Features / Weekly Musings

Square Enix Changing Regional Focus

Square Enix Changing Regional Focus

Written by Colin — 01 Jul 2010

It's been an interesting ride with Square Enix for the last couple of years in regards to their showings at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, aka E3. Back in the day, the company always had an abundance of Japanese games on show. Of course there would be Final Fantasy games, but in addition, titles like Dragon Quest and Star Ocean usually made an appearance. However, in the last couple of years, Square Enix doesn't seem to be as concerned with E3 and many of these Japanese games are shown at the Tokyo Game Show and Jump Festa events instead.

Flash back to the wonder years of E3. Taking 2005 and 2006 for example, Square Enix in all her glory showed off plenty of Final Fantasies, including XI, XII, the compilation of VII and even the debut announcement of Fabula Nova Crystallis, of which the recently released Final Fantasy XIII is a part of; however, in addition to these big names, niche titles like Radiata Stories and Romancing Saga were unveiled. Unlike Square Enix's flagship franchise, these titles had much to prove and none succeeded in drawing in a satisfiable amount of revenue in either North America or Europe. Looking even further back, among the ever favourite Final Fantasy X-2 in 2003 as well as Advent Children in 2004, Square still shared with the world games such as Drakenguard, Unlimited Saga and Fullmetal Alchemist.

Come E3 2008, it's the year of original IPs for next generation systems. Square Enix reveals The Last Remnant and Infinite Undiscovery among the more established franchises. Unfortunately, neither were a screaming success in comparison to Star Ocean IV, also shown in the same year, which became one of the best selling Xbox 360 games in Japan. This trend of less-than-successful original titles begs the question, are they worth showing at a venue like the Electronic Entertainment Expo?

If games like these are shown at E3, yet fail to make an impression or do well in sales, that's just a bit of wasted effort and resources. As a result of this trend, it appears that Square Enix has changed their approach - at least in the last two years. Having recently acquired and worked with several Western developers, Square Enix have instead decided to exhibit games like Eidos' Deus Ex and Kane & Lynch as well as Gas Powered Games' Supreme Commander 2 and Dungeon Siege III. What does this mean for Square Enix? Simply put, it'll be easier for them to appeal and expand into the western market with such titles; however, if that's the case then where have all the Japanese games gone to?

If not E3, then the next biggest venue for such games are obviously the Tokyo Game Show and Jump Festa. In 2008, Square Enix had a line up of 26 titles for TGS and over a whopping 30 titles in line for TGS 2009 alone. Titles like Nier, Cross Treasures, Lord of Vermilion II and even Fullmetal Alchemist were on show. Meanwhile, Jump Festa also enjoyed titles like Echoes of Time, Blood of Bahamut, Lost Winds and even Final Fantasy Versus and Agito XIII. It's worth mentioning that Final Fantasy Versus XIII has been confirmed for this year's Tokyo Game Show. E3 only saw Final Fantasy XIV, which is Square Enix's next MMO, but not a single title from the Fabula Nova Crystallis project.

So has Square Enix lost interest in E3? Probably not, it appears that they are simply adjusting their priorities, showing more games that appeal to the E3 audience rather than wasting resources on every single title under their belt when not all of them are guaranteed to be a success. Regrettably, we probably won't be seeing as many of these interesting titles at E3 anymore, but rather titles like Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Fret not though, Square Enix will more than certainly still show their flagship franchise, Final Fantasy, considering that it hasn't had any problems with success on a global scale.

In any case, we can always look forward to coverage of the Tokyo Game Show and Jump Festa, which are just around the corner.