Popular Chinese animated lamb joins Where's My Water? mobile franchise

Xi Yiang Yiang, one of China's most popular animated characters, is joining the cast of Disney's mobile franchise Where's My Water? with Where's My XYY?, available today for mobile devices. Players will guide the cheerful and critical-thinking lamb XYY on an adventure through medieval environments, where he must cut through dirt and guide flows of water to goals in order to defeat the Big Bad Wolf, XYY's nemesis. This new version of Where's My Water? also includes two new elements to maneuver — fire and oil — as well as 80 new levels and dozens of in-game collectibles for players to unlock. Where's My XYY? initially launched in China last December. The animation it is based on is still running, having produced just under 800 25-minute episodes since it first aired in June 2005....

FarmVille 2: Country Escape launches on mobile today

It was hard to imagine FarmVille 2 on mobile. The web version, which launched in 2012, was designed with the mouse cursor in mind. It played like a simulation and real-time strategy game. There may not have been enemies or beasts to slay, but there were things to move on a game board, crops to plant and items to craft. The cute farming exterior was, in some ways, deceptive, because if players wanted to get strategic and competitive with their farms, they could. In bringing FarmVille 2 to mobile, developer Zynga had to redesign the game to be "mobile first." Porting the web version to mobile devices wouldn't have worked for a number of reasons. The web version relies on mouse input; mobile devices use swipe inputs. Web players are likely to spend more time with the game during play...
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Smash Bandits Racing comes to Android

British-based Hutch Games launched its mobile racing game Smash Bandits Racing onto Android this week, following a massive update that will drastically change the gameplay of the original Smash Bandits release. Smash Bandits Racing adds a new racing mode with 25 unique racing levels that pit you against three AI opponents. Successful races also give players the chance to unlock "gold" versions of vehicles. Players can still choose to play the standard Smash mode, with racers attempting to outrun the cops for as long as possible. A new attack helicopter will also be added to this mode at higher levels, as well as two new vehicles: the Hot Rod and Hummer. Smash Bandits Racing does away with the earlier timer mechanic, while in-app purchase prices will be reduced overall. As a result,...

Candy Crush Saga to be distributed in China by Tencent this summer

Candy Crush Saga publisher King Digital Entertainment is bringing the sugary sensation to China this summer with the help of Chinese internet and media firm Tencent, King announced today. Tencent will distribute a Chinese version of Candy Crush Saga on its Mobile QQ and WeChat services. Candy Crush Saga is already available elsewhere in Asia — last year, King released the game in Japan and South Korea. "I am thrilled to be launching Candy Crush Saga with Tencent in China," said Riccardo Zacconi, CEO of King, in a press release today. "Tencent has the largest mobile social network in China and is a great partner to work with. I look forward to working together to make Candy Crush Saga as popular in China as in the rest of the world." "Tencent always hopes to bring global premier...

'Platformer-without-platforms' Magnetic by Nature coming to Ouya first in May

Team Tripleslash's 2D "platformer-without-platforms" Magnetic By Nature will launch in early May on the Ouya Android console as a timed exclusive, developers announced today. The title is a redesign of Magnetic By Nature: Awakening, a short game the team created and released through Xbox Live Arcade in April 2013. The game is reminiscent of a platforming but contains very few platforms for players to utilize, according to developers. In Magnetic by Nature, players will control the last surviving robot exploring the ruins of an ancient civilization. The robot's magnetism can be used to attract and repel objects, propelling the robot against and away from other magnets to navigate through the labyrinthine environment. Magnetic by Nature is single-player only and includes more than 100...

Toys for Bob and the story behind Skylanders

Beasts are peeking out of every nook and cranny in the office, a crazy infestation of plastic chaos.The figurines sit on shelves, hang on walls, tumble on desks in states of unpainted nakedness, dismantled and incoherent. They gurn, snarl and claw in an infinity of static poses. This is the place where the little plastic creatures of Activision's breakout monster hit Skylanders are conceived and birthed, the headquarters of Toys for Bob, a tiki-pirate-ship-themed ex-aircraft hanger in Marin County, California. Since its introduction back in 2011, the Skylanders video game and toy series has generated upwards of $2 billion in lifetime sales. It is one of the top 20 game franchises of all time, with 175 million toy sales. The Skylanders monsters have captured the imaginations of...
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Eufloria Adventures out on PS Mobile this week

Real-time strategy game Eufloria Adventures is hitting PlayStation Mobile this week, according to a post on the PlayStation Blog. The title is a new game set in the Eufloria universe from developers Brian Grainger, Rudolf Kremers and Alex May. In the game, an entity called the Mother Tree has sent you — a Seedling Ship — to investigate a set of alien environments, scouring for resources and artifacts to use. Players will be able to evolve a single Seedling Ship in a variety of different ways, assigning it new attributes and honing its speed, strength and energy levels. Along the way, players can also rescue lost seedlings, defeat enemy seedlings and discover records left by the seedlings that came before. Eufloria Adventures includes both a casual mode and a roguelike mode, for...

