Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda mused on a potential shift in the company’s focus in a recent interview with Nikkei Trendy (via Siliconera), admitting that the publisher “lost [its] focus” during recent attempts to engineer mass-market games for a worldwide audience.
“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,” Matsuda told Nikkei Trendy. “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.”
Matsuda specifically cited Io Interactive’s Hitman: Absolution as a victim of this practice. “The development team for Hitman: Absolution really struggled in this regard,” Matsuda admitted. “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 reported disappointing sales for Hitman: Absolution and fellow mainstream-appeal effort Tomb Raider last year, resulting in a corporate restructuring and a shift in its publishing strategy.
The worldwide commercial success of Square Enix’s Nintendo 3DS JRPG Bravely Default has since made Matsuda reconsider the company’s approach. “Bravely Default […] ended up selling well all around the world,” he notes. “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.”