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Yesterday I reported the news that apparently Titanfall will remain an Xbox and Microsoft exclusive for the lifetime of the game. This means that whilst we'll get a PC version to accompany the Xbox One and Xbox 360 versions, Playstation gamers will be out of luck, right? I'm not so sure about this - so please allow me to indulge in some speculation.

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So let's start with what we know. Last October developer Respawn Entertainment's Vince Zampella clarified the status of the game in a tweet:

So the game was always destined to be an Xbox exclusive for at least a few months, but EA, who publish the game seem to have concluded a separate deal making the game an exclusive for the life of the console.

Sounds pretty concrete, right? There's perhaps good reason though why we should treat this with a huge grain of salt.

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Remember back in the day when to the shock of almost everyone it was announced by developers Capcom that the game would be exclusive to Nintendo's sickly Gamecube console? At the time it was seen as a huge boon to a machine that was stuck with a kids-only image, and there was clearly some regret about choosing the little purple box, over the infinitely more popular PS2. Several months later, Capcom reneged and released the game on the other consoles.

Last generation too, the Mass Effect series started life as an Xbox 360 exclusive, but soon found its way on to the PS3 too. So what does "exclusive" really mean?

Here's my thinking on Titanfall.

Being the first AAA release of this latest console generation, making it exclusive was obviously a huge priority for Microsoft. Since the infamous E3 announcement, they knew they would be on the back-foot and playing catch-up amongst the hardcore early adopters who can make-or-break a console. So perhaps wisely, they've thrown money at the problem and signed up Titanfall as an exclusive.

EA must have eagerly signed up to the deal because they have made the calculation that getting a big lump sum from Microsoft in exchange for exclusivity is going to net them more cash than if the game was released on both consoles - why else would you hold back?

Titanfall is going to sell well - but it probably won't be a huge seller because, lets face it, not many people own an Xbox One yet. And whilst there is a 360 version, chances are that many 360 owners - especially the hardcore gamers who Titanfall is targeting - are holding off buying new games until they can afford to upgrade to the new platform.

Arguably what's more important to Microsoft at this stage isn't the game per-se, but what it and its brand represent to the Xbox One as it and the PS4 jockey for position in the on-going phoney war. Microsoft aren't just interested in telling Xbox One gamers about Titanfall, but want to say to potential customers "Hey, look at us - we've got a big shooter with massive robots! This is where the proper hardcore gaming happens... all the PS4 has is Knack, which is for kids anyway". It's all about signalling.

In a few years time, when the Xbox One and PS4 have successfully penetrated the market, the economics of this decision might change. Don't be surprised if the inevitable Titanfall 2 appears on both the Xbox One and PS4 - as EA will judge that there will be plenty of potential customers on these platforms, and the money to be made on both is more lucrative than a one-off wad of cash from Microsoft.

As soon as Titanfall 2 is released too, the value of the first game will drop dramatically - it'll definitely be no longer the big, new and shiny thing. It's at this point that EA might decide to buy their way out of the exclusivity contract with Microsoft and port the first game over so PS4 gamers can enjoy the second game, then go back and play the first. And Microsoft, recognising the second game is the attraction now will see there's less to be gained from Titanfall 1, and may give up its exclusivity in exchange for a smaller bundle of cash from EA.

So will Titanfall never appear on the PS4? I'm sceptical. Of course - the above speculation could turn out to be nonsense (it wouldn't be the first time), but I think it makes a reasonable case as to why circumstances can change. So don't be surprised to see Playstation gamers climbing aboard their mechs in a couple of years time.

Who won at the 2014 gaming BAFTAs?

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Last night in London was the glitzy 2014 Gaming BAFTA awards. Click through for a complete list of the winners.

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There doesn't appear to have been many surprises - with the PS3 exclusion The Last of Us dominating a number of big awards - including Best Game, Best Story and Action & Adventure Game. It's not all bad news for the GTA5 team though - who picked up a best design award, and also best British game (it was actually developed in Scotland, not Los Angeles).

It's also nice to see Lucas Pope's Papers, Please pick up a gong in the strategy category - the game is widely viewed to be a good example of games with a conscience, as players have to play an east European border guard, having to balance corruption and doing the right thing.

Tearaway on the PS Vita also performed very strongly indeed, picking up a couple of awards - which means that out there not only does someone own a PS Vita, but they've been playing it too.

So what do you think of the winners? Let us know if you thought the best game won in the comments.

