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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]

PS Plus in April: Mercenary Kings, Arkham City, Pixeljunk Monsters

PlayStation Plus subscribers get Mercenary Kings as a PS4 freebie when the Kickstarted run-and-gunner scrolls onto PSN next week. Developed by Wizorb and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World studio Tribute Games, Mercenary Kings makes its Metal Slug-style action interesting by chucking in a weapon crafting system based around hundreds of different parts.

The rest of April's Plus line-up in North America features Batman: Arkham City, Stealth Inc: A Clone in the Dark, and the Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse remake on PS3. As for Vita, Velocity Ultra and Pixeljunk Monsters Ultimate HD are next month's dynamic duo.

Except for Mercenary Kings, the roster of PS Plus games in Europe is totally different: On PS3 it's Pro Evo Soccer 2014 and on Vita it's MotoGP 13, while Hotline Miami and Sly Cooper Thieves in Time are unlockable on both platforms as Cross-Buy games. That means if you get the PS3 version of Sly on Plus, for example, you'll also get access to it on Vita.

Devolver Digital recently revealed Hotline Miami is coming to the PS4 with Cross-Buy enabled, so if you're planning to get the top-down kill-fest on that platform, be sure to grab it as a Plus freebie this month. The quintet including Mercenary Kings join Europe's Plus collection on April 2.
[Image: Tribute Games]

Flockers takes cues from Lemmings, shows Team 17 still has it in for sheep

Worms studio Team17 published the first screens and details on new IP Flockers today, which the UK dev described as a "twisted blend of Lemmings' inspired gameplay and Tim Burton style macabre, all topped off with a dose of that classic Worms humor."

"Held for years within the evil thrall of the Worms, the sheep are finally making a dash for freedom," reads a YouTube description. "Escaping the tyrannical Worms, the flock must dodge their way past all manner of lethal machinery and traps as they negotiate their path through the confinement of the Worms weapons factory and onwards to pastures green."

There's a definite steampunk vibe to the screens and plenty of sheep - including some in purple beanies for some reason - to save from gruesome, bloody demises. We'll all get to meet the Flockers when the game hits Steam Early Access in Q2 2014.
[Image: Team17]

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More Sony departures: Justin Richmond now at Riot, Seth Killian left in December

Former Naughty Dog game director Justin Richmond announced he's decided to leave the company to join League of Legends studio Riot Games, while former Capcom marketing director Seth Killian revealed this week he left Sony Santa Monica back in December 2013.

Richmond's departure from Naughty Dog follows that of Uncharted writer and creative director Amy Hennig, who parted ways with the company earlier this month. While Hennig has stayed silent on her departure and the circumstances surrounding it remain unclear, Richmond gave his best wishes to his former employer in a statement to IGN.

"I have in fact made the decision to leave Naughty Dog," Richmond, who was working on Uncharted 4 as a game director, told IGN. "I love the company and the people and know that they will continue to create awesome games going forward. On a happier note, after careful consideration and exploration I have joined Riot Games. There is some really innovative stuff going on here that I can't wait to be a part of."

Killian's departure from Sony Santa Monica appears to precede the layoffs that occurred at the Californian studio last month. God of War 3 creative director Stig Asmussen has since left the studio, and it's speculated he was overseeing a AAA sci-fi project that was canceled after several years of development. As for Killian, the Street Fighter guru said he left Sony on "great terms" to pursue his own project, having joined Sony Santa Monica back in 2012.

"Hi guys, I chose to leave my Sony family back in [December] and on great terms. I was inspired by their amazing indies to do my own thing," Killian tweeted this week. "You'll see the games I had the privilege to work on at Sony soon - Santa Monica Studio has a stellar lineup coming. As for what I'm up to, stay tuned..."
[Image: Sony Computer Entertainment]

FTL iPad, Advanced Edition engage warps next week

FTL: Faster Than Light is coming to iPad on April 3, and it includes the Advanced Edition expansion headed to PC for free on the same day. The space-based strategy game is priced $10 on all platforms, and is compatible with iPads version 2 and up - sorry, iPhones.

