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Red Dead Redemption Leads Xbox 360 Backward Compatibility Vote

Last week Microsoft earned kudos for announcing its plan to make select Xbox 360 games backward compatible with the Xbox One. The tech update is launching with support for 18 titles, but Microsoft is also taking feedback on which games should be included as they expand the library. Now we have a clearer picture of which games are leading the pack.

Right now Rockstar's wild west classic Red Dead Redemption is leading the pack with more than 58,000 votes. Call of Duty: Black Ops II, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and Halo Reach round out the top five.

The Call of Duty fan base is certainly the loudest at this juncture – six games from the franchise are currently ranked in the top 15. The Fallout, Gears of War, and Mass Effect games are also well represented.

Cast your vote by heading over to the Xbox site.


Our Take
The list of top candidates isn't surprising, but some of the omissions are unfortunate. I'd love to see Battlefield: Bad Company 2, the Left 4 Dead games, and some of the deep Rockstar cuts like Bully make the grade as well. – The Feed

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Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Leads June 2015 PlayStation Plus Offerings

PlayStation Plus members will have plenty to keep them busy in the month of June, including four titles on PS4 alone.

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All of the following games will become available free for PS Plus members starting June 2. Don't forget to pick up this month's Plus games before that time.

PlayStation 4

  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
  • Skulls of the Shogun: Bone-A-Fide Edition  
  • Super Exploding Zoo
  • Futuridium EP Deluxe

PlayStation 3

  • Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
  • Cloudberry Kingdom

PlayStation Vita

  • Super Exploding Zoo
  • Futuridium EP Deluxe – The Feed

Readers Respond: Fallout 4 Hype Leads In E3 Enthusiasm Poll

Yesterday, we asked our readers to chime in about which E3 press conference has them most excited. The responses are clear, and one company has gamers expecting a lot.

As you can see in the chart below, Bethesda leads the excitement with E3 just one month away. Our readers have high hopes for the reveal of Fallout 4.

Reader “masterassassin51” sums it up. “Bethesda’s,” he writes. “Mainly because I'm REALLY hoping for Fallout 4 to be announced.”

“Toothdecay” echoes that sentiment with just a bit more enthusiasm. “Bethesda!!!!!! I need Fallout 4!!!!!!!!!!!” he says.

The middle of the pack is tight, and readers have various reasons for looking forward to the platform conferences. “Sony, due to all the unannounced games from their development teams,” reader “Arnold” says. “But, Microsoft is claiming this E3 to be their best, so I'm excited for them too.”

Nintendo had a strong showing among our readers, with some interesting reasoning from some. “Nintendo because they are going to have to put on a great show now that Zelda is not going to be there,” writes “Collector.” 

Others just have confidence in the house of Mario’s ability to deliver. “Nintendo will be the best as always,” writes “plainviewz.”

EA had a lot of support, with readers focused on a few games we know are in development. Mass Effect, Star Wars: Battlefront, Mirror’s Edge, and Ghost Games’ upcoming Need for Speed were all mentioned.

A couple of our readers are just happy E3 is coming. “I DONT CARE. BRING ON THE GAMES,” writes “turbobunny.” 

Others are disinterested in the conferences entirely. “None to be honest, the majority of the games I want are delayed, the biggest for me, Zelda, is not going to be shown at all,” writes “Sepewrathv1.” “So I'm looking forward to E3 as a whole to see demos of games I'm excited for, but there is no conference I'm really excited to see. Unlike last year, because of the promise of Zelda, I was hyped for Nintendo’s.”

We still have a month left before the big show. As more announcements are revealed (either intentionally or due to loose lips), we’re interested to see if you change your minds. We’ll check back in with you closer to E3. – The Feed

April 2015 NPD: Xbox One Leads Console Sales, Mortal Kombat X On Top

The NPD results are in for the month of April 2015, and the results show an industry in growth. Sales at retail increased by 3 percent year-over-year to $ 595.7 million.

Hardware dipped but a minor 4 percent to $ 183.9 million, and accessories (typically driven by toys-to-life) was also down by 3 percent as we get closer to the release of this year's action figure games. 

Xbox One led console sales, and Microsoft corporate vice president Mike Nichols says that uptake increased 63 percent over this month last year and that active users have increased across Xbox Live (both Xbox One and Xbox 360) by 24 percent.

Sony issued a statement to tout its own success during the month, leading software sales for the month. The company also reports that it still leads in cumulative consoles sold in the United States.

