Since we’re on the subject, Square is also opening a new internal studio to focus specifically on console RPG development. The studio has no name at this time, though a website has been launched (available here) and the company is already seeking several positions for it, including Battle Director, Lead Planner, Lead Programmer, and various design leads.
Square Enix has signed a licensing agreement with Epic Games, who will allow the Final Fantasy developer to use Unreal Engine 3 and 4 for multiple games. It is not yet known which games, though Epic’s Japanese studio is reportedly working with Square Enix directly.
In a recent Kotaku interview, Square Enix responded to criticism of their mobile games prices, which are markedly higher than most other titles on the platform. “Each game is priced individually and evaluated based on the type of game, depth and overall experience,” a spokesperson replied, suggesting the content – which is also substantially larger – justifies the price. They also noted that the iOS versions are still cheaper than those on the original console or handheld.
Aware that this still leaves them the odd man out, Square Enix acknowledged that the North American market is “accustomed to lower priced or free-to-play games.” They cite their attempt at F2P pricing with Guardian Cross and are pleased with the response to the title so far. “Moving forward, we’re looking forward to the challenge of utilizing our strengths in creativity, world-building, and gameplay mechanics and matching those with a pricing model that are consistent with the market and provides players with a sense of overall value.”
All right, back in business once more. Hopefully we won’t be hit by another freak storm this weekend, but really it seems like the power dies if someone so much as coughs too loudly. Let’s get to the news before it happens again. Here’s what’s going down:
- Zynga starts getting hit with lawsuits regarding allegations of insider trading, with underwriters paid to help insiders offload stock before it fell. Also known as “Tuesday on Wall Street.”
- Not to be outdone, EA has also filed suit that Zynga copied The Sims Social to create The Ville. Man, who do you root for in that fight? (The answer is EA, seriously.)
- Ubisoft’s Uplay exposes players to an exploit that allows websites access to, and control over, a user’s computer. It’s like they want people to pirate their games.
- The Old Republic pulls the pin and goes free-to-play. Should’ve kept the base, BioWare! And the base I mean your playerbase. By making KotOR III instead.
- Sony posts a sizable loss of some $312 million for the first quarter of 2012, including losses in the games division. Tempting to blame the Vita, but their true problems run deeper.
- Squenix has an ambitious ten-year plan for Dragon Quest X. It sounds crazy until you realize they’ve been running Final Fantasy XI for at least that long.
- Rumors abound regarding Bethesda and the STALKER series, Take Two posts a lower earnings report due to unrealistic expectations, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – The Cold Calculus of Microtransactions’ »
News time, everybody! Get it while it’s hot, metaphorically speaking as the transfer of information is not linked to temperature! In tonight’s episode:
- Zynga’s stock takes a nosedive due to slashed earnings estimates and insiders dumped the stock months ago. Pardon me, I’ll be over here doing my “I called it” dance.
- Boston Magazine provides an in-depth postmortem on the many, many warning signs leading up to 38 Studios’ closing. Short version: Schilling mixed up baseball and business.
- Key developers come out strongly against Windows 8, with Gabe Newell saying Valve may encourage Linux development as a hedge. Mr. Newell, hedges are supposed to save money.
- Crunchyroll breaks down a Japanese poll showing the Japanese are no longer bullish on their own gaming industry. Clearly, the industry needs more ara ara~
- Square Enix takes to Twitter to confirm Versus XIII is still alive. CEO Yoichi Wada has to stop himself from saying it’ll be done “when it’s done.”
- FFXIV gets rebranded, Irrational Games uses Metacritic as a hiring requirement, OnLive joins up with the Ouya, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Naysayers Right and Wrong’ »
Yaaay, we’re back! And hopefully we’ll stay on time going forward, or at least we won’t lose power right when I’m about to start writing. Anyway, news time!
- Sony acquires streaming game service Gaikai for a cool $380 million. Speculation abounds as to how doomed modern consoles are (not very, for the moment).
