Square (company)

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This article is about the video game company. For the electronic payment service, see Square, Inc..
Square Company, Limited
Former type Public (Defunct)
Industry Interactive entertainment
Fate Merged with Enix
Successors Square Enix
Founded September 1986
Founders Masashi Miyamoto
Defunct April 1, 2003
Headquarters Tokyo, Japan
Key people Tomoyuki Takechi, Chairman
Hironobu Sakaguchi, EVP (1991-2001) Hisashi Suzuki, President and CEO (1995-2001) Yoichi Wada, CFO (June 2000-September 2001), President (December 2001-2003)
Products See complete products listing
Subsidiaries See subsidiaries and related corporations

The Square Company, Limited (株式会社スクウェア Kabushiki-gaisha Sukuwea?) was a Japanese video game company founded in September 1986 by Masashi Miyamoto. It merged with Enix in 2003 and became part of Square Enix. The company sometimes used Squaresoft as a brand name to refer to their games,[1] and the term is occasionally used to refer to the company itself. In addition, "Squaresoft, Inc" was the name of the company's American arm before the merger, after which it was renamed to "Square Enix, Inc".

History[edit]

Square was founded in Yokohama in September 1986 by Masashi Miyamoto after he graduated from Waseda, one of Japan's top universities. Back then, Square was a computer game software division of Den-Yu-Sha, a power line construction company owned by Miyamoto's father. While at the time game development was usually conducted by only one programmer, Miyamoto believed that it would be more efficient to have graphic designers, programmers and professional story writers working together on common projects. Square's first two titles were The Death Trap and its sequel Will: The Death Trap II, both designed by part-time employee Hironobu Sakaguchi and released on the NEC PC-8801.[2]

Despite an initial reluctance to develop for video game consoles, Square entered the Nintendo Famicom market in December 1985 with the porting of Thexder.[2] In September 1986, Square spun off from Den-Yu-Sha and became an independent company officially named Square Co., Ltd.[3] Sakaguchi then became a full-time employee as the Director of Planning and Development of the company. After releasing several unsuccessful games for the Famicom, Square relocated to Ueno, Tokyo in 1987 and developed a role-playing video game titled Final Fantasy, inspired by Enix's success with the genre, Dragon Quest (later released in North America as Dragon Warrior).[4] With 400,000 copies sold, Final Fantasy spawned multiple sequels over the years and became Square's main franchise.[2]

Square has also made other widely known games such as Chrono Trigger, Chrono Cross, Secret of Mana, Legend of Mana, Xenogears, Brave Fencer Musashi, Parasite Eve, Parasite Eve 2, Saga Frontier, Romancing Saga, Vagrant Story, Kingdom Hearts (done in collaboration with Disney Interactive), and Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (done under the guidance of Shigeru Miyamoto).[4]

Square was one of the many companies that had planned to develop and publish their games for the Nintendo 64, but with the cheaper costs associated with developing games on CD based consoles such as the Sega Saturn and the Sony PlayStation, Square decided to develop titles for latter system.[5] Final Fantasy VII was one of these games, and it sold 9.8 million copies, making it the second best selling game for the PlayStation.[4]

On February 8, 2001, due to its first quarterly loss since going public, "the company implemented a restructuring plan for its Japanese corporate staff. Three key figures have been moved around in the company ranks. "Resigning" from their current positions in order to take responsibility for the losses, and have been reassigned to different positions. Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of the Final Fantasy series, will no longer be vice president, and will instead be known as an "executive producer." Additionally, company president Tomoyuki Takeshi will become a contractual consultant for the company, with director Masahi Hiramatsu now taking the role of executive consultant.".[6]

A merger between Square and its competitor Enix was in consideration since at least 2000; however, the financial failure of their first movie, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within made Enix hesitant to join with a company which was losing money,.[7] With the company in its second year of financial loss, Square approached Sony for a capital injection and on October, 8th 2001, Sony Corp purchased 18.6% stake in Square to bandage their loss.[8]

In an interview with GIA.com in 2001, when asked "Are you ever worried that Square will become too heavily dependent on the Final Fantasy name?" Hironobu Sakaguchi responded that "Avoiding that has actually been one of Square's goals for a long time. It is our aim to try and develop a few more major franchises for the company; that has always been on our minds."[9]

On November 26, it was reported that Square CEO Hisashi Suzuki was to step down as the company's President and that COO Yoichi Wada was to replace him in December with a restructuring plan for the company.[10]

On May 28, 2002 it was detailed that in Wada's restructuring of the company, that "while Square formally took a development style where teams were formed and dispersed per project, developers will now be fixed into divisions. Source codes and resources will be shared for efficiency, and employees will receive varying bonuses depending on the profit of their division. By settling developers into groups, Square also aims for the developers to re-use the titles they have developed, making game development more cost efficient. Development costs- originally 2-3 Billion yen, are expected to fall to 1 Billion yen." In addition, the company revealed plans to release two Final Fantasy X spinoffs that would later become Final Fantasy X-2.[11][12]

