The NPD Group today reported United States industry sales for January 2013, revealing Call of Duty: Black Ops II has remained the best-selling title in the region since launch in January. Rounding out the top five titles for the month were sequels
The January 2013 reporting period was actually five weeks instead of four due to the NPD Group's adherence to the National Retail Federation calendar. This extra week is a consequence of the NPD Group's 4-5-4 retail calendar and occurs only once every five or six years. As a result of including the "Leap Week," sales are inflated to a degree. Adjusted sales are in the chart below.
Total sales for January jumped 9 percent on a five-week basis to $834.7 million, though when "corrected," sales actually dropped 13 percent to $667.6 million. According to NPD analyst Liam Callahan, this figure only truly represents 50 percent of total spend when other revenue streams are factored in.
"These sales figures represent new physical retail sales of hardware, software and accessories, which account for roughly 50 percent of the total consumer spend on games," he said. "When you consider our preliminary estimate for other physical format sales in January such as used and rentals at $141 million, and our estimate for digital format sales including full game and add-on content downloads including microtransactions, subscriptions, mobile apps, and the consumer spend on social network games at $382 million, we would estimate the total consumer spend in January to be over $1.3 billion."
Hardware sales fell 17 percent on an adjusted basis to $164 million during the period and were led by Microsoft's Xbox 360, which sold
As for software, this category dove 19 percent on an adjusted basis for January. Far Cry 3's second place performance during the month marked the first time since January 2002 (Final Fantasy X) that a December launch ranked second in the following January, Callahan said.
"While the number of new SKUs was relatively consistent for January 2013 compared to January 2012, performance of new SKUs this year versus last was six times as high, lifted by the success of titles like DmC: Devil May Cry and Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch," Callahan said.
Accessories sales for January 2013 rose 4 percent on a normalized basis to $205 million and saw point and subscription card revenue rise.
"January 2013 marked the best January for Point and Subscription Cards on record, another indication of the health of spending on digital content and services and how retailers can participate," Callahan said.
ADJUSTED JANUARY US GAME SALES (December 30, 2012-February 2, 2013)
OVERALL DOLLAR SALES
Total retail sales: $667.76 million (-13%)
Non-PC hardware: $164 million (-17%)
Accessories: $205.28 million (4%)
Total software: $314.32 million (-19%)
TOP 10 GAMES FOR JANUARY 2013
Title (Platforms) - Publisher
1. Call of Duty: Black Ops II (X360, PS3, Wii U, PC) - Activision Blizzard
2. Far Cry 3 (X360, PS3, PC) - Ubisoft
3. Just Dance 4 (X360, Wii, Wii U, PS3) - Ubisoft
4. NBA 2K13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PSP, Wii U, PC) - Take-Two Interactive
5. Madden NFL 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, Wii U) - Electronic Arts
6. DmC: Devil May Cry (X360, PS3) - Capcom
7. Halo 4 (X360) - Microsoft
8. Assassin's Creed III (X360, PS3, PC, Wii U) - Ubisoft
9. Skylanders Giants (X360, PS3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS) - Activision Blizzard
10. FIFA Soccer 13 (X360, PS3, Wii, PS Vita, 3DS, Wii U, PSP) - Electronic Arts
Citing NPD data, Microsoft announced today it sold 281,000 Xbox 360 units in January in the United States, marking the system's 25th straight month as the top-selling console in the region. Year-on-year sales are up, as Microsoft
Gamers spent a total of $338 million on Xbox 360 consoles and accessories during the month, the most for any console, Microsoft said.
Xbox 360 market share now stands at 44 percent.
The NPD Group's full January 2013 report is.
[UPDATE] A "trusted source" has confirmed to IGN that the leaked PlayStation 4 controller image is indeed real, but is only a prototype. The final design could change.
The original story follows below
The image matches up with
The controller in question also features some sort of illuminated light on its top as well as audio output functionality, similar to the Wii. The pad is plugged into what looks like a development kit, though this is unclear.
A Sony representative declined to comment.
Sony is holding a
To mark the occasion, Valve has discounted more than 50 Linux titles by as much as 75 percent for one week until February 21. Featured titles include
In addition, those who purchase and play
Steam for Linux also includes support for
Aliens: Colonial Marines was blasted by critics at launch this week. GameSpot's review said the game is a "
With a heightened degree of negativity surrounding Aliens: Colonial Marines, will publisher Sega decide to follow through with its plans to launch the game for the Wii U later this year?
It's tough to say, because no one involved with the project is willing to talk.
A Sega of America senior public relations manager told GameSpot, "Were not commenting on anything regarding Aliens: Colonial Marines right now." Meanwhile, a representative for Demiurge Studios, the Cambridge, Mass., outfit in charge of development said, "Thanks for reaching out and appreciate you double checking with the Demiurge team. However, we can't comment at this time."
