New Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda raised some eyebrows yesterday when he mentioned that Square Enix needed to reinvent itself to follow more modern trends. Micro-transactions, mobile games, what did he possibly have in mind? Those make sense, but never in a million years did I think he meant crowdfunding.
Square Enix has announced a new program called Square Enix Collective, a crowdfunding partnership with Indiegogo. Much like Kickstarter, indie developers will be able to pitch their ideas through the system , and they have 28 days to raise public awareness and get people interested in the project.
Should the pitch be deemed successful by Square Enix, it will step in, estimate a budget, possibly raise the money through Indiegogo, and hopefully make the game a reality.
Pretty much, it's just like Kickstarter, but with an added step of becoming involved with a major publisher, which can be a plus or minus depending on your views of indie-development. You can sell a lot more copies with a Square Enix logo on your game, but then you are indebted and must sacrifice some control and profits.
Having the pressure of a major publisher kicking an over-ambitious indie developer in the butt to meet its deadlines and stay under budget does grant an extra sense of security, though. It's a double edged sword on both the buyers and developers.
It's shocking that Square Enix would be interested in taking this route. Kickstarter has not proven to be as successful of a game funding operation with an understated number of funded games never seeing the light of day. With the overcasting positive press it gets, though, you have to wonder how Square Enix will distinguish itself, especially since its name doesn't hold the same weight it once did in the Western world.
Well, Square Enix does have its own IPs it might be dangling out for indie developers to toy with. Don't go thinking you will be developing Final Fantasy XVI, a decent follow-up in the Parasite Eve games, or the next great same in the lost Secret of Mana series. No, Square Enix could possibly be releasing some old Eidos properties that it has no use for, and seeing what the indie scene can do with them.
I'd be down to have some talented guys use Unreal 3 to craft a sequel to Anachronoxs or see what a indie crew can do with the old Fear Effect series.
I'm still wrapping my mind around this ridiculous idea, but it makes sense in one way at least. Square Enix's vocal fans have been demanding for the company to deliver what "they" want in recent years, and this is their chance to put their money where their mouth is. The only problem is I don't see this stirring up any nostalgic memories of Vagrant Story, Xenogears, or Brave Fencer Musashi.
Square Enix promises more information at GDC which will run from Nov. 5 through 7.