Report: Japanese Employees Vent Online About Square Enix

Illustration for article titled Report: Japanese Employees Vent Online About Square Enix

Last year, there were unconfirmed reports that Square Enix's Tokyo headquarters was a dark place to work. This latest report doesn't sound nearly as bad as those. Doesn't sound like rainbows and sunshine, either.


NicoNico News points to comments made on Japanese employment site Career Connection. The site aims to help jobseekers find out more about companies, such as salary or working conditions, and these comments were apparently made by Square Enix employees.

"For each project, each position is then turned into a clique, and without a big time creator's recommendation, it's impossible to get ahead," wrote one employee in his late 30s. "One's practical worth isn't really looked at, but rather, personal friendship is how merit is assessed."

"You're given so much work, and the atmosphere is that if you cannot keep up, they'll axe you," wrote a 24 year-old employee. "There's a tendency to ask workers to do more physical labor than mental labor."

Granted, these are a couple comments on a job seeker site, so keep that in mind. Maybe these folks are disgruntled. Maybe the work atmosphere at Square Enix's Tokyo headquarters is fantastic. Maybe.

Career Connection does quote someone connected with Square Enix as saying, "There's dissatisfaction with the salaries and the auditing system. Motivation is low because the ways to move ahead in the company are not clear. Because producers are unable to clearly express their visions for games, the titles must be reworked over and over. That's related to games missing their release dates."

"One's practical worth isn't really looked at, but rather, personal friendship is how merit is assessed."

Square Enix has been having a rough time of late—for a variety of reasons. And, these alleged worker gripes come as Square Co.'s former boss recently called the Square Enix merger a "complete failure" with "no vision".


If these latest complaints are true, Square Enix is not alone, among large, traditional Japanese companies for having rotten work conditions. That doesn't mean this is right. It means it should change.


スクエニ 13年第2四半期は赤字転落 「頭よりも体で稼ぐ会社」と社員 [Career Connection via NicoNico News]

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I once read that the director of Final Fantasy 9 had the entire game "finished" before they even started programming a single line of code. The characters had been fleshed out with vast backstory, the towns and universe of the game intricately defined and connected, and the story polished to a mirror-sheen, so that before a single polygon was rendered the team would have a clear and concise vision of what the game would be about, in terms of story, characters, world, and gameplay.

I then read an interview with the director of Final Fantasy 13, who admitted they had no clue what they were doing. They had given a bunch of artists free reign to just design everything in their own insular bubble, and they wasted millions of dollars making characters, areas, and enemies for the game that they realized they had no place for. They built a bunch of stuff and then, without any clear communication between them, they then tried to stitch it all together with a loose story, which resulted in a game that felt unfocused about everything; characters lacking depth, areas that didn't flow into new areas, a skeleton of a story. They had no "vision" and they admitted this, saying that by the time they had a working product to show, it was too late to even apply feedback from playtesters so they just shipped their pieced-together game and prayed the graphics, cosplay potential, and battle system would carry the game. It did for some, but not for many others.

The difference between those two approaches to development is staggering, I believe. Two games by the same company, one created with a singular, driven vision and unified team bringing it to life, and another lacking any sort of vision or goal, merely winging it on their own and slapping it together quite literally at the last minute, wasting time, energy, and resources over years and years.

I'm curious which "vision" Final Fantasy Versus XIII is following...