Fall is in the air, and the game industry is back in full swing. Hurrah! Let's take a look at the latest hijinks from Japan, the unfortunate hijinks that forced Valve to crack down on Steam's Greenlight program, and a few other news tidbits and rumors from the game industry this week.
Hatsune Miku Boosts Vita Sales
What does it take to give the Vita a major sales bump in Japan? Apparently, an artificial pop diva. Hatsune Miku is the name of the most popular vocaloid performer, an anime avatar who sings songs using software that creates synthesized vocal performances. Miku is so popular that her animated projection can fill concert halls in Japan, and despite the existence of Hakune Miku rhythm games on other systems, she's also popular enough to sell PlayStation Vitas.
Miku's latest rhythm game, Project Diva F for the Vita, sold 158k copies in Japan during its launch week, more than the system's previous best Japanese software launch, which was Persona 4 Golden. More importantly for Sony, the PS Vita sold 46,800 units in Japan last week , while the previous, pre-Diva week's total was 9,000.
It's highly unlikely that the Project Diva game will even come to North America, nor would it sell many copies here if it did. On this continent we prefer actual, plastic-enhanced musicians with performances that are heavily computer-altered. Perhaps we're not so different from Japan, after all.
Ubisoft Scraps Always-On DRM
After years of negative press about the always-on DRM that it shackles PC gamers with, Ubisoft has finally admitted that it's abandoning that anti-piracy strategy. Games that the company has released since last June have only required a one-time online activation, and that will be the company's policy going forward. In an interview with Rock, Paper, Shotgun, an Ubisoft representative admitted that the company abandoned always-on DRM in response to customer complaints.
How does this square with recent comments by Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot defending Ubisoft's DRM as a successful piracy deterrent while simultaneously claiming that the company's PC games suffer a 90-95% piracy rate? Not very well, but Guillemot has a long-standing reputation for making hyperbolic statements about piracy. It seems cooler heads at the company prevailed in terms of the DRM scheme, and the company will no longer force paying customers to be connected to the Internet in order to enjoy single-player, offline games.
More Skies of Arcadia? We Can Only Hope
A sharp-eyed NeoGAF poster has noticed that SEGA recently renewed its trademark on Skies of Arcadia. This cult favorite RPG starring a band of sky pirates was originally released for the Dreamcast, then re-released on the Nintendo GameCube with some gameplay tweaks and expanded content. There have been rumors that it would be among the next few HD re-releases to come from SEGA, so this trademark renewal adds to gamer hope that we'll be seeing this classic in HD.
Of course, SEGA could simply be protecting its intellectual property with this trademark renewal, but we gamers are always hopeful about the things they love.