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On my iPad: Helix

This is On my iPad, a quick look at an iOS game we think you'll enjoy.

We can't seem to put down Michael Brough's Helix. Here's a brief video explaining why the retro-inspired avoidance game is special to us. The challenging, "hectic piece of momentary action" is available on iPhone and iPad for $2.99.
[Image: Michael Brough]

Joystiq Giveaway: SteelSeries Stratus XL iOS controller times 2

So you're playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic on your iPhone and you're thinking, "Man, it sure would be a lot easier to slice this Dark Jedi directly in their stupid cowled faces if I was using a controller." Than you're playing BioShock on your iPad and you're all, "Stupid Big Daddy wouldn't have drilled a giant hole in my abdomen if I were using a controller." The thought comes again and again while you play Limbo, XCOM, and myriad other games.

Don't worry about it! Joystiq has your back. We're giving away two, that's dos, SteelSeries Stratus XL iOS controllers. These babies work with any iOS device with a Lightning connector and running iOS 7 or higher.

Here's how to get the prizes: Just use the Rafflecopter widget below between January 23 and January 30. Winners will be selected at random and contacted via email (so make double sure you use an email we can actually contact you at!) Full rules and details after the break.
SteelSeries Stratus XL iOS controller times 2
[Images: SteelSeries]

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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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The Witcher Battle Arena launches

Geralt of Rivia and friends are available now for a witchin' good time on tablets. The Witcher Battle Arena, a MOBA designed by Fuero Games and CD Projekt RED specifically for tablets, is available now for iOS and Android devices.

"We will have different modes in the future. There will be a monster-hunting mode, kind of an isometric multiplayer. There will be a boss mode, where you will be able to fight the bosses - that will be purely a (player verses enemy) experience. And we are thinking of other competitive modes," said Tadek Zielinski, project manager on the game to us at E3. "We have a classic one-lane MOBA experience with towers, but we have a different approach because we don't want to have minions, we don't want to have farming."

The game is free-to-play with in-app purchases, but all content is unlockable by playing. If you're into The Witcher or want to see a MOBA in action on a tablet, it won't cost you a bit of gold to take it for a spin.

'Her Story' FMV crime fiction game coming from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories designer

The latest game from Silent Hill: Shattered Memories designer and writer Sam Barlow is a little different. It's not survival horror, it doesn't have motion controls and ... it's entirely full-motion video. Entitled Her Story, the game revolves around a police database containing several taped interviews with a female subject, concerning the disappearance of her husband.

Rather than interacting directly with the game, players "type search queries and the database returns clips of the answers where the woman speaks those words." Barlow claims, "If you can Google, you can play Her Story," elaborating that, while the search mechanic is simple, it "quickly reveals its richness and complexity." Non-linear storytelling seems to be the game's hallmark, with Barlow himself calling it "a sculptural way of viewing a story."

We're still not clear on exactly how it will work, whether players will directly affect the narrative or solve the mystery, or just soak in a unique, interactive crime fiction story. Either way, it certainly sounds different.

Her Story is set to arrive early this year on PC, Mac and iOS, and it's currently listed on Steam Greenlight.
[Image: Sam Barlow]

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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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Sid Meier's 'Starships' blasts off this year

The house Sid Meier built, Firaxis, will send out an "interstellar strategy game" for PC, Mac and iPad in early 2015. According to 2K's initial announcement, players will research new technologies and spaceship designs, pierce through the unknown reaches of the galaxy and fight in turn-based combat, all hinged on "distinctive" maps and dynamically created combat missions.

"My goal was to create an experience that focuses on starship design and combat within a universe filled with interstellar adventure, diplomacy, and exploration," says Meier.

Publisher 2K is also teasing cross-connectivity between Starships and last year's turn-based Civilization spin-off, Beyond Earth.

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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]

Get an IGF 2015-nominated game for free today only

PRY, a finalist in Excellence in Narrative at the 2015 Independent Games Festival, is free today on the App Store. PRY is a hybrid game, containing elements of film, literature and gaming. It tells the story of a Gulf War demolitions expert, allowing players to dive into his thoughts and explore his past, present and subconscious with the flicking or pinching of fingers.

The free day is in celebration of the IGF nod, PRY's feature on FWA as Mobile of the Day, and the game's release on iPhone. PRY is broken into two parts; the first installment was previously out for iPad at $3. Once part two launches in March, the full-game price will go up slightly – but those who buy part one before March will receive the second half as a free update. PRY comes from two-person art collective and development studio Tender Claws, which focuses on the intersection of writing, art and technology.

"Nomination by IGF is already an incredible validation," Tender Claws co-founder Samantha Gorman tells Joystiq. "We are a small team of two people who have looked up to and been inspired by current and past IGF nominees. It's so nice to know that our interventions in this space of storytelling are being seen and considered. Of course an IGF award would mean a great deal going forward. It would further give us license to establish our studio and continue to push the bounds of narrative in gameplay."

The 2015 IGF awards will be held on Wednesday, March 4, during GDC in San Francisco.
[Image: Tender Claws]

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Gaming philosopher Pippin Barr takes on the art world


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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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]

A Princess Bride game on iOS in 2015? Inconceivable!

A video game released in 2015 that's based on a movie from 1987? As you wish. A new iOS game by Gameblend based on the beloved Rob Reiner-directed film, The Princess Bride, is now available on iTunes for $3.99.

Using cartoon graphics and simple controls, the game recreates moments from the famous story, including climbing the Cliffs of Insanity, battling shrieking eels, and dueling with Inigo Montoya. We're not sure if the game forces you to start left-handed on that last one.

Considering this game's release and the release of Run Forrest Run last year, we have to wonder what other classic movie properties are on the table for a mobile adaptation. Sixteen Candles: The Game, anyone? If not, then for now, enjoy storming the castle!
[Image: Gameblend]

Apps earn more than $10 billion in App Store revenue in 2014

Mobile marketplaces can feel dramatically over-saturated, but lest you wonder if developers are even chasing a worthwhile audience in that space, Apple has shed some light on just how much cash is in play: Developers earned more than $10 billion in revenue across the App Store's 24 software categories during 2014, with almost half a billion being spent across apps and in-app purchases in the first week of January 2015 alone.

Apple puts the lifetime total earned by developers through the App Store at $25 billion. Considering the App Store launched in 2008, that means about 40 percent of total revenue earned by App Store developers was pulled in within the last year. It's worth noting that added store options, like last year's arrival of app previews and app bundles, have likely helped developers sell more than what was feasible in the App Store's infancy. Still, 2014's $10 billion revenue total shows the potential for success in the mobile space, so long as a developer can manage to garner visibility in the flood of apps that are currently available.

All those Minecraft, Flappy Bird and Threes piggyback clones make a little more sense now, don't they?
[Image: Apple]

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