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Soul Calibur and Tekken series sales slow as Namco Bandai stays healthy in the console market

tekken soul caliburAs evidenced by earnings reports from NintendoElectronic Arts, and Square-Enix in recent days, the console video game business isn’t great at the moment. Both the machines themselves and the lucrative packaged games to play on them aren’t selling in the numbers that made console games the largest earning force in the $50 billion per year video game industry for years. Dark times for the industry’s old guard. Not every company is doing poorly, though. Despite declines in its biggest series, Namco Bandai had a good 2012. Not a great one, but good enough to show that there’s life to be lived and money to be made in the console business.

According to the company’s consolidated earnings for that October through December quarter, Namco Bandai pulled in 128 billion yen, of just under $1.4 billion, putting it flat with the same period in 2012 in terms of revenue. Profits were up, though, from under $89 million last year to approximately $114 million this past quarter.

The best news for Namco Bandai was that its console game business is actually very healthy. For the fiscal year to date (April through December 2012), Namco Bandai’s Game Software division earned around $629 million in revenue, up from around $604 million the previous year. That’s a modest gain but compared to competitors, particularly those like Square-Enix who rely heavily on the Japanese market, the health of Namco Bandai is impressive.

Tekken Tag Tournament 2 and Soul Calibur V were the stars of Namco Bandai’s lineup. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 racked up 1.35 million in sales across the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Wii U. Namco Bandai also sold 870,000 copies of Soul Calibur V over the period, bringing that game’s total up 1.56 million copies. What’s most impressive is that Soul Calibur V continues to steadily sell. Based on Namco’s earnings report for the July through September quarterSoul Calibur V sold 180,000 copies over the holiday. Impressive for a game that had been out for almost a year and had zero marketing.

Despite the health of the company’s console game business, Namco does appear to need some fresh blood in its line up. Soul Calibur V’s sales are trailing its predecessor’s by a wide margin. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 also looks like it will struggle to catch up to Tekken 6’s more than 3.5 million sales.

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Anthony John Agnello
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Anthony John Agnello is a writer living in New York. He works as the Community Manager of and his writing has…
New fighters, stages hit Tekken Tag Tournament 2 on October 9 for free
Tekken Tag Tournament 2 - Sebastian

Tekken producer Katsuhiro Harada loves Twitter. In the past 24 hours alone the man has tweeted 42 times, but more important than the volume of words is what he's been telling us. Specifically, this gem from last night:
We will update TTT2 on October 9. Adds some characters & stages, enhancement of an on-line function & customization feature are included.
While Harada's words are light on details, they do coincide with this new Famitsu report which claims that starting October 9 Namco Bandai will begin rolling out new characters and stages for its latest fighter. The Japanese gaming magazine claims that these additions will be made available over a specific, yet currently unknown amount of time, but that additions would include classic Tekken characters like Violet and Unknown, and a number of bizarre "joke" characters like Tekken 3's Dr. Boskonovitch, a slim version of Bob and Lili's butler Sebastian who, until now, has only appeared in a single Tekken 6 cinematic cut scene. In sum this will bring the Tekken Tag Tournament 2 roster to 59 total characters, and it will include every fighter to ever appear in a Tekken game, with the exception of Tekken 3's hidden dinosaur Gon (who is likely off-limits due to IP rights issues).
Additionally, Famitsu lists four new stages coming to the game dubbed "Russia," "Chile," "Saudi Arabia," and, bizarrely, "magic show." While Harada has long promised that any additional DLC characters for Tekken Tag Tournament 2 would be available free of charge, Famitsu claims that these stages will also be totally gratis.
Intriguingly -- especially for anyone who has repeatedly tried and failed to beat Tekken Tag Tournament 2's Arcade Mode thanks to its crazy-hard final boss -- those miscellaneous balance changes Harada alluded to also seem to extend to the single-player portion of the game. When informed by one of his Twitter followers that he was unable to finish Arcade Mode, even on its easiest setting, due to the aforementioned boss, Harada replied simply, "We will fix that." Whether that's just idle talk or not remains to be seen, but if anyone has the power to change something like that it would be Katsuhiro Harada, and we've heard enough complaints about the final boss since publishing our review that we're sure he's well aware of the issue.

