Sega has confirmed that it has taken over the operations of Index Corporation, the Japanese parent company of video game publisher Atlus. Index filed for "Civil Rehabilitation" (the Japanese version of bankruptcy) in June of this year, after suffering heavy debts. Sega has acquired the company and Atlus, and has formed a new subsidiary to take over operations of the company, called Sega Dream Corporation (the name is tentative and will likely change at a later date).
During a press conference this morning in Japan, Sony announced a new micro-console called the PlayStation Vita TV. The 6.5cm by 10.5cm micro-console utilizes the PS Vita chipset and its system software, and supports the Dualshock 3 controller. The device allows 1,300 PS Vita, PSP, and classic PlayStation One games to be played on a television screen. The PS Vita TV will also support movies services, eBooks, and the PlayStation Plus service. Some PS4 games will be playable via Remote Play as well.
Halo designer David Ellis thinks the Hideo Kojima-approved "sexy" design for the Metal Gear Sold 5 Quiet is "ridiculous," and says that the industry is full of what he calls "man babies." Earlier in the week Kojima said that he had directed designer Yoji Shinkawa to make the sniper character Quiet more "erotic" so that more people would cosplay her during the Tokyo Game Show later this month. Today during a press conference Q&A, Kojima told Polygon that he meant to say "sexy."
The Kickstarter campaign for Project Phoenix, an indie Japanese role-playing game being developed by Creative Intelligence Arts for PC, is a smashing success. In less than 24 hours the project has been fully funded and has doubled the amount of money it was seeking. As of this writing (that money ticker is climbing faster than we can keep track of it), the project has raised $268,841 from 4,168 backers with 28 more days to go.
Sega is one of twenty companies interested in buying out Atlus from Japanese parent company Index Holdings, according to a Blomberg Japan report (by way of CVG). Index Holdings purchased Atlus in 2006, but last month was forced to file for bankruptcy in the Tokyo District Court for over millions of dollars in debts it faced.
An erotic Japanese game that utilizes a phallic-shaped controller device now has Oculus Rift support to boot. The game is called Custom Maid 3D and it lets players create a maid that you can then commit various sexual acts on using a "Ju-C Air Support" controller. The controller is like a PlayStation Move controller that is also an interactive sexual aid for men. You get the general idea of what this game is really all about...
NIS America has added some new characters to its educational iOS puzzle game, Character Chowdown. The in-game content, which will cost you roughly $0.99 a pop, includes characters from the popular Disgaea series such as Laharl, Prinny, Mao, and Flonne. Other downloadable content includes the Hiragana pack and seven different Kanji packs.
Nintendo announced that Club Nintendo, its member rewards site in Japan, has been hacked. The security breach was discovered when Nintendo noticed a large number of access errors on July 2. This prompted Nintendo to conduct a deeper investigation. Looking further into the issue, Nintendo found 23,000 instances of unauthorized log-ins (with 15 million attempts) between June 9 and July 4 on Japan's Club Nintendo site. The security breach does not apply to Club Nintendo sites in other countries, according to Nintendo.
Publisher Atlus has an uncertain future today as its parent company in Japan, Index, wrestles with what seems like an insurmountable amount of debt. According to a CNet Japan report, Index has filed for civil rehabilitation proceedings as it faces bankruptcy. The company owes an estimated ¥24.5 billion - roughly $224 million - in debt and its current president Ochiai Yoshimi has hinted that he will resign soon.
The parent company of Atlas is being investigated in Japan for "shady practices," according to this Kotaku report. In Japan "Atlus" is just a brand on paper and not a real company anymore because the Japanese company was dissolved and delisted from the stock market a few years ago after it became a wholly owned subsidiary of a company called Index.
Kotaku reports that the same sex relationships enjoyed by male characters in the Japanese game Tomodachi Collection: New Life have been patched out. Last week it came to light that male characters in the cutesy Japanese life sim for the 3DS could have relationships with each other. Nintendo promised a patch but many had hoped that the game would patch those same kinds of relationships for females into the game.
Fans want a new Earthbound game so badly in North America that some have even offered to translate Mother 3 into English for Nintendo for free. The team of fans, which includes a professional translator, has offered to localize the game in English for Nintendo free of charge in a post on its development blog.
