Square Enix’s Yoichi Wada announced at Microsoft’s press conference at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) that they were crossing the border from Sony and bringing role-playing games to one of Sony’s main competitors: the Microsoft Xbox 360.
Why Did Square Enix Make This Move?
The PlayStation fanboys might have been in shock, but they really shouldn’t have been. Sony’s PlayStation 3 has been at the bottom of the sales charts since its release in 2006 in comparison with the Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii. The high price of the console and the few games released upon the console’s launch doomed the console to stay at the bottom for awhile, until the Blu-Ray/HD-DVD war was over or until the price dropped dramatically.
However, despite price drops and Blu-Ray’s victory, the PS3 remained at the bottom due to too few exclusive games. By this point, so many people owned an Xbox 360, and since quite a few of the PS3’s exclusive games were turning dual-platform with the 360, there wasn’t much motivation for gamers to shell out another $400-$500 for another system.
So in essence, this was purely a business decision. Square Enix picked up on the sales trend and possibly decided to reduce the risk of any future PS3 exclusive titles not selling well. They want to cash in on the console that so many gamers already own. So they sign a deal to create three Xbox exclusive RPGs. And to seal their partnership, they make a chapter of the highly coveted and beloved Final Fantasy franchise dual-platform.
Not only does this move help Final Fantasy lovers save money in not buying an additional console, it opens up the doors to Xbox owners who have never gotten into the franchise before. Bring them in with Final Fantasy, and maybe they’ll tune into the other RPGs Square Enix has created.
What Does This Mean for Sony?
Hopefully Sony will see this as a wake-up call to what they need to do to get their console into more homes. Aside from lowering the price of their console — perhaps for the holiday season — they desperately need to contract more exclusive games to entice gamers.
Their E3 press conference shed some rays of hope, as they announced a video purchase and rental store from their PlayStation Network, only available through the PlayStation 3. Such a store directly competes with Microsoft’s new partnership with Netflix for rentals through Xbox LIVE.
However, at the same conference, they took some hope away with the announcement of 180 (yes, 180) new games that will be coming out for the PlayStation 2. How exactly is that going to motivate anyone into purchasing their next-generation console? How is it going to convince third-party developers that everyone is ready to move into the next-generation for exclusive games?
Will Square Enix Stay with Microsoft?
Not exclusively, of course. Microsoft isn’t the only other competitor Square Enix has created games for, and Square Enix has too strong of ties in Japan to abandon Sony and Nintendo for Microsoft.
However, Square Enix’s future plans are anyone’s guess. Logically, they will wait and see how many LIVE subscribers they tally up in FFXI and how many of their new RPGs will fly off the shelves. Either way, it’s still a fairly exciting time for Square Enix and Xbox owners, particularly Xbox owners who are tired of the usual first-person shooters and crave Japanese role-playing games.