Eidos Founder: Square Enix Needs to Learn How to Sell Games

Eidos Founder: Square Enix Needs to Learn How to Sell Games

image

Eidos Montreal founder Stephane D'Astous claims a terrifying vacuum of internal information led to his departure.

Square Enix hasn't been having the best of years financially, reporting some big losses in many of its sectors. This threw its studios and the Enix division into a panic-fueled turmoil that led to a confused, secretive new strategy for the embattled company, said recently departed Eidos Montreal founder Stephane D'Astous. "[Square Enix] has some things to learn about how to sell their games," he told Polygon.

"We brought three triple As to the market, and despite that great line up and those great critical reviews we still managed not to respect our financial goals, so that really shook up a lot of people. When the fiscal results officially came out, we were all surprised."

"We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more," he said. "They need to attack that very, very seriously. Last year was supposed to be a home-run season, but we didn't hit a single home run; maybe a double or a triple, but they weren't home runs."

D'Astous blames the very distinct divide that still exists within the company for a lot of its problems. He says a segregation still exists between Tomb Raider, Hitman and Thief publisher Eidos, and Square Enix, the Japanese giant behind the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series.

"Square Enix is in a tight spot because there are compromises that are made, investments that are made that should not have been and things that they didn't invest in but should have," he said. "Communication is very lacking."

His decision to leave was not an easy one, as he says, "Eidos Montreal was my home, blood, sweat and tears, call it what you want, for the last six-and-a-half years," but ultimately grew unable to deal with the problems of the publisher.

Source: Polygon

Permalink

Squeenix is not going to have any idea how to sell games unless they first figure out how to make good games again.

So sad.

Sure, because spending so much money making the games, that you need to sell the same number of copies Call of Duty did, had nothing to do with it.

Personally, I think they need to look at their spendings, not their sales figures.

"They need to learn how to sell games." Says one of the people most responsible for the Tomb Raider "definitely not rape" trailer, and the Hitman: Absolution "Nun-punching sexist game play massacre" trailer without even the slightest hint that he understands the hypocrisy of that statement.

he IS right - Squeenix has some internal communication problems.

(Also baseball symbolism)

Rainforce:

Steven Bogos:
Edios Founder: Square Enix Needs to Learn How to Sell Games

D'Astous blames the very distinct divide that still exists within the company for a lot of its problems. He says a segregation still exists between Tomb Raider, Hitman and Thief publisher Edios, and Square Enix, the Japanese giant behind the Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest series.

shouldn't those be "Eidos"? (somewhat confused here)

But yes, he is right - Squeenix has some internal communication problems.

(Also baseball symbolism)

Do'h! I always have a dyslexic moment with Eidos. Thanks for that!

Gee, a French-Canadian man, formerly the head of a French-Canadian company, is complaining that a Japanese company, well known for their insular nature, as well as an underlying current of racism throughout their entire culture, doesn't communicate well. HUH. Who could have imagined?

Needs to learn how to sell games? Are you serious? Is he one of the people who were disappointed by to "measly" numbers of Tomb Raider selling 3.2 million, Hitman selling 3.4 million, and Sleeping Dogs selling 1.8 million?

Steven Bogos:

"We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more," he said. "They need to attack that very, very seriously. Last year was supposed to be a home-run season, but we didn't hit a single home run; maybe a double or a triple, but they weren't home runs."

So he is. "Could have sold more", they sold absolutely amazingly. Tomb Raider broke franchise records. Stop fucking expecting every game to get Call of Duty numbers because you tried to "appeal to a wider audience" already.

"Square Enix is in a tight spot because there are compromises that are made,

Like outsourcing all the boss fights in Human Revolution to a 3rd party company that has no idea what the rest of the game is like, in some psychotic bid to save money?

investments that are made that should not have been

Like letting Nomura shit-can FF13 Versus 85% into production and letting him take so long rebuilding it from the ground up that they were forced to turn it into FF15; or hastily building a shit MMO with an astronmical budget and then deciding after it falls flat on its face to rebuild it from the ground up (I'm sensing a pattern here); or how about making not one but two sequels to FF13 to keep the game alive long enough for Versus to come out; or investing money into so many goddamned Kingdom Hearts spin-off games that you'll either have to ignore 90% of what went on in them come KH3 or bloat KH3 with so much loose end wrapping up that it collapses under the dead weight that's been piled on to the franchise?.

and things that they didn't invest in but should have," he said.

