Article Title Date of Article
Capcom Home Game Line-Up March 29, 2000
Rambus In Legal Moves Against Sega, Hitachi March 28, 2000
Jaleco Releases "Dream Audition" March 23, 2000
Capcom in Wireless JV March 23, 2000
Sega Re-Structuring at Risk March 21, 2000
Namco To Close 50 Arcades March 3, 2000
101 Bln Yen for Sega March 2, 2000
Konami Raises Fiscal Forecast March 2, 2000
PS2 board for Coin-Op February 28, 2000
Namco Aim To Unify Arcade and Consumer Games February 23, 2000
New Punching Game from Konami February 23, 2000
"Drum Mania 2" Release Set February 23, 2000
"Marvel V Capcom 2" for Phone Network February 15, 2000
Namco Prez Buys Film Studio February 15, 2000
New Games for AOU Show February 9, 2000
Konami Develop New Brand February 9, 2000
New Psikyo PCB February 9, 2000
Konami Stock Split February 9, 2000
Konami Shares Rocket February 7, 2000
Konami, Namco, Capcom in Dot.Com Biz with Sony February 7, 2000
New Bemani has FDD February 7,2000
Konami Gets Nevada License February 2, 2000
Aruze Also Buys Sigma February 1, 2000
Aruze Buys SNK February 1, 2000
Aruze Profits Up 31% February 1, 2000
Yubis Closes Doors February 1, 2000
Konami Osaka 1st Net Game February 1, 2000
Konami/Universal Joint Title #1 February 1, 2000
Eidos Wins Sales Rights to "Bio Hazard" (Capcom) February 1, 2000
Latest "Beatmania" for release February 1, 2000
Capcom/KDD Joint Net Games February 1, 2000
GTI Club 2 for ATEI January 12, 2000
Big Namco Arcade for Kyoto January 12, 2000
Beatmania Complete Mix 2 January 12, 2000
Marvel V Capcom 2 Test January 12, 2000
Namco, Sega Invest in SGI Div. January 10, 2000
New Sega Games Look Good December 18, 1999
Konami Link With Universal Std. December 18, 1999
New Konami Keyboard Game December 10, 1999
Patent for Konami's DDR December 10, 1999
Sammy IPO December 10, 1999
Namco/AOL Japan Tie Up December 10, 1999
"Silent Scope 2" for ATEI December 6, 1999
Konami Used Game Auctions November 30, 1999
Sega To Spin Off R&D November 30, 1999
Namco Sets Up R&D School November 30, 1999
Nintendo Hit By Strong Yen November 25, 1999
Capcom Profit Down 27% November 24, 1999
Konami Profit Up 540% November 24, 1999
Namco Sue U.S. Firm/PacMan November 19, 1999
Namco Profit Down 40% November 17, 1999
Taito Set To Record Loss November 17, 1999
Striker 99 to Outlast 2000 November 15, 1999
Konami, Sega on Bad Terms November 15, 1999
Sega Unveil "18 Wheeler" November 11, 1999
Namco File Against Konami November 9, 1999
Namco/Hitachi in Joint R&D November 9, 1999
New Taito Flight Simulator November 4, 1999
Namco R&D Subsidiary November 4, 1999
Capcom Outlook Healthier November 4, 1999
Williams/Bally To Exit Pinball October 26, 1999
Nintendo Profit Down Over 70% October 25, 1999
Sega Found Guilty of Unfair Dismissal October 20, 1999
Sony Entertainment Complex for Tokyo October 18, 1999
Konami Developing Piano Game October 18, 1999
Osaka Court Rules Used Game Sales Illegal October 14, 1999
Konami To List Stocks in US October 14, 1999
New Game Info October 6, 1999
Sega's "Virtua NBA Basketball" to Debut End 1999 September 29, 1999
New Konami Fishing Game Kit September 29, 1999
"Crisis Zone", "Virtua Tennis" Prove Popular at AMOA September 29, 1999
"Dead or Alive 2" Voted Top Game at JAMMA September 18, 1999
"Crisis Zone" Star of the JAMMA Show September 13, 1999

(updated March 29, 2000)

Capcom Announces Home Game Line-Up

According to Capcom's fiscal report, it will release around 50 home video game titles in 2000. 15 titles will be for the PlayStation, 5 - 7 for PlayStation 2, 15 for Dreamcast, 2 - 4 for Nintendo 64 and 10 for handheld systems.

(updated March 28, 2000)

Rambus Asks ITC to Stop "Dreamcast" Imports

Rambus Inc., the U.S. maker of chip-to-chip interface technology products, is requesting the International Trade Commission to look into the importation and sale by Hitachi Ltd. and Sega Enterprises Ltd. of products covered by patents owned by Rambus.

In a press release Thursday 23 March, Rambus said its complaint cites Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi Semiconductor Inc., Sega Enterprises and Sega of America Inc. Rambus is requesting that the commission investigate Hitachi SDRAM and DDR SDRAM memory products, certain Hitachi SH series microprocessors, and Sega Dreamcast game consoles that use Hitachi microprocessors.

Rambus is asking the court for a preliminaryinjunction to stop importation of the memory and microprocessor products, as well as of Sega Dreamcast consoles. In January, Rambus filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Hitachi seeking injunctions to prohibit Hitachi's sale of certain memory and microprocessor products. Rambus filed a second patent infringement suit in February.

(updated March 23, 2000)

Jaleco Releases "Dream Audition"

Jaleco has released a coin-op music video game in which players compete in a virtual singing competition for a chance to participate in actual auditions. The name of the machine is "Dream Audition".

Players are rated by the machine on how well they sing selected songs. The music switches off if a player continually has problems keeping up with changes like variations in tempo.

Players who fulfill certain conditions, including an average score of at least 95 over the three-song tournament, will receive certificates qualifying them for a real audition.

The arcade game sells for about one million yen, and Jaleco expects first-year sales of 1,000 units.