Though Gearbox Software is not significantly involved in development on Aliens: Colonial Marines for the Wii U, CEO Randy Pitchford said last year that he sees the game "regularly." It's likely, then, that the studio would have an idea about how the Wii U version is progressing. This remains to be seen, as a Gearbox representative had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment on whether the Wii U version is still planned for release.
Pitchford's Twitter account does not clarify the situation, either. Apart from one retweet about a patch for the console and PC versions of the game, Pitchford has not discussed the Wii U version whatsoever this week.
If retailer listings are any indication, Aliens: Colonial Marines for the Wii U is still on. GameStop, Best Buy, GameFly, and Target all have product pages for the game, though Amazon does not. A representative from the retailer was not immediately available to comment.
The official Aliens: Colonial Marines website lists the Wii U version as "TBC." It is unclear what this means, though popular possibilities include "to be considered" and "to be confirmed."
Industry veteran Masahiro Sakurai has penned a Famitsu column (translated by Polygon) in which the Kirby and Smash Bros. designer voiced his discontent for certain game stories.
"As a player, as someone who's been playing games for a long time, the stories that get told in video games are honestly irksome to me pretty often," Sakurai wrote. "For example, games that take forever to get through the intro and won't let you start playing, or games that go through the trouble of being fully voiced and wind up having their tempo all messed up as a result."
"I just want to enjoy the game and I think I'm just intolerant of aspects that block that enjoyment. I can enjoy a story in any other form of media; I just want the game to let me play it already," he added
As an example, Sakurai said it is "dreadful" that some role-playing games abandon certain characters for the sake of story.
"Let's talk about how, in RPGs and things, a character that you spent the game raising dies or leaves your party for the sake of the story. From a gamer standpoint, that's dreadful; it's totally unreasonable," he said. "In games where you're fighting against enemies, you're playing from the perspective of the hero, and you're being asked to basically win every time. If players wind up in a predicament because of what the story calls for, that's like penalizing them even though they made no mistake. As gameplay, it's lacking."
Sakurai further explained that sometimes it is necessary for a game to create story-focused obstacles for players, but balancing these is key, he said. The developer added that he had a tough time with this in Kid Icarus: Uprising, so he decided to write the entire script himself.
"I did it so I could write a story that jibed with the game, one that took advantage of the game's advantages," Sakurai said. "Every character, including the bosses, had their personalities shaped by their roles in the game, or the structure of the game itself. That let me develop the dialogue to firmly match the developments you encounter in the game. If I had had someone else write the story, I'd either have to keep explaining things to the writer whenever anything changed in-game, or I'd have to partition it away from the game and lose on that consistency."
BioWare will finally reveal details on the next Mass Effect 3 expansion "hopefully" next week, community developer Chris Priestly wrote on Twitter recently (via OXM).
"We'll reveal details as soon as the team is comfortable it is locked and complete. Hopefully next week," Priestly said.
BioWare last month released two new
In December, BioWare teased the next single-player expansion for Mass Effect 3, saying it will be "
Also set to make a return for the mystery content is film and voice actor Seth Green (Family Guy, Austin Powers). Green has performed the voice of Normandy pilot Joker since the series first took flight.
Nintendo today announced Luigi-themed downloadable content for the Wii U launch title New Super Mario Bros. U. The New Super Luigi U expansion will be released in 2013, which Nintendo has branded the "year of Luigi."
According to Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, the content is "large-scale," similar in development to a full game.
"We are currently developing a new adventure starring Luigi. This will be large-scale downloadable content which is similar to the development of full software," Iwata said during a Nintendo Direct presentation today. "So it will take some time."
No specific release date or price for New Super Luigi U was announced.
Nintendo made a range of other announcements during its presentation today. These included giving
Nintendo has announced a new Mario Golf for the 3DS, Mario Golf: World Tour.
The game will be developed by longtime series stewards Camelot and promises to offer modes that both simplify the series for beginners and add complexity for experts. Nintendo will release the game for the 3DS this summer.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata unveiled the game as part of a Nintendo Direct announcement. Mario, Luigi, Donkey Kong, Wario, and Waluigi are all shown in screenshots as playable characters.
Other announcements during the Nintendo Direct presentation included
Mario Golf: World Tour will be the sixth Mario Golf game in a series that has been running since 1999, with previous titles appearing on the N64, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, and GameCube. The last entry in the series,
Donkey Kong Country Returns is making a comeback. Today during a Nintendo Direct video presentation, Nintendo announced Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D for a launch on the 3DS this summer in North America and Europe.
A 3D video of Donkey Kong Country Returns is available to download now in the 3DS eShop.
The game originally launched for the Wii in November 2010 behind a
Other highlights of Nintendo's presentation today included
Crowd-funding site Kickstarter today launched a free iPhone and iPod Touch application, allowing general users to find and follow projects and creators to track pledges on the go.
