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Battlefest starts this weekend with bonus Battlefield 4 XP

Just in time for the July 15 debut of Battlefield 4's Dragon's Teeth DLC, EA kicks off Battlefest, a month-long promotion designed to reward those loyal virtual soldiers who've stuck with the shooter despite its infamous track record.

Battlefest begins on July 12 with a two-day, double experience point bonus for all players. From there, EA will offer new content on a weekly basis, including free camo unlocks and Community Missions that force players to work together to reach a formidable goal. Assuming players complete the mission, everyone who logged into Battlefield 4 during the event will receive a free Gold Battlepack.

Finally, EA is launching a month-long stunt competition. If you've got awesome footage of ramping a motorbike off a pile of rubble into a helicopter like some poorly planned Die Hard sequel, send it in to EA. The top three most impressive clips will be awarded what EA calls, "a massive prize."

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Hellraid: The Escape makes a break for it on iOS


Before Techland properly introduces players to the dark fantasy world of Hellraid next year, developer Shortbreak Studios offers a tour of the world via the iOS puzzle game Hellraid: The Escape.

Officially described as a "visually stunning action-adventure mobile game," Hellraid: The Escape casts players as an amnesiac who's been locked in a cage by a sorcerer for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Like all the best cages, this one is guarded by demons, and our protagonist will have to explore his prison and solve puzzles in order to make the titular escape.

Hellraid: The Escape is available on the App Store at $2.99. It features no in-app purchases, but Shortbreak plans to release periodic, free content updates for the mobile game.
[Image: Shortbreak Studios]

Mario dons the stars and stripes for Smash Bros. alternate

Though Mario now spends his days jumping on turtles and racing go-karts throughout the Mushroom Kingdom, he's a boy from Brooklyn, and this latest Super Smash Bros. costume demonstrates his patriotic spirit.

Unveiled by the Japanese Super Smash Bros. Twitter account, the above costume is a Yankee Doodle homage to the duds Mario is seen wearing on the cover of classic 8-bit golf game NES Open Tournament Golf. Though that is a wildly esoteric reference, it provides a nice contrast to Mario's staid red and blue overalls.

Why this image is appearing now and not, say, six days ago is a mystery.

Report: 80 percent of App Store apps aren't visible

Mobile analytics company adjust uses the term "zombie apps" to describe those that aren't visible on the App Store – to be visible, an app must "rank on any of the 39,171 App Store top lists on two out of three days over the month." That's a fairly low bar, but still, last month just one-fifth of apps were visible. The number of zombie apps is climbing – in June 2013, the zombie rate was 70.4 percent, but that rose to 75.2 percent in December, and in June 2014, it reached 79.6 percent (953,387 apps out of 1,197,087), adjust says.

Games are the largest category in the App Store, with 237,389 apps added in the past year, and 65,643 (21.7 percent) of those were removed voluntarily by developers or because they violated Apple's rules. In 2013, the App Store saw 453,902 new apps, and almost 15 percent of those were pulled. Books had the highest rate of pulled apps, at 27 percent, the company reports.

Adjust predicts the App Store will receive 578,000 new apps by July 1, 2015. More than 1.6 million apps have been uploaded to the App Store since its launch, and 350,000 (21.8 percent) have been pulled, adjust says.
[Image: EA]

Gibeau: EA 'innovated too much' with Dungeon Keeper

EA's reboot of Dungeon Keeper rubbed new and old fans the wrong way with an aggressive approach to monetization – it's a free, mobile app heavy on microtransactions and shifty five-star rating schemes. The original game's creator, Peter Molyneux, dubbed the reboot "ridiculous," and in June, EA CEO Andrew Wilson called the situation "a shame."

EA Mobile head Frank Gibeau this week told GamesIndustry that EA didn't do a good job marketing the game or communicating to fans what they could expect from a new Dungeon Keeper.

"Brands ultimately have a certain amount of permission that you can make changes to, and I think we might have innovated too much or tried some different things that people just weren't ready for," Gibeau said. "Or, frankly, were not in tune with what the brand would have allowed us to do. We like the idea that you can bring back a brand at EA and express it in a new way. We've had some successes on that front, but in the case of Dungeon Keeper, that just didn't connect with an audience for a variety of reasons."

