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Report: PSP users in Europe, Asia lose PSN access on September 15

Sony is closing off PlayStation Network access for its PlayStation Portable console in multiple regions starting this week, IGN reports.

A Sony representative told IGN that the shutdown affects PSP owners in Europe, Asia, Oceania, and select regions in Africa. North American PSPs will still be able to access the PlayStation Network while Sony "evaluates market trends" to determine if it should expand its service shutdown plans.

While affected regions will be unable to directly access the PlayStation Network from PSP hardware starting on September 15, Sony notes that users will still be able to buy PSN marketplace content and redownload previous purchases via the Sony Entertainment Network Online Store. Sony halted PSP production in Japan in June, and discontinued North American hardware shipments in January.

[Image: Sony]

New discounts join EU PSN Summer Sale: FIFA 14, Just Cause 2

Sony's European division has rolled out a swath of new discounts now available from the ongoing PlayStation Network Summer Sale including a massive price cut on FIFA 14 and lesser but still impressive discounts on Just Cause 2, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon and 1942: Joint Strike.

The aforementioned FIFA 14 discount is the highlight of the sale, as the PlayStation 3 soccer simulation's price has dropped from £59.99 to £19.99. Meanwhile, retro-futuristic shooter Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon has gone from £11.99 to £6.49, open-world action adventure Just Cause 2 has been reduced from £10.99 to £3.99 and arcade shoot 'em up 1942: Joint Strike now bears a £1.69 price in lieu of its previous £7.99 tag. With the exception of FIFA 14, each of these games also receives an additional 10 percent discount for anyone with a valid PlayStation Plus subscription.

Though no PlayStation 4 games are included in this swath of new bargains, there are a massive number of discounts available for the PlayStation 3, Vita and PSP handhelds. Pay a visit to the European PlayStation.blog for a full rundown and regional pricing details.

Library of Congress discovers unreleased Duke Nukem game, chews bubblegum

Hail to the king of unlikely archival discoveries, baby. David Gibson, a moving image technician with the Library of Congress, stumbled upon a diamond in the rough while scouring through hundreds of games and game-related media artifacts submitted to the library by game publishers: a complete, playable, but never-released game. Duke Nukem: Critical Mass for PSP, a wholly different game than a version released on Nintendo DS in 2011, was discovered on an innocuous DVD-R.

Far from a piece of random archival material, Gibson found the actual source disc that would have been used for writing the game onto UMDs, the ill-fated proprietary media Sony used for retail PSP games. This led to further complications, though, as he had to find ways to access information locked inside of Sony's proprietary files. While Gibson hasn't found way to make the game fully playable at this point, he was able to access game code and view 3D models for not just the series' iconic Pig Cops but also Duke himself. Duke riding a jetpack, no less.

Gibson's complete report on the discovery is fascinating as both a document of a lost piece of lore in one of gaming's most infamous series, but also as a view inside the challenge of archiving gaming's history. Even with the discovery of the game, sharing the data hidden on that DVD-R remains a challenge due to the proprietary files within.
[Images: 3D Realms]

Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky lands on Steam, out today


If you're unfamiliar with Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky, that may be because Nihon Falcom's acclaimed PSP JRPG only headed West towards the end of the system's life cycle. The good news is there's now a new way of playing it, with the trilogy's first chapter coming to Steam later today, courtesy of XSEED.

XSEED is also bringing follow-up Trails in the Sky: Second Chapter to North America on PSP and Steam, but that's gonna take a bit more time to arrive. According to the publisher, the best fans should hope for is "the end of the year."

As for Trails in the Sky, its regular Steam price is $20 but there's a 15 percent first-week sale if you fancy dipping in early. For more on why it's worth a look, read this.

[Thanks, Jason K!]

Court approves settlement over Sony's 2011 PSN breach

The US District Court for the Southern District of California approved a settlement for the class action lawsuit resulting from Sony's 2011 PSN data breach. The settlement may result in Sony doling out as much as $17.75 million, which includes an offer for one free game (PS3 or PSP only), three PS3 themes or credit for three months of PlayStation Plus membership (valid only for new subscribers).

The claimant groups are divided based on whether PSN account holders prior to May 15, 2011 took advantage of the "Welcome Back" program following the intrusion. Those that did not accept the PSN Welcome Back offer can claim two of the benefit options among the games, themes and PS Plus membership credit on a first come, first served basis until a $6 million allocation from Sony is reached. For those that did take advantage of the program, they will receive one of the benefits above until a $4 million allocation is reached.

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Square Enix squashes Final Fantasy Type-0 fan translation

Publisher Square Enix has issued a cease and desist order to a romhacker calling his or herself "Sky," effectively ending work on an English-language patch for the PSP's Japan-exclusive Final Fantasy Type-0.

