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Square Enix Talks Platform Strategy
02.09.07 - 2:11 PM

In an interview with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Square Enix president Youichi Wada shed some light on his company's platform strategy for 2007 and beyond. Asked about why the next main series installment of Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest IX, will appear on the DS, Wada said the timing seemed right, given the handheld's installed base. At the same time, the Square Enix president said this does not mean Dragon Quest X will automatically be DS-bound as well. As for future Dragon Quest releases, no decisions have been made beyond Dragon Quest IX coming to DS, and Dragon Quest Sword coming to the Wii. A key objective of recent and future Dragon Quest releases is capturing a wider audience. In addition to the series' longtime fans, Wada also wants to target younger audiences. Wada believes kids who pick up their first Dragon Quest game as early as possible are likely to become the loyal Dragon Quest fans of tomorrow. A concrete example of this strategy is the popular TV toy, Kenshin Dragon Quest, which the company released in 2003. With the upcoming Wii title, Dragon Quest Sword, Square Enix will will try to repeat Kenshin's success.

Wada emphasized that Square Enix's development focus has not shifted towards the DS. Instead, the release of games for a particular platform was an issue of the right timing. Following its support for the handheld platforms (so far the company has officially announced six titles for DS and four games for PlayStation Portable in Japan this year), Square Enix will bring games to PlayStation 3 and the other next-gen consoles. Asked about Sony Computer Entertainment's heavily criticized next-generation console, Wada apparently has high hopes for the platform. He believes it is still early, and sees the Playstation 3 coming into full swing only in 2008. Meanwhile, Square Enix already has done its homework, "perfecting" the preparation for the development of PlayStation 3-based titles.

The Square Enix president also offers an interesting explanation for the PlayStation 3's comparatively slow market penetration thus far. To comprehend the system's greatness a full HD-compatible TV set was a necessity, according to Wada. As consumers purchase more 37" or 40" high-definition TV sets, more and more PlayStation 3s will fly off the shelves. According to Wada, this trend has already begun and will only accelerate this and next year. Wada also believes that many game industry watchers fail to understand this trend and hence argue the age of high quality games has already come to an end. For Square Enix however it was important to offer the consumers various choices: Casual games on Wii, DS, and PlayStation Portable, as well as highly enjoyable (high-end) offerings on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Chris Winkler

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