This month, Mortal Kombat X took the lead as software sales for consoles, handhelds, and retail PC were up by 10 percent, reaching $ 264.4 million. Only three of the top ten titles were released in April 2014 (inclusive of Grand Theft Auto V on PC), with another three released in March 2014.. Here's the top ten list:

  1. Mortal Kombat X (PS4, XBO)
  2. Grand Theft Auto V (PS4, XBO, PC, 360, PS3)
  3. Battlefield Hardline (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  4. MLB 15: The Show (PS4, PS3)
  5. Minecraft (360, PS3, XBO, PS4)
  6. NBA 2K15 (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  7. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  8. Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin (PS4, XBO, 360, PS3)
  9. Super Smash Bros. (3DS, NWU)
  10. Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4, XBO)

NPD's Liam Callahan notes that if the top ten list were ordered by individual SKUs instead of by title, Bloodborne (PS4), Xenoblade Chronicles 3D (New 3DS), and Mario Party 10 (Wii U) would have made the list. 

As a reminder, the monthly NPD report only includes retail sales in the United States.


Our Take
With Microsoft and Sony remaining close on a month-to-month basis, competition will breed good news for gamers. The industry continues to recover, and with E3 ahead, the crucial holiday season will begin to take shape. – The Feed

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Subtle Call Of Duty: Black Ops II Update Leads To Snapchat Tease

A new year means that Activision is going to be releasing a new Call of Duty title. While you might still be boost jumping in your exo, the publisher is quietly working to prepare this fall’s release.

The first legitimate hint at the next game seems to have emerged in an unlikely place: Snapchat. CharlieIntel identified new emblems that have appeared on posters in some of Black Ops II’s multiplayer levels.

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These are QR codes that can be used in the Snapchat app to add users. We used a still image from the video below, which added a Call of Duty account to Snapchat. We also verified that the code appears in the game, specifically locating the same poster in the Express map.

The short video currently playing on the account was captured by a Twitter user. You can see it below:

While logic will no doubt lead many down the path that this year’s game is part of the Black Ops branch of the series, that information is not yet confirmed. For now, we’re watching and waiting with interest.

[Source: CharlieIntel, Drift0r on YouTube]


Our Take
The original Black Ops remains my favorite in the Call of Duty franchise. The story was cohesive and engaging, offering something more than the enjoyable popcorn moments the series is known for. I certainly hope this is Black Ops III, but I’m also content with whatever Treyarch has in store for us. – The Feed

Robert Bowling Joins Humble Bundle, Leads New Group To Help ‘Games Be Created’

Robert Bowling has announced that he has joined charity-focused game seller Humble Bundle as vice president and creative director. Bowling, who spent six years as creative strategist for Call of Duty at Infinity ward, left that position to strike out on his own.

Robotoki, the studio Bowling founded, closed in January after a change in focus for the studio’s game Human Development left the company without a publishing arrangement. Now, Bowling is building a new team that will help Humble’s mission of supporting developers and charity initiatives.

“My role as vice president, creative director is focused on the future of Humble and how we’ll be expanding in the next one to five years,” Bowling told us via email. “I have started a new vertical in the company and am currently building a creative team that will be focused on new products and projects.”

With his background in game development, we were curious about how that might come into play at Humble. While there’s nothing to announce right now, there are some hints about what Bowling might be working on.

“One of the new focuses that I’m bringing to the company is to allow games to be created that would not have, or could not have existing without our help,” Bowling explains. “So, if we did ‘dip our toes’ into original development, it would be in a capacity that helped us test and iterate on a feature or service that would be made available to all developers. At the moment however, our goals are focused on helping other developers with their original creations.”

This sounds like it could be in part related to funding, which might create new partnerships that bolster the Humble Store’s profile. Recently, Curve Digital announced a time-limited exclusive deal with Humble Bundle to bring Stealth Inc. 2: A Game of Clones to that storefront first.

As part of that, Bowling says that Humble will be expanding its capacity to further aid its core constituents: developers and gamers. “We are investing heavily in technology and development that will allow developers to increase the accessibility of their games and for players to have more freedom in how they play and access their games,” he tells us. “I will say, that every initiative we’re currently working on holds true to the values that people know from Humble. We want players to have freedom over the content they own, we want developers to have more opportunity for their games, and we want every revenue we generate to provide for charities.” – The Feed

Opinion – We Need More Female Leads In Narrative Games

limped along the road, avoiding helicopter wrecks and surrounding debris. A
nearby fire hydrant burst into a fountain of water, and flames erupted from the
corner gas station. Dirt was smeared across her skin like a warrior's face
paint, as she neared a dying officer on the ground. Grabbing him by the collar,
she whispered menacingly, "Tell them to leave me alone, because next time,
I'll kill everyone."

kind of explosive action scene is usually led by a young, male lead. In Beyond:
Two Souls, we follow the story of Jodie, the twenty-something girl with
superhuman powers. She can crush buildings, fight cops atop a train, and hurl
large objects on demand, similar to Infamous. A sense of awe and invincibility
rushed through me as I watched the sequence unfold. It showcased a rare
combination in triple-A games: a headstrong woman with supernatural abilities
as a main character. I wasn't simply struck with how epic the scene was.
Instead, I was left wondering, why can't there be more Jodies?