Capcom, DDI, Kyocera in Portable Phone Software Venture

Capcom, Kyocera and DDI Corp. have jointly developed a wireless system for selling and distributing software for portable phones. Terminals to distribute the software will be installed at convenience stores nationwide starting from summer 2000. The advantage of the new system is that the download time and cost is much less than downloading over the internet.

DDI was responsible for designing the wireless network system and Kyocera was in charge of developing the vending terminal. Capcom will design the software and be responsible for the installation and maintenance of the machines.

Sega has already begun online software distribution for its Dreamcast console in cooperation with telephone company KDD while Nintendo is planning to sell software via its Game Boy consoles from April.

(updated March 21, 2000)

Low Share Price Threatens Sega Re-Structuring

Shares of Sega Enterprises Ltd. finished at JPY2,225 in Tokyo market trading today (March 21), much less than the 2,816 yen price the company has set for its planned private offering of new shares.

The planned capital increase would greatly improve Sega's cash position but the company may have to review its restructuring plans if the share price remains low.

Sega is faced with the redemption of about 88 billion yen of convertible bonds in September this year. It had cash reserves of 92.1 billion yen at the end of September 1999, but these have been dissipated by poor operating results. Sega expects to incur an operating loss of 33.8 billion yen for the fiscal year ending March 31.

(updated March 3, 2000)

Namco To Close 50 Arcades in Japan

Namco plans to reduce the number of game arcades it operates directly by about 10% by March 2002. The company at present operates around 450 arcades and aims to reduce this number to about 400 within two years. Of its present arcades, 70-100 locations will be closed with 20 new arcades opening.

Namco also plans to close 15 sales offices around Japan as part of its restructuring program. The amusement division's gross operating margin at present is 8% and Namco wants to raise this to 15%. The closure of sales offices is predicted to give savings of 2 billion yen per year while the closure of unprofitable arcades is expected to improve earnings by 3-4 billion yen.

(updated March 2, 2000)

Sega To Get 101 Billion Yen in New Capital

Sega announced on February 28 that it will issue 101.3 billion yen's worth of new shares through private placements with its parent company CSK Corporation and CSK chairman Isao Ohkawa. This will take place on April 3.

The capital injection became necessary due to flagging sales of Sega's Dreamcast console. Sales of the console were initiallly forecast to reach 1.1 million in the second half of the fiscal year but the target is now only 600,000. Similarly, game software sales are expected to total on 4.3 million against initial targets of 8.75 million. This means that Sega's home video game division is expected to incur an operating loss of 39.6 billion yen for the fiscal year, more than 20 billion yen more than expected.

With flagging domestic sales of the Dreamcast game console, the video game machine maker expects to post a 35.3 billion yen net loss in the current fiscal year ending March 31, far exceeding the 10.9 billion yen loss forecast earlier.

CSK Corp. and Ohkawa will each purchase 18 million new shares raising CSK's share in Sega to 24.5% and Ohkawa's to 13%.

Konami Revises Forecast Upwards

On March 2, Konami revised upwards its forecast of sales and net profit for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000. Consolidated group sales are forecast to be 145 billion yen, up from the previous forecast of 144 billion. Pretax profit is expected to be 29 billion yen, up from 27 billion yen.

Konami credited the popularity of its "Yu-Gi-Oh!" card game in Japan and better-than-expected arcade game sales in Asia for the upward revision. In the previous fiscal year ending March 31, 1999, Konami's consolidated sales were 113 billion yen and pretax profit was 16 billion yen.

(updated February 28, 2000)

PlayStation 2 Board for Coin-Op

Sony have developed a coin-op PC board based on the home video game console "Play Station 2" (PS2). It will be licensed to coin-op game makers who will attach their own interface board to the PS2 PCB. Sony developed this coin-op board in response to requests from companies developing both coin-op and PS2 games such as Namco, SNK, Capcom, Konami, Jaleco, Taito, Tecmo and Hudson. Using the same PCB for both coin-op and consumer games increases R&D efficiency and lowers the cost of coin-op machines.

(updated February 23, 2000)

Namco's "Slot Link System" links arcade & home games

Namco has announced the March release of its new arcade cabinet "Cyber Lead 2". The new cabinet will include card slots for the "Playstation" (PS) memory card and the "Dreamcast" (DC) visual memory. Namco will simultaneously release two video games for arcade and home use, the baseball game "Super World Stadium 2000" for PS and "Japanese Pro-Wrestling 4 Arcade Edition" for the DC.

The idea behind the cabinet is that player's will go to game centres to show off the skills they have mastered playing the games on their home systems. They can also use the player character profiles they have put together on their home video console. Namco say they are going to use the "Slot-Link" system to break down the borders between arcade games and home games.

New Punching Arcade Game from Konami "Punch Mania"

Konami announced on February that they will release a punch-themed arcade game at the end of March. The game name is "Punch Mania".

The cabinet has six punch pads. The player has to quickly punch the pads that light up. If the player's timing is good, the enemies life guage goes down. If it is bad, the player's guage goes down. More than a question of power, it is a test of timing. Bit of a mix between "Real Puncher" and "Wani Wani Panic". For a picture of the machine, click here (Konami Japan's home page photo).

"Drum Mania 2" for Release End March

Konami will release their latest music game "Drum Mania 2nd Mix" at the end of March. The machine will feature 54 songs and can be linked to "Guitar Freaks 3rd Mix" for joint drum-guitar performances. All the games Konami have pre-announced for the AOU Show are music-themed. Visiting arcades in Osaka and Kobe suggests that the music-game boom is coming to an end and Konami may be found with all their eggs in one basket.

But then there's always "Silent Scope 2", "GTI Club 2" and don't bet against a "Thrill Drive 2" given the original versions great popularity and scarcity.

