Interview: Looking At The Future And Future Of The Past At Square Enix USA

By Spencer . April 29, 2011 . 3:08pm

Yesterday, our interview with Dave Hoffman, Director of Business Development, covered what’s happing now and the steps Square Enix took to expand the company in North America. Today, we’re going to talk about the future and the company’s legacy series from Japan like SaGa.


Hoffman considered releasing Dungeon Siege III an opportunity since there was a hole in the market; this wave of consoles is light on hack and slash RPGs. Looking beyond, I asked him what he believes the next big market for Square Enix USA is.


Beyond Dungeon Siege III and Supreme Commander 2, what are your other goals for the East meets West part of Square Enix? Where do you think an open market or even a blue ocean lies?


Dave Hoffman, Director of Business Development: I think there has been a lot of titles done, especially out of Western studios, that focus on first person shooters, and third person action games. There are a lot of genres that are tried and true. You know, when you buy a game a lot of times you are buying an upgrade almost to an existing game.


I think a lot of what our industry and Square America is still diligently looking at is the online space and whether that means – you know online is a big word. It’s a big vague word that could mean a lot of things. To some people that means social games on Facebook. Online could mean free to play or how we are working with other companies for digital distribution. It could mean many things, right? It seems like the rest of the industry it seems like, a lot of times I watch these companies, read about them, and talk to individuals in them that are kind of racing towards it and they don’t have plotted course of action. They’re trying to throw stuff to the wall and see what sticks.


Whereas we’re taking a much more strategic and analytical view. What we’re trying to do at Square is we’re trying to figure out what would really be a true gaming experience to the consumers on a broad scale that interfaces in the online community and truly delivers something that has not only success written on it from how many people experience it, but we want to make sure they have a quality experience. We want to make sure they feel something, they are immersed in our worlds, and that they are attached to our stories. We’re excited about the future and I think that is what Square America is taking a magnifying glass to.


Knights of the Crystal, one of Square Enix’s Facebook games, pictured.



This has been an interesting look inside Square America, but I have to ask for my readers since they love the franchises from Square Japan too. Some of them feel disappointed that some of the games they read about aren’t coming over like SaGa, perhaps. And then there are those risky projects like Cross Treasures with Jump. What do you have to say to that group of fans hoping for localized titles?


I mean we get a lot of requests from the community and we take all of the requests very seriously. We really do think about it and figure out what’s feasible and what’s not. For example, we’ve been getting a lot of requests for a long time now to revisit Final Fantasy VII1.


We know people want that and we want to make sure if we take the time to really bring it consoles or to the current systems nowadays that we would have to put in a tremendous amount of effort and take away time from what we’re currently building. It’s a little bit like how can we juggle our assets and how do we stay on track with titles like Versus, for example, or something like that. And how do we look at adding to what the fans want? It’s just a matter of more discussions, internal discussions, and I know that’s not what you guys want to hear.


As far as the way we handle the legacy I.P.s, it’s also very, very team driven. We have certain teams that basically have their plan and have their structure to bringing products to market. And it basically has to fit within that team’s framework. If we’re talking about the SaGa series, for example, then we would be talking and looking at what the bandwidth of that team is? What they are currently able to do? Can they do something that is up to our quality levels and expectations of our consumers? We take everything really, really seriously and that’s why we take awhile to make firm decisions on this stuff. We want to make sure whatever we do we over deliver.


[ 1We brought those requests to Square Enix CEO, Yoichi Wada, and asked him what he thought about a Final Fantasy VII remake. ]


It’s interesting that for Dragon Quest, one of your most prominent legacy I.P.s, it’s pretty much handled by Nintendo outside of Japan. Have you thought about handing, since we mentioned it so many times, SaGa to Xseed since they once had ties with Square?


You know, there are a lot of moving parts inside Square. There are a lot of people responsible for different I.P.s in different territories. To be perfectly honest with you that conversation may or may not have happened. It’s just not my region nor my I.P. so I don’t know, just to be honest with you.


SaGa 2 and SaGa 3 pictured.

saga2 saga3


I appreciate the candor. But, what about the group of gamers that look at Square from the Super Nintendo or perhaps the PsOne days where almost every title was RPG, RPG, and character driven RPG? As a business now, you’re trying to expand and took chances with different genres. A healthy amount of risk is good and you targeted different groups with Mindjack, Supreme Commander 2, and Lord of Arcana. You tried different kinds of games, but what do you have to say to the core fans that crave character driven stories from the heydays when RPGs were booming and first dawned on consoles – the fans that want more games like the ones they grew up with?


You know, I understand. I read your site and I hear first hand a lot of people say, ‘hey, I wish they would go back to being Squaresoft instead of being Square Enix’ or something along those lines. I would just say look, we are continuing to strive for quality. We are continuing to strive for an emotional experience in our products, any one that we bring across.


