Square Enix has said it is rethinking its approach in making games specifically designed to cater to a massive global audience after the success of Bravely Default, which it considered to be a niche title.
Speaking in an interview with Nikkei Trendy (translated by Siliconera), Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda said company had "lost its focus" after trying to make games that appealed to a wide global audience.
"Not only did they end up being games that weren’t for the Japanese," said Matsuda on the company's recent slate of Japanese titles, "but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience.”
But Bravely Default, seen as a niche title for hardcore JRPG fans, has helped Square Enix rethink that approach. “On the other hand, there are games like the JRPG we made for the Japanese audience with the proper elements, Bravely Default, which ended up selling well all around the world.”
Square Enix has suffered over the last year, and has restructured many of its operations following an "extraordinary" loss at the start of 2013. The company now expects to return to profit this year, fuelled partly by the successful relaunch of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.
“If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for,” explains Matsuda. “For example, if you look back at 2013, we’ve had some home console games made for a global audience that struggled.”
Matsuda mentioned Hitman: Absolution as an example of a game that had a hard time in attempting to appeal to this mythological global audience, and suffered as a result.
“The development team for Hitman: Absolution really struggled in this regard. They implemented a vast amount of ‘elements for the mass’ instead of for the core fans, as a way to try getting as many new players possible. It was a strategy to gain mass appeal. However, what makes the Hitman series good is its appeal to core gamers, and many fans felt the lack of focus in that regard, which ended up making it struggle in sales.”
Square Enix is now refocusing its efforts on returning its AAA series' to their roots and appealing to the core fans.
“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," concluded Matsuda.