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Square Enix games misfire due to being "single producer's fiefdom", report suggests

Follows fluctuating stock value.

Aerith in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Image credit: Square Enix

Recent Square Enix games have misfired due to the approach of each game being "a single producer's fiefdom".

That's according to a new report from Bloomberg, detailing a recent drop in stock value of the company compared to its closest rival Capcom, though stock over the past couple of years has fluctuated but appears relatively stable. It's claimed this recent drop is due to underwhelming sales of Final Fantasy 16, though it also follows the disappointing Forspoken and a number of smaller games released at the tail-end of last year that failed to make much of an impression.

Bloomberg sources include current and former Square Enix employees who remain anonymous, but stated the company's approach is to give each project a single producer.

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These producers are then given full reign over the scope and direction of that project, but with a subsequent shortage of proper documentation and team structure, these sources said.

Contractors for Square Enix have also described an ad hoc process where project goals can shift without warning. This has resulted in an inconsistent quality among Square Enix games that don't live up to the company's reputation.

In an earnings call earlier this year, Square Enix admitted sales of Forspoken in particular had been "lacklustre" and the underperformance of "many" smaller games has made growth challenging.

"I stated that we were designating FY2023/3 as a year in which to lay the foundations that will enable us to achieve our medium-term objectives, but that we nonetheless intended to pursue YOY growth in sales and profits," Square Enix chief accounting officer Atsushi Matsuda said at the time. "In light of current conditions, however, I have to admit that this will not be easy."

Bloomberg reports that newly-appointed CEO Takashi Kiryu is aiming to improve the company's profitability by whittling down the number of smaller projects it releases, while focusing on big-budget games with a higher potential to improve profitability.

Looking ahead, this appears to be the case. Square Enix's biggest releases will be Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth early next year and the next Final Fantasy 14 expansion, Dawntrail, due next summer. These will be headed up by producers Yoshinori Kitase and Naoki Yoshida respectively, respected for leading successful projects.

Foamstars is its other major project, though this is yet to receive a release date.

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