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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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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]

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 won't swing onto Xbox One at launch


With only a couple of weeks before the launch of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 across ... like, every platform, the Xbox One will be a notable exception. Activision has postponed the launch of the game on Microsoft's console, but isn't sharing any details as to why.

"We are working with Microsoft in an effort to release The Amazing Spider-Man 2 video game on Xbox One," the publisher informed Joystiq in a statement. "Currently, the game will be available on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii U, Nintendo 3DS and the PC on April 29, 2014 as previously announced."

There's no timetable on when Peter will parker himself on Xbox One.

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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Fable Anniversary lead designer exits Lionhead

Fable Anniversary lead designer Ted Timmins has announced his departure from Lionhead Studios. In a multi-tweet explanation of his exit, Timmins said the Microsoft-owned company has been "such an integral part" of his life. Citing that his time at Lionhead made up more than one third of his life, "it's a good time for change."

Timmins' first project with Lionhead was the original Xbox action-role playing game Fable in 2004. Microsoft purchased the studio in 2006. Timmins thanked former Lionhead boss Peter Molyneux for establishing the company that would "give a spotty 18-year-old with no talent or qualifications a chance."

"There's also something quite special that Fable 1 was the first game I was a part of, and Fable Anniversary is my last," Timmins wrote.
[Image: Lionhead]

UK chain GAME to close dedicated Xbox store

GAME and Microsoft deemed the UK retailer's Xbox store a success, after confirming to MCV the London outlet closes its doors later this month. As MCV notes, the store opened in June 2013 on a short-term lease and with a focus of boosting Xbox One sales at launch.

"The short-term contract location for the dedicated Xbox store has given us real insight into what consumers expect from the next generation of retail," said GAME Stores Director Dave Howard told MCV. "We have implemented Xbox sections in all of our stores - we have taken all the best of the Xbox store into over 320 GAME stores around the UK. Customers really showed an appetite for hands-on experience, interactive displays and a way to digitally access Xbox Live content. We will continue to innovate our stores with Microsoft."

Pop-up stores for launches are nothing new in London: Ubisoft trotted one out for a game a few years ago, Q Entertainment's Child of Eden. While that game was arguably good enough to warrant its own store, it really could've done with 100 more.
[Image: GAME]

Trials Fusion review: Lean to live


We've all had our secret victories in the war against wobble: freely standing in the shower on one foot while washing the other, or rejecting the easy-mode handrails of a jostling train. Trials Fusion is about those quick, instinctual corrections you make – or fail to make – when there's a bump in the road.

Balance is divine in Trials Fusion, and mastering it makes you a god on a motorcycle. But that's jumping ahead to the conclusion of the journey; this story of a tenacious man driving with abandon over hills and valleys, trying not to fall his little face off.

There's a lot to think about as you constantly fiddle with your speed and your driver's posture in a world of steep angles and dangerous pits, and yet it feels thoughtless in the moment. You just know it in your gut: You need to lean forward to keep the bike on this incline. Almost there, almost - oh that's too much acceleration, you're lifting up front. You can get out of this, you can bring it back, just wiggle a bit and – nope. You've gone and done the banana peel again. Now your bike is upside down and crushing your bones.

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CoD: Ghosts DLC adds Snoop Dogg voice pack and other, less awesome, stuff



Infinity Ward is launching DLC for Call of Duty: Ghosts on Xbox platforms that will add narration to multiplayer matches by the one and only Snoop Dogg. As you terrorize the battlefield, Snoop becomes your own personal hype man, which sounds like just about the most amazing thing in the world. Want something a little gruffer? A voice pack featuring Full Metal Jacket drill instructor R. Lee Ermey is also in the works. Each DLC pack is priced at $2.99.

IW is launching a number of new customization DLC packs for weaponry featured in Ghosts, as well. Continuing to show its friendliness towards all things 420, Ghosts players can purchase the puntastic Blunt Force Personalization Pack, which delivers "chronic lethality" camo, a reticle, patch, player card and background. The Blunt Force pack and other customization packages are available for $1.99.

