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30 September 2011

Marvel Entertainment Movie And Gaming News, by Greg Tingle - 30th September 2011

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Marvel looking for Avengers game partner...

The Avengers movie-based game that was in the works at THQ may not be happening now, but Marvel Comics tells us its gaming plans are far from over, and something big and positive is just around the corner.

"The rights for a video game based on Marvel's Avengers IP have reverted back to Marvel," a Marvel spokesperson told the press. We also heard something about "The company is in early stages of exploring potential publishing and licensing opportunities."

Should the partnership turn into reality, it would mark the Avengers' first gaming project since 1996's rarely seen Data East arcade fighter Avengers: Galactic Storm. Data East also handled the supergroup's best-known gaming excursion, the 1991 arcade beat-'em-up Captain America and the Avengers, which received a number of console ports in the following years.

The Avengers characters have featured in quite a few games over the decades. Upcoming Avengers film...Captain America, Thor, Hulk, and Iron Man...have all starred in their own feature films and accompanying game adaptations over the years.

The Avengers movie will feature a star-studded cast including Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, and Samuel L. Jackson. Insiders tip it may be the superhero themed movie of the year and takings are expected to be beyond both Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger.


Activision Releases New X-Men Game...

Activision Blizzard Inc. recently announced the release of X-Men Destiny at retail stores. The title is available on Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox 360, Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii and DS gaming systems. X-Men Destiny’s console version has been developed by Silicon Knights while Other Ocean studio has developed the DS version.

Based on characters created by Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a division of The Walt Disney Company (DIS), the new role-playing action game (RPG) introduces three new characters in the epic battle between X-Men and the Brotherhood of Mutants. Gamers can choose from the three new mutants- Grant Alexander, Aimi Yoshida and Adrian Luca, to fight alongside and against some of the greatest X-Men characters, such as Magneto, Cyclops, Wolverine and Gambit.

For the first time in the history of the franchisee, X-Men Destiny features a unique story telling mode, where the three new characters have a story and can make personal choices that will decide their own destiny, adding a new dimension to the game. Popular Hollywood stars have lent their voices to the three new characters, which is an added attraction of the game.

X-Men Destiny also features a new upgrade system, which allows gamers to enhance their mutant skills by mixing and matching X-Genes and abilities from various X-Men and Brotherhood characters.

X-Men has been one of the most popular franchisees published by Activision. The company has a history of publishing successful franchises based on iconic characters such as Spiderman, The Hulk, Shrek, Tony Hawk and many others. The company recently announced the release of the James Bond game GoldenEye 007: Reloaded and GoldenEye 007: Reloaded Double 'O' Edition.

We think the new games will drive Activision’s top-line growth going forward. We also believe that X-Men Destiny will provide a competitive edge against peers like Electronic Arts Inc.

Activision currently focuses on the digital channel, which helped drive revenues in the last quarter. This is an encouraging trend, since digitized games tend to yield higher margins and are also more likely to grow at a faster rate than packaged versions.

However, Activision continues to face tough competition from Electronic Arts Inc. and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc.

Activision also does not have a presence in the social and mobile gaming platforms, where Electronic Arts has made strategic acquisitions and partnerships. This could impact its competitive position over the long term.

Further, the gloomy macro environment in North America and weak video game results over the last 12 months compel us to remain on the sidelines.

We offer a Neutral recommendation on Activision over the long term (for the next 3 to 6 months). Activision boasts of a strong product pipeline for the upcoming holiday season, which will boost its top-line going forward. This is the reason for the #2 Rank on the shares, which implies a Buy rating in the short term.


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