Thursday, May 31, 2007

´Metal Gear Solid 4´ no longer PS3 exclusive?, part V

An alleged Microsoft employee writing for Destructoid has confirmed that ´Metal Gear Solid 4´ will be released on Xbox360 no more than one year after the PlayStation3 version. There was also talk of a dedicated ´MGS´ game for Wii.

The article has apparently been subjected to a ´Cease and Desist´ order, which would have required the author to remove it. Instead, he censored the content. Originally, the article read, according to Ninjabattle:

I have been waiting for many months to finally say this, and today is the day. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots will not be a PS3 exclusive after all. It has been confirmed that it will make its way to the Xbox 360 in 2008.

There is no true date set for the release at this point, but November of 2008 has been mentioned. This is not set in stone as Konami is working with Microsoft to bring the date forward as much as possible. MGS4 for the 360 will also come with exclusive content and gameplay that will not be in the PS3 version of the game. Some of this content is VR missions, as well as "Snake Tales" or "Snake in the Valley" (depending on where you live), which will let you go on objective based missions, some of which are very lengthy. These are the first two bonuses to emerge so far, but be ready to expect even more.

Konami is also in talks with Nintendo to bring a Metal Gear Solid game to the Wii. MGS4 would obviously have to be slimmed down if the chose to port the title to Nintendo's console. We already know that Snake will be a playable character in Super Smash Bros., so this (along with the 360 news) doesn't come as much of a surprise.

On a personal note. HAHAHAHA! Hey Sony fanboys: At least you all have a Blu-ray player for the next year or two until that fails as well.

In the comments to the story on Destructoid, the author writes:

Source is me asking and getting confirmation from someone at Konami, and someone at MS. This is not a joke. (...)

Like this hasn't happened on every single other version on MGS. Its not a big surprise at all. The announcement hasn't been officially made yet, but the source works for Konami, and I know for a fact that MS has been negotiating this for months. (...)

there are some things i cant say. i made it pretty clear "Nintendo to bring a Metal Gear Solid game to the Wii." that doesnt mean mgs4 do it? Metal Gear Solid Game!

I deliberately skipped the most recent rumour about this game going multi-platform, since Hideo Kojima himself said that ´MGS4´ was "for the PS3 only so far." And you can tell by this post being part V that there had been numerous indications prior to that statement.

For one, there was Microsoft Germany´s Boris Schneider-Johne commenting on Sony losing exclusivity of ´Devil May Cry 4´:

One down, two to go

1. Devil May Cry
2. Final Fantasy
3. Metal Gear Solid

For all other past rumours concerning this topic, please read ´Metal Gear Solid 4´ no longer PS3 exclusive?, part IV.

Sources: Destructoid, Ninjabattle
Thanks to: Anonymous, Cheswick, Digital Spy

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Mii-specific friend code rumour fake

The Wii´s online service will not use Mii-specific friend codes across various games. Justin Dowdeswell, producer of ´Mario Strikers Charged´, has been either mistranslated by news sites The Platformers and Joystiq or misquoted by French gaming site

I just spoke to Justin Dowdeswell on the phone and he clarified that his comments about Mii-specific codes related only to his game. He said that he never intended to comment on any other titles, nor would he know about how they implemented online features.

The Wii´s online service will be based on game-specific codes, as I exclusively revealed in mid-March.

Sources:, The Platformers, Joystiq

´Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Crystal Bearers´ trailer

The teaser trailer for ´Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers´ shows off some great graphics. Here it is, courtesy of FFCCNews.

Recently, the new ´Harry Potter´ game already showed off some great visuals. I believe that, graphically speaking, we will see the second generation of Wii games released this summer.

´Mario Strikers Charged´, which has just been released in Europe, also shows off some fantastic graphics. And ´Metroid Prime 3´ is sure to raise the bar even further at the end of the year.

Source: FFCCNews
Thanks to: Linkario5, darkNiGHTS0

´Star Wars´ game for Wii confirmed

A ´Star Wars´ game for Wii featuring light saber action is in development, French news agency Agence France Press reports via Yahoo News.

The head of the LucasArts, the game division for "Star Wars" series creator George Lucas, told AFP a Wii game that lets players wield virtual light sabers is on the horizon.

This confirms my exclusive story that this game was in development, which I posted just over a year ago.

