Following a crushing financial report that saw the likes of Tomb Raider branded as commercial failures, Square Enix has identified some key areas in which they can improve.
Step one: Talk to customers more. Step two: produce new mobile games rather than insanely expensive ports of ancient IP. Step three: focus on region-specific titles rather than trying to please everyone with everything.
Step five: profit? More below.
A new shareholder report (translated PDF here) suggests that making customers wait for enormous lengths of time between titles is hurting their relationship with consumers. Square Enix will therefore attempt to engage fans as much as possible with plenty of regular development updates, which should hopefully improve brand loyalty.
“One could go as far as to say that in today’s times, making customers wait for years with little to no information is being dishonest to them. We’re no longer in an age where customers are left in the dark until a product is completed. We need to shift to a businessmodel where we frequently interact with our customers for our products that are in‐development and/or prior to being sold, have our customers understand games under development, and finally make sure we develop games that meet their expectations.”
Personally, I feel that their smartest move is to "construct a product portfolio tailored to consumer tastes in respective served regions," which boils down to 'horses for courses.' This approach should allow JPRGs to continue pleasing their "niche" audience without being hopelessly homogenised (see also: FFXIII), while still supplying some quality titles for Western audiences.
Elsewhere, Square Enix also pledged to develop brand new games for phones and tablets, designed to deserve earn their whopping price tags. Considering that you can currently spend the best part of £15 on a Final Fantasy III port, this can only be a good thing.
I would have liked to see them admitting that their outrageous, insane budgets for AAA titles had landed them with an "extraordinary loss," but hey, the shareholders don't need to know that. Even if everyone else on the internet does.