Japanese video game and manga publisher Square Enix will shut down its North American and French digital-manga websites on May 23 following a rocky few weeks that saw a projected corporate loss of about $140 million for the fiscal year, the resignation of its president and layoffs in the Los Angeles office.
Crunchyroll reports users who have already purchased manga will be able to continue reading those titles for an unspecified time. A post on the Square Enix Manga website notifies visitors of scheduled maintenance on May 23 but makes no mention of the closing.
Announced at Comic-Con International 2010, the North American store launched that December with volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, Soul Eater, The Record of a Fallen Vampire and Yumekui Kenbun: Nightmare Inspector.
The Square Enix news arrives a little more than a month after JManga will shut down its online manga portal on May 30. ROBOT 6 contributor Brigid Alverson has analysis at Good E-Reader.
Manga | Yen Press announced a number of new manga licenses over the weekend at SakuraCon, including the manga series based on the Square Enix game Kingdom Hearts. The company will re-release some of the manga originally published by Tokyopop and publish some of the newer series as well. [Anime News Network]
Creators | Christopher Irving interviews, and Seth Kusher photographs, The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman: “I am certain that I will never be able to top it, and I’m coming to grips with that. It’s somewhat disconcerting that something I created when I was 23 will be something I’m remembered for when I die, when I’m 35 (or whenever it is). …I’ll be 34 in a little bit, so I wasn’t being too optimistic for myself.” [Graphic NYC]
Square Enix is a Japanese publisher of manga and video games. It licenses print manga (including such high-profile titles as Fullmetal Alchemist and Black Butler) to Viz Media and Yen Press, and last year launched an online manga site that carries both those titles and 13 others. However, several reviewers (myself included) found the price of $5.99 per volume (in a streaming-only, no download format) to be a bit on the high side.
From now through Aug. 10, however, Square Enix is offering the first volume of any of its 15 series for free to readers who “Like” the company’s Facebook page or get a special URL at SDCC.
There are a lot of caveats to this: The offer is open to residents of North America only (“Regional eligibility will be determined by MindMax® geolocation services,” says the press release, which sounds a little ominous). You’re also going to have sign up for a Square Enix account and download its proprietary reader. The press release seems to say you have to have a Windows computer to use the reader, but I managed to make it work on my Mac.
Obviously, the Square Enix folks are trying to get people to sign on with their sites. Their registration process is pretty cumbersome; I signed up a few weeks ago and I counted five separate registration processes, including creating two passwords, before I could buy a book in their store and read it on my computer. Offering a free volume may make readers a bit more patient with the process, though. I’m curious to hear what other people think, so if you take them up on the offer, feel free to drop back here and comment on how you liked it.
The Japanese publisher Square Enix, whose properties include the best-selling series Black Butler and Fullmetal Alchemist, revealed its online manga plans at the Tokyo Game Show yesterday.
Square Enix already has a website through which fans can purchase games, and they set up an online manga site for North America in July, with some sample chapters and an announcement that its digital media store would launch in Fall 2010. According to the information released at the Game Show, that date has been pushed back to winter. Square Enix already allows users to buy games through their website, and they will use the same system for manga, so existing users will not have to create new accounts.
Several Square Enix properties, including Black Butler, Soul Eater, and Pandora Hearts, are licensed by Yen Press but are not available on Yen’s online Yen Plus magazine. It looks like those series will be running on the Square Enix website.
As far as other platforms are concerned, Square Enix seems to be moving cautiously. In November, it will launch Gangan Online, an iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch app, but that will only be available in Japan, and foreign-language versions are not in the cards for the immediate future.