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“Train-Wreck In Slow Motion” – More Inside Info On Square Enix’s Decline!

According to Stephane D’Astous, founder of Eidos Montreal, Square Enix was “not as committed as we hoped” in supporting Western developers.

 

 

Yesterday, we briefly reported on Stephane D’Astous’ interview with GamesIndustry.biz, in which he sharply criticised Square Enix’s dismissive attitude towards Eidos Montreal and other Western studios such as Crystal Dynamics and speculated that the recent sale of Embracer Group was due to Square Enix’s alleged acquisition by Sony. Here are some more interesting observations from the interview!

D’Astous, who founded Eidos Montreal in 2007 and left in 2013, wrote that he initially hoped SE would revive Eidos when it was acquired two years after Montreal was founded:

“I always felt that the way to sell games that Eidos used were so traditional and conventional.”

“That it wasn’t innovative. And it was always underselling the quality of the games,” D’Astous said of the now-defunct publisher, whose offerings at the time included series such as Deus Ex, Hitman and Tomb Raider. “I hoped when Square Enix purchased Eidos in 2009 that that would change things.”

But D’Astous’ hopes were soon dashed as Square Enix had unrealistic expectations for games from Montreal and other western studios from Eidos. “In their annual fiscal reports, Japan always added one or two phrases saying ‘We were disappointed with certain games. They didn’t reach expectations.’ And they did that strictly for certain games that were done outside of Japan.”

D’Astous also believed that SE’s shift from legacy Eidos franchises to making superhero games, including the signing of a multi-project deal with Marvel in 2013, was short-sighted. “Maybe at the time [the deal was signed] the superhero thing was a big thing. It still is, but there is some fatigue with superheroes. And especially in games – very few manage to be successful with superheroes.”

He added: “Maybe it was the easy way out. They might have thought that selling a superhero game is easier than a conventional game.”

Although D’Astous puts some of the blame for the handling of SE’s Western studios on Japanese executives, he does not believe they are solely responsible and said that “some of the bad decisions came from London.” However, he claims that the recent sale of Square Enix’s western studios to Embracer Group stemmed from rumours of a takeover of Square Enix Tokyo by Sony.

“If I read between the lines, Square Enix Japan was not as committed as we hoped initially. And there are rumours, obviously, that with all these activities of mergers and acquisitions, that Sony would really like to have Square Enix within their wheelhouse,” he says. “I heard rumours that Sony said they’re really interested in Square Enix Toyko, but not the rest.” This, according to D’Astous, would explain why Square Enix’s western studios were sold to the Embracer group for the surprisingly low price of $300 million.

It is worth pointing out that D’Astous has had no direct involvement with Eidos Montreal for most of the last decade.

Nonetheless, his internal experience with SE is undoubtedly in line with the company’s general attitude towards Western studios in recent years.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

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