As a teenager, Squaresoft delivered many of my favourite nineties videogames. Chrono Trigger. Front Mission 3. Vagrant Story. Obviously the PS One Final Fantasy titles. Somewhere along the way, Square-Enix lost their way and decided to “broaden their audience”. This was the same path Capcom chose with the Resident Evil franchise and in both instances has proven to be a path devoid of hope, joy and… well, decent games.
That’s a bit cruel as titles like Final Fantasy XIII-2 were really… not that bad. Still they came nowhere close to delivering the experiences found in the Squaresoft games of the past. Until Bravely Default came out in the west, earlier this year. Square Enix took a risk. It developed a traditional JRPG. SHOCK! HORROR! Potentially, more shocking was the fact that fans of JRPG’s actually WANTED this to happen. Who would’ve thunk it, eh?
In an interview with Nikkei Trendy, Square Enix president, Yosuke Matsuda, admitted that the company had “lost its focus” and was planning to rectify this. About bloody time, I says! Square and Enix were both the champions of the JRPG genre before their merger in 2003, so how they’ve gone so far off point is beyond me. Matsuda talked about this in the interview:
“If you focus too much on the global aspect, you might lose sight of who you’re actually making the game for,” Matsuda said. “For example, if you look back at 2013, we’ve had some home console games made for a global audience that struggled. 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.”
This is good news for JRPG fans who’ve gotten the short end of the stick this past decade, but it’s also good news for fans of games like Hitman. Matsuda suggested that games like Hitman: Absolution lost sight of their core market, in trying to appeal to the broadest possible audience. It seems to be the surprise success of Bravely Default that has spurred this change in direction for the company.
More decisions like this please, Japanese developers. We, the global audience, will be ever so thankful for it.