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Assassin's Creed series tops 73 million in sales


Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed series reached a total of 73 million in sales according to the publisher's corporate website, which lists its "worldwide best-selling franchises." Assassin's Creed, which has featured six releases in the main series since its 2007 debut and eight additional games on browser and portable platforms, leads Ubisoft's second-best-selling property Just Dance (48 million) by 25 million units.

Assassin's Creed will likely continue to sell by the millions given that the next game, Assassin's Creed: Unity, will arrive on PS4, Xbox One and PC this holiday season. Unity was just announced in March and takes place in Paris during the French Revolution of the 18th century, a setting that was vaguely foretold at the end of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood.

The next three series in the publisher's top five in sales bear the late Tom Clancy's name: Splinter Cell (30 million), Rainbow Six (26 million) and Ghost Recon (25 million). Head past the break to see the rest of Ubisoft's sales list.

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Doctor Who: Legacy update may be difficult to Master

The first major update to Doctor Who: Legacy, the free-to-play iOS and Android puzzle game based on the BBC's sci-fi universe, will introduce longtime series villain The Master as well as a new Perk system, new Expert mode levels and new versions of The Doctor to play as.

The Master will appear as he did when he was played by Roger Delgado, Peter Pratt and John Simms, while the game will add the First, Second, Ninth and War Doctors - played by William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Christopher Eccleston and John Hurt, respectively. The game's new Perk system will allow players to customize their characters and companions, unlocking abilities as you progress through the new content.

If you're feeling particularly perplexed by some of Legacy's puzzles, just remember: YANA - you are not alone.

No, seriously, you've got companions to help you out. Use 'em and stuff.
[Image: BBC]

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Sales results of App Store's first Indie Game Showcase revealed

Trying to stand out in the App Store is no easy feat, considering the number of games competing for attention and the inevitable flood of clones inspired by any successful venture. Smaller studios that lack the advertising budget of companies like EA or Ubisoft have an especially challenging time getting noticed, but last month Apple introduced the Indie Game Showcase, a promotion meant to lend more visibility to its highlighted titles. Gamasutra spoke with developers featured in the promotion to see how their titles benefited from the promotion.

While Simon Flesser of Simogo, developer of Device 6, didn't share exact data, he noted that being featured has certainly been positive for the puzzling adventure novel. The studio's tweet from March 27, which falls within the running dates of the Indie Game Showcase, stated that Device 6 cleared 200,000 lifetime sales on the App Store.

Other developers saw general boosts in downloads at the beginning of the promotion - Gauge, Game Atelier's free-to-try game of balancing meters as close to their threshold's edge as possible without going over, earned an average of 600 downloads a day. However, only three users in that daily average paid to unlock the rest of Gauge, resulting in an average of 7.3 euros earned per day.

On a more general level, most developers saw an initial boost in downloads, but those sales spikes decayed quickly and rarely rippled to other efforts created by the studios. Chaotic Box's Frank Condello stated that the Showcase had "zero effect" on Chaotic's non-promoted titles and a "negligible" one on the free version of Critter Panic, its title in the Showcase. Critter Panic's promo status was also paired with a price drop in the month of March, but Condello said he hadn't seen any sales in the few days after the game was set back to $1.99.
[Image: Simogo]

King crushes trademark dispute with Banner Saga, CandySwipe devs

Candy Crush Saga developer King settled trademark disputes with The Banner Saga developer Stoic Studio and CandySwipe developer Runsome Apps, according to updates from both studios.

"Stoic is pleased to have come to an agreement with King regarding Stoic's The Banner Saga trademark, which enables both parties to protect their respective trademarks now and in the future," Stoic Studio wrote, referring to the ongoing tension between the two developers over the term "saga." King said in January that it wasn't against The Banner Saga's name, though its legal opposition to Stoic's own trademark filing remained. At the time, Stoic said it would make another "saga" game regardless of King's trademark.

