Square Enix executive criticizes long game development periods

Senior executive managing director Yosuke Matsuda voices concerns about long game development periods and regional demands; praises Steam Greenlight and Early Access.

Square Enix senior executive managing director Yosuke Matsuda has voice concerns about the company's approach to game development, specifically long development times.

Matsuda recently presented at the Square Enix financial results briefing session, which included discussion on the company's business strategy.

Acknowledging that the financial results from the March 2013 fiscal year were "disappointing", Matsuda went on to suggest ways to reform the company's approach with new initiatives, stating that the problem was "not simply a financial issue".

"Making customers wait for years with little to no information is being dishonest to them. We need to shift to a business model where we frequently interact with our customers for our products that are in‐development and/or prior to being sold, have our customers understand games under development, and finally make sure we develop games that meet their expectations." He said.

Matsuda cited crowdfunding website Kickstarter and Valve's Steam Greenlight and Early Access as current examples where developers interact with customers during the game development process.

On the topic of worldwide sales, the Square Enix executive called for more consideration of the varied demands of each region, saying it was "difficult to move forward on the assumption that many products can cover the tastes of the entire world, and sell across the entire world."

Earlier this year, Square Enix president Yoichi Wada resigned from the company following the announcement of an expected 10 billion yen loss for the 2012-2013 financial year. Despite being well-received critically, sales for big-budget Square Enix titles Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, and Sleeping Dogs failed to meet expectations in the North American market.

Written By

Zorine “harli” Te is a long time Australian competitive gamer and also an Associate Editor at GameSpot.

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Discussion

203 comments
BloodyAura
BloodyAura

Good to hear about someone in the business with a fully functioning head on their shoulders! He is clearly referring to FF versus 13, Kingdom Hearts 3 and even FF Type-O. Maybe, just maybe we'll be seeing these games soon.

romans1001
romans1001

Sorry Square Enix all you guys do is remake old classics. Im okay with that to a point but im ready for some new games that aren't just pretty graphics. I want some real game play. Wheres kingdom hearts 3 for crying out loud?

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

yup...kingdom hearts 3 and versus final fantasy, im looking at you

csward
csward

Well, that's nice to hear after the fact. They had to change sometime, so I'm clad it's finally happening.

Double_Wide
Double_Wide

LMAO!!! And where's FFverseXIII been since 2006?!

slainta
slainta

They want to make money again? Double the team size for Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts games, publishing one game every 2 or 3 year (each). Finish the bleeding FF vs XIII and make it for PS3 only!! 77 millions consoles are ready for it! Don't waste time on useless multiplayer in games like Tomb Raider, making the campaign a bit longer. Unless they can come out with a new formula which isn't  the " steal the flag" crap or whatever else is in there.

EbenOlemaun
EbenOlemaun

In this thread is a bunch of people who ACTUALLY THINK Kingdom Hearts 3 is going to happen. Here's a spoiler, it isn't. That game is not happening. Remember that FF7 Tech demo we got? Shortly after they said they were going to make 7 but maybe use the combat system from 12. Man it was SOOO GOOD. Oh wait, it wasn't. Square Enix doesn't make good games anymore, get over it. They can't even make solid titles from their own IP. 


"Are you ready for another increasingly convoluted and unnecessary portable entry into the Kingdom Hearts franchise!!!???"


You keep buying those cheaply made, rushed out titles and that is EXACTLY what they are going to continue to make.