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Microsoft CEO wants to make Xbox part of a mobile future

Microsoft's recently appointed CEO Satya Nadella has issued an open letter to Microsoft employees and the general public, affirming his commitment to the Xbox brand while also hinting at a potential shift in company priority to mobile devices.

"The single biggest digital life category, measured in both time and money spent, in a mobile-first world is gaming," Nadella said. "We are fortunate to have Xbox in our family to go after this opportunity with unique and bold innovation. [...] Bottom line, we will continue to innovate and grow our fan base with Xbox while also creating additive business value for Microsoft."

"While today many people define mobile by devices, Microsoft defines it by experiences," Nadella continued. "We're really in the infant stages of the mobile-first world. In the next few years we will see many more new categories evolve and experiences emerge that span a variety of devices of all screen sizes. Microsoft will be on the forefront of this innovation with a particular focus on dual users and their needs across work and life."

Nadella additionally noted that Microsoft's gaming innovations will continue to inform and shape its productivity-focused technology, citing Skype speech recognition and the Kinect camera as crossover efforts benefiting both divisions.
[Image: Microsoft]

Dragon Age Inquisition: Eight romances, no deadly war hounds

Following a lengthy Raptr Q&A session hosted by the developers of Dragon Age: Inquisition, we've learned a number of new things about BioWare's upcoming roleplaying epic.

While combat has been expanded to add new abilities and spells, and to grant the use of bows to all rogues, fans should not expect to fight alongside the noble mabari. According to BioWare, the faithful war hounds will not appear in combat in Inquisition. The game will feature numerous chances for amoré, however: eight in total, two of which require players to meet race restrictions. For those who feel that dipping one's pen in the party's virtual ink is strictly verboten, you can seek affection outside of your crew of like-minded heroes as BioWare is including "at least one" relationship option outside of your companions.

Games.On.Net has a bullet list round-up of the remaining information. There's a lot there, and while it qualifies as "miscellaneous" at best, and offer no details on the game's plot, it should prove informative to fans of the series.

Joystiq Discovers... What's in the box?!


Earlier this afternoon we received a chest. We had no idea how to open the box, so we started a stream on our Twitch page and asked the Joystiq biomass if they knew a clever way to get inside the puzzle case. Above you'll see the results from Alexander Sliwinski, with assistance and quiet voice (sorry about that!) of Richard Mitchell.

If you want to skip ahead to the reveal, it happens after about 13 minutes and many tribulations of tools later.

Spoiler after the break...

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Skullgirls player accidentally admits piracy to creators

Well, this is embarrassing. Twitter user "Dan Hibiki" recently asked Lab Zero Games about a curious message they received while playing the PC version of all-female 2D fighter Skullgirls ... only to be informed by its creators that the text only appears for people who pirated the game. Whoops.

Both sides took the situation in stride, however. Hibiki (whose haplessness is totally in-character) claimed to already own the PS3 version of the game, vowing to buy the PC edition after evaluating it. Lab Zero, meanwhile, responded in good humor and even answered a series of questions after the call-out.

The back-and-forth is indicative of Lab Zero's involvement with its own community; the developer earned over $800,000 from devoted fans last year for a crowdfunded content update. It also serves as a valuable lesson – if you pirate someone's game, maybe don't ask customer support questions in a public forum.

[Image: Lab Zero Games]

10 Years, 10 Great Games: Sam's picks

Throughout the week, Joystiq celebrates its tenth anniversary by revealing each writer's favorite - not "best" - games of the last decade. Aside from selecting a number one, each list is unordered.

Weekend Editor Sam Prell talks about being Joystiq's "MOBA guy" with his pick of the last decade, one of the most populated online games available today.

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GameStop will fund unique DLC, won't hinder creative process

GameStop CEO Paul Raines does not deny the company's plans to pay developers to create GameStop-exclusive content for their games, but he does point out that the retailer will not interfere with the artists, writers and designers building the core game content.

"When you think about the business of gaming and the cost of developing games, we think there's an opportunity to put capital at risk with publishers and developers in exchange for exclusive content that would be distributed through our online platforms, in stores, our download business, et cetera," Raines explained to Time, before being asked about the immediate backlash against the idea of GameStop dictating a game's development once it's partially funding development. "I think we'd be foolish to tell developers how to develop games or publishers how to bring product to market. That's what they do extremely well. What we'll do well is put capital at risk and help distribute and connect with PowerUp Rewards customers."

