Earlier this year, Square Enix made the big announcement of former president Yoichi Wada’s decision to step down from his position. Yosuke Matsuda, who filled Wada’s shoes as the company president, talked about his plans to review the entire company. In a recent interview, Matsuda talks about the change of the company’s business model.
“The business model is at a turning-point,” starts Matsuda. “Up until now, the profit of home-console games have been decided by price x number [sold]. Development and and sales were divided, and the game developers only needed to concentrate on their work. That’s where the strengths of our company laid within.”
“At the very beginning, the game business started out with ‘how can we get people to insert coins’. Afterwards, consoles became popular, and our company grew as game design and billing [methods] were divided,” Matsuda continues. “Presently, online games are prosperous, which again, has the theme of ‘how can we charge the people,’ as developers and sales have become inseparable. And the devices they can be played on has spread vastly. It’s truly a paradigm shift.”
“Past gaming generation changes took roughly three to five years. Nowadays, released titles are updated every day, and it only takes about three months for a situation to completely change. In order to react with such speed, it is urgent for development and sales to be unified as one.”
Prior to taking over the position of company president, not much was known about the former company director Yosuke Matsuda. The man shared a little info about his career up until now.
“After graduating, I joined Mitsui Life Insurance Company, where I was in charge of personnel affair duties of the business staff,” Matsuda reminisces. “Afterwards, I resigned and became a certified public accountant. After working with various auditing corporations, I joined what was formerly Squaresoft in 1998.”
“In the year 2000, I left the company once, but when Yoichi Wada invited me back again when he became the president, and I rejoined the company in 2001,” continued Matsuda. “At the time, it was the burst of the dot-com bubble, and there were also lots of exciting ventures. However, rather than being part of a world that made profit with a system, I wanted to challenge the world with content, so I accepted the offer.”
“The former core was ‘standardization’ and now it has become ‘personality’. It is similar to bringing up a fashion brand. An especially important index is ‘asset-turnover ratio’. When making something, developers want to spend more time and money. However, that can be related to lowering the asset-turnover ratio, so the key point is to find a good balance,” explained Matsuda.
“In fact, one of the factors of the final deficit is the delay from the development to release,” Matsuda elaborated. “Such time-lag means a decrease of contact frequency with the players. It is necessary for us to set up a system that allows us to meet the demands of our customers in a more timely manner. We can’t just have a year of leniency. We must reform with urgency.”
Finally, Yosuke Matsuda shares one of his most memorable moments on the job.
“My number one [memory] is the merger between Enix and Square,” Matsuda shares. “Since it was a merger between two rival companies; after it was approved in the general stockholders meeting, we had to remain sharp until the very last minute of the merger date. As the CFO (chief financial officer) I had to make assumptions of various scenarios, including estimation of risks.”
“When I rejoined the company, I never would’ve expected to be part of a tag team with Yoichi Wada for the next ten years,” said Matsuda. “Up until now, as a CFO, I’ve supported Wada’s decisions as a president. When I look back at it now, my entire career since entering this company was like a first step. I’ve acquired the influence of Wada’s ways of drawing out his vision. However, now that I’m in the position of being the president, there are some things for which I will make different decisions. I’d like to continue taking challenges from now on.”
“The DNA of providing high-quality content is in us. We will continue to honor this, while changing what needs to be changed. I am convinced we can make this drastic change into a chance of opportunity,” Matsuda concluded.