PS4 beats Xbox One to become UK’s fastest ever selling console

Sony’s console sold more than a million consoles during its US launch, and has now beaten records in the UK.

Sony has duplicated their successful launch of the PS4 in North America by becoming the UK’s fastest ever selling console.

The PS4’s sales figures have beaten both the PS3’s, the Xbox 360’s, and the previous record holder – Sony’s PSP. This handheld console managed to sell 185,000 units in the same time period during its 2005 release.

Most importantly for Sony though, the PS4 outsold the Xbox One, clearing more than 250,000 units within the first 48 hours of launch and easily beating the Xbox One’s sales of around 150,000 consoles in the same time period.

Industry news-site MCV reported the figures, also noting that this means both Microsoft and Sony’s consoles have sold more in two days than Nintendo’s Wii U has sold in a year since its launch in November 2012.

However, in the US the Xbox One may be taking the lead, becoming the best-selling console during the country’s annual Black Friday sales event. Analysts InfoScout reported that both the Xbox 360 and Xbox One outsold the PS3 and PS4, with Microsoft’s consoles collecting 61% of console sales on the day in comparison with Sony’s 30 per cent.

InfoScout also noted though that this may be due to limited availability for the PS4 in the US, as well as retail giant Walmart’s decision to discount the Xbox 360 to just $99.

In terms of games sold, Call of Duty: Ghosts seems to be convincing audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. InfoScout’s data showed the latest instalment in the CoD franchise easily outpacing the competition (though didn’t give specific numbers) whilst the UK’s all-platform top 10 also put Ghosts in the number one spot.


Forget saving the world: In Time and Eternity, you have to save your marriage (preview)

Time and Eternity

The big day is finally here. You’re ready to profess your love to your soon-to-be spouse in front of friends and family. But before you can seal the deal, a mysterious band of assassins barges through the church and tries to murder you. Meanwhile, your red-headed fiancé Toki transforms into a knife-wielding blonde woman who fights them off with ease.

At least you weren’t left at the altar, right?

Time and Eternity is one of three PlayStation 3-exclusive Japanese role-playing games that Nippon Ichi Software (better known in the States as NIS America) revealed at its annual press event this week in San Francisco. A new entry in the Disgaea series and another game called The Guided Fate Paradox looked okay, but it was Time and Eternity’s unusual wedding theme and the beautiful, hand-drawn animation that caught my eye. It’s a joint venture between NIS America and developer Namco Bandai, and it’s coming out this summer.

A weird relationship

You control Toki and Towa, the two “dual souls” of the bride. They are traveling back in time with the former groom (whose soul is now inside a pet dragon named Drake) to unravel the mystery of the wedding crashers.

“Normal RPGs have grand and epic themes, but I wanted to do something different, something unexpected,” said Namco Bandai producer Kei Hirono, via a translator, to GamesBeat. “Marriage is one of the biggest events that everybody — maybe not everybody [laughs] — that most people have. … [Time and Eternity] kind of just happened. It wasn’t planned or anything. My marriage and wedding happened around the same time [as development].”

Time and Eternity: Toki and Drake in battle

The developers incorporate much of the story and personality between Toki/Towa and Drake into the gameplay. Toki/Towa will transform into either of the souls when she levels up from combat. While each side of her has a basic set of attacks, it also has its own powers. Later in the game, you’ll have more control over which soul you want to use. Drake just acts as an autonomous sidekick, attacking enemies on his own.

Battles in Time and Eternity happen in real time, resembling more of a fighting game than a traditional JRPG because of how fast you need to react. From the 20 minutes I played, a key part of the decision-making involved how far or how close Toki/Towa was to the enemy. Pushing up on the left analog stick causes her to rush toward the foe until she’s right in its face while pushing back down returns her to the original position.

The controls are simple: Ranged and melee commands share the same button (with your powers mapped to the others), L1 is your block (and if timed right, a counter), R2 pulls up a menu of items you can use, and rolling the left analog stick left or right makes Toki/Towa dodge in those directions. Unlike some fighting games, however, you can’t cancel a move once you’ve triggered it — the animation has to play out, making timing all the more important. The enemies I saw usually had an obvious tell to let you know what they’re about to do.

