Final Fantasy Tactics Set to Return In All But Substance
It would not be inappropriate for the Lusipurr.com community to this week come together in celebration of one of Lusipurr’s favourite video game titles receiving a long awaited sequel – that is to say that the Final Fantasy Tactics series is set to return with the release of Final Fantasy Tactics S! Final Fantasy Tactics was originally released into North America in 1998, and was widely hailed by gamers and critics alike. It marked the auteur Yasumi Matsuno’s first project under Squaresoft, which he followed up with the highly acclaimed titles: Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII.
Final Fantasy Tactics S is currently being developed by Mobage, a maker of social games for mobile phones, and is set to release as a freemium title on iOS and Android. The game is said to feature both single-player and social content, though it is not yet known whether Mobage will seek to recreate some semblance of the traditional Final Fantasy Tactics gameplay formula, or simply opt to turn it into an electronic card game like most of their other titles. A Western release has not yet been confirmed, but Square Enix has never been known to hold back on releasing their quality titles to the English-speaking peoples.
In other Final Fantasy news for the week, a wide number of predominantly business-centric news sources have been reporting on some Final Fantasy Versus XIII rumours which serve to clarify some older rumours that Lusipurr.com has reported on. We had previously relayed rumours that Final Fantasy Versus XIII had been met with huge delays on account of it being transitioned into a first generation PS4 title some two years ago. Nothing has happened to change this – yet it is now being reported that the PS3 version of the game has not been cancelled, and that Square Enix plans to release both versions of the game. Thus owners of Sony’s seventh generation home console will not have to purchase new hardware in order to play this long-promised PS3 title.
Nintendo’s Fundamentals Are Fundamentally Unsound
Nintendo have released their full yearly sales report for the fiscal year ending on March 31st, 2013 – and it has been far from glowing. After posting their first financial loss in thirty years back in 2012 [to the tune of 43 billion Yen], Nintendo has this week revealed that they have returned to Net and Ordinary profitability in 2013 [presumably on the strength of the weakened Yen] – though they only achieved Net profitability to the tune of 7.09 billion yen [71.3 million dollars] when they had initially forecast an ambitious [and one might say presumptive] 20 billion Yen profit [which was lowered to 14 billion Yen earlier in the year]. Similarly, Ordinary income had been predicted to reach 35 billion Yen, was later lowered to 20 billion Yen, but ultimately ended up coming in at 10.4 billion Yen.
Despite this turn-around in their fortunes, Nintendo has still recorded an operating loss of 36 billion yen [366 million dollars], which can be defined as a loss recorded when considering only a company’s operating income verses its operating expenditures, while ignoring any interest accrued during this period [i.e. mitigating terms of trade due to Yen fluctuations] and non-liquid assets. Nintendo had initially forecast a 35 billion Yen Operating profit, before revising this figure down to a 20 billion Yen Operating loss earlier in the year, which still served to undervalue their ultimate Operating shortfall by some 16 billion Yen. Ergo Nintendo has achieved mixed but largely positive results on the financial front, yet their hardware performance tells a different story entirely.
Nintendo had previously predicted that they would sell 5.5 million units of the Wii U by the end of the financial year, yet earlier this year they revised this estimate down to 4 million. As predicted by Lusipurr.com, Nintendo’s Wii U failed to even hit this lowered mark, selling only 3.45 million units. Tellingly, the Wii U has only sold 390,000 units since Christmas. Similarly, Nintendo had initially forecast Wii U software sales of 24 million; this figure was later lowered to 16 million, yet the Wii U was ultimately only able to shift 13.42 million games.
Sales of the 3DS are a brighter mark on Nintendo’s ledger, but even they constitute something of a mixed bag. Continuing its drubbing of the PS Vita, the 3DS sold 13.95 million units of hardware and 49.61 million units of software, both of which are increases over the 3DS’ performance last year – yet this is largely based on the system’s popularity in Japan. The 3DS’ proportional percentage share of market sales in the US and Europe are also up in relation to last year, yet the actual number of hardware units sold in both territories is actually drastically down year-on-year. Moreover, the DS’ third year on the market saw sales of 23.56 million units, which is almost twice that of the 3DS. To put things into perspective: at this point in the DS’ lifecycle it had sold 45 million units of hardware, while the 3DS has only sold 31 million units of hardware. On the other hand, perhaps this is still a fairly spectacular result given that the DS did not have to contend with the smartphone gaming boom.