As you mentioned Spencer, we need to continuously grow and evolve as a company to keep our competitive foothold in the industry. We appreciate the loyalty and we definitely value it beyond anything else. We are really, really thrilled to have our fans and we don’t want to under deliver to them. We want to actually over deliver and we are striving to make that happen.


If I was speaking directly to them, I would say look we have the same feelings that you do. We want to do the quality. We want to make sure that every game is rated very high and gives a great experience without giving that cookie cutter feel as some of our competitors and you know just bear with us. We are working hard every single day and every single night to make that happen. We are doing it to make it happen for those fans.

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  • dragoon_slayer12

    i would much rather them make good titles than experiment and fail. even if it means being the rpg king again. i love kingdom hearts, and i love action rpg’s and all, but i really want some old school ATB and turn based games (lost odyssey). they do half assed remakes (excluding the ds remakes, but still. n64 graphics in a ps3 era isn’t cool).

    personally, i would prefer if they tone down with the new IP thing and focus on fan service (chrono 3, FF V-IX remakes, Soul Blazer trilogy remakes, Act Raiser remakes and revival).

    • Guest

      Have you even played The Last Story?

      • dragoon_slayer12

        no wii. i would buy it just for that, but it would be the 3rd wii i bought for a particular game to never touch it again. i’ll buy it, borrow my brother’s wii, then sell him the game for half price. i love Myst Walker, but they make few games in between, and have been neglecting the best IP that’s released since Mass Effect (granted lost odyssey came out after, but was also announced before ME).

        i think Last Story is his way of repeating Square Soft (title of last game if sales don’t meet). i hope he stays in the game long enough to put Square Enix to same, but i fear that there aren’t enough old school gamers out there to support some of the best forms of story telling.

        my problem with current RPGs’ is that they focus TOO much on action, and the story ends up feeling very stale (Star Ocean 4, Kingdom Hearts 2 & BbS on the top of my head), and great games get mushed to the side (Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, although a bit childish when Nene wasn’t around). i used to beat 2-3 RPG’s a week in the past, but now i play more shooters instead cuz i find more replayability in them (although story usually blows like the DMC series, Ninja Gaiden series, CoD series. even God of War III sucked in story), and i never liked shooters before re4. i have (and BEEN waited for) Golden Sun 3, but haven’t played it yet cuz i know that when that is done, i have no more GREAT RPGs to play that isn’t new. i’m just very disappointed that handhelds have become the “go to” console for decent rpg’s (story wise), while consoles get disappointments if its (and usually is) an action rpg.

        i’m very excited for Versus XIII though. not because it looks AMAZING or the action looks GREAT (which they do), but because it has a WORLD MAP, which i haven’t seen in an rpg since wild arms 3 (i was so pissed with lunar on the psp)

        sorry for being lengthy to your short reply

    • imaguni

      “i would much rather them make good titles than experiment and fail. ”

      But this is assuming that there is a set, easy formula to follow to ensure that a title is “good”. Not to sound rude, but is following this formula really what you want? I think that all this experimentation is necessary, even crucial to getting that “good game” people are waiting for. Like it or not, the audiences’ demands and tastes have evolved from the PSOne and earlier days and I think that Square-Enix makes games with this in mind, hence the experiments.

      Experiments aren’t always going to go well, but they have to go through with them so that they can continue to bring the quality audiences demand beyond their past successes.

      • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. :)

        It’s not like Square Enix or any company wants to make a “bad” game. Definitions of “good” and “bad” are subjective qualities, not universal ones.

        While there is an audience for die hard RPG fans, general tastes have changed greatly from the Super Nintendo even PS1 days. Stories were optional back then, which gave RPGs a unique edge. Most games, no matter how simplistic, tend to have stories now.

        Experimentation is key to evolution otherwise what’s “good” today becomes stale tomorrow.

        • dragoon_slayer12

          of course, everybody’s taste changes over time, and companies must experiment to bring in the new and/or keep their attention towards them, but recently with S-E’s “experimentation”, they are just copying and tweaking formulas/genres they have never attempted before, rather than actually trying something NEW (Mind jack and 3rd Birthday excluded with the possession thing, but its still the same thing, “same game with tweak”). i love S-E, and they have always been my favorite company, but not everybody is good at everything (Capcom really being the only “real” universal company).

          i truly believe S-E’s problem is that they don’t listen to their fan base enough. i agree that new IP’s are important, but instead of creating 7 different versions of the same game (Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XIII) and developing/overseeing 80 different projects simultaneously all with a same year release (exaggerating obviously), they should listen to fans and “give us what we want”. of course certain things can’t be done (FFVII ps3 within 2 years), but a compromise is always great (FFVII 3ds/NGP, either way, perfect). everybody loves Chrono, Soul Blazer and Act Raiser (mainly 1) are cult classics, Parasite Eve needs to return to 1’s gameplay. these things can be done on portables no problem, with development not even close to console cost. even still, they can hand these titles to other developers (level 5 for Chrono sounds good to me). even if there was no media attention for these titles, and they just appear on shelves random one day, the fans will sell them out cuz these are what S-E’s loyal/main fans want. not those games exactly of course, but the main ones EVERYBODY agrees on.

