It was confirmed today that Mike Fischer, president and CEO of the American arm of Square Enix, left the company earlier in May to join Amazon Japan as Vice President of Music and Video. Fischer was previously at a few other gaming giants before his role at Squenix, but now is leaving the gaming space "on good terms."
Just as Yoichi Wada left the flagship earlier this year, it's presumed that not meeting sales expectations for the major releases over the last year doomed Fischer's tenure, though I'm hearing that the expectations being quoted were a bit ludicrous to begin with. There are also rumors that there may be big shakeups coming in North America relative to the mobile release strategy or even that entire division of the company; this could be the sign of an executive getting his golden parachute as the plane goes down.
The most recent "big" game from the North American division was last year's Quantum Conundrum.
Source: Polygon (via Kotaku)
With photos! I was only able to spend about six or seven hours there yesterday, but I had a blast and met some good people and some great Final Fantasy (and other) cosplayers while I was at the exhibition hall. Being there certainly gave me some good new things to talk about in the next CoNcast (and if you have questions about what I saw, post them here! We're going to be recording a CoNcast later today and I can answer them then or any time).
While some of the interesting stuff for Squenix came out before I could go, I did manage to find some time to check out the FFX HD trailer a bit, and while I didn't come up with any photos of it, it looked solid. I would say it is definitely approaching the level of visual quality that Final Fantasy XIII managed, at least in the cutscenes they showed on the 40" HDTVs they had scattered in the booth. If you're one of the folks who enjoyed Final Fantasy X a decade ago, you should be excited for this, I do believe.
In any event, a good time was had by all. You can see the photos to learn more! Be sure to give props to the cosplayers I talked to, either here or on Facebook, so that they know their hard work is appreciated by the rest of us!
Yep, Sony had another worst kept secret. In New York tonight, the company put on a show to announce the advent of the PlayStation 4. The company spent a lot of time early on talking through the specs of the new system, which, while they did a good job of presenting, seemed like they weren't nearly as unique as they wanted the crowd to believe.
There were plenty of developers there showing off some new games, though the tropes all felt familiar. There was a driving game that looked lovely. There was a FPS - being Sony, it was a Killzone game. There's an Infamous game.
There was some interesting stuff. Johnathan Blow was there, he of Braid fame, talking about his next game appearing on the PS4. Blizzard showed up to announce Diablo III for the new console (as well as for PS3). Bungie showed up to tell everyone that Destiny will be on PS4 too, which is a nice slap to Microsoft.
Yeah, though, I intentionally buried the lede. What did Square Enix do, right? Well, not that much. They showed the Agni's Philosophy demo, looked the same as before. However, this time they said it was running on PS4 hardware. Was it always? We don't know. Also, Final Fantasy brand director Shinji Hashimoto appeared to say: "yes, there's a Final Fantasy game coming for PS4" and that it will show at E3. Zero other details. Sorry!
The PlayStation 4 will arrive for Holiday 2013.
Starting today, the North American PSN store has a series of Final Fantasy games half off. Which games, you might ask? Well, a bucket of them. You can get a version of every numbered Final Fantasy game up through IX (not including III, which never has had a Sony release). Most of the games are the PS One versions, including Origins, Anthology, and the three released originally for the first PlayStation. Final Fantasy IV's PSP version is included, as is Tactics: War of the Lions. Rounding out the set are three games from the Dissidia series.
This sale is 50% off the top and will be running for two weeks. The game selection is a little different than the European-region sale that we, uh, forgot to post about until right now. That sale's over, though. Sorry about that.
Source: US PlayStation Blog
It took more than a little while, but the action RPG Pandora's Tower, first mentioned here almost two years ago, has been given a new lease on life with an announced North American release. Announced just yesterday, the North American release will fill the final major gap in the game's worldwide coverage, as Australia and Europe both got the game in 2012.
The game will be published by Xseed, famous for bringing The Last Story here as well. It's assumed that there will be no new localization given that an English-language version of the game already exists, as described above. It's assumed further that the driving force behind getting the game published here was Operation Rainfall, a grass roots gaming group famous also for their campaign to get The Last Story.
Xseed says that the game will be released this spring.
The original Final Fantasy XIV crashed and burned, and was shut down a couple months back. Even before that, though, the reboot of the Final Fantasy XIV universe, subtitled "A Realm Reborn," was announced and put into alpha. The buzz around the new version is pretty positive so far, with the proposed changes and media released to the public all being met with reactions that I would categorize as "generally pleased."
That uptick in user opinion hit its first peak yesterday, as the XIV team at Squenix released an extended Realm Reborn trailer. This trailer is not completely new, but it must be said, it is one of the most visually impressive CG scenes I've seen Squenix ever do. I spent a lot of time watching it and wishing that it was actually a scene from a Final Fantasy Tactics sequel, given the varied job classes and armored chocobos on display throughout. Having that sort of FFT feel even makes me want to try it out a bit, and I've never had any interest in an MMO at all.
Perhaps I could try it out a bit, in fact - as part of this information release yesterday, applications for the Western beta phase were also opened. As mentioned before, there will be four beta phases in all, with the first phase starting in Japan only sometime around the middle of February. The current deployment schedule allows for between seven and eighteen weeks across all four phases; the short end of that window seems really aggressive and pretty unrealistic to me, while eighteen weeks seems more managable and would result in an early-summer release. Only the final two phases will include gamers outside of Japan, and only the final phase will include PlayStation 3 gamers. The final phase will also allow characters created to be imported into the released game.
If you're interested in having a go at this, there are signup pages for both North America and Europe. Good luck to all those who apply!