[Rumour]: Amazon In Talks With Microsoft to Purchase Xbox
About a month ago a rumour started circulating that Microsoft were looking to sell their Xbox division. Lusipurr.com did not report on it at the time as it seemed kind of insubstantial, and sounded more like the wishful thinking of someone who was out to enact a little intentional mischief and misdirection. This author’s natural bias is that Microsoft’s selling of the Xbox division does not sound plausible, even despite the recent agitation of Microsoft investors for the company to sell-off Xbox and focus on their core business. Nonetheless, the rumour has firmed up substantially this week, with NeoGAF industry insider, Pete Dodd [Famousmortimer], revealing that the industry rumour-mill places Microsoft as currently being in talks with Amazon over the potential sale of the Xbox brand.
“Two things. Titanfall launch show with @geoffkeighley. Have you announced that yet? Also, xbox bought by Amazon? Bookmark this.
The latter isn’t even close to done. If it gets finished at all. But, that’s the scuttlebutt. Do with it what you may.
@muleyman79 @geoffkeighley It’s reality. Has been since before the xbox one launch show.
@muleyman79 @geoffkeighley The show that is. Microsoft is looking to dump xbox. Amazon is looking for gaming assets. Talks have started.
It seems I’m at the point where I can’t pass on a fun rumor /w out it becoming something far more serious. My bad. Carry on. It’s a rumor.”
It would seem that as far as rumours go this one is not absolutely rock solid, a fact that Doodd himself readily admits. It is also the case that the rumour, assuming it is true, does not mention precisely how serious either party is – as these kind of talks likely occur all the time in the business world. That said, it also makes a certain kind of sense. Microsoft has a new CEO, shareholders are agitating for the Xbox brand to be sold, and Amazon has been making some substantial investments in gaming, most recently with the purchase of Double Helix Games, the developers of Xbone exclusive, Killer Instinct. Moreover, while the Xbone certainly has more momentum than the poor old Wii U, it is nonetheless being blitzed by Sony’s PS4. The PS4 outsold the Xbone by a margin of 2:1 throughout the month of January, and last week had two games within the top ten of world wide software sales while the other eighth generation consoles failed to make an appearance. One of those games, Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition placed in the number two position, and managed to sell 140,000 units, which is almost two thirds greater than sales of the inferior Xbone version of the game.
Thus, it makes a certain kind of sense that Microsoft may be looking to cash-out of the video game business, since this clearly does not look to be their generation. Initially the potential of this rumour came as welcome news, as Amazon seems to be a substantially less evil corporation than Microsoft, yet further consideration of the implications sees it actually become a little frighting. As the largest global internet retailer, Amazon’s influence over the consumption of video gaming products is substantial. They are free to determine which products they carry, the quantities of product in stock, and the visibility of said products. Not only could Amazon tangibly stunt the sales potential of the PS4, but, as an absolutely integral arm of the gaming supply chain infrastructure, the influence they would wield over publishers could be truly terrifying. Microsoft could not enforce a policy of technical platform parity with the PS4, but Amazon might be able to.
Comically evil developer, King, has been in the news a lot of late, mostly to do with their shameless abuse of trademark law. King, the developer of the Candy Crush Saga, has this year managed to successfully trademark the words “Candy” and “Saga” as they relate to games, and immediately set about cancelling the trademarks of any games featuring either of these words, most prominently The Banner Saga. This week the Candy Crush Saga saga took a turn for the shameful when they cancelled the trademark of CandySwipe, the 2010 game that King copied in order to make their 2012 breakout hit, Candy Crush. Like the true villains they are, King accomplished this by purchasing the trademark to an older and wholly unrelated game, Candy Crusher, in order to have CandySwipe‘s trademark cancelled. In response, CandySwipe‘s independent developer, the aptly named Albert Ransom, has penned an open letter to King, in which he goes into quite a bit of detail about the upsetting affair.
“I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.”
Since the explosion of mobile gaming the question on many people’s minds has been whether or not it is actually possible for a developer to be shittier than Zynga. Congratulations, king, this week you have answered that question in the affirmative. As gamers we are used to seeing corporations behaving like dicks to one another, yet it is quite rare to see a big corporation completely obliterate an individual’s livelihood in quite the same way as the vultures of the smartphone scene. Perhaps it is the infancy of the platform, or perhaps it is the poorly regulated copy-cat nature of the smartphone development scene – but regardless, smartphone development truly embodies the worst of human and corporate culture.
This week Square Enix’s shinji Hashimoto expressed the opinion that “Final Fantasy has always offered a fantasy experience that surpasses the previous installment“, which is why this week’s release of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII is the most definitive Final Fantasy yet – a fact that is reflected in the game’s glowing metarating of 66/100. There has been much in the way of praise for the game’s refinement of the battle system, yet regret at the fact that the game features an insufficient degree of enemy variety – and then there is the game’s story! The game’s director, Motomu Toriyama, describes the conclusion to Lightning’s character arc thusly:
“Lightning has been depicted as an emotionally strong and cool soldier-type character who stands up to adversity. In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning served as a sublime character with near godlike powers. With this final chapter in Lightning’s saga, players will not only be able to see her toughness and attractiveness, but also see Lightning’s feminine side and experience her character from an everyday perspective, which has never been disclosed before.”
Quite how Toriyama is able to read all of this into the one-note Lightning’s character is anyone’s guess, though perhaps he is wont to confuse the momentary glow of his post-masturbatory Lightning fetish as genuine character depth. At any rate, while some might regard the ending of this series with sorrow, for many others it comes as a huge relief that the sub-series that undermined their faith in the Final Fantasy brand is finally coming to an end. Worry not though, Final Fantasy XIII fans, as even after all the time squandered on the development of this series, Toriyama still seems unwilling to retire the character of Lightning.
“For Lightning, her story ends here in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, as this game is meant as a finale to this series. But we know that Lightning is an extremely popular character, even when compared to other Final Fantasy characters.
So there is a possibility that Lightning would appear in other future Final Fantasy titles, not as a protagonist, but as a guest character.”
So apparently the character of Lightning is uber popular, despite the series’ critical lambasting, vocal detractors, and dwindling sales. One sincerely hopes that Motomu Toriyama is never placed in control of the series again, as Final Fantasy is unlikely to survive another dark period like the present. It is as though due to some completely incomprehensible reason Toriyama has become the George Lucas of Square Enix and nobody is willing to tell him ‘no’.