          • RupanIII

            “but recently with S-E’s “experimentation”, they are just copying and tweaking formulas/genres they have never attempted before, rather than actually trying something NEW (Mind jack and 3rd Birthday excluded with the possession thing, but its still the same thing, “same game with tweak”). i love S-E, and they have always been my favorite company, but not everybody is good at everything (Capcom really being the only “real” universal company).”

            I agree with you. I’m not against trying something new, but I think there’s a difference between that and just aping whatever genre is trendy at the moment. If you think about it, Squaresoft was actually VERY experimental in the PSX days – Einhander, Tobal 1 & 2, Brave Fencer Musashi, Bushido Blade, etc. But it worked! No one was bothered that they were trying new stuff. Those games were actually were new/fresh/fun/etc. not just trying to get on the success of other popular genres. Plus, in addition to experimenting with those new games/genres, they didn’t abandon their traditional JRPG approach with their other properties. They were successfully experimental and also traditional at the same time, not abandoning what made Square Square. By contrast, now I feel like the traditional is all but gone and the experimental just is NOT working.

            You say you want what we fans want SE. That’s nice sounding PR talk, but I’ll believe it when I see the games :P

          • dragoon_slayer12

            exactly. before the ps2, S-E used to try NEW new things, things never done before (before the uber popular power stone, there was tobal 1 n 2 and Ehrgiez) and still made great RPG’s (FFVII-IX, saga frontier 1 n 2, although enix, dragon quest VI-VII, star ocean 2, Valkyrie Profile). now, everything they do is a copy of something, failing at it, and the only “great games” they do has Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest attached to the title, and if that. it’s like they reversed their “roles”.

        • imaguni

          You’re welcome! Thank you again for the interview. And you’ve basically summarized my stance, hehe. I personally also think that we’ve reached a point where everything is officially at the “what’s next?” stage in terms of RPGs, and I personally find that really exciting and welcome all the experimentation on the way to the next evolution of RPGs.

      • Slashlen

        Couldn’t agree more. We need experimentation, and it’s something we could use a lot more of from some developers. One thing I’ve always loved about SE is that they never seem to be afraid to try something new, even within the RPG genre or even within an established series. I don’t like their push on making more western-style games, but as long as they still make RPGs and things I like I can just ignore the other stuff.

        • imaguni

          I agree with you! That ability to try different things is what has made me follow them throughout the years most of all. I more or less agree with you on adding “western” elements. I haven’t been satisfied with the way this has been handled so far, but I’d like to see a smoother blending of said elements in the future. Still, I’m not discouraged by SE for the time being.

      • dragoon_slayer12

        i didn’t find you rude. my thing is, that S-E is very good at certain things. RPG’s (of all types), story telling (although really slacking recently), and CG (still #1). but branching into things that they pretty much “know nothing about” (Nier, Mind Jack, 3rd Birthday), they are pretty much asking to fail, and praying to be saved when the next Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest title comes out. its not that the games they make suck to the point of immediate return, but there are definitely better versions of same game (Nier<DMC, Mind Jack<Gears of War, 3rd Birthday<RE5/GoW).

        i understand they are trying to appeal to EVERYBODY, but the "everybody" that buy their products are mainly people like me, those begging for the return of the TRUE RPG experience.

        look at capcom, they experimented, pioneered, and created standards over and over again. RE1, alone in the dark, which came first, copied RE's formula. DMC, now the current standard of action (ninja gaiden, god of war, bayonetta, all the same with different moves and weapons), RE4, now the standard of ALL 3rd person shooters, with tweaks here and there (MGS4 menu system & stealth, Gears added cover system, RE5 added "quick switch"). then look at S-E, they try to copy (anybody), can't get it right, and lose money. then hope they can try again, all without truly being "original" (Mind Jack/3rd Birthday, RE4 with possession.). i hate to see them reduce to "copying", but they know what their good at, so personally, i say just stick with it. with the acquisition of Eidos, they should leave them to the action part.

        • imaguni

          While I won’t deny that I have found a lot of my recent SE experiences to be lacking, especially compared to the days of the PSOne, I will still support their experimenting if this is what it takes for them to be able to “get it right”, or at least reach a level where they can bring what raised our expectations so high to our current times. I don’t doubt that Square-Enix knows what their strengths and weaknesses are, and I think that attempting to explore new grounds in terms of game making is a way of working on said weaknesses. Regarding who buys their products, I know for a fact that Square-Enix’s audience goes beyond the ones that are “looking for the true RPG experience” as you say, or yearning for the older days.

          I don’t think it would be wise at all for them to zone in on the audiences that have set expectations for their games alone based on what they know of their previous games, nor would it be wise to say that the vast majority of their fans would rather they stick to what they know/are known for. There’s a number of people that want a more classic RPG experience, and there are some who turn at the notion of SE “doing the same old, same old again” as they may see it. SE shouldn’t ignore that demographic, for the sake of staying successful. Part of revolutionizing and setting new standards is daring to attempt things besides the tried and true, after all.

