Square Enix Mobile Q&A: Square Enix Party 2005

We check in with Square Enix Mobile's Kosei Ito to find out what Square Enix's mobile division has cooking.

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CHIBA CITY, Japan--Square Enix's mobile division has quickly ramped up from its modest beginnings a few years ago to a powerful force in Japan's mobile gaming scene, thanks to games such as Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis. At this year's first annual Square Enix Party 2005, mobile games were rolling three booths deep on the show floor. We caught up with Square Enix Mobile's Kosei Ito, one of the key architects of the mobile division, to learn more about what we can expect.

GameSpot: Is Square Enix set to continue its policy of Japan- and US-specific content? Or are more-powerful US handsets going to eliminate the gap?

Kosei Ito: We are evaluating content to determine what would be appropriate for each region. In some cases, this will mean certain titles in Japan will come to the US, while in other cases some mobile content will only be available in Japan. Ultimately, while we will be bringing in content from Japan that fans want to play, we are also actively developing games specifically for the US market.

In terms of the handsets in both regions, we expect that particular gap to be minimized fairly quickly.

GS: At E3, Square Enix confirmed that Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis will be coming to the US sometime in 2006. Do you have any further details for us? Will the game be the same as the Japanese version (translated, of course), or are you anticipating changes to the story and/or format?

KI: Well, we're not announcing more details at this time. We'll reiterate that we're currently aiming for a 2006 release for the title. We're currently in the middle of negotiations to make sure the mobile environment in the US is ready to support the game when it sees release.

GS: Is Square Enix planning other Before Crisis-type mobile MMOs, in the Final Fantasy universe or otherwise?

KI: We don't have any details to share at the moment, but one of our major issues is making sure titles of that nature are easy to play in the US, too. We're still thinking about the details for such titles and considering how we'll adapt them for US markets. We're planning a lot of things, and hopefully people will be pleased when we announce our upcoming projects, which we're hoping to do around winter time.

GS: Little has been said about the classic Final Fantasy games appearing on US handsets. Are there any developments here?

KI: We're actively speaking with all the major handset manufacturers and carriers to create an environment that's going to allow us to bring the kind of quality game we hope to launch in the US. We're working very hard to be able to announce, hopefully in the winter time, that we'll be having some really exciting games to bring to the US market.

GS: Do you think that US gamers are starting to accept the idea of mobile gaming? More specifically, do you think that Final Fantasy fans, for instance, would be willing to buy a brand-new phone, if that's what it took to be able to play Before Crisis and other FF mobile games?

KI: Well, to speak to the topic of mobile gaming, before we introduced Before Crisis and Dragon Quest 2, we didn't have as many mobile game customers in Japan. But Square Enix is a company that likes to create new and exciting games, first, that draw customers. I feel that it's going to probably be the same situation in the US, as far Final Fantasy fans are concerned. I believe Final Fantasy fans in the US would be interested in purchasing new mobile game titles related to the franchise. So it's our hope that we could bring games such as Before Crisis to the US in order to satisfy them.

GS: Where do you see Square Enix Mobile in 10 years?

KI: In 10 years, I think the barriers between consoles, online, and mobile will be completely gone. So in 10 years, mobile games as we know them now will be gone.

GS: Thanks for your time.

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