News: Prease Understand

Satoru Iwata Pre-E3 Conference
“Prease understand.” ~ Satoru Iwata

Nintendo Is Amazing

At the beginning of 2013 there was much disquiet among Nintendo investors after Satoru Iwata revealed that selling the Wii U at a loss [and then piling an additional price cut on top of that] would see Nintendo post its first annual loss in recent memory. Iwata managed to stave off a degree of the recriminations by stating that the loss would be a necessary once-off occurrence, and that the company’s results for the year ending March 2014 would see a return to profitability. Nintendo then released a set of massively courageous business projections for the year ahead, which looked to have been arrived at for no other reason than the fact that Iwata had promised profitability. Iwata promised that the Wii U would sell nine million units of hardware at a time when the console’s sales had already stalled, and Iwata must have known full-well that the company had very little in the way of must-have software planned for release in the year ahead. By contrast, Sony, with all the run-away success of the Playstation 4, would be doing very well to sell nine million units of hardware over the coming year, so it boggles the mind that Nintendo were possessed of so much arrogance as to think that their floundering console could exceed this target.

This week Nintendo has finally had to come clean about their end of year prospects, and it has surprised absolutely no one that their outlook, by necessity, has become decidedly less rosy. Nintendo has revised predicted Wii U sales down from nine million to 2.8 million units, and 3DS sales down from eighteen million to 13.5 million units. Wii U software sales has also been revised down from thirty-eight million units to eighteen million, and 3DS software sales have been revised down from eighty million units to sixty-six million. These deteriorating figures have meant that instead of posting a predicted profit of fifty-five billion Yen, Nintendo are instead predicting a loss of twenty-five billion Yen – much to the chagrin of Nintendo’s investors, who promptly dumped their stock. Nintendo’s share price has fallen from a monthly high of 16,080 points on the tenth of the month, to 14,645 points today. It must be slightly alarming for Nintendo to see that 3DS sales have actually slackened since last years sales of 13.95 million, especially since they will no doubt be expecting 3DS sales to compensate for the performance of the Wii U.

"Tomb Raider" SLIDER
Lara ventures forth in search of Square Enix’s lost profitability.

Tomb Raider Finally Profitable for Square Enix

To continue the theme of outrageous sales projections, Tomb Raider producer, Scott Amos, has revealed that by the end of 2013 the game has finally become profitable for Square Enix. Off the back of an extraordinary loss at the end of the previous year [which saw the demise of former Square Enix president, Yoichi Wada], Square Enix had predicted extraordinary sales for Tomb Raider, not because they were in any way likely, but because that was what Square Enix needed to repair their balance sheet. Square Enix predicted that Tomb Raider would sell between five and six million copies within its first four weeks of release, so when the game only ended up selling a paltry 3.4 million copies it was loudly proclaimed as a failure by Square Enix [while privately immediately commissioning a sequel along with next-gen versions].

One cannot tell for certain whether Tomb Raider was genuinely unprofitable or whether Square Enix were simply using it as a scapegoat in order to let their Japanese developers off the hook for punching a hole in the company’s finances, but at any rate Square Enix obviously feel comfortable reversing their view on Tomb Raider‘s profitability. This no doubt comes as a relief for Crystal Dynamics ahead of next week’s release of the scandalously full-priced Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition on the PS4 and Xbone – as the exorbitant asking price is likely purely profit.

Xbox One PlayStation 4 Size Comparison
This little package features an additional ARM CPU and 2GB of DDR3 RAM.

PS4 Teardown Reveals Secret Sauce

This last story is not exactly new at this point, as the author of this article has been terribly remiss in not checking out any of the PS4 teardowns until now – partly due to the fact that the system’s main components were already a known quantity at release, and partly due to the fact that they are dreadfully dull affairs. Nonetheless, while perusing Xbone teardowns have been mostly fruitless grounds for news gathering, PS4 teardowns on the other hand have yielded a couple of very interesting tidbits of information. As it turns out, in addition to the PS4’s 1.84TF AMD GPU, eight core CPU, and 8GB of fast GDDR5 RAM, the system also contains a low power ARM Cortex-M3 CPU and 2GB of DDR3 RAM.

The Wii U similarly features a low power ARM CPU which it uses to run the operating system so that developers do not need to share the CPU cycles of the main processor with OS overhead. It is possible that the additional CPU and RAM are used to run the PS4’s operating system, yet the PS4 operating system is so fully-featured that one is not entirely certain that an ARM CPU would be sufficient to run it smoothly. It is also possible that these additional components are intended to facilitate some very specific functions of the hardware, for instance powering the Playstation Eye or assisting in streaming video to the Vita. Whatever the case, these components have been included to lighten the load placed on the PS4’s main processors – and that is good news for PS4 owners.

9 comments

  1. I can’t imagine what kind of magic Nintendo was expecting when it came up with those projections. It would not be a shock if it came to light that those projections were put out there to avoid a massive crash in stock price, but I would imagine Japan has regulations preventing companies from knowingly doing that (not that those regulations are perfect in the US or the UK).

    As for the secondary processor and RAM for the PS4, any of those uses seems plausible. A quick search shows that it is commonly used for low-level tasks (perhaps OS functions while in a game). The DDR3 RAM would be better suited for the OS functions as well.

  2. There has been an update in which Iwata has promised that:
    1) Nintendo is not leaving the console business;
    2) Nintendo is pouring huge quantities of money into hardware R&D; and,
    3) There will be some suprises for Nintendo fans and gamers soon.

    I look forward to next year’s release of the Super Wii U.

  3. Then they will go retro and release the Wii U 2600.

  4. OK. I got one. I got one. The Wiimcast! …FUCK! I forgot to include the U!

  5. “I HAVE A DREAMCAST!”
    – Martin Luther King Jr.

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