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Japanese market slumps as publishers react to tragedy

Updated: Square Enix, Irem, Sega make content decisions; 3DS launch in Europe unaffected

Games publishers listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange have all seen large sums wiped off their values, with the market falling significantly following Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

At the close of trading on Monday SEGA Sammy Holdings was the worst affected of the video games publisher stocks, dropping 13.5 per cent to end the day at ¥1530 ($18.69), while Tecmo Koei also saw double digit decline, falling 10.7 per cent to ¥626 ($7.65) and Konami was down by 9.9 per cent to ¥1610 ($19.66).

Sony shares dropped by 9.1 per cent to ¥2550 ($31.15), while Nintendo's were down by 7.6 per cent to ¥21,280 ($259.91). Namco Bandai stock fell by 6.4 per cent to ¥905 ($11.05) and Square Enix was down 6.2 per cent to ¥1370 ($16.73).

Meanwhile the games business has been responding to situation in Japan, with Konami and Square Enix shutting down the servers for Metal Gear Online and Final Fantasy XI/XIV respectively in order to conserve power.

Regarding the forthcoming launch of the Nintendo 3DS in Europe and North America, Nintendo has indicated that that the former at least will be unaffected.

In a statement obtained by GamesIndustry.biz, Nintendo confirmed that no one from Nintendo of Japan was injured in the disaster and there has been no structural damage to the company headquarters in Kyoto - or any other offices in Japan.

"Business operations, including future product shipments, have not been affected," reads the statement. "Our thoughts and best wishes are with everyone who has friends and family members who may have been affected by the earthquake or tsunami."

Reports indicate that the release of Motorstorm Apocalypse in Japan has been delayed indefinitely, following on from a brief statement issued by Sony to GamesIndustry.biz on Friday explaining that the company was "carefully monitoring the situation" with respect to a European launch.

And Irem's planned PlayStation 3 title Disaster Report 4, originally pencilled for a release this Spring, has been cancelled by the developer, according to Adriasang.

Sega has also delayed the launch of the zombie-themed spin-off to Yakuza, known in Japan as Ryū ga Gotoku Of the End. According to website Andriasang the company only referred vaguely to 'various circumstances' as leading to the decision.

However, when the game was initially announced - before the presence of zombies was confirmed - screenshots were mistakenly thought to portray some sort of earthquake or other natural disaster.

It appears that Japanese publishers are being as cautious as possible when it comes to titles which include any imagery similar to that seen in the current real-world disaster.

Companies in the West have started to look at ways to assist the stricken country, with Zynga launching new in-game items, the revenues from which will be administered by its charity partner Save the Children.

And SEGA-owned studio Sports Interactive has announced that proceeds from the sale of the iOS version of Football Manager 2011 will be donated to a disaster relief fund, reports VG247.

Private donations may be made to the Japanese Red Cross charity via its British counterpart's official website.

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