It seems that both the gaming and hardware industries are in good health, given our recent reports on record-high game industry revenue and AMD's surge in net revenue. Adding to the gaming world's boom is Minecraft's success, which has placed it in the top two most-selling games ever (or first, depending on how you count it). Today, Activision Blizzard (NYSE: ATVI) welcomed record-high share prices after its Thursday afternoon investor meeting, despite an overall negative outlook on 2014.

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Update: Yes, folks, we know there are accuracy issues with digital distribution platforms and older titles. Read through the article - it makes these pitfalls clear and highlights sources. We worked with what the industry has available. Either way, Minecraft moved 42 million units and shows few signs of slowing, which is impressive.

Minecraft recently breached 42 million units shipped across all its platforms, ranking it unarguably in the top three most successful video games of all time. The rankings charts get a bit fuzzy toward the top, where games like Nintendo's Wii Sports -- which shipped with every unit of the console -- are technically above Minecraft; that said, if we're counting Wii Sports, we might as well count Minesweeper for every unit of Windows sold.

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The point is, I'm not counting games unless they were sold independent of their platform, which makes the rankings as follows (note: I've skipped a few slots to illustrate where some other popular games fall). Do keep in mind that some sales figures will not include digital distribution numbers, rendering a few of these games effectively untracked; Steam releases sales figures only to the game's developers, so it is at the behest of the developer whether they want to include these stats in their public releases. Most do -- for instance, Skyrim includes Steam sales figures, to the best of our knowledge, and games like Battlefield 4 include Origin figures (the nature of a public company).

Update: The trademark abandonment filing was fraudulent and unauthorized by Ubisoft's CEO, as the initial filing indicated. The USPTO website states:

On February 1, 2014, Ubisoft Entertainment received an email from This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. notifying Ubisoft Entertainment that a Request for Express Abandonment had been filed in connection with Application Serial No. 85642398. The Request for Express Abandonment purports to be signed by the Chief Executive Officer of Ubisoft Entertainment, Yves Guillemot. 

Mr. Guillemot, however, did not sign the Request for Express Abandonment, nor did Ubisoft Entertainment file the Request for Express Abandonment. The Request for Express Abandonment is fraudulent and was not filed by Ubisoft Entertainment or its representative.

As of this filing, the Office has not yet issued a Notice of Abandonment.

Thanks to reader JoshBrodieNZ for the tip.

The web was just hit with a frenzy of articles about Ubisoft filing an "express abandonment" of its "WATCH DOGS" trademark; we've seen articles and forum posts buzzing about the possibility of an Assassin's Creed rebrand, cancellation, and other nonsense, but we're fairly positive that this isn't anything beyond the usual technicalities that arise when dealing with trademarks.

watchdoge(I'm so sorry).

This all started when NeoGAF forum member Rösti spotted Ubisoft's Express Abandonment filing on the USPTO website, as seen below. Ubisoft holds six trademarks for the Watch Dogs brand, but the one abandoned was for its game software, which is what caused the stir.

Telecom juggernaut AT&T—best known for its award-winning innovations in consumer exploitation and technology suppression—recently filed a patent for a transfer-based bandwidth allocation system. The patent (US20140010082 A1) aims to leverage recent degeneration in net neutrality laws to creatively charge consumers more for specific types of internet usage. For instance, file-sharing, video streaming and downloading, and certain types of game patch distribution methods could result in accounts being flagged for increased billing in AT&T's new system.

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The new patent is entitled "Prevention of Bandwidth Abuse of A Communications System." AT&T, however, requires no editorial assistance in making their own patent sound evil, stating in its abstract (bold for emphasis):

DFC Intelligence reports global PC gaming software market growth from $22 billion to $25 billion in 2014, while Gartner predicts PC gaming software sales to increase to $20B from $17.7B. Either way, we're seeing nearly $3B in growth over last year. Combined console hardware and software sales are expected to reach $49B in 2014 (PS4, XB1, and respective games sales). This is a $5B growth over last year and is a totaling of PlayStation, Xbox, Wii, and other console hardware and software sales.

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The total combined video game market revenue is projected as raking in $101B in 2014.

AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) has been on the rise over the past year, and a lot of it is attributed to the company's Graphics & Visual Solutions Group, the organization housing Radeon and the PS4/XB-One SoCs.

  Q4-13 Q3-13 Q4-12 2013 2012
Revenue $1.59B $1.46B $1.16B $5.30B $5.42B
Operating Income
(loss)
$135mm $95mm $(422)mm $103mm $(1.06)B
Net Income / 
Earnings per share
$89mm / $0.12 $48mm / $0.06 $(473)mm / $(0.63) $(83)mm / $(0.11) $(1.18)B / $(1.60)

PC components have frighteningly high failure and DOA rates when compared against other industries, but perhaps one of the least reliable components - and worst to lose - is the hard drive. While talking with a representative from the audio industry at CES, the point was made that "you only need to have the device fail one time before you decide to never buy from that company again." That's generally true, and is generally why we opt for WD or Hitachi in our gaming PC builds -- I've personally had too many drives fail from other sources not to do this.

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Online backup provider Backblaze ran an internal reliability study on 25,000 hard drives and statistically analyzed the endurance of devices from each major company: Seagate, WD, and  Hitachi. The worst hard drive manufacturer, according to Backblaze, is Seagate -- swaggering in with a 14% annual failure rate across all of its offerings.

Update: AMD has commented on the slide.

Rumors abounded earlier this year that AMD would be ditching high-end / enthusiast-class CPUs in favor of a heavier focus on APUs and mainstream CPUs. With large thanks to its console adaptation, AMD posted its first profit since 2012 in Q3 this year, making for a promising future for the company. The same earnings report indicated that AMD's desktop computing solutions have dwindled in profitability over the course of the last year, meanwhile their GPU and APU solutions have nearly doubled in revenue.

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Given this information, the rumors earlier this year made sense: If AMD can pump its R&D into graphics and hybrid solutions (Mantle, HSA, and Hybrid Graphics are all promising), then perhaps the best move would be to cut the FX line. Intel hasn't produced a mainstream mid-range or better processor without an IGP in several years (the i-series CPUs are effectively APUs, though Intel doesn't define the fusion as such); buying one of the go-to Intel CPUs (4670K or 4770K) also means you're getting an IGP with it that, frankly, very few readers in our audience even want or care about.

A new leaked slide allegedly from AMD could indicate that the company is terminating their FX line of CPUs and the AM3+ socket type, and with speculation whirling, let's bring some reality to the scene.

With the end of convention season now upon us -- marked most notably with the conclusion of PAX Prime -- it's time to start prepping for next year's big events. We'll be hitting 15 of the biggest gaming, hardware, and "nerd culture" events in 2014, but there are always smaller, local shows to consider as well; if you're interested in getting into convention culture, we'll briefly overview the major (and some minor) events to add to your watch list. This list of gaming, hardware, & LAN events should serve as your top-level itinerary of gaming expositions to consider attending. In the least, get out to something local and support your homegrown gaming communities!

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There's an uncountable number of local shows out there, so if we missed one that's near you, be sure to drop a comment with information for others in the region! Because the amount of gaming conventions is purely overwhelming, we've compiled them in table format for quick-reference. The events are separated into their greater categories, but may span numerous categories (PAX hosts gaming, hardware, and e-Sports events, for instance).

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