Square Enix To Rely More On Outsourced Development For Large Projects

By Ishaan . June 27, 2012 . 8:30am

According to a Gamasutra report, at the GDC Taipei event this week, Final Fantasy XIII director, Motomu Toriyama, suggested that Square Enix are considering avoiding the development of large-scale projects internally, and instead relying more on outsourcing, in order to get them done on time. The cause of this decision is Final Fantasy XIII.

 

Toriyama revealed that, at its peak, Final Fantasy XIII had over 200 people working on it: 180 artists, 30 programmers, and 36 game designers. Having a team of that size made managing communication and user-testing difficult. Square decided they would resolve these issues with XIII-2 by adopting western technology and western production techniques learnt through GDC and through Eidos, which is now owned by Square Enix.

 

“We are also thinking that we will not do large-scale internal development any longer,” Toriyama said. “We have a lot of great creators in Square Enix, but for larger-scale development we will be doing more distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time.”

 

Some may not be aware of this, but outsourcing is actually not new to Square Enix in the least. Several of the company’s more recent games across both portables and consoles have been outsourced or developed in collaboration with external developers. The Final Fantasy III and IV remakes for the Nintendo DS were created in collaboration with Matrix Software. Dragon Quest IX was developed by Level 5. The 3rd Birthday was developed in collaboration with HexaDrive. More recently, we also learnt that Tri-Ace contributed to Final Fantasy XIII-2.

 

Along with outsourced development, Square Enix also plan to handle milestones differently, opting for more practical monthly goals for their games, as opposed to story-based ones, as in the case of Final Fantasy XIII. While XIII-2 was a step forward in this regard, Toriyama feels the company can do even better.

 

“We feel like we need to add more buffer time for player testing in the future,” Toriyama admitted. “We improved for FFXIII-2, but it’s still not enough time to add everything we learn back into the game.”


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  • OatMatadoQuatro

    How about making FFX-3 with Kojima Productions? What, did that sound bad?

  • SirRichard

    I can’t help but think that FFXIII wouldn’t have taken as long if the development team wasn’t so lopsided in favour of artists.

    As long as they keep an eye on the outsourced projects and make sure they’re up to standard, this is a good idea, because it lessens the really overlong development times they struggled with at the start of this gen (and still are, judging by Versus XIII) and then helps free up staff for other projects. The FFIII and IV remakes and DQIX prove that outsourcing isn’t a bad idea for them.

    Maybe now they can get Versus XIII out there faster.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      Art almost always requires the most number of people on any high-profile game, though. It’s the most expensive part of game development in its current form.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Don’t forget DQ VIII, either. You probably didn’t, but I wanted to throw out an example of something they outsourced on consoles that turned out well. Level-5 just keeps delivering on DQ titles.

  • hunterrnl

    Let Mistwalker make the new Final Fantasy :D

    Final Fantasy -> Western Studio = RIP FF

    *love leaving a troll message ;D *

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Zaid-Elliott/1056775689 Zaid Elliott

      The creators arent changing just the workhorses.
      It’s the same thing Ubisoft does with the Assassin’s Creed series.  Most of the game assets are produced in China but the creators are still in house at Ubisoft. 
      I think this a great idea. 

      • hunterrnl

         France -> Canada -> China , nice path.

    • Paradox me

      Mistwalker is a co-developer operating much like this already, handling the creative aspect and relying on other studios for actual development. Artoon, feelplus, AQ Interactive.

    • Anime10121

      Well I dont necessarily know about that either, as the only Mistwalker game, at least released in the west (Blue Dragon, Lost Odyseey, The Last Story) that I consider a good game would be Lost Odyseey.  The other two are mediocre to average at best.  Even still, Mistwalker didnt develop those titles alone, they outsourced most of the projects to Artoon, AQ Interactive, and FeelPlus studios.

  • Anime10121

    I just hope this doesnt have a negative effect on vs.XIII or the inevitable (but still unnanounced) KH 3.  Outsourcing can be good many times, as some of Squares games can prove (DQ VIII, IX, Neir,  FFIV DS) but it can also mean the exact opposite.

     While it may be difficult to communicate what they want to accomplish to a large in-house development team, it must be even harder to communicate those wishes to a studio not of your own.  But we’ll just have to see how this plays out for Square’s future developments on console titles.  I want to hope for the best for the future of console Kingdom Hearts, Final Fatasy, and other Square Japan products.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      @Vampiric:disqus @Anime101210:disqus Here’s something to keep in mind: KH: Birth by Sleep and KH3D are both produced by Square Enix’s Osaka studio, not Nomura’s original Kingdom Hearts team (which is currently working on Versus XIII). This same team also worked on Crisis Core. 

      The reason we made it a point to list some of Square’s major outsourced games so far is to show people that this isn’t anything “new”. A lot of their major titles are already developed in collaboration with external developers.

      • Anime10121

        True, but the Osaka team is still apart of Square Enix, Im not worried about outsourcing to different teams within the company as much as I am them doing it with a completely different development studio.  Tri-Ace, as much as they have worked with Enix in the past/present might as well be considered a subsidiary of Square (even if they’re trying to break away from that now by doing games with Konami/Sega).

        They have proven that it can work sometimes with the titles I/you listed earlier, but even still, sometimes it doesn’t work, and them thinking about outsourcing with their big properties (like Final Fantasy) is a little unnerving to me.

