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Come on feel the toys: What's new in Skylanders Trap Team


Knowing full well that kids love catching them all when there are even more to catch, Activision announced Skylanders Trap Team for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS3, and Xbox 360. The latest entry in the franchise follows up last year's Skylanders: Swap Force and introduces the ability to not only buy many, many heroic action figures but also the ability to trap the game's enemies and turn them to the light.

Developed by Toys For Bob, which hasn't led development since 2012's Skylanders: Giants, Trap Team expands the compulsive collectable nature of the game. The game comes with a brand new NFC portal that reads not just the usual Skylanders toys, but new crystal toys. When fighting specific villains in the game like goofy old man Chompy Mage, plugging a trap crystal into the base actually sucks up the villain making them a usable character. There are 40 trappable villains in the game, and you can switch between one trapped villain and one regular Skylander figure on the fly, adding a tag team element to the Zelda style brawling that's the series' signature.

Toys For Bob is adding 60 new Skylanders as well, including the Trapmasters, a new class equipped with giant weapons made of "Traptanium," the same fictional substance the toys for trapping villains are made of.

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GameStop Easter Weekend sale offers 'Buy 2, Get 1 Free' on used games under $20

GameStop is celebrating spring with an Easter Weekend event, offering a "buy 2 get 1" on a select stock of used games. The promotion begins today at all GameStop retail locations across the United States and online. The deal comes with certain stipulations, however: only games priced under $20 are eligible, with the free title coming at equal or lesser value.

Though the promotion undoubtedly means PS4 and Xbox One titles are off the table, previous generation software is up for grabs. According to GameStop, the company "has recently reduced a large percentage of games from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 libraries to $20 or less."

The promotion ends on Sunday, April 20.
[Image: GameStop]

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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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]

Nintendo turned down Skylanders exclusivity deal

Nintendo reportedly turned down a deal that would have launched Activision's highly successful toys-come-to-life series Skylanders exclusively for the Wii. A report from Polygon on the Toys for Bob franchise notes that, despite Activision's confidence in the product, it was looking for a partner to spread the risks of the venture.

"[Nintendo] spent a long time looking and looking," Toys for Bob co-founder Paul Reiche said. "They were just like 'we have never seen anything like this before.' I've always wondered about the full meaning of that comment [laughs]." Nintendo opted out of making a full commitment to the project, though the two companies did enter a co-marketing agreement for the series. "Clearly, they have got properties well suited to this world," Reiche added. "Why it is that they didn't rush in here will probably haunt them for the rest of their days."

Activision's Skylander series has since surpassed $2 billion in sales worldwide. The franchise has found its way to ten different platforms, including the recently launched Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

Though Nintendo would later experiment with a similar game in the disappointing Pokemon Rumble, it would be Disney that would eventually invest in the genre with its Disney Infinity series, leveraging the company's multitude of popular characters.

"Nintendo could have kicked Disney's ass," Reiche said. "If I was running Nintendo I would have jumped on this."
[Image: Activision]

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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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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Reign in the new Princess Peach Wii Remote Plus next week

It's not just the handhelds that are going peach and pink: A new Princess Peach Wii Remote Plus is floating onto retail shelves in North America next week. You can acquire the peachy Motion Plus controller starting April 24, at the suggested retail price of $40. To bask in its full regal splendor, take a peek below the break.

It's a shame the Peach controller didn't make it out in time for Super Mario 3D World, or with a Toad one that Nintendo's not yet dreamed up. Playing that game with Mario, Luigi, Peach, and Toad controllers is bordering on the problematically geeky, but we'd so do it.
[Images: Nintendo]

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GameSpy online matchmaking service goes dark on May 31

GameSpy Technologies is shuttering its online matchmaking service on May 31, ending online play for more than 1,000 games that use the company's middleware.

Launched as a Quake server search program in 1996, GameSpy soon branched out to host online play for hundreds of console and PC games. Many recent games with active online communities still employ GameSpy technology, including multiple titles published by Activision, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Sega, and Nintendo. Affected games will need to migrate online play to SteamWorks or other services prior to the shutdown in order to maintain multiplayer functionality.

The service shutdown comes in the wake of GameSpy ceasing editorial content in 2013. Mobile games publisher Glu Mobile purchased GameSpy Technologies in 2012, later shutting down online play for several popular games without notice when developers failed to pay hosting bills.

[Image: GameSpy]

McDonald's offers eight exclusive Skylanders toys with Happy Meals

Starting this Friday, McDonald's will bundle exclusive Skylanders Swap Force figurines with Happy Meal purchases, in the restaurant's latest ploy to keep kids occupied while they stuff their faces with Chicken McNuggets.

