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Report: Facebook head sought Project Morpheus demo before buying Oculus VR

Prior to spending $2 billion on a recent surprise purchase of Oculus VR, Facebook's boy king Mark Zuckerberg took Sony's Project Morpheus headset for a spin, according to PlayStation executive Guy Longworth.

"I wish he bought ours," Longworth said during a presentation at the ongoing Games Marketing Summit. Longworth recalls confusion over why Zuckerberg would request a demo of the Project Morpheus headset, though following the FTC's decision to allow the Oculus VR acquisition, it all makes sense. "All the folks at Oculus have got big smiles on today," he added.

Despite missing out on that massive pay day, Longworth claims Sony is still very keen on the future potential of virtual reality. "If you think about VR, not just in terms of gaming, I think wearable technology is a huge trend that's going to continue," Longworth said. "I think that being able to have experiences that are truly deep and immersive - that it somehow makes you feel you are there - is something that people want."

"If you could really deliver that in the future, that would be huge," he added, while making no mention of how Sony intends to deliver on this "huge" potential.
[Image: Sony]

Joystiq Streams: Giveaways and The Wolf Among Us

Joystiq Streams is already the stuff of legend, so it's no wonder we're drawn to Bill Willingham's long running Fables comic book series. Like its supernatural stars Snow White, Bigby Wolf, and Cinderella, we, too, are nigh-on immortal and in constant combat with evil despots forcing us to live exiled in New York City. That last part isn't true. What is true is that we'll be playing the very first episode The Wolf Among Us on Joystiq Streams alongside its creators and we'll be giving away heaps of codes for both that episode and Steam season passes.

Tune in right here to this post or the Joystiq Twitch channel at 4PM EST as we stream The Wolf Among Us: Faith alongside Telltale Games producer Chris Schroyer and actor Adam Harrington, the voice behind Bigby Wolf.

Richard Mitchell will play, Susan Arendt will chat, and in the Twitch chat feed Anthony John Agnello will be giving away five codes for Episode 1 on Xbox 360, five codes for the episode on PlayStation 3, and five full Wolf Among Us season passes for Steam. Codes are first come, first serve so get up in there quick.

Joystiq Streams broadcasts live every Tuesday and Thursday at 4PM EST at Twitch.tv/Joystiq.
[Images: Telltale Games]

New Nintendo eShop releases: NES Remix 2, Child of Light, Yoshi's Island GBA

This week's eShop update is a big tease. NES Remix 2? Not out 'til tomorrow. Child of Light? Next week, on April 29. At least you can play Mario Golf: World Tour today - in a demo.

As for what's launching today, there's the last of April's Game Boy Advance games in Yoshi's Island: Super Mario Advance 3, and a few other bits and bobs too - as ever, we've got the full list of new releases after the break. Finally, there's also a new two-week sale on Joindots' games, including Secret Agent Files: Miami and 3D MahJongg.
[Image: Ubisoft]

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Hitman Go review: The game of death

Hitman Go is the one thing previous games in the series have never been: subtle. In earlier outings, directing Agent 47 through each gruesome assassination occasionally required some subtle thinking. Do I hide in that dumpster? Do I dress up like a clown and sneak through the kitchen? But no matter how quietly or sneakily you offed your targets, you were still playing as a bald man with a barcode tattooed on the back of his head. "Ave Maria" plays every time you garrote some hardened criminal. Hitman games, from the PS2 era up to 2012's Absolution, are silly, taxing, and deft at giving you options, but they're about as subtle as Godzilla's Tokyo vacations.

Square-Enix Montreal's new iOS and Android spin on the series, meanwhile, is softly smart and marvelously complex despite its simple exterior. On the face, Hitman Go seems to be all style and no substance, devoid of the chewy, strategic flexibility offered by the console games. Rather than mimic the polygonal 3D style of Hitman as Square-Enix has done with other iPad-ized console/PC spin-offs like Deus Ex: The Fall, Square-Enix Montreal presents Go as a board game, complete with wooden boards and tiny plastic figures that look like tokens straight out of a Risk box. The motif is appealingly sleek, replacing the gaudiness of I/O Interactive's Absolution with primary colors and white space. Even the menus where you select which level to play – the initial release comes with five "boards," the last of which is actually based on Hitman: Blood Money – look hot, with the little mocked up board game box inviting you to paw at the touch screen.

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Bloodrayne Betrayal coming to PC next week, Japanese tease was port


Last week's tease by Arc System Works for something BloodRayne related was simply a razz for the Japanese localization of BloodRayne: Betrayal. The "BRCS" from the teaser site stood for BloodRayne: Crimson Slayer, which will be the game's name for the region. The solid action game from WayForward will be available in Japan on May 1 on PS3.

