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Excite Japan Moves From Web Portal Into Console Publishing

In a relatively surprising move, Excite Japan’s Game.Excite division, which had previously been operating exclusively in the online portal and casual game arenas, has rec...
In a relatively surprising move, Excite Japan’s Game.Excite division, which had previously been operating exclusively in the online portal and casual game arenas, has recently announced a move into the console space. The company, well-known as a prominent Yahoo! or MSN-style web portal entity in Japan, will publish its first title, Shin Goukezuki Ichizoku Matrimelee (or New Power Instinct Matrimelee), for the PlayStation 2 in early 2006, only in Japan. Matrimelee was originally developed for SNK Playmore’s Neo Geo arcade board, by SNK second party developer Noise Factory. The PS2 version will feature online play, and perhaps as a result is being released directly by the online portal division – itself part of Excite Japan’s entertainment division, which also includes mobile and digital communication. Up until this point, Game.Excite’s primary business was the localization and distribution of online games, primarily from Korea, such as Priston Tale, Ran, and Shot Online. In support of Excite Japan’s new venture into the console world, the company has hired Nigerian-born comedian/K-1 fighter Bobby Orogon as the game’s spokesperson. He was named Japan’s second most popular foreign-born entertainer in a poll for Nikkei Entertainment Magazine’s September, 2005 issue. Excite Japan, which is a separately owned but similarly branded entity to Excite's U.S. portal, which was recently acquired by Ask Jeeves, bucks the typical trend of console game makers moving into the online or casual space. In fact, Excite Japan is expanding in the opposite direction - this is a rather unprecedented move for a large Japanese portal. Whether this is a concrete step into console software business, given the increase in online console gaming, or a mere one-off remains to be seen. But Excite Japan's’s language in the announcement leans more toward the former than the latter, highlighting the company’s "first-time entry into the consumer console market."

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