Humble Mobile Bundle 5 includes The Cave, The Room Two

The latest Humble Bundle, the Humble Mobile Bundle 5, is available now and includes six games at pay-what-you-want prices. Buyers who pay below the average will receive DRM-free copies of Aralon: Sword and Shadow, Bag It! and R-Type 2; those who pay more than the average (currently around $4.70) will also get Carcassonne, The Cave and The Room Two. More games are expected to unlock in the future, which will also be available for those that paid more than the average. Games are available for Android devices; check out the trailer above for a quick look at each game. Those who purchase bundles can choose to split their contribution between game developers, bundle organizers and charity organizations. The Humble Mobile Bundle 5 will be available until Tuesday, April 29.

Mobile AR game Run An Empire brings strategy to the streets

Run An Empire offers mobile gamers the opportunity to turn their local neighborhood into their own fiefdom, by the simple expedient of jogging and a little strategic thinking.It's a GPS-fuelled alternate reality game that passed its recent £15,000 ($25,000) Kickstarter target with ease. Players take their phone out for a jog, and the route becomes the boundaries of their own empire. Until, that is, some other jogger invades and starts to carve up their own little slice of the world. Players can protect their own areas by running its borders over and over again, or by completing the run in faster times than competitors. "We want to bring the competitive challenge of strategy games to the physical world around us," said co-designer Sam Hill (pictured below, right). He called the game a...

Star Trek Timelines creator aims to go where few Trek games have gone before

Disruptor Beam's strategy role-playing game based on the Star Trek franchise, the multiverse mashing Star Trek Timelines, hopes to accomplish what few other games based on the enduring sci-fi series have. Rather than focus mainly on ship-to-ship combat and action-filled away missions, Star Trek Timelines' creator wants to make science, diplomacy and character interaction key to gameplay. Jon Radoff, CEO of Disruptor Beam, told Polygon at PAX East this weekend that his company is looking to hew closer to Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry's vision, rather than the action-oriented video game interpretations that have followed. "We've created this amazing galaxy generator which will populate what I think will be this big galaxy filled with content so there's always new things to explore...

Age of Empires coming to smartphones this summer as World Domination

The latest Age of Empires release is a free-to-play mobile strategy game called World Domination that is slated to hit iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices this summer. Players can choose from more than 100 legendary heroes, allowing them to create distinct troop types from past civilizations. It features competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes, as well as a battle system designed for smartphones. The system allows users to execute battle tactics using mobile-centric controls such as touch gestures. Those interested can preregister to receive updates about the game via the official Age of Empires: World Domination website. You can see the game in action in the video above. Microsoft launched another free-to-play title based on the Age of Empires franchise two years ago...

Record Run from Harmonix in development for Android and iOS, planned for May release

Record Run, Harmonix Music Systems' upcoming free-to-play running rhythm game, is in development for Android and iOS, director of publishing and public relations John Drake revealed at a PAX East 2014 panel today. "If you have a tablet or a phone, we hope we can get this game to you," Drake said, though he joked that a Windows Phone release may be unlikely. Record Run is "in submission at one of the first parties now" and should be out in the next week or two, but first in Australia and Canada to make sure it works. Harmonix is planning on a wider release in May. Drake played a demo of the game on an iPad during the panel. In Record Run, players begin by choosing from characters like a goth cheerleader, a punk rocker or a hipster with a cat in his backpack. Record Run players can...

Hearthstone getting single-player Curse of Naxxramas adventure mode

Free-to-play digital card battling title Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft is getting a single-player adventure mode, Curse of Naxxramas, Blizzard announced today. The new content will launch simultaneously on iPad, Mac and Windows PC at a later date. Players will be sent to Naxxramas, a floating necropolis "filled with the stuff of nightmares" that will be familiar to those intimate with World of Warcraft lore. Using their deck of choice, players will face off against a score of undead bosses across the five different wings of the Naxxramas player-versus-environment scenario. Along the way, players will earn more cards, and at the end of each wing's challenge players can obtain a new Legendary card. The total number of cards players can earn through their adventures in Naxxramas...

