News Article

Departing Eidos Montreal Boss Says Square Enix "Has Some Things To Learn" About Selling Games

Posted by Damien McFerran

"Last year...we didn't hit a single home run"

Eidos Montreal general manager Stephane D'Astous has parted company with the studio he founded, voicing his concerns about how parent firm Square Enix is running its business.

The news broke of D'Astous' departure yesterday, and he has since spoken to Polygon to give a little more detail behind the reasons for the move:

We brought three triple As to the market, and despite that great line up and those great critical reviews we still managed not to respect our financial goals, so that really shook up a lot of people...Square Enix has some things to learn about how to sell their games.

We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more. They need to attack that very, very seriously. Last year was supposed to be a home-run season, but we didn't hit a single home run.

D'Astous claims that in the wake of Square Enix's corporate reshuffle lines of communication broke down, making his position difficult.


From the web

User Comments (37)



Einherjar said:

How about not making "tripple A titles" and just make good games ? Good games dont need astronomical budgets. Jim Sterling (JimQuisition on escapist) made an episode of that recently. Its about Ubisofts aproach to just making game franchises in the future, because "a single game is just too expansive", using the first installment as a towing vehicle to drag in consumers to buy the sequels.
Making tripple A titles with a budged way beyond of what you can afford because the term "tripple A" is guaranteed to pull in the big cash is...what would TV Tropes call it...a "Critical Existance Failure"
Simply make good games with the money you can spent without going banckrupt. If its really good, the people will come automaticly and buy your games (critical reviews are worth stinkybrowndoggiepoopoo) and THEN, with that money in your pockets, you can think of the next project with a rpobably bigger budget.
About critical reviews: Final Fantasy XIII was praised...and i still found it to be one of the worst movies ive ever watched....wait, it was supposed to be a game ?
The ony problem i can see here is the usage of words liek "tripple A" and "critical reviews"



Rezalack said:

They just need to remake some sequels of older classics, IE: Final Fantasy Tactcs, the Mana series, Chrono Trigger/Cross.. just use those names and tag a GOOD game onto it.. There are so many classics they could build from that I feel are just being left to waste.



ricklongo said:

It's kind of a shame. Square Enix (then Squaresoft) was one of my favorite video game companies from my childhood, up there with Nintendo, Sega, and Capcom. With some few exceptions (Dragon Quest IX: Sentinels of Starry Skies), their games just aren't as good as they used to be. I feel they really need to go back to their roots to achieve greatness once again.



Chunky_Droid said:

Tomb Raider topped 2.5 million sales, these guys have some serious issues with what makes a 'successful game'.



smashbrolink said:

I dunno about you, but I feel that Monolith Soft is slowly starting to take up the mantle that Square had back when it was just Square Soft.
Xenoblade Chronicles was incredible, and the upcoming X is looking fantastic.
It's bringing back sweet, fond memories of my time playing games like Secret of Mana and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars.
I'm very happy Nintendo officially acquired them as a first-party studio...



SkywardLink98 said:

@Chunky_Droid They were expecting (according to IGN) to sell over 5 million copies. The problem becomes, that since they expected that many sales, they put astronomical amounts of money into a game that was then not profitable.



MAB said:

This is what happens when you Nintendon't.

There will be more of these big budget poopy flops in the future because the game industry is trying to act like the movie industry... You gotta make games again man I don't want to wait years just to watch a movie on ma console



LztheQuack said:

Firstly, their goal was ridiculous in the first place (5 million, really?).

Second, their marketing sucks now. I recently watched the so-called trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3, and it was underwhelming. Not to mention they love this trend of announcing an announcement for the announcement of the release date of a game...then delay it.



Brother_Jolteon said:

Square Enix: here is a early look at Kingdom Hearts 3.

Fans: OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kingdom Hearts 3 gets released: sells millions



ricklongo said:

@smashbrolink Yeah, that makes sense. It's telling that I'm incredibly excited for X, whereas the one PS4 game I was envious of (Final Fantasy XV) fell absolutely flat to me after E3.



retro_player_22 said:

"Last year...we didn't hit a single home run"

I wonder why, you can go to every online gaming forum and all you'll ever hear from gamers regarding Square Enix is "Remake FFVII, remake FFVII." So ummm... why not just remake FFVII already so that your company could make that home run?



hYdeks said:

Well, all i know is after trying to beat Final Fantasy 13, I've really given up hope for FF games That game was very boring and horrible, it grabbed me in sometimes, but even for a FF game it was WAAAY too cinematic. What the heck happened to the Fantasy in these games?!? What happened to the FF that we love?!?

