News from Europe
Square Enix announced today that they are "withdrawing" from IO Interactive, the gaming studio most recently working on the Hitman franchise, at the end of the conglomerate's current fiscal year on March 31, 2018. This withdrawal appears to be taking the place of a divestment from the developer, and not a winding down and closing of their studios in Denmark; however, should Square Enix and IO not find a new investor in that time, it seems more than possible that the studio would in fact need to close.
IO Interactive have been the sole developers of main-series Hitman games since the origin of the franchise. However, due to Eidos' purchase of IO and Square Enix' subsequent purchase of Eidos, the Hitman IP appears to belong to Square Enix at this time. It's not yet known what would occur with this IP in the case of a transfer of investment; my suspicions would be that it would be allowed to stay with IO if a new investor is found, or kept by Square Enix if one is not. Neither Square Enix nor IO Interactive have put forth any further details at this time.
Square Enix is expecting to take a single-time loss of roughly $43 million to divest from IO Interactive, which is obviously a very large number even for a company of their size. This appears to be an acceptable loss for the company, who commented that they are using the opportunity to "[focus] our resources and energies on key franchises and studios," which likely means reinvestment in Japanese studios and possibly Eidos Montreal? It's hard to tell where all they have active things ramping up these days.
Square Enix announced today that MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV will, as of now, be free for all trial accounts up until level 35. This lifting of restriction will apply to any trial account, whether it's created now or dates back to day one; even expired trials will be unlocked for players. This means, Gematsu reports, that characters left on expired accounts can be picked up right where left off, and all accounts can do all of the gameplay available to any other account at or below level 35, including various jobs, the first 10 levels of Deep Dungeon, Golden Saucer, and other unique features.
The trial can be downloaded from PlayStation stores in North America and Europe as before, or from the XIV website for PC gamers. The restriction has been lifted serverside, it would appear, so users who already have the game client should need only to start it up and download any lingering updates to pick the game up again.
A King's Tale, a Final Fantasy XV sidestory previously available only with certain preorders of the main game, is now available to everyone on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4. And it's free! The game is a sort of prequel to Final Fantasy XV, and takes place as a bedtime story told by King Regis to a young Prince Noctis. Unlike the action RPG of the main title, this side game is a 2.5D, sprite-based sidescrolling beat-em-up with a Final Fantasy flair.
The game features King Regis as the main character, with access to battle assistance from his friends - like father, like son. He's got access to a variety of weapons, magic, and summons to fight against monsters from the Final Fantasy XV universe, expressed also as sprites.
Again, the game is available worldwide for download today, for free, with no purchase of the original game required. Enjoy!
The time has come. If you weren't the beneficiary of someone accidentally providing the game early, today is the day that Final Fantasy XV is on the shelves of your local retailer or arriving in your mailbox from your preorder. What a long, strange trip it's been, to quote someone with whom I share virtually no aspects of my life.
Because this game isn't your run of the mill release, the information hasn't stopped coming just because the game is playable by the public, no sir. There's a new trailer - yes, a trailer for a game that is out now - with a surprising soundtrack and a mysterious mobile phone call, among other impressive sights and sounds. Square Enix Japan also did one final Active Time Report overnight, which Siliconera provides to us with a nice set of English subtitles. It's full of weirdness that is better seen yourself, but suffice to say that Prompto has a blast at a special party for the game's release and that Yosuke Matsuda, Squenix CEO, pops in to say hello.
And how are the reviews? Solid. Of course, that won't matter to anyone who is convinced that there hasn't been an actual Final Fantasy game since the year 2000, but it is what it is, right?
I heard the other day that Japan was getting a demo for the super-cute World of Final Fantasy, but I didn't report on it because it was being announced just for Japan. No longer! Now we're getting one in the West, as well, on Monday October 17. Completing the demo will unlock a special Magitek Armor that can be collected in the game's coliseum once the full game releases on October 25.
If you click through the link above, you can also see the anime opening cutscene for the game, and it looks fairly bonkers. So do that as well, then get the demo and report back to me if I should consider getting this game to play with my kid.
I'd completely forgotten that a Final Fantasy-themed CCG existed. It's been around for quite a while in Japan, but never any inkling that it would make inroads here; that's a product that seems like it might have had trouble making the leap.
Well, no longer! Starting on October 28, people who like CCGs in Europe and North America are going to get these cards in English. The initial set will have 216 cards, which doubles to 432 when you factor in the fact that each will also have a foil-stamped variant (which may or may not be a more powerful version of the card). The cards will be offered in randomized packs of a yet-unknown quantity of cards, as well as pre-built starter packs that are also not yet confirmed.
Pricing and availability are unknown, but we'll find out in just under a month. I've reached out to a friend with extensive CCG experience, and he tells me that the rulebook for this game looks like it might be pretty overcomplicated, which sounds pretty par for the course for something Square Enix has cooked up lately, right? Let us know if you're planning to pick up some cards just for fun or in an effort to play the game!