          I say all this because I would rather SE experiment with the idea of an RPG and see what they can combine with one and the results that come forth than sticking to tradition. it would sadden me more to see RPGs fade out because of a lack of novelty than to see FFXIII be the last FF title ever.

          • dragoon_slayer12

            i agree and disagree. look at it this way. S-E is trying to be like Capcom, in a sense that they want to appeal to everybody. Cap does fighting, action, shooters, platformers, and they are GREAT at them. they did great RPG’s, but unfortunately they abandoned that. S-E does GREAT RPG’s, but it seems like they are abandoning them to do shooters, action, platformers, and their barely decent at that.

            not everybody can be Capcom. but that isn’t a bad thing entirely. look at Bungie, so far FPS only. Epic, FPS heavy, and gears is the same thing, except you can see the person (not much of a major difference if you think about it). Nippon Ichi, Strategy RPG heavy (prinny is good, but not great. Dragoneer’s Aria played great, but was too childish). with the exception of Nippon Ichi, they are making great games and are profiting greatly from everything they make, and the only reason Nippon Ichi doesn’t always make their quarterly goal is because Disgaea isn’t released yearly. S-E should see N.I. and strive to understand that not everybody needs to do everything, but everybody should at least consistently deliver on what they do best. doing a new IP is great, but i just don’t want them to do it in a genre the barely can get right. and until they either acquire a team that knows the genre very well, or buy/merge with an other company that is good at genre’s their not (like S-E buying Tecmo Koie would do great for hack and slash games from Koie’s side, and action from Tecmo’s side).

            i’m not against branching out, konami does it (and learned from it, whether they stopped or made better), ea does it (remember when they ONLY did sports), sega does it (mite not be the best example now, but they pioneered just about everything). but if you can’t do it well, at least deliver what you know best, and in S-E’s case, RPG’s, whether it be action RPG, turn based, ATB, with an amazing story and jaw dropping cinematics. they need to slow down the multiple titles at once that they been doing, and focus individual teams to at least 2-3 titles at once, and not the “slave laboring” they have been doing recently. within the past 5 years. ff 7 cc, ff7 doc, ff7 bc, ff13, ffv13, ffa13 turned type 0, with possibility of others in the works simultaneously, kh bbs, kh 358/2/ kh re:coded, kh re:chained, kh coded, 3rd birthday, cell phone then psp, ff4 ay, ff4 compilation, and majority of these game tesuya nomura either headed or overseen. then there’s the ones that’s been in development since x that they haven’t announced yet. too much going on to get what they can’t do right, and what they do right gets half assed cuz theres to much to focus on one thing.

        • GamerKT

          Excuse me, Nier was amazing.

          • dragoon_slayer12

            agree, but in comparison, gameplay wise, there are better. cuz thinking out of the top of the head, you CAN name 5 games that plays better than Nier in less than 5 seconds

          • That’s easy.

            Devil May Cry
            God of War
            Mega Man Legends 2
            Dynasty Warriors 5
            Jackie Chan

        • doomspeller10

          I know what you mean, but experimentation has brought about some jewels like Dissidia and Crisis Core, which obviously are something to thank experimentation for. And gameplay and controls-wise, 3rd birthday is way better than many of the portable shooters out there. Still rooting for a “classic-style” Parasite Eve 3, though.

    • Bakuryukun

      actually Square Enix DOESN’T make half-assed remakes, TOSE does. The remakes that they do themselves (or have Matrix do) are usually pretty stellar imo.

      • dragoon_slayer12

        yea, but they oversee them. they are just as responsible as if they made them themselves.


  • Raidou

    I appreciate the need for any and all companies to grow and expand their market but can’t square see that the people who got them to where they are now are crying out for what made us all WANT to support them. An amazing new experience and adventure in a top notch rpg.

    • One difference between the “Square” then and Square now is the number of games Square Enix releases. There was a time when we were lucky to get two titles from Squaresoft a year (we’ll leave Enix out since their releases were so sporadic).

      Now we see about a dozen games from Square Enix. Some target their RPG fans (Tactics Ogre, Dissidia) others try to attract a new audience (Nier, Dungeon Siege).

  • Fantastic interview, Spencer! I don’t know what it is, but the way you conduct interviews just brings a side of the gaming industry that I never really see despite the countless outlets emerging these days. Keep it up!

    Personally, I have very little experience with Square’s games. When I think of Squaresoft I think of Bushido Blade, but I know they have more well-known titles that fans bring up. I can’t say I really know what they’re about now, either, but they can start working on that last point by releasing Nanashi No Game, yeah!

    • Guest

      and Heavy Metal Thunder! And Tobal 2! and Racing Lagoon!

