Report: Square Enix seeking US publishing partner

"Worried" by lagging PS3 sales, the Final Fantasy publisher looking for help to raise non-Japanese revenues by 50 percent, says the <i>Financial Times</i>.

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Square Enix is an institution in Japan, where new entries into its Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series draw crowds akin to a new console launch. The Tokyo-based publisher also has a big following in North America--but not big enough, according to a recent Financial Times report.

Over the weekend at the 2007 Tokyo Game Show, the Times spoke with Square Enix senior vice president Michihiro Sasaki. The executive explained that in the coming months, the publisher wants to strike a deal with an American partner to help market its games stateside.

"We need to seek cooperation with a US publisher," Sasaki said. "Our strength is in role-playing games and fantasy titles, so it is a bit difficult to appeal to the US market." He went on to bemoan the fact that the US and Canadian markets are dominated by action games, such as the preordained blockbuster Halo 3.

A deal with a US partner would be part of Square Enix's new initiative to boost revenue from overseas markets. Sasaki told the Times that executives at the company feel it is "imperative" to "raise overseas sales to 50 percent of overall revenues within three years." The company is also looking to expand its presence in casual games and in massively multiplayer online role playing games, which generate ongoing revenue via subscriptions.

Sasaki also told the Times that Square Enix executives are "worried" about sales of the PlayStation 3, which continues to trail the Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii in global sales. The publisher has invested heavily in several upcoming PS3 exclusives, including Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Square Enix's sole next-generation role-playing game to date, Final Fantasy XI for the Xbox 360, sold nearly 174,000 copies in the US, according to the NPD Group. An expansion, Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess, is slated to arrive in November.

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