With Yoichi Wada stepping down from his position as Square Enix CEO and President following major financial losses, his interim replacement, Yosuke Matsuda, hasn't wasted any time in asserting himself.
In the short time he's had in the role, Matsuda has stated that there will be a major review of the company's duties, how it functions as a business and how its assets are being used. He expects a thorough investigation to find out what works and what doesn't in order for them to become successful again.
Here is a list of 10 things that I hope Square Enix will do in order for them to return to their glory days - something I think we all want to see.
1 - They Should Look At Their Roots
Sometimes it's a good idea to take a trip down memory lane so that you can go back and see what made something successful. In the case of Square Enix, they have a whole host of IPs from the 90s and 00s that have fallen by the wayside. This period also saw most of their flagship franchises were at their peak.
They should look at what made these franchises successful and see what they can make use of in today's gaming landscape. It's also important for the Japanese side to not just rely on Final Fantasy, Kingdom Hearts and Dragon Quest.
2 - They Should Get More Involved With Their Fans
It's taken Square Enix a long time to get serious fan feedback, but in the case of Final Fantasy XIV, it has been a very beneficial exercise. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is shaping up to be a much better experience, and that's in some part thanks to all of the feedback players have been giving the developers.
3 Stop Porting Games To Every Possible Platform
In recent times, Square Enix has decided that porting games - primarily of the Final Fantasy origin - to every known platform is the best way to generate revenue and reach a broader audience. In theory, that's a great move. However, it's often doing more harm than good.
The quality of the product often isn't that great thanks to the porting process and quite often, the products are vastly overpriced compared to similar products on the market. In some ways it's great that all these older title are now available everywhere, but in other ways, it seems very desperate.
4 Japanese Side Needs Better Direction
No more trailers, teasers and tech demos. It's getting quite ridiculous, and the Japanese side of Square Enix has become a bit of a joke. The amount of people who have had their hopes raised, to then be dropped again is getting out of hand. It's not a good strategy to announce games years before it's even finished and not even follow it up with any information for fans to follow.
The quality of the products coming out of Japan has dropped as well, to the point where Square Enix are having to rely on their Western studios to pick up the slack.
5 Don't Rely On Eidos/Western Marketplace
Western markets tend to be an uphill/downhill battle, with tastes in a constant state of flux. Eidos, however, has done a great job with getting sales to help booster Square Enix, but the expectations are getting quite ridiculous.
When a financial report from a Japanese publisher, with plenty of first-party resources, comes out and states that three Western developed games (that sold very well) are the reason for financial instability, you have to wonder what else is even going on.
The Japanese side should be able to support itself, which it clearly isn't capable of doing at the moment.
6 Use Third-Party Developers More Wisely
Games like Nier, Infinite Undiscovery and Star Ocean: The Last Hope may not sell millions of copies, but they do help to bolster a roster of games. Square Enix has waned in its use of third-party studios from Japan in recent times and it's been to their detriment.
Why not allow Japanese studios more freedom to experiment with new IPs - it's what the fans are keen to see.
7 Release Games Everywhere
It often seems as though Square Enix forget who their fans are, they forget who made them successful. We're now in a digital age where there is little to no reason why games can't be released to the rest of the world - especially when they would sell.
Yes, these games again might not sell in the multi-million copies category, but they are the games the core Square Enix fans want to enjoy. Games like Final Fantasy Type-0 and Bravely Default are what JRPG fans have been craving - why take backward steps and suddenly think your entire audience has changed?
Games like Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger and The World Ends With You, these are titles that a lot of fans have been wanting to see more from. If specific Final Fantasy titles and Kingdom Hearts can receive numerous sequels/prequels and side stories, why can't these titles?
They may not sell as much, but the release of Chrono Trigger on the Nintendo DS clearly showed there is a market there. It's up to Square Enix to foster this, and grow their brand, so that these titles can receive more exposure.
Square Enix find themselves in this situation for a reason - what the are doing isn't working that well. Listening to advice from others is not a sign of weakness and could even be just the thing you need to get out of this pit you have dug for yourself.
The gaming market is rapidly changing, but there is still a lot that's stayed the same. In trying to compete with the West for sheer numbers, Square Enix has seemingly forgotten that their core fanbase still exists.
There needs to be a better balance between these two entities, because at the moment it's very one-sided in favour of the new Square Enix, which has a lot less loyalty associated to it.
10 Learn How To Use DLC Properly
Downloadable content can be good, but only if used in the right way. Final Fantasy XIII-2 was clearly an experience for Square Enix's Japanese office, and it very hit and miss. Some elements proved to be quite successful, such as costumes and items, but others were like spit in the face. Another poor example would be how the company handled Final Fantasy All The Bravest, which required almost everything to be purchased, including the game itself.