Square Enix president sees online as key to growth

Youichi Wada hopes to drive revenues with stand-alone games, then shift to online games as main source of income.

TOKYO--Square Enix is hoping to ship Dragon Quest VIII in America "as soon as possible." Those were the words of company president Youichi Wada in a recent interview with Reuters.

Dragon Quest is one of the most popular role-playing game series in Japan, and the latest installment shipped 3.59 million copies in the first five days of its release last November 27. However, the series hasn't been as well received in America, even though Square Enix released most of the franchise's games in the US. Square Enix hopes to change that with Dragon Quest VIII.

In previous investor conferences, Square Enix stated that it hopes Dragon Quest VIII's transition toward anime-style 3D graphics and Akira Toriyama's artistic style will catch the attention of American audiences.

Wada also talked briefly about the other moves planned by Square Enix in the future. Pointing out that the video game market was extremely active in Japan during the end of last year--with the appearance of blockbuster games including Dragon Quest VIII, Wada stated that gamers can expect more of the same levels of sales activity in 2005.

Wada also said that Final Fantasy XII and Kingdom Hearts II, which will be released in Japan and overseas between now and next year, will spark continued interest in his company's games. "Throwing in a well-created game for the current platform during the generation transition period between consoles will further energize the game market," commented Wada to Reuters.

Wada went on to make an even bolder statement for Square Enix's future. After explaining that he sees the next 10 years as a period where the "fun" in networked communication will begin to surface, Wada predicted that online games will be Square Enix's main source of income in the future. "I think that over half of our income and profit will be based on network content [including games] by 2008 or 2009."

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