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Report: Madden 17 Focuses On Franchise Mode, Delivers Deluxe Editions

Madden 17's cover star will be revealed today, but a leak from the official Xbox online store appears to show some more tantalizing details about the game.

Operation Sports uncovered the listing at the store – some of the links for which may have already been removed at the time of this writing.

Here's the game's description from the store:

Take your team all the way in Madden NFL 17 with a renewed focus on Franchise mode, putting you at the center of your team's Championship run. Arm your team for gridiron glory on both sides of the ball with the most balanced gameplay to date, featuring all-new ball carrier feedback cues, defender fake out mechanics and an innovative, authentic defensive AI system. Madden NFL 17 is the most complete Madden…ever.

Pre-ordering any of the apparently three versions of the game will get you goodies. Pre-order the standard edition ($ 59.99) gets you nine Madden Ranked tickets (used in the series' Draft Champions mode) and up to seven Madden Ultimate team pro packs. The Deluxe edition ($ 79.99) pre-order offers 30 Ranked tickets and up to 10 MUT all-pro packs, while the Super Deluxe edition ($ 99.99) ups the ante with 30 Ranked tickets and up to 30 all-pro MUT packs. All pre-orders also offer a month trial of EA Access.

[Source: Xbox Store, Operation Sports]


Our Take
That this is from the official Xbox store makes it seem legit. The franchise changes – whatever that encompasses – is welcome and overdue, and we'll have to see if the somewhat generic gameplay promises make as big of a difference as the above description seems to indicate. We should know more at E3 in mid-June. – The Feed

Report: Offers Were Made For Lionhead, But Microsoft Wouldn’t Sell Fable IP

On March 7, Microsoft announced it was entering a consultation period with Fable developer Lionhead to determine the studio’s fate. On April 29, the studio closed, ending its 20 year legacy. But it might have gone differently.

According to a report from Kotaku UK, Microsoft had a number of suitors for the Guildford studio. The hangup was that the Fable franchise wasn’t part of the deal.

Because these matters are confidential, we don’t know who was allegedly interested. We also don’t know exactly how much money was on the table, but given the report, it seems the interest hinged on the IP.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, and we’ll update should we receive a response.

[Source: Kotaku UK]


Our Take
While this would have been a glimmer of hope, it may not have saved Lionhead or the jobs. If the IP was on the table, it’s safe to say that there is a possibility that a buyer would have nabbed the IP and shuttered the studio anyway. 

Right now, we can only hope Microsoft is hanging onto Fable because it has plans. And with luck, any future endeavor will honor Lionhead’s legacy. – The Feed

Australian Parliament report calls for renewed game industry funding

Australian parlimentary report recommends reinstating funding developers with grants and loans to boost the local game biz, and adding tax breaks for bigger studios. …

Gamasutra News

Report: Gameloft shuts down another studio, this time in Spain

Gamasutra has learned that Gameloft is closing its studio in Valencia, Spain this week and laying off a number of developers who work there. …

Gamasutra News

Report: Platinum Games president Tatsuya Minami has stepped down

Platinum Games president and CEO, Tatsuya Minami, has reportedly resigned, and is set to be succeeded by the studio’s chief administrator, Kenichi Sato. …

Gamasutra News

The Next Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report Isn’t For Westerners

Square Enix is prepping another Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report. But before you circle the date on your calendars, you might want to brush up on your Japanese.

The Active Time Report on April 21 is focused on the Japanese market. You’re welcome to watch, of course, but Square Enix won’t be providing subtitles.

“The plan is to talk to our Japanese fans about things happening in Japan which aren't really relevant to our western fans,” the company shared via Twitter. Don’t worry, though. Future Active Time Report broadcasts will be subtitled as usual.

Square Enix says it will also share anything relevant to players outside of Japan via social media. For more on Final Fantasy XV, check out our current coverage from the May 2016 issue.

[Source: Square Enix on Twitter (1), (2)]


Our Take
Provided that anything minor that is relevant to western gamers is shared in another way, this makes a lot of sense. Despite living in a world of simultaneous global communication, there are still market-specific things that happen (even if we’re not used to them being communicated through a channel that is typically a worldwide vehicle). – The Feed

Report: This is what Activision’s cancelled Guitar Hero MMO looked like

A video published today by an Unseen 64 contributor purports to show footage of a cancelled browser-based MMORPG, Hero World, that would have linked into Activision’s Guitar Hero and DJ Hero games. …

Gamasutra News

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

Report: Stardew Valley Has Sold Over A Million Copies

If there's one thing the last two months has taught, people love farming, tangling with townfolk, and fishing (ok maybe not so much that last part). A lot of them apparently since publisher Chucklefish Games just reportedly confirmed to Polygon in an email that Stardew Valley has sold over one million copies since its launch on February 26.

According to the email, the exact number is "1,007,000." Though the game is PC exclusive right now, creator Eric Barone revealed to us a while back that he wanted Stardew Valley on console as soon as possible.

Be sure to check out our review of the game as well as this handy list of mods.

[Source: Polygon]


Our Take
Stardew Valley is probably 2016's most surprising success so far given the sheer amount of enthusiasm it's been met with since release. It's not exactly unwarranted either, given just how unique and fun the game is. Hopefully this will encourage developers to take risks with their projects. – The Feed

Report: Fable Legends Development Might Be Saved

Update: Microsoft has responded to our request for comment, though there is no new information to share. The company says it remains in conversation with employees about next steps during the consultation period.

“We aren’t sharing additional details beyond that we have ceased development on ‘Fable Legends,’ and are in discussions with employees at Lionhead about our proposed closure of the studio as well,” a Microsoft representative told us via email. As the consultation period draws to a close, we'll have a better idea of what will happen with Lionhead and Fable Legends.

Original Story:

There might be some good news for Fable fans this morning. A report suggests that development on Fable Legends, an asymmetric, free-to-play game, might be saved.

Development was halted in March as Microsoft announced it was beginning a “consultation” period for Fable developer Lionhead. This has likely dire meaning, with a studio closure one of a few different possibilities that include significant layoffs under the guise of reorganization.

MCV is reporting from multiple sources that discussions are ongoing about ways to save the game from oblivion. According to MCV, contracted workers have already departed the studio, but employees may have an option to stay on rather than accept a severance package.

According to MCV, the likely scenario is that Lionhead employees would be granted permission to continue work on the game independently. We’ve reached out to Microsoft for comment, and we’ll update should we receive a response.

[Source: MCV]


Our Take
I’m interested in how the financial arrangement would work between a new, independent studio and license owner Microsoft. While we’ll likely never know those details (and may not even see the game come to fruition), for those who have been enjoying it in closed beta and the many more eager to play, there might yet be hope. – The Feed