“Games as a service” is a concept that doesn’t resonate with gamers, Square Enix U.S. and Europe CEO Phil Rogers tells GamesIndustry.
“There’s lots of talk in the industry about games becoming services—to be honest, as an expression this doesn’t always resonate with people, especially gamers,” Rogers said. “For us online is a way to facilitate how we’re looking at the word service to build on a game. So we’re focusing on regular content updates, engaging gameplay mechanics, replayability and deep community.”
Last week, Square Enix released their latest financial results, and announced that two of their focuses going forward would be smartphone games from Japan and online games from their western studios. Rogers says that, while online Square Enix titles like Nosgoth are an important part of the company’s portfolio, he’s confident that Square Enix can also continue to develop AAA traditional titles like Tomb Raider.
As an example, Rogers points to Just Cause 2, released in 2010. Three years later, the game still has an active userbase of half-a-million unique players each month, he says. That said, with new Tomb Raider and Deus Ex titles in development for next-generation systems, Rogers says that development will need to be quicker than in the past. In addition to those titles, a new Sleeping Dogs game is in development, too.
Ultimately, however, as pointed out in Square’s financials, online and smartphone gaming will be a big part of Square Enix’s future. In fact, Rogers points to Final Fantasy XIV as an important example of Square Enix actively engaging with their userbase.
“The direct relationship that [producer Naoki] Yoshida and the development team have forged with the players is superb, especially through the beta programs where we really worked with the players to shape the game they wanted,” he says. “This level of interaction and support is important to us and we are welcoming new players to the community all the time.”