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Holiday 2015

Exciting things happen in the world of video games every single day. Everything happens so quickly that it can be tough for a parent to keep track of. Between work, carting the kids to everywhere under the sun, cooking, cleaning, and maybe (just maybe) getting a chance to sleep for a few hours parents just don’t have the time to keep up with everything happening in their child’s hobby.

If the above paragraph describes you, then we have an answer for you. Every Friday morning EFG will be publishing a digest of some of the biggest video game news that your family needs to know. So kick back with your morning coffee and enjoy!

Note: Last week was a slow news week thanks to the Thanksgiving holiday, but we did get a few interesting nuggets for you this week.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare has reached 8 million players.

Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare infographic

I had my doubts when EA announced PvZ: GW a few years ago. It was an interesting idea with a great dad joke attached to it, but I couldn’t help but question how sustainable a family friendly shooter would be. We’ve played the game in our house pretty regularly and the boys have enjoyed themselves, but I never really gave the game much thought.

New numbers from EA show that it has reached 8 million players. It is worth noting that this doesn’t mean it has 8 million sales because if it did they would have said so. Instead this is likely including people playing on multiple different accounts on the same console. (My family would account for three of those players).

This is good news leading into the sequel that is launching next February. We’ll report more news as we get closer to that one!

The PS4 hits a new sales milestone!


Sony has announced that it has hit a milestone with 30.2 million PS4s sold to customers. This places the PS4 firmly in the company of the fastest selling consoles in history. These results were reported before Black Friday where there were multiple amazing bundles available for sale.

Sony has been very forthcoming with the good news regarding their console since launch. This stands in stark contrast to Microsoft who has not reported sales figures directly in about a year. This has forced the video games press to use some serious math to try to puzzle the sales situation out. The folks over at ArsTechnica have created some amazing charts to help analyze the situation and update them whenever we get a new morsel of info.

Black Friday Sales Results

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This is being published on Cyber Monday so we haven’t really had much time for all of the results to trickle in, but some of the early reports are very encouraging for console manufacturers.

Sales data released by Adobe showed that Black Friday spending was up 14% over last year in the US and the PS4 and Xbox One were both in the top five best selling items of the day.

Target came out early with a report showing that the much maligned Wii U was their top selling item on their website. This was likely on the shoulders of the amazing bundle that included both Splatoon and Smash Brothers for Wii U.





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Black Friday 2015 is almost upon us and now is the time to into our war rooms and devise our shopping plans.

I have delved into the flyers for the major video game retailers and highlighted the juiciest deals of the bunch. Take a look below!


Sales start Thursday 6pm

NBA2k16, FIFA 16, Madden 16 – $27.00

Uncharted Collection PS4 Bundle – $299.00

3 month Xbox Live Gold – $12.50

3 month PS Plus – $10

PS4 and Xbox One Controller – $39.99

$35 Games – NHL 16,  Forza Motorsports 6, Destiny: The Taken King

$25 Games – Splatoon, Just Dance Disney Party 2016, Just Dance 2016, LEGO Jurassic World, Mario Party 10, Splatoon

$15 Games – MLB: The Show 2015, Minecraft Xbox 360, Rare Replay, Little Big Planet 3

$8 Games – Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare.

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders Superchargers -$37

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders Superchargers figures and vehicles – $9

LEGO Dimensions  -$79.00

Nintendo Wii U bundle including Splatoon and Smash Wii U – $249

30th Anniversary Mario Color Mario Amiibo – $12.96



Sales Start Thursday 6pm

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders SuperChargers Starter Pack -$34.99

