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Square Enix Renews Focus on Quality Games

May 27th, 2013 by Tony Garsow

squareenix

The last fiscal year was rather disappointing for Square Enix, with several new titles selling well but below the company’s expectations. As you’ve undoubtedly heard, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada has stepped down, handing the reins over to Yosuke Matsuda. Phil Rogers from Square Enix Europe has been promoted as well, now heading both the North American and European divisions.

What does this mean for games? Well, the company has expressed interest in tackling the burgeoning mobile and tablet market, but with a different approach than before. Many regard Square Enix as a company that can deliver a quality and immersive experience on a console or handheld, and the company looks to take this approach in mobile/tablet space. While the exact definition of “quality” for a handheld title is still undefined, but the company is quite aware of the public reception of titles like “All the Bravest”.

Square Enix also intends to pursue high-end console quality titles from its flagship franchises such as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, and is also looking to further strenghten intellectual property from Square Enix Europe such as Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs. Square Enix stated that they will continue to invest in growing their technological mastery, and are looking forward to sharing more information with fans at this year’s E3.

Incoming CEO Matsuda also had a few words to say about the development process itself with regard to fans.

“One could go as far as to say that in today’s times, making customers wait for years with little to no information is being dishonest to them. We are no longer in an age where customers are left in the dark until a product is completed. We need to shift to a business model where we frequently interact with our customers for our products that are in-development and/or prior to being sold, have our customers understand games under development, and finally make sure we develop games that meet their expectations.”

This interaction between Square Enix game development and the consumers that buy these games is likely why the company has decided to bolster its marketing force. Not only that, but the company has expressed interest in using crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter that will allow them to more intimately connect with fans to develop games they can look forward to and give fans reasonable expectations depending on the title.

Head Square Enix Europe’s community management, Phil Elliot recently expressed interesting approaches to developing games in the future. Allowing independent teams with new ideas to come in and breathe life into existing Square Enix franchises that have been gone for years. The idea was also tossed around that players through their donations (“investments”) could be given a stake (shares, basically) in the game’s success so that they could potentially see a return on investment if the game is successful. While it’s quite unlikely to happen since other attempts (Project Cars) have been buried in litigation, it shows that Square Enix has washed their face with ice water and have started to think about developer-marketer-consumer relations in new ways.

So as a fan of Square Enix games, and it can be any franchise including Final Fantasy, what do you think about this new approach? Do you think the ambition to bring handheld and console-quality games to the handheld market is a good decision, or does Square Enix need to stick to convention? Do you feel there is a stigma about the handheld/tablet platform that bars certain types of consumers from buying Square Enix franchies on them? Do you feel it’s a wise decision to include the customers at every level of development, or does Square Enix risk binding the hands and feet of its internal creatives?

How would you feel about crowdfunded or indie-developed takes on existing franchises like Chrono, SaGa, or Mana? That includes Square Enix Europe franchises such as Legacy of Kain or Gex (Crystal Dynamics) perhaps? Be sure to weigh in by leaving us a comment below!

You can read the full Square Enix Financial Results Briefing by clicking here.

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  • Jugg

    They don’t need to tell us every single detail of the development process of their games. They just need to do like every other developer does and not go 2 years without any updates.

  • h00aoj

    I really believe things are going to be alot better in the future about Final Fantasy and Square Enix. Finally they comment and make statements about new strategies, what games work for them and not – more quality products, how to interact with their consumers and so on. And everything the new CEO has said so far seems good.

    Great news!

  • AnimaMagna

    The more I hear about the new management and their policies, the more I think Square Enix is heading for a new high with the coming console generation.

  • Boshi

    Just keep western developers from Japanese titles as far away as possible and let them develop their western crap.

  • Cloud

    I just wish they’d learn that the majority of people don’t like tablet/mobile gaming. Also, I agree with Boshi, stop trying to westernise the franchise. Personally i’d like to see them bring back the turn based style.

  • AntagonistGB

    As with the last time they promised this exact same thing, I’m cautiously hopeful, but honestly don’t expect much change. I’d like to be proven wrong, of course, but Final Fantasy hasn’t been good in a very long time, and I don’t see them actually committing to not milking it any time soon.

