Sony’s Selling All of its Square Enix Shares to Return to Profitability
But, hey, the PlayStation 4 is still killing it
Japanese juggernaut Sony, most famous for the globally known PlayStation brand — and for also making, I don’t know, headphones and a few movies now and again — is dumping its entire financial stake out of publisher Square Enix.
Sony holds 9.52 million shares in Square Enix, a sensual tryst that began in the early 2000’s. Once upon a time ago, before the word “timed” preceded “exclusivity,” Square’s Final Fantasy brand was nearly synonymous with PlayStation, especially helping Sony claim the dominance in Japanese households it still enjoys to this very day.
Sony’s equity is priced at ¥4.8 billion yen, or $47 million. The deal is expected to be closed as soon as tomorrow. The decision is the next of several moves the company has made to return itself to profitability. Since 2014 began, Sony has laid off thousands of workers, sold two corporate offices, and has even axed its PC division.
On the upside, the Sony PlayStation 4 has reveled in sales success, having sold 7 million units worldwide since launch, surpassing its next-gen competition, the Xbox One, by a slim margin. As an aside, I am currently a happy member of that 7 million club and I sing my PS4 into a gentle sleep, nightly.
The Last of Us is Bound for PS4
I’ll get through the bad news first: The Last of Us 2 ain’t happening anytime soon. Hey, come on. Don’t make that face. We pretty much knew that already.
Here be the good slice of news: A Sony higher-up has stated that the original Last of Us, including its sublime piece of DLC, Left Behind, is heading for the PlayStation 4 in all of its post-apocalyptic, giraffe-petting glory.
The news comes way of an attentive NeoGAF user (but doesn’t all juicy news, though?) who spotted a Mr. Sercan Sulun, PlayStation Eurasia’s Software Market Manager, giving an interview to CNN Turk. Thirty-six minutes in, Sulun fielded a question asking whether or not we’d see The Last of Us 2 (aka The Next to Last of Us) anytime in the near future.
"There is no information about a new The Last of Us game,” said Sulun, “But I can share this knowledge; as of this summer, The Last of Us will be on the PS4. Both on PSN and physically.”
Naughty Dog’s instant classic and the freshly released single-player DLC will be graphically enhanced for the PlayStation 4. It’s currently unknown if the port will take advantage of any PS4 specific features such as the touchpad. Honestly, I could give a shit if they program horse farts through the controller’s speaker; I’m just beyond stoked to see this brilliant masterpiece brought to the next-gen.
Stay tuned for more official news (or the Shakespearean tragedy of an official debunking).
Major Improvements to Sharing and Streaming Coming to the PS4
Power to the people! Or, rather, power to the players! Wait, shit, that’s Gamestop’s slogan, isn’t it? They’re gonna be up my ass if I use that and they’ve already sued me the one time… Whatever, moving on. Point is, thanks to the PlayStation Nation’s feedback — as in your feedback — some pretty serious improvements are hitting the PS4’s Share functionality.
Coming soon via a patch, the PlayStation blog reports that a new video editor will be added that’ll let you “personalize your video clips” through use of a simple tool. Better yet, the update allows you to export screenshots and gameplay clips to a USB drive. Just hit share, choose your device, and you’re ready to rock. Hopefully this means we’ll have more avenues to share content than just Facebook.
Those who have been wishing for an alternative to capturing and streaming gameplay than the built-in Twitch/Ustream suite will be pleased as hell to learn that this very same update includes an “HDCP off” option, finally allowing gameplay capture via HDMI. The blog also promises even more unannounced features are being worked into this patch.
Sometime after that patch, Sony is planning yet another system software update that’ll integrate the ability to archive Twitch broadcasts. No more going live and having your sessions disappear into the ether. Additionally, Sony is looking to enhance streaming resolution to 720p. PC-less and capture device, uh, -less, I’m most excited by these upgrades (commence shameless plug: follow The Red Herb on Twitch!).
More info on these updates are said to follow in the weeks to come.
Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition Spreads to PS4 in March
From Super Stardust to Resogun, it seems Sony exclusive developer Housemarque doesn’t know how to do wrong. Few studios are able to take such simple gameplay concepts and create massively addictive experiences out of them.
Case in point: Dead Nation, a top-down, twin-stick shooter that has you blasting apart waves of the undead either solo or with a wingman. Released when download-only titles were nowhere near even half as prolific as they are today, the quality behind Dead Nation kept it atop the PS3’s sales charts for a ragged chunk of time.
Like the festering corpses roaming the game’s decrepit cities, Dead Nation cannot be killed — enter Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition, a remaster of the original game made specifically for the PlayStation 4. This resurrected edition features touched up graphics — in full on 1080p — tweaked controls adding a new quick weapon select, and comes packaged with The Road to Devastation expansion, previously only available as DLC, worked into the campaign.
