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Report picks apart relationship between Metacritic and Steam sales

Ars Technica has released a new installment of their Steam Gauge project, where the website analyzes Valve's digital distribution service and its impact on the games industry. This time, they've explored the connection (or possible lack thereof) between Metacritic scores and number of sales on Steam. Do higher Metacritic scores correspond to a higher number of Steam sales? Unfortunately, the answer isn't as simple as a "yes" or "no."

Initially, things look disjointed. Ars notes that "a game with an 80 on Metacritic ... is just as likely to bring in about 56,000 estimated Steam sales (at the 25th percentile) as it is to earn 375,000 estimated Steam sales (at the 75th percentile)." However, looking at the median sales and aggregating Metacritic scores into 10-point ranges, a more identifiable trend emerges. According to Ars' estimates, a game with a median Metacritic score of 90 or higher will sell 50 times the amount of copies that a game with a Metacritic of 30 or lower sells.

Some caveats: Ars Technica's data represents estimates based on publicly-available information, and Metacritic itself weighs reviews from different sites differently. One man's trash may be another man's treasure, but Metacritic may be inclined to agree with one side more than the other. Also, the data analyzed doesn't take into account discount events such as the Steam sales - which we all know are the bank account's natural enemy - so there are additional factors that could be at play here. Lastly, Ars notes that individual games may buck the trend: Orion: Dino Horde has a Metacritic rating of 36, yet an estimated 314,000 Steam sales, while NBA 2K13, despite its rating of 90 on Metacritic, has only sold an estimated 50,000 copies on Steam.

Nonetheless, there appears to be some sort of correlation between higher Metacritic ratings and higher sales on Steam. Causation, though? Maybe not so much. And while this information might seem like common sense, now there are numbers to back up your intuitions.
[Image: Metacritic]

Artist Omocat's surreal RPG Omori channels its inner Earthbound


Omori, a "surreal, exploration, horror RPG" from webcomic artist Omocat bears fleeting similarities to popular games like Nintendo's Earthbound, which may be what pushed it past its $22,000 goal on Kickstarter in just over one day.

Omori has players traveling between two worlds, exploring their own memories and uncovering some "hidden truths" between turn-based battles, which are listed as "traditional," though they feature untraditional player statuses "based off real human emotions and conditions." The game is written, directed and illustrated by Omocat with a soundtrack courtesy of chiptune artists Slime Girls and Space Boyfriend, the latter of which directly cites Earthbound, Animal Crossing and Persona as inspirations for the game's music. It is in development for PC and will come to Mac if the project crosses its $50,000 stretch goal.

Omocat expects to deliver Omori to backers by May 2015 according to the project's reward tiers, which includes a $15 level that grants donors a copy of the game.
[Image: Omocat]

FTC clears Facebook's purchase of Oculus VR

Facebook has earned U.S. antitrust approval to purchase Oculus VR, clearing the way for its acquisition of the company and its Oculus Rift VR headset technology, Reuters reports.

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission approved the acquisition this week. Facebook announced its purchase plans last month, revealing that it will pay $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR and its assets.

Oculus VR crowdfunded its headset technology in 2012, later expanding its development team with the addition of former Valve software engineer Tom Forsyth, University of Illinois robotics scientist Steve Lavelle, and id Software co-founder John Carmack. The Oculus Rift headset has sold over 85,000 units to date.

[Image: Oculus VR]

Destiny will fly you (and Titans, Hunters and Warlocks) to the moon

A revamped website for Destiny, Bungie's upcoming sci-fi shooter, has spilled the proverbial space-beans on player classes Titan, Hunter and Warlock. The new info also details the various enemies players will no doubt be 360-noscoping in the face, as well as locales where said leet skillz will be on display.

Destiny's classes hew close to the holy RPG trinity of Fighter, Rogue and Wizard. Titans are the Fighter analogue, wearing thick, bulky armor and described on the Destiny site as "steadfast and sure." Hunters are the Rogue-like class of Destiny, possessing a "unique brand of daring and ingenuity." Lastly, Warlocks align with the Wizard archetype, using "arcane energies" to slay their foes.