(updated February 15, 2000)

"Marvel Vs Capcom 2": Versus Play over Phone Network

The first network game to come out of Capcom and phone company KDD's joint venture will be "Marvel Vs Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes". The play cost has been set at 13 yen per minute (about 12 cents). Capcom also intends to make it possible in future for players on different platforms, such as Dreamcast players and Playstation players, to play against each other over the network.

Nikkatsu To Sell Film Studio To Namco Prez Nakamura

Nikkatsu, the troubled film company will sell one of its Tokyo film studios to MAL Ltd., a company owned by its own president Masaya Nakamura. Nakamura is also president of game maker Namco Ltd. which is the court-appointed financial administrator helping Nikkatsu to restructure. MAL Ltd. is also a major shareholder in Namco.

Nikkatsu will continue to make films at the Tokyo studio by renting it from MAL Ltd.

Nikkatsu has debts of around 12 billion yen and the sale of the film studio for 7.8 billion yen as well as pending sales of other assets will enable the company to clear most of its liabilities. The company will also sell other assets such as golf course-related businesses and real estate.

(updated February 9, 2000)

Two Truck, Two Sniper Games for AOU Show

Namco, it seems, are determined to get up Konami's nose. After the tit-for-tat legal battle over their respective music-games (Konami claimed that Namco's "Guitar Jam" infringed upon their "Guitar Freaks"), Namco now plan to exhibit a game called "Sniper 13" at the AOU Show. The first sniper game "Silent Scope" was brought out by Konami in 1999 and is still enjoying great success. Konami will show "Silent Scope 2" at the AOU Show.

Given that Sega only showed their truck driving game "18 Wheeler" at the ATEI Show in London two weeks ago, it seems fishy that Namco will also bow a truck game "Truck Fantasy" at the AOU at end February. Anyway, enough of the conspiracy theory, here is a low-down on games to be exhibited at the AOU Show (Feb 25-26) in Tokyo:


"18 Wheeler Pro Trucker", "NASCAR", "Virtua NBA", "Touch Down 2" (football), "Star Wars Episode One Racer", "Sega Marine Fishing"


"Truck Fantasy" (driving), "World Stadium 4" (baseball), "Sniper 13" (gun), "World Kicks", "Aqua Rush" (puzzle)


"Beat Mania III", "Keyboard Mania", "Beat Mania II 3rd Style", "Drum Mania 2nd Mix", "Pop n' Music 4","Rap Freaks"


"SNK Vs Capcom", "Power Stone 2", "Spawn","Marvel Vs Capcom 2", "Mars Matrix" (shooting)


"Densha de Go 3", "Landing High Japan", "Saivania" (shooting)

Konami To Develop New Consumer Brand

Konami's marketing whizz kids have certainly got their finger out. They intend to set up a new brand "Major Wave" for their third-party software distribution business. Konami set up this new business section in February last year to market third-party consumer video games on Konami's established distribution route. Up until the end of 1999, the company had handled 50 titles and sold over one million units.

Up until now, the games were marketed by Konami under the name of the original software house but now Konami intend to market the games under the new brand "Major Wave". The sub-brand will be "Konami's Excellent Software Selection". The idea is to elevate the business from one going from title-to-title to a brand-based one. The recent AOL-Time Warner merger has shown again the power of "brand" and Konami do not want to miss out.

The first software under the "Major Wave" brand will be "Lattice" by the software house Noo Sight.

Psikyo To Release New Action PCB

Psikyo are to release "Lode Runner The Big Fight" in Japan in Spring. The game is for two players and has three play modes: practice, adventure and stage. The two players can cooperate or play against each other.

Konami To Split Sky-High Stock 2-for-1

Konami announced on Feb. 8 that it will splits its stock 2-for-1 on May 19. Konami's stock price has rocketed over 750% from its recent lows to stand at JPY19,700 at the end of trading on February 8. The stock split is designed to make the stock more affordable.

(updated February 7, 2000)

Konami Share Price Rockets over last Year

Japan has seen the huge price valuations for hi-tech and internet companies in the USA and is following suit. On Friday February 4, 2000, Japan's stock market index, the Nikkei, topped 20,000, a rise of over 50% from its low of 12,879 in October 1998.

High tech stocks have been at the forefront of this jump and Konami has been one of the best performers, up over 750% over the period. The biggest increase in share price was by Softbank, the internet-holding company, with a rise of 2,500%.

Latest Beatmania Game to Have Floppy Disc Drive

"Beatmania 3", due for release in Japan in mid-March, will include a floppy disc drive (FDD) so that players can save their game results and internet ranking password. The new machine will also have a foot pedal to allow players to remix the music in a maximum of 10 different ways.

Konami, Namco, Capcom In e-commerce Tie-Up with Sony

Sony have set up a new internet joint venture in Japan with eleven other companies. The new on-line retailer is called Playstation.com (Japan) Inc. and the initial capital is JPY480 million. At the end of March, Sony will have a private placement of new shares equivalent to approximately 20% of the capital and will distribute them to its eleven partners. These partners include game developers Namco, Konami, Capcom, Seven-Eleven Japan (Japan's largest convenience store chain), and Culture Convenience Club (Japan's largest video rental chain).

Sony will use the new website to sell the new video game console "Play Station 2" as well as game software. "Playstation 2", which will be released in Japan on March 4, includes a DVD player. Consumers will be able to order the console and game software on-line and then pick-up the goods at 7-11 convenience stores and Culture Convenience Club (CCC)video stores. There are approximately 8,000 7-11 stores in Japan and 1,000 CCC outlets.

In the longer term, Sony intends to bypass the normal distribution chain and offer digitized music, video and game software from its website.

(updated February 2, 2000)

Konami Gets Nevada Gaming License

On January 27 Konami obtained a license to manufacture casino gaming machines in Nevada. This marks the first time that a Japanese company has been granted a license to supply such machines to casinos in Las Vegas. The company's U.S. gaming subsidiary, Konami Gaming Inc., obtained licenses to manufacture and sell gaming machines on the same day. The subsidiary was established in 1997.