Like not laughing in Nomura's face when he asked to shit-can all the work already done on FF13 Versus and instead spend the money he wasted rebuilding the damn game to have him work on KH3; or hiring a surgeon to cut out the cancerous tumor in the company called Nomura that has been the root of a majority of your financial woes; or maybe just firing Nomura and using all the money he's wasted to hire someone who's head isn't shoved up their own artistic ass?

"Communication is very lacking."

image

KeyMaster45:

investments that are made that should not have been

Like letting Nomura shit-can FF13 Versus 85% into production and letting him take so long rebuilding it from the ground up that they were forced to turn it into FF15; or hastily building a shit MMO with an astronmical budget and then deciding after it falls flat on its face to rebuild it from the ground up (I'm sensing a pattern here); or how about making not one but two sequels to FF13 to keep the game alive long enough for Versus to come out; or investing money into so many goddamned Kingdom Hearts spin-off games that you'll either have to ignore 90% of what went on in them come KH3 or bloat KH3 with so much loose end wrapping up that it collapses under the dead weight that's been piled on to the franchise?.

and things that they didn't invest in but should have," he said.

Like not laughing in Nomura's face when he asked to shit-can all the work already done on FF13 Versus and instead spend the money he wasted rebuilding the damn game to have him work on KH3; or hiring a surgeon to cut out the cancerous tumor in the company called Nomura that has been the root of a majority of your financial woes; or maybe just firing Nomura and using all the money he's wasted to hire someone who's head isn't shoved up their own artistic ass?

I don't see how that's a bad thing. If the game doesn't meet his standards why shouldn't it be torn down and rebuilt? it is his game after-all.

Stephane D'Astous:
"We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more"

I'd like Mr. D'Astous to reflect very deeply on that statement. Could it really have sold more? Probably not because, amazingly, video games are still a niche market and so 3 million per AAA title is about as good as it gets. As Jim said (paraphrased), "You don't reach an unreachable sales goal just because you want to."

Additionally, why are we listening to a man from Eidos about marketing when this is the same company that is releasing the next Deus Ex as an iPad exclusive? If you want to talk about "Could have sold more" or "Needing to learn to sell games" let's start with that.

Blitzwing:

KeyMaster45:

*self snip*

I don't see how that's a bad thing. If the game doesn't meet his standards why shouldn't it be torn down and rebuilt? it is his game after-all.

Because when you're working with as much money as he is there is no starting over when you're almost finished. Nomura was working with a budget close to that of a major motion picture, if not more, if you tried to pull what he did with FF13 Versus in the movie industry you'd get blacklisted by most producers in the business. By letting him build one game, scrap it, then build another one he's essentially had square pay to make two games; one of which saw zero return on its investment. That is literally what the metaphor "pissing away money" is meant to describe. It's great that Square had that much confidence in Nomura's abilities, but it was a colossally bad business decision to make and could be considered the beginning marker of the time period where everything bit Square in the ass.

In fact I would go so far as to say that Nomura's decision caused square to pay for the production of 3 more games than they should have. If you remember, Versus was supposed to tie into FF13 and it's sequel with Versus rounding out the trilogy. With Versus having become FF15 they were then undoubtedly left with 2/3 of a story and were required to make a 3rd to wrap that up; enter Lightning Returns. So by my count Versus has gone from costing Square the budget of not just one multimillion dollar game but three. Even if they manage to recoup the budget from FF15 and Lightning Returns that's still going to leave them with 1/3 of that money being just flat gone. Their only hope right now is that they see a good showing from the relaunch of FF14[1], and that the resulting subscriptions from it last long enough to recoup the losses from that debacle and then Nomura's.

[1] You didn't hear it from me but that's actually looking like a damn solid MMO. Of course you didn't hear that from me because I'm under an NDA.

Stephane D'Astous:

"We are in a situation that we have great games that could have sold more,"

thats the problem. you dont.
Yeah, you have sleeping dogs, you have Deus EX, and thats what, 2 games in 3 years? that wont keep your boat afloat.

