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Gamasutra's Holiday News: What You Missed

Anxious to catch up on holiday stories? Just look to this Gamasutra round-up of breaking news (and bonus interviews) posted on the site over the break, from Worlds.com's NCSoft patent suit to Cry On's cancellation and more - full list within.
Gamasutra continued updating over the holidays, following breaking news and providing in-depth articles for those game professionals still working during that time. So, here's the full list of news and interviews run over the two weeks of the holiday season: Industry News - Report: "Free Radical Lays Off 140, Sees Buyer Interest UK Timesplitters developer Free Radical's bankruptcy administration has officially resulted in the layoffs of some 140 staff members, reducing the studio to about 40 employees, as it fields "significant interest" from acquirers -- possibly leading to "further announcements" by mid-month." - Nielsen: PlayStation 2 Most-Played Console In 2008, WoW Tops PC Gaming "In 2008, U.S. gamers collectively spent more time with their PlayStation 2 than any other console. That's according to media research company Nielsen, which also revealed a top PC game list -- with World Of Warcraft being played for 11 hours per week atop it." - Monster Hunter, Nintendo Top Japan's 2008 Bestselling Software "Capcom's Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G for the PSP is 2008's top-selling game across all platforms in Japan with over 2.5 million units sold, while Nintendo-published titles from 2005 to 2008 make up over half of the region's 30 top-selling software list, according to media reports." - Iran Sets Up ESRA Game Ratings, ESRB Denies Link Iran has announced that its National Foundation for Computer Games has set up an ESRA ratings system for games in its country, with Iranian media reports claiming the country is 'joining the Entertainment Software Rating Board' -- though the ESRB denies any link. - Report: Worlds.com Hits NCsoft With Patent Infringement Suit Virtual world company Worlds.com filed suit against City Of Heroes publisher NCsoft on Christmas Eve, claiming infringement on its patent for user interaction in a virtual space. Worlds.com also has a patent for a second technology common to many MMOs, a system for scalable chat. - AQI Cancels Mistwalker's Cry On For Xbox 360 "Publisher AQ Interactive is canceling Xbox 360 title Cry On, an action RPG under development by Mistwalker (Lost Odyssey) and AQI-owned Cavia (Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles). AQI attributed the cancellation to "the current market environment and forecasts for the future," according to media reports." - Major Tecmo Shareholder Opposes Koei Merger "Effissimo Capital Management, Tecmo's second-largest shareholder, has announced opposition to the Ninja Gaiden studio's plans to merge with developer and publisher Koei (Dynasty Warriors series), claiming that Tecmo has not sufficiently explained how the fusion will benefit investors." - Analyst: Holiday Game Sales Could Help 20 Percent Growth For 2008 "Things look good for video game sales during the key holiday shopping season, says Lazard Capital Markets analyst Colin Sebastian, who projects software sales can achieve 20 percent growth for 2008 -- but amid price discounting and difficult year-over-year comparisons, 2009 looks less sure." - iSuppli: Sony Still Losing $50 With Each PS3 Sold "Research firm iSuppli says that Sony still loses about $50 with each PlayStation 3 unit sold, each $399 system costing the company $448.73 to build. Sony, however, managed to bring its manufacturing costs down from the $840 it was spending on each $599 console when the PS3 launched in November 2006." - Report: Factor 5 Officially Closed? "New media reports claim that the entirety of staff at developer Factor 5 (Lair) have been laid off, after 35 employees were made redundant last week. Although there is no official confirmation, the remaining 38 staff were already forced to work on reduced wages." - Report: Spector's Junction Point Working On 'Epic Mickey' Title? "Could Warren Spector's Junction Point Studios be at work on a title about Disney's seminal Mickey Mouse? Gamasutra has seen concept art and information that indicates a title codenamed "Epic Mickey" may be in development at the Austin-based, Disney-owned developer." Bonus Holiday Interviews - Interview: The Sweep Of Tilted Mill's Blade "Developer Tilted Mill (SimCity Societies) established itself through large PC strategy games, but is adapting into smaller, intriguing digital-download titles with Mosby's Confederacy, Hinterland, and the web-based Nile Online. Gamasutra talks to president Chris Beatrice about the shift." - Interview: Sega's Mitsuyoshi On Giving Voice To Arcade Classics "Continuing a series of Japanese game music interviews, Gamasutra chats with classic Sega composer Takenobu Mitsuyoshi about his soundtrack contributions to Shenmue and arcade classics like Daytona USA, as well as this year’s EXTRA Hyper game concert." - Interview: SOE's Yanagi Talks DC Universe Online's Birth "Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming DC Universe Online is a key project for the Everquest publisher -- and Gamasutra talked to SOE senior producer Wes Yanagi about its genesis, infrastucture, use of agile development, and why playtesting is key." - Bonus Interview: The Retro Game Chiptune Scene "What's the state of the Japanese retro game music scene? Gamasutra talks with Japanese chiptune artists quad (Luvtrax) and Kuske (Kplecraft) about their recent Gradius-remixing concert appearance, and the interesting differences between Japan and the U.S.'s chiptune community and sound." - Interview: Red 5's Stealthy Plans, Upcoming MMO "The ex-Blizzard staffers who founded Red 5 Studios in 2005 continue to labor in secrecy -- and Gamasutra talks to CCO Mark Kern and CEO Michael Weingartner about management changes, team sizes, and why the failure of titles like Tabula Rasa 'doesn't worry us too much.'" - Q&A: Lorne Lanning On Keeping The Oddworld Archive Alive Earlier this year, Oddworld Inhabitants released its first two games -- Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee and Oddworld: Abe's Exoddus -- to Steam. Gamasutra caught up with co-founder and creative director Lorne Lanning to discuss digital distribution, maintaining a legacy, and the future of Oddworld. The full list of recent Gamasutra articles can be found on the Industry News page.

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