Today's round-up includes design awards for some crazed Japanese games, GameStop's step toward independence, the continuing rise of Chinese gaming, and the much-delayed release of Advance Wars in Japan.
- The Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization has awarded game titles Katamari Damacy and Taiko No Tatsujin its Good Design Awards, which are based on the "Good Design Selection System" established by the Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry in 1957. Namco's bizarrely innovative 'object aggregation simulator' Katamari Damacy was praised for its interesting control scheme, and the Tatakon drum controller for Namco's Taiko No Tatsujin, soon to be released in the U.S. as Taiko Drum Master, was also commended. Other winners in a number of eclectic categories included Apple's iPod mini, the Nagasaki Seaside Park, and Suntory Flowers' 'Moondust' flower variety.
- Barnes & Noble Inc. has announced that it has sold $111.5 million in shares, part of its ownership in major U.S. videogame retailer GameStop Corp, back to GameStop itself, as it moves toward completely removing any stake in the company. According to R. Richard Fontaine, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of GameStop: "We have always valued our relationship and the support given to us by Barnes & Noble over the years, but we believe these transactions will provide for more investors to be attracted to GameStop's rapidly growing business and the momentum and success we have achieved in a growing entertainment segment." GameStop operates 1,676 retail stores throughout 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Ireland, and also owns Game Informer magazine. Barnes & Noble originally bought computer retailer Babbage's in 1999, renaming it GameStop, and although it's been a profitable move for Barnes & Noble, it's thought that the relative volatility of the video game industry has led the book retailer to return to its core area of competency.
- According to a survey published by Game Trust and The Diffusion Group, China is projected to become the number one online game market by the year 2007. Currently, China has more than 80 million Internet users and approximately 15 million broadband subscribers. Chinese Internet users spend an average of 12.3 hours/week online, and netgames and entertainment are the second most popular online activity. The survey, commissioned by a 'premium [online] game play and tournament' company based in New York and Denmark, also showed that more than two-thirds (67.8%) of Chinese online gamers play traditional chess and card, while 43.6% of gamers play RPG games (role playing games) on a regular basis. In Internet cafés, 27.6% of the users play SLG (strategy) and STG (shooting) types of games.
- Nintendo has finally announced the Japanese Game Boy Advance release, for November 25th, of Game Boy Wars Advance 1 + 2, a compilation of the first two iterations of the GBA Advance Wars franchise. Although developed in Japan by Intelligent Systems and using a characteristically Japanese turn-based tactical action game style, the titles were, oddly, never released outside the West. Some speculate that the Japanese release of the first title was delayed by the events of September 11th and the game's war-like setting, since the title was originally due to debut in late 2001, but whatever the case, both parts of the portable franchise (being brought to the GameCube in a different gameplay style as Advance Wars: Under Fire by UK developers Kuju Entertainment) are now getting a release.