Have Square Enix Finally Seen The Light?
on May 13 by

Have Square Enix Finally Seen The Light?

These past few years have been difficult for those of us with a taste for Japanese console games. With the Western industry in transition drifting towards AAA blockbusters, and Japan towards mobile games, interest in creating these niche titles for consoles has dwindled, particularly JRPGs. The last 4 years have arguably been the bleakest period in the genre’s history.

 

With the genre in such dire straits seeing Yosuke Matsuda’s somewhat surprising comments has offered me a glimmer of hope. In an interview with Nikkei Trendy, Mr Matsuda said ‘Due to having split (the development mind set) 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”.

This single quote gives me and thousands of JRPG fans across the world a glimmer of hope. Despite the utter stupidity in stating the obvious, this single sentence gives us the hope that maybe, just maybe, Square have finally heard what we’ve been shouting for the last 5 years. The sheer ignorance the company has shown in the last half decade, managing their global fan base, is indicative of just how behind the times the corporate Japanese video game industry is.

 

suir

These Japanese companies appear to be living in their own bubble, and seem to very rarely venture out to discover the truth. They appear to take pre-conceptions of Western audiences and use them as an operational blueprint for success. With pretty much no proof to reinforce their ideals, we gamers have felt the full force of such a ‘mindset’. After all when the market leader and innovator makes such radical moves to exit a genre, the industry will typically take note and react accordingly.

 

It appears even those who create and distribute these products we love don’t understand why they are popular on a global scale. Now this may be acceptable for those with little power and interest in such trivialities, but the CEO of a company with massive global operations?! That is unacceptable, particular when you have had fans shouting at you from all corners of the earth for the best part of half a decade. We are still waiting on Type -0 Square Enix, if you’d so kindly oblige us with at least a digital Vita release.

 

resident evil 6

Unfortunately this is not an individual case, Square Enix are not the anomaly. This is a widespread cultural problem. We need look no further than Capcom and the Resident Evil 6 debacle to discover Square Enix are not alone in  maintaining such a clueless attitude.

 

Mr Matsuda’s rather enlightening comments are indicative of a larger problem. It’s clear that the view looking out from Japan is incredibly skewed. These companies don’t understand their audience and worse still they don’t understand their own products. For an executive with ultimate corporate power, that is extremely concerning, what’s to say if Square Enix can be guilty of such ignorance that the rest won’t follow suit. How badly have Square Enix’s misconceptions afflicted the industry? Since 2010 they have left a significant gap and it appears only Namco Bandai have even attempted to fill it, and even that was only with the relative powerhouse that is the ‘Tales of’ series to mitigate the risk.

 

tales of xillia

Over the last 5 years the industry has become increasingly desolate, streamlined and uninteresting, and based on these comments I’m inclined to assign some of the blame to Square Enix, but most must go to the corporate Japanese video game industries’ cultural misgivings, just how such unjustified misconceptions can be peddled as fact in a multi-billion dollar industry is anyone’s best guess.



  • 60hz

    good article but a kanye moment pops into mind… “hold hold on, i’m gonna let you finish… but resident evil 6 has one of the best mercenary modes of all time!” – unlike kanye, i actually speak the truth…

    • Blue Odeyssey

      Must admit, never played the Merc mode in RE6, is it worth taking the plunge back into that fetid turd of a game?

  • Blue Odeyssey

    Must admit, never played the Merc mode in RE6, is it worth taking the plunge back into that fetid turd of a game?

  • I ♥ Japanese Games

    I think the drive to be more western has really damaged the larger companies like Capcom and Square. The irony is, tat what made those companies so great, so loved by fans was the quality of the game that were very Japanese in style and mentality.

    If you had a company that made amazing ice cream, and your company grew to be massive because everyone thought your ice cream was totally fucking orgasmic – why suddenly decide to make coffee instead because more people drink it?

    It’s lunacy.

    On the plus side, it’s great to see the smaller niche Japanese games companies like Marvelous, NIS, Atlus etc doing so well on the handheld systems. Vita and 3DS owners are spoiled for choice at the moment…

    • Blue Odeyssey

      Yeah it’s a shame that they have such a disconnect with there own audience. It almost makes me think these Japanese companies just lucked out when they initially struck gold with a global audience back on the PS1.

      I really feel like they need a Western consultant to go in and say, ‘this is why the audience like such and such’ rather than trying to assimilate western culture straight into their products.

    • zeroroute

      Orgasmic ice cream? sign me up!. just kidding

  • Leon Armenta

    “Since 2010 they have left a significant gap and it appears only Namco Bandai have even attempted to fill it”
    You forgot Atlus, and to a lesser extend publishers lile Exceed, Aksys amd NISA that bring more niche titles. And I think without these publishers SE wouldn’t have come to this conclusion. Let’s just hope that they don’t start making half-assed games or justporting for the nth time FF1 & 2.

    • Blue Odeyssey

      While I partially agree, titles released by those companies cannot compare in scale and budget to SE’s typical output. Very little with significant budget has been released. Don’t get me wrong, these budget titles are great, and sometimes exceed their more expensive counterparts but they do not significantly replace the likes of Star Ocean or Dragon Quest.

      • I ♥ Japanese Games

        I think the only larger budget titles that have really shone this gen are the Tales games (which are consistently, very strong) and the amazing Ni No Kuni.

        Actually, Bandai Namco have, in general, done a really good job of keeping their larger budget games at a decent level.

        • Blue Odeyssey

          In the latter part of the gen i’d agree but early on, Square released a few gems. Back then other companies were also releasing high quality, high budget titles, ala, Blue Dragon, Lost Odyssey and Magna Carta 2, unfortunately when Square stopped, the likes of Microsoft and Banpresto also appeared to grind to a halt.

  • Chersea

    And then you have people like Keiji Inafune that say Japanese games suck and that developers should become even more like the west.

    Not that I agree with him, though. I mostly play old and handheld games, so this hasn’t affected me as much. ;p