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Square Enix: “This generation has been way too long”

Tuesday, 10th July 2012 15:30 GMT By Stace Harman

The director of worldwide technology at Square Enix believes that Sony and Microsoft’s decision to let the current generation of consoles approach its eighth year has been a costly mistake.

Speaking with  GI International, Julien Merceron feels the current generation of consoles has outstayed its welcome, and pushing for an extended life-cycle of current hardware is the biggest mistake Microsoft and Sony have ever made.

“Now you don’t need to manage longevity by complexity of programming, because your longevity is ensured by your online model. And I would suggest that maybe we don’t want long generations. We have Sony and Microsoft talking about this generation lasting 7,8,9 or even 10 years and it’s the biggest mistake they’ve ever made,” he said while discussing hardware complexity and opportunities for longevity.

He went on to say that those developers that might otherwise have jumped aboard the next generation of hardware have instead investigated other possibilities in the absence of new consoles.

“This generation has been way too long, and I say this because you have a lot of developers that work on a new platform, and perhaps will not succeed, so they will wait for the next generation, and will jump on that platform. You could not do that with this generation though. So these developers went elsewhere to see if the grass was greener. They found web browsers, they found iOS, they found other things and a lot of them won’t come back to the hardware platforms.

“So you could look at it that thanks to Microsoft and Sony and the length of this generation, it helped the emergence of other platforms and helped them get strong before the next hardware comes out.”

Merceron’s comments came as industry analyst Wedbush Morgan predicted a 34% year-on-year sales decline in the industry’s performance for June.

Analyst Michael Pachter pointed to the lack of innovation and over-reliance on sequels as key factors contributing to the industry’s struggles.

“In this unprecedented eighth year of the console cycle, we believe there are few new intellectual properties to reinvigorate interest in the games sector/ Consumers have been offered a never-ending series of sequels, and have been offered fewer choices each year for the last several years, with the result being waning interest in new software purchases and an unprecedented three years of software sales declines,” Pachter said.

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28 Comments

  1. SolidGamerSnake

    They should start complaining about long life cycles when they actually reduce their own lead times… see Versus 13

    #1 2 years ago
  2. TMRNetShark

    Thank you captain obvious. Once computers started having 4 GBs of RAM standard and 512 MBs of VRAM (~2008)… they should have said “Okay, we need to release a console in the next 2 years or so.”

    Now modern day gaming computers use at least 1 GB of VRAM (with multi-core processors) and 6 GBs of RAM usually makes for a smooth gaming experience while the PS3 and 360 are still stuck with 512 MBs of TOTAL RAM.

    I mean whatever… if Steam releases a console before the other two, I would totally buy it.

    #2 2 years ago
  3. SolidGamerSnake

    your welcome Professor.

    #3 2 years ago
  4. Deacon

    Companies (Apple) release a new model each year and they get crucified for it. I personally commend the attitude to invest in a long lifecycle for the current gen. Do I give a flying fuck that the CEO’s aren’t reaping the huge profits that they’re used to? Uh no. Would Apple have NOT created the app store and introduced touch-gaming to their iDevices if the next gen consoles were released already? Uh no. I think we’ve already established that mobile / facebook gaming doesn’t really overlap like that.

    Would the global recession not be a better scapegoat than the deliberately chosen long lifecycles of the 360 & PS3??

    I just don’t get it…

    The more time devs have with any given platform the easier it becomes for them to develop for. This must have a knock-on effect on the cost of development (whether anyone admits it or not). If anything we should be seeing MORE experimentation and MORE new IP’s!
    If we’re not getting them NOW, how the hell are things going to be any better by releasing new hardware??

    As with most issues of recent times, I put this one down to greed. The bottom line. That’s all anyone cares about these days and that’s what 99% of business decisions are based upon.

    unless I’ve missed the point completely… ; \

    #4 2 years ago
  5. Phoenixblight

    Coming from a publisher that has killed their own franchise. We have only had FFXIII, FFXIII-2, a botched MMO. Sorry Square but you are out of the loop the only good thing to come out of you is your western studios.

    #5 2 years ago
  6. Gigabomber

    @5 I think the same. They want a more graphics heavy console to make up for poor gameplay decisions I guess.

    #6 2 years ago
  7. OlderGamer

    Valid agruements Deacon.

    The trouble is, however, not in the hardware. But in the software. The games themself. And prolly more to the point the pubs. What we curently have is a steady regurgitation of the same franchises and game experiences over and over.

    In a sense people aren’t buying less games because the hardware is old, but instead the games are. Gamers are bored.

    With new hardware comes fresh looking games, even if they are just updated old franchises. A shiny new coat of graphics will move units. And not only graphics of course, but there is room for inovation too.

    Consoles have made their bread and butter by being cheap, accesable, and every so often the tech improves, bringing new ideas and new gameplay experiences.