Runsome Apps wrote that it is withdrawing its opposition to King's trademark for "candy," and the Candy Crush Saga developer is pulling its counterclaim against Runsome Apps. "I have learned that they picked the Candy Crush name before I released my game and that they were never trying to take my game away," the developer wrote. "Both our games can continue to coexist without confusing players." King withdrew its application to trademark "candy" in the U.S. in February, and saw opposition to its European trademark for the word in March from Cut the Rope developer ZeptoLab.

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Portabliss: Trials Frontier

Hi, my name is Earnest and I have a motorcycle problem. It started small, a few races here and there, a couple minor upgrades, but before I knew it, I was standing on a street corner, panhandling for enough cash to make it through just one more run. Don't pity me though. It's too late for that. Instead, take a lesson from my struggle. Remind yourself each morning that no matter how much the withdrawals hurt, no matter how hard it is to cope with your demons, spending $5 on virtual gas for your fake motorcycle is an awful investment.

That fanciful scenario was brought to you by developer RedLynx and its new iOS (and eventually Android) entry in the Trials series, Trials Frontier. If you've played any of the prior Trials games, you can likely commiserate with my addiction, but, unfortunately, the microtransactions present in the mobile game are a glaring dark spot on an otherwise glowing pedigree.

Don't let that ominous introduction scare you, though. From a design perspective, Trials Frontier is one of the most engaging iOS games available. It offers a short race structure – almost every event can be completed in under a minute – which is perfect for portable play, but more critically, RedLynx made some very intelligent choices when designing Frontier's controls.

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Sci-fi RTS Salvaged takes two screens to play on PC, tablet


Opposable Games recently showed off Salvaged, a real-time strategy game that requires a bit of multitasking from its players. The tactical sci-fi game is played using two screens, one on any iOS or Android tablet or smartphone (as the controller) and the other being a monitor via PC, Mac or Linux.

In Salvaged, players act as one of many operators for a Remote Interstellar Salvage Crew (RISC), boarding wrecked ships to locate loot and retrieve each ship's black box recorders. The touchscreen in players' hands offers a top-down view of the frantic, squad-based action, allowing players to issue commands to their team and assess alien threats as well as interact with the wrecked ships themselves by hacking terminals, downloading data and restoring power and lighting. The second screen on players' PCs shows the operation in real-time through the squad's shoulder-mounted cameras.

The UK developer cited classic games like Captive and the 1993 version of Space Hulk as well both the original XCOM and XCOM: Enemy Unkown as inspirations for the game, though players may recall FTL: Faster Than Light and Spelunky when it comes to the game's replayability. Salvaged's crew, environments, enemies and spoils are all procedurally generated, and like the aforementioned roguelikes, once a crewmember dies, they will be gone forever.

The developer is seeking $125,000 by Thursday, May 15 to fund the game, of which it is just scratching the $10,000 mark as of this writing.
[Image: Opposable Games]

Game Atelier apps go free to promote Flying Hamster 2

French developer The Game Atelier has discounted its digital games catalog to spur backer support for Flying Hamster 2, releasing many of its previous games for free via iTunes.

Through the end of the month, the iOS versions of The Game Atelier's cute-'em-up Flying Hamster, arcade-style gardening sim SunFlowers, and grocery-scanning action game Crazy Market are free to download from the App Store. The PlayStation Vita versions of all three games also get a round of steep discounts, dropping SunFlowers, Flying Hamster HD, and Crazy Market's DLC packs to 49 cents each in North America.

Flying Hamster 2's Kickstarter has earned nearly $30,000 toward a funding goal of $150,000, with 16 days remaining in the campaign.

[Image: The Game Atelier]

Glorkian Warrior vs Dino Run 2: Crowdfunding before and after Double Fine

Glorkian Warrior: The Trials of Glork is a different game than the one Pixeljam promised in its Kickstarter campaign. It's not unrecognizable – the Saturday-morning-cartoon artwork is still done by graphic novelist James Kochalka and it still stars a three-eyed alien blasting baddies from the sky, but the adventure aspect Pixeljam wanted in Glorkian Warrior didn't make it to the final game.

