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Halo Wars 2 Summer Beta Leads To Changes

Earlier this summer, Microsoft invited players to provide feedback for the in-development Halo Wars 2. Today, the publisher and developer Creative Assembly are sharing the fruits of those efforts. 

One of the biggest issues from the beta was connectivity. Those problems have been addressed already. Additionally, Creative Assembly has already started responding to other feedback.

The control scheme has been adjusted, and the team is exploring multiple button configurations. However, that might not be done in time for launch.

Leader powers return in Halo Wars 2, and next time you get your hands on the game they will have improved. Additionally, there will be visual tweaks to bases that more readily reflect their damage status.

Resource requirements for buildings and units has been retooled. This will more evenly ramp up throughout the game. Players will also be able to command a greater number of troops, as the population limit has been increased.

The next Halo Wars 2 beta is scheduled for February 21, 2017. The game will be out on Xbox One and Windows 10 next year. For more, check out our Test Chamber featuring the beta.

[Source: Xbox Wire]


Our Take
This kind of feedback following a beta (especially one so early) is a great communication tool. Not only does it inspire people to continue filing bug reports and using the forums, but it evidences care for what the community has to say. I enjoyed the first Halo Wars, and I’m eager to see how the sequel fares (especially since I’ll be able to play with keyboard and mouse). – The Feed

PlayStation 4 Leads June Hardware Sales In The United States

We won’t have full NPD data until next week due to the inclusion of select digital sales data. However, platform holders have chimed in on their performance for June.

Sony didn’t share a formal statement, but the company did confirm to us that PlayStation 4 led console sales in the United States. Microsoft is standing by its decision not to report hardware sales data, but said that more than 1.2 billion hours were played on Xbox One. That’s a platform record and double performance from a year ago. It is not possible to equate those to financial performance or software sales, especially as June was a big month for backward compatibility titles.

Nintendo saw a 39 percent increase in 3DS family (3DS, 3DS XL, New 3DS, New 3DS XL, and 2DS) sales during the month of June. Both Kirby: Planet Robobot and Rhythm Heaven Megamix performed well. The former hit number four on NPD’s retail charts (full list available on July 21). The latter, a digital-only release, sat atop the eShop charts for most of the month.

Of note, Super Smash Bros. hit a milestone on both Wii U and 3DS. On the home console, sales crossed the 2 million mark. The handheld edition surpassed 3 million units sold.


Our Take
I’m eager to see how the digital data impacts NPD reporting. For now, this gives us a taste of what to expect. The 3DS surge is quite interesting, and I wonder how much is due to the 2DS price drop in May and how much is related to summer road trip season in the U.S. It also doesn’t hurt that the system continues to play host to great games. – The Feed

Activision DMCA Complaint Leads To Developer’s Game Being Removed From Steam

Developer Trek Industries woke up yesterday to some bad news from Steam. The developer says that one of its games, Orion, has been removed from the storefront following a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint from Call of Duty publisher Activision.

A post by Trek’s David James details how the situation unfurled from the developer’s perspective. Following Activision’s DMCA complaint, Steam opted to remove the game from sale, which is one of the options available to the storefront.

The specific complaint focuses on weapon art and assets that Activision alleges was taken from Black Ops 3 and Advanced Warfare. Images provided by Trek make it hard to draw a comparison, but thankfully users on NeoGAF have matched angles so people can get a better look.

Activision was unable to be reached for formal comment, however Game Informer can confirm that the publisher did issue the DMCA complaint. According to James, Activision has 10 days to provide Valve with a copy of a legal complaint. If the publisher fails to produce one, Orion will be re-listed on Steam.

Trek Industries denies it has used art from the two Call of Duty games. “Regardless, an invalid and malicious act from Activision on wrong or non-existant (sic) evidence,” James says. “They are are multi-billion dollar company coming over what is currently a 50 cent game, without contacting us or requesting anything of us NOR providing any specific assets or images of the offensive content to begin with.”

Trek Industries, which used to be called Spiral Games, has been embroiled in controversy before. The company used lifted art for an older, since replaced set of achievement icons. It was also accused of using art assets from Tribes Ascend, Natural Selection 2, and Primal Carnage (via Gather Your Party).

We’ll update should Activision provide comment.

[Source: Steam (1), (2)]


Our Take
Activision is a sleeping giant that is only rarely roused to make a move like this. You rarely hear the company mention other companies by name, preferring to run its own race. The fact that the publisher is taking action here shouldn’t be taken lightly.

