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Square Enix plans further focus on mobile market

Major Japanese publisher continues to look beyond console games for growth

Online and mobile gaming represents the future for one of Japan's largest publishers and the world's most successful creator of role-playing games, according to Square Enix president Yoichi Wada.

Speaking to Yomiuri Online in an interview partially translated by GameSpot, Wada said that online gaming - either over computers or mobile phones - represented the future of the market as a whole, and have caused a major shift in the structure of the industry.

"The rise of the Internet has broken the fundamental principle of the past 20 years," he explained, "where games were supposed to be played with consoles."

According to Wada, the console-driven industry gave control over "everything including software development, manufacture and distribution" to Sony and Nintendo - while the emergence of a market where players can connect to online games from their phones or computers has broken their control.

"The market is switching from console makers towards the software makers," he said, "which provide appealing games and content. In the future, only companies that can adapt to the online market can survive."

Square Enix, of course, has one of the most successful MMORPG businesses in the world with Final Fantasy XI, and hopes to launch a number of other products in this space over the coming months, while the company has been a pioneer of subscription based mobile gaming products in Japan, starting with the hugely successful Final Fantasy VII: Before Crisis.

Wada revealed that the firm, which recently completed the acquisition of fellow Japanese publisher Taito, hopes to expand its focus in the online and mobile sectors - aiming to "become the largest and greatest content maker" - and will also be building those businesses into North America and Europe.

Mobile versions of Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy, titles which were vital in bringing the mobile gaming industry in Japan up to its current healthy state, will be launched in those territories towards the end of next year - and Square Enix is also considering the creation or acquisition of development studios in overseas regions to bolster its locally relevant content.

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