Square Enix rethinks its bid to appeal to the mass market after Bravely Default success

“If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for,” says Square Enix president.

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.

Martin Gaston is a news editor at GameSpot, and you can follow him on Twitter @squidmania
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

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Discussion

532 comments
Tamarisk_green
Tamarisk_green

I tried the Kingdom Hearts a year after it first came out, and was so disappointed I returned the game within a week and don't read any articles on that series. Do like most of the Final Fantasy games, but recent ones have been disappointing.


IMO Bravery Default is better than anything since FFX. The battle mechanics and customizing in XII and XIII were okay, but there was not much to the stories. Played both all the way through without getting everything and don't plan to play again for years, which is rare for me.

lightning_lj
lightning_lj

Devs shouldn't try to appeal to mass market. Instead they should serve their target audience and try to hook new players

csward
csward

Soooo SE finally gets it? We'll get more games for adults like the first FFT and FF7? Hell yeah!

Darkhol0w
Darkhol0w

I just wish they are going to start to give us PC gamers some love when it comes to their JRPG's. 

You decided to port FF7, 8 and 3 but not the others..what gives?

razor_rj
razor_rj

IF only EA noticed this, the ruined so many franchises with this mass appeal, the problem is, this guy only noticed that becouse it got bad sales all around, had the sales be good tehy would keep it, and thats EA strenght, they already have a loyal fanbase to the franchise they bough, so they will buy it regardless.

theslider
theslider

It's funny because the Hitman series was never Square Enix's to begin with. Don't know if the devs at IO are the ones to blame for the last one or S-E with the classic and stupid pyramid chain of command (top to bottom) every major editor set's up with their dev studios.

Scarshi
Scarshi

I'll believe it when they prove it

Wardishy
Wardishy

Took them long enough! The reason people enjoyed, for example, the FF series is because it had a focus as a JRPG and used to do it well. You water down a formula too much and it just tastes awful. 

There's no such thing as something that will appeal to everyone.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

I wish I ran a game company with such amazing IPs library catalog to work with. The fact is not only is Squarenix lacking in leadership in putting out quality games but also the talent. At this point I would contract out some of the amazing IPs like star ocean, dragon quest, final fantasy, grandia to some of the hungry wide eyed new western developers. Remakes : why hell yes- I would have teams and talent working with back catalog of games while main developers worked on putting out new games multiple times a year. 

There is a market, it will sale, just make a good game. 

Also square enix needs to restructure its development and push out more games each year. They just have such poor management, that is living off the name of the company itself and killing it in the process. You cannot homogenize RPGs - that is like taking books like lord of the rings and trying to rewrite them with the global market in mind. IF it is a great story that is all you need the global market will find it. 

I know as sure as the sun will rise that a remake of ff7 with some better everything and just keeping the story to the original with maybe a small after chapter and adding a resurrect Aeris chapter- would sale tens of millions. 

Aaronp2k
Aaronp2k

finally, they are going back to their roots. I am sick of their commercially aimed cheese fest final fantasy games, about time they started going back to the jrpg's. perhaps there is still hope for sqenix.

jecomans
jecomans

I'm glad they have come to realize this. 

kithirris
kithirris

    For years now Square-Enix has refused to listen to its fans.  They remake every game they can EXCEPT the one's the fans want most.  They completely shelve any plans for new games in existing franchises, such as Seiken Densetsu, Star Ocean and Kingdom Hearts and the Chrono series, and then the geniuses that run the company make sweeping vague statements bemoaning abysmal sales and general disinterest in their re-re-re releases cash in attempts at games nobody wants to play anymore.  

   This used to be my favorite game developer/publisher but now they've become just another run of the mill game company pushing out a few mediocre titles every year (or less, in some cases).  Once in a while we will get a good game, titles like Bravely Default and Theatrythm prove that there is indeed talent and drive left at the developer, but these are few and far between.

    Square-Enix can still pull itself out of the fire, but they need to do it now before people stop caring and move on to something newer and better.  They don't need to reinvent the wheel, just push the old one again until it moves smoothly on its own.

     It also wouldn't hurt to remake Terranigma too.

Arsyad00
Arsyad00

hope for new title rpg c:

makkusu19
makkusu19

I've been hoping to hear this from SE for a while! yes please go to your original roots where final fantasy was an amazing classic turned based game not the junk it is now -_-.Last FF game i ever played was FFX-2 and I have played all final fantasy up to FFX-2. i hated the new battle system after FFX-2. -_-. I would be amazing for Final Fantasy to come back as a classic turn based game again ^_^. but doubt that would ever happen -_-

TenraiSenshi
TenraiSenshi

I've always said that when it comes to gaming, variety is the spice of life. Rather than having 100 games that all look and play the same because they're trying to appeal to a mass market, it's far better to have unique and interesting games that don't necessarily appeal to everyone, but that find an audience of followers who fall in love with that particular kind of play style (a good example is the Souls series).