Finally, the latest set of DLC features player skins, one of which features past CoD heroes Soap and Ghost. According to the Call of Duty blog, customization DLC packages "are non-transferable and cannot be carried forward or backward" between last generation's console and the new Xbox One.

All DLC will launch on April 22 for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
[Image: Activision-Blizzard]

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."

Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Zomboss Down DLC drops today


PopCap's Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare takes to the Wild West today with the launch of "Zomboss Down," a free DLC pack that introduces a batch of new multiplayer content on the Xbox One and Xbox 360.

Zomboss Down adds eight new playable characters to Garden Warfare's roster and a new Western-themed map, complete with an Ennio Morricone-inspired soundtrack. Zomboss Down follows up on last month's Garden Variety DLC, which added the "Gnome Bomb" gameplay mode and new character customization options.

[Video: PopCap]

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Respawn to increase frequency of Titanfall updates

Respawn plans to improve its "update tempo" for future improvements to Titanfall, upping the frequency of announcements related to updates as well as the patches themselves. Game Director Steve Fukuda broke down the developer's update plans in a recent blog, noting that one part of the game's updates will "tend the garden and keep the weeds out," such as last week's changes to the game's Gooser Challenge.

Fukuda also discussed both convenience and infrastructural features, the former making "life more pleasant" for players in the game. Future convenience feature additions to Titanfall include the ability to rename custom loadouts and set custom loadouts specific to each of the game's mode. Infrastructural additions include items like the private online match mode that arrived last week.

"Whenever possible, we want to get these kinds of features out early in beta form, in order to get your feedback and arrive at the best possible result through multiple iterations," Fukuda wrote of the infrastructural features. He added that "tangible" content for Titanfall is on the way, including new maps, game modes, a new burn card set and "Nose Art" insignias for those that want to customize their titans.
[Image: EA Games]

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]

Trials Fusion day-one update increases resolution on Xbox One

The Xbox One version of Trials Fusion will require a day-one patch to increase the game's resolution to 900p, Ubisoft has confirmed.

Prior to the application of the patch, Trials Fusion on Xbox One will run at 800p at 60fps. Ubisoft also confirmed developer RedLynx had originally targeted a resolution of 1080p for both the Xbox One and PS4, but the team was still optimizing its game for each platform. The PlayStation 4 version of Trials Fusion will run at 1080p at 60fps at launch.

Trials Fusion from developer RedLynx launches tomorrow for the Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360 and PC.
[Image: Ubisoft]

Xbox One April update rolling out shortly, features detailed

The Xbox One's long-teased April update rolls out in "a few hours," Microsoft spokesoldier Larry 'Major Nelson' Hyrb said tonight. Among other features, the system update adds notifications for when friends come online, improved quality for DVR capture, and tweaks to ensure Kinect better responds to voice and gesture control. You'll find a full breakdown of the update's features just below the break.

Other additions include a progress bar for game saves, Blu-ray support for 50Hz content, controller and headset updates to reduce audio static and improve connectivity, and the option to have your system update automatically from the Instant On state when new firmware is available.
[Image: Microsoft]

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The globe stops spinning in RPG Earthlock for PC, next-gen

Snowcastle Games recently achieved its funding goals on Kickstarter for Earthlock: Festival of Magic, the developer's turn-based RPG for PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U, PS4 and Xbox One. As the first of three chapters planned for the JRPG-inspired saga, Snowcastle earned $178,193 on the funding platform and will continue to accept donations for the game on its website to achieve its numerous stretch goals.

The game is set on the planet Umbra, which "mysteriously stopped spinning ages ago." Players guide a scavenger known as Amon as he tracks down a warlock's army, stopping regularly at Amon's home Plumpet Island to farm for magical items used during battles. The turn-based battles also feature a pairing system in which attackers are directly matched with healing specialists known as protectors.