Source: Agence France Press (via Yahoo News)
Thanks to: Carmine "Cai" M. Red

Thursday, May 24, 2007

3D after all?, part II

At this week´s ´Ubidays´ showcase event in Paris, publisher Ubisoft introduced its new casual games line with a trailer that ends with most peculiar footage. It shows a Wii game that appears to utilize a 3D projector.

Is this a real accessory? Of course, it has always been considered unlikely that Nintendo would get back into 3D technology so soon after the Virtual Boy´s demise. But why else would this be part of Ubisoft´s presentation?

Such technology has been rumoured to be an upcoming peripheral for the Wii in the past. Most notably, in November 2005, Nintendo star designer Shigeru Miyamoto told Business Week:

It's convenient to make games that are played on TVs. But I always wanted to have a custom-sized screen that wasn't the typical four-cornered cathode-ray-tube TV. I've always thought that games would eventually break free of the confines of a TV screen to fill an entire room. But I would rather not say anything more about that.

There were a number of similar comments hinting at the fact that Wii may not require a television display.

Rumours of a ´last secret´ concerning the Wii persisted for some time. As late as October, Nintendo of America´s Perrin Kaplan confirmed that some features of the console had not yet been announced, saying "We do have a couple of other surprises" and noting that they would especially please the hardcore crowd.

Later that month, Reggie Fils-Aime was rumoured to have hinted at a "big Wii revelation" that would be announced around launch.

Rumours regarding some kind of 3D projection device started very early on, especially in the wake of a brilliant fake and proof that a Japanese gaming company had invested in 3D projection technology.

Is this the final proof that we have been waiting for all this time? I myself had given up on the idea. Now, I am very much tempted to believe this must be real.

EDIT Ubisoft just got back to me about the clip. They claim that the projector is not going to be made available, but that it is simply a way to illustrate the way the game works. The game will be displayed like any other console game, they claim.

Source: Ubisoft Trailer

Friday, May 18, 2007

´Harry Potter´ game shows off Wii´s graphics power

A developer walkthrough of ´Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix´ shows a marked improvement in Wii graphics, previously a bit of a sore spot with the Nintendo console. The video, courtesy of GameTrailers, shows off a level of graphics quality that is unprecedented on the Wii.

The entire academy and its surroundings are rendered beautifully. The polygon count appears to be very high and the textures are simply stunning (especially in the common room in the beginning). Draw distance is extremely high. What is more, the entire academy is accessible without load times.

I have never cared for ´Harry Potter´. This game looks set to become a stunner, though. I thought the very first scene could only be pre-rendered. It turns out to be in-game. And alongside the great graphics, the game is ideally suited for the Wii remote.

But this video perhaps promises something that goes far beyond this one game. It seems to herald the second generation of Wii titles: games that feature great gameplay and original controller use, as well as great graphics.

Source: GameTrailers
Thanks to: QJ

Thursday, May 17, 2007

2,5 million PS3 units shipped and unsold by March

Sony has shipped 5,5 million PS3 units worldwide by the end of March. According to various estimates (detailed below), the company has managed to sell only 2,97 million of those, within the given timeframe.

This leaves 2,53 million units unsold - almost half of the entire stock - either waiting in stores or in transit. Sony also fell short of their target of shipping six million consoles.

This information is based on Sony´s Q4 earnings release (PDF document). Alternatively, an audio webcast is available.

The release does not give any official sales figures for the PlayStation3. But there are various estimates. Originally, Videogame Charts estimated that Sony had sold three million units by the end of March. The more recent, individual sales figures given below second that. But let us examine the figures in more detail.

SCEI breaks down the shipment numbers into the three regions:

PS3 units shipped
Japan: 1,26 million

America: 2,62 million

Other: 1,62 million

Total: 5,50 million

And here are the total sales figures for the PS3 up until the end of March:

PS3 units sold
Japan: 0,81 million

America: 1,2 million

Other: 0,96 million

Total: 2,97 million

Please note that the European figure given is the current one (no data up until the end of March could be found). So the figure includes an additional one-and-a-half months of sales.

Matching both sets of figures from above (subtracting units sold from units shipped), we get the following picture:

PS3 units shipped and not sold
Japan: 0,45 million

America: 1,42 million

Other: 0,66 million

Total: 2,53 million

The report also detailed that Sony´s quarterly losses turned out as bad as expected. Operating profits were down by 68,3 percent.

Is the PlayStation3 dead? I have resisted answering this question until now. But this figure - almost half of the entire PS3 inventory remaining unsold until March - is nothing short of disastrous. Sony excluding sales figures from their earnings release is proof of how embarrassing those figures are.