Following the success of both Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts,.[13] the company recovered to stability and the company recorded the highest operating margin in its history in fiscal year 2002.[14] It was announced on November 25, 2002 that Square and Enix's previous plans to merge were to officially proceed. As described by Yoichi Wada "Square has also fully recovered, meaning this merger is occurring at a time when both companies are at their height.".[15] Despite this, some shareholders had doubts about the merger, notably Square's original founder & largest shareholder: Masashi Miyamoto, who would find himself holding significantly less if the two RPG behemoths go through with the deal.[16] Other criticism came from Takashi Oya of Deutsche Securities who expressed doubts about the benefits of such a merger. "Enix outsources game development and has few in-house creators, while Square does everything by itself. The combination of the two provides no negative factors but would bring little in the way of operational synergies, he said."[17] Eventually Masashi Miyamoto's issue was eventually resolved, by altering the exchange ratio of one Square share for 0.81 Enix shares, thus greenlighting the merger and on April 1, 2003, Square-Enix was founded. [18]

Subsidiaries and related corporations[edit]

In Japan[edit]

Disk Original Group logo

The Disk Original Group (DOG) was a union formed of no less than seven Japanese video game companies: Square Company, Limited, Micro Cabin, Thinking Rabbit, Carry Lab, System Sacom, XTALSOFT, and HummingBirdSoft. Founded July 14, 1986, Square took the lead of this promising alliance to produce games on the Famicom Disk System. Because Square headed DOG, all DOG titles were published under the name Square. In reality, however, Square only produced a few of the eleven games published under the DOG label. In general, the games were commercial failures.

DigiCube was established in February 1996. It was formed to market and distribute games and related merchandising (toys, books, music, etc.) in Asia. It declared bankruptcy in October 2003.

Escape, Inc. was established in 1998. They developed the racing game Driving Emotion Type-S.

Square Visual Works (CG studio), Square Sounds (sound studio), Squartz (quality assurance) and Square Next were all founded in June 1999. All were subsequently absorbed into Square Co., Ltd. in 2001 and 2002.

Quest Corporation was an independent software development studio established in July 1988, best known for the Ogre Battle series. Several team members, including Yasumi Matsuno, Hiroshi Minagawa and Akihiko Yoshida, left Quest in 1997 to join Square, where they worked on several titles for the Sony PlayStation, including Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story. In June 2002, Quest was purchased by Square.[19]

The Game Designers Studio, Inc. (株式会社ゲームデザイナーズ・スタジオ kabushiki-gaisha geimudezainaazu sutajio?) was a shell corporation founded by Square to create video games for the Nintendo GameCube, even though Square had an exclusive deal with Sony Computer Entertainment to create games only for PlayStation consoles. To evade that deal, Square held only 49% of the shares while Akitoshi Kawazu, head of Square's Product Development Division-2, held 51%. The formation of a new company also made it possible to take advantage of Nintendo’s Q fund for new game developers who develop for GameCube. Game Designers Studio only released a single game, Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles was de facto developed by Square Enix's Product Development Division-2. Publishing was done by Nintendo.

Square merged with Enix and formed Square Enix while Crystal Chronicles was in development. Square Enix later acquired 100% of Game Designers Studio and renamed the new subsidiary to SQEX Corporation. After the takeover of Taito in 2005, Square Enix merged SQEX with Taito and renamed the new subsidiary to Taito Corporation in March 2006.

Abroad[edit]

The logo of Square Soft, Inc.

Squaresoft, Inc. was established as the official North American subsidiary of Square in March 1989. It was responsible for both the production and distribution of North American localizations of Square titles during the 16-bit era, and continued to produce English language localizations of Square games in the 32-bit era. It has also been responsible for localizing a number of non-Square titles, including Capcom's Breath of Fire for the SNES and Sony's Wild Arms 3 for the PlayStation 2. It developed the game Secret of Evermore for the SNES. It is currently known as Square Enix, Inc. Square Soft's original headquarters were in Redmond, Washington, where it distributed its now-dead newsletter, the Ogopogo Examiner, but it was relocated to Costa Mesa, California in August 1996, where it remained until late 2005; as of 2006, Square Enix, Inc. is now located in El Segundo, California.

Square USA, Inc. (originally Square L.A., Inc.) was established in August 1995. It operates as a high-end computer-generated imagery research and development studio, and has been integral in the production of graphics for Square-produced games since the beginning of the 32-bit era. Its headquarters are in Los Angeles, California and Honolulu, Hawaii. Like its sister company, Square Soft, Inc., Square USA was a wholly owned subsidiary of Square Co., Ltd.

Square Europe, Limited was established in December 1998 to localize and market Square-developed games in Europe and Australia. Located in London, UK, Square Europe was granted exclusive publishing rights in Europe and other PAL territories for all interactive entertainment titles developed by Square.