Featured characters include Chompy, Eruptor, Free Ranger, Freeze Blade, Magna Charge, Prism Break, Rattle Shake and Wash Buckler. Eligible purchases also include coupons giving $10 off of the multiplatform Skylanders Swap Force Starter Pack and $1 off individual character figures. The week-long promotion extends through April 4.

Bear in mind, however, that Happy Meals-bundled characters are just toys, and won't summon in-game Skylanders like retail figures will. Still, if you've ever wanted a Chompy figure to display alongside your Skylanders collection, you'll want to hop in your car on Friday and order up some Happy Meals. Hint: tell the drive-thru guy that you have eight kids waiting at home for their dinner if you're trying to order a full set. He might not believe you, but he probably won't feel like you're worth an argument.

[Image: Activision/McDonald's]

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Activision pulling all DLC for Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and Band Hero games

The downloadable music for Activision's rhythm games in the Guitar Hero, DJ Hero and Band Hero series will no longer be available after the end of this month on March 31. The production of DLC for the brands ended in February 2011.

The announcement comes from an update on the publisher's Facebook page, which clarifies that the Guitar Hero servers will remain online and that previously-purchased content will be unaffected. As an encore, selected songs and track packs will be discounted by as much as 50 percent on Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii until the end of the month. Additionally, the Guitar Hero game on iOS will be discounted through the end of the month on the App Store.
[Image: Activision]

Walmart dips into trade-in market this month, selling used games in summer

The used game market just grew immensely, as Walmart announced plans today to begin taking video game trade-ins across the United States, putting itself in direct competition with GameStop. Starting March 26, those trading their games in at more than 3,100 Walmart stores will receive a gift card usable at any Walmart or Sam's Club location in exchange. All exchanged products are then "sent to be refurbished and made available for purchase in like-new condition starting this summer."

The retailer will accept online trade-ins for all games, but will only allow in-store exchanges for hardware. Walmart provided an exchange rate calculator on its website to give customers an idea of trade-in values. As for functional hardware, when including all the accompanying cables and one controller, the Xbox One has a current trade-in value of $390, the PS4 is $375, the Wii U Deluxe is $120, a 3G-enabled Vita is $95 and 3DS XL is $105. Working copies of Grand Theft Auto 5 currently exchange at $27.72, Dead Rising 3 is $38, the PS4 version of NBA 2K14 is $35.42 and Super Mario 3D World is $38.
[Image: Walmart]

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February NPD: PS4 sells more, Xbox One leads in dollar amount

xbox one
The PS4 outsold the Xbox One in the US during February, with the Xbox One selling 90 percent of what the PS4 did, consumer research group NPD reports. The Xbox One costs $100 more than the PS4, meaning it led sales by dollar amount in February.

The Xbox One sold 258,000 units in February, surpassing comparable Xbox 360 launch sales by 61 percent, Microsoft says. Xbox 360 sold 114,000 units in its 100th month on the market, "more than any other seventh generation console." Xbox One owners buy an average of 2.75 games per console, with a total of 772,000 sold in February. Xbox 360, meanwhile, sold 2.46 million games.

Sales of video game hardware in the US were $347 million in February, up 42 percent compared with the same month in 2013. Software sales dropped 9 percent to $318 million, while accessories were up 3 percent, to $221 million.

Next-gen software sales in the consoles' first four months are up 80 percent compared with the combined sales of Xbox 360 and PS3 software in the same time period. The 9 percent decline in overall software sales is attributed to weakening sales for Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii, which is expected, according to NPD. Call of Duty: Ghosts led software sales in February, followed by The Lego Movie Videogame, NBA 2K14, Thief and Grand Theft Auto 5. See the full list after the break.

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GameStop celebrates Disney Infinity Day with price drops, Phineas and Ferb debut

Saturday, March 15, is Disney Infinity Day at GameStop, and the retailer plans to celebrate with a round of price drops accompanying the debut of the game's final two playable character figurines.

Disney Infinity's Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Set will be available exclusively at GameStop this Saturday, introducing Phineas and Agent P as playable characters and adding series-themed items, buildings, and backgrounds to the game's sandbox-style Toy Box component. A wider retail release for the set and individual figurines will follow on April 1.

Customers who purchase the Phineas and Ferb Toy Box Set at GameStop this weekend will receive a code for a downloadable Phineas and Ferb mini-comic, along with a free Disney Infinity poster, while supplies last. Disney Infinity fans will also get the chance to complete their collections for cheap, as GameStop is offering a buy two get one free sale on individual character packs, along with a 50 percent discount on all play sets and accessories.