- Vivendi plans to sell off its stake in Activision-Blizzard. Possibly a restructuring effort, or maybe they just see Call of Duty being the next Guitar Hero, with all that would imply.
- Zynga reveals “Zynga With Friends,” and exciting new games ending with -Ville that are totally not the same idea over and over. One’s even an “epic slot machine adventure” for extra irony.
- Yoichi Wada asserts Final Fantasy VII isn’t getting remade until they make a game that surpasses it. My take: better get a DeLorean, ’cause we’ll need the nineties again.
- Atlus announces and defends its decision to region-lock Persona 4 Arena. So that’s why the official forums melted down the other day.
- The EU rules that resale of digital games is legal, Pokemon Black and White 2 makes all of the money, Facebook suffers a sizable email fiasco, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Everybody Misses the Nineties’ »
Or so we’re supposed to think, I guess. Hey, everybody! We’re on time this week! Let’s not dawdle, here’s what’s going on:
- Microsoft unveils the Surface, a powerful new tablet with a keyboard cover
that may cost $800-$1000 we’ll discuss price later
- Nintendo shows off a new, bigger 3DS with a longer battery life, possibly at the expense of the whole ‘portable’ thing.
- Persona 4: The Golden gives Vita sales a shot in the arm. Good game Sony, now you just need, oh, another couple dozen of those.
- A week after EA’s Origin pointman says they won’t be offering “going out of business” deep discounts, Origin offers deep discounts. EA GOING OUT OF BUSINESS FULL STORY AT 11
- Squenix might bring Final Fantasy VII to Steam, if only they could get it to work. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XI continues to print money.
- Sega launches a browser-based card game for Valkyria Chronicles, to be depicted in the TBS miniseries, “How to Ruin Everything Beautiful in This World.”
- Blizzard suspends digital Diablo III sales briefly to combat goldfarmers, another Capcom fighting game veteran leaves for greener pastures, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Tablet Plus Keyboard Equals Innovation’ »
If covering the news has taught me anything, it’s that companies would openly shoot at each other Syndicate-style if only they could get away with it. Anyway, welcome back, on this lovely evening before E3 kicks off! Here’s what’s happening:
- Silicon Knights loses in their lawsuit against Epic, and then loses the countersuit for damages. Expect Denis Dyack to insist that Too Human will continue… somehow.
- Epic, by the way, rescued members of Big Huge Games, rolling them into a new studio and tasking them with another fantasy action-RPG. Talk about paying it forward.
- Meanwhile, Activision settles out of court with West and Zampella, thus freeing Activision to keep making Call of Duty and spying on its own people. “But the future refused to change…”
- CD Projekt reveals their non-Witcher property: Cyberpunk. Apparently that’s the title of a pen-and-paper game easily confused with Shadowrun.
- Nintendo hosts a pre-E3 video demonstration showing off the Wii U… the exact same aspects we saw last year. Oh, and a classic-style controller and Nintendo-centric social network.
- E3 predictions: Nintendo needs to have some game demos ready, Sony’s going to spin like an overclocked centrifuge, and Microsoft will be my cue to go get a drink.
- A Final Fantasy Versus XIII trailer is mistaken for FFXV, Sony may have picked up Gaikai for PSN-related announcements, and more!
Are you ready?
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – War By Other Means’ »
Say what you will about obscure Korean MMOs, but they come up with some catchy (if unrelated) promo videos. But I digress. News time! Here’s what’s going down:
- 38 Studios and Big Huge Games got shuttered this week, their staff laid off and Amalur now property of Rhode Island. Sadly, not too surprising given the money hole they were in.
- Conflicting sales goals hide the real issue of what those 300+ developers – and their shiny new second mortgages from relocating – are going to do now.
- Meanwhile, BioWare lays off some of its own people from The Old Republic team. How’s that $200 million development cost working out, guys?
