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Thursday, Jul 17

June NPD Number Crunch: Hardware sales grow 106 percent as PS4 continues outselling Xbox One

5 comments Leo Chan - 4:27pm (PST) Like Share

Watch Dogs, Mario Kart 8 also keep holding the checkered flag high

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The NPD Group's monthly report card for U.S. retail sales is in, and June 2014 was looking good with sales up 24 percent year-over-year. Total sales at retail rang in at around $736.4 million USD, with console hardware sales up a whopping 106 percent to $292.7 million. So much for momentum slowing down for the PS4 and Xbox One even months after launch.

While we can imagine the new, lower pricing for the Xbox One (which brings it in line with the PS4) played its part in spurring hardware sales to the impressive level reported, Microsoft's console still couldn't dethrone Sony's PS4 which by NPD's reckoning remained the bestselling home console for last month. NPD analyst Liam Callahan confirms that sales for both platforms combined were 80 percent higher than their predecessors.

Monthly software sales dropped slightly by 3 percent year-over-year to $286.8 million on account of a lack of performing software following the launch of Watch Dogs and Mario Kart 8 back in May. Both titles maintained their lead over all other titles at retail last month; Nintendo confirms that 470,000 copies of Mario Kart 8 sold last month (digital and physical combined), which certainly suggests that sales for Watch Dogs are just as impressive. It's worth noting that Watch Dogs' sales factored multiple platforms, so Mario Kart 8 would actually be the top-selling title for June on a single platform.

New releases like EA Sports UFC and Tomodachi Life also made a decent accounting for themselves. FIFA 14 also makes a fine comeback to the software top ten, no doubt thanks to World Cup 2014 fever.

June 2014 Top Ten Software Sales
  Game Publisher Platform Release
1. Watch Dogs Ubisoft PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 05/2014
2. Mario Kart 8 Nintendo Wii U 05/2014
3. Minecraft Microsoft Game Studios / Sony Computer Entertainment Xbox 360 / PS3 05/2014
4. EA Sports UFC Electronic Arts PS4 / Xbox One 06/2014
5. FIFA 14 Electronic Arts PS4 / PS3 / Xbox One / Xbox 360 / Vita 09/2013
6. NBA 2K14 2K Games PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 10/2013
7. Wolfenstein: The New Order Bethesda Softworks PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / PC 05/2014
8. Call of Duty: Ghosts Activision PS4 / Xbox One / PS3 / Xbox 360 / Wii U / PC 11/2013
9. Tomodachi Life Nintendo 3DS 06/2014
10. Grand Theft Auto V Take 2 Interactive PS3 / Xbox 360 09/2013
 
 

See the power of graphs in new Metrico gameplay trailer, and control the world from your PS Vita

1 comments Max Navarro - 3:52pm (PST) Like Share

An example of just how powerful numbers can be

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Indie devoloper Digital Dreams has announced Metrico, a game built around infographics that shape our entire world, will be heading to PlayStation Vita. The first full gameplay trailer was released recently, and it showcases the art expressed by simple numbers.

The first glance at the world of Metrico provides an image of a young silhouetted man as he walks through a white void. As the character begins to jump, graphs appear and shape the world around him. Jumping over and through percentages and charts, the man begins to manipulate different parts of his environment, including blocks that moveas he does and drop while he runs. The screen then splits, adding a new character into the mix -- the silhouette of a young woman. She jumps through loading zones, controlling the graph levels around her, allowing her to progress through her numerical journey. 

Next, a new screen is shown, highlighting how the game incorporates angles into the world. Players are able to destroy nearby enemies and obstacles by altering the angle of a simple shot that releases a tiny, ball-shaped projectile. As the trailer progresses, the world continues to evolve, and viewers get a glimpse of the base mechanics of Metrico, where real-life decisions, such as touching the screen or jumping, seem to affect every obstacle, landscape, and platform in the character's path.

Whilst not new in the real world, a world shaped solely by infographics is something the gaming community has never seen before. For players antsy to get their hands on the title in order to manipulate their world solely with numbers, Metrico will be available exclusively for Sony's PlayStation Vita on August 5, 2014.

 
 

Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden announced for Wii U, pictures last forever

9 comments Rory Young - 2:38pm (PST) Like Share

Is that Dagger from Final Fantasy IX?

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What happens when you mix Japanese anime sensibilities with classic Japanese horror stories and then make a game out of them on the Wii U? Why, Fatal Frame, of course. It's long been theorized that another Fatal Frame title on the Wii U was inevitable, seeing as the GamePad's touch-screen would work so well with the franchise's reliance on viewing the world through a camera. Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden is just that title, coming to Japanese Wii Us starting September 27.

