Plugged In

Random musings …

| In case you didn’t get the memo, people really, really like the “Madden NFL” franchise.

EA recently released its own sales data for the annual NFL title and “Madden ’09” pulled in a whopping $133.5 million in sales between its Aug. 12 launch and Sept. 1. That’s roughly a six percent increase in first-month sales from the release of “Madden ’08.”

EA also noted that the game outperformed some of the month’s biggest movies — “Tropic Thunder” ($83.9 million) and “Pineapple Express” ($79.9 million). Here’s hoping EA pours some of that money back into the game’s development and makes “Madden ’10” everything it could (and should) be.

| Speaking of EA, the company announced that the videogame tie-in to the next “Harry Potter” film has been delayed. “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” will be released in the summer of 2009 to coincide with the film, which was likewise pushed back from its Nov. ’08 release.

| Keep an eye out for demos for “Left 4 Dead” and “Fracture.” Both are expected to hit the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in the coming weeks.

| Microsoft is shutting down its talented development house Ensemble Studios, the team behind the fantastic PC strategy series “Age of Empires” and the upcoming Xbox 360 RTS “Halo Wars.”

The move is not expected to delay the release of “Halo Wars,” which is currently on track for an early-2009 release.

| And finally, my Xbox 360 is once again resting comfortably atop my entertainment center. Unlike my last repair, though, I did not get my original console returned to me. Instead, I received a remanufactured unit that actually sounds worse than the system that died on me a few weeks ago.

Needless to say I’m more than a little concerned, but it seems to be working fine right now. I’m keeping my fingers crossed — and my PS3 on standby.

That’s it for now. Football season always cuts into my gaming/writing time, but I’ve got games piling up on my desk that are begging to be played and reviewed. With any luck, I’ll be able to knock out reviews of “Mercenaries 2” and “NHL 2K9” shortly.