Square Enix is looking to Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight as examples of how to interact with customers earlier in the development process, according to recent remarks (PDF link) from senior executive managing director Yosuke Matsuda.
Matsuda referenced the services in a financial briefing about Square Enix's fiscal year ending March 2013. Earlier this month, the company cited the competitive console market as a reason for its multi-million yen losses, and Matsuda believes that interacting with its customers earlier and more often could help Square Enix.
"There is a crowdfunding website called Kickstarter," Matsuda said, "which does not only serve as a method of financing for developers, but I believe should also be seen as a way to unite marketing and development together by allowing us to interact with customers while a game is in development.
"Valve's Steam Greenlight and Early Access, are also very interesting, in that they raise the frequency by which we interact with customers, increasing their engagement and reflecting customer needs."
The company is looking into what kind of information it might share with customers that can "connect this to profitability." His belief is that, if customers only see a game after it's been finished, "opportunities for profit are passed up," he said.
"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."
In the wake of its recent financial difficulties, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada resigned in March, at the same time that the company announced that it expected an "extraordinary loss" for the fiscal year ending in March 2013. The company has also undergone other restructuring efforts, including layoffs.