Square Enix Talks Future
02.16.07 - 2:48 PM

In the second part of his interview with the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Square Enix president Youichi Wada shed some more light on his company's next-gen strategy. To deal with rising development costs, Square Enix will utilize universal development tools and middleware. As an example Wada cited Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3. Citing successful cost cutting with the help of middleware in the American game industry, Wada believes a similiar approach will become the standard modus operandi in Japan as well. The second way to tackle rising development costs is the e-commerce aspect offered by modern consoles and handhelds. Offering content online would allow for flexible pricing, depending on the amount of data downloaded or the play style. Contrary to the old retail system, where a game only had one chance to become a hit, downloads would give game companies more opportunities to generate profit. Wada also mentioned downloadable demo versions and budget releases as one advantage of online distribution. While the former could help to gauge customer interest in a new product, the latter could target fans, who for instance are only interested in a Final Fantasy game's story, but don't want to play through it. To satisfy these consumers, Wada envisions a scaled-down budget version being distributed online.

Looking ahead, Wada wants to give young developers the chance to gather experience working on ports and remakes for six to twelve months. Afterwards they should move on and apply their newly gathered experience to new games. With these games, Square Enix aims to conquer new markets, such as PlayStation 3.

Accordingly the company is not planning to release a lot of major titles for next-generation platforms during 2007 (Dragon Quest IX apparently being the exception). Instead, Square Enix aims to generate profit by releasing ports, remakes and lower budget titles.

Chris Winkler

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