At a press conference in Tokyo, Japan yesterday, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada said that the entire Final Fantasy brand has been damaged by its latest MMO title. Final Fantasy XIV, which launched in September of 2010 on PC, did not do as well as anticipated due mostly to serious technical issues, connectivity issues, and bugs at launch. This caused the PS3 version of the MMO to be delayed as the development team put its focus on fixing problems and generally improving the game to make customers happy.
Yesterday we reported that Square Enix had filed a lawsuit against unnamed Italian citizens who (they allege) stole a preview build of Deus Ex: Human Revolution (see this story). The latest wrinkle in the story is that the company wants Valve Software to help them because the stolen build was a copy that was hosted on Valve's Steam service.
For its part, Valve says that it has plenty of information on those individuals responsible for stealing and leaking the file onto the internet, but it is unable to give that information to Square Enix without them presenting Valve with a court ordered subpoena.
It may seem like an odd position for Valve to take with a publishing partner, but the company is simply protecting itself and following procedure.
We'll let you know how this situation plays out.
Square Enix is ticked off that its new Deus Ex game has been leaked and it is taking some individuals in Italy to task for it. The company has filed a lawsuit against unnamed Italian individuals who allegedly crashed an invite-only preview of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, then somehow managed to download the game and distribute it online.
GRIN, who you may know best as the creator of Capcom's Bionic Commando action game, claims that it went bankrupt due to an insane relationship with Square Enix. The company had been working on a "Nordic themed" Final Fantasy spin-off which never came to fruition. The company spoke out (to Swedish publication Aftonbladet) about its relationship with Square Enix, and the picture it paints isn't a pretty one.
The spin-off codenamed "Fortress" never had a chance, according to GRIN founders Ulf and Bo Andersson, because Square Enix was erratic, unreasonable, and contrary in its dealing with GRIN. GRIN says that Square Enix didn't pay any of the $20 million contract it had with the studio to develop the game, even though it met every milestone it was supposed to right up until it went bankrupt in August 2009.
Sony isn't the only company worrying about lost data, personal privacy and the level of security on its web sites. Today Square Enix revealed that the Eidos Montreal website has been compromised on Wednesday and that up to 25,000 email addresses and 350 resumes may have been compromised. From Square Enix:
“Square Enix can confirm a group of hackers gained access to parts of our Eidosmontreal.com website as well as two of our product sites. We immediately took the sites offline to assess how this had happened and what had been accessed, then took further measures to increase the security of these and all of our websites, before allowing the sites to go live again,” Square Enix said in a statement sent to VG247.
Square Enix said that no credit card data had been stolen because the site did not have that kind of data on its servers. More from the statement:
Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series creator and publisher Square Enix warns investors that it will report losses of around ¥12 billion ($148m / £90.6m) for its fiscal year later this week. Digital project cancellations, the recent natural disasters in Japan, associated closures and restoration of the company's amusement facilities are being blamed for the losses. The digital projects represent slightly over a third of the total loss.
"Under a rapidly changing operating environment and more prudent estimates of future cash flows, the Company plans to write down goodwill (approximately ¥8.8 billion)," read the statement. "Further, as a result of introducing a tightened selection standard regarding title lineup to strengthen the revenue base of the Company's digital entertainment segment, project development cancellation and related losses (approximately ¥4.5 billion) are expected."
Square-Enix plans to open a new studio with over a hundred employees in 2012, somewhere in Canada. The maker of Final Fantasy is reportedly negotiating with the governments of Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. Whichever location offers the best tax incentives package will get a new Square Enix Studio that expects to employ over one-hundred new employees. Square Enix already has a studio in Montreal - which it acquired when it bought Eidos in 2009. But that doesn't mean Square Enix is giving the edge to that locale:
In addition to being censored in Germany, Activision’s Call of Duty: Black Ops will be receiving a few trims for its release in Japan as well.
A few weeks ago, Square-Enix, who is distributing the title in Japan, announce that in order to comply with standards set by the CERO ratings board, it would be removing “all scenes of dismemberment and ‘expressions of brutality.’” These cuts would apply to the both the subtitled and the dubbed versions of the game but the publisher promised that the zombie mode would remain untouched.
Turns out, that’s not the case.
Square Enix and Sony Computer Entertainment of America have been hit with a class action lawsuit filed by a San Diego gamer upset over a glitch in Final Fantasy XIII that can cause PS3 consoles to freeze up and become useless.