I'm glad to see some devs are finally starting to understand that it's alright if you're not mainstream. So long as you make great games for your particular target audience, they'll keep coming back for more and your games will always be a success. Hell, if the game's good enough, it'll even attract people outside of its typical target audience, and can become more mainstream through sheer quality alone.

Nhoj1983
Nhoj1983

They've already shown that they've turned a leaf with ffxiv.  I expect good things from square going forward with the current leadership.

kato1234boss
kato1234boss

All i know is i love bravely default the characters are funny and the music is just amazing would definitely recommend it to jrpg fans!(its just such a pain to beat)

Coco_pierrot
Coco_pierrot

I think I'm the only one who did enjoyed FFXIII, FFXIII-2 and Lightning Returns. Sure they are vanilla but they are still enjoyable to me.


I also played Bravely Default and this is really great, the story is fun, the caracters are funny and have funny discussion and the music is really awesome !!! Bring back some memories of old FF games.


At the same time, it is ok if they don't want to go back to that style, plenty of other games does it perfecly well like Persona.

RevLux
RevLux

 This is great news if it turns out well. Hopefully they've learned that it is still possible to progress a franchise w/o removing the key things that made it a success in the first place. I would love to be excited to play a single player Final Fantasy game again.

Keaze_
Keaze_

This is off topic but as much as i was disapointed by ffxiii and ffxiii-2, i bought both of them and forced myself to complete them.  I was slightly excited (excited is the wrong word, i just mean i wanted to play) lightning returns but the countdown timer completely turned me off.  It's the only thing that made me not buy the game.  If I DID buy the no timer version, it would have been for like 15 bucks, like i paid for FFXIII and FFXIII-2, because they're not worth much more than that.


On another note, SE think they need to appeal to mass market so that more people buy their games so they dumb them down and end up with what 5 million sales because the game is bland.  I don't think they realise that the "old FF type games" niche is HUGE and we're just waiting for a worthy supposedly niche game to come out so we can snatch it.


I'd be willing to pay 40$ or even full price for a real good not-casual JRPG.  And so would millions of people.  Get that in your head SE.

Findy37564
Findy37564

i can only say

well see SE next game and i hope they not bullshit 

Veenox
Veenox

I hope they really mean it this time, I can't believe video games company are still trying to "force" casual people to love and buy their games. Studies like "Target audience" exist for a reason, it's not "We want to be Facebook and have everyone playing our games to make more money!".

179107199999
179107199999

Learn from Bravely Default but don't milk it!!! Past FF games were special because every game though they played somewhat the same always added new things but didn't stray far from its roots.13 went wrong in the way it wasn't an FF game and should've been a stand alone title.Also the characters really needed work. I love the characters in Bravely Default espcially Ringabel. Dude is way too awesome.Men should be inspired to be him!

mari2kde
mari2kde

Do as you did at FF6 - FF9, and everything will be good.

AQWBlaZer91
AQWBlaZer91

My attitude is that if you take away the fourmla that made the series stood out in the past then it's sure to fall apart greatly. It's about time that Final Fantasy goes back to it's old roots or else the franchise is doomed and any future games will then be classed as a phony.

vabody
vabody

See where the Final Fantasy series is failing for me is Final Fantasy has always been a turn based strategy game which was awesome. Until FFXII and they introduced this paradigm shift which for me kills the game so much so I don't enjoy playing them anymore. If they want to take the turn base style out and make it combative play fine but there should be a series of buttons to push to perform actions other than hold one button scroll up, down, left ,or right . by the time you got done doing all of that you just lost your focus on the game and didn't get to see the amazing graphics that were happening because you were to busy looking at a damn menu.

caleb_derosa
caleb_derosa

Okay, I for one think FFXV looks amazing. That being said, it is in no-stretch of the imagination "returning to its roots." 
It's an action RPG taking place in a sci-fi universe.

MoonlightJust
MoonlightJust

We'll see where this goes.  Been saying this since the divisive release of XIII,  that they were aiming for the wrong audience in a bid to move more units.  The end result wasn't any more popular then what they've been doing.  Sold more then XII even with a muliple platform release but not by much.  Hopefully this will help to avoid any more travestys in the vein of Lightning Returns,  though.  Or 3rd Birthday.  Or Front Mission Evolved.

DaCriLL
DaCriLL

FINALLY they get it. Been saying this for years.

qioden
qioden

it will always go wrong if you make something for the wrong audience, like make a japanese game for western audiences or vice versa

rickjamesia
rickjamesia

@Darkhol0w That's because FF7 and FF8 already had PC ports back when they were new. These new ones are just slightly updated. In other words, they saw an opportunity for some easy cash and took it.

Scarshi
Scarshi

@Darkhol0w Playing 10 and 12 using PS2 emulator is nice enough on PC. But it really needs a proper port. Its not like the Final Fantasy franchise is exclusive to Sony anymore.