DEATH775
DEATH775

Your game sales was great, but still you loose a lot? Now why is that? Oh yes, because you guys were already in the project for Final Fantasy Versus. It got delayed and yet the cost for it was already in and let me say that the cost was high. You guys made a mistake on delaying FF versus far too long and then let Hitman Absolution, Tomb Raider and Sleeping Dogs take the fall. Shame on you.

nisgos
nisgos

Ohh yeh so they should just make a new game for every franchise every year like call of crap , Seriously square get ur ass in gear and realize that edios is the only thing thats between u and bankruptcy , kick ur Japanese dev studios in the balls and tell them to make better games , 

ohh and buying atlus would be a very smart move

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

Final Fantasy Versus XIII and Kingdom Hearts III say hello Square... >_>

hadlee73
hadlee73

If we get the development time cut down too much we get E.T. :P

Angelsoft717
Angelsoft717

Orrrrr instead of all this talking..... you could you know.... make KH3. You simply can't have a financial crisis when the game comes out, people would buy it off of name alone.

BlackBaldwin
BlackBaldwin

Stupid question but since the new ps4/X-1 are going to be using dev kits similar for pc game design won't it be easier for them to program for?  If so can we all expect a price drop at retail for our games?  

Dumper1
Dumper1

Rockstar don't have a problem with long development times. It looks like SE need a complete restructuring to become more productive.

bmart970
bmart970

I'm fine with long development times, it (hopefully) means a more quality game. I can understand disliking it from a business standpoint though.

razz624
razz624

WOW........Simple economics, the longer you have to pay to develop, the more money being spent without generating income....WHO'DATHUNKIT. Simply bad management.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

Soooo Kingdon Hearts III... Is that a thing? will that ever happen?

TrueGB
TrueGB

We're gonna see better games from them now. When the last CEO arrived, all he talked about was milking the brand and appeasing shareholders. All business stuff, no talk of games. This guy is saying "we're struggling because our games suck!". It will make a big difference.

Solid_Azeus
Solid_Azeus

The longer it takes to develop a game, the more expensive it can get ergo even 5 million units sold becomes inadequate to break even.  

MJ-X
MJ-X

GIVE US KH3 DAMIT....

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

I don't know why he didn't come right out and say "Versus 13".

That aside, the budgets for these games are the real culprits. As others have stated, the development costs for these games becomes so high that they then have to sell an unreasonable amount of copies to turn a profit. Selling two million to break even? That sounds like bad business to me.

GOGOHeadray
GOGOHeadray

Its the games they are making; where is Vs. 13? where is kingdom hearts 3? Why are we getting a new game in the 13 seris ( lighting returns) when people aren't interested in nuying them? Sure long development cycles and bloated budgets are a big problem but it doesn't matter how quickly a game is developed if peole aren't interested in buying said game.

josh7845
josh7845

The development cycle is not the issue. It's the amount of money that SE puts into the projects. They put such astronomical amounts of money into these projects that sales of 3,000,000 are considered a "failure".

Xroalia
Xroalia

It's not development times that's Square's problem but the way they go about announcing their games. Stop announcing games that are years away from completion.

Hurvl
Hurvl

2-3 years is a good amount of time for a game, but I mostly buy massive RPG's, so perhaps 1,5-2 years is enough for other genres. It simply depends on what you're trying to make. Really long development periods (Duke Nukem Forever) never seems to benefit a game's quality, but Blizzard and Valve like to take their time and their games are usually good. Well, Blizzard released Diablo 3 and Valve is trying to do everything *but* developing games right now, but that's beside the point.

TrueGB
TrueGB

Good. Looks like they're finally starting to figure out their current process of creating a bunch of assets and then figuring out how they can be slapped together later isn't a very efficient process. Hopefully this means FF15 will be great.

gzg9jg
gzg9jg

Isn't this what gamers have been asking for a long time, and now, in the wake of 10 billion yen loss they open their eyes. I hope it's a true change in philosophy and not just PR.

TirOrah
TirOrah

More communication sounds good! And shorter development time, as well, just don't overdo it. *cough yearly releases cough* As for Sleeping Dogs, well I wanted to buy it, but I have other games demanding my attention right now... Sorry, Square. 

