Activision Breaks Record as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Tops $1 Billion

Activision announced yesterday that “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” beat its own record by earning $1 billion in just 15 days (last year’s “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” reached $1 billion in 16 days).

“‘Black Ops 2’ earned $500 million in the first 24 hours,” reports PCMag. “Since its release, Activision reported that gamers have logged more than 150 million hours playing the game on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network.” The game is currently available for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii U and Windows PC.

“Last month, millions of fans descended on 16,000 midnight openings at retail store worldwide,” notes the post. “Within 24 hours, ‘Black Ops 2’ was a Twitter trending topic in 23 cities worldwide.”

According to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, the game’s release “has been one of the most significant entertainment events of each of the last six years.”

Since the “Call of Duty” franchise launched nine years ago, Kotick says cumulative worldwide revenues have exceeded the global box office numbers for the top 10 grossing films of 2012.

“This is an incredible milestone for an incredible franchise, and I want to thank every passionate, talented, committed person on our team who made it happen,” added Activision Publishing CEO Eric Hirshberg, who referred to “Call of Duty” as an “entertainment juggernaut.”

Windows 8 Public Beta Slated for Early 2012: Will We See a CES Demo?

  • Sources close to Microsoft have told The Next Web that the company’s Windows 8 beta will be released in late February.
  • However, WinRumors says the release may be ready one month earlier, and is expected to make its debut at January’s CES.
  • “Recently leaked screenshots indicate that Microsoft will allow users to change the Start Screen color and the Start Screen background image in beta copies of Windows 8,” reports WinRumors. “Users will be able to create, name and rearrange Start Screen groups as well as navigate with the Windows 8 Apps screen in a better way. Microsoft is planning to group applications to make it easier for users to identify them in Windows 8 beta. Windows Media Center will also return to Windows 8 beta alongside the typical Windows games, DVD creator and .NET 3.5.”
  • In a related post by The Verge, a preview of MS Office 15 is also expected for CES: “The update is supposed to have a redesigned touch-friendly interface and a Metro Style hub for navigating to documents — we’d expect to find cues from the Metro style UI throughout the software to make it more usable with Windows 8 on a tablet.”
  • The rumor mill is also dropping hints of new Windows 8 devices. Nokia already announced it would have a Windows 8 tablet ready by June.

Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment Opens History of 3D Exhibit

  • Downtown Oakland’s new Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) will open its first exhibit “The History of 3D” tomorrow, December 3.
  • According to the museum’s site: “The MADE is a center and museum dedicated to activities that engage participants with all forms of digital art and entertainment. The museum’s primary purpose will be to educate the public about the artistry, craftsmanship and inspiration that go into the creation of videogames and digital works of art, such as programatic visual/audio demonstrations.”
  • ABC affiliate News10 reports: “Using the crowd funding site Kickstarter.com, the museum raised $20,000 to secure the new location.”
  • The new exhibit will focus on “the history of 3D in games and will feature playable demonstrations of games displayed.”
  • “3D is such a broad topic in video games. Our exhibit creators, Jason Cutler and Nealon Leadbetter evaluated hundreds of games and types of 3D, from voxels to vectors, from pre-rendered sprites to normal mapped polygons,” explains director of the MADE Alex Handy. “They’ve chosen a wonderfully varied set of examples from the rich history of video gaming on consoles and computers. We hope this exhibition inspires the next generation of game developers, both young and old.”
  • ETCentric staffer Phil Lelyveld adds: “This is the seed of a great resource. ETC member companies may want to make product donations!”

Microsoft: Xbox Video Service Features Voice and Motion Controls

  • Microsoft is getting a boatload of new content for its Xbox video service intended to help it serve as a digital media hub. The company has struck deals with Comcast, Verizon, HBO and others.
  • Verizon and Comcast will be joining AT&T’s U-Verse to provide content, although while Verizon will include live video TV and video on demand, Comcast is testing the waters with its VOD library only. HBO Go streaming access will provide HBO original programming and movies from Warner Bros., Fox Searchlight and Universal Studios. Bravo, EPIX and Syfy are among the cable networks that will be available. Xbox’s international content will include the BBC, Channel 4, Channel 5 and LOVEFiLM in the UK; Antena 3, RTVE and Telefonica in Spain; and Televisa in Mexico.
  • But how do you get to the movies, TV shows, games and music that you want? Microsoft hopes you will command your Xbox with voice control, motion control and a Windows smartphone.
  • “This is incremental stuff but it’s still interesting. A source who’s played with the new service says it’s genuinely cool. Just as important, given that Microsoft has sold some 50 million compatible machines, it has (potential) leverage to do some really interesting stuff,” reports All Things D. “This is where Google TV would like to be, and it’s why Google is out pitching content guys for a relaunch this fall.”

