Square Enix To Rely More On Outsourced Development For Large Projects

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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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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.