Action & Adventure Game

LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Tomb Raider
BADLAND

Game Innovation

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Tearaway
Grand Theft Auto V
The Stanley Parable
Papers, Please
Year Walk

Artistic Achievement

BioShock Infinite
DEVICE 6
Beyond: Two Souls
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Tearaway
The Last of Us

Mobile & Handheld

Tearaway
Plants vs. Zombies 2
The Room Two
BADLAND
Ridiculous Fishing
DEVICE 6

Multiplayer

World of Tanks
Super Mario 3D World
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Battlefield 4
DOTA 2

Audio Achievement

BioShock Infinite
Grand Theft Auto V
The Last of Us
Battlefield 4
DEVICE 6
Tomb Raider

Original Music

Tearaway
Beyond: Two Souls
BioShock Infinite
The Last of Us
Super Mario 3D World
Koji Kondo, Mahito Yokota
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Ones To Watch (Presumably the teams behind the following...)

Project Heera: Diamond Heist (Chinchkar Tanmay Subhash, Shastry Neeraj Pramod, Dhongde Shashank Sunil, Dave Dhruv Prakashchandra, Shriram Srinivasan)
The Unknown (Chenying Wan, Qiwei Feng, Luyue Zhang, Zhaoxuan Li, Neil Cullen)
Size DOES Matter (Mattis Delerud, Silje Dahl, Lars Andersen, Trond Fasteraune, Nick La Rooy)

Performer

Steven Ogg (Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V)
Kevan Brighting (The Narrator in The Stanley Parable)
Courtnee Draper (Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite)
Ellen Page (Jodie in Beyond: Two Souls)
Ashley Johnson (Ellie in The Last of Us)
Troy Baker (Joel in The Last of Us)

Best Game

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
Tearaway
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Super Mario 3D World
Papers, Please

Sports Game

NBA 2K14
F1 2013
Forza Motorsport 5
Football Manager 2014
FIFA 14
GRID 2

British Game

Tearaway
The Room Two
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Gunpoint
Grand Theft Auto V
DmC Devil May Cry

Story

The Last of Us
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Grand Theft Auto V
Gone Home
The Stanley Parable
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Debut Game

Remember Me
Gunpoint
Castles in the Sky
Gone Home
The Stanley Parable
BADLAND

Strategy & Simulation

Civilization V: Brave New World
XCOM: Enemy Within
Forza Motorsport 5
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Democracy 3
Papers, Please

Family Game

Rayman Legends
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Tearaway
Skylanders Swap Force
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Super Mario 3D World

Game Design

Tearaway
Tomb Raider
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Papers, Please

Xbox shooter Titanfall has finally landed to near universal polite clapping - but there is one nagging issue: what about the graphics? The game has been released on both Xbox 360 and Xbox One and one of points where almost all of the gaming press agrees, is on the graphics... They're just... unremarkable. But why?

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Richard Baker was the lead engineer on the title and has been speaking to Eurogamer about developing the game. Of the many interesting things to come out of it is the revelation that they never originally planned for an Xbox One version of the game.

And it was only this later on later on in the development process that support for Direct X11 was used. It seems that creating the game was a headache too - with the Source engine the game was built on (the same engine that powers Valve titles like Portal 2), having to be rebuilt almost entirely for the new game.

Given this technical backdrop, it is perhaps unsurprising that developers Respawn were able to work the Xbox One's hardware as effectively as they would perhaps have liked. Though don't be too disheartened - most new consoles are never fully exploited until later in the console's lifecycle. Remember how Call of Duty 2 and Call of Duty: Ghosts both run on exactly the same hardware - despite the massive difference in graphics quality.

What's also interesting in the interview is to note how new phenomenons like game streaming is effecting games development. Following the release of the Titanfall Beta, the developers were able to watch normal people on Twitch playing the game - and were able to taking their comments on board to make the final experience so much better.

In fact, thanks to the ability to patch the game, it seems updates are still continuing. Baker also told Eurogamer about plans to try and increase the screen resolution on the Xbox One - one of the not unrelated bugbears for elitist Xbox One gamers.

"We've been experimenting with making it higher and lower. One of the big tricks is how much ESRAM we're going to use, so we're thinking of not using hardware MSAA and instead using FXAA to make it so we don't have to have this larger render target," Baker tells us. "We're going to experiment. The target is either 1080p non-anti-aliased or 900p with FXAA. We're trying to optimise... we don't want to give up anything for higher res. So far we're not 100 per cent happy with any of the options. We're still working on it. For day one it's not going to change. We're still looking at it for post-day one. We're likely to increase resolution after we ship."

So it sounds like we're not done yet. Maybe one day Titanfall will actually be finished!

Plants versus zombies started life as a tower defence game on pretty much every platform of imaginable. Launched in 2009 the title was a hit amongst casual gamers. With Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare however, it seems that EA are trying to get the serious game is on board too.

