Square Enix ‘s Western studios are going to continue making AAA content, according to Square Enix U.S. and Europe CEO Phil Rogers. The Western branch of the company has been turning out some high quality games like Deus Ex, Tomb Raider and Hitman Absolution, and has no plans to stop despite lackluster sales.
Rogers states his case to GamesIndustry, believing that “Games as a service” is not the answer. “There’s lots of talk in the industry about games becoming services—to be honest, as an expression this doesn’t always resonate with people, especially gamers,” he says.
“For us online is a way to facilitate how we’re looking at the word service to build on a game. So we’re focusing on regular content updates, engaging gameplay mechanics, replayability and deep community.”
“You have to stand by what you believe in and we have to believe in quality and engagement as two key measurements to succeed… So we take comfort in the fact that we can develop critically acclaimed games which deliver a deep level of engagement.”
It’s a fair enough sentiment that I proudly share with Rogers, and he can even back his claims up with statistics. The absolutely wonderful Just Cause 2 is still calculating 500,000 unique active users worldwide each month, a strong user base that shows the old model can still work if kept within a reasonable budget and time constraints.
“There is the practical side of development, how we work quicker to lessen the time from development to release, whilst still delivering a great game experience. We’re more focused on how we build and plan for success, we have some great games coming in the next six months, the recent Tomb Raider and Deus Ex next-gen announcements are something really exciting for the studio teams, the business teams and I hope our consumers too.”
Square Enix Europe has its situation under control, that much is obvious with such clear spoken and focused leadership. And the guys at Eidos have yet to release a stinker AAA game that could be considered a critical flop, if we toss Kane and Lynch aside. I’d go so far as to say they are among the most talented in the business these days.
All that remains to be seen is if the Japanese branch of Square Enix can rise to the occasion and meet these guys halfway. The successful relaunch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn shows that it is very much possible.
Seven years of development on Final Fantasy XV, and possibly even more for Kingdom Hearts 3, is not what Rogers has in mind though. Let’s see it happen and get some life back into this old bird.