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          I don’t know… going by the fact that all the games I listed have turned out very well and are some of Square’s most successful titles, I see more reason to not be worried than to be worried. 

          Frankly, I would be far more scared of Final Fantasy sticking with its current development team, which appears to be having some trouble managing time/money and the scope of their games. Hopefully, being able to offload part of the process to other studios will allow them more room to think about design instead of being caught up with technical hassles all the time.

          • Anime10121

            True, most of their outsourcing has been pretty reliable, with the exception of  maybe Nier (at least sales-wise, otherwise it was AMAZING) and 3rd Birthday.  I guess it really just boils down to WHO they are working with and not so much what they are working on. 

            So guess I’ll just have to take a wait and see approach to see how a Final Fantasy with a little outsourcing can become (although I’ll probably still buy it anyway, Square has not disappointed me in any of the Final Fantasy games I’ve purchased from them).

    • http://blackstar2661.deviantart.com/ SilverSpades

      Oh, my! Optimism!

  • Vampiric

    Does this scare the hell out of anyone else?

    I mean we all know square isnt as good as they used to be, but if they dont develop games themselves, or even rpgs anyone, whats the point in using the name square?

    • Solomon_Kano

      Mind you, this is in reference to the Japanese side and Square Enix is certainly much bigger than their Japanese side.

      Beyond that… they’re still a company after they outsource a game. Why wouldn’t they still use their name?

  • $36598391

    “We are also thinking that we will not do large-scale internal
    development any longer,” Toriyama said. “We have a lot of great creators
    in Square Enix, but for larger-scale development we will be doing more
    distributed and outsourced development to reach our targets on time.”

    Squaresoft didn’t rely on other companies to make Final Fantasy VII, they did it all themselves
    They don’t need to hand their games over to other companies

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      That was then, when games didn’t need to look as good and cost as much time and money to develop. Today, it is a very different situation.

      • Jirin

        Why is that though?  Does it really increase their sales or long term consumer loyalty if they sacrifice the quality of the game out of the obligation to having front-of-the-pack graphics they can’t afford?

        (Do they really need ten minute cutscenes every half hour?)

        • Syltique

          Look at Star Wars 1313 and Watch Dogs.  Both games had almost no gameplay that was interesting, but instead showed off nothing buy shiny graphics.  The mainstream gaming press is falling all over themselves trying to compliment it as much as possible.

          People can pretend like graphics don’t matter, but SQEX has always been committed to having top tier graphics, and they always will be.  It’s a huge strength of theirs, and people do appreciate it.

          As far as the gameplay, the only thing they said that took a hit was extensive playtesting with focus groups.  Nothing about their gameplay has been bad in any way.  The battle systems are always unique and original, and have no bugs at all.

          • SirRichard

            “Both games had almost no gameplay that was interesting”

            Did you even watch the Watch Dogs reveal? The ability to sweep over an entire crowd and get their histories, medical records, criminal records and all is amazing, as is the ability to hack things around you and shut them down. Say what you will about Star Wars, but Watch Dogs was easily one of the best things to come out of E3.

          • Syltique

            I saw it.  It was a guy walking around for the entire demo.  Couldn’t possibly be more boring from a gameplay perspective.  

            Then there’s one fully automated melee takedown cinema event.  Again, no gameplay.

            Then there’s cover based shooting, like 1 million other games.

            Then there’s some driving.

            The graphics are driving the entire experience, and are the only reason the game got any praise.  I fully stand by my point.  I’m not saying that makes Watch Dogs bad.  I’m saying that everyone thinks graphics are important, including mainstream casual gamers.

          • amagidyne

            First half of that trailer was incredibly promising. Kind of cyberpunk, leet hacksoring, stealthy-looking and a protagonist who doesn’t look like a SEAL. 

            Then in the second half he turns out to be great at melee, gets into a generic cover-shooting segment and enters bullet time to instantly kill everyone. I haven’t seen a game lose its essence that fast since I got attacked by a cyborg ninja in Mass Effect 3.

          • SirRichard

            @amagidyne:disqus Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending that it turned into every other cover-based shooter in the presentation, but to say that it had no interesting gameplay whatsoever isn’t fair to it at all. It stood out at E3 for at least trying to be different, even if it is getting mired down by third-person shooting.

          • SirRichard

            So you’re completely ignoring the hacking, the element of stealth that it adds, or the reveal of multiplayer towards the end in which other players can help you as you play by drawing the police off of you? You’re hardly being fair to it, mate. Sure, its graphics made it stand out, but it wasn’t the graphics that got people’s attention, and claiming that is is just being ignorant.

            It’s like saying there’s no gameplay to Final Fantasy, that you just pick an option from a menu and watch the game play itself, you only bought it for the sparkly graphics. That’s not true, is it?

            Yeah, graphics are important, your main point of that is right, but your example is wrong. If you picked something like Battlefield 3, then sure, I’d agree with that, it only stands out from other military shooters because of its graphics.

          • Jirin

            Having good graphics as wonderful, but it gets to a point where it takes twice as much budget and development time to make slightly better graphics, and that’s the point they have to step back and say “It’s not worth it, let’s step back and work on making the game play well with the graphics we can afford.”

            The process of improving graphics has two things consistently:  Increasing marginal cost and diminishing marginal gain, and if SQEX can’t properly locate the crossover point, they’re just terrible game developers.

            There’s a balance between having good enough eye candy to attract a lot of attention, then having good enough playability to get them wanting more.