Deus Ex Human Revolution looks really great, though, and I will be getting that (I'm gonna be very poor the coming months ) but when it comes to Square Enix rpg's, they really suck lately. Maybe all can be redeemed if they released Dragon Quest X on Wii U in the west, but that game didn't exactly sell well in Japan, so it's hard to say.

Ohh, and another thing, why wasn't Kingdom Hearts 1.5 being made for Wii U too? How about Kingdom Hearts 3 for Wii U as well, not just PS4. Kingdom Hearts would sell great on a Nintendo platform. SquareEnix just doesn't make much sense anymore



DualWielding said:

bring Bravely Default to the West, advertise it at least a little bit, make money, it is that simple



Schprocket said:

@MadAussieBloke that's why I've been investing in Kickstarters... give money to the guys who remember what making games is about - before the creativity gets traded-in for a Harvard MBA, "the bottom line", and Pachterosis*...

*hardening of the right-brain hemisphere due to being unable to give credibility to any console system which doesn't rely solely on appealing to dude-bros...



Yrreiht said:

Just remake FFVII and everyone will be happy... except me... I hate VII...



FullbringIchigo said:

they need to take games like Final Fantasy back to it's roots not that the ones since ten were bad games but they have just changed so much they ain't Final Fantasy anymore

and also release FF1 to 10 on the WiiU eShop

oh and Tomb Raider on WiiU as well




They need to reduce their budget over anything else. Look at Animal Crossing. 3 million sales, but didn't break the bank to produce. That's how you print money. Look at Tomb Raider. 3 million sales and then some, but no one at Square is happy about it. 3 million sales for a game that's mostly a single player experience SHOULD be "a home run", but they broke the bank so much that it wasn't. Focus on the game play and cut down the dang costs, and maybe you'll see some revenue. Otherwise, continue to deal with AAA problems and act like its not your fault with your excessive theatrics, melo-drama, cut-scenes, and explosives.



banacheck said:


Kingdom Of Hearts 1.5 HD Remix is an exclusive, much like Nintendo's exclusive's. Kingdom Of Hearts 3 the only reason i see it going to Xbox as well, is for a quick cash-in because its easy to port over. Thay know full well its going to sell on the PS4, Xbox is a bonus.

Make games fans want & then some, Kingdom Of Hearts 3 is a good start, Kingdom Of Hearts 2.5 next after 1.5 HD Remix, see how easy that is? it's also a HD remake costing you less but making you more. Plus it'll be before KH3 making newer fans before KH3 even releases, next we'll talk about some more of your franchise.

Consoles are changing, becoming more connected then ever before, once you see it, i mean all of it, how do you look away? PS4.




@banacheck "Make the games we want" is the dumbest argument ever. How is a company supposed to know what games consumers want unless it's like, a long-awaited sequel or a re-release, and even then, how should they gauge demand unless it's stirring up a storm on the internet? That's a shallow way of trying to make an argument when there is none, like telling someone how to win with one easy step: go win.

It doesn't work that way.



ecco6t9 said:

Square Enix is out of touch with what gamers want.

They seem more focused on whoring out a franchise name for a social media game to keep the lights on at Square Enix for the next two months.



brucelebnd said:

he has a point. Sleeping Dogs is a great sandbox style game but went totally under the radar. Deus Ex is not a bad game either. I think problem is nothing makes them stand out on the PS3 or Xbox 360, they're good games but seriously both systems have a glut of similar games. and quite honestly if you are a madden/COD type gamer neither of those games will appeal to you and they're like 80% of the people who own a Xbox.



Zombie_Barioth said:

You hit the nail on the head, everything from pointing out the latest JimQuisition to the over-reliance on critical reviews.

Make a good game and people will find it. Persona, Harvest Moon, Disgaea, none of these are huge "triple A" games but they're still pretty successful in their own right. Not even Pokemon caught on at first, and Final Fantasy was a last ditch effort from a failing company. Quite trying to 'make' a good game and just make the game you want to make and and it'll find its audience.

It doesn't matter if your game recieves critical reviews because consumers will still notice its flaws regardless.

These big companies need to stop trying to emulate the movie industry. Square Enix specifically needs to quite trying to push the bar on huge, cinematic games. They seem to have forgotten what people liked about their games in the first place.



MAN1AC said:

Its kinda sad how far Square has fallen over the last few years. What's even sadder is that I dont see the fall ending any time soon.



Jukilum said:

They don't seem to have a problem selling their games from those numbers. They need to spend less on them.



Magikarp3 said:

Hey guys, this article is about Eidos Montreal. Thus the games he was likely referring to are Tomb Raider, Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Sleeping Dogs. The latter two were marketed terribly, even though they were excellent games. Human Revolution has the potential to become a sleeper hit like the original Deus Ex imo.