I’m interested to see if Activision follows through with a formal complaint or simply chose this moment to send a message. Having a game delisted during a Steam sale is a particularly crafty way to make your point. – The Feed

Queen Victoria Leads The Charge For England In Civilization VI Trailer

Queen Victoria is one of England's most notable rulers, having led the nation through more than 60 years. She's the ruler of England in Civilization VI, too, and you can see what she brings to the table in an all-new look at the game.

The Queen has a variety of unique units and structures at her disposal, which reflect the era in which she reigned. Naval superiority was important during the Victorian Age, and as such she can build a Royal Navy dockyard and enlist the help of the notorious Sea Dogs. On land, she can send her Redcoats off to battle, and build museums to better serve her nation's growth and research.

(Please visit the site to view this media)

Big changes are coming to the series, and you can read about them in our recent interview with the game's lead designer and associate producer. The game is set for a PC release on October 21. – The Feed

Life Is Strange leads this year’s Games For Change award winners

Last night Dontnod Entertainment took home multiple awards for its 2015 game Life Is Strange at the 13th annual Games For Change Festival’s award ceremony in New York. …

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Uncharted 4 Leads Strong Month Of Software Sales In May NPD

Today brings news from the NPD group about how the video game industry fared over the course of May, 2016. And the analysis is surprisingly strong, with a number of observations available that show the overall health of the industry.

“Overall trends across new physical software, hardware, and accessories in May 2016 rose by 4 percent, or $ 19.3MM, due to 18 percent growth of new physical software, which offset the 10 percent decline of hardware, and the 2 percent decline in accessories, ” notes The NPD Group’s Liam Callahan.

The clear winner this month is Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. Nathan Drake’s final big adventure ruled the charts during the month; that’s especially striking given that the game only released on a single platform. The demon-killing fun of Doom was nipping at Naughty Dog’s heels. Overwatch rounds out the top three, but it’s worth noting that Blizzard’s wildly popular new shooter didn’t launch until late in the monthly cycle, so there’s good reason to believe we might see it show up again in the June numbers. Callahan notes that: “When comparing Overwatch sales for days in the market, this title doubled the sales of Doom.”

The NPD also noted that the video gaming hobby has a lot to cheer about right now as far as new console sales; the PS4 and Xbox One have 43 percent higher cumulative sales right now when compared against this same point in the previous generation of hardware sales. 

Here's the rundown of the top ten for the month. Platforms are listed in order by number of sales. 

May 2016

1. Uncharted 4: A Thief's End (PS4)
2. Doom 2016 (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
3. Overwatch (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
4. Battleborn (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
5. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3,  PC)
6. Minecraft (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
7. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, PS3, 360, PC)
9. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
10. Dark Souls III (PS4, Xbox One)


Our Take
While some big games offered up equally big sales in the month of May, I found the news about the current state of hardware sales to be the most heartening. While hardware sales are beginning to dip in this generation, the install base for the two big consoles is huge, and that can’t help but be a good thing for anyone excited about games. – The Feed

Dark Souls III Leads The Pack During A Slow Month In April NPD Report

As everything quiets down for the road to E3, April is usually a quieter month for the gaming industry, and not even Dark Souls could save us from a dip in overall game sales.

Overall, hardware and software sales were down this April when compared to last year. Hardware sales dropped 23 percent since last year. In spite of this, both the Xbox One and PS4 are trending over 40 percent higher in overall sales compared to where the PS3 and Xbox 360 were at this point in their lifespan.

In terms of software, there weren’t too many high performing titles. A few exceptions are Ratchet & Clank and Dark Souls III, which were both the best launches for their respective series. Dark Souls III, in particular, sold nearly double what Dark Souls II did during launch. However, compared to April of 2015, this year just couldn’t compete. Mortal Kombat X, in particular, was such a strong selling title in April 2015 that its sales exceeded the sales of every game released in April of this year by 18 percent.

While overall numbers were down, Microsoft seems to have had a good month.

“Thanks to our fans, April 2016 was the best month in history for global engagement on Xbox One, driven by the greatest games lineup, including the critically-acclaimed Quantum Break, Dark Souls III, and Tom Clancy’s The Division,” says Microsoft’s corporate vice president of marketing Mike Nichols. “We received a strong response to the Gears of War 4 Versus Multiplayer Beta last month, which lasted two weeks and attracted more than 1.6 million unique players who helped us test and shape what is expected to be our biggest game of the year…We look forward to sharing more on our vision and plans for continuing to deliver the best gaming experience on Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live this year at E3 in June.”

