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Gamasutra reported that earlier today, while speaking at Bank of America Merrill Lynch's Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference in Newport Beach, CA, ActivisionBlizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick hinted that movies produced by the talent behind video game cutscenes may soon produce full length movies and distribute them electronically.

...Kotick noted that July's StarCraft II has about an hour's worth of cutscenes that are created with the title's in-game engine.

He theorized, "If we were to take that hour, or hour and a half, take it out of the game, and we were to go to our audiences for whom we have their credit card information as well as a direct relationship and ask, 'Would you like to have the StarCraft movie?', my guess is that ... you'd have the biggest opening weekend of any film ever."

Kotick noted that unlike film studios that are stuck with a model that requires costly theatrical distribution that cuts in on margins, Activision Blizzard could go directly to its consumers via online. The CEO mentioned a possible $20 or $30 price tag for such a film, but at this early stage, it's all speculative.

But it still seems that such an initiative is inevitable for the publisher. "Within the next five years, you are likely to see us do that. That may be in partnership with somebody, it may be alone," he said.

"But there will be a time where we capitalize on the relationship that we have with our audience, and deliver them something that is really extraordinary and let them consume it directly through us instead of theatrical distribution," Kotick added.

Citing some unspecified research at Activision, the CEO said that if the company were to distribute a movie directly to consumers' homes, "an extremely high percentage [of consumers] would then go to the theater then watch it again. That's the nature of our consumer -- a very enthusiast consumer."

Kotick has clearly been thinking about this convergence between games and film, but not in the "Hollywood + Games" context that most game companies adopt. The CEO is thinking more about relying less on outside Hollywood-related entities like movie studios, film distributors, external intellectual properties and Hollywood actors, and doing as much as possible to build Activision Blizzard and its properties internally -- essentially keeping the profits within Activision's walls.


Sadly, from the above quotes, the sole motivation for such an undertaking seems to be money. The competitive advantage Kotick references is really mass exploitation of an entire community's passion for a fantastic franchise. While many fans, including those at StarCraft Legacy, would be thrilled at the announcement of a StarCraft movie, its quality would need to be unparalleled and the creators passion evident, anything less would prove to be a major disappointment.

It's necessary to point out that Activision Blizzard is a business and its primary function as such is to make a profit. Kotick epitomizes that aim and his quotes on the subject often damn him in the eyes of the general gaming populace. He is often characterized as blunt, ruthless, and driven not by a desire to create amazing games, but to rather to solidify Activision Blizzard as the number one entertainment company. Yet Blizzard has so far been able to remain unsullied by that characterization. Seemingly protected by an operating agreement, Mike Morhaime, the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment, or its ace reputation, the company has yet to sellout its founding ideals. His responsibility is to the shareholders, Blizzard's is to its fans. Should a StarCraft, or any other Blizzard franchise, be adapted to film, it is likely that Blizzard will do everything it can to ensure it is done its way.

Source:
Gamasutra - Kotick Hints At Direct-To-Consumer Video Game Movies

A few of weeks ago we reported that the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taiwan was hosting an exhibit, Fights, Flights & Frights Inside the Storm, of over 700 Blizzard art pieces from the Diablo, StarCraft, and Warcraft series. Recently, a Flickr user, ddsnet uploaded several pictures from the event, including these that may foreshadow some of what is to come in Heart of the Swarm:






Make sure to check out the rest of ddsnet's pictures of the art from all of your favorite franchises. The exhibit runs until October 10th.

Sources:
ddsnet Flickr - Fights, Flights, & Frights Inside the Storm
Museum of Contemporary Art Taiwan Official Exhibition


Blizzard has released BlizzCon's video promo and has announced other details about the event. Those who attend BlizzCon 2010 will be receiving an in-game World of Warcraft murloc pet that resembles Deathwing and a special Murloc Marine portrait with in-game sea-themed decals for their StarCraft II units.