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So what's new?

The top-down perspective has been done away with and replaced by what is essentially a first person shooter in the mould of Team Fortress 2 or Gotham City Impostors - essentially imagine Call of Duty, but with the brown and grey hues replaced with a very garish green. Don't be fooled though - it may look like a toy, but it is powered by the very same Frostbite 3 engine that sits under the hood of Battlefield 4.

The game works entirely online and will connect you with other players, and from here, the games can begin. There are three modes of play:

Garden Ops takes the classic PvZ formula of fending off hoards of zombies and tasks the players with working together to use a wide variety of weapons from a pea shooter to a cactus to protect your garden from zombie destruction.

Team Vanquish meanwhile will be more familiar to seasoned shooter veterans - this is the standard team deathmatch mode. It's first to fifty kills, and unlike the stark reality of Modern Warfare, players can revive each other and lower the death count.

Then there's "Gardens and Graveyards" mode, which is objective driven, and sees players on alternating plants and zombie teams trying to capture, or defend certain areas of the map.

And finally there's a mixed mode which cycles through the latter two options.

It controls almost identically to modern shooters - so if you've played CoD or almost any game of the last 5 years, you'll instinctively know how to play this.

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The Verdict

So is it worth it? Hardcore gamers might find it a bit lightweight - with many features you'd expect to see in FPS-style games stripped back. That said - if you do enjoy something a little more lighthearted than another grim war story, this could be exactly what you're looking for. Whilst it lacks the charm of Team Fortress 2, or the familiarity of Batman spin-off Gotham City Impostors, it is none the less a solid game. Don't expect anything revolutionary - but it is indeed a colourful distraction.

Is Sony poised to announce a VR-headset?

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If the runes are being read correctly, Sony could be gearing up to announce something big at next week's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

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The Sixth Axis have cleverly spotted a number of things falling into place which point towards a big announcement:

- Speaking at the event will be a number of bigwigs: SCE Worldwide Studios president Shuhei Yoshida, SCEA R&D senior software engineer Anton Mikhailov, and SCEA R&D senior director Richard Marks. The latter of whom is the man responsible for the Playstation Move.

- The title of the session will be "Driving the Future of Innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment". What could they possibly be innovating? Again, the Sixth Axis suggests there are rumours that DriveClub will feature an "in-car" first person view on the VR headset... would this explain the reason why the game was delayed until later this year?

- And finally... there's this none-too-subtle tweet from Shuhei Yoshida himself, in which he refers to the famous-but-still-not-ready Oculus Rift. Could Sony be about to announce a competing product? Or maybe they've acquired the company and will selling the Oculus for use on the PS4?

We should learn more in the early hours of March 19th when the session is due to take place. Just try not to wet yourself with excitement thinking about VR Metal Gear Solid just yet. Oh, too late?

Are Microsoft bullying indie developers?

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Worrying news from behind the bike sheds at Microsoft HQ as word is getting round that Microsoft might be beating up the smaller kids and threatening them not to go tell Sony.

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According to Official Xbox Magazine, Microsoft are insisting on a "parity clause" for all independently developed Xbox One games - meaning that games will have to be published on Xbox One first, or at least both PS4 and Xbox One simultaneously. This is bad news for small developers with less resources - and also fisticuffs in Sony's direction. Essentially Microsoft are saying developers have to pick a side: if they release on Sony's platform first, they won't be able to release on Xbox One.

The other difficulty for indie developers is one of tools: many developers build games in the "unity engine", which as yet hasn't been ported to the Xbox One. This means that converting a game to run on Xbox from a PS4 title isn't as straightforward as it could be yet - thus increased development times are almost a certainty. So achieving parity is even more difficult.

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One such title that may be affected is Nuclear Throne by Vlambeer - which is already out on Steam, and already has a deal with Sony for PS4 distribution. If Microsoft keep to their position, could it be blocked from ever having an Xbox One release?

These are ugly tactics, and it is essentially bad news for gamers: much like when MS or Sony pay the big developers for platform exclusivity (like Sony did for Metal Gear Solid 4, for instance), it merely means that half of gamers don't get to play, and a bunch of people in suits get a big payday for not doing any work. If this claim about Microsoft's ID@Xbox programme is accurate then that's even worse for indies - unlike the EAs and Activisions of this world, bedroom coders don't have the clout to negotiate better terms.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out. It's a bizarre move, as if this ends up costing Microsoft too many games they'll be doing the opposite of what they want ("get more games on Xbox") - not to mention that it seems they haven't learned their lessons about damaging their credibility with the hardcore gaming crowd... who are, after all, the sort of people who will buy relatively obscure indie games to play on their console. Poor form, Microsoft.