Here is the full top ten software list for February 2016:

  1. Dark Souls III (PS4, XBO)
  2. Ratchet & Clank (PS4)
  3. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  4. The Division (PS4, XBO, PC)
  5. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  6. Minecraft (XBO, 360, PS4, PS3)
  7. Quantum Break (XBO)
  8. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  9. NBA 2K16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  10. Star Fox Zero (Wii U)


Our Take
Slumps like this are not a big deal; they’re bound to happen and are nothing to worry about. Last April was fairly strong, so it’s not surprising that this year couldn’t compete, and hardware sales are strong overall. I’m also not surprised that Dark Souls III sold well, but I am happy to see Ratchet & Clank high on this list. I’m also glad that Quantum Break seems to be performing well. Finally, Grand Theft Auto V's staying power really speaks to the quality of Rockstar's work. – The Feed

PlayStation Leads Hardware And Software In March NPD Report

March isn’t always a big month for video game sales, but a couple of strong releases in the first part of 2016 are fueling some strong statements from industry leaders.

Sony has released a statement touting its position as the top-selling console and software leader in March. The PS4 maker is also remarking on the success of The Division on PS4; that console has seen the most sales for the new and highly popular Ubisoft game. The PS4 is also known for its exclusive relationship with The Division’s competitor on the market – Destiny – and the news that players are also flocking to the PS4 for the Division is good news for Sony. 

Even so, Microsoft is also hailing the success of The Division as one reason why global hours spent on the Xbox One are up 89 percent over last year. In addition, Microsoft is calling out Killer Instinct: Season 3 for its high engagement numbers; more than 6 million unique players make this March the best month ever for that franchise. 

When looking at software and hardware together, sales in the video game industry were flat compared to the same time last year, but hardware sales dropped by 19 percent, even as software sales rose to fill the gap.

Though hardware sales were down, portable hardware had the highest volume of sales, while new generation consoles tailing. Older generation consoles like PS3 and 360 are now a virtual non-presence in overall hardware sales, accounting for only 2 percent of overall sales.

Along with the previously mentioned success of The Division, which incidentally was the highest selling Tom Clancy title in history, Ubisoft's Far Cry Primal helped establish the publisher in the number one slot for the first quarter of 2016. 

Check out the top 10 games of last month below. 

March 2016

  1. Tom Clancy's The Division (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  2. Far Cry: Primal (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
  3. The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (Wii U)
  4. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  5. UFC 2 (PS4, Xbox One)
  6. MLB 16: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  7. Pokken Tournament (Wii U)
  8. NBA 2K16 (PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3)
  9. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One, PS4, Xbox 360, PS3, PC)
  10. Minecraft ( PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)


Our Take
The Division is a clear highpoint for the video game industry last month. Alongside the earlier success of Destiny, it's clear that the shared world shooter experience is one that resonates strongly with players. I'm also interested to see that the Wii U continues to see strong contenders in the monthly top ten through Zelda and Pokken Tournament, proving that against the seeming odds, the Wii U still has some life left. – The Feed

February 2016 NPD: PlayStation 4 Leads Hardware Sales, Far Cry Primal Tops Software Sales

Sony has claimed the top spot for hardware and software sales for February 2016 according to the latest NPD report. In January, Sony and Black Ops III posted the highest numbers. This month, Sony continued its hardware and software dominance, while Far Cry Primal was the highest selling physical release.

Overall, hardware and software sales were down when compared to last year, as hardware and new physical software combined to drop 12 percent when compared to the same time frame last year. Hardware sales dropped by 23 percent when compared to last February, with portable hardware taking the biggest hit at 58 percent. According to NPD, this is thanks in large part to Nintendo's February 2015 launch of the New Nintendo 3DS hardware, which served as the highest selling hardware of February 2015. A year removed from the launch, sales have slowed, and the February 2016 numbers reflect that. However, portable hardware wasn't the only culprit in contributing to the overall decline, as seventh and eight generation hardware also declined. Last-gen consoles saw a massive drop to the tune of 77 percent when compared to last year, while current-gen hardware only dipped by 6 percent. According to the report, current-gen hardware now accounts for 86 percent of all hardware sales in the industry, as more and more gamers move to the latest tech from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