The four-armed Fallen are described as hardy warriors who use guerrilla tactics to hit their enemies and immediately disappear. There's also the ghoulish Hive, the massive and militaristic Cabal, and the robotic Vex. You'll be able to take on all of the above across the surfaces of Earth, Venus, Mars and Luna (that'd be the proper name of our moon - the more you know).
[Image: Activision]

Banjo-Kazooie spiritual successor canceled, composer says

A proposed spiritual successor to Rare's Nintendo 64 platformer Banjo-Kazooie has been called off, series composer Grant Kirkhope confirmed in a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" post this week.

"The other guys actually had a secret meeting in a pub near Rare and we even got as far as having a character drawn up and a demo level type thing but it all fell to bits .... everyone's got other jobs, etc.," Kirkhope said.

Developed by a team of ex-Rare staffers, the "Mingy Jongo" project promised to retain the detailed environments and googly-eyed characters of its N64 inspiration. The team's Twitter account went dark in December 2012, and a proposed Kickstarter project failed to materialize.

[Image: Rare]

Another World rated for current consoles, handhelds in Germany

Eric Chahi's classic side-scrolling adventure game Another World may soon see a re-release across multiple consoles and portable platforms, a recent USK ratings submission suggests.

Another World (released on 16-bit consoles as Out of This World) transports players to a harsh alien planet where they must fend off hostile humanoids and solve environmental puzzles to survive. The game saw an anniversary release on PC platforms in 2010, followed by ports for iOS and Android courtesy of retrogame remastering studio DotEmu.

Another World's ratings submission points to future ports for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, and PS Vita, with Digital Lounge listed as publisher. We've contacted DotEmu for more information regarding the listed release.

[Image: DotEmu]

Fan support could lead to SNES, GBA Remix

"If you build it, they will come" doesn't always apply to game development, as NES Remix director Koichi Hayashida recently illustrated. When asked about the possible inclusion of Super Nintendo, Game Boy or Game Boy Advance games in a future Remix game, Hayashida told IGN that "if there's a big enough outpouring of support for these titles, it's something I'd like to take a look at."

Nintendo just launched NES Remix 2, which fared much better than the first game in our review. The first NES Remix arrived in December, though its selection of games was lackluster. Both games approach a collection of classic NES titles in a novel way: by issuing brief mini-game-style challenges. While other Virtual Console platforms like SNES and GBA sound like natural fits for future Remix installments, Hayashida said it still boils down to the question, "Does the marketplace want it or need it?"

"If we get a big enough cry for that, with a lot of people saying, 'Hey, we'd love to see more of these perhaps for the SNES, Game Boy or Game Boy Advance,' then it would be something we can take a look at," he added.
[Image: Nintendo]

Download deluxe edition of Dragon Age: Inquisition, sit on a dragon skull throne

Now that everybody expects the Dragon Age: Inquisition in October, EA's seen fit to reveal what's in the game's Digital Deluxe Edition. The $70/£60 bundle features the RPG's digital soundtrack as well as a bunch of in-game goodies. That includes everything from a throne fashioned out of a dragon skull to an unfortunately titled Bog Unicorn.

Check out Origin for the full list of Deluxe bonuses, but if you'd prefer a lower-priced, extras-free download, the standard edition is going for $60/£50. If you're after something more physical, EA said it'll have news on a Collector's Edition in the "next few weeks."

As for the game itself, Inquisition centers around a group of allies tasked with uncovering the truth behind the new evil threatening Thedas. As Executive Producer Mark Darrah explained on the game's site, you play as the leader of this formation of heroes. As the Inquisitor, it's up to you to make the tough decisions like passing judgments of guilt and innocence, choosing which paths to follow and which to close off, and how best to use your chief weapons of fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency and a nice red uniform.

Dragon Age: Inquisition is coming to PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on October 7.

PS Plus Europe in May: Stick it to the Man, Puppeteer, Muramasa Rebirth

Stick it to the Man is the next PlayStation 4 offering for Plus subscribers in Europe, starting next week on April 30. The eccentric 2D adventure is due in North America on May 6, which perhaps suggests a later start for May's stateside batch of Plus, or possibly a different PS4 game. We will have to wait and see.

Returning to Europe, there are four other games entering the PS Plus service at the end of April, including two on PS3 and two on Vita. The first of the console offerings is performer plaformer Puppeteer, while the second is first-person robber Payday 2. The latter is a neat addition for subscribers who downloaded the first Payday last summer.

