Why Do Square Enix Develop So Many Social Games?

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Square Enix sure make a lot of social and browser games these days. There’s Traveling Fairy for Mobage, Emperors SaGa for GREE, and Final Fantasy: Airborn Brigade to name just a few. Recently, Square also announced Star Galaxy.

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Why so many social titles? Because they’re cheap to develop and more consistently profitable than console games, says Square Enix president, Yoichi Wada. The above chart shows the state of Square Enix’s social games, giving a glimpse of how many are profitable (blue bar), how many are unprofitable (red bar), and how many are still under development (green bar).


As you can see, the vast majority are raking in profits. If a social game flops, it doesn’t hurt Square as much, since these titles aren’t particularly expensive to make.


“In HD games, we usually have a mixture of profitable and unprofitable titles, generating profit as a whole,” Wada says. “As for our Social Gaming & Others [division], we only have very few titles that are unprofitable.” As a result of this, Wada adds, Square Enix will be increasing their investment in social gaming.


This doesn’t mean Square Enix are going to stop developing regular games, though. As we reported last week, their console and portable games output has been set back by the challenges of Final Fantasy XIV, which is a situation they’re looking to rectify, going forward. However, Square expect that they won’t see significant growth in console game earnings for another 2-3 years, after which Wada says he expects to see considerable growth owing to new business models.

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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.