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Square Enix president admits that company 'lost focus'

In a recent interview with Nikkei Weekly, Square Enix chief Yosuke Matsuda admitted that games developed for 'mass appeal' underperformed, while 'niche' games like the JRPG Bravely Default flourished.
"When we developed console games with a worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being games that weren’t for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren’t even fit for a global audience."
- Yosuke Matsuda, president of Square Enix, discusses the company's evolving approach to global game development in an interview with Nikkei Trendy that's been excerpted and translated by Siliconera. "Who says the JRPG is dead?" was the headline of a story we ran earlier this month highlighting the market performance of Square Enix's 3DS JRPG Bravely Default, which sold over 200,000 units in its first three weeks of sale according to Nintendo. The implication, of course, was that demand for traditional Japanese RPGs is alive and kicking, and it's an opinion that Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda seems to share. In a recent interview, Matsuda expressed surprise at the unexpected success of Bravely Default and spoke somewhat candidly about how Square Enix had struggled with developing games for non-Japanese markets. “If you look back at 2013, we’ve had some home console games made for a global audience that struggled,” Matsuda reportedly told the Nikkei Trendy. “The development team for Hitman: Absolution really struggled in this regard." "They implemented a vast amount of ‘elements for the mass’ instead of for the core fans, as a way to try getting as many new players possible. It was a strategy to gain mass appeal," continued Matsuda. "However, what makes the Hitman series good is its appeal to core gamers, and many fans felt the lack of focus in that regard, which ended up making it struggle in sales.” In the context of the full interview, Matsuda seems to be suggesting that Square Enix will be changing how it approaches developing games for a global market, by focusing on making games that appeal to what it believes to be a "niche audience" and trusting that players who appreciate those games will seek them out, rather than attempting to make games that will appeal to a broad audience. More translated excerpts are available on Siliconera, while the full interview is available in Japanese on the Nikkei Trendy website.

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