Square Enix to make more persistent online games
Exec says company has walked away from past games too early; Sleeping Dogs now profitable with 500k monthly players
As Square Enix reorganizes in the wake of a difficult year, the company is planning to change its approach to making games. In a blog post on Gamasutra, Square Enix's newly appointed head of product development and studios across America and Europe Darrell Gallagher gave some indications as to what those changes might be.
"Overall as a games business - studios and publishing - we have walked away too early from some of the worlds that we have invested so much time and energy in," the former Crystal Dynamics studio head said. "If we were to ask people that loved our games whether they would enjoy new content or deeper experiences in these digital playgrounds the answer would overwhelmingly be 'yes.'"
As evidence of that, Gallagher pointed to the continued popularity of some Square Enix titles. Sleeping Dogs came out last year to lower-than-expected sales, but Gallagher said the game has since become profitable for the company thanks to continued engagement from the player base. Even now the game sees more than 500,000 monthly players. Gallagher said a similar thing happened with Just Cause 2, which is more than three years old but continues to top half a million monthly players, and has a community-created multiplayer mod on the way later this year.
"We see the opportunity for some of our games continuing beyond a traditional beginning, middle, and end," Gallagher said. "We can have them become extendable and more persistent - with an opportunity to build and grow across games. To design in a way to keep our games alive for years instead of weeks. I'm not talking about an MMORPG - although the concept is similar - I'm talking about creating persistent online experiences built on the foundations of the games we are well known for. Now, this doesn't apply to every game, there is no one solution that works in every case, but as a wider goal it's certainly something which some of our franchises are incredibly well suited to and something I want to explore further."
Gallagher said the current upheaval in the industry is presenting opportunities along with challenges. That means that Square Enix will be changing with the industry, Gallagher said, pledging that "we're going to be open in talking about it and we're going to embrace it."