leads in narrative triple-A games are few and far between. Rockstar Games, one
of the leading publishers in the industry, has never once had a female
protagonist. Action-oriented sandbox
franchises including Just Cause and Prototype, exclusively star superhero-like
men. There have been iconic exceptions such as Lara Croft, but
besides the obvious few, it often feels like I'm playing as another variant of
Nathan Drake or Nico Bellic. In contrast, indie games have had a prolific
amount of female protagonists, with successful titles like last year's Never
Alone and Transistor. Why are triple-A games so far behind?

half of the current gaming population is female, making up 48 percent of the
community across all genres and platforms. Additionally, a recent study
highlighted at GDC
revealed that in a survey of 1,583 high school students, 60
percent of girls preferred to play as their own gender,
whereas only 39 percent of boys preferred playing as a male character.

game enthusiasts are becoming increasingly more levelled in terms of gender,
and an older audience continues to grow. With these numbers, it might soon be
considered more of a creative risk to not
include women in games than to exclude them, in fear of alienating a core
demographic in sales. Still, for that to happen, our attitudes toward the
problem need to change.

studios are choosing to not create female characters, due to supposed technical
issues with animation, or because of the widespread belief that female leads
don't sell.

video games exploring genres like sci-fi and action, a common misconception is
that this type of media is only for men. However, with the rise of successful
action movies like The Hunger
 being a huge success
with women, and with Marvel tackling the all-female A-Force in their comics, it
is evident that this ideology is changing. These genres can be enjoyed by both
genders, and it is just a matter of time before they are marketed as such.

recent years, games have adapted a wider use of character creation, giving
players more freedom to shape their avatar's appearance and gender. But in
narrative games, we are often forced to play as one gender, and it is almost always male, from Watch Dogs to Grand
Theft Auto.

What if Alice Wake was searching for her lost
husband? What if The Boss was a lead character in a
new Metal Gear Solid game, as Hideo Kojima hinted he wanted to pursue years
ago? Bioshock Infinite's Elizabeth and
Ellie from The Last of Us were empowering women, and excelled as strong
protagonists in DLC content. If I could play more video games as my own gender,
it would only add to the immersion, not take away from it. The diversity could
prove to be refreshing and rewarding for male players as well.

narrative games, the main character is intertwined with the story: their
decisions, perspective, and interactions can change not only who they are, but
the people and environments around them. For example, in The Walking Dead,
Clementine's innocence diminishes with every lethal strike she makes, shifting
her away from the naïve, trustworthy child she once was.

through a game as a woman could change not just how the games are played, but
how that character responds to the game world. Would Jane Brody react to the
Rook Islands with the same brute force as Jason did? If one of the three
protagonists in Grand Theft Auto V was female, would she offer a different perspective on the world of Los Santos?

women means more opportunities to explore engrossing stories and cultures.
Narrative games with historical settings could profit from exploring women's
rights in history. Imagine playing Red Dead Redemption as a female gunslinger
in the Wild West – Rockstar could mold their character off of the real-life
Belle Starr, a notorious American Outlaw from the 1800s.

with Assassin's Creed's rich historical stories, the franchise could benefit
from more female leads. While Assassin's Creed III: Liberation starred Aveline,
its initial release was on handheld and is considered a smaller-scale title.
Ubisoft could take this a step further by adding a female protagonist in their
main line of successful console games. Assassin's Creed could explore Feudal
Japan in the shoes of a character like Tomoe Gozen, the historical figure and
female samurai warrior from the 1100s, who survived the Genpei War and saw the
rise of a new empire.

more social minorities in games gives the player more insight into unique
perspectives. It offers a richer, more complex, and deeper storyline, and that can affect gameplay in a variety of ways.

video games is a difficult and long process – it can take years to complete a
game from start to finish. Games are becoming increasingly more expensive, with
Bungie investing $ 500 million into the Destiny franchise. Risks are uncommon
and franchises are milked more often than we see new IPs. Still, I don't think
these hurdles should stop the industry from tackling new ideas and becoming
more progressive.

the end, the developer has the last word, and they shouldn't include women just
to satisfy a social quota or feel like they have to justify their creative
choices. They are free to pursue their vision and artistic direction,
implementing characters and lifestyles they believe fit their game

However, the industry is short-handed on women as
programmers and developers. If a development team is entirely male,
they may overlook the possibility of adding a female lead. Often, this isn't
meant to be discriminatory. Most games are phenomenal as they are, with male
leads shining in the spotlight. I just wonder, with games becoming more complex
and advanced every year, wouldn't it be refreshing to share more of that
spotlight with women? – The Feed

Never Alone leads the 2015 Games for Change award nominees

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