Over the past generation, it has been hard to be a Square Enix fan. With three installments in the controversial Final Fantasy XIII series that seemed very little asked for, the tease of a potential HD remake of Final Fantasy VII, no true Kingdom Hearts sequel, the very late Final Fantasy XV (once called Final Fantasy Versus XIII), and Eidos’ games being touted as “failures,” it has been difficult for both the company and its fan base.

On the other hand, the company’s visage in the public has been going upward ever since the announcements at E3 2013 of the much anticipated Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III. As well as these two games coming soon, Square Enix has a new CEO, Yosuke Matsuda. Through adopting new business models, faster development times, and the new HD remasters, Square Enix is set for a comeback.

final fantasy xiv screen

One of Square Enix’s major issues of this past generation are the extremely lengthy development cycles that their main games have taken. In the span of Final Fantasy XV‘s development, we have seen three Uncharted games released and one revealed, and all three previous titles  have the highest production values, fantastic gameplay and a well written narrative. An RPG development house called Level-5 alone has also released 3 games, Ni No Kuni, White Knight Chronicles, and White Knight Chronicles 2. Other much anticipated games such as Final Fantasy XIII (which took 4 years to develop),  Kingdom Hearts III (until recently was put on hold until XV was finished; it is now finally in development), and the penultimate version of Final Fantasy XIV (4 years of development) were also delayed for a long time. Despite this prolonged history, Yosuke Matsuda has boldly told Infoseek (via DualShockers) that Square Enix “need to establish a system that will meet the needs of our customers in a more timely manner [and] […]  [the company has] to enact urgent changes.” Through a new CEO, Square Enix may be getting a new, quicker development system so consumers can receive their much anticipated products “in a more timely manner.”

Thankfully, products are now reaching customers in a more timely manner as Square Enix and their out sources have been creating the recent HD collections/remasterings such as Kingdom Hearts 1.5/2,5 HD Remixes, Tomb Raider: The Definitive Edition, and the upcoming Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster. Through these collections and remasters, the player base for each of their franchises will grow as potential fans for a series like Kingdom Hearts can play the games on their current generation systems for the first time (Personally, I have played the HD version of Shadow of the Colossus on the PS3 and it is one of my favorite games ever released despite its age). This also allows for more profits to come from previously developed projects but it also reignites a passion for franchises that have been stagnant in fans’ eyes for many years such as Final Fantasy.

The company has also suffered in the past to catch up with new trends as their development processes have taken too long. Yosuke Matsuda has further explained this detail with Infoseek as he states that (via VG24/7) “past gaming generation changes took roughly three to five years.” He further explains, “Nowadays, released titles are updated every day, and it only takes about three months for a situation to completely change.”  He acknowledges that the “DNA of providing high content is in the company [and] […] [they] will continue to honor this, while changing what needs to be changed.” Many different platforms are now in the landscape of gaming with the rise of  free-to-play models, independent studios, and next generation consoles as the scene changes almost day-by-day.

Square Enix have effectively responded to the indie movement through the Collective program, which establishes the publisher as the overseer while games are getting crowd funded on IndieGoGo. Through this process, backers can be sure that the development process of each indie game under the Collective is successful.  Free-to-play has begun within Square Enix through the successful title, Wakfu (which has recently been crowdfunded for an animation series), and an altered version of their 3DS spinoff of the Final Fantasy series, Theatrythmn: Final Fantasy. Square Enix, as of recent, have been showing signs of finding new ways to reach different sections of the market and we, the gamers, are the ones who are benefiting from the company’s transitioning.

Previously, Square Enix bought Eidos, the company behind Tomb Raider, Hitman, and Deus Ex, and until lately, it felt like they were two completely different entities. For example, part of the Crystal Dynamics concept art team worked on the Agni’s Philosophy tech demo, and Lightning has just been shown off in a Lara Croft costume. While these two co-operations seem rather small, it is a good sign that the company is using their assets in a much smarter way than the past. Perhaps, we could see segments of the Western development teams work on the much delayed, Final Fantasy XV or even Kingdom Hearts III . In fact , when speaking  to OXM of Eidos developers potentially creating a Final Fantasy entry, Lightning Returns game design director, Yuji Abe, stated that “if [they] find the right developers, the right people who really wanted to do it, and we had the right game, then yes, certainly we’d think about it.” Motomu Toriyama, the director of the series, added to Yuji Abe’s statement, that “the whole thing about the Final Fantasy series is that for every iteration, for every game we do, we have a very different game […] so the development team is also different very time, so that there’s different ideas and different concepts driving it.” Toriyama concluded, “Obviously within that framework, having a very different type of team could work.” Through the purchase of Eidos, Square Enix now has some top tier developers under their belt that can set them up for stronger development processes for Square Enix’s key titles and new successful Western titles.

lightning tomb raider

Square Enix is ready to succeed in this upcoming generation with quicker development processes, HD collections/remasters, new business strategies (free to play, The Collective, etc), and Eidos’ top tier developers. As Yosuke Matsuda has spoken, the company do have the “DNA of providing high content” and this generation should be great for both the fans and the developers of Square Enix’s iconic franchises.