Software sales dropped 10 percent when compared to last February, but several sequels delivered strong results, pushing it them to outperform their predecessors. Far Cry Primal, February's top game, outperformed Far Cry 4 if you adjust for how many days it was available last month when compared to how many days Far Cry 4 was available in its launch month of November 2014. Fire Emblem Fates also sold well, but its split into multiple SKUs hurt its standing. According to the NPD Group, if Fire Emblem Fates' sales were combined, it would have placed third overall for new physical sales, topping the juggernaut that is Grand Theft Auto V and tripling the first-month sales for Fire Emblem: Awakening. Since the game was released as multiple SKUs on 3DS, however, only Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright charted in the top ten, coming in at number 9. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 also outsold its predecessor by 90 percent if the days each game was available in its first month were adjusted. Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 also claimed the boast of being the top-selling single SKU release based on its PS4 version, but it landed fourth on the overall top ten list for the month.

Despite these individual successes in the software space, overall spending dropped by 4 percent when compared to last year, while overall units sold dropped by 12 percent. Just like in hardware, portable software saw a big decline (30 percent) due to February 2015 holding the launch of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D. Last-gen software also dropped massively to the tune of 52 percent, while current-gen software grew by 14 percent.

The leader in both hardware and software sales in February 2016 was Sony. In response to this news, Sony provided the following statement:

"We would like to thank our fans and partners for making PlayStation 4 the top-selling hardware platform and the software sales leader in February, according to NPD. We continued to see strong year-over-year sales growth for PS4 hardware and software and are truly humbled by the support and enthusiasm from gamers. We will continue to deliver amazing gaming experiences with the upcoming launches of Ratchet & Clank, MLB The Show 16 and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End."

Microsoft also had good news to celebrate, as exclusive game sales and hours spent gaming sharply rose. Microsoft provided the following statement from Mike Nichols, corporate vice president of Xbox marketing:

"The unmatched lineup of games available on Xbox One continues to generate a strong response from gamers as seen through global Xbox Live engagement and exclusive game sales. Compared to February 2015, exclusive Xbox One U.S. game sales drove a 49 percent increase and the total number of hours spent gaming on Xbox One worldwide rose 93 percent. Earlier this week, we launched the Xbox One 'Tom Clancy’s The Division’ Bundle to coincide with Ubisoft’s release of ‘Tom Clancy’s The Division’ and looking ahead to this spring, fans can look forward to the upcoming release of the highly-anticipated ‘Quantum Break,’ launching on both Xbox One and Windows 10 on April 5, as well as the built-for-Windows 10 visual showcase, ‘Forza Motorsport 6: Apex.’ We are truly grateful to our fans for choosing to play the greatest games lineup in Xbox history across Windows 10 devices, and are excited to share more in the coming months on our full lineup of holiday exclusives as well as new innovations, features and experiences coming to Xbox One, Windows 10 and Xbox Live.”

Though the rest of the industry's overall sales declined when compared to February 2015, accessories enjoyed modest growth of 1% as controllers and headsets sold well, while point and subscription cards eclipsed the $ 1 billion mark for the first time on a 12-month rolling basis.

Here is the full top ten software list for February 2016:

  1. Far Cry Primal (PS4, XBO)
  2. Call of Duty: Black Ops III (XBO, PS4, 360, PS4, PC)
  3. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3, PC)
  4. Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 (PS4, XBO)
  5. NBA 2K16 (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  6. Lego Marvel's Avengers (PS4, 360, XBO, Wii U, PS4, 3DS, Vita)
  7. Street Fighter V (PS4)
  8. Minecraft (360, XBO, PS4, PS3)
  9. Fire Emblem Fates: Birthright (3DS)
  10. Fallout 4 (PS4, XBO, PC)

Our Take
With so many questions surrounding Far Cry Primal leading up to launch, it might sound surprising that it outsold the last numbered entry in the series, Far Cry 4, when adjusted for how many days it was available in its first month. However, with the NPD numbers demonstrating how many consumers are moving on to current generation hardware, it comes as much less of a surprise. As expected, the mainstay entries in the monthly NPD reports – Call of Duty, Minecraft, and Grand Theft Auto – remain strong on the list. The hardware numbers may seem alarming, but it's just further indication that people have flocked to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U and that the consumer support for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii will only continue to dwindle from here. – The Feed

How doing things differently leads to success and sustainability for Toca Boca

“We’re trying to build something different from a gaming company making a lot of money. We’re trying to build a brand that survives over time.” – …

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