Square Enix Stops Basing Decision on Puns

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: square enix, shinra, cloud computing

Shinra Technologies was a cloud computing service from Square Enix. Unlike OnLive and PlayStation Now, it wasn't intending to offer existing titles to incompatible devices by hooking input and returning video. They wanted to use this service to create new titles, even with third-parties like Ubisoft, that offload big computational elements to their servers. Those should be latency-insensitive parts, but details would be game dependent of course. This is similar to Microsoft's Xbox program, which is said to power the upcoming game for the Xbox One, Crackdown 3.

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Image Credit: Final Fantasy Wikia

We now say was, because Square Enix killed the program. It was created as a subsidiary to keep it separate from the game development division, which might have given some comfort to third-party developers. It also allowed them to secure funding for the program independently, except that investors did not sign on. Without external capital, Square Enix dissolved the division at a loss of about $17 million USD.

CES 2016: Rise of the Tomb Raider NVIDIA Bundle

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2016 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: square enix, nvidia, CES 2016, CES

NVIDIA has just announced a new game bundle. If you purchase an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, GTX 980 desktop or mobile, GTX 980 Ti, GTX 980M, or GTX 970M, then you will receive a free copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider. As always, make sure the retailer is selling the participating card. If the product has a download code, it will be specially marked. NVIDIA will not upgrade non-participating stock to the bundle.

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Rise of the Tomb Raider will go live on January 29th. It was originally released in November as an Xbox One timed exclusive. It will also arrive on the PlayStation 4, but not until “holiday,” which is probably around Q4 (or maybe late Q3).

If you purchase the bundle, then you graphics card will obviously be powerful enough to run the game. At a minimum, you will require a GeForce GTX 650 (2GB) or an AMD HD 7770 (2GB). The CPU needs are light too, requiring just a Sandy Bridge Core i3 (Intel Core i3-2100) or AMD's equivalent. Probably the only concern would be the minimum of 6GB system RAM, which also requires a 64-bit operating system. Now that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have been deprecated, 32-bit gaming will be increasingly rare for “AAA” titles. That said, we've been ramping up to 64-bit for the last decade. one of the first games that supported x86-64 was Unreal Tournament 2004.

The Rise of the Tomb Raider NVIDIA bundle starts today.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

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Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

Final Fantasy IX PC Version Confirmed (for Japan)

Subject: General Tech | December 31, 2015 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy

Back in September, SquareEnix announced that Final Fantasy V was coming to the PC. I took the opportunity to list all the main-line Final Fantasy titles, sorted by generation, and classified them as having a PC release (or not). The odd one out was Final Fantasy IX. It belongs in the set of three original PlayStation titles, but, unlike VII and VIII, was not given a PC release at the time. I was worried that SquareEnix might not go through the trouble for just a single game.

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Apparently, they are doing a version for PCs and Smartphones. It looks somewhat similar to the handheld remake of Final Fantasy III, although that is similar to the PlayStation graphics. It is possible that it will not make it to a worldwide release, but, since the website is fully translated into English, you would expect that the game would be localized, too. If the game is localized, there's very little reason to block it off geographically.

They only have system requirements for iOS. They will probably list Windows system requirements at a later date, which I assume the disable “System” button refers to. Android 4.1 is required for that platform, but they don't say anything about hardware. Regardless, I doubt that this will require much.

Source: Square Enix

Final Fantasy V Coming September 24th

Subject: General Tech | September 11, 2015 - 07:01 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy v, final fantasy

While the upcoming Final Fantasy XV release is still slated as console-only, SquareEnix has been bringing a substantial portion of their back catalog to Windows. The company seems to be slowly marching the Super Nintendo era toward Steam, just recently announcing that Final Fantasy V will join III and IV on September 24th. This leaves just Final Fantasy VI missing from that era, at least from the main series, which suggests that it will join the party (pun intended) in a little while.

