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Square-Enix reaffirms commitment to mobile gaming

Publisher remains confident of success in Western markets

Japanese software publisher Square Enix is preparing for an assault on the Western mobile gaming market, challenging the current trend for simple, casual games and striving to build bridges between mobile gamers and the traditional hardcore videogames audience.

Whilst mobile metrics data suggests that the US mobile gaming audience is more likely to find appeal in one-thumb games and card titles like poker, Square Enix is taking a different approach, hoping to draw in gamers who might otherwise ignore the mobile platform.

In a recent interview with US website IGN, Square Enix's producer of Mobile Products, Kosei Ito, discussed the differences between audience expectations in the mobile and console videogames space - suggesting that the two platforms needn't be mutually exclusive in terms of their appeal and that the experience of the publisher's mobile games could help to expand, rather than exclude the so called "hardcore" console audience.

"After they understand the existence of Square Enix mobile titles, that might lead them to play the console titles. Not a lot of casual gamers will play PS2. Final Fantasy titles for mobile can be the bridge," Ito stated.

The publisher announced a range of new releases at the recent E3 expo which are scheduled to hit Western markets this year, spearheaded by the summer release of Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode - a 3D first-person action game featuring characters from the Final Fantasy VII mythos.

Ito is confident that whilst the title is certainly more complex and involved than a simple puzzle or arcade title, its design is perfectly suited to the mobile platform and believes that the game's success in Japan can be replicated in the US.

Later in the year, US gamers will also receive Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, which helped Square Enix pioneer subscription-based mobile gaming in Japan and was accessed 1.6 million times on the first day of launch.

The publisher will also be releasing a selection of arcade classics following its acquisition of fellow publisher Taito, but its focus is very much geared towards effecting a change in the mobile space, breaking down the barriers between mobile and console gaming and potentially broadening the audience for both.

Whether or not the US market is ready to accept that change remains to be seen, but with the phenomenal global fan base for its Final Fantasy series, Square Enix is perhaps better placed than any other publisher in terms of the sheer number of people eager to play their games - regardless of their preferred platform or current gaming habits.

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