Meanwhile, the Wii is off to the best possible start and the Xbox360 has used its headstart reasonably well, building an impressive games portfolio with more to come this year.

Videogame Charts offers detailed graphs, illustrating sales figures for each console. The trend is clear: while the Wii is on a high level and gaining, the PS3´s sales have been poor and are in decline.

Consider the following graph showing weekly sales. Evidently, the PS3 failed to cash in on the sales spike in the run up to Christmas. And since, the sales have been on a steady decline.

The sales figures paint a clear picture: the PS3 is a distant third and is set to stay in last place.

System sellers like ´Metal Gear Solid 4´ and ´Final Fantasy XIII´ are likely delayed until 2008, while both competitors are sporting a fantastic line-up (the Wii certainly is) which will become available by the end of the year.

The downward spiral - dwindling hardware sales causing developers to allocate resources away from the PS3 causing even worse hardware sales - is in full effect and there seems to be no way out. With Sony losing hundreds of dollars with each unit sold and the company posting record losses, I rule out a price drop as a viable option for this year.

Blu-ray, Sony´s trojan horse, has not emerged as the clear winner in the format war. It seems likely that the war will continue to rage well into the next year. If it does win, Blu-ray will undoubtedly push PS3 sales. But by that time, the console may already have died as a gaming platform (much like the PSP has died as a platform for movies but continues to sell as a gaming device).

Still sceptical? Remember that a PlayStation3 game costs around ten million dollars to develop and, as a consequence, must sell at least 500.000 units in order to break even, as Namco president Takeo Takasu told Bloomberg in late November. Developers will be glad to drop the PS3 from their portfolio if there is a reason to do so. And, currently, there is not a single reason that might persuade them otherwise.

In conclusion, I am going to go out on a limb here and am now daring to say what I have previously been too cautious to admit: the PlayStation3 is dead. It would take a miracle for Sony to turn this disaster around - and there are no miracles. There, I said it.

EDIT Game Daily writes that Sony sold 3,6 million PS3 consoles, citing the recent financial documents as the source for that number. I have contacted them and asked for verification, since I cannot find that number in any of the documents. I will update this article as soon as possible.

EDIT I have found the source of the figure mentioned above. Sony´s Chief Financial Officer Nobuyuki Oneda said 3,6 million consoles actually sold, Bloomberg writes. This figure diverges from the estimates by almost 700.000 units. That is some discrepancy. If true, though, the amount of consoles that went unsold in the last financial year would be down to 1,9.

As far as my predictions in the commentary go, I stand by them.

EDIT Game Daily´s lead business editor just sent me a link to Business Week, who also mention the figure of 3,6 million consoles, but in an ambiguous context.

Although the company had forecast global shipments of 6 million machines by the Mar. 31 end of its fiscal year, its factories made and sent off just 5.5 million. Worse, the actual number of PS3s in stores was closer to 3.6 million.

The remaining 1.9 million were either sitting in warehouses or en route to stores, leaving as much as $1.1 billion in inventory. Perhaps that's why the company chose to stick to a more conservative sales forecast of 11 million units this year.

The quote does not note 3,6 million units as having been sold, but rather as "in stores".

It is also interesting that the article does not consider the remaining number to simply be sitting on store shelves, giving rise to the assumption that that is all they are talking about. A misunderstanding, perhaps? Perhaps, the 3,6 million units do not relate to sales but only to consoles actually shipped to stores. I hope to be able to clear this one up soon.

EDIT Game Daily´s lead business editor has just cleared up the confusion, it seems. He writes about a possible misunderstanding:

It's possible, but it depends on how you define sold. Some of these companies actually define sold as "sold into retail" not actually sold to consumers.

If that is indeed the case, all my original calculations still stand.

EDIT I have just finished listening to the 40 minute Q&A of the audio webcast. 34 minutes 20 seconds into the stream, an analyst with NCL asks about the actual PS3 sales. The answer is given as follows. Excuse the poor English translation.

PS3 production shipment is 5,5 million. The so-called sell-in that we book ourselves is about 3,6 million units. Therefore the difference of the two can be explained as inventories. It´s in shipment, on boat, above the sea.

The above theory is hereby confirmed. ´Sell-in´ relates to the units sold to retail. ´Sell-through´ relates to the units sold to consumers. Those numbers have not been officially released by Sony.