Disney Infinity 3.0 and Skylanders SuperChargers figures – $11

LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack – $79.99

New Nintendo 3DS XL – $179.99

Video Games at $15, $20, $25, and $35

Guitar Hero Live – $59

Rock Band 4 – $199

Best Buy

Sales Start Thursday 5pm

Video Games at $19.99

Sports titles at $29.99

Action Games at $34.99

PS4 and Xbox One bundles $299.99

Guitar Hero Live $69.99 includes a free USB Microphone with purchase


Toys “R” Us

Sales start Thursday 5pm

Skylanders Superchargers figures buy 1 get one 80% off

All “R” Super buy games 2 for $25

Anki Overdrive Free Expansion car with Anki Overdrive Starter Kit

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One bundles – $299.99

Nintendo Wii U bundle including Splatoon and Smash Wii U  – $279.99

New Nintendo 3DS XL – $179.99

Xbox Live Gold 3 month Subscription – $14.99

Angry Birds Star Wars for 3DS – $1

Deep discounts on video games of all varieties


Closed on Thanksgiving

Sales start Friday at 5am

PlayStation 4 and Xbox One Bundles – $299.99

$50 off all new Xbox One bundles

$50 off all new PlayStation 4 bundles

LEGO Jurassic World $29.99

WWE 2K 16 – $49.99 with a free Stone Cold Steve Austin Funk Pop Figure

Rare Replay – $19.99

Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare – $14.99

Disney Infinity 3.0 Starter Pack – $34.99

Guitar Hero Live – $69.99

LEGO Dimensions Starter Pack – $79.99

Skylanders Superchargers characters and vehicles – $9.99

Buy two get one free pre-owned products

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The holidays are almost upon us and it is time to start looking for gifts. Thankfully EFG is here to help! Take a look below for some great ideas for video game gifts!

Premium Gaming Service Memberships

PS Plus

Xbox Live Gold

EA Access

These services started as novelties for anyone who didn’t play games online, but they are huge value propositions now. This is mainly because Sony, Microsoft, and EA all distribute games through them at no additional cost.

PlayStation Plus and Xbox Live Gold are on largely equal footing. They both distribute a slate of free games each month that members can “buy” and play for as long as they are members.

EA Access is a bit different though because the free games included in the serve come in two forms. One being timed demos of their upcoming games. The other being access to the EA Vault which includes older games they have released. This service is getting better and better as time passes and more games are added to it. If you have an Xbox One owner on your list that doesn’t buy a lot of games, but has eclectic taste then this should be something to think about.

Independent Games

Some of the best games released this year didn’t come in a box and you won’t find them on store shelves. These games also tend to be cheaper than full retail releases as well. If you are looking for a smaller gift for the little gamer in your life these can be a great option.

Ori and the Blind Forest (Xbox One)

This is one of the most hauntingly beautiful games I played all year. You play as, essentially, a tree spirit as you travel around a magic forest helping protect it from evil. The plot sounds as “blah” as you can get, but it was gorgeous, challenging, and memorable.

Rocket League (PS4)

We’re talking about soccer as played by jet powered cars that can fly. What more do I need to sell this one for you?

Runbow (Wii U)


If you know someone who owns a Wii U and they regularly have friends over to play this is a must own. Runbow is a 9 player platforming game that will challenge every friendship they have in hilarious ways.

Sports titles

Madden 16, FIFA 16, NHL 16

There really isn’t much to say about these games other than the fact that the Madden, FIFA, and NHL games are the premier game experiences for fans of those sports.

NBA 2k16

Unlike the previously mentioned sports games NBA2K16 includes a cinematic story mode that was directed by Spike Lee. This might seem minor, but it adds a lot to the game. The single player mode is a compelling story about the importance of family and friendship in the face of stardom in the NBA. I enjoyed it a lot.

Transformers because…. Transformers

Transformers: Devastation

I said just about everything I could in my review. But, suffice it to say that this is one of the best Transformers games ever and is will be a guaranteed hit for anyone who loves Transformers (past or present).

You Can’t Stop the Music!

Guitar Hero: Live vs Rock Band 4

A lot of people are going to be looking at the music games this year and will be forced to make a choice between Guitar Hero Live and Rock Band 4 (click the links for reviews of each). Both of them are great games, but Rock Band 4 likely holds the edge if you are buying for someone who regularly plays with friends.

Toys to Life

Skylanders: Superchargers

Unless you have been under a rock, it’s likely that you have heard of Skylanders, the awesome game that brings “toys to life”. The newest installment, Superchargers, brings your favorite skylanders (and some new friends) back with a fleet of drivable vehicles that take to the land, air and sea and bring new life to the franchise. With new levels, new puzzles, new powers and the same old Kaos, Superchargers doesn’t disappoint!

Disney Infinity 3.0

Disney seems to own everything these days and all of that stuff is appearing in their flagship video game: Disney Infinity 3.0. The big focus this year is Star Wars (shocker. I know.) and there are a lot of really cool figures to go along with an interesting game. If your kids LOVE Star Wars then this is a great option.