    Todays consoles aren’t cheap, games are also expensive, and the tech is grossly outdated.

    Defenetly time for new hardware.

    #7 2 years ago
  8. The_Red

    Among many reasons for this gen lasting more than all previous ones, there is a HUUUUUUUUUGEEEEEE reason:

    This generation more than doubled the cost and development of many big games. Sooner next-gen means sooner increase in budgets and dev times. Just look at their own Tech Demo from E3 2012. If they try to make a full fledged Final Fantasy game with open world with those kinds of designs, it would take them at least 4 years and around $180 million (Cost of modern CG cartoons). That is of course only if things go according to plan and don’t end up like Versus 13 (Development hell) or FF15 (A wasted fortune).

    #8 2 years ago
  9. SlayerGT

    @8 I agree. Its the cost of developing AAA games that is driving the indies, the kickstarters, and the sequels.

    #9 2 years ago
  10. OlderGamer

    Red +one

    Dev costs are a major problem.

    #10 2 years ago
  11. Da Man

    Yes, we really need these closed down PCs , which become outdated two years after release just for devs to struggle with inferior hardware and visuals looking decent thanks to arts. Why release a N64 when you have Snes with those beautiful sprites. Noone asked for Dreamcast when you had amazingly looking swirling screen tech demos and none asked for the ugly Xbox when you’ve had stellar PS2 with fabulous jaggies and video games running at 10 frames per second.

    Why give devs some proper SDK and adequate hardware every now and then when you can hype the crap out of teh emotion engine and teh cell and force them to code in assembly because tonnes of lemmings ‘ve bought your box. Especially when every single smartphone manufacturer makes a new handset every few months.

    #11 2 years ago
  12. DSB

    @9 How do you figure? People obviously have no problem putting in 50 dollars or more on Kickstarter. Some projects averaged 56 dollar contributions.

    I think it’s the complete lack of imagination that comes with those productions, because a lot of games executives treat their businesses like an extension of their own cocks.

    None more so than Ricitiello and Kotick.

    It’s all about prestige, feature checklists and production values, and less about actually caring for the product.

    Indie is basically the polar opposite. It’s all about pushing mechanics, art and imagination. I think that’s why people are flocking around it. That’s where the most interesting games are.

    #12 2 years ago
  13. OlderGamer

    I think he just means that because the cost is so prohibitive and the group doing them(AAA games) are so selective that many game industry vets are turning to indie/kickstarter stuff as an alternative.

    But I think your right too DSB, gamers turn to indies because they are not only affordable, but because they have some of the freshest gaming experiences on the market.

    #13 2 years ago
  14. SlayerGT

    Thanks OG

    The fresh stuff is experimental. Experimental means risky to a big publisher. And because games are so exspensive three wrong gambles can put you in the shitter..ie THQ

    #14 2 years ago
  15. ManuOtaku

    I agree with some of you guys on a lot of points, hardware, software, new ips, etc, many of the things are being discussed in this trend and i belive a lot of you did made valid points, deacon, OG, DSB,etc.

    Having said that i would also like to add that i think we have the industry we deserve, and i mean the greedy industry, sometimes the provider is just as good as the user is, because most of the time they had us targeted, and our decisions made the dance tempo in which this industry moves, when games that are new ips, or games that have new things, doenst sell well comparing with longlasting games, we are sending a loud message, games like psychonauts, brutal legend, bulletstorm, kingdoms of amalur,catherine etc,even if we can discuss if they are bad games or not (i think they are great); (at least they had the potential to become good with future instalements), sold that badly while other anual iterations games break records year after year, is really our fault in some part, therefore the decisions made torward this industry from hardware to software, is based on our actions as consumers, DRM, DLC (in all their variations), always connected to play single player are here, because we support them,and in the future they are going to implement more things on those lines, because they were succesfull, therefore not only put the finger on them, dont criticize without looking one self, the gamers.

    #15 2 years ago
  16. OlderGamer

    I hear ya manu, we all voted to have the industry we have today. We voted with our purchases. It isn’t all bad tho, some really smart stuff out there if ya know where to look. I think the industry will be fine, not like gamers will stop playing games.

    Just that the picture could look drasticly different in ten years time.

    #16 2 years ago
  17. DSB

    @14 But to me that’s really the paradox of THQs downfall.

    In my opinion they failed because they wanted to make the same games as everybody else.

    Fuel of War was a halfbaked Battlefield clone. Space Marine was a halfbaked Gears of War clone, Homefront was a halfbaked CoD clone, and Darksiders in spite of its success is still a decent God of War/Zelda splice piece.

    It might have looked good on paper to the people who signed off on it, but ultimately they nearly lost the company doing that.

    Stuff like Company of Heroes was such a huge success because there was nothing else like it.

