Battle for Lucrative Online Gamers Rages at These Companies

Activision Blizzard Inc. (NASDAQ:ATVI) Announced this week that it plans to increase its subscription-gaming revenues and will move on from cash-cow World of Warcraft. The company reported Tuesday that it will launch “Call of Duty Elite,” a new interactive expansion of existing Call of Duty Platforms. Activision elaborated on the new initiative, saying, “new service will enhance the online play experience by adding new social capabilities, competitions and coaching tools for players to improve their performance.” With Call of Duty players banking an average of 58 minutes of pay-time daily, the market for add-on features in Call of Duty games looks pretty rich. Activision plans to release “Elite” in tandem with highly anticipated “COD” title Modern Warfare 3, which is slated to come out this Fall.

Also looking to break the bank in the online gaming market, Electronic Arts Inc., (NASDAQ:ERTS) announced the launch of its “origin” program this morning. “Origin” will provide customers with an online platform where “gamers can go to find, purchase and download all the best content from EA.” Instead of driving to the local video-game retailer, gaming enthusiasts will be able to purchase EA Games via direct-download and have them ready to play on their PCs in minutes through the origin service. The initiative is currently in beta-testing, check it out at www.origin.com. According to EA Exec. David DeMartini, “origin” is more than just a download service, “It also offers a social function which, over time, will connect a players profile with friends lists and a cross-platform feed that shows what your friends are playing and where.”

In other industry news, yesterday Sony (NYSE:SNE) reported another hack-attack on its Playstation Network. The news comes on the heels of a recent embarrassment that compromised the personal information and credit card details of millions of users of Sony’s gaming networks. The hackers, who call themselves, “LulzSec,” think they are giving Sony what they deserve, blogging, “Every bit of data we took wasn’t encrypted. Sony stored over 1,000,000 passwords of its customers in plaintext, which means it’s just a matter of taking it.” The renegade hacking tandem continued to claw at Sony, adding, “everything we have will be published in multiple ways to ensure maximum embarrassment and exposure for (Sony) and their security flaws.”  SNE shares are down .72% in trades this morning.

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