Source: Q4 earnings release (PDF document)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Xbox360 and Wii lead in terms of exclusive content

The Xbox360 leads in terms of games exclusive to that platform, Gaming Target reports. This applies to both released titles and the sum of released and announced ones. In terms of announced games only, Wii and Xbox360 are pretty much level.

The site appears to want to keep track of the exclusive game count regularly, illustrating the current situation with the following bar chart and information:

Xbox360: 88 (39 released, 49 announced)

PS3: 40 (8 released, 32 announced)

Wii: 69 (18 released, 51 announced)

Bookmark this site

There are already bar charts the videogame equivalents of train spotters can look at. Videogame Charts and NexGen Wars both compare the three next-gen consoles by estimating their installed hardware base. Now, it seems, we have a third page - providing the information is both reliable and updated on a regular basis.

Wii is the real king

The numbers show that the Xbox360 has a clear lead over its competitors in terms of existing exclusives. But this is obviously due to the console launching with a one year headstart.

The title ´King of the exclusives´ must go to the Wii. In far less time, it has managed to reach the Xbox360´s level of announced games. This is owed to the Wii´s phenomenal sales figures, no doubt.

´Orb´ and ´Thorn´ are duds

Just one word of caution: I would highly recommend striking three Wii titles off the list. Most importantly, ´Orb´ and ´Thorn´ are simply not going to happen.

If the people behind these two projects, a group calling itself Crossbeam Studios, really were running a legit operation, why have they failed to attract a publisher for any of their projects?

´Orb´: Four years and only artwork

More importantly, why have they failed to produce a single screenshot since they went public more than four years ago? The Internet Archive´s Wayback Machine shows the earliest entry of the studio website as dated April 12th 2003.

Well, it has been a very busy week here at Crossbeam Studios. Greg Szemiot and myself have been working on a little project together that we are both very exited about, However I don't want to go into to much detail about it at the moment. Work on "Orb" is still going along well.

Since then, they have only managed to can projects: ´Accunia´, ´Antivirus´, ´X2´ and the aptly titled ´Shattered Dreams´ all disappeared from the website. They would also be the only developer trying to make a buck off of Google Ads.

´Sadness´ just as phoney?

In the case of ´Sadness´, developer Nibris never replied to my mails, asking for an interview at the German Games Convention (effectively denying network television coverage). They have also recently lost their publisher. So do not expect this game to ever come out, either.

EDIT I just realized that the site seems to not update the post, but posts separate updates every time. So the site to bookmark would be this one, I guess.

Source: Gaming Target
Thanks to: MaxConsole

Sony´s losses increase due to PS3, say analysts

Sony Corp. may soon be forced to admit to its biggest quarterly loss in four years, due to the underperformance of the PlayStation3. This information comes from Bloomberg financial services who surveyed a number of analysts.

PlayStation 3 is being outsold by Wii by about two to one, causing Sony's game division, its second-largest by revenue, to post a fourth-quarter loss of 121 billion yen and a record 245 billion yen deficit for the fiscal year, according to five of the 11 analysts.

The loss may exceed profits from electronics such as Bravia televisions, and the movie unit, whose ``Spider-Man 3'' generated record box-office sales when it opened this month.

According to the article, Sony is due to make its earnings public tomorrow, which is why the company declined to comment.

SCEA president Jack Tretton only recently tried to shrug off the PS3´s bad start, though, speaking to the Los Angeles Times (registration required).

We didn't get into PS3 for the first six months of 2007 — we're into this for the next 10 years and beyond. (...) A million units one way or another at this point isn't going to worry us.

Stock market reaction

As you might have guessed, the stock market reacted promptly. Shares in Sony Corp. are down almost 2,2 percent, while Nintendo Co. Ltd. shares climb almost 2,4 percent (as traded in Frankfurt).

Open letter to MaxConsole

One more thing. Unfortunately, I have another bone to pick with the hopelessly unreliable news site MaxConsole, who alerted me to this story. In the past, they simply posted other people´s lies. Now they moved on to spreading their own.

While it is not the most important aspect of their article on the topic, they call Bloomberg Limited Partnership "german financial analysts". So the company´s founder is German? You got me there. I thought he was from Massachusetts and was now stuck in some dead-end job in New York City.

Dear MaxConsole editor Malloc (yup, there seems to be only one). Your nickname is based on a programming term, it seems. So I assume that your background is not in journalism and perhaps not even in writing, in general. Also, you appear to be Dutch. If so, help yourself to that non-native bonus.