LEGO Dimensions

What kid doesn’t like to play with LEGOS? I certainly can’t think of one and LEGO Dimensions give these kids the chance to play with their LEGOS inside of a video game. The gameplay is reminiscent of other LEGO games so families who have been playing them will be right at home.

The Nintendo Corner


Splatoon is Nintendo’s family friendly answer to the relentless request for a first person shooter on one of their consoles.  It is an amazingly fun game where you play a squid kid or inkling whose goal is to defeat other players while covering the most turf with ink.   There are many modes of play in this game and it is one of Nintendo’s few games that really integrates usage of the gamepad. This is a family favorite in our house and the variety of play choices have made it so the game does not get old. This may even be EFG’s game of the year.

Super Mario Maker

Have you ever wanted to play infinite levels of a Mario game?  Did you ever want to create your own levels by adding enemies and blocks wherever you choose? Mario Maker allows you to do just that. You use the gamepad to create your own levels and you can play levels that have been shared around the world. This game is very intuitive and easy to use. Even our youngest players can make their own levels.  This was a surprise hit in our family considering how poorly other level building games went over.  This game also has DLC that is continuously keeping it fresh. Another must have on a holiday wish list.

Mario Kart 8

What can we say about this game that hasn’t already been said? Kart racing, our favorite Nintendo characters, and amazing graphics make this a given on any holiday wish list.  There are plenty of new tracks in this game, along with lots of reimagined favorites. This is a great game to play as a family and if you don’t have it already, you should definitely purchase this one!  DLC and updates keep this game fresh. Did we mention that you can race as Link?  On a triforce motorbikes?


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The holidays are almost upon us and it is time to start looking for gifts. Thankfully EFG is here to help! Take a look below for some great ideas for board game gifts!


GUBS is a quirky and clever card game where your objective is to build the mightiest Gub colony. This is a terrific beginner intro to card game mechanics (think Magic the Gathering and Pokemon) because you can boost or protect your colony with myriad cards consisting of traps, lures, and other surprising events.  The artwork is cute, the tin to hold the cards is well designed, and the MSRP of $11.99 makes this a great little gift for a 7-12 year old.

Ticket to Ride

Ticket to Ride is considered the new family classic board game.  It is often heralded as the game that started the board game renaissance that we are living in. This game is very accessible to all players, especially those who don’t consider themselves gamers. The mechanics are easy to learn understand and gameplay is exciting and fun.  This game also plays quickly, and gets players being downright competitive.  Replay value is high, and while the MSRP of $50.00 is high, this game can usually be found on sale for significantly less. Also, this WILL become a go to game for your family, so we feel that the added bonus of tons of family time makes it well worth the price.

Colt Express

Colt Express is a “programmed movement” game where players take on the role of a train robber in the quest to get the most loot by the end of the game. The biggest highlight to the game is that the board is an actual 3 dimensional train made of cardboard that adds a true sense of verticality to a type of game that is usually pretty flat. This game is great for people who enjoyed Robot Turtles as kids and are looking for a bigger challenge.


Tenzi is a super simple dice game that is very fast-paced. This is a great icebreaker, boredom buster, or introduction to kick off a bigger game night. The game is noisy, quick, and simple. While at an MSRP of $14.95 it is a bit pricey for what it contains, the the packaging and the variations within the rules make it something that has a high replay value. It’s also nice the game does a tiny bit of teaching while still being fun. We found that it’s been playable by children as young as five while still being entertaining to adults.

Sleeping Queens

All of the Queens have fallen under a magical sleeping spell and you must find the Kings to wake them! Beware, sleeping spells and dragons and wayward knights will make the journey difficult! Fun fantasy in an easy to learn (and pack) card game that even the youngest players will enjoy.

Sentinels of the Multiverse

The Multiverse is riddled with villains with their own agendas, the only ones who can stop them are your team of 2-5 heroes working together to defeat them. Combine tons of teams of heroes against villains and fight them in places that both help and hinder you in this cooperative pre-constructed deck-based game.


Have you ever been on a quest for perfection? Love to watch elaborate firework displays but have no idea how to construct them? Then Hanabi is the game for you! A cooperative card game (with variations included in the box) where your team of pyrotechnic experts must put on the best firework display the world has ever witnessed — without ever seeing your own hand. Cryptic communication, decisions based on incomplete information – all this and more for just $10!

