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June 2015 NPD: All Good News As Batman Leads Rising Sales

The June NPD numbers are out, and while the data tells a familiar tale for the leading current-gen consoles, everyone has reasons to be happy. Here's the full breakdown.

NPD Group reports that June sales were up from last year in
hardware, software, and accessories, with an increase in total sales of 18

As Sony shared
earlier today
, the PlayStation 4 was the top-selling console for the
month of June, as it was last
. Sony attributes much of the success to its Arkham
Knight bundles
, and the PS4 also led software sales for the month.

However, Microsoft still has its own bragging rights,
stating that Xbox One sales are up 51 percent from last June, and that Xbox
Live users are up 22 percent. Microsoft also claims that preview participants
have racked up over 500,000 hours playing 360 games via the Xbox One's upcoming
backward compatibility feature, and that the Xbox One game lineup received more
nominations (242) and awards (110) at this year's E3 than any previous year in
the Xbox brand's history.

Industry-wide, software sales were up 19 percent compared to
last June. Batman: Arkham Knight led the charge, despite not going on sale
until June 23. Hardware sales were up 8 percent compared to last June, with
current-gen console sales up 15 percent. Interactive toys were up 44 percent,
leading to an overall increase of 34 percent for accessory sales.

Here is the full top ten list:

  1. Batman: Arkham Knight
    (PS4, XBO, PC)
  2. The Elder Scrolls Online:
    Tamriel Unlimited (XBO, PS4, PC)
  3. LEGO: Jurassic World (360,
    XBO, PS4, PS3, 3DS, NWU, PSV)
  4. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
    (PS4, XBO, PC)
  5. Splatoon (NWU)
  6. Minecraft (360, PS3, XBO,
  7. Grand Theft Auto V (XBO,
    PS4, 360, PS3, PC)
  8. Mortal Kombat X (PS4, XBO)
  9. NBA 2K15 (360, PS4, XBO,
    PS3, PC)
  10. Call of Duty: Advanced
    Warfare (XBO, PS4, 360, PS3, PC)  

As always, the platforms are listed in the order of sales, and do not include hardware bundles – including the aforementioned Arkham Knight PS4 bundles, making its number-one win all the more impressive.

Our Take
It's great to see that
sales are up, as gamers continue to flock to the latest generation of consoles.
Games built exclusively for the current-gen systems are clearly paying off,
with Arkham Knight, Elder Scrolls Online, and The Witcher 3 all ranking high.
However, I'm astonished by the staying power of Grand Theft Auto V and
Minecraft – especially considering that NPD still doesn't count digital
purchases. Hopefully the pace of sales keeps up during the summer slump. – The Feed

Epic Games leads GDC Europe’s lineup of great sponsored talks

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Gamasutra News

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