          • amagidyne

            Their mechanics are never complex enough for any bugs to creep in. On the whole I’m sure they’re better at finding bugs than other developers, but there are much fewer variables to take into account in Final Fantasy XIII compared to something like Fallout: New Vegas (which I mention because it’s the one game everyone yells “BUGS!” at).

            There’s also the fact that there’s barely any gameplay outside of the combat. You walk, interact with objects and fight. There’s some minimal inventory management and puzzles, but generally, you walk and fight. Not that much can go wrong.

            I still enjoyed the combat, mind you. Paradigm shifting and staggering is brisk and tactical, especially when compared to the older games. It just isn’t all that complicated.

            EDIT: Although maybe you meant games that aren’t Final Fantasy. I haven’t played Kingdom Hearts or Dissidia, so my opinion is kind of useless if you meant them.

          • $36598391

             It’s because graphics truly do not matter 100% of the time
            Look at Diablo II, it’s been out for 12 years, the level of detail is outdated but it’s still a fun game to play, I’ve been playing it since it came out and I’ll play it for the next 10 years as well

        • Anime10121

          I like (most of) the cutscenes :(

        • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

          I agree, it shouldn’t be a focus. Plenty of games, even in the west are simply doing “good” graphics–not “cutting edge” graphics as Square are focused on–and getting by just fine. One of the reasons I feel that western studios are able to do this is that they’re more technically competent.

          For example, a western studio may be able to use a smart combination of lighting and shaders to achieve a better overall look than a meticulously hand-drawn texture created at a Japanese studio. That’s just one very generalized example, of course, but that’s about the gist of it.

          In my experience, Technical Artists–halfway between artists and programmers–are some of the most important staff members on any AAA game development team. They’re the ones that can work the graphical magic without letting the budget spiral out of control. Just looking in from the outside, Japan needs to focus on training better TAs, it would seem.

          • $36598391

             graphics aren’t everything though, while Square Enix is trying to make their games look pretty they are forgetting what made all their past games so popular in the first place.
            1. a great story (Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Final Fantasy I-IX, Parasite Eve, Secret of Mana and many more)
            2. Replayability aka New Game +
            (Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross and many more)

          • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

            Right, but the reason for this is that they spend far too long struggling with technical and graphical processes, rather than being able to focus on design and content. Hopefully, with the help of outsourcing, they’ll be able to focus on design and filling their games up more once again. 

            This is why Square’s portable games are among the best out there on DS and PSP (and now 3DS, it would seem). The budgets and limits for those games are such that the focus is always on the design, rather than technological hurdles.

          • LightZero

            I definitely agree graphics aren’t everything. I prefer many games that aren’t as graphically powerful. Although Squaresoft (now SE) always focus on providing the best possible graphics for the system they develop for. That is something that is always consistent. 

            A great story is definitely appreciate it although I wouldn’t consider FF1-3 to be great or even decent. FFIV had it nonsense with people not staying dead and the whole twist with Golbez. Otherwise FFIV would had been great IMO. FFV story was never meant to be taken seriously. It wasn’t until FFVI they got better with to no major flaws minus FFVIII after disc 2. At least out of FF1-10. Xenogears to this day have little to no equals as far as story goes. Too bad SE won’t be able to produce a story of that level. At least Xenoblade came close to that.

            As for replayability, they never really had that in their major titles except with CT, CC, FFX-2, Type 0, and recently FFXIII-2. I would definitely like to see Versus, KH3, and FFXV continue that trend.

  • Paradox me

    I was under the impression that the entire point of Luminous Studios was to provide tools that can be used more easily and efficiently, improving development cycles.

    It would all come down to which developers they’re partnering with, but that in itself makes me nervous.

    • Anime10121

      My thoughts extactly, they said that Luminous was mostly for Square Japan and Eidos (though Eidos was still going to develop their own engines if the need arised) and it was supposed to make internal development easier.  Now they did say they would let outsourced teams work on Luminous if they had to, but the way they described it, it was going to help Square Japan after Crystal Tools/White Engine failed to do what they needed.

      Square’s internal games are known for having some of the least buggiest games out there (barring XIV) and I’m also nervous about the developer’s they choose to partner with.

  • Dylan Anantha

    They should let Platinum do their Action games, Platinum is awesome with that kind of gameplay.

    • Syltique

      They worked with HexaDrive on 3rd Birthday, which is a small studio comprised of ex-Devil May Cry developers.

      • Anime10121

         Really?  I had no idea that HexaDrive was made up of exDMC devs, that makes it even worse that the gameplay in that game was so stale (though I admit I didnt play much pass the 2nd chapter, as the game bored me).

        • Syltique

          I dunno, I thought that the shooting mechanics worked nearly flawlessly for a one joystick system.  It blows away trying to play Peace Walker, which is usually hailed as one of the better games on the system.

          Shooting and dodging all worked almost exactly the same as DMC.  And the Overdive jumping was easy, and worked well.  The crossfire attacks were fun. The Liberation special move was a bit of a let down, but that’s it really.  I had no gameplay issues.

          • Anime10121

             Its not that I had issues with the gameplay per-say, it was more that I just didnt find the gameplay interesting/compelling.  I mean when I think about it, the shooting mechanics in DMC were not all that interesting either, it was everything else about the gameplay, the stylish looks, the fluidity switching between sword, gun, and other weaponry, DMC just does everything together so well.