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Hands on with Tekken Tag Tournament 2; dated for September

The world’s best-selling fighting franchise returns this Fall with a new release in the series that continues the tag branch of the Tekken license. No exact date has been given other than September.
So far 41 characters have been announced, and several more are being kept under wraps for now. All of the characters from Tekken 6 will be available, but the rest are a mystery. We had the chance to go hands on with the newest game to sport the Tekken moniker, which will be released on PS3, Xbox 360, and in the arcade as well.
The game will live up to its name and feature a tag mechanic that allows two characters per team, which will open up a huge amount of potential combo moves. The switch is done easily with the touch of a button, and that move can be combined with either a throw or a punch attack to deal damage with both characters.
The game is still Tekken, and although there are more moves than ever, the characters will still move and responds as you would expect of the series. For new players and players looking for a bit of a refresher on the mechanics, there is the Fight Lab, a new way of looking at a tutorial.
The Fight Lab is a story within the story, and features a sparring robot that you take control of and are tasked with completing simple objectives—things like hit the correct icon on the opponent (high, medium, or low) while avoiding the other icons which can explode.

It teaches you to play by making the tutorial into a game rather than just a “follow the commands” tutorial, and the developers are quick to point out that it is not just for beginners. It will definitely benefit novices and the first few objectives may be elementary to seasoned Tekken fans—or seasoned gamers in general—but after that the Fight Lab will help to improve your skill level regardless of your familiarity with the series.
As you continue in to the Fight Lab, much of the training will shift to mini-games. These mini-games are more than just hit the opponent at the right time in the right location, instead they will have you kick balls being thrown at you, or punching someone to keep them in the air while they expand like a balloon with each punch. It will do the same thing as a standard tutorial, but it is done in a unique way that sneaks up on you and forces you to learn without realizing you are learning. It is the gaming equivalent of Mr. Miyagi tricking Daniel-san into learning to block by making him paint the fence.
But the thing that really sets Fight Lab apart is that the more you play with your “combot,” the more it adapts to your fighting style and becomes a unique character for you that you can use in other modes. For each level you complete, you earn points that you can use to assign moves from existing characters, as well as parts that make your character stronger. It is a customizable character that you create based on your own play style, and each combot will be unique to each player. How this all plays out remains to be seen, but we should know more about it at E3.
Although there are already a healthy number of characters available and the combot means you can create new characters, there is a possibility of even more coming in the future through DLC—a first for the series--and Tekken franchise producer, Katsuhiro Harada, has stated that additional characters will not cost players any money.
There will also be several other game modes in addition to the Fight Lab and the standard arcade mode that will be unveiled in the coming months, but regardless of the mode the game revolves around the tag mechanic and playing with a partner—even when you don’t use a partner. 

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Assassin’s Creed’s Ezio may be joining SoulCalibur V

Consider this a rumor--it comes from anonymous sources, and leaked photos that could easily be photoshopped. And yet there does seem to be a ring of truth to it. Namco Badai’s SoulCalibur series is somewhat famous for including characters from other properties as guest combatants. Previous guests have included Zelda’s Link, Tekken’s Heihachi and Darth Vader to name a few, so it is expected the upcoming SoulCalibur V would also feature a guest fighter or two. The only question is who.
According to a source that wishes to remain anonymous, that guest character is Ezio Auditore from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. The source confirmed this to Joystiq and also released an image to support the claim.
Now, pictures can be faked and anonymous sources should be viewed with a touch of skepticism. But how cool would it be to run up to Maxi and hit him with the hidden blade?
No official announcement on any guest characters has been made yet, so we’ll just have to wait and see if this proves true or not. SoulCalibur V will hit the PS3 and Xbox 360 on January 31, 2012.

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