Square Enix’s new president takes up his duties in June, and his first order of business will be to take a good, long look at the publisher to find out why it’s not making money – despite holding some of the most celebrated brands in the industry.
At a financial briefing, as translated by Siliconera, the newly-appointed Yosuke Matsuda told investors he’s keen to assess Square Enix in light of the changing face of the industry.
“After having succeeded the important role as the president, I plan on reviewing all Square Enix duties, business and assets on a zero-based budgeting standpoint. Due to the radical change of environment, I’d like to fundamentally review what works and what doesn’t work for our company, then cast all of our resources towards extending what makes us successful and thoroughly squeezing out what doesn’t,” he said.
“As far as a concrete plan on what to expect from us, I will further explain it on another briefing session in the near future, so I kindly ask for your patience. Thank you for your support.”
This is a little nerve-wracking for traditional triple-A game fans as it has become apparent that Square Enix’s big-budget western games – Tomb Raider, Sleeping Dogs and Hitman: Absolution – have not met expectations, despite warm critical receptions and strong sales. What does make money, according to financial disclosures over the last few years, are domestic-only titles on smartphones and web, something most western fans have little access to or interest in.
Matsuda’s comments suggest square may double down on these new business and let its traditional development plans slide. It’s a very different message from that delivered by former president Yoichi Wada in a 2011 Tokyo Game Show keynote; at the time, the veteran executive said that new businesses were not squeezing out old ones, just expanding opportunities.
But capitalism is dominant and investors no doubt want a slice or six of the enormous new business pie, plus an actual return rather than “extraordinary losses”. Wada, who announced his resignation as president last month, said he’d stay on at Square Enix in an unspecified role, almost as a kind of penance.
“As an employee, I believe it is my duty to help the company and give proper results from it. I will be retiring from the line of management, but I plan to work on site as a way to pay my debt to the company,” he said.
Square Enix has said it doesn’t expect to make money on console games for at least two years, partially due to the generation shift and its heavy investment in next-gen tech such as the Luminous engine.
The publisher is believed to have a large number of unannounced console titles in the works, including a brand new Final Fantasy for PlayStation 4, which will be revealed at E3 2013.