Square Enix CEO Wada Talks Social Gaming and Console-Free Future

By Jeff Mattas, Dec 15, 2009 5:51pm PST Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada recently spoke with industry magazine Develop about the future of the company responsible for the beloved Final Fantasy series, with a focus on new development possibilities in social and browser-based gaming.

"Social and browser games, which is now a very big genre, is something we have started development into," Wada states. "I believe that these types of games are going to be spreading and growing dramatically - especially in areas like Asia which does not have much penetration of consoles."

Wada asserts that Xbox LIVE is the "true strength of the Xbox 360," and praises Microsoft's efforts of consistency and consolidation of Xbox LIVE and Games for Windows LIVE. He even hypothesizes that social games could overtake the traditional console game market in as little as 10 years, citing the current industry-wide focus on network-based gaming. Wada explains his vision, stating that "...instead of relying on the hardware layer the network becomes the operating system." He also mentions that the PS3 Cell chip is similar to a home server, and is "...well matched to the parallel processing we use on server-based games."

That's not to say that there aren't some hurdles to overcome, and Wada recognizes that there are. The console-free future he envisions would almost certainly have a devastating impact on distributors and sales firms. He also understands that typical social gaming markets are highly indigenous, advising developers to make shared experiences for the communities that they best understand from both social and cultural perspectives. This logic likely explains why Square Enix has begun its social gaming initiatives in Japan only, despite Wada's interest in getting Eidos involved in similar efforts for western audiences.

The social gaming space promises a lot of relatively untapped potential, though if 'cloud-gaming' services like OnLive are any indication, much pioneering is still to be done.

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