Previously known only as Festival of Magic, the game turned up on Kickstarter in November before Snowcastle canceled the campaign in December. It was also shown off by Nintendo in a Wii U montage video in August. Snowcastle is planning to launch the game in Q1 2015 on PC, Mac and Linux with console launches planned for the following quarter.
[Image: Snowcastle Games]

Titanfall Mythbusters: A falling titan can destroy an evac ship


Titanfall isn't just the name of Respawn's popular online shooter, it's also one of the most satisfying attacks in said game. Drop a titan on a pilot and the pilot becomes bloody goo. Drop one on another titan, and that titan becomes burning scrap. But what if you were to drop a titan on an enemy evac ship?

That idea is put to the test at the 1:52 mark of the above clip. While you can destroy an evac ship with a falling titan, it's not as simple as it sounds. They key problem is that a titan will fall right through an evac ship as if it weren't there. However, on certain maps, when the evac ship arrives to pick up its would-be passengers, it may fly low enough to make itself vulnerable. In such a situation, if you drop a titan right next to the ship, the splash damage from the giant robot's earthshaking impact will blow the transport to pieces, along with anyone who happens to be comfortably relaxing inside. Difficult? Yes. Totally worth it? Clearly.
[Image: Respawn Entertainment]

Tour the alluring world of Lemuria in this Child of Light trailer

Image It's not often we see a video game trailer best described as "enchanting," but if you can come up with a better descriptor for this Child of Light footage without resorting to made up adjectives and giddy swears, we'd like to hear it. [Image: Ubisoft] ... Continue Reading

Fantasia: Music Evolved adds Rocket Man and Ffffff-orget you

Harmonix's Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved wants you to rock out with your Amadeus out. The Kinect rhythm game has revealed that Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes," Gorillaz'zs "Feel Good Inc," Cee Lo Green's (sanitized) "Forget You," Elton John's "Rocket Man," and the original rock star Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik" will be added to the previously revealed track list. Our German is a little rusty, but we believe that Mozart song translates to: "A Little Pimpin' in the Night."

If you'd like to see what Fantasia is like, check out our own Reviews Director Richard Mitchell playing it at GDC in this flailtastic video.

Xbox France goes soccer crazy with Paris Saint-Germain Xbox One bundle


Microsoft is looking to tempt French soccer fans to the Xbox One with a new bleu bundle tied to the country's leading team, Paris Saint-Germain. The package includes the system, a subscription to the club's TV channel, a special jersey, and some unique stickers to adorn your Xbox One with so your gaming pals can know exactly who you support - if they hadn't worked it out from the jersey.

French retailer Micromania says the bundle launches on May 7 for 580 euros, compared to the regular 500 euros the system costs in the country. For reference, our French friends are paying what converts to around $690 for their Xbox One systems, and that goes up to $800 for the PSG bundle. Sacre bleu! Also, if you're a PSG fan who prefers your hardware flatter, Microsoft's France has a themed Surface bundle that's launching in May, too.

The hardware packages are part of a sponsorship deal that Microsoft and PSG forged in November 2013, and Microsoft's already been taking advantage of its tie to one of Europe's most prominent sporting names. The company made superstar forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic a Xbox ambassador last year, a role he's taken to with his famed panache and narcissistic pomp. Earlier this year, the Swede gifted each of his teammates a custom "Zlatan Limited Edition" Xbox One bearing their squad numbers, names, and of course his own signature.
[Image: Microsoft]

Titanfall reclaims UK No. 1 after landing on Xbox 360

Titanfall became the second game to return to the top of the UK charts in 2014, after forcing FIFA 14, the first game, to eject and drop into third. Respawn's mech-crammed shooter saw a 220 percent boost in sales following its arrival on Xbox 360, and that was enough to see it keep Lego: The Hobbit just beneath the summit in second place.

It's a sign of a quieter April that retailer promotions helped South Park: The Stick of Truth rise up to fourth. That said, last week wasn't quiet enough to take Kinect: Sports Rivals into the top ten, and Rare's motion-controlled latest had to settle for 14th place. Football Manager 2014 placed 18th thanks to its spring transfer onto Vita, and the coaching sim is just ahead of The Elder Scrolls Online in 19th, which saw a sizable drop after debuting the week before in the No. 2 spot.

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