News: New Final Fantasy Tactics Announced! (J/K)

Even the characters in the game's logo look soulless and thoroughly miserable!
A true return to form!

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.

Wii U Console + U Mad
A question that should be asked of management.

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!]

Reggie Fils-Aime Apple Quote
And Reggie has made damn sure of it!

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.

16 comments

  1. FFT freemium money-leech edition. You have to buy each class. Your purchase a ‘lucky dip’, which gives you a new class at random. Prepare to spend a lot of time levelling Orators, Calculators, and Oracles.

    The latest in Squeenix’s masturbation simulators, Final Freemium Tactics’ gameplay consists of rubbing your finger up and down on the device until you win and/or cum all over your device.

  2. Maybe someday we’ll see a Ni no Kuni freemium iPad game, where it constantly tells you how to rub! “Here now, stroke it harder, m’boy!”

  3. I have a few questions. Do you know if the other Final Fantasy mobile games were farmed out? Were any of them well-received by fans, critics, and journalists? And, are they generally profitable (more specifically for Western releases)? I’ve almost always read negative criticism of these mobile-social games Square Enix put out, so I’m wondering why they’re continuing along this path; even, if I recall accurately, publicly vowing to focus *more* on them. So, is it an example of their blindness and foolishness, or am I missing something? If they’re at least profitable, I can understand even if I don’t agree.

    Shigeru Miyamoto is totally correct. The WiiU doesn’t lool fun at all.

    People have been calling it “another Gamecube.” The thing is, that system had a couple of all-time greatest Nintendo games in Metroid Prime and Wind Waker, along with a bunch of good to great ones. WiiU just has more of the same; another New Super Mario Bros., Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin, etc. will not make it a decent, memorable system years from now like the original games (Prime, Luigi’s Mansion, Pikmin) or previously established series’ games (Super Smash Bro’s, Zelda, and Mario Sunshine to an extent) who had significantly noticable differences and/or improvements over N64 did for the Gamecube. I think it’s only real market now could be children who, lacking our strong memory of the previous iterations of games, may therefore be more excitable for what I’ve written off as “more of the same.” There’s nothing wrong with that for kids, they deserve a Nintendo system for their developming senses as much as we did, but it doesn’t seem sustainable in the long run.

  4. @Matt: It’s still is early yet for the WiiU, but you’re correct for noting that it can’t be called exactly a Gamecube analogue. Nintendo knew what they were doing with the Gamecube. They’re still figuring it out with the WiiU. I’d say there’s plenty of time for games as good as those peppered on the Gamecube’s lifespan to appear for the WiiU.

    And personally my only detachment from the WiiU is the lack of software. I think the concept of the WiiU looks great. There’s just no proof of that concept.

  5. @Mel: What would you like to see as a great game for WiiU? For me (and sorry for saying it for like the fourth time) it would be Star Fox, Metroid, and even F-Zero now that I think of it, because I think those games have the most appropriate source material and likelihood for Nintendo to do something which really utilizes the possibilities of the handheld second screen to create a unique, new experience. “The ball’s in their court” ’til that happens.

  6. Well, I have plenty of pipedreams I’d love to see happen. The older style Resident Evil games could be adapted quite nicely. The inventory could be handled on the gamepad while the action persists unpaused. (That would actually make those games much more difficult) You could also read the memos and notes you find on the gamepad, like you’re actually holding them. And it doesn’t have to be RE, it could be a new survival horror property. Maybe whatever Shinji Mikami is working on now.

    I also think there are great possibilities for strategy games, SRPGs like Fire Emblem or things similar to the PS3’s Valkyria Chronicles. I’m personally not too interested in remote play, I’d like instead to see the TV and gamepad working together in a clever way.

  7. That sounds interesting, Mel. There might be some potential, if there were designers who wanted to take creative risks, to take genres like RPGs in new direction. The WiiU is obviously not for pushing the graphical boundaries at all, but we’re sharing a small hope that it may be useful for doing things differently with the current level of technology (since it’s not a next-gen system). The remote play is also a non-issue for me, but just because I have no need for it doesn’t mean others shouldn’t.

    Most of the evidence so far points to it being a big joke and lame mistake, though. Nintendo are trying (not too hard) to fill it with some software that could have been on Wii. I don’t believe they have any more magical aces up their sleeves than Square Enix does. But then again, I sort of wrote them both off long ago, and they have done good stuff since then. For instance, I thought N wasn’t gonna make a good game again after Twilight Princess sucked: “it’s all downhill.” But later I bought a Wii for Super Mario Galaxy, and it was worth it. And hey, I thought Sega was never gonna make a good game again for a lot longer, yet somehow… Valkyria Chronicles happened.

    For some reason I think the cycles of Nintendo’s games being good don’t always match up well on every system. Like, Mario was great on N64 and Wii, lukewarm on Gamecube and probably won’t evolve well on WiiU. So this may be a good console for lesser-utilized properties (in my most hopeful dreams).

    I’d start the process of having one iota of real, not imaginary interest in it if they would produce just one great, unique, fun game on it. Not a bunch of decent filler. The complication arises from how little third party support they have making it a non-viable console. Great consoles have a lot of crap filler games, yet Nintendo has to take on the largest burden of putting those out themselves than for any of their previous consoles. I mean, that’s why we remember such great Nintendo made games from NES and SNES, because they could focus more of their energies on making great games.

    Lastly, I want to see for the WiiU: Square Enix try a new Crystal Chronicles or like a Seiken Densetsu, and Sega a Toe Jam and Earl.

  8. I think part of what will keep the Wii U down is the Gamepad. Yes, it is able to be used in interesting ways, but Nintendo has a habit of forcing developers to use its gimmicks. The DS sorely lacked decent games for a long time because nearly every game had touch-only controls. The GameCube did not have to deal with a gimmicky style of controls (although its controller was close to a gimmick). Many of the early Wii U games have Gamepad features that are generic and forced into the game for the sake of the gimmick.

  9. @James: That is a big part of it, no doubt.

    @Both: Nintendo’s systems tend to ask more creatively of the developer for their product to be a success. This, from what I can see, leads the Nintendo home console platforms to have fewer releases but the big successes tend to be among the best games ever made. Unfortunately, since Nintendo is the one designing this creative challenge, it tends to fall on them to exemplify their hardware. And in most cases the third parties never quite get the console to perform as well as the folks at Nintendo who made it.

    I believe Miyamoto said that specific ideas they have for games can heavily influence how they design their consoles. This kind of leaves third parties at a distinct disadvantage when designing a game on the console that Mario and Zelda titles will also appear on.

  10. @Matt – Dear God if a Starfox game came out for Wii U I may have to blow the dust off my fanboy card and go out to buy one.

    With regards to the Gamepad, I also don’t think it helps that the Wii U almost seems to support too many controller, each with their own feel and features. It was one thing when the Playstation moved from its standard controller to the dual shock- it’s entirely something else to have a system use a Wii Remote (plus), the more “traditional” pro controller, AND a Gamepad with a screen. I imagine the prospect of that alone creates a nightmare for the in-house developers, let alone third parties.

  11. Don’t speak too soon, Timothy. I’ll bet that any Starfox game released on Wii U would control almost exclusively by gamepad gyroscope!

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