"We really wanted the Glorkian Warrior to have an epic journey, blasting aliens like Galaga, rolling around like Sonic, exploring like Metroid, making the player feel they were inside one of James' comics," Pixeljam co-founder Miles Tilmann tells Joystiq. "How we thought we could get this going with just $10K, I honestly have no idea. Somehow at the time we thought it was possible. It's interesting how the sheer excitement of starting a new project and raising money for it can make you blind to what's actually realistic."

Pixeljam's Kickstarter campaign concluded on March 22, 2010, after raising $11,200, and Glorkian Warrior launched on March 13, 2014. That timeframe is relevant for two reasons: Pixeljam took to crowdfunding before Double Fine Adventure broke down the barriers for gaming Kickstarters in 2012, and four years is a long time to keep backers waiting for a game.

"A couple of backers have told us that it was worth the wait, which is the best compliment we could possibly receive for the game," Tilmann says. "It reinforces the idea that the backers were simply excited to help us make something with James Kochalka, and were less picky about what the game would actually do. I think that's only the case with niche or small-budget projects, though. If something that raised $100K+ on Kickstarter took four years to deliver and didn't do everything that the original plan entailed, there would be much more of a backlash."

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Microsoft announces Age of Empires: World Domination for mobile


We've known since last summer that Microsoft was looking to bring its Age of Empires series to mobile, but earlier this week we were given an official announcement and title. The game, which is being developed by KLab, is called Age of Empires: World Domination. It's coming to iOS, Android and Windows devices this summer. You can check out the announcement trailer above.

Unfortunately, there's not much else to go on at the moment, other than the game will feature Celts, Huns, Vikings and Franks. It's not clear if gameplay will follow in the series' traditional real-time strategy footsteps or be something else, but the trailer promises "an all new battle system reimagined for mobile."

Cry havoc and let slip the fingertips of war.
[Image: Microsoft]

Harmonix's free-to-play Record Run planned for May release

Record Run, Harmonix's free-to-play, rhythmic runner that builds stages from the music library on a player's device, was announced yesterday at PAX East 2014. According to Polygon, project director John Drake announced today that the mobile game will reach Australia and Canada within a few weeks, with a wider launch on Android and iOS devices following in May.

As a song progresses, players will switch between lanes of pavement to snatch up levitating discs of vinyl. Aside from accumulating a massive record collection, Record Run-ners can take on missions with more specific objectives, like collecting a certain amount of records or points. Weekly leaderboards are planned as well, but all-time scores will also be viewable.
[Image: Harmonix]

The Internet is your storytelling campfire in Storium [Update]



Ever tell ghost stories around a campfire? Or recount your life's adventures at a party? Storium by Stephen Hood aims to recreate those experiences, with the Internet acting not only as your audience, but your collaborators. You begin by choosing a world with a unique setting and history, and from there, create your own tale to tell within it. Other players can then join in on your story, contributing their own characters and actions.

The game is focused on writing, but mixes in game mechanics such as cards representing characters, items, obstacles and goals to keep players focused and the story moving forward. Think of it like a session of Dungeons & Dragons where the focus is less on killing monsters and more on acting out a scene.

The game has already been funded via Kickstarter, though more funding means more worlds for users to play in. So far, Storium is supporting worlds and settings like Bram Stoker's Dracula, a Red Dawn-like world where Russians invade the US, post-WW2 Los Angeles, and a near future where criminals and law enforcement alike alter their genes to become superhuman. There are no solid release windows or platforms given on the game's Kickstarter page, but it is advertised that players will be able to access Storium "with just your computer, tablet, or smartphone."