"I think the day you see us in the creative side is when you can tell me we've officially lost our minds," Raines added.
[Image: Ubisoft]

New Nintendo eShop releases: One Piece Unlimited World Red, Bases Loaded

Just five new releases on the eShop in North America this week, and ... nope, not one of them is Pokemon Trading Card Game. Sorry, Poke-trainers, the 3DS Virtual Console port of the Game Boy Color classic is staying in Europe for now, it seems.

So, what's on the menu? Well, One Piece Unlimited World Red is out on Wii U and 3DS this week, as well as PS3 and Vita. If you're planning on getting it on Wii U, don't bother heading to the mall because that version is only on the eShop. If you'd prefer something with less anime, more baseball, and altogether fewer pixels, why sir or madam you're in luck! That's because NES baseball sim Bases Loaded is also on its way to both Nintendo systems.

For the full list of new releases (all five of them), head on below the break. Finally, if you're after sales, new ones are start today for Jett Rocket 2 ($9 to $5), Swords & Soldiers 3D (half-price at $4) and Witch & Hero (30 percent off $4).

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Joystiq Streams: Divinity Original Sin pumps up our RPG bonafides [UPDATE: Relive the stream!]


Larian Studios will never say die! More than a decade on from Divine Divinity, the studios remains committed to old-fashioned PC RPG style. Adventures in the magical kingdom of Rivellon do not need streamlined first-person shooting and aggressive Facebook features in 2014! Quests performed for the Council of Seven need not be augmented by pre-order exclusive DLC! This is turn-based role-playing the way grandma and grandpa used to like it back when you were just a twinkle in SteamOS' eye. Joystiq Streams is ready for a learning experience so we're diving blind into Divinity: Original Sin starting at 4PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch. Not only that, but we have a few copies of the game to give out too.

Here's how it's going down. Anthony John Agnello will jump head first into Divinity to create a character and learn the ropes during the stream pre-show at 3:30PM EST. Alexander Sliwinski, a Divinity vet, will join him to help. Then both brave souls will wander into Rivellon starting at 4PM EST on Joystiq.com/Twitch. The chat's open all day so pop in and give us tips on how to play.

Joystiq Streams broadcasts every Tuesday and Thursday at 4PM right here and at Twitch.tv/Joystiq.

[Images: Larian Studios]

Ubisoft reports first-quarter growth of 374%, bolstered by Watch Dogs

Ubisoft announced its financial results for the fiscal quarter ending on June 30, revealing that it has shipped more than 8 million copies of its hacking-themed sandbox action game Watch Dogs to date.

Reporting €360 million (approximately $490 million) in sales for the first quarter of 2014-2015, Ubisoft notes a year-on-year improvement of 374 percent compared to the €76 million recorded for the same quarter last year.

The publisher attributes its growth to the release of Watch Dogs and a strong showing in its digital segment with recent games like Valiant Hearts, Child of Light, and Trials Fusion. Ubisoft previously reported a 32 percent jump in year-on-year digital sales for the 2014 fiscal year.

More details regarding Ubisoft's first-quarter financial performance will be available soon.

[Image: Ubisoft]

Watch Dogs ships 8 million copies

Ubisoft has shipped 8 million copies of Watch Dogs since the game's launch in May, the company announced in its Q1 2014 – 2015 financial report.

Sales for the quarter were above expectations, hitting €360 million of an expected €310 million, and that's thanks in large part to Watch Dogs, Ubisoft says. In its first week at retail, Watch Dogs sales hit 4 million, making it Ubisoft's "best-selling game ever in week one." It also broke the publisher's day-one sales records.

"The success of Watch Dogs and the quality of our games portfolio presented at this year's E3 highlight our strategic positioning as well as our continuous drive for innovation, and affirm our long-term approach," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot said in today's report. "Watch Dogs is now well-positioned as a major franchise and we will be able to replicate and build on its success in the coming years. Its sales performance testifies to Ubisoft's expertise as a creator of blockbuster brands."
[Image: Ubisoft]

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