Following rumors and leaked screenshots, Ubisoft has officially confirmed the existence of Assassin’s Creed Unity with a brief teaser trailer for the upcoming game. Set in 18th century France, the game is the first Assassin’s Creed installment to be developed exclusively for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One – a separate game, codenamed Assassin’s Creed Comet, is rumored to be making its way to the PlayStation 3and Xbox 360 – features a brand new black-clad assassin, and is rumored to employ a modified take on the series’ signature parkour-like navigation system. Check out the brief glimpse of the game above and stay tuned for additional looks ahead of its Holiday 2014 release.
The PlayStation 4 was king once again to start off 2014.
Gamers only spent $664 million on physical games at brick-and-mortar stores, which is down 21 percent from $835 million in 2013, according to industry research firm The NPD Group‘s monthly report. But the comparison isn’t quite fair since The NPD Group observed a five-week period in January 2013.
“Overall retail video game sales would be down only 1 percent instead of down 21 percent, if sales were normalized to account for the five-week January 2013 compared to the four-week January 2014,” NPD analyst Liam Callahan said.
The big drop was due lackluster software numbers. Spending on hardware picked up 17 percent to $241 million. But people spent 40 percent less on games to only rack up a total of $224 million in software sales.
As always, these figures only represent physical sales of new games. It does not include digital or used software, which is a major aspect of the market. For that reason, NPD’s monthly report is best viewed as a snapshot of what is doing well and not necessarily as a barometer for the overall health of gaming.
With that said, let’s take a look at the best-selling games of January.
- Call of Duty: Ghosts (360, PS3, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, PC)
- NBA 2K14 (PS4, 360, Xbox One, PS3, PC)
- Battlefield 4 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3, PC)
- Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (360, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Wii U, PC)
- Grand Theft Auto V (360, PS3)
- Madden NFL 25 (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
- Minecraft (360)
- FIFA 14 (PS4, Xbox One, PS3, 360, Vita)
- Lego Marvel Super Heroes (360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4, 3DS, Wii U, Vita, PC)
- Tomb Raider (PS4, Xbox One, 360, PS3)
It’s interesting to note that the PS4 version is outselling the Xbox One version for each one of the above games except for Call of Duty: Ghosts and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. That led Microsoft to point out that Xbox One and Xbox 360, when taken together, are responsible for the most software sales.
“January NPD Group figures released today revealed [that] Xbox systems sold the most games across all console platforms in January with 2.27 million units sold, making up 47 percent of software market share,” Microsoft marketing boss Yusuf Medhi wrote. “Fans continue to show their excitement for new-generation Xbox One games, with U.S. consumers purchasing an average of 2.7 games per console since launch.”
Of course, that’s for both current- and last-gen games. When only looking at the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, it looks like Sony has a distinct edge.
“It’s clear gamers are choosing PlayStation as the best place to play, with PS4 software sales ranking No. 1 in January, highlighted by strong sales of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, which sold twice as many units on PS4 than any other platform,” Sony spokesperson Guy Longworth said.
As for the games themselves, Call of Duty once again topped the list, but NBA 2K14 is continuing to chart well thanks to its strong performance on PlayStation 4. Minecraft on Xbox 360, one of the best-selling games of 2013, is still making its mark on this top 10.
As is often the case, some companies are keeping their hardware sales on the down-low. Microsoft did not specify how many Xbox Ones it sold. That’s typically a bad sign.
“PS4 led overall hardware sales this month, followed by the Xbox One,” said Callahan.
We reached out to Microsoft for its sales result, but it declined to comment. Nintendo also did not update its hardware numbers. Sony, however, confirmed that the PS4 doubled Xbox One’s sales.
“Demand for PlayStation 4 remains incredibly strong as it was No. 1 in sales for next-gen consoles in January, nearly doubling the nearest next-gen competitor, and remains the cumulative leader, according to today’s NPD report,” Sony spokesperson Guy Longworth said. ”Although PS4 remains severely constrained at retail, we are working hard to refresh supply as quickly as possible.”
While Sony has the advantage, both consoles sold well.
“Continued success of the new consoles drove a 17 percent increase in hardware sales in January 2014, and when taking into account the 5-week month of January 2013 compared to the four-week month of January 2014, normalized sales of hardware were up 47 percent,” the analyst said.
By Jon Russell
Sony has announced that it is laying off 5,000 staff as part of major restructuring plans that will see the Japanese firm sell its Vaio PC business and spin its TV division into its own company.
