Currents Top Ten I Yamauchi Packs His Bags I Sony Ends PSP Orders in Korea I North Carolina Bans Sale of Mature Games to Minors I Nintendo Signs Deal with Broadcom I Xbox Losses Decrease I Namco Sells Off Movie Subsidiary I Stock Ticker I Close-Up Feature: Yasunori Mitsuda
Issue #5 Phenomenalism April 30, 2005

Front Page

Don't worry, Currents isn't canceled. It's just very, very late, and for that, I humbly apologize. I just had what feels like the busiest week of my life, having to deal with everything from studying for finals and writing term papers to moving all of my stuff out of my dorm room and finding time to catch up with an old buddy of mine who I haven't seen in 5 years and am not likely to see again for a long time. Add to that a week full of great game industry developments and a Close-Up feature that needed to be written, and my schedule was overstuffed. Unfortunately, everything on my list of things to finish this week was "do-or-die" except for this column, so it had to take a hit for the team. Hopefully, though, the amazing Mitsuda Close-Up will make up for it. And while we're on the subject, my final exams are next week and I have five to take. As a result, Currents will be late next week as well. I'm optimistic about getting it out late Thursday night (my last final ends at 8:00pm CST on Thursday), but will definitely have it out by Friday at the latest. After next week, expect the column to arrive at its regularly scheduled day of Wednesday (I know it used to be Tuesday, but the last few issues came out on Wednesdays and as it turns out, Wednesday just works better).

This week's column title comes from the topic of the philosophy term paper I was slaving over all week. Coincidentally, the Close-Up feature this week turned out to be roughly the same length as my paper, so I felt the title was appropriate. I hope with this, I can close the short-lived philosophy chapter of my life for good. Despite all of the pain happiness discussing dualism and Berkeley's phenomenalism gave me, I don't plan to take another philosophy course again, at least not one dealing with metaphysics. Anyway, in case you haven't noticed, Currents delves into the life of the great Yasunori Mitsuda this week, so if you haven't read it yet, you're missing out. As far as the column itself, be prepared to read about one of Nintendo's top dogs saying "sayonara," Korean PSP orders, Nintendo signing deals with a certain wireless company, and a lot more that I don't plan to give away here. Go fetch.

 Currents Top Ten

Good news, everybody. This week, I've got some actual video game sales results. Though, the list still isn't specifically RPG-based, it's one big step closer to our goal of having a weekly North American RPG sales chart.

There's finally an RPG on the Currents Top Ten chart. Microsoft's Jade Empire came in third this week. Splinter Cell, Doom 3, and God of War are still ranked in the top ten from last week, although those were rental statistics. I believe all the other titles here are new faces. This week is also the first week after several in which Gran Turismo 4 isn't present. Doom 3 has had a long streak on the list as well, so let's see how long it can manage to cling on.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 WWE WrestleMania XXI THQ
2 Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition Rockstar Games
3 Jade Empire Microsoft
4 Unreal Championship 2: The Liandri Conflict Midway
5 Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Ubi Soft
6 God of War Sony Computer Entertainment
7 Lego Star Wars Eidos Interacive
8 Doom 3 Activision
9 MVP Baseball 2005 EA Sports
10 Psychonauts Majesco Games

Source: GameSpot

 Yamauchi Packs His Bags


Nintendo announced this week that Hiroshi Yamauchi, the company's former president, will be retiring from his position on the Nintendo board of directors after a shareholder meeting that will take place on June 29. Yamauchi has been a part of Nintendo's top corporate management for 55 years. In 1949, he became president of the company, which sold playing cards at the time.

According to Nintendo, Yamauchi reached his decision after taking into account his age and the fact that the company had "stabilized its business operations" since he stepped down from the presidency three years ago. Though Yamauchi won't be able to have any influence on Nintendo's operations anymore, he will continue to act as an advisor to the company and own 10 percent of the stock.

Yamauchi also declined the director's retirement package that was offered to him, saying that the money could be better spent on Nintendo's future. Though the actual amount of the package wasn't disclosed, it was rumored to be within the range of $9.4 to $14 million.

Source: GameSpot

 Sony Ends PSP Orders in Korea


Sony Computer Entertainment Korea has halted pre-order reservations for the PSP in Korea. Reservations for the handheld opened to the public on April 13, and within only 5 days, the entire allotment of 20,000 units was reserved by excited Korean gamers.

The Korean launch of the PlayStation Portable will be similar to that of the American launch in that initially, only a value pack, which includes a UMD video of Spider-Man 2, will be available. The Korean pack, however, will also include a network utility UMD and a limited-time membership for wireless internet access.

Source: GameSpot

 North Carolina Bans Sale of Mature Games to Minors

The North Carolina state senate passed a bill last week that bans the sale of violent and sexually explicit video games to minors. This bill also requires game retailers and rental shops to post signs to inform customers about the ESRB rating system and to provide information about the system upon request. Game retailers and rental shops are also required to keep these mature games out of the reach and view of minors through the use of curtains, walls, or separate rooms. Store owners who are found to have violated this law, assuming it goes into effect, will be charged with a misdemeanor offense, with the penalty to be left up to the presiding judge. The bill passed with a unanimous vote.

Though the bill was passed by the state senate, it must still be passed by the state house of representatives and the governor before it can be signed into law. If this bill does pass, it will go into effect on December 1, 2005.

