This Week in the Magazines

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The promise of new FFXIV information is on the horizon! As announced recently, FFXIV is part of Square Enix’s lineup for gamescon 2009 and being billed as one of the main attractions. Chances are they will release a little bit more about FFXIV at the event because the Japanese magazines are promising to bring the latest news within the coming weeks, leading me to think they’ve been tipped off to expect something. Until then though, things are still quiet over here.

Let’s check out recent FFXIV coverage as well as other related news from the magazines.

First off, how is FFXIV faring in the polls? It depends on who is asking and where you look. Weekly Famitsu Magazine asks their readers every month to answer a small questionnaire in exchange for the chance to win a prize. One of the questions asks what games are you most looking forward to. Respondents can write in the names of up to 5 different console titles. Last week it was 35, this week it is 32. What games are people currently looking forward to the most? Final Fantasy XIII tops the list followed by Monster Hunter 3 which was released this past weekend. Dragon Quest X for the Wii comes in third, Dragon Quest VI for the DS is fourth, and Ninokuni from Level 5 rounds out the top 5 this week. 10 of the top 30 are Square Enix titles.

Dengeki PlayStation magazine only does rankings for PlayStation console games so FFXIV does better in their polls. In their top 20, FFXIV comes in at 9, down from a previous 5. Final Fantasy XIII also tops their list. XIII Versus jumps up from 10 to 6. One poll that Dengeki PlayStation does that I enjoy is the Favorite Game Top 20. Once again it is limited to PlayStation consoles but some good classic games are in the list. The only two PSX titles are both from Square Enix: Final Fantasy VII and Xenogears. The king is Monster Hunter Portable 2nd G. I don’t even want to think how many PSPs have been sold just because of that game. The hype is so huge around the Monster Hunter series that I’m very tempted to purchase Monster Hunter 3 for the Wii. And wait, what’s this? Final Fantasy XI also made an appearance in the latest top 20, coming in at 16. It would be interesting to see how much of an impact the announcement of XIV made on new accounts for XI.

Next, the Final Fantasy XIV trailer on DVD! In this month’s Famitsu Wave DVD, they had the first half of their E3 coverage. The on-site coverage by Porno Suzuki (no, I’m not making that up) was horrible but the conference coverage done by Otsuka Kakumichi from Weekly Famitsu was much more professional and informative. The Final Fantasy XIV portion was very short. They included a copy of the trailer on the DVD as well as a few scenes from the interview done at E3 with the Japanese press. No new information but hearing the interview was definitely interesting. Famitsu Wave DVD promises to have the second half of their E3 coverage with Porno Suzuki next month and to make Final Fantasy XIV their cover title. Here’s to hoping that Lupin Kojima doesn’t dress up as a mithra again. (washes out eyes) I’m not sure if they will just be showing more of the interview next month or any possible new footage released after gamescon but as soon as I know, I’ll pass the information along here.

That’s it for Final Fantasy XIV specific news but there are a few other tidbits that might interest people.

1) While it’s still in the beta stages for North America, The Tower of AION has started official service in Japan. I checked it out for myself a couple weekends ago at my local internet cafe and parts of it are certainly impressive. You could easily spend an hour or two just customizing what you want your character to look like. The quest system has some nifty features as well, like giving specific details on where you need to go or how to obtain the items you are looking for. That is a far cry from FFXI where you often need an extra guide to figure out what to do next.

Since service has started, Connect!On magazine has also started a series of articles introducing the game from the view point of a female magician. Connect!On doesn’t give much attention to other related titles like Lineage II so it will be interesting to see if they give AION more attention based on the number of people who showed interest in the closed beta.

Part of the article talked about the AION launch party held last month. It was held at Yebisu Garden Hall, located in the Ebisu neighborhood in Tokyo. The approximately 500 attendees had the opportunity to try out the game, listen to presentations introducing some of the various aspects of the game, and take part in a PvP event called Survival 24. People were also able to obtain in-game items as well from Gacha Machines. Snacks were also provided at the event and the entire thing was free to attend.

So what will the Final Fantasy XIV launch be like? There was a Square Enix event back in 2001 prior to the release of the Japanese PS2 version of Final Fantasy XI. Chances are good there will be some kind of event prior to the launch of Final Fantasy XIV as well. It would be neat to see if they could do some kind of event in different locations at the same time to celebrate a global launch. Although, to prevent the kind of problems that plagued Final Fantasy XI at Japanese launch, perhaps the developers should stay behind.

2) There is a promotion running at certain net cafes right now for Final Fantasy XI. Players that have signed up with internet cafe specific registration codes can claim the items necessary to enter some of the special battles like Swarm!. Other games like Lineage, Monster Hunter, and AION also have special promotions that can only be obtained by players who play in internet cafes. Final Fantasy XIV will also likely be available in internet cafes here in Japan. For people who don’t have high-end spec computers, internet cafes provide an easy way to play online games. Square Enix has already said they predict the PC requirements for FFXIV will be pretty high. While I plan on playing the PS3 version, I will probably try out the PC version at an internet cafe when it comes available. Part of having a successful game here in Japan will probably involve a healthy relationship between Square Enix and the various internet cafe chains.

3) Just how popular is Monster Hunter? Popular enough to convince Fukushima prefecture to do a month long Monster Hunter 3 event. People who visit Fukushima can participate in a stamp rally, live quests, and other Monster Hunter themed events while seeing the sites in Fukushima. You can check out their informational site in Japanese at http://fmh.jp/

4) In several articles I’ve written, I’ve mentioned CESA, the Computer Entertainment Supplier’s Association. They are the group responsible for Tokyo Game Show and publish a report on the gaming industry each year. Portions of the report were available last year at Tokyo Game Show and I hope they do that again this year. The articles in the report cover a wide range of topics. Last month, they published their 2009 report. You can check out a listing of the contents (Japanese and English) as a PDF file on their site.

However, there is another group in Japan that has published a report online gamers might be interested in. JOGA, the Japan Online Game Association, also published a report last month. Connect!On looked at the report and here are some of the things they found. The overall number of online titles for PC and Console games with active service has not changed much over the last couple years. However, the number of games that ended service in 2007 and 2008 was much higher than previous years. In particular, nearly half of the games that ended service in 2008 were off-the-shelf PC titles. However, the amount of money being spent on online gaming continues to grow so overall the industry seems healthy. Lord of the Rings online service will be ending in Japan in a couple months but it is being replaced in the market by the next generation of big online titles like AION and Final Fantasy XIV.

That’s all from the magazines for now. See ya next time!

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