Square Enix

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Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd.
株式会社スクウェア・エニックス・ホールディングス
Type Public
Traded as TYO: 9684
Industry Video games
Books & magazines (Japan only)
Anime
Founded September 22, 1975 (Enix)[1]
September 1986 (Square Co.)[1]
April 1, 2003 (as Square Enix)[1]
October 1, 2008 (as Square Enix Holdings)[1]
Headquarters Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan
Key people Yasuhiro Fukushima
(Honorary Chairman)
Yosuke Matsuda[2]
(President and CEO)
Phil Rogers
(CEO, Square Enix Europe
President and CEO, Square Enix, Inc.)
Products Final Fantasy
Dragon Quest
Kingdom Hearts
Tomb Raider
Hitman
Deus Ex
Thief
Revenue Increase ¥127,896 million (April 1, 2011 - March 31, 2012)[3]
Net income Increase ¥6,060 million (April 1, 2011 - March 31, 2012)[3]
Employees 3,242 (as of March 31, 2012)[4]
Subsidiaries Square Enix Group
Taito Group
Square Enix Europe[5]
Eidos Group
Shinra Technologies, Inc.
Website www.square-enix.com

Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. (株式会社スクウェア・エニックス・ホールディングス Kabushiki-gaisha Sukuwea Enikkusu Hōrudingusu?) is a Japanese video game developer, publisher,[6] and distribution company that is best known for its role-playing video game franchises, which include the Final Fantasy series, the Dragon Quest series, and the Kingdom Hearts action RPG series. Its headquarters are located in the Shinjuku Eastside Square Building in Shinjuku, Tokyo.[7][8]

The original Square Enix was formed as the result of a merger between Square and Enix. The merger occurred on April 1, 2003 with Enix as the surviving company.[9] Each share of Square's common stock was exchanged for 0.85 shares of Enix's common stock.[10] At the time, 80% of Square Enix staff were made up of former Square Co. employees.[11] As part of the merger, former Square president Yoichi Wada was appointed president of the new corporation, while former Enix president Keiji Honda became its vice president.[12] The founder of Enix, Yasuhiro Fukushima, currently serves as the honorary chairman and largest shareholder of the corporation.[13]

The company also owns Taito Corporation, best known for arcade games such as Space Invaders and Bubble Bobble, and former game publisher Eidos Interactive, which has been absorbed into Square Enix Europe. Square Enix now publishes all of Eidos's IPs and runs Eidos's development studios. Eidos was most well known for publishing the Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex, and Thief series of games.

Corporate history[edit]

  • April 1, 2003 - Square Enix formed in a merger between Square Co., Ltd. and the Enix Corporation.
  • July 2003 - Square Enix relocated its headquarters to Yoyogi, Shibuya, Tokyo.[1]
  • March 2004 - Square Enix acquired UIEvolution, Inc. in order to strengthen its wireless market.
  • January 2005 - Square Enix founded Square Enix (China) Co., Ltd (China), expanding their interests in the People's Republic of China (the company also has a controlling interest in Community Network Software Engine of Beijing, China which focuses on network middle-ware for gaming).
  • August 22, 2005 - Square Enix announced its acquisition of the gaming developer and publisher, Taito Corporation, renowned for their arcade hits, such as Space Invaders and the Bubble Bobble series.
  • September 28, 2005 - The acquisition of Taito is completed.
  • week of September 5, 2006 - Square Enix sued for breaking a contract with Soft-World International.[14]
  • December 2007 - UIEvolution splits from Square Enix to become an independent company.
  • August 29, 2008 - Square Enix made plans for a friendly takeover of Tecmo by purchasing shares at a 30 percent premium with a total bid of 22.3 billion yen.[15]
  • September 4, 2008 - Square Enix withdrew their offer after Tecmo rejected the proposed takeover.[16] Pure Dreams series formed.
  • October 1, 2008: Square Enix transforms into a holding company and is renamed into Square Enix Holdings. At the same time the gaming, contents and publishing businesses are transferred to a spin-off named Square Enix,[1] sharing the same corporate leadership and offices with the holding.[4][17]
  • February 12, 2009 - Square Enix Holdings announced a takeover deal worth £84.3 million (32p per share) for Eidos plc, the holding company for Eidos Interactive, the UK-based publisher of the Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex, Thief and Legacy of Kain franchises.[18]
  • April 22, 2009 - The acquisition of Eidos is completed.
  • March 11, 2010 - All games that Taito Corporation has published for home consoles and portable systems are now handled by Square Enix.[19]
  • June 17, 2013 - Square Enix started a mobile studio called Smileworks in Indonesia led by Hiroaki Kanamura. Its focus is original content for mobile devices including iOS, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.[20]

