Square Enix to renew focus on core gamers, 'heavy JRPGs' thanks to Bravely Default

Driven by the success of Silicon Studio's Nintendo 3DS role-playing game Bravely Default, Square Enix will move forward with an emphasis on creating content for core gamers and "heavy JRPG" fans, president Yosuke Matsuda told Nikkei Trendy.

Square Enix has been seeking a broader appeal for its games, altering its development strategy in the past several years with the hopes of reaching a more global audience. Matsuda acknowledged that this tactic has not been as successful as the company has hoped in a response to a question about more smartphone titles being localized from Japan to the west.

"Not just limited to games for smartphone or console, but we do have some global titles lined up," Matsuda said, "However, regardless of whether they're for smartphone or console, there's a difficult element to developing global titles, so we'll be making them without focusing too much on the ‘global' aspect.

"For example, in the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being games that weren't for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren't even fit for a global audience," he added.

Bravely Default, which was originally published in Japan in fall 2012, found success in Europe and the states after launching in late 2013 and earlier this year, respectively. The title sold 200,000 copies in North America during its first three weeks on the market. Matsuda said the title, which was developed with a Japanese audience in mind with "all the proper elements" of a classic Japanese-style role-playing game, sold well around the world — something the company wants to repeat with future titles.

Meanwhile, games like Hitman: Absolution, which was developed by IO Interactive with a global audience in mind, struggle to become successful because the company is too focused on building audience "mass" and drawing in new players than appealing to old fans. This strategy, Matsuda explained, showed that the company had lost sight of its audience. Moving forward, Square Enix will "go back to their roots" and focus on creating content that will appeal to their core audience.

"Due to having split [the development mindset] according to regions around the world, we weren't able to see this clearly up until now, but fans of JRPGs are really spread around the world," Matsuda explained.. "Through the means of various networks, the latest information that is announced in Japan is instantaneously being spread across fans throughout the world. Whether it's North America, Europe, or South America. There really isn't much of a gap [in the relay of information].

"With that in mind, and all of the collective fans, there's a sense of mass, which loses the image of a niche market," continues he added. "For the new games we'll be developing from this point on, while this may sound a bit extreme, we've been talking about making them as heavy JRPGs. I believe that way, we can better focus on our target, which will also bring better results."

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