The latest Fatal Frame's protagonist just so happens to be a young girl with a special and terrible power. She's able to draw the dead out of the spiritual world, where they're unseen, and into reality. As befits the brand, somehow a camera is able to help our protagonist discover these spiritual beings, as well as protect her from harm. It all adds up to scary ghosts doing violent things, while the game forces the player to not look away by forcing them to use the camera to protect themselves.

As for the setting, our protagonist, due to her abilities, is sent to a mountain with obvious, erm, ghost problems. There are graves and haunted shrines, as well as a big lake and lots of streams and damp areas. Apparently this abundance of water is a theme in the game, either for story purposes or just to get the protagonist and her sheer clothing wet. Japanese game, folk. Prepare for some mild perversion.

My personal issue with the game is the platform preference. Don't get me wrong, because I think the Wii U and its GamePad are perfect for Fatal Frame. What I'm worried about what kind of success Fatal Frame will find on the platform. Will it be cheaply made? Did Koei Tecmo make it around the Wii U's launch and then just sit on it due to the platform's lackluster sales? I'm kind of afraid this game will be terrible.

Fatal Frame: The Black Haired Shrine Maiden is planned for release in Japan on September 27. No plans to localize the game elsewhere in the world have yet to be announced.

 
 

Microsoft closing Xbox video programming studio as part of 18,000 layoff restructuring

7 comments Rory Young - 1:50pm (PST) Like Share

No announcements regarding changes to in-development games

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Microsoft announced today their planned restructuring that will lead to as many or more than 18,000 layoffs. While the breadth of the layoffs is quite obviously wide, it's unclear how the restructuring will directly effect the Xbox division of the company. One Xbox studio, however, has already reportedly been slated for closure. Xbox Entertainment Studios, started in 2012 to produce gaming-related video programming, and its 200 employees will soon no longer be a part of Microsoft.

IGN is reporting that Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, has confirmed the studio's closure himself:

"As part of the planned reduction to our overall workforce announced today and in light of our organization’s mission, we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox. One such plan is that, in the coming months, we expect to close Xbox Entertainment Studios."

Oddly enough,  Spencer confirmed that several Xbox Entertainment Studios executives will be staying on with Microsoft despite the studio's closure. This includes Nancy Tellem, the studio's President, who will be retained and "remain committed to to original programming already in production." Both Halo TV, Steven Spielberg's production, and Halo: Nightfall will continue development.

Few of the studio's productions every had the opportunity to come to life. Their documentary regarding the great gaming crash of 1983 was certainly the most notable project, in which the company dug up a portion of the desert in search of buried E.T. cartridges. Other productions included bringing the Call of Duty Championship, Miss Teen USA and the VGX awards to Xbox Live. What other projects lay in store will likely never come to light.

The only other mention of how the restructuring will effect Xbox was Spencer stating that, "we plan to streamline a handful of portfolio and engineering development efforts across Xbox." That is to say, that he said very little on the subject. Expect to know more as soon as we do.

Our thoughts go out to all Microsoft employees affected by today's announced layoffs. Let's hope each will be back working on a project they're passionate about before long.

 
 

The Walking Dead: Season 2's fourth episode, 'Amid the Ruins,' available starting July 22

2 comments Rory Young - 12:24pm (PST) Like Share

If you aren't caught up, then stay far away

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Telltale Games is very, very busy. They've just wrapped up The Wolf Among Us with one heck of a season finale, they're hard at work on Tales from the Borderlands on top of early work for Game of Thrones, and now here they are preparing to release the penultimate episode of their flagship adventure game's second season. Starting July 22 The Walking Dead: Season 2's fourth episode, Amid the Ruins, will be released. How does Telltale still have the energy to even wake up in the morning?

Let's all be honest here. Everything we could say about The Walking Dead up to this point would be a huge spoiler. This game is all about stuff happening and mentioning even one of those happenings would be unfair to the rest of those happenings. Many of those happenings are even directly referenced in the trailer for Amid the Ruins. That means that if you're not caught up on The Walking Dead, don't even be here, yo. Go and play the game already!

Amid Ruins, The Walking Dead: Season 2's fourth episode, will release on PC world-wide and PlayStation 3, PS Vita in North America starting July 22. On July 23 the episode will be released on Xbox 360 and on the PlayStation platforms in Europe. Finally, it will be available on iOS on July 24. The stand-alone episode will cost $4.99, though it can also be acquired via the full-season pass.