In the west, BloodRayne: Betrayal will be available on Steam for PC on April 30 with full controller support. In our review we said Bloodrayne Betrayal has "style, substance and butter-smooth combat."

Gone Home and Papers, Please sweep Games For Change Awards

The Games For Change Festival hosted its annual awards ceremony on Wednesday night, honoring socially conscious games in three categories: Most Innovative, Most Impactful, and Best Gameplay. Game of the Year, the fourth and final award, was given to a game that embodied all three categories. Some 140 games were nominated, and a panel of experts in gaming, media, education and philanthropy whittled those selections down to eight finalists.

Lucas Pope, though not in attendance at the awards, dominated the stage. Papers, Please, Pope's brutal game about playing a border crossing guard in the fictional communist nation Arstotzka, won both the Most Innovative and Best Gameplay awards. Speaking with Joystiq via email after the awards, Pope shared his thoughts on why his game seems to resonate so strongly with players.

"It puts players in an unfamiliar position and asks them to make difficult decisions with no easy answers," said Pope. "The subject matter is unique enough to get people interested, so the challenge for me was to hook them early with the core gameplay, then build on that with an interesting story."

Most Significant Impact, the award given to games about social issue that also encourages players to develop empathy and respect for the subject, went to Electric Funstuff's The Mission US: A Cheyenne Odyssey. Mission US simulates life for the Northern Cheyenne tribe as it confronted the institution of Native American reservations in the 19th century.

The Games For Change Game of the Year award was given to The Fullbright Company for Gone Home, their divisive first-person adventure. Steve Gaynor and Karla Zimonja accepted their award in a brief video message which, as the ceremony's host put it, may have been the first ever selfie acceptance speech.

Papers, Please and Gone Home both received year-end accolades from Joystiq and numerous other outlets. Lucas Pope offered some insight into why games that address social issues are gaining traction amongst players.

"I think the changing audience is related to generations and technology," explained Pope. "I grew up playing games my entire life so they're a natural form of expression and entertainment for me. I don't necessarily look to games for only straight up fun times, and I'd say most of my generation is the same way. At the same time, the tools and resources to create games have exploded in the last five years. It's much easier now to make smaller games that reflect personal experiences. With more games like this being made, there's naturally going to be an audience to play and enjoy them."

Yoshi Wii Remote Plus coming to Europe alongside Mario Kart 8

Following the royal unveiling of Princess Peach's Wiimote Plus, Nintendo of Europe is making sure all four Mario Kart 8 multi-players can have a mascot-themed controller to hand. When the racer launches on May 30, Europeans can get both the Peach controller and a new Yoshi one, and join them up with the Mario and Luigi Wiimotes already out.

Stateside, Nintendo of America released the Peach Wii Remote Plus earlier this week, but this is the first we've seen of the Yoshi controller. As things stand, Americans will be forced to limit Mario Kart 8 to three-way couch multiplayer with Luigi, Mario and Peach remotes, and that's not on. Surely Nintendo doesn't expect the fourth player to have a regular Wii Remote Plus, or - gasp - one of the controllers another player has? That's just obscene.
[Image: Nintendo]

Soulcalibur: Lost Swords issues make game unplayable, 'launch delayed'

Free-to-play fighter Soulcalibur: Lost Swords may be available in the West now, but players are complaining that the game is completely unplayable. In a sort of rehash of last year's Sim City issues, Lost Swords requires players to connect to its servers when launching and playing the game, despite being a single-player experience. Sure enough, that's the point players can't get past at the moment. Instead, the PS3 game eventually produces an error code message and then sends players back to the title screen. Player reports on Twitter, Facebook and the PlayStation Blog indicate the problem is widespread, although it does seem that some players have managed to access and play the game.

We tested it out this morning, and while we managed to register a profile and create a character, we weren't able to access Lost Swords gameplay across several attempts. The only mode the game let us select was Quests, and when trying to load up the initial tutorial quest, it produced an error code for a lost connection to the server, and returned us to the title screen. Lost Swords also wouldn't let us load it without signing into PSN beforehand - it's not clear why exactly that's been implemented, although a key feature of Lost Swords is being able to download other players' characters to use as tag-in allies in battle.

For its part, Bandai Namco America has acknowledged a "technical issue that has delayed the launch of the game" - for the record, Lost Swords remains available to download on the PlayStation Store, and the game itself makes no note about a delayed launch.

"We have discovered that the issue requires a resolution across multiple parties and therefore our efforts to remedy the issue is taking longer than anticipated." the publisher said last night on the Soulcalibur Facebook page. "Currently we are working feverishly with a key partner to implement a solution in the shortest amount of time possible."