"Unfortunately I'm forced to remove my posts and pages related to the popular Final Fantasy Type-0 fan translation project," Sky wrote in a recent blog update. "That's right, certain game company thinks that threats and false accusations are the way to treat its biggest fans."

Despite Sky's outrage, this move should come as no surprise. Square Enix recently revealed plans to launch Final Fantasy Type-0 in the West on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. A free patch for a PSP game solely available to importers and software pirates would hinder sales of the new-generation game, which will undoubtedly be a more lucrative release for the publisher than its original incarnation.
[Image: Square Enix]

Watch Dogs bites back at Sniper Elite 3 in this week's UK charts

Watch Dogs wins the latest round of musical chairs in this week's UK charts, ending Sniper Elite 3's two-week tenure at No. 1. The open-world gruff man sim makes it four weeks in total at the top, and Ubisoft says it's shipped 8 million copies since the game's May launch.

With not one new release in the top 40, there's barely any significant change in this week's top 10 outside of Tomodachi Life and Battlefield 4 sneaking back in.

Since it's so quiet, we're continuing where we left off in the last charts round-up and posting some super-awesome music below the break, in the spirit of kicking the week off the right way. This week, we're commemorating Germany's triumph in the World Cup Final with the country's brightest young pop sensation.

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PSN Tuesday: Valiant Hearts, BlazBlue, Farming Simulator

The PlayStation Store is packed with pre-orders and releases this week, headlined by the launch of Valiant Hearts: The Great War on PS4 and PS3, and BlazBlue: Chrono Phantasma and Farming Simulator 14 on Vita.

Sniper Elite 3 is up for pre-order on PS4, while Dynasty Warriors: Gundam Reborn is available for pre-order on PS3. Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark is out now for PS3 and PS4, while Vita gets Atelier Rorona Plus with 3 DLCs, XBlaze Code: Embryo, Z-Run and End of Serenity. That last one is also out for PSP today.

We can't speak for all of these games, but Valiant Hearts is truly a breathtaking and brilliant game about the people and heroes of war.
[Image: Ubisoft]

Xseed to bring Brandish, Corpse Party to North America

Publisher Xseed has unveiled plans to bring English-speaking gamers two quirky Japanese hits, the PSP's Brandish: The Dark Revenant and PC survival horror epic Corpse Party.

For those unaware, Brandish: The Dark Revenant is a modern remake of the Super Nintendo cult hit Brandish, a roleplaying game developed by Falcom. Players star as Ares, a warrior who must battle his way through a multi-tiered, labyrinthine dungeon while being stalked by a sorceress who is as magical as she is half-naked.

Though the title Corpse Party might suggest a dope rave populated entirely by undead club kids, the game is actually a pixelated horror adventure with roleplaying game elements. Players control a hapless group of five people who must band together to survive the supernatural horrors of Heavenly Host Elementary School - an institute of learning where nap time has been replaced by imminent death.

Xseed has yet to determine a release date (or even window) for either Corpse Party or Brandish: The Dark Revenant, though the publisher claims that it will unveil trailers for each at the upcoming E3 conference.
[Image: Xseed]

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PSP discontinued in Japan just shy of its 10th birthday

And now the end is near, and so the PlayStation Portable faces the final curtain. The Sony handheld says sayonara to Japan later this month, when shipments to the country's stores will officially end.

Sony announced the news today, noting it discontinued North American shipments back in January. The company told Associated Press the PSP is to continue in Europe until later this year, while The Verge adds there are no discontinuation plans yet for lines in Latin America and other Asian countries.

The PSP's farewell to its homeland comes nine and a half years after it launched there on December 12, 2004. While history will remember it as second-best to the uber-popular DS, the Sony handheld's numbers ain't to be sniffed at. As of March 2012 it had shipped 76.3 million units worldwide, a figure that's probably closer to 80 million now if not beyond. The PSP also brought us the sheer joy of Patapon as well as the resultant joy of Pata-puns, and for that alone it'll always pata-pata-pata-pon in our hearts.
[Image: Sony]

PSN Tuesday: Transistor, Wolfenstein on PS4

Happy Tuesday, everyone! The PSN Store update packs a punch this week, with Transistor and Wolfenstein: The New Order out on PS4, and Destiny up for pre-order on PS4 and PS3. Wolfenstein is also available on PS3, along with Drakengard 3 and it's collector's edition, Mugen Souls Z and R-Type Dimensions.