Khasym
Khasym

@jenovaschilld Dude, remember, this is the company that claims it would take three to four times as long to do an HD remake of FF VII, as it did to actually make the game the first time around. Never mind that coding's gotten easier, using assets and tweaking them has become more widespread, and there's a tremendous desire to see a revamped FF VII. No....what they want to put money towards....is LIGHTNING RETURNS!!!!! :-)

enate
enate

@Coco_pierrot Plenty, na I would say that's a stretch I mean you only named Persona at that. Square should of been realized this as the moment their name changed so did their ideals. Squaresoft made my favorite game of all time Xenogears an the only competition for that was Suikoden II. The problem is a lot of the people that made things like Xenogears have moved on an Square lost site of itself with the name change to SquareEnix. If they can bring back games with a story an the caliber of Xenogears count me in. Bravely default is the last Square game where I felt like I picked it up in complete confidence I would love it in several years. So no I wouldn't say plenty make good games in that style I'd say far to few do. 

Good RPGS keep showing consistent selling power yet it seems the industry is barely taking notice. That you don't have to be a stupid fps game to sell games. It really felt like during the last gen this was vastly ignored. Though with quite a few rpgs on the way an allegedly more coming from studios like Gorilla Games an others. It seems like companies are starting to realize the investment in making a top notch rpg is well worth it.

Llama345
Llama345

@Coco_pierrot I enjoyed FFXIII series. The story was terrible, but I really enjoyed the game play and I LOVE the music and sound effects. Lightening creeps me out in LR because she is so obsessed with her sister. 

grimlord_xvii
grimlord_xvii

@RevLux I'm still holding out for a FF IX remake. Or atleast port it for Steam like they did with VII and VIII. Every FF game from X and down are excellent. The change is noticeable afterwards.


Llama345
Llama345

@Keaze_ The timer is the only thing that keeps the game moving. You can't really play the game without it, if you fly through the game you might have 2 whole days (or more) left over at the end. 

Ayato_Kamina_1
Ayato_Kamina_1

@vabody 12 felt so foreign in comparison to anything before it. FF10, whilst not my favourite, was still a monumental achievement that lived up to the grandeur that the FF series had become synonymous with. FF12 seemed to me to be a japanese version of dragon age 2. Had the same voice actors, had the similar live combat system thing. Even had the generic main character who was just there to witness the story unfold. Not my idea of a final fantasy game at all.

RevLux
RevLux

@caleb_derosa  Yeah, he's talking about the games that are currently in production. At least that's the impression I got from his statement.

wwarz
wwarz

@caleb_derosa  True but he's only just come out with this new "back to our roots" revelation and FFXV has been in production since May 2006 (back when it was Versus XIII), so his new philosophy couldn't apply to XV unless they were to go back to square one again with it now. Still, bodes well for Final Fantasy 16 (and odds are I'll enjoy 15 anyway for what it is). 

DigiRave
DigiRave

@qioden  I don't think you're getting his point. What he was saying was that the company was Generalizing, trying to create a generally appealing product and thereby creating a mediocre product, versus specializing and creating a strong product. He wasn't saying that the product wasn't meant for a Western audience, he was saying that they were trying to add Global elements into the games, thereby watering down the individual cultures or elements from those cultures which helped give those games their strong appeal in their niche.

Tenaku
Tenaku

@qioden  Um, haven't western audiences been eating up Square's JRPGs for the last decade or two? So far as I know, it's only recently that people started spitting them out, or stopped buying them because Square Enix has been attempting to make games for every audience instead of the right audience.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@Khasym @jenovaschilld Yeah I remember that, it was so silly. You have the story, the playable characters, you have the NPCs, the scenes, the settings, and the music all ready. All you have to do is update all of those models. 

I mean I do not expect Skyrim like settings all the way through, but close. IF they started now they could just make the 20yr annivesary mark Stateside, but there is no longer the management, talent, or will to do so. 

Buckhannah
Buckhannah

@Darkhol0w


It hasn't aged well.  Really, really, hasn't aged well.  If a game can make a strong argument for NEEDING a revamping, FFVII is certainly one of them.

jenovaschilld
jenovaschilld

@enate Yeah the years of 96-99 Suikoden, wild arms, ff7, xenogears, ff tactics, front mission, suikoden 2, ff8, grandia, and many many more - I am afraid will never come again. The passion, the talent, the balls- will never come again. When bethesda and obsidian pumped out some fallout, mass effect, dragon age, oblivion, skyrim, and fallout vegas- I thought there was another rpg revolution but there were just too many publishers pushing for motion controls, facebook games, FPS multiplayers, and any flavor of the day that required the least amount of talent and the least amount of work to make a game.  

qioden
qioden

@Tenaku yeah, from my perspective, FFX and before is still very much japanese, its the after that is becoming worse and worse. the older FF games is very much aimed at Japanese audiences, or rather, stick to the tranditional JRPG elements