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A few other titles are still in radar silence. The entire NES era, Final Fantasy I and II, is no-where to be found... unless you count the former's re-release on Windows phone (although, even if you do, a case for “no-where to be found” could still be made). From there, everything has made it to the PC until you reach the aforementioned Final Fantasy VI.

From the PlayStation generation, both VII and VIII launched on the PC back in the late 90s, and both have been re-released on Steam, so those are fine. The only missing title is Final Fantasy IX, which is currently an original PlayStation exclusive. It has not been remade for any other system, period. This is a bit concerning, because it means that a team cannot be set aside to bulk-port a chunk of titles. Every port from that generation stemmed from their PC versions, so this would (at least I expect) need to be a special case. It never had one. Would they think the effort's worth it?

Next is the PlayStation 2 generation. This is a PC dead zone, apart from Final Fantasy XI, the MMO, which launched on Windows alongside Sony's console. We need ports of Final Fantasy X, X-2, and XII for the platform to be complete. Interestingly, the PS4 has just received an HD remaster of X and X-2, but XII is stuck on the PS2 (at least for now).

This brings us to the PS3 generation. The only thing we're waiting for is Lightning's Return, which is the third installment of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy. It has been announced and, in fact, should have already launched several months ago. SquareEnix has confirmed a delay, re-affirmed that the PC will get it, but a firm date has not been set. Still, I'll count it as “PC”. Final Fantasy XIV was an MMO that launched, a few times, on Windows.

Lastly, Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy VII Remake may or may not come to the PC. Who knows?

So, ignoring the offshoots, we are currently missing: Final Fantasy I, Final Fantasy II, Final Fantasy VI, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, and Final Fantasy XII (plus the future titles). It is funny how SquareEnix seems to be grouping the ports by generation. While it looks fairly random from the Steam search page, the gaps make sense when you consider the work required to port a game. Ressurrecting Final Fantasy IX is a completely different process than VI.

Final Fantasy V will come to Steam on September 24th. Some may argue with the price, but you can wait for it to come on sale if that is an issue. You've waited long enough already.

Source: Steam

Final Fantasy XIV for Mac Sales Pulled Temporarily. PC's Fine.

Subject: General Tech | July 7, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, mac os x, final fantasy xiv, final fantasy

When Final Fantasy 14 launched on the PC, it was plagued with bugs and gameplay problems. It led to Square basically remaking the game and relaunching it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The relaunch was highly successful, as Square learned from their inexperience with the PC. They recently decided to expand to the Mac alongside the release of their new expansion pack, Heavensward, for the PC. The published system requirements for the Mac version were later retracted by Square... and you can see where this is going.

They have since temporarily pulled game sales and offered full refunds. The game will go back on sale when they update “information on the product, system requirements, and screen resolution”.

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The Mac will get the MMO, but Noctis time. Ignis wasn't in the cards.

I guess you could say they'll get on it Prompto? Yes I know I'm punning the wrong title...

In the forum post, Square lists a few reasons for the error. First, a handful of customers were accidentally provided a pre-release build ahead of the official launch, due to a “miscommunication with retailers”. As mentioned though, the official release had performance issues and Square blames that on OpenGL and how it tied into their project. They claim that Final Fantasy 14 developed for Mac OSX's implementation of OpenGL would perform 30% worse than Microsoft's DirectX counterpart. They quickly clarify that OpenGL is not 30% slower than DirectX, but that factor applies to OpenGL on Mac, DirectX on Windows, and specifically for Final Fantasy 14.

An interesting note is that Square claims to have outlined several system requirement candidates, and was waiting on QA and final engineering to “select the correct one”. Yikes. Talking about software coming in hot, they did not even know their target hardware until into the shipping process, if you take their word at face value.

Square intends to ship a functional Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn to OSX at some point.