Consequently, I forgive you all your spelling mistakes - although two in a few lines regarding advertising inquiries is a bit of a stretch (as well as slightly counter-productive, I guess). But let us not bicker about what the PlayStation´s popular karaoke game is called or who is president of ´Silicon Knights´. Those are just amusing errors, probably owing to you going trigger-happy on that publish button.

But, returning to the matter in hand, misinformation is another ballgame. In this day and age, reasonably reliable info is only one mouse-click away. This is the least fact-checking that you must do. I guess you no longer have to go out of your way and implement the journalistic credo of old, checking three separate and independent sources.

And remember when journalists had to chase those up without the use of cellphones and the internet? Of course, you do not. But spare a thought for those poor souls back then and head on over to Wikipedia once in a while, for pity´s sake.

Sources: Bloomberg, L.A. Times (registration required)
Thanks to: MaxConsole

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Universal about to go multi-format?

Universal, the only big Hollywood studio that is exclusively backing HD-DVD in the next generation DVD format war, is about to go multi-format, German technology magazine publisher Heise claims.

The publisher of the well-respected technology magazine ´c't´ has heard rumours that Universal will be publishing their movies on both HD-DVD and Blu-ray in the near future. The rumours originate from the rival Blu-ray camp.

At a press event, staff representing the Blu-ray supporter Pioneer have claimed that Universal Home Entertainment has withdrawn from the exclusivity contract with the HD-DVD camp, i.e. its biggest hardware partner Toshiba. The studio is claimed to have terminated the agreement already, while this has yet to come into effect.

Currently, 20th Century Fox, Disney and Sony are exclusively backing Blu-ray, while Warner and Paramount (including Dreamworks) are supporting both formats.

According to the article, Universal had reaffirmed its support for HD-DVD in January and announced 100 new releases for 2007. The company´s corporate page is currently offline.

It might make sense for the studio to go multi-format, Heise claims. Between January and mid-March this year, Universal had 35,6 percent of the HD-DVD market, but only 11,1 percent of the overall market (HD-DVD and Blu-ray together). The market leader is Warner, who is selling well on both formats, the magazine publisher writes.

The source of this rumour - the Blu-ray camp - is naturally biased and not all too reliable. However, it seems to make sense for Universal to go multi-format. And if they do, this move would effectively end the format war.

Further, if Blu-ray wins, Sony´s dangerous gamble with the PlayStation3 will pay off. The console, though more expensive, will have a unique selling point that its competitors cannot match.

EDIT Universal has issued an official response, courtesy of Engadget HD:

Craig Kornblau, the President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment tells us in an email that the rumors that Universal will support Blu-ray "are totally false".

Source: Heise (German)
Thanks to: MaxConsole, ปิยพล

´Halo 3´ beta shows off great multiplayer, visuals disappoint

The first official footage from ´Halo 3´ has been released. The game is undoubtedly poised to become a system seller for the Xbox360 and, as such, its critical reception and commercial success will have great impact upon the console war.

Please bear in mind that the following video is captured from a beta version of the game and a slightly earlier one than the soon to be made public version at that. Bungie themselves note that "it's a bit older than what the rest of the world will start playing in the next few days."

For better viewing, you can download this video as a WMV file here.

While all journalists who have been able to play the beta appear unanimously impressed with the multiplayer gameplay, a number of articles mention that the game´s graphics are surprisingly underwhelming. Here are a number of impressions, in the familiar style of guest commentary:

The visuals are now in HD, though honestly, they probably will leave many unimpressed. But really, no one will care if Halo 3 doesn't look like Gears of War as long as it plays great. And, after an hour of playtime, I think Halo 3 might just deliver.

While the visuals are rich and beautiful, it's the audio that's really impressed us so far. The rumbling throttle of unleashing dual SMGs makes them feel incredibly powerful, and the Spartan Laser tearing past your head is as scary as you'd imagine. Audio cues are more important than ever, and the better your sound system the more next-gen this will feel.

