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Currents Top Ten I PSP Sells Short of Expectations I Nintendo Store to Open in New York City I Video Game Study Shows Expanding Market I SCi's Eidos Offer Gets Back-Up I Untold Legends Sells Lots I Sony Patents New Technology I Konami Finalizes Hudson Absorption I Stock Ticker I Currents Close-Up Poll
CURRENTS
Issue #3 Nightingale April 13, 2005


Front Page

I made the mistake last week, like several of my co-workers here at the site, of buying Lumines. I had heard of the soul-sucking, life-wasting addictive power that the game possessed, but nothing could prepare me for the actual experience. This plus a suddenly heavy school load contributed to the tardiness of this column, and for that I apologize. Better late than never though, right? Anyway, Philip Bloom's Editorials update was also a tad late, so I feel a little better knowing I'm not alone in the world. Plus, it gave us all some more time to soak in all those editorials. As a result, the frustration I felt from getting royally dismantled time and time again in FFIX by a boss I thought was pointless has been retroactively alleviated to some extent. Good show.

Some of you may be wondering about the significance of this week's title, Nightingale. Others, however, may not be wondering, and that's ok, but I hope you trip and fall into a tarpit this week. Regardless, Nightingale, or Luscinia megarhynchos, is described by Dictionary.com as "a European songbird with reddish-brown plumage, noted for the melodious song of the male at night during the breeding season." But Nightingale is also simply my favorite word in the English language. It's just so pretty and flowy. I think I'll name my daughter that and we can all call her Nighty; yeah, that should keep the bullies off of her. So, I'm testing the name out on this column first. If I come back later in the week and see a black eye on this issue, some words are going to be said. That, and I'll probably have to think of a new bird-related name for my children. Peacock, perhaps? You be the judge.

Anyway, non-joking aside, this week's Currents goodie bag is bigger than ever with bits about Sony PSP sales, Nintendo shops, a game industry study, an Eidos buyout update, new patents, and a lot more that I don't want to give away just yet. Oh, and don't forget to vote in the Close-Up poll towards the bottom. The next Close-Up feature will be about whomever you choose. So get going, on with the show.



 Currents Top Ten

Once again, I come to you with a handful of game market information different from what I had intended to have. I'm still unable to track down an accurate weekly RPG sales chart, and my hope of ever doing so is dwindling. In situations such as these, it's best to make do with what you have, so that's what I'm doing

It looks like for the foreseeable future, the Currents Top Ten list will be comprised of weekly rental statistics, rather than sales. What's worse is that it includes (and in this case of this week, is entirely made up of) non-RPGs. I feel like I'm committing some sort of injustice when I report on non-RPG news. I suppose, though, that this column is less bound to having to report on RPG news than the rest of the site is, so it's if going to happen anywhere, it should be here. Who knows, maybe you'll love it. If not, let me know, and I'll nix it until a more appropriate list can be tracked down. At least this gives you some idea of how games are fairing in the U.S. market, though. In my opinion, that's better than nothing.


Position Title Publisher Platform
1 Doom 3 Activision
2 Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Ubi Soft
3 Dragon Ball Z: Sagas Atari
4 God of War Sony Computer Entertainment
5 Gran Turismo 4 Sony Computer Entertainment
6 Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory Ubi Soft
7 Close Combat: First to Fight 2K Games
8 MX vs. ATV Unleashed THQ
9 Star Wars: Republic Commando LucasArts
10 Fight Night Round 2 Electronic Arts


Source: GameSpy



 PSP Sells Short of Expectations

PSP

The first-week sales results of Sony's new PSP handheld are in. The system sold just over 602,000 units out of an initial batch of 1 million in the first week. Over 500,000 of those sales were made within the first 48 hours of the PSP's release. These numbers net Sony approxiamately $150 million in first-week PSP sales. Though it sounds as though the handheld did well, market analysts are calling this a good performance, but not as great as what had been expected. Optimistic, Sony said that the numbers were enough to "further validate PSP as the most anticipated product of 2005 and an industry-altering force."

When comparing U.S. PSP sales to those of Japan, it seems that Sony's statement applies more toward the U.S. market. It took Japan three weeks to reach the 500,000 sales mark that the U.S. reached within two days. Furthermore, Forbes online reported that Banc of America is expecting video game sales in March 2005 to jump by 16 percent, thanks in part to the PSP. Banc of America said in a statement, "As sales of the PSP gain momentum and mass-market adoption rates increase, we expect software sales to broaden."

It looks as though the PSP still needs to mature and grow into the U.S. market before sales really begin to take off. In the meantime, expect some possibly frustrated European gamers who saw their PSP launches pushed back to an unannounced release date in order to accomodate the American shipment of 1 million units, of which less than a third were sold.