      • And The Bouncer. Lol. (^___^);

        • Guest

          Wait…..the Bouncer got released to the U.S./EU

    • dragoon_slayer12

      also Ehrgeiz and Brave Fencer Musashi. those are 2 other very good cult classics. i’ve yet to meet anybody that has even heard of those

      • Draparde

        i loved brave fencer Musashi despite never actually having played it much myself lol.

    • Thank you :) When I do interviews I keep the readers in mind and try to ask questions to get the answers everyone wants to hear.

  • Eddie

    I respect Square Enix for trying new things and branching out I really do. I have no problem with them doing new I.P.s, I think its awesome, and i will still always have a soft spot for their older work. New I.P.s are a good thing because everything has been so sequel heavy lately. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy sequels but something fresh and innovative is always welcome. With all that being said…

    “Can they do something that is up to our quality levels and expectations of our consumers? We take everything really, really seriously and that’s why we take awhile to make firm decisions on this stuff. We want to make sure whatever we do we over deliver.”

    It kills me to say this but I feel like as far as quality goes, and when I say quality I mean gameplay, story, characters, everything. I feel like they have been under-delivering… I use to hold a high standard for Square Enix and I still want to I really do, but it gets hard to defend a company you love after so many disappointing endeavors. I applaud their attempts at new things but you can’t get an A just because you tried something new… I remember when Square Enix use to set the bar for RPG excellence. Somewhere along the line that stopped, I would love to see Square Enix regain the quality they use to have. Trial and Error is a part of life, but the errors have been going on to long. There is more to a game then just having pretty graphics. I know a Final Fantasy title will sell no matter what and so will other titles they make but I just don’t want them to fall into a place where they think its okay to make a poor product as long as it sells. I refuse to lower my standards for a company that I know has so much potential.

  • YsyDoesIt

    Seems like there’s an enormous consensus regarding Square and what we think their focus should be, which is jarring considering a vast number of those older gamers that want to see existing I.P. explored also tend to look emphasize the importance of original content being delivered.

    I suppose the kicker is the quality of Square’s original I.P., which isn’t known for it’s high marks.

  • symytry

    This guy sounds like he doesn’t know much about anything other than business. I’d still love for SaGa 2 and 3 to make an english appearance, but at this point I don’t think they’ll do so in any official manner.

    I can’t say either way that they’d score well on Metacritic, but it’s not like the recent 3rd Birthday was a huge critical success.

  • Guest

    How could they not know fans want a FF VII remake? Even the dead know. And aliens from far away galaxies. And time travelers. In fact, they are all sick of hearing it.

  • Very cool interview indeed. I’m actually thankful for FF4 on PSP and I enjoyed Nier THROUGH THE ROOF.

    But no SaGa PISSES ME OFF.

  • darkfox1

    I hope The Last Story makes it here anyone remember that game?

  • Croix

    For all the people who want to see FFVII reborn, I only wish I could convey to them that it just won’t be the same game if that ever happens. To have a remake of the game, things would need to be changed (or else it would defeat the point of the remake), but there’s just too much that would be lost in any transition from FFVII’s original format.

    I do agree with many others, however, that I would like to see SquareEnix’s professed attention to quality applied to what was Squaresoft’s more ‘slow-paced’ gameplay. I think this is a combination that can do very well, even now. If you need evidence, I think that, despite being from different creators, Radiant Historia embodies this well, as I see it as a sort of reimagining of Chrono Trigger.

    I actually do support any company trying to branch out and try new areas, but there’s always curious decisions that make me scratch my head. Square, which is to say what used to be Squaresoft, came to fame for its Jrpgs, but in the case of Nier, chose to appeal rather differently to its audience, which I still lament a bit personally.

    Granted, it’s not quite the level of lament I get from a certain other company that publishes another very popular Jrpg series and yet doesn’t seem to do nearly as much as SquareEnix does to promote it in the west…

    • PrinceHeir

      well for starters, they will have to connect some of the plot lines from crisis core and before crisis. not to mention added scenes of Zack and Aerith and other characters which is actually awesome :)

      i just want them to use the exact scenes from Advent Children Complete. it fits perfectly and it definitely has the best scenes in terms of FFVII flashbacks.

  • Ace

    I like how you mentioned Lord of Arcana and Mindjack… Seeing as those are two cookie cutter failures of games Squeenix has made… I do agree with most people here. I would rather see Squeenix concentrate on making great RPG’s than trying to make a genre that they’re not good at making.

  • holyPaladin

    Nice interview from the giant.
    I hope they really care for their fans.

    I’m thirsty for good quality RPG, which seems lack of them these days…

  • LynxAmali

    “Revisiting FFVII”

    For the love of god,no!
    Let the sleeping giant rest. I’d much rather them get the old crew who worked on Xenogears and Saga back together and do a proper sequel. Also; Make FE normal again. No more Evolved buisness.