[Image: Disney / GameStop]

Club Nintendo adds accessory box, pouches, eShop games to catalog

Club Nintendo is offering new rewards for loyal customers, namely the sort of rewards you put other items in. Those with 700 free coins can pick up a green Mario-themed accessory basket that measures just under a foot wide. Don't be fooled by the name, as Nintendo can't stop the rebels among us from putting anything other than accessories in the basket, like cats. Or other, smaller baskets.

Club Nintendo's two other new physical rewards are Animal Crossing-themed pouches. Available in both pink and blue, the pouches store handheld systems as large as the 3DS XL for 500 coins. We're eyeing up one of the pouches to store candy instead, because Nintendon't tell us what to do.

As for the loyalty program's featured eShop game downloads, players can pick between four games until April 6: Kid Icarus of Myths and Monsters on 3DS (150 coins), Number Battle on 3DS (200 coins), Yoshi on Wii U (200 coins) and Bonsai Barber on WiiWare (250 coins).
[Image: Nintendo]

Four in February: Readers triumph over the Joystiq crew

Put down your buzzers, turn off your engines, sheathe your swords: Four in February has come to a close. The great 4iF challenge brought the Joystiq crew to their knees over the past four weeks. Joystiq Community members, on the other hand, rose to the occasion. Our heroes over on the 4iF Facebook page played through literally hundreds of games, and while not all of them went the distance, they played well.

While a few members of the staff managed to dig into their lists, finishing off entries here and there, not one of us managed to complete all four selections. Richard Mitchell, Joystiq Reviews Content Director, toppled two big ones including Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and Risk of Rain on the maddening Monsoon difficulty. Danny Cowan completed Virtual Hydlide on Sega Saturn while 4iF founder Mike Suszek conquered Tearaway and Toukiden: Age of Demons (though Toukiden wasn't on his original list.) Xav de Matos, Jess Conditt, Anthony John Agnello, and others? Couldn't beat nary a one.

That's okay, though! In fact, failure is just another form of success in Four in February. The point isn't to beat all four, but to encourage diversity in your game playing palette. We all love video games. That's why we're here. Four in February is an event that reminds us of the vast creative richness waiting in the folds of gaming. It's easy to get caught up in the rush of all that's new. 4iF is a conscious effort to slow down and take in our surroundings, to explore what's out there we may have missed. Just playing the game means you've won, even if you didn't see four sets of credits roll.

Still, special honors go to these players. They came, they saw, they kicked four games in the butt. Then "Like" our Facebook page to get in on the next community event, when you can trounce us all over again.

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Nintendo pulling plug for online play on DS, Wii in May

The Nintendo Wi-Fi connection for Wii and DS ends on May 20, bringing an end to online play for the two systems. What that means is there are a few months left to play Wii and DS games online, be that through multiplayer, sharing in-game content, or leaderboards.

Nintendo notes this is just for the DS and Wii and won't affect Wii U and 3DS games, although Wii Mode won't offer online play on Wii U and similarly DS games when played on the 3DS.

The two systems aren't losing all online functionality. The DSi shop and Wii U Shop Channel are staying open, and users will still be able to access the DS Browser and Wii channels like Neflix, Hulu, and YouTube. The company also published a full list of the affected games.

Nintendo didn't provide an explanation for the discontinued service in its announcement - nor did it ask the last ones out on DS and Wii to remember to turn out the lights - but it did thank its fans for their continued support and enthusiasm for its "legacy systems."
[Image: Nintendo]

Now Playing: February 24 - March 2, 2014


Hide your valuables, Thief is on the loose this week ...

Choose your platform to jump to a specific release list:
[Image: Square Enix]

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Netflix to pay Comcast for better connection and speed [Update]

Pretty much every contemporary gaming machine - be it a tablet, smartphone, console, handheld or PC - has the ability to connect to the internet for streaming media content. If you're using such a device to watch Netflix on a Comcast network, your speed and stability should see a bump in the near future.

Netflix and Comcast have announced a new joint partnership in which Netflix will pay the internet and cable service provider for direct access to its broadband systems. Netflix previously worked with a middleman company called Cogent through which they bought their bandwidth, but now that company has been cut out of future proceedings.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the deal was originally struck in January, but it wasn't until today that the companies released a joint statement confirming the new relationship. January was also when a Washington, DC appeals court voided the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination rules that the FCC used to enforce net neutrality, which you can read more about thanks to our friends at Engadget.

Update: To clarify, although the net neutrality ruling and Netflix/Comcast deal both occurred in January, the two are separate affairs. The Netflix/Comcast deal is a paid peering agreement securing Netflix's access to Comcast's network, but the deal does not grant them preferential access. The story's text has been changed to reflect this.
[Image: Netflix]

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Now Playing: February 17-23, 2014


Use lightning-fast moves to mow down enemies this week with Strider...

Choose your platform to jump to a specific release list:
[Image: Capcom]

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