Sushi Go!

Wasabi, tempura, dumplings, oh my! Sushi Go is a introductory drafting card game that packs a lot into a small tin!
Players collect cards as they are passed to try to score the most points for their tasty meals of Japanese cuisine. With little to read even smaller gamers can get into the groove of being a master sushi chef, without that pesky fishy smell!


Blending a  balance of easy to learn rules and deeper strategy, Splendor is a fantastic game for older children and grown-ups alike. Players acquire gems in order to buy mines, which in turn provide more gems (and ultimately points). While the gem-dealer theme may feel thin at times, the card drafting mechanic and  “engine-building” feel to the gameplay will quickly make this a family game night staple.



Experience an aMAZEing treasure hunt through an ever shifting board with Ravensburger’s Labyrinth. Players attempt to acquire each of the treasures in their hand of cards by moving around the board. Each turn, players will alter the board by sliding in a new Labyrinth tile, shifting an entire row or column of the board, and changing the available pathways. Labyrinth has rules for play for younger children as well as more advanced players, and it’s simple yet tactical gameplay make it a favorite for all ages.

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Available on the following platforms:

Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U


Starter pack: $100 – Comes with toy pad, game, Batman, Wyldstyle, Gandalf, Batmobile

Pricing structure:

Level packs: $30

Team packs: $25

Fun packs: $15

The following level packs are available now:

Back to the Future (Marty McFly, DeLorean, Hoverboard)

Portal (Chell, Companion Cube, Turret)

The Simpsons (Homer, Homer’s Car, Taunt-o-Vision)

Team packs out now:

Jurassic World (Owen, ACU Trooper, Velociraptor, Gyrosphere)

Scooby Doo (Scooby, Shaggy, Mystery Machine, Scooby Snack)

Fun packs out now:

Chima Cragger with Swamp Skimmer

Chima Eris with Eagle Interceptor

Cyborg with Cyber Guard

Wonder Woman with Invisible Jet

Lego Movie Bad Cop with Police Car

Lego Movie Benny with Benny’s Spaceship

Lego Movie Emmet with Emmet’s Excavator

Lord of the Rings Gimli with Axe Chariot

Lord of the Rings Gollum with Shelob the Great

Lord of the Rings Legolas with Arrow Launcher

Ninjago Nya with Samurai Mech

Ninjago Zane with Ninjacopter

Wicked Witch with Winged Monkey

Release dates for future products:

November 3, 2015

Level Pack – Doctor Who (The Doctor, K-9, Tardis)

Team Pack – Ninjago (Cole, Kai, Boulder Bomber, Blade Bike)

Fun Pack – Lego Movie Unikitty with Cloud Cuckoo Car – November 3, 2015

Fun Pack – Bart Simpson with Gravity Sprinter – November 3, 2015

Fun Pack – Krusty with Clown Bike – November 3, 2015

January 19, 2016

Level Pack – Ghostbusters (Peter Venkman, Ecto-1, Ghost Trap)

Team Pack – DC Comics (Joker, Harley Quinn, Joker’s Chopper, Quinn Mobile)

Fun Pack – Doc Brown with Traveling Time Train – January 19, 2016

Fun Pack – Doctor Who Cyberman with Dalek – January 19, 2016

Fun Pack – Ninjago Sensei Wu with White Dragon – January 19, 2016

March 31, 2016

Fun Pack – Aquaman with Watercraft

Fun Pack – Bane with Drill Driver

Fun Pack – Superman with Hover Pod

Fun Pack – Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man with Terror Dog

May 31, 2016

Fun Pack – Ghostbusters Slimer with Slime Shooter

Fun Pack – Ninjago Lloyd with Golden Dragon

The Cost to “Catch ‘Em All!”:

If you were to pick up everything on its release day the total cost would be $725.

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Available on the following platforms:

 Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Wii, PC, iOS (toy box only)


Starter pack: $65 – Comes with base, game, Twilight of the Republic playset (based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars), Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano

Star Wars Saga Bundle: $90 (PS4 and PS3 Only) – Comes with a base, the game, the Twilight of the Republic playset (based on Star Wars: The Clone Wars), the Rise against the Empire playset (based on the original Star Wars trilogy), and the following figures: Anakin Skywalker, Ahsoka Tano, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Boba Fett.

