Turnover at game companies is high. But Japanese game developers who work on big titles for big companies tend to stay put. But what happens when your company is being eclipsed?
In the past few years, the Japanese mobile and social game industry has exploded. Companies like DeNa and Gree are doing great business, while the rest of the Japanese game industry has seen better days. At last year's Tokyo Game Show, Gree's booth was bigger than Square Enix's—heck, it was one of the biggest at the show.
No wonder longtime Square Enix developers like Ryuji Ikeda, Shouta Shimoda and Takeshi Arakawa are jumping ship.
As website NovaCrystallis pointed out, Ikeda was Dissidia: Final Fantasy's main programmer, Shimoda was Dissidia 012's director of planning, and Arakawa worked as a Kingdom Hearts texture director, the supervising director of Dissidia: Final Fantasy, and a graphic director on Final Fantasy Versus XIII. While they're not "name" developers, they are important. Or, rather, were.
The three men left Square Enix late last year. Their departure was recently noticed by Japanese bulletin board 2ch.
What makes their departure so interesting—and so telling about the state of the Japanese industry—is that the three men left Square Enix to work for social and mobile phone gaming studios: Ikeda went to DeNa, Shimoda went to Gree, and so did Arakawa.