Ars Technica is reporting that Japan-based game developer, Square Enix, has finally pulled the trigger and opened up shop in Los Angeles. The idea is to bridge the cultural gap between Square Enix executives and western gamers by employing western developers.
Game Developer Manager Fumi Shiraishi had this to say about Square Enix’s ocean crossing, “Square Enix isn’t necessarily shifting, it’s more of a growth,” he explained of the company’s recent interest in the North American market. “The stuff [games created by Square Enix in Japan] does what it is supposed to do…but the Japanese market isn’t growing.”
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has been following the RPG world to read that Square Enix is actively pursuing the American gaming market. Over the past decade Western RPG developers like Bethesda and BioWare have begun to dominate the American RPG scene, and Square Enix naturally wants a piece of the action. The Last Remnant was originally designed to appeal to both Japanese and American gamers, but ended up failing to meet anyone’s standards. Recent publication deals with western companies like Gas Powered Games and this new office in Smog Cit show Square Enix’s commitment to getting a foothold here in the New World.
I’m pretty happy that Square Enix has come to understand that its development style had run its course, and that it needed to adapt to meet the needs of the gamers across the ocean. Obviously, Enix has an insane pedigree and is perfectly capable of bringing masterpieces to the market, but shoving more versions of Final Fantasy down our throats isn’t going to cut it…at least not when Fallout 3 and BioShock are pushing the boundaries with technical marvels and engaging story lines.
Shiraishi insisted that Square Enix’s shift won’t involve western violence or gore, but admits that the US location will bring new ideas and influences into Square Enix’s developmental process. This acculturation will hopefully help the the unnamed RPG which Square Enix, USA is developing all the more palatable to the American gamer. Shiraishi added–quite perceptibly– that, “It’s not a good idea to make a game for people you don’t understand.”