Nintendo Was Not Fucking Joking When They Said E3 Would Be All about Zelda
Last week Nintendo of Japan tweeted:
“The new Legend of #Zelda will be the focus of #E3 2016. It will launch simultaneously on both Wii U and NX in 2017.”
They were certainly not kidding about this. Over the previous few years one has tended to think of Nintendo’s annual June Nintendo Direct stream as an abject cop out, seeing as it is intended in lieu of an actual E3 conference. However lame or cheap Nintendo’s prior Direct streams may have been though, they do not even come close to what Nintendo has planned for E3 2016. This week Nintendo has released their E3 plans, and for E3 2016 Nintendo do not plan to hold any conference at all – not even a pathetic Nintendo Direct streaming conference. Instead Nintendo will have their new Zelda game playable on Wii U in their E3 booth – indeed it will be the only game that is playable in their E3 booth. Other than this, the subversive degenerates at Nintendo Treehouse will be hosting an all-day livestream of the Zelda title. Suddenly all the rumours about Nintendo gender-swapping Link are starting to make sense, as the last thing that Nintendo would want to happen on air is for one of these snowflakes to start freaking out because they have been triggered by the male gaze of a cisnormative gross pissbaby fuckboy Link!
Nintendo’s weak-ass reasoning for this move is because they want the press to spend some time with the game [like that would not have happened anyway] on account of the drastic changes that have been made to the Legend of Zelda gameplay mechanics:
“will be a clean break from the conventions of previous games, removing boundaries that forced players to follow a set patch and introducing new gameplay that has not been experienced in previous games in the series.”
The charitable way to interpret this would be that the game is open and non-linear just like A Link to the Past, whereas an uncharitable way to interpret this is that the game is open and non-linear just like whatever game Ubisoft last released. Whatever the case, this E3 strategy seems to be based more on miserly cost cutting than on actual, well, strategy. It is a dangerous game that Nintendo is playing however, as not only will they be going the entire year with essentially no presence whatsoever at retail, but they will have also voluntarily benched themselves for E3 in the year leading up to the launch of their NX console. It is like Nintendo has absolutely no concept of what mindshare is, nor the role that it plays in the consumption of consumer goods. At this point it is looking increasingly unlikely that there will be any further Nintendo consoles after NX. Even if the big N’s executives want to continue chasing casual gaming butterflies, it is unlikely that the board of directors will allow them to continue to pour good money down the sinkhole that is Nintendo’s home console business.
Atlus Throws down the Gauntlet to Square Enix with Persona 5 Release Date
For years now Japanese gamers have, with a few notable exceptions, consistently placed Persona 5 ahead of Final Fantasy XV in terms of their interest and purchase-intent. Eventually, when it became clear that Final Fantasy XV was all but complete, people began to speculate that Square Enix was holding back on announcing a release date because they were nervous about putting Final Fantasy XV up against Persona 5 in their domestic market. This suspicion was later confirmed by a Square Enix survey which sought to ascertain whether their fans were also interested in Persona 5, and whether those fans would purchase Persona 5 ahead of Final Fantasy XV. Given the way Famitsu polling has tended to go, Square Enix were likely not reassured by the findings of that survey – though there is no real way for us to definitively know short of Square Enix releasing that information to the public. At any rate, unfortunately for Square Enix they played the waiting game, but Atlus played it better. Square Enix eventually had to announce Final Fantasy XV‘s release date for September 30, and mere weeks later Atlus has announced Persona 5‘s release date for September 15 – a mere two weeks before the release of Final Fantasy XV.
This is simultaneously a masterstroke for Atlus, and absolutely terrible for Square Enix. Atlus will capture most of Japan’s hardcore JRPG crowd, and then two weeks later their game stands to be a beneficiary of Square Enix’s Final Fantasy XV marketing blitz, as casual consumers who buy a new PS4 in order to play Final Fantasy XV may also be tempted to pick up another new release game to have something else to play on their new machine. Meanwhile, many hardcore gamers will not be finished with Persona 5 by the time that Final Fantasy XV releases, and so they may defer their purchase of Final Fantasy XV. Because of the massive quantity of games that Square Enix ships to retail, their games are usually highly susceptible to rapid price drops, as stores look to shift unsold stock. This is true for the West, and it is doubly true for Japan. Japanese gamers will be able to enjoy a significant price cut to Final Fantasy XV by simply waiting four to six weeks before picking it up. This is good news for Japanese Gamers, and bad news for Square Enix.