Pricing structure:

Playset price: $35

Figure price: $14

Power disc set price: $10

Toy Box Expansion price: $20

Disney is also selling the game digitally. You can buy in on your console for a lower price and use the base that you already have, but it won’t come with any of the new playsets or figures (obviously).

The following Star Wars figures are also available now:

Obi Wan Kenobi


Ezra Bridger

Kanan Jarrus

Sabine Wren

Zeb Orrelios

Han Solo


Darth Vader

The following Disney Originals figures are also available now:

Sam Flynn


Mickey Mouse

Minnie Mouse






The following play sets is available now:

Inside Out (includes  Joy and Anger figures)

Rise against the Empire (with Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia)


Star Wars playsets and figures are being spread out as we build up to Star Wars episode VII launch. The release schedule is as follows:

November 3rd

Boba Fett

Darth Maul

The Force Awakens Playset – December

Disney Infinity is a showcase for all of Disney’s different properties. Below is a release schedule for Marvel and “Disney Original” figures, playsets, and power discs.

Upcoming Disney Originals characters:

Spot – November 3

Judy Hopps – Sometime in 2016

Nick Wilde – Sometime in 2016

Peter Pan – TBA

Upcoming Marvel figures:

Hulkbuster Iron Man – November 3

Ultron – November 3

The Cost to “Catch ‘Em All!”

If you were to pick up everything on its release day the total cost of everything announced so far is $609. You can technically save $10 or so if you already own 1.0 or 2.0 buy purchasing the game digitally and then purchasing the Twilight of the Republic playset separately.

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Available on the following platforms:

Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, Wii U, Wii, 3DS, iOS


Starter Pack (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3): $75 – Includes the portal, the game, The Spitfire figure, Hot Streak vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Starter Pack – Wii U : $75 – Includes the portal, the game, the Turbo Charge Donkey Kong figure, the Barrel Blaster vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Dark Edition Starter Pack (Xbox One, 360, PS4, PS3): $100 – Includes the portal, the game, the Dark Spitfire figure, Dark Super Shot Stealth Elf figure, the Dark Hot Streak vehicle,  the Dark Sea Shadow vehicle, and the Kaos trophy (This is the Superchargers version of traps. This one lets you race as Kaos.)

Dark Edition Starter Pack – Wii U $100 – Includes the portal, the game, the Dark Turbo Charge Donkey Kong figure, the Dark Super Shot Stealth Elf, the Dark Barrel Blaster vehicle, the Dark Sea Shadow vehicle, the Kaos trophy(This is the Superchargers version of traps. This one lets you race as Kaos.)

The Wii and the 3DS don’t have the power to run the main campaign so they will receive versions that are focused on the racing.

Wii and 3DS starter pack: $75 – Includes the portal, the game, the Hammer Slam Bowser figure, Clown Cruiser vehicle, and the Super Shot Stealth Elf figure.

Pricing structure:

Figure price: $13

Vehicle price: $15

Racing Packs: $35 (Each racing pack includes a character, a vehicle, and a race expansion.)

Additional characters available now:

 Dive Clops


High Volt

Shark Shooter Terrafin

Smash Hit


Additional Skylanders Vehicles available now:

Burn Cycle

Crypt Crusher

Dive Bomber

Jet Stream

Sea Shadow

Shark Tank

Sky Slicer

Stealth Stinger

Racing packs available now:

Racing Sea Pack – Includes Deep Dive Gill Grunt figure, Reef Ripper vehicle, and the Sea Trophy

Characters coming later:



Hurricane Jet-Vac


Lava Lance Eruptor

Double Dare Trigger Happy


Big Bubble Pop Fizz

Vehicles coming later:

Sun Runner

Tomb Buggy

Thump Truck

Buzz Wing

Shield Striker

Gold Rusher

Splatter Splasher

Soda Skimmer

The cost to “Catch ‘Em All!”:

Skylanders Superchargers is in a unique place this time around because it has Nintendo specific characters. If you were to pick up everything on its release day the total cost for a Wii U owner would be around $718. This is because the only way to get Bowser or his Clown Cruiser is to purchase the Wii or 3DS starter pack.

Non-Nintendo owners get a bit of a break here and only have to pony up $615.

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