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It comes as no surprise that the continued rise of smartphones and tablets is having a significant impact on the world and the technology industry.

One in five people across the globe now own a smartphone whilst one in 17 own a tablet, and that's continuing to grow.


For many this Christmas it was a strange time, parents were frantically shopping around looking for the latest iPad or Galaxy Tab for their children rather than the Sony PS Vita or Nintendo 3DS. But what does this mean? The end for the portable gaming device?

It wouldn't be surprising. After all smartphones and tablets are becoming the jack of all trades. You can browse the internet, type up notes, and play games that more than match their rival portable gaming devices.

Since the emergence of the mobile devices there's been much talk about how they could compete and even surpass the games console but the releases of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 have certainly proved otherwise with record sales, and a buzz that undeniably suggests there is room for both on the market.

On the other hand however, it's been two years since the PlayStation Vita hit the shelves and has sold much less than anticipated with Sony UK's managing director firmly placing blame on an ever changing marketplace.

He told VG24/7, "In all honesty, higher sales would have been what we had hoped for.

"The market Vita entered was more complicated than it was when the console was originally thought about and designed. Games on tablets and phones have changed the marketplace and people can't carry too many things around at one time."

Online poker is one area which highlights this, as trends suggest that there will be an estimated 164 million users who choose to use mobile poker applications provided by the big brands, such as Full Tilt Poker with a huge reduction in desktop gaming

It isn't just the convenience though. Of course the ability to pull your mobile phone on the bus and play free poker online is a huge benefit, but it's free that is perhaps the operative word. Tablet and mobile gaming generally offer free or games at relatively cheap prices, allowing gamers to enjoy the latest fad such as Angry Birds, or more recently Flappy Birds, at a price which is disposable income to most of society.

In comparison, a Vita will set you back around £180, whilst you're likely to pay around £20 for a single game.

Sony are trying to combat this, due to the development of the Vita and PS4 at the same time there is set to be greater connectivity between the two. Named Remote Play it will allow gamers to play PS4 games using their handhold console, and even switch between playing on the two without losing any data.

Whether this will help resurrect the handheld console it's unsure, but it will be a mighty climb to beat the likes of the App Store's 260,000 or the reasonable prices of Android tablets. 


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Nintendo have announced plans to close online services that use the "Nintendo Wifi Connection" name on May 20th. So bad news if you're still playing Mario Kart DS.

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Worry not though - the move won't affect newer Nintendo consoles. Nintendo Wifi Connection was succeeded by the Nintendo Network a few years ago, which uses different infrastructure to provide online gaming to the Wii U and 3DS, so they will continue as normal. Similarly - given Nintendo are making big losses at the moment, it's perhaps no surprise that this won't affect the shop: the DSi Shop and Wii Shop Channel will continue to sell you games... just don't expect to be able to play them online.

So what iss affected? Wikipedia has a big list of online DS games and Wii games. Some of the most high profile casualties include Mario Kart on both platforms, various Call of Duty games, Smash Bros Brawl, and Activision's Goldeneye remake.

It was perhaps an inevitable move, marking the continued transition towards the latest consoles - presumably Nintendo are hoping that if anyone is still using the old platforms they'll upgrade soon. Though Nintendo have also used this news to quietly announce the shuttering of the 3DS's video channel, which never really made an impact. It allowed users to watch a very limited selection of 3D videos, so it is perhaps no surprise that they've given up.

So remember: You've got until May 20th to get together (virtually) with friends and play through Mario & Sonic at the Beijing Olympics one last time.

Good news for Nintendo at long last... well, sort of, anyway. Apparently the total lifetime sales of the Wii U (ie: sales since the console was first released) have finally overtaken sales of the Xbox 360. Whilst this may on the surface sound like great news... it needs to be taken with a large pinch of context.

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The numbers are pretty clear. According to Eurogamer, the WiiU has sold 1,643,095 units in Japan since its December 2012 launch - versus 1,641,528 Xbox 360s sold since its December 2005 (yes, 2005) launch. Not bad, right? I'm not so sure.

Whilst some people (specifically, wrong people) might wish to view this as encouraging news for the struggling platform, there's two key factors at work that make Japan's gaming dynamics very different to the West.

The first is that Japan is unusually receptive to Nintendo products - not surprising perhaps, as Nintendo are the home team in the territory. Culturally, Japanese gamers are proportionally slightly more interested in fun characters and collecting coins, than the brown-landscaped, gritty murder simulators we play in the West. So Mario's appeal will be more enduring.

