kids – The Generation Gap

[In this analysis, Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris discusses the potential resurgence of ‘edutainment’ games, talking to Southpeak and examining Warner Bros’ moves into the relatively neglected category.]

There is, I will admit up front, absolutely nothing sexy about edutainment titles. Hell, even the name is dull – and sounds like it belongs in a boardroom, alongside words like ”synergy” and “paradigm”.

Core gamers won’t look at ‘em. Kids like ‘em fine until someone spills the beans about them being educational. And, since so many are targeted at toddlers and young kids (a very niche audience), they’re not exactly barnburners when it comes to a publisher’s bottom line.

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Analysis: Does Going ‘Transmedia’ Help Game Properties?

[Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris looks at how initial releases in game franchises are extending across film, books, action figures and beyond, talking to THQ’s Danny Bilson about the just-announcedHomefront prequel novel and why the “fiercely competitive” market demands that extra transmedia step.]

The video game industry, if you haven’t noticed, isn’t just about games any more.

Sure they’re important, but for many publishers, they’re the hub of a broader entertainment property.

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Analysis: On BlizzCon And The Power Of Fanfests

[Ahead of BlizzCon, Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris looks at the role of the fanfest in video games, talking to Blizzard COO Paul Sams about this weekend’s Anaheim event and its key role in Blizzard’s marketing and community relations.]

When 20,000 people converge on Anaheim this weekend for BlizzCon, their minds are likely to be on what items will be in their goodie bag and what sort of sneak peaks they’ll get at upcoming Blizzard Entertainment games.

For the folks at Blizzard, though, the event, now in its fifth year, is a critical piece of their marketing plan.

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Analysis: Video Game Stocks – At A Tipping Point?

[How might the latest industry decline in September’s NPD U.S. game retail results affect video game stocks? Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris, a financial journalism veteran, examines the plight of the major public-traded game firms in the wake of the disappointing U.S. retail numbers.]

I’m not a stock market analyst. And I’m not a psychic. So seeing as I’m writing this before the market opens on Friday, I’m obviously venturing out on a limb when I presume that video game stocks are getting hit.

It’s not a bad guess, though. Thursday’s NPD numbers were down yet again – and investors who were hoping for a little good news in what has been a gloomy year are likely to lash out. It’s not hard to see why.

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Analysis: Xbox Live – The Killer App For Windows Phone 7?

[Following Microsoft’s new details on Windows Phone 7, Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris talks to the company and analysts to examine how Xbox Live may help the smartphone OS thrive.]

Microsoft’s gamble with Windows Phone 7 is anything but a sure bet – but the inclusion of Xbox Live as a prominent part of the operating system could be the ace up the company’s sleeve.

Mobile gaming has been evolving rapidly over the past three years – and tying it to a service that has been so phenomenally successful for Microsoft could position the company to regain market share.

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Opinion: Panasonic Can’t See The Jungle For The Trees

[In his latest opinion piece, Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris tackles the just-announced Panasonic Jungle, asking some tough questions about the surprise MMO-focused handheld system launch.]

There’s a line between brave and foolish – and earlier this week, Panasonic vaulted over it like an Olympic long jumper.

The Jungle, the electronics company’s upcoming handheld gaming system, was unveiled Tuesday – and immediately met with a combination of skepticism, confusion and indifference.

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Analysis: The Big Gamble – Launching A Franchise In A Shifting Genre

[With Def Jam Rapstar, Konami and Autumn Games are trying to break into a genre whose peak may have already come and gone — Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris looks at the risks.]

Launching a new IP is always risky. Launching it in the fourth quarter is doubly so. But launching it in the fourth quarter in a genre that peaked two years ago? That, some might argue, borders on madness.

4mm Games and Terminal Reality are giving it a whirl, though, with Def Jam Rapstar set to hit shelves on October 5.

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