Bravely Default sold over 200,000 copies in its first week in the
United States — a market Square Enix was unsure would like the game at
all. Its success may not feel like much of a shock to the 200,000 plus
fans who had eagerly awaited the Western release, but it came as a welcome
surprise to Square Enix. The booming success of the title has lead them
to rethink their approach to JRPGs and game design in general. Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda said they would move away from trying to make
games aimed to be globally popular and move back to making games meant
to be popular at home in Japan.
In his own words,
“if you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for.”
Yosuke Masuda recently spoke with Nikkei Trendy on the subject. To start things off Nikkei asked Matsuda if there are any global games for smartphones coming out of Square Enix coming in the near future.
just limited to games for smartphone or console, but we do have some
global titles lined up. However, regardless of
whether they’re for smartphone or console, there’s a difficult element
to developing global titles, so we’ll be making them without focusing
too much on the ‘global’ aspect.
For example, in the past, when we developed console games with a
worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being
games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete
titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience.
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.
to having split [the development mindset] according to regions around
the world, we weren’t able to see this clearly up until now, but fans of
JRPGs are really spread around the world. Through
the means of various networks, the latest information that is announced
in Japan is instantaneously being spread across fans throughout the
world. Whether it’s North America, Europe, or South America. There
really isn’t much of a gap [in the relay of information].
With that in mind, and all of the collective fans, there’s a sense
of mass, which loses the image of a niche market. For the new games we’ll be developing from this point on, while this
may sound a bit extreme, we’ve been talking about making them as heavy
JRPGs. I believe that way, we can better focus on our target, which will
also bring better results.
If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for. For example, if you look back at 2013, we’ve had
some home console games made for a global audience that struggled… 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.” — Yosuke Matsuda
It is refreshing to see Square Enix admit their current strategy is not working all that well. JPRGs in particular have undergone many changes since Square’s early days, and
Bravely in particular was a welcome return to many of the traits that drew us into the genre in the first place. I look forward to what this back-to-roots approach Square is taking will turn out.