Sony Santa Monica has been hit by layoffs.

The reasons behind the God of War developer's elimination of staff positions were explained by parent company Sony.

"SCEA can confirm that we have completed a reduction in workforce at Santa Monica Studio," the firm said in a statement to IGN.

"This is a result of a cycle of resource re-alignment against priority growth areas within SCE WWS. We do not take these decisions lightly."

It added: "However, sometimes it is necessary to make changes to better serve the future projects of the studio. We have offered outplacement services and severance packages to ease transition for those impacted."

The studio - which was established in 1999 - is co-developing several upcoming PlayStation 4 exclusives, including Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and The Order: 1886.

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The 'Off the Map' student competition has returned for a second year.

Inspired by vampires, graveyards and Gothic horror, the new competition is a collaboration between Crytek, the British Library and Nottingham Trent University's annual GameCity festival.

It will challenge degree-level computer programmers and game designers from across the UK to develop gaming-based entries using Crytek's CryEngine technology.

Participants can use content from the following themes, which are connected with the British Library's exhibition:

• Engravings and drawings of Whitby, North Yorkshire - used by Bram Stoker as a setting in his classic horror story Dracula.

• Edgar Allan Poe's 1842 Gothic short story The Masque of the Red Death.

• Fonthill Abbey - the once-stunning 18th-century country house in Wiltshire, of which only a fragment remains today.

"Possibilities for competition entries are endless, really," said GameCity director Iain Simons.

"They might follow a traditional format of adventure or shoot 'em up, or come up with a three-dimensional fly-through simulation."

He added: "Judges will be looking for the most innovative and interesting ways to interpret the British Library exhibits."

The first 'Off the Map' launched in 2013 and tasked participants with recreating maps from the British Library's cartographic collections.

Pudding Lane Productions won first prize in last year's competition.

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A new Project Gotham Racing entry isn't in development, Microsoft has announced.

The confirmation was made on Twitter by Microsoft Studios executive vice president Phil Spencer.

"We aren't currently working on PGR," he tweeted to a follower asking whether the franchise will ever be revisited.

"I really liked the franchise, really just down to # of racing franchises."

Spencer may be referring to the publisher's other core racing game series, Forza Motorsport, of which its fifth instalment has been purchased by a third of Xbox One owners.


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Call of Duty games and DLC have been discounted on Xbox Live.

Black Ops 2 is available with a 50% discount for £24.99 ($29.99), while Modern Warfare 3 has been cut by 60% to £19.99 ($19.99).

The Black Ops 2 season pass, which unlocks four map packs, is available for £17 ($24.99).

Individual map packs and weapon add-ons for both games are also available at half price.

Call of Duty: Ghosts content is not included in the sale.

This year's Call of Duty release will be developed by Sledgehammer Games, the team who co-developed 2011's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

The list of Call of Duty sale items in full:

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 – Games on Demand – 50%

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Season Pass – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Cyborg Pass – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 – Games on Demand – 60%

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 01 – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 02 – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 03: Chaos Pack – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Collection 04: Final Assault – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Apocalypse Pack – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 Revolution Pack – Add-On – 50%

Call of Duty: Black ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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South Park: The Stick of Truth has been censored for consoles in Europe.

Seven scenes from the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions have been removed for European audiences. The PC release remains unaffected.


Five of the offending scenes involve anal probing, while two mini-games involving abortions have also been removed.

The scenes will be replaced by image backgrounds and text selected by Matt Stone and Trey Parker.

Developed by Fallout New Vegas studio Obsidian Entertainment, South Park: The Stick of Truth features extensive input from the show's creators.


The story sees a new kid arrive in South Park and take part in a live-action role playing game with the others that eventually becomes an adventure of its own.

South Park: The Stick of Truth hits PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on March 7 in Europe and March 4 in North America.

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Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes has been given a discount on next-gen consoles.

The retail edition on Xbox One and PS4 has been dropped by £10 to £29.99 in the UK, making it the same price as the digital edition.