Update: Joystiq reached out to Storium creator Stephen Hood for more details, and he has responded. While backers who donate $10 or more gain instant access to the Storium beta, the public launch is expected in November. Storium is also browser-based instead of a standalone client, so any compatible browser, be it on your smartphone, tablet, PC or other device, should work.
[Image: Storium / Stephen Hood]

Harmonix announces 'rhythm-runner' Record Run for mobile

Harmonix announced the development of a new free-to-play game at PAX East in Boston today called Record Run. Described by the developer as a "rhythm-runner," the game is "coming soon" to as-yet-undetermined mobile platforms.

Record Run features gameplay that compares to Gaijin Games' Bit.Trip series, according to Harmonix head Alex Rigopulos. The game uses songs from players' mobile devices as the backdrop for its levels, which features a character running down a sidewalk, avoiding obstacles and collecting music records, all seen during Rigopulous' presentation. He noted that Harmonix has "lots of other irons in the fire on mobile" aside from Record Run.
[Image: Harmonix]

Four new tables join Star Wars Pinball on April 29


Zen Studios continues to expand its nigh-ubiquitous virtual pinball offerings with the April 29 debut of four additional tables for Star Wars Pinball.

Included in the quartet of tables, collectively dubbed "Heroes Within," are Han Solo, Star Wars: Episode 4 - A New Hope, Star Wars Pinball: Masters of the Force, and, newly-revealed today, Star Wars Pinball: Droids. As its name suggests, that last one is a table focused on the adventures of R2D2 and C3PO. While you'd think an effete stereotype and a beeping trash can would live sedate lives, as the trailer above demonstrates, our plucky metallic duo must contend with Jawas and inexplicably dangerous machinery while attempting to escape the iconic Sandcrawler.

Though no price has been assigned to the Heroes Within DLC, Zen Studios notes that these four tables will be available to all Star Wars Pinball platforms on April 29.

Hitman Go launches April 17 on iOS, Android 'shortly after'

Square Enix Montreal will launch mobile strategy game Hitman Go on iOS on Thursday, April 17. Based on the publisher's popular Hitman series, the diorama-style, turn-based game will cost $5 (£3 / 4.50 euros). Announced in February, the first game from the developer has players navigating fixed, grid-like spaces while using familiar tools from the series, such as Agent 47's Silverballers.

Hitman Go will include eight special "Curtains Down" levels based on Hitman: Blood Money. While Square Enix didn't set a release date for it, the Android version of the game will arrive "shortly after" it launches on the App Store.
[Image: Square Enix]

Minecraft Pocket Edition chips off 21 million copies

Minecraft Pocket Edition has sold more than 21 million copies, developer Jens Bergensten says in a tweet. To celebrate this ridiculously large number, the Minecraft mobile team will host a live panel broadcast from Mojang offices on Monday, April 14, allowing fans to ask them anything. Whether they'll answer anything is up to them.

Players can submit questions to this reddit thread. Mojang will pick the best ones and address them live online – there's no specific time for the stream yet, but it will be archived. Mojang says to check the site for more info as it comes in.

"We're extremely grateful to all players for your dedication and creativity," Mojang writes. "Without that, Minecraft wouldn't be anywhere near as significant as it is today."

Minecraft recently passed 12 million sales on Xbox 360 and 14 million on PC. In its first month on PS3, Minecraft hit 1 million sales. In total, Minecraft has sold roughly 576 squidillion copies across all platforms.
[Image: Mojang]

Digital board game Armello blends furry critters with strategy-RPG mechanics


Australian indie developer League of Geeks announced the upcoming release of Armello, a digital board game and strategy-RPG hybrid due to launch in 2015 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and iOS.

As we previously saw at GDC, gameplay in Armello unfolds in the context of a multiplayer board game with card-based mechanics. Players choose among multiple playable clans, and can forge temporary alliances with other players as they quest for a ruling seat at the royal palace. Defining gameplay components include a day/night cycle, a dice-rolling combat system, and an in-depth equipment system that can be managed between turns.

Armello seeks $200,000 AUD to reach its initial funding goal. Ports for Android and Windows tablets are also being considered, pending stretch goal funding.

