News Article

Square Enix To Focus Less on the 'Global Aspect' Following Bravely Default Success in the West

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

"There’s a sense of mass, which loses the image of a niche market"

Square Enix, a company with significant heritage both pre- and post-merger, has been working in recent times to try and broaden its appeal and sales worldwide. It's not been smooth sailing, however, as financial challenges have been a consistent feature in recent years as the company strives for success on established platforms as well as the rapidly expanding smart device market.

Some of its properties have also struggled to maintain the success of bygone eras, and this is naturally an area that Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda has considered in detail. Based on recent comments to Nikkei Trendy (translated by Siliconera) Matsuda-san seems to be plotting a change in course; in highlighting that efforts to 'globalise' brands have not always met success, it's emphasized that a game targeted to the Japanese market — Bravely Default on 3DS — has achieved impressive results around the world, perhaps breaking down ideas of what genres and styles work in different regions.

Not just limited to games for smartphone or console, but we do have some global titles lined up. However, regardless of whether they’re for smartphone or console, there’s a difficult element to developing global titles, so we’ll be making them without focusing too much on the ‘global’ aspect.

For example, in the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience.

On the other hand, there are games like the JRPG we made for the Japanese audience with the proper elements, Bravely Default, which ended up selling well all around the world.

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. Through the means of various networks, the latest information that is announced in Japan is instantaneously being spread across fans throughout the world. Whether it’s North America, Europe, or South America. There really isn’t much of a gap [in the relay of information].

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.

Are you keen to see Square Enix direct its attention to project more suited to its instincts?

[via siliconera.com]

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User Comments (63)

Falchion

#2

Falchion said:

Sounds good to me, i dont really like "western" square enix games anyway.

bizcuthammer

#3

bizcuthammer said:

This sounds like what people want from S-E: for them to quit trying to act like a western developer, and to go back to their roots of making amazing JRPGs like they did back in the SNES/PS1/PS2 eras.

Highwinter

#5

Highwinter said:

Good. Stop shoehorning "western" features into Final Fantasy and give us a traditional entry again.

V8_Ninja

#6

V8_Ninja said:

Eh, I wouldn't say that Bravely Default succeeded because it was aimed at the JRPG crowd. There are tons of games aimed at the JRPG crowd, and most of them aren't the most profitable ventures for their respective companies.

As for my guess? Judging from the Metacritic page, I would say that Bravely Default succeeded because a company respected for its talent in one area (Square Enix and the JRPG) made a product that accentuates their talent. In other words, Square Enix has been known for making good JRPGs, and they made another good JRPG.

ricklongo

#7

ricklongo said:

I'm really glad to read that. Bravely Default is amazing, and exactly the kind of experience I'd expect from gold old Squaresoft or Enix pre-merger.

I'm also very glad to see him mention South America by name, which is rare when it comes to game companies.

Panamae

#8

Panamae said:

BREAKING NEWS: Square Enix realises that people like the kind of games they used to make pre-merger.

SHOCKING!

navonod18

#9

navonod18 said:

SE you think you're impressed by Bravely Default sales?? Try globalizing Dragon quest.

Spoony_Tech

#10

Spoony_Tech said:

And yet a title like Tomb Raider if it doesn't sell more then 6 million copies is considered a failer. Figure that one out!

Stick to your roots and market towards the right systems and forget about micro anything and you should do fine!

unrandomsam

#11

unrandomsam said:

I didn't like Bravely Default (Got it as a present otherwise I wouldn't have had anything to do with it). I would like Dragon Quest VII though or a version of the Super Famicom Dragon Quest III. (Or even those SaGa games that were on the DS).

Dpishere

#12

Dpishere said:

Hopefully this means we will get Bravely Second! Though I still need to get the first game since I really liked the demo! Either way, it is nice to see a game other than a blockbuster established franchise do well worldwide.

Jarod

#13

Jarod said:

this is the best news we've had in years now we just need capcom to come to the same realization

MamaLuigi

#14

MamaLuigi said:

If that means they want to go back to emphasizing on the Super Nintendo/PS1 days of JRPG classics in order to sell more games then I'm all for it. Tomb Raider and Deus Ex are both well and good but they're not even RPGs and they also drag Square Enix into unfamiliar territory with Western tastes.

Ralizah

#15

Ralizah said:

There is no way we're not getting Bravely Second. The good news about this is that Squeenix is finally realizing we don't want Japanese brands transformed into something they're not, we just want the opportunity to play them. Hopefully that translates to more high-quality JRPGs being localized.

TruenoGT

#16

TruenoGT said:

Great to hear this from SE. Back in the day, their small teams made the games they wanted to make. They didn't have 100 developer cooks in the kitchen nor the millions of customer cooks around the world and focus groups they tried to pander to. If good developers/artists stick to their vision without worrying about too many external influences, it seems more often than not, they can make something great.

