Game publishing company Square Enix has been facing many problems in recent times, especially because despite having good sales figures, games like Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution failed to meet expectations. Financial problems faced by the company probably didn't help either. However, Senior Executive Managing Director Yosuke Matsuda wants the company to start interacting with its customers at an earlier stage. For this, the company is taking hints from crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.
“One could go as far as to say that in today’s times, making customers wait for years with little to no information is being dishonest to them,” Matsuda said in an earnings call. “We’re no longer in an age where customers are left in the dark until a product is completed. We need to shift to a business model where we frequently interact with our customers for our products that are inâdevelopment and/or prior to being sold, have our customers understand games under development, and finally make sure we develop games that meet their expectations.”
Square Enix is turning to Kickstarter, Steam Greenlight and Early Access for inspirtation
“There is a crowdfunding website called ‘Kickstarter,’” he continued, “which does not only serve as a method of financing for developers, but I believe should also be seen as a way to unite marketing and development together by allowing us to interact with customers while a game is in development.”
Matsuda's goals will lead to an interesting outcome in the long term. If it manages to pay off, we could see big game publishers like EA and Ubisoft being more open about the games that are in development. To further explain his point, Matsuda talked about how Valve's Steam Greenlight and Early Access initiatives help developers get more feedback from fans about what makes their games good. It will be interesting to see Square Enix try to make these ideas, which have so far worked for smaller independent development teams, work on a larger scale.
Matsuda said, “Valve’s Steam Greenlight and Early Access, are also very interesting, in that they raise the frequency by which we interact with customers, increasing their engagement and reflecting customer needs. We are also looking at what initiatives are possible from this perspective. What should we present to our customers before a game is finished, how can our customers enjoy this, and how do we connect this to profitability, is something we are thinking about implementing, and which can improve our asset turnover in the process.”