The second is that the Xbox 360 has historically performed disastrously in Japan. Though 1.6million lifetime sales isn't terrible, when it was first released the weekly sales figures were embarrassing - shifting only a couple of hundred units a week. It wasn't until Microsoft released Blue Dragon in 2006 that Japanese gamers started paying attention. For the sake comparison, the PS3 lifetime sales is 6.3 million. (The Xbox 360 vs PS3 divide is closer to 50/50 in the West).

As for comparisons with the current generation of consoles... things are less promising. The PS4 was only released a couple of weeks ago in Japan, and has already shifted 309,154 units - already about 20% of the way to matching the WiiU. As for the Xbox One, it still hasn't been released over there - and with Microsoft only giving a vague "2014" indication. It is almost as though they don't care... or are bitter about having their fingers burnt last time around.

So whilst yes, Nintendo have achieved something... it's a bit like they've beaten an old and greying player at a game of their choosing, whilst playing at home. It's a victory... but not a particularly spectacular one.

Still, anything for a bit of good Wii U news, right?

Microsoft have finally announced details of when Twitch videogame streaming is coming to the Xbox One - several months after launching on the PS4. But it sounds like it might be worth the wait after all.

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Mark it in your calendars folks - March 11th is the magic day when the update will be available for download... and probably not coincidentally, this is just days ahead of the launch of the hotly anticipated Titanfall, which is widely expected to be the first next gen blockbuster game.

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Though delayed, the support for Twitch on the One appears to be deeper than the PS4, with gamers able to start a Twitch stream by simply issuing the voice command "Xbox, Broadcast", and better still - able to jump in and game with the person they're watching at the press of a button. And of course - because of the mandatory Kinect camera, you'll be able to see the player at the other end throughout.

To show off, Twitch have put together this video demo, featuring some suitably attractive young people as idealised versions of their core demographic:

Now how about some TwitchPlaysTitanfall?

Excellent news for everyone who isn't quite as cool as they like to think they are: a new Tony Hawk skateboarding game has been confirmed by Activision to be in development, allowing a new generation of players to skate vicariously through a virtual avatar.

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The game series will be fondly remembered by gamers of a certain age (well, me) as being not just huge amounts of fun, but also introducing gamers to tonnes of awesome music. Who can forget skating through the School level whilst Goldfinger's Superman played loud?

Unfortunately in recent years the series has been absent - with no truly great Hawk games since, arguably, Tony Hawks 3 way back in 2001. The games following that saw experiments with a weird sandbox story mode, crappy motion controls (Downhill Jam) and bizarre skateboarding peripherals... when all gamers really wanted was some blasting pop-punk and arcade game sensibilities.

Most recently a remake of the first game was released as a digital download on Xbox 360 and PS3 - Tony Hawks Pro Skater HD took some of the most popular stages from Tony Hawks 1 and 2 (and with DLC, 3 too), and recreated them... mercifully retaining the ability to manual and revert throughout, which were introduced in 2 and 3 respectively.

We've not got any details on the new game yet. We only know about it because Hawk himself blabbed about it on a radio show - which was later confirmed by Activision (according to IGN). This said, it is reasonable to assume it'll probably be coming out for at least PS4 and Xbox One... and it'll probably feature some skateboarding of some sort.

More as we get it.

Want more Batman? Then good news as Warner Bros have confirmed that the Arkham series handheld spin-off is coming out on home consoles.

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As reported by Gamespot, Blackgate was originally made for the PS Vita and Nintendo 3DS, though it has now emerged that it will be making its way to the grown up consoles too.

The inclusion of the WiiU is especially interesting, given that just last month WB pulled the plug on the Batman: Arkham Origins DLC development for the ailing console - choosing instead to focus on developing it for the PS3 and Xbox 360.

So what's different about Blackgate? The game is a little different from the rest of the Arkham series - taking what the developers call a "2.5D" perspective rather than making it a 3D third person game. This turns it into a sidescroller - though combat is still very similar to the parent games, even down to using the same animations.

Plot-wise, it's the usual Batman fayre. In this case, the crims in the Blackgate jail are all looking to get a piece of Batman - so Bruce Wayne must use his superior brains and fighting skills and calm things down.

It's not surprising to see the port - increasingly handheld games are being moved to the more popular consoles, as conversion is relatively easy for developers, and it hugely increases the potential audience. Other titles to have undergone this process include GTA3: Liberty City Stories, which was originally on the PSP, before making its way to the PS2, and more recently last month saw the release of Assassin's Creed Liberation HD, an upscaled version of the Vita title.

Batman Arkham Origins Blackgate is set to be released on April 2nd, via a download, for only £15.99.

Bethesda have just released a new trailer for forthcoming shooter Wolfenstein: The New Order, which in addition to showing off the new game contained a little surprise at the end: the game will come with access to "Doom Beta" - implicitly confirming a new DOOM game is on the horizon.

