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Tuesday, Sep. 25, 2007 at 6:26 pm

Blog Buzz: Microsoft Games Halo 3; NY Subpoenas Facebook

By Robert Gorell
September 25th, 2007

halo_3.jpgIf you didn’t know Halo 3 — the much-anticipated shoot-’em-up sequel to, you guessed it, Halo 2 — comes out today, you’re probably not much of a gamer. But if you’re a marketer, it’s still worth your attention at some level, even if destroying hostile alien civilizations from the comfort of your sofa doesn’t get your blood pumping.

When Halo 2 was released for Microsoft (MSFT) XBox in 2004, it broke the record for the highest-grossing launch of any type of media product (yes, really), generating $125 million in revenue — 2.4 million copies — in 24 hours.

And you thought Titanic was big? Ha!

“Mr. Softy” Strikes Back

Lest another pundit call them a “sleeping giant”, Read/WriteWeb points to a Last100 piece that sheds some light on how Microsoft is leveraging Halo 3:

Another product that has benefited from the buzz surrounding Halo 3 is Silverlight, Microsoft’s platform for building rich Internet applications. Like Flash, Java, and many other platforms, Silverlight requires users to install a browser plug-in before they can use it. This presents a common problem — you need users to have the plug-in before developers jump on board, and you need developers on board building great apps for the platform before users want to install the plug-in. Microsoft decided to leverage Halo 3 to help solve this problem. Over the last few weeks, lots of Halo 3 related content has been made available such as trailers, promos, and an online manual. The catch? You’ve got to have Silverlight installed before you can view any of the content. It’s a very smart move. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of the early installs of Silverlight can be attributed to fans eager for Halo 3 content.Microsoft’s partners have gotten in on the action too. Mountain Dew launched “Mountain Dew Game Fuel” on August 13th, the first beverage co-branded with a video game. 7-Eleven has been offering three Halo 3-branded Slurpee cups, and has been part of the promotional campaign being run with Mountain Dew and Doritos. Burger King started offering Halo 3-themed packaging yesterday, and will continue to do so right through October 22nd. Other companies that are participating in the Halo 3 campaign include Pontiac and Comcast.

(micro)Soft Money for Facebook?

Meanwhile, Microsoft may be showing its “Mr. Softy” side a bit, now that it’s finally getting serious with Facebook. Let’s hope they cut a deal soon. The constant, boring speculation over exactly how rich Mark Zuckerberg will be is beyond tiresome. Thankfully, BoomTown‘s Kara Swisher agrees. Get a load of this critique:

…I believe Silicon Valley can now be considered to be at Delusional Level Red. Or green, given all the cash that is being shoved in Facebook’s direction now.

Facebook is not Google: Although many in the tech sector make the comparison to the search giant, it is simply incorrect.Is Facebook like Yahoo a bit? Certainly. A newfangled version of AOL? Absolutely! A very well done media play with all sorts of interactive bells and whistles hanging off of it? Yes, ma’am.

Indeed, it is growing its media business nicely, with $30 million in profits on $150 million in revenue.

But in comparative terms to the search giant, Facebook is a lemonade stand. Google brought in $3.9 billion in revenue in just the second quarter alone and, um, is increasing its dominance over the search sector in a mighty scary way.

Facebook, on the other hand, gets half its annual revenue right now from a sweetheart guaranteed revenue deal with, drum roll, Microsoft. No matter what either Facebook or Microsoft says, it is a money-losing deal for Microsoft so far.

How do I know this? According to many sources, Google is struggling to make ends meet in its own sweetheart guaranteed ad deal with Facebook rival MySpace, which is much larger, and Google has the best monetization engine out there.

Ouch! Swisher goes on to mention other problems, insisting Facebook’s potential is not actual, that most techies weren’t popular in high school and, therefore, overestimate the importance of stuff that seems important to them, and even breaks out the calculator to show that the company’s pre-money valuation is actually $525 million — a far cry from the $15 billion for which they’re rumored to be holding out.

Reiterating her stance from an earlier post, Swisher advises Zuckerberg to “…take the dumb money and run as fast as your flip-flops will carry you.”

Facebook Subpoenaed

In other Facebook news, CenterNetworks’ Allen Stern reports that New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has subpoenaed Facebook, claiming they’re not doing enough to protect kids from sexual predators:

“My office is concerned that Facebook’s promise of a safe website is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints,” Cuomo said. “Parents have a right to know what their children will encounter on a website that is aggressively marketed as safe.”

The office setup several “underage” profiles on Facebook and within days began receiving chat requests of a graphic nature. In subpoenaing the company, Cuomo has asked for complaints received by Facebook regarding inappropriate solicitation of underage users and inappropriate content on the site, as well as any responses by the website. The subpoena also calls for all Facebook policies on user safety and all representations made to consumers about the safety of the site.

What makes Facebook less safe than, say, MySpace — which deleted 29,000 registered sex offenders in July — remains unclear.

[Tired of reading other blogs? Catch Blog Buzz weekdays on WebmasterRadio.fmiTunes. Bryan Eisenberg & Robert Gorell host the podcast, featuring a rundown of the day's top stories from The Grok's Buzz Bin.]

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