This Week in Games - That New Console Smell

3 months ago 35

Hey again, folks! You might have noticed I wasn't around for This Week in Games last week, but that's okay – everyone was too busy determining the fate of the free world. As far as gaming news goes, last week was absolutely dead.

In between this column and the previous one, however, we published an interview with Yakuza series localization head Scott Strichart and a full review of Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which is out on quite a few platforms this week! Please do check them out if you haven't already.

As for this week… well, uh, news is still kinda dead, actually! Obviously, the BIG thing this week is the launch of the Xbox Series consoles and the PlayStation 5. People got their Xbox preorders earlier this week, and everything looked pretty smooth there. The PS5 technically launches today, but a few folks got their systems in early, and reception seems positive. We'll see how general availability goes, though – PS5 preorders were a mess, and I know a lot of folks are waiting for non-preorder stock to open up to try and snag one.

Me? I haven't bought either yet, and probably won't until next year. In all honesty, this might be the least excited I've ever been about a console launch: There aren't very many games to choose from, and most of the big titles coming are things that are also available on the current console generation. There's absolutely no reason to get a new system right this minute, aside from that ever-marketable Fear Of Missing Out. I think I'll be fine for now, thanks.

Anyway, news is very light this week, but let's take a look at the headlines anyway.

SEGA-SAMMY'S AMUSEMENT BUSINESSES TAKE A HUGE HIT

There were some headlines floating around a few days ago saying that “Sega's leaving the arcade business!”, leading to much misery and lamentation about the “end of an era” online. Indeed, Sega is selling many of its iconic red-and-white-colored arcade locations in Japan. However, the real story is more complex and perhaps a bit less dire than you might think. (It's still not good, though.)

I don't know if you've heard, but there's a massive global pandemic happening right now, and it's caused quite a few problems for certain types of businesses--particularly businesses that involve sitting in close proximity to other people within a confined space. While Japan has lifted many of its lockdown precautions on places like arcades and pachinko parlors (for now – COVID rates have seen a serious spike over the last few days there), people are still quite understandably wary of going to these establishments. Unfortunately, Sega-Sammy Holdings -- the giant company that controls the game makers we know as Sega and Atlus – has been hit particularly hard by this. One of this conglomerate's biggest businesses is pachinko and pachislot machines and establishments… and another arm, Sega Entertainment, manages their arcade facilities.

So late last week, Sega-Sammy Holdings announced that they will be selling a good chunk (about 85%) of Sega Entertainment's shares to a company called GENDA. GENDA's businesses include running arcade facilities, renting out arcade cabinets, and even managing some of those cellphone apps where you play a UFO catcher machine for prizes remotely. This means many of Sega's arcade locations will be coming under GENDA's control, but worry not -- these facilities will retain the Sega branding, so you'll still see big Sega-logoed arcades in Japanese areas with lots of foot traffic.

The important thing to realize here, however, is that Sega Entertainment (the arcade management company) is a different entity from Sega Corporation (the game development company). While Sega-Sammy is divesting itself of the business that manages arcades, Sega Entertainment is still happily producing arcade games. In particular, Sega's been doing extremely well with rhythm games like Ongeki, MaiMai, and Chunithm. So yes, Sega-Sammy still wants Sega Corp to make and sell arcade games… they just don't actually want to run the arcades anymore. Makes sense.

Unfortunately, however, this isn't the end of Sega-Sammy's woes. Pachinko and pachislot facility earnings are down by a whole hell of a lot, and guess who happens to run a whole bunch of those?

While sales of games are going extremely well — so well, in fact, that Sega now wants to port more of both Atlus's and their own back catalog to PC – the amusement facilities like pachinko and arcades are dragging everything else down, and it's all thanks to that little bastard COVID. Company executives will be taking a pay cut, and around 650 of the company's 9,051 employees are being asked to voluntarily retire from the firm.

Yeah, rough times, but Sega-Sammy expects to weather it, so you can put away those “MICROSOFT WILL BUY SEGA!!!” rumors that seem to pop up every time it looks like something's happening with Sega. Still, there's something more than a little distressing here. The arcade business in Japan has been declining for a while. Sega dropping most of their arcades is like hearing the floorboards creaking moments before the ground collapses. I really don't know if arcades will ever recover to their pre-COVID state when all of this is over.

NEWSBITS

Surprise! Bandai-Namco dropped the newest Tekken 7 patch and DLC season 4 just a couple of days ago, and it's really, really good! The netcode's not quite “you can play across continents” good, but it's definitely been improved to the point where people are eager to hop online to play again.

As wrestlefans are no doubt painfully aware, former WWE 2K game developer Yuke's parted ways with the series a little while back, and the quality void they left behind has caused lots of problems. But WWE's loss is All Elite Wrestling's gain, and it was announced this week that AEW licensed games will be handled by Yuke's. Notably, Hideyuki “Geta” Iwashida -- who helmed the fan-favorite WWF No Mercy back on the N64 two decades ago – is going to be involved in the upcoming game's development.

Genshin Impact version 1.1 is out now, and I've already been witnessing plenty of summoning salt from failed gacha rolls. Besides the new character additions (Diona is absurdly cute), you now have a bunch of new quests, system overhauls, and bugfixes, too, so if you tore through all of the available 1.0 content and set the game aside, now's a good time to hop back in.

So ends a rather light newsweek. I haven't bought a PS5 or Xbox Series yet, but if you've got your new console, I'd love to hear what you think of it (and the games) so far – particularly if you've tried playing your older games on it. Please do post your thoughts in the forums below! Thanks as always for reading, and enjoy a lovely gaming weekend!

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