Unfortunately we don't know anything more about the game at the moment other than the fact that it exists, and we expect it to be playable in beta form on March 23rd when Wolfenstein is released. It'll be the first game in the series for ten years - since Doom 3 was released in 2004.

Though this new game is developed by Bethesda and not ID software, both franchises are historically linked - with the original 2D Wolfenstein being the first ever First Person Shooter, which paved the way for the original DOOM a couple of years later, which in 1995 was the most installed piece of software on all computers.

This also shouldn't detract from Wolfenstein, which is shaping up very nicely indeed. As you'll notice in the trailer above, the game is setup in an alternative history where the Nazis won World War II - meaning that the game seems to take place some time after the real war ended (it's hard to tell!) - so we're fully expecting Robo-Hitler to put in an appearance at some point.

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The rest of the trailer shows a game that looks as though it is going to be interesting: an intriguing setting, modern cutscenes with characters and... a man interrogating someone with a chainsaw. Perfect.

Wolfenstein is set to be single player only - suggesting that multiplayer efforts are being focused on Doom 4. We'll report more when we hear it.

Bemusing news this afternoon courtesy of Dual Shockers who have been doing some digging on Sega's registered trademarks. It appears that they've lost the official registered trademark status for its legendary Shenmue franchise - due to lack of use.

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Shenmue I and II were revolutionary back in the day. The Dreamcast adventure titles demonstrated the sorts of storytelling and sandbox gameplay that have become standard today. Other innovations include advanced weather and day/night simulation, and the games were first to have Quick-Time-Events during cutscenes. Unfortunately after the second game (which was also released on the original Xbox), the story remained unfinished - so we've no idea how it was supposed to end.

Though long rumoured and hoped for, a third game has never materialised, and as if to underscore this, Sega no longer have exclusive dibs on the "Shenmue" name, with the US Patent Office record noting that "Registration cancelled because registrant did not file an acceptable declaration under Section 8."

Whoops!

To be clear - this doesn't rule out there ever being a Shenmue III, but it does pile further doubt on the hopes that Sega would complete what should have been a trilogy of games - as clearly no one cares about doing the paperwork.

Sega could still do Shenmue III though - but they'd be unable to prevent anyone else from releasing games also called "Shenmue" at the same time (though other companies wouldn't be able to use any of Sega's assets or intellectual property assets, like characters, as those are covered by copyright law).

Trademarks expiring is a common problem for corporations who own lucrative brands. It's why companies like Disney will often re-release old films every few years on a new format - so they can claim that the trademark is still in active use - otherwise other companies would be able to release films called "Mickey Mouse" or whatever.

I hate to say it, but perhaps it is time for fans to give up hope?

Maybe there is wisdom in the crowds? An intriguing videogame experiment in which thousands of people control the same Pokemon game simultaneously has - after four and a half days of play - reached Saffron City. Which is... surprisingly far in the game.

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TwitchPlaysPokemon is a super clever experiment - the controls for the original Pokemon Red for Game Boy have been wired up to the Twitch videogame streaming site's chatroom - meaning that the thousands of people in the chat can influence the outcome of the game. To do this they simply have to send commands like "left" "right" "start" and so on.

It's pretty mesmerising to watch - even if it does take an hour to successfully enter a Pokemon Centre and heal the team.

As you might imagine... it's rather hectic, with the character (named Red in this play through) being sent conflicting controls by everyone, so progress has been very slow. Astonishingly though, after 110 hours of play over four days and 13 hours, the player hive-mind have managed to reach Celedon City - and achievement that requires at least three or four badges and is almost half way through the game.

Squad-wise the hive-mind hasn't managed to assemble such a great Pokemon team - with an Oddish being one of the major players. There was one horrifying moment when I was watching the stream and they had an Eevee and a fire stone... yet rather than use it to evolve a Flareon, someone mischievous sent the "down" command and made the game throw the useful item away.

As a whole, it's absolutely fascinating to see how people react working together on this - it reminds me of quantum physics, and how observed individually particles behave seemingly randomly, but observed as a whole, it is possible to observe meaningful outcomes.

So good luck Twitchers - we'll see you at the Elite Four in... a week or so maybe?

Women can play computer games too! Sure, you may have previously assumed that the Mushroom Kingdom or Hyrule were places that girls can play in too, because they're also functional human beings, but it turns out that before they switch on the console, they must first have someone from Hollyoaks explain why it is okay for women to play games too.