Users looking for a project to support can browse by category and also tailor results based on their location. In addition, the Kickstarter app allows users to watch videos and contribute to projects through the app.
The Kickstarter app also boasts an "Activity" tab, which collects project updates from initiatives users are backing. New updates will stream in once they are posted by creators. The app also includes social features, allowing users to find Facebook friends and receive notifications when they fund or launch a project.
Lastly, the Kickstarter app features support for creators, notifying them of new pledges in real time. In addition, creators can track their project's progress and share pictures and videos from the iPhone or iPod Touch.
The Kickstarter app was not announced for Android devices, though a representative from the company said, "We're really just focused on this app for iPhone now."
Today during a Nintendo Direct video presentation, the Japanese game maker announced that Animal Crossing: New Leaf will arrive in North America June 9, followed by a June 14 launch in Europe.
The game is called Animal Crossing: Jump Out in Japan and was
Unlike in past sequels, the game's characters will have a more humanlike appearance.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf will also allow players to become the mayor of the main town and give them free rein to improve the area.
Other announcements during the Nintendo Direct presentation included
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team, a new entry in the Mario & Luigi role-playing game series, has been announced by Nintendo.
The game will be released for the Nintendo 3DS this summer, but no specific dates were given.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced the game as part of a Nintendo Direct broadcast dedicated to Luigi--dubbing 2013 the "Year of Luigi"--and showed the first in-game footage.
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team takes place inside Luigi's dreams and will feature puzzles that have to be solved by interacting with a slumbering Luigi on the bottom screen of the 3DS.
Multiple Luigi's can also feature in the game at once, with one scene showing a flood of Luigis attacking a group of enemies and another showing Mario running around the map with dozens of his taller, more timid brother.
Iwata also said that Luigi might not be as traditionally cowardly when inside his dreams.
Other announcements during the Nintendo Direct presentation included
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team will be the fourth game in the Mario & Luigi series, with the previous entries--Superstar Saga, Partners in Time, and Bowser's Inside Story--on the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS. Nintendo studio AlphaDream has handled development of all titles in the series so far.
World of Tanks studio Wargaming announced today it had acquired
Terms of the deal were not divulged.
Gas Powered Games
At the time, Gas Powered Games CEO Chris Taylor said the company was exploring new ways to keep the company afloat.
According to the announcement, a "contingent of veteran developers" from the studio, including Taylor, will stay on following the acquisition. Gas Powered Games
Wargaming last month
Today, organizers announced the first BitSummit, an international game developers gathering aimed at raising awareness for the Japanese independent development scene.
Disclosure: GameSpot is a media partner for the event
More than a dozen Japanese game developers will be in attendance at the event on March 9 in Kyoto, including Q Entertainment (Child of Eden), Valhalla Games (Devil's Third), and Q-Games (Pixeljunk).
The BitSummit is aiming to create a bond between the Japanese indie developer community and Western media in an effort to spread awareness of the nation's development community. GameSpot will be in attendance at the event.
The event will feature keynote addresses and interview sessions, allowing Japanese developers to speak with Western media through translators, if necessary.
Speaking with GameSpot, BitSummit director James Mielke said the event is a necessity because the Japanese game development scene has been largely ignored.
"There are so many great indie games coming out on a monthly basis in the West--to the point where they garner as much coverage as the next Grand Theft Auto--but stuff like this is happening in Japan, too. Basically I got tired of all the post-TGS 'Japanese gaming is dead' discussion. Yes, there may not be as many high-impact games like there were in the late '90s when Final Fantasy VII and Resident Evil 2 were dominating headlines. But there is so much cool stuff being created in Japan; the problem is no one knows about it. I hope BitSummit can help to shift the momentum and shine a light on some of these games. I'm not talking free-to-play Farmville clones, either. I'm talking about real games."
If Japanese and Western indie game developers can better communicate, what does that mean for the future of indie games?
"It's a pretty simple formula, really. If BitSummit can help Japanese independent developers make connections with the Western media, then they can build long-lasting relationships. If the Western media knows these guys on a first-name basis, then they'll be better prepared to write about something new and fresh, instead of the same old Call of Duty headlines," he said.
Mielke added that a healthy and successful Japanese development scene is beneficial to all gamers, saying he hopes BitSummit can help achieve this.
"The more exposure these indie games get, the more interest comes of it, and hopefully we see some success stories emerge from this effort. I'd love nothing more than to have played a part in some great, independent game becoming successful outside of Japan. If Cave Story was one of the first modern-era independent success stories, I'm confident there can be a dozen more of those in the near future. A healthy, successful, thriving independent Japanese development community is good for all of us, because it will help change the notion that the 'good old days' are gone for good."
More information is available at the BitSummit website.
