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Gaming News Round-Up: November 10th, 2004

Today's wrap-up includes news on a new LucasArts Star Wars-themed RTS, new funding for Canadian publisher Hip Interactive, promotions for senior executives at MMO publish...
Today's wrap-up includes news on a new LucasArts Star Wars-themed RTS, new funding for Canadian publisher Hip Interactive, promotions for senior executives at MMO publisher NCSoft, and a special sneaky bundle for Sony's Gran Turismo 4. - In a recent interview conducted by The Hollywood Reporter, LucasArts president Jim Ward revealed that the company plans on expanding its line of Star Wars titles further into the real-time strategy (RTS) genre. The previously unannounced, 2005-due Star Wars RTS is currently in development at developer Petroglyph, founded by ex-Westwood Studios personnel, and Ward commented: "This game will take the (real-time strategy) genre in a new direction and will balance gameplay between the hard-core gamers who buy these games and the broader audience that's familiar with the Star Wars brand." Previous Star Wars-themed RTS titles such as Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds have unfortunately not enjoyed critical or spectacular commercial success. Elsewhere, LucasArts also debuted news that recently released team-based title Star Wars: Battlefront has enjoyed sales of 1 million units in the U.S. and 500,000 internationally since launch, a not unimpressive total. - Canadian game publisher and peripheral manufacturer Hip Interactive has announced the completion of a private funding placement of $16 million, consisting of 14,814,815 common shares, subscribed by New-York investment management firm, Crescendo Partners II L.P. The move also saw Eric Rosenfeld, President and Chief Executive Officer of Crescendo Partners L.P., appointed to the Board of Directors for Hip Interactive. In recent months, Hip Interactive has been in the news over its acquisition of French publisher LSP, as well as upcoming multiplatform game titles including Stolen (Xbox, PS2, PC) and CT Special Forces Fire For Effect (Xbox, PS2, PC), and also recently published the Frontier Developments-created, Sony Europe-published Dog's Life in North America. - City Of Heroes publisher NCsoft has announced the promotion of two of its executives within its North American business team. Jeremy Gaffney has been promoted from NCsoft's third party group to vice president of product development. Meanwhile, Doroth Ferguson has moved from director of sales for NCsoft North America to vice president of sales in the region. Robert Garriott, president of NCsoft North America commented, "NCsoft has established itself as a leader of online entertainment with our recent releases of City of Heroes and Lineage II and both Dorothy and Jeremy are a big reason for that success. With these promotions the company is well poised for future growth in the online games market." - With the game scheduled for its Japanese debut in only a few weeks, Sony Computer Entertainment and Nike recently announced plans to release a limited edition Japanese Gran Turismo 4 bundle. Called the "Nike/Gran Turismo Limited Edition" bundle, the pack includes Gran Turismo 4-themed sneakers, a copy of the game with Nike box artwork, and a Nike T-shirt, all boxed inside an aluminum case for 32,000 yen ($302 USD). Being limited edition, the bundle will be sold exclusively through Sony's online store and a few Nike retailers throughout Japan, and only a thousand units will be produced. Gran Turismo 4 itself ships throughout Japan on December 3rd, 2004, with U.S. release later in December, and the European release unfortunately now due in 2005, due to localization time constraints.

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