Nintendo still predicts that 9 million units of Wii U hardware and 18 million units of 3DS hardware will be sold over the course of the next financial year – perhaps they are mistaking hardware projections for software projections? At any rate, Nintendo had best have one hell of an E3 up their sleeve if they wish to turn around the fortunes of the Wii U! [Note: LOL!]
Iwata Becomes CEO of NoA
It seems obvious that Nintendo management [much like Square Enix] has had their collective heads in the clouds when it came to devising their dazzlingly optimistic best-case-scenario profit expectations, yet if there is one aspect of their business which is a disproportional liability to the business as a whole, it is Nintendo of America – the underperforming wing of Nintendo located in what should be their biggest market.
It is hard to imagine a console distributor cultivating a poorer start for their new machine than NoA was able to do for their Wii U. The Wii experienced much initial success with the banal casual market before casuals and their wallets fled to smartphone gaming. To this end NoA’s actions took on almost antagonistic overtones when dealing with the products coming out of their Japanese headquarters, with NoA now famously refusing to publish Nintendo games such as Fatal Frame 4, Xenoblade, The Last Story, and Pandora’s Tower – the latter three of which were already translated by NoE, and were available at a time when the Wii’s release schedule was a desolate wasteland.
Fast-forward to the launch of Nintendo’s Wii U [being marketed by NoA as a non-core casual machine], and everything that we here at Lusipurr.com said would happen as a result of the estrangement of core gamers, is now happening to the Wii U. Casual gamers have made the [seemingly permanent] switch to phones and tablets, but even if this was not the case; casuals are not early adopters of game technology – they only flock out to buy such machines when they are already viewed as a hot fad. The Wii U is not a hot fad, and the hardcore gamers who can usually be relied upon as the early adopters to underpin a new system’s launch have been in short supply for Nintendo’s new box. Without access to Apple’s vast casual market, the faux portable Wii U’s only ostensible target demographic appears to be families with young children – and even then the Wii U has to compete with Nintendo’s own 3DS, which will inevitably prove to be losing battle on account of it not being a properly portable system.
To combat Nintendo’s negative market outlook Satoru Iwata, the President and CEO of Nintendo Co., Ltd, has now been made the CEO of Nintendo of America [replacing Tatsumi Kimishima], so as to have more direct involvement with this stagnating arm of Nintendo’s empire through setting its big picture market strategy. Reggie Fils-Aime retains his role as President and COO of NoA, meaning he is still responsible for the daily running of Nintendo’s American operations, but will now be directly answerable to Iwata, who will presumably be more assertive than his predecessor.
It is unknown whether the anti-core and anti-Japanese policies previously enacted by NoA were the work of Kimishima or Fils-Aime, yet jumping on the casual fad to the exclusion of all else, while remaining doggedly blind to the reality of long-term profitability seems to be a uniquely American business attribute. Thus we can probably attribute this short-term strategy to Reggie. If that is the case, then it would seem that Iwata has been sent to reign-in Fils-Aime – an interpretation that is supported by Iwata’s recent pledge to see that more Japanese software is localised, which comes off as a thinly-veiled rebuke of previous NoA policy.
When attempting to diagnose the Wii U’s challenges at American retail, Shigeru Miyamoto has pointed to the fact that the system “doesn’t have that ‘looking-fun’ element to it“. Meanwhile Iwata has identified two key reasons that the Wii U has not been able to maintain post-launch momentum. Firstly, because of NoA’s inability to effectively communicate to consumers that the Wii U is a new console [in the loosest possible terms] rather than a mere Wii peripheral – this is problem which Lusipurr.com identified prior to launch. And secondly because of Nintendo’s own inability to provide enough in the way of strong first party launch titles to attract consumers. Iwata does not plan on cutting the Wii U’s ridiculously high price tag any time soon.