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Square Enix Eyeing Social Play

by Meagan Marie on Jun 24, 2010 at 09:30 AM

Traditional Square Enix titles inherently have players holed up in their rooms for weeks at a time, immersed in fantastical worlds through a notably single-player experience. Looking to the future, Square Enix Chief Executive Yoichi Wada wants to shift away from solo play in favor of multiplayer and social networking integration.

Speaking to Forbes, Wada explained that he recognizes social experiences and digital distribution are the future, and that Square Enix would be remiss to ignore the trend. Wada mused about more direct communication between Square and their consumers, noting workarounds to the traditional retail approach. For example, a Final Fantasy title could be broken down into downloadable chapters at a much discounted rate.

He also noted a desire to mimic game companies from China and South Korea rather than standard western practices from entities like Electronic Arts. Whether this means they will be exploring the free-to-play arena or microtransactions is still to be seen. Speaking on the perception of free-to-play games such as those produced by NCSoft or Tencent, Wada went to bat for the business model.

“What is polished is in the eye of the beholder?” Wada questioned. “Our games' graphics are very polished, but Tencent is actually very polished in terms of the experience.”

Returning to multiplayer and social gaming, Wada was much more explicit, confirming that social interactions will worm their way into all future Square Enix titles – even those that have a legacy as single-player games. To do so, a corporate change will be needed. 

“Frankly, the people who excelled at creating game software about 10 years ago are really not good at making multiplayer games,” Wada says. “We are striving to change the old culture, and as a part of such effort we are trying to bring in fresh blood.”

We find it interesting how progressive the publisher/developer appears to be, especially considering the success their formulaic approach has earned them in decades past. Perhaps Final Fantasy rehashes are starting to lose steam?

You can check out the full interview here.