Minecraft PC teases horses after selling over 10 million copies

Equestrian-themed teaser dropped as PC version of Minecraft passes new sales milestone.

The PC version of Minecraft has now sold over 10 million units, developer Mojang has announced.

Bergensten teases Minecraft 1.6.

Bergensten teases Minecraft 1.6.

Lead designer Jens Bergensten tweeted the sales milestone, and hinted that horses would be coming to the game in a future update. Bergensten linked to a “subtle” hint about the main feature in Minecraft 1.6, which was a picture of a horse.

The number encompasses the Windows, Mac, and Linux versions of Minecraft. The game had sold 8 million copies as of November 2012.

Last month the long-awaited Minecraft 1.5 “Redstone” update was released, which notably changed the way the game’s valuable redstone functioned in the world.

Minecraft has also been a big success on the Xbox 360, with the Minecraft Xbox 360 Edition selling over 6 million copies since its release in spring 2012. Mojang has now said it will consider porting the game to PlayStation.

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By Martin Gaston, News Editor

Madden skipping Wii U this year – Report

EA Sports representative confirms Madden NFL 25 not in the works for Nintendo’s latest home console.

EA Sports’ Madden NFL 25 will not be released on the Wii U, a company representative has confirmed with Nintendo World Report. This will mark the first time the series has skipped over Nintendo platforms since 1991.

“We will not be releasing a Wii U version of Madden NFL in 2013,” the spokesperson said. “However, we have a strong partnership with Nintendo and will continue to evaluate opportunities for delivering additional Madden NFL products for Nintendo fans in the future.”

Last year’s Madden NFL 13 shipped for both the Wii U and Wii.

Madden may not be the only EA Sports franchise to not come to the Wii U this year. FIFA 14 has been confirmed thus far only for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata acknowledged to investors recently that some third-party studios believe the Wii U is not powerful enough and thus are not supporting it. He explained that Nintendo must do more to dispel this “misconception.”

The Wii U has underperformed, selling 3.45 million units worldwide since launch, and only 400,000 systems so far in 2013.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Activision PR manager took $29k from Call of Duty budget

Funds from the Call of Duty: Black Ops launch event were used to pay for luxury shopping trips, holidays, iPads, and a bachelorette party.

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An ex-Activision PR manager in the UK has been convicted of defrauding the company out of £18,963 (approximately $29,000) and spending the funds on multiple shopping sprees, a luxury hotel break, and a bachelorette party.

Former senior manager of PR at Activision UK Kathryn Kirton took the money from the budget of 2010′s Call of Duty: Black Ops London launch event, which took place in Battersea power station. She was aided by Frank PR consultant Jamie Kaye, who also admitted to taking £5,000. Kaye spent the money on six iPads and a £3,500 holiday to Florida.

Blackfriars Crown Court was told (via the Daily Mail) by Kirton’s defence that she was entranced by the “glamorous and luxurious” world of public relations.

Kirton attempted to clear the purchases through Activision’s finances by getting Kaye to pay for them on a company credit card. She then approved the expense claims.

The purchases were made over multiple months in 2010, and were discovered in 2011 when Activision investigated the case further.

Both Kirton and Kaye avoided prison, with Kirton being sentenced for 18 months with a suspended sentence of two years. Kaye was given a nine month sentence suspended for 12 months, and was also ordered to perform 80 hours of unpaid work.

During the sentencing, Judge John Hiller said “What is surprising is that cases like this are happening more and more often in your industry. But this is not the place to explore the PR industry.”

By Martin Gaston, News Editor

Section 8 dev files for bankruptcy protection

TimeGate Studios files for Chapter 11 in Texas Southern Bankruptcy Court following fraud suit.

Section 8 developer TimeGate Studios, which also contributed to Aliens: Colonial Marines, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week in a Texas bankruptcy court.

Polygon obtained court documents that show the developer has a number of creditors and total liabilities ranging from $10 million to $50 million. Those claiming to be owed money include Epic Games, Agora Games, and DJ2 Entertainment, as well as a local pizza shop asking for $34.80.

Also listed as a top creditor in the bankruptcy filing is Southpeak Interactive, which published the original Section 8. The company is owed an “unknown” amount, according to the documents.