The Vita newbies are two very different games hailing from Japan, namely hand-painted 2D adventure Muramasa Rebirth and cutesy sports sim Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational. That's Everybody's Golf if you're European, but Loads of Fun no matter where you're from.

As ever, five games in means five games out: Make sure you grab Mercenary Kings, Pro Evo 2014, BioShock Infinite, Hotline Miami and MotoGP13 before Plus drops them on April 30.
[Image: Ripstone]

Rise Kujikawa confirmed to be playable in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

Former teen idol Rise Kujikawa isn't staying idle in Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, after Famitsu confirmed her as one of the game's playable fighters. The original Arena introduced the Persona 4 starlet as a non-playable announcer, but in the enhanced follow-up she's one of a bunch of new fighters including Yukari and Junpei from Persona 3, and a character that's brand new to the series, Sho Minazuki.

The news gives credence to rumors that Ken Amada, Persona 3's youngest (human) protagonist, also features in the Ultimax roster. As Siliconera reported, a now-baleeted Best Buy listing noted both Ken and Rise as playable in Ultimax. It also mentioned a total of six newbies, indicating there's another fighter we've yet to hear anything about. We'll likely find out soon enough, given the game is due to hit PS3 and Xbox 360 sometime this fall.

Lords of the Fallen trailer gets knocked down, but it gets up again

Image The new Lords of the Fallen trailer is a bit Groundhog Day, except with Bill Murray as an unwavering knight rather than an arrogant weatherman, and instead of reliving some local festivities, he's stuck in an endless loop of grueling, bloody duels to the death. Yup, we'd so watch that movie. As... Continue Reading

Xbox One reaches Japan on September 4

The Xbox One launches in Japan on September 4, Microsoft announced this morning. The company didn't disclose a launch price or which launch titles to expect, but there are just over 40 confirmed Xbox One games for the country, including Titanfall, Kingdom Hearts 3, Final Fantasy 15 and Sunset Overdrive.

Japan was previously confirmed as one of 26 territories expecting the system in September, but the other 25 remain without a concrete release date. The Xbox One launched in 13 regions back in November 2013, in which Microsoft has shipped 5 million units to date.
[Image: Microsoft]

Warface exits beta, enters warzone on Xbox 360


As was previously announced, Crytek Kiev-developed FPS Warface officially launched on Xbox 360 today following its near one-month open beta phase. The game is free for all Xbox Live Gold subscribers to play, and features four soldier classes, playable in cooperative multiplayer raids as well as versus modes.

Warface launched on PC in North America in October, later receiving an update with added multiplayer modes in February. The game first debuted in Russia in 2012, and will later come to China, Taiwan and Japan. Crytek revealed late last month that the game reached 25 million registrants. Warface is based on the developer's own CryEngine 3 tech, the same engine used to create games like Crysis 3 and Ryse: Son of Rome.
[Image: Crytek]

Minecraft video demonstrates world customization update


Minecraft developer Mojang showed off one piece of the forthcoming update for the PC game in a new video today, which offers more options for world customization in the game. The video shows the game's 16 new terrain-modifying sliders, allowing players to manually set the foundation of their Minecraft worlds down to its "depth base size" and "upper limit scale."

Additionally, the update will include other customization functions, such as the ability to decide which structures are generated by the game like caves, villages, temples and strongholds. Players will also have the option to set the number of dungeons and the height of their world's sea level in the game. If all that sounds too complex, Mojang included seven preset worlds and their slider settings to get players acquainted with the building tools. There's no word on when the Minecraft update is scheduled to arrive.
[Image: Mojang]

Peggle 2 Windy fairy DLC gives a flying flock


Peggle 2 received a new master via downloadable content today named Windy, a spritely fairy that brings with her a special "Fairy Flock" power. Windy transforms blue pegs in the game into the score-boosting purple pegs and "simple shots" into ones that are bound to earn players additional chances.

The Windy's Master Pack DLC includes 10 new levels, 10 trials, three costumes, three achievements and 30 objectives, all for $1.99. PopCap launched the game on Xbox One in December, adding local multiplayer dueling in March. Xbox 360 owners will get a turn with Peggle 2 when it arrives on Microsoft's so-last-gen platform on May 7.

