To gamers who remember Square and Enix as separate entities, the Square Enix merger resulted in a company that lost sight of its roots. The Final Fantasy games of recent years haven't lived up to the series' name. Of all things, Square Enix's acquisition of Eidos may have been its best business move in years.
In an interview, Square Enix president Yosuke Matsuda explained that the company would be shifting its focus back towards core gamers, and away from a wider audience. "Not just limited to games for smartphone or console, but we do have some global titles lined up," Matsuda stated. "However, regardless of whether they're for smartphone or console, there's a difficult element to developing global titles, so we'll be making them without focusing too much on the 'global' aspect."
Matsuda fessed up to the company's mistake in developing for a general audience. "For example, in the past, when we developed console games with a worldwide premise, we lost our focus, and not only did they end up being games that weren't for the Japanese, but they ended up being incomplete titles that weren't even fit for a global audience." The president pointed to Hitman Absolution as an example of the company's loss of focus on the core audience. "The development team for Hitman: Absolution really struggled in this regard. They implemented a vast amount of 'elements for the mass' instead of for the core fans, as a way to try getting as many new players possible. It was a strategy to gain mass appeal. However, what makes the Hitman series good is its appeal to core gamers, and many fans felt the lack of focus in that regard, which ended up making it struggle in sales." For reference, Hitman Absolution sold 3.6 million units (as of March 2013.) Though the figures aren't staggeringly bad, Square Enix clearly expected the game to perform better, due to the popularity of its predecessor Hitman: Blood Money.
No doubt the president's comments are a result of a combination of factors: Hitman Absolution's missed sales targets and Bravely Default's strong sales (the game moved 200K units in its first three weeks).
What does this mean for Square Enix's future? "So, as for the AAA titles we're currently developing for series, we basically want to go back to their roots and focus on the core audience, while working hard on content that can have fans say things like 'this is the Hitman, we know.' I believe that is the best way for our development studios to display their strengths," stated Matsuda.