- All this prompts Pachter to speculate that MMOs are dooooooomed! My take: maybe, if everybody keeps trying to imitate/defeat World of Warcraft. And speaking of which…
- Diablo III got hacked, with reports of stolen items, money, and even characters. Getting hacked in a single-player game has got to be some kind of record.
- The horrible, horrible contract between Activision and Bungie is revealed. Short version: 5 million sales of a new property in six months, and eight titles in eight years. Read it and weep.
- Sony patents a technology to interrupt your game with advertisements, Japan developers alternatives to kompu gacha, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Endless Online Phenomenon’ »
“Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent.” John Maynard Keynes said that, and I’d wager he knows a little more about the economy than you do, because he invented it! Yeah, the financial world is abuzz over Facebook’s IPO, and we’ve got our own take on that, along with a few other items of interest. Behold:
- 38 Studios (Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning) owes the state of Rhode Island $75 million in loan payments. I don’t even have a quip, you have to hear the whole crazy situation to believe it.
- Facebook, as mentioned, went public, and then immediately flatlined before dropping a few bucks today. Cue me feeling smug in three… two…
- Activision drops its suit against EA over the Infinity Ward fiasco, on revelation that they went to absurd lengths to dig up dirt on IW staff. Bobby Kotick, up to no good? Pshaw, sirrah.
- Epic unveils the Unreal 4 engine, prompting a new wave of speculation as to how many shades of brown and grey it can render.
- CD Projekt’s hiring for a modern IP. Given their work with fantasy IP, I expect good things. Difficult things that kill me in the tutorial, but good things all the same.
- Diablo III goes live, then dies, then lives again, then dies again, and so on. Who could possibly have forseen difficulties with millions of players going online at once?
- Square Enix is profitable again, Bamco keeps busy with the Tales series, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Go Public or Die Trying’ »
Look, Blizzard, I told you: I’ll come back when you start making RTSs. Complete RTSs, not the shenanigans you’re pulling with Starcraft 2. Your Diablo III screenshots, while delicious, have no power over me! I’ll not be tempted, damn you!
…I’m gonna wind up buying Diablo III, aren’t I. Nyaugh. Anyhoo, let’s get to some news:
- Japan makes noises about regulating a peculiar form of
gambling social media sales. Japanese game companies shriek in horror, including a few you may recognize.
- EA confirms it’s restructuring, which includes some of the previously-mentioned layoffs. CEO John Riccitiello also owns up to the company’s distant second place in social gaming.
- All aboard the doom train: Sony posts its forecasted loss, announcing (in a roundabout fashion) a meager 1.8 million Vita sales. Experts (and professional amateurs such as myself) opine on what may save the device.
- Microsoft, by way of Michael Pachter: “Don’t expect a lot of game stuff [at E3]; expect a lot of dashboard, interface, multimedia.” Excellent, now I know which conference I can ignore.
- Tetsuya Nomura indicates that he’d like to see Kingdom Hearts return to consoles. Square Enix confirmed for working on the Blizzard-Valve Timescale.
- Diablo III preorders make it bigger than Jesus, Redbox goofs on Max Payne 3, social gaming is slowing down in the US, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Random Revenue Generators’ »
Yaknow, you can say what you want about Silent Hill: Downpour, but when it comes to being tense and creepy it doesn’t screw around. The actual enemies and combat are pretty naff, but it does a fine job instilling a sense of dread. There are rooms I just do not want to enter. I consider that a mission accomplished for a horror game.
Anyhow, on to the news:
- The Consumerist wrapped up their online poll for 2012’s Worst Company in America. EA jumped to the front faster than you can say “biased sampling data.” And speaking of EA…
- Mass Effect 3‘s Extended Cut DLC was announced, prompting LOTS OF SPECULATION FROM EVERYONE. A PAX East BioWare panel offered some more information, likely only stoking the fire at this point.
