Square Enix realizes their fans love JRPGs, plans to shift their focus
It's about time Square Enix put on their "Captain Obvious" hat and realized that they need to go back to doing what they did best, or at least, back when they were just Squaresoft. In a recent interview with Square Enix president, Yosuke Matsuda, on Nikkei Trendy, he revealed that given the recent success of Bravely Default in the West, he plans to focus heavily on JRPGs moving forward.
Well no [expletive] Sherlock! I can easily find threads upon threads of fans complaining about Square Enix and how they should go back to focusing not only on JRPGs, but shifting back to how they played during their Golden Age. Bravely Default was a shining example of taking old-school gameplay with an old-school storyline, but adding in new elements that made the genre feel completely fresh. And what do you know, it sold well.
I may sound harsh, but that's because the ones that care the most are often the most critical. Squaresoft and in its early years, Square Enix, was my favorite developer. It gave me titles like Final Fantasy 1 - 9, Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Secret of Mana, Front Mission, Xenogears, Brave Fencer Musashi, hell, even Ehrgeiz!
“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.” Said Matsuda when talking about Bravely Default's successes. He also mentions how with Hitman, the team went for mass appeal instead of appealing to the core crowd, then therefore lost out on sales.
“The development team for Hitman: Absolution really struggled in this regard. They implemented a vast amount of ‘elements for the mass’ instead of for the core fans, as a way to try getting as many new players possible. It was a strategy to gain mass appeal. However, what makes the Hitman series good is its appeal to core gamers, and many fans felt the lack of focus in that regard, which ended up making it struggle in sales.”
So what does this all mean? Hopefully it means that Square Enix will wise up and go back to the drawing board. I hope they try and recapture the magic that made their games so great, addicting, and compelling.