Konami Gaming Inc. will build a 2.5 billion yen production facility in Las Vegas to make horse-racing and slot machines and shipments to hotels and casinos in the city are expected to begin in autumn this year. Konami intends to expand its gaming business worldwide by obtaining similar licenses in New Jersey, California, Mississippi and several European countries.

The world market for gaming machines is expected to grow to more than 200 billion yen and Konami's goal is to eventually secure a 20% share. Its short-term goal is to achieve annual sales of 15 billion yen within three years. Konami's consolidated sales forecast for the fiscal year ending March 2000 is 144 billion yen.

(updated February 1, 2000)

Aruze Also Buys Sigma

Aruze Corp. has announced that it intends to acquire 4.35 million shares of Sigma Inc. for 1.68 billion yen, which would give it a 61.4% share in Sigma. Sigma operates over 70 game arcades in Japan as well as manufacturing coin-op gaming machines.

Aruze, which is a large pachinko machine manufacturer, will purchase the stock from Sigma President Katsuki Manabe and other top shareholders, with the deal due to be complete by the end of February. Aruze also wants to buy 2.5 million new shares for 950 million yen.

Aruze's goal is use the profits from its pachinko machines to develop a new business section operating amusement centers as a new source of earnings. It bought Osaka-based game software developer SNK Corp. earlier this month.

Aruze Buys SNK

On January 18, Aruze invested five billion Yen in SNK, thereby effectively taking over the company and making it its subsidiary. According to Aruze's news release, both companies intend to cooperate in the development and sales of coin-op and home video games as well as the operation of amusement arcades.

Aruze's long-term plan is to become an all-round amusement company and the buy-out of SNK gives Aruze entry into the amusement business alongside its pachislot and pachinko machine businesses.

Aruze 3rd Q'ter Profits Up 31%

Aruze Corp. posted Yen 20.7 billion in pretax profit for the period October to December 1999, up 31% from the same period last year. However, due to sluggish sales of pachinko machines, revenue for the quarter was only 35.6 billion yen, much lower than the forecast of 42 billion yen.

Aruze sold only 23,000 pachinko machines, much lower than the forecast of 85,000 units. However, with strong sales of pachi-slot machines, Aruze is expected to reach its full-year target of 140 billion yen in sales and 70.9 billion yen in pretax profit.

Yubis Seeks Protection of Courts

Yubis Corp., one of the largest amusement machine distributors in Japan, closed its doors on January 18 and filed for protection against its creditors to the Osaka District Court. Debts are estimated at five billion Yen.

Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka to Release First Network Game

KCE Osaka are to release five titles for transmission over the internet. The first titles is to begin transmission in early February for a monthly fee of JPY300. The game title is "Web Powerful Pro Baseball Home Run Derby" (tentative name). High scores will be compiled and prizes awarded.

Konami & Universal Interactive to Release First Joint Game

Konami and Universal Interactive will release "Nightmare Creatures 2" in the USA in Spring 2000. The game has been developed by Universal with Konami being responsible for production and marketing. The game will be made available for both the Playstation and Dreamcast.

Konami and Universal first announced their joint venture agreement in December 1999. The fact that Konami is undertaking the marketing side of the deal reflects the unique management structure in Konami where the R&D centers and marketing sections are separate business units and must survive in their own right. After the game is released in the USA, it will be then be rolled out in both Europe and Japan.

The original "Nightmare Creatures" sold 1.5 million copies worldwide with Sony Computer Entertainment handling the sales and marketing in Japan.

Eidos Win Sales Rights for Capcom's "Resident Evil: Gun Survivor"

On January 25, Capcom USA and Eidos Interactive announced agreement regarding sales rights for Capcom's home video game " Resident Evil". For the term of the contract, Eidos have exclusive sales rights for "Resident Evil: Gun Survivor" for Playstation and for "Resident Evil: Code Veronica" for Dreamcast. The game's name in Japan is "Bio Hazard".

"Beatmania II DX 3rd Style" for Release Feb 24

The latst in the DJ-series will feature a 40-inch monitor, silver cabinet and promotional videos of the featured artists. The 2-way and bass speakers as well as the bass-shaker foot plate are designed to increase the excitement of the game.

The game will include R&B licensed as well as Konami's own original songs for a total choice of 70 tunes.

Capcom & KDD in Joint Network Game Business

Capcom and KDD announced a plan to jointly develop network home games.

KDD will develop dedicated lines and control systems for the service, which will allow a number of players to compete with each other on the network. KDD will launch the service on March 1 and Capcom will to have five game titles ready for market by the end of March.

Players will dial a number from which KDD will connect them to Capcom servers where they can search for opponents. Players share the line fees, which will be about 55-65 yen per person for five minutes.

(updated January 12 2000)

GTI Club 2 for ATEI?

Konami is planning to show seven new amusement machines at the upcoming ATEI Show in London. However, for some reason, they are only going to show them off the show floor in a private booth, as they did last year with Silent Scope. The games include Silent Scope 2, as reported below and a sequel to the highly successful GTI Club.

It appears Namco will only have games seen at other shows and already released in Japan. Sega will have Virtua NBA and the promising 18 Wheeler. Taito, like Namco, will show several games that have already been released in Japan like Power Shovel, Go By Train 3 and Landing High Japan.

Pictures of most of these games can be seen on our new games page.

Major Namco Arcade Opens In Kyoto

Namco opened a large-scale entertainment facility in Kyoto on December 22. The new arcade "Namco Wondercity Kyoto-Minami" has an area of 9,000 square meters making it the largest arcade in Kyoto. The facility includes a video game arcade and billiard hall on one floor called "Plabo Kyoto Minami" and tenants on the othr floors including hamburger and sushi restaurants.

The facility has parking for 250 cars and Namco are expecting 2.4 million visitors a year and sales of 2.1 billion Yen.

