Square Enix Shifting Focus to Core Gamers
Thank Bravely Default for sending Square Enix a wake-up call.
The hardcore JRPG for the Nintendo 3DS was never intended for a Western audience, but it received such a strong critical and commercial response when it finally did hit the States in February, Square Enix is rethinking its entire approach to game development.
“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,” Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda recently told told Nikkei Trendy (translated by Siliconera).
“With that in mind, and all of the collective fans, there’s a sense of mass, which loses the image of a niche market. For the new games we’ll be developing from this point on, while this may sound a bit extreme, we’ve been talking about making them as heavy JRPGs. I believe that way, we can better focus on our target, which will also bring better results.”
Square Enix will not only look to design for core gamers with JRPGs, Matsuda said, it will apply that same core-gamer philosophy to all of its projects.
“If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for,” he said. “For example, if you look back at 2013, we’ve had some home console games made for a global audience that struggled.”
“The development team for Hitman: Absolution really struggled in this regard. 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.”
“So, as for the AAA titles we’re currently developing for series, we basically want to go back to their roots and focus on the core audience, while working hard on content that can have fans say things like ‘this is the Hitman, we know’. I believe that is the best way for our development studios to display their strengths.”
Too bad Square didn’t realize this just a bit sooner. We might have gotten the Thief game we all wanted to play.