In the past five years, Square Enix has experienced significant growth and expansion in its business ventures. The Japanese video game company, known for popular franchises such as Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest and Kingdom Hearts, has made substantial strides and has managed to grow its top line and bottom line for the past few years. Here is what the growth of each of their business looked like until the end of FY2022:
In terms of business growth, Square Enix has expanded its presence in the Western market through strategic partnerships with major publishers such as Eidos-Montréal for the development of the critically acclaimed Deus Ex series. The company also saw a significant uptick in revenue from its collectibles and merchandising division, thanks to popular products like the Play Arts Kai action figures.
In recent years, Square Enix has shown an increased focus on digital distribution of games through platforms such as Steam and the Xbox Store. This shift allowed them to reach a wider audience and generate more revenue with their back catalog of classic titles. For example, the Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, X/X-2 HD Remaster bundle drove strong sales on the Steam platform.
While Square-Enix owns several types of businesses, their Digital Digital Entertainment arm, which is basically games, is the one that’s the biggest at about ¾ of their total sales. Their recent good results were driven by strong sales of the FFVII Reboot, for example. While they have a very large portfolio, they tend to rely on very strong blockbusters and can be stunned by relatively worse results. The recent Final Fantasy XVI did not perform too well, potentially driven by it being a PS5 exclusive on a platform that has experienced shortages. Make bad calls, meet consequences.
In any case, Square Enix was back at the TGS with a very big booth.
As expected, they allocated a large area for their next expected blockbuster, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, the second opus part of the reboot of FFVII. They had a huge line of PS5 units to make sure a large amount of people could play the game at once. We had the chance to get in line and try it out.
FF VII Rebirth
There were two different versions of the demo to play and I did one of them, the one where you play a flashback with Tifa, Cloud and Sephiroth in the mines to find Materia at its source. This was a 15 mins demo give or take, and it felt very similar to the first remake. The fighting system was mostly unchanged with its real-time action focus, but at least you could play Sephiroth during combat scenes by switching characters. Just like for FVII Remake a few years ago, the demo ended with a fight against a boss, and that felt a lot like a rehash of the Mako Reactor robot boss both in the environment and the cutscenes. The game ran on PS5, and visuals were very much on par with what you expect from a modern PC.
I left after finishing the demo with a positive impression, but hardly as enchanted by the idea of the remake as much as I did back in 2018. At least we will get to see more of Sephiroth…
It’s going to be a huge game in scope, as it will lead the adventurers on the trail of Sephiroth, across the world, unveiling new characters on the way. I have a bit of love and hate for what they did in the reboot. The presentation is great, especially the main characters, while some secondary NPCs look completely out of place here and there. There’s a lot of boring grind included for no reason other than to make the games long enough to allow for several episodes. And I really, really dislike the fake real-time combat with the artificial wait time to use items or magic while you run around in circles like a goof. So bad. This episode is not going to fix any of that, so I’ll do it to see how they retold the story more than anything else.
It’s going to be out on PS5 first in early 2024, and probably a year later down the road on PC. There’s a good chance it will be working on Linux on Day 1 just like its predecessor did, thanks to the Steam Deck (or the future Steam Deck 2) being a potential target platform.
Star Ocean The Second Story R
While we did not try the game at the show you could try the demo in the booth. It’s a reboot of one of the older Star Ocean episodes, entirely remade in beautiful 3D, with the characters being kept as ugly looking 2D sprites in the midst of it. It’s a strange design decision, in the line of what was done for Octopath Traveller, albeit with a more glaring contrast here.
Star Ocean was never a major series, although it tried. The fact that they are now rebooting it may lead to a new episode down the road… who knows? In any case, this one will be out on November 2, 2023, on all platforms, including Steam.
There were a few more games at the show, but nothing too exciting. There’s a spin-off for Dragon Quest called Infinity Strash Dragon Quest The Adventure of Dai (already out on Steam since October), which should probably called Infinity Trash instead, because it’s a cheap game priced like an AAA with none of the qualities that you’d expect from such price tier.
And then there’s more FFVII spinoff because you know, you need to milk the franchise until the cow has no trace of blood left on it.
While FFVII Rebirth looks like a new game, it’s ultimately a reboot and I can’t feel anything but some kind of sadness that a big studio now thrives on the nostalgia of a 20+ years old super mega-hit instead of trying to make a new one. We did not need a FFVII Remake in 3 parts, just one would have been enough, along with 2 new real new games instead.
My interest in newer FF has dropped down to almost zero after the shit show that FFXIII was, and I don’t see them bringing back any of the magic that made FFVII and FFIX special. The people who led these projets are long gone, along with their talent and ideas. Now we get better pyrotechnics, bells and whistles but worse stories and just plain bad character building.
The nostalgia exists for a reason: your recent games can’t even keep up with older titles. Learn something from it.