Square Enix is in a bit of a rough spot following financial setbacks and rocky game releases. While some titles like Final Fantasy XIV have delivered consistent quality and remained popular with fans, other entries from the series as well as newer games from the publisher have shipped in questionable states and typically fail to hit sales targets. Now, after suffering a sizable hit to its stock, the Tokyo-based publisher is facing scrutiny over how it manages the development of its properties.
A recent report from Bloomberg documented the tumultuous situation Square Enix finds itself in: The company has lost close to $2 billion in value since its latest game shipped in June (Final Fantasy XVI). Final Fantasy XVI fell short of sales targets, but its struggles aren’t unique. FFXIV required a massive reboot after a failed launch, FFXV had a long-winded development cycle, and though FFVII Remake had higher sales than FF XVI, it exists alongside abrasively microtransaction-filled mobile titles like Ever Crisis and a swiftly shuttered mobile battle royale game.
Games outside the FF realm haven’t fared well either, with big-budget titles like January 2023’s Forspoken falling far short of sales targets and receiving lukewarm reception at best. Other games like Marvel’s Avengers, which is soon to be shut down after a failed attempt at establishing itself as a healthy live service title, have been little more than a jank-filled disaster.
According to the Bloomberg report, Square Enix CEO Takashi Kiryi, who stepped into the role info formally in June of this year, “intends to whittle down the number of smaller titles and decrease outsourcing to focus on big-budget games with higher potential to improve the company’s profitability.”
While a move that deprioritizes hastily built games to market sounds like a good course of action, the report highlights the questionable manner in which the publisher handles the production of its games–placing creative control solely in the hands of a single producer. Based on info from Bloomberg’s sources:
Producers are given full reign over the scope and direction of projects, and there’s a shortage of proper documentation and team structure [...] contractors who’ve done work for Square Enix describe an ad hoc process where project goals can shift without warning.
Again, for any fan who tries their best to follow the development of Square Enix games, this probably isn’t surprising to hear. Though the publisher is trying to turn things around t, as reported by Eurogamer earlier this year, the company’s chief accounting officer reflected that “in light of current conditions [...] this will not be easy.”