Btw, lol at all the FF13 dislike in the comments. I loved that game...didn't buy those weird sequels though. You need to know when to stop, Square. Just give us a NEW game. And Versus. Maybe then your very critical fanbase will lighten up a bit.

mnoalpha
mnoalpha

@EbenOlemaun It basically got confirmed in Dream Drop Distance by some not-so-secret messages in the game. WHEN is the question now, not IF.

slainta
slainta

@EbenOlemaun So why did SE waste money on a Gametrailers commercial for KH: Timeline while I was watching the XBOne event?

wasakawaka
wasakawaka

Agreed, its not like they make bad games, all three you listed we're great fun.

EbenOlemaun
EbenOlemaun

@SavoyPrime Do you seriously think that those two games are going to save Square Enix? That KH3 and FFV-XIII could sell enough to make up for the amount of trash that they have released from within their own house? Their ship is sinking and they don't care enough to try to plug the holes, instead they are simply throwing money overboard instead of doing serious development.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

@Angelsoft717 Kingdom Hearts III is on the to-do list AFTER Versus XIII. Do people ever research before they comment? Square Enix has stated this before.

romans1001
romans1001

@Dumper1 Yeah I remember when they were sqauresoft instead of squareenix.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

@Yomigaeru It hasn't been confirmed if Versus XIII is the "new Final Fantasy" to be shown at E3 or if the name has changed, or what...

keech
keech

@Yomigaeru 2 million is lowballing the hell out of it.  Word was Tomb Raider had to sell 5 million to be considered a financial success, where it selling 3.5 million was considered below expectations.

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

@GOGOHeadray Clearly there is a marginal demand for the game, or they wouldn't bother. As much as people try to deny it, Final Fantasy XIII's fanbase is relatively large and dedicated. While I think Final Fantasy XIII-2 was unnecessary, I am excited for Lightning Returns and know plenty of others that are, too. So saying no one will buy it is just ridiculous.

premier024
premier024

@Hurvl Diablo 3 was a mistake that blizzard rarely makes. They released it before they thought it was ready.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

@TirOrah They need a new team. When one game doesn't work out, they send the same people back to the drawing board to do a sequel. Hand the development of the "Fabula Crystallis Novus" or whatever they were calling it to a new group of people. Using the same ideas and hoping the work out the next time isn't a smart move.

romans1001
romans1001

@csward @EbenOlemaun Yeah I wonder why they keep wasting time constantly remaking kingdom hearts. I just want to play the third one for console.

SavoyPrime
SavoyPrime

@EbenOlemaun Where does it say anywhere in my post that I think those two games will save the company? o_O The topic is about long development periods.

BloodyAura
BloodyAura

@Bayonetta2013 ''The new Fantasy'' as you put it is Agnis Philosophy aka FF15, they already said so, and is to be exclusive to PS4;FF versus 13 is an entirely different game which again they confirmed,  is still in development limbo..

TirOrah
TirOrah

@Yomigaeru @TirOrah I agree! A fresh look on things would probably have revitalized that series a little. Having said that, I think 13-2 was more of a 'you wanted less linear? well here you go!' thing. You know, because Final Fantasy games were never linear before. *sarcasm* 
But yeah, no more sequels please... FF worked better as standalone games imo. 

Bayonetta2013
Bayonetta2013

@BloodyAura Where did you pull that information out of? xD 

That's absolutely B.S. The creators of the Agni's Philosophy tech demo confirmed that they had no intention to turn it into a full-fledged FF game. So no, it's not even being developed. Versus XIII is being developed, but the name could undergo a change, which like I said, could be the "new Final Fantasy" Square Enix is unveiling at E3. 

Seriously, don't try to look cool by posting incorrect information, especially when this is common knowledge if you pay attention to FF news. xD

keech
keech

@Mentao @keech @Yomigaeru That's putting it lightly.  They are trying to suffocate the second hand market.  The sad part is, they don't have the foresight to realize that will only hurt game sales in the long run when people won't buy games they are unsure of because they don't want to waste $60 and can't resell it to get some of the wasted money back.