An interactive anime

Time and Eternity is a peculiar juxtaposition of 2D hand-drawn animation (with no polygons, textures, or cel-shading) and 3D levels. It’s jarring at first as the backgrounds look somewhat lackluster compared to the detailed characters that populate the world. But after a few minutes, you grow used to it and realize that the distinctive styles actually complement each other rather well.

“It was really challenging because for anything that’s polygon-based or 3D-based, there are a lot of resources that we can use,” said Hirono. “There’s a lot of middleware, and a lot of places are already doing it — it’s easier to make something like that. But since here everything is hand-drawn, we actually had to make the game around the animation rather than making the animation around the system itself.”

Jumping into Time and Eternity kind of felt like I was in the middle of an anime movie or TV series. Though I couldn’t hear any sounds at the event due to loud music playing and a lot of people talking, a NIS America representative told me that most dialogue scenes feature voice actors. The plot was fun and lighthearted from what I could glimpse of the subtitles: Drake seemed to act as a comic relief role with his short temper and exaggerated gestures, characters questioned whether Towa knew about Toki’s marriage (they’ve “talked” about it before), and I fought two wannabe assassins named Linus and Lucy.

For Hirono, the tone was a welcome change of pace from his work on Dark Souls, a JRPG known for its grim atmosphere and punishing gameplay.

“So just like how it is with your life itself, you want to have variation,” he said. “For me, I think it was a good balance to be able to work on something dark and serious like Dark Souls and then at the same time, [Time and Eternity] is more casual and happier. [It’s] a good balance.”

Time and Eternity

This screen is a good example of how the 2D animation meshes with the 3D levels.

Time and Eternity

Time and Eternity

Time and Eternity



Diablo III on PlayStation 3: Hand-Crafted for Consoles

Diablo III on PS3

When we decided to bring Diablo III to console platforms, we wanted our four-player co-op to allow for the same spirit of fun that thrived in arcades. Our game had to allow for equal parts teamwork and trash talking, sweaty-palmed intensity and lighthearted mass destruction. You might remember Gauntlet, the iconic dungeon crawler that helped change the face of cooperative gaming with four players on the same screen, killing monsters as the Warrior, Elf, Valkyrie, and Wizard. Thanks to Gauntlet and other popular arcade hits, gamers fell in love with co-op play. That’s the same kind of fun we’re going for with the console version of Diablo III. Four friends on the same couch, working together to slaughter endless hordes of demons, collecting loot, and having a great time — it doesn’t get any better.

We were psyched about bringing Diablo III to consoles because we could potentially create some lasting memories for a whole new group of gamers around the world, but we needed to put in some serious work to make it happen. One thing we wanted to do was highlight the action on big screen televisions, without splitting that real estate into four little screens, so we created a new camera system that stays closer to the action, making it easier to see the animation in combat, where our characters really shine.

We also wanted to really drive home the feeling of control you got with other great action games. We decided to eliminate the pathing approach required by an indirect mouse-and-keyboard interface and introduced direct character control and an Evade command on the right analog stick, putting full tactical positioning into players’ hands. We had to work on this again and again until it just felt right.

Diablo III on PS3

When our team took the stage at the PlayStation booth during E3, we wanted players to see exactly what makes Diablo III the perfect fit for a night of gaming. Massacring a screen full of demons with your friends and racking up a ludicrous number of kills… we don’t think there’s anything else quite like it out there. I hope that once you have your hands on it, you’ll agree.

We’re psyched that Diablo III is coming to PlayStation 3 this summer, and can’t wait for players to round up their friends for some classic “pick up and slay” action.

Just make sure to order pizza… “Wizard needs food, badly!”



Hotline Miami Review

Hotline Miami Review

There’s nothing artistic about maiming wave after wave of enemies. But there is an opportunity to be somewhat creative about it and this is where Hotline Miami excels. From a top-down perpective you’re tasked with clearing buildings full of ruthless gangs, armed at the start with just your fists and a mask. As you sneak or lure enemies one by one to their doom Hotline Miami gives a great deal of sadistic satisfaction as the blood of one helpless soul splashes in an all manner of directions.

