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March NPD: PS4 leads hardware sales, Titanfall rules software

PlayStation 4 console
The PS4 sold more than the Xbox One or any other console in March – making it the hardware leader for the third consecutive month – market research group NPD reports. The Xbox One and PS4 pushed US hardware sales in March up 78 percent from 2013, from $222 million to $395 million. Overall game sales in March were up 3 percent year-over-year.

Five months in, the PS4 and Xbox One are out-performing initial sales of the PS3 and Xbox 360, NPD Group's Liam Callahan says: "When comparing the first five months of sales for the Xbox One and PS4 to their predecessor's first five months, total Xbox One and PS4 sales are up close to 60 percent."

Xbox One has shipped 5 million Xbox One consoles, with 311,000 sales in the US in March alone, Microsoft announced today: "Of course, we're just getting started with this generation and the months ahead will bring several announcements we think you'll love. The team will continue to deliver regular improvements and new features based on your feedback through frequent system updates .... We can't wait to share more games with you in June at E3."

On April 16, Sony announced that PS4 sales had passed 7 million.

Titanfall was the top-selling game for the month, launching for Xbox One and PC on March 11. It is the second-highest selling game for Xbox One after just one month on the market. It was followed by Infamous: Second Son, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Call of Duty: Ghosts and Dark Souls 2. See the complete game sales list below. On PC, Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls sold the most on a unit and dollar-amount basis.

Software sales declined 27 percent overall. "Year-over-year sales of every platform declined from March 2013, with the exception of the PS Vita, which saw sales grow due to the release of Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster," Callahan said.

Sales of video game accessories in March rose 4 percent, led by sales of controllers for Xbox One and PS4, NPD says. Other notable accessories included Turtle Beach headphones and headsets for next-gen consoles. Turtle Beach sales grew 50 percent year-over-year.
[Image: Sony]

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Gran Turismo 6 GT Academy competition begins next week

Sony will launch its sixth annual GT Academy event next week, giving superior Gran Turismo 6 players the chance to put their skills to the test on a real-world racetrack.

As in previous years, GT Academy players compete to enroll in a three-month driver development program, with global champions earning a spot on Nissan's NISMO race team. Judges in Europe, North America, and Germany will each pick a single winning driver to enter the program, and this year marks the first time GT Academy qualifying events are available to players in Canada.

GT Academy online qualifying events will begin in-game on April 21.

[Image: Sony]

PSA: Terraria upgraded to version 1.2 on Xbox 360, PS3, Vita

As expected, the console versions of Re-Logic's 2D sandbox platformer Terraria have been updated to version 1.2 today. The update brings a large list of bug fixes as well as improved gameplay mechanics and graphical changes to the PS3, Xbox 360 and Vita versions, such as a brighter sun and darker midnight portions of the game. Version 1.2's change log is a "direct copy from the PC change log with console exclusive changes added to them," putting the console versions more on par with the PC game.

The game has found massive success for Re-Logic on all platforms, topping 1.3 million downloads on iOS and Android and one million downloads across Xbox 360, PS3 and PS Vita as of late March. It first launched on PC in May 2011 and just hit Vita in December. The game's creator, Andrew Spinks, discussed plans for a sequel to Terraria in October, noting that it wasn't in development at the time.
[Image: 505 Games]

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Halo composer Martin O'Donnell's music remains in Destiny after Bungie departure

After the surprise announcement that longtime Bungie composer Martin O'Donnell had been terminated, Joystiq confirmed with the studio's COO Pete Parsons that O'Donnell's music remains in Destiny. We were on hand at Bungie for a preview event, where Parsons told us, "Even the music you heard yesterday was from Marty and Mike Salvatori and C. Paul Johnson. All of their music is in." O'Donnell has collaborated with Michael Salvatori on the Halo series soundtrack for years, and more recently with Bungie sound designer and composer C. Paul Johnson.