MetalKingShield

#17

MetalKingShield said:

Let's have a nice, traditional, turn-based Dragon Quest next, please. It doesn't have to go back to the NES/SNES days - another one like VIII would be ideal.

Andy92

#18

Andy92 said:

This is what they do back in the SNES and PSX era and they were the best, screw you Yoichi Wada.

xevious

#19

xevious said:

Excellent. It all went horribly wrong when they started to "westernize" the Final Fantasy-series.

kensredemption

#20

kensredemption said:

Finally. You'd think that the thousands of fans screaming at them to make their games like they used to would give them a hint. -_-;

RennanNT

#24

RennanNT said:

It took them soooo long. Glad to know they are finally understanding, as Nintendo did with Xenoblade/X...

How much it cost localizing games like DQVII that they can't even take the risk of a digital release? Come on SE, stop underestimating your own games...

Lord

#25

Lord said:

These guys need to get on with localising dragon quest wii u then see how well that sells in the west! Com on!

FeedingTheWheel

#27

FeedingTheWheel said:

Glad to hear this. I was having zero interest in their recent stuff. Let's hope they localize these "heavy JRPGS" for us westerners.

CaviarMeths

#28

CaviarMeths said:

Right on. I like both WRPGs and JRPGs, but I did not like SE's attempts to do WRPGs. Bravely Default was a beautiful return to form and I'm glad that the president is taking its success seriously.

DeathAngell

#29

DeathAngell said:

I have Bravely Default and beaten it out, the game got way too repetitive after Chapter 4, I didn't enjoy it much, and the general awaken the crystals on the first four chapters, it would be awesome Square Enix, if you'd remake FF6/7, or even a Dragon Quest localization.

mike_intellivision

#30

mike_intellivision said:

There is an old business adage: "Stick to the knitting."
If you do something well, usually you can find a market for it. So rather than trying to meet the perceived market demands, S-E realizes it can be a market leader and shape the market by playing to its strengths. While this does not always work, it has a much better potential for success than what S-E had been doing more recently — which was neither working in its home country or globally.

Jahir

#31

Jahir said:

I feel really good about this, not only because they'll follow their guts more (as everyone should) but also because when they take elements from JRPGs they can make pretty awesome games such as Bravely Default.

WaLzgiStaff

#32

WaLzgi said:

How about making games that focus on what made JRPGs so great? I'll give you a hint: they didn't rely on ridiculous battle systems, complicated stories that require reading text, and a movie's worth of cutscenes, oh and fanservice for a mere $10 per character (or whatever).

I also hope they realize they are going to also fatigue Final Fantasy if they keep up the releases for that series.

ultraraichu

#33

ultraraichu said:

Reading between the lines, trying to please everyone, can please no one. If only more "fan" can pick up on that.

ollietaro

#34

ollietaro said:

True. It was Isabella Blow who said that globalisation killed creativity in the fashion industry and the exact thing is happening with video games.

Kaze_Memaryu

#35

Kaze_Memaryu said:

They kinda miss the point of their failures. It's not only because they try to appeal more to the west, but also because they develp entirely profit-oriented as if they had financial problems before, which they brought upon themselves by that.

If they wanna be successful again, they should return to delivering good stories with better aesthetics (by which I mean better art style mostly) and wasting less money on hyperstellar, but ultimately useless graphical showoffs. Next, they gotta give up on gimmicks like action combat systems for main entries (good old real-time turnbased RPG system). Use that for spinoffs.

By the way, Bravely Default has no saying in how Squenix goes for developing titles now, since they didn't develop it - that was Silicon Nights, with Squenix as the publisher. They might've come to realize that westernizing their stuff simply ruins it for everyone, but they haven't shown anything better for the last 10 years.

Darknyht

#37

Darknyht said:

The last Final Fantasy I really enjoyed was Final Fantasy IX on Playstation. I bought Final Fantasy XIII. I wanted to like it, but everything that made a Final Fantasy unique had been stripped away and replaced with something else.

I've never had any interest in buying another FF after that.

Windy

#39

Windy said:

I guess Square finally see's it after many years of the fan base begging them to go back to the original type of gameplay.

