How much longer can Sony afford to bleed money like an inbred hemophiliac monarch? New CEO Kaz Hirai sure doesn't want to see the company dancing on the red line for much longer, and he thinks gaming is part of the company's solution. Find that story and more dragon-shouting, space opera-playing fun in today's Weekly Dish.
Sony Bleeds Money, Reorganizes
Industry watchers know it's been a rough road for Sony lately, but we didn't know it was quite this bad. The company is now forecasting a loss of 6.4 billion dollars for the last fiscal year, double its previous estimates. New Sony CEO Kaz Hirai is planning to chop 10,000 jobs as the company narrows its focus and sells off or abandons unprofitable areas segments of the business.
It appears that gaming has generally been good to Sony, as the company plans to make gaming, digital imaging, and mobile devices the main areas of growth for the future. Sony hopes to make these three areas responsible for 70% of its sales by 2014. Notably absent is hope for the television segment of the business, which has been losing money for the last eight years, especially as the mass market has rejected Sony's concentration on high-priced 3D TVs.
Will Sony's focus on gaming as a growth sector actually be good for gamers? It can be hard to tell with the mercurial company, which doesn't always adopt consumer-friendly practices. The good news for traditional hardcore gamers is that this current gaming focus is squarely on the PlayStation 3, PS Vita, and other traditional gaming devices. Sony especially wants to improve its PlayStation Network offerings, expanding its digital gaming catalog and the availability of various subscription services on the PSN. Is that an oblique hint that Sony is thinking of charging subscription services for what is currently basic PSN functionality, similar to Xbox Live Gold? We'll keep an eye on that as Sony moves forward into what it hopes is a more profitable 2012 fiscal year.
Zenimax Trademarks Fus Ro Dah
Skyrim's draconic battle cry of "Fus Ro Dah" is quite popular with gamers, who have made the cry's usefulness for knocking enemies around into an Internet meme. Naturally, Bethesda's parent company ZeniMax has noticed this popularity and decided to see if it can suck some money out of Fus Ro Dah's tasty marrow, while simultaneously reserving the right to sue anybody else who uses it for commercial purposes. ZeniMax has filed Fus Ro Dah trademarks for a wide variety of saleable objects, from games and software (understandable) to bobbleheads and backpacks. I suddenly have a vision of little kids dressed as viking warriors singing, "I am stuck on Fus Ro Dah brand shouts 'cause bears are stuck on me."
California Wants Online Pass Warnings
There's been a generally cranky gamer reaction to the institution of online passes in games, whether it be toward the publishers who institute those passes or toward the retailers who fail to warn used game customers that they'll need to pay to go online. Some of those cranky customers have preliminarily come to a class-action lawsuit settlement with GameStop Corp. in the State of California. Under the settlement, GameStop will post signs on its used game shelves in California, warning customers that some used games require the purchase of an additional pass in order to be played online. In addition, customers who have purchased qualifying games prior to this settlement may be entitled to $5 and $10 checks and coupons. Baron and Budd, the law firm that filed the suit, is now investigating the possibility of launching similar suits in other states.
March Sales Numbers
March's NPD numbers are out, and it wasn't the greatest month for the North American video game industry. New physical software sales were down by 25% and hardware sales down by 35%. Analysts expected these drops, though, and the NPD itself notes that digital sales, subscriptions, rentals, used games sales, and social gaming sales add quite a bit more revenue to the industry. Like it or not, the landscape of gaming is changing.
Mass Effect 3 topped the gaming charts in March, followed by Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City, MLB 12: The Show, NBA 2K12, SSX, Street Fighter X Tekken, Mario Party 9, Modern Warfare 3, Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja, and Major League Baseball 2K12. Although it didn't make the top ten, Nintendo's Kid Icarus: Uprising for the 3DS also did quite well this month—it just couldn't compete as a single-platform title against the largely multiplatform games on the list.
I mention that because I'm personally quite addicted to Kid Icarus: Uprising. Although it has a few control issues, the game itself is so much fun they almost don't matter. I recommend giving it a try if you have a 3DS. And with that, this Weekly Dish is signing off.
Date: April 13, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central.*