People Only Fail Upwards at Square Enix
The above statement is a sentiment regarding Yoichi Wada that is in ready supply on the internet, but one which is also inaccurate, if ever so marginally. More accurate to say that the man has failed sideways and [possibly] ever so slightly downward, or at least that is one’s best guess at interpreting Square Enix’s [seemingly deliberately vague] corporate descriptions. It is actually very difficult to definitively put an answer to whether or not Wada now holds more or less seniority than he did previously.
When Yoichi Wada was initially stripped of his presidency in the wake of some abysmally poor performance on the part of Square Enix, it was subsequently promised that he would not be re-appointed to the board of directors – but then a lot of things were promised in the wake of that announcement, not least of which was the company’s return to a focus on core gaming; and everyone and their mother knows how that particular pledge turned out. This week it has come to light that Yoichi Wada has been appointed as chairman of the board of directors for SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD.; making his replacement, Yosuke Matsuda, directly answerable to him in the running of the company. This has led to many news sources reporting on this as a demotion which is really a promotion, but that is not necessarily the case.
Yoichi Wada has been named as chairman of the board of SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD., but Yosuke Matsuda is the president of SQUARE ENIX HOLDINGS CO., LTD. This seems to indicate that Matsuda is responsible for the day-to-day running of Square Enix’s entire media empire, while Wada is responsible for setting the strategy for one portion thereof. In all likelihood this probably just means that Wada has been given dominion over Square Enix’s in-house gaming division, though it is anyone’s guess as to whether this also includes Eidos and Taito. At any rate, it is very difficult to pinpoint Wada’s seniority, as he is square Enix’s only listed corporate officer to hold the title of chairman of the board – thus it is neigh-on impossible to discern whether any of his fellows hold equal or greater seniority within the company.
In other Square Enix news for the week, Naoki Yoshida, producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV, stated that there really was not much use in developing HD games at this juncture:
“Sales on the current HD game consoles aren’t even that good. Especially looking at the Japanese market, honestly there is no business merit to making HD games now.”
Lucky then that Square Enix has not squandered the last couple of years developing a next generation console engine and having Visual Works render assets for it!
Australia, You Had One Job…
Australia, long the butt of the civilised gaming world for its archaic and arcane video game ratings system, was thought to have come of age with the introduction of an R18+ classification, yet the evidence continues to mount that Australia’s bungling and incompetant ALP government has` managed to get this legislation terribly wrong. Gamers first knew something was amiss when earlier in the year Atelier Totori Plus for the Vita received an R18+ rating for sexual violence, despite the fact that the earlier PS3 release of the same game resulted in a child-appropriate PG rating. This week not one, but two games were refused classification for release in Australia – making them illegal to sell.
The first title was the XBL zombie survival title, State of Decay, for using narcotics as medication [heaven forefend!], while the latter title was the high profile Saints Row IV for “interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context” [‘won’t somebody think of the children?!’]. One is quite uncertain as to what ‘justified sexual violence’ might look like, though it seems likely that it is the sort of sexual violence which occurs exclusively to men. The ‘sexual violence’ which the Australian Classification Board references in this instance entailed a large, purple dildo weapon which the protagonist may insert into an enemy’s backside and discharge in order to fire them into the air – surely that hilarity is all the context that such amusing diversions require?
At any rate, it is thoroughly unsurprising that any censorship legislation drawn up by the gender-obsessed former Gillard-government would prove itself to be utterly incompatible with any form of entertainment which does not happen to be as sexless as Julia Gillard herself. This is but one small drop in an ocean of bad policy that the nation will struggle to slowly unwind over the coming years and decades. That is the unhappy Gillard legacy.
The Last Gasps of Atlus?
This week the venerated JRPG development team of Atlus look to be making one final roll of the dice for survival after their parent company, Index Holdings, filed for bankruptcy. Index has made it clear that they see Atlus as a viable concern, and as such are looking for a buyer – yet this task has been made exponentially more difficult by Index’s relatively recent decision to roll the entity of Atlus into the operations of Index Digital Media, Inc. This means that Atlus is no longer a readily purchasable discreet development house, but rather a brand-name within a larger development ecosystem – making Atlus a less attractive prospect to potential suitors, who may not wish to take-on Index Holdings’ large stable of mobile/social gaming developers. For instance, Nintendo and Sony, the two potential white-knight saviours most frequently invoked within forums, have little need to take on infrastructure and employees who’s proficiency lies in the production of cheap smartphone games. Perhaps the two companies for whom this purchase would create the most synergy are Gung Ho and Square Enix [owing to their respective stakes in the sphere of mobile gaming]. Of these two companies, Gung Ho is probably the more likely suitor, owing to its stronger balance sheet.
In all likelihood Atlus IP will probably end up at auction – especially if Index creditors feel that there is more money to be made from carving up the beast – and so it should be no surprise to see properties like Shin Megami Tensei and Etrian Odyssey end up being developed by other development studios. Atlus IPs going to auction certainly does not preclude a white knight like Nintendo from swooping in at the eleventh hour, snapping up Shin Megami Tensei along with the Atlus brand itself, and then establishing an internal studio staffed by key Atlus talent – but then there are also a good number of companies like Square Enix, Konami, and Capcom who would be quite happy to simply buy the IP, and give it to one of their own internal [most likely mobile/social] development teams to work on.
Atlus president, Naoto Hiraoka, has pledged that Shin Megami Tensei IV and Dragon’s Crown [tough luck, feminists!] will still be releasing in America on July 16 and August 6 respectively, though whether the Dragon’s Crown online multiplayer and Shin Megami Tensei IV‘s planned DLC can be supported into the future will remain to be seen.
[Breaking]: Former Silicon Knights Employee / Precursor Games Co-Founder Arrested Over Child Pornography Charges.
No, it was not Dyack – this time. Rather, it was Dennis Dyack’s protege, confidant, and close personal friend, Ken McCulloch, 42, who was discovered to be a dirty big rock spider. McCulloch was a twenty year veteran of Silicon Knights where he served as director of content [basically he has been the senior designer and co-writer for every big game that Silicon Knights has ever released; including Eternal Darkness and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain], before sloughing off the Silicon Knights brand-name in order to dodge the money owing to Epic Games. After co-founding Precursor Games McCulloch’s job description became: “Lore Keeper, World Builder, and Dream Merchant“, though those dreams quickly ran to nightmare when his studio’s first project, Shadow of the Eternals, was broadly dismissed by the gaming community, before this week being arrested by the Niagara Regional Police on counts of “Possession of Child Pornography, Making Child Pornography Available, and Accessing Child Pornography“.
Predictably, Precursor Games CEO, Paul Caporicci, was as quick to sever all ties with McCulloch as he was with Silicon Knights, immediately pulling his employee profile and denying any remaining connections that McCulloch may have had to Shadow of the Eternals:
“Having just learned of these disturbing charges today and based on the serious nature of them, Ken McCulloch is no longer affiliated in any way with Precursor Games.”
Precursor Games’ prospects of being funded by Kickstarter are now even deader than when they were forced to pull their abortive campaign. It will never get up now – time to resell their assets to themselves? At any rate, Pedophiles usually operate within networks, so if only the Canadian police knew of a like-minded assemblage of persons to help them get their investigation rolling. Hmmmmm…