"Death will rise from the tide!" Level 80 Elite Tauren Chieftain once warned -- and at BlizzCon 2010, the band's dire musical prophecy will finally come to pass. Everyone who attends this year's BlizzCon or purchases the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket will receive an exclusive set of murlocalyptic in-game items for World of Warcraft and StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty. World of Warcraft players will be joined by Deathy, a murloc companion decked out as Deathwing and doing his best to strike fear into the hearts of Azeroth's crustacean population. You'll also be able to display your tidal pride in StarCraft II with a Murloc Marine character portrait and a pair of deep-sea decals to emblazon on your units, each with a different terran, protoss, and zerg design.

Click here for more details regarding BlizzCon 2010.

Sources:
Blizzard Entertainment - BlizzCon 2010
YouTube - BlizzCon 2010
Kotaku has reported on a new art exhibition of Blizzard art being hosted at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Taiwan. This is the first time Blizzard has ever exhibited art from their game franchises overseas. The exhibition of over 700 pieces of art is titled Fights, Flights & Frights Inside the Storm and it will run until October 10th.

Source:
Kotaku - Blizzard, The Art Exhibition

Details regarding the Blizzcon 2010 fan contests have been released. The Fan Art Contest, Original Song Contest and Movie Contest will allow for fans at Blizzcon 2010 to show off their creativity and put their skills to the test. They will not only put forth their best efforts to impress other Blizzcon attendees, but they will also have a chance to win great prizes. For the Fan Art Contest, artists will be submitting high resolution jpeg pictures under 5 megabytes in size and have a chance at having their artwork being displayed at Blizzcon 2010. Song composers will be creating original songs under two minutes in length about any of the Blizzard universes and have a chance to play them live on stage at the event. Machinima film makers will be able to submit World of Warcraft or StarCraft II movies under three minutes in length and have a chance to have them shown at the event. The deadline for all three contests is September 27th and all contest winners will win a BlizzCon Virtual Ticket.


Fan Art Contest Awards

  • First Place:
    Wacom Cintiq 21UX and one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online

  • Second Place:
    NVIDIA video card, one copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5, and one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online

  • Third Place:
    One copy of Adobe Photoshop CS5 and one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online

Original Song Contest Awards

  • First Place:
    $2,000, one Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment boxed set signed by Blizzard Entertainment composers, and one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online

  • Second Place:
    $1,000, one Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment boxed set signed by Blizzard Entertainment composers, and one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online

  • Third Place:
    $500, one Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment boxed set signed by Blizzard Entertainment composers, and one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online

Movie Contest Awards

  • Grand Prize:
    $5,000, one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online, and an "Oswald" award statue

  • First Place:
    $3,000, one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online, and an "Oswald" award statue

  • Second Place:
    $2,000, one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online, and an "Oswald" award statue

  • Third Place:
    $1,000, one Blizzcon Virtual Ticket to watch the event live online, and an "Oswald" award statue

Read more about the Fan Art, Original Song and Movie Contests at the Blizzcon 2010 website.

Sources:
BlizzCon 2010 - Fan Art Contest
BlizzCon 2010 - Original Song Contest
BlizzCon 2010 - Movie Contest
The Los Angeles Times has recently interviewed Mike Morhaime asking questions about his life and how he entered the gaming industry. From his early childhood where he enjoyed programming simple games to his founding of Silicon & Synapse (former name of Blizzard Entertainment,) Mike has since forged his own path all the way to the top of the gaming industry. Besides the error of World of Warcraft's release date, the article accurately summarizes Morhaime's life and his success.

Around that time, Morhaime met the two people with whom he would launch Silicon & Synapse, the company that would become Blizzard. The young founders — Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce — rented a 650-square-foot office in Irvine to be close to other gaming companies.

"We bought three desks from an office supply store and built them ourselves," he said.

During their first year, the group was paid $40,000 by a larger game publisher to build RPM Racing, a car game for the Super Nintendo system. The game sold modestly; not a blockbuster, but enough to get the guys a contract to do two more titles.

Click here to read the full article.

