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Report: Ouya gets $10 million investment from Alibaba

Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba invested $10 million into microconsole maker Ouya last month, The Wall Street Journal reported. The two companies have seemingly agreed to bring Ouya's software and game library to Alibaba's set-top box. Ouya announced its Ouya console-less ambitions in March 2014, dubbed "Ouya Everywhere." The initiative allows Ouya to run its software on other devices, starting with Mad Catz's MOJO microconsole. Ouya raised $8.6 million on Kickstarter in 2012, first launching in July 2013. The system didn't generate much revenue for developers as just 27 percent of Ouya owners purchased a game in its first month.

Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman would not confirm Alibaba's investment, but did tell Engadget that the company has "been working with partners to bring our platform and games library to their devices." She said that Ouya is "live with Madcatz in the US and working with Xiaomi in China. There are a number of others in the works, with our focus outside the US because there is where we see the most opportunity and growth. Sometimes new markets leapfrog the established ones -- this may be one of those cases."

The Chinese government lifted its 14-year ban on foreign consoles and video games just over one year ago, issuing a new set of content restrictions for manufacturers this past April. Reports from December found that gaming revenues in the country grew 38 percent year-over-year. The other major console manufacturers are poised to enter the emerging market: While Sony delayed the launch of the PS4 in China earlier this month, Microsoft already reportedly sold over 100,000 Xbox One systems in its introductory week back in October. Nintendo revealed plans in May to approach emerging markets such as China with new hardware this year.

Sega Sammy to cut hundreds of jobs in 'Digital' restructure

Sega Sammy is restructuring to prioritize "Digital Games," a reform that'll see it make job cuts including "soliciting voluntary retirement" for around 300 employees; 120 employees are due to be approached about voluntary retirement next month. Sega of America is among those to be hit by layoffs as it relocates from San Francisco to Southern California.

Sega Sammy plans to now pursue growth in smartphone and PC online gaming, an area that's seen rising results for the company in recent years. Despite the success of some packaged games such as million-seller Alien: Isolation, Sega Sammy's consistently reported favorable results from the likes of Phantasy Star Online 2, Puyo Puyo Quest and Chain Chronicle.

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Lumines changes hands, returning on iOS and Android

Mobcast acquired the Lumines and Meteos properties from Q Entertainment, the Japanese smartphone game developer announced this week, as translated by Gematsu. Additionally, a new Lumines game is on the way for iOS and Android, and will be a collaboration with the colorful puzzle series' creator, Tetsuya Mizuguchi.

Mizuguchi will work on the latest Lumines at his new California-based studio, Enhance Games. The Rez and Space Channel 5 creator co-founded Q Entertainment in 2003 following his departure from Sega. Mizuguchi left the developer in March. The last Lumines game to launch was 2012's Lumines: Electronic Symphony (seen above).

Joystiq Deals: Android Game Developer Bundle

Today, Joystiq Deals serves up the Android Game Developer Bundle, a seven-course selection that will put you on the road to launching a fully fledged mobile game studio.

The package includes the No-Coding-Required Game Building Course, the Beginner Game Reskinning Course, the Android Lollipop Complete Development Course, the Unity3D 2D-Game Development Course, the All-Level Unity3D C# Game Development Course, the Intro To C# Programming & Scripting for Games in Unity, and the All-Level Android App Development Course. All seven courses can be yours for $49 through this Saturday.


Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Jon Snow brings lack of knowledge to Game of Thrones Episode 2

The second episode of Telltale's six-part Game of Thrones saga debuts early next month, starting February 3 for PC, Mac, PS4 and PS3. Titled "The Lost Lords," the episode is also coming to Xbox One and 360 on February 4, iOS on February 5 and Android at a later date.

The Lost Lords continues the story of House Forrester, a Westeros family who in history have aligned with the Starks - not always the wisest alignment, it has to be said. Telltale's game is interwoven with HBO's TV series, and the plot takes place between the end of the third season and the start of the fifth.

If you've played the first episode then you've already had a few chit-chats with Cersei Lannister, her brother Tyrion, Margaery Tyrell and the huggably lovely Ramsay Snow. As the teaser trailer below the break reveals, another Snow is coming to the game in Episode 2.

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Humble Card Game Bundle deals out Scrolls, Star Realms

Humble Bundle has a new promotion on deck: digital card games. From Mjoang's newest (and previously most litigious) Scrolls to the granddaddy of deck-builders Dominion, the Humble Card Game Bundle has plenty to offer those looking for a reprieve from that pesky Hearthstone addiction.