 
 

Dark Souls 2: The Lost Crowns Trilogy screenshots tour the ruins of Shulva, Sanctum City, in first DLC

4 comments Lydia Sung - 11:28am (PST) Like Share

Face the Sunken King and claim his crown

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Dark Souls 2: The Lost Crowns Trilogy begins next week with Crown of the Sunken King, the first in a three-part DLC that pits our Chosen Undead against many more ways to die, from elaborate traps to the three kings that hold their coveted crowns. In anticipation of these all new ways to die, From Software and Bandai Namco have released new screenshots spotlighting Shulva, in Sanctum City. This is where the mostly-silent hero's newest adventure kicks off.

To reach the Sunken King, you'll be venturing deep underground, where the fight for your life begins anew against the deadly new denizens that await, in what is apparently considered "one of the more difficult levels developed by From Software."

Sounds promising, right? The screenshots tease some seriously incredible looking areas, with some amazing vertical environments designed to disorient the player. If you'd rather not hoof it alone, the new Summoning Room in Crown of the Sunken King actually allows players who don't own The Lost Crowns Trilogy to enter your game for certain areas. Pretty nice buddy system they've got going here.

Crown of the Sunken King will be out July 22 for Xbox 360 and PC, then on July 23 for PlayStation 3. The next two parts of The Lost Crowns Trilogy, Crown of the Old Iron King and Crown of the Ivory King, will be released in August and September, respectively.



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Lineage 2's free Ertheia content expansion goes live July 30, Faeron Village joins the Material Realm

0 comments Rory Young - 9:32am (PST) Like Share

"I can smell your fear behind that mask"

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Over ten years and still going strong, Lineage II is still a world-wide leader among MMOs. While the one hugely popular Korean title is well past its prime, even going through its own free-to-play conversion almost seven years ago, Lineage II shows no signs of calling it quits any time soon. Today Lineage II's next free content expansion had its release date announced. NCSoft  says to expect the upcoming Ertheia expansion starting July 30.

The Ertheia expansion will continue the story of the world of Aden. One of the Seals keeping Goddess of Destruction Shilen imprisoned has been broken and with it the dimensions have shifted. Faeron Village, an Ertheia settlement, has crossed over from the Spirit Realm and joined the Material Realm. Einhasad's four original races, the Elves, Orcs, Dwarves and Ertheia, are once again collected. What comes next for the people of Ertheia

Many forget that NCSoft's first title and the game that built them into the MMO powerhouse that they are today was Lineage. Still, it even surprised me when I read this press release stating that NCSoft still considered Lineage II to be their "flagship title." I suppose there's nothing more special than one's own child, despite the current success of adopted MMOs Guild Wars 2 and WildStar.

Download Lineage II for free today, or wait until July 30 and experience the all new Ertheia race and hunting games as they're introduced in the free content expansion.

Categories: PC Games
 
 

Wednesday, Jul 16



Dota 2's The International 2014 group stage is complete, final tournament begins July 18

4 comments Rory Young - 10:31am (PST) Like Share

Eight teams remain, but there can be only one

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After a cut-throat phase one of The International 2014's group stage, phase two resulted in just as surprising of an outcome. It wouldn't be Dota 2 otherwise. Six teams were eliminated in phase one, two more eliminated in phase two, but perhaps most surprising were the victors. ViCi Gaming and Evil Geniuses proved themselves by finishing at the top after the round robin, while phase two's winners are Team DK and ... NewBee!?

Is that the very same NewBee that was fighting for its life in a tie-breakers scenario at the end of the round robin? Yes, yes it is. Newbee started phase two at the bottom of the brackets, facing Titan to see who would next be eliminated. They defeated Titan 2-1, then went on a rampage afterwards through Na'Vi and iG to earn their own spot in the winners bracket of the official tournament. It just goes to show that playing best-of-three sets is a much different environment that round robin group play.

In the other phase two bracket DK didn't have to worry about any rampaging NewBees. LGD fought tooth and nail to defeat Liquid, but were then defeated by Cloud9, who were then defeated by Team DK. The brackets, in this case, worked out as intended. Team DK will pass on to the winner's bracket of The International where they will face Evil Geniuses in round one's best-of-three.

Rather than detail the entire bracket in paragraph form, let's go ahead and detail the upcoming tournament with something more organized -- bulleted points:

Winner's Bracket - July 18

  • ViCi Gaming
  • NewBee
     
  • Evil Geniuses
  • Team DK

Loser's Bracket - July 19- 20

  • Cloud9
  • Na'Vi
     
  • iG
  • LGD

Grand Finals - July 20

Those in the winner's bracket can lose their matches and still climb their way to the Grand Finals through the loser's bracket. Losing in the loser's bracket, however, will result in elimination. Plus, considering every victory now comes with a reward of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, the pressure to perform is higher than any other point of the tournament. There's a $5 million first place prize on the line!

