Square Enix to make multiplatform move after PS5 exclusives disappoint


Square Enix has revealed a new business plan — titled “Square Enix Reboots, and Awakens” — that will see the publisher “aggressively pursue” a multiplatform strategy for its biggest games across Nintendo, Xbox, PlayStation, and Windows PC.

While Square Enix has long been active across a wide range of platforms, it has a tradition of signing exclusivity deals for its biggest releases, typically with Sony. This year’s Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth and last year’s Final Fantasy 16 are currently exclusive to PlayStation 5, while games like Forspoken and the original Final Fantasy 7 Remake have been released across PlayStation and PC. Final Fantasy 14 has only just seen an Xbox release this past March, over a decade after it debuted on PC and PlayStation.

The wording of Square Enix’s new plan, released as part of the company’s latest financial report, suggests that this strategy will soon be a thing of the past. Square Enix said its goal was to “build an environment where more customers can enjoy our titles,” especially regarding “major franchises and AAA titles including catalog titles.” The mention of “catalog titles” suggests that previously exclusive games, like the Final Fantasy 7 series and Final Fantasy 16, may soon be coming to other platforms.

The move comes after reports suggested that both FF16 and FF7 Rebirth underperformed financially. Indeed, in its own report, Square Enix acknowledges “low profitability” in what it calls the “HD games” segment — meaning medium- to big-budget games for console systems and PC — which is an alarming thing to say about the financial year in which these two perceived juggernauts in the company’s most famous franchise were released.

Of course, Square Enix is not the only company wondering if platform exclusivity can work at all at scale anymore. Xbox has begun a controversial shift toward publishing its games on rival console platforms, while Sony is in the process of discovering the huge audience (as well as the potential pitfalls) that can it can find as a multiplatform publisher with Helldivers 2. Square Enix’s language about finding a wider audience for its games echoes that used by Microsoft to defend its own decision.

Other points in Square Enix’s plan — which covers the period from now through March 2027 — include a “shift from quantity to quality” from a publisher that has been known to flood the market with smaller releases. Quality’s great, of course, but the plan to “regularly release AAA titles in [Square Enix’s] major franchises” sounds a little like the risk aversion and sequelitis that has set in at every major game publisher. Square Enix said it had canceled several games that did not fit its new strategy.

In addition, Square Enix said that it aims to concentrate on in-house development and restructure its internal studios, or “business units,” to be more integrated — suggesting that the company’s long era of fiefdoms led by powerful individual producers with big personalities may be coming to an end. Reports have suggested that the current setup can be disorganized and frustrating for employees, but there’s no doubt that it also leads to games with a strong personal flavor. Whether or not Square Enix can keep the “balance between the creativity of its individual employees and the management centered on the organization,” as it says it intends to, will be key.

Overall, the business plan paints a picture of a company in crisis mode seeking to reboot itself — and of a game industry where AAA budgets and platform exclusivity just don’t mix anymore.


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