Source: Square Enix

Square Enix Announces Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Subject: General Tech | April 10, 2015 - 07:00 AM |
Tagged: tressfx, square enix, eidos montreal, dx12, DirectX 12, deus ex: mankind divided, deus ex

Deus Ex: Human Revolution came out in 2011 as a prequel to Ion Storm's Deus Ex and Deus Ex: Invisible War. Human Revolution was made after Warren Spector left the company and Eidos closed down the Austin, Texas developer, leaving the franchise to Eidos Montreal. By the time of Human Revolution's release, Eidos was already purchased by the Japanese publisher, Square Enix. Deus Ex was set in 2052 and Invisible War was set in 2072. Human Revolution, being a prequel as mentioned earlier, rewound the clock to 2027 and introduced a new main character, Adam Jensen. It explored the rise of machine-human augmentations that formed much of the lore in the original titles.

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Timeline and theme established, Square Enix has just announced Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, the sequel to the prequel with a great looking (albeit a little bloody) trailer. It is set in 2029, which is just two years after events of Human Revolution. It will be coming to the PC, as well as the two most-next-gen consoles. As expected, Adam Jensen returns as the main character. Now that Square Enix and its subsidiary, Eidos, spent so much to build him up as a brand, it makes sense that they would continue with the consumer recognition. Makes sense from a business perspective, although it probably means the franchise will meander less through time. I will leave that up to the reader to decide whether that's good or bad.

AMD Gaming has also tweeted out that Mankind Divided, or its PC version at the very least, will utilize both DirectX 12 and TressFX. I am curious whether TressFX has been updated to take advantage of the new API, given how important GPU compute is to the new graphics standards. No release date has been set.

Source: Square Enix

(Oldish News) Kingdom Hearts 3 on Unreal Engine 4

Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2014 - 11:15 PM |
Tagged: square enix, kingdom hearts 3, unreal engine 4, ue4

I did not report on this the first time because it did not seem like a credible rumor. As it turns out, they were citing an interview with the game's director from Famitsu, the Japanese video game magazine. Basically, while Square likes to make their own engine to use with their RPG projects, their Luminous Engine did not satisfy their needs so they decided to shift production to Unreal Engine 4. While it is still not scheduled to come to the PC, we know that the engine feels at home on our platform.

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Image Credit: Wikipedia

As an aside, Famitsu is a surprisingly hard website to machine translate for any content after the first page. I will make a mental note to not feed written content through JavaScript in any website that I make, for the sake of international readers. I eventually had to copy and paste the text directly into Microsoft Translate. It was a pretty terrible experience, but I digress. If you wish to see the interview, do not expect your browser's built-in tools to help. Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V.

It seems pretty clear that Kingdom Hearts was not moved to Unreal Engine 4 for PC support. That would just be silly. More likely, their internal engine might have needed a little extra development work and, especially with the vastly different art styles of Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy, they moved the two release dates further apart. Maybe they will even release Kingdom Hearts 3 earlier than intended?

But, if it does come to the PC, it seems somewhat more likely that it will function better than Final Fantasy XIII does. That title was locked to 720p with a few odd quirks, like Esc being the equivalent of "/qq" despite even Alt+F4 giving a warning prompt, and that it seems to require a keyboard to close (I could not find a way to close the game with the gamepad or mouse alone). That said, while a tangent-to-a-tangent, I did like the option to have the original, Japanese dub. Yet again, I digress.

This was not the first time that Square has developed an RPG on Unreal Engine. The Last Remnant, for the Xbox 360 and PC, was developed on Unreal Engine 3. Kingdom Hearts 3 does not have a release date, but it might be sooner than we expect (and probably much earlier than Final Fantasy XV).

Source: Famitsu

Sleeping Dogs Developer's Triad Wars Is PC Exclusive

Subject: General Tech | September 22, 2014 - 11:43 PM |
Tagged: united front, triad wars, square enix, sleeping dogs

Triad Wars, set in the Sleeping Dogs universe, takes the setting into an online "open-world" game that is exclusively for the PC. United Front, the developer of both Sleeping Dogs and this title, is said to be partnering with Nexon to make it a free-to-play game, at least last we heard. Suddenly, PC-exclusivity makes a lot of sense. The game is currently in closed beta, which they are accepting applications for, but it is set to launch in 2015.