It also matches the retail pricing of the Xbox 360 and PS3 editions, but is still higher than those digital versions at £19.99 each.

Ground Zeroes' current and next-gen versions were recently compared in a trailer.

Konami recently revealed that the PS4 edition of Ground Zeroes will run at a full 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second, while Xbox One will offer 720p and the same frame rate.

Sony has also unveiled a Ground Zeroes Fox-branded PS4 console for Japan.

Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes will be available on March 20 in Europe and March 18 in North America on current and next-gen consoles.


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The creator of Papers, Please wants to port the game to PlayStation Vita.

Indie game designer Lucas Pope said that despite a number of UI challenges, he's tempted to develop the game for Sony's handheld device.

"I do want to do a Vita version, but the thing is there's a lot of interesting UI challenges to make it work well on Vita: much smaller screen, much smaller hit targets," Pope told VG247.

"So that kind of stuff interests me to try to figure out how to make it work well on Vita."

According to Pope, other people have offered to handle a Vita port, but he's reluctant to relinquish control.

"Up until now, I've been the only guy who's ever touched the source code or anything related to the game. And that's just kind of a control issue," he continued.

"A lot of people offered to just, 'Send me over the assets and codes and I'll kick out all your localised versions, you'll be set', but I wanted to do it myself because it was a little bit fun and because I'm a control freak.

"For a Vita version, I'm 50% I want to do it myself and 50% I should just hand it off to somebody who knows what they're doing and can take it over for me."

Papers, Please is described as a "dystopian document thriller", in which players must become an immigration officer and approve or deny entry into the fictional country of Arstotzka.

The main story mode features 20 different endings over a 31-day period, with new rules introduced as the month goes on.

Players must process as many entries as possible in order to provide food and warmth for their families, but must be careful ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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Twitch streaming will make its Xbox One debut in March, Microsoft has announced.

The Twitch streaming app will launch alongside Titanfall's North American release date of March 11.

The app will give viewers the chance to join broadcasters' gaming sessions mid-stream.

Twitch CEO and co-founder Emmett Shear described it as "complete integration" in a statement to The AP.

"It's exciting because we've never had the ability to broadcast from a console like this with such a deep level of integration," Shear said.

"The concept of being able to join a broadcasters' party is really cool, and it's another step in the direction of interacting more closely with broadcasters."

"For us, we thought that was too limiting for what our fans would want. Our fans really want the full next-gen service, so that's why we decided to take our time, do it right and have it come out in this fashion.

"The community of Twitch is huge, and this allows us to type into that, and frankly do something that's never been done before on consoles.

"You'll be able to broadcast to any device and consume anyone's broadcast from any device. It's a console experience unique to the Xbox One."

"For us, we thought that was too limiting for what our fans would want. Our fans really want the full next-gen service, so that's why we decided to take our time, do it right and have it come out in this fashion.

"The community of Twitch is huge, and this allows us to type into that, and frankly do something that's never been done before on consoles.

"You'll be able to broadcast to any device and consume anyone's broadcast from any device. It's a console experience unique to the Xbox ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)

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LEGO: The Hobbit has been given a release date.

The video game tie-in of the film trilogy will be available from April 11 in Europe and April 8 in North America.

Featuring the first two Hobbit films, with playable characters including Bilbo, Gandalf and all of the Dwarves, each of whom will have their own unique abilities.

Middle-earth was previously recreated in LEGO Lord of the Rings, which made its console and PC debut last year.

It was followed by a recent iOS LEGO Lord of the Rings port, which launched earlier this month.

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The Xbox One Titanfall bundle has been further discounted by online retailer GameStop.

GameStop has knocked a further £30 off the console and game bundle, offering the pack for £369.97.

The bundle is available to pre-order now ahead of its March 14 launch.

Microsoft announced plans to reduce the price of the Xbox One yesterday.

From February 28, the Xbox One will be available for £399 with a free code for Titanfall while stocks last.

The discounted bundle contains a standard console, controller, Kinect sensor, one-month free Xbox Live Gold subscription and a digital download code for Titanfall, which will be playable from March 14.

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