Square Enix has outlined its strategy in the coming year.
As reported by Tech4Gamers, Square Enix president Takashi Kiryu said this in particular:
“we will bolster the profitability of our Digital Entertainment segment and our HD games(AAA Games), in particular.”
Now, we had previously covered Square Enix confirming that Final Fantasy XVI, while considered a success on the PlayStation 5, did not sell enough copies to meet the company’s expectations. There may have been a correlation to this statement and Square Enix dropping in stock value soon after. But having a correlation does not confirm a causation between the two. It would be instructive to look at Square Enix’s release schedule over the past year.
Square Enix started this year off with Forspoken, and we don’t have to detail what happened there. Forspoken certainly feels like it will be the last of Square Enix’s attempts to take huge risks, following the similar market failures of Babylon’s Fall and Balan Wonderworld.
We could dwell on those other titles and their histories, but the truth is, most of Square Enix’s 2023 releases have been smaller games. They released Octopath Traveler II to multiple platforms this February, and immediately received positive reception as a potential GOTY contender. It’s certainly unfortunate the game press has seemingly forgotten its quality.
Other smaller games Square Enix released in this year include Theathrhythm Final Bar Line, the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, Dragon Quest Treasures, Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai – Infinity Strash, and Star Ocean: The Second Story R.
Pretty much all these games take safe bets on familiar legacy IP. This does not reflect anything about the quality of these games, but it’s clear that this is Square leaning hard on the nostalgia of their gamers once again. But, based on Square’s statement, they aren’t satisfied with the low returns of these games as well.
At least, one interesting release out of these smaller games was the first time rerelease of Live A Live, a wildly experimental RPG that arguably didn’t get the recognition it deserves until now.
Still on the way is Dragon Quest Monsters: The Dark Prince for this year. Nect year, Square Enix will have Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, which is coming to Xbox for the first time.
Square Enix’s near and eventual future seems to once again be focused on the names Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts. It’s likely that it will be OK for now, but these conditions already made Square Enix stagnate from not having new ideas in recent years.
But Square Enix doesn’t seem to know how to make their experiments outside familiar territory work, and at least for now, they can’t really take risks in this shaky business environment. Hopefully, they can keep fans satisfied with satisfactory nostalgia games for the next few years.