- An industry analyst predicts doom for Nintendo, which happens often and just as often is disproven. What’s new here is getting basic facts wrong.
- Get your credsticks out: a Shadowrun Kickstarter launched and met its goals handily. Check it out here, chummer.
- Gamasutra ran a survey about salaries in the games industry, with some surprising data. Long story short, I’m in the wrong line of work.
- Sonic the Hedgehog‘s creator winds up at Nintendo of America, Final Fantasy Versus XIII music winds up in Theatrhythm, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Never Deal With a Dragon’ »
Yoichi Wada, Square Enix’s CEO, announced that he is stepping down from his role as chairman of the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association. Though he will remain a member of the CESA board, Namco Bandai’s vice president Shin Unozawa is set to take his place as chairman effective May 23.
Hello and welcome, everybody! It’s that time again. GDC occupied a lot of the news this week, but among that we have the following:
- Valve’s marketing director clarifies that they are not working on a Steam box… for now. Actually they left off the “for now” part, but let a man dream :3
- Peter Molyneux leaves Lionhead and Microsoft to start his own company once more. Shine on, you awesome fibber. Shine on… or go on to develop social/iOS games like other gaming legends.
- Blizzard offers a rather hefty
bounty returning bonus for players who bring friends back to World of Warcraft…
- …which doesn’t quite distract from their announcement that Diablo III will not have PvP at launch.
- A quartet of big names – Will Wright, Sid Meier, John Romero, and Cliff Bleszinski – offer various insights on the state of the industry, ranging from concerns about self-referential development to homeless simulators. It makes sense in context.
- Tim Cain gives a postmortem on Fallout, sharing the dirt on how the now famous post-apocalyptic RPG almost never saw the light of day. Short answer: blame Windows NT. Watch the whole thing if you can, it’s enlightening stuff.
- Two men make more or less the same complaints about Japanese games, with vastly different levels of tact (and authority), I suggest the big picture might be a bit more complicated, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – There He Goes Again On His Own’ »
Yes, I’m late to the party on Recettear. But it’s never too late to make money through overpriced goods! Anyway, hello everybody! We’re back from break and ready to tackle the news, and what a couple weeks it has been:
- Facebook files for its $5 billion IPO, appearing every bit a giant of the tech sector until people start asking how much one would really pay for social networking.
- In the process we learn that Zynga makes up about 12% of Facebook’s earnings. As a reminder, Zynga is currently looking for ways to survive without Facebook. Happy filing, Mr. Zuckerberg!
- Kazuo Hirai formally assumes his role as President and CEO of Sony, to which his exact words are “Holy s***, now what?” Truer words have rarely been spoken.
- Double Fine’s Kickstarter project succeeds far beyond expectations, suggesting a viable path for small-to-midsize developers outside the usual publisher song and dance. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a rash of publicly-funded games, however.
- Amazon plans to open a retail store in Seattle, apparently in a bid to corner the market on physical depictions of irony.
- THQ faces a slew of financial difficulties, from shedding 175 jobs to a potential delisting on the Nasdaq. They should’ve rolled the North Korean taco truck around some more for Homefront.
- Square Enix posts a decent profit for 2011, a man named William Fourkiller (OK state rep) wants to tax violent games, Ubisoft’s always-on DRM schemes backfire, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Capitalism, Ho!’ »
Happy New Year, everybody! Welcome back, time to round up the news as per usual. Today’s selection should serve as a healthy reminder that not all publicity is good publicity, as the good David Bowie can attest to. Here’s what went down over break:
- The PS Vita launched in Japan, moving fewer than expected numbers and with several software glitches. Even straight-up hardware reviews were mixed, like this one from Joystiq. Sony is probably relieved that’s all they had to worry about.
- BioWare’s co-founder hints that they’re taking cues from open-world games, including Skyrim, for Dragon Age 3. Oil, meet water.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 also sold less than anticipated, which was a total surprise to people that have no idea how sequels work.