Source: Gamespot



 Nintendo Store to Open in New York City

Nintendo

Nintendo has recently announced big plans to build a massive retail store in Manhattan's Rockefeller Center. Officially named "Nintendo World Store," the shop will be a two-story megaplex right in the middle of the island, an area that is also home to NBC Studios, Radio City Music Hall, and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

The Nintendo World Store has been scheduled to officially open its doors this spring. The building itself will be occupying the land that was once home to the Pokémon Center, which will now be made into its own little department within the Nintendo store. The store will feature sampling stations of games for Nintendo's GameBoy Advance, DS, and GameCube systems. It will also be selling merchandise such as DVDs and Nintendo accessories and memorabilia.

The Nintendo World Store is only the second store in the United States to specialize in a company's gaming interests. The first such shop was the Sony Metreon Center, located in San Francisco.


Source: Gamespot



 Video Game Study Shows Expanding Market

A recent study was conducted by Nielsen Entertainment to measure consumer buying habits in interactive entertainment. The study was derived from surveys sent to a sample of 1,500 randomly chosen consumers of all demographics. The results of the study are as follows:

  • Gamers are growing beyond the traditional 8- to 34-year-old male
  • Women, Hispanics, and African-Americans are an underserved and emerging market for games
  • Men spend more on games than they do on music purchases, but less than what they spend on DVDs
  • Women and older adults are playing games in increasing numbers
  • According to Nielsen, this data is designed to "assist developers, marketers, and interactive entertainment sales executives in strategy and planning decisions," and also "provide the entertainment industry with a clear picture of video games today and their potential as a thriving entertainment medium."

    Other noteworthy points found by the survey say that nearly 40 percent of households in the United States own at least one gaming system, whether it's a PC, console, or handheld. 23 percent of U.S. households owned at least one of each. Of the households who own systems, 89 percent of them have a console, 65 percent own a PC, and 36 percent own a handheld. Among those who own consoles, 57 percent own a PlayStation 2, 39 percent have an Xbox, and 27 percent own a GameCube. Eight percent of the console owners own all three.

    The study also reported that 39 percent of gamers are female, and that 24 percent of gamers are over the age of 40. It also found that "Women between the ages of 18 to 24 show relatively high entertainment expenditure and time availability, suggesting there are opportunities for publishers to target this consumer," as stated by Emily Della Maggiora, vice president of Nielsen. She went on to add that African-American and Hispanic gamers "appear to be an underserved consumer target for publishers as these gamers are spending more money to purchase games and more time to play them compared to total gamers, in general."

    Looking to the future of gaming and the soon-to-be-revealed next generation consoles, the study reported that "at this point in time, consumer response to next generation consoles is lukewarm." Most participants in the study have an apprehensive attitude toward the future consoles and are probably not going to be among the first people to purchase them. Also, in the area of ability to retain consumer loyalty, the Xbox outranked the PS2.

    The results released in this study are merely the first half of the Video Gaming Benchmark Report. The remainder of the study and results are due out this August.


    Source: Gamespot



     SCi's Eidos Offer Gets Back-Up

    Eidos

    According to London news sources, a major shareholder of Eidos stock has thrown its weight behind SCi's offer, significantly weighing the advantage even more in SCi's favor. Reuters also reported that "shareholders representing 46.7 percent of Eidos' shares have irrevocably committed to accept SCI's offer." This 46.7 percent is up from the previous number of 41 percent.

    Reportedly, a company called Plane Investment Limited added an additional 8 million shares to SCi's offer. British securities law states that "SCi requires only 25 percent of Eidos stock to block Elevation's bid." Recall that merely weeks ago, Elevation was the front-runner for the purchase of Eidos, even having Eidos accept its offer of $135 million until SCi Games stepped up with a better bid of a $144 million stock swap. By the looks of things, Elevation is losing ground quickly.

    In addition to this news, Eidos stock prices continue to drop, as they fell 10 percent last week. SCi's stock prices also fell by 6.1 percent.


    Source: Gamespot



     Untold Legends Sells Lots

    Untold Legends

    Sony Online Entertainment Inc. announced in a press release last week that its maiden PSP title, Untold Legends: Brotherhood of the Blade was the number one selling PSP game at both GameStop and EBGames retail stores in North America. "We are very pleased with the overwhelming response to Untold Legends the first weekend at retail," said Doreen McKenzie, Vice President of Merchandising, GameStop. "The sell-through numbers at all of our locations are a true testament to the excellence of the game and Untold Legends beautifully demonstrates the power of the PSP handheld system."

    "Untold Legends has been a top selling PSP handheld system title at EB Games stores since launch and the game is simply flying off our store shelves," said Debbie Mola, Vice President of Merchandising, EB Games. "We expect sales for Untold Legends to continue briskly as more of the new systems reach the hands of consumers."

    Developed and published by SOE, Untold Legends is the only RPG currently on the market for the Sony PSP. The title retails for $39.99.





     Sony Patents New Technology

    Sony

    Reuters reported last week that Sony was granted a patent for new techonology that "beams sensory information directly into the brain." It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what this could mean for the video game industry. Technology like this could be used to create a virtual reality within a person's own mind. With internet connectivity and having your physical senses applied, this could give a whole new meaning to the experience of playing, say, an MMORPG.