A TimeGate Studios representative could not be reached for comment.

TimeGate Studios’ bankruptcy filing comes a month after the Sugar Land, Texas developer lost a fraud appeal case against Southpeak Interactive, facing $7.35 million in damages and the loss of the Section 8 license as a result.

The company laid off an unspecified number of people in early March.

The studio’s current project is free-to-play stylized PC shooter Minimum. It is unclear how this projected will be affected going forward.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Production on new Tomb Raider film to begin 'immediately'

MGM acquires rights to Lara Croft franchise, partners with GK Films for upcoming movie; casting details not announced.

James Bond studio MGM has acquired the film rights to Tomb Raider and will develop a new film based on the franchise, the company has announced. As previously revealed, the movie will be made in partnership with GK Films, the company behind the Oscar-winning films The Departed and Argo, and is expected in 2013.

It appears MGM and GK Films are looking to make multiple movies based on Tomb Raider. The company said “the first film” will begin production immediately. No casting for the untitled movie has been announced.

Crystal Dynamics is reportedly working “closely” with GK Films instead of merely licensing off the rights.

“They are working from this new take that we’ve given them,” Crystal Dynamics studio head Darrell Gallagher said of GK Films earlier this month. “It’s a good partnership. We’re seeing the challenges through the same lens.”

Gallagher explained that the upcoming Tomb Raider film will not be a continuation of 2001′s original Lara Croft: Tomb Raider or the 2003 follow-up Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, both of which starred Angelina Jolie.

Tomb Raider was released earlier this month for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC. For more, check out GameSpot’s review.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Metallica songs yanked from Rock Band DLC as licensing agreements expire

Customers who have already purchased songs will be unaffected, with Harmonix saying that future updates on DLC will likely arrive quarterly.

Rock Band’s older DLC content will begin to leave the game’s store as licensing agreements expire, developer Harmonix has said.

Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning,” “And Justice for All,” and “Blackened” are the first, and currently only, tracks to be affected. The three songs were released on the Rock Band store back in November 2007.

Speaking about the potential removal of songs from the Rock Band library, Harmonix said on Facebook that “our Music Team has been hard at work extending these licenses to make sure that this has as small an impact on the community as possible, but there may be a very limited number of songs that will no longer be offered for new purchases in the Rock Band store.”

At present, customers who have already purchased the content will be unaffected by the removal of the songs and will be able to download them if required.

Harmonix says that future updates on Rock Band DLC relicensing will likely arrive on a quarterly basis. The developer says it is “making it a priority” to give players notice ahead of content expiring.

“We’ll do our best to make sure that you have one last chance to buy these legacy catalog tracks,” said Harmonix.

The final downloadable track for Harmonix’s Rock Band Store, “American Pie” by Don McLean, was released on April 2. In total, the store saw over 4,000 tracks released across 275 consecutive weeks.

“We’re incredibly proud of the DLC milestones we’ve set, especially producing the largest music library of any game available, and we wouldn’t have been able to release as much outstanding content without the support of our amazing community,” wrote Harmonix in February.

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By Martin Gaston, News Editor

Halo 4 could add microtransactions

Executive producer says 343 Industries currently “looking at” adding cosmetic bonus items for a small fee.

Halo 4 could become the latest AAA title to introduce microtransactions. 343 Industries executive producer Dan Ayoub told Digital Spy that the studio is currently “looking at” offering cosmetic items for a small fee, similar to those available for Gears of War: Judgment.

“I think Halo certainly has the potential for those kinds of things,” Ayoub said. “We don’t have too much to talk about in terms of our plans down that line, but it’s certainly something… we’ve seen the fans of Gears are enjoying, and if it’s something we think our community is going to enjoy, it’s something we’ll seriously talk about.”

Gears of War: Judgment currently offers various armor and weapon skins, ranging in price from 240 Microsoft Points ($3) to 400 Microsoft Points ($5), as well as bundle packs.

If Halo 4 does add microtransactions in the future, it will follow not only Gears of War: Judgment, but also Tomb Raider, Call of Duty: Black Ops II, and Dead Space 3, among others.

