Microsoft Concedes Continental Europe, Axes TV, TV, TV!
This week Microsoft unveiled their final solution to the European problem, a grand purge which ostensibly seems to have been brought on through their April 2014 acquisition of Nokia, but which has nonetheless swept up Xbox’s European endeavours in the maelstrom. Over the course of the next twelve months 18,000 employees across Microsoft will be let go, of which 12,500 will be from the Nokia side of the business. Obviously the Nokia redundancies still leave 5,500 positions which must be accounted for elsewhere throughout Microsoft’s operations, and it appears that brand Xbox has not gone unscathed. Microsoft will reduce the staff of Xbox EMEA [Europe, the Middle East and Africa] by seventy-five percent, with employees having to re-apply for the remaining twenty-five percent of position available. Xbox UK is also set to lose ten percent of its workforce along with all contract positions, though this might be perfectly natural following the launch of a console.
The most significant item on this list is obviously the butchering of EMEA, which is understood to comprise marketing and localisation efforts for the regions referenced in the title. It is specifically telling on account of the fact that the Xbone will not have launched in most of these regions until September of 2014, delivering the clear message that Microsoft is already resigned to the fact that these territories will be heavily Sony-dominated, and so no longer views competing with the PS4 in these markets as a priority. Microsoft essentially gives up. What this means is that the Xbone’s September launch will likely be a much more muted affair than it otherwise might have been, and Microsoft published games may experience a longer delay when launching in these so-called tier-2 countries. Also, the Xbone’s television integration features will likely never be fully compatible with broadcasters outside of the Americas and the UK.
“We eliminated a number of EMEA roles in the UK to gain efficiencies. We remain very committed to the market and will continue to support our local development teams. We believe that the UK has exceptional games industry talent and we’ll continue to focus on game creation in the through Microsoft Studios like Rare, Lionhead Studios, Lift London and Soho Productions. Also, Europe continues to be an important market for Xbox, and we’re excited to launch Xbox One to fans in 13 mainland European markets in September.”
Another victim of Microsoft’s job cuts has been TV, TV, TV – which is to say that Xbox Entertainment Studios, a television production studio with a staff of over two-hundred that was to serve as the crux of Microsoft’s initial strategy of appealing to TV watchers, is now set to be shuttered. Microsoft’s initial strategy for the Xbone was to make it centerpiece of an owner’s entertainment set-up, and a large part of that entailed producing original television programming that was exclusive to the Xbox One platform. It appears that Microsoft radically overestimated the popularity of the Xbox One, as a third-place console with 4.8 million owners is presumably insufficient to sustain a fully operational television studio. Thus we have yet another spectacular backflip on the part of Microsoft, where the platform that was to be all about original programming opts to cut it entirely. Xboners may at least content themselves in the knowledge that television series based on Halo and Quantum Break, along with Microsoft’s ET documentary, will still see the light of day.
Square Enix C&Ds the Final Fantasy Type-0 Translation Patch – Only a Month Too Late
Bad news for anyone who has not yet got their hands on the Final Fantasy Type-0 English translation patch, because on July 18 Square Enix lawyers delivered a C&D to Sky’s RomHacking Nest, which totally had the effect of removing a highly anticipated patch that had only been released a full month ago from every corner of the internet. The Patch [and indeed pre-patched ISO] is in no way available right now from the Pirate Bay, Torrent Reactor, or any other P2P torrent vendor, as precisely nobody thought to upload it! The bastion of top-shelf journalism known as Gameranx gave the fan patch a fitting enough eulogy via the article ‘Final Fantasy Type-0 Fan Localization Patch Canceled’, as penned by master wordsmith Ian Miles Cheong:
“ Square Enix has issued a cease and desist order of a fan translation patch for Final Fantasy Type-0. Originally created by fans for the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation Vita versions of the game, the patch has since been removed from the internet due to legal threats by the publishing company.
The fan translation patch, which was in development at Operation Doomtrain, was set to localize Final Fantasy Type-0. The game is currently only available to Japanese audiences. Until the cease and desist notification, it was set to release on August 8.
Despite the cessation of the fan-made localization of Final Fantasy Type-0, western audiences will still be able to play the game when it is released in the future for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The game doesn’t have a release date yet, but Square Enix has confirmed that the game will be out as an HD remaster for the new-gen consoles.”
Cheong is quite right to point out that the project is done for, as, as everybody well knows, once a file is eliminated at its point of origin it is gone from the internet forever. Moreover, apparently the Square Enix C&D was so incredibly potent that it had the net effect of retroactively delaying the patch’s release from the original June 9 until August 8 – effectively removing the patched game from many a hacked PSP! Sad times!
Bamco To Shut Down Tales of Phantasia
Originally released to the Super Famicom in 1995, the initial release of Tales of Phantasia remains one of the more palatable entries in the Tales series. The number of platforms upon which the game has subsequently been released on over the years would be impressive even for a Final Fantasy title, yet despite this the game has only ever seen release on two occasions in the West – a slightly mangled version for the GBA and a very mangled version for iOS. The iOS version was released a mere six months ago as a free-to-play game with with an onerous focus on in-app purchases, yet despite its tender age it was announced this week that the title [and all associated services] would be pulled from iTunes at the end of August. This August. This is a problem for anyone who has invested significant amounts of money into in-app purchases, because Tales of Phantasia on iOS does not allow players to save their games unless they have an active internet connection [think Sim City].
“We regret to inform you that we will cease distribution of this app on 08/28/2014 (Thursday).
On this date, the app and all associated services will become unusable. This includes In-App Purchase items already purchased and save data.
Furthermore, sale of In-App Purchase items will conclude on 07/29/2014 (Tuesday).
We apologize sincerely to all of our customers for this inconvenience, and hope you continue to enjoy our products and services in the future.”
Essentially Namco Bandai have crippled the original game in service to their free-to-play model, with some inventory items costing as much as $6.99, and then when their six month old game flopped they have opted to throw the customers who actually bought into it under the bus. As a free-to-play game on a smartphone platform this iteration of Tales of Phantasia obviously has limited direct relevance to Lusipurr.com, yet its indirect implications still bare thought. This is the direction that the entire industry is pushing towards, a direction which would see gaming becoming a service industry, and savefiles becoming useless once a developer pulls support. Games used to be a permanent investment, yet the very purveyors of the medium would see them become disposable fancies which are given a one season run, or two if they are lucky. One would not want to become too invested in any one title, as it is likely to be pulled the moment it stops making money. This Tales of Phantasia debacle is precisely what the entire industry will look like if the EAs of the world are able to get their way.