            I just think that the way 3rd Birthday played was just boring to me.  But then again, I’m also not a big fan of Parasite Eve in the first place, only having played roughly half of the first title before trying again in 3rd Birthday.

  • Syltique

    Sounds fine to me if it’s just more of business as usual.  As the article said, many titles have already been partially outsourced and almost no one even realized it. 

    As much as I would love for SQEX to make every single thing internally, the current model of 7 years for XIII and Versus clearly isn’t ideal, or sustainable. 

    If Luminous Studio, and Agni’s Philosophy are anything to go by, I don’t think that we have anything to worry about.  They’re going to keep a close watch over everything, especially their top tier IPs.  All it’s going to mean is more efficient development time.

    • Paradox me

      the current model of 7 years for XIII and Versus clearly isn’t ideal, or sustainable.

      It shouldn’t be that long to begin with. Other companies are creating much more ambitious titles in nearly half that amount of time.

      That a video game company as large as Square Enix is essentially swearing off internal development of their largest projects is worrisome to say the last.

    • Levin_Scorpius

      The 7 year reason for XIII can probably be found in the abudance of pre-rendered cutscenes (which XIII-2 noticeably eliminated, cutting down the size of the game), the development teams not communicating with each other, moving from the PS2 to PS3, the artists going all quantity over quality with the game’s content, and Toriyama’s incompetence as a director or something was at least wrong with him at the time.

      Versus XIII is as it is because Nomura is a crazy person who can’t just keep himself focused on a single project and Wada lets him run amuck around the offices and development teams doing who knows what.

  • Jirin

    Huh.  I can see handing off certain pieces to other companies, but not the playability or story development components.  Whenever basic playability components get outsourced the game feels clunky and half-assed.

    I hate this thing in the current video game industry where companies feel they can’t downscale their graphics at all, but fully modern graphics kill their budget to the point they have to cut some of the corners that made SNES/PSX era games engaging.  This is the reason console RPGs are suffering.

    It’s an all or nothing thing.  Either it’s a console game and companies absolutely HAVE to have big fancy expensive graphics, or it’s a handheld game and you can’t play it on your TV.  Why not find middle ground?  Scale back graphics a bit so you can have the huge world SNES/PSX RPGs had and I can still play it on my TV.

    • Anime10121

      That’s my biggest gripe with handhelds, the itty bitty screen.  I wish Nintendo would do what Sony did with the PSP and come out with cables that allow you to play on a tv (though I dont know how that could work with the dual screens and whatnot).  Even Sony seems to be backpedaling by not allowing the Vita to hook up to a tv.

      I know the games didn’t look as sharp as they did on PSP, but they still looked damn good!  Dont know why (with the better graphics on handhelds nowadays) more handhelds aren’t jumping on chances to connect to tv.

      I dont need eye-bleeding graphics, as much as I do a bigger screen to playem on.

      • LightZero

        If it helps there is the 3DS XL.

        • Anime10121

          I’m not about to shell out another 200 bucks for a larger screen, when I already have a 3DS and even still it helps, but its still not really THAT much bigger.  I’ll admit it’s a good idea on Nintendo’s part, but as a consumer, it just feels like they’re turning into Apple.

    • http://vindictushots.tumblr.com/ Okuni-chan

      This is one thing I’ve been thinking about myself. I do hope that in the coming years RPGs will try to find some balance between the both. Maybe this is Square’s way of trying to figure it out? 
      You’ve seen some games out there having found some of that balance. Now that the “Oh pretty graphics” Part of it is over (I think?), they’ll get back to focusing in on the games and all the goes on within. Eye candy can only go so far. Maybe they are maturing from the eye candy phase and back into the game creation phase. We will see.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Actually, outsourcing story development is one of the big things I’m hoping for here. The last several FF games have had pretty terrible writing. XIII had excellent character development, but the story itself was awful.

      • Jirin

        Yeah, I have to agree there.  I think the basic outline of the story was pretty decent, but the actual progression of the story and especially the dialog of the villains was pretty terrible.

        But then it depends who they outsource it to.  Tri-Ace is just as bad as Square in that department.

        • Solomon_Kano

          True. It would be nice to see them try and get writers from outside the world of gaming. I’m not saying some top tier novelist or anything, but someone who’s removed from all the usual tropes and cliches of Japan’s gaming scene. There are several manga writers who I’d rather see write the next FF, before anybody at Square does.

        • LightZero

          Well it’s not like FF are known for their dialogue in general with the exception of FFT (PSP version) and FFXII. Honestly, I would prefer Tri-Ace bring in someone who can actually write a good story and characters while they handle the gameplay. I never play a Tri-Ace game for the story and SO3 taught me that valuable lesson *shakes fist at plot twist*

          • Solomon_Kano

            Oh, Til the End of Time. I loved you so much! Then we hit that plot twist. *sigh*

      • Levin_Scorpius

        XIII’s story wasn’t entirely awful, the ideas and concepts that formed the basics of the plot were actually pretty good and interesting, but the writing and execution of it all was pretty abysmal, along with them stuffing some of the actual important stuff that was crucial to understanding the story tucked away within the depths of the datalog.

        Also the character development wasn’t exactly “excellent”, since some of the parts were kinda iffy or nonsensical or stupid (Lightning’s “WE ARE PETS” scene, Hope’s Operation Nora, Snow is forever “I”M A HERO” regardless of any character development), but it’s still probably the best written portion of the game.

