NEWS - Friday, June 11, 2004

Full Spectrum Warrior Pulls In Big First Week

Bearded fighters with their heads wrapped in cloth. Arabic graffiti scrawled on walls. Military uniforms accurate down to the style of boot. Details like these lend credibility to "Full Spectrum Warrior," a hot new videogame in which players take on the role of U.S. Army squad leaders in a hostile urban-combat zone. The reason the game is so realistic: The U.S. Army came up with the idea and spent millions of dollars and thousands of manpower hours on it. But the Army won’t see a cent of the profits. Those will go to the game’s developer, Los Angeles-based Pandemic Studios, and its publisher, THQ Inc., of Calabasas Hills, Calif. The Army does get a new training tool out of the project -- but Pandemic and THQ get the $40 million or so in gross revenue that analysts expect the $49.99 game to bring in this year. "Full Spectrum Warrior" has sold 250,000 copies since its release on June 1, putting it on track to be one of the top-selling games ever for Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox device. Military brass weren’t aiming to get into the commercial games business when they started planning "Full Spectrum Warrior" five years ago. They wanted to create a training game that worked with a game console, to tap into a medium recruits already use to relax. "Every 18-year-old in the world knows how to use a game console," says Mike Macedonia, chief scientist at the Army’s Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation, formerly known as Stricom. A bonus: Consoles cost less than computers, and they are easy to throw into a duffel bag and bring on assignment.


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