Japanese publisher Square Enix has announced positive results for the first half of fiscal 2003, with the strong performance of its online software and US division both notable from the figures.
Net sales for the first half of the year were 19.7 billion Yen (â'¬152.5 million), while net income stood at 1.2 billion Yen (â'¬9.3 million). Combined figures for Square and Enix' operations in the same period last year show that sales have risen by 2.5 per cent, while income is up by a massive 67.7 per cent.
This leaves the company on track to hit its projections for the full year, which will be the first full financial year of the merger between the two publishers. For that period, Square Enix now predicts consolidated net income of 8.1 billion Yen (â'¬62.7 million) on sales of 56 billion Yen (â'¬433.4 million).
The solid figures reported by the company come mostly thanks to growth in sectors such as online gaming and the company's US operations - in fact, the company's one-time core business, namely Japanese console software sales, is in a slight decline, although the launch of new titles from the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest franchises is likely to reverse that trend in the near future.
Massively multiplayer RPG Final Fantasy XI continues to grow its subscriber base thanks to a successful launch in the USA, and Square Enix expects it to shoot past 400,000 subscribers worldwide before it launches on the PS2 in the USA next March.
The US market, meanwhile, saw 480,000 units of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance sold during the first half, making it into Square Enix' most successful title of the period - ahead of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (360,000 copies in Japan).
Other titles which achieved around a quarter of a million sales were Final Fantasy XI, Sword of Mana (GBA), Drag-on Dragoon (also known as Drakengard), and Final Fantasy Origins in the USA.
Although Japan was Square Enix' largest territory in the first half, clocking up some 1.67 million unit sales as against the USA's 1.33 million sales, this situation is expected to reverse for the full year - with North America projected at 5.1 million sales for the full year, ahead of Japan on 4.7 million sales and Europe on 3 million sales.
Square Enix' commentary on where it was heading in future was interesting, but revealed little - with the company even refusing to comment on whether it was yet working on titles for the PlayStation Portable, although it's a safe bet that this is the case. It did, however, suggest that it hopes to roll out all aspects of its business in all global territories in the near future, with elements such as mobile phone gaming reaching Europe shortly.
It's not clear whether this includes Full Metal Alchemist, an interesting cross-media experiment being carried out in Japan at the moment which started with the launch of a comic book in early 2002, has now evolved into a hugely popular animated series and will shortly become a Square Enix RPG title for the PS2. Sales of the comic have built up steadily as other cross-media elements were introduced, and it seems likely that Square Enix will undertake similar projects in the future.