        • Solomon_Kano

          I’d agree that the ideas were good, but by screwing up in the execution and writing… well, if that doesn’t make an awful story, nothing does. I’d completely forgotten about the whole datalog bit, but that was another big problem with the game’s story.

          As for the development, there were stupid parts to most of the characters, yea, but their actual growth was great. They had good arcs. Or Hope did, at least. I started the game off completely hating that character and ended up liking him the most by the time I stopped playing the game.

          • Levin_Scorpius

            The datalog would have been better if it just was filled with little bits of story fluff, nothing crucial to the plot but filled with interesting tidbits about the world, people and cultures (kinda like XII’s bestiary in a sense).

            Hope was really the only character who seemed to really change throughout the entire game, and his arc probably the best written part of the game (Operation Nora aside).

            The other characters got some good scenes for their development, but they tended to be really small bits that didn’t really produce a noticeable change (Sahz, Fang, and Vanille, Lightning to a lesser extent) or are generally ignored by the greater plot (which is probably part of the reason why it’s already lacking).

            A lot of Square Enix’s more recent game’s story problems are rooted with either the writer’s, the director’s, the story concept people, or any combination of the above. They’re kinda hurting for people who can do their jobs beyond arriving at an end result.

          • Solomon_Kano

            Yea, the datalog got so informative that it got annoying lol. “Lightning, feeling despai –” “When… when did she show despair?” It got to the point where it was describing characters thoughts that the game didn’t even indicate. Whoever handled that… just no.

            You’re right though, Hope had the most complete arc. Everybody else showed little growth. At the same time, we could probably chalk that up to Hope being younger and still in a “growing stage” whereas the rest of them were pretty much all they were gonna be. I think the worst thing with the plot was that it didn’t do a good job of balancing each characters importance, and their development lacked as a result. In fact, they all felt equally unimportant. Dysley too.

            Seriously though, SE needs some new writers across the board. It honestly baffles me how XIII’s story could sound so serious in concept and yet its execution left it so uninteresting. The story’s execution never quite gets the stakes across for anything other than Sazh’s relationship with Dajh despite sounding like there were actually really high stakes to be had.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Mc-Devitt/100002626261475 Stephen Mc Devitt

        Lightning and Sazh were great characters, Snow was certainly, Vanille and Hope were unnecessary and Fang would’ve been as good as Light and Sazh she didn’t try and destroy Cocoon to protect someone as annoying as Vanille.

        The story was boring and almost non-existent and Dysley was a boring villain.

        • Solomon_Kano

          Dysley was seriously the worst villain the series has seen. Never in my life have I cared less about the villain in a game. Not even in Pokemon.

          On the characters though, I actually found Lightning to be pretty bland. Hope and Sazh were the best to me. Hope started out annoying as hell, but he got better over the course of the game. The fact that he showed some form of realistic growth makes him infinitely better than the rest of the cast to me.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Mc-Devitt/100002626261475 Stephen Mc Devitt

            Lightning? Bland? If she were, she would be dress boringly, be wide-eyed all the time and talk like Mathew Broderick, the king of blandness.

            I wouldn’t call a person, who punches a guy twice her size, bland. You might as well call Auron bland.

          • Solomon_Kano

            Eh. She did cool stuff, but she herself was boring.

  • amagidyne

    This is an excellent idea if the co-developers get some creative control over the project. I mean, I’m sure it will be beneficial to the company either way, but getting some new, talented people would make their games a lot better.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Leafy_Cam Leafhopper

    RIP FF.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Looking at their own XIII and looking at games SE has got from outsourcing in the past, I can’t even see where that negativity would come from. Looking at the Star Ocean* series, DQ 8+9, and Grandia*, I can really only see this as a good thing.

      The current SE is arguably better at picking people outside the company to handle development than they are able to handle development themselves.

      *These are series published by SE that were developed by outside companies from the beginning, but the point remains that they can spot outside talent.

  • Darkchao45

    They should just stick to making CGI movies….

  • http://twitter.com/RaiuLyn Raiu

    What Square Enix doesn’t know that things “can” backfired….

    I could type out my reasons but I feel lazy just by thinking the length of the texts… It has something to do with the “communication” and “vision” btw…

    Let’s hope that SE’s choice of rushing to reach a milestone doesn’t impact on the game’s quality…

  • http://twitter.com/ChrnoX Chrno-x

     I don’t think that working with other studios like Matrix Software and Level-5 is bad because those two did great and I hope that maybe remake of FFV and FFVI probably on 3DS (they said something like that long time ago) would be again created by guys from Matrix. But in the same time I think that S-E need to hire more programmers. Sorry but 30 programmers to 180 artist working on one gane is ridiculous, no wonder they making Versus XIII for so long if it is the same situation like with the FFXIII.

    • Tony F.

      Remember: Versus wasn’t in full production just after the announcement.

  • badmoogle

    As long as they keep the art direction strictly Japanese (for main FF projects) i don’t really mind.This generation was brutal for Japanese developers and the next one will be even harder for them to keep up with western competition in terms of technology.

    • Vampiric

       its actually been brutally awesome

      stay positive

    • Solomon_Kano

      Yea, it’s gonna be tough. There’s still a percentage of Japanese devs who haven’t touched the HD consoles at all, so next gen is only going to be harder.

