Square Enix President On Globalization And Going Digital



Square Enix president, Yoichi Wada, has been very vocal about the need for Japanese publishers to globalize and expand into different genres and revenue streams these past two years. To facilitate this goal at his own company, in 2009, Wada officially completed a purchase of the London-based Eidos Interactive, known for franchises such as Tomb Raider and Legacy of Kain.


In addition, Square have also taken to publishing an increasing number of Western games both in their home market in Japan, as well as overseas. The highlight of the company’s presence at E3 last month, according to Wada, was a more diverse line-up of games, spanning across a wider variety of genres then before. The next step, he feels, is digitization and network-centric games.


“As a company, we are pursuing globalization and a transformation to become network-centric,” Wada revealed in an interview with Venturebeat. “To do that, we are working on collaborative projects between Eidos and our Tokyo studio. We think this will be very interesting. The Tokyo studio created the trailer for Deux Ex: Human Revolution. Eidos is making the game in Montreal. This type of collaboration enhances a dialogue among our studios and that will lead to something new.”


Human Revolution, however, is a packaged game. And while Final Fantasy XIV represents a step toward a more network-centric product, Square are also interested in games based on the idea of social-networking. According to Wada, it’s increasingly important that his company invest in these sectors, as, going forward, “dependence on packaged software sales may not be viable.”


The appeal of going digital, in his view, is the scope for more flexible pricing models and a wider range of revenue streams, through products such as purchasable avatars or electronic picture books. These, he feels, will help compensate for the wide gap between successful and unsuccessful retail games. Despite new hardware announcements at E3, Wada believes that the real platform battle is being silently fought between services such as Xbox Live, WiiWare and PlayStation Network.


“We have to appeal to customers with different preferences,” Wada stated in conclusion to his thoughts on globalization. “Sega did not succeed. Konami did not succeed. Namco Bandai did not succeed. Western publishers have not succeeded in selling in Japan. Nobody has succeeded at globalization.”

Ishaan Sahdev
Ishaan specializes in game design/sales analysis. He's the former managing editor of Siliconera and wrote the book "The Legend of Zelda - A Complete Development History". He also used to moonlight as a professional manga editor. These days, his day job has nothing to do with games, but the two inform each other nonetheless.