The lawsuit, which was filed on the behalf of all similarly situated US owners of Final Fantasy XIII for the PS3, alleges that SCEA and Square have been so busy blaming each other for the bricked PS3s, that they haven't remedied the problem or repaired the bricked units (or are charging users for the repair).
Square Enix President and CEO Yoichi Wada provided some insight and opinions on the Japanese videogame market in a recent interview with Edge-Online.
Wada, who is also Chairman of Japan’s Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association (CESA), a trade organization designed to promote interactive entertainment, was queried on how piracy is affecting Japanese game makers:
Piracy does a lot of damage, but within the Asian region the majority of damage comes from outside of Japan – not including the Nintendo DS. The R4 continues to inflict tremendous damage to our business. So in tandem with Nintendo, we have brought the issue to court. And we have been able to reach a certain degree of success from the court rulings.
When asked why Western games appear to be shunned by Japanese gamers, Wada answered:
Well, actually, I’ve found the person that is prejudiced is actually the retailer and not the actual players. The retailers have a prejudice against overseas titles, and they won’t procure them.
Wada was asked for his take on a comment from Capcom’s Keiji Inafune that Japan’s game industry is finished:
To say something so extreme is surprising. I’m surprised Capcom allowed Inafune to say that at TGS. My message by proxy for the Japanese developers who would have heard such a discouraging message is that if they are willing today, then they definitely have the capability to change and face tomorrow.
Head over to Edge for the full article, which also details what’s next on Wada’s games-to-be-played list and the possibility of using non-Japanese developers on future Square Enix titles.
A class action lawsuit has been brought against Square Enix of America alleging unfair business practices, false advertising and unjust enrichment with regard to their long running MMORPG Final Fantasy XI.
In the suit, lead plaintiff Esther Leong of San Francisco claims that Square Enix deceived more than 100,000 customers about the game's monthly fees, penalties and restrictions. The suit seeks damages of $5 million. The nasty business which Leong charges that Square Enix engaged in includes:
DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the lawsuit here.
-Doug Buffone, Entertainment Consumers Association intern
Pirating games is one thing and those who engage in the practice assume all of the risks involved, legal and otherwise.
It seems that a group of homebrew types spent four years (!) modding a sequel which they dubbed Chrono Trigger: Crimson Echoes. Talk about a labor of love. As Stuart reports, the group use a ROM hack to mod the original source code:
If Square Enix had allowed the game to be released, the commercial impact would have been infinitesimal. It's being released as an IPS patch, not a complete Rom image; and if you're not sure what I'm talking about, that's the point – getting these things to run is for the homebrew community only.
As Stuart points out, some fan projects (Counter-Strike, for example) have turned into actual commercial games. And the video game industry is increasingly touting the idea of user-generated content to market certain games. But the message inherent in Square Enix's slap at its adoring, hardcore fans is of an entirely different nature. Stuart writes:
Think of the marketing benefits of embracing this passion, of inviting the creators to port the project over to the DS or on to WiiWare. It would be a radical departure from standard tactics but it would surely be more useful and forward-thinking than kicking the lawyers into action. How about a new mantra: embrace and assist?
Two more video game publishers have pulled their Japanese employees out of the upcoming E3 Expo in Los Angeles due to concerns over swine flu.
Develop reports that Square Enix and Koei join Capcom in withholding Japanese employees from the highly-anticipated show:
Square Enix has cancelled plans for its Kingdom Hearts team to attend the show, whilst Koei has confirmed that an unspecified number of its Japanese employees will not be travelling to the event...
However, like Capcom, both publishers will be represented at E3 by U.S. and European staffers. According to Develop, neither Sony nor Nintendo plan to withhold employees due to swine flu.
AFP reported this morning that there are 281 confirmed cases in Japan, although most are mild. There have been no deaths attributed to the virus in Japan so far and Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso urged the public to be calm.
With Japanese game publishers losing market share to their Western counterparts, Kotaku reports that Square Enix chief Yoichi Wada has put forth the idea of a "Japan alliance".
From the report:
To remain competitive, Wada says, "Therefore, we should consider some sort of 'Japan Alliance'." More medium to small-sized companies will need to realign — case in point, Tecmo and Koei. "Individuality is important," Wada adds. "It's not forcing everything into a single corporate brand. The ideal is a holding company under which several companies and brands can hang."