“there’s nothing quite like winning, especially when ‘winning’ means bashing someone’s head off with a baseball bat”

As you make your way through a typical chapter you’ll nonchalantly start by waking up, then driving to your destination to perform the killing before stopping off at a pizzeria or video shop to rent a movie for the night. Hotline Miami’s fantastic change of pace is such a simple recognition of needing a slight come down after the high-octane and extremely fast paced moving bloodbath action. Even being killed doesn’t stop it, half a second later and your straight back in the action – it’s non-stop and I found it difficult to put it down.

The weapons you have on offer give you a plentitude of options on how to deal with your prey. The hunters truly become the hunted after you’ve bust through that first door and arm yourself with a shotgun after taking down the first few enemies. Hotline Miami manages to mix it up throughout with clear glass windows catching me out constantly. It forced me to not only keep my eye on just the room I’m entering, but also adjacent ones. A neat gameplay trick then kept me thinking at every turn.

The game itself will last you just a few hours, but at the budget price it’s been launched at there isn’t much to grumble about, especially when the punch it packs is such high quality. After the main game is finished there’s still the addictiveness of jumping straight back in and trying to beat your highest score.

Hotline Miami also comes packed with a soundtrack that’s rich with the retro groove that the game emanates with at every turn. It’s delightful, almost hypnotic soundtrack is so entrancing I found myself slaughtering enemies to the rhythm at times. In fact when you initially boot up the game on the PS Vita it tells you it’s best played with earphones – an experience I truly recommend you indulge in.

An added bonus about this release of Hotline Miami is that it’s cross-buy as well. So purchasing the game on the PS3 unlocks the PS Vita version, cross-save is also included. Throughout my playthrough I used cross-save and unlike some other games there were no problems at all with how the feature worked. Overall though I would recommend playing the PS Vita version, as the quick witted nature of Hotline Miami works wonderfully on a handheld system. That’s not to say the PS3 version is worse off, but Vita would be my personal preference if I had to make a decision. It’s a great addition to Vita’s growing library of games.

Hotline Miami does come with some frustrations, getting repeatedly hit by the same guy over and over again can be a real grind and some of the tougher sections are quite frankly brutal. But in the end, the reward justifies the frustration, there’s nothing quite like winning, especially when ‘winning’ in Hotline Miami means bashing someone’s head off with a baseball bat.

Hotline Miami is available on the PSN now in the US for $8.99 and £6.49/€7.99 in Europe.



Sony: Most gamers “don’t want to buy online right now”

Sony SVP of PlayStation brand marketing talks about Sony’s E3 press event, PS Vita, the One Sony strategy, and how retail is still critically important

Guy Longsworth

GamesIndustry International sat down with Guy Longworth, Sony’s senior vice president in charge of PlayStation brand marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment of America, the day after Sony’s E3 press event to find out more about Sony’s marketing plans for the fall. Longworth’s task is to successfully launch the PlayStation 4 in the United States while boosting PlayStation 3 and PS Vita sales. It’s a gigantic assignment, and Longworth is excited by the challenge. “I joined the company just under two years ago, and I’m relatively new to the gaming industry,” Longworth noted. “It’s just a phenomenal industry to be in. I literally go to bed every day and can’t believe how lucky I am to do what I do.”

Longworth was understandably pleased with the reception Sony received from its press event at E3. “We knew that it was a very important moment for our company, so we spent a huge amount of time preparing for it, as you can imagine,” he said. “The team who actually executed and put on the production I just think are the best in the business. I’ve never seen anything like it in my career.”

Parts of Sony’s presentation were obviously put together after Microsoft posted its Xbox One policies prior to E3. Some of SCEA CEO Jack Tretton’s remarks were very pointed, aimed at showing the differences (since minimized after Microsoft’s policy change) between the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 policies. “Our strategy has been set for some time,” Longworth explained. “It’s not our job to talk about the competition, we’re here to tell you what we stand for. And Jack [Tretton] very clearly told you what we stand for. We think that’s the right thing for gamers, we think that’s the right thing for our platform, and we’re very happy to tell people about it.”