  • They want to do quality, and i was a fool when i purchased Front Mission Evolved on steam with that hope. Thanks god i purchased FM3 later on the PSN, and forgot that FME existed =(

  • PrinceHeir

    i actually want them to finish FFVII. people always want a FFVII remake but what about the compilation?


    if you have played Dirge of Cerberus(which is the latest in terms of chronological order except for the final scenes of Advent Children) and have gotten the secret ending. it reveals that Genesis is still alive and he still have some work to do(same with Weiss) though it was reveal in a Crisis Core Ultimania Guide, he’s not out for revenge as some people would think, but rather a mission to protect the world with his final words in crisis core

    Nomura and his team also said Advent Children was not the end of compilation and they still have some ideas left.

    so yeah finish the compilation first before the remake :P

    • Draparde

      I agree to this, after playing crisis core i couldent help but read up about the rest of it (and watch advent children complete). i want a conclusion to the compilation, and personally i’d want it as a full fleged RPG.

  • neo_firenze

    “We know people want that and we want to make sure if we take the time to really bring it consoles or to the current systems nowadays that we would have to put in a tremendous amount of effort and take away time from what we’re currently building”

    Isn’t that kind of a bizarre way answer from a business perspective? We know some things that people definitely want, but we aren’t necessarily going to give it to them because it would take time away from other riskier projects that may be hit-or-miss.

    That being said, I think people don’t give S-E enough credit for still putting out some good new stuff. Nier was probably my favorite game of last year, I respect what they’ve done on PSP in the past year (and 4 Heroes of Light on the DS), and I’m truly looking forward to Dungeon Siege III.

    But there have been some pretty bad releases recently too that look like they came from S-E trying to make these new projects. Stuff like Front Mission Evolved, Mindjack, Moon Diver. The low points are lower than we’re used to from Square, and a bit more frequent. Even the revered FF series has seen its share of troubles – XIII is flawed at best, and XIV is probably the biggest disappointment of my gaming life (and I say this as a 7 year FFXI veteran).

    • Aoshi00

      But being the publisher and not the developer, does S-E deserve credit for Nier or Drakengard that was made by Cavia? To me Cavia made the spellbinding Nier, while S-E made… FFXIII…

      Quality RPGs in terms of story and everything.. I think one inherit problem is Toriyama Motomu being the scenario writer, that right there is what drag down an RPG a lot.. FFX-2, FF13, 3rd birthday.. people from S-E can’t write things like Nier even if they tried.. and Toriyama is not helping…

      • neo_firenze

        If we’re going by the team who developed things, why do we even care what anyone from Square-Enix USA has to say since they don’t develop any of the classic RPG franchises, and why would we even bother thinking about Dungeon Siege III? I think it’s fair to say that S-E deserves credit and blame for things they publish, even if they’re developed by different teams.

        Some S-E Japan internal productions this past generation have been quite good – 4 Heroes of Light, Dissidia, Tactics Ogre remake, Type-0 looks fantastic, etc. On the other hand, some S-E Japan games have been disappointing – FFXII and XIV.

        On the same thinking, some S-E published games from other dev teams have sucked (FM Evolved) and some have been great (Nier). It’s up to Square-Enix to do quality control on all they publish, whether it’s from other dev teams (look at the Eidos teams – Just Cause 2 was excellent) or internal.

        • Aoshi00

          I’m not really interested in any of the games you mentioned though, so.. when I think of S-E, I just thought of FF 11-14 being bad in the last decade mostly.. I did like Crisis Core though.. I’m getting the Nier drama CD now, for some reason I just never connect Nier and S-E together.. I kept thinking if S-E were to make some good RPGS, they should look no further than Nier, which wasn’t even developed by them.. or look at Mistwalker’s Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, or Last story, or monolith’s Xenoblade, apparently S-E is not interested in making that kind of RPGs anymore.. that’s why I’m interested in every new RPG title from Mistwalker or Cavia (if AQ Interactive let them do their thing) rather than S-E.. jury is stil out for VS13 of course, I pray that it’s better than FF11-14.. Type-0 looks good, but is probably the furthest thing from a traditional FF to date, riding on the franchise’s name, I’m not that interested in it either..

          but yea, I guess I was concentrating what S-E actually makes themselves rather than their overall plan including Western games and absorbing other studios and such.. that’s why I said Toriyama had a lot to do w/ their RPG “quality” as of late.. if they keep having him write for every next big RPG, then there’s really not much we can do in terms of getting a RPG w/ a good story..

          • Skua

            They do quite a good job with handheld games. If Square Enix were to do the unthinkable by throwing in the towel, laying off 80% of the company, and switching exclusively to simple, lower budget RPGs, they’d probably make it out fine. Even in terms of writing, there’re plenty of freelancers they could hire if they needed to (not to mention the untapped talent among their ranks).

            The problem stems from the pressure of remaining a major publisher, as well as an inability to cope with current technology (it’s hard to make anything good if you’re constantly grappling with tech). Regarding the former, the RPG bubble in Japan burst long ago, and there’s no way a company as large as SE would survive by depending on them. Simultaneously, the way they threw all their eggs into one basket makes them inflexible – a company that knows how to develop and market only one type of game.

