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TOKYO -- Japanese computer games giant Sony announced in late January that it plans to consolidate its gaming business units, Sony Computer Entertainment and Sony Network Entertainment International, to form Sony Interactive Entertainment as of April 1. The PlayStation business sold about 20% of the group total for the October-December quarter of 2015.

     The integration is aimed at bringing the company's geographically scattered gaming resources -- hardware, software and services -- together under one roof, allowing for a more flexible and integrated business that can react far more quickly in an ever changing market.

     While many see the logic behind the move, there is concern that Sony has decided to relocate the base of its gaming business to San Mateo, in California's Silicon Valley.

     Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony's executive deputy president and chief financial officer, explains that the rationale is based in the company's desire to remain at the forefront of the gaming and entertainment business, and that transformation of digital content typically emerges in the U.S.

Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima gives a financial briefing on Feb. 2.

     Gaming has been one of Japan's key industries for decades. According to a survey by The Nikkei, roughly 70% of the gaming console market worldwide was shared by Sony and Japanese video game giant Nintendo in 2014. Recent research by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry says Japanese content accounted for 20% of the global gaming content market, eclipsing the country's presence in the world's broadcasting or music industries.  

     For many years, Nintendo was a pioneer in the industry and SCE succeeded in making its own way by opening up a new market with the PlayStation. The business also worked together with Toshiba and IBM on developing superchip named the Cell, and has quite literally led the digital entertainment industry since its foundation in 1993.

     SCE says it will retain some functions, including hardware development, in Tokyo after April's restructuring. Relocation to the U.S. does not mean Japan loses its gaming industry, but the relocation is highly significant.  

     According to "How Google Works", a book by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg, physical location "matters more than ever" today. The book argues: "We used to think that the advent of Internet and other communication technologies would lead to more hubs springing up and reduce the importance of existing ones, but in fact the opposite is true."

     It also says each industry has its own ideal locations that could attract the "best smart creatives." It names some industrial hubs: New York, London, Hong Kong, Frankfurt and Singapore for finance; Boston and Basel for biotech; and Singapore and Shanghai for shipping.

     Few would argue that Silicon Valley is the hub for information technology, and as technology becomes an intrinsic part of virtually every process in every industry, the attraction of the area becomes ever stronger. 

     The relocation of such an iconic name may reflect the weakening presence in the field of a country that once dominated the world's gaming industry.

     In Tokyo earlier this week, Nintendo and GungHo Online Entertainment, the Tokyo-based online game operator known for the hit title "Puzzle and Dragons," separately unveiled their business performance for the October-December quarter, both of which made grim reading for Japan's gaming industry.

     Japan is also often thought of as one of the world's automobile hubs, but the auto industry too is also gravitating towards Silicon Valley. Auto giant Toyota Motor in November said it will launch an artificial intelligence research institute in Palo Alto, California.

     In case you were wondering, How Google Works did not cite Japan as the world's automobile hub. That honor went to southern Germany.

     The country's largest companies seem interested solely in mergers and consolidations these days. Japan's top steelmaker Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal announced this week it plans to buy the fourth largest Nisshin Steel. But the move is hardly likely to encourage the country to build industrial hubs at home. It appears the time when Japan struggles to name an industry in which it plays a main role may come a lot sooner than we think.





crash bandicoot poster

The official Middle East PlayStation Twitter page posted an interesting picture on its account today. It shows a wanted poster of Crash Bandicoot. Is there more to this tease that we don’t know?

As you can see for yourself, there is a poster of Crash Bandicoot that the Twitter page shared. The Arabic writing says “Wanted” at the top and there is a PlayStation logo water marked at the bottom left hand corner of the poster. It’s interesting though that they chose a more modern design for the character as opposed to the Naughty Dog version.

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This wanted poster could mean nothing, but it is interesting to highlight since this is not the first time that Sony PlayStation has expressed interest in rebooting the character. We all saw SCEA’s Shawn Layden wear a Crash shirt when he was presenting at PlayStation Experience back in December 2015.

There is demand within PS4 owners for the character to return in some shape or form whether it’s a reboot or remake. However, Activision still owns the rights to the character and Sony (aside from teases) has not yet made formal arrangements to buy him back again.

Funnily enough, Crash Bandicoot wasn’t even able to be a guest character in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 5. Developer Robomodo wanted him in, but Activision told them they couldn’t put him in the skateboarding game.





[UPDATE] Breath of Fire 3 will launch for PS Vita, PSP, and PlayStation TV this coming Tuesday, February 9, Sony confirmed during the latest PlayStation Blogcast (via DualShockers).

The original story is below.

Capcom has announced classic PlayStation RPG Breath of Fire 3 will be re-released as a downloadable title on PlayStation Network. The game will be available as a PSP title, which means it can be played on the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation TV.

The game will be available for $9.99 this February. A more specific release date was not provided. Capcom said it will "have a bit more information when the game launches."

In other Capcom news, the Japanese company reported its financial results for the nine-month period spanning April 1 to December 31, 2015. Overall, it showed an increase in net revenue.

Monster Hunter X, which was released in Japan late 2015, was described as "a major hit." Although Capcom forecasted it would sell 2.5 million units, it surpassed these expectations and reached sales of 3.2 million units.

The next big game for Capcom is Street Fighter V, which is set for launch on PlayStation 4 and Steam on February 16.

The PlayStation 4 and PC exclusive will receive a free, expanded story mode in June. This will have over an hour of "cinematic content" and fill in the storyline between Street Fighter IV and the new game.



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