[Thanks, JC!]
[Image: Bandai Namco]

Evolve gameplay is all about the hunt


2K Games and Turtle Rock Studios launched an interactive trailer this morning for Evolve, the four versus one mulitplayer game coming this fall to next-gen consoles and PC. There's about an hour of content in the video above and if you want more you can check out our video preview.

Mario Kart 8 Wii U bundles unveiled for Europe

Nintendo confirmed the long-rumored Mario Kart 8 Wii U bundle for Europe today, but there's no word yet if it's skidding along to North America. The Premium bundle packs in the 32GB black Wii U with the racer and all the usual accessories within. It's launching alongside the game on May 30, priced £250 in the UK according to Nintendo's store.

For £50 more, players can align with one of Nintendo's plumber brothers in Mario and Luigi themed Wii U packs (check out the Luigi one above). The fraternal packages bundle in your choice of red or green hats, GamePad protectors, Wii U wheels and non-additional Wii Remote Plus controllers, as well as a game guide. The Mario and Luigi bundles look to be limited to the UK and exclusive to Nintendo's online store.

Mario Kart 8 brings the long-running racer series into HD splendor for the first time. As our video preview shows, it also features new elements like zero-g racing, piranha plant items, and everyone's favorite assortment of monstrous offspring, the Koopa Kids.
[Image: Nintendo]

XCOM: Enemy Unknown gets acquainted with Android, out now

XCOM: Enemy Unknown is out now on Google Play, commander. The new Android port is priced $10/£7.14, and according to a message from XCOM HQ, an advance on the Amazon Appstore is expected "soon."

Despite claiming the lives of many of our best friends - or at least a bunch of soldiers named after them - we ranked Enemy Unknown as our second-best game of 2012. The good news: Firaxis transitioned the console and PC release into a "slick, portable package" on iOS, and hopefully that'll pan out the same way on Android.

New Ace Attorney trailer showcases characters, courtroom, cherry blossoms


The first trailer for the new Meiji era Ace Attorney shows us the stars of the 3DS game and their more classic courtroom backdrop. There's not any gameplay to go on, but we do get a good look at Ryuunosuke Naruhodo, ancestor of one Phoenix Wright, and the lady who's likely his assistant in floral dress, Mikatoba Susato.

According to Court-Records.net, Susato is an "ideal Japanese woman" who's a lover of foreign detectives and a progressive dreamer. Knowing the Ace Attorney series, there's probably a bit more to her than that.

Capcom only just announced the game for Japan, so no surprise that there's no word on the turn-of-the-20th-century adventure turning out for the West. In the interim, you can dream via a translated version of the new trailer.
[Image: Famitsu]

Steam Midweek Madness: Portal 2, Octodad: Dadliest Catch

Portal 2 and Octodad: Dadliest Catch have a lot in common: Both are born from an independent developer concept; both feature a clueless collection of non-playable characters; and they each explore the absurdity of the human condition. Now, thanks to a Midweek Madness sale, both are available for a discounted price on Steam.

Portal 2 is available for $4.99, 75 percent off its regular price (or $8.74 for two copies for co-op adventures. Octodad: Dadliest Catch can be added to your Steam library for $9.99, 33 percent off (or $13.33 for the game and soundtrack; which, shockingly, does include the Lionel Richie classic "Stuck on You"). Each sale ends at 10am Pacific on Friday, April 25.

In other deal-related news, the newly released music exploration game FRACT OSC is available for 10 percent off ($13.49) until 10am Pacific on April 29.
[Image: Young Horses]

China to restrict game sales based on content like gambling, violence

Since China temporarily lifted its ban on foreign video game consoles in January, it was a matter of time before the government offered new rules to regulate console and game distribution. According to a Shanghai government release translated by Games in Asia, those rules will dictate the kind of content that won't be allowed to be sold in the country, such gambiling-related game features.

Additionally, anything deemed threatening to "China's national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity" and content that "instigates racial/ethnic hatred" won't be distributable in the country. Games also may not promote "obscenity, drug use, violence or gambling," as well as cults and superstitions. Approved games cannot violate China's constitution, nor can they harm its culture, traditions and public ethics.

The policies state that foreign companies must work with a local company to produce consoles within the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, such as Sony's PlayStation 4 or Microsoft's Xbox One, the latter of which arrived in 26 more regions just last month. Plus, games in China must go through an approval process with Shanghai's culture department, which will take "no longer than 20 days." This applies to game updates with new content, such as DLC, even if the game itself was already approved. Lastly, all console games will be required to have a simplified Chinese version, so publishers won't be able to simply re-sell Hong Kong and Taiwan versions of their games.
[Image: Microsoft]

Twitch, Newegg put $20,000 into High School StarLeague scholarship

High School StarLeague organizes esports competitions for high school students in North America, and this season it's offering a scholarship of more than $20,000 for the winners of its finals round in June. Twitch and Newegg each contributed $10,000 to High School StarLeague for the scholarship.