Business model[edit]

The business model of Square Enix is centered on the idea of "polymorphic content", which consists in developing franchises on all potential hardware or media rather than being restricted by a single gaming platform.[21] An early example of this strategy is Enix's Fullmetal Alchemist manga series, which has been adapted into two anime TV series, two movies, and several novels and video games. Other polymorphic projects include Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Code Age, World of Mana, Ivalice Alliance and Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy. According to Yoichi Wada, "it's very difficult to hit the jackpot, as it were. Once we've hit it, we have to get all the juice possible out of it".[22]

The standard game design model of Square Enix is to establish the plot, characters and art of the game first. Battle systems, field maps and cutscenes are created next. A typical game of the company involves a team of at most 200 people. Square Enix doesn't usually use other companies' engines, preferring to code from scratch.[23] According to Taku Murata, Square Enix has settled into this game making model since Square's Final Fantasy VII in 1997 and did not try other approaches since,[24] as Enix did not have any internal development studio. Similar to Sony's Greatest Hits program, Square Enix sometimes re-releases games under the Ultimate Hits label, a designation given to games that have achieved a certain level of sales, at a reduced retail price.

In 2004, Square Enix began to work on a "common 3D format" which would allow the entire company to develop titles without being restricted to a specific platform: this led to the creation of a game engine, named Crystal Tools, which is compatible with the PlayStation 3, the Xbox 360, Windows-based PCs and to some extent the Wii.[25] Nevertheless, Square Enix has also begun considering other companies' engines and programming languages, licencing Epic Games' Unreal engine in 2007 for use in The Last Remnant,[26] and using the Squirrel language for the WiiWare title Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.[23]

Development organization[edit]

In 2003, Square Enix's development staff consisted of eight Square and two Enix Product Development Divisions (開発事業部 kaihatsu jigyōbu?).[27][28][29] Product Development Division 5 had offices both in Osaka and Tokyo.[27] This organization was known as the Product Development Division System.[30]

Product Development Divisions of Square Enix in 2003[27][28]
No. Head Employees Games developed
Square
1 Yoshinori Kitase 150–300 Final Fantasy X-2 International + Last Mission
2 Akitoshi Kawazu ca 100 Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles
3 Hiromichi Tanaka 61 Final Fantasy XI: Rise of the Zilart
4 Yasumi Matsuno ca 100 Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, Final Fantasy XII
5 Yusuke Hirata 100 All Star Pro-Wrestling III
6 Toshiro Tsuchida 57 Front Mission 3, Front Mission 1st, Front Mission 4
7 Takashi Tokita ca 20 Hanjuku Hero Tai 3D, Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls[31]
8 Koichi Ishii 7 Sword of Mana
Enix
9 Yuu Miyake 11 Kenshin Dragon Quest, Dragon Quest Monsters, Dragon Quest VIII
10 Yosuke Saito 16 none (staff of producers)

As of May 2005, Product Development Division 10 was headed by Yoshinori Yamagishi.[32] In June 2005, Yusuke Hirata, the former head of Product Development Division 5, left to join Aquaplus.[33] In August 2005, Yasumi Matsuno, the former head of Product Development Division 4, left due to prolonged sickness.[28][34]

According to Yoichi Wada, the development department is no longer organized with the Product Development Division System since at least March 2007. The staff is now structured on a project-based system.[35] At present, the teams in charge of the Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy, Dissidia Final Fantasy and the Kingdom Hearts series are collectively referred to as the 1st Production Department (第1制作部 dai-ichi seisakubu?), however with no 2nd and 3rd Production Departments existing. The current structure of the 1st Production Department is the result of a fall 2010 merger between Square Enix's Tokyo and Osaka development studios. Shinji Hashimoto is its corporate executive.[36]

Properties[edit]

Video games[edit]