Future of the Internet: Do Web Technologies Need an Owner?

  • Software engineer Joe Hewitt proposed in a recent blog post that Web technologies may need an owner, and the assumption that the Web must not be controlled by anyone is a dangerous one. “The HTML, CSS, and JavaScript triumvirate are just another platform, like Windows and Android and iOS,” he writes, “except that unlike those platforms, they do not have an owner to take responsibility for them.”
  • He also suggests that “the arrogance of Web evangelists is staggering” since they “place ideology above relevance.”
  • Standards bodies cannot create the kind of cutting edge platforms developers need like they are doing with iOS, Android and Windows.
  • “My prediction is that, unless the leadership vacuum is filled, the Web is going to retreat back to its origins as a network of hyperlinked documents,” writes Hewitt. “The Web will be just another app that you use when you want to find some information, like Wikipedia, but it will no longer be your primary window. The Web will no longer be the place for social networks, games, forums, photo sharing, music players, video players, word processors, calendaring, or anything interactive. Newspapers and blogs will be replaced by Facebook and Twitter and you will access them only through native apps.”

Dish Network Launches Blockbuster Movie Pass: Bad Timing for Netflix?

  • Dish Networks has announced its Blockbuster Movie Pass service that will offer streaming video; DVDs, Blu-ray discs and games by mail; and a satellite subscription service with on-demand movie channels.
  • Launching October 1, the service will initially be available to Dish subscribers and offered to others at a later date.
  • Movie Pass will include more than 100,000 movies and TV shows by mail, 5,000 streamed movies to TV and 10,000 to computer, and 3,000 games by mail. Users will have access to 20 premium Dish movie channels and the ability to exchange discs in-store at Blockbuster locations.
  • Current Dish Network subscribers will pay $10 per month for the service, while new Dish subscribers will have an opportunity for a free introductory year.
  • While the streaming capacity of the Blockbuster Movie Pass is not yet that of Netflix or Amazon, users will have access to movie offerings through Dish movie channels about a month earlier than other services. Also, Movie Pass touts “one company, one bill and one connection,” something that Netflix no longer has after splitting its streaming and mail-in services.

Future of Gaming: Can Portable Gaming Consoles and Smartphones Coexist?

  • “Mega Man” co-creator and  former Capcom head of production Keiji Inafune says, “You don’t use a smartphone camera for an interview, and you don’t use a really professional camera to take some small pictures when you’re going to work.”
  • Similarly, Inafune suggests smartphones are good for a quick game away from home, but dedicated gaming portables and home consoles offer a more complete gaming experience.
  • Still, game developers cannot ignore the smartphone market, which is currently the target for one of his company’s announced games. Inafune started two companies since leaving Capcom — Intercept and Comcept.
  • Inafune believes that developers cannot ignore the growing smartphone market: “We have to think about that when we’re making new games, because it’s kind of becoming very easy to let people play games now,” he says. “They don’t have to buy big consoles to play simple games. So that’s what we should think about for the future.”

Turning On but Tuning Out: Will Connected TVs Impact Viewing Habits?

  • This fall’s TV season may see some shifts in terms of viewership numbers, due in large part to media technology trends, suggests Variety.
  • As TVs continue to become connected to the Web via Blu-ray players and gaming consoles in more homes, the technology may impact viewing habits and not turn out to be as positive for TV programming as originally envisioned by the industry.
  • New research from Knowledge Networks suggests users may use their Web-connected TVs to perform other online activities before getting around to watching programming. Variety points out that online access to TV content also provides “the option of using a full-sized TV screen for all sorts of activities and functions previously associated with a computer, from perusing photos to long-distance chatting with relatives to playing games or frequenting chat rooms.”
  • The article poses a compelling question: “So do programmers have a new threat — one where using the TV doesn’t mean actually watching their content?”

Music Integration: Will Facebook Become an All-In-One Social Media Hub?

  • Facebook has informed media executives that it will begin allowing online music services such as Spotify and Rdio to publish user activity on Facebook pages and could allow music playback without leaving the site.
  • The announcement is part of Facebook’s efforts to become a social center for media including music, games and movies.
  • According to The Wall Street Journal: “CNBC reported Wednesday that Facebook was working to create a music platform. In response, Facebook said: ‘Many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we’re constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations.'”
  • Facebook was reportedly encouraged to pursue the music plan following success with social games such as “FarmVille” by Zynga Inc. The social media site is also integrating movies through deals with the likes of Warner Bros.