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New Kinect for Windows nixes Xbox logo, adds power supply

The second iteration of Kinect for Windows revealed by Microsoft this week features a few changes. While it looks nearly identical to the motion-sensitive camera for Xbox One, its glowing Xbox logo power indicator has been replaced by a simple dot, plus the word "Kinect" is now on the hardware's top panel.

Additionally, the second version of Kinect for Windows requires both a hub and separate power supply to operate. The hub includes ports to connect to the sensor, power supply unit and USB 3.0 output to the user's PC. While the power supply will vary by region, it supports voltages that range in 100–240 volts. Microsoft didn't offer a release date for the new version of the PC Kinect hardware.
[Image: Microsoft]

Sony signs on 1,000 licensed, self-published indies


Over 1,000 developers worldwide have signed on to self-publish games for PlayStation platforms, Sony announced today.

Self-published titles account for many of the more than 100 games coming to the PlayStation 4 this year. Over 200 development studios in North America applied for Sony's self-publishing initiative since the PlayStation 4 was first announced last February.

[Video: Sony]

Report: Freemium leads the charge among mobile devs, in-app ads on the rise

The "freemium" revenue model is currently the top monetization strategy for mobile developers, but in-app advertising is expected to grow in prominence over the next several years, according to a new report from mobile revenue analytics company App Annie (via VentureBeat).

App Annie found that over 83 percent of the top 1,000 apps in the iTunes App Store and Google Play currently take the freemium approach to monetization. The survey additionally found that 92 percent of all revenue earned among its 2,000 surveyed developers arrived via in-app purchases in free-to-play games.

A majority of users in free-to-play games will never make a single in-app purchase, however. 80 percent of App Annie's surveyed developers stated that less than five percent of users spent money within their freemium apps, corroborating earlier reports of low spending rates among players.

While 58 percent of surveyed developers do not use advertising in their apps, App Annie predicts that in-app advertising revenue will surpass web-based ad earnings by 2017. Currently, only the top 75th to 90th percentile of developers earn more than $10,000 monthly from ad revenue, though outliers like the recent hit Flappy Bird have the potential to rake in more than $100,000 every month.

[Image: App Annie]

Standalone Company of Heroes 2 add-on welcomes new troops in June

Hoping to draw more virtual commanders to the online battlefields of World War 2 strategy hit Company of Heroes 2, publisher Sega has announced a standalone multiplayer version of the game that will make it easier than ever to join the fight.

Slated for release in June, Company of Heroes 2: The Western Front Armies will bear a $20 price tag. For that entry fee, players will be granted access to two new factions, the German Oberkommando West and US forces. As its name suggests, The Western Front Armies takes place on the heavily-contested Western Front, and offers players a new campaign, progression system and "other unique content."

Best of all, this $20 standalone release will grant players access to the Company of Heroes 2 multiplayer servers. Though The Western Front Armies lacks the singleplayer content found in its predecessor, it does include a full complement of multiplayer options as well as all 31 official multiplayer maps released for Company of Heroes 2 to date.

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DayZ standalone sells 1.7 million, update due soon

Humanity's morbid fascination with the zombie apocalypse continues unabated as DayZ creator Dean Hall has revealed that the standalone, retail release of his open-world hit has racked up over 1.7 million sales.

Hall revealed this figure earlier today at the ongoing EGX Rezzed event in Birmingham, UK. He also noted that the original version of DayZ, a modification for Bohemia Interactive's military simulation ArmA 2, has been downloaded over two million times to date.

But Hall didn't attend the event simply to crow about his game's success. According to Eurogamer, Hall also revealed that DayZ's next update will arrive before the end of April, and that it will include a crossbow, fireplaces that players can use to prepare food and a prototype system which should allow loot to respawn within DayZ's expansive yet sparse world.
[Image: Bohemia Interactive]

'Comprehensive' Omerta: City of Gangsters Gold Edition arrives today


Publisher Kalypso Media has revealed details on a new version of Prohibition-era gangster simulation Omerta: City of Gangsters that collects all of the game's content into a single, convenient package.

Included in the Gold Edition are Omerta: City of Gangsters, every piece of DLC released for the game to date, and the sizable expansion dubbed The Japanese Incentive. While Omerta itself allows players to build a crime empire in a fictionalized version of Atlantic City through all sorts of illegal means, The Japanese Incentive adds new weapons, gameplay mechanics, player abilities and a wholly original story.