The "pay what you want" portion of the bundle includes copies of Scrolls (PC, Mac), SolForge: Dino Starter Deck (PC), Star Realms (a personal favorite for PC, Mac and Android), Talisman: Digital Edition and Talisman: Prologue (PC, Mac). Purchasing the bundle for more than the average price, which currently rests at $6.71, adds Magic 2015: Duels of the Planeswalkers Special Edition (PC), Dominion Online (Browser-based) and additional decks for SolForge.

Purchasing the bundle for $12 will unlock additional expansions for Dominion Online, a Deluxe Edition of Scrolls and add the basic edition of the free-to-play browser game Card Hunter. For $35 players can also gets their hands on a physical copy of Star Realms with an exclusive card and a t-shirt.

The bundle will be available to purchase for two weeks with proceeds going to charity organizations Block by Block, Save the Children and World Land Trust.
[Image: Humble Bundle]

Bounden, Fingle studio closes its doors in April

Game Oven Studios, the independent Dutch team behind body-morphing mobile games Bounden, Bam fu, Fingle and Friendstrap, will be disbanded in April, studio co-founder Adriaan de Jongh announced in a blog post today. Game Oven will release its final game, Jelly Reef, in March on iOS and Android. Game Oven developers de Jongh and Bojan Endrovski will continue to support Bounden, Fingle, Bam fu and Jelly Reef, but they will remove Friendstrap from stores on February 1.

De Jongh and Endrovski founded Game Oven in November 2011 with their first game, Fingle, which was nominated for an IGF Nuovo award. Bounden, a two-player dancing game for mobile, is nominated this year for an IGF Nuovo prize and a GDC Innovation Award. Game Oven received financial support for Bounden from the Dutch grant program, Game Fund, and worked with the Dutch National Ballet to create the choreography.

And, despite Game Oven's closure, Bounden is doing "really well," de Jongh told me today.

"We're not making millions, no, but Bounden's profit is larger than the development costs, so maybe awards are not that disconnected from the financial success of the game," he said. "With Fingle, IGF helped us build an audience, helped us reach that critical mass, and even though we no longer do any marketing effort for Fingle, we still make one minimum wage from the game every month. The way things look now, it seems like Bounden is on that same road."

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Joystiq Deals: Java Developer Course Bundle

Want to build up your Java programming skillset? Today, Joystiq Deals is offering the Java Developer Course Bundle, a collection that features more than 70 hours of in-depth instructional content.

The package includes the Beginner Java Essentials for Android Course, the Dynamic Website Building with Java Course, the Java Spring Framework Course, the Beginner Java Programming Course, the Java Data Structures & Algorithms Course, and the All-Level Java Swing Course. Normally priced at $399, the six-course package is available today through Joystiq Deals for only $39.


Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

WWE Immortals is free-to-play wrestling kombat for mobile

Have you ever found yourself playing NetherRealm's Injustice: Gods Among Us and thought, "You know, I like Superman and all, but what if he was actually John Cena?" Alternatively, perhaps you've looked at Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and wondered, "What if this guy were an actual, literal rock-man?" Well, you might want to check your brain for transmitting devices, because NetherRealm and Phosphor Games have made your thoughts reality with WWE Immortals, which is now available on iOS and Android devices.

Revealed just last month, WWE Immortals transforms various WWE superstars into warriors, mages, ninjas, knights and monsters, then pits them in touch-based battles with each other. The game is free to play and features support cards to bolster your fighting rosters' power. There's also a story about a magical lamp and alternate dimensions, but really, this is a game about men and women who get paid to fake-punch each other being transformed into mythical warriors. Plot is not going to be its strong suit.
[Image: Warner Bros. Interactive]

Minecraft getting in-game name changes, Pocket Edition sells 30 million

Minecraft players will be able to change their in-game name soon, development studio Mojang has announced. The process is set to go live on February 4, and looks to be pretty straightforward; once the name-changing system is in place, players can change their in-game name simply by logging into their account. Any name that is not being used by another player will be available, but players will have to wait 30 days before they can change again.

If you're worried about someone swiping your name while you wait said 30 days to come back to it though, don't be: it takes 37 days for an old name to become available for someone else. So if you were to change your name from, say, "MinecraftMasta" to something else, we wouldn't be able to swipe MinecraftMasta for ourselves before you had a chance to reclaim it. Changing names does not change inventory or character status, meaning if someone has blocked you, changing your name won't allow you to circumvent said block.