Eidos operates more or less independently from the Japanese Square-Enix though, so there's no point asking for Final Fantasy or Kingdom Hearts.

Ah who am I kidding, there's no point commenting here



banacheck said:

@banacheck "Make the games we want" is the dumbest argument ever. How is a company supposed to know what games consumers want unless it's like, a long-awaited sequel or a re-release,

Square Enix has a website where i don't know there fans actually go, and have been saying what thay've wanted for a fair few years now. Even creating Petitions for certain games, so useless your a bit slow or something its not that hard to figure out.



Meaty-cheeky said:

Square Enix has been a big disappointment for a long time now, I just hope they don't screw up kingdom hearts 3.




@banacheck Not exactly what I was getting that, but ok. The point is that not only does a dev have to make the title gamers want, but the content has to be what they want too. Also, they can't just appeal to vocal minorities, which CAN be the case, cause I'm sure that not everyone with even the slightest interest in their games will just hop on their site. There's A TON of guess work in what gets put in a game, even if it's for "the fans' sake", because there's no real way to make sure it's exactly what MOST fans want. Sometimes, it can be sort of easy to tell. Sometimes, not so much. Some dude on the net saying "Gimme what we want" has a good chance of getting it wrong.



Araknie said:

I know, i was expecting for the last Deus Ex 2 years ago and now the Tomb Raider reboot to really kick donkey with tons of million.

I played and finished them both and they great game, both have guns but you can complete the games without them if you play it smart. Yes, even Deus Ex boss battles, you just need to foucs skills on critical physical strikes and explosives and you do that without guns. And in Tomb Raider i defeat every single enemy with my bow and with physical attacks, i use the guns only to break stuff.

Those two are games that deliver this kind of option to player, but Square-Enix didn't even make a fuss about making sure the games are so great in their Ads.

The point is that i don't see a really large number of people asking for a sequel for both of these franchises and i can't understand why since they are good games.

Eidos sold more games when they were alone, being under this kind of publisher leaves only a soar result.

2.50m copies for Tomb Raider.
2.80m copies for Deus Ex Human Revolution.

Not bad but another recent and creative game like Borderlands 2 sold 4.40m copies. He's right when he says they hit any home-run.



Einherjar said:

@Zombie_Barioth Good examples Lets compare, say, Persona 4 to Final Fantasy XIII. Both games got phenomenal "critical reviews", the difference is, one is only loved by critics, ehile a mojority of the fanbase was displeased and the other is loved overall. And there is a simple reason for that:
Persona 4 was made, because THEY wanted it the way it is. It is brutaly hard (with slight hints of unfairnes), the story runs on a strict timeframe, making it impossible to enjoy everything for first timers and has quite a lot of "permanently missables". And no, this is NOT the game that split the fanbase, even though it has quite a lot of features that are generally disliked. The reason ? It has heart, plenty of it. You feel that the devs put a lot of effort into THEIR vision, and thats far more important. If a game can charm you, its far easier to adept to its rules, that might not even be "your thing"
And then you have Final Fantasy XIII. It has everything people nowadays want: Gorgeous graphics, movie like cinematics, simple controlls, easy to moderate difficulty without bumps in the learning curve. They catert to a LOT of things, that many people think makes a good game. So why wasnt it the smash hit it set out to be ? Because giving people exactly what they want isnt necessarily wat YOU (the dev) wants. Also, this mix of good points may sound good, but it might not be the best mixture for the final product. Stupid example: i LOVE noodles in any shape or form, and i also LOVE escalopes (NEVER heard that term hope it means what i think it does, wikipedia sais so at least ) but mixing thos two together would be a terrible idea.
Developers need to stop making games after the results of focus group tests. They need to realize their own visions. Thats the single most important appeal of a video game. Thats what i loved about capcom back then (with and emphasis on BACK THEN !). Remember the origins of Devil May Cry ? It was supposed to be a Resident Evil sequel. The name alone printed money at that time and still, the desire for their vision drove so far away from what Resident Evil used to be, that they decided it needs another name. It was the game that shaped the brand, not the brand that shaped the game. And thats what happens today. Everyone is just making games after certain "tried and true" formulars until you cant distinguish them from each other because they are all made from the same mold, since "that sold pretty good"
Thats also the reason why games like Minecraft suddenly boomed, because they had nothing to be compared to, the exact polar opposite of the retail game market.

EDIT: I know, i know, im quoting that guy every time but it hits the nail on its head:
Jim Sterling (JimQuisition) - Damn FIne Coffee

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