[Video: League of Geeks]

Game of Thrones: Ascent studio developing strategic mobile Star Trek game


Disruptor Beam, the developers behind Game of Thrones: Ascent, announced the development of Star Trek Timelines today. Published by CBS, Star Trek Timelines is a story-driven strategy RPG for iOS, Android and browsers in which players explore galaxies and resolve conflicts through diplomacy, combat and science. Players will build a starship and crew and go on missions with characters from the many series of Star Trek TV shows and movies.

The studio's CEO, Jon Radoff wrote a blog on the developer's site detailing its vision for the multiplayer game, comparing it to Game of Thrones: Ascent. While Radoff said the game will be familiar to Game of Thrones players, Star Trek Timelines will feature a "more immersive exploration system" as well as "a more detailed tactical system" for conflict resolution. Disruptor Beam currently doesn't have a release schedule for the game.
[Image: Disruptor Beam]

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Cartoon Network publishing Kickstarted Zelda-like Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake

Indie developer SleepNinja will get a little help to bring Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake to Steam and mobile devices later this year, as it agreed to a publishing deal with Cartoon Network Games, the publisher confirmed to Joystiq. The developer earned $26,091 on Kickstarter in February 2013, enough to reach a stretch goal that will bring the game to Android in addition to PC, Mac and iOS.

"Cartoon Network have been great to work with and have definitely kept our backers in mind," SleepNinja Creative Director Justin Baldwin said via email. "Our publishing deal with them will not affect our backer's rewards; everyone will still be getting what was promised, and the game they were promised."

Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake is an "environmental puzzler" in the same vein as Nintendo's Legend of Zelda series that features a colorful 16-bit aesthetic that "doesn't rely on pixel art." While Cartoon Network Games primarily focuses on games related to its current properties such as Adventure Time, Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake will be its first original IP on Steam. Cartoon Network said it plans to publish "more than 10 mobile titles and at least four on Steam."

Telepathic crime and noir stealth due in spring with Third Eye Crime

Third Eye Crime, the telepathic stealth game from a team of former Bungie developers at Moonshot Games, is due out in spring for mobile devices from publisher gameblyr. Moonshot will have a playable iOS build at PAX East later this week.

Third Eye Crime stars Rothko, a criminal with the ability to predict the moves of his enemies – Rothko must use his telepathic powers to set up false leads for the authorities, allowing him to get away with nasty deeds. It's top-down puzzle and stealth in a noir setting, and it was almost a completely different game.

Moonshot Games entered the indie industry with Fallen Frontier, a downloadable co-op shooter for consoles, but funding fell through. Moonshot switched up its business plan, targeting the mobile market, and until now it funded Third Eye Crime from the team's own pockets.

"Post-PAX [2011] we came to the grim realization that the market had shifted pretty substantially since we first started working on the game," Moonshot co-founder Damian Isla said in 2013. "The console downloadable platforms had plateaued somewhat, and publishers were less excited about investing there. A game that had sold itself easily the first two times all of a sudden became a much harder sell the third time. By that time, the real interest and the accompanying dollars seemed to had moved on to mobile and social."

We'll see if Moonshot is still on the right path with Third Eye Crime in spring.
[Images: gameblyr]

Frozen Synapse to form strategies on iPhone this year

Frozen Synapse, Mode 7 Games' top-down, turn-based tactical strategy game that challenges players to not get shot, is using its next turn to head toward your iPhone. Mode 7's Paul Taylor shared the news on Twitter, adding that while he wasn't sure of a specific release date, he expects the port's release should "definitely be by the end of the year."

Previously available on PC, Mac, Android and iPad, Frozen Synapse lets players work through a campaign or try and outwit a friend's strategy in its multiplayer modes. With destructible sections and varied weapons including explosives, Frozen Synapse seems like the sort of game where a strategy can crumble in a single, well-played turn from your opposition.
[Mode 7 Games]

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