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The "Nintendo Girls Club" (yes, really), which has just launched on YouTube has posted a video of actress Jorgie Porter explaining how Animal Crossing on the 3DS can actually be played by women - specifically highlighting that the game includes elements of fashion design and makeovers. Because only blokes would be interested in town planning?

Go on, watch this first episode and try not to get depressed:

So should we be surprised? Nintendo, after all, are perhaps not the most progressive company given that "Rescue the Woman" is the default premise for many Nintendo games. What makes this more ludicrous is when you consider that in the forthcoming Smash Bros game for WiiU and 3DS, no less than four of the characters are not just women, but princesses.

Frankly, I'm depressed that it's 2014 and this is seen as the best way to engage with female customers. Other commentators have claimed that it's an attempt to reach out to "non-traditional" audiences - which is something they desperately need to do given how the WiiU and 3DS are less successful than hoped... but if they don't consider 50% of people receptive to their normal message then can they ever expect their products to be a success? If you remember how the original Wii became so successful, it wasn't because the adverts patronised women or anyone else into playing games - but because the games themselves were so intuitive and simple that anyone could join in.

Perhaps if they're lucky, no one will notice this new campaign. After all - women are probably too busy playing actual games (45% of gamers are women).

I can't help but think Nintendo might have misjudged this one. The angry mobs of Twitter users are probably starting their engines as I write.

2014 Gaming BAFTA nominations revealed

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The nominations for this year's BAFTA Games awards have been announced. Awarded by the British Academy of Film & Television Arts, the awards are a relatively recent tradition that is, delightfully, lending gaming some credibility amongst serious arty types.

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To be honest, there isn't many huge surprises in the nominations - with many of the major AAA titles receiving the nod in the various categories. Leading the pack is The Last Of Us and GTA5, which both have 9 nominations by my count. It's also nice to see indie breakout hit Papers Please and its creator Lucas Pope recognised in a number of categories - showing that the lo-fi can compete with the blockbusters.

I'm also pleased to see a nomination (under "Best Debut") for Remember Me, a third person adventure game in which you must manipulate memories in "Neo-Paris". Whilst the game itself certainly had flaws, the setting and premise were great - it's exactly the sort of thing that suggests a sequel could be a truly awesome game (think how Assassin's Creed 2 was a huge improvement on the first game).

The big awards do is due to be held on March 12th - and we'll no doubt report the winners when it happens.

You can find the full list of nominations below.

Action & Adventure Game
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Tomb Raider
BADLAND

Game Innovation

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Tearaway
Grand Theft Auto V
The Stanley Parable
Papers, Please
Year Walk

Artistic Achievement

BioShock Infinite
DEVICE 6
Beyond: Two Souls
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Tearaway
The Last of Us

Mobile & Handheld

Tearaway
Plants vs. Zombies 2
The Room Two
BADLAND
Ridiculous Fishing
DEVICE 6

Multiplayer

World of Tanks
Super Mario 3D World
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Battlefield 4
DOTA 2

Audio Achievement

BioShock Infinite
Grand Theft Auto V
The Last of Us
Battlefield 4
DEVICE 6
Tomb Raider

Original Music

Tearaway
Beyond: Two Souls
BioShock Infinite
The Last of Us
Super Mario 3D World
Koji Kondo, Mahito Yokota
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag

Ones To Watch (Presumably the teams behind the following...)

Project Heera: Diamond Heist (Chinchkar Tanmay Subhash, Shastry Neeraj Pramod, Dhongde Shashank Sunil, Dave Dhruv Prakashchandra, Shriram Srinivasan)
The Unknown (Chenying Wan, Qiwei Feng, Luyue Zhang, Zhaoxuan Li, Neil Cullen)
Size DOES Matter (Mattis Delerud, Silje Dahl, Lars Andersen, Trond Fasteraune, Nick La Rooy)

Performer

Steven Ogg (Trevor Phillips in Grand Theft Auto V)
Kevan Brighting (The Narrator in The Stanley Parable)
Courtnee Draper (Elizabeth in BioShock Infinite)
Ellen Page (Jodie in Beyond: Two Souls)
Ashley Johnson (Ellie in The Last of Us)
Troy Baker (Joel in The Last of Us)

Best Game

Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
Tearaway
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Super Mario 3D World
Papers, Please

Sports Game

NBA 2K14
F1 2013
Forza Motorsport 5
Football Manager 2014
FIFA 14
GRID 2

British Game

Tearaway
The Room Two
LEGO Marvel Super Heroes
Gunpoint
Grand Theft Auto V
DmC Devil May Cry

Story

The Last of Us
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Grand Theft Auto V
Gone Home
The Stanley Parable
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Debut Game