Mojang also announced that to date, Minecraft: Pocket Edition has sold a combined total of more than 30 million copies. Pocket Edition surpassed 21 million copies back in April, and expanded its reach to Windows Phone users in December, though Mojang did not share how many of the 9 million new sales were due to releasing on a new platform.
[Image: Mojang]

Monument Valley made $5.8 million, over 80 percent on iOS

Monument Valley developer Ustwo earned $5,858,625 from sales for the game as of this past Monday, as highlighted in a fancy infographic breaking down the puzzle game's earnings. Of that revenue, 81.7 percent was earned on iOS, compared to 13.9 percent on Android (where it was released about a month later) and 4.3 percent on Amazon. Ustwo says Monument Valley was installed on over 10 million unique devices, though its profits come from 2,440,076 official sales.

The original game took $852,000 to develop while its eight-level Forgotten Shores update cost the developer $549,000. It first arrived on iOS in April 2014 and recouped its development costed in its first week; Ustwo has now clarified that its launch day on the App Store amounted to $145,530 in revenue.
[Image: Ustwo]

Joystiq Deals: One Free Month of OnLive PlayPack

Today at Joystiq Deals, we're giving away one free month of OnLive PlayPack, letting you check out the service's 250-game catalog free of charge.

No game downloads are required - all you need is a compatible PC, TV, or tablet device to start streaming games directly from the cloud. Just sign up through Joystiq Deals and your trial month will begin instantly.

Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Gaming philosopher Pippin Barr takes on the art world

Again.

Pippin Barr – game developer, philosopher, artist – has launched a game within a picture frame, complete with the player's own reflection transposed in real-time over the glass. The game is a snippet from one of Barr's earlier works, Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment, and it uses the camera on your computer or mobile device to throw your own image over the top of the action, as if you were staring at the piece of art in a well-lit gallery.

Barr's inspiration stems from an exhibition of his work at Australia's Andrew Baker Gallery late last year. He took a photo of a print of his Prometheus scene in Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment and imagined turning the photo itself into a game, he says.

"So I made a version of the Prometheus game that runs 'inside' the picture frame," Barr says. "To add to the effect, I also worked on ways to make the digital version of the frame picture reflective in the way it was in the gallery. This extends to (in the best scenario) a live webcam-based reflection that works on desktop versions of Chrome, Firefox, and Opera, a video-based reflection that works in Internet Explorer and Safari, and an animated image-based reflection in mobile browsers. It was quite the technical challenge for me, working with new web technologies I've not encountered before."

Play Let's Play: Ancient Greek Punishment: Art Edition Edition right here in your browser, or here on your mobile device. Or, see it in action in the video below. It's a fairly cool experience, even if you'll never win the game. Seriously, you won't.

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Joystiq Deals: Android Lollipop Coding Course

The mobile marketplace presents a great opportunity for up-and-coming developers, and Joystiq Deals is giving you a chance to join in the fun with the Android Lollipop Coding Course, a comprehensive tutorial that will walk you through many key aspects of app creation.

Featuring over 30 hours of video instruction and a collection of hands-on app-building exercises, the Android Lollipop Coding Course covers an array of topics, ranging from Java to SQLite to Google APIs. Normally priced at $499 when purchased individually, you can get access to all of our featured courses today for only $89.


Joystiq Deals is a partnership between AOL and StackSocial. A portion of sales goes to funding this site. Deals are curated by StackSocial independently of the Joystiq editorial team.

Puzzle & Dragons exceeds 42 million downloads worldwide

In case you're not sure how the match-three puzzle RPG Puzzle & Dragons is managing a Super Mario Bros. crossover, here's some perspective: Puzzle & Dragons has earned 42 million downloads across iOS, Android and Kindle Fire HD devices worldwide since its release in February 2012, according to a press release from GungHo Online Entertainment. Japan is to thank for roughly 33 million of those downloads, but more than 6 million of the total is attributed to the North American audience.

Last year's eShop-only Pokemon Battle Trozei offered gameplay that resembles elements of Puzzle & Dragons, but Puzzle & Dragons Super Mario Bros. Edition will be Nintendo's first by-name contribution to the series. GungHo America has mentioned plans for an "overseas release" in relation to Super Mario Bros. Edition, but with a Nintendo representative referring to the game as a "Japanese-only announcement," Super Mario Bros. Edition's Western arrival could certainly use a stronger confirmation.
[Image: GungHo Online Entertainment]

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