Beatmania Complete Mix2 for release on January 27

Konami will release the latest in the beatmania series on January 27. The latest version "Beatmania Complete Mix 2" contains all the songs from the Beatmania series plus ten new songs. The machine will have over 70 songs to choose from. The machine includes an Internet feature allowing players to post their scores on the Internet by use of a password that comes up on the screen. Players can then see how they rank.

Location Test of "Marvel V Capcom 2"

Capcom are carrying out a location test of their new game "Marvel Vs Capcom 2 New Age of Heroes" in Osaka, according to the company's website. The test is taking place at the Shatow EX arcade from January 7 - 16.

(updated January 10 2000)

Sega Parent, Namco Invest in SGI Graphics Div. Spinoff

Sega's parent company CSK Corporation and Namco are have invested in Silicon Studio Ltd, the graphic contents division spun off by SGI Japan Ltd. The new company will leverage SGI's advanced digital technology in creating movies and video games. The new company is aiming for 3 billion Yen in sales in fiscal 2000.

The new company is capitalized at 210 million yen Company employees hold a 40% stake with the remainder being held by SGI Japan (19%), Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. (10%) CSK Corp. and Sumisho Electronics Co. (5% each), and Creek and River, Namco, Gaga Communications Inc. and CRC Research Institute Inc. (2% each).

(updated December 18 1999)

New Sega Games: Virtua NBA, Virtua Tennis & "18 Wheeler"

Sega held private shows throughout Japan in November to highlight the following three new games:

"18 Wheeler": this is a driving game with an 18-wheeler truck theme. The player uses a large truck steering wheel to traverse his truck across the US of A racing against other truckers. Looks very good, 10-4 good buddy.

"Virtua Tennis": this is called "Power Smash" in Japan. Sega used motion-capture technology to put the likenesses of top pro-tennis players into this tennis game. Price in Japan is JPY258,000 and release is December.

"Virtua NBA": this is a 5-on-5 basketball game based on a licence from the NBA. The game includes actual players' likenesses and play-styles. Again, looks good.

Konami in Alliance with Universal Studios

Konami announced on December 16 that it had entered into a formal global alliance with Universal Interactive Studios Inc. to develop and market next-generation interactive games. Universal Interactive is a wholly owned subsidiary of Universal Studios and has produced the best-selling "Crash Bandicoot" and "Spyro the Dragon" games for the PlayStation.

Under the partnership, Universal Interactive will develop games based on movies and TV shows from its parent Universal Studios Inc., and Konami will be responsible for the marketing and distribution of the games.

The Universal Studios character library includes characters from "Jurassic Park," Dr. Seuss' "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," Woody Woodpecker. Games based on these and other Universal Studios' characters are expected to come to market from next spring.

The games will be developed for a wide range of machines, including Sony's PlayStation, Sega's Dreamcast and Nintendo's "Nintendo 64". It is not clear under which brand the games will be marketed.

With the spin-off of its R&D sections into independent units, Konami is leveraging its established sales channels by entering into deals to market games from non-Konami developers. In Japan, for example, Konami has got the exclusive marketing rights to Video System's Formula 1 games for Nintendo 64 and Game Boy. Konami set up a separate marketing unit in February 1999 specificially to get the rights for and to market games from outside R&D houses.

(updated December 10 1999)

New Konami Music Game: "Keyboard Mania"

After the success of Beat Mania, Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Freaks and Drum Mania, Konami are due to release their latest music-themed game "Keyboard Mania" in January 2000. The game uses a real Yamaha keyboard with 48 keys. In the same way as the previous music games, the player has to press the keys according to instructions on the screen. The game has a total of 21 songs from ballads, to pop songs to classic melodies and jazz.

Konami Acquires Patent for DDR

On November 19, 1999, Konami were awarded patent rights for the game play incorporated in their dancing music game "Dance Dance Revolution". Patent # is 3003851. Konami is also applying for the same patent overseas.

Sammy To Go Public on December 16

Sammy Corp. which designs and manufactures "pachislo" (pachinko-slot) machines,will register its shares on the over-the-counter market on Dec. 16. The company was founded in 1975 as a developer of amusement arcade game machines. In 1982, it started developing and selling pachislo machines and sales from this business accounted for nearly 80% of the company's total sales last year.

Sammy is forecasting a record pretax profit of 6.9 billion for this fiscal year, up 32% on the previous year. Sales are forecast to be 47.3 million, a 4% increase.

Namco & AOL in Internet Tie-Up

AOL Japan are to feature Namco's "X-Day" games on its internet game arcade. The games were developed for the internet by Prohouse under license from Namco. "X-Day" checks the player's level of abnormality, life expectancy, lovability and other juicy tidbits. Price per play is between JPY100-300 but AOL members just pay the connection fee.

(updated December 6, 1999)

Konami To Launch "Silent Scope 2" at ATEI in London

Konami are planning to launch "Silent Scope 2" at the ATEI Show in London in January. The sequel will have link capability allowing players to compete or cooperate depending on the game mode. An extra element of reality is added with X-rays and infrared heat sensors which help players to spot enemies.

(updated November 30, 1999)

Konami Establishes Net Auction Site for Used Machines

On October 4, Konami opened a new website specificially for the buying and selling of used coin-operated machines. The business model uses a member-only system and the website is not accessible by non-members. Japanese operators wishing to become members must apply to Konami who then carry out an investigation of the operator. If accepted as a member, Konami supplies the operator free of charge with an internet terminal to access the website. Membership in the system is free.

The member posts any machines he wants to buy or sell and his target price on the website and then waits for the result. Konami have given few details on where its revenue will come from, for example does it charge a fee per posting, take a percentage of the sales price of successful transactions etc. The company running the website is Konami Amusement Operation which was newly established in March of this year.

Konami explain that buying and selling used machines on the internet should lead to operators being able to buy the machines they want at lower cost. Konami hope that this in turn will provide a boost also the market for new machines. From this it sounds like Konami are acknowledging that the buying and selling of used machines is a necessary element in the food chain of video game distribution.

