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Currents Top Ten I Sony Cuts Its Losses I Ubisoft Faces Possible Takeover I GB Micro Makes Big Numbers in Japan I Square Enix Finalizes Taito Takeover I Sony: PS3 Confirmed for Spring '06 I EB Sells Out of 360 Pre-Orders I Stock Ticker
CURRENTS
Issue #21 Comrades September 24, 2005


Front Page

In times of need, you should always be able to count on your comrades to help you out, as they should be able to count on you when needed as well. I would have had to learn this lesson the hard way this week, were it not for my comrades' willingness to help, despite my not asking for it until quite literally the last minute. For some foolish reason, I thought I could handle five midterm exams and the days of studying that preceeds them, reading an entire novel, and writing a paper all within a week-and-a-half, on top of getting this column done. It wasn't until the last minute that I realized I couldn't finish this column AND study for the three midterms I have next week, the latter of which, though some of you may scoff, was a much higher priority for me. Thus, if it were not for two comrades, Cortney Stone and Phil Clayton, this column wouldn't be here. I and the column owe them a debt of gratitude for helping regardless of my stubborn belief that I could do this on my own. I should have asked them sooner.

Anyway, their hard work has paid of and is here in full force. Between the two of them, they wrote all of the articles featured in this issue while I just handled the Front Page, Back Page, Top Ten, and Stock Ticker. And so they each receive their due credit, Cortney wrote the first three articles that appear and Phil took care of the last three. They're both greatly deserving of cookies - warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookies. A lot of them. Truckloads. I'll go pre-heat my oven while you have yourself a good read.



 Currents Top Ten

Aside from the four sports titles, Madden 06 x 2, Mario Superstar Baseball, and NHL 06, this week's list is rather diverse with titles in the racing, RPG, adventure, and shooter genres. Namely, Burnout Revenge, Radiata Stories, Shaolin Monks, and Rainbow Six: Lockdown. The most recent of these releases, Burnout, follows tradition and takes the top spot in the Top Ten.

Madden drops down to third and Radiata Stories takes the plunge to seventh place. Mario is also dropping down to fifth, and NHL 06 is claiming eighth, with Tom Clancy holding at fourth. Mortal Kombat's latest reach into the adventure genre is on the ground floor at ninth and tenth place.


Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Burnout Revenge Electronic Arts
2 Burnout Revenge Electronic Arts
3 Madden NFL 06 EA Sports
4 Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six: Lockdown Ubisoft
5 Mario Superstar Baseball Nintendo
6 Madden NFL 06 EA Sports
7 Radiata Stories Square Enix
8 NHL 06 EA Sports
9 Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Midway
10 Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Midway


Source: GameSpot



 Sony Cuts Its Losses

Sony

With prophecies of financial losses hanging over its head, Sony Corporation announced that it would launch a restructuring program designed to minimize the hit to its pocketbook. This program calls for laying off 10,000 of its employees -- which amounts to about 7 percent of its workforce -- and closing 11 of its 65 manufacturing plants.

While the company did not reveal which divisions would face layoffs, it appears that 4000 of the jobless will be from Japan, while the other 6000 will be from various overseas offices.


Source: Gamesindustry.biz



 Ubisoft Faces Possible Takeover

Ubisoft

French game publisher Ubisoft could soon be absorbed by one of the most powerful game corporations in the world.

"We are not safe from a hostile action from Electronic Arts," Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot told French newspaper Les Echos on Wednesday. He went on to state that UbiSoft carried a hefty pricetag, but it would accept "a genuinely interesting offer" that benefited its shareholders and employees. Acquiring Ubisoft would certainly expand EA's dominance of the game industry, but it is unknown whether the titan is willing to pay the price.


Source: Gamesindustry.biz



 GBA Micro Makes Big Numbers in Japan
Nintendo

Nintendo's Game Boy Advance Micro has finally appeared on the market, and while North American sales figures are not registering yet, the tiny machine has already earned adoration from Japanese consumers. Sales numbers for the week of September 12 show that 148,000 GBA Micros were sold in Japan, which means that the miniscule handheld grasped 55 percent of hardware shipments. This also means that it trumped its big brother, the Game Boy Advance SP, which sold only 110,000 units during its launch week over two years ago.

The secret of the Micro's success appears to be a Japanese fetish for collectibles. Nintendo released five different models of the handheld in Japan, including a Famicom-themed version that claimed a significant portion of the sales. Retailers are also claiming that the Micro is spurring sales of certain GBA titles geared toward older gamers, such as Mother 1 + 2 and Advance Wars 1 + 2. Thus, it appears that the pint-sized portable system is flying high on nostalgia.

The results released in this study are merely the first half of the Video Gaming Benchmark Report. The remainder of the study and results are due out this August.