To be clear, Final Fantasy XV will still almost certainly outsell the PS4 version of Persona 5 [the game will also be available on PS3] in Japan. Square Enix’s enormous advertising spend will see to it that the general public is far more aware of Final Fantasy than of Persona. That being said, do not expect the difference between both games to be as large as one would think. Currently there are a little over two million Japanese gamers who own a PS4, and it seems likely that those people are more interested in Persona 5 than Final Fantasy XV, so if Final Fantasy XV is to best the PS4 version of Persona 5, then it will be relying on a combination of new PS4 owners and current PS4 owners who buy both games. As for whether Final Fantasy XV will be able to outsell the combined total of both versions of Persona 5, that probably depends a lot on word of mouth. That should be concerning for Sqare Enix, as thus far their domestic audience has been somewhat divided over the game’s combat mechanics.
Yves Guillemot: Vivendi Takeover Will ‘Kill Creativity’ at Ubisoft
Throughout 2016 Vivendi has increased their stake in Ubisoft from 6% to 15%, and then just recently they upped this figure slightly to 17.73% of capital shares and 15.66% of voting shares. Contrast that to the Guillemot brothers, who between them own 10% of Ubisoft and 16% of the voting rights. Vivendi has not formally declared their hand, but the financial world is pretty much in agreement that the end goal of their actions is to continually increase their stake until they are in the position to launch a hostile takeover bid. At the same time Vivendi also sits poised to launch a hostile takeover bid against Gameloft, a sister company to Ubisoft that is similarly under the control of the Guillemot brothers. Vivendi has a 30% stake in Gameloft, and proceedings are already underway for the hostile bid to go ahead.
Guillemot is obviously furious at what is happening, yet he has little other recourse than bluff and bluster. Chief among his talking points seems to be the dire threat that any attempted hostile takeover would effectively “kill creativity” at Ubisoft, and Vivendi would just be buying an “empty shell“. Speaking at post-launch celebration event for The Division, Yves Guillemot went on to elaborate is strategy for fending off takeover bids:
“We had ups and downs on this game but we persevered. This is the kind of energy we need to show our strength, our values. It’s up to us to perform, to boost our company value and to make it harder for anyone to take us over.”
Michael Pachter has also weighed in on Guillemot’s novel approach to maintaining independence:
“If there’s a hostile takeover by Vivendi and Guillemot leaves, every person who is good at Ubisoft would be recruited by EA, Activision and Take Two.”
Everyone who is good at Ubisoft… Talk about slim pickings. Ignoring Raving Rabbids and Just Dance for the moment, Ubisoft has essentially only released one game since 2007: Assassin’s Creed. Sometimes it is set in Rome, and Sometimes it is set in France, and sometimes it is called Watch Dogs, and sometimes it is called Far Cry – but essentially since 2007 Ubisoft has only released Assassin’s Creed, and then they have re-released it, and then they have re-released that re-release ad nauseum. This being the case, Guillemot’s appeals to creativity probably is not the most winningest strategy he could have adopted. If Vivendi launched a hostile takeover and a few Ubisoft producers left for EA, then surely Vivendi would just continue the Guillemot strategy of re-releasing Assassin’s Creed. This is not rocket science. Perhaps if Ubisoft had taken more risks and made a better and more diverse product then he would still have a rhetorical leg to stand on, but Guillemot instead oversaw a strategy that has ultimately resulted in his IP being worth more than his workforce. Any developer of sufficient size can create Assassin’s Creed at this point, because it is such a well worn concept. Bioware made Assassin’s Creed and then sold it as Dragon Age: Inquisition. Guillemot’s bluster has all the deterrence force of a wet handkerchief.
Anime Spotlight: Konosuba – God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! 
Konosuba is fantastic! One day otaku shut-in Kazuma reluctantly leaves his house in order to purchase a game, and is then killed in a most humiliating fashion on his way home. Kazuma wakes to discover that he is in the afterlife, and a beautiful goddess named Aqua offers him three choices: go to Heaven, be reborn in Japan, or be sent to a parallel universe fantasy realm with his choice of mystical item. Kazuma chooses the latter option and sets about deciding upon his starting item, but when he begins taking too long Aqua starts becoming obnoxious, which in turn causes Kazuma to rashly choose Aqua as his starting item. The joke is on Kazuma however, as Aqua turns out to be completely useless. These two are then joined by Megumin [a powerful mage that can only cast one spell a day] and Darkness [a crusader who is also a hardcore degenerate with an abuse fetish]. From here the party must accept quests in order to earn money and gain EXP in order to level up.
Konosuba is hilarious and charming, with an endearingly crude sense of humour. Upon learning the thief ability, Kazuma uses it primarily to steal panties – Konosuba is that kind of show. The characters are also adorable, and are much more than the stock archetypes that one would expect to see in a series like this. Simply put, this is the best use of an MMO setting seen in an anime to date, and the relatively brief ten episode run means that Konosuba is the kind of anime series that one can watch in a single sitting. All of the episodes have been aired, and are available for streaming on Crunchyroll – watch it!