Microtransactions will be a staple of future games, if recent comments from Electronic Arts and Ubisoft are any indication. EA chief financial officer Blake Jorgensen said in February that consumers are “enjoying and embracing” microtransactions, while Ubisoft Toronto manager Jade Raymond said last month that microtransactions are essential to the future of AAA games.

Halo 4 today introduced the Castle Map Pack, the game’s third and final map pack. Developed by Certain Affinity, the expansion adds new maps Daybreak, Outcast, and Perdition. The content is available as a free download for those who hold a $25 Halo 4 War Games Map Pass or as an individual download for $10.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Respawn 'just fine' amid rumors of EA Partners closure

Studio founded by Call of Duty veterans says it is “business as usual” amid rumors of third-party support program shutting down.

Respawn Entertainment is “just fine” amid rumors of the EA Partners label closing down.

The official Respawn Twitter account wrote today, “We’re just fine over here.” A follow-up from community manager Abbie Heppe explained, “Anyway, yeah business as usual.”

Game Informer heard from sources today that the EA Partners label–which is designed to bring third-party games to market–was potentially shutting down.

Another title in development under the EA Partners label is Insomniac Games’ first multliplatform title Fuse. This project will reportedly be unaffected if EA Partners does in fact close. Fuse launches May 28 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.

Call of Duty studio Infinity Ward founders Jason West and Vince Zampella created Respawn Entertainment in 2010 after Activision fired them, claiming insubordination.

West has since left the company to take care of “family issues.”

Gamers may not have long to wait to learn of Respawn’s first game. Zampella said last month that the studio will attend the 2013 Electronic Entertainment Expo in June, adding “I have no intention of showing up empty-handed!”

Respawn’s first game is reportedly a first-person science-fiction shooter that may support 3D and be titled Titan.

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By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

District 9 director still interested in Halo movie

Neill Blomkamp says even after movie famously fell apart years ago, he would be interested in returning if given creative control.

District 9 director Neill Blomkamp is still interested in bringing Halo to the big screen. During a media event for his new film Elysium, Blomkamp explained to IGN that he remains enthralled by the world Bungie created, but would sign on to the film only if he were given creative control.

“I still really love the world and the universe and the mythology of Halo. If I was given control, I would really like to do that film,” Blomkamp said.

“But that’s the problem. When something pre-exists, there’s this idea of my own interpretation versus 150 other people involved with the film’s interpretation of the same intellectual property,” he added. “Then the entire filmgoing audience has their interpretation. You can really live up to or fail in their eyes. That part isn’t appealing to me, but the original pieces are appealing.”

Last month, Halo franchise director Frank O’Connor explained that if a Halo movie were to happen, Microsoft would not settle when it came to choosing a director or production company. He said learning to work with the right people was the most important lesson Microsoft learned from producing the Internet series Forward Unto Dawn.

The Halo movie famously fell through. Blomkamp and Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson were at one time attached to the film, but the project was indefinitely postponed in 2006. Instead, Jackson and Blomkamp went on to make the Oscar-nominated sci-fi action movie District 9.

By Eddie Makuch, News Editor

Fallout: New Vegas dev hiring for 'unique next-gen game'

Studio looking for a level designer with an experience in modern game engines for next-gen game.

Fallout: New Vegas developer Obsidian Entertainment is hiring for what it’s calling a “unique next-gen game.”

A job listing for Level Designer will involve “planning and populating missions/quests, scripted sequences, encounters, challenges and rewards,” suggesting that the title will contain some RPG elements.

The listing says that the suitable candidate will be “proficient” with a modern game engine, listing Unreal Engine 3, CryEngine 3, and Source as examples.

Another listing, for a UI/User Experience Artist, lists “previous experience on mobile or browser based Flash applications or games” as one of its pluses.

Studio CEO Feargus Urquhart has said the developer would “love” to make sequel to Fallout: New Vegas, and that if such a thing were to happen that the game could be set in Los Angeles.

Obsidian’s next title, South Park: The Stick of Truth, will be released by Ubisoft in 2013. The studio also recently raised $3,986,929 via Kickstarter for its upcoming RPG Project Eternity.

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By Martin Gaston, News Editor

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