    Of course, technology as advanced as this has other uses besides gaming. Some obvious uses include helping people who are blind or deaf. The technology could also improve a current non-surgical process known as "transcranial magnetic stimulation," which essentially stimulates the nerves with changing magnetic fields. The problem with this process is that it still lacks the ability to focus on small sets of brain cells. Supposedly, Sony's new technology would be able to help with this.

    The U.S. patent itself, given to Sony representative Thomas Dawson, describes a method for directing ultrasonic pulses to precise areas in the brain in order to emulate "sensory experiences" such as scents, sounds, and images.

    A Sony spokeswoman told New Scientist magazine that there hasn't been any testing done yet, but the patent "was based on an inspiration that this may someday be the direction that technology will take us." PlayStation 9, anyone?


    Source: GameSpy



     Konami Finalizes Hudson Absorption

    Konami

    Japanese game publisher and developer, Konami, announced that Hudson Soft, creators of Bomberman and Bonk, has become a "full auxilliary division" of its company. Hudson Soft was expecting a record revenue loss for the fiscal year ending March 31.

    When things first began to go downhill for Hudson, it requested help from Konami, which has held a significant share of the company's stock since 2001. Konami legally owned 45 percent of Hudson Soft; however, with this deal, Konami is accepting a third-party allotment of 3 million additional shares. This adds to Konami's previous shareholdings and gives them a total of 54% of Hudson Soft right off the bat, giving the company majority shareholder status and the right to claim Hudson Soft as a subsidiary.

    This absorption is scheduled to be complete by April 27, when Konami pays Hudson Soft for the 3 million additional shares. For this take-over, Konami will be shelling out 1.434 billion yen, or $13.3 million, which is considered a bargain.


    Source: IGN



     Stock Ticker

    Back to the weekly stock update, this time with a brand new source. After subsequent weeks of getting static stock information for some of the more obscure companies I have listed, I decided to leave Yahoo! Finance in pursuit of another source. This search landed me at the footsteps of CNN Money, which looks to be right on the money (I love puns). I Hope you all enjoy.

    Looks like we've got a lot of ups as well as downs, this week in terms of stock prices. Sony dropped by nearly a dollar, with the largest fall of the week. Electronic Arts' stock continues to decline steadily as well. Ubi Soft sees the largest increase in the entire three-week history of Currents with close to three dollars. This, most-likely resulting from the company's recent release of their new title Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory.

    Parentheses denote negative numbers. Prices as of market close 04.13.2005


    Symbol Company Market Standing Change
    SNE Sony NYSE 39.11 (0.88)
    MSFT Microsoft Nasdaq 25.04 (0.28)
    NTDOY Nintendo PNK 14.30 0.10
    ERTS Electronic Arts Nasdaq 49.64 (0.79)
    ENIXF Square Enix PNK 31.68 0.15
    KNM Konami NYSE 22.30 0.00
    NMLTF Namco PNK 13.85 0.85
    MWY Midway NYSE 10.17 (0.23)
    SGAMY Sega PNK 14.85 (0.40)
    UBSFF Ubi Soft PNK 42.45 2.80

    Source: CNN Money




     Currents: Close-Up Feature Poll

    Currents

    Welcome to the Currents Close-Up poll. As promised in the first issue of Currents, I have produced a poll for your voting needs to decide whom the next feature will be about. The choices were submitted by a reader, as I said they would be. These are the top five choices from which you will choose a victor to have his life exposed for your own sick enjoyment. Your options are: Final Fantasy series music composer, Nobuo Uematsu; Final Fantasy series creator, Hironobu Sakaguchi; Final Fantasy series artist, Yoshitaka Amano; Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy VII Compilation creator, Tetsuya Nomura; and Chrono and Xeno series music composer, Yasunori Mitsuda. Let the voting begin!


    Currents Close-Up Poll
    Who's life would you like most to read about in the next Close-Up feature?
    Nobuo Uematsu
    Hironobu Sakaguchi
    Yoshitaka Amano
    Tetsuya Nomura
    Yasunori Mitsuda




     Back Page

    Now that my crazy week of exams is over, all I've got left to do for this semester are a philosophy paper and finals, for which I'm slowly preparing. The most difficult part of the coming weeks will be finding time to play some of my beloved video games, which are idly collecting dust. Now that Lumines has joined the ever-expanding collection, I don't see myself playing much else. That game just craves attention, and it'll kill to get it. Hopefully I can finish up Metal Gears Acid and Snake Eater soon, then maybe I'll get a chance to start attacking my RPG collection.

    I think that's all I have to say for this week. Don't forget to vote for your favorite video game industry person. This list includes entries by all one of you that sent me suggestions. So, cudos to them for helping out with that. And that about wraps things up until next week. Good Night(ingale).


    Elliot "Metal Gear owns" Guisinger


    Carlisle@RPGamer.com

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