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Square Enix closes 'supercomputer-powered' cloud gaming business Shinra Technologies

Video game publisher Square Enix has canned Shinra Technologies, the promising-sounding cloud gaming platform it launched in 2014, blaming a lack of investment. The Japanese company announced last night that it would be dissolving and liquidating the platform, which was led by former Square Enix president Yoichi Wada, eating a loss of about 2 billion yen (about $16.8 million) in the process.

It was named after the evil company from Final Fantasy

Shinra Technologies — named after the evil corporation of the same name in Final Fantasy VII — promised "new types of game worlds that could never have existed before" through its "supercomputer-powered" cloud. Where other cloud services such as PlayStation Now are designed to stream games you could otherwise play on PC or console, Shinra's aimed to let you play games so visually intense or complex that they could only be played through the cloud. An impressive demo of the platform showed at last year's E3 featured a vast 32 x 32 kilometer space filled with 1 million trees and 16,000 AI-controlled dragons — a vignette far beyond the processing capabilities of even the most expensive gaming PCs.

Square Enix said Shinra was created as a subsidiary to keep it away from "content-creating Square Enix entities" such as its development houses, but that it failed to get the kind of third-party investment to keep it going. Other cloud gaming services have struggled in the past, as question of latency and the necessity for a strong connection makes buying or downloading games a more appealing method of play. Square Enix says it continues to "keep its confidence in cloud gaming," but for the moment at least, gamers still show resistance to the idea of streaming their games from afar, no matter how pretty they might look.