Chris Penwell
Chris Penwell is an editor who loves an engaging story and interesting combat within games. Previously writing for PlayStation Euphoria, Chris is a fan of most Sony Computer Entertainment titles including Uncharted, The Last of Us, and even White Knight Chronicles but he is open to all platforms. His ultimate goal is to go to E3 and interview the developers who have created the games he has loved throughout the 15 past years of his gaming experiences. His most anticipated games include Kingdom Hearts III, Beyond Good and Evil 2, The Division, Final Fantasy XV, and Destiny.

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    10 Comments

    1. sleeping dogs, hitman absolution, tomb raider, all those barelly broke even only deus ex was sucessfull, lets see how thief will do.

      1. Personally i dont care about how many copies they sold, all those games you just listed above, i thoroughly enjoyed!

        1. no sales= no sequels.

          1. Except sequels to all three have already been soft-announced? IO is working on a new Hitman, CD on a new Tomb Raider and UFG on Triad Wars so… obviously they did well enough.

            1. Not really, hitman sequel was hinted prior release of the hitman and they said its a new developer. They are not gonna cancel it. Same goes for tomb raider. The triad wars is rumored to be F2P and make money from crap items like dlcs in sleeping dogs.

              Its like cliffy B said, they lose money on the first game and expect to make them up from the sequels and dlc.

              Only in this case they barelly broke even.

            2. Actually, S-E Montreal, the studio that was supposed to be behind the originally announced next Hitman was repurposed into a mobile studio following the failure of Absolution to hit its goal, so IO is back to sole development duties. Tomb Raider sequel was officially announced in August of last year, not prior to release of the original and I have no idea where you get your rumours about Triad Wars because there has literally been no information and one blurry screenshot outside of its announcement.

              And then you contradict your earlier statement, “no sales = no sequels” with a quote from Cliffy B. explaining the existence of sequels?

            3. It was anoucned that it will be a diffirent studio and tomb raider before it even came out, the developer said that the next one wil be more open.

              There is a rumor that next game from UFG will be f2p.

              I explained you how it goes, they are lossing money but expect to make them from sequels and dlc.

            4. Yes, it was announced that S-E Montreal was working on a new Hitman. That is *technically* no longer the case. I say technically because what they produced was the mobile title Hitman GO: https://appadvice.com/appnn/2014/02/square-enix-montreal-announces-hitman-go-a-turn-based-hitman-game-for-mobile

              IO is working on the next mainline Hitman game. Taken from the Wikipedia entry on Hitman 6:
              ‘Originally, the game was to be developed by Square Enix developer Square Enix Montreal, a newly established studio. However, due to cutbacks and layoffs at IO Interactive, a Square Enix representative said that “The studio (IO Interactive) will focus resolutely on the future vision for the Hitman franchise and is in pre-production on a new AAA Hitman project. However we have taken the difficult decision to cancel other studio projects and initiatives at IO and reduce the workforce in this studio, which will impact almost half of the employees currently at IO, as we make internal adjustments to face the challenges of today’s market.”

              Square Enix Montreal (who was originally working on the next Hitman title) will now reportedly focus on developing smartphone and tablet versions of Hitman and other games.’

              Can you provide proof positive to the contrary? No, because I’m stating verifiable fact. Earliest reference to a Tomb Raider sequel that I can find was made at Comic-Con last year, but I’ll be convinced if you can provide a link backing up your assertion.

              And yes, you did do that. Very astute. But it still contradicts your earlier statement: “no sales = no sequels”. You can’t defend that its a contradiction, no matter the reasoning for it.

            5. i am in no mood to go and dig up a article with a preview on tomb raider where the devs mentioned the next game will be more open.

              But those projects were on development prior release of the game, so canceling them will get them losses.

              All those games broke even though, they did not flop in sales. If they did, then there wouldnt be a sequel.

    2. Easy to say when these games have over 7 year development cycles. I guess generation 9 is gonna be a slow year for SE again. Square-Enix has been garbage since going to multiplat. That’s what they get for being moneyhats.

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