Today, Phil Rogers (CEO of Square-Enix US and EU) posted a blog about the future of Square-Enix. You can find it here. At the end of his post, he asked everyone to please reply and leave him feedback.
Please feel free to mail me your feedback. I can’t promise I’ll respond to every mail but you can be sure your concerns will be heard and taken on board.
In the spirit of discussion, I wrote him my thoughts off the top of my head. I’ll go ahead and post it here as well so that people can respond to me in kind.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My name is Kody Robison and I first like to say thanks for the opportunity to give you my thoughts on Square-Enix’s direction in regards to it’s Western publishing and development. Without boring you with too many details that would be insignificant to the real discussion, I’ve been a big fan of both Squaresoft and Enix since the release of ActRaiser. That game had major influences on my development as a fan of Video Games and of all media in general. I speak to you now a full 22 years after the release of that game as a father and an enthusiast. I’m not the CEO of a major brand. Nor do I have the ability to make decisions on a multi-million dollar level that may have ramifications on hundreds of people and their future employment. I do, however, have a lot of opinions on where Video Games are and where they are going.
The recent focus on Mobile Phone development for some of the most storied franchises in gaming history has concerned a great many people. You say in your blog post that you are not abandoning AAA gaming and it’s great to hear that. You say that there is a full slate of games from AAA to mobile to online. My personal concern based on these promises is that you say nothing of anything in between. It seems to me that at todays Square-Enix, there’s not enough room for the types of games that made me become such a fan of the company in the first place. Final Fantasy XV as a huge blockbuster game makes sense. It’s a flagship. You need to lead with your flagships. What about other titles however? Let me pose a question. If you were given the opportunity to publish ActRaiser today, would it happen? I don’t think anyone at Square-Enix would take the risk necessary to greenlight that. Or, an even more scary scenario for me, it would be released as a mobile phone game with social elements and in-app purchases. There is a middle ground, I think, between AAA and mobile phone/social games that Square-Enix has lost sight of. Games that don’t need to sell 4 million units to maintain profitability. Games that build another generation of hardcore fans while simultaneously pleasing those older ones.
Please don’t misunderstand, I happily await the release of Kingdom Hearts III… but at the same time I dread the next announcement of a Final Fantasy styled mobile phone game. Or maybe the announcement of ActRaiser – Farm Edition. The gaming demographic has blown up in just the last 5 years with millions of people realizing that Video Games can not only be a profitable business but also a legitimate entertainment option and hobby. The people joining gaming for the first time have certain expectations that must be met in terms of price and playability and I understand that ceasing development for those people would be akin to burning a giant pile of money. I would just like you to remember that there is a group of people that are not being developed for right now, the people who don’t want a 400 million dollar Chrono Trigger game and would be devastated to see it’s sequel on the iPhone.
Again, I’m not a CEO, just a part of an ever more cynical group of people who fear for the future of some of their most beloved games.
Oh, and I also promised someone to ask you about Final Fantasy Type 0 and the various Dragon Quest games that have not been localized. The audience that I’m talking about above are the same people who would quickly pre-order any announcements of those localizations.
Thank you again for your time,