The layoffs will affect 1,500 staff in Japan and a further 3,500 overseas. A mixture of redundancies, early retirement and potential transfers to new companies will be offered to those selected within manufacturing, sales and administration in its TV and PC businesses. Sony believes it can trim its costs by one third over the next 15 months before the start of its 2015 financial year.
There has been much speculation about the future of Sony’s Vaio business, so it comes as little surprise that the unit is being sold. The loss-making division is being bought by Japan Industrial Partners (JIP), the Japanese fund that was strongly linked with a deal this weekend (it was also suggested that Lenovo had been interested.) Under JIP’s leadership, the new company will focus on the local Japanese market, “while evaluating possible further geographic expansion.”
Sony has long made it clear that it was reviewing the future of its PC business, and it singled out a number of factors — including “the drastic changes in the global PC industry” — behind its decision. The company anticipates that the JIT deal will be completed by March 2014 — which means the products it launches this Spring will be its last Vaio devices, though it will continue to offer assistance to customers beyond the completion of the sale.
As for its TV brand, Sony says it intends to spin it into a wholly-owned subsidiary by July 2014. Sony has cut the division’s losses significantly — a 147.5 billion yen loss for financial year 2011 was cut to a 69.6 billion loss one year later — and it expects that to continue, with the spun out firm forecast to reach profitability for its 2014 financial year.
In addition to cutting costs to reach its target, the TV business is adopting a different approach that will see it focus on high-end products — in particular its 4K range — while enhancing its 2K range with new features. In emerging markets, the company will release TV sets that are “tailored to specific local needs.”
Headline image via YOSHIKAZU TSUNO / Getty Images / AFP
BY SHARIF SAKR
We’ve had a lucky run with product teasers recently. Instead of being totally vague, they’ve deliberately given us some inkling of what to expect, and we’re hoping that the Sony flyer above — summoning us to a PlayStation event in London — does so too. We’re told the briefing will introduce UK journalists to the “slimmest” PlayStation device, but we’re not told that we’re definitely going to witness the launch of a whole new product, which — to our minds, at least — suggests we might be looking at the UK launch of the PlayStation Vita TV. At just 13.6mm thick, the Vita TV is the thinnest PS device that we know of and it’s currently only available in Japan, so a launch in the UK (or anywhere outside of Asia) could potentially be a big deal. We’re gonna go ahead and rule out a super slim PlayStation 4 already, but the other plausible alternative is that the flyer is technically wrong, and that this is the UK launch of the slimmer version of the PlayStation Vita handheld — in other words, the 2013 Japanese model, which has an LCD screen instead of OLED, better battery life and which is just 15mm thick (20 percent skinnier than the current UK model). In any case, we’ll be there at the event on January 30th, with a flask of coffee and a pair of calipers.
BY STEVE DENT
We’ve seen many a tablet turn into a road warrior — or even a huge phone — with the addition of a SIM card. A phone becoming a tablet is a much scarcer transformation, but if any device can make that switch, it’s Sony’s nearly iPad mini-sized 6.44-inch, 1080p Xperia Z Ultra handset. A variation of that model (the SGP412) has appeared at the FCC packing a Snapdragon 800 MSM8074 SoC processor sans mobile baseband radio, normally used in WiFi-only tablet variants. New application photos of a half-submerged test model show it to be just as dunkable as before, while still packing 2GB of RAM, 32GB of memory, a microSD slot, 3,000mAh battery and an 8-megapixel camera. There’s no official word about the device, let alone pricing and a launch date, but when it does come, it’ll likely need to beat the mini’s $399 sticker — nearly half the Xperia Z Ultra’s off-contract price.
VIA: Xperia Guide
BY JON FINGAS
Typically, motion controllers aren’t very good at adapting to different gameplay situations — not unless you’re willing to slap on a cheap plastic shell, anyway. Sony may improve that state of affairs in the future, though, as it recently filed for a patent on a modular PlayStation Move controller. The concept lets gamers attach parts to the Move that change not just how it feels, but how it behaves in-game. A set of “limbs” would turn it into a humanoid, for example, while a rotating part could switch between a gun and a sword. It’s an intriguing idea, although we wouldn’t count on seeing it any time soon. A modular system would likely raise the price of a future Move controller, and Sony has lately focused more on the DualShock 4’s Move-like features than dedicated peripherals.
VIA: Push Square