"Through tournaments and scholarships, we plan to prepare our aspiring and talented gamers for the professional gaming scene, while simultaneously ensuring success in their education and character development outside of the game," High School StarLeague COO Jesse Wang said in a press release.

Games included in the tournament are League of Legends, Dota 2 and StarCraft 2. The High School StarLeague 2013-2014 finals take place in June in Southern California, and they'll be broadcast live on Twitch.
[Image: High School StarLeague]

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Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls soundtrack now available

The epic soundtrack from Blizzard's first Diablo 3 expansion is upon us, featuring such cheery song titles as "Paths of the Drowned" and, sure-to-be wedding first dance fave, "Blood for Blood." The Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls soundtrack is available via iTunes for $9.99 (or $1.29 per song, because maths) and features 22 music tracks from the expansion to Blizzard's loot simulator.

Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls launched for PC and Mac on March 25, adding a devious new act and the marvelously replayable Adventure Mode, as noted in Joystiq's review. A PlayStation 4 version featuring both Diablo 3 and the Reaper of Souls expansion is on the horizon.
[Image: Blizzard]

Get Red Orchestra 2 for free on Steam, offer expires soon

Update: The offer expires on April 24 at 10am Pacific.

Developer Tripwire Interactive is giving Steam users a freebie. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad, a World War 2-themed tactical shooter, is available for free. Like Valve did with Left 4 Dead 2 some months ago, the game is yours to keep forever as long as it's added to your Steam account within the giveaway period.

Tripwire Interactive will parlay its gifting mood into a free Steam weekend featuring Red Orchestra 2's Rising Storm expansion. During the free trial period of the expansion, Rising Storm will be available for purchase at a discounted price.

To grab Red Orchestra 2 for free, simply "add" it to your account from the game's Steam store page. Tripwire's shooter is regularly priced at $9.99.
[Image: Tripwire Interactive]

Zynga founder Pincus steps down, Xbox Live GM to head Zynga Studios

Zynga Co-Founder Mark Pincus is stepping down as Chief Product Officer of Zynga, the social gaming company announced alongside its first quarter 2014 financial results today. Pincus will continue to serve in a non-operational capacity as Zynga's Chairman of the Board, a role he held in addition to company CEO until Don Mattrick was named CEO in July 2013.

Additionally, Alex Garden was announced as President of Zynga Studios in the report. Garden departs Microsoft as the general manager of Xbox Live and Xbox Music, Video and Reading. Prior to that, he was CEO of Nexon Publishing North America. Garden will report directly to Mattrick, much like Zynga's new chief financial officer David Lee, who was hired this month as well.

Zynga also added visual effects artist Henry LaBounta as the developer's chief visual officer. LaBounta worked with Electronic Arts and Microsoft Studios, and previously was visual effects supervisor at DreamWorks on the films Minority Report and A.I. Artificial Intelligence.
[Image: Zynga]

Games for Health 2014 includes keynote by Papo & Yo dev

Vander Caballero, the creative director at Papo & Yo developer Minority Media, will be giving a keynote speech at this year's Games For Health conference. Caballero's speech will focus on his work creating Papo & Yo - which was based largely on Caballero's experiences growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father - as well as Minority's upcoming game about bullying (and terrifying crow people), Silent Enemy.

This year is the 10th for the annual Games for Health conference, which aims to "foster awareness of, education about, and development of games that make a positive impact on the health of communities and health care," according to the official site. Games for Health will run June 18 - 20 at the Back Bay Events Center in Boston. Registration is now open for those hoping to attend.
[Image: Minority Media]

Come on feel the toys: What's new in Skylanders Trap Team


Knowing full well that kids love catching them all when there are even more to catch, Activision announced Skylanders Trap Team for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, PS3, and Xbox 360. The latest entry in the franchise follows up last year's Skylanders: Swap Force and introduces the ability to not only buy many, many heroic action figures but also the ability to trap the game's enemies and turn them to the light.

Developed by Toys For Bob, which hasn't led development since 2012's Skylanders: Giants, Trap Team expands the compulsive collectable nature of the game. The game comes with a brand new NFC portal that reads not just the usual Skylanders toys, but new crystal toys. When fighting specific villains in the game like goofy old man Chompy Mage, plugging a trap crystal into the base actually sucks up the villain making them a usable character. There are 40 trappable villains in the game, and you can switch between one trapped villain and one regular Skylander figure on the fly, adding a tag team element to the Zelda style brawling that's the series' signature.

Toys For Bob is adding 60 new Skylanders as well, including the Trapmasters, a new class equipped with giant weapons made of "Traptanium," the same fictional substance the toys for trapping villains are made of.

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What's In A Name

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