E3 Sony

Sony’s struggle for market share against Microsoft’s Xbox One is made more difficult in some ways by the similarity of the two consoles. If you just look at the fundamental architecture, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4 are more similar than any two competitive consoles have ever been in the past. This implies that the services and the games and how the consoles are marketed becomes even more important. “Yes, I think so, to some extent,” Longworth agreed. “The reality is that every time a generation changes the playing field is leveled. We actually think that we’re going to have superior graphic fidelity, but the whole value proposition has to be right. It’s not just about graphic fidelity. What are our policies? What are our principles? What do we stand for, and how do we communicate it?”

The PS Vita was the the first thing Sony talked about in its E3 press event, and the handheld console also received equal billing in Sony’s E3 booth. The PS3 was also featured at the press event with an equal representation in the booth. Sony seems to be trying to push all three platforms equally as part of the PlayStation family rather than focusing all the attention on the PS4. “There’s the PlayStation ecosystem; we’re incredibly fortunate to have the PS3 that’s seven years old and better than ever,” Longworth said. “The Last of Us is an incredible game, one of the three top-rated games of all time. We’ve got Beyond: Two Souls coming, we’ve got Gran Turismo 6, it’s a slate of great content still to come on PS 3.”

“It’s clear that the vast majority of the people want to go down to GameStop or Best Buy, they don’t want to buy it online right now”

Guy Longworth

Longworth is also bullish on the PS Vita. “With Vita, we’re only 15 months in to launch and now we think that with PlayStation 4 the opportunity for Vita is to be the absolutely perfect companion to the PS4,” he noted. “What we’re seeing is that once people get it in their hands and buy it, they’re buying games and they love for it. Now, it’s not had as fast a start as we would have liked, that’s common knowledge. But we do really believe in that platform and think that is has a significant opportunity. We think there’s a number of things that we can do in the coming months and years that will make it a long-term sustainable business.”

Is a price cut for the PS Vita one of those things? After all, Sony did cut the price of the handheld in Japan a few months ago. “You wouldn’t expect me to come into pricing discussions unless we announce them at E3,” returned Longworth. No, but pricing is a marketing tool, isn’t it? “We’re about value, we’re trying to offer value,” Longworth said. “You saw last night we were in a position where we felt the value of the PS4 was very good at $399. With PS Vita we feel that $250 is the right price, and I’m not going to comment on where we might go in the future.”

The fact that Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Entertainment played a role in Sony’s press event seemed like a recognition that it is important to get all parts of Sony working together now, that selling movies and TV and music is an important part of the PS4’s mandate. “Absolutely,” said Longworth. “It’s Kaz Hirai’s strategy. He’s been CEO now for a year, he comes from a a gaming background and he’s an incredibly smart guy. His strategy is One Sony, and you can’t get any more compelling proposition than Andy House [group CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment] reporting straight in to Kaz and Michael Lynton, the two of them on stage together saying we are going to do this.”

“We are wildly excited about this because we think that’s a big differentiator for us,” Longworth continued. “We don’t have to go out and buy studios and content. We have them already; we have the biggest movie business in the world. We have a huge TV business and a big music business.”

Digital distribution is going to be an issue for next-gen consoles, as Microsoft has already announced that new titles will be available digitally at the same time as they are available in stores. Certainly discs are an efficient way to distribute content, but how will Sony balance the needs of retailers with what’s good for the gamers? “I think the reality is this: Our digital business is growing fast, and we have incredibly strong partnerships with our key retail partners as well,” said Longworth. “What we try to do is offer a relatively level playing field and let the gamers decide. We’re not trying to advantage them, we believe in consumer choice. It’s clear that the vast majority of the people want to go down to GameStop or Best Buy, they don’t want to buy it online right now. How that might change in the future is kind of hard to predict. People might be quite surprised, I think physical games will be around a lot longer than some people think.”