Sparkle 2 is out for Vita and PS4 as a Cross-Buy, and Shin Megami Tensei: Digital Devil Saga is this week's PS2 Classic. There's also a lineup of PS1 Imports playable on PS3 and PSP (plus one also on Vita, Dragon Beat Legend of Pinball). A bunch of apps also get updates, including HBO GO on PS3 and MLB.TV Premium on PS3 and PS4.

This week, PlayStation Plus members get Puppeteer and Surge Deluxe for free.

Sony forecasts fifth annual loss in six years

Sony expects to post a 50 billion yen net loss (around $490 million) in the current fiscal year, making it five annual losses across the last six years. The projection is a significant improvement from the 128.4 billion yen loss ($1.26 billion) Sony posted today for the year ending March 31, 2014, but it still sees the Japanese company languishing in the red.

The projected loss is tied to Sony's ongoing restructuring, and the costs of that bleeding into this year. Despite recording 177.4 billion yen ($1.74 billion) in "impairment charges" last fiscal year, Sony expects approximately 135 billion yen ($1.32 billion) in remaining costs this year, with 80 billion yen of that ($783 million) related to losses from exiting the PC business back in February.

As far as the PlayStation division goes, the outlook is rosier for the newly segmented "Game and Network Services" (Sony used to report the results of the "Game" division on its own). Sales rose by nearly 40 percent in the last fiscal year thanks to the PS4, but launching a new console contributed to an operating loss of 18.8 billion yen ($184 million), as did the closure of several MMOs. However, Sony expects to turn that loss into a gain this year.
[Image: Sony]

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Six more import PS1 games slated for PSN release

Publisher GungHo Online America continues its campaign to bring under-the-radar, import-only classics to North America, announcing that six more Japanese-language PSOne games will hit the PlayStation Network soon.

The company's upcoming re-releases include the Recettear-like item shop RPG Dungeon Shoutenkai: Densetsu no Ken Hajimemashita, pinball game Dragon Beat Legend of Pinball, terrain-shaping planetary simulation Neo Planet, oddball rock-paper-scissors action-RPG Tokyo 23ku Seifuku-Wars and idol-raising strategy games Heroine Dream and Heroine Dream 2.

GungHo hopes to "bring over as many PSOne Classics as possible," and previously spearheaded North American releases for games like Zanac X Zanac and Makeruna Makendo 2. GungHo's PSOne import games are priced at $5.99 apiece.

[Image: GungHo]

Dark Souls 2 ships 1.2 million to West in first three weeks

Death factory Dark Souls 2 shipped out 1.2 million copies to North America and Europe in its three weeks at retail. From Software's action-RPG launched in early March, just ahead of Bandai Namco's fiscal year-end, so the shipping figures published today are as of March 31, 2014. That means they don't include last month's PC release, nor do they include sales in Japan because From self-published the game over there.

With all that in mind, the third Souls game is showing good progress compared to its direct predecessor; Dark Souls took around a month to ship 1.5 million units worldwide. Around this time last year, From revealed total Dark Souls sales had risen to just under 2.4 million.

Looking at Bandai's Namco's end-year report, Dark Souls 2 was Bandai Namco's strongest software performer across the 12 months, although Vita and PSP entry God Eater 2 proved a strong hit in Japan with 700,000 units shipped. Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Z shifted 620,000 units worldwide, while JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle hit 500,000 units ahead of its Western arrival last month.

Bandai Namco's retail and arcade games contributed 155.5 billion yen to net sales, which converts to around $1.5 billion, and the company expects to hit similar numbers this fiscal year. Overall, Bandai Namco posted a net profit of 25 billion yen ($246 million), although that is down 22.6 percent year-on-year. However, the company expects that figure to rise by 11.8 percent for the coming fiscal year.
[Image: Bandai Namco]
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GTA 4, Red Dead multiplayer gameplay unaffected by GameSpy closure

Rockstar's collection of games are some of the many to be affected by GameSpy's closure next month, although for the most part the studio's latest releases won't suffer. Rockstar plans to transition out of GameSpy's matchmaking service when it closes on May 31, and for some of the studio's older games, that will signal the end for their online features.

The closure means Rockstar is removing all the online features from Midnight Club 3: Dub Edition and Dub Edition Remix, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on DS and PSP, and Beaterator. The racers are losing all online multiplayer as a result, while Chinatown Wars and Beaterator are dropping their Social Club features. The music mixing game is also ditching track uploading and downloading.

No surprises: Grand Theft Auto 5 is totally unaffected, and online multiplayer gameplay remains intact in GTA 4, too. However, GTA 4 is dropping multiplayer leaderboards on PS3, while all platforms are parting with Social Club stat tracking and leaderboards. By the by, all of that also goes for the Complete version of GTA 4 and the Episodes from Liberty City.

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