Another unclear element is whether the Konami website will be limited to only Konami equipment or will be open to all machines, regardless of the original manufacturer. If other manufacturers machines are also sold on the website, it will be interesting to see if any legal issues arise. In a recent court ruling, the sale of used consumer games was deemed illegal due the the games being regarded as "cinematographic works". This rule could be applied to coin-op machines without much difficulty.

Sega To Spin Off & List R&D Divisions, Follows Konami Example

In an effort to control spiralling game development costs, Sega intends to spin off its nine video game development divisions into independent companies. The top-performing subsidiaries will be eventually listed on the numerous new Nasdaq-style stock exchanges now appearing in Japan. Sega intends to complete the spin-off of the divisions by April 2000.

The nine R&D divisions employ around 900 people, accounting for a quarter of the company's total work force. One of the nine divisions will be sold to CSK Corporation, Sega's mother company, for approximately 4-5 billion yen and Sega expects to list half of the remaining eight divisions on the stock exchange by 2002.

Delays in developing new video game titles have lead to development costs skyrocketing to 30 billion Yen per year which has severely hurt earnings. The company is forecasting a net loss for the present fiscal year, its third year of losses in succession. Spinning off the divisions is expected to reduce Sega's development costs by 20-30%. While the new subsidiaries are expected to become self-supporting, it is not clear if they will be free to develop games for companies other than Sega.

Konami enjoyed windfall profits from the spin-off and listing of its subsidiary Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka in Spring this year.

Namco Follows Konami Lead in Establishing R&D Training Centre

Namco plans to set up a training centre for video game developers in Spring 2000 in cooperation with Digital Hollywood Corp., an operator of game design schools in Japan. The centre will be called Namco Digital Hollywood Game Lab and will be located in Yokohama. The courses at the centre will be aimed at programmers who already have experience of basic computer graphics and will be six months in duration. Namco then plans to hire 30 graduates a year. The aim is to save on the in-house training period that new recruits usually have to go through before they can contribute to the company.

This step by Namco mirrors the training centre that Konami established in Kobe and which has been providing Konami with a regular stream of top-quality young game designers that have been behind the company's recent run of hit games such as Beat Mania, Dance Dance Revolution, Silent Scope and Thrill Drive.

(updated November 25, 1999)

Nintendo Profits Hit By Strong Yen

Nintendo's pretax profits for the six months ending September 30 were down 72% from the same period a year earlier at JPY20.2 billion. The company suffered foreign exchange losses of about JPY52 billion as a result of the stronger Yen depressing the Yen-value of the company's overseas assets.

Sales for the half-year period were down 5% at 190.2 billion yen. The strong Yen caused a drop in revenue of about 20 billion yen.

Pretax profit for the twelve months up to end March 2000 is forecast to be down 26% to 100 billion yen,. This assumes an exchange rate of JPY107 = US$1 at the end of the period. Sales are forecast to be 2% down at JPY460 billion. Consolidated sales for the full year are expected to be flat at JPY570 billion, while net profit is expected to be down 25% at JPY64 billion.

(updated November 24, 1999)

Capcom Profits Slump 27% in Mid-Term Results

Capcom announced on November 18 that its pretax profit for the six-month period up to September 30 was down 27% from the same period a year ago.

Capcom explain the decline on the extraordinary good royalty income enjoyed last year from the game "Biohazard 2" (known as "Resident Evil 2" overseas). Sales for the period rose 14% over last year. Capcom expects pretax profits for the full fiscal year to be 5 billion yen, three-times more than last year.

Konami Profits Up 540% For Half-Year

Konami announced on November 18 that its pretax profit for the period April - September 1999 rose 540% from the same period last year. Total profit for the half-year period was 16.6 billion yen. Konami said the excellent figures were due to robust sales of its dancing simulation arcade game series "Dance Dance Revolution" and good home video game sales.

Sales for the same period rose 83% to 69.5 billion yen meaning a profit/sales ratio of nearly 24%. Konami predicts profit of 22 billion for the full year, up 70% from a year earlier.

(updated November 19, 1999)

Namco Sue U.S. Firm Over Pac-Man Copies

On November 18, Namco filed suit against the Texan company Two-Bit Score Amusements. Namco brought the case to the U.S. District Court in San Francisco and is seeking an injunction to prevent Two-Bit from manufacturing and selling what Namco call copy circuit boards of Pac-Man video games. According to Namco, Two-Bit Score Amusements had been selling the boards over the Internet.

(updated November 17, 1999)

Namco Profit Falls Over 40% in 1st Half

Namco Ltd's mid-term results for the period up to end September 1999 showed a drop in sales of 14% to JPY48 billion and steep fall in pretax profit of 42% to JPY2 billion. Namco blames the poor results on lower income from its amusement centres and lack of hit consumer software.

Taito To Suffer Loss For Year

Taito seem set to post a loss of JPY3 billion for the current fiscal year up to March 31, 1999. The main reason is the poor sales of the home video game "Go By Train 2". The game was released in March 1999 and while initial sales were good at over 500,000 in the first month, they tapered to a meager 20,000 copies in the subsequent months.

In addition, Taito's other main business areas, arcade operation and karaoke machine leasing, are also mired in a slump.

(updated November 15, 1999)

V. Striker 99 To Outlast V. Striker 2000 ?

Although not yet apparent from our Game Ranking lists, it appears that Virtua Striker 99 may have longer-lasting popularity than Virtua Striker 2000. In arcades with both version 99 and version 2000, version 99 appears to be the players' preference. One of the reasons given is that the controls in version 99 are better so that the player knows exactly what is going to happen when he presses a button or moves the joystick.

Konami & Sega Hopping Over Music Games

Konami are making lots of money in Japan at the moment but not many friends. They are embroiled in lawsuits with Namco and Jaleco and are refusing to supply any of their popular music machines to Sega.