            The difficulty of HD production is also unsurprising given how Square developers tend to work. There’s such a high degree of specialization – whether we’re referring to textures, models, CG (developers narrowly focused on perfecting their craft, almost as if in isolation. Craft overtakes the overarching game) – that people easily lose sight of the big picture. As some Japanese devs point out, they’re appalled at the corners cut by western developers to speed production. Nevertheless, the traditional process will have to change if they want a shot at keeping up.

          • Skua

            Publishers in general aren’t interested in making that kind of RPG anymore – not in big budget fashion anyway.

            Even with Mistwalker, you don’t see Microsoft or AQI chasing after them anymore (they got many contracts when they first started, but there’s barely anything now). In many ways, The Last Story is a hopeful bid to remain relevant.

  • No remake of FFVII please hell no it’s long dead am tired of hearing about VII F.. the new gen.

    where’s the mana series heading?? i want a new mana game or a remake of secret of mana or a new chrono game or remake of chrono trigger. am not gonna mention perasite eve because 3rd birthday was okay but lmao!.

  • I.. will… Always support Square be it the past or the future.. I guess they are pleading the fans to accept their changes… And nothing is going to be great if you keep looking in the past.. And honestly, I’d rather not have old school RPG in this new CG technology… I mean Lost Odyssey was nice, but if it were to be a little more fast pace I would really appreciate it… Unless the design is interesting enough to make me repeatedly stare at them.. Like Trails in the sky which is very very colourful..

    But, do not get the wrong idea that I am some sort of new generation who loves action game of sort.. Absolutely not… Its just that, I was kind of spoilt by our recent culture on speed.. And I have gotten use to it, So I would prefer it if I am more “involve” in the gameplay.. At least like the KH series..

    However, I do have to admit, their plot are way too easy these days, its so straight forward that it started to feel cliche…Though I do not particularly mind, but would definitely like a little more spice..

    I think they should come up with stories almost too weird to comprehend but at the same time people are able to digest it.. Something to let people think about and have the space to imagine but at the same time being able to use your logical thoughts to process it, instead of focusing only on the element of fun in gameplay mechanism…

    I mean, if people can link everything together that way, that would be an emotional accomplishment some are finding… Which can’t be obtain through in game trophies or achievements…

    Regardless, I still have my faith in SE..

  • Xeahnort

    Square-Enix is no longer the RPG Powerhouse Squaresoft were, according to them HD world maps towns and big cities are impossible to make and looking how Square-Enix are ruining old great franchise such as PE or Front Mission, people should forget about a remake of FF VII.

    Square-enix keep afloat thanks to Tetsuya Nomura and DQ.

    Atlus, Level 5, Sega, NIS or even Gust are currently developing better RPGs.

  • Wiccan1109

    I think most fans wanted FFVII as an FFXIII styled presentation on a next gen console, but SE have already tried saying that it just wouldnt be possible without like 10 years of works and 15 disks. When you think about the NPCs, items, summon animations, limits, spells, the sheer length of the game, the world map, the tons of citys and dungeons with tons of things inside to acquire or do, optional characters, the MASSIVE script and voice acting implications. I mean, theres a reason why XIII was basically a DVD with a 30 hour long root menu, they just couldn’t fit all that stuff in to an FF7 remake and keep its core unchanged. And since cloud got turned in to this stoic, emotionless lump from advent children, i cant imagine the new HD him dressing up as a woman or joking about Tifa’s orthopedic underwear. Thered be so many edits and SE fans are notoriously hard to please.

    If they brought that to next gen i think theyd be digging their own graves in the reviews (of course it would still sell by the millions tho.) Unless they seriously put a great number of people on the team and were prepared to go over a LOT of disks. I think now that the NGP is on the horizon though, if they went with that i think they could definitley achieve it. A lot of people would be mad it wasnt on console but I think they could achieve everything theyd need to in a realisitic amount of time.

    • I’m terribly sorry but that’s no valid excuse. We have plenty of massive games out there which filled two or three discs at most and took no longer than 3 years to develop.

      Square being unable to do a proper HD reimagining of Final Fantasy VII doesn’t make it unfeasible. If anything, it shows how poorly directed their business planing and software development have been throughout this generation. How long have we been waiting for Versus again?

      Should they trully commit to it, we’d have our remake in a few years’ time, in a single blu-ray (3-4 discs for X360) and with no compromises. Speaking of disc space issues, FFXIII had over 30GB of video, an barely 6GB of actual game data. Most FMV scenes were actually recorded using the game engine because apparently Square didn’t bother tweaking its assets to fit the PS3 processing budget and decided instead to pre-record pretty much every cutscene in the game to save time and effort. Lazyness.