- A Firefox add-on subverts DNS blockades like the ones proposed by the Stop Online Piracy Act… before the Act is even released. No prize for second place, Congress!
- Leaked email chains provoke the internet to converge on one Ocean Marketting (typo intentional) and its hilariously awful one-man operation. The Mayor of Boston is now a meme.
- Nintendo finally unveils the official Legend of Zelda timeline. All three of them. That high-pitched collective cry of anguish you’re hearing is the fandom trying to sort this out.
- Star Wars: the Old Republic finally launches, the Big Three “kind of” withdraw their support of SOPA, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Shame, What You Have is Gone Tomorrow’ »
All right, back in business! Just in time to let you all know that, naturally, there will not be a podcast on Christmas Day. Enjoy the holidays everyone, and I’ll see you all in the new year! Until then let us dig into the bigger happenings this week (and 2011 in general), including the following:
- Zynga went public and entered its first day of trading, starting at $10/share and never quite getting higher. You may want to get popcorn for this.
- Nintendo partnered with the Louvre to use its 3DS as an interactive display guide. Yes, that Louvre.
- Meanwhile, DJ Deadmau5
lost and then recovered pretended to lose a demo PS Vita in a cab, while a boat named the PlayStation Vita was capsized at sea. What’s the over/under on these being roundabout marketing schemes versus ill omens?
- Square Enix got hacked, with the scope of the theft not known but the company certain no credit card information was leaked. Affected users were heard to collectively say “Oh no, not again.”
- CD Projekt pursued Witcher 2 pirates, stating that being anti-DRM and anti-piracy aren’t mutually exclusive. I am forced to conclude they are trying to confuse the internet, and it’s working.
- 2011 roundup: my own Top 5 for major events in the gaming industry, from the awesome to the shocking to the just plain sad.
- Naughty Dog claims The Last of Us will have a heavy story focus (oh, boy), Pokemon partakes in a most unusual crossover, and much more! Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Zynga All the Way’ »
It wouldn’t be 2011 without one more hacking attempt, or so it would seem. Square Enix has temporarily shut down its members service, announcing that someone gained unauthorized access to a server containing user data. The scope of the hack, and the data at risk, is not yet known.
Square Enix maintains there is “no possibility” that credit card information was stolen, and that the affected server only held details for US and Japanese free members.
Source: Develop Online
The news never stops, which in that respect is very much like Skyrim. But I digress. The Spike VGAs have given us plenty of material, and thus tonight’s topics include:
- The nominees, broken down: Skyrim wins GOTY, Dragon Age 2 somehow got on a ‘best of’ list for RPGs, Witcher 2 is looking mighty snubbed…
- …although the train of unneeded celebrities, lackluster announcements, and literal on-stage teabagging did a fine job distracting from the awards themselves. And we wonder why gaming is still seen as immature.
- Meanwhile, with the VGAs posing as E3 Lite, speculation abounds that the actual E3 could come to an end (as we know it).
- A team of students at George Washington University use Kinect for other than its intended purpose, netting a $100,000 scholarship. And they complain about the kids today!
- Shiggy scares everybody with a Wired interview, saying he’s stepping down, prompting a panic until he can finish the sentence with “to smaller projects.”
- GSC Game World closes its doors, signalling an end to the eccentric yet beloved S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. Let’s drink to them once more.
- Namco-Bandai wins their suit re: Witcher 2 distribution in Europe, the 3DS sells 3 million units in Japan, Square Enix moves FFXIV to a paid subscription, and more!
Continue reading ‘What Happened This Week – Such is Life in the Industry’ »
Square Enix is seeking developers for an as-yet-unnamed action RPG using the Unreal engine 3, with the positions listed on the company’s Japanese website. Little is known about the title, although the positions include network programmers, suggesting some element of internet or multiplayer connectivity.
Source and translation: Andriasang