Earlier this week, O'Donnell tweeted that Bungie's board of directors fired him "without cause" on April 11. Bungie community manager David Dague responded, saying O'Donnell and the studio parted "as friends," and wished him luck "in all his future endeavors." Later on the same day, Parsons addressed O'Donnell's departure, saying, "At Bungie, we don't take that kind of thing lightly. We don't make decisions lightly. We're a team that's committed to making an amazing game, set in an amazing universe."
[Image: Activision]

Disney Infinity 2.0 arrives this August with Marvel heroes [Update]

Update: D23 has since posted a correction, noting it "erroneously reported about the launch of the next chapter of Disney Infinity" and that the information it provided was incorrect. It added that further information on the future of the series will be revealed on April 30.

Original story:

Disney Infinity 2.0 is slated to launch this August, according to a since-removed snippet from Disney's official fan club site, D23. While the D23 blog entry in question is still available to view, a cached version of it notes that the Disney Infinity follow-up "is coming in August 2014, and a teaser trailer can be viewed at Marvel.com," likely referencing the teaser posted by Marvel earlier this month.

"The teaser promises such Marvel-ous additions to the game as familiar Marvel characters, objects, and vehicles-the possibilities are infinite," the site continued. The previous sandbox-style adventure game from Avalanche Software did wonders for Disney Interactive, driving its revenue to $403 million in the first fiscal quarter of 2014. The company also saw losses in Q2 2013 and Q3 2013 to the tune of $54 million and $58 million, respectively. That led to layoffs in its games and Internet divisions in March that numbered 700, at which point Disney said it plans to scale back annual game output "by as much as 50 percent."

We've reached out to Disney to confirm the release window for Disney Infinity 2.0 and will update as we learn more.
[Image: Disney]

PlayStation Now-capable Bravia TVs launching in June

Sony has announced that its upcoming series of PlayStation Now-compatible 4K "Ultra HD" Bravia televisions, first revealed at CES 2014, will launch in June. A total of nine models from three series will hit the market with prices ranging from a $2,099 (49") to $24,999 (85").

With the ability to access Sony's upcoming PlayStation Now service, the Bravia sets will be able to stream PS3 games and play with a DualShock 3 controller (which, for the price, you'd hope would be included, but Sony's press release doesn't specify). The foundation for PlayStation Now is Gaikai, the games streaming service Sony purchased for $380 million in 2012.

Sony is one of many television manufacturers that continues to push HD technology into the 4K future. Ultra HD 4K televisions (also simply known as UHD TV) claim to deliver four times the picture resolution of standard 1080p sets; 4K televisions increase pixel count per image from two million to eight million.

"We strongly believe 4K is the future for entertainment and we remain committed to leading the 4K movement, from lens to living room, in a way that only a company like Sony can," said Mike Fasulo, president at Sony Electronics.

The latest Rocksmith 2014 DLC is Garbage (in a good way)



You're not paranoid, Rocksmith 2014 owners: Ubisoft does indeed have more DLC coming your way, and this time it's three hit singles from '90s grunge band, Garbage. Those looking to relive the glory days of Clinton, Beanie Babies and denim overalls can learn to play "Only Happy When It Rains," "I Think I'm Paranoid" and "Stupid Girl."

Songs are available for $2.99 purchased individually, or for $7.99 when purchased as a pack. And don't worry, you don't need to be a '90s kid to get this - everyone with access to Xbox Live, the PSN or Steam can download the songs now.
[Image: Ubisoft]

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Final Skylanders Swap Force character debuting next week at Times Square

Hundreds of ravenous Skylanders fans will swarm the streets of New York next week to herald the arrival of final Swap Force series character Doom Stone during a special giveaway event at Times Square.

On Wednesday, April 23, the first 500 customers who line up at Toys 'R' Us Times Square will receive a free Skylanders toy and a chance to own Doom Stone before the figure is released to the public at large. Costumed Skylanders characters will also be in attendance, giving players the chance to meet some of their questing buddies in real life.

Attendees are advised not to break costumed employees in half and attach them to other Swap Force characters. They probably wouldn't appreciate that.

