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Gaming News Round-Up: September 23rd, 2004

September 23, 2004 | By Simon Carless

September 23, 2004 | By Simon Carless
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More: Console/PC

Today's round-up includes a Fable-d debut for an Xbox title, a little friendly competition in the sports game arena, some more gritty urban grit created by mild-mannered developers, and virtual hockey for desperate fans.

- Microsoft has announced that Fable, the much-ballyhooed Xbox exclusive RPG from Big Blue Box in association with Peter Molyneux, has sold through more than 375,000 units to U.S. retail in its first week, grossing roughly $18.7 million. Notably, it was EB Games' biggest first-week sales for any Xbox title released so far, and it was also boasted that the title "grossed more money than the No. 1 box office movie last week, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow." However, the title has been seeing some noticeable backlash on gaming forums, likely due to some extremely bombastic advance publicity, with consumer site arguing, in a feature on 'unrealistically hyped games': "Fable's a fine game. On the other hand, it's a mere shadow of the experience it was supposed to be."

- Electronic Arts is striking back against Take-Two/Visual Concepts' budget sports game push, after ESPN NFL 2005 made extremely minor but nonetheless tangible in-roads into Madden 2005's domination of the football market. EA chief financial officer Warren Jenson, speaking at a Banc of America Securities investment conference in San Francisco, announced a deal in which players can buy two EA Sports games and get one free. This offer will start next week with the release of NBA Live 2005, which is also more aggressively priced at $39.99. However, the company also announced that Madden 2005 has already sold through 2.4 million units, a formidable total considering it has only been on sale since August 9th.

- Midway has announced a new PlayStation 2/Xbox title, Fear & Respect, to debut in the fourth quarter of 2005, and being made in collaboration with movie director John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood, Baby Boy, 2 Fast 2 Furious.) The company describes the game as "an innovative action/adventure videogame based in the intense, urban environment of South Central Los Angeles", and the title is yet another incursion into the 'urban' games market recently discussed in another consumer round-up.

- Seizing on the opportunity presented by the delay of the NHL's 2004-2005 season, G4TechTV has announced it will be running virtual NHL games, including highlights, scores and stats, airing daily on the network's sports program "Sweat", and to be shown on parent company Comcast's SportsNet channel. Apparently, all 1,230 regular season games originally slated for the 2004-2005 NHL season will be played in virtual form, with all games played by the computer AI, as opposed to human players. However, the game software and hardware to be utilized for this hockey placebo hasn't yet been specified.

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