It ain’t over till the fat lady shrieks. In addition to second screen implementation thanks to the PlayStation App, a new Challenge mode is being thrown in for expert zombie smashers, where you can dole out your best level runs to friends or play against an in-game avatar representing your buddies’ top hunts.
But the coolest new feature has to be Broadcast+. While streaming the game live, as you are want to do on PS4, viewers can actively vote on whether they want to positively or negatively impact your game. Maybe they throw you a bone and have extra ammo drops at your feet. But they’re way more likely to toss some shade your way and sic a horde of walkers on your ass. And it gets even funnier when they can activate “modifiers” like disabling your sprint button. Apparently in-game zombies fitted with viewers’ names can be shot at, so feel free to make frequent examples.
Dead Nation: Apocalypse Edition re-releases March 4th and will be $14.99 on the PS Store or absolutely free with PlayStation Plus.
PS Vita Slim + Borderlands 2 Bundle Incoming This Spring
The slimmer, redesigned PlayStation Vita, already available in Japan and having just launched in Europe this month, is inbound for North America this Spring.
Right around the Vita Slim’s launch, a bundle featuring Borderlands 2 portable port and the remodeled handheld will be made available. No specific pricing or date has been announced for the system solo or bundled (though it’s likely the latter will come in at $199).
So how different is a Vita Slim? Well, for one, it’s cheaper thanks to some cost cutting maneuvers. The handheld’s thickness is reduced by twenty percent and the overall weight is fifteen percent lighter than the original Vita, making it a bit easier on the hands (though, in my opinion, the first model is still a sight more comfortable to hold than either 3DS model — i.e. my wrists’ mortal enemy).
The only trade-down would be the swap from that beautiful OLED display to a more standard LED screen. Perhaps a gig of internalized memory will assuage you. No? Yeah, same here. But, hey, cheaper!
A decidedly soft lineup of software has stayed my wallet when it came to Sony’s second foray into the handheld market. Which is a shame, because whenever I got my hands on the Vita, I loved the shit out of it — its interface, its button placement, its generously sized screen. I already own Borderlands 2 on two separate consoles but… goddamn if one more won’t hurt. Looting on the go is too hard to resist, and Sony’s handheld struggles definitely aren’t because they produced a bad system. Far from it.
Come Spring, if you’re like me and have been living life without a Vita (get it?), the Slim may be the way to go, LED and all.
Man From Future Enslaved By PlayStations Destroys PS4
Having witnessed his entire family captured and assimilated by the PlayStation 4’s sentient descendant — known in 2084 as “KillStations” — this Montreal man braved a wormhole through time in order to arrive at a Best Buy midnight event for Sony’s newly launched console.
With the images of his loved ones’ pained expressions still flashing before his mind’s eye, the time traveler tore through the unit’s stylish cardboard housing, gutted the prize within, and began slamming the PS4 against the ground over and over again until it was a mess of snapped plastic and thrashed metal.
Of course, it was the seventeenth update to PSN, in which the new AI program overseeing video content gained nuclear launch codes, that ended the Age of Man, but the catharsis displayed here is made no less poignant by that fact.
PlayStation 4 Will Support CD and MP3 Playback… Someday
Following fan outcry over the PS4’s inability to play MP3’s and CD’s as well as its lack of support for DLNA, Sony’s Worldwide figurehead Shuhei Yoshida confirmed the features will be worked into the system post-launch.
Gabbing it up on Giant Bomb’s Interview Dumptruck, Yoshida admits his entire team was surprised to hear such vehement feedback over a feature that, apparently, nobody really talks about.
"It’s not like we actively decided ‘let’s not do this feature so people will have to subscribe to Music Unlimited,’" said Shuhei. "The focus has been more on the game features. Some of the features we wanted but we couldn’t get in on day one."
Yoshida goes on to say “the system guys” in Japan are already figuring out when to incorporate the omitted feature.
Sifting through IGN's comments section on the issue, there seems to be some confusion as to why MP3 and CD playback, in particular, is a big deal; one user even quips that Sony was correct in thinking nobody cared about the feature, that they simply saw the other guys had it and demanded their fanboy informed console decision house the feature, too.
Let me clarify why MP3/CD playback is important to me: motherfuckin’ custom tracks, son. That’s it. I love jamming to my own tunes while I game. Don’t get me wrong — it’s not like I’m masking Jack Wall’s score on Mass Effect or overlaying Stone Temple Pilots where Nobuo Uematsu should be. If I’m kicking on music, it’s usually to spice up the humdrum military anthems that accompany online sessions of Call of Duty or circumvent the head-on collisions caused when Skrillex splits my ear canal in Need for Speed.
Music Unlimited’s ability to play tunes during every game session leads me to believe that gone are the days of the PS3’s brutally selective custom track feature. Thanks for listening, Shuhei. Now knock your team’s heads together until the patch goes live.