This new release of Omerta: City of Gangsters is slated to make its digital debut later today on both PC and Mac, with a retail release appearing on April 25. Kalypso's announcement fails to specify a price point for this new release, and our attempts to contact the publisher have so far been in vain.

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Twin Galaxies relaunches, drops fee requirement for score submissions

Long-running video game record-keeping site Twin Galaxies has overhauled its score submission guidelines, removing a controversial fee requirement in an effort to make the community more accessible to fans of classic arcade gaming.

The decision follows up on the recent appointment of gaming veteran Jace Hall as the organization's Head Custodian and Caretaker. Twin Galaxies previously instituted steep submission fees in the wake of a months-long period of inactivity, demanding that record-seekers pay the organization $25 for a single score application and verification. Refunds will be issued to paying applicants, and the organization will resume normal operation upon the launch of a redesigned website.

Twin Galaxies and its previous owner Walter Day played key roles in the 2007 documentary film The King of Kong, verifying submitted scores for the hotly contested Donkey Kong world record.

[Image: Twin Galaxies]

Deck-building roguelike Hand of Fate coming to PlayStation 4, Vita

Tabletop gaming fans, this one's for you. Indie studio Defiant Development revealed that its "tabletop roguelike deck builder" Hand of Fate is coming to the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita.

Funded by a successful Kickstarter project, Hand of Fate is an action-RPG that blends tabletop gaming elements with a deck-building mechanic, allowing players to customize each play session with randomly drawn cards during gameplay. All in-game elements -- from dungeon floor layouts to equipped weapons -- are determined by cards drawn during gameplay, and players must use varied skill and equipment combinations during combat to survive.

A release date for Hand of Fate has not been announced. A release for Windows, Mac, and Linux is also in the works.

[Image: Defiant Development]

Valve R&D head Michael Abrash joins Oculus as chief scientist

Michael Abrash, the leader of Valve's Research and Development team, joined Oculus VR as chief scientist today. The news follows Oculus' recent acquisition by Facebook to the tune of $2 billion, which Abrash addressed, in a blog post on Oculus VR's site, as a promise that virtual reality "is going to happen in all its glory."

"The resources and long-term commitment that Facebook brings gives Oculus the runway it needs to solve the hard problems of VR – and some of them are hard indeed," Abrash wrote. "I now fully expect to spend the rest of my career pushing VR as far ahead as I can." As of January, Abrash was at the forefront of Valve's efforts to work with Oculus to develop in-home virtual reality solutions. Valve's VR leader, Atman Binstock, joined Oculus earlier this month to lead a new Seattle-based team as chief architect.

Abrash described his "unlikely" journey to Valve and now Oculus VR in the blog and his work with John Carmack, who joined Oculus in August as the company's CTO. Oculus' own path from a $2.5 million Kickstarter project to a $2 billion sale is equally remarkable, to be sure.
[Image: Oculus VR]

Super Joystiq Podcast 090: Metal Gear Solid 5 Ground Zeroes, Infamous Second Son, Ether One

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This week's Super Joystiq Podcast is fighting going full evil karma, so it's a pretty typical week.

It's open-world week! Tune in as Ludwig, Jess, Danny, and Sam cover two of the biggest releases of the year so far, Infamous: Second Son and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Which game's lead character do you think has a dumber name? It's Snake versus Delsin-- good luck.

Also on the podcast slate: A wrap-up of the 2014 Game Developers Conference, Sam's thoughts on Ether One, Titanfall giveaway winners, and a few of your emails to close the show.

Listen to the Super Joystiq Podcast: Podcast timestamps and relevant links are available after the break.

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GameStop's 'peach pink' 2DS comes with a Disney case that's bibbidy bobbidy boo

Unbelievable sights, indescribable feelings - don't you dare close your eyes! GameStop has an exclusive "peach pink" 2DS that comes with a Disney Magical World carry case, and it's launching alongside the 3DS game in North America on April 11.