The reason Konami are not selling their games to Sega is in response to Sega refusing to sell Virtua Fighter 2 to Konami several years ago. Several are trying various routes to get their hands on "Dance Dance Revolution" and other popular Konami games but with little success.

One operator in northern Japan advised us that they had bought one unit of "Dance Dance Revolution" for Sega. One day after Konami technicians installed the machine at their location, they took it out and sold it to Sega. However, they received a visit from the local Konami salesman the following week who demanded to know where the machine had gone. Upon learning that it had gone to Sega, Konami promptly closed their account with the operator and are refusing to sell them any more games.

(updated November 11, 1999)

Sega Unveil New Driver "18 Wheeler"

Sega held a private show on November 9 in Tokyo where they unveiled a new truck-themed game "18 Wheeler". The player drives a big 18-wheeler truck. Looks pretty good and plays real nice, good buddy.

(updated November 9, 1999)

Namco Claim Konami Infringes Patent

Namco filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Konami at the Tokyo District Court at the end of October. This is the latest in the ongoing tit-for-tat, and very un-Japanese, legal wrangling between Konami, Namco and Jaleco. Namco are claiming that a baseball game for Playstation that Konami released in summer this year contains elements that infringe a patent that Namco registered in January 1998. The patent concerns a mini-game that the player can enjoy while the game is booting up.

Konami originally filed lawsuits against Jaleco and Namco over Jaleco's DJ music game "VJ" which Konami claim infringes the originality of its "Beatmania" game and another lawsuit against Namco claiming that Namco's "Guitar Jam" game infringes Konami's "Guitar Freaks" originality.

Namco Develops 8-player Simulator with Hitachi

Namco and Hitachi Ltd. have jointly developed an 8-player arcade game simulator for use in theme parks and large amusement facilities. Software for the machine will also be jointlly developed bythe two companies. The machine is a capsule-shape and has a three-meter wide digital projector screen. Each player position will have individual controls so that the movement of the simulator will depend on the combined action of the players. The simulator is over 2 meters high with a base area of 12 square meteres.

The machine will be installed at Namco's "Wonder Egg" theme park in Tokyo from early december 1999.

(updated November 4, 1999)

Taito To Release New Flying Simulator

Taito are set to release "Landing High Japan" at the end of 1999 in Japan. Overseas release is not decided and with the title the way it is, it is not going to be an easy overseas sell. The game is similar to "Landing Gear", Taito's earlier flight simulator but this time the airports are all Japanese.

Namco Set Up R&D Subsidiary

Following on the heels of Konami, Namco have set up an independent R&D subsidiary Monolith Soft Ltd, based in Tokyo. Namco are investing 90% of the capital and two ex-employees of the major Japanese software house Square are investing the remaining 10%.

With the setting up of Nasdaq Japan and other similar start-up stock markets in the near future, the industry is likely to see more companies spinning off sections of their operations in the hope of attracting venture capital.

Monolith Soft will concentrate on the development of role-playing games for Playstation 2.

Capcom Outlook Healthier

Capcom have revised upward their forecast of results for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2000. This is due to the success of the home video software "Dino Crisis" and "Bio Hazard" for Playstation. The new consolidated results forecast has revenue at JPY53,000 million and net income at JPY7,500 million.

(updated October 26, 1999)

Williams/Bally To Exit Pinball

WMS Industries Inc. announced on October 25, 1999 its results for the fiscal quarter ending September 30, 1999. The company also reported that was to discontinue its pinball and cabinet manufacturing operations.

The company said the decision was due to prolonged weak demand and ongoing losses in the pinball and cabinet business sector. WMS Industries Inc's pinball and cabinet businesses suffered operating losses of $3 million in fiscal 1997, $7.8 million in 1998 and $7 million in 1999.

This decision leaves Stern Pinball Inc. as the sole remaining pinball maker.

(updated October 25)

Nintendo Profit Down Over 70%

Nintendo's profits for the first half of this fiscal year have been hard hit by the strong Yen. The company's in-house exchange rate had been US$1=JPY121. The revised figure is US$1=JPY107. The unexpected strength in the Japanese currency lead to exchange rate losses of around JPY50 billion.

Operating profits did rise 9% versus the same period last year to JPY50 billion, but sales fell 5% to JPY190 billion. This was due to delays in the release of two "Pokemon" games and price reductions due to competition of the Nintendo 64 console.

(updated October 20)

Sega Found Guilty of Unfair Dismissal

On October 18, the Tokyo District Court ordered Sega to re-instate and pay compensation of JPY3.2 million to an employee the company had dismissed for alleged "poor performance". The court justified its decision saying that the company could have improved the employee's performance through training.

There is a myth of lifetime employment in Japan, particularly regarding large public-quoted companies. The myth says that once you are in, you are guaranteed a job for life. Foreign companies have often had problems finding staff in Japan because the expectation is that the foreign company will close its Japan office at the first whiff of a downturn in the Japanese economy.

In this court case, it came to light that Sega had tried to get the man to quit voluntarily. This would have preserved Sega's myth of "lifetime employment". The methods used are embarrassing for Sega. The man was confined to Sega's so-called "Pasona Room", a room with no windows, a single telephone and nothing else. Those ordered there are not allowed to bring any personal belongings such as a magazine or a book with them. They are not given any work to do and if they want to leave the room, they must first get the permission of the personnel department.

Under normal circumstances, the employee confined to this room will resign voluntarily and Japan Inc. can continue to boast of its caring attitude to its staff.

(updated October 18)

Sony Entertainment Complex for Tokyo

Sony have announced a new entertainment complex for the Odaiba area of Tokyo incorporating a 13-screen cinema complex, restaurants, retail outlets and a game zone called "Air Tight Garage". Tenants in the complex include Namco, Coca Cola and Sony's subsidiary Sony Urban. The game zone will use a prepaid IC card system. Film-goers will also be able to reserve cinema seats through the internet, a major innovation for Japan where you have to queue up an hour before a popular movie starts in order to get a seat and then it's like the January sales when they open the doors.

