Square Enix closes out 2023 fiscal year with financial dips across the board

Square Enix starts 2023 off on a down note, with financial dips across its various divisions and its premium games not performing to expectations.

Like other game publishers, Square Enix released its financial reports for the end of 2022-2023's fiscal year. And across its multiple departments, the Japanese developer saw consistent dips. 

For the year ending on March 31, 2023, overall revenue hit ¥343.2 billion (or $2.53 billion), a decrease of 6 percent from the ¥365.28 billion of 2022's fiscal year. Similarly, profit and digital revenue respectively hit ¥49.3 billion (a 3 percent fall) and ¥246 billion (12 percent). 

HD (or premium, full-priced) games have consistently been a sales issue for Square Enix in recent years, and this year was no exception. That particular sub-section of the publisher's division (which includes Forspoken and Octopath Traveler II) saw profit of ¥78.5 billion in net sales, down 10 percent from the prior year. 

Across physical and digital formats, it sold 22.44 million global copies. Digital comprised the bulk of these at 15.85 million, and 6.59 million packaged units. 

Similarly, both the MMO and mobile/PC game sub-sections decreased by 14 percent (¥53.3 billion) and 13 percent (¥113.6 billion) each. Square acknowledged the former's decline was owed to a lack of a proper expansion for Final Fantasy XIV. Mobile and PC, it said, had "weak performances by existing titles."

Square Enix previously made its feelings on Forspoken's disappointing performance known: a month after its late January release, the game's developer Luminous Productions was merged with the publisher. Weeks later, Square confirmed the game had "lackluster sales," but expressed hope things might turn around later in 2023. 

What does Square Enix's future look like? 

Business wise, Square Enix predicts that its fortunes will turn around this year. By March 31, 2024, it projects full year revenue to go up by 5 percent, or ¥360 billion, from the full prior year. 

Because its fiscal report ended on March 31, the developer's outlook doesn't cover sales for its more recent games. In April, it released the Final Fantasy I-VI Pixel Remasters, along with the 2022 remake of Live A Live for PC, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4. 

The developer's big upcoming title is June 22's Final Fantasy XVI. The PS5 exclusive marks the first new mainline entry in the long-running series since 2016's Final Fantasy XV and has been heavily marketed in recent months. 

Later in June, a remake of 1997's Front Mission 2 will release for the Nintendo Switch. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy VII Rebirth is slated for a release later in 2023, or early 2024, for the PS5. 

These are just the games that Square Enix has publicly confirmed the existence of. There's always the possibility that it has other games it's sitting on to release some months later, as it did with Octopath Traveler II

Over the next few years, Square broadly plans to focus resources on titles that have been "carefully selected" for global appeal, and establishing a pipeline for regular launches of its major titles. It also plans to build up in-house development resources, particularly as it pertains to its triple-A releases.

Additionally, it plans to bring in more talent for its HD and mobile games, along with "future cross-platform offerings." Focusing on external studios, either through acquisitions and minority stakes, or creating wholly new ones, is also on the agenda. 

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