Square Enix changing strategy, going 'back to roots' instead of chasing 'mass appeal'

By Andrew Yoon, Mar 31, 2014 9:30am PDT

A lot of Japanese publishers attempted to have "western appeal" with their games over the past few years. Oftentimes, it didn't really work. Square Enix is one publisher guilty of chasing a global market--to limited success.

Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda recently admitted that making games for a global audience actually does the opposite of what it was intended to do. "In the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being games that weren't for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren't even fit for a global audience," he said.

Matsuda pointed out that games like Bravely Default "ended up selling well all around the world" in spite of it being made specifically for Japanese audiences. "Due to having split [the development mindset] according to regions around the world, we weren't able to see this clearly up until now, but fans of JRPGs are really spread around the world," Matsuda told Nikkei (via Siliconera). Going forward, the company plans on making their games for their fans, instead of trying to chase a broader market. "We basically want to go back to [our] roots and focus on the core audience... I believe that is the best way for our development studios to display their strengths."

This strategy will apply not only to RPG development, but to all aspects of Square Enix's portfolio. "The development team for Hitman: Absolution really struggled in this regard," Matsuda pointed out. "They implemented a vast amount of 'elements for the mass' instead of for the core fans, as a way to try getting as many new players possible. It was a strategy to gain mass appeal. However, what makes the Hitman series good is its appeal to core gamers, and many fans felt the lack of focus in that regard, which ended up making it struggle in sales."

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