Engaging the hardcore: the thinking behind Wind-Up Knight 2's unique take on free-to-play

The email in my inbox was titled "Hell Yeah" and contained a screenshot of the achievements screen from our 2011 iOS and Android game Wind-up Knight. The sender had completed every achievement available, which is quite a feat; of the ten million people who have played Wind-up Knight, only about 0.1 percent completed the final level, which is played upside down.This player was hardcore and clearly loved the game, but his exuberance was not simply a product of our game design; he was also very proud of having finished Wind-up Knight without spending any money. He’d completed the whole thing for free. He is not alone. In the two and a half years since Wind-up Knight came out, we have continued to receive similar messages from incredibly enthusiastic players who have finished the game...

Hitman GO will launch worldwide on April 17

Square Enix Montreal's mobile, turn-based strategy game based on the Hitman franchise, Hitman GO, will launch globally on iOS devices on April 17, the publisher announced today. The game, which will be priced at $4.99, will be playable at PAX East this weekend, with creative director Daniel Lutz being on hand to demo the game to PAX attendees. An Android version will launch shortly after. Announced in February, Square Enix revealed that the game stands separate to the main series and uses diorama-style pieces. "You will strategically navigate fixed spaces on a grid to avoid enemies and take out your target or infiltrate well-guarded locations," the game's description read. "You really have to think about each move and all the Hitman tools of the trade you would expect are included:...

Watch the intro to Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff here

Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff developer TinyCo Games released the intro to its mobile title on the studio's official YouTube page. The video, which you can view above, plays at the start of the game — which launched today on iOS and Android systems. The mini-episode is written, animated and voiced by the team behind the TV series. The game's story takes place after a fight between Peter Griffin and Ernie the giant chicken so massive that it destroys the town of Quahog. Players need to rebuild using the cast of the TV show. Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff will include quests to help Peter become a pirate, help Quagmire find Gold Digger Island and work with Mayor Adam West to survive the town running of the bulls. Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff will also make "in-­app purchases...

Minecraft: Pocket Edition surpasses 21M copies sold

Minecraft has reached a new sales milestone on mobile devices: Mojang has now sold more than 21 million copies of the game's Pocket Edition, announced Mojang's Jens Bergensten on Twitter today. "[Minecraft: Pocket Edition] has sold over 20 million copies (actually, over 21M)," said Bergensten, the game's lead developer. That means that sales have more than doubled in less than a year, and that the pace of that climb is increasing over time. The Pocket Edition debuted in October 2011 on Android and the following month on iOS, and it wasn't until the end of April 2013 that it reached 10 million copies sold. Earlier this month, sales of the game's Xbox 360 Edition surpassed 12 million copies. "We're extremely grateful to all players for your dedication and creativity. Without that, M...

Snobbery and fear drive criticisms of free-to-play games and ethics

The game industry has long been accused of unethical behavior from the outside, such as the decades-long ban on pinball to avoid its corrupting influence on youth, but the latest attack on the ethics of gaming is coming from within.Games are in a state of rapid growth and tumultuous change, driven by new platforms like Facebook, iOS and Steam, and new ways of funding projects like Early Access and Kickstarter. Of all these new business models, one in particular has emerged as being subjected to the most ethical questions and criticism — free-to-play. After seven years in the "traditional" industry, I've spent eight years building free-to-play projects, so I'm especially sensitive to and interested in these criticisms. The attacks and criticism of free-to-play mechanics are often...

Study finds that 0.22 percent of players account for 46 percent of mobile app revenue

Research conducted by Swrve concluded that 46 percent of mobile game revenue came from 0.22 percent of mobile game players, Re/code reports. The study tracked more than 10 million players in more than 30 titles for 90 days. Data showed that 2.2 percent of players spent money and that the top 10 percent of those players — 0.22 percent — accounted for nearly half of the revenue collected. According to Swrve's data, 66 percent of players also stopped playing after 24 hours. "It's a bit like a first date," Swrve CEO Hugh Reynolds told Re/code. "If it's going to be effective, it needs to be effective quick." Swrve provides a platform for mobile app developers to analyze and manage their relationships with customers. Services it provides include A/B testing, analytics, personalized...

Leo's Fortune is a console-sized game in a mobile-sized package

Leo's Fortune is 1337 and Senri's bid to create a console-worthy game for the mobile space.In Leo's Fortune, players control Leopold, a dark-teal ball of fluff gliding across the world in search of his missing gold. Leo believes it has all been stolen by someone close to him — one of his eccentric, equally fluff-ball relatives — and they have left it scattered "like a trail of bread crumbs," as he says, across the world. Now players must guide Leo through a handful of different and dangerous environments, including a pirate cove and mines, in order to get it back. Leo will have to solve some puzzles to open doors, like moving blocks onto a weighted elevator or pressing switches hidden in the walls, on his quest to regain his cash. Swiping and holding on the bottom left of the touch...
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