Square Enix's main concentration is on video gaming. Of its properties, the Final Fantasy franchise is the best-selling, with a total worldwide sales of over 110 million units as of June 2014.[37] Square Enix's Dragon Quest franchise is considered one of the most popular game series in Japan and new installments regularly outsell other games at the times of their release, with a total worldwide sales of over 64 million units as of June 2014.[37] More recently, Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts series (developed in collaboration with Disney's Buena Vista Games) has become popular, with over 20 million units sold as of March 2014.[38]

In early 2003, Square Enix's U.S. subsidiary registered the Dragon Quest trademark, retiring the Dragon Warrior moniker, which was necessitated in 1989 due a trademark conflict with the now defunct TSR, Inc.. In May 2004, Square Enix announced an agreement with Sony Online Entertainment for the Japanese publishing rights to EverQuest II. In the seventh generation of video game consoles, Square Enix released new installments from its major series across all three systems, including Final Fantasy XIII on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, and Dragon Quest X on the Wii. Square Enix has also developed titles for handheld game consoles, including the Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo 3DS and Playstation Vita. In addition, they have published games for Microsoft Windows-based personal computers, and for various models of mobile phones. Square Enix mobile phone games are available on the Vodafone network in some European countries, including Ireland, United Kingdom, Spain, and France. Twenty-seven Square Enix games were included in Famitsu magazine's 'Top 100 Games Ever', seven being in the top ten list, with Final Fantasy X claiming the number one position.[39]

Before its launch, Michihiro Sasaki, senior vice president of Square Enix, spoke about the PlayStation 3, saying "We don't want the PlayStation 3 to be the overwhelming loser, so we want to support them, but we don't want them to be the overwhelming winner either, so we can't support them too much."[40] Square Enix continued to reiterate their devotion to multi-platform publishing in 2007, promising more support for the North American and European gaming markets where console pluralism is generally more prevalent than in Japan.[41] Their interest in multi-platform development was made clear in 2008 when the previously PlayStation 3-exclusive game Final Fantasy XIII was announced for release on the Xbox 360.[42]

In 2008, Square Enix and Gas Powered Games announced partnership on the game Supreme Commander 2.[43] On July 8, 2008, Square Enix released their first game for the iPod, Song Summoner: The Unsung Heroes. Square Enix made a new brand for kids gaming that same year, known as Pure Dreams. Its purpose is to create games suitable for kids. The brand is now planning more games. Pure Dreams have just completed their first two games, Snoopy DS: Let's Go Meet Snoopy and His Friends (released in Japan on October 9, 2008) and Pingu's Wonderful Carnival (released in Japan on November 6, 2008). Fortress was the codename of a video game that was to be a spin-off of Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. It was envisioned as an action game set in the fictional world of Ivalice, and was intended for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows platforms.[44][45] Although not yet officially announced, the project's existence was revealed after the closure of the original developer, GRIN, by former members of the development team and sources in the video game industry. The game was cancelled,[46] along with Highlander: The Game, Qwirkle,[47] Downfall: San Francisco,[48] Gun Loco,[49] Catacombs,[50] and Project Dropship.[51]

In 2009, Square Enix acquired Eidos, the company responsible for popular game series such as Tomb Raider, Hitman, Deus Ex, Thief and Legacy of Kain, as well as the publishing of the Windows versions of Final Fantasy VII and VIII and Western release of Dragon Warrior Monsters. Square Enix has absorbed Eidos into a new division called Square Enix Europe. Square Enix also helped deliver Ubisoft games to Japan since 2009.[52]

Square Enix has developed two notable in-house game engines. The first, Crystal Tools, was a middlewares engine created for seventh generation consoles and Microsoft Windows.[53] It was first shown off at a tech demo shown off at E3 2005, and was later used for Final Fantasy XIII based on the demo's reception.[54][55] Crystal Tools was also used for Final Fantasy Versus XIII before its re-branding as Final Fantasy XV and shift onto next-gen platforms.[56] Refinement of the engine continued through the development of Final Fantasy XIII-2,[57] and it underwent a major overhaul for Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.[58] The second is the Luminous engine, which was originally unveiled at E3 2012 through a tech demo titled Agni's Philosophy.[59][60][61] The first major console title to use Luminous was Final Fantasy XV.[56] Luminous's development was done in tandem with XV, and the game's development helped the programming team optimize the engine.[62]

Online gaming[edit]

