Missing Pieces: Wrapping up the week's must-know gaming news
Paid all your taxes? Maybe got a sweet, sweet refund check? Why not celebrate by reading about video games?
This week we've got March NPD sales figures (hint: it's not looking great for Microsoft), Firaxis is making a new Alpha Centauri Civilization game set in space, and Snoop Dogg is in Call of Duty. Fo' rizzle.
Another week, another crazy piece of Call of Duty DLC. This time, Snoop Dogg. Snoop Lion. Snoopzilla. The artist formerly (and maybe currently?) known as Snoop Dogg.
No, unfortunately you don't get to play as a gun-wielding Snoop. You do, however, get to buy his announcer pack, where he says things like "Squad member active. That's what's up." Call of Duty is reaching peak dumb and I love it.
PlayStation 4 is the seven million pound gorilla
Despite the March release of Titanfall, which Microsoft clearly pinned most of its Xbox hopes on, the PlayStation 4 was the best-selling console last month for the third month in a row . This comes hot on the heels of Sony's announcement recently that the PlayStation 4 has sold over seven million units, while 5 million Xbox One consoles have shipped to retailers.
It's not Titanfall's fault—the mech-heavy shooter snagged the top spot for software sales, no problem. But with no huge exclusives on the horizon, you have to wonder if Microsoft is worried nowadays. I'm sure we'll see some exclusive announcements at E3, but Redmond is going to have to do a lot to win the masses back before the PS4-Xbox gap gets even wider.
Video games with toys? "No thanks," says Nintendo
Skylanders, the wallet-destroying, game-and-physical-toy juggernaut of a franchise, was almost a Nintendo exclusive—until Nintendo pulled back from the deal. "They [Nintendo] were just like, 'We have never seen anything like this before,'" said Paul Reiche, co-founder of Toys for Bob, in a recent Polygon report.
Considering Skylanders has now made over two billion dollars and is one of the best-selling game franchises of all time...yeah, I'm sure Nintendo regrets this decision almost as much as they regret canceling the SNES-CD.
Hearthstone by your hearth
Blizzard's collectible card game, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, is now available for free on the iPad worldwide. An Android version is on the way, as well as an upcoming expansion (announced at PAX East last week).
We're not in Alpha Centauri anymore
Also announced at PAX East last week, a new game from Firaxis—Sid Meier's Civilization: Beyond Earth.
But you know what they say: "Alpha Centauri by any other name is still..." Yes, it's a Sid Meier 4X game, and it takes place in space. Of course it's a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri. 2K just can't say that because the rights to Alpha Centauri reside with EA.
If you want to check out the panel where Beyond Earth was announced, here's video. Warning: contains lots of talk about games.
Marty O'Donnell fired from Bungie
Maybe you know Marty O'Donnell by name. Maybe not. Either way, you've undoubtedly heard the composer's legendary Halo score—it's some of the most famous video game music of all time. He also was great at interacting with the community, and became one of the most recognizable people at Bungie.
Earlier this week, Marty O'Donnell announced he'd been fired from Bungie "without cause," though his music will still appear in Bungie's upcoming shooter Destiny. I don't know anything about what happened behind the scenes (Bungie says it parted ways with O'Donnell "as friends"), but I'll miss hearing O'Donnell's music while I'm punching aliens in the face. Best of luck to him.
It was a slow, slow gaming news week. The best thing all week was still Ars Technica's Steam Gauge, which used a web crawler to poach Steam sales and usage data through the power of random sampling. We also reported on a new PlayStation 4 update that strips out HDCP, and Sir David Attenborough is making a nature documentary for the Oculus Rift . Also, you can read about Ballistic—a full first-person shooter you can play right in your browser for free, with Unity Web Player.