Square Electronic Arts[edit]

Square Electronic Arts, LLC, also known as Square EA, was a joint venture between console video game developers Square and Electronic Arts. Announced on April 27, 1998, Square EA was based in Costa Mesa, California and operated under the supervision of Square president and CEO Jun Iwasaki, and was responsible for publishing and marketing all games produced by Square in North America. Conversely, Electronic Arts Square, K.K., formed at the same time and based in Japan, was responsible for publishing and marketing games produced by Electronic Arts in Asia. Under the terms of the agreement, Electronic Arts owned 30 percent of Square EA, and Square owned 30 percent of EA Square.

Square EA proved to be very successful, and during its five years of existence released a higher proportion of localized Square titles to the American market than ever before. EA Square, on the other hand, was somewhat less successful, and struggled to make an impact on the Asian video game market, which has been traditionally difficult for American game developers to break into. EA Square had also developed a game, X-Squad, which was released for the PlayStation 2 during its launch.

Following the announcement of the merger between Square and former competitor Enix in 2003, Square purchased back Electronic Arts' stake in Square EA, and folded it back into Square Soft, Inc., its North American subsidiary, which was subsequently renamed Square Enix U.S.A., Inc. (now Square Enix, Inc.) and continues to publish Square Enix's titles in North America.

Square Pictures[edit]

Square Pictures was located in Honolulu, Hawaii and specialized in computer-animated films for Square. They started in 1997, with the goal to eventually "incorporate the movie division's technical advances into its games, spinning a cycle of creativity with games inspiring movies that in turn improve games."[20] In 1998 it was announced that Square was partnering with Sony/Columbia to bring a full-length Final Fantasy movie to theaters "in the ambitious goal to be the first to simulate human emotions and movements through computer graphics."[21] and in 2000, the film was revealed as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. Sony released the film on July 11, 2001, but could only muster mixed reviews. Massive cost overruns resulted in the film's worldwide box-office take being just over half of its budget. Square Pictures was disbanded shortly thereafter.

They also created a short film for the Wachowski siblings that was a prequel to The Matrix Reloaded titled the Final Flight of the Osiris. The short featured photo realistic characters, just as The Spirits Within, performing acrobatic moves in action sequences. The film was shown in theaters alongside Dreamcatcher and was meant to set the stage for the two Matrix sequels. The short was released on DVD on June 3, 2003 as part of The Animatrix. Square Pictures is now a consolidated subsidiary of Square Enix.[22]

List of games[edit]

Main article: List of Square games

Further reading[edit]

Chun, Michelle (March 18, 2002). "SquareSoft: What's Behind the Hype? A Case History". Stanford University. Retrieved September 2, 2011. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Nvidia and Square Partner to Bring Final Fantasy XI to the PC". Nvidia Corporation. September 19, 2002. Archived from the original on May 20, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c Fujii, Daiji (January 2006). Entrepreneurial choices of strategic options in Japan's RPG development (PDF). Faculty of Economics, Okayama University. Archived from the original on 2006-10-08. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  3. ^ "Corporate History". Square Enix. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  4. ^ a b c "Square Enix Company Timeline". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  5. ^ IGN staff (December 11, 1996). "Sony Officially Announces Alignment With Square". IGN.com. Retrieved 2008-07-19. 
  6. ^ "IGN > Square Does the Management Reshuffling". IGN. February 9, 2001. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  7. ^ "RPGamer > Square-Enix Gives Chrono Break Trademark Some Playmates". Rpgamer.com. Retrieved 2008-10-13. 
  8. ^ "IGN> Sony buys stake in Square". IGN.com. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  9. ^ "Interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi>Interview with Hironobu Sakaguchi". GIA.com. October 4, 2001. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  10. ^ "RPGamer> Square's President Bows Out". RPGamer. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  11. ^ "Square Announces Final Fantasy X Spinoffs, Company Restructure to take place". Mad Man's Cafe.com. May 28, 2002. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  12. ^ Bramwell, Tom (30 May 2002). "Square Announces Final Fantasy X Spinoffs, Company Restructure to take place". EuroGamer.net. Retrieved January 3, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Square Expects Strong Financial Results". RPG Fan. 2002. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  14. ^ "Square Enix Financial data". Square Enix. July 30, 2003. Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  15. ^ "Square and Enix to merge". IGN.com. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  16. ^ "Troubl in paradise". RPGamer. Q12003. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  17. ^ "Japan Game Software Firms Square, Enix to Merge". GameCubicle.com. November 26, 2002. Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  18. ^ "Square Enix Merger gets greenlight". RPGFan. Q12003. Retrieved 2013-12-25. 
  19. ^ "Square Completes Acquisition of Quest". IGN Game Boy. 2002-06-19. Retrieved 2005-01-18. 
  20. ^ "Wired.com". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  21. ^ "Gamespot". Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  22. ^ "Square-Enix Co, LTD. Annual Report 2007" (PDF). pp. 29, 30, 53. Retrieved 2009-03-05. 

External links[edit]