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Activision E3 Party Lights Up Staples Center

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3, kicked off Monday with some of the most extravagant parties we've seen in recent years. The annual conference is the showcase for major product previews and announcements in the video game and console industry. Three years after a scaled-down conference prompted whispers of E3's demise, the heavy hitters are back to prove that this industry is one of the few that is immune to the cliché: in this economy. Microsoft introduced it's new Xbox Kinect interface with hands-free motion control (a product it announced at last year's E3 codenamed Project Natal) at USC's Galen Center with a Cirque du Soleil performance in which the attendees donned white robes and watched stunning video on huge flat screens.

But a few blocks up Figueroa, Activision went for the kill with a star-studded 3-hour concert at Staples Center.

Among the performers: Usher, Janes Addiction, N.E.R.D., and DJs Z-Trip, David Guetta, and Deadmau5. Following a preview of Call of Duty: Black Ops (out November 9), complete with fireworks, a lot of smoke, and, of course, shooting, Eminem closed the show with a five-song set, joined at one point by Rihanna. Maynard James Keenan fronted a massive choir (also used by Eminem) for "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Chris Cornell was backed by a symphony orchestra for "Black Hole Sun."

Activision, which merged with Irvine-based Blizzard Entertainment in 2008, reportedly spent upwards of $6 million on the event, which included free beer, wine, and snacks for the roughly 5,000 industry- and media-folk in attendance. Activision Blizzard publishes three of the top franchises in the industry: Guitar Hero, World of Warcraft, and Call of Duty.

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Watch video from the indoor fireworks show that nearly blew up Staples Center on the eve of NBA Finals Game 6 below.