The most weird part, to me at least, is that Square Enix is still involved with the title and Nexon is mentioned nowhere (outside of the aforementioned statement by United Front's CEO's from last June). United Front is definitely the developer, okay, but how are the other two companies involved, specifically? Did Nexon get pushed out? How is Square involved, other than hosting the accounts? No clue. Perhaps this will be answered in tomorrow's Reddit AMA. We'll see.

Triad Wars is expected to be Free-to-Play and officially launch in 2015.

Source: United Front

Square Enix Interested in Final Fantasy PC

Subject: General Tech | February 20, 2014 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: square enix, pc gaming, final fantasy

Update: Fixed a couple of points as per the comments.

Final Fantasy might be returning to the PC as its publisher, Square Enix, grows more interested in the platform. Final Fantasy VII and VIII were both available on the PC within a few months of their original PlayStation releases. Since then, Final Fantasy was basically non-existent on the platform, beyond the two MMO releases (XI and XIV).

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Within the last year, both titles were re-released on Steam to decent sales. Yoshinori Kitase, producer for the franchise, told Eurogamer that this popularity has grabbed their attention. He acknowledged that the developer does not have a lot of experience with creating a good PC experience, but they could be very interested in the future.

It's an early stage for us. We haven't got an awful lot of experience in this field. So when we have more know-how and experience in this market we would be very interested.

Kitase also noted that, by ignoring the PC platform, their games are completely off the table in several markets. He did not mention any markets by name, but China only recently reopened its borders to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo after banning them in 2000. In Brazil, a PS4 launched at a little over 3x the US price, after converting into USD, because of tax and other distribution issues.

Also, while not mentioned in the article, Square Enix has been very active in porting their back-catalog to mobile platforms. This seems to be a time of re-evaluation for the company. While they have had recent troubles with projecting sales figures, mostly with Eidos releases, they have at least dodged Games for Windows Live in favor of Steam.

Also, ending with a pun, Final Fantasy VII supports Cloud Saves. Hehehe.

Source: Eurogamer

Eidos Montreal Founder Resigns, Claims Square Enix Exhibits Lack of Leadership and Courage

Subject: General Tech | July 24, 2013 - 04:51 AM |
Tagged: thief, square enix, gaming, eidos montreal

Stephane D'Astous, the founder and general manager of Eidos Montreal, has officially resigned from the company. D’Astous had some harsh comments for his now-former employer following his resignation.

Eidos Montreal is, of course, a company acquired in 2009 by Square Enix. Eidos Montreal is a game development company known for Deus Ex: Human Revolution (my PC Per Game of the Year), Tomb Raider, and the upcoming Thief title. Founder D’Astous felt confident in his team’s ability to make good games, but felt that Square Enix displayed a lack of courage and leadership that caused Square Enix’s sales of those games to falter. The Eidos Montreal founder further indicated that there are communications issues between Square Enix and Eidos Montreal, and that Eidos Montreal has not been integrated well into owner Square Enix. He had a different idea of what should be done to return the company to profitability and the differences between D’Astous and Square Enix’s plans were too dissimilar.

Eidos Montreal will continue development of Thief.

Specifically, Stephane D’Astous was quoted by Eurogamer in saying:

"The lack of leadership, lack of courage and the lack of communication were so evident, that I wasn't able to conduct my job correctly. I realized that our differences were irreconcilable, and that the best decision was unfortunately to part ways."

Eidos Montreal will continue to develop Thief, Final Fantasy XV, and other games under new leadership. D’Astous did express regret for not being able to be a part of Thief, but beyond the games it is apparent that D’Astous is not happy with Square Enix’s management of Eidos Montreal.

What do you think about D'Astous' departure?

Source: Shack News