Yes they seriously do. After I found out they blocked their games on jailbroken iPhones and rooted androids I've basically decided to avoid all their mobile games. I'm not even sure what they could possibly do to get me buy any of their stuff because it was such a nonsensical dickish move

Blitzwing:

KeyMaster45:

investments that are made that should not have been

Like letting Nomura shit-can FF13 Versus 85% into production and letting him take so long rebuilding it from the ground up that they were forced to turn it into FF15; or hastily building a shit MMO with an astronmical budget and then deciding after it falls flat on its face to rebuild it from the ground up (I'm sensing a pattern here); or how about making not one but two sequels to FF13 to keep the game alive long enough for Versus to come out; or investing money into so many goddamned Kingdom Hearts spin-off games that you'll either have to ignore 90% of what went on in them come KH3 or bloat KH3 with so much loose end wrapping up that it collapses under the dead weight that's been piled on to the franchise?.

and things that they didn't invest in but should have," he said.

Like not laughing in Nomura's face when he asked to shit-can all the work already done on FF13 Versus and instead spend the money he wasted rebuilding the damn game to have him work on KH3; or hiring a surgeon to cut out the cancerous tumor in the company called Nomura that has been the root of a majority of your financial woes; or maybe just firing Nomura and using all the money he's wasted to hire someone who's head isn't shoved up their own artistic ass?

I don't see how that's a bad thing. If the game doesn't meet his standards why shouldn't it be torn down and rebuilt? it is his game after-all.

It is a bad thing because company loses money and resources on badly designed projects that do not bring any profit. Nomura is a good character designer but he is atrocious at directing games, FFverus13 history is a good example of that.

james.sponge:

Blitzwing:

KeyMaster45:

Like letting Nomura shit-can FF13 Versus 85% into production and letting him take so long rebuilding it from the ground up that they were forced to turn it into FF15; or hastily building a shit MMO with an astronmical budget and then deciding after it falls flat on its face to rebuild it from the ground up (I'm sensing a pattern here); or how about making not one but two sequels to FF13 to keep the game alive long enough for Versus to come out; or investing money into so many goddamned Kingdom Hearts spin-off games that you'll either have to ignore 90% of what went on in them come KH3 or bloat KH3 with so much loose end wrapping up that it collapses under the dead weight that's been piled on to the franchise?.

Like not laughing in Nomura's face when he asked to shit-can all the work already done on FF13 Versus and instead spend the money he wasted rebuilding the damn game to have him work on KH3; or hiring a surgeon to cut out the cancerous tumor in the company called Nomura that has been the root of a majority of your financial woes; or maybe just firing Nomura and using all the money he's wasted to hire someone who's head isn't shoved up their own artistic ass?

I don't see how that's a bad thing. If the game doesn't meet his standards why shouldn't it be torn down and rebuilt? it is his game after-all.

It is a bad thing because company loses money and resources on badly designed projects that do not bring any profit. Nomura is a good character designer but he is atrocious at directing games, FFverus13 history is a good example of that.

And what about Kingdom Hearts? He was the director of all of those games and they're one of Squares most popular series.

"Square Enix Needs to Learn How to Sell Games"

More like learn how to properly budget them.

The only "communication" they need to hear: Make a game WITHIN your means and it might actually turn a profit.

Blitzwing:

KeyMaster45:

investments that are made that should not have been

Like letting Nomura shit-can FF13 Versus 85% into production and letting him take so long rebuilding it from the ground up that they were forced to turn it into FF15; or hastily building a shit MMO with an astronmical budget and then deciding after it falls flat on its face to rebuild it from the ground up (I'm sensing a pattern here); or how about making not one but two sequels to FF13 to keep the game alive long enough for Versus to come out; or investing money into so many goddamned Kingdom Hearts spin-off games that you'll either have to ignore 90% of what went on in them come KH3 or bloat KH3 with so much loose end wrapping up that it collapses under the dead weight that's been piled on to the franchise?.

and things that they didn't invest in but should have," he said.

Like not laughing in Nomura's face when he asked to shit-can all the work already done on FF13 Versus and instead spend the money he wasted rebuilding the damn game to have him work on KH3; or hiring a surgeon to cut out the cancerous tumor in the company called Nomura that has been the root of a majority of your financial woes; or maybe just firing Nomura and using all the money he's wasted to hire someone who's head isn't shoved up their own artistic ass?

