Square Enix gets on board with Unreal Engine 3[ps3] [xbox360]
Major Japanese publisher Square Enix stated today that it has become the latest official addition to the ever-growing list of Unreal Engine 3 licensees. Coming from a publisher such as Square Enix, the announcement was fairly unexpected. Traditionally, Japanese developers tend to use their own in-house engines, in many cases creating a dedicated engine for each game. Indeed, Square Enix has already revealed the existence of its internally developed White Engine, powerng the upcoming PS3 RPG sequel Final Fantasy XIII as well as various spinoffs uch as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, also for PS3; Square Enix has indicated that the White Engine will be extended to other platforms as well.
It is unclear exactly how extensively Square Enix will utilize Unreal Engine 3, though the wording of today's press release suggests that it will be integrated into its systems rather than replace them. "Square Enix is now building a technology platform to be used throughout the company utilizing proprietary technologies as well as introducing third-party solutions such as Unreal Engine 3," reads the statement; presumably, the proprietary technologies mentioned include the White Engine.
"The complexity of next-generation game systems featuring HD graphics and multi-core parallel processing poses a number of technological challenges to our game development," said Square Enix R&D general manager Taka Murata on the reasoning behind the agreement. "However, we can expedite our game development process significantly while allowing extra time and resources to be spent on game design and mechanics by establishing an effective technology platform. The technology platform for game development is becoming more important than ever. I'm excited to be partnering with Epic Games in such an important area."
"We're extremely excited to be working with Square Enix," responded Epic VP Jay Wilbur. "Square Enix is one of the biggest and most influential companies in the world-wide game business, and having them work with Unreal Engine 3 is a major honor for us and something we're very proud to be announcing."
Square Enix did not name any specific titles that will be utilizing Epic's middleware, but did note that both PC and console platforms will be included.
Microsoft Entertainment & Devices sees revenue boost, continued loss[xbox] [xbox360]
Microsoft released fiscal results for its second quarter, which ended December 31, 2006, with the company posting strong profits but its Entertainment and Devices division--which includes Xbox operations--again posting a loss. The division, which also includes media player Zune, saw a $1.27 billion increase in revenue to $2.96 billion from $1.69 billion in the same period of the prior year. Microsoft pegged the growth on Xbox 360 sales, which totalled about 4.4 million for the quarter, as well as on strong performance of PC game software and the launch of Zune. However, continued Xbox 360-related costs as well as Zune launch expenditures meant that the division still ended up in the red. Entertainment and Devices posted a quarterly loss of $289 million, up $3 million from $286 million during the same period of the prior year.
Following the announcement, Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell revealed in a conference call that Microsoft has lowered its total Xbox 360 sales projections for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2007. Previously set at a target 13-15 million units shipped, the company is now shooting for a total of 12 million units.
Nintendo posts strong profit boost[gamecube] [wii] [ds] [gba]
Fuelled by the enormous success of its Nintendo DS portable console as well as the recent launch of Wii, Nintendo today announced a net profit increase of 43% up to 132 billion yen ($1.1 billion) over the latter nine months of 2006. Revenues were up 73% to 713 billion yen ($5.9 billion); it is likely that contributing to the discrepancy are costs associated with the launch of Wii. Having recently raised its yearly profit outlook, the company retained its 120 billion yen ($996 million) fiscal year profit projection on 900 billion yen ($7.5 billion) in sales; the profit shortfall from the announced nine month period is due to potential fluctuations in the value of the yen.
Nintendo also announced that it has sold through 10 million Nintendo DS units to the Americas since its November 2004 launch. During the reported nine month period, the company sold 18.9 million units worldwide, bringing the lifetime total to 35.6 million. As far as Wii, the company stated that it has sold 3.19 million units worldwide during the reported period, falling short of its planned 4 million. A company representative noted that Nintendo has reached a manufactured total of 4 million, with the remaining units in transit. Nintendo stuck to its previously stated goal of shipping 6 million units by the end of its fiscal year on March 31, 2007.
Project Gotham Racing coming to PS3? (no)[ps3] [xbox360] [psp]
In a bizarre bit of mispromotion sure to result in some marketing employee getting a stern chat, Sony somehow ended up featuring a screenshot from Bizarre Creations' Xbox 360-exclusive racer Project Gotham Racing 3 front and center on the PSP sub-site of its Connect download service. The image was being used to promote a PSP video download showing off the PlayStation 3 downloadable racer Gran Turismo HD. Just how somebody at Sony would have made the mistake is unclear; the image in question originates straight from Bizarre's own site.
The Connect page no longer has the image, but for the sake of posterity we have archived a shot of the bizarre mistake, along with the corresponding cropped section of the original PGR3 screenshot.
Console Game Of The Evening [Submit Yours!]
Tecmo Cup Soccer for the NES. "Surrealism, football and a sort of love story, all mixed with role-playing like gamelay. What's not to love?" (submitted by Hatta)