      That’s why it’s such a good thing to me seeing SE’s Luminous, KojiPro’s Fox, and Tri-Ace’s new engine. People will go “Oh, it’s not about the graphics!” and it’s not, but it shows a measure of forward thinking that clearly wasn’t there with Japanese devs when we moved from last gen to this one. Not graphically, though that seems to be the only part of these engines people are paying attention to, but for what they mean to these groups’ development efforts in the next generation. By thinking ahead, we’re guaranteed to have at least some Japanese devs who are already prepared. And that’s good.

      What Japan lacks is a standard though. Love it or hate it, the west has found its standard in the Unreal Engine. Japanese developers are still stuck on making individual engines for individual titles and, beyond that, not sharing technology outside of their companies. There are middleware companies that share like Silicon Studio and their Orochi engine, but Japan lacks any significant engine that’s available to all. That would be a lovely step for them next gen. If not a standard, at the least more companies need to move towards reusable engines over designing engines by title.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Mc-Devitt/100002626261475 Stephen Mc Devitt

        Square needs to stick with ONE. The Unreal Engine can work well with animation (Asura’s Wrath, DmC) but most developers make the same generic grey/brown FPS games we’ve seen over and over again this generation.

        • Solomon_Kano

          From the looks of it, that’s what they intend to do with Luminous moving forward. Crystal Tools was a failure and they tried Unreal out. They seem to get that they need to stick to one thing.

          As for Unreal, that’s more just a matter of devs lacking imagination. If nothing else, Ninja  Theory has shown that the engine can do some pretty good looking stuff. Arkham City showed it off well too.

  • riceisnice

    Level-5 worked wonders with Square Enix. I hope they keep up their partnership.

  • http://twitter.com/Mansbrosblog Mansbros

    What they need to do is create a Final Fantasy with pre-rendered backgrounds with a heavy use of CG integrated elements, like an evolution of what they did in the PS1 era. The scenery would look beautiful. This way, they wouldn’t have to take forever modeling every single object, person, or whatever.

    • http://www.siliconera.com/ Ishaan

      Bravely Default seems to be doing something similar on the 3DS, but if you’re talking about pre-rendered backdrops on a console, there’s zero chance of that ever happening, unless they decide to do some sort of smaller, downloadable spin-off title.

      • http://twitter.com/Mansbrosblog Mansbros

        If it’s forbidden on a console, they should at least use that idea for the 3DS. I mean why not? It worked for Squaresoft during those years. Don’t fix what ain’t broke is what I say.

        • Solomon_Kano

          Well, they’re starting to with Bravely Default. I’d imagine that won’t be the only game they use it for.

      • Anime10121

        Never understood why pre-rendered backdrops on a console is such a bad thing now, isnt it just a different style?  Its just like when people say camera locked angles are bad and “last gen” not every game has to have a fully rotatable camera.  I miss pre-rendered backgrounds on consoles because they (IMO) created a better atmosphere.

        • Solomon_Kano

          I liked them too, but the reason they were used initially was due to hardware limitations. To use them now, a lot of gamers (and, more importantly for them, critics) in today’s scene where graphics are all-important would likely look down on it.

          • Anime10121

             I wish they could just say who cares what critics/whiny gamers (most vocal bunch) think and just release what they want and are comfortable with.  Most gamers now are so entitled to what THEY want, and not what the people who make the game want i.e the artists (see Mass Effect 3).

            Pre rendered bacgrounds could look gorgeous on home consoles, but are reserved to handhelds because of the fear of backlash.  Some of Square’s best work has been done using such techniques and its a shame that they wont utilize it on consoles.

            I am an artist myself (admittedly not the best) and I dont like when others are pushed into doing something or not doing something just because of critics/complainers, when half of these “critics” wouldnt even be able to do 5% of the work that they criticize.

          • Solomon_Kano

            If only, but as a company they’ve gotta remain aware of where trends are and whatnot and pre-rendered backgrounds just wouldn’t fly. Looking at Bravely Default’s gorgeousness, you’re right, pre-rendered backgrounds would look incredible on home consoles. Sadly, the time for that passed. At most, they could get away with it for a downloadable title.

            I agree with your last paragraph as well but, at this point, I doubt anyone at Square Enix would even want to make a game featuring pre-rendered backgrounds. Even in their portable games we don’t see those that often. Now as for the larger application of that comment, I agree. Unfortunately, in the business of making art for consumption, critics are an ever-present force. Them not being able to do the work is why I abhor film critics like Roger Ebert, but I digress. So, again, I agree.

          • Scrooge_McDuck

             Bah, again with ME3 misconception. Not even the artists want what happened in that game.

            In any case, both pre-rendered and real-time rendered are just different means to an end, with different, constantly evolving, techniques. Arguing which looks better is like arguing which is more handsome between a shark and a cheetah.

  • Solomon_Kano

    That’s cool. A lot of their best games are from people that no longer even work for them and they still do a fair bit of outsourcing now, so I can’t say I mind this. In fact, in light of XIII, I’m actually pretty excited by this.

    At the same time, I hope they remain in charge of overseeing these projects in some capacity. And by they, I mean people other than Toriyama. Just… no. No Kitase either. Let’s see a Level-5 developed FF overseen by Tabata. That would be great.

  • Vampiric

    ive loved each of squares like 50 rpgs this gen

    Its been a good gen that way

    • Solomon_Kano

      50?

      .
      .
      .

      On what platform? Most of their PSP output were remakes of old FFs followed by CC, The 3rd Birthday, and Birth by Sleep. DS had old FFs, old DQs, and some new IP. Consoles had… XIII/2, Star Ocean: TLH, and… that was about it.