Source: GameSpot



 Square Enix Finalizes Taito Takeover

Square Enix

Following up on intentions expressed in August, Square Enix acquired a 93.7 percent share (346,689 shares total) of Taito on September 22, eclipsing the 67 percent that the company was originally expected to purchase when news of this story first broke. The Taito brand name will come through the deal intact, adequately preserving the history of one of the oldest companies in the industry.

Taito, who was responsible for the legendary arcade space shooter Space Invaders, makes the bulk of its revenue by publishing from the outside -- karaoke manufacturing, arcade manufacturing, and arcade ownership, for example. While it may come as a surprise to many who are reading this news bit, this strategy has proved to be rather lucradive, with Taito's 84.6 billion Yen revenue at the end of the last fiscal year towering over Square Enix's 73.9 billion. Combined, the company would be at 158.5 billion Yen--a very good number to say the least--but still behind the big dogs of the Far East, Sega Sammy and Nintendo.

So what does this mean for all the RPGamers out there? Well, anything is pretty much just speculation at this point, but many have expressed interest in what Square Enix could do with Taito's beloved RPG series, Lufia. If not a full remake, then some sort of Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, Lufia, Bubble Bobble crossover is certainly possible, which would make quite a few fan fiction writers happy to be sure. Maybe Square Enix will assimilate Namco as well, and add Tales Characters in the mix? While it would be surprising, it certainly is possible, with Square Enix's brass saying that "our acquisitions won't stop with Taito" recently.


Source: Gamesindustry.biz



 Sony: PS3 Confirmed for Spring '06

Sony

Further confirming the spring target date for the launch of the PlayStation 3 announced at E3 by SCE head honcho Ken Kutaragi, Sir Howard Stringer (yes, he is an actual "knight") reinforced the date at a recent strategy meeting, and made a few comments about the console's impending release in various areas of the world, sparse as they may have been.

"We have not yet announced detailed launch dates for each region," Sir Howard said, while dusting off his armor in the barracks of his stronghold. He continued to say that if "...you look at how close Microsoft announced release dates to the launch of the Xbox 360, it's rather unrealistic to expect PS3 dates now."

Microsoft is leaving the gate rather early compared to Sony, with its next generation console being released in North America on November 22, Europe on December 2, and Japan on December 10.

Important-sounding industry analysts have expressed their belief that Sony won't launch its newest console in all three major regions in as short of a time frame. It's looking as if the PS3 will see release in Japan in April or May, with Europe and North America getting second dibs later in the year.


Source: Gamesindustry.biz



 EB Sells Out of 360 Pre-Orders

Xbox 360

Those pining to get their mitts on an Xbox 360 pre-order deal courtesy of EB Games are in for disappointment, as the company has announced that all of its pre-order stock has been thoroughly depleted by aspiring next-gen gamers. This revelation comes in the form of a notice on EB's website that states: "We are currently sold out of our popular Xbox 360 bundles. Check back frequently for more opportunities to pre-order an Xbox 360, Microsoft's next-gen gaming system."

But hey, EB Games isn't the only one offering Xbox 360 pre-orders, ya know. Soon-to-be-bedmate of EB Games, Gamestop, is said to still have 'launch quantities' of the console still in stock.


Source: Gamesindustry.biz



 Stock Ticker

We are seeing bright red this week. Negative numbers are taking over the issue and it's not pretty. Not only are numbers down for the day, they're also down from where they were two weeks ago. Every single company on the list, except Konami, is down from the last issue. As far as where to cast blame, I'm pointing to those ladies from the South, Katrina and Rita.

You have to hand it to Activision for staying the most afloat of the two green companies. Ubi Soft saw the biggest hit of the eight red companies, however. Clearly, the stock market is not a good way to go at this time. But if you've got some extra investing money to burn, I suggest a good, old-fashioned bank or mutual fund or something along those lines. With oil prices going up, it's good possibility that we'll see interest rates going up, giving you a much fatter return. By how much these rates could rise exactly is tough to predict, but consulting a trusty financial expert should help you make the right decision.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 09.23.2005


Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 33.71 (0.24)
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 25.27 (0.07)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 14.30 (0.05)
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 58.20 (0.36)
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 27.73 (0.16)
KNM Konami NYSE 23.25 0.07
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 19.98 0.38
MWY Midway NYSE 13.82 (0.10)
SGAMY Sega PNK 18.60 (0.50)
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 49.78 (0.62)

Source: CNN Money




 Back Page

That should do it for this week. By next week, my crazy midterm blitz should have ended in a sack, but at least it'll be over. I can't really think much about games at this time, though I've started to slowly inch through Resident Evil 4.

Until next time, take it easy.


Elliot "Taking out hostile, zombie-like European villagers" Guisinger


Carlisle@RPGamer.com

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