Windy

#40

Windy said:

@DeathAngell I felt the exact same way about Barely Default. The whole second half of the game was a huge let down after a stellar first half of the game. It felt more like they took a shortcut to end the game.

kkslider5552000

#41

kkslider5552000 said:

@V8_Ninja I don't entirely disagree but it's pretty obvious there's still a real, substantial audience despite the late 2000s (as in the previous decade...) being really bad over here sales-wise outside of some 360 titles (which makes too little sense to me). But look where we are now:

-Persona 4 is one of the only Vita titles people actually bought (barring indies),
-Xenoblade is the most popular new IP Nintendo's pulled out of the post-casual age (though I'm not including Nintendo Land)
-X is one of the only Wii U games people actually care about
-Ni No Kuni did far better than I would've guessed
-Fire Emblem: Awakening is the first game in the series to actually matter outside of Japan since literally the first time Fire Emblem was released outside of Japan
-Not to mention Dark Souls as a whole, though most probably don't actually consider it a JRPG I think
-Ubisoft is making a JRPG
-SE announcing last year the 2 sequels everyone actually wanted (barring TWEWY of course :p)

Basically everything notable in the genre is exceeding expectations over here. I mean I guess it isn't capturing the mass audience's attention like in the FFVII days, but being relevant to gamers doesn't mean it has to be relevant to everyone. That's really all I want at this point, just for some good quality, interesting JRPGs that people actually care about.

Technosphile

#42

Technosphile said:

Hypocrisy. He says there's a global mass market for these games, but still allows censorship of them, creating pointless regional differences.

It's too bad that Bravely Default sold well outside Japan. It sends the wrong message. Apathy is a terrible thing to have.

Tops

#46

Tops said:

Sweet, sometimes it's nice to see companies spell out their plans and explicitly say what they are going to do. Definitely gives me a renewed confidence in good ol' Square Enix

Darkness3131

#47

Darkness3131 said:

This is good. I really seem to like games made for a "Japanese audience", and there is defiantly a market here for them. If SE is discovering this and planning on releasing less western style games I'm all in. I hope other companies follow as well. The more the merrier after all! : D

ZebraCardeath

#48

ZebraCardeath said:

BD was just as likely a success because the JRPG genre is vacant. Hinting at that "blue ocean" notion.

Nintendo_Ninja

#49

Nintendo_Ninja said:

If anything this is good news. Bravely Default was a daring step in the right direction, that has now spawned a sequel that seems promising. Now they just need to localize Dragon Quest X.

oreqano

#50

oreqano said:

So instead of developing a game around market research, you should go on inspiration and vision. That sounds like creativity. Shut this company down!

Wilford111

#51

Wilford111 said:

So... does this mean they're going to only release in Japan for more titles, or just make them more niche, but still releasing them globally? I'm a bit confused.

Dpullam

#52

Dpullam said:

I still need to pick up Bravely Default at some point since I have heard nothing but praise about that game.

64supermario

#53

64supermario said:

This is the very definition of voting with your wallets. I voted for Bravely Default, and I regret nothing! Its freaking awesome.

Zombie_Barioth

#54

Zombie_Barioth said:

I'm actually wondering if a lot of the reason for SE westernizing their games in the first place is due to having trouble with the genres they specialize in losing popularity and not knowing how to cope.

JRPGs were one of the leading genres since the 16-bit days all they way up until last gen, even people who don't like RPGs were into Final Fantasy. Now its a niche genre outside Japan. Notice how they're the only company making JRPGs that try to set the bar on graphical fidelity?

Its rather disappointing it took them this long to wake up and realize it was 8 and 16-bit sprites with dialog bubbles that got them where they are today, not basically everything that is FFXIII. They didn't even need polygons to tell a fantastic story and captivate an audience.

Nomad

#55

Nomad said:

Hooray for Squeenix! Shame it took them so long to figure this out.

Bizzyb

#57

Bizzyb said:

1.Some of SE's western games are their best, e.g. Just Cause 2, Sleeping Dogs etc.

2. Just stop holding JRPGs hostage to Japan and remember that there is a market for them in western markets.

Rapido

#59

Rapido said:

"we’ve been talking about making them as heavy JRPGs". Ohhhh yeaaaahhhh. HEAVY JRPG. How about bring back Active Time Battle just for old times sake. :)

DragonbornRito

#61

DragonbornRito said:

So, basically Squenix just admitted what we've been saying all along?

"Stop trying to 'appeal' to us and just make the great games you usually make!"

All of my favorite Squenix games were developed with the Japanese audience being the primary target. The World Ends With You, FFIV, FFX, FFVII, FF Tactics, etc. When they went to more "Western" styles of gaming (The Last Remnant, FFXII, FFXIII and its sequels, etc.), that's when I started scratching my head. Now that Final Fantasy 3DS... er, I mean Bravely Default has done so well, they're just now getting the message that we want more of what made FF great to begin with!

Also still waiting to see how many copies sell of FFX HD Remaster vs Lightning Returns. If FFXHD outsells, I think that might send a message as well.

Kolzig

#62

Kolzig said:

Now that I think about it, I don't think I even saw Bravely Default sold anywhere in Finland. Man that Bergsala does a crappy job...

Tried the demo and this one is the first Squeenix jrpg in a long time that really interests me.

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