      • Wiccan1109

        No, dude i agree with you but what im saying is that FF13 had no substance besides its immense graphics. I mean it had 1 quarter the script of FF7 not even including the hundreds of interactive NPCs, no world map, no towns, most locations couldnt be revisited, the sheer number of side quests and mini games in FF7 makes FF13 hang its head in shame. And it took them a few years and 3-4 disks for that? If that /were/ FF7 think how much stuff would be missing in comparison to the PS1 version, same time, same effort, same visuals, same disk space.

        I agree its completely possible for them to chug out a gorgeous FF7 remake within a couple of years under 4 disks. But it wont be the FF7 everyone will be expecting, thats all im saying. There would be a LOT of cut corners and missing content in exchange for the voice acting and graphics, because they just half arse everything else. And i dont think this is because of the technology, i think this is because of Square as a company. To recreate this game, data for data, every word, animation, every square inch? I just dont think they can do that in 3 years and 4 disks. That is of course unless they decide to pull every talented staff member away from making all those FPS/action hack and slash games they think we want so much. At the end of the day this event would be monumental in reception and sales figures no matter how much effort they put in, the question is are they willing to sell its soul and let its title alone make the money or would they actually pull their socks up and put everything they have in to making it a perfect modern recreation? Id love to be proven wrong by them, i really would.

  • elroid

    Personally I still think Saga Frontier 2 is the best game among the Saga Series. I really liked the 2D style and how the story of the 2 family linked together. I hope next time there would be another Saga that uses that style again.

  • imaguni

    Thanks for the interesting read, I appreciated this interview a lot!

    I will say this: I like that they’re focusing on experimenting with what the gaming audiences of today call for. I respect that a lot too, regardless of whether or not it appeals to me. Times have changed, and there are new demands to take in account. There’s also new potential to explore and tap into, and I would rather that gaming companies do that as opposed to relying on their past successes and choosing not to go beyond them, choosing not to work on new experiences too.

    One can argue that by choosing to experiment, they’re potentially avoiding or even giving up on what “made them good” or “made them successful”, but how do we know that’s true? They can’t just keep doing the same games over and over again if they want to stay around for long. Why bring up something you already know time and time again when there’s something new to introduce? They’re going to need to try different things, see what works and what doesn’t, and incorporate acquired their knowledge and experiences in production for future titles. It’s not always going to be a smash-hit, but you have to try anyway on your way to that knockout game.

    I will argue that no matter what people say, no one wants to get the same thing over and over again, no matter how much they may like it. Not that I mind remakes, for example, but I always want to see companies go beyond the ‘limit’ of the bar a game will have set and avoid that game’s standards, you know? I want to see more, personally, but beyond what they’ve already given me and how far they can go. I think that they have already proven themselves to me if I have liked a game they’ve made and the need to revisit it is fun, but not crucial in the long run. That’s part of why I don’t want a FFVII remake, especially not if it would compromise new content like Versus XIII.

  • If I was speaking directly to them, I would say look we have the same feelings that you do. We want to do the quality. We want to make sure that every game is rated very high and gives a great experience without giving that cookie cutter feel as some of our competitors and you know just bear with us.

    Nice, but they need to try harder with the games, they have no had high review scores in a long time. There are just so few recent games that are over the 85 mark ( ). Anyway, I will continue to follow their games and hope for the best. Nice to know they want to deliver a non cookie cutter feel.

  • i387

    At least he’s honest saying he doesn’t know.
    Indeed, for all the original japanese IPs, all this is still decided in Japan and the SQEX USA guys just execute pretty much.

    And well, they can try to market Dungeon Siege III and Supreme Commander 2 any way they want, they’ll never be Square titles to me. (Neither will Tomb Raider)

    God forbid they start having western studios work on the japanese IPs, Front Mission Evolution sure made its point that it SHOULD NOT BE DONE.

    Honestly? Screw globalization.

  • Roses4Aria

    I’d love to see a VII remake, but not if they only have time to half-%ss it and turn out something less than fans expect. And I’d honestly rather have them concentrate on Versus for now. After waiting for it for 4+ years, the fans are wayyyyyyy more than restless and I’m afraid it’s going to have to be awe-inspiring or they will rip it to shreds. If they actually decide to redo VII, I don’t mind waiting until they have the time and luxury to give it more of their full attention.

  • Instead of Angry Birds, Angry Chocobos and flood the market with that game

  • Thanks!!

  • If there is something i’ve noted that Square hasnt changed over the years, is the quality, even if the game is not thaaat good, the quality is always Square Enix quality, it has its own air of luxury, and while they dont forget that, im sure they will still be able to make great games every now and then.

    Besides, it hasnt been that much since they made The world ends with you!, that game made me remember why i love square enix. Also the localization is always top notch.

    • holyPaladin

      You mean the world ends with you?

      You’re playing too much galge, WildArms :D

      • AHH YEAH THE WORLD ENDS WITH YOU hahaha omg cant belive i did that hahahaha xD

        *edits* lol, seriously xD

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