The graphics can use some work ... They're not much different than the previous Halo. (...) They've got five, six months until release, so they'll add some polish ... When I compare it to other things in the platform, it's not standout.
Evil Avatar (via Yahoo News)

The graphics aren't groundbreaking right now, but they are a step up from Halo 2 with higher resolution models, top quality textures, fancy lighting, and pretty shader effects.
Evil Avatar

Visually, the Halo 3 beta looks impressive. Yes, it looks like a higher-resolution version of Halo 2, but the textures and details are razor sharp, and there's a lush quality to the world that wasn't there before. You'll run through fields of flowers or your body will float in a tranquil pond. The high dynamic range lighting in the game also provides a realistic look to the lighting and the world. Meanwhile, there's a smoothness and fluidity to everything now that makes battles fun to watch.

Graphics: Like we said before in our first Halo 3 cover story...looks good, but it's not that in-your-face "Oh my god Gears of War" great. But that's OK because:
1.) Halo has a different art style, and for Halo's art style, Halo 3 looks damn good. 2.) I'd rather have performance over looks, and Halo 3 runs smooth as a Plasma Sword through a tub of I Can't Belive It's Not Butter. So far, no lag in our eight-player games (*knocks on wood*)
Dan Hsu (Editor-in-chief, EGM)

Halo 3 rules. But it rules because it is so much like Halo and Halo 2. You’re not dual-wielding as much, but the weapons are very familiar. The game play is familiar. The graphics are better. The rag doll physics are good. The sound is great. It’s the little extras like the bubble shield and the ATV Mongoose that make it better.

It can be legitimately criticized as Halo 2.5. But the graphics look great and the game play is there. You can’t ask for anything but fun in multiplayer. The real twists and turns will come with the single-player campaign, but Microsoft isn’t ready to talk about that yet.
Dean Takahashi (Mercury News)

So the reaction to the visuals in ´Halo 3´ is varied, but mostly critical. Again, though, it is important to bear in mind that this is a beta version and there is almost half a year left until the game goes gold. Microsoft and Bungie are stressing the same point. The above video ends with this comment:

This is not the final content of the game. Everything seen in this video is subject to change.

Most importantly, perhaps, the gameplay has been rated as very promising by every early reviewer, it seems. However, if ´Halo 3´ cannot match ´Gears of War´ visually, as has been suggested, it certainly could take some of the steam out of the immense hype. The launch of ´Halo 3´ might not become as critical a point in the console wars as has been anticipated so far.

Let us not forget that Microsoft has chosen to market Xbox360 as a console whose unique selling point, next to an unmatched open online service, is stunning, high definition graphics.

EDIT Added two more comments, courtesy of Slashdot.

Sources: Bungie, IGN, 1UP, Yahoo News, Evil Avatar, GameSpot
Thanks to: Linkerdexin

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Lengthy Iwata interview released in full

Nintendo has just released a full transcript of its Financial Results Briefing Q&A, dated April 27th. In it, the company´s president Satoru Iwata answers a wealth of questions. Some of them have been discussed already, but a whole number of them have not.

About Wii hype in the US

Frankly speaking, Wii unfortunately did not receive as much positive anticipation as we had hoped it would before the launch. Accordingly, Nintendo had to rely upon its first-party titles to create the momentum.

As of today, however, between the first-party and second-party titles alone that will be sold under Nintendo’s brand name, we have 45 titles for Wii and 79 titles for DS under development. Of course, I cannot say that all these titles will definitely be sold eventually, but these titles were actually given development budgets, specific development teams have been assigned and they are developing the games.

About purchasing a majority stake in Monolith Soft

The value of software developing companies is attached to its people, not the company, which is merely a vessel for its people. So, when we purchase a company, we can purchase the vessel, but we cannot necessarily purchase the contents. Even if we should compete with others to purchase a software company, although we might be able to increase the sheer number of our developers and to gain a short-term result, we do not think it will do good for us in the long run. We have been repeatedly saying that we will not do that kind of M&A. [mergers and acquisitions]

In the case of Monolith Software, Mr. Sugiura, the president, and Nintendo have a long-term relationship. How Mr. Sugiura thinks is close to how Nintendo thinks. The software Mr. Sugiura would like to create is in line with what Nintendo would like to have for its platform. So, we thought that Nintendo should support this idea, and we decided to take action. If certain conditions are met, we may do the same thing in the future (M&A). However, we will be very careful and selective, so that we will only partner with people with whom Nintendo can create a long-term working relationship.

About the possibility of new Wii channels utilizing micro transactions

The structure to electronically deliver and bill for the contents is up and running globally, as has already been demonstrated with the Virtual Console. So, when Nintendo thinks we have a Channel which is worth asking our customers to pay for, we are in a position to make a business out of it. (...)

We have no intention to charge for [the] existing free services out of the blue, but when it comes to future Wii Channels, there must be a number of possibilities, and aside from the business model in which we receive money directly from our customers, we may also be able to establish a new type of business model, to receive advertisement fees or by an alliance with other companies. (...)

Although I do not have any concrete plan as to when and what kind of businesses we will initiate, an increasing number of companies are approaching us with their proposals, so we may be able to make some announcement not too far in the future. It is too premature for me to predict the size such a business could be.

About software sales targets

The number of software developers who are partnering with Nintendo may increase. Also, when a certain platform can enjoy good sales, third-party software publishers will see it as a good business opportunity. That kind of aspect was also included when I said that we would like to establish a market where more than 300 million software can be sold in one year.

About the Wii being particularly suited for first person shooters (FPS)

I think it is one of the important elements for us in order to expand the gaming population. For those who are accustomed to it and currently enjoying it, manipulating two levers at the same time to aim the target and move the character is easy, but it is almost impossible for beginners. After all, it is not something we are doing in our daily lives.

Even those who are not good at FPS are now commenting that the Wii Remote and Nunchuk are lowering the hurdle for them to get started. We really want to invite newcomers to the world of first-person shooter games. Also, there are other areas where rather sophisticated play control systems have already been established, such as sports game titles that EA is famous for. With the Wii Remote and Nunchuk, we believe there are lots of new possibilities which are worth exploring.

About hardware production

It looks like some people are misunderstanding that Nintendo is not incorporating state-of-the-art technologies into its products. It is not true. Just as an example, we are using the state-of-the-art technologies to realize the compact-sized Wii console with low power consumption.

Making a significant volume of the high-tech hardware, and making an additional volume, is not an easy task at all. In fact, when we clear one bottleneck for a production
increase, we will face another one.

About the massive multiplayer game ´Second Life´

I personally have virtually no interest in Second Life. I don’t think it will be considered as an important existence in the future. That is all I can say today.

About Kutaragi´s departure from SCEI.

Please give us your impressions about the announcement that Mr. Kutaragi resigns from his post of chairman at Sony Computer.

I cannot say anything. Of course, it is not something we decide. Even if you ask me, I am not in a position to say anything. Sorry. (...)

Though Mr. Kutaragi will leave the front line operations of Sony, I can hardly imagine that he will retire from any activities in the video game industry. How about headhunting him?

I don’t think we will do that.

On winning the console war in the US

All I can say is, we would like to make efforts to make that happen. It is the analysts’ job to predict whether or not we can make it, isn’t it? (laugh) (...)

We want as many people around the world as possible to accept our commodities, and we would like to put smiles on as many people as possible.

Source: Nintendo of America press server (PDF, registration required)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Coloured Wii-motes coming in June

Amazon Germany has listed first party Wii controllers in three new colours:

* Wiimote in ´pearl pink´ with matching Nunchuk
* Wiimote in ´silver´ with matching Nunchuk
* Nunchuk in ´blue´, promising a matching Wiimote.

All items are official Nintendo products priced the same as the regular white accessories and all are listed as launching June 29th. There are no images available yet.

To give you an idea of what they may look like, here are some past Nintendo products that featured those specific colours:

GBA SP in ´pearl pink´

GBA SP in ´silver´

DS in ´blue´

About a month ago, GoNintendo discovered those very items on a retailer list. Amazon Germany listing them now (with the exact release date) must amount to a confirmation.

Source: Amazon Germany

EA to favour Nintendo in 2007 / 2008

Electronic Arts has clearly refocussed its resources on both Nintendo platforms, the company´s Fourth Quarter Earnings Conference Call (PDF document) revealed (also available as an audio webcast).

The first of the three collaborations between Electronic Arts and Hollywood director Steven Spielberg will be a Wii exclusive. And there are more titles to come. In fact, the first console mentioned in the earnings call by the new CEO John Riccitiello - by a long run - was the Wii. It was the only console mentioned in the highlights of the call.

We shipped four Wii titles in March – Tiger Woods PGA TOUR, SSX, Medal of Honor Vanguard and Godfather Blackhand Edition. While we still have a way to go – we now have six Wii titles at retail – in North America we were the number one third party publisher for the month of March and we estimate number two in Europe.

CFO Warren Jenson then detailed EA´s plans of launching at least as many titles for the Wii and DS each as they are for Xbox360 and PS3.

We expect to launch over 15 wholly owned titles – five of which are franchise debuts – Army of Two, SKATE, Playground, Boogie and a Wii Spielberg title. In addition – our blockbusters Need for Speed and Sims will be back. We continue to have enormous confidence in SPORE as a franchise – but have made the call not to include this title in our fiscal year financial plan. (...)

For fiscal 2008 – you can expect us to ship between 20 and 23 SKUs on both the Xbox 360 and PS3. On the Wii and on the NDS we expect to launch 10 to 13 SKUs for each platform including –

• Originals like – My Sims (both platforms), Playground (both platforms), Boogie (Wii), and a new title (Wii) that is being co-developed with Steven Spielberg.

• For the NDS – we expect to launch Sim City. And for the Japanese market – we plan to release a beverage series – Sommelier, Sake (Sakashou) and Bartender.

• In sports – Madden 08 (both platforms), FIFA 08 (both platforms), Tiger Woods PGA TOUR (Wii) and NBA Live (Wii) and

• In entertainment – Harry Potter (both platforms) and The Simpsons (both platforms).

In short – we are on it – and more to come.

In the open questions session in the audio webcast, Riccitiello answers to a Merrill Lynch analyst that he believes EA to now "be in a better position on Nintendo DS and Wii, which we initially underforecast by a bit."

The earnings call is clearly focussing on the Nintendo platforms, because EA development seems to show the same focus. At the very least, Wii will be as important a platform for EA as PS3 and Xbox360.

We should be picking up on two sentences regarding Wii and DS platforms in particular: "We are on it – and more to come" and "We still have a way to go". Clearly, in view of the phenomenal economic success of both of the Nintendo platforms, EA is concerned with catching up.

The most recent indicator of that success is Nintendo occupying the top sixteen spots of the current weekly Japanese software sales. Also, Nintendo sold seven times as many Wii units as PlayStation3 consoles were sold and almost six times as many DS Lite consoles as PSP units, according to the latest weekly Japanese hardware sales.

Source: EA Earnings Conference Call (PDF)
Thanks to: GoNintendo, TVG

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

German moms want Nintendo, says Amazon

May 13th is Mother´s Day and what better gift is there than a Nintendo DS? At least, Amazon Germany thinks so. "Mother´s Day! Bring your mom into the game" is the catchy headline that graces their front page and may yet convince millions of still undecided dads, sons and daughters.

By comparison, Amazon USA is much more traditional. Sure, there is one ad showing some tech gadgets (purple iPod, pink CyberShot and a cellphone), but nothing gaming-related. Other than that, it´s perfume, flowers and cookware.

What are you getting mumsie? Would you consider videogames for your old lady? Me, I have to think again, because mine got my old DS last year and is happily beating me at ´Brain Training´ ever since.

EDIT It seems like Japanese mums want a DS, too, according to Game|Life (thanks to Kotaku).

Source: Amazon Germany, Amazon USA

Xbox360 Blu-ray drive rumour fake

Microsoft executive Peter Moore has allegedly called Blu-ray "the most cutting edge technology out there" and announced that an external Blu-ray drive for the Xbox360 might hit shops before Christmas. This ridiculous rumour originates from a Hi-Fi forum and was propelled into the mainstream news by MaxConsole.

The thread - written by a user with a post count of one - includes an "article" to back up the outrageous claim. Its author is supposedly an Associated Press technology writer. However, the paragraphs are riddled with spelling mistakes and unclear, if not bad English.

The imposter also links to a number of articles which are all unrelated to the claim, other than a 1UP article dated October about Moore discussing the theoretical possibility of such a Blu-ray drive add-on in order "to adapt to whichever standard wins out in the end." Moore clearly reaffirms, though, that "HD-DVD is Microsoft's preferred DVD format."

It is so easy to spot a fake like this one. I am just extremely surprised that a site like MaxConsole would publish this crap, seemingly without the slightest cerebral activity wasted on checking the content.

They only just posted a story about Nintendo headhunting Kutaragi, linking to a German article that stated the very opposite. And last autumn, they were happy to publish Wii specs without a healthy dose of scepticism, along with a subsequent rebuttal from the anonymous source when a whole number of news sites pointed out that the specs could not be real. This would draw the validity of other rumours into question, too.

As far as this story and the one about Kutaragi are concerned, MaxConsole is currently engaging in nothing more than ´copy and paste journalism´.

Source: eCoustics forum
Thanks to: MaxConsole