|King of Fighters XIII > General Discussion|
|Nesica Live interview w/Price model, etc|
The Professor over at mmcafe kindly translated this (Is this the future of arcades?):
Gigazine features a lengthy interview with Taito's AM division subcheif Takafumi Fujimoto, and it discloses a number of interesting points about the Vewlix and its Nesica Live system.
For anyone that's new to the Nesica Live, it's a system where new game titles get distributed online to arcades for free. Arcades can purchase the kit and hook it up to their cabinets, and from there on, there's no more need to go through wiring hassles and whatnot to switch between games. Most arcades in Japan are already upgrading their Type X2 machines into Nesica Live systems, leave aside the machines running SSF4AE. It's expected that most (if not all) future TypeX2 games will be released on the Nesica Live.
-Nesica Live's concept came up as early as 2005, but it took until 2009 to to materialize. Fujimoto says it's a good deal for arcades because they don't have to risk the purchase of a new arcade board. Once they install a Nesica Live, they can download games for free. It's a pay-per-play system. It started out with 9 participating game publishers, and it's now up to 16. By September, it should be up to 20.
-About the pay-per-play price model: Taito charges 30-20 yen per game to the arcade. The model has three prices depending on the type of the game: 30 yen, 25 yen, and 20 yen. A standard game is charged 30 yen, whereas a classic/vintage game is charged 25 yen, and past games (on the Type X) without any real changes are charged 20 yen.
-In the case of the standard 30 yen, Taito takes 10 yen as its share and the remaining 20 yen becomes the publisher's profit. (So that means, if an arcade offers their games at 100 yen per credit, they'd make a 70 yen profit. But if they're a nice arcade that charges only 50 yen, they'll only be making a 20 yen profit).
-The Nesica Live kit costs under 300 thousand yen, which Fujimoto explains is a low price when considering that a modern arcade game can cost 200-300 thousand for a HDD kit or 300-400 thousand for a full kit. Again, once it's installed, all future games are for free.
-The Nesica Live system currently consists of an authentication&distribution server, a ranking server, and a money charge&storage server.
-With the new e-cash law established in Japan in 2009, Taito was able to launch the services for Nesica Live and its Nesys IC card system. The law causes issues for people to charge money directly on ic cards, but it allows users to accumulate points when they throw in money to play a game (kind of like a mileage program for arcades). The points aren't being used for anything yet, but Taito plans a programme in the future where they can be traded for in-game items and other services.
-The Nesys' user data can be moved from one ic card to another, meaning that, for instance, players can freely switch to a new card if it has a better artwork. Unlike other similar systems, a single card can hold the player's data for all the games on the Nesica Live.
-Player scores can be checked online, which is a big difference from the old days where the top national scores had to be self-reported. It's all automatic now. Taito was also thinking about making location data of strong players available, but they're currently still debating since it can also be the cause of problems, such as people being discovered that they're skipping their jobs. They might implement it with an option to switch it on and off.
-Nesica Live can be a solution to fighting game balance. The Nesica Live is connected to the internet and its game's records are shared with its developer, meaning that they can see what characters are strong and whatnot. And using the Nesica Live, the publisher can patch the game before a major tournament, such as the Tougeki SBO preliminaries.
-Online play can be implemented on Nesica Live, but it hasn't really been done due to the issue of lag. It's not a problem for games that include latency by design, but when considering how much effort is put into the Vewlix cabinet to reduce latency, it kind of kills things. For instance, with the old KOF franchise, its input device was directly connected to its PBC so there wasn't any latency at all. With the new i/o boards for the Nesica Live, there's zero latency as well. The new Vewlix cabinets (Vewlix Diamond) features a low display latency LCD on top of that. But when online play is implemented, that practically all gets thrown away since the game needs to be designed with up to around 4 frames of buffering. So the participating publishers are considering it an issue as well, but it shouldn't be as much an issue for new games that are designed with latency in mind. It's completely possible with non-fighting games such as mahjong. Fujimoto doesn't think there's a workaround to the latency issue. Their company has the arcades connected to an optic fiber line called the Nesys Hikari, but there's still lag issues depending on the region. He thinks that the only true solution would be the invention of something even faster than optic lines. (the interview makes no mention or question about GGPO nor methods such as rollback implementations in hiding latency)
-The Nesica Live's lineup is mostly fighting games at the current time but other titles such as Senko no Ronde and Strania: The Stella Machina will be released soon. There will also be classic titles in the future including Elevator Action, Puzzle Bobble (Bust A Move) and NeoGeo titles. Fujimoto thinks that only having fighting games in the lineup won't allow people to really kill time in the arcades, and he wants to "fix" that. He believes arcades are leaned towards installing fighting games because they bring in more money, but having them as the only lineup in the will scare off customers. He says he would like to see things like they were in the old days, where they could release a more inexpensive smaller sized cabinet that could be placed at shopping centers or mom&pop candy shops for children and family to enjoy.
-There were over 100 thousand table style and standard style arcade cabinets in operation at the peak of the arcade market, but now it's down to 40 thousand. Large-sized specialized cabinets are the current trend. Fujimoto believes that the standard cabinets are better for the arcade's economy since they cost less and there's less risk in investment. In the end, he believes balancing out on the installed machines, let it be prize machines or print club machines, is the key.
-Taito was initially expecting about 500 orders of Nesica Live kits, but the response they received was above their expectation and they had to rush on additional production (no figures disclosed). One of the contributing factors was that its first title was Blazblue CSII. Again, Fujimoto emphasizes that unlike traditional PCBs, the arcades don't have to pay anything after their initial purchase of the kit. If the current game on the Nesica Live isn't bringing good income, the arcade can switch to another game that they've downloaded for free. Fujimoto also expects that the unit sales of the Nesica Live will continue on, because as new games are released, arcades with only one unit will figure out that it isn't enough to run all the upcoming lineup titles such as Strania and Aquapazza.
-Fujimoto says that the Nesica Live solves inventory and financial risks for publishers as well. In a way, Taito is carrying the burden now because they're paying up for the server costs. Together with the fact that its games can be made on a PC environment, they expect that should really lower the hurdle for developers to make arcade games. Companies that have only made console games and companies that have PC games are already knocking on Taito's door. As the selection of games begin to grown on Nesica Live, other issues such as the game select screen getting too crouded and the cabinet's instruction panel are expected to rise. Taito is already thinking about solutions to them.
-Another vision for the future is to have some form of connectivity between home consoles/handhelds and the arcades using the Nesica Live system with the use of wireless LAN.
Too bad we'll never see this in America.
that great, for japanese arcades. does this also mean lower costs for developers.
It shouldn't affect the cost of developing games, but just the cost of publishing the games. The cost of making physical copies of the games is handled by the publisher. For KOF XI, SNKP partnered with Sega to publish the game, and with XIII they partnered with Konami. So this should be good for SNK.
IF KOF XIII comes to consoles with improved balance and added content, I hope they consider releasing "XIII Final Edition" on Nesica Live system. It could extend the game's life without costing SNK too much money.
Although I don't know what that would mean for SNK games internationally. I guess they'd still have to make a few physical copies just to sell abroad.
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