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An Epidemic? July’s Best-Selling Games at These Stores Weren’t That Violent

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Violent video games have attracted attention in recent weeks, being partially blamed for the mass shootings in the United States. Despite this, sales data from some of the biggest retailers in the country reveal that players are actually enjoying a huge variety of video games, and very few of the best sellers in July were violent.

Sales data gathered by Thinknum on video games sold at GameStop, Amazon, and Walmart show that the games moving the most copies in July varied wildly. Largely as a result of sales promotions, older titles like Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Battlefield 1 cracked Walmart’s top 10, but they were joined by Minecraft: Story Mode and NBA 2K17. Walmart received criticism last week when it began removing displays promoting violent video games, despite continuing to sell firearms and ammunition.

GameStop’s top 10 in July was dominated by Pokémon, including pre-orders for the upcoming games Sword and Shield. While several of the titles included some form of violence, only Call of Duty: Modern Warfare features realistic blood and has not yet been released.

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Activision

Amazon’s best-sellers for July were also largely family-friendly, with only The Last of Us Remastered and Fallout 76 getting a “Mature” rating from the ESRB. Several others are family-friendly games on Nintendo Switch, including Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Super Mario Maker 2.

The NPD Group, which monitors sales data for the industry across both retail and digital channels, does show that for the total of 2019 thus far, there are several violent games included in the charts, such as Mortal Kombat 11 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. However, these are joined by MLB 19: The Show and Kingdom Hearts III. More recently, Minecraft and Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled gained momentum, as well.

It’s impossible to say if violent video games will fall out of popularity yet, but since players are clearly enjoying other types of games, as well, it’s unlikely we actually have an epidemic of young people being desensitized to real-life atrocities. The numbers don’t back up that claim, either, with little evidence to suggest those who play violent games are more likely to commit mass murder.




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Sony buys Insomniac Games, details on Death Stranding, Nintendo & more

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If you’re a PlayStation owner who loved last year’s Spider-Man as much as the critics (and just about everybody else), then Sony’s newly-announced plan to snag Spidey developer Insomniac Games in its web of in-house development studios probably comes as welcome news. 

Just ahead of the kickoff of this year’s Gamescom convention in Germany, Sony revealed that it just acquired Insomniac as the newest member of its elite roster of first-party studios — meaning that any future projects that Insomniac puts out will likely remain firmly encamped in Sony’s lineup of PlayStation exclusives.  

Spider-Man already lit up the gaming charts just on the strength of its PS4-only availability, and Insomniac already has a long track record making games that align with the PlayStation brand (like the original Spyro the Dragon, Ratchet & Clank, and the Resistance shooter series). 

Sony Interactive’s Shawn Layden even tipped his hat to the role Spider-Man’s success played in the timing of the pickup, telling The Hollywood Reporter the hot-selling game “underscores how consequential Insomniac is to gaming in the overall… There are just a clutch of studios in that independent sphere who are at an accomplishment level of something like Insomniac. They are a very rare bird and we felt that this was the time to formalize the relationship.”

By formally joining team Sony, Insomniac stands alongside makers of other critically-acclaimed PS exclusives like Horizon: Zero Dawn developer Guerilla Games, Little Big Planet maker Media Molecule, and Uncharted creator Naughty Dog. We don’t know what Insomniac has in the works next, but if it does even half as well as Spider-Man (which has sold more than 13 million copies to date, via Polygon), we’d call it a welcome addition to Sony’s in-house friendly neighborhood of PlayStation game makers.


Tons of other cool tidbits dropped from Gamescom’s first day, including a handful of new details about Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s first post-Metal Gear game. 

Apparently, all those babies we’ve been seeing trapped in jars in previous Death Stranding trailers are integral to tying the game’s fragmented world together, with the one that star Norman Reedus’ character carries — nicknamed “Bridge Baby,” or just “BB” for short — serving as a bridge between the worlds of the living and the dead, according to Game Informer

Kojima himself turned up at Gamescom to unveil an exclusive new Stranding trailer that showed off Sam (played by Reedus) peeing, an act that’s reportedly a repeatable game mechanic that can yield some kind of player perk, according to Gamesradar+. If that’s not enough to get you even more curious ahead of the game’s Nov. 8 release, then have another drink: Death Stranding hits PlayStation 4 this Nov. 8.


A cyber-dude having a heart-to-heart talk with his robo-cycle: that’s the Gamescom intro we got in Disintegration, the upcoming sci-fi game announced from Halo co-creator Marcus Lehto and V1 Interactive. 

Check out the reveal trailer for Disintegration below, which takes off on a riding tour of the game’s post-apocalyptic world. The game reportedly will be a first-person shooter that serves up both a single-player campaign and a multiplayer experience, and is due for a 2020 release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.


Nintendo opened Gamescom with a 23-minute sizzle reel showcasing a batch of new indie games, and a common thread that seems to run throughout the whole thing is a whimsical take on science fiction, from one developer after another. 

Whether it’s the rolling, bumping action of 2D side-scroller Earth Night (which tackles the “dragon apocalypse”) or the wild, Little Big Planet vibes we got from the deconstructed world of Youropa (which features a cutesy yellow character hopping across the ruins of the Eiffel Tower), the indies on display from Nintendo definitely don’t look like they’re being done on a shoestring budget. 

Buckle in for a wild ride and check ‘em all out in the trailer below:


Finally, there’s nothing whimsical about the new gameplay trailer for Predator: Hunting Grounds, an “immersive asymmetrical shooter set in remote areas around the world,” as the description notes. And thankfully, it teases the alien stalker series returning to its stifling, lost-in-the-jungle roots. 

“Play as a member of an elite Fireteam and complete paramilitary operations before the Predator finds you,” teases developer IllFonic of the game, which lets players control every character. “Or, play as the Predator to hunt the most worthy prey, choosing from your vast array of deadly alien tech to collect your trophies, one by one.” 

Check out the new trailer above, and get Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover on speed dial now — Predator: Hunting Grounds is set to arrive on Earth sometime next year for PlayStation 4.




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