Square-Enix Established In LA, Planning A "New Experience"
For the duration of this generation, it has been clear to most everyone that Square-Enix's focus is to appeal to a wider worldwide audience. Specifically, they wish to cater more to the Western gamers simply because they already have the Japanese crowd in their back pocket.
Therefore, it makes perfect sense to have a studio right here in the United States. Square-Enix's new development studio has officially opened its doors in Los Angeles, and ArsTechnica recently spoke with Game Development Manager Fumi Shiraishi to learn more about the studio's goals and expectations. The first thing Shiraishi did is to clear up the idea that Square-Enix is "shifting" its focus; he says it's more accurate to call it a "growth:"
"Square Enix isn't necessarily shifting, it's more of a growth. The stuff [games created by Square Enix in Japan] does what it is supposed to do...but the Japanese market isn't growing. It's a different approach entirely. We're not deliberately focusing on the North American audience. We're just trying to make a good game."
Some of you may be saying, "well, yeah, but what difference does it make if they have a Japanese team in LA? ...they're still Japanese." Well, not so fast. The studio is mostly comprised of experienced Western developers and as Shiraishi said, "it's not a good idea to make a game for people you don't understand." And although he can't tell us what the game is, he did say they're not "trying to make a game with a Western looking main character and with blood and gore;" they're merely trying to create an entirely new experience. As for the intended platform(s)...well, he admits it's a big decision and he added: "Square Enix as a whole fell behind in multi-platform development."
We're not exactly sure what that means, but it'll certainly be interesting to see what this new LA-based studio comes up with. Stay tuned.
3/20/2009 Ben Dutka