Source:
LA Times - Video Games are Serious Business for Blizzard CEO Micheal Morhaime
Activision Blizzard's 2nd Quarter Conference Call took place this week. The following image is an image from the event's slideshow that summarizes Blizzard's activity during 2010:



The following are excerpts from Mike Morhaime's speech discussing StarCraft II's success during the conference call event:

Mike Morhaime: StarCraft II is currently one of the highlights of our year with the game launching across five different continents and in 11 languages. The response by both players and press from around the world has been outstanding. As a matter fact, Metacritic's currently rate StarCraft II a 94 out of a possible 100, making it one of the top scoring games of all time.

Preliminary sales numbers have begun to roll in, and I'm pleased to say that StarCraft II is already the fastest-selling strategy game of all time. We sold more than 1.5 million copies worldwide in the first two days of release, making StarCraft II the best-selling PC game so far this year.

I do want to point out that StarCraft II is currently in a free open beta period in Taiwan and Korea. This is a standard practice for game launches in Asia to allow players to play the game for free for a short period of time before moving into commercial launch. Since players in Korea and Taiwan can play StarCraft II for free right now, sales numbers from those regions are not meaningful yet. In addition to the high quality of the game, several promotions have helped drive global awareness for StarCraft II leading in to the launch. In the week prior, we debuted an extended trailer for the game on YouTube, that generated more than 2 million views in just two days and more than 4 million views in a week. The popularity of the trailer made it the number one video on YouTube for that week.

Back in June, we also began a terrific relationship with Korean Air. As part of this marketing partnership, Korean Air has wrapped a pair of passenger jets in StarCraft II artwork. Both planes are already in service around the world and will continue to serve as vibrant mobile billboards for StarCraft II for the rest of the year.

Thousands of people came out to support a dozen official launch events in countries around the world for StarCraft II. The local event here in Orange County and the event in Singapore each drew more than 1,000 people. The Taiwan launch drew nearly 1,000. Events in Paris, Berlin and Brisbane drew an excess of 2,000. And the events in Moscow and Seoul each had more than 3,000 attending. In addition to these official launch events, more than 8,000 stores around the world had their doors open at midnight to celebrate the release and welcome players.

Click here to listen to the recorded event. You may also access the event's slideshow presentation and view the company's current financial statements.

Sources:
Activision Blizzard Corporate Site - Q2 Conference Call Event
Activision Blizzard Corporate Site - 2010 Q2 Slideshow
Activision Blizzard Corporate Site - 2010 Q2 Statements
blizzcast

 

Blizzard has posted their 14th BlizzCast podcast today and it's all about StarCraft II. Kevin Yu interviews Dustin Browder and Chris Sigaty for a good half hour and asks questions about how they dealt with the game's beta and development along with their personal impressions and experiences. The podcast also asks a few questions regarding the StarCraft II's map making community, the game's Challenge Missions, in-house testing, and of course, Dustin Browder appearing as a Goliath pilot.

 

Kevin Yu: For my final question, what are your plans moving forward? Are there going to be a lot of mini patches? Are there going be more infrequent, larger patches? What can people expect as far as post-game support?

Chris Sigaty:
 Well, we're definitely going to patch. I think that's one of the things that is part of Blizzard's magic, is we continue to support the game for a long time. Obviously, we have expansions coming out, along the way, we'll be releasing patches. Some will have features in them, some will only address balance, they'll ebb and flow as far as how big they are. We have something planned probably a month or two out already with some minor features being added in there, just tweaks to things. There will also, I'm sure, be some balance reaction in there. And then, before the end of the year, we're intending to put out a fairly larger size patch, which has some things related to tournaments or, really, the eSports community. So, the specific features we're still working on for that patch, I don't have any specifics to go into, but that's something we hope to drop before the end of the year. Something every two or three months will definitely be coming out.

Dustin Browder: Yeah, absolutely. In terms of balance, we'll do whatever is necessary at the time. Obviously, we're going to continue to be as cautious as we dare, where we want make sure the community has had the chance to play with new stuff, and they get a chance to play with it, and that they are, in fact, identifying a problem for us correctly. But, the minute we know a problem is real, you know that we're convinced that it's got to be changed, we're going to try to get a patch out there as soon as is humanly possible because we don't want people playing with stuff that we know is broken. It drives us crazy as much as it does the guys playing it because we're playing with you guys every night too. So, if I'm getting Zealot rushed and I can't win a game as terran, you can better believe I'll want to make a change tomorrow morning.

