In an interview with Nikkei Trendy (translated by Siliconera), Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda explains that the games development and publishing company will look to focus on their home Japanese RPG market instead of chasing more for the broad appeal. This will also apply to said international-intended games, like those in the Hitman and Tomb Raider series.
"If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for. For example, if you look back at 2013, we’ve had some home console games made for a global audience that struggled…So, as for the AAA titles we’re currently developing for series, we basically want to go back to their roots and focus on the core audience, while working hard on content that can have fans say things like ‘this is the Hitman, we know’. I believe that is the best way for our development studios to display their strengths."
The rest of the interview explains that Square Enix’s attempts to create broad-stroke games both abandoned their home market in Japan and became incomplete titles for their intended audience. They saw the success of Bravely Default (selling over 200,000 units in North America’s first three weeks alone) and saw that the market is there for JRPG content around the world; as long as it stays true to what the genre details.
To someone who appreciated the JRPG genre and what Square (then as Squaresoft) brought to the table in the 90’s and early 2000’s, this revelation is music to my ears. In the past few years their strong appeal of the genre has been waning, in no short help due to disappointing Final Fantasy titles (looking at you, Final Fantasy XIII and the original launch of MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV), in addition to Square’s apparent shift towards mobile content.
However, with Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III on the horizon, who knows if Square Enix can capture that magic on consoles once again. Will Bravely Default be the true sign of the second coming of great RPG’s? Here’s hoping they don’t try to capture Lightning in a bottle any further.
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