The Company of Heroes movie has been moved up to a February 26 debut. The straight-to-DVD and Blu-ray film was
Based on Relic's strategy game series (now
The Company of Heroes film may not have received much press, but it features a cast of Hollywood veterans. The film stars Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down), Neal McDonough (Flags of Our Fathers, Captain America: The First Avenger), Chad Collins (Lake Placid 2, Sniper: Reloaded), and Jurgen Prochnow (The Da Vinci Code, Das Boot).
The World War II-set Company of Heroes follows a band of American soldiers lost behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge. The squad discovers Hitler's plans to create a superbomb and fights its way through Nazi Germany to foil the Fuhrer's plot.
The next entry in the Company of Heroes series is Relic's Company of Heroes 2. It was
Microsoft has said that whatever Sony announces on February 20--when many expect the PlayStation 4 to be formally unveiled--will not impact the Xbox 360 in the short-term, as "the majority of consumers" won't be aware of it.
"Whatever gets announced on February 20th, the majority of consumers in the UK wont know," said Xbox senior regional director Jonathan Grimes in an interview with MCV.
Microsoft's job will be to ensure its potential customers don't get "lost" in industry chatter over the next few months, adds Grimes. "They'll still want to buy the devices out there," he said. "So in terms of noise our job will be to ensure that the consumers that are going into stores, going online, still see and experience Xbox, rather than get lost in the industry chatter. Whatever is announced is important from an industry perspective, but we must remember who is buying right now."
Elsewhere in the interview Grimes knocked back suggestions that the Xbox 360 could see a further price cut, and issued a caution to gamers who are wishing for a constant "new" in the marketplace.
"The market has changed," said Grimes. "We changed it by introducing Xbox Live and being able to update Xbox 360. The console that you bought when we launch versus the one today is totally different. And this has enabled us to get the install base we have--an install base that wants to buy games."
"We need to be careful about wishing for constant 'new.' We should look at how we can benefit from what is already out."
Grimes was joined by Xbox marketing director Harvey Eagle, who concluded the interview by reasserting the Xbox's position at Microsoft's whole entertainment brand--the kind of thinking that caused one of the original Xbox founders to launch a
"Xbox is the entertainment brand for Microsoft now," said Eagle. "Whilst gaming will be a core fundamental of what we stand for, in order to grow the market we need to move beyond just gaming. And you are starting to see that happen now with Xbox Music and Xbox Video showing up on Windows 8. Xbox goes from being present on 8m devices to hundreds of millions of devices. The scale that that brings allows you to do different things and hopefully grow the market."
"Think of Xbox as the service, and we just happen to also make a console."
Valve cofounder Gabe Newell has responded to the
"We don't usually talk about personnel matters for a number of reasons. There seems to be an unusual amount of speculation about some recent changes here, so I thought I'd take the unusual step of addressing them," Newell said.
"No, we aren't canceling any projects. No, we aren't changing any priorities or projects we've been discussing," he added. "No, this isn't about Steam or Linux or hardware or [insert game name here]. We're not going to discuss why anyone in particular is or isn't working here."
According to reports this afternoon, Valve laid off as many as 25 developers in its hardware and Android divisions as part of the company making "large decisions" about its future.
Prominent hardware developer Jeri Ellsworth said she was
According to the documents, Take-Two's acquisition of the license will save millions by minimizing impact on WWE and developer Yuke's.
"By working together to transition development of WWE games going forward, the parties have minimized the harm to WWE and Yuke's, which have, in turn, agreed to substantial reductions of their claims" against THQ, lawyers for Take-Two said in court papers.
Without the new agreement, the Take-Two lawyers said WWE and Yuke's claims "would certainly exceed $30 million and might exceed $60 million." Other THQ franchises, like Homefront, Company of Heroes, and Saints Row, were
The new agreement will nullify the previous WWE and Yuke's contracts, allowing the companies to sign new deals with Take-Two. According to the documents, WWE agreed to waive $45 million in pre-bankruptcy claims, as well as royalty advances of around $7.5 million through 2017.
As part of the new deal, THQ will pay WWE $650,000 in royalty payments for games sold while under bankruptcy protection. In addition, THQ will give its 14 percent stake in Yuke's--about 1,552,000 shares worth $4.5 million--back to the developer, as well as a $250,000 royalty payment.
The Pokemon Company has launched a new free Pokemon TV application for iOS and Android devices allowing users to watch ad-free full episodes of the animated series. The app includes 50 "fan-favorite" episodes from seasons 1-15 and will be updated on a weekly basis.
In addition, the most recent Pokemon movie--Pokemon the Movie: Kyurem vs. The Sword of Justice--will be available through the Pokemon TV app February 15-18. On top of this, animated short Meloetta's Moonlight Serenade will launch through the app from March 4.
The Pokemon TV app is not the first mobile software from The Pokemon Company for iOS and Android devices. The company in December launched a
The next core Pokemon games will be