The carrying case is free with the $130 handheld, but you'll have to stump up the cash to buy the game on top because it's sold separately - the thought of getting that carrying case without the game is almost more tear-inducing than the ending to Toy Story 3.
[Image: GameStop]

Titanfall matchmaking updated to discourage dominating teams

Titanfall's matchmaking system has been updated in the new "Improved Matchmaking (Beta)" playlist in Classic MP mode. The new program changes up the teams more frequently – if one team is kicking the snot out of another, the dominating team's skill level will be updated and it'll be paired with a better team.

"Did you lose to a really great team?" Respawn asks. "We'll make them disappear and replace them with a new opposing team – and they will have no idea that you just got your butts kicked. This should end some of the frustration with playing for extended periods when you're having an off night."

Finding appropriate teammates may take longer with the new system now, but the end goal is to build more suitable, and longer-lasting, matches. The graph above shows Respawn's behind-the-scenes skill curve, with level 25 as the average.
[Image: Respawn]

Oculus Rift: From $2.4 million Kickstarter to $2 billion sale

Facebook's acquisition of Oculus VR stunned the game industry. In less than two years, Oculus VR and its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset have gone from (literal) overnight Kickstarter success to subsidiary of a social networking giant. To put it another way: John Carmack, one of the principal creative forces behind the original Doom, is now a Facebook employee. Wild.

The transition of Oculus VR from a $2.4 million dollar Kickstarter to a $2 billion dollar acquisition seems unreal. To put things in perspective, and for the benefit of anyone who hasn't kept up with Oculus VR's meteoric rise, we've decided to retrace the company's story all the way from its humble beginnings in 2012.

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New studio emerges from MotorStorm, Driveclub creator

Evolution Studios founder Martin Kenwright, the creator of MotorStorm, announced his new studio this week, Starship. The studio's plan is to "use games to disrupt other marketplaces," Kenwright told IGN, and that Starship already began work on "several" next-gen games. The news follows layoffs that his the Driveclub developer this week, including the reported departure of game director Col Rodgers.

"Historically we'd always make software for formats that didn't exist yet. What I'm trying to do is start up a new venture now, with a five or ten year roadmap," Kenwright said of Starship. "There's no point competing in the current marketplace; it's already established. It's important to set your stall out for the next generation of tech."

Starship is said to be led by industry veterans from both Evolution Studios and Sony Liverpool, which Kenwright plans to leverage by "formulating memorable IPs with genuine use and need. The idea was to take some of the best gaming talent in the world and then move it slightly outside games." He wouldn't commit to any genre for the studio's future, though a racing game seems to be the obvious choice, given the former Evolution founder's history.

Kenwright did add that the studio "had meetings in the automotive sector with companies and they say that some of the visions we have blow their minds. We're really out to change the game." Its first project is slated to be revealed at E3.
[Image: Evolution Studios]

Tomodachi Collection will likely let Western players dance to techno, eat pizza

The number of American and European Nintendo 3DS owners that desperately want to virtually sing karaoke and wander through a Mii's dream is likely limited, hence why Nintendo has been reluctant to localize its Tomodachi Collection life simulators. Recent signs suggest, however, that Nintendo is warming to the idea of bringing Tomodachi Collection: New Life outside Japan. Rejoice, US/EU 3DS owners: looks like your Mii will visit a pizza shop yet.

According to a number of Twitter posts compiled by Tiny Cartridge, Nintendo Europe is sending Nintendo 3DS owners a survey trying to gauge interest in Tomodachi Collection. The questionnaire opens with a brief description of the peculiar life simulator that's like a crossbreed of Animal Crossing and The Sims.

"Tomodachi Collection is unlike any video game you have ever played, where you decide who should be part of your game," reads the summation, "Will it be your best friends? Your parents? Your crush? Or maybe your favorite actor? You get to choose who lives in this vibrant community! Create a Mii character of each person you want in the game. Pick a voice and personality, and watch your Mii character come to life." Think of it like Animal Crossing, but where you populate the game with characters before they start acting strange and randomly offering you furniture.

The questionnaire then asks questions about how the surveyed would themselves describe the game, what interests them about it, and whether or not they would buy a copy. There are even a number of screenshots with full English text.

Before the original Tomodachi Collection released in 2009, Nintendo registered a trademark for Friend Connection in Europe that suggested it would be localized. Nintendo later backed away, deciding that the game might be too specific to Japanese culture for Western players.
[Images: Nintendo]

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Show - 018: Game of the Year Talk 04

Latest episode: Friday, December 23rd, 2011


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