Before the merger, Enix published its first online game Cross Gate in Japan, mainland China, and Taiwan in 2001 and Square released Final Fantasy XI in Japan on May 16, 2002 for the PlayStation 2. With the huge success after Square Enix released Final Fantasy XI worldwide in March 2004, Microsoft had the game ported into the Xbox 360 two years later, making it the first Final Fantasy game ever to be on the Xbox console. Due to the success of their MMORPG, Square Enix began a new project called Fantasy Earth: The Ring of Dominion. GamePot, a Japanese game portal, got the license to publish Fantasy Earth in Japan and it was released in Japan as "Fantasy Earth ZERO." In November 2006, however, Square Enix dropped the Fantasy Earth Zero project, giving acquisition to GamePot. Square Enix released Concerto Gate, the sequel to Cross Gate, in 2007.

A next-gen MMORPG code named Rapture was developed by the Final Fantasy XI team using the company's Crystal Tools engine.[63] It was unveiled at E3 2009 that the MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, for PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows, would be released on September 30, 2010. The release date for the PlayStation 3 version was soon postponed. Dragon Quest X was announced in September 2011 as an MMORPG being developed for Nintendo's Wii and Wii U consoles,[64] which released on August 2, 2012 and March 30, 2013 respectively. Like XIV, it used Crystal Tools.[65]

Square Enix is also making browser games and Facebook games, like Legend World, Chocobo's Crystal Tower and Knights of the Crystals,[66][67] and online games for Yahoo! Japan, such as Monster x Dragon,[68] Sengoku Ixa, Bravely Default: Praying Brage, Star Galaxy and Crystal Conquest.[69]

On May 8, 2012, Square Enix announced a collaboration with Bigpoint Games to create a free-to-play cloud gaming platform that "throws players into 'limitless game worlds' directly through their web browser".[70] The service was launched under the name CoreOnline in August 2012.[71] Claiming "limited commercial take-up," the free service was reported as cancelled on November 29, 2013, including the free-to-play browser title GameGlobe.

Other media[edit]

The company has made two forays into the film industry. The first, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), was produced by Square subsidiary Square Pictures prior to the merger (Square Pictures is now a consolidated subsidiary of Square Enix).[72] Its box-office failure caused Enix to delay the merger, which was already considered before the creation of the film, for fear of associating itself with a company that loses money.[73] In 2005, Square Enix released Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, a CGI-animation movie based on the PlayStation game Final Fantasy VII, set two years after the events of the game. A Deus Ex film is currently in pre-production.[74][75]

The company also has a manga publishing division in Japan (originally from Enix) called Gangan Comics, which publishes content for the Japanese market only. However, in 2010, Square Enix launched a digital manga store for North American audiences via its Members services, which contains several notable series published in Gangan anthologies.[76] Titles published by Gangan Comics include Black God, Durarara, Papuwa, Haré+Guu, Pani Poni, Spiral, He is My Master, Yumekui Kenbun, Doubt, Bamboo Blade, Heroman, Pandora Hearts, Black Butler, Sumomomo Momomo, Soul Eater, Zombie Loan, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Fullmetal Alchemist, Space Dandy, and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Other titles include manga adaptations of diverse Square Enix games, like Dragon Quest, Kingdom Hearts and Star Ocean. Some of these titles have also been adapted into anime series.

Fullmetal Alchemist so far is the most successful offspring of Square Enix's manga branch, with more than 30 million volumes sold in Japan alone. It was adapted into two different anime series, both licensed to many locations worldwide (in North America by FUNimation Entertainment). The same occurs with its manga series, licensed in North America by Viz Media. Kingdom Hearts and Spiral were licensed in North America by Tokyopop; Tokyopop dropped Spiral, but the title was later licensed again by Hachette's Yen Press, which has licensed other Square Enix titles including Soul Eater, Bamboo Blade and Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Other titles like Soul Eater, Sekirei, Bamboo Blade and Black Butler also were adapted to TV and licensed to other countries.

Square Enix created figures for franchises such as Mass Effect and Halo.[77] The company also has a smartphone subsidiary, HipposLab.[78]

Subsidiaries[edit]

Reviews and rating[edit]

  • The company won IGN's award for Best Developer of 2006 for the PlayStation 2.[81]
  • Square Enix's North American subsidiary, Square Enix, Inc., joined The Better Business Bureau in July 2007 and was assigned a rating of "C++". The BBB rating has since been upgraded to "A+".[82]

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External links[edit]