[Image: Activision]

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Bust-A-Move 4 on the PlayStation Network this spring

Natsume announced that it will release a digital PSone Classics version of Taito's Bust-a-Move 4 this spring, bringing the classic bubble-bursting puzzler to the PlayStation 3, PSP, and PS Vita.

Bust-a-Move 4 expands on the color-matching gameplay of Taito's arcade-born Puzzle Bobble series with new pulley mechanics, challenging players to balance bubble clusters throughout its single-player Puzzle mode. The game also includes a friendship-straining competitive Versus mode, along with an Edit mode that allows players to create and save up to 25 custom level layouts.

A specific release date for Bust-a-Move 4 was not announced.

[Image: Natsume / Taito]

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Bethesda under fire from barbed wire industry, reports The Onion

Image The Evil Within publisher Bethesda Softworks is under fire from the barbed wire lobby for its portrayal of the industry's spiked resource, The Onion has learned. Remember: The Onion. [Image: Bethesda]... Continue Reading

Tackle 'Son of the Crawmerax' in final Borderlands 2 DLC

Developer Gearbox Software has released its final piece of Borderlands 2 DLC. Headhunter 5: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of the Crawmerax is available now via Steam, PlayStation Network and the Xbox Live Marketplace for $2.99.

The content sends players to Wam Bam Island to partake in the largest Headhunter DLC mission released, according to a 2K blog post. "At the end of your adventure, you will battle a foe that may look familiar – Crawmerax Jr., the son of the great crab worm from The Secret Armory of General Knoxx add-on from the original Borderlands."

The content now shelves the Borderlands sequel, giving developer Gearbox ample time to focus its efforts on the next installment of the game: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

Successfully completing the Headhunter 5: Sir Hammerlock Versus the Son of the Crawmerax DLC (boy, that's a mouthful) will allow players to wear a shrunken version of the final enemy's head like a hat. If swanky travel duds are more of an incentive, each character will net a beach-themed skin as part of the content. Taking on Handsome Jack in an "Aloha shirt"? Say no more.
[Image: Gearbox]

Naughty Dog announces final season pass DLC for The Last of Us

Naughty Dog will finish out its planned season pass content for The Last of Us with new weapons, additional multiplayer maps, and a new single-player gameplay mode as part of the upcoming Grounded Bundle.

Grounded Mode puts a new, difficult spin on The Last of Us' single-player campaign, pitting players against "relentless, smart, and brutal" enemy mobs throughout. Naughty Dog notes that survival in the new mode will be "near impossible," and claims that the "Completed Grounded Mode" challenge will be one of the most difficult Trophies players will earn.

The Grounded Bundle additionally features the Reclaimed Territories Map Pack, adding the Wharf, Capitol, Coal Mine, and Water Tower maps to the game's multiplayer component. Players may opt to expand their arsenal with the Survivalist Weapon Bundle, which introduces the multiplayer-only Specter, Double Barrel, Enforcer, and Launcher weapons. Also arriving are the Situational Survival Skills and Professional Survival Skills bundles, which enhance character abilities in online battles.

Grounded Mode will be priced at $4.99 as a standalone download. The Reclaimed Territories Map Pack is priced at $9.99, the Survivalist Weapon Bundle is $5.99, and the Survival Skills Bundles are $3.99 apiece. All upcoming content is included as part of The Last of Us' $19.99 season pass, but interested players may want to hop on the deal soon, as the season pass bundle will be discontinued in mid-May.

A release date for Grounded Bundle content has not been announced.

[Image: Naughty Dog]

Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn surpasses 2 million registrations

This week's PS4 launch of Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn helped the MMO pass the 2 million mark for registered accounts. Square Enix didn't reveal any hard figures for how many players are exploring Eorzea on PS4, but we know six months ago the number of registered accounts was at 1.5 million. Meanwhile, a trailer from February proclaimed the second-iteration MMO had "over 1.8 million adventurers."