Remember Me
Gunpoint
Castles in the Sky
Gone Home
The Stanley Parable
BADLAND

Strategy & Simulation

Civilization V: Brave New World
XCOM: Enemy Within
Forza Motorsport 5
Surgeon Simulator 2013
Democracy 3
Papers, Please

Family Game

Rayman Legends
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Tearaway
Skylanders Swap Force
Animal Crossing: New Leaf
Super Mario 3D World

Game Design

Tearaway
Tomb Raider
Assassin's Creed 4: Black Flag
The Last of Us
Grand Theft Auto V
Papers, Please

The gang wars and organised crime of Los Santos must seem like a world away to the residents of the South West - who are perhaps used to a gentler way of life. After seeing this fan-made video though, you might end up convinced that Cornwall would be the perfect setting for the next game in the series.

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Created by Colin Leggo, the video destroys no stereotypes, with characters looking for pasties, complaining about the parking in town, and making references to Trago, the Cornish department store chain. The best bit though is the accents - watch out for a brilliantly re-imagined Franklin as though he were Cornish.

The petition for Rockstar to make some Cornish DLC starts now!

Microsoft have announced details of what multiplayer improvements are being rolled out to the Xbox One with the March system update - which has, crucially, be timed to arrive before the release of the hotly anticipated Titanfall.

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The changes aren't huge - but they're going to make things a little more convenient for gamers - they restore a couple of features seen on the Xbox 360's multiplayer settings, and simplify others. It'll be good news as Titanfall is expected to the first must-have triple-A game of the newer console generation, and it's a Microsoft exclusive - so the company will be especially keen to make the game as playable as possible.

Here's how Redmond's Marc Whitten described the updates:

  • Get to your friends list faster. The friends list will be front and center on the homepage of the Friends app. Click the Social tile on Home, or say "Xbox, go to Friends" to see who's online and what they're up to. From there you can quickly send messages and get into a party.

  • Party chat will be turned on by default. When you party up, chat audio will be turned on by default.

  • Chat with friends playing different games. Party chat will be separated from people playing your game, so you can chat with your friends who are online or you can chat with everyone playing the game.

  • We're adding an "Invite friends to game" option to your multiplayer titles moving forward. Similar to Xbox 360 titles, this will appear inside a games' menu and offer a simple and quicker way to set up your multiplayer battles. Selecting "Invite friends" will let you invite friends to your game and party.

  • We're adding "Recent Players." This is a simple list that shows you Xbox Live members you've recently played with, making it easier to stay in touch with people, or add new friends after your multiplayer battles.

The update is due to hit some time in March - Titanfall is out on the 13th March in Europe, so expect it before then.

You might think that 'annualising' and having a new version of a franchise come out every single year is a bit much - but EA have long been the masters of this discipline. And now they've just announced yet another addition to the series: FIFA World Cup 2014.

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Astonishingly, this looks like it could be the 12th football game they've released in merely the last ten years - with this year seeing both FIFA 14 and World Cup 2014, and 2010 seeing similar. That's on average more than one near identical title a year.

The new game is set to hit on April 15th for both Xbox 360 and PS3 and EA are promising "multiple improvements and innovations" over FIFA 14, which was released only last September - and terrifyingly, one of the big achievements is "100 new animations". Hold the front page!

Here's a full run-down of the new features, as described by EA:

  • World Class Control - all-new control system which includes additional dribbles and flicks. New passing animations, including both ground and outside of the foot curling passes, will open the door to more attacking options.
  • Set Piece Tactics - Use the D-pad to command your teammates and strike fear from set pieces and corners.
  • New Penalty Kicks - New save animations and shot tuning puts players in control of their nation's fate. Keepers can throw off kick-takers by performing different animations including wobbly-knees, matador, and shoot-it-there points.
  • Over-the-Back Headers - Now defenders can leap over attacking players to clear the ball to safety.
  • adidas® Ball Physics -- EA SPORTS and adidas® partner to deliver the most realistic ball physics system on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
  • adidas® micoach Training - Complete adidas micoach training sessions to boost in-game attributes for individual players on your team. Choose from six different attribute boosts and 18 different drills to improve your players' performance during the tournament.

This talking of dribbling and ball physics is all well and good (hey, no sniggering at the back), but apparently the game will most importantly feature 203 national football teams that took part in qualifying for the cup and has suitably "patriotic presentation" complete with flags for added World Cup realism.

So that's FIFA World Cup 2014. Sure, it might sound like it'd work better as downloadable content for FIFA 14... and maybe we should worry about a game that is obviously going to have been both rushed for a fixed deadline (the actual real life World Cup)... and maybe we should ask whether people really should be expected to pay forty quid for a quick re-skin... but... but... Malibu Stacy has a new hat!

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