"Hadouken Cabs"…? What the Hell Is Sony Up To?
Sony’s been dropping this odd viral caveat off at different gaming junkets, and I’m just damned stumped trying to figure what it’s really for.
The mock ad features “Hadouken Cabs,” a taxi company that’s apparently been “knocking the competition out since 1987.” The 30 second spot is, obviously, filled to the brim with Street Fighter references, an allusion to the original PlayStation’s launch year, and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it flash of the DualShock 4.
What in the hell is Sony — and, guilty by association, Capcom — teasing? Something Street Fighter; something PS4. Well, it must be that the upcoming re-re-re-release Ultra Street Fighter IV is also on its way to the next-gen…
Except Capcom’s own Yoshinori Ono, the man who perpetually carries Blanka in his pocket, says there aren’t enough resources to port Ultra to the next-gen. Maybe Ono’s being sly. But would this face lie to you?
That can only mean, then, that Street Fighter V is a PlayStation 4 exclusive!
Except… Producer Tomoaki Ayano very recently stated SFV likely won’t be ready for the public until 20-goddamn-18. Like a dodged hadouken, that dream flies off-screen.
Unless a Mishima Airlines commercial is uploaded next week, this ad alone doesn’t point too firmly to Tekken X Street Fighter, which has been suspiciously quiet for suspiciously long. The mystery stands and we’re left to anxiously ponder. Which is exactly what they want, man.
PS4 @ TGS: PS3 Games Streaming by 2014; External Capture Devices Welcome
The PlayStation 4 is making the rounds at this year’s Tokyo Game Show event and just as you’d expect/hope, Sony’s been releasing little caveats of information regarding the soon-to-be launched console.
Interviewed during a roundtable discussion with press, Shuhei Yoshida, President of Sony Worldwide Studios, spoke on the planned Gaikai cloud streaming which, when announced that it’d be a part of the PS4’s suite of services back in February, was said to be a way to dip into previous system’s back catalogs.
Yoshida confirmed the Gaikai cloud streaming will begin for the North American region sometime in 2014 and that a decent selection of PS3 titles will be available to browse through from the get-go. These very same PS3 games will also be compatible for the PS Vita. Gaikai’s good graces don’t extend to European territories, sadly, due to uneven broadband speeds across the continent. The service is delayed in Europe until sufficient deals are secured between Sony and local ISPs.
Though the PS4’s on-board ability to record and upload short spurts of gameplay opens up a brave new world to casual gamers looking to share with friends, those with more than a few “Let’s Play’s” notched into their belts have wondered if the next-gen console would support external capture devices for extended sessions.
Well, friends, today you have your “Yup.” Sony’s Third Party Relations man, Brad Douglas, confirmed PS4 video capture support via HDMI. Now there’s no halting your ridiculous goddamn gaming feats in glorious HD.
PlayStation 4 Release Date Finally Announced
Sony’s Gamescom conference today brought much in the way of news for just about everything slapped with the PlayStation logo today. I’ll get to the notables in a tic, but I wanted to get it out of the way since Sony’s hour and a half conference was an hour and fifteen minutes of too much foreplay:
The PlayStation 4 is launching November 15th in North America and November 29th in Europe.
We were already treated to the revelation that a PS Plus subscription is the new requirement for online play (but, gracefully, little else, meaning services like Netflix won’t be barred from use without Plus). With your PS4 purchase, however, Sony is throwing in a 14-day trial of the service at no cost.
Additionally, Music Unlimited — the PS3’s, uh, unlimited music service — is back in a modified form where you can easily access it by pressing the DualShock 4’s PS Button, allowing you to play music in the background of any and all games. As someone who is swayed by a custom tracks option even if the PS3 version of a game is technically superior, this is a triumph (I’m sorry Dynasty Warriors Gundam 3, I cannot listen to your bullshit loop indefinitely in my eardrums).
Also, those looking for style in their accessories will be pleased as a plum to see the Magma Red and Wave Blue DualShock controllers (above) releasing alongside the console, priced at $59.99. You’re gonna earn yourself a hard, squinted look from me if you ask which one I’m springing for.
PS Vita’s Price Dropkicked
The thing that needed to happen, thankfully, went and happened. Sony’s impressive yet struggling handheld, the PlayStation Vita, has taken a $50 price cut, dropping its tag to $200. Additionally, Sony promised the bloated pricing found on the system’s proprietary memory cards will see a significant reduction in the future.
Remote Play functionality, in which PS4 games can be remotely streamed via WiFi to the handheld turning the Vita into a second-screen controller, will be found on “almost every” title according to the company.
Increased affordability and unique compatibility with PlayStation’s next household device, along with an up-spike in third-party support — yes, Borderlands 2 on the system is a humongous win — may just surge some life into the Vita (it’s a pun if you know Italian; it’s also a bad pun if you know humor).