Currents Top Ten I And the Emmy Goes to... PlayStation! I Square Enix to Focus on Mobile, Online Games I Eidos Gives Former Creative Director New Direction I Screen Actors Guild Gets New Face I Sony Angers God? I GameStop One Step Closer to Acquisition I Stock Ticker
Issue #22 Chronic Geostigma October 1, 2005

Front Page

My doctor diagnosed me with Geostigma this morning. Evidently, it's going around strong this season. I must have caught it when I ventured out into the Miasma without my jar of Myrrh. The doc gave me a shot of penicillin to clear it up, but now I'm starting to experience some stange side effects. For one, I'm now a Chocobo. Yeah, I'd say that one's probably the most serious one. I also have a runny nose and pink eye, but the whole Chocobo thing is my biggest concern. Anyone have any ideas? I'm starting to freak out here.

Well, until I find a way to fix this rather odd and frightening predicament that I've managed to hole myself up in, I may as well write a column. Between the urges to fly south and the uncontrollable egg-layings, this issue took a long time to produce. And I'm not even going to get into trying to type with feathers. It's been a long, emotionally draining week, but who knows? Maybe I'll grow to like being a Chocobo. Here's your column.

 Currents Top Ten

This week's Top *WARK!* Ten looks considerably different from last week's. How fickle you all are. Burnout Revenge, which claimed the top two places last week has completely dropped off the list. In its place, however, is the RPG X-Men Legends II. It's always nice to see an RPG at the head of the market, so this is okay. Unfortunately, though, the RPG Radiata Stories has also dropped off this list entirely. Not only this, but last week's sole GameCube title, Mario Superstar Baseball, is also gone this week.

What is here instead are brand-new titles like anticipated We Love Katamari and Ninja Gaiden Black. Tiger Woods 06 debuts at second place, while Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel Nemesis are bringing up the rear.

Position Title Publisher Platform
1 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse Activision
2 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 EA Sports
3 X-Men Legends II: Rise of Apocalypse Activision
4 We Love Katamari Namco
5 Ninja Gaiden Black Tecmo
6 Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Midway
7 Tiger Woods PGA Tour 06 EA Sports
8 Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks Midway
9 Ultimate Spider-Man Activision
10 Marvel Nemesis: Rise of the Imperfects Electronic Arts

Source: GameSpot

 And the Emmy Goes to... PlayStation!


When most people think of Emmys these days, what usually comes to mind are names such as Desperate Housewives and Law and Order. What usually doesn't come to mind, however, is the name of the latest recipient of this award -- PlayStation. Specifically, Sony announced this week that its original PlayStation game console was been awarded "an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Technology and Advanced New Media for pioneering the 3D polygonal-based gaming experience."

Kaz Hirai, Sony Computer Entertainment America's CEO, will be present at the Technology and Engineering Emmy Awards, held in Princeton, New Jersey, to accept the award. PlayStation is the worldwide best-selling game console of all time, and, just this June, it sold its 100-millionth unit. Additionally, Playstation also celebrated its 10th birthday last month.

"When the concept for PlayStation was in its infancy in the early 1990s, we had a dream to elevate the quality of computer graphics from a 2D-based environment to a rich, realistic 3D experience. At the same time, we intended to bring in a new form of entertainment through the living room in a manner that would allow people all over the world to enjoy the pleasures of interactive entertainment," said Ken Kutaragi, president of Sony Computer Entertainment. "Even with this lofty goal in mind, the achievement and market acceptance for PlayStation have exceeded my wildest expectations. In its tenth year on the market, we are honored to be awarded a prestigious Emmy to commemorate the significant role PlayStation played in creating a new computer entertainment world."

Seth Haberman, chair of the Video Gaming and Technology Awards panel said, "Emerging technologies in digital media play an important role in the way in which people consume in-home entertainment, and gaming in particular has been a consistent source of innovation in recent years... We felt that the advent of PlayStation exemplified a significant shift in the direction of the gaming and are pleased to recognize Sony Computer Entertainment for its contribution."

Source: Games Press

 Square Enix to Focus on Mobile, Online Games

Square Enix

In an interview with Yomiuri Online, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada expressed his belief that online gaming is the future of the games market, and it has caused the structure of the entire gaming industry to shift.

"The rise of the Internet has broken the fundamental principle of the past 20 years," Wada said, "where games were supposed to be played with consoles."

Wada explained that an industry based on home console games has given mass amounts of market power to Sony and Nintendo. But in this day and age, with the emergence of a new market of online gaming connectivity from mobile phones and computers, this market power has begun to weaken. "The market is switching from console makers towards the software makers," he said, "which provide appealing games and content. In the future, only companies that can adapt to the online market can survive."

Square Enix is, of course, no stranger to online games if Final Fantasy XI has anything to say about it. The company hopes to continue growing in the business of online and mobile games, and the promise of an international release of the company's mobile phone-based RPG, Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, is a testament to this ambition.

The RPG giant hopes to "become the largest and greatest content maker" by expanding its overseas business in Europe and North America. Square Enix is already planning to localize mobile versions of its Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games, previously only released in Japan, by the end of 2006. Why has it taken so long for the company to spread mobile games out beyond the Pacific? Because the mobile market and mobile technology in North America is still a few generations behind, though the gap is closing. Square Enix may even create or acquire new overseas game studios to help with these goals. It just recently bought Taito, after all.


 Eidos Gives Former Creative Director New Direction

Ian Livingstone, the former chairman and creative director of pre-buy-out Eidos, has been reassigned to direct the product aquisition division of the company. Livingstone is heralded as the pioneer of interactive entertainment and was a key figure in securing hit titles such as Tomb Raider, Championship Manager, and Commandos for Eidos.

As director of product acquisition, Mr. Livingstone will be responsible for making sure Eidos has plenty of new products to deliver to consumers. These duties may even include working with studios themselves to create new franchises or working with external studios worldwide to license their titles.

Eidos was bought out earlier this year by game developer SCi in the form of a 76.1 million stock-swap.

Source: Games Press

 Screen Actors Guild Gets New Face

In a recent election held within the Screen Actors Guild to decide who would be next to take the organization's helm, Alan Rosenberg was chosen to replace exiting president Melissa Gilbert. Rosenberg headed the Membership First faction of the SAG, which "demanded that it take a more aggressive stance in negotiations with producers." Rosenberg and Gilbert are from opposing camps within the guild, as they tended to butt heads on topics such as residuals from DVD sales. Rosenberg felt that the guild's stance was too soft with that particular issue.

A recent issue involving the SAG was one regarding actors who provided voices for video game characters and the amount of monetary and residual compensation they should receive. The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) and the SAG eventually reached an agreement that would give video game voice actors a raise, but no residuals. Alan Rosenberg fought on the side of the video game voice actors, believing that they should receive residuals for their work. It will be interesting to see if Rosenberg, now that's he is the new president of the SAG, will raise the issue again to help actors get the residuals that they'd been fighting for.

In the election, Rosenberg defeated Morgan Fairchild, from Gilbert's camp, and Robert Conrad, an independent candidate. The new president of the SAG said in a statement following his victory, "I ran a campaign that offered a simple and straightforward promise -- I will fight like hell to get actors their fair share."

Source: IMDB

 Sony Angers God?


Sony recently came under fire from the Vatican when it launched an arguably controversial ad campaign in Italy. Full-page magazine ads celebrating the PlayStation's 10th birthday depict a young man with a coyish smile wearing a crown of thorns. This wasn't any ordinary crown, though. This one had its thorns twisted around to form the shapes of the four symbols on the face of the PlayStation controller: triangle, circle, square, and cross. At the bottom of the ad is the phrase, "Dieci anni di passione," which in English means "Ten years of passion," possibly alluding to the recent film The Passion of the Christ.

Antonio Sciotino, editor of the weekly periodical, Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), commented, "This time they've gone too far... If this had concerned Islam there would have been a really strong reaction."

Since the incident, Sony has apologized for the ad and halted its printing.

For those of you concerned that buying Sony products will heretofore be seen as a crime against God, fear not. It has been reported that Sony and God have resolved the issue, but don't expect the new PS3 controller design to change at all now.

Source: GameSpot

 GameStop One Step Closer to Acquisition

Using Senior Float Rate Notes and Senior Notes, an investment community managed to raise $950 million in aggregate principal. This week, GameStop Corporation successfully finished an offering to said investment community for the $950 million.

What this means in a nutshell is that GameStop is now temporarily $950 million richer. The money will soon be used to pay the cash portion of the merger with market rival Electronics Boutique. The merger of the two video game retailers was announced this April. This transaction still needs to be approved by stockholders before it can be completed, however. A joint shareholder meeting has been scheduled for October 6.

Source: GameSpot

 Stock Ticker

Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo are down. Mr. Yoichi Wada sure picked a hell of a week to make his statement about how online gaming is weakening the market power of the console producers. So this begs the question: is this slump in the three console producers' stock prices a sign of a strengthening of the online market? Will this decline continue? I'll say probably not. The next generation consoles are right around the corner and I'm fairly certain that will boost the console market a bit.

Additionally, EA is down as well, but it's the only non-console producer down this week. All of the remaining software producers are safely in the green. The biggest increase award goes to Square Enix this week, while the biggest decrease goes to Electronic Arts with its whopping $1.39 dip. Better luck next week.

Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market closing 09.30.2005

Symbol Company Market Standing Change
SNE Sony NYSE 33.19 (0.19)
MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 25.73 (0.21)
NTDOY Nintendo PNK 14.30 (0.55)
ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 56.89 (1.39)
SQNXF Square Enix PNK 27.70 0.74
KNM Konami NYSE 22.54 0.04
ATVI Activision Nasdaq 20.45 0.03
MWY Midway NYSE 15.19 0.47
SGAMY Sega PNK 19.50 0.10
UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 52.31 0.60

Source: CNN Money

 Back Page

It's now one entire column later and I don't look any less like a Chocobo. Please, if anyone can help me, time is definitely of the essence. Thanksgiving is right around the corner and, well, I doubt that a Chocobo would have any trouble feeding a few families. This could get ugly. I can't even begin to think about attacking my unbeaten game collection now. My life's on the line here.

Hopefully by next week, I'll have found a cure for my condition. Until then, WARK!

Elliot "Gonna go Chocobuckle on your ass" Guisinger

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