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Gaming News Round-Up: October 19th, 2004

Today's round-up sees a whole bundle of Halo 2 pre-orders, a new bundle or two from Nintendo UK, Activision and Nielsen's ideas on how to bundle adverts with your ...
Today's round-up sees a whole bundle of Halo 2 pre-orders, a new bundle or two from Nintendo UK, Activision and Nielsen's ideas on how to bundle adverts with your game content, and what's next for Valve now Half-Life 2 has been bundled out of the door. - Microsoft has confirmed that pre-orders for its long-awaited Xbox title Halo 2 have exceeded 1.5 million in the United States alone. The game, which is due to launch on November 9th, will be translated into seven languages (Japanese, Korean, traditional Chinese, Spanish, French, German and Italian), and will be distributed in 27 countries. Although some online cynics are arguing that the long development on the title has served to build up pre-orders in a similar way to Square Enix's tremendously pushed-back PlayStation 1 title Dragon Quest VII in Japan, which accrued around 3 million pre-orders, it's clear that Halo 2 is going to be one of the 'killer app' games for this holiday season, eclipsed only perhaps by Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in terms of sales and attention. - Nintendo has officially revealed two new UK-specific bundles for the GameCube. The newest, previously unknown bundle includes a copy of Pokémon Colosseum, a black Nintendo GameCube, a controller, and a Memory Card 59 for the recommended retail price of £89 (USD$160). It'll be available in stores starting on the 12th November. In addition, a previously hinted-at bundle announced simultaneously offers a copy of Mario Kart: Double Dash!!, a platinum coloured Nintendo GameCube and a controller for £79 (USD$142), and will debut on 5th November. Nintendo Europe has recently released Donkey Konga, Animal Crossing and Pikmin 2 in the UK, and intends to debut Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Tales of Symphonia and Paper Mario 2: The Thousand Year Door in the period before Christmas, leading to a not unreasonable first-party software line-up for Xmas 2004 in the United Kingdom. - Activision and Nielsen Entertainment have announced further steps in their partnership to track and measure the value of in-game advertising, revealing that they are launching a test regarding Chrysler's Jeep brand, using the newly-released Tony Hawk's Underground 2 to determine how long and how often players 'interact with brands' in the game. Unfortunately, the test is initially PC-only, meaning that the vast majority of THUG 2 buyers will be excluded from the survey, but Activision and Nielsen Entertainment are apparently in discussions with the console manufacturers over extending the tracking. The companies also released a survey revealing: "Brands with which gamers must actively interact substantially impact consumer awareness and recall", indicating that advertising in games may increasingly tend towards playable, mission-relevant objects which also happen to be a brand. - In an interview with consumer site HomeLAN Fed, Valve Software's Doug Lombardi answered a few pointed questions about Valve's intended product release schedule now that Half-Life 2 has finally reached gold master status. In particular, he commented on the long-announced, unreleased Team Fortress 2: "TF2 is not dead at all. After we announced TF2 on the HL1 tech, we made the decision to move it to the Source Engine. It is still in development and we will be announcing more on that title after HL2 ships." He also commented wryly on the concept of a Half-Life 2 movie: "We've met with folks in Hollywood to discuss the idea of an HL movie. But around the time we hear, 'And then Gordon falls in love...' we usually head back to Seattle screaming."

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