As always, expect a more robust update on the eve of the final tournament beginning - July 18. I'll try and take a look at each of the eight individual teams, along with their strengths and weakness. In the mean time, I think it'd be best if we waved goodbye and applauded the 8 teams who have already been eliminated. Don't worry, most of them won't be going home empty handed.

There's still a lot more Dota 2 left to be played at The International 2014.

Final Standings

  1. TBD
  2. TBD
  3. TBD
  4. TBD
  5. TBD
  6. TBD
  7. TBD
  8. TBD
  9. Titan - $48,612
  10. Liquid - $48,612
  11. mousesports - $37,809
  12. Alliance - $37,809
  13. Empire - $21,605
  14. Fnatic - $21,605
  15. Na'Vi.US - No Prize
  16. Arroa - No Prize
Categories: PC Games
 
 

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax's eighth new character is Marie, Persona 4 Golden's 'Aeon' link

4 comments Rory Young - 9:33am (PST) Like (1) Share

More characters are still expected to be announced!

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Another day, another Persona 4 Arena Ultimax  reveal, bringing the total amount of all new characters to eight. Everyone put your hands together for Marie, the Persona 4 Golden exclusive character who helps the protagonist reveal the power of the Aeon Arcana. Of course, Marie is also included on Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, but what Persona character isn't?

Marie has been revealed over at the official Famitsu website, which should explain the watermarks on each of the images we're featuring in this story. While the initial details for what kind of fighter she'll be are quite lost in translation, I believe she's described as an elusive, technique-focused character. That is, she controls the space around her with unique abilities, including pulling junk out of her bag.

Beware Marie going full Kusumi-no-Okami on an opponent. Beware the fog, beware the fog!

Unfortunately, it seems like Marie won't be included with the game, instead released as DLC post-release. At least, that's what it says for the Japanese release of Ultimax. Who knows what will be in store for the North American launch. In store. Get it? It's DLC. Ha!

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is planned for release on September 30 in North America, following up the Japanese release on August 28. One month for full localization is pretty solid! The fighting game will be coming to both Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 -- no PS4 or XONE, unfortunately. Or, players can probably fly over to Japan and play the arcade version of the game right now. It's been out since 2013, though likely without all of these great new characters.

Here's one of the latest Japanese trailers for Ultimax, which covers a lot of the features to be included in the game.

Thanks to Rabla for the tip! Check out his thread for a more in-depth look at Marie's reveal.



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Disney Infinity 2.0 reveals Stitch and Tinker Bell figures, top requested characters out this fall

7 comments Rory Young - 9:01am (PST) Like Share

The more Stitch, the merrier

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It shouldn't be surprising to hear that Disney has their ear towards their fans, constantly listening to what makes them happiest. Disney Infinity in itself is a love letter to gamers who love to collect and play with their favorite Disney characters. Thus, Disney has revealed their next two characters for Disney Infinity 2.0 and they're understandably the most requested characters of those not already in the game. Everyone welcome Stitch and Tinker Bell to the toy-box. 

Stitch, of course, was the number one most requested character for Disney Infinity 2.0. The lovable, cuddly alien puppy thing from the movie Lilo & Stitch has to be one of Disney's most profitable merchandise characters. You can't go to a Disney store without seeing plushies, t-shirts, mugs and assorted junk featuring his blue smiling face. Tinkbell was the third most requested character, falling just being Merida from Brave. Fortunately Merida has already been revealed for Disney Infinity 2.0, so the Peter Pan fairy was next up on the list. Every since she spread her wings and developer her own stand-alone fairy movie series her popularity has skyrocketed.

In-game Stitch will come with his fancy space blasters and an ability to super-jump, plus he seems to have a pretty amazing roll animation clearly inspired by Blanka from Street Fighter. Tinker Bell has magical healing pixie dust, as well as the ability to fly. Given the limitations of the game, however, Tink probably glides, or something similar. Perpetual flight seems like it could be a bit overpowered.

That's fourteen different characters now announced for the release of Disney Infinity 2.0, also known as Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes. Stitch and Tinker Bell, along with Merida and Maleficent, will likely be coming out in the "Wave 2" launch of figures in November. September, when the game is initially released, will feature the big Avengers and Spider-Man figure releases.



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