Click here to listen to BlizzCast #14.

Source:
BlizzCast #14 - StarCraft II Special

BlizzCon 2010 Logo

Blizzard has announced that Virtual BlizzCon 2010 Tickets can now be ordered online. A Virtual Ticket will allow you to access multiple channels of internet streams that will cover the event from multiple perspectives at once. If you are unable to attend the event in person or don't have DirectTV, the Virtual Ticket is an excellent way to watch the event live from home at your leisure.

Want to experience the panel discussions, tournaments, game-related announcements, and all the excitement of BlizzCon from the comfort of your own home? The BlizzCon Virtual Ticket multi-channel Internet stream is now available to order around the world for $39.95 USD (pricing may vary by region).


For those of you who may be interested in subscribing to DirectTV and have not already, you may subscribe to their service before September 24 and be able to watch the event on television for free. Existing DirectTV customers may order the Pay Per View event beginning October 9.

Click here to read more and here if you are interested in ordering a Virtual Ticket.

Sources:
Starcraft2.com - BlizzCon 2010 Virtual Ticket Now On Sale
Blizzcon.com - Blizzcon 2010 Virtual Ticket
Directtv.com - The DirectTV Blizzard Program

Blizzard is hosting another edition of their annual Global Writing Contest. In the last contest, nearly 17 million words were submitted and when all was said and done, one grand prize winner and seven runner-ups stood above the rest.

You're called to action once again, to use your wits and strength, to compete for the ultimate prize. Your weapons? They seem to be but a musty tome and quill, but know that their power is far stronger than the armies of the Scourge, far craftier than the zerg Swarm, and far mightier than any demon from the Burning Hells. Ready your tools, scribe, and prepare for combat with the inky beast called fiction!

Enter a short story for the chance to win a free trip to Blizzard's headquarters in southern California! This contest is open to entrants from around the world and will be judged by Blizzard's very own writers and masters of lore. For more information, head to the contest page.


Like in any contest, you will have to read the rules, as well as agreeing to them before you are allowed to give any submissions. Speaking of which the contest deadline for submissions is 11:59 PM PST, August 23, 2010 (7:59 PM BST, August 23, 2010).

2010 Blizzard Global Writing Contest

If you wonder what kind of quality Blizzard is looking for in a story, it might be enlightening to read last years winning submission.

Any other questions you may have will likely be answered in the FAQ (scroll down). Here are some of the most common:

Q: My story is too long or too short. Is that a problem?
A: No story may be shorter than 2,500 words or longer than 7,500 words. Most word processors have a word-count feature that can tell you your story's length. To avoid disqualification, we encourage all entrants to ensure that their stories' word counts are within the acceptable range.

Q: English is not my native language. Is that an issue?
A: No, as long as the story is well-written and grammatically sound. If you're unsure of your abilities in the English language, we encourage you to find someone with good knowledge of grammar to copy edit your story.

Q: Does my entry have to have a title? Can I just call it "Untitled"?
A: Every story must have a title. And no, "Untitled" does not count as a title.

If you're not sure if you want to enter the contest, check out the prizes:

Grand Prize: The grand prize winner will receive a trip to Blizzard's headquarters in southern California, where you'll meet and eat with the Blizzard writing staff. You'll also receive your choice of a Diablo III "OVERTHROWN" barbarian diorama or a Frostmourne sword.

Runners-up: Seven runners-up will each receive a prize package of the Diablo Archive, the Warcraft Archive, the StarCraft Archive, and the Warcraft: War of the Ancients Archive, all signed by Chris Metzen, the cover artists, and Blizzard's writing staff.


If a trip to Blizzard's headquarters isn't enough motivation for participating in the contest, then what is?
So to every participant from the StarCraft: Legacy community: Good luck and have fun!

Source:
Blizzard.com - 2010 Blizzard Global Writing Contest

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