Konami Developing Piano Game

At the recent JAMMA Show in Tokyo, Konami showed a sneak preview of a piano-themed music game with the tentative title of "Keyboard Mania". The keyboard has 24 keys covering a range of two octaves. Two-player play is possible and the computer takes over the 2-P side when only one player is playing.

Can't wait for the saxophone game.

(updated October 14)

Osaka Court Rules Used Game Sales Illegal

In a complete turnaround from the decision of the Tokyo District Court in May of this year, the Osaka District Court ruled on October 7 that the sale of used game software was illegal.

The re-sale of cinematographic works is prohibited in Japan so cases concerning the legality of re-selling used video games tends to come down to whether or not video games should also be considered cinematographic works.

In arriving at its decision in May, the Tokyo District Court ruled that video games are interactive and as such, the player can affect the sequence of images on the screen. As such, the court decided that video games are not cinematographic works and acknowledged the right of retailers to sell used video games.

However, in its ruling of October 7, the Osaka District Court decided that video games were in fact cinematographic works and acknowledged the right of the video game manufacturers to control the distribution of products, including used products.

In the Osaka case, the defence argued that the protection of cinematographic works enshrined in the Copyright Law was only meant to apply to theatrical movies which are distributed through movie theatres. They argued that it does not have any application for consumer video games which are mass-marketed to the general public and directly consumed by them.

While it would appear that the matter of whether a Japanese judge thinks a video game is a cinematographic work depends on which side of the bed he got out of, the fact that the Osaka judge completely disregarded the findings of the Tokyo court makes you wonder if the notion of precedent applies in the Japanese legal system.

Konami To List Stocks In US

Konami plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange by 2002. The company's shares are presently listed on the 1st section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. Konami's chairman Kagemasa Kozuki says the aim of the listing is to show the world that Konami embraces global accounting standards.

Konami is presently in the process of spinning off its R&D units and taking them public. Konami Computer Entertainment Osaka, which specializes in developing sports games, was spun off and went public on September 13 this year. While Kozuki claims that Konami's relationship with the spun-off subsidiaries is "completely businesslike", it is not clear whether the newly "independent" units will be free to auction the sales rights to their games to the highest bidder.

(updated October 6)

New Game Information

Game Release Approx. Op. Price
Crisis Zone SD End November JPY850,000
Crisis Zone DX Mid November JPY1,250,000
Ferrari Twin End October JPY1,700,000
Jambo Safari Now JPY1,650,000
Emer. Ambulance Mid October JPY750,000
Dead or Alive 2 End October JPY295,000
Virtua Tennis Not decided Not decided
Spawn End 1999 Not decided
Stryder 2 Early November Not decided

(updated September 29, 1999)

Sega's "Virtua NBA Basketball" to Debut End 1999

If Sega can do half as good a job with "Virtua NBA Basketball" as they did with "Virtua Striker", then USA, Greece, Italy and other basketball country distributors can look forward to a nice Christmas present.

New Konami Fishing Game Kit

Konami showed "Fishermans Bait Marlin Challenge" at the AMOA Show. The game features a stronger control stick with reel vibration.

"Crisis Zone", "Virtua Tennis" Prove Popular at AMOA

As at the JAMMA Show, Namco's new machine gun game "Crisis Zone" took the honours at the AMOA Show in Las Vegas (Sept 23 -25). A dark horse was Sega's new tennis kit "Virtua Tennis". The game features eight professional players such as Kafelnikov, Tim Henman, Haas etc. It is clear the R&D team that made the game includes some avid tennis fans as the movements of each player is exactly the same as the real thing. Three different court surfaces available: clay, hard and grass.

(updated September 18, 1999)

"Dead or Alive 2" Voted Top Game of JAMMA

In a poll taken during the JAMMA Show, Tecmo's new PCB game "Dead or Alive 2" was voted top, followed by Capcom's "Spawn". In the dedicated games category, Taito's "Power Shovel" was top followed by Namco's "Crisis Zone". Sega's "F355 Challenge Twin" was not on the list.

(updated September 13, 1999)

"Crisis Zone" Star of the JAMMA Show

There was an eclectic bunch of machines on view at the 1999 JAMMA Show. Sega showed the long-awaited "F355 Challenge Twin" which did not live up to expectations and "Emergency Call Ambulance", an ambulance-themed 1-player driving game which pleasantly surprised many overseas visitors. "Jambo Safari" is also a driving game combining driving with catching animals on safari.

Namco had the only gun-game of note at the show with "Crisis Zone", in both SD and DX forms. Like Time Crisis, the player can step on the foot-pedal to duck behind a metal plate as can the bad guys. Differences with Time Crisis are that the bad guys don't die immediately so you have to put a few slugs into them before they finally croak, the weapon is a rapid-firing machine gun, and best of all, you can blast the background as well; glass shatters, pictures fall of the walls, flower vases go tumbling. Great stuff.

Namco also had a soccer game with a difference. "World Kicks" is a 4-player game and the players have to kick the football at their feet in order to pass and shoot.

The big trend was toward music-themed games, with Namco obviously determined to grab a piece of the very profitable cake Konami has had to itself for nearly two years. Namco showed "Quest for Glory", a 2-player game mixing guitar and drum and with concert footage and music from the rock bank "Aerosmith". Sega also had a nice game called "Samba de Amigo" where the players have to shake rattles in time to the music. We liked this one among the music offerings.

"Out Trigger", the gun-shooting PCB from Sega needs a control panel with special joystick and trackball so kit sales will be difficult. "Typing of the Dead" uses a computer keyboard as the players control panel. The player has to type in the letters that come up on screen very fast in order to shoot the ghoulies and avoid being slashed.

Taito's "Power Shovel" took the prize as the novelty of the show. Player controls a Komatsu power digger using two levers and pedals.