  • this all sounds great, but until these ideas actually come to pass, then it’s just talk.

    lots of new ceos come in and say they are going to change everything, only to fall right back into similar routines as the months go on.

    i’m not saying change cant’ happen, i just want to see it first before i applaud them for it.

  • Daka

    I think they are great news. Its been a while since I played SE games (last games FF XII and KH2), and I’m hoping on playing all the new releases.

    It seems they notices the market has changed. Let’s see what happens.

  • alexsam

    The fact that they want to take a different approach to the developer-consumer relationship is a very positive step forward and it can be very easily achieved with today’s social media, as can be seen from the development team behind LR. In today’s world, to leave a customer waiting 7 years with almost no news about a highly anticipated product is unacceptable. I don’t really think that the gaming world needs console-level gaming on handhelds or tablets, just better quality gaming, no matter where it is. All in all though, their statements do sound promising. Guess we’ll have to wait till E3 to find out.

  • AntagonistGB

    I’m just a bit concerned that “focusing on region-specific games” is code for “we are not going to localize any RPGs that we don’t think will produce a massive profit margin.” We’ve already seen it happen with Type-0, and Nintendo had to kick their asses to get Bravely Default localized.

  • Necromunkey

    @Boshi I think your thinking of Western games and influence in the wrong light. Future Japanese games should be influenced by modern Western games just as much as modern Western games have been influenced by older Japanese games. To say Western games are “crap” is to ignore the massive strides in visuals, gameplay, and story telling made by Western developers (and almost uniformly ignored by Japanese developers, save a few such as Kojima and From Software). I’m not saying they should become “Western RPG’s,” whatever that means, but they certainly shouldn’t operate in a vacuum – that is what got SE in this “quality” mess to begin with! (see XIV, and to some extent XIII and the dev process of Versus XIII)

    @Cloud I think turn based and ATB systems should not be in future main series games. They do not sell well enough anymore, outside of retro throwbacks or re releases, and does not expand the audience. While SE should make games for its fans, to some extent, it shouldn’t do so exclusively as that WILL alienate potential new fans. It isn’t just about us who love the old games, its about bringing new people to the table and getting them to love the games too.

    Seriously, we fans shouldn’t have an overly conservative view on the future of the franchise, as it will strangle its potential and lead to the downfall of our favorite series of games. I say let the series grow and evolve!

  • Axwind

    “and is also looking to further strenghten intellectual property from Square Enix Europe”

    I shudder every time I see that idiotic phrase, “intellectual property.” Ugh. Since when has human culture become a commodity to be controlled only by a select few? That phrase and the thinking behind it needs to be ditched ASAP. Do that and more possibilities than SE can ever imagine will open up.

  • hutch

    Last time FF deviated from the formula we got a linear tunnel walk of in game book reading bore. IT’s deviated tot he point where in FF13-3 we don’t even get a party to play with just Lightning: the third generation iteration of Cloud. That’s pretty bad.
    Personally I wish SE would just let the franchises go. I’ll keep an eye on new titles and what not, but they damaged FF and ignored Chrono and Mana. I don’t trust ’em anymore. Sad to say. I’ll keep an eye on things and give credit where it’s due. Hoping for a pleasant surprise…

  • @hutch
    Nothing wrong with Deviation from the old Formula, its finding a new one that works that is fun. That’s what SE has been doing since ff12 trying to find a new formula, The old formula has aspects that just simply do not appeal to new comers and new comers are vital to the series especially with game development costs climbing. Versus 13 seems to be the right formula won’t really know until its released, but wishing they would let the FF franchise go…big mistake. FF is their primary franchise they let it go, they might as well stab themselves in stab themselves in the heart and call it quits.

    I personally would not trust another developer with FF,Mana,Chrono or any other SE based Rpg. If SE does fall I pray they don’t sell their franchises to anyone…cause god only knows what another developer may do.

  • Theta

    This is great news. Stringing people out like that for a game just isn’t fair, but it sounds like they are going to fix that. I’m confident in them pulling through with most of this.

  • tag

    Know something fans im getting far in final fantasy 12 also im on level 22 already.

  • tag

    And im getting more buidings ready to put down within the final fantasy 15 ideas he he he he.

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  • tag

    I have anather idea how bout make anather weapon like two bows into
    one and put powerfull strike’s on it.

  • tag

    SE im trying to come up with something else but i have no idea yet.