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.

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5 Comments on Square Enix Shifting Focus to Core Gamers

SupremeAllah

On April 1, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Well good for them. Bravely Default was an incredible game. It is what the last many Final Fantasy games should have been, rather than the nonsense they’ve been giving us.

And it’s some interesting insight to see the reason why Hitman: Absolution’s story was turned to and we had a bunch of Nun assassins was so they could appeal to a larger audience. A move that not only made no sense, but shat all over the core fans of the series since the beginning.

Michael

On April 1, 2014 at 12:56 pm

Idiots…
Now they figure this out since the merge. Oh wait, they finally noticed it when it came to dollars. They don’t care about the core. This is all B.S. on there side. Remember what they said when people wanted a FF7 remake. They said, “Until we make a FF that exceeds FF7 we will not do it”. The other one was, “If we do a FF7 remake it will ruin us”.

R.J.

On April 1, 2014 at 3:42 pm

It seems sad to me that a company that is known for JRPGs didn’t realize that that is where their bread is buttered, but then again this is a company that bought Eidos because just owning a western company was supposed to allow them to immediately tap into the western audience. People like quality games, and are willing to try other things when the quality is there.

rickshaw

On April 1, 2014 at 4:55 pm

Even though i made myself enjoy thief, I totally agree with your last comment about thief, + I enjoyed the rest of read of course. :)

psycros

On April 4, 2014 at 10:25 pm

SE’s idea of “global” appeal has been to retool each of their franchises to focus on a specific player demographic. The single player FFs became their girly games, the online FF was targeted first at the EQ crowd and then, after the now-legendary bungle, remade as a WoW clone. Front Mission was reimagined as a rail shooter and now FF is being made into a shooter for girls, which I’m sure will do about as well as the rest of their in-house creations from the last few years. This new announcement gives us the first glimmer of hope we’ve had in a very long time. Let’s hope its more than just talk.