The Advanced Edition is plenty packed for a freebie, adding new ship layouts, weapons, drones, augmentations, and systems to explore and lose your beloved crew in. On top of that it has new events penned by FTL writer Tom Jubert and Obsidian's Chris Avellone.

"FTL works really well with the general way you play on iPad," co-founder of dev Subset Games Justin Ma told us at GDC, "just because you can pause it at any moment, come back later, and all the little events are bite-sized moments."
[Image: Subset Games]

Delayed Battlefield 4 'Naval Strike' DLC rolling out on Xbox One

The Battlefield 4 'Naval Strike' DLC is sailing towards Premium members on Xbox One after DICE delayed it earlier in the week to address animation issues. However, PC players are still waiting on the update, and DICE is pinning its arrival for "early April."

"We have delayed the PC version of Naval Strike because we are concerned that the combination of the pack and planned PC updates would increase performance issues on mid-range to high-end PCs," reads an update on the Battlefield Blog. "We are working hard to resolve that issue now."

When it finally docks on PC, Naval Strike will bring four new maps, ten assignments, five weapons, two gadgets, and a hovercraft vehicle to Battlefield 4. The DLC also features a new Carrier Assault mode in which opposing sides fight to sink each other's aircraft carrier while keeping their own one afloat.
[Image: EA]

Dead Space is the first freebie in Origin's new On the House program

Origin is following the leads of PlayStation Plus and Games with Gold by offering selected free games across limited times - the difference is you don't pay to be an Origin member. It's unclear how often Origin's new On the House program is going to trot out its freebies, but for starters members can get dismembering with third-person survival horror Dead Space, which is free to download now.

According to EA's FAQ, "once you've claimed your game, it's yours to keep." You've also got plenty of time to claim Dead Space, because it's staying free to download until May 8.

Meet The Warlord in this lengthy Age of Wonders 3 walkthrough

Image In lieu of yet another typically brief trailer for Age of Wonders 3, the latest glimpse at the high-fantasy, turn-based strategy game is a nearly 20-minute long primer on the Warlord Leader Class. [Image: Triumph Studios] ... Continue Reading

Humble Weekly Sale pays tribute to open-source games, charities

The Humble Weekly Sale offers a slew of open-source games for PC, Mac, Linux and Android, plus their soundtracks. Games up for grabs for any price you want are Magical Diary, NEO Scavenger, Offspring Fling and Planet Stronghold. Pay $6 or more to get Anodyne, Defender's Quest: Valley of the Forgotten, Evoland and Incredipede.

If you throw down at least $1, you'll get the applicable games on Steam (every one except for Planet Stronghold). Customers can send their money to a lineup of open-source charities.

The Humble Weekly open-source sale runs through Thursday, April 3 at 11AM PT.
[Image: Humble Bundle]

Enemy Front assaults Xbox 360, PS3 and PC in June

Image Alongside the above trailer, developer CI Games has announced that its upcoming World War 2 shooter Enemy Front will reach retail shelves in the US on June 10, with Europe following suit on June 13. [Image: CI Games] ... Continue Reading

Shadowrun Online infiltrates Early Access on March 31

Those anxiously awaiting the turn-based roleplaying action of Shadowrun Online won't have to wait much longer to dip into the cyberpunk world. Developer Cliffhanger Productions has revealed that the game will make its Steam Early Access debut on March 31.

Though the version of Shadowrun Online that appears on Early Access will not be the complete game, it should give players a good idea of how the full game is shaping up. According to Cliffhanger, the Early Access build will initially serve as a prologue to the core Shadowrun Online campaign and will introduce players to the game's combat mechanics. Once the basics have been nailed down, the developer plans to roll out periodic updates which will bring new content to Shadowrun Online. No specific schedule for these updates has been established, but Cliffhanger hopes to issue new content on a monthly basis.

The final, complete version of Shadowrun Online is still slated for release on PC, Mac and mobile devices toward the end of 2014, but keep in mind that any number of things could happen during Early Access testing to delay that vague release window.
[Image: Cliffhanger Productions]

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Show - Star Wars: The Old Republic roundtable

Latest episode: Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

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