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PlayStation Home closes its doors worldwide in March 2015

PlayStation Home, the PS3's social space where users hang out and play games via avatars, will shutter up worldwide on March 31, 2015, according to a post from PlayStation Network Senior Community Manager "Tempest_Fire". March 31 was previously shared as Japan's date to vacate Home's premises, but yesterday's announcement makes it clear that the entire community will soon need to find a new home away from Home.

Though the publishing of new content will cease on November 12, 2014, Home residents can stock up on downloads until December 3, 2014. As a thank you to fans, PlayStation will also offer a "series of free content" before March 31's global sign-off date.

We can only hope Home's final moments bring everyone together for a rendition of Semisonic's "Closing Time," where a melody garbled by voice chat gives avatars a chance for one last dance.
[Image: PlayStation]

T-shirt, tarot cards join Persona 4 Arena Ultimax in Europe

Hyper-kinetic 2D fighter Persona 4 Arena Ultimax won't reach Europe until November 21, but Persona fans on the other side of the Atlantic can look forward to two additional bonuses, assuming they pre-order the game from online retailer Rice Digital.

For £38, customers can now pre-order the Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Fan Edition, which includes a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 copy of the game alongside a "free mystery t-shirt" and the "Tarot Card Set #1." According to the Rice Digital listing, those vague descriptions indicate that the design of both shirt and tarot cards has not been finalized, and will be voted on by fans at some point in the future.

If you're located outside of Europe, don't worry, Rice Digital is willing to ship the Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Fan Edition to a long list of foreign countries, including both the United States and Canada. For those willing to forego the shirt and deck of cards, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax will reach North American retail shelves on September 30.

The Crew closed beta drifts to consoles next week

The Crew will enter its closed beta phase on consoles next Tuesday, September 30. The game took multiple pre-release spins through PC tracks in July and August, but those hoping to be picked to play the game early on PS4 and Xbox One will need to register on Ubisoft's official website for the game. The Crew presents an open-world-style recreation of the United States, or at least as it appears through the window of a car driving at least 80 miles per hour.

Following a delay nearly one year ago, The Crew will launch November 11 for PC, Xbox One and PS4. Ubisoft is aiming to reach 60 frames per second on PC, but the game will be locked to 30 fps on consoles. For a lengthy look at The Crew, take a joyride with us in our hour-long archived Joystiq Stream of the PC beta from July, or check out our video preview from April.
[Image: Ubisoft]

Ryse ditches microtransactions in next month's PC release

Crytek's gory hack-and-slash game, Ryse: Son of Rome, is on its way to PC platforms next month without the microtransaction structure embedded in its previously released Xbox One edition, Videogamer reports.

The version of Ryse that launched alongside the Xbox One console last year allowed players to boost their character stats using in-game currency, earned either through gameplay or purchased with real-world money. Several Xbox One-exclusive launch games premiered with embedded microtransactions last year, including the Xbox 360-ported Crimson Dragon, racing sim Forza Motorsport 5, and resurrected fighting game franchise Killer Instinct.

Crytek notes that the upcoming PC port also bundles all four DLC packs originally released as add-on content for the Xbox One edition, adding a Survival mode, new multiplayer maps, and other bonus perks. The package additionally includes a selection of expanded graphics options, along with support for 4K resolution.

The PC version of Ryse launches with Steamworks support on October 10.

[Image: Crytek]

Square Enix Europe discounts Eidos Anthology by 80 percent

The latest promotion to hit the online store at Square Enix Europe highlights developer Eidos Interactive by discounting 34 of the studio's games.

In lieu of discounting individual games, the Eidos Anthology sale discounts entire series. Highlights include all Tomb Raider games created to date, the entirety of the Thief and Legacy of Kain Collections and both Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Human Revolution (the less said about Invisible War, the better). The eight collections included in the sale consist of 34 different games, all of which can purchased en masse for $40.

There are caveats, however. These discounts only apply to PC games (buyers are technically purchasing Steam keys), and are only available by visiting the European version of Square Enix Online. Assuming none of that bothers you, pay a visit to the promotion's handy infographic.

WRUP: The shadow of more door

the missing dog has climbed in...
For us it's review season, but for you it's awesome game season! Smash Bros. 3DS, Shadow of Mordor, Forza, Disney Infinity and much more on the way!

What's everyone playing?

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Device 6 dev Simogo politely teases The Sailor's Dream

Knowing that its fans would be wondering what's become of The Sailor's Dream after Simogo - the studio behind the elegantly crafted mobile hit Device 6 - first mentioned the game, the developers have written an explanation.

"We'd like to explain a bit about the reasoning for us being so quiet about the project – because it's been a very deliberate choice from our side," states the blog entry. "We have a lot of fun features and elements in The Sailor's Dream, which we believe are unique, and exciting. And as much as we'd like to shout about how exciting we think they are, we've made a (tough!) decision to not talk about them before the release."

Why? According to the blog entry, the developers at Simogo don't want to rob their fans of the wonder of discovering the game's quirks for the first time. They don't want to explain each last facet before players can see it for themselves. Still, the studio is not heartless. It hears the cries of fans yearning for more information, and has responded with the one-minute video found beyond the break.
[Image: Simogo]

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China bootlegs Hearthstone cards into the real world

Blizzard has yet to release Hearthstone cards outside of their native virtual playground, but where American corporations fail, Chinese bootleggers are more than happy to step in.

