Currents Top Ten I PlayStation 3 Release Date Causes Format Issues? I Merrick on the Move Once Again I Sega and Red Move On I The House that Square, Enix, and Taito Built I Microsoft Sees Poor Japanese Launch I Stock Ticker
Issue #32 Curtain Call December 14, 2005

Front Page

With finals approaching and in some cases, passed, Elliot needed to take a short break so that he could spend more time studying. Little did I know when I took on this responsibility that I would run into a few walls at the end of the week that would keep me from posting. I finally got back to work yesterday and it took me a little while to get warmed up, but here goes. A new column by yours truly, madhtr.

Last week I was busy doing RPGamer work, so I took time off from playing Dragon Quest VIII, which makes a return to the top ten this week. Friday of last week was a scheduled day off from work, so I took the time to do RPGamer work instead. On Saturday I had to work at my real job, on Sunday I had the joy of Christmas shopping all day, and on Monday I worked all day.

Today I've stayed up all night to bring you all your Currents glory, even if it IS a little later than normal. Elliot should be returning for a new column on Saturday for all of you who wonder about such things.

 Currents Top Ten

After dropping out of the top ten when Xbox 360 games dominated the listing, Dragon Quest VIII makes its return in the number nine slot. The top game this week was Super Mario Strikers, proving that the pitch is more popular when populated by Mario and pals.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Super Mario Strikers Nintendo
2 WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2006 THQ
3 Madden NFL 06 EA Games
4 Need for Speed Most Wanted EA Games
5 Mario Party 7 Nintendo
6 Star Wars: Battlefront II LucasArts
7 Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones Ubi Soft
8 50 Cent: Bulletproof VU Games
9 Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King Square Enix
10 Call of Duty 2 Activision

Source: GameSpot

 PlayStation 3 Release Date Causes Format Issues?

PlayStation 3

Sony has reiterated this week that the company is still on schedule to launch its PlayStation 3 console in the spring of 2006, as was announced at E3 2005. According to Reuters, however, many people are not convinced, with Larry Probst, Electronic Arts' CEO, stating that he didn't believe that the console would launch before Fall 2006.

Spring 2006 is also the scheduled release for Sony's Blu-ray disc and Toshiba's HD-DVD formats. The PlayStation 3 is set to utilize the new Blu-ray format as its main game format. A spokeswoman for Blu-ray mentioned that it was still scheduled for release in the spring while a HD-DVD representative pointed out that both formats might be a little late to the table. "It's not going to be much of a battle until both sides are actually on the field," HD-DVD spokesman Mark Knox told Reuters, "and we have a sneaking suspicion that that won't be for quite a while."

Fox Filmed Entertainment has announced that the company will only be releasing content for Sony's Blu-ray format. James Gianopulos was speaking at Reuters' Advertising and Media Summit last week when he announced that FFE would not release any titles for the HD-DVD format that has been backed by Microsoft.

"In terms of the number of companies involved, the PS3 momentum and the level of content that is committed to Blu-Ray, it does seem to have a pretty strong lead," Gianopulos told the summit. "We believe that Blu-Ray not only has the superior technology and backing in terms of strength to market, but also the superior content protection."

Warren Lieberfarb, former head of Warner Home Video and currently working for a consulting firm that has many clients including Microsoft, criticized Sony for its tactics in the next-gen format battle and for dragging home entertainment companies into the console war. "If I put Blu-Ray in PlayStation and I don't license it to Microsoft for Xbox and I get all the studios to only publish in PlayStation, I'll beat Microsoft in the next-generation games market. We've been sucked into PlayStation versus Xbox."

"If you ever read The Art of War, you will see all of Sony's moves, including taking all its enemies in the same tent and then leaving them empty-handed. These are things that they have done historically. They did the same thing to Matsushita and Betamax, they did the same thing to Matsushita on compact disc, they did the same thing to Matsushita on the digital video camcorder. They compete like Samurai. It isn't the way we compete in the West."

"Hollywood blew it. They got duped. They could have created the format that optimized their creative interests. It looks like we lost, because there are six studios supporting Blu-Ray and only three supporting HD-DVD. But you know, there's always surprises."

"Convergence is here, everything is digital, the Internet is going to deliver video, you are going to want to pass information from one device to another and HD-DVD versus Blu-Ray is really the first battle in the issue of who controls the home."

Sources: GamesIndustry | GameSpot

 Merrick on the Move Once Again


Nintendo of America has announced that Jim Merrick, senior marketing director at Nintendo of Europe, will be making his return to North America to fill a new position created for him. Merrick joined NoE in 2003 and recently helped with the successful launch of the Nintendo DS and Wi-Fi connection services in PAL areas.

"Jim joined Nintendo of Europe three years ago on a short term contract from Nintendo America and is now returning to continue to progress his career with the company," Nintendo announced. "His replacement will be announced in the coming weeks."

Source: GamesIndustry

 Sega and Red Move On

Red Entertainment

Red Entertainment, developer of the Japanese hit series Sakura Taisen, announced that it has purchased 59.2% of its stock from former parent company Sega and has once again become an independent company. Sakura Taisen producer Hiroi Ouji has hinted that the company might be moving to Xbox 360 development now, despite having only previously released games for Sega and Sony consoles.

The company hopes to begin developing online and mobile titles, both of which are important in the Japanese market. The company has stated that it wants to keep close ties with Sega, which could mean that the developer might continue its work on the Sakura Taisen series for them.


 The House that Square, Enix, and Taito Built


As of March 31, 2006, Taito will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Square Enix. Taito will continue to work independently of its parent company and will retain its name. The deal will take place through an equity swap and on March 7, Taito will no longer be listed on the first page of the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

While Taito remains as a successful company, they have mainly been popular in the arcade and pachinko businesses recently. Square Enix purchased 93.7% of Taito's shares a couple months back and particulars of the deal had remained unclear.


 Microsoft Sees Poor Japanese Launch

Playstation 3

Media Crate, a Japanese market research firm, has revealed that Microsoft did not do as well in Japan as the company would have liked. The Xbox 360 console, in a two-day span, has only sold through approximately 28% of the stock, or just under 42,000 units, that was shipped for Saturday's release. Comparatively, over a three-day period during its launch, the original Xbox console sold 123,000 units.

Microsoft hopes that upcoming games such as Dead or Alive 4 and Blue Dragon will help increase the sales of the console and eventually surpass the original Xbox, which has sold less than 500,000 units since release. The sell through rate in Japan is a bit embarrassing considering that North America and Europe are both seeing shortages of the console and could have benefitted from any extras they could have received for the respective launches.


 Stock Ticker

Many companies' stocks went up this week, with Konami leading the way with a $.66 increase while Nintendo wasn't far behind with a $.45 increase. On the lower end of the spectrum, the largest decrease was Microsoft with a $.32 drop.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 12.13.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 37.37 0.07
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 27.13 (0.32)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 15.05 0.45
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 55.14 0.08
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 27.15 (0.18)
KNM Konami NYSE 20.63 0.66
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 13.58 (0.14)
MWY Midway NYSE 23.03 0.06
SGAMY Sega PNK 8.55 0.40
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 49.52 0.32

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

Another day, another update. In any case, I am officially tired and you're officially finished with this issue of Currents. Stay tuned next week as Elliot brings to you word from the front line. Hopefully there were no casualties.

Billy Young

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