Continue Reading

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 adds Enviro-Bear, R-Type, Paper Monsters

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 is now nine games strong with the addition of Enviro-Bear 2010, R-Type and Paper Monsters. These three games are locked under the "pay more than the average" tier, joining The Cave, The Room Two and Carcassonne. Available for any price you want are Bag It, R-Type 2 and Aralon: Sword and Shadow.

There's one week left in this Humble Bundle. This time around, there are two charities you can send your cash to: Child's Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. You can also split your money between the developers and Humble itself.
[Image: Humble Bundle]

PSN Tuesday: Octodad, Cel Damage HD, Walking Dead

Happy PSN Tuesday! This week on PS4 we get Octodad: Dadliest Catch ($15), Putty Squad ($25) and Cel Damage HD ($10). Even though Octodad is a new indie game on a Sony console, it's not free for Plus members – and the developers at Young Horses put a lot of thought into that development.

Cel Damage HD is also available on PS3 and Vita, while Putty Squad is also on Vita. The PS3 lineup includes Defense Technica and SoulCalibur Lost Swords (that one's free). On Vita, there's The Walking Dead Season 2: Episode 1, Demon Gaze and Starlight Inception.

PS Plus members this week get PixelJunk Monsters Ultimate HD free on Vita. Whee!
[Image: Young Horses]

BlizzCon hordes invade Anaheim Nov. 7-8

"Steel thyself, O mortal realm of Anaheim," a blog post on Blizzard's official site reads, announcing the dates for BlizzCon 2014. On Friday, November 7 through Saturday, November 8, hordes of Blizzard fans will gather to celebrate all things [noun]Craft-related.

Tickets for the event will go on sale in two batches: First on May 7 at 7pm Pacific and then on May 10 at 10am Pacific via Eventbrite. Tickets are priced at $199 each. A limited number of $750 tickets, which also include entry to a pre-event dinner, will be available on May 14. Proceeds from the dinner event benefit the Children's Hospital of Orange County.

Blizzard will also offer Virtual Tickets to the event, allowing fans afar to watch the festivities from the comfort of their own homes. Sale details and pricing have yet to be revealed for online access.

Blizzard recently launched the Diablo 3 expansion, Reaper of Souls, and the collectible card game, Hearthstone, on iPad. The company's multiplayer online battle arena game Heroes of the Storm is its next title, along with further expansions for the World of Warcraft universe.
[Image: Blizzard]

Next Fatal Frame to snap ghostly images on Wii U

The next entry in the Fatal Frame series will haunt Nintendo's Wii U console, according to a Famitsu report translated by Gematsu.

Nintendo and Tecmo Koei recently announced the new game, though the two corporations offered no further information on this project. Instead, they used this opportunity to promote a number of multimedia tie-ins tangentially linked to the survival horror franchise, including a novel, a manga and a live-action film from director Mari Asato.

Unfortunately for anyone in North America that's a fan of camera-shy ghosts, it seems unlikely that the next Fatal Frame will ever reach our shores. As Gematsu points out, the prior entry, Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, made its Japanese Wii debut in 2008, but has yet to be localized for any other region. The 2012 Wii remake of Fatal Frame 2: Crimson Butterfly did manage to reach Europe, but it too skipped North America.
[Image: Nintendo]

Soulcalibur: Lost Swords finds a home on PlayStation 3

Today marks the debut of Bandai Namco's Soulcalibur: Lost Swords, an attempt at transferring the free-to-play success of Tekken Revolution to the publisher's other big 3D fighting franchise.

Like Tekken Revolution, Soulcalibur: Lost Swords is exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and can be downloaded from the PlayStation Network at no charge. Though superficially a one-on-one fighter mechanically similar to Soulcalibur 5, Lost Swords is a single-player game where players fight their way through typical Soulcalibur battles, earning items which can then be used to customize their chosen character. As in Tekken Revolution, each battle requires that players expend a certain amount of in-game currency, though once this supply runs low, players can either wait for it to gradually refill or shell out real-world cash to speed the process.

To reward those who just can't wait to slice and dice their polygonal foes, Bandai Namco is offering a gratis set of "bonus items" to anyone who plays the game within its first month of release. There's no word on what exactly these bonus items are, but knowing the series it could be anything from new weapons to inexplicable Star Wars tie-ins.
[Image: Bandai Namco]

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