Games In Asia has a lengthy report on a knock-off Chinese Hearthstone game, though "knock-off" doesn't properly describe the item. It would be more accurate to say that the bootleggers took the basic tenets of the Hearthstone virtual game then did their best to translate those ideas to a more traditional board game environment. As you'd expect, the artwork and most of the gameplay is swiped directly from Blizzard, but Games In Asia claims that legit assets can't save bootleg Hearthstone from the pitfalls of having so much cardboard to manage. "If playing this physical version (and watching it be played) taught me one thing, it's this: the digital game is incredibly good at streamlining."

We aren't about to link to a site selling counterfeit goods, but Games In Asia claims that those of you willing to track down this weird piece of pop cultural ephemera should expect to pay about $50 for the game. Alternately, you can play the original version of Hearthstone on an iPad, PC or Mac at no cost.
[Image: Activision Blizzard]

Destiny's Cryptarch sees a loot-happy upgrade in 1.0.2 patch

Bungie has unveiled the changes en route to Destiny in next week's 1.0.2 patch, and they should please fans unhappy with how often the game currently offers quality loot.

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The Truth Inside Destiny's Loot Cave

The loot cave is dead, but its spirit will haunt other venues and hover over Destiny for a long time. Bungie will keep persecuting it, having barred item trading and proclaiming, "You should be able to tell a badass story for every sweet jewel in your arsenal." The Man Who Shot Into The Cave A Whole Bunch doesn't quite have that "legendary" ring to it.

It's easy to side with the loot cave, though, given Destiny's parsimonious grip on worthwhile weapons and armor in the endgame. The cave, an exploitation space constantly filled with enemies if you stand outside in just the right spot, is an oasis of rewards in a desert of so-so shotguns, and the ideal way to exact revenge against the game's overlords. Really, if you're looking for the most corrupt figure in games right now, it's Destiny's super shady Cryptarch – an embezzling creep who takes futuristic blueprints extracted from exotic alien corpses, disappears into his shop and brings back the equivalent of a rusty shovel.

And so you can either hit more things with your shovel, hoping a superior engram will fall out, or go shoot into the latest loot cave for a more assured fortune. It's poetic vengeance wrapped in weathered rock.

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How graphics will help H1Z1 set a creepy mood

Do you care a whole lot about graphical fidelity when you're running away from shooting zombies in the face with a sawed-off shotgun? Fabulous; we have just the video for you. SOE has just posted a Q&A video featuring H1Z1 Art Director Bill Yeatts, who fields player-submitted questions about the upcoming zombie-survival-sandbox's graphics. Yeatts explains how SOE chose H1Z1's art style, how that art style will evolve as early access approaches, and just how he plans to make the game look and feel really scary (obviously, a zombie plague isn't terrifying enough).

Enjoy the dev spotlight below.

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Epona is the weaponized horse you always wanted in Hyrule Warriors

Link's horse, Epona, is a new weapon in the first DLC pack for Hyrule Warriors, supervisor Eiji Aonuma says in a blog post. Everyone wants a pony, right?

Epona is a new weapon in the Master Quest DLC pack due out on October 16 in the Americas. "Some of you may be surprised to hear that Epona is a 'weapon,' but in Hyrule Warriors, she can team up with Link to attack enemies!" Aonuma writes. "I already had a chance to try out Epona in the game. By riding Epona, I was able to blow herds of enemies away and gallop swiftly through the fields, and I had a lot of fun trying out this re-imagined version of her in Hyrule Warriors."

Hyrule Warriors gets four pieces of planned, paid DLC, available in a season pass bundle for $20, which also nets players a special Dark Link costume. The DLC packs include new weapons, characters, maps and costumes.

See the Hyrule Warriors launch trailer below, and check out our four-star review here.
[Image: Nintendo]

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Murder is just adorable in Assassin's Kittens Unity

We have so many questions about this video. How did YouTuber Mr.TVCow get those hoodies on the kittens? How many shots did it take to get the perfect scene of kittens falling onto a small pile of hay and running away? Where can we get one and/or all of these kittens (accessories included)?

And, most importantly, how long will it take to create a mod that allows us to play Assassin's Creed: Unity as a kitten?

See the killer clothes of Assassin's Creed: Unity

Image The most important part of acrobatic murder is looking dapper while you're pushing a sword through some jerk's trachea, thus Ubisoft presents a look at the myriad ways fans can play virtual dress up in Assassin's Creed: Unity. [Image: Ubisoft] ... Continue Reading

Barely Related: Hoaxes and True Detective cast lists

Happy weekending, folks!

Welcome to Barely Related, a conversational Friday column that presents the non-gaming news stories that we, the Joystiq staff, have been talking about over the past week. And no, we're not stopping our focus on industry and gaming news. Think of this as your casual weekly recap of interesting (and mostly geeky) news, presented just in time to fill your brain with things to discuss at all of those weekend shindigs.

Grab a fresh drink, lean back in your armchair, and get ready to talk nerdy with us.

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The Joystiq Podcast

The Joystiq Podcast

Destiny roundtable with Joystiq on Google and Twitch, plus an Xbox One stream

Latest episode: Thursday, September 11th, 2014

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