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Driving Emotion Type-S

Weekly News & Notes (11/10)

All the PS2 news that's fit to print!
Author: Jeff Reimers
Published: November 10, 2000
Alot of news to get to, so I won't waste any more time.

+ TOP STORY - You may be asking yourself, why is there seemingly no life in the SCEA first-party front? While that's a valid inquiry, Sony's Shuhei Yoshida was brought over from Japan to move things in the right direction.

In an interview with Next Gen magazine, Yoshida, Sony's Vice President of First-Party Development, explained the move from Japan to America as more of righting the ship than a rescue mission.[blockquote]"Internally and externally, I was really happy to see that many of the teams were very passionate and professional and like to get things done," he said. "Some of the things they took for granted through the years working at 989 or SISA were a bit different from what I'd like to see as a first party. Being a first party you need to be very, very responsible and present the quality of the platform."[/blockquote]He explained that one of the biggest factors in the lack of first-party titles in the US is the departure of former SCEA President Kelly Flock and the merger between 989 and SCEA back into business. The venture shifted the business structure and caused some inevitable delays. Yoshida is not taking this lightly. [blockquote]"989 Studios was operated as an independent studio," he explained. "They had to make their numbers every year. So it's a very different model, and they were doing their job very professionally, what they felt was good for the company. I feel now that as a first party there are things I'll gradually turn around."[/blockquote]Undeniably, rushed products are evident upon first sight. This is something that Yoshida takes very seriously and plans to weed out completely. He is adamant about making sure that no game gets out the door before it is ready for public consumption.[blockquote]"If we rush our games, it just doesn't help the platform, our brand or our business," said Yoshida. "So when we feel comfortable about the games we are developing here, we will release them."[/blockquote]One way to protect the company's more coveted franchises is to bring the external development teams inside. As Yoshida explains, Sony has a number of both internal and external development houses that they deal with to ensure the highest quality first-party titles for its consumers.[blockquote]"The original Syphon Filter team [Eidetic] was external and is now internal, as it was purchased by SCEA earlier this year," he said candidly. "Some other external teams we work with include Naughty Dog and Insomniac."[/blockquote]So does this mean that we can expect Eidetic to give us some Syphon Filter action on the PS2?[blockquote]"If they want to do that," says a laughing Yoshida. "Actually they are working on projects that are not really announced. But we've kept the same producing structure, though they are now internal."[/blockquote]One thing we can be sure of, if we are to believe Shuhei Yoshida, is that the first-party blitz is underway with approximately 30 projects in the works at this time.

+ HEADLINES The NPD TRSTS tracking service shows that the videogame industry saw a 117 percent spike in dollar sales for the week ending on October 28, just two days after the PS2 launch. The data also revealed that 52 percent of that belonged to Sony. However, competitors like Sega and Nintendo did not see a significant drop in sales as might have been expected.

In fact, Sega saw a 25 percent increase in sales during the week, while Nintendo experienced a seven percent hike, due mostly to the release of Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask. Even the original PlayStation saw a jump in sales of a little over one percent.

The Director of NPD Interactive Entertainment Service, Ilene Haase explained the phenomenon as a sort of renaissance in videogaming led by the charge of Sony and the PlayStation 2.[blockquote]"PlayStation 2 is not only drawing repeat gamers to retail, but it's also attracting newcomers to the video gaming market," said Haase. "This new platform will act as a catalyst to holiday sales, even with the expected product shortages. Both Nintendo and Sega will have strong product line-ups and the chance to capitalize on the PlayStation 2 shortages. We are expecting double digit growth this holiday season as the public attention is again focused on the video game industry."[/blockquote]That's not bad at all. So, Sega, you can go ahead and retract that little postcard thing you did over the weekend and hesitantly extend your hand for an apologetic handshake.

+ OTHER NEWS - Although Square has The Bouncer to lean on for next quarter, it is insistent on making sure that it gets its foot in the door of the racing genre. Driving Emotion Type-S is still set for a North American release early next year, but not without some changes first. While the Japanese version was criticized for its disastrous control problems, the NA version need not worry according to Square reps. The company plans on making an official statement on the game next month.

+ FINANCIAL NEWS - According to reports from Bloomberg, Sony is in negotiations with a Taiwan chipmaker to increase its production of PS2 units. Sony Chairman Norio Ohga is currently in Taiwan to meet with companies like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing and United Microelectronics.

+ OTAKU NEWS - Japanese sources are reporting that thanks to the PS2, DVD sales are going up. In September alone, DVD sales were outselling VHS by a margin of 50,000 units. Analysts have gone so far as to say that the PS2's emergence may very well signal and severe decline in the VCR market in Japan.

+ PICK OF THE WEEK - In my Pick of the Week for November 10th, I have selected Madden NFL 2001 for the PlayStation 2. Although I was into SSX intially, after finally beating the game with Mac and Moby, I decided it was time to move on to one of my other launch day purchases. I picked up Madden and now I can't put it down. I'm 12-0 with the Rams on Easy setting (shut up, I didn't know how hard it would be). This has to be THE coolest football game I've seen based on the details. Sure John's commentary could suck a golfball through a garden hose, but when you can read "wilson" on the football, it shows that EA put alot into this game. Not to mention with I stepped out of bounds, I knock the down-marker guy flat on his ass. Now THAT'S detail.