      So you’re just exaggerating. Right?

      • Vampiric

         On each platform. They have rpgs on ps3, wii, 360, ios, ds, psp

        I include remakes and ports if they were new in each region

        And 1 DQ out of 7 were that……So yeah its alot

        • Solomon_Kano

          Hm. Doesn’t feel like so much though, admittedly, I don’t pay attention to anything happening on iOS. Interesting.

          • Vampiric

             Just on ios

            chaos rings 1
            chaos rings omega
            chaos rings 2
            That srpg they did ( the new one, not tactics)
            The remake of secret of mana

            That new rpg burial gungir

            So thats 5+ right on ios

          • Solomon_Kano

            Huh. They put a lot of stuff on there then.

          • Vampiric

            not as much as ds, or psp, or even ps3 

  • XYZ_JolteonZ980

    Hm perhaps they will actually consider a Bioware developed Final Fantasy game, imagine the actual scale of such a game, thatd be epic.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Hell no.

      Let them get their RPGs together first. Then… still hell no.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Mc-Devitt/100002626261475 Stephen Mc Devitt

      I actually have to agree with you on this one. Let Bioware work on the story, dialogue, and gameplay (combat and making choices that actually effect the game) while Square-Enix can work on the character design (based on the ideas from Bioware), music and CGI.

      It CAN work if the game doesn’t look like Dragon Age II.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Leafy_Cam Leafhopper

       Sorry, I like Square endings actually having endings.

  • kupomogli

    “The cause of this decision is Final Fantasy XIII.”

    Are you sure it’s because you don’t get the games out on time or the fact that most of the games you’ve been developing internally have sucked balls?  Ding ding ding ding.  I think we may have a winner.

    Dragon Quest 8 was also developed by Level 5 as well.  The series hasn’t been developed by an internal studio since Dragon Quest 5, even though it was just Enix at the time.

    • revenent hell

      I 100% agree and couldnt have put it in to words half as well!

    • Tony F.

      Enix was just the publisher.

      • badmoogle

        The designer,writer and composer were all from Enix.

        Edit:Oops sorry.I thought you were referring to DQVIII.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Mc-Devitt/100002626261475 Stephen Mc Devitt

      There were disagreements between developers with too many ideas conflicting with one another on what kind of game XIII should be.

      Bad development was the result of how XIII is now the way it is.

  • Laharl

    Because outsourcing games usually works great…

    • Solomon_Kano

      According to the Dragon Quest series, it does, actually.

    • Darrel Daley

      I think they are talking about how Mistwalker outsources. Square will write the story, music, art, and other planning, ect. then they will have another studio put the game together. As it has been said in this article, this as been done for other square games on portable systems.
      Bad outsourcing is when companies like Capcom or Konami have other studios make the WHOLE game.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Mc-Devitt/100002626261475 Stephen Mc Devitt

    Maybe Final Fantasy XIII-3 should be outsourced Ninja Theory in terms of storytelling.

    Based on both secret endings from XIII-2 and the Reqiuem of the Goddess DLC, you can pretty much start all over with Lightning and Caius fighting in a desolate wasteland where time no longer exists. Keep it mysterious without exposition of the last two games to scare newcomers.

    I also think a Final Fantasy VII remake would have better development from outside developers, a different philosophy of making games than Square-Enix, which would be good for internal developers to make new projects.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Not sure if serious or…

    • Godmars

      Your first sentence made me throw up a little in my mouth.

      Thanks for that…

  • LightZero

    Honestly, I would love to see SE outsource their games to Monolith Soft and even work beside them. I guess I’m only saying this since I absolutely enjoyed Xenoblade and Baten Kaitos Origins.

    That aside I do think it could be a good idea to outsource the games. My only wish is that the game isn’t sent to western developers. Nothing against them but I like my jrpgs to be jrpgs. However, I don’t mind them taking some inspiration from western games. 

    • Godmars

      Pretty sure Monolith is Nintendo-only, though with the Wii-U they may have access to HD resources now.

      • Solomon_Kano

        Yea, Nintendo has a stake in them (actually, they might be fully owned by Ninty now). So the only way we get an SE game outsourced to Monolith is if it’s exclusive to the Wii U or 3DS.

  • Darrel Daley

    Well as long as something gets done. The only projects they’ve been able to finish are on handhelds.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JDS1087 Justin Smith

    Just as long as whatever company the projects get outsourced to doesn’t meddle with the formulas I’ve been comfortable with for so long.

    As lopsided an experience as Final Fantasy XIII has been, it still at least felt familiar enough that I’m happy to play it for a while as far as battles go.

    If my Final Fantasy games suddenly start being only Final Fantasy name only, I won’t be buying the games anymore.

    The rest of Square projects? Meh. Don’t care.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LPUW3DGNVWCZ6MVLGHJA377P4M James

      so in other words you cant cope with change? Who cares if they are changing the formulas you have been used to, thats a good thing! Its called originality, look into it..And how can you not care about any-other square projects other than FF!? 

      • Clifford Pierre Louis

         Ditto man, John Smith’s thinking is the end of creativity and progression, people like that say they want the same thing and when someone gives it to them they complain that it’s the same thing, change is the spice of life :P

      • http://www.facebook.com/JDS1087 Justin Smith

         I can cope with change. But I also like familiarity and comfort. People in general like reliable comfort. They watch certain films, they listen to certain music, they wear certain clothes, and they eat certain foods. While its never a good idea to live in a black&white world, it doesn’t change the fact that people are creatures of habits. You are very rarely going to convince someone who is a classical music enthusiast to suddenly dive into screamo metal. Someone who is a vegetarian will not enjoy a cheeseburger.