It's worth noting registrations do not equate to active subscribers, although the base game does require a purchase. According to a translated 4Gamer interview with Director Naoki Yoshida, in March around 500,000 people were logging into A Realm Reborn each day.

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Games so bad they're good: Far Cry 2

I was invited to be on the "Games So Bad They're Good" panel at PAX East, but a scheduling conflict prevented me from taking part. Fortunately, my Editor in Chief, Ludwig Kietzmann, was ready and willing to take my place. His selection, Far Cry 2, took more than a few people by surprise - the reaction on Twitter went something like "Are you crazy? Far Cry 2 is awesommmmeeeeee!" His reasoning was ... unusual, to say the least, so we're reprinting his argument. These are the notes he used for his presentation, exactly as he used them, thus the atypical format.

For the record, my choice was going to be Phantasy Star Online. I think Luddy won this one.
--Susan

I tried to be considerate about this, and cognizant of why bad qualities can lead to pleasure.

The thing about bad movies like Plan 9 is that you're looking at an event so awkward and terrible for the people involved that you want to instinctually stop them and protect them, but you can't because it's already committed to film.

It's too late to stop the tragedy, so now you are allowed to enjoy it.

In a game, if your actions don't align with your expectations or what the game is about, it's frustrating.

Most games are good despite their bad qualities, like story and controls, and not because of them.

At first I thought: Okay, what about games that give the player all the power and then back away?

Is that bad game design? Is God of War so bad, because they let you rip out a monster's medulla oblongata and then bash their head in with it and then you're like, "This violence is a bit mindless isn't it?"

Or, what about games that overcomplicate and abstract simple, physical actions, like QWOP, Surgeon Simulator and Octodad?

Then I had an epiphany, I yelled, "Eureka! "and someone said, "Shh, this is a library, keep your revelations to yourself."

I'm going with Far Cry 2, and here's why.

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Minecraft PS3 boxes clever with a disc version in May

Mojang is releasing Minecraft: PlayStation 3 Edition onto store shelves on May 16 in North America and May 14 in PAL regions, which is no surprise given how the Xbox 360 discs continue to strike gold. Mojang revealed the physical PS3 port includes everything in the sandbox game as of title update 14, but there's no word yet on a price. Check out the PS3 Edition box art by digging below the break.

The PS3 port sold one million copies within its first month of availability, adding to the 12 million sales on Xbox 360, 14 million on PC, and 21 million of the Pocket Edition. But why stop at gajibillions when you can try to take over the world?

To that effect, UK porters 4J Studios have PS4, Xbox One, and Vita versions in the works, although there remains no word on when to expect them.
[Image: Sony Computer Entertainment]

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PSN Store Update: Final Fantasy 14, Trials Fusion, FIFA World Cup

It's football, fantasy, and FMX in this week's line-up of PlayStation Store additions for North America, starting with the full launch of Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn. PS4 players can hook up with the subscription MMO for $40, or $60 if they fancy some in-game items from the Collector's Edition. You can also transfer a PS3 copy across to PS4 - Amazon has the PS3 version going for $25.

Next it's FMX: RedLynx's next attempt to break your controllers is Trials Fusion, and it's the first in the series to arrive on PlayStation. The PS4 game - also available on Xbox One, 360, and PC - adds freestyle tricks to the trademark mix of motocross and puzzle-platforming. The regular game is $20 but if you're wheelie keen for the upcoming DLC, a Deluxe Edition is $40 and comes with the season pass.

Speaking of puzzles, the PS4 also gets a few brainteasers this week. Pure Chess and Backgammon Blitz are $8 each - you can get a game-pack stuffed Deluxe Edition of Pure Chess for $15 - and finally, That Trivia Game will set you back That Ten Dollars.

Onto to PS3, and football - the rounder, kickier kind. The catchily titled 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil is only on PS3 and Xbox 360, and you can score it as a $60 download on the former. Meanwhile, Beyond: Two Souls has been out for a while, but it's also now on PSN as a $60 download. Don't forget, this week's PS Plus freebie is the new Castle of Illusion, and that comes bundled with the Genesis original as a nostalgic bonus.

