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

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.

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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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  • reply
    March 31, 2014 9:30 AM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, Square Enix changing strategy, going 'back to roots' instead of chasing 'mass appeal'.

    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.

    • reply
      March 31, 2014 9:33 AM

      I don't think being "not Japanese enough" was ever their problem

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      March 31, 2014 9:37 AM

      "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."

      Capcom should take this advice in regards to resident evil if they haven't already

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      March 31, 2014 10:54 AM

      Sounds like good news to me!

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      March 31, 2014 11:27 AM

      Bring on a new Chrono Trigger

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      March 31, 2014 11:56 AM

      Well, I look forward to where this goes with their big titles, should be interesting.

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      March 31, 2014 3:56 PM

      2012 seems to have been the "publisher business school of hard knocks" for both Square Enix and Capcom. Both companies went for a Western-focused push in 2008-2011; while Capcom made their push by westernizing Resident Evil and pushing hard with Dead Rising 2, Square acquired Eidos and made their push with Deus Ex and Tomb Raider, while at the same time greenlighting a Kane & Lynch sequel (....why?!).

      Looking back on it, DX:HR was lightning in a bottle that really carried Square's fiscal year, but then the wheels started falling off in 2012. I have to couch this with the fact that I'm in no way interested in anything Final Fantasy, but I also have to wonder if giving Toriyama-san so much leeway (and budget) with Final Fantasy XIII hurt things, but at least that's behind them, and they're working on FFXV (which in 2011 and 2012, gamers were facetiously asking if "Final Fantasy Versus XIII" was quietly canned; turns out it was being delayed and/or reworked for next-gen consoles).

      It's insulting to hear this very very late contrition from Square and Capcom, after them having hyped up their business plan during their "worldwide strategy" years of 2008-2011, while other companies like Atlus and Nippon Ichi kept making JRPGs that appealed to their core audiences, and did it in a way that was profitable (excluding Atlus' bankruptcy filing, which was more related to "round-tripping" fraud, and not a product plan deficiency: http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2013/06/27/atlus-parent-company-investigated-for-fraud-files-for-bankruptcy/ ).

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      March 31, 2014 4:10 PM

      They are on a good track with tomb raider though imo.

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      March 31, 2014 4:14 PM

      A big part of the problem is that everything has "mass appeal" then nothing is unique. You are just one game among thousands with "mass appeal". If you stick to what makes you good, what makes you unique, then shockingly you are more interesting.

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      March 31, 2014 4:37 PM

      Yay yay yay. Im purposely got g to get too excited about this. I'm replaying FF9 right now and there is a reason that it was the most successful FF to date.

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        March 31, 2014 5:07 PM

        Wait, what? Most successful how? Not sales for sure.

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          March 31, 2014 8:04 PM

          It has the highest metacritic score of any FF, 94%. But yeah, not the highest sales.

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      March 31, 2014 9:03 PM

      ...and you'd be happy as hell, to get a record deal
      Maybe your soul you'd sell, to have mass appeal

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