Square Enix is often known for keeping the release dates of its biggest games under wraps for a long time, often defying expectations of fans that wait for those announcements at this or that event or trade show. Yet, some are coming in the next few months according to President and CEO Yosuke Matsuda.
Matsuda-san had this to say during the latest quarterly conference call for investors.
“Development efforts for major titles are underway at both our overseas and domestic studios. We will be making announcements about the release dates of those titles between the end of FY2018/3 and E3.”
For those unfamiliar with the financial lingo, “FY2018/3” means the fiscal year ending in March 2018, which means that the announcement for the release dates of the “major titles” hinted at by Matsuda-san should come between April 1st, 2018 and E3 2018 in June.
The publisher is also exploring how to market those major games in the pipeline to maximise their potential.
“We have built a pipeline of major titles, so we are currently exploring how to market and run those so as to maximize their potential. For starters, we definitely want to achieve operating income of ¥40 billion.”
Interestingly, we hear that Square Enix has been lowering the risk of having to major overhauls of titles in developments, and development of games that will launch starting from April 1st, 2018 is proceeding according to plan.
“I believe you will be able to tell how long our development lead times are based on the launch dates we will be announcing for our games going forward. I will say that we are facing less risk of having to engage in re-work thanks to
the precision with which we are approaching our designs in the initial phase of each development project. I believe that the development efforts for the new titles we will be launching starting in FY2019/3 are proceeding in line with our plans.”
At the moment, one major game that is awaiting a release date is definitely Kingdom Hearts III, that for now only has a 2018 release window. Another eagerly-anticipated game that has no release window at all is the Final Fantasy VII PS4 remake.
Matsuda-san also talked about the Nintendo Switch, mentioning that Square Enix “welcomes” the platforms, and want to be proactive in creating new IP and rebooting older title for Nintendo’s platform.
“Nintendo Switch is seeing rapid uptake, and we welcome the arrival of such a platform. We intend to be proactive in our development efforts given that it’s a platform that is well suited to the mid-sized titles at which we excel.
We base our development resource allocations on the unique attributes of each platform. In particular, Nintendo Switch makes it easier for us to leverage our back catalog of assets and expertise, so we want to be proactive in creating
new IP and rebooting past titles for that platform.”
Interestingly Matsuda-san also makes a prediction for the spread of digital download in the medium and long-term, arguing that they will reach a percentage between 70 and80% of sales.
“Digital downloads already account for around 50% of business in the Western markets. Given that the gaming market is shifting further to digital sales, I believe it will reach approximately 70-80%.”
Another intriguing point is that Square Enix would like to experiment in the mobile augmented reality business, which is currently dominated by the success of Pokémon GO.
“Players have become extremely discerning about game quality. Providing new experiences is also important, and to that end, we would like to make proactive efforts in the mobile AR space.”
During the same conference call, Matsuda-san also talked about the publisher’s plans for the recently-revealed Left Alive for PS4 and PC.