Finally, the Vita has plenty of new releases including Conception 2 ($40, also out on 3DS) and Cross-Buy portable versions of Dead Nation ($8) and Ethan: Meteor Hunter ($10). For the full list of new releases, sales, and Plus discounts, head over to the PlayStation Blog.
[Image: Ubisoft]

Halo, Destiny composer O'Donnell says he was fired 'without cause' [Update: Bungie COO Pete Parsons responds]

Halo series and Destiny composer Martin 'Marty' O'Donnell is no longer working for Bungie, and he claims the studio's directors fired him "without cause" last Friday, April 11.

O'Donnell tweeted the news this morning, and shortly after Bungie responded on its blog. Community Manager David Dague said the studio and O'Donnell parted ways "as friends."

"For more than a decade, Marty O'Donnell filled our worlds with unforgettable sounds and soundtracks, and left an indelible mark on our fans," wrote Dague. "Today, as friends, we say goodbye. We know that wherever his journey takes him, he will always have a bright and hopeful future. We wish him luck in all his future endeavors."

We've reached out to Bungie for further details.

O'Donnell's departure is certainly a surprise given his stock with Halo and Bungie fans, especially with Destiny rapidly approaching its release date of September 9. The veteran composer had collaborated with former Beatle Paul McCartney on a "musical prequel" to Destiny, titled Music of the Spheres. It has yet to be released.

Update: Speaking to a group of journalists at a studio event (keep your eyes on Joystiq for Destiny preview coverage soon), Bungie COO Pete Parsons made the following statement. "I'm sure many of you have heard the news about Marty O'Donnell. At Bungie, we don't take that kind of thing lightly. We don't make decisions lightly. We're a team that's committed to making an amazing game, set in an amazing universe." He added, "At this time, we won't be commenting any further on it."

BurgerTime World Tour discounted ahead of delisting on April 30

Publisher MonkeyPaw Games is hosting a last-chance sale on BurgerTime: World Tour this month, discounting the game to just $5 before it disappears from digital storefronts forever on April 30.

Starting today, amateur burger chefs can pick up the Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and WiiWare versions of the remade arcade classic for $4.99. Alas, even Peter Pepper himself is not immune from the harsh reality of expired licensing agreements, which MonkeyPaw cites as the culprit behind the game's delisting at the end of the month.

Speculation from an anonymous source suggests that Peter Pepper was forced to close up shop by area health inspectors, who objected to his unsanitary burger-stomping ways. Pepper declined to comment when questioned regarding his cooking methods, claiming that the delisting is part of a conspiracy devised by giant sausages and human-sized eggs.

[Image: MonkeyPaw Games]

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Battlefield 4: Naval Strike now available to non-Premium masses



It looks like the Megalodon has a whole new batch of victims incoming. After being released an exclusive for Premium members, Battlefield 4's Naval Strike DLC is now available for purchase for all. The content is available on PC, Xbox One, PS4, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Naval Strike adds four new maps; a hovercraft vehicle; new Carrier Assault mode, which is inspired by Battlefield 2142's Titan Mode; and the aforementioned giant shark attack.

Battlefield 4's Naval Strike DLC is priced at $15.
[Images: DICE]

MLB 14: The Show review: Changeup

The term "simulation" is appropriate for MLB 14: The Show, but not just because of its beautiful presentation, a defining trait of the series that's become a benchmark for other sports video games. Rather, MLB 14: The Show earns its simulation stripes by continuing the series' tradition of challenging players with mechanics and statistics that mirror the real sport. While MLB's gameplay has changed little this year, no matter what option players select for pitching, fielding and hitting (we'll get to that later), they will fail or succeed as regularly as athletes do in the big leagues.

Yet much like the faithfully-recreated and wildly differing batting stances of hitters in the game, MLB 14: The Show truly makes its mark in the baseball sim series by being one thing: dynamic.

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