I don't see how that's a bad thing. If the game doesn't meet his standards why shouldn't it be torn down and rebuilt? it is his game after-all.

Except it's their money, THEIR resources, and THEIR time he's wasted

rednightmare:
Sure, because spending so much money making the games, that you need to sell the same number of copies Call of Duty did, had nothing to do with it.

While this is absolutely the root cause of their financial woes with those games, I do feel SE needs to step up their marketing. If you've been following along for years you'll know that SE rarely does any marketing for their games, relying largely on their brand name to do the work for them. Even when they do manage to put some marketing behind a game, it's rare to see that marketing effort leave the shores of Japan.

Maybe Square, like many companies, needs to accept that it can't pull Call of Duty levels of sales figures with, say, Final Fantasy, by dumbing it down and streamlining the experience. Because the market it's chasing isn't interested and it alienates long-time fans and repeating customers.

Blitzwing:

james.sponge:

Blitzwing:

I don't see how that's a bad thing. If the game doesn't meet his standards why shouldn't it be torn down and rebuilt? it is his game after-all.

It is a bad thing because company loses money and resources on badly designed projects that do not bring any profit. Nomura is a good character designer but he is atrocious at directing games, FFverus13 history is a good example of that.

And what about Kingdom Hearts? He was the director of all of those games and they're one of Squares most popular series.

I liked Kingdom Hearts back in the day but the more I think about it the more I'm convinced it just prayed on our nostalgia. I never cared about Sora and really hoped Goofy and Donald would die and let me kill everything alone ;) but then I loved seeing Cloud, Squall and Sephiroth.

As for the game itself KH was just a meaningless grind with Disney, Square characters that emphasized spectacle over substance (mentality observed in all of Nomura's games) some people may still like that but personally I regret spending my money on it.

And indeed those games were popular but we will never know how much royalties SE had to pay for all those Disney characters. The truth may be the series was barely profitable, but as I said we will never know.

rednightmare:
Sure, because spending so much money making the games, that you need to sell the same number of copies Call of Duty did, had nothing to do with it.

Personally, I think they need to look at their spendings, not their sales figures.

I doubt it was the cost of these games. There's nothing suggesting they were extraordinarily expensive. The problem is you have a failing company or a company on hard times which put unrealistic expectations on a few titles to effectively save the day. Surprise! It didn't work.

Just the fact that he thinks they could have sold more shows how out of touch they are, though.

Can someone send this guy a link to Jim's video dealing with exactly this situation and why it's not the sales that are the problem but the budgets? Because that really says all that needs to be said.

This guy is falling victim to the typical AAA development trap of thinking that if you spend enough money making and marketing it, the sales will just happen. I've really got little respect for the people who are so ineffective at managing their business that they believe that. No matter what you do, you can't control sales, but you can control costs. Manage the variables you can actually manage instead of just wishing the ones you can't control were better.

Unrealistic goals and overspending on some titles (Final Fantasy) is what is hurting them badly in my opinion. The recent layoffs at Eidos are one of their biggest dumbass moves indicating that those up top are not right in the head. Why would you do that!? Most of their recent releases were great games! Deus Ex HR, Tomb Raider and Hitman Absolution were some of the best selling games of their respective franchises!

OH THEY DIDN'T SELL 5 MILLION COPIES EACH!?

Ugh, this again? These games sold well. If you still lost money on them, they were budgeted too high. Tomb Raider could've been the best game ever made, and had the best marketing in history, and it still wouldn't have sold to expectations. That does not mean S-E doesn't know how to sell games, it means they don't understand how to use trends to develop realistic budgets and sales expectations.

P.S. Thanks

james.sponge:

I liked Kingdom Hearts back in the day but the more I think about it the more I'm convinced it just prayed on our nostalgia. I never cared about Sora and really hoped Goofy and Donald would die and let me kill everything alone ;) but then I loved seeing Cloud, Squall and Sephiroth.

As for the game itself KH was just a meaningless grind with Disney, Square characters that emphasized spectacle over substance (mentality observed in all of Nomura's games) some people may still like that but personally I regret spending my money on it.

And indeed those games were popular but we will never know how much royalties SE had to pay for all those Disney characters. The truth may be the series was barely profitable, but as I said we will never know.

And I think this is why Nomura should slow down and go back to what he's actually good at. Nomura is and always has been a character designer. He's an artist, and the problem now is he's an artist with creative control over most of Squeenix's AAA franchises with a blank check. That's... not good. He's becoming the George Lucas of Square, and they desperately need to give him a handler that cracks the whip when his lofty goals start becoming delusional or just flat-out bad.

freedash22:
Unrealistic goals and overspending on some titles (Final Fantasy) is what is hurting them badly in my opinion. The recent layoffs at Eidos are one of their biggest dumbass moves indicating that those up top are not right in the head. Why would you do that!? Most of their recent releases were great games! Deus Ex HR, Tomb Raider and Hitman Absolution were some of the best selling games of their respective franchises!

OH THEY DIDN'T SELL 5 MILLION COPIES EACH!?

And this is the other problem with Square Enix now. Look, it's great that Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest are giant AAA behemoths that span multiple regions and sell millions. Problem is that Eidos are selling franchises that aren't so international... Hitman, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex... those are very Western games, and don't sell that great in Asia's demographic. Expecting Eidos' games to sell as well as Square's is laughable and a bit sad.

Square, know your developer's audience, and for god's sake curb your expectations. Not every developer can be you, alright?

It probably doesnt help that sqeenix hasnt released a title id want to buy since vagrant story. The FF sequels of sequels thing just seems desperate.

Heres another ff with 15 minute cut scenes, pre puberty boys and little girls in suggestive outfits doesnt sell well in most of the world.

I'm actually worried all this economic distress at SE will dismatle the studios that are actually working. Their non Japanese stduios have been putting out quality games in their respective franchises these past few years, managing to resurrect or create IPs. Deus Ex, Tomb Raider, Hitman, Sleeping dogs(not counting Thief, I'm entirely wary about that one from the info we've seen). If they strangle these studios they might just as well pack up and leave. FF has been less and less well received, KH is all over the place. They may be selling, but they are also dragging their feet compared to previous installments. They need budget management, and pull their head out of the clouds.

KeyMaster45:

Blitzwing:

KeyMaster45:

*self snip*

I don't see how that's a bad thing. If the game doesn't meet his standards why shouldn't it be torn down and rebuilt? it is his game after-all.

Because when you're working with as much money as he is there is no starting over when you're almost finished. Nomura was working with a budget close to that of a major motion picture, if not more, if you tried to pull what he did with FF13 Versus in the movie industry you'd get blacklisted by most producers in the business. By letting him build one game, scrap it, then build another one he's essentially had square pay to make two games; one of which saw zero return on its investment. That is literally what the metaphor "pissing away money" is meant to describe. It's great that Square had that much confidence in Nomura's abilities, but it was a colossally bad business decision to make and could be considered the beginning marker of the time period where everything bit Square in the ass.

In fact I would go so far as to say that Nomura's decision caused square to pay for the production of 3 more games than they should have. If you remember, Versus was supposed to tie into FF13 and it's sequel with Versus rounding out the trilogy. With Versus having become FF15 they were then undoubtedly left with 2/3 of a story and were required to make a 3rd to wrap that up; enter Lightning Returns. So by my count Versus has gone from costing Square the budget of not just one multimillion dollar game but three. Even if they manage to recoup the budget from FF15 and Lightning Returns that's still going to leave them with 1/3 of that money being just flat gone. Their only hope right now is that they see a good showing from the relaunch of FF14[1], and that the resulting subscriptions from it last long enough to recoup the losses from that debacle and then Nomura's.

Fuck their money. I'd rather Nomura cancelled the game until he was satisfied with it than have him release something inferior. It's not like he's even the first to do something like this, Nintendo have canceled games and had them rebuilt because the director felt that it didn't meet their standards, if they can do it I don't see why Square can't

[1] You didn't hear it from me but that's actually looking like a damn solid MMO. Of course you didn't hear that from me because I'm under an NDA.

rednightmare:
Sure, because spending so much money making the games, that you need to sell the same number of copies Call of Duty did, had nothing to do with it.

Personally, I think they need to look at their spendings, not their sales figures.

This so much ^^

They are getting rediculas levels of expectations it's getting stupid. They need to start budgeting the costs better, the fact they can waste so much and then make a loss then Demon Souls can make a profit from far less sales/income yet their games still looks amazing just goes to show how much they waste.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here