    Of course it’s a gamble, but there’s no way to eliminate risk in business. None. Ultimately it’s a gamble you have to make if you want to create the next big thing. Grinding might hold you over, but it won’t make you rich. It hasn’t made any of the big publishers rich.

    EAs stock is in free fall, Ubisoft are hanging on at half of what they were before the crash. It’s a much better business to be Mojang than it is to be Megapublishersoft these days.

    That’s also why I think Activisions strategy is going to prove problematic in the long term.

    #17 2 years ago
  18. SlayerGT

    Just an opinion here, but this is why I personally feel that last Gen was the golden age of console games. If you sold 500000 copies of a full featured game you made out good. Anyone play Tokyo Extreme Racer on PS3? No. There isn’t one. Because they know in order to make the game Crave would want to make, and knowing how many copies they’ve ever sold on PS2, they know it’s not worth it. Without trying to change the game to get more people to buy, but that’s different issue all together. It saddens me but that’s the biz.

    #18 2 years ago
  19. SlayerGT

    +1 DBS

    #19 2 years ago
  20. Clupula

    I, for one, am glad this generation has lasted as long as it has. I would not have been able to afford a new system two years ago and I certainly can’t afford one now. The economy’s in the shitter and people have less disposable income…and his solution is to release new hardware. Yeah, that’s smart.

    #20 2 years ago
  21. GwynbleiddiuM

    @DSB +1

    I won’t add anything beyond the fact that fresh hardware on the market doesn’t mean success for devs/publishers. Innovation and imagination on development fronts will make u money. Square Enix is selling Final Fantasy games for decades now a company that is known only for FF games (Pre EIDOS ofc) and FF games alike. Tell me when was your last truly different idea that pushed something forward? If there was any, I’d have known.

    #21 2 years ago
  22. OlderGamer

    Good post DSB.

    There is a ton of fresh and interesting and inovative stuff going on in the industry Gwyn, just most of it won’t be found on a Console.

    Go browse the indie sections of Steam. Some really smart stuff there. And at great prices too.

    A few games like Minecraft and Fez make the jump from PC to console, and that is good.

    But in the river of AAA big name games, the bed is a bit shalower then it once was.

    I totaly agree with you that new hardware doesn’t equal inovation and freshness by itself. However, with new hardware, you often find new and better ways of doing things. I think alot of us are hoping that turns out to be the case. I know I really don’t want another PS or XB system that does exactly what the current ones do, but shinier. And with the expection of WiiU, I honestly think that is kind of what we will be getting. The only reason wiiU gets a pass in my book is because you know at least Nintendo will make use of that control pad and that could mix up the actual gameplay experience.

    Too early to tell on any of it tho.

    But if MS and Sony pull an Atari 5200, PC, handheld and mobile could well take over the industry.

    #22 2 years ago
  23. GwynbleiddiuM

    @OG Man I love indies, had a lot of fun this gen with only indies, since I’m not all that into consoles in the first place. Me and Steam are in healthy relationship with indies, and will be even more when their bloody summersales kicks off :D.

    I’m just waiting for all these great crowd-funded games to kick in, it’ll be LEGENDARY.

    #23 2 years ago
  24. frostquake

    I agree with OlderGamer, it is not the Consoles, but the Games. I know people hate this, but I think it is time to start making Consoles Upgradable, not something you have to do, but if Square wants to make a Higher End game, then make one that requires you to upgrade Ram or whatever on your console, then people who want it can upgrade and those who don’t can keep playing what they have!
    NO WAY, the Console Crowd is ready to start buying a New Console every 2 years that has only “Micro-Improvements” like Apple’s iPad!

    #24 2 years ago
  25. HauntaVirus

    I agree with him, it’s killing the industry along with the lack of innovation.

    #25 2 years ago
  26. sh4dow

    Finally some people saying how it is. This generation was awful from the very beginning up until this loooong end.

    #26 2 years ago
  27. fearmonkey

    I admit I do feel pretty bored with my xbox overall lately. There aren’t that many new titles coming out I’m just dying to play, So I have been going back and playing old PC games, though a few newer ones as well.

    I have been playing on a projector, playing these old games as the highest res with all the graphic options on high. The games still look old but are fun to revisit. Deus Ex, Deus Ex 2, Morrowind with the latest mods, Titan Quest, Sacred, Sanitarium have received plays, and I have more I want to revisit like Undying and the Thief series.

    The original xbox, Dreamcast, and Ps2 had so many unique and quirky titles, and now everything is samish to me. I’ve been wondering if I have been going through a non-gaming phase but I realize I’m bored with the current consoles and games.

    There are new games I would like to play, just not many, and nothing coming real soon is exciting me. Bioshock Infinite can’t some soon enough.

    #27 2 years ago
  28. OrbitMonkey

    Don’t be blaming the consoles Square… You know what you did. And from the look of that vid, your gonna do it again.

    #28 2 years ago

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