        Final Fantasy has its strength in, for the most part, providing a familiar set of asthetics. The gameplay has more or less stayed the same for 25 years, give or take some minor changes. The concepts, the characters, and the stories all have familiar archetypes. Its comfortable, and makes it worth the time to settle down and enjoy for a pricetag.

        If a franchise suddenly changes, then why patron it? If you want change, go play something different. Your thinking is the reason why Final Fantasy HAS been going downhill. Square has been trying too hard to make dramatic changes that gamers don’t want right now. Creativity at the expense of respect to your loyal userbase is commercial suicide.

  • Godmars

    So they’re officially saying they can’t do the big projects anymore. That they can no longer make epic titles, but they’re going to try and direct others to do it for them.

    Am I the only one hearing that? Seeing it as a bad thing? Like a legally blind driving instructor.

    • Yerld_CK

      No, they’re just saying that it’s impractical to carry out a monster project using one giant team. Cited problems include communication issues and low output (if all your people are working on one game, you won’t be able to release many things).

      With outsourcing, there are multiple methodologies. One model would be to outsource the entire production to another company, but that would lead to the same problem (communication and efficiency issues at the contracted firm).

      In the case of Square Enix, they’re probably thinking of distributing workload amongst multiple companies. That is, there’s a core production team in-house, but contractors are hired to work on art assets, maps, scripting, mini-games, etc.

      Nintendo currently makes many games this way, as does Gust and Capcom (FFXIII-2 was a partial implementation, with tri-Ace and the ex-Feel Plus team on board). That way, instead of assigning 600 people among three projects, they can have 600 people on ten.

      • Godmars

        Still sounds like the exact same situation to me, only even more disjointed and prone to miscommunication. Also that it, game design and development via committee rather than a central beginning idea, is going to become a method they become ever more reliant upon. That the chances of seeing something from an original idea will be less and less.

        Not that such isn’t the current case.

        • Yerld_CK

          Square development was always by committee, moreso than any other major studio. Back in the day, stories were cobbled together by getting each member of the team to pitch characters, locations, and events. Music composers worked with no instructions from their directors and were free to dictate the style they wanted (provided that it met approval, of course. For Nobuo Uematsu, this freedom was curtailed during the development of The Last Story, which led to a brief clash with Sakaguchi ). Even battle designers worked on their own, each contributing different sub-systems and rules.

          Chrono Cross was an example of this taken to an extreme once teams became larger. As Square’s senior creators have explained, the company’s philosophy was to leave things up to individual team members and then compile the best work that was turned in. For better or worse, they’ve worked that way since FF1.

          I think Yasumi Matsuno spoke a bit about the differences between Square style creation (democratic and committee oriented) and Matsuno creation (central vision; tight control over all creative aspects, from game design to aesthetics). Nowadays, there’s actually more of a central vision with Motomu Toriyama dictating music direction and trying to finalize scenarios early on. Nevertheless, he hasn’t been successful at communicating vision, which he admits.

  • natchu96

    So, Versus . . .

  • http://Gematsu.com/ Bruno Silva

    I’m okay with this, as long as they choose their partners right. And as long as they keep overviewing and managing their projects thoroughly, instead of simply approaching a group of people with some sketches and ideas and leaving them to work on it for a set period of time, only to get back to pick up the final product, slap their logos on it and sell it.

    That being said, outsourcing may not be a bad thing. Dragon Quest VIII, or as mentioned in the article, FF III and IV DS are proof of that. And I believe in most of these cases, they had clear ideas on what to do and what to make out of these games, while these companies simply helped them piece the game together, having minimal input on the way the game plays and looks (I guess).

    So again, this mostly depends on who they choose to partner with.

  • Happy Gamer

    Outsource it to Mistwalker lol

  • sLmOuYeah

    We are Europeans, we won’t vanish,

    hear us, the Italians and Spanish.

    Don’t be selfish, hire a translator,

    or we now assure you’ll regret it later.

    You can condemn, or you can redeem,

    it’s all up to you, that simple and clean. 

  • http://twitter.com/class_zero Rohan James

    i don’t like it to be honest since merger most of  Square/Squaresoft games who being outsourced turned to be failure, brought Mistwalker so you can have Sakaguchi back, and he will guide FF back to the track 

  • kevinposta

    It’s a big gamble.
    Outsourcing can help development but damage quality. At the same time if they outsource properly while keeping a close eye on development it should, in theory, not hit the quality of games.
    Only time will tell.

    • Solomon_Kano

      Going by what games they’ve outsourced so far, I think they should have a good idea of how to do it. Capcom’s idea of outsourcing isn’t what Square needs to do, so hopefully they continue on as they’ve been doing with Dragon Quest for years (and as they just did with XIII-2, in a smaller capacity). Those are some of their most consistently good games and they’re developed outside of the company.

      Essentially, to do this right, they need to follow what Mistwalker and Nintendo have been doing. They oversee the project and dictate certain elements while the contracted companies do the actual footwork. As I said, they did it with DQ for years, so they should know this already.

  • Setsu Oh

    why not.

  • DOmega

    Square already has problems with the quality of its games.  They may as well abandon furthering their franchises and stick to publishing.  They suck now.

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