This Week in the Magazines: Part 1 with Famitsu

924famitsuFor this week’s issue, we’ll have two parts.  Today, part 1 with the interesting little bits pulled from Weekly Famitsu.

The other day, Gahoo linked to an article on 1up.com featuring opinions on online gaming from three different Japanese game makers.  What was available there was actually just a small portion of a big feature printed in this week’s Weekly Famitsu.  Interested in seeing what was left out?  That and more after the cut.

Weekly Rankings
Final Fantasy XIV fell a little, now at 24 and back to where it was two weeks ago.  Jumping up in the list are the newest game in the Professor Layton series for the DS and the new Kingdom Hearts game for the PSP.  A surprising jump this week for another Square Enix game too:  Last Remnant for the PS3, going from 21 last week to 14.  Things haven’t looked good for a Sony console version of the game for a long time but it looks like player support is still out there!  The top three this week are all from Square Enix: FFXIII, Dragon Quest X, and a DS remake of Dragon Quest VI.  As for actually released games, the only SE title is Dragon Quest IX coming in second after Nintendo’s Friend Collection and just above the newly released Dream Club for the Xbox360.

Final Fantasy XIII
It’s safe to say a lot of the people that play FFXI now and want to play FFXIV in the future are fans of the Final Fantasy series in general.  The next numbered edition to hit retail shelves will be Final Fantasy XIII.  Each week new information is released in the magazines with beautiful half to full page color pictures.  On Tuesday, Square Enix held a release date party at a museum in Odaiba, home of the Fuji Television Building and Tokyo Big Site.  Final Fantasy XIII will be released in Japan on December 17th.  They are still aiming for a Spring release elsewhere. In other words, barring major delays, the release of XIII shouldn’t have much effect on XIV.  

History of Online Gaming
Recently, Famitsu switched from being sold on Fridays to Thursdays, the day most new games also go on sale. To commemorate the change, they are doing special reports for a month.  I talked about the special on RPGs before.  This time they delve into the history of online gaming.  For this article, online gaming refers to any game that has some online portion to it, broken down into three major categories:  MMOs, PvP games, and games with downloadable content.  While not yet released, they used a picture from the playable alpha build of FFXIV as an example of MMORPGs.

They start with 1988 when a modem set was created for the Japanese Famicom.  They say the modem was used for trading stocks or home banking but not gaming.  However, it was the start of connecting gaming machines online.  Later, in 1995, the Satellaview was released as a satellite modem for the Super Famicom.  Over time, with computers and other gaming systems, we saw the birth of MMORPGs.  They point out Phantasy Star Online and Final Fantasy XI.  They end with the current state of things in 2009, with Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection, PlayStation Network, and Xbox LIVE.  

Next up was their small player survey.  About 85% of people said they’ve played some kind of online game for competitive or cooperative play.  Within those two genres, players voted heavily for the Monster Hunter series games and Super Smash Bros. Brawl.  Outside of competitive or cooperative play, they named games like Little Big Planet, Pokemon, and Dragon Quest IX.

Talking about the Future
Next, they spoke to Kaname Fujioka of Monster Hunter fame, Satoshi Sakai who worked on Phantasy Star Online, and Nobuaki Komoto who we know as the director for FFXIV.  I’ll only be focusing on Director Komoto’s remarks.

The first part was covered by 1up.  Komoto talks about how games have changed to become more user friendly with their in-game hints and tutorials.  Next, he talked about Dragon Quest IX.  It’s just his opinion, but after looking at the game, he feels the team that worked on it must have taken a good long look at MMORPGs.  It has online components to it but nobody would really call it an online game.  This kind of falls in line with how he thinks about online gaming and MMORPGs.  People shouldn’t feel bound by labels.  The idea of “online gaming” will fade away as games with online parts will just become an everyday thing.  

What was not covered by 1up has to do with Komoto’s ideas for FFXIV.  He thinks the next thing in online gaming will be making things to be used on cell phones or the iPhone.  There is still a lot of research that needs to be done, but he thinks in the future, even a game like FFXI could be made mobile-friendly.  However, it’s not just about making mobile-friendly games.  It’s about mixing both the console/PC version with the mobile functions.  Not everything needs to be available on both.  The goal is to make something that fits into your lifestyle.  Or even changes your lifestyle.  He talks about Nintendo’s Nintendogs and how it makes you want to play it everyday.  It becomes a part of your routine.  He says he’d like to include things like that in FFXIV.  When making online games, it’s not just about including a lot of new ideas, but including things that build upon each other.  

After comparing all the interviews, the people at Famitsu conclude that portability is key to the future of online gaming.  

Corinth’s Thoughts
There was a mobile project planned for FFXI many years ago but nothing ended up being released for users in the end.  Players have made various mobile applications themselves, from clocks to camp location databases.  It would be nice to see some kind of mobile tools for FFXIV as well.  If Square Enix did make a mobile application for FFXIV, what would you like to see it in?

Early next week we’ll talk about what Producer Tanaka and Director Komoto had to say to the people at Dengeki PlayStation.  Until then, see you later!