Mother 3 has never released outside of Japan, much to the chagrin of just about every gamer in North America and Europe.
Microsoft has announced a new incentive for Japan that will kick into high gear on April 20th. Xbox 360 owners in the region will get free Microsoft Points based on the collective amount of time that participants in the campaign use the console in Japan. To get those free points Japanese Xbox 360 players will hit the milestone of playing for 300,000 hours using the Xbox 360 to get 100 ($1.25) Microsoft Points for Xbox Live Gold subscribers and 10 Points for free members.
In late January we reported that GungHo Group had acquired Suda 51's studio Grasshopper Manufacture. In late February the Japanese mobile publisher revealed staggering sales figures: it reported it had generated around $65 million during January - or about $2 million dollars a day - from a single game: Puzzle & Dragons.
Aksys Games passed along word that it is currently hosting a donation drive in observance of the second Anniversary of the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Disaster. To help those still suffering from the long-term effects of that horrific natural disaster, Aksys is donating a portion of the sales from its online store to the American Red Cross. For every item purchased from March 11 - 15, Aksys Games will donate $5 to the American Red Cross for ongoing relief efforts in Japan.
Sony has decided to unload its holdings in mobile game developer and publisher DeNa, according to this Reuters report. Sony has reportedly sold all of its shares in the company to Japanese-based investment firm Nomura Securities for $438 million.
Former Square Enix and Taito executive Keiji Fujita has joined Japanese mobile ad network and game publisher Adways, the company announced today. Fujita will take the reins of the company's San Francisco office, which will serve as the home of the U.S. subsidiary, Adways Interactive. Keiji Fujita will serve as the Vice President of Game Business. The company also announced that it is looking for non-Japanese free-to-play mobile games to launch in the Japanese market. It will be on the hunt for such properties at Game Connection America 2013, where it will be present as an exhibitor.
Free-to-play mobile game Puzzle & Dragons from Japanese developer and publisher GungHo Online Entertainment supposedly generated around $65 million during January - or about $2 million dollars a day. These startling sales figures come from data collected by Japanese industry consultant Serkan Toto, who reports that the puzzle and RPG hybrid title has generated around $65 million in sales on iOS and Android in Japan last month.
Japanese publisher GungHo Group has acquired Lollipop Chainsaw developer Grasshopper Manufacture. The studio was founded by famed Japanese games developer Suda 51 (Goichi Suda), whose work includes No More Heroes and Killer 7. The company is currently working on Killer is Dead. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.
GungHo publishes online and mobile game titles such as the popular MMO Ragnarok Online and Dragon Saga.
According to a Famitsue report (by way of The Verge) Sony has halted shipments of its ultra popular PlayStation 2 game console in Japan. The last generation console has sold over 150 million units worldwide since its launch in Japan on March 4th, 2000 and is the most popular home console of all time.
A report on the Japanese site Rocket News reports that there is a catch for bringing a Wii U controller to another region for use. For example, using a Wii U controller from the West in Japan may not "region lock it" (bar you from using it) but it will not allow you to apply any firmware updates. Earlier reports suggested that the controller could not be used with a console that might be from a different region.
Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said way back in October that the company would be shutting down its Japanese-based studio Zynga Japan as part of a company-wide cost reduction plan and today that closure is a reality. According to a Facebook post by Zynga Japan CEO Kenji Matsubara, the studio is being closed and three of its games are being turned off. Matsubara posted a personal message thanking fans for their support and announcing the discontinuation of the games that were available in Japan.
Level-5 CEO Hiroshi Akihiro Hino has responded to Sega's recent lawsuit, denying that the Professor Layton and Dragon Quest developer infringed on Sega's patents and called for the lawsuit to be dismissed. Hino made his statement on the Level-5 Japanese web site.
Some good news for fans of the Dragon Quest series: Heartbeat, the studio behind Dragon Quest 6 and Dragon Quest 7, is being relaunched by Manabu Yamana. Yamana was the original founder of the company and is now serving as the CEO of Genius Sonority.
In a Tweet today he gleefully announced the relaunch of the company:
"I restart the Heartbeat!" he tweeted.