In 2003, the state of Washington became the first state to ban the sale of mature games to minors. The law, however, also restricted the sale of any game that portrayed violence against police officers. Because of this additional provision, the law was declared unconstitutional by a district court the following year. Furthermore, the state of California has also introduced a bill similar to the North Carolina bill, but it has yet to reach the floor to be voted on.

Source: Gamespot

 Nintendo Signs Deal with Broadcom


Wireless service provider Broadcom announced last week a deal to provide wireless technology for Nintendo's next-generation video game systems. Nintendo claims that its next-generation console will feature advanced wireless functionality enabling entirely new aspects of gaming.

Genyo Takeda, the general manager for the integrated research and development division for Nintendo said in a statement, "The depth and breadth of Broadcom's wireless expertise will enable Nintendo to deliver the industry's most innovative gaming solutions. By integrating Broadcom wireless solutions into our next-generation systems, we can provide the high performance gaming and connectivity capabilities that will delight users of 'Revolution'."

On the other end, Robert A. Rango, the group vice president of Broadcom's mobile and wireless group had this to say about the deal. "Broadcom is pleased to partner with technology leader Nintendo, whose visionary commitment to the user experience has inspired new uses for established wireless technology. With the broadest portfolio of maximum performance wireless solutions, we can provide all the connectivity pieces and advanced features required for exciting new consumer products." More information on what this deal means exactly for gamers will be revealed next month at E3.

Source: GameSpy

 Xbox Losses Decrease


Though Microsoft's Xbox console is still mostly a money hole for the company, as it loses more money than it brings in, the console's profits have doubled, shortening the deficit gap for the second consecutive quarter. For the quarter ending March 31, Microsoft's gaming division's operating loss was shortened to $154 million, from $209 million during the same quarter last year. The division also reported $593 million in revenue, which is an increase of 12 percent, mainly due to Xbox sales.

In other divisions of the company, Microsoft only saw profits--more so than usual. The company was able to take $2.56 billion in profit to the bank this quarter, compared to $1.32 billion in profit last year at this time. Although, there were no red numbers for the software giant, this still wasn't as good of a performance as Microsoft was aiming for. Curt Anderson, the general manager of investor relations for Microsoft said in the quarterly conference call, "Our slight revenue miss was driven primarily by the combination of unfavorable exchange rate movements since we gave you guidance in January, and a greater than expected decline in commercial and retail licensing for the client business."

Anderson also said that the company had increased Xbox production since many game retailers saw a shortage of the console during the last holiday season. Microsoft's outlook for the 2005 fiscal year is still positive, though, with an expected company-wide revenue growth of somewhere between 9 and 10 percent, which is an increase of $10.1 or $10.2 billion.

Source: GameSpot

 Namco Sells Off Movie Subsidiary


Namco announced last week that it had made plans to sell its movie subsidiary company, Nikkatsu Corp. to broadband ISP company, USEN. Though the details of the sale haven't been disclosed, the multi-billion yen deal should be signed in May.

Nikkatsu Corp. was founded in 1912 and is considered to be the oldest movie studio in Japan. At one time, the corporation operated over 70 percent of movie theaters on the Asian island. After World War II, however, the company began to plummet. By the 1970s, it had to produce soft-core pornography in order to keep from going bankrupt. Though the plan worked for a while, inevitability eventually caught up with the studio when it was finally forced to file for bankruptcy in 1993.

In the same year, though, Nikkatsu began to bounce back when Namco invested 3 billion yen ($28 million) in the company. The movie studio was made an official subsidiary of Namco in 1997 after it aided in the production and distribution of the film, Neon Genesis Evangelion.

As of now, Namco owns 74.44 percent of Nikkatsu's stock shares, most of which will be sold to USEN once the deal is completed. The sale of the Nikkatsu movie studio should not affect the production of Namco's upcoming film based on the Tekken video game series.

Source: GameSpot

 Stock Ticker

It looks like this was a good week to be a video game publisher, as every company on the ticker saw an increase this week, except for Sega. The industry looks to be on a steady increase, as some analysts have predicted. As long as this hold true and consistent, it could be a good time to put a few bucks down in the industry. If you do, though, make sure you know what you're doing and that you understand the risks involved. If the market crash of '29 wasn't any indication, it's impossible to accurately predict this thing. You can get a good idea of what might be going on, but anything can happen at anytime. If you do decide to invest, good luck.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market close 04.29.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 36.71 0.61
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 25.30 0.85
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 14.05 0.10
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 53.39 0.71
ENIXF Square Enix PNK 35.55 0.34
KNM Konami NYSE 21.45 0.21
NMLTF Namco PNK 13.85 0.85
MWY Midway NYSE 9.19 0.11
SGAMY Sega PNK 14.50 (0.20)
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 40.16 0.38

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

I guess that about does it for this week. If you still haven't checked out the Close-Up feature, though, you've still got quite a bit in store for you, so savor it; it'll be another month before the next one. I haven't quite decided if I'm going to make another poll for the next feature, or just write about whoever got the second most votes from the first poll. I'd really like to throw in some non-Final Fantasy names, since those tend to get the most attention anyway. I'll let you know what I decide. Until then, adios amigos.

Elliot "Busy Bee" Guisinger

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