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Apple Announces Smaller iPhone SE, iOS 9.3 Available Today

Apple just wrapped up a “town hall” event with a number of product refreshes. No new product types were announced, but if you’re interested in an iPad Pro you might want to read on.

For all current iOS users, you’ll see a notification today that a new version of the operating system is available. The update, iOS 9.3, adds something called Night Shift, which helps to cut down on sleep-disrupting blue light by using the clock to move the display toward warmer tones.

This will come standard on two new Apple devices announced today. The iPhone SE is a 4-inch phone designed to bring together a smaller form factor with power.

It features a 64-bit A9 chip and M9 motion co-processor. This gives it the same processing performance as the iPhone 6s (double the iPhone 5s) and the same graphics performance as the 6s (three times the 5s). The SE is $ 399 for a 16 GB model (free with two-year contract) and $ 499 for the 64 GB version.

Apple also unveiled a smaller form factor iPad Pro. The new model is 9.7 inches (the same as the iPad Air 2) and includes an A9X chip. The iPad Pro supports a lightning card reader adapter and USB convertor for digital cameras and podcasting microphones.

The smaller iPad Pro will be available at $ 599 for 32 GB, $ 749 for 128 GB, and $ 899 for 256 GB (all prices WiFi only). Both the iPhone SE and smaller iPad Pro will be up for pre-order on March 24 and on sale March 31.

During the presentation, Apple also announced a couple of new milestones. There are currently 1 billion Apple devices in use around the world. The current version if iOS (9.0) is on eighty percent of eligible devices, compared to only two percent of Android devices running the latest firmware, which was released around the same time as iOS 9.

200 million 9.7-inch iPads have been sold, with 1 million iPad apps available. Apple TV is also seeing a surge, with the latest hardware seeing the largest sales spike of any model in the family. There are currently 5,000 Apple TV apps available.


Our Take
While the gaming angle here is pretty thin, I’m pretty excited about Night Shift. If you use your phone right before bed or check it during the night, this will likely benefit you. You can read up more about the effects of blue light exposure and its impact on sleep in a Harvard Health Letter. – The Feed

Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End Gets Another, Smaller Delay

Uncharted 4 won't be meeting its April 26 release date, but it won't be missing it by much.

The game is apparently on track to be competed (or go gold) later this month, according to a recent post on the PlayStation blog by Sony president and CEO Shawn Layden, but in order to "meet the considerable worldwide demand" the game has been pushed back by two weeks. Uncharted 4 is now planned for release on May 10. The new date will allow for a simultaneous worldwide release. "We have chosen to postpone the launch of the game by two weeks to allow for extra manufacturing time." Layden writes.

To see the latest story trailer for Uncharted 4, head here. To see a detailed breakdown of the trailer, head here. You can also click the banner below for all of our features from when the game appeared on our cover.

[Source: PlayStation Blog]


Our Take
Two weeks is a pretty reasonable delay, and actually inspires some extra confidence in the game's quality. I don't think Sony would push it back, even slightly, if it didn't have a lot of faith in the game. I wouldn't consider myself a big Uncharted fan, but this delay weirdly has me more excited to play. – The Feed

Funding for smaller developers: Tips from the Game Career Guide

In this article from the 2015 annual Game Career Guide, Brandon Sheffield of Necrosoft Games offers tips on incremental funding strategies for smaller developers. …

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Funding tips for smaller developers: Tips from Game Career Guide

In this article from the 2015 annual Game Career Guide, Brandon Sheffield of Necrosoft Games offers tips on incremental funding strategies for smaller developers. …

Gamasutra News

[Exclusive Trailer] Marvel Heroes 2015 Gets A Little Smaller This Week As Ant-Man Arrives

With Ant-Man hitting theaters this week, the team at Gazillion has cleverly timed the diminutive hero’s arrival in Marvel Heroes. Scott Lang becomes the 49th playable hero in the free-to-play action-RPG.

For a limited time, Ant-Man comes with both his Avengers NOW and theatrical costumes. If you’re a Hank Pym fan, he’ll be available to purchase as an enhanced costume with unique voiceover and dialogue when the character launches. Ant-Man will be available this week as early as Thursday. 

(Please visit the site to view this media)

If you’ve not played Marvel Heroes, you can give it a try for free. Think of it as Diablo, but with almost 50 Marvel heroes and villains to purchase and upgrade (either with cash or earned in-game currency). The connection with Diablo goes beyond gameplay, as the mind behind Blizzard’s dungeon delving dynasty, David Brevik, is the president of Gazillion Entertainment.

The company is also running an in-game contest worth $ 25,000. There are five extremely rare “Vibranium Ticket” drops that are worth $ 5,000 in real money. Everyone is eligible to win, regardless of how long they’ve been playing. The contest is ongoing through August 31, 2015.

Gazillion is also offering an opportunity for fans to vote on the 50th playable character. This will be the final reveal and release for 2015. If you’d like to weigh in, head over to the official site to cast your vote.

Finally, Marvel Heroes has grown and changed much since its initial release over two years ago. Gazillion has provided some statistics about player engagement and hero selection. We’re not entirely surprised that people love Rocket Raccoon and his theatrical appearance.

Click to enlarge.

If you’re interested in playing, head over to the Marvel Heroes website to create an account and download the client. – The Feed

EA’s Future Includes More Smaller Games Like Unravel

One of the big surprises during EA's E3 2015 press conference wasn't the new Mass Effect. It wasn't Star Wars Battlefront. It wasn't even Pelé. It was a little character called Yarny, appearing in the decidedly un-EA game Unravel.

Unravel is the type of title we'd expect to see from Ubisoft or at an indie showcase. It has more of a Child of Light vibe than something from the publisher that brought us Dead Space and Battlefield Hardline. But games like Unravel are part of EA's future, according to executive vice president Patrick Söderlund.

"For me, it's about not necessarily where EA has been, but what we should become," he tells us. "I believe that we have a responsibility as game developers to push new things, whether that's internal or external. I believe in bringing a great game to players out there when we see one and have the opportunity to sign one. We will continue to seek great ideas and great teams, whether they are internal or external. Unravel was something that crossed my desk. When I saw it, I said we had to get this."

Coldwood's Unravel isn't the only smaller project EA is working on. Last year at E3, the company announced it was working with Hazelight, a new studio founded by Josef Fares and other members of the team behind Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons.

"As for Hazelight, I played Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons," Söderlund tells us. "He came and pitched a concept. In general, we will treat an external team similar to an internal team. We have the FIFAs of the world, the Star Wars: Battlefronts, the Battlefields, the Maddens, the big blockbuster brands. We should obviously invest money we make from those in making them even better, but we also need to think about investing in other things as a company. We need to broaden our portfolio. I want EA to be a company that's associated with an Unravel, or a Hazelight, or a FIFA, or a Battlefront."

Söderlund mentions Ubisoft specifically as a model for how large publishers can nurture indies. That company has its big hits like Assassin's Creed and Far Cry, but also releases smaller projects, like Valiant Hearts: The Great War.

"Every developer and every game has its own history and its own past," Söderlund, who began his career in a basement coding with three friends, explains. "I think its important that we get associated with talent. There's nothing that says that Martin from Coldwood or Josef from Hazelight couldn't be developing the next 10 million seller for us." – The Feed

Six Recent Smaller Horror Games You Shouldn’t Pass On

With games like the two featured on our cover this month – Alien: Isolation and The Evil Within – 2014 is a good year for scary games. In the indie scene, too, it has been good time for the genre. If you’re a fan of horror video games and being scared by interactive experiences, here are some smaller games that hopefully you haven’t missed, but if you did, here’s a good excuse to go back.

Neverending Nightmares
Released only a few days ago, Neverending Nightmares earns its horror genre descriptor immediately with a gothic art style, frequent gore, and a general sense of unease throughout the whole experience. You can find our review here, and also see some gameplay by checking out our Friday horror live stream.

Among the sleep
Casting players in a role much different than that of the average horror game protagonist, Among the Sleep has players playing as a toddler exploring a darkened house, among other creepy environments. It’s a setting and story rarely touched on by video games, and its experience is a memorable one. You can head here to find our review.

Lifeless Planet
Able to comfortably fit in either the adventure or horror genre, Lifeless Planet is a creepy experience set on an alien world. You won’t find monsters chasing you down, or even blood, but Lifeless Planet is a strange mystery that deserves a look for fans of horror. You can find our review here.

The Room Two
The Room Two’s horror trappings are all about ambiance and sound design. Exploring the objects of a small room in silent isolation gives the impression there is something behind you at all times in the quiet room. It’s like exploring your older sibling's bedroom when you know you’re not supposed to be in there. You can find our review of the game here.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
A pair in a two-part (so far) series, the Danganronpas aren’t really horror games as much as they are psychological thrillers. When characters are being killed off in horrific ways, though, it’s hard not to place the two games in the genre. In both games, teenagers are placed in situations forcing them to murder each other and try to get away with it. It’s like Battle Royale, or The Hunger Games – films that could be considered horror, but typically aren’t defined as such. You can find our reviews of the two games here and here.

For more horror, head here. – The Feed

Puppeteer director to pursue smaller games next, steer clear of retail

In a Puppeteer postmortem peppered with prickly punditry, Sony Computer Entertainment’s Gavin Moore gave attendees of the Game Developers Conference a small idea of what he and his team hope to craft next. Coming off Puppeteer, a dark and clever…
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This Big Daddy Is Smaller, Cuddlier Than Expected

BioShock's Big Daddies were an intimidating presence throughout Rapture, but they weren't aggressive. A reader got a Christmas present that shows an even softer side to the game's familiar residents.

We got word of the handmade gift via the following tweet:

All right. We're sufficiently jealous. – The Feed

Gamebrain wants to make metrics tracking easier for smaller devs

Recently unveiled cloud-based development and delivery platform Gamebrain has announced a partnership with mobile analytics provider Kontagent to better tailor the service to independent developers. …

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