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Bungie jumping to Activision

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“Halo” developer and creator Bungie has signed an exclusive 10-year deal with mega-publisher Activision, the two companies announced early Thursday morning.

Under the terms of the deal, Bungie will retain ownership of all intellectual properties associated with its next project, while Activision will have exclusive publishing rights across multiple platforms.

Bungie will remain an independent development house.

The deal between the companies is similar to the one Bungie had with Microsoft that expired in 2007. During that partnership, Bungie created “Halo,” which quickly became one of the most popular gaming franchises of this generation and helped establish Microsoft’s place in the hardware market as an Xbox and Xbox 360 exclusive. Bungie’s final “Halo” project, “Halo: Reach,” is due out later this year.

With Microsoft retaining the rights to the “Halo” brand, it remains to be seen what Bungie’s next big project will be.

Will it be another first-person shooter?

Could Bungie create the next “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” title now that Infinity Ward has all but disintegrated?

Stay tuned.

So much for the New Orleans Saints bringing another Lombardi Trophy to the bayou — EA Sports today announced that the team’s Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Drew Brees, has been selected to grace the cover of its annual NFL video game.

Of course, with the cover of “Madden” comes the dreaded Madden Curse, which seemingly renders cover athletes incapable of having any sort of success for that given season. Just ask one of last year’s coverboys, Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who missed much of the season with an injury.

Will Brees be the first to break the Madden Curse? Should the Saints think about signing a backup quarterback for when Brees inevitably suffers a horrendous injury this season?  Only time will tell.

“Madden NFL 11” is set to ship this summer.

Surprise hit of the year?

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This year has already seen its share of AAA titles, but the best may be yet to come. 

I’m talking about “Red Dead Remption,” the latest offering from Rockstar Games. Check out the trailer below and let me know what you think. Possible Game of the Year? I think so…

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‘Gears’ turns again next April

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The final installment in the critically acclaimed “Gears of War” trilogy has been announced. “Gears of War 3” is set to be released April 5, 2011, according to publisher Microsoft and developer Epic Games.

The third-person action shooter franchise helped put the Xbox 360 on the map, and millions of gamers have taken up arms against the Locust Horde. For “Gears of War 3,” Epic has already announced new weapons — including a double-barrel shotgun — a female COG soldier, a refined cover system and four-player co-op play in the campaign. The story picks up 18 months after the conclusion of “Gears of War 2.”

Expect more “Gears” details to be announced during E3, but in the meantime check out the first trailer below, which was unveiled by Epic design director CliffyB Monday night on “The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon.”

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Jason West and Vince Zampella, co-founders of “Call of Duty” developer Infinity Ward and the central figures in an ongoing legal battle with Activision, have formed their own development studio and signed an exclusive publishing deal with Activision rival Electronic Arts.

Continue reading…

Tebow covering ‘NCAA 11’

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Weeks of rampant speculation about who would grace the cover of EA Sports’ “NCAA Football 11” came to an end Thursday with the announcement of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow as the “NCAA 11” coverboy.

During his four years with the Gators, Tebow became known as much for his religious beliefs as his athletic prowess. On the field, the quarterback helped lead the Gators to two national championships and won a Heisman Trophy. After his collegiate playing career ended, he made headlines by appearing in a pro-life TV ad during the Super Bowl.

“NCAA 11” is set to arrive in stores July 13 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Stop the madness!

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Finally, the busiest time of the year in the Gazette sports department (aka my day job) has passed. This year, March was especially maddening, what with WVU and Marshall reaching the postseason in addition to the usual high school and small college tournaments.

Thankfully the madness is over, which means I have more time to devote to this little corner of the internet. It’s been a rather eventful first few months in the gaming world, as a number of AAA titles have already been released. Games like “God of War 3,” “Just Cause 2” and “Final Fantasy XIII” will surely be in the running for a number of year-end awards. We’ve also seen some new hardware hit the market in the Nintendo DSiXL (does the world really need another Nintendo handheld?) and the developers of one of the most popular franchises in the world, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” developer Infinity Ward, disintegrate before our very eyes.

The next few months promise to be every bit as exciting, as the next installment of the “Splinter Cell” franchise finally arrives, along with the long-awaited “Alan Wake” and hot sequels “Lost Planet 2” and “UFC Undisputed 2010.” E3 is just around the corner, too, and that’s always good for some major announcements.

And we’ll be here to cover it all. Thanks for reading and check back often for updates.