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News from January 2014

Square-Enix Launches Crowdfunding Website

Square Enix
Square-Enix recently launched the Square-Enix Collective website (linked below), a partnership with IndieGogo to publish independently-developed games under the Square-Enix label with a crowdfunding model. Developers can create pages on Collective to pitch their games, fans can vote on which projects Square-Enix considers in the Collective forums, and after a successful approval from Squenix's nefarious secret panel* a project can begin the funding process just like a KickStarter or IndieGogo project.

What's notable about this new initiative from Square-Enix is that they're very keep on transparency and open to new ideas. Or at least it sounds that way. As Square-Enix president Yosuke Matsuda expressed last fall:

"We're no longer in an age where customers are left in the dark until a product is completed. We need to shift to a business model where we frequently interact with our customers for our products that are in-development and/or prior to being sold, have our customers understand games under development, and finally make sure we develop games that meet their expectations."

Square-Enix's faith in this relatively new business model could mean independent developers eventually working on a wide variety of intellectual properties. Square-Enix announced that the mostly-abandoned Eidos franchises of Fear Effect, Gex, and Anachronox are available for independent developers to work on via the Collective. What's next? Potentially anything in the Square-Enix catalog.

*There are no details on how the approval process works, and Squenix won't likely be sharing any.

Source: Square-Enix Collective, IGN (January 2014), Siliconera (October 2013)
Posted in: Square-Enix News

Welcome to 2014: The CoNcast Episode 19

It's been a while since we saw a full-on CoNcast, especially with a full crew of folks, especially with three of the original casters! To pick up for the new year, Death Penalty, laszlow, Stiltzkin and I got together on the line to talk about what this year will mean for gaming and for what we're looking in the next twelve months.

While there are no brand-new systems coming this year, there certainly are a lot of triple-A games on deck for all the consoles and handhelds, and given the diversity of the group, we spend some time talking about a lot of them. If you're looking for more opinions on upcoming Squenix games, or even Nintendo, you're in the right place. For other stuff, there's some of that too, I guess!

Source: The CoNcast Subscription Feed, The CoNcast on iTunes
Posted in: CoNcasts

Unsung Story - the Spiritual Successor to FFT

Earlier today, Yasumi Matsuno, a former director and producer at Square, launched a KickStarter for a new title - Unsung Story: Tale of the Guardians. Matsuno, whose catalog as a director and producer includes Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy XII, intends Unsung Story to be a return to his roots, making a turn-based strategy RPG set in a world rich with detail. Unsung Story's plot will consist of multiple episodes, each starring a different hero from the same war, spanning multiple generations of characters.

Matsuno is working in conjunction with the American studio PlayDek, which recently has worked on iOS and mobile versions of several popular card games and board games. In addition to the strategy RPG Unsung Story, PlayDek intends to release a companion digital card game set in the same world as Unsung Story. The KickStarter has a base goal of $600,000 US (which it will certainly reach, as it has over $150,000 in less than a day), but it has stretch goals reaching as high as $3.2 million. If certain stretch goals are met, then new talent will join Unsung Story's creative team (including Final Fantasy Tactics music composer Hitoshi Sakimoto) and the RPG will be ported to additional systems.

Currently, Unsung Story is planned to be released on iOS devices, Android devices, PCs, and Macs in the summer of 2015. If certain stretch goals are met, then Unsung Story will also appear on the PS Vita ($1.8 million stretch goal) and the 3DS ($2.8 million stretch goal). I know that many of you CoN members are indifferent towards KickStarter efforts, but come on. The creator of Final Fantasy Tactics wants to make another strategy RPG. I couldn't help myself.

Source: Unsung Story KickStarter page
Posted in: RPG News

New Year, New Square Enix News Tidbits

Square Enix
For the new year, there are new tidbits. Of course, that's the same as it is on (many) Fridays, but it actually is a new year now. So... there?

Bravely Default is on the minds of a lot of Square Enix gamers these days, with the Western release growing closer at hand. That means it was probably a bad time for news to break that there was "censorship" happening in the Western art assets. It's a bit of an entertaining throwback to 25 years ago, but beyond that we can all only speculate as to the rationale behind the changes to the clothing on a couple female characters. I, for the record, am fine with it.

The Japanese convention Jump Festa was going on during the time of the last CoN tidbits; now that it's over, it's a good time to wrap up all the goodies that came out during its short run. Back to Bravely Default, a short new trailer for Bravely Second debuted at Jump Festa, but there was virtually nothing to it besides a few seconds of gameplay and some pretty neat concept art drawn in a sort of live-sketch way. Note that the main character for Bravely Second appears to be somewhat sensibly dressed, at least for a Squenix game!

Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix also got a new trailer. I'm not sure what else to say about it, really. If you like Kingdom Hearts and particularly the HD 1.5 Remix, you'll be right at home here? We can go with that. As an aside, Kingdom Hearts III is being worked on simultaneously to HD 2.5 Remix, which is probably not thrilling news to the people anxiously waiting for a brand-new entry in the series.

In interesting but probably irrelevant in reality news, it looks like Square Enix has dipped its toes into on-demand streaming gaming by adding the newest PC version of Final Fantasy VII to streaming services in Japan. Debuting on Christmas, this release was simultaneous to two competing services, for approximately $15. It seems like RPGs would be a no-brainer for streaming gaming, especially old RPGs, as the only parts of those games that would tax an internet connection would be the FMVs. However, if you're one of the few people in the States who actually have an OnLive, I wouldn't get too excited.

We had the 25th Anniversary celebrations for Final Fantasy not long ago, and now it's time for the SaGa series to follow suit. That series has kind of fallen by the wayside from its heyday with the original Game Boy, but perhaps the anniversary is the time for a kickstart.

Finally, if you're an Xbox 360 gamer with Gold, you've got a few days left to get the first ever Square Enix game offered for free under that program. The game is Sleeping Dogs, which was received pretty well upon its release. It's available until the 15th, after which time it will be replaced by the Lara Croft sidestory, The Guardian of